Posted on 02/23/2017

5 Tips For Choosing a Family Photographer

Birthing/ Dad/ Family/ Mom/ Parent Life/ Social Time

Finding the perfect photographer for your family photos can be daunting — these once in a lifetime moments with the kids pass quickly so it’s important that it’s photographed the way you would like to remember this time. Even as a photographer I find this hard – I am so persnickety! There are so many different aspects to a great family photo that’s different for each family, but there are some simple steps to help you choose a photographer that works for everyone. Keep reading for my top 5 tips for choosing a family photographer.

Family posing for a photo on a trail

By Jessica Michelle Photo

1. Sync Photography Styles

Think about what style of photography (photojournalistic, editorial or studio) you’re interested and see what the photographer’s style is (this goes for both shooting style and final product). Do your styles mesh? You don’t want to choose a photographer whose style doesn’t fit yours or what you want the final product to look like. If you love the candid look of photos you are going to want to choose someone who has a more photojournalistic style as well as yourself will need to be able to just pose and interact with each other without much direction. If you like a more posed style go with a photographer who showcases that on their website and knows how to put your family into the desired pose or setup.

2. Choose the Right Specialty

Depending on the type of photos you want to take you may want to look for a photographer who specializes in family photography, or newborns and children, or even weddings or boudoir. This is important because you may love a boudoir photographer’s style but want family photos, so that specific photographer wouldn’t be a good choice as they may not have the knowledge or experience with working groups and/or kids. Try making sure you can find someone who has the style and know-how for what the final product you want.

3. Be Sure They’re Client-Focused

Your photographer should be excited about working with you, easily reachable, and up front about what to expect before, during and after the photo session. I love making my clients feel loved and important – I make sure to offer ideas for each shoot from posing to styling. Another aspect is how they will interact with you and your kids since kids are a big  part of the session and really the biggest obstacle to any session. – I’m often asked if I’m good with kids or if I have experience with tricky kids. If you have a child with a short attention span you’re going to want a photographer who is willing to accommodate that within their packages.

4. Reviews and Recommendations

Ask around and search online to read reviews and recommendations from other families that have used the photographers you’re considering for your photos. This will tell you a little about the whole experience —from booking to after the session— from a family that’s been where you’re about to be. A photographer’s disposition at booking can sometimes be different from when the pictures are taken, or the portfolio will look amazing but then the client isn’t happy with their final pictures so it’s important to check these real reviews.

5. Investment and Budget

After you’ve narrowed your search down to a few potential photographers based on everything you want from your pictures, the last and fifth step to finding the perfect photographer is to see which ones in on your list are anywhere near your budget. Think about whether you’re OK with going out of your budget a little bit for the right photographer, and consider what each photographer has to offer for their stated price. Some photographers state their session fee but don’t include the cost of actually getting the photos so be sure to double check the information about total cost. Email the photographer and see if they’re willing to work with you on the overall cost as well.

5 Tips For Choosing Your Family's Photographer

Jessica Sullivan is a San Francisco Bay Area family, newborn and child photographer. After graduating from Brooks Institute of Photography in 2007, Jessica moved from Santa Barbara to San Francisco. Now nestled in cozy Marin county, she has fallen even more in love with life and capturing its ever-changing and growing beauty. 

This post was originally published in November 2014. Pinterest photo by Shari Stamps.

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  • Bernard Clyde 03/13/2017 at 7:31 am

    I agree that you should make sure your family photographer shares a similar photography style as you. I would add that if you don’t know what your preferred style is, it may help to go online and look up some different kinds of examples. Once you found something you like, you can share it with your photographer to give them an idea of what you are looking for.

  • Olivia Nelson 10/18/2016 at 2:57 pm

    I like your idea of choosing a photographer that is specialized in what you want. I would imagine that a family photographer would be good for your family but not for your wedding. My husband and I want to get some pictures with our newborn so we’ll have to find someone who specializes in this type of work.

    • Shari Wargo Stamps 10/20/2016 at 8:53 pm

      Thanks, Olivia! Yea, it’s definitely important to not only find the type of the photographer you’re looking for, but one who takes photos in a style you like.

  • Kendall Ryder 08/01/2016 at 10:18 am

    I also want to look for someone that deals with kids well. I don’t want my photographer getting upset about the fact that they can’t get the kids to do exactly what they want. We all know kids are squirmy! So. finding someone that deals with kids professionally is a good idea.

    • Shari Wargo Stamps 08/01/2016 at 9:31 pm

      Oh yes, definitely! They need to meet you and be someone you/you’re family is comfortable with. But that also depends on the style of photographer you choose. You’re describing a portrait session and I think lifestyle/candids with some posed (when possible) really work best, especially with littles.

  • Nathan Johnson 05/19/2016 at 9:27 am

    My wife and I are coming up on our 5 year anniversary. One thing that I am trying to surprise her with is hiring a photographer to get some professional pictures of our family. Since there are so many photographers out there, it is hard to figure out who will be good for our family. I like your tips and I think they will help me find a good one. Thanks for the info!

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