A broken privacy fence board leans away from a fence post, with the house siding in the background. When hiring a professional for a job, it's important to know what you're looking for and not just go on the lowest price.

Tips for Hiring the Right Photographer

We have a wood privacy fence surrounding our backyard. We hired someone to install it shortly after we moved in over a decade ago, and it’s been slowly deteriorating all that time. Our “ignore it” plan seemed to be going really well, until my 3 year old opened the gate last week and it literally fell off the hinges. (No toddlers were injured in this story.)

The image of a broken fence hinge, with rusty bolts hanging halfway out of a splintered gate. Hiring a professional doesn't have to be this hard.

So, now we really, really need a new fence. This one, bless its heart, was wrong for us from the start. You have to maintain wood, and we aren’t all about that. We chose a gate that was too narrow for a riding mower, so for 10 years, we (or the poor guy we’ve since hired to cut our grass) have had to push-mow it. I roll my eyes at our short-sightedness. We created so much more work for ourselves by not doing it right the first time.

Imagine if we had done the research into what we actually needed, and didn’t just troll around looking for the best price at the time? What if we had actually sat down and said “we don’t like to do maintenance or power washing or painting?” Or “we don’t know how to replace a broken board” and determined that a vinyl fence was better? Imagine if we had decided to install a slightly more expensive fence with a gate that would fit our needs. We might have avoided so many extra lawncare struggles. And we might have also avoided paying the upcharge to our lawn guy for having to push mow the back yard every two weeks in the summer.

A backyard privacy fence sits out of focus with backlit sunlight streaming through the cracks in the boards. When hiring a professional, look for someone who is familiar with your specific needs.

But the steps to buying a fence are not exactly clear-cut. I don’t know anything about fences. When I was shopping for fences a decade ago, I didn’t know the difference between wood fencing and vinyl. What about hiring a landscaping company vs someone who specifically does fences? Who does the HOA permits? The utility line marking (the last company sliced through our cable line and we were without cable for a week)? What about ensuring that we’re staying on our property line and not encroaching on the neighbors? It was my first fence and I had no idea what to look for, so we went with the least expensive option and have suffered for it.

A broken fence board is backlit by sunlight and green grass. The board looks kind of like a face and the way it's broken, it looks like the face is laughing and hitting itself against the adjacent board. This is how I have felt trying to hire a fence installer. You don't have to feel like this when hiring a photographer.
Does this look like a face to anybody besides me? I feel like the fence is laughing at me.

The same is true for family photography, believe it or not. Hiring someone just based on their price may come back to bite you in the long run. Maybe not tomorrow (unless they cut through your cable line), but maybe down the line. Are you hiring a family photography specialist or a wedding photographer who sometimes works with families? What will you have to do to “maintain” your photos after you get them? If you’re getting digital files only, what work are you having to do after you pay your photographer, in order to see your photos on display in your home? Will you be hiring the best printer or book maker as well?

A broken privacy fence board leans away from a fence post, with the house siding in the background. When hiring a professional for a job, it's important to know what you're looking for and not just go on the lowest price.

I have a few tips for you if you’re about to start the search for a photographer, or if you’re overwhelmed with the thought of hiring one. You can find my tips by clicking below. They include how to walk through the process, and some categorical buzz words that photographers like to use but non-photographers might not understand.

I think we can agree that hiring a professional based solely on the low price hardly ever leads to success. Download my tips for hiring a photographer by entering your info below: