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Ten questions you should ask before hiring a family photographer

Updated: Jan 16, 2020

natural, spontaneous family photography

Family photographs should make your heart dance. The whole family should look seriously gorgeous and all your friends should want to know where you had them taken so they can go follow your lead.

The only problem is how on earth do you find this amazing photographer?

Here are 10 questions you should ask if you want to find the perfect photographer for you.

1. Do you like the photographers work?

Hands down, first up, THE most important question is: Do you actually like the photographers work?

Go have a look at the images they are sharing on their website, Facebook page and Instagram account. Do they draw your breath in or do they leave you feeling a bit ‘oh, that’s nice’?

You don’t want ‘nice’, you want wow.

Remember most photographers are sharing their best work so this is as good as it gets!

2. Where do they shoot?

If the photographs are studio-style and a look a little stiff for your taste because what you really love is outdoor, natural-looking shots that breathe life and fun, then I can guarantee this is not the photographer for you.

Take note of what photographs you are attracted to and then find somebody who shoots in this style.

Being able to choose a location your family enjoys hanging out at, whether it’s the beach or your home, or even trying somewhere completely new like a street setting, can really help you to enjoy the experience.

3. Does this family look like they love each other and are having fun?

Have fun while having your family photographs taken

Yes, you need that photo of you all sitting together giving your biggest smiles at the camera (even if it's just for posterity) but it’s probably not the one that will melt your insides and you can't stop looking at again and again and again.

If the people in a photographer’s work look relaxed and like they’re having fun that’s probably because they are.

4. Do mum (and dad) look amazing?

Let’s face it, all kids – especially your own – look great in photos. The real skill is in making mum look fantastic and this is not something that happens by accident. Good photographers know how to give people directions to lose that double chin and find the right light that is going to really flatter you.

5. Do they make the experience stress free?

Everybody is so busy these days that sometimes even the thought of getting organised for a photo shoot can feel like too much. A pre-shoot consultation can go a long way towards taking the stress of you. All those questions you have like what to wear, where to go and what if my kids have a melt-down and won’t cooperate, are going to be answered. All you need to do then is turn up on time and actually enjoy the whole thing.

6. Do they welcome the whole family?

Now tell me, how many photos of the family dog do you have on your phone? If you’re anything like me it will be hundreds, so why on earth wouldn’t you include your furry, four-legged family members in your family photos?

If a photographer starts nervously asking how obedient your dog is, then perhaps you need to look elsewhere.

A family photography session can be a great opportunity to get a couple of nice shots of your pets too.

7. What products do they offer?

Large printed canvas of family art work by Dunedin photographer Edith Leigh

This is where you have to actually stop and think. Why, exactly, are you having family photographs taken and what do you want to do with them?

Let’s be honest here. Those fun, holiday snaps you were going to print and frame – where are they now? Let me guess. They’re still on your computer right?

Make no mistake, even if you do it all yourself, printing and framing photographs is an expensive and time consuming business, especially if you get it done properly.

While at first glance the price list might make you baulk, the fact that there is one also means you are much more likely to finish up with actual, professionally printed and finished photographs you are going to love.

8. Will they help you choose which photographs to print?

Fine Art framed print of family portraits

So you’re thrilled. You have 50 gorgeous family photos, of course you want to print them. This one you love, and this one, oh and that one, and that one, and that one. But what size, and what the hell is a 10” x 15” anyway, what does that look like? And which frame, but what about canvas . . . arghhh, I can’t decide, let’s just get the digitals for now and then we can work it all out later.

You know the end of this scenario right? In 10 years’ time you still haven’t worked it out.

Photographers should be experts at all this stuff. If they offer a post-shoot viewing and ordering session they will help you narrow down your favourites, suggest what would look great printed really large, what might work together well as a grouping, or new ideas you hadn’t even thought of. This sort of advice is worth its weight in gold.

9. Are they open about exactly how much this experience is going to cost you?

Most photographers will charge a session fee and then you pay over and above this to get any of your photographs - whether printed products or digital files. It's a great system because then you only have to buy what you really love.

You just need to make sure the photographer is being 100% transparent about their prices, because nobody wants to end up with an unpleasant surprise.

It's great if photographers are really open about what they charge as then you know straightaway if you're in the ballpark, rather than having the embarrassment of enquiring about pricing only to realise they're not the right fit for you.

10. And finally, how much do they charge?

I know, I know, good photography is expensive, great photography even more so!

Like almost everything in this world, you get what you pay for. Great photographers aren’t great because they have a whole bunch of expensive gear and decided to start up a new hobby. They spend a lifetime learning and honing their craft.

If you really love their work you won’t regret paying more than what you intended or expected.

But if you choose a photographer solely on price, while you may get lucky and get a nice set of pictures, chances are you will end up sorely disappointed.

Let me show you my wow page - you will find my gallery here.

Want to know how to look great in photos? Find some great tips here.



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