I believe that photos create space for organic emotion and forever memories.

Xiaopan Xue

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+Socal based photog
+Vocal, passionate, and strong
+Authentic, true to color, & vibrant photos that capture organic emotion
+Crystal and tattoo fanatic
 

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How to Choose the Right Photographer

When I was a kid, my parents didn’t let me do a lot of things. Sleepovers had to be pre-planned and tattoos were a definite no. I still lived at home when I was in college, but my parents let me do more adult stuff like get my first tattoo and piercings that weren’t my ear lobes. One of the first things I wanted to do was to pierce my helix (the top outer part of my right ear), but I knew absolutely nothing about piercings except they did them at Claire’s.

So naturally the first thing I did was search “cartilage piercing” which turned into “helix piercing” which then turned into “proper piercings are done with a needle not a piercing gun.”

The point is: choosing a photographer can be like getting a piercing, really intimidating and confusing. From the desk of a photographer, I present to you the top 5 things you should know about your photographer before booking them:

Their Style: How do their photos look and make you feel?

Look at their portfolio. When you look at the photos, what do you feel? Whatever their editing style is, it should incite some type of positive emotion in you. If you’re not crazy about their work, DON’T BOOK THEM! We have our distinct styles for a reason. If a photographer is willing to edit their photos differently for you, this is also a red flag. They probably don’t have their branding or style pinned down. You want a photographer who shoots AND edits confidently.

**Extra Credit: Think about what colors and tones you like. Do you like warm and airy photos, dark and moody vibes, or true to life colors? Usually each photographer will fall somewhere in between these three categories.

For example, my style is true to life, vibrant, and classic. When they look at my photos, I want my clients to feel emotions that are authentic and genuine. My photos show real life.

Pregnant African American woman holding her belly and looking down

Their Personality: Could you could see yourself being friends with them?

I recommend reading the ‘About me’ section on their website and Instagram bios. See if you can relate to them as a person. Your photographer does so much more than take photos – they spend the majority of the day with you! Your photographer should make you feel confident and beautiful in front of the camera. You should be able to have a good laugh or just a really great conversation with them. I highly recommend seeing if they do consult calls – this is a great way to see if you hit it off.

For example, my ‘About Me’ section talks a lot about the art I create with my photos. My goal is for my clients to have a forever physical memory of the moments in between. I am also an extremely communicative person from start to finish, instilling confidence and organic emotion into my clients. Queena and Darren chose to grub on IN-N-OUT in between their ceremony and reception so their wedding party could eat. Priorities, people.

A married couple smiling at each other at an IN-N-Out Burger table with burgers and french fries in between them

Their work ethic: Would you want to work with this person at work or in a group project?

Photography is much more than just showing up and taking the photos. Your photographer should have a good work ethic and great customer service. They should be communicative from the moment you inquire with them to the delivery of your photos.

**Extra Credit: When you’re on a consult call, ask them these questions: What is the turnaround time for wedding photos? Do you have an outfit guide on what we should wear? How do you provide the photos? How many images can I expect from a photo session like this?

For example, I am known in my circle of clients for being extra communicative. My clients know what to expect before, during, and after their photo session. They rave about my clear instructions during the session. And yes, I’m tooting my own horn!

A female, asian american photographer sitting on a couch and answering emails on a laptop

Their starting price: how much is it?

At the end of the day, we all have budgets and that is completely OK! However, your budget should match your expectations. Lower prices usually mean less experienced photographers and higher prices mean more seasoned photographers. Find the pricing section on their website and see what their starting prices are. If it’s out of your budget, continue your search! Negotiation is usually not an option because good photographers work hard and usually have really good reasons for their price points.

For example, taking photos is only part of the job. Culling, editing, and travel time are all factored in to price. I can spend up to a month or 6 weeks editing one wedding. That’s on top of the 7 to 11 hour coverage the day of the wedding.

A married couple standing on a cliff edge in La Jolla, San Diego, holding hands and smiling at each other

Their current work: do they have recent work to show you?

Two things will tell you if they’re consistently shooting: their blog and Instagram account. Not all photographers blog, so don’t panic if you don’t see one. Check their website to see if they have updated gallery posts of different sessions they’ve done. If not, check their Instagram! If they post quality photos consistently, you should be in good hands. Why is all of this important? Because it means they’re practicing their craft often and sharpening their skills. This means they will more than likely be prepared to offer the same high-quality work to you.

For example, my goal is to blog at least 2-4 times a month and I post to my Instagram almost daily. I have thousands of photos that I love and I want to show them off! This keeps me on my toes to continuously up the quality of my work.

A couple kissing their dark brown goldendoodle dog

I’m proud to say I am extremely well versed on the proper way to get a piercing and have added tattoos, crystals, and planters fasciitis to my wheelhouse. Happy photographer hunting!

~Xiaopan

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January 15, 2020

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