It’s May, and it’s time to start booking your photographer for holiday pictures. Popular photographers book out several months in advance, especially for holiday portraits, so if you don’t have a go-to photographer already, it’s time to start looking. But, with so many photographers how do you know which one to choose for your family? Below are some tips that can help you decide which photographer to invest in for your family.
1) Get referrals – Your friends and family will be the best place to start your search for a photographer. They can give you candid and honest reviews of what they liked and disliked about their photographer. Ask them how the photographer was to work with, did they work well with kids, how long it took to get their images back, were they happy with the images they received, and, most importantly, would they book that photographer again?
2) Photographer directories – Websites with photographer directories are not a bad place to find a photographer. But, keep in mind; photographers aren’t necessarily listed in them because they are the best. Often photographers have to pay to be listed in those directories. Do your research and don’t just book a photographer because they are featured on a website or blog.
3) Consistency – Take a look at the photographer’s blog. Is their style and editing consistent? A photographer’s website will show the best of their best work. But, their blog will give you a better sense of what kind of work they are producing on a session by session basis. Some questions you should ask yourself when looking through a photographer’s blog and gallery are:
- Are the images in focus?
- Are the images properly exposed?
- Do the poses looked forced or natural?
- Is the lighting consistent and flattering?
- Is their editing natural or overly Photoshopped?
If you are worried about consistency ask to see a real client’s gallery. That will give you a better feel of what you can expect from your images.
4) Style – Do you like formal pictures or more candid and lifestyle photography? Be honest with yourself. What images would you want to be hanging on your wall? Don’t book a lifestyle photographer and expect to get a lot of images where your family is smiling straight into the lens. You will get better images if you let a photographer do what they do best and not expect them to conform to what you want. I can tell you from experience that I need to be inspired to create the type of photographs that my clients expect. The best way to kill a photographer’s inspiration is to send them your Pinterest board of images you’d like them to recreate. You hired your photographer for a reason. Let them do what they do best.
5) Budget – Just like photographers’ styles vary dramatically, so do their prices. You need to be sure that you are investing in the right photographer for your family. Because family photos are an investment. What are your end goals? Do you really need the digital negatives? Or are you okay with prints to display in your home? Just because you want it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need it.
You also need to know what is included with the session fee? How much will prints cost to purchase a la carte? And is there a minimum order fee? All of these things should be told to you upfront.
Remember, cheaper isn’t always better. Often times, you get what you pay for. If you want an experienced, professional and talented photographer, you can expect to pay for it. If a photographer can charge higher prices it typically signifies that they are in demand, which means they are able to produce a good product while giving their customers a great experience.
6) Make sure you understand the photographers policies BEFORE you book. Read their pricing policies and contract carefully. Are the digital negatives included? How many images will you receive in your gallery? How long will your gallery be live? What are the a la carte print prices? Every photographer does things differently so don’t expect your new photographer to do things exactly like photographers you have used in the past.
Your family portraits are an investment! Treat them as such. Do your research and find an experienced photographer that clicks well with your family. And when you find that photographer that works well for your family, stick with them! I find that each time I work with a repeat client our shoots just get better and better once I know the dynamic of the family and they are comfortable with me. Plus, I love seeing my repeat clients year after year and getting to see their families grow!