Choosing a photographer for you and your family can be a difficult decision. There are so many factors that come into play. I’m hoping that this will be an easy guide to help you get started in the right direction.
Before you start looking for a photographer, you need to decide what you as client want. What type of session do you want? What is most important to you, quality or quantity? Do you want a more posed session, or more lifestyle? Do you want indoor or outdoor? Are you willing to travel? What is your budget? What kind of products do you want? There are lots of things to consider on your end alone. Once you know what you want, you can begin your search.
Big Box or Custom Photographers
One of the biggest decisions to make is whether you want to go to a chain photography studio like Sears, JC Penny, Portrait Innovations, or Lifetouch, or if you’d like to go to a freelance, custom photographer. If you have a really low budget, a chain company may be something to look into. These companies specialize in bulk sessions. They use the same props, same poses, and same processing for most of their sessions. You’re not going to get a ton of variety, customization, and quality like you would if you choose an experienced custom photographer.
When it comes to the world of custom photography, there is a very very wide spectrum. You can find photographers who will give you tons and tons of images for next to nothing cost wise, but they’re not going to give you the quality and service that a more experienced photographer has. Do your research. Are they licensed? Are they insured? Do they know how to use their gear? How long have they been in business? Look around for reviews, and compare! If quality is important to you, you’ll make sure that you’re booking a photographer who knows what they’re doing and who will give you an experience worth your money.
Finding Local Photographers
Some great resources to find photographers in your area include the obvious, Google searches, Facebook Searches, and talking to other local residents. You can also use websites like Yellow Pages, Yelp, and Angie’s List. Looking up your local Chamber of Commerce is a great way to see who is involved and established in the area. You can also check with your local government for a list of licensed businesses in your city or county.
Deciding Who is for You
Once you’ve searched around and have found a few photographers that you’re interested in, compare their services to your needs. If you have a low budget, make sure that the photographers you’re interested in have packages available to fit in your price range. If you value quality more than quantity, compare the photographers you’ve found to see whose work you prefer more. Contact these photographers to see where they offer sessions, any sales or specials they may be running, any extra charges you might be responsible for, and if they have availability when you need it.
See what the photographers you’re looking into specialize in. Many photographers specialize in specific fields, like maternity, births, and newborns; couples, families, and children; or weddings, homecomings, and other large events. If you’re trying to book a birth photographer for an engagement session, you might want to search a little more. Photographers specialize in what they love, and what they’re good at. Specializations are in your best interest.
Once you’ve found your photographer, make sure they answer all of your questions. Make sure you know how things are going to work leading up to the session, as well as afterwords. Nearly every photographer runs their business differently, so it’s important to make sure you know what their workflow looks like. If you have a deadline for your photos, make it known. If you have a special request, ask! If you have any other questions, speak up. It is your photographer’s job to make sure that you’re completely comfortable before, during, and after your session.
If you have other questions about choosing a photographer, post them in the comments below! I’ll be happy to share whatever knowledge I may have with you.