Every mom wants beautiful pictures of her child! We want to see our children (like actually see visually in front of us) from the time they are babies stage by stage while they are growing older. It’s hard for us to see it sometimes because we are with our children everyday but we want to see those changes that our other families notice.
My mom notices all the time how much my son has grown, or how much he has changed in his face from little boy to school age boy (is that a thing?) now to actual chiseled boy! As his mom though, I don’t always see it… except when I look back at the albums I have made. This is one of the reasons why family photography is so important to me!
We need to document moments in time so we can reflect back! We also need to document ourselves in these moments so our children can look back and say yes! That was my momma! One day we will be gone and all they will have left of us will be letters we have written and hopefully, photos of us!
Anyway, I digress!
We all want beautiful images of our family but when it comes down to capturing them and WHO will be the one to do that… that choice can be super stressful! There are so many little pieces of that puzzle that can make your family session a wonderful experience but truthfully the number one puzzle piece you have to organize first is the person you decide to let IN to your family space: YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER!
We are pretty lucky. We live in an area where there are many photographers to choose from each with a different style and aesthetic. It’s a luxury not many people in other areas have! This can either be a great thing or it can feel very overwhelming but as a photographer who has been shooting ONLY children and families for over 10 years I have 5 tips that will help you when you set out to choose someone right for you!
1. TALK WITH YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS!
Start chatting with your BFFs! Take a look around your friend’s homes and if you love their images of their families ask who their photographer was and get a referral from them. Love a photographer on social media (instagram of FB) Check out that photographer’s work and then contact them! Just don’t go off “like” alone. Contact that photographer and start there. Make sure you are a good fit for each other. Just because your best friend loved them doesn’t neccessarily mean that photographer will work for your specific family and your specific kids! TALK it out! Get on the phone with that photographer and see if you “vibe!”
2. CHECK OUT THEIR STYLES & THEIR SPECIALTIES
What do YOU like? Take a peek around your home right now! What is your color palette? Are you more whites, blues and beiges? You might want to look for a light and airy photographer!
What kind of family do you have? My family is wild and crazy… I need a photographer that is playful and willing to be wild and crazy with us!
Do you like posed photography or are you a more natural/candid person?
These are all very important things to look at when you chose our photographer!
You also want to think about what type of photographer they are! Do they specialize in one thing? I ONLY shoot children and families. Some photographers do it all! Some shoot weddings and families. This should all factor in to your choice. Think about scheduling opportunities and where your family will fit in to that photographer’s schedule!
Browse their websites and look at their galleries! Make sure they have plenty of images to showcase the style of photography that you desire! Check out their blog and see what type of sessions they share the most! You can also get a feel for who they are in their blogs and writing.
Again, we are so lucky to be in an area where you can chose who you want! There are a lot of photographers with different styles and different ways of shooting! Take this opportunity to do some research, look around: go on their websites and blogs and galleries! Contact the photographers you think you might like and ask questions!
No one likes to talk about this but it’s a must! We all have a budget! I’m a family photographer who loves family portraits and I get them as often as I can for my own family! I need “proof of mom” because I’m never in my own photos, I’m always taking them. As much as I understand the value of family photography, budget has a place too!
Family photos are important! Every parent has said or thought once in their lifetime that time is a thief! We wish we could freeze it and guess what! Photography DOES freeze time! It’s the only way we can save our babies just for a second. We can hold them as they are for that one moment in time. Photography is the place where we can say YES… this was exactly how you were, way back when, when you were 8 and loved the smell of the ocean, and loved playing pokemon and made THAT EXACT silly face that annoyed me then but I wish I could see it one more time now!
Photography does that for us!
But at the end of the day when most people physically SEE the price of their photography session come across their screen… they balk! Trust me I hold my breath too when I look at it!
WHY IS IT SO EXPENSIVE?! and why does it cause me so much pain to pay that!!
