Choosing a Family Photographer

We are living in a time when almost every move we make is recorded by some kind of camera be it cctv, phones or the ones that we use to record our holidays and family. Every so often it’s nice to have our families recorded by a professional photographer who can not only produce beautiful images but will hopefully capture the true character of our children at that specific time in their lives. Hopefully, without too much bias, I can help you choose the right photographer for you.

Having photographed thousands of families I know how daunting the whole procedure can be. If you follow these simple steps you should end up with photographs that will bring joy for many years, not only to you but to your children and their children in the future.

1) Choose a style that you like:

Most photographers have their own style and it is important that it is one that suits you. Thanks to the web every photographer now has a site that shows their best work, but remember this is their ‘best’ work so look to see that they have done a lot of different families. There should be a wide variety of sessions to show that they haven’t just ‘got lucky’ with a few shots.

Lots of photographers call themselves “Award Winning’. Take no notice of these awards as they are just industry PR and almost every photographer has one – I don’t as I have never entered for one and personally feel that they are a bit of a sideshow. What is important is what you think of the pictures. You wont be hanging the photographers award on your wall.

Always ask if the photographer who took the photos on the web site is the same one that will be taking your pictures. Some studios have a few photographers working for them and you want to be sure that you are going to get the quality of photos ‘as advertised’.

Tabitha with her rocking horse that she will never forget.

Tabitha with her rocking horse that she will never forget.

2) Price:

As always this is a thorny subject. In almost every shopping centre that you go into now there will be someone handing out coupons for a free or extremely cheap photo session, usually with a free print. When was the last time that you got something really nice for free?

Unfortunately what often happens is the client has the session, is shown the pictures of their children looking beautiful and is then given a hard sell to buy photographs that they “won’t ever see again unless they buy them now”. This puts off many people from having portraits done again. A large part of my business is repeat custom and recommendations so I see that unscrupulous business model as self defeating.

There is a reason that this has become common practise. Most people are reluctant to commit to spending a large amount of money when they are unsure what the results will look like. To combat this, the photographer attracts them in with a free offer or low price and hopes to make his money back by selling them expensive, usually framed, prints.

Avoid this happening to you by asking the photographer a few basic questions: Do you have a price list for your framed and unframed prints? Can I buy prints unframed? Do I have to choose my pics at the viewing? Can I come back to buy prints anytime in the future?

Be wary of the photographer who is reluctant to answer any of these questions but also remember that most of them are skilled professionals trying to make an honest living. Photography is an expensive and time consuming occupation and it is unrealistic to expect to get prints for £10. As a rough guide I would say that most parents will end up spending a minimum of £200 overall.

Joshua, relaxing at home.

Joshua, relaxing at home.

3)  At home or in the studio

Until quite recently if you wanted family portraits you went along to the photographer’s studio, sat in front of a blue background or if it was upmarket, on a leather sofa in front of a bookcase with leather-bound books. Before that was the now much ridiculed furry rug.

The current studio set up is known as ‘Lifestyle Photography’ and is invariably shot against a white background with the children jumping around and having a good time. This is a big improvement on what went before but since its introduction in the 90’s has become something of a cliche itself. With over-processed colours or extremely high contrast b&w, the images are striking but have become ubiquitous and are already starting to look old fashioned. I will state my obvious bias here; I am not a huge fan of this kind of photography but it has been extremely popular.

There are obvious advantages in going to a studio: you just turn up with the children and it is over quite quickly, depending on how the children are you are almost always guaranteed good results as the lighting has been set up the same for every shoot and you don’t have to tidy your house up!

In the last ten years there has been a group of family photographers who will come to your home to photograph your children and this is the way I work. When I take pictures in the home I often include a small part of the furniture or a doorway, something that will bring back memories to the child in later life, visual reminders of their childhood.  I believe that the photographs you have done of your children should not only be for your enjoyment now but should also show the children how they were when they were young. They will also be a wonderful record for their children of where their parents came from.

The advantages of doing it in your home are: the children feel more relaxed and comfortable in their own environment, the photographs are unique and personal to your family (something that is hard to create in the production line set-up of a studio), it is easy to make clothing changes if needed or take a break if they get bored and there isn’t the pressure of getting them ready for the journey to the studio. It can also be cheaper because there are no studio costs but it does take up more of the photographers time.

There are probably photographers who work this way in your area and the ones that do are often willing to travel reasonable distances. Look on the web to see if there are any you like, their working practises and then give us a call!

Hopefully you will find a photographer who will fulfil your needs and provide you with amazing pictures of your family.

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