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7 tips On Picking a Family Photographer
  • Michelle Harris

7 tips On Picking a Family Photographer

Have you struggled to find a family photographer that you really like? We know we want a photographer that is technically strong. Just as important is finding a photographer that you can trust and that understands you and your vision. Check out the 7 tips on picking a family photographer below.

Finding a photographer that you can trust, understands what you are wanting and you are able to connect with is incredibly important. It is worth taking your time to find the right fit.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory." Dr. Seuss

Let me guess, you have been putting off having your family's portraits taken till you had more time, till the weather was better, till you lost weight, etc. The reasons you can add to this list are far too numerous to count. Here's the thing, if you keep waiting until whatever happens you will never have them done. Or at least not when the kids are young, or the grandparents are still living. Forgive me if that sounds harsh, but I know what you are going through. I have been where you are and the time is never perfect, plus life will pass you by in the blink of an eye. It is so important to capture life's special moments and record those precious memories to look back on years from now. Just think of the stories you will have when you walk down memory lane looking at the pictures you had taken.

Now you are committed to have photos taken and the search has begun. So, you are scrolling through website after website trying to figure out who to use. It is exhausting surfing and hunting for the perfect photographer and you wonder if you should just pick one and see what happens. Before you just randomly pick someone let me help you out.

In my last post I talked about what made for a good photographer. If you missed it check it out here https://www.daltonharrisphotography.com/blog/picking-the-right-photographer-for-you-part-1. Today, I want to help you wade through the seas of photographers. I want to give you 7 tips to help you pick the best family photographer for you and your family. Are you ready? Let's get started!

7 Tips for Choosing a Family Photographer

I am going to talk about 7 different aspects for you to consider when picking a photographer. This goes beyond the obvious of taking technically strong photos. This is about picking a photographer you not only like their work, but one that you feel comfortable working with. Let's dive in and figure out what the right photographer for you would be like. #storytellingimages #capturethemoments #familyportraits #capturethemoments

1. Choose a photographer whose style you love

There are several styles of photography in the market. I want to talk about a few of them to give you an idea of what photographers are talking about when they refer to their particular style.

a. Studio vs Location - I know the difference here may seem obvious, but a brief explanation can be helpful. The biggest difference is one photographer has their own studio to work from. They will have several different backgrounds and props that can be used during the session to get creative looks. Working in a studio has the advantage of maintaining a consistent light to work with which allows for a consistent look in every photo they take. A photographer that works on location can work inside or outside. They travel to a location that works best for you rather than you coming to them. Working on location has advantages and disadvantages.. To me the biggest advantage is the client (YOU) can select a location that means something to you and may have a sentimental connection too. This helps create stories that you will remember for years to come and will have so much meaning to you. The biggest disadvantage is shooting on location can be very dependent on the weather. No matter how well you plan mother nature will be in control.. I am a location photographer. I have to be quick on my feet at all times if the weather starts changing or if we are chasing the perfect light. It takes more planning, but I feel it is so much more rewarding and always creates little challenges that If find fun to work with.

b. Lifestyle/Documentary - These are very similar as they both take on a photojournalistic feel. These styles are great for telling stories and when you don't want strictly posed photos. A little bit of posing or grouping is used but takes on a more relaxed and natural feel. I describe my style as lifestyle. I feel this captures the true personalities of the people I am working with. Plus, I don't mind chasing after a little one that is playing with bubbles! I actually love it! This style allows me to really connect with my clients and get to know them.

c. Edgy and Bold - This style is very creative. They tend to use lighting in bold and artistic ways. They may shoot on location, in a studio or both. This style isn't very everyone and typically isn't used for family photos.

2. Choose a photographer who specializes in the type of session you are looking for

When looking for a photographer, you want someone who specializes in the type of session you are looking for. There are photographers that specialize in senior photos, newborns, families, pets, events and business. Most may have a couple of different specialties such as couples and weddings or children and families. If you are looking for someone to take the cute posed newborn photos make sure they are specialized in this area. Newborn photography takes training and practice to be able to safely pose the newborn. It isn't a genre that everyone is capable of doing. If you are looking for family portraits and you have young children you will want to make sure the photographer enjoys working with kids and has the patience to work with a tired and grumpy little one. I am a family photographer. I love working with families and being able to watch the kiddos grow up. It is so much fun to see how they change and mature over the years. I enjoy working with the little ones and the teens. One last note here. If you are having family photos taken and want to include a pet make sure the photographer know s how to work with animals and has experience with them. Adding a pet to a family session is an added challenge that not every family photographer enjoys or knows how to incorporate into a session.

