OK let's get real for a moment. Everyone with a DSLR they got for Christmas is opening up a photography business. Quality, consistency, and value REALLY varies in photography services these days. Understanding what you can expect from your session is very important and shouldn't be hard to do. Price of your session is not always the most important (I know it FEELS like it is).
Whether you are hiring a photographer for family photos, your wedding, really any kind of session it's important to know what you are getting for your fee. I wanted to touch on some items that are a good idea to know before booking or signing a contract. (These are in addition to the general questions and specifically more about the gallery and/or images you would be receive after your session.)
Photographers would hopefully have this in their contracts, but each varies so I am simply recommending you have answers before you book. Those types of surprises are not fun!
1. What is the editing style of the photographer you have hired?
Look at their portfolio and if they have a consistent style, thats what you should expect to receive. If each session is edited differently I would be concerned about which style you would end up with. Make sure to ask! There are almost endless options for post editing an image, and most likely you have chosen your photographer based upon work you have seen. If the session you loved is the only one that looks like that.... ehhh be warned. What if you liked the top left but instead got the bottom left? Don't leave it to chance, and better yet choose a photographer that consistently delivers the style you are looking for. When in doubt ask to view galleries of sessions similar to yours, if not readily available of their website.
2. Will I receive all my images in color AND black & White?
If not then what if I receive an image in B&W and prefer it in color. Is there a fee for this?
3. How much post editing and touch-ups should you expect for your fee?
Are they removing simple blemishes? Can/will they make you look 15lbs slimmer? Did you forget lipstick, can that be added? What is the additional fee for retouching, if they have the ability to do so? Is it per image? Not all photographers are skilled at making retouching adjustments in Photoshop. Some simply do not want to offer those types of edits for anything but head shots and weddings without an additional fee. If you or your kiddo show up with a scratch on your face, make sure to ask right away if it can be removed! Don't wait until later when you may pay more for the photographer to go back and retouch after he/she has finished your images.
4. Will the photographer provide props or anything except the photography gear for your session if needed?
For example, if you wanted balloons or a cake to smash for a 1 year birthday session will you bring them or will the photographer provide them? What about a blanket for a family session or umbrellas if it's sprinkling? Know what is your responsibility to bring and what the photographer can offer.
5. How will you receive your images after the session?
USB, online gallery, disk?
6. If you are choosing images from a gallery (and not simply receiving images on a disk/usb) is there a deadline for ordering before the gallery will be taken down?
Is there a fee to order images or prints after the deadline has passed?
7. How long is the photographer guaranteed to have back up images should you lose, destroy, or misplace yours?
What is the cost to have a duplicate made or the gallery available?
8. What is my kiddo/husband/dog/my hair doesn't cooperate the day of the shoot? Can we have another session for free as a make-up?
9. What if it rains or snows?? When would the photographer cancel and when could we expect to reschedule?
These are just a few items that hopefully you will know the answer to prior to your session. I'm happy to answer questions via email or in the comments of this post!