Tips for choosing your Family Photographer

Let’s make sure you invest your hard earned money in a photographer who is right for you.

9 min. read

If you’re ready to update your family photos or take them for the first time, I’m absolutely delighted for you! Soon, you’ll have images that capture this fleeting moment in your family’s life before time continues to slip away and everyone grows that little bit more.

Given how valuable these images are, I believe it’s worth taking a moment to find a family photographer who will provide you with photos you’ll cherish. I completely understand that my approach and style of family photographer is not for everyone. My goal is not to convince you to book a session with me (but I would love it if you did!), rather it’s to help you find someone who fits your needs. 

To help you get started on this journey, here is a list of questions I recommend asking yourself before picking up your phone or laptop and scrolling through dozens of photographers’ websites.

FIRST, ASK YOURSELF…

QUESTION #1 | What STYLE of family photos do you want?

While family photography is a broad genre, there are several distinct styles within it. Here are some of the most common types of family photography you might come across:

Studio Photography
Studio family photos are taken indoors in a controlled environment where the photographer can manipulate artificial light and direct poses, expressions, and smiles. These sessions are often brief and more impersonal.

Lifestyle Photography
Lifestyle family photography can be done indoors or outdoors. Your photographer will give you prompts to elicit natural responses and movements, such as, “Run to mom and dad and give them a big hug” or “Put your daughter on your shoulders.” The guidance is less rigid than in studio photography, and your photographer may even offer wardrobe advice before the session.

Documentary/Real-Life Photography (My style)
Documentary family photography captures your family in real-life settings—whether it’s at home, during football practice, or on a day out. There’s no posing, no studio lights, and no coordinated outfits (unless that’s your usual style). The goal is to document your family as you are, going about your everyday life. These sessions can last from anywhere from an hour to a full day.

1 girl and 2 women walking in the park with their dogs
Girl eating popsicle.
DELVING DEEPER | DIFFERENT STYLES OF FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY

Once you’ve decided which style you prefer, make sure to book a professional photographer who specializes in that specific area. The last thing you want is to book a studio photographer if you’re dreaming of candid beach photos of your family.

QUESTION TWO | What family photos have you seen and loved?

Maybe you’ve admired a print at a friend’s house or saw a beautiful family photo on social media. What was it about the image that drew you to it? Was it the location, the colors, the poses (or lack thereof)?

Identifying what you love about these images will help you determine the style of photos you’re looking for. If you’re lucky, you might even get the contact details of the photographer, saving you a lot of time searching online.

QUESTION THREE | What kind of photography experience do you want?

Would you prefer minimal contact with your photographer? This might involve booking a 10-15 minute slot online, arriving for the shoot, and receiving your images a few weeks later via mail or an online gallery.

Or are you looking for a longer, more personal experience? This could include a video call or meeting before booking to see if you’re a good fit, receiving session guides to help you prepare, spending a few hours with the photographer on the day, and having your products and gallery delivered in person. (Or maybe you are looking for something in between)

QUESTION FOUR | What do you hope to do with these photos?

I understand it might seem premature to discuss what you want to do with the final images when you haven’t chosen a photographer yet, but I believe it’s actually the perfect time. Let me explain.

Let’s say you know you want an album. Now, you can use that as a criterion when evaluating potential family photographers and their offerings (we’ll delve into this shortly). Do they provide only digital images and no physical products? If so, they might not align with what you are looking for.

Keep in mind, if you’ve decide having  quality prints in your home is a high priority for you (and I think we all should have prints in our home!), make sure to find a photographer who has a good understanding of what that looks and feels like.

Why (I believe) prints are so important
Matted image close up
Matted print on table

Now that you have a clearer idea of what you’re looking for, finding a family photographer should feel a little less overwhelming. Rather than just searching “family photographer”, if you’re in Galway and prefer a brief studio session with digital images only, you might search for “studio family photographer + Galway + digitals”. Or if you’re in Dublin and desire a relaxed, extended session with high-quality framed prints, you could search for “Dublin + documentary family photographer + framed prints”.

To ensure professionalism, especially if you’re seeking documentary or real-life family photographers, I recommend starting your search here:

Also, PROFESSIONAL photographers should (amongst other things…)

  • Be insured
  • Send you a contract to sign (and model release if your photos are to be used publicly)
  • Have a consistent and strong portfolio (showing that they understand composition, lighting, editing, etc…)
  • Have clear deliverables & communication
NEXT, START SCROLLING & CLICKING

STEP ONE | Check out their portfolio (and social media).

When you find a photographer whose style matches what you’re looking for, start by checking out their portfolio. You’ll likely have an immediate sense of whether you want to close the tab or spend more time exploring their images.

As you scroll through their portfolio, consider these questions:

  • If you love black and white images, is this something that they have a lot of in their portfolio or are all of their images in colour? The ratio of what they show in their gallery in terms of B&W & colour is often what you can expect in your delivered gallery. If they only show B&W images, that is what you will get.
  • If their images are in colour, do you like the color palette? Does it evoke the nostalgic feeling you adore? Does it have a clean, modern look? Is there a true to life colour you love?
  • Is the coloring consistent across their portfolio? Do all the photos have a cohesive feel, or do they vary significantly in style?
  • Where are the photos taken? Are they primarily indoors, in a specific location, or a mix of both? Is this the environment you envision for your own photos?
Granddaughter sitting on table eating dessert
Grandmother standing by stove while granddaughter mixes batter
Baby lying sprawled out on a pillow

STEP TWO | Look at what they offer.

Now that you’ve found a photographer whose images you like, it’s time to see what they offer. Remember those questions you asked yourself earlier? Now it’s time to apply them. If you were hoping for a full “Day In The Life” 10-hour session with an album, do they provide that service? Or if you want a few images of your family dressed up for a special occasion, is that something they offer?

If you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for, that’s okay too. Photographers often provide detailed explanations of their services on their websites. You might discover a package that perfectly suits your needs, even if you didn’t realize it at first.

STEP THREE | Read Reviews.

I strongly suggest looking at their reviews. You can find these on their Google Business Profile, testimonial section of their website, social media accounts, or through word of mouth. I am a firm believer that hearing directly from families who have similar taste as you about what their direct experience was like, is the best way to gauge if they’re a good fit for you.

my google reviews
Photographer talking to client

STEP FOUR | Talk to them.

*This is more applicable for those who are looking for longer sessions*  

If you’ve narrowed down your list of photographers based on their work, offers, and reviews, the next step is to give them a call or arrange a meeting. This is your chance to communicate clearly about your expectations and any special requests you may have. For example, if you have multiple pets you want included in the photos, or if you have a child with additional needs requiring extra attention during the session. By the end of the call, you should have a good sense of whether they’re the right fit for you.

While it may seem like a lot, making informed decisions ensures you’re investing your money wisely. Good luck as you embark on this journey!

Am I the type of photographer you are looking for?

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