Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Choose a Family Photographer

In years past, I always checked price first when looking for a family photographer. Cheap? Great! Free? Even better. I wanted beautiful photos, but I was on a budget. 

But to get the photos of your dreams, I think there's something you should look at even before you look at a photographer's pricing.  

Look at her portfolio! 

Seriously, it's really that simple. If you are going to the trouble to drag your whole family out to a location in carefully coordinated outfits, make sure the person clicking the shutter already does work you like.

The best indicator of what your photos will look like is the photographer's most recent work.

You wouldn't ask Picasso to paint a Monet for you. 

Because this is what would happen.

You'd envision this.

But you'd get this.

Yeah, hiring Picasso when what you really want is Monet, will never end well -- even if Picasso paints you a picture for FREE. 

In the same way, all photographers aren't created equal. Each has her own shooting style. And her own editing style. Some are more skilled than others. All these elements influence the kind of images she is creating today.

But you don't really have to sort through all that. All you really need to do is look at her portfolio and ask, "Do I love her work?" When you can answer, "Yes!" hire that photographer to take your family photo.

Every professional photographer has a portfolio. Even hobbyist photographers like me have one. You can view my portfolio here. I've been polishing it up for Click Away.

 Bragging alert! Remember my entry in the Make a Splash photo challenge?

I won! Happy Dance! My photo placed in the top 10, number 5 to be exact! There were over 130 entries. You can see all the winners and read the judge's comments on my photo over at I Heart Faces.

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge Winner - Top 10 Photo

Finally, if all this talk of photography and pretty pictures has you thinking of dusting off your own camera, I have great news for you. Manual 'n More (my favorite photography class) is open for registration. Head over and take a look. If you're interested don't wait too long. The class tends to fill up quickly.


  1. Yes, yes! I am a professional, and I charge higher for a good reason. My daughter's friend's younger sister (14) has a photography "business" and only charges $25 per session. She shoots in auto with the kit lens and edits with PicMonkey. I am in no position to teach her about Manual Mode and Lightroom and Photoshop. I will say that it just bugs me that a couple hired her to do their engagement pictures, and she has done many family portrait sessions. There are some great child pro-photographers like Ruthie Montague (I am SURE you know who she is... look her up if you don't!!), but you cannot call someone with a camera a photographer. I'm constantly running across cheap photography "businesses" that aren'r run by photographers, even adults.
    Also, never listen to the workers at Photography stores. 99% of them do landscapes and studio portraits. I hate to say, I've purchased two lenses I regret (24-70 f4 and 35mm f2 instead of f1.4) because they convinced me those would be good. They just do different things and typically are not shooting wide open.

    1. Grace thanks so much for the lens purchasing advice. You are right! I also think they really want to make a sale, and when they sense that I might not be in a position to by the high end lens today, they start trying to convince me that the the cheaper lens or the off brand lens is "just as good."

    2. Yep, I went in to look at a 24-70 2.8 just yesterday. The man at the camera shop was trying to tell me how amazing the Canon L version is. When I told him it was expensive and I need to sleep on it before buying such an expensive lens, he told me I'd be just as happy with the 17-55 kit lens that comes with Canon Rebels. And I'm on a 6D. =)
      PS - In case you are wondering if I chose to buy it or not, I chose against. I am a self proclaimed prime lens-only gal, and I am just too prideful to get a zoom. ;) Since I already have 35, 50, 85, 100, and 200, I went with a 24 1.4L. I know, I know, photography is an expensive hobby.

  2. So so true! Great post! You also pay for what you get. So many people don't realize the time that goes into preparing for the shoot and the post -editing.

    1. Yes. I'm sure people don't realize that. I spend quite a bit of time getting ready for a shoot, and I edit like mad every spare moment for several days after the shoot. Granted, I'm still learning all aspects of photography, so I probably take longer in editing than a pro who really has her workflow down.

      Right now, I'm just shooting for friends and family, and sometimes the people who do realize that it is time consuming ask if I can just give them the unedited images. That's so kind and considerate, but for me, I'm creating art, and I cannot give them a half-finished piece. I also shoot RAW, and they wouldn't be able to open the photos unless I at least do minimal processing.

  3. Congrats on your win! It's a beautiful photograph and deserved to win!!

  4. I am eager to start a business. I certainly have the skill to, but I could not charge more than $125. When I reach the point of being able to charge more than $200, I will start the portfolio building process. I give away free sessions to friends almost every week, but for practice, not portfolio. Not starting a business is one of the hardest things in my personal photography journey.
    I am working on posing clients, Photoshop skills, and defining my style. I want people to see one of my photos and automatically say, "that is a Suzanne picture!". With that said, I see so many photographers go into business far too early. Some before learning how to shoot manual mode and editing in pic monkey. I see it every day. It doesn't bother me as much as it used to.
    You are ready to start a business, Dana! I see your blog photos as "Dana photos"!
    What are your goals? What are you working on?

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. One of my goals is to gain some Photoshop skills. At this point all my photos are done in Lightroom. I'm also working to define my style. I also want to learn more about composition.


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