6 Best Ways to Choose a Photographer

Dune-Family-Beach-PortraitBeautiful Family Portrait

No doubt, choosing a photographer is no simple task.  There are a ton of photographers to choose from!  But how do you determine which photographer is right for you?  There are many different venues like weddings and family beach photography that you need to consider, also. However, this list will cover more general considerations: 

  • Technical Aptitude
  • Professionalism
  • Artistry/Imagination
  • Communication/People Skills
  • Personal Presentation
  • Customer Reviews

Technical Aptitude

This first thing that comes to mind: what kind of equipment does the photographer use?  But more importantly, do they know how to use it?

The latter point is especially true.  What good is high end equipment if you don’t understand its capabilities? Often times, lower end equipment can be sufficient if the photographer has a strong grasp of its capabilities and limitations. 

If you get to a photography session and the photographer is spending an inordinate amount of time with a light stand, his or her camera, or other piece of equipment, that shows a lack of knowledge of the product. 

Does the photographer understand flash, lighting, shutter speed?  Does the photographer (gasp) shoot on Automatic?  Look at some of his/her photo galleries – do photos look overly exposed?  Be wary of strong darks and shadows.  You really want the exposure to highlight detail without too many whites or darks.  How about saturation?  If a picture is over-saturated, it can result in flushed skin tones.  Getting that sharpness/saturation balance is key.

Don’t just look at the photographers front page images.  How are the images on the rest of the site?  Many photographers will put their best photos on the front page so you need to make sure that the rest of the galleries have high quality images.  It is totally ok to see some less-than-professional images from years ago if there is proven skill progression in the form of recent pictures.  It shows that the photographer is serious and passionate about the profession!

Post-production software is nearly as important as the actual photography session!  Most photographers utilize pre-set filters to give the photo that extra oomph.  These can work out marvelously in most cases.  I do not use filters as I edit each image by hand erasing any unsightly blemishes or people in the back ground.  Also, I smooth out skin tones as well.  This takes a lot of time so I only do this where I feel it is necessary. You want a photographer that knows a good bit about photoshop and doesn’t just add a filter and call it a day.  One particular editing technique to be aware of is landscape and background edits.  Some will appear to be unnatural and don’t fit too well with the subject of the photo.  It is ok to add some background changes but too much over does it!

One last, easy thing to look for: orange face.  As a photographer, sometimes you have to deal with incandescent lighting or mixed lighting scenarios.  With proper post-editing, this can be corrected but it is easy to overdo!


When you book a picture session, you want the process to be easy.  I know I am not the only one, but I like a photographer who replies with a sense of urgency, too.  Lets say you inquire with a photographer.  The photographer responds politely, quickly, and provides all relevant information necessary to proceeding to the next step.  Bonus points if he or she is also flexible.

Is the website easy to read?  Is it optimized for mobile?  Nearly 63.4% of all people who access the Internet in 2019 do so by mobile device.  Is the site properly organized – can you get to important areas like photo galleries, packages, and pricing efficiently?  Does the page load quickly?  Or was it optimized for the 1990’s?  These are some important things to consider when viewing a potential photographer’s website.

These photos you sign up to get are memories.  They are something you will want to treasure forever.  Wouldn’t it be a nice if the actual photo session was delightful, also?  Sometimes photographers are having a bad day or there is some external factor contributing to the overall gloomy mood.  A true sign of a photography professional is to show up with a smile and do the very best job possible to ensure you have a memorable experience. 

And when your session is done, it is nice to get a photographer who will give you an estimated time frame to receive the final product and stick to it.  Successful professional photographers offer you a fine product, delivered in a reasonable amount of time.  But if there is an issue, it will be addressed with open communication.

A good way to try to determine the professionalism of a photographer is to check out some reviews online and check for things like punctuality, politeness, and urgency.


