And suddenly you’re pregnant, or you’ve just had a baby and you decide you want to have your family photographed by a professional. But with so many different photographers on the market, I know it can get confusing, especially if you don’t know anything about photography or if you have never hired a photographer before. So I decided to put together a mini guide with 7 tips for choosing a family photographer.
First of all, I think that a photographer that is perfect for someone not necessarily is for another one. People are different, they have different tastes, visions, and perceptions. So I want to help you maximize your chances of choosing the best family photographer for you.
1. ASK YOURSELF WHY
Do this exercise of wondering why you want the pictures. For example, are these photos for an album, a frame, or for social media posting? Do you want a simple portrait your family? Do you prefer something more magical? Or do you want pictures that show the love and connection you have? Or maybe do you want to keep the memories of life exactly the way it is today?
If you do not know where to start, I give you a tip to realize what’s important to you: think about what you’ll want to remember in a couple of years. Or what you think your kids would like to remember in like 10 or 20 years (or more). If it’s hard to imagine, think about your childhood pictures. The ones you like the most. And also the ones you would like to have but you don’t.
For instance, I would love to have more family pictures of us inside our house, playing with our own toys, because they are the memories I care about the most (and unfortunately most of the pictures I have don’t represent that). But this is me. Think about what is important and a priority to you.
2. CHOOSE THE STYLE YOU WOULD LIKE THE MOST
Knowing the reason why you want the photos, it’s easier to choose the style of photographer you will look for. You already know that you want a family photographer (or newborn, birth, birthday’s party, etc). Then you can start by searching on Google, Instagram, or Facebook along with the name of your city. You will have a good idea of some options that you will have.
Here are some basic concepts that will make your choice easier. Of course, there are many styles that don’t fit into these categories, some of which are difficult to categorize and some photographers do more than one style (I do lifestyle and documentary) or a mix of them. But in general terms most of the family photographers in the market will fit (or semi-fit) into at least one of the following categories:
- PORTRAIT PHOTOS: these are the traditional posed photos, shot in studios or outdoors. They are usually posed and have eye contact with the camera. You can find this kind of pictures if you search for family portraits. When it’s in a studio, you can shoot a single (or a few) photos, but it can be a complete essay as well. It is easily identified because they have scenarios or situations specially set up for the photos (traditional newborn photography is an example).
- LIFESTYLE PHOTOS: this category may have other names, such as candid, natural, etc. They can be done in almost any environment and can be more or less directed (sometimes it is difficult to say if the situation was real or not). They seem unposed, unplanned, and often focusing on true connections and feelings. It is in the middle between the portrait photos and the documentary photos (next category).
- DOCUMENTARY PHOTOS: this is perhaps the least known category for many people. Even tough documentary photography is not new as a style, it has begun to become a bit more popular for commercial family photography in recent years. In this case, the photographer spends time with the family recording their day to day, not interfering in what happens. It can be a whole day or a few hours, and the result is usually quite authentic, since no family is the same. The photographer will be recording not only the connection of you and how you look, but also the essence and small details of the family’s routine. The photos don’t take place in a specific location because they are according to family activities. It can be at your home, on the street, at school, in the car or during your vacation activities, for example. You can search for this style by documentary or photojournalism.
3. SEARCH ON THE INTERNET (AND READ THE REVIEWS)
You can start asking for recommendations from friends, but the ideal photographer for your friend is not necessarily the right one for you. If you have a recommendation, ask what your friend liked and didn’t like.
Whether you have a friend’s recommendation or not, I’d say to have a look on the Internet. Find the photographer you’ve been recommended and see if it’s what you’re looking for. Look for other photographers of the same style and see which one you like best, which makes your eyes shine or what emotions their photos evoque you. The more specific you are in your search, the better. Photographers who appear in Google’s search gain a point of trust as they need to have a serious job to be there. It is very important that you trust the professional, and consulting the reviews of Google or Facebook can already give you an idea of what customers think. But a talk with the photographer himself will probably give you a better idea of what to expect.
4. LOVE THE PHOTOS
As I said, there is a photographer for all likings and likings for all styles of photographers. The biggest mistake you can make is to treat a photographer only as a service provider. Photography is NOT the same from one professional to another and the result can be completely different. Photography is art. So check the photographer’s work, their style, how they express and how their work makes you feel. Imagine your family having those kind of pictures. Remember that these photos are what you will keep forever, throughout your life and probably in the next generations. If you really want to have this photographer for your family, go ahead.
5. LIKE THE PHOTOGRAPHER AS A PERSON
It’s important to know a little about the photographer you are choosing. Read their “about” page, talk to them, understand their motivations and style. If they have a blog, read their blog, look for connections, ask them questions. When a connection between the photographer and the family happens, the chances of the job flowing well are huge. The family feels more relaxed and the photographer feels free to create. The result is usually the best it could be.
Trust your intuition.
6. PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS
Professionalism is seen in the details. Pay attention to how their presentation is, the care with their website, with their social networks, the attention that the person gives you. Does the photographer treat clients as just one more job? Or do every customer is important? Do you realize that they love what they do? Paying attention to these little details can help you choose or discard professionals.
Besides that, be sure all the conditions are clear. For instance: what it is included in the price? What is the price for extra products? How long after the session will the gallery be ready? What is the cancelation policy? This kind of questions should be clear before you hire the photographer, so you won’t be surprised later.
7. DEFINE YOUR BUDGET, BUT DO NOT CHOOSE THE PHOTOGRAPHER BY PRICE
I did a research with mothers about their experience in hiring a photographer. One of the questions was about regrets and one of the top regret reasons was hiring a cheap photographer with bad quality pictures. I have more than 50 answers and not even one mentioned expensive service as a matter of regret. It doesn’t necessarily mean that more expensive photographers will always be better, but there is often a price/quality correlation. The tip I give you is: if you need to limit your budget, it’s better to choose a simpler product of the photographer you liked the most than a top package of a photographer that is only ok. After a while, you won’t remember how much you paid, but the beautiful photos (or not) will always be with you.
You can also check my work. 🙂
I am a lifestyle and documentary family photographer in London. If you want to know more about it, go to my family photography page.