When you hire a photographer, how do you choose?

As a professional photographer, I most often hear potential clients ask me how much things cost as their #1 priority when choosing their photographer. When I'm listening in community among other parents or women, I most often hear people talk about how they wish to look or feel from their photos. These two things seem disconnected. But, they affect each other. Let me explain.

When I have hired a photographer for our family, yes, the price is a high consideration, but more importantly, it's the personality and talent of the photographer that made us choose them. I remember when as a kid, portrait studios were the expectation, and it felt like a big deal to go in for your session. Today, with photography more accessible than ever, there are more choices. If you hire someone that feels out of budget and doesn't fit your personality, then it may not be a comfortable experience and that emotional connection to the photographs will linger.

We have had our family photographed about every 2 years since we married 18 years ago. Our first family photographer was a friend, and our baby cried almost the entire time. She was fun and easy-going and despite our best efforts, we had one non-crying photo with our first born. Now, looking back, what we love most are the reality crying photos, because it documented the reality of life then.

After that, we had a family friend who photographed our family for about 5 years before he died. His style was more classic and his studio was set up in his apartment. He always hosted us like friends which worked well with a toddler and baby and made for some really fun portraits!

Then, our next photographer we hired because again, we knew her and she made us all feel at ease. We felt like we could both be ourselves and she could make use look lovely with a real talent for natural lighting and posing in a way that didn't feel too stiff.

During Covid-19 Pandemic, I made our family portrait (above in the heading of this post), using our living room, lighting and backdrop plus 3 hours of retouching. Each person's profile was photographed separately. It turned into a fun family project. I'm not sure exactly how long the whole portrait took to make but we made good memories from the experience.

Our latest family portrait was done by a local photographer I also know and like, and we chose her because she offered an experience that took us out of our little bubble of a neighborhood! We are now in a phase of life where we all enjoy adventures. With two teens, driving out to a Sunflower Farm was easy, and the opportunity or excuse to go explore one fit us. All of this to share my top tips to find the best photographer for you may be summed up as these three tips below.

Top 3 Tips For Finding The Best Photographer For You:

  1. Comfort - do you feel like the photographer is comfortable to work with? Do they seem to understand where you and/or your family are in terms of needs for communication and style? Most folks don't know the person they hire, so I suggest getting a phone or virtual call set up to see if you get along well and feel supported for the session.
  2. Style - does the photographer create photographs in a style that you would love to see yourself or your loved ones in?
  3. Price - yes, this does matter! And, I totally get it. For those photographers who are out of your budget, I suggest saving up and having that experience. For us, we haven't been able to hire a photographer every year, and that's okay. We as a family know it's a luxury. And, we enjoy it when we can!