CHOOSING THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER FOR YOU | 4 HELPFUL TIPS
Choosing the right family photographer can be a daunting task. If you do a good ol' Google search for a “Family Photographer” in your area, inevitably you will be barraged with hundreds of options. Then there is the friend of a friend who said so-and-so photographer was good, but you can't remember their name. Plus there’s always that cousin/aunt/neighbor/friend who says they can take your photos because they’ve got “a great eye” and a “nice camera.”
So where do you even begin, right?
I’m going to share with you a my best (and unbiased) tips to help you choose the right family photographer for you.
Tip #1 : Hire to suit your style
The photographer you choose must have a portfolio of images that make you go ‘wow’ or ‘I want that on my wall!’ As you work your way through your search, look at their portfolios and determine the style that speaks to you. If you enjoy the look of a traditional portrait session where everyone is posed and looking at the camera, for example, a photographer who displays only images of a more natural, candid, story-telling style is probably not the right fit for your family. Also pay attention to the quality of all of their images. There should be a consistent look, with similar tones, exposure, and editing style. There shouldn’t be a drastic mix of light and airy image alongside a dark and dramatic photo within the same session (or portfolio!). The subjects should be in focus and captured with flattering light and angles. Review their blogs and social media pages, for recent work. You should be able to get a feel for whether they maintain a style and have mastered it, or if they jump from trend to trend.
As important as making sure your photographer suits your personal photography style, you will also want a professional who has experience in the session type you're looking to hire for!
Generally speaking, photographers only put on their websites images that represent their best work, but also the type of sessions they want to be hired for! Most photographers are well (better) versed in a specific genre of photography. It's important to make sure your photographer specializes in your session type!
Tip #2 : Find an expert in your session type
No, not all photographers can shoot all session types. And no, photography is not all the same! Hiring a photographer that has extensive knowledge and experience in the session you're interested in can make (or break) your whole photography experience! I'm not talking the just years with a camera in hand, I'm talking about experience with children and how to coax real smiles out of them. Are they experienced with handling and posing newborns? Do they provide guidance for awkwardness-free posing and will they help you determine what to wear to a family photo session (by far the most stressful part of preparing for a photo shoot)? These are all skills that an expert who specializes in family and newborn photography would have.
So, let me ask you something…
When it comes to the professionals you hire - think plumber, babysitter, hair dresser, etc...do you play the field every time or do you want someone you know you can trust? Well, if you're anything like me, you find comfort in having that "go-to" person in every service category. Finding and having a family photographer on speed dial should be no different!
Tip #3 : Find your Soulmate
There are definite perks to developing a LTR (long-term relationship) with your family photographer. Here are my top 3...
They’ve got you. They know you, your style, your likes and dislikes. Your kids and your partner get to know them and are comfortable with them. You’ll never have awkward moments in your photos, and each interaction builds more trust and more creativity. Have a shy kiddo? Why go through all the awkward introductions every year when instead they can look forward to seeing their old friend? That excitement shines through in your images too.
The photo goods. Whether it's the downloadable digital images you love sharing on social media, the annual holiday card order or the gorgeous 16x20 canvas wrap you want to hang over the fireplace, your go-to photographer offers the photo goods you want.
Reliability. We all love knowing what to expect and appreciate those we can count on. Once you've chosen the family photographer to "go steady with", you will know the whole process; from booking to session to gallery delivery, you will be able to relax and enjoy the process.
Tip #4 : The value equation
Now let’s talk investment. Or what I like to call, the value equation associated with custom photography. Yes, I've listed it last for a reason. It should be the FINAL thing you consider when you choose your photographer.
Let me start by saying, custom family photography is not for everyone. It is most definitely a luxury, and sometimes people are surprised by the price tag when they start looking into hiring a professional photographer for the first time. Cost can be a big factor. Sometimes it can be the deciding factor. But, the most important thing to figure out is what is included in the cost of the session. Sometimes a photographer may look inexpensive. However, once you factor in prints, digital negatives, and any additional fees, they could end up being the most expensive! If something is unclear ask for clarification before you sign a contract.
If a photographer is very inexpensive you may want to ask yourself, “why are they so inexpensive?”
Professional photographers have likely spent countless hours learning composition, lighting, posing, and mastering their art. The artist’s time and talent, their personal investment in equipment and upkeep as well as the cost of being in business (i.e. business license, insurance, taxes, supplies and travel) all add value. A dedicated photographer and professional business owner will strive to offer you a quality experience and will give your session the attention it deserves.
Bottom line... if a deal seems too good to be true it probably is.
Determining what all is included and how much you're willing to invest in your family session will help you find the photographer you’re looking for.
There you have it. I hope that you’ve found this guide helpful and it makes choosing the right family photographer for you a little bit easier.
If I can help answer any of these questions for you, please feel free to reach out to me! I’d love to chat!