3. The Portfolio

Most photographers have a portfolio on their websites. You will be able to get a good idea of the photographer's style looking through their images. Is this a style you enjoy and can envision having you photos looking the way. As you are looking through the portfolio look for images that are consistent and has a high quality. You will also want to notice if the photos are outdated or appear to be more current. Most photographers will do a refresh of the images on their website once a year to keep current images available for viewing. You can also ask the photographer it you can view a recent client gallery to get the full picture of what you can expect from a session.

4. Research/Referrals

When you begin you search ask around with friends and family to see who they have used and like working with. Keep in mind that just because your friends liked them doesn't mean they will be the photographer for you. Do your research and make sure you like the style of the photos and you also have to consider if they are in your price range.

5. Get to know them

When you are making the final decision on which photographer you want to work with take time to get to know them. Make sure to talk with them over the phone or in person. Don't relie on text. Text is fine for confirming appointments, but not for getting to know a photographer. Talking with them will give you an idea if you can connect with them and they understand what you are looking to get out of a session. You want to make sure that your personalities mess and don't clash with one another. Check out their bio on their website and look at their social media. You can learn a great deal about a photographer in how they write their posts and talk about themselves in the bio. Most importantly you want to know that you can trust them. Trust is huge for me when I am deciding who I want to work with or shop with. Trust goes a long way. I bares mentioning here that while you are interviewing the photographer and trying to determine if you want to work with them, they are doing the exact same thing. Photographers have a client type in mind and want to make sure the client is a good fit for them also.

6. Investment, How much will it cost?

While you may want to make cost your first priority I would discourage that way of thinking.. Don't get me wrong, the amount you have budgeted is important and does come into play. Photographers have different ways of setting their prices. Some do an all inclusive pricing that includes the session and prints. While others have a session fee with separate pricing for products and prints. You may see set packages with a la carte' offerings while others only have a la carte' offerings.. There aren't wrong ways of pricing only different ways that are based on experience in the business. You will find some only sell digital images or prints while other have a combination. While you are talking with the photographer this is something they should explain to you and help you understand what they offer. If you really like a photographers work and what they are offering doesn't fit what you are looking for ask for a custom quote from them. Most will be happy to build a package to fit your needs. No matter how the photographer sets up their pricing structure they should be up front with how they charge and bill for their services.

Keep in mind there are photographers at all different price points so ask questions and make sure they will be a good fit for you financially.

I must talk about contracts here also. Most photographers will ask you to sign a contract. Don't let it scare you. The contract is not only for their protection it is for yours also. The contract should cover pricing, down payments, payment type (cash, check or charge) who has ownership of the photos, what you are allowed to do with the photos, cancellations policies, etc. This sounds complicated and it can be. If you read through the contract and you don't understand it, ask questions. You photographer should be willing to explain any part or all if you need them to. Some photographers include a model release in their contract or it may be separate. A model release allows the photographer to use your images in ads, social media, advertising materials and the list goes on. In either case the model release should detail how they plan to use your images. The important thing here to know is that you don't have to consent to allow your images to be used. You can also specify how they are and aren't allowed to use them. You more than likely will not have ownership of the images, but you are in the images and have your own reputation to consider.

7. Choose a photographer who is committed to you.

You want a photographer that is committed to you. What I mean is they are willing to walk you through the process before hand and make sure you now what to expect throughout the process. When they are working with you they are only working with you. They shouldn't be taking calls during your session or when they are talking with you. Remember you are paying for the time and deserve the respect to have their sole focus. You also want to make sure the photographer communicates well. You don't want to book them and then not hear from them until the day of the session. The photographer should communicate a little after you have booked the session. They should be ready to help you select a location, the clothes you wear and send you little reminders leading up to the day of the session and then communication leading up to the viewing of your images from your session and when you should receive your images whether digitally or print. This is also where you want to trust the photographer. The photo session is all about you and your family and you want to know your photographer understands what you are looking for from the session and will work in a efficient manner to get you your final images.

The most precious moments of your life deserve to be captured!

Time to Connect

Whew, that is a tone to consider. Remember, these are your precious memories that you are entrusting a photographer to capture. They aren't random photos being taken. Take your time selecting the right photographer for your family and you won't regret it later. My last piece of advice is when you find a photographer you love.... Stick with them!

        Winston-Salem, North Carolina                 336-408-0804       



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