6 Tips for finding a Family Photographer that you won't regret
(These tips can actually apply to any genre of photography. Just swap "family" with the genre of your choice.)
Photography has become a commodity in the last several years. By that, I mean amateur photography. Everyone has a 900 megapixel camera in their purse or pocket at all times. And with social media, we've become such a visual world that you probably won't make it through the day without taking and sharing a photo of yourself/your kids/your dog/your breakfast burrito/etc.
Finding someone who will take your family photos is easier than ever now. Someone who got a fancy camera for Christmas last year will probably offer to do it for $25 (or free!).
But how about when you want actual quality professional photos of your family that you can cherish forever, share with your friends & family, hang on your walls, and keep for generations? Finding that photographer has become a little more difficult.
And let's face it, preparing your whole family for a photo session is WORK and COORDINATION and STRESS. Do you really want to go through all of that to just get mediocre photos? If not, then keep reading, because I've compiled 6 tips to help you find a Family Photographer that you won't regret.
Tip #1: Check & Read the Reviews
I recommend this for a few reasons: More reviews usually means they've been in business longer. Do you go to the hospital to have a baby and think, "Boy, I really hope this doctor just graduated yesterday!" Probably not. Time makes all professionals better, and photography is no different.
More reviews also means they've had more clients who are excited (or angry) enough about their photos to take the time to leave a review. That's important.
Make sure you READ the reviews! If they're 5-stars, have they written why? If all the reviews are 5 stars with no explanation, I'd start to doubt the validity of those reviews. On the other hand, if there are bad reviews, find out why that person didn't like their experience and whether their complaint is relevant to what you're wanting.
Tip #2: Make sure they have a Website
If they have a website, it means a couple things: they've probably been in business for a while, and they're taking their business seriously.
If someone is just dipping their toes into photography, they probably won't have a website. Likewise, if they don't have a big enough portfolio of past work to show off, they also probably won't have a website.
Creating and maintaining a website is a big investment of time and money. So if the photographer has decided to make that investment, it usually means they take their business more seriously, which likely means they'll take you, your money, and your time more seriously.
Tip #3: Find a Photographer with the Specialty and Style that you want
"Jack of all trades, master of none" is a real thing. As much as some photographers take pride in saying "I shoot everything!", being a specialist makes you better at the things you specialize in.
Going back to the hospital scenario, would you be excited to learn that the doctor delivering your baby spends most of their time doing colonoscopies and just "dabbles" in obstetrics? If you want family photos, find a photographer who spends a LOT of their time doing family photos.
When it comes to style, do you like candid photos? Photos with lots of props? Do you want photos that have a "light & airy" look or something more "moody"? (If you don't know what style fits you best, you can take this Photo Quiz!) Knowing these things will help you find a photographer who fits you best. Look at their portfolio and make sure it's consistent with what you want. If you show up to your session and tell a "lifestyle" photographer that you only want posed photos where everyone smiles and looks at the camera, it's probably not going to go well.
Tip #4: Look for Portfolio Consistency
Have you ever seen a photo from a photographer that makes you go, "WOW, I need to work with them!" Before you book that session, make sure you get on their website and look through their entire portfolio. Are the images consistent in quality and style with the one you love? With digital cameras, pretty much anyone can take 1,000 photos and wind up with a few good ones. But can they do that every session?
Consistency goes back to experience. When photographers are starting out, their work won't be consistent. They're learning the best lighting, posing, and editing styles for them, and you'll often see those variations in their work. Which is fine for them, but not so fine if you want your photos to look exactly like your friend's who went to the same photographer last week.
Tip #5: Make sure they act like a Professional
Does the photographer respond to you in a timely, professional manner? Do they answer your calls, or will they only text/email?
Are they going to send you a formal invoice before the session instead of asking you 2 weeks after your session to PayPal them through "Friends and Family" so they can avoid paying credit card fees?
Do they have a set timeline for what to expect before and after your session?
Do they have terms & conditions, offer consultations, send contracts, etc?
These are all things that will help you figure out if your photographer is taking their job seriously. If they act like a professional by doing most or all of these things, they'll probably treat you like a respected client from start to finish.
Tip #6: Make sure they're in your Budget (ish)
Why did I say "ish"? No, it's not because I want to disrespect your financial situation. It's because the general public has gotten a warped view of what a "reasonable" price for professional photography is over the last several years, and that's solely the fault of us photographers. What many people consider a "reasonable" photography budget now is actually completely unreasonable for most photographers to support themselves on, much less their family. (If you'd like to read an article about that and what a "reasonable" rate actually is, you can find it here.)
So yes, absolutely go in with a budget in mind. But if you find a photographer who you absolutely love and they meet all the above criteria, consider what those photos will mean to you and your family. Are those life-long memories worth more than getting a bigger flat screen TV? Or a designer purse that your daughter will spill a chocolate shake all over? Only you can answer that question, but it's something to consider.
I hope this article will help you find your perfect photographer! If you want to search and filter professional photographers in your area by style, specialty, experience, and more, you can use this Photographer Directory.