Here’s why: As photographers we take our art very seriously. We are constantly growing, educating ourselves, investing in newer and more advanced equipment and spend hours of work before and after your actual session. A photographer can spend thousands of dollars on education and thousands more on their equipment. We spend on our websites and our hosting sites and our blogs. We spend on lawyers and small business fees.
Photographers own a small business! And while there are many out there that have different price points… there are also different types of photographers that specialize in different areas.
When it comes time to discuss your investment with your photographer before you automatically gut check and turn away… ask yourself what you are getting in return for your investment! Open up a conversation because I promise you, there is a reason your photographer is priced at that rate! Make sure you know exactly what is included in that pricing!
For me personally: I want to go beyond just the actual session with my clients! I want to give you an experience. I want you to feel taken care of in every aspect. I don’t want to show up, take your photos and then send a gallery and walk away. I want to leave you with something that is long lasting and I want you to know what that is upfront! I want you to have something tangible, something that you can hold!
That’s why I shoot in a way that tells a story.
4. “IT’S MY PLEASURE”
This is my way of saying what kind of feeling do they give you when you first chat with them! What kind of customer service or experience are they providing you!
The best way to explain this is to describe Chick-Fil-A! They are essentially a fast food chain but that’s not how the represent and carry themselves! They are instead a “quick service restaurant” and their customer service is unbeatable! When your car pulls up they welcome you! They make you feel like you are an old friend! They hold out a menu so you can actually see it rather than squinting at the drive through sign that might or might not be close enough to your car. When you are finished ordering they say “my pleasure” and you truly do feel like they are happy to serve you.
Also goodness gracious they are happy to give you as many sauces as you want! Ya’ll in the pouring rain, bless their hearts, these humans will smile as they get you 2 polynesian, 4 chick fil, 6 bbq and whatever else random number of sauces you might request just for the heck of it and at the end you will hear my pleasure!
It’s all about what THEY can do to make YOU (the customer) feel appreciated and special!
This is the type of customer service and experience you should be looking for in your family photographer!
I make sure my clients feel comfortable and confident before they even get in their car for their session! How do I do this? I make sure we have a relationship. I get to know them! I find out about my clients through e mails and phone calls and an all about me questionaire! I want to know what makes each family special and what their likes are, what they love and what they are into right now!
I find out what each family expects and what they envision for their session and then I help them understand what they can expect working with me. This helps to make the session less stressful and way more fun! It takes away that guess work!
Together, as a team, we prepare for the session. We talk about what locations they may want to visit, or clothing options they have. I build style boards and go over all the tiny details that they might not even have thought of but truly do make a difference!
Then at the actual session, I make my clients feel safe and comfortable by playing games and talking them through each moment in a way that will create those real, raw, authentic moments we all want to preserve. The moments that show how much we love each other and how your specific family loves and bonds.
It’s important to have a great relationship with your photographer for many reasons but this type of close relationship takes you from just having photos you like to photos you adore! It’s take you from images you might share once or twice on FB or instagram to images you cherish and decorate the walls of your home!
5. TRUST YOURSELF
We all have that gut feeling! Call it intuition, call it your “jellies”. What I want you to really think about is the fact that you ultimately know best and you need to remember WHY you want to book a family session in the first place. You want this session so you can look back and see yourself and your family at this moment in time and FEEL SOMETHING! So when you look at a photographer, make sure their images make you FEEL the way you want to feel.
A great photographer should have all these things above, but most importantly YOUR photographer (the one that is right for you and your family) should also make you FEEL something that is important to you in this moment in time.
Maybe you want to capture you and your family tenderly and loving? Maybe right now is a stage that is all play and silliness! Maybe you need a little bit of both!
When you are going through a photographer’s gallery check out to see if you feel the feelings that feel right for your family. If you feel like you might be on the right track, ask if you can see more of the photographer’s work to see if you are there! Ask to see a full session gallery! Whatever you need to make sure this is a good fit ASK, talk it out, make those connections!
Ultimately though, trust yourself! YOU are your best advocate!
YOU are THE MOM… you know your family! You know what works: now go out there and find that family photographer that just…
Feels like home!