Are you looking for a photographer for a family session or for a wedding? Use these tips to help know How to Choose the Right Photographer and know what to look for when choosing a photographer.
How to Choose the Right Photographer
Choosing a photographer for your family session or even wedding is almost like accepting a blind date. There’s an initial conversation ( the pre-session consultation) , a run-down of what you’re looking for ( style, products, etc. ) , an acceptance (or rejection) of the date, planning of the place to meet, picking out a new outfit for the occasion ..and..well.. you get the point.
What most non-photographers seeking out sessions don’t realize, is that it is a two-way street; just as in the example of the first date. I have turned clients down because we didn’t mesh. They wanted something I knew I couldn’t deliver or simply put, did not want to deliver. It took me a while to get this concept. In the beginning of my paid photography journey I would take anyone and everything that came my way. You want props? Sure, I can do that. You want you’re newborn contorted into positions resembling a frog? Sure, I can do that. You want me to drag a bed into a meadow and take pictures of your children on it? Sure, I can …well I actually turned that one down.
What to Look for in a Photographer
This is one of the most important to seasoned photographers, and should be more important to the client. I have a more moody style. It makes my heart sing when I find a beautiful light pocket in a dark forest or have a new mom hold her baby by a window for soft light. This is not what everyone is looking for and I get that. While I appreciate the photographers out there that have a high-key bright style, it is not me. I say this should be more important to clients because you are the ones paying good money to get a product that should be a reflection of your style as well. You should be able to pass that image on the wall and smile.
The choice of photographer should not be based solely on price. The most affordable photographer might not have the style you want. If you find a photographer you love but think you cannot afford them, there are ways to work with them. I will talk more about that below.
What you as the client should ask yourself when it comes to style is: do I want lifestyle (almost like a day -in-the-life images), do I want more posed/formal images, do I want studio images, do I want environmental outdoorsy images? Once you have figured this out, seek out photographers with the same type of images on their website.
We photographers spend hours upon hours thinking about which images should be on our website portfolio…use it! This is our “match.com” profile in a sense. We are saying this is the end product of what you can expect if you hire us. Take the time to go through potential photographer’s portfolios. If you want smash cake pictures for your one year old’s birthday session but don’t see any on the photographer’s website, chances are they don’t do them. I show a good amount of film images on my portfolio. I do this because I enjoy film and want the clients that enjoy film to seek my services.
2- Products Offered
When I first started out I did not offer any products to my clients. The clients looking for albums and canvases were not choosing me because of it. I only offered digital downloads. While this might appeal to some, I think more often than not, clients felt lost when I would email them the link to a password protected gallery and left them to download the images. I realized that most clients wanted to print these images. They wanted to create albums of the images. They wanted a big canvas for above their fireplace. They need help to get all these products, they didn’t want to go shopping on ten different websites to get these products either.
Ask the potential photographer what they offer, will they help you if you wanted an 8×10 for your wall? Another question to ask is how are they delivering your images? There are some photographers that will only deliver 20 images per hour session. There are some photographers that will deliver 100 images per hour session, but they’re not edited. Are you getting a digital download via a password protected gallery? Can you share this link with family members? In addition to digital images I also offer my clients film images as well. This is not as common and sometimes is why a client seeks out my services.
This next topic can have such an impact on your final images and is overlooked often. I include the pre-session consultation in this category. Taking the time to have that initial conversation with the you, the potential client, is so important. I think we went over most of what is discussed during the pre-session consult in the beginning of this post, but that is the time to ask any questions. The meat of what “services” is is access to wardrobes, help with picking out outfits for the family, hair and makeup, providing wraps for babies, cakes for smashing, even having water and snacks available for kids. Of course, these services will come with a price.
However, imagine not having to think about what to buy for a maternity shoot. You can have the ability to just show up and have access to beautiful maternity dresses that the photographer already knows will look gorgeous in images. As a mom of two children I know how hard it is to get everyone dressed , looking halfway decent and then have to get yourself ready and then drag everyone in the car and then look like you just got off the treadmill because you’re a sweaty mess.
If I can offer services to my mom’s that makes their life easier they will have a better experience. A better experience means better images. These services also help me out, not only because they will make the client feel better, but because I know what clothing, hair, makeup etc will look best in camera. If one of my clients does not want these services I will send links to Pinterest pages I created on examples of what to wear to a particular session. I have also emailed links to dresses that I love like Free People dresses for new moms as an example.
This comes back to what I addressed above pertaining to working with a photographer that may be out of your price range. All of these topics can be potential bargaining tools. While there are photographers, albeit the really famous ones, that will not budge; meaning their price is their price and this is what you get. This is not the norm. Most photographers, I would venture to say 99% of them, will add or subtract from these categories to tailor a session for you.
For example, I have had clients that said I only need three images. I want them for my Christmas card and I don’t want to pay for the hour but I really want you to take these images for me. In this case, I can get three good images in less than 15 minutes. It’s not fair to the client to charge for the hour. I will not be paying for a makeup person, they won’t have access to my wardrobe, I won’t be paying a lab for prints or an album.
I hope these tips will help you. By no means should this be a daunting task. Making sure you find the right photographer for you will result in images that you will treasure and had a blast in the process.
Talia Rodgers is a family, child, portrait photographer living in the beautiful Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. She is married to her husband, Kevin, and is the mom to a six year old girl and a four year old boy. Her children are her daily inspiration; wanting to document every special moment, milestone, accomplishment. Photography has always been a passion of Talia’s, even her engagement proposal involved her husband dropping to one knee while she was taking a picture. She believes that each session with her clients should be an experience they will remember, not only for the images taken but for the fun had while capturing them; whether it is jumping on the back of an ATV to get to a beautiful spot in the woods or jumping in the lake by her home.
Her work has been featured on
Children of Instagram
Photography by Heart