As the Fall family photo season approaches, many families are on the lookout for photographers to take their next holiday card photo, but there are so many photographers out there--how do you choose the right one?
I've compiled a checklist of common mistakes for you to go through to ensure you're happy with your family photos this year. After all, your children are only this age once and your family deserves the best to remember them!
7 MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN CHOOSING A PHOTOGRAPHER
1. Choosing a photographer with an inconsistent style
When I have friends who don't live close to me and ask me to help them find a photographer online, one of the first things I look for in a photographer's work is consistency. Do they edit every session with a similar style or does it look like each session was taken by a different photographer?
Just remember, every photographer's portfolio is only as good as their worst image, and that image could be yours. Would you be happy with that?
Take the time to view the photographer's images and see if they all have a similar feel. If you have questions about a photographer's style, reach out to them and ask for more images to look at. Or if you see a photographer who has some images that are light and airy but others that are dark and moody, be sure you let them know your preference before the shoot.
2. Choosing a photographer that doesn't pose you well.
One compliment that I frequently get is that I show people exactly how to stand, where to place their hands, and how to turn their bodies in a flattering way during their session. You'll often see me stand exactly how I want the client to stand. I take about 5 images of the same pose just to be sure nobody's eyes are closed. And I check that all hands aren't dangling awkwardly.
Heck, even I pose weird when having my own portrait taken and rely on my photographer to tell me when something doesn't look right. Can you trust your photographer to do the same?
3. Choosing a photographer who doesn't offer professional print services
What good are your great images if you don't plan to print the images, place them in albums, or decorate your walls for your children to see? Shutterfly, Walgreens, Costco....the list goes on of places who will print your images. But what is the image quality and what paper do they print on? Your picture quality will be drastically reduced once printed if you don't use a professional print lab that only a professional photographer can provide.
4. Choosing a photographer with amateur equipment
Over the years, I have upgraded my camera and lens equipment, and each new piece of equipment has afforded me the ability to enhance my images.
A good photographer has ultimate control of the settings on their equipment and so I'm not here to tell you that the camera is the only thing that makes an image look great. Because controlling a camera and taking a picture with all of the settings is much more complex than that. Nothing will make a photographer cringe more than saying, "Those are great photos. You must have a fancy camera!" However, cameras and lenses can enhance the knowledge and skills a photographer has.
Think of it this way....Bob Ross can make a ton of happy trees with a $2 watercolor set and a sheet of notebook paper, but he could make quality, long lasting art if he had some canvas and oil paints.
5. Choosing a photographer with no reviews or bad reviews
True story -- I have a friend who lives out of state who had boudoir photos taken and was unhappy with her gallery and the service that she was provided. Her gallery was almost a month late in being returned to her and some of the editing of the images was questionable.
She asked me what to do when the photographer stopped responding to her messages. I asked, "Well what does her reviews page say? Did anyone else have a similar experience?"
And what she figured out that she had overlooked is that the photographer had NO reviews available anywhere. Good, bad, or otherwise. That should have been a red flag for her.
So this holiday season, check out the reviews of the photographer you want to hire. You spend time to look at reviews for Amazon purchases, and this should be no different.
Also, your reviews matter! The best free tip any client could ever give me is a positive review online which costs you nothing, but helps me gain new business so it holds great value.
6. Choosing a photographer with costs you've overlooked
Not that the costs are hidden....but you could easily overlook how much your session plus products will actually be if you don't read the website or communicate with your photographer well.
There are two different types of photographers:
Neither is right or wrong. But be sure that when you hire a photographer, you know the approximate amount of money you'll be investing before you have everything you want from the session. I have tried both methods services for clients, and I personally prefer the all inclusive method to allow families to budget their total package ahead of time.
7. Choosing an unknown hobbyist photographer
I'm a mom.
And I'm in Facebook mom groups.
And I wish I had a dollar for every time I saw a post asking for one of the following:
"Any photographers who don't cost an arm and a leg?"
"Any affordable photographers out there?"
"Any deals on mini sessions?"
And then you can watch the the 89 comments from hobbyists and professionals responding to the request, and it's hard to know how to sort through it all and know what you're getting.
How do you know if someone is a hobbyist or a professional? It's hard to know if the age of Facebook when anyone can create a business page. Not all hobbyist photographers lack talent and there is a chance you could luck out with some good photos.
But a legitimate photography business means that you have chosen a professional that has invested time and money into their own equipment and talents, and that comes at more than a hobbyist price. But the benefit to you is that not only can you rest assured that your portraits will be great, but that you've chosen a professional that cares as much about your pictures as you do.
A professional photographer will:
Have you chosen your photographer for this year's family photos?
Learn more about my family photo session options:
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And don't forget to check out some family photo Style Guide and Tips for What to Wear