Stunning family photos are priceless treasures, but undoubtedly professional photo shoots come with a price tag. Nowadays everyone has a digital camera in hand and half of them offer photographer services on the fly. So the question inevitably becomes how can you be sure that your investment is safe? Here are my top tips for picking the right family photographer for you:

Clarify what you’re looking for and do some window shopping.
Knowing what end products you want to purchase will help you weed out the photographers who can not satisfy your needs. Ask yourself: How many different photo selections are included in the cost of a portrait session? What kinds of products does each photographer offer? Are canvas wraps, standouts, albums, or digital files available? What are the prices of these photography products?

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Don’t get carried away by a sale. Everyone loves a good deal, but deep discounts should never be the deciding factor in selecting one photographer over another. Why? Because the bargain is a bust if you wind up with photos you hate. Quality photographers invest in excellent equipment and professional-grade printing. When it comes to family portraits, you almost always get what you pay for.

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Get a sense of style.
Family photographers each have a particular perspective and some will be more willing to adapt to your particular needs than others. Peruse their profile, ask for samples, and spend some time getting a sense of their unique aesthetics. Notice their editing style and try to envision how that portrait look would incorporate into your home. Is the lighting too dramatic? Do the shots look natural or overly retouched? Are poses stiff or do they seem to capture the spontaneity of the moment?

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Be clear about your expectations.
Quality photographers want to deliver products that you will cherish for years to come. If you have a special request, ask ahead of time if the photographer can accommodate you. Perhaps you want some family pet shots or want to shoot at various locations – ask in advance.

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Check up on personality & professionalism.
Often times with family and child photography, you will be inviting the photographer into your home to spend several hours with your family. Therefore, it’s important to choose someone who can establish a positive atmosphere and make everyone feel at ease. Professional photographers have years of experience soothing nerves and prompting natural smiles. Ask if they have a registered business, whether they are insured, if they belong to any professional photography organizations, and if they participate in charity.

Make contact.
Spend some time trolling photographers’ websites and Facebook pages, but if that doesn’t seem like enough then send an email and ask all your questions directly. Having these concerns out of the way will not only help you make the best selection, you’ll also be able to relax on portrait day.

As a Washington DC family photographer, I have more than 6 years working with local families. If you are struggling to pick a photographer, I’d be happy to talk to with you to discover whether we might be a good match for your next family photo shoot!

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