Picture this: your vacation is just around the corner, and you're itching to capture those unforgettable moments with some professional photos. So, where do you turn? Straight to Facebook Groups and Google, of course, to scout out the perfect photographer!

Welcome, first-time photo session bookers- or those who want more info on photoshoots!

I get it – trusting someone from miles away to capture your vacation memories is like taking a leap of faith into the unknown. But I've got this blog to help guide you through the process and make sure you feel comfortable booking your Smoky Mountain Photo Session!

Are you a local business?

With millions of visitors flocking to our area each year, us locals know the ins and outs like the back of our cameras. Sure, there are travelers who swing by and set up shop, but there's something special about having a seasoned local professional that you can trust. Why does it matter? Well, accountability, for starters. When you choose a local photographer, you're not just getting stunning shots – you're getting peace of mind. If something isn't quiet right, you know exactly who to turn to. Booking someone who doesn't have a local business cannot guarantee accountability in our community.

We live and breathe this community, pouring our hearts into every Smoky Mountain Session. And hey, most of us already have the necessary permits to snap away in those picture-perfect spots you've been dreaming of. 

What does your pricing include?

Photography businesses come in all shapes and sizes, kind of like choosing between coffee or tea – it's all about your preference! Some photographers go for the session fee plus digital purchase route, while others opt for the all-inclusive package deal. The key? Knowing exactly what's included in that price before you commit.

What about non-refundable retainers? Consider it like putting a ring on your session date – it's a commitment from both sides to make magic happen.

Where are your shooting locations?

When it comes to choosing the perfect backdrop for your photo shoot – be it a serene river, majestic mountain, or sprawling field – it's important to consider not just the aesthetic appeal, but also your own comfort and mobility. After all, you want to look and feel your best when the session starts!

 It's all picturesque until you realize you're tired of walking (or your kids) through fields. So, if you're not keen on any extra activity that's something to consider and ask about when booking locations.

Do you like their editing style?

Now this questions is really for YOU. Photographers are like artists with a digital paintbrush, each wielding their own unique style. From bright and airy to moody and vintage, the editing possibilities are endless. Most photographers specialize in their signature style, so what you see is usually what you get. That's why it's crucial to scope out their social media and website before committing. After all, you want to fall head over heels for their aesthetic and edits - envisioning your family in the photos!

Payment Methods

If your photographer suggests paying through PayPal, Venmo, or other platforms as a "Donation," "Gift," or "Friend," it's time to hit pause and raise a big ol' red flag. Legitimate businesses don't operate under the guise of charity or friendship when it comes to payments.

Now, they might try to sweet-talk you by saying it's to avoid those pesky transaction fees, but hold your horses! Sending money as a "Friend" might seem like a shortcut, but it's a shortcut to losing your rights too. PayPal and Venmo have different policies for transactions labeled as "Friends," leaving you high and dry if anything goes awry.

Sure, pros do use these platforms, but they do it by the book. That means sending proper invoices or receipts to keep everything on the up and up. So, remember: never send money to a business as a friend, donation, or gift.

They don't have a contract.

I get it, "contract" can sound a little "much" since its just a photoshoot. But let's break it down: a contract is basically your session's roadmap, ensuring everyone's on the same page. Think of it as your golden ticket to peace of mind.

In reality, it's just a fancy way of outlining what you can expect from the session and the resulting photos. It's like a product guarantee, but for your memories! Inside, you'll find details like their tardiness policy, session duration, location specifics, and more. Having a clear contract isn't just about protecting the photographer – it's about holding them accountable to deliver the magic you signed up for.

They don't have public pricing or they won't give you a standard price list.

When it comes to pricing, transparency is key! Some photographers lay it all out on the table for you to see, while others prefer waiting for your inquiry to send over their price list.

Now, if you reach out for info and get radio silence or vague responses, that's waving a big ol' red flag. After all, you're not asking for secrets – just a breakdown of what you're paying for!

Every photographer runs on a standard price list. Sure, they might tweak things based on location or group size, but there's no room for wild guesses and "custom pricing" shenanigans. You should expect a PDF or photo of their pricing structure. Think of it like this: you wouldn't stroll into Walmart and pay a different price for the same TV as your neighbor or friend, right? Exactly! Pricing should be fair, consistent, and easy to find.

Lack of public information about their business.

Social Media & More – where a photographer's online presence can tell you more than a thousand words! Most photographers have a website or social media channels where they say who they are, what makes them tick, the services they offer, and recent sessions.

This online presence should be like your glimpse into the photographer's offerings. A lack of public info is like a photographer showing up to a shoot without their camera – a major red flag. So, when in doubt, trust your gut. After all, your memories deserve to be captured by someone who's not afraid to show their true colors!

You should feel confident in your decision

If you feel the vibe is off at anytime during the inquiry stage, state your concerns and what's making it feel "off". Any professional will help ease any concerns you have.

Make sure to pick a photographer who seems to match your personality. Read about them and see if this is someone you want to spend 30+ minutes doing a session with.

This blog post is to help whoever needs it, whether you choose me or someone else for your photographer. Finding the RIGHT photographer for you is the most important part!