How To Choose A {Family} Photographer That You LOVE!

There are reasons to take the plunge and hire a professional photographer to document your life RIGHT NOW. But what do you do when you’ve decided it is finally time and you go on a search for the perfect photographer who can create a timestamp of your life in beautiful pieces of art that tell your story?

Here’s a short 9 step guide to help you successfully choose a photographer that’s a win win for you to work with and one you will LOVE. 

1. Think about the result you are hoping to accomplish with your photo session. What do you want your photos to look like when you finally get to lay your eyes on them? Do you want studio portraits, a lifestyle session or real storytelling documentary photos (ahem, ahem) of your family? Why do those types of pictures resonate with you? What about those kinds of photographs makes your heart go pitter patter? (Yes, I do believe your heart should skip a beat or two when you hire someone to document your beautiful family). Having an idea of the genre you want is essential in getting results that you are over the moon in love with at the end.

2. Getting referred to a photographer by a trusted source is amazing. But if you can’t find a photographer who is your cup of tea based on word of mouth and you need to resort to the internet, try using search terms that will find you some options closest to what you are looking for. Many photographers work pretty hard on SEO so they show up when certain terms are searched for. So the more accurate you can search, the closer you’ll get to your dream photographer. For example, typing in “family photographer” will bring up so many search results it will be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Try something like “unposed documentary family photographer” to get you a little closer to your desired style (you know, that genre you thought about in step 1). Google already knows where you are so they will automatically refine your results to your area (I know, creepy, right?). 

3. This may be the most important piece of the puzzle. LOVE their work and their style (I mean seriously L.O.V.E.). Everyone has a website these days for just about everything. Almost all photographers, especially professional ones, have a website full of their portfolio images for people to see their best work. You should love, love, love what you see on a photographers website that you are considering hiring. Their portfolio should resonate with you and from their samples you may even be able to start to visualize your family in the mix. Check out the photographer's blog, as well. Often times they will blog about recent sessions without adding all the great images to their portfolio but they are still there for you to see and gush over.

4. You should not need to show a professional photographer (who’s work you are gobsmacked by) examples of what you want. Trust that they will make amazing photos of your family because you love their work samples. Don’t bother with a marathon Pinterest session to find the right poses and light requests to hand off to your photographer. Trust in the skill you are hiring for. (I just saved you hours of time. You’re welcome). 

5. Read testimonials from the photographer’s past clients. It’s such a great way to see what real people are saying about someones work. You want to connect with what past clients are saying about a photographer and what that photographer delivered. Look for testimonials that dig deeper than “Sally was great to work with.” If you really want to speak to a past client to hear it from the horses mouth, I bet you any professional photographer would have past clients ready to give you a recommendation. Just ask! I know any of my past clients would happily carve out some time to tell someone about their experience with me.

6. A professional photographer will be just that… Professional. You should get all the information you need to have a great experience with a photographer from the time you inquire to the time your prints are delivered. You should know what to expect throughout the process and have all of your questions answered.

7. You should like the photographer as a person. They should make you feel comfortable and be fun to work with. It can be nerve wracking thinking about being in front of a camera and being photographed for hours on end. Many of my clients have said they were nervous about how their children would behave, but in the end it was a fun experience since it felt like we were just hanging out while magical pictures were being made. The more you enjoy the company of your selected photographer, the easier your session will be

8. Think about what you want to do with your pictures once you have them. Why are you getting photos taken? Is it a family milestone? A celebration? A new baby? Or is it just time? Visualize what your goal is when you’re all done with your shoot. Do you want to put your new pieces of art up on your walls? Which rooms do you want art pieces to go in? Are you planning to use just a few images or make an impactful wall gallery? Maybe having an album or a small print of each photograph sounds the best so you can flip through them with your family from time to time or people can look at them when they come to visit. It’s a good idea to think about what you want out of the session as different photographers offer different types of products. A good photographer will help guide you through this process. 

9. You get what you pay for. Budget is important in all areas of life, but don’t pick a photographer based on the cheapest you can find. You won’t like what you get out of the experience if that is your main criteria and it will have been a waste of money no matter how cheap it was. Photographers are hard to compare apples to apples as pricing can vary dramatically from one business model to the next. But so can what you get for your session. Some photographers have one price that includes files, others have a session fee with options to purchase products either from packages or a la carte. A great question to ask a photographer you are interested in is what a typical client spends on average to get a good ballpark range of their services and what they get for that spend. Some may be in the field of £500 while others may average £4,000 per session. Also having an idea on what you want out of the session (see #8) can help you when it comes to determining value. It depends on the photographers skill, business model and what products you choose to purchase. 

Sample living room with wall art from a documentary family photo session.
Sample bedroom with framed wall art display of photos from documentary family photo session.

Choosing and hiring the RIGHT photographer for your family can be overwhelming. Following these guidelines can help make your process a little more smooth. And congratulations on choosing to document your family! It's so, so, SO important to preserve your memories in photographs to be able to cherish forever. The days go by way too fast. Document them now & cherish them later. Read more about stories behind photographs here.

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April Dautlich18 Comments