Updated: Mar 25
With so many family photographers out there it can be overwhelming to find the right one for your family. And, typically, it’s a big investment. So to help in your quest to find the perfect photographer match, here are some tips I’ve come up with after 30 years of experiences, both as a professional portrait photographer and as a photojournalist.
1) 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. Ask your friend if they were happy with the way the photographer interacted with their family. Did they get their images when promised? How was the quality of their gallery? And the most important question, would they use their photographer again? Someone who has gone through the entire process with a photographer will be able to gauge the experience from start to finish.
2) Not all photographers are created equal.
They typically have a unique style and one or two specialties. Look at their body of work and gauge whether or not their style matches what you are looking for. Don’t pick a photographer who focuses only on candid images if you want all posed images. Do you want a big, extended family portrait? Then you probably don’t want to pick a photographer whose website only displays newborn work. Pick a photographer who specializes in what you want done. If you don’t, you could be disappointed with your images and the photographer will probably end up frustrated that you are asking for something they just don’t typically do. You want a photographer who is excited to photograph the needs of your family! Our work is always better when our clients share our enthusiasm for quality images that show emotional connections between family members.
3) Ask to see an entire gallery.
Most photographers can come up with a handful of great images from a session to post on social media or their website. However, not all photographers can produce an entire gallery of great images. To get a better sense of the scope of a photographers work ask to see an entire gallery from a recent session. See if their work is consistent. Do you like their edits? Do you like their poses? Are their images sharp and in focus? Look at the background of the images. Are they any distracting elements? Can they use light well? Were they able to tell a story? Do you feel like you got to know the family from that session just by looking through their gallery? Click here to see the kind of photos you can expect from your family session in Big Sky or Bozeman or Montana.
Cost can be a big factor. Sometimes it can be the deciding factor. But, the most important thing to figure out is what is included in the cost of the session. Sometimes a photographer may look inexpensive. However, once you factor in prints, digital negatives, and any additional fees they could end up being the most expensive of the photographers you are looking into. If something is unclear; ask.
And know that if a photographer is very inexpensive you may want to ask yourself, “why are they so inexpensive?”. Are they investing in great equipment that will result in great images? Do they have the proper licenses? Do they have insurance? Are they booking seven sessions a week and won’t have the time to give your session the attention it deserves? You must factor in a photographers time invested in your session, their expertise, as well as their costs when taking into account their pricing. If a deal is too good to be true it probably is.
5) Be sure you understand all of the photographers policies before booking.
Here are some questions you may want to ask if they aren’t clear:
– Are any digital negatives or prints included in the session price?
– Is a print credit included?
– What are the print prices?
– How long after the shoot will the gallery be posted?
– What is the cancellation policy?
– What will happen if the weather is bad the day of my shoot?
– What time of day do you shoot?
Pricing should be clear and easy to understand. Because there is nothing worse than being surprised with extra pricing after all of your beautiful images have been taken.
6) Get to know the photographer.
A great place to get to know the photographer before you book is their About Page on their website. You can usually get a good sense of their personality there. Also, check their blog and social media pages. Do you like them? Have things in common? Feel like you could be friends in real life? If yes, you are usually on the right track. The clients that I click with best are the ones that feel like they know me before we even meet for the first time. And we usually end up being friends in real life. If you are still unsure if you click, schedule a phone call to chat. If you don’t feel a connection, move on to another photographer.
7) In the end your photographer should be someone you trust.
If you feel the need to send your photographer a Pinterest board with your favorite photographs you probably don’t trust them. Do you want unique and artistic images that are true to your family? Or do you want the same images that other people already have? Your photographer will have a vision for your family. And if you’ve picked the right photographer you will trust them and their vision.
Once you find a photographer you love, stick with them! We love documenting families as they grow. We love when kids remember us and are excited to see me, even though we see them only once or twice a year. And we feel each session gets better because we are connected with that family on a deeper level every time we shoot. There is nothing better than feeling as if you are apart of that family. Even if it’s just for the 90 minutes you are capturing the love they have for one another.