Questions Not To Ask A Photographer

Recently, I was asked by a potential customer one of the “worst” question she could ask:

Which camera are you using?

— anonymous (2019)

It’s like asking a mechanism which wrench does he use? Or asking a painter which brush size does he use?

As a photographer that deals with living people and animals, I have to deal with two main things:

  1. Light
  2. Moment

The Light

I can control the light, mostly.

  • I can add light with LEDs.
  • I can add light with flash.
  • I can add light with reflectors.
  • I can remove light with flags or the back of reflectors.
  • I can remove light by going to a different location like under the trees or in the shade…

The Moment

This is the most important element that I cannot control.

  • When somebody is in a bad mood, for reason X…
  • When somebody does not want their photo taken.
  • When the dog is scared of the camera, then it takes a lot of time to gain her confidence.
  • When the dog is scared of the weather… then the session will have to be rescheduled.

The Camera

The vast majority of the times, the camera doesn’t matter. Almost all cameras will produce good enough images if the conditions are good enough.

Even an iPhone can produce a good 8x12” print IF the lighting conditions are good enough and the subject is static.

The iPhone will NOT produce a decent 5x7” print if the subject is moving and the light is not very bright.

The more difficult the conditions of the photo session, like rain, snow… The more important the quality of the camera to withstand these conditions.

Good Questions to Ask a Photographer

  • Do you do off-camera flash?
  • Can you make off-camera flash look natural?
  • When do you do colours and when do you do Black and White?

Bad Answer From a Photographer

I’m a natural light specialist!

  • Light is light, whether it comes from the sun, from the clouds, from the environment or from a flash. All light is made of photons. I didn’t know that florescent, LEDs, tungsten were natural light.
  • Natural light specialists are afraid of flash because they do not understand how the flash works.
  • Light from flash can be made more natural than natural light. Photography is very different from normal eyesight.
  • Light from flash can help reduce the contrast and show the person against a bright background while still seeing the background.
  • Light from flash can open the shadows and remove the “raccoon eyes”. That’s when we do not see the eyes, they are too dark because of the shadow.
  • Sometimes a reflector is all that is needed to redirect the light and open the shadows.