Choosing a photographer for your family portrait

Choosing a Photographer for your Family Portrait

Nothing can represent a special moment in time and provide a lasting reminder quite as well as a captivating photo. Flicking through an album forces someone to stop and reminisce, helping them to remember a special moment they may have forgotten had it not been for the image in front of them. It is this visual record of a life history and that of a family, which is so unique it deserves to be captured. And perhaps, the most important time to snap away with the camera is when the children are growing up.

As they change and develop, a photographic diary will show the children at different stages of life - it’s sure to make them giggle, squirm, smile and maybe even cry when they look back at the images in years to come.

A snapshot of family life The classic family photograph has come a long way since the days when the first photos were taken. Beautiful images can now even be transferred onto huge canvas prints, which are often lovingly hung on the walls of the family home.

Classic poses can be mixed with fluid action shots portraying a family at ease and laughing together, collectively building a varied portfolio that paints an honest impression of how a family really is. This is one of the many reasons why so many families seek a professional photographer. There is a sentimental need to make time stand still, just for that moment, and create a memory in a snapshot that will last forever. A professional photographer can record a special moment for you to look back on with future generations.

How to find a suitable family photographer

It is important to find a photographer who is experienced, well qualified and with whom you feel confident. You should make sure that the photographer you choose quickly establishes a good rapport making you all feel comfortable and at ease, as this will show in the photographs. Most photographers are specialists in different areas, so do look for those who focus primarily on family portraits and children.

Photographing children can be quite a challenge so it helps to choose someone who is used to dealing with them. It will help to whittle down a list of suitable photographers and ask to meet them in person to examine their work and existing portfolios. Many have websites, which display a collection of images that can also give you a good impression of their standard of work.

On closer inspection of the website you will be able to assess whether there is variety in the photos or if most of the images look similar. You will also be able to read the atmosphere in the imagery – do the shots look staged or are they natural and relaxed? It’s particularly important not to make a booking without viewing a photographer’s work beforehand - if one photographer does not share your ideas of style, then try another, as it is difficult for photographers to drastically change their technique to suit yours.

Remember to book early, especially if you want a particular date or the photos are for a special birthday or Christmas gift as the best photographers often get snapped up well in advance.

Go prepared… A good photographer will spend plenty of time with you to discuss your ideas and exact requirements, so it’s a really wise idea to go well prepared and think about the type of photo you want. For example, would you like traditional pictures or perhaps more informal shots? Do you want colour or black and white photos or both? Would you like the photos to be slightly diffused or would you like an effect such as sepia toning?

Ask to see examples of their work. Do the families or children in the photographs look relaxed, happy and at ease? Would you be happy owning your version of the images shown? Ask to see a complete album of images from one family, rather than a sample of good photographs from a number of families. By communicating exactly what you want, you can avoid possible disappointment later.

Remember to clearly describe the images you would like to see, but do let the photographer do the creative bit – that is what you are paying for after all!Also, decide on a suitable location for the photo shoot; be it at the studio, in your own home or outside at a natural beauty spot. If you have very young children it’s worth considering their needs; such as immediate access to clothes in case of one of life’s little emergencies and access to favourite toys to occupy their attention.

Deciding on the right image format…

Once you have found a photographer who suits all your requirements, you will need to negotiate a price for the job and decide on the format you wish to receive the images.Ask how you will initially see your images - will it be via a website, in person or both? Pictures may seem slightly distorted when proofing them online. This is often due to a computer monitor's resolution, colour and brightness, and may not necessarily give a true representation of what the portraits will look like once printed.

Find out when you will be able to see the proofs and how long it will take to process the final images. Many photographers offer different display options such as prints, frames, canvas or digital files. They may also create specialty products such as coffee table books, mugs, and aprons!

Do confirm that you can buy the pictures in the format you want.It may be worth discovering whether you can purchase all the images on a CD/DVD to create a complete memento of the photo shoot. If you want a CD full of pictures remember to ask for high-resolution images so you have the option of printing them at a later stage.

Deciding on the right price...

It is a good idea to inform the photographer of your budget right from the start. With a fixed sum to work to, the photographer will be able to suggest the options available to you and will save time in the long run.Ask your photographer to be perfectly clear on costs. Some charge a split fee for the photographic session and for any pictures you buy; whilst others offer almost free portrait sessions but charge high prices to buy the pictures.

If you want to make a price comparison, make sure you ask each photographer to quote for the same job otherwise you will not be able to make a realistic assessment. Finally, in advance, ask the photographer to explain their quote and to clearly highlight any possible extra costs that might be incurred so you can work to an honest budget. Once you have found the right photographer for you, at the right price for your purse, it’s great to own professional images of your family that last a lifetime.