Valentine’s day is around the corner. You might actually be thinking about getting some images of you done with your significant other. You probably have no idea where to start looking for a photographer. With the massive growth of Instagram in the last few years, everyone seems to have acquired the skill to take amazing and memorable images even on their phones. What you are looking for is someone who will be able to give you some value, great time while on the shoot and hopefully, create lasting memories for you and your partner.

Early morning shoot on Diani Beach.

In today’s blog post lets look at some key things to consider while looking for a photographer to cover your couple shoot session this valentine’s day.

1. Look beyond Gear and Beautifully Lit Images.

Do not judge a book by its cover. In the past few months while running a photography business, one of the things that I have heard people say to me over and over, is that photographers are not the nicest people. Clients have told me of photographers being unable to deliver on time or not delivering at all. Some photographers have completely disappeared and never come back and photographers seem to be poorest at communication.

Beautifully lit imagery does not make you the right photographer.

Good work, expensive top of the line gear and a huge social media following are not stamps of approval for good character or professionalism. Look beyond the images, videos, gear and social following. These things only account for a small percentage of the experience that you will have during your shoot.

2. Make Referrals

You have spent hours on end asking around for some photographers, looked through Instagram and Facebook and identified some individuals work, whom you really like and think you could work with. Before you dive into their inboxes and DMs take some time to find out about how the photographer works from someone who has worked with them.

Most photographers will tag or mention the individuals and organizations that they have worked with. These are the people you should reach out to through email, calls or even a DM and ask about their experiences working with these photographers. That will give you a better idea on whom you can comfortably work with.

3. Look for Professionalism

Professionalism will encompass very many things. I may not cover everything here but there are a few things that you should be on the lookout for. The first being communication. I had a client three months back tell me that a photographer she hired cancelled her session on the date they had set for the shoot. She had already put in so much money into her project by that point she only had devastation to lean on literally. Now, by no means am I stating that this photographer may not have had more urgent issues to attend to but clearly the client had no idea it was coming. The photographer failed to communicate accordingly and put the client in a devastating situation.

The photographer you choose should guarantee proper communication through a written and signed contract. That way they will save you the time and money that you will be spending. Proper communication will also assist in planning as decisions can be made accordingly as issues arise.

Second, the photographer should issue you with a written and signed contract. The contract should be clear on the terms of payment, delivery times of the work done, guarantees on non-delivery of work, safety and storage of your images and consent to share images online or with publications. With a written and signed contract, you and the photographer both have an understanding of the working relationship and you can put each other to task. It also is a clear sign that the person you are working with is intentional with the service that they are providing. You as the client also have the right to call and seek clarification on the various clauses of the contract that you do not understand.

Third, does the photographer keep time? Nothing speaks professionalism more than keeping time. Before you book a shoot with the photographer I always advise that you have a face to face meeting with them. Set the times of the meeting and this is the perfect opportunity to determine their level of professionalism. If the photographer is running late, do they call and tell you that they are running late or do they call 20 minutes after the time you agreed and say they are running late. Chances are that if they are late for your first meeting, nothing stops them from being late on the day of the shoot.

4. Has the photographer Handled A Couple’s Shoot Before?

It is important to find out if the photographer has experience covering a couple photography sessions. The best way to figure this out is to go through their portfolio of work. Going through a photographers Instagram feed or website will give you an idea of their experience covering such sessions. If this is not available on their Instagram feed or website then it is best to contact them directly and ask. If they claim to have experience in such a genre, then ask for links or images of such work done.

It is better to work with someone with some experience handling couple sessions. Having experience means that the photographer is better placed to have information on good locations, a better understanding on getting you and your partner comfortable enough to capture moments, they can create a compelling story about you as a couple and will also propose the best times to shoot. Us photographers have specific times of the day when light is the best for photography. This is not something that an inexperienced photographer is likely to have.

Having worked with this couple before, it was a lot easier to get them to show their fun side

This, however, is not to say that someone without the experience cannot do the job. If you love the work of an individual and you intend to have them cover your couple session then it is best to approach it collaboratively. Give the photographer an easy time as well so that they are in a position to cover the session to the best of their ability. Consider the photographer’s genre of photography. A pure wildlife photographer is probably not the best person to cover a couples session…don’t you think?

5. What is the Photographer selling? Pictures or Value?

Couple sessions essentially are meant to be memories that you and your partner hope to make timeless. These are images that you want to look back at and think “These were good times. I am glad that we did this together and we had fun on that day.” Photography is a means of preserving memories and that is where the value really is. It is important to invest in an individual who will be able to listen to your needs, be able to address issues and solve problems. Find a photographer who is in the business of selling experiences and not pictures.

Value is not just images, value is a wholesome experience. Do you want a photographer that directs you during the shoot or does he/she blurt out stuff? ‘Zunguka hivi!!’ “Angalia huko” Is the photographer patient with you or are they in a hurry to get the job over and done with? Are you the client that wants to feel that your photoshoot was a waste of time and money or do you want to feel that your shoot was a great investment and you are happy with both the experience and results?

6.Bonus Tip

It is not a must that you have the couple shoot on Valentine’s day or in February because it is the so-called month of ‘LOVE’. This is a mistake that I find most couples will make especially when they want a customized package. As a couple remember that what you share is much larger than Valentine’s day. It is something that you and your partner will share far beyond this month.

To make the most of your shoot in the month of February and more so on Valentine’s day, start making plans early. Look for a photographer a month before. Book the photographer for the date in advance. This avoids spontaneity and having to rush to make things happen at the last minute.

For clients, finding the right photographer can be a struggle due to the massive number of individuals on social media platforms that purport to be professional photographers. Photography services are 10% imagery and 90% proper customer relations. Great service is essentially what you want for the amount of money that you spend on a couple session.

I hope that as you celebrate the love that you and your partner share this month, you will be able to find the right Photographer to cover your couple session.

To see my couple and engagement sessions click here. Have a happy Valentine’s day and see you in the next post.