If you’re hunting for a newborn or family photographer, you’ve probably found yourself inundated with hundreds of options and a throbbing headache. Which one is right for you? What questions should you ask? How can you separate the hobbyists from the professionals, and ensure that you hire someone truly exceptional?
Checking out websites and portfolio collections is an excellent place to begin, but no decision should be made before having a one-on-one conversation (over the phone or in person). The default questions that most people ask are about prices and about digital file offerings, but these two questions offer little to no insight into the quality of the final images and don’t provide a true apples-to-apples comparison of photographers. Arm yourself with a few strategic questions and a notebook to jot down your thoughts, just make sure these seven essential questions are on your list!
How to Choose the Right Photographer for You:
7 Questions to Ask Before Handing Over a Check
Question #1: Do you have many repeat clients?
Gorgeous website and glimmering portfolio aside, the true test of a phenomenal photographer is how many clients come back year after year to work with him or her again. Asking this question is a great litmus test of customer service as well as quality photography.
Question #2: How much experience do you have with creating newborns/ young children/ family portraits?
Perusing online portfolios is certainly a great place to start, but keep in mind you’re only seeing the photographer’s select images, which may not be representative of a full portrait shoot package or their overall experience. Rather than allowing a few beauty shots make the decision for you, ask about how many years he/ she has been in the industry, how the business began, and what environments they tend to shoot in.
Also, if you have any special concerns or unique requests, be sure to ask photographers if they have any past experience in that area as well. For example, do you have any experience photographing special needs children? Or if you’ll be incorporating the family pet into the portrait, ask if he or she has worked with animals in the past.
Question #3: You can Photoshop out the bad stuff, right?
We’ve all got bits that we’d like to change – blemished skin, under eye puffiness, a few wayward strands of hair, which makes editing software such a blessing. However, not all photographers edit images to the same degree or in the same way. Experienced photographers will use posing, location scouting, and camera settings to prevent eye sores, but minor touch-ups are inevitable. Because editing in Photoshop can be very time-consuming, be sure to clarify how many images get full editing and if any additional fees may apply.
Question #4: How should I prepare my family before the portrait session?
Professional photographers will be able to supply lots of tips for how to prepare for you family portrait session and ways to make the most of your appointment and they will want you and your family to feel comfortable and have fun. Be sure to ask what colors and styles of clothing they recommend, if you should bring a change of outfit, how they will handle a fussy child at nap time, and what they will do if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Photographers who stammer around these questions may not have the level of experience or charisma necessary to pull off a seamless photoshoot.
Question #5: When will the edited photos be made available for viewing/ purchase?
Every photographer has a different process, some whip out edited images in a matter of days while others may carefully retouch and color balance photos and have a processing time of 1-3 months. Some photographers will polish all your photos, while others may only edit the images that you decide to order. It all depends on the photographer’s style, quality standards, number of images, and overall workload.
Question #6: What photo products are available to purchase?
There’s an industry phenomenon known as “shoot and burn photography,” which refers to photographers that shoot hundreds of images, do very minimal editing (if any), burn them onto a CD, collect the bill, and walk away. I recommend always working with a full-service photographer who will fully edit the images and hand over high quality prints and products that put your photos on display. However, every family and child photographer offers different photo products and varying quality standards. Before booking a session, ask what deliverables are available and if you can see any finished samples.
Question #7: You know your industry much better than I do. As I’m searching through dozens of photographers, what is it that makes you stand out from the rest?
Evaluating portraiture and various photographers can be a tricky business for someone not familiar with the lingo or the industry. This is a great question to an “insider” help you navigate the search a bit more effectively. Invite photographers to answer honestly and to open up about how they differ from their competition. Their answers may be related to photography style, equipment, turn-around time, price points etc.
How to choose the right photographer for you comes down to equal parts online research and one-on-one interaction. There are hundreds of family photographers in the Washington DC area alone, and it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed and confused by how to pick one person out of such a massive crowd. Use these questions – and the positive feedback of past clients – to help you narrow down the search, and eventually land upon the one photographer who best fits your family’s needs.
For additional useful information about choosing a photographer, I often refer clients to this excellent website that provides a wealth of helpful answers on the subject.
Have you ever hired a family or child photographer? Any excellent interview questions that you’d like to add to the list? Tell me in the comments section below!
About the Author:
Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!