Passion is the main keyword here.  Rarely will you see photographers in Destin FL (or anywhere else, for that matter) who are creative and artistic, lack passion.  You can tell, with a few examples, which photographers are creative:

  • They have their subjects utilize unique, fun poses.
  • They use different lens like a ‘fish-eye’ lens for dramatic effect.
  • Utilize depth-of-field to put the focus on the individual while still giving the background a cool effect.
  • The photo tells a story, like a gallery ordered in a particular order to emphasize a series of ideas and grab the viewer’s attention.
  • The photographer displays a consistent level of artistry and style.

Does the photographer’s images really excel in a studio?  Or do they suffer there?  Many photographers are more imaginative in a controlled environment like a studio than on a beach (like Destin).  If your desire is more along the lines of beach portraits, look for more creativity targeted at photographers with that experience.

Passion isn’t the only trait of an artist, however.  Having knowledge of your equipment and having the experience to put your creative ideas into play also matters.  By combining passion, experience, and knowledge together, you are setting the foundation for a formidable artist.

Communication/Time Management

There is nothing worse than a photographer who doesn’t provide enough information, rarely responds, or just seems rude.  The last thing you want to do is book a photographer that doesn’t seem to value you.  Good communication from a photographer will help you remember the whole experience when you capture your memories. 

When I am preparing to go out and capture some beach family portraits, I have to prepare for the possibility that things will not go as planned

Am I going to be capturing sunset beach pictures?  What time does the sun go down?   What if I am late?  What if the family is late? What if my equipment isn’t working? A good photographer will plan for these potential hiccups and proceed accordingly. 

During the off-season down in here Destin FL, the sun goes down earlier.  With how bad traffic is during that time frame, it is paramount that I get there early and make sure all of my batteries are good and the equipment is functioning correctly.  Trust me, time management here is key!  If you don’t get those beach photos taken before the sun goes down, you are just out of luck.  That goes without saying for a wedding.  Communication and time management might be the two most important traits of booking a photographer in that department!

Lastly, how does the photographer handle children?  A good example of an excellent photographer is one who can get children to pose, smile, and look like they are having a good time.  Often times they will scream and not listen and it is crucial to stay calm and be patient. Trust me, I know from experience!

Customer Reviews

This is the most obvious way to gauge the capability of a photographer but it deserves a mention.  There are three ways in which you should check out reviews: overall rating, quantity and quality of reviews, and negative reviews.

The overall rating refers to its ‘stars.’  Photographers between 4.5 and 5 stars are definitely going to be your best bet but don’t discount 4.0 – 4.5!

While rating is important, you wouldn’t necessarily weigh someone with 1 review at 5.0 with someone with 200 reviews at 4.6?  High-quality reviews (in-depth analysis of the customer experience) with good rating and decent sum of reviews are a good place to start.

Now, even if someone has decent reviews, you should definitely check out poor reviews and see if some of that information could affect your potential experience.  Were there a decent amount of reviews that said the photographer was too slow to set up and took forever to take the pictures?  Even if this person has good overall reviews, you should still be wary if you have small children with extremely short attention spans.  This is especially true for everyone’s favorite Destin beach in Florida: Miramar Beach!  The majority of sessions I have done there have had children involved.

Personal Presentation

Dress for the part.  Your photographer should attempt to dress to the type of event they will be attending.  Is the photographer conducting a beach photo session?  Comfortable, casual dress here is key – especially with lots of equipment to haul around!  Is a wedding the name of the game?  The photographer should definitely not be wearing jeans to a wedding unless the bride and groom are also doing it!  Don’t try to out dress the bridal party.  Wear something smart, which looks good but doesn’t bring too much attention to yourself.  He or she needs to blend in so people won’t notice them and they can get in there get those pictures!

HeadshotThis is my professional headshot. I have a few more highlights now.

I hope you found this list useful to your search for photographer in Destin FL (or anywhere, really!).  At the end of the day, you want to enjoy having your memories captured and you want to be able to enjoy them for years to come.  It is my sincere desire that you find the exact photographer you need!

If you like my work and want to work with me, checkout my pricing and contact me here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *