Maybe you’re thinking the time to schedule an annual family session has come. Perhaps your family is expecting a new member and you would love some newborn photos. If you’re wondering how to find a photographer, you’ve come to right place. Indeed, not will I discuss the basics of finding a photographer, but how to find the right photographer for your family in this article. Believe it or not, there are a lot of factors to consider beyond availability and price. If you hope to find an artist who best fits for your family’s needs, keep reading!
The Basics of How to Find a Photographer
Chances are, even if you live in a small town, several photographers are booking clients in your area. If nothing comes up when you do a quick google search for photographers in your area, try searching with the name of nearby larger towns or cities. Many photographers willingly travel for sessions. However they may charge a small travel fee if the location is outside of their typical radius.
Instagram and Facebook serve as two other great platforms for searches. A photographer’s profile can help give a little more insight into their personality through their captions and “day in the life” posts. Photographers typically display their most recent work on social media platforms. Have any of your friends recently posted professional photos on social media that you loved? Reach out to them to find out what photographer they used and how the overall experience went!
While the steps listed above are obvious in helping you find a photographer working in your area, there’s much more to consider when attempting to hire someone who will be a good fit for your family’s needs. Below I will discuss several key factors to consider.
1) The Photographer’s Style
Photography is a visual art and each artist has their own individual style. While I suppose this may be an obvious statement, it wasn’t until I myself began venturing into photography that I realized how much variety there could be! Some photographers are light and airy. Others dark and moody images. Do prefer true tone colors or highly edited colors? Is your preference colors that are warm or cool? What about black and white? Do you like images with natural lighting or dramatic, stylized lighting? Would you prefer the sharp clarity of digital photography or the grainy look of film photography? Do you want the background tack sharp in order to feature the location or blurred with bokeh so that the person stays the primary focus? Indeed there are a lot of elements to consider!
Then consider what you want to do with your images. If you wish to display them as wall art, consider your general design aesthetic. For example, if your home is filled with light pastels, a photographer whose work is darker and utilizes warm tones may not mesh well with your current interior design. Indeed, if you have previous work from a photographer you like and are currently displaying, you may want to find a photographer with a similar style.
If you have never considered your photography preferences while trying to find a photographer…
I highly recommend taking some time to peruse Pinterest or Instagram. Save photographers or images that resonate with you, even if they don’t work in your area. You can use these as a reference point as you start to research local photographers.
Do not expect photographers to be able to produce a style of work that is different from their own in order to match someone else’s work. The lighting and editing that goes into producing an image of a certain style is actually a very complex process. It would be like asking a car mechanic to work on an airplane. Sure, they are both vehicles, but their inner workings are different and specialized.
Also note, that sometimes beginner photographers may not have nailed down their style yet. If you want to work with them, but have noticed a lot of variety of style displayed in their portfolio, be sure to discuss the specific type of photographs you are looking for.
2) Consider the Approach to Posing When Trying To Find A Photographer
In the last section, I addressed the visual aspects of a photographer’s work. But posing is another crucial component to consider when trying to find a photographer. Do you prefer photographs that have more of a candid, unposed feel? Perhaps you need to search for photographers who take a documentary approach to their work. Would you prefer formal, smiling-at-the-camera images by a traditional portrait photographer? Maybe you prefer a combination of the two, both candid moments and natural smiles directly at the camera. In that case, you a lifestyle photographer may suit you best.
It is important to inspect the photographer’s portfolio in order to gain an understanding of the type of posing they most typically use. You could even consider asking for a sample gallery from a past session to get a better understanding of the variety of poses that photographer includes in each session.
As a real life example, I recently had a newlywed reach out to me about taking some bridal portraits after the wedding. During our phone consult, she explained that she hired her wedding photographer because she liked the candid feel of that artist’s work. However, when she received her gallery, she was surprised to find there were hardly any “bridal portraits” or her looking at the camera and smiling. The client admitted that she did not fully realize that this type of portrait was important to her until she did not have any. She regretted not having more of a variety of candid and formal images of her wedding day.
3) Does the Photographer Offer Your Session Type?
Just because someone is a photographer, does not mean that they are skilled in photographing every type of session or event. Certain types of photography are highly specialized and require extra care, such as newborn photography. Not every photographer will have the lighting equipment to photograph a night time event. It’s important to check a potential photographer’s portfolio for the type of session or event you are hiring for.
