Quick Tips for Finding a Family Photographer

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Here’s the thing about family photos: I’ve learned you get what you pay for.  Don’t get me wrong, the free photo sittings at the mall can turn out well– I’ve had a good session or two– or they can turn out like this:

{mall photo session}

And no, those weren’t the outtakes.

On the flipside, the gallery wrapped canvases in our living room stop traffic every time; those photos were taken by a professional photographer that worked on the Main Line here in Philly.  We got them for free because my sister submitted Noodle’s story and we won a contest to get a free photo session with prints.  If we had to pay retail, the three canvases, session fee, and CD of images we received would have totaled over $4,000.  The canvases alone were in the $500-$700 range– each.

{essential imagery photo session}

Sigh.  Aren’t they stunning?  Totally worth it if you can afford it, yet unattainable on our budget.  Family photos are so very important to me.  Time moves quickly, and in the blink of an eye the kids have grown so much I’ve forgetten what they looked like just last month.  Especially with Bee, I barely remember him as a newborn so his hospital photos fill me with awe every time I see them.

{Bella Baby hospital photo session}

What I needed was a happy medium.  Someone who was flexible enough to get great photos even if my kids didn’t sit still and who was affordable.  I found our new family photographer by accident.   We met at the blackberry picking event back in August and when I saw her post about it I knew she was the one.  I invited her to give a few pointers on how to find a great family photographer– you know, in case you don’t run into someone while blackberry picking.

Keep in mind that during this shoot Noodle was sick, Bee didn’t stop moving, and it was the witching hour– 5:30PM.  You’ll hear more about that next week.  But for now, take it away Stephanie!

5 Tips for Finding the Right Photographer for Your Family

I was so honored when Carrie asked me to give you my top five tips on finding the right photographer for your family. I recently photographed her family one Monday afternoon. We had a great time and I think the pictures show that.

So now that you want your own family photographs {and if you are in the Philly area, I may be your gal!}, how do you pick the right one?

1. Stalk them on Facebook. A simple Facebook search will bring to you a plethora of local photographers. Take a look at their wall. Do they post often? Is there client feedback? Do they interact with their clients? I think it’s important to make sure that the photographer is active, not just simply posting and running. The interaction between photographer and client can give you an insight into their personality.

2. Head over to their blog. If they have a blog/blogsite listed, head there next. Often, photographers will post “sneak peeks” of their current sessions. Again, this will show you how active they are and may give you a glimpse of their personality.  You will also be able to see a wide range of their services {families, newborns, weddings, etc.}. There are a ton of photographers popping up nowadays {myself included} and each photographer has their own distinct style and eye. By looking through their blog, you will get a good taste for how they shoot and how they edit.

3. Check out their website. If they have a separate website from their blog, check that out next. Here you will probably find their availability, their pricing, the services they offer and, sometimes, their photography philosophy.

4. Send them an e-mail. If you like everything you have seen so far, send them an e-mail. Let them know what type of session you are interested in and suggest dates that you would like the session to take place on. Please remember: a lot of photographers are not full time shooters. Most have a full-time job and do photography on the side. Please give them some time to get back to you {at least 24 hours}.  sidenote from Carrie: but if they take too long to get back to you, keep looking.  We had beach photos this summer and the photographer takes weeks to get back to me each time I email.  I’m still waiting for a CD… wish I’d listened to my intuition!

5. Book your session! Ok so it was only four tips. But if you made it this far, chances are you really like the photographer and are interested in their services. Go ahead and book your session.  Carrie: She’s not kidding.  It took us 4 times to get this session done due to rain.  If you want photos for your holiday cards, book yesterday!

If you have any other questions about choosing a photographer, please feel free to send me a question via e-mail or leave me a comment on Facebook!

Thanks, Stephanie.  Just so my readers know, I wasn’t perked for our family photos… I paid full price.  But I wanted to pass along what I learned in case you were finding it hard to find a photographer that matched your style as well.  Here’s three more quick tips from moi:

6.  Ask online.  My sister found a great mall photographer by asking on the local theknot.com (or thenest.com or thebump.com) forums.  No one knows good photographers like a newlywed or new mama!

7.  Ask a friend.  If you like a friend’s mall portraits, ask them the name of the photographer.  They tend to have high turnover, but I really wish I’d asked the name of the person who took Noodle’s photos before Bee was born.  They did a great job; subsequent photographers, not so much.  Or call the studio and explain your needs– beg them to hook you up with the best.  It can’t hurt to try!

8. Ask a blogger.  Blogland is full of amazing photos.  If you find a local blogger with great photos, don’t be shy to ask who took them!  I’ve seen great family photographers on blogs all over the US, there’s been many a time I’ve wished I lived closer to Kansas City, Tennessee or Florida to take advantage of these talented people.

To prove to you what a sucker I am, I’ll leave you with this: our Santa photo from last year.  It’s pretty bad, but guess who paid the $20 to get it on CD?  ::points to self::  This sucker, that’s who.  You can’t put a price tag on that facial expression from Noodle.

Okay, you can.  It was $20.  😉

Have you had a good photo experience?  A bad one?  What additional tips would you suggest?  If you know someone great in your area, leave a note in the comments for others to find!
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4 Comments

  1. Great post with some good tips! I love the photos, even the bad mall ones….lol. They’re still a great memory to have.

  2. Oh you poor thing you have had some tough luck with the mall folks huh? I love my mall gal. She is the one who took our “waiting for you” shots. I did have some taken by a gal in my Mommy club who is a photographer. They are gorgeous. I so want to have a full session done by her. Professional pics are so much better. It is so cool that you were able to score that free session and those shots are INCREDIBLE!

  3. Love the new pics! And those canvases are breathtaking. Great photog tips! P.S. Made your pumpkin spice cake pops today. They’re in the freezer waiting to be dipped in chocolate and sprinkles in the morning by Sofie!;-)

  4. I like that you mentioned to email a potential photographer and see if they respond quickly. It makes sense that you would want to ensure you hire somebody with good response times so you can get your product quickly. I am trying to find a photographer to take family photos for our Christmas cards. I will keep this in mind as I search.

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