I like reading articles online that have lists. I find it quicker and often more compelling when I can scroll through a list of items instead of reading through paragraph after paragraph and page after page of information. Being a working mom, I don’t have time for that. Plus, being the multi-tasker that I am (translation: having the attention span of a goldfish ), I find it much more “user friendly” to read a list. So with that in mind, I present you with my top 10 list of things to look for when choosing a photographer.
1.) You love the photographer’s style. This means, you’ve seen lots of different images taken by this photographer and you like the way they look. Every single photographer has a different style. That’s what makes us all unique. Choosing a photographer based on their style and their work is one of the most important ways to make your selection. If you choose a photographer who’s style and work is not your cup of tea, you will not be happy with the end results.
2.) The photographer puts safety and health first. This is especially important with newborns. Make sure you ask about this! Has the photographer taken safety and newborn posing classes? Does the photographer utilize composites (in other words, he/she instructs the parents or an assistant on holding/supporting baby while taking a few different shots and then puts those pictures together in the computer so it “looks” like baby is holding head up, balancing on a prop, etc., but baby was never put in any danger)? Does the photographer wash all props in between use? Does the photographer wash hands and keep hand sanitizer near by? Will the photographer cancel the session or at least run it by you first if he/she is sick?
3.) The photographer has a personality you like. While you don’t have to love your photographer, you want to make sure that you feel comfortable with them. You’re entrusting them to take photos of your children, your family and yourself. You need someone who makes you feel at ease so you can relax enough to be yourself.
4.) The photographer personalizes your experience. You’re spending money to capture a moment in time. Most people only have professional photographs done once a year or so. So you want to make sure that the experience is exactly what you envisioned. You want to find a photographer that you can meet with and plan out all of the details. Someone who listens to you and then strives to deliver what you want. Someone who helps you with your clothing choices, answers all of your questions, takes your ideas into account and even helps you to select the perfect products and prints for your home.
5.) The photographer specializes in the type of photography you’re looking for. Most photographers have some sort of speciality. Some specialize in weddings, some specialize in sports, some specialize in product photography and some specialize in landscape photography, to name a few. Just because someone is amazing at taking pictures of the ocean, does not mean they will be amazing at taking your baby’s first birthday photos. I specialize in maternity, birth, newborn, babies, children, families and teens. I’ve been told I’m pretty good. However, if you asked me to go take an amazing photo of the galactic band at night, I’m not so sure how great it would come out, because I don’t specialize in that! So if you’re looking for a wedding photographer, go to someone who specializes in amazing wedding photography. If you want someone to capture your newborn baby, find someone who is a newborn rockstar!
6.) The photographer is good with children. This is important if you’re looking for a photographer to take baby, child, or family photos. You want someone who likes children and has a lot of patience. You want a photographer who has some tricks up their sleeves in case the child is uncooperative, shy, or just full of energy.
7.) The photographer offers products/clothing that you like. Though, this is not a requirement (therefore it’s lower on the list), it’s always great when you find a photographer who’s work you love and he/she offers some great props/clothing that you love. Whether it’s baskets, cars, textured blankets, little knit outfits, gorgeous gowns or very unique props, if you like them, it’ll help enhance your experience and the photos and won’t cost you a cent.
8.) The photographer takes their time and doesn’t rush through the session. Especially, if you’re dealing with children and/or large families you want to find a photographer that doesn’t give you 20 minutes of their time and then kicks you out or leaves. You want a photographer that takes their time and allows a good 1 to 2 hours to make sure everyone is comfortable and that they got a lot of great photos.*
9.) The photographer doesn’t “love you and leave you”. You want a photographer who takes the time to print your photos at a professional lab. That photographer should be sharpening and adjusting photos based on the size print you want and the medium it’s being printed on (print, metal, canvas, etc.) They have a calibrated monitor that matches up to their professional lab and they ensure that each print and product is perfect. If you do choose digital images, you want a photographer who explains to you about printing practices (don’t worry, you just need a quick overview, nothing that will put you to sleep) and advises you against printing your photos at a drugstore or department store. You want to find a photographer who checks in with you to make sure you’re happy with your whole experience. You want a photographer that doesn’t treat you like a number.
10.) You love the photographer’s style. Yes, I know, this is the second time I’ve put this on the list. But it is that important. You’ll also notice that I didn’t put on this list anything about cost/pricing. You will always be happy if you choose a photographer by their work and style. You will never be happy if you choose your photographer based on cost or the “best deal”. You’re buying art and you’re buying a moment in time that can never been “redone”. If you feel that you want photos that go beyond the scope that your smart phone can take, then you want it to be ones you will be guaranteed to love. Good photography isn’t cheap, and cheap photography isn’t good. When you consider that you will have your prints and products for life and beyond, then as long as you like your photographer’s work and style, it is the best deal you’ll ever find, no matter what the cost is. Think about other purchases you make – your cars, your computers, your phones, your furniture, your daily coffees, your vacations, etc. How much money do you spend on those? In 50 years from now will they still be around for generations to enjoy? Your photographs will be! So make sure you choose your photographer because you love their work and style!
*The exception to this rule is mini sessions, which are specifically made to be anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes in length, and often part of a day where many sessions are scheduled back to back and therefore the photographer is on a tight schedule. Also, newborn sessions are usually much longer in length than 1 to 2 hours.