I think this is especially true when hiring a family photographer for young children. While your wedding photographer may have captured stunning images of your big day, that does not mean that they are necessarily equipped with the skills needed to connect with and entertain your children. Let’s be honest, even the most well behaved children will not take direction and confidently pose the way an adult would. Children require a different approach. This is especially true if you have a child or family members with special needs. Consider booking a photographer who either has a portfolio that features work with children or a photographer who has worked with children in other facets of his/her life (i.e. former teachers, nurses, therapists).
If you are a family with special needs (or if you aren concerned about a child’s behavior during the session), request a phone call with the photographer. A quick conversation can go a long way in getting the answers you need. Give the photographer an opportunity to describe their past experience or explain their approach to certain scenarios.
4) What Value Will You Receive for the Pricing?
Okay. So you’ve found some photographers who fit your style and offer the type of photography you’re looking for. You should just hire the cheapest one, right?
Not so fast! I realize that everyone has a budget they are working under. However, with photography pricing you must consider more than just a number. What value is being offered with a particular package? Pricing can vary wildly between photographers, but that’s because we all have our own individual business models and offerings. It’s important to understand what is being offered and what you’re ultimately looking for. Remember, a lot of times you get what you pay for.
Are you simply looking for a few photos taken on a camera that’s better than your phone? Then you may be content with the result of paying a friend of a friend $75 to take your picture. When I first started my photography side hustle, I charged that much. My camera was nice, but not particularly powerful. I didn’t offer any assistance with session planning other than helping pick a session location. At most, I exchanged a few emails with my clients before the session and delivered a gallery with edited photos and print release (meaning the client could use them and get them printed where-ever they chose). My photos were fine (not great). I was really wanting to gain experience, so that price point matched what I was offering.
Now my price is one of the highest in my area, but I offer an experience and artwork of a much higher value. I offer a one-on-one pre-session consultation for planning. I’ve spent hours location scouting. Clients have access to my client closet full of photo-worthy dresses to borrow for their session. My equipment inventory has grown as has my ability to handle tricky lighting scenarios. I offer detailed editing and can fix things like acne, scratches, bruises and fly away hairs in Photoshop. My images include archival fine art prints along with the digital file. I offer custom album and wall art design using exclusive print companies. Overall, I now offer a very custom, hands on experience and my pricing reflects that value.
Value Components To Consider When Trying to Find A Photographer
- How many images will be included with the session? Will you receive them all or will you pick/purchase your favorites after having seen a proofing gallery?
- Is the photographer insured?
- Do they have a bad weather or sickness policy that works for you?
- Do they offer guidance on wardrobe or session styling?
- Do they have a client closet?
- Do they offer hair and makeup as part of the session?
- Do they offer props?
- Do they use professional equipment?
- Do they provide high resolution files?
- Do they offer professional prints?
- Do they offer custom album design and wall art?
- What level of editing is included with a session. (Don’t assume that just because someone is a photographer that they are skilled in the use of Photoshop. Photoshop edits also take a lot of time and your photographer may require additional payment.)
Does the Photographer Offer Mini-Sessions?
Mini-Sessions are a tempting option because they have a low price entry and low time commitment. These sessions generally last 5-10 minutes and result in 3-5 images (new photographers will sometimes include more images). Some photographers will allow you to purchase more images after you view the full gallery. These types of sessions are best if you a trying to get a really good photo of one specific pose (i.e. an individual portrait of a child or a full family portrait for your Christmas Card). However, they can be a bit of a gamble if you have young children. Read my thoughts on mini-sessions here. If you have your heart set on getting a variety of really beautiful family photos, I highly recommend splurging for a full 30-60 minute family session.
What other questions do you have about trying to find a photographer who is right for you?
Leave a comment with your question in the box below! As a daughter, wife and mother, from my own life experience, I promise you will not regret investing in a photo session. Life moves and changes so quickly. Photography freezes time in such a beautiful, tangible way. They will only increase in value to you over time. Did you know that a study found the children who viewed photography portraits of themselves experienced a self-esteem boost? (Read the article here.) Take this as your sign to get to work and get a photography session on your calendar.
If you live in the Chattanooga, TN area and would like to work with me, you can learn more about my session offerings here. I will warn you that my schedule typically fills up 3-4 months in advance.