How to choose the best family photographer (*sidenote: it might not be me) | Cincinnati + Dayton family photographer

You’ve searched google, you’ve asked friends, you’ve looked on Facebook. You’ve gotten lost in the rabbit hole of choices and web sites and somebody save me from this madness.

After all your searching, you came up with at least 782 photographers in your area that “specialize” in what you are looking for (am I right?). How do you figure out who’s the best one for you?

Here are a few tips that will help you narrow down what you are looking for, even if you think you might already know. 😉

  • The best place to start is with referrals from friends.

Referrals are great when searching for a photographer because your friend will already have gone through the entire process. You can ask your friend these questions:

Were you happy with the way the photographer interacted with your family?

Did he/she make the process easy for you?

Did you get your products when promised?

How was the quality of your photos/products?

And the most important question: Would you use the photographer again? This is huge, friends. Someone who has gone through the entire process with a photographer will be able to gauge the experience from start to finish. If your friend wouldn’t use the photographer again, then that’s a red flag. Move on.

That being said, don’t use a photographer just because your friend did. Your needs could be different. Which leads me to my next point.

  • Not all photographers are created equal. 

Think about what you are looking for – your specific needs. Look at the photographer’s portfolio and see if their style matches what you have in mind.

Do you want a big, extended family, posed portrait? Don’t pick a photographer whose specialty is candid images if you want mostly posed images. Pick a photographer who specializes in what YOU want done. If you don’t, you could be disappointed with your images.

When I’m choosing  a photographer for my own family, I want somebody who’s excited to give me what I’m looking for. I want their style to mesh with what I’m after.

Make sense? Okay. My next point.

  • Ask to see an entire gallery (don’t just depend on what you see on their web site).

Most photographers can come up with a handful of great images from a session to post on social media or their website. To get a better sense of a photographer’s style and ability, ask to see an entire gallery from a recent session. And then ask yourself these questions:

Are the images sharp and in focus?

Do I like the edits to the photos?

Are there any distracting elements in the backgrounds of the images?

Do I like the poses?

Can they use light well?

Do the photos tell a story?

  • Posed or lifestyle?

You will need to decide if you’d like to have more of a posed session or a lifestyle session.

In a posed session, the photographer may place you in different poses and positions, and you are often all looking at the camera and smiling. These sessions are typically done at a park or some agreed upon outdoor location. They can also be done in-studio, with artificial lighting.

In a lifestyle session, the focus of the session is on capturing the family in natural interactions, with maybe a little bit of casual posing thrown in here and there. These kinds of sessions are best done at home, in the child/family’s natural environment. They can be indoor or outdoor, but they focus more on the interactions and the photos typically invoke stronger emotions when you look at them. 

  • $$$ (sing it with me – moneymoneymoneymoooooney. MONEY.).

Cost can be a big factor. Sometimes it can be THE deciding factor. We all have budgets to stick to and priorities, can I get an amen?

The most important thing to figure out is exactly what is included in the cost of the session. Are any digital negatives or prints included in the session price? If so, are they high resolution photos? Is a print credit included? If not, what are the print prices?

If a photographer is very inexpensive you may want to ask yourself WHY they’re so inexpensive. Are they investing in professional equipment that will result in great images? Do they have the proper licenses? Are they paying taxes? Do they have insurance? Are they booking several sessions a week and won’t have the time to give your session the attention it deserves?

You need to factor in a photographer’s time invested in your session, their expertise, as well as their costs when taking into account their pricing. Just like your mama always told you: If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

Bottom line: Get to know the photographer, and you’ll know if she/he is a good fit.

A great place to start is on their About Page on their website. You can usually get a feel for their personality there. Check their blog and social media pages. Do you like her/him? Do you have things in common? Do you feel like you could be friends in real life? If the answer is yes, you’re usually on the right track. Often when I meet a client for the first time, they’ll tell me, “I feel like I already knew you before we even met!” And we usually end up being friends in real life. That’s my favorite.

If you’re still unsure, schedule a phone call to chat. A photographer should ALWAYS be willing to chat before your session. If you don’t feel a connection, move on to another photographer.

In the end, your photographer should be someone you trust. Note: if you feel like you need to send your photographer a Pinterest board of ideas for your photo shoot, you probably don’t trust them. Your photographer should have a vision for your family. And if you’ve picked the right photographer, you will trust them and their vision.

Until next time, darlings!

P.S. Wanna know 3 easy ways to take better photos today? READ THIS!