Not all photographers are listed on your favorite search engine. Use Google, Yahoo, Bing, craigslist, yelp, or other local directories. Your photographs will be with you forever, so take the time and comb the internet for local photographers in your area.
Rates are very important. Some photographers don’t display their rates because they charge an arm and a leg. Others are bold enough, like me, to show the rates. When they don’t show the rates, they make you call or email so they can talk to you and give you their sales pitch. This can go 2 ways. They will pressure you into an appointment or sugar coat it and when they go to show you the pictures, they will charge you a ridiculous amount. Look up online photo printing companies and you’ll be surprised that an 8×10 doesn’t cost $30! So if you have a budget in mind search and YOU pressure the photographer into giving you their rates. Don’t spend double the amount you planned because you weren’t aware of the prices.
Are you going to want the digital images? Times are changing and we would love to have the digital images for the computer, Facebook, MySpace, etc. Some photographers will offer this at a descent rate, but others won’t sell it to you unless you buy them a car. They won’t try to sell the CD because it’s future business they get from you or family members of those images that weren’t printed. It makes sense but I say, if you like them you will give them future business with referrals and by any future appointments.
Studio, at home, or on location? If you want to go to a studio, go. Lots of props, nice lighting, and plenty of backdrops. If you want something outdoors, ask the photographer for suggestions or make your own. If you want to have a session at your home, make sure there is plenty of natural light. But if you want to do an in home session with backdrops, make sure your photographer has backdrops, stands, and lights. It is never good when the photographer throws a blanket over your furniture and uses an on camera flash for lights. You might as well save some money and get a family member to take your pictures and pay them with a happy meal.
Samples! It’s simple… if you like the photographers work and they fit your needs, then make your appointment. If you don’t like the photographers work, but they fit your needs, it’s up to you. Is it worth the risk? Remember… these photographs are your babies first months or your first family portrait in 5 years. If your unsure, keep searching until you find your perfect photographer.