Hey Mom – yes, I see you with your super-long to-do list that includes everything from grocery shopping to picking up the dog’s medicine at Costco (HUGE money saver right there!). Maybe you even need to show up for work in there somewhere. With our lovely (insert eye-roll) 90-degree Houston September weather, the holidays seem a million miles away, but you know they will be upon us before we know it…and you KNOW you need to get your family portrait session scheduled but you just haven’t had the time to think through all the details.
I get it.
Getting ready for a family photo shoot can be a lot of stress and work, not the least of which is deciding who to hire. Here’s my list of 7 things to consider before you hire a photographer this fall.
- What kind of feel do you want your photos to have? Do you want the perfectly posed, everyone-looking-at-the-camera shot to hang over the fireplace? (This kind of shot takes more skill on the photographer’s part than you probably realize.) Or maybe a more relaxed version of everyone looking at the camera? Do you want candid shots of your family loving on each other? Or do you want to highlight the quirkiness of your family’s relationships with a water balloon fight, night at the ice cream parlor, or something else your family enjoys doing together (commonly known as lifestyle photography)? Once you’ve decided what kind of images you want, look for a photographer whose portfolio matches up with how you want your images to look.
- What do you see in the photographer’s portfolio? Do the people look relaxed and natural? Do the hands look natural, or are they stiff, awkward and have nothing to do? What about expressions? Are smiles forced, or does the smile reach the eyes and really communicate authentic expression? Being able to coax real expression from subjects is a developed skill, and some photographers are much better at it than others.
- How will the photographer help you prepare for your shoot? Will she provide you with suggestions on how to put your outfits together? What about hair and makeup recommendations? Should you have your hair and makeup done by a professional? If so, will the photographer help you set that up? (Shameless plug – my answer on this one is YES you should have it professionally done if possible and yes I will help with appointments!) Will the photographer work with you on finding the perfect location for your shoot, or is she limited to only a few places? Is there an indoor option if that’s what you prefer?
- What kind of deliverables do you want from your photography session? Do you want digital images only? Or are you interested in top-quality, professional photographic art that will grace your home for years? What about framed prints or canvases to beautify your walls, or albums for the coffee table? There’s no right answer to this question (well, on second thought I MIGHT have an opinion on that, ha!), but give it some thought. Some photographers offer only digital images, some only provide printed products, and some offer a mix of both. (I’m in the third category, in case you’re wondering.)
- What’s the photographer’s turnaround time and when do you need your images or products? If a photographer is doing all of her own editing and processing, it may take two to three weeks to receive your proofs or images. If you need your images the same or next day, you may need to make a trip to the mall. If you want professionally crafted portrait art, the design and printing process can take some time, so just check with your photographer before you book to ensure she can meet your timeframe. This is especially important during the holiday season when portrait photographers are at their busiest.
- Is the photographer reliable and someone you want to work with? If you have found your photographer online and not through a friend’s recommendation, ask for references. If you like talking on the phone, set up a time to chat – it’s a great way to get an idea of what it might be like to work with someone new.
- Do you understand the pricing? Pricing for photographic services is all over the place, and encompasses everything from the photographer’s time and skill to her costs associated with the business. A photographer who uses top-of-the-line gear, has years of experience and education, and operates a dedicated studio space will charge more than someone who’s just starting out. Regardless of what the price point is, make sure you understand how the prices work and what is included. Some photographers offer all-inclusive pricing and some use a model of a session fee and a la carte or package purchases after the session. Again, there’s no right or wrong here, just make sure you understand what you are purchasing. (For example, session fees usually do not include any prints or digital images.)
Want to know more about my fall availability? Pop your email below and I’ll send it right your way, along with a pretty cool surprise, too! Happy fall, y’all!
Send me the fall scheduling info!