There are so many photographers around you. Your friend takes some pretty awesome street shots with an iPhone, your sister’s best friend’s cousin has a fancy camera, and your husband’s niece is a photographer, along with twenty of your Facebook friends. So when you’re looking for a family photographer, you’re often lost in a swell of photos and prices and have no idea which photographer is best for you. Or maybe, you want a specific look and are unsure how to find the photographer that will capture your family that way. Now, before you walk away from this post because I’m a photographer, and clearly I’m trying to convince you to book me, I promise I’m not (ok maybe I am a little). But I know that I’m not the ideal photographer for everyone, and I want you to have photos that you will cherish for years – not a nagging regret that you didn’t know what you were getting into. Follow these four steps to find a family photographer that’s right for your family.
- Know your style. What? You’re not a photographer? That doesn’t mean you don’t have a style. Look through photographers websites, or through photos you’ve pinned on Pinterest. Identify images you like and analyze them. Are they indoor or outdoor? Are they light and airy, or full of sharp contrast? Is everyone smiling at the camera or is it a more natural moment frozen in time? There is no right answer to this – just like every photographer is different, you have tastes and interests that are different than other clients. So know what you want. If you love light, airy outdoor shoots, don’t book a photographer that does mostly indoor, studio sessions. If you love a photographer’s images, that could be the photographer for you. If you prefer a different style, but assume the photographer can change styles and capture what you want… stop! Before I was a photographer, I thought that way. I thought that a photographer could capture my style even if that wasn’t what they normally do. A photographer shoots a certain way for a reason; don’t expect something they don’t normally deliver.
- Know your photographer. Ok, now that you know what your style is, find a few photographers in line with what you like.If you don’t know many photographers, ask for recommendations on Facebook or search for photographers in the area. Look through the photographer’s website photos and see if they have experience similar to what you need. Is their family gallery filled with teenage children and you have toddlers? Look at the images they have shared with children around your kids’ age. Do personalities come out, or is it all cheesy smiles and forced moments? Despite your style, you want the photos to capture your real family, not a made-up family that doesn’t reflect the various personalities and characteristics of your family dynamics. Better than a perfectly made-up and edited image is a session that captures the little quirks and moments of you and your family. This turns the session into a fun family shoot – a shoot about celebrating your beautiful, unique family!
- Assess the cost. Yes, I wrote this after those last two. Please don’t settle with a photographer because it’s all you can afford. Granted, you may not be able to afford a one thousand dollar session with a three hundred dollar budget. But consider cutting something out of your budget for a month or two, or getting photos done every other year to pay a photographer that you’re not “settling for,” but a photographer that you truly value! As you compare prices, don’t just look at session price. Consider whether or not you’re required to purchase prints, or digital images, or if these are included in the fee.
- Reach out. Call or email your perspective photographer and put in some time to speak with them about what you want. Lay out what you’re looking for, and your photographer will be thrilled that you’re excited about and planning for this experience! Sessions are always better if the photographer knows what you want, and knows what specific style or ideas you have in mind.
Don’t be afraid to be picky and do some research. This can be a rewarding and exciting experience if you put some thought into it. Although choosing the right family photographer for your family can seem intimidating, you may find that you fall in love with a collection of image that captures your style and your one-of-a-kind, wonderful family. Happy Hunting!