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How to book a portrait photographer – 10 great tips

location portrait photographer

Are you looking for some professional portrait photography for yourself, your family, or your business? Like many other tasks, it can be a bit daunting. I’ve written this blog to help clients find the right portrait photographer for them. 

It’s by no means a definitive guide but I’ve done my best to set out a few steps to simplify the process for you.

1. Do you like their portrait photography - Have you looked at their portfolio

The most common method in modern times when looking for a product or service such as a portrait photographer is to use Google. Whether you love or hate them it’s the de-facto way of online research. Google’s modus operandi is constantly being updated and its algorithms altered. According to Google this is so we can find what we are looking for easier and faster, in this case professional portrait photography. I’m not always 100% convinced of this myself but it’s a good place to start.

Be as specific as possible when doing research. A portrait photographer is more likely to yield results than portrait photography.  Narrow your search down further by searching for family portrait photos if you are looking for a family photographer. If you are looking for LinkedIn business profile photography or dating profile pictures just type those details in.

Where are you?

Adding a specific geographic location will also help. London portrait photographer will bring better results than portrait photographer or portrait photographer UK. In a big city like London, however, it can pay to be even more specific. Typing south, west, or central London to professional photography (er) can prove beneficial. You can even select post codes or an actual area like East Dulwich, Chelsea, or Belsize Park.

Now you have a few to view you can take a look at some of their work. Bear in mind that photographers can share their work in a variety of ways.

Some show galleries of individual shoots. Others may only show a few examples and some might only shoot in a particular style such as black and white.  There may be some who only shoot a particular genre of professional portrait photography such as children’s studio portraits. When it comes to style etc ensure your expectations are reasonable. You may be blown away by the images at sunset on a beach but if you work evenings and live in a big city then that aspect may not be reproducible.

editorial portrait photography

2. Do you know and like the portrait photographer them personally?

Another avenue you might want to consider is asking a photographer you already know. If you are the subject and not the most confident in front of a camera, and that’s about 95% of the population, then you might find it easier if you already know the person pressing the shutter release button. A fair amount of photographic skills are transferrable across the different genres and a professional in another area of photography is bound to know their camera better than an amateur. Of course it will pay to explain to them exactly what you need but you may find they already do what you are looking for as a side project anyway. Many professional photographers cover 2 of 3 different areas and enjoy the variety. They may also incorporate other aspects of creativity into their work because their influences and experiences are broader.

3. Have they been referred/recommended by a friend or an photography agency.

A satisfied customer is a service professional’s best form of advertising. This is as relevant with professional portrait photography as any other service. You might have been to a friend’s house and seen some great family portraits hung on the walls or frames on the sideboard or you might notice a friend has a great LinkedIn profile picture. A simple message or phone call and you could be referred straight away. Most people in business are happy to refer other people they have had a good experience with. Similarly if you go to an agency they will be only too happy to refer you to someone who can meet your needs. Bear in mind that you may have to pay extra when dealing with agencies as they take their cut but they might have more prospects to choose from. You may also have to abide by agency rules and regulations too.

female studio portrait photography

4. Do they have lots of good online reviews.

There are many places clients can leave reviews for professional portrait photography services. There is Google, Bing, TrustPilot, Facebook, Yell, and many others. You might even have a local community site. It can be a good idea to check what previous clients have had to say about the candidates. More positive reviews increase the chances that you are going to book the right photographer for you. 

5. Have they won any awards/accreditations.

I personally beliece that professional portrait photography is more of a creative art than a qualification. Some of the best portrait photographers are self-taught. There are a variety of qualifications including BSc & BA as well as master’s degree courses. However, some of these are more about the study of other photographers rather than learning & developing photographic skills. It is a personal matter of how much importance you attach to them. There are some professional photography associations and some have accreditations too. 

A portrait photographer might be accredited. They will have been required to show a consistent level of professionalism.  There are tons of creative portrait photographers who have no professional affiliation, no certificate or degree, and may even be self-taught who provide outstanding services. It would still be a good idea to check out their work before dismissing them because they have no degree..

london portrait photographer

6. Can you communicate with them?

Communication is vital in any service.  It’s essential that the client understands what they can expect of a photographer and vice versa.

You may have questions you want to ask and the better the communication the better the rapport on the photo-shoot. It doesn’t always have to take 20 phone calls or messages between the client and the photographer but building rapport has never been wasted in my experience.

7. Do they provide the service/product you require?

Professional portrait photographers like other service providers can offer their products or services in a variety of ways. Some only provide specific services or packages. Others may only sell prints, some only provide digital files. There will be some photographers who provide a combination of both and some will tailor their services to your needs. It’s vital that you understand and agree prior to booking what you are getting. There isn’t much point in booking a portrait photographer that only sells prints for £200 each if you only want digital images for social media avatar or for dating platforms.

family portrait

8. Are they available when you want/need them?

Another straight-forward but sometimes overlooked factor is are they available when you want to book them? A freelance portrait photographer can go through phases of feast & famine. They can have periods of being fully booked and other times when business is slow. It’s always good to plan & book ahead. Most portrait photographers will do their best to fit you in at short notice if possible. A good idea if booking a location shoot is to check in advance what the policy is if the weather turns sour.

9. Can you validate them on social media?

Social media is everywhere these days. Some photographers love it and some, like myself, view it as necessary to build credibility. Many businesses sub contract their social media and marketing out and it’s possible to buy followers and likes quite easily nowadays quite cheaply.

Some of the best photographers and creatives I know hardly get any likes or followers on Insta, FB, or TikTok.  They are fantastic at their job. I would not be swayed by how many likes or follows a photographer has. I am more impressed by the quality of portrait photography they share.

black and white studio portrait photographer

10. Are you comfortable with the value

You can buy a coffee for £1 in some places today and in other places, a different coffee will be priced at over £5. Are they the same product? Are they the same customer? Probably not either. You need to find a level of value that you are comfortable with. Do you do your clothes shopping at Primark, M&S, or at Harvey Nicholls? The prices are on different scales but so are the products that the different retail outlets sell. The same applies to photography. You would not expect to shop in Harrods and expect to pay Primark prices so why would you do the same with a photographer?

Book a session by going to my Contact page.

 Read my other blogs: How I build rapport with clients or Professional Headshots: 10 client tips to get the best results or visit the Blog page itself.

See more of my Portrait Photography or go to the Home page.


I am a portrait photographer from London UK, who takes professional portrait & headshots of people for business and personal use. I am also a London event photographer covering all types of events from small private gatherings to office work parties, large festivals, and conferences.