Over the past 10 years, big-box-studios have slowly trickled out of business and out of public favor, only to be replaced by the growing popularity of custom photography. Consequently, consumers have more and more choices apart from theme-y backdrops and stiff poses.
Personalization is the trademark of the 21st century. If you're like me, though, sometimes too many choices can be a little overwhelming.
With so many photographers offering so many different styles, products, experiences, and price ranges,
how are you supposed to sort out what you actually need/want in order to be happy with the end result?
It's an important decision after all because the end result lives on for generations.
- How do you want to be seen 50 years from now when your grandkids look at those photos?
- What do you want to remember about your kids at this age?
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself when looking for a photographer before you hire him/her.
1. What kinds of photos do I like?
Ok, so I realize this may seem like an obvious one, but it's crucial! Some people take what's called a lifestyle approach, in which sessions are lightly styled and posed, but feature candid interaction and usually take place either in an outdoor location or the home. Even within this genre, however, there are many different styles to look for.
Do you like dramatic lighting effects or soft and creamy sunlight? Do you prefer vibrant color or matte finishes? Do you like studio posing or real life captures?
Spend some time browsing around sites like Pinterest and portfolios of your local artists. Note the pictures that really stand out to you and make you feel something and start narrowing your list!
2. Why do I want to have photos made?
Truth time: if you just want photos to stick in a box so you can check "family photos" off the to-list, you probably don't need to hire a professional in the first place.
Otherwise, think of the impact you want them to have both now and later.
- Is there a glaringly empty wall in your living room that could use some nice artwork? (And really, is there any better art than the smiles of your own kids??!)
- A pretty album of your kids might be the perfect present for grandma...
- How about some updated frames for the bookcase?
And more importantly, consider what you truly value right now about whatever season you're in and what you want to capture about it.
Purpose and intention will make all the difference in finding the right fit.
3. How much time am I willing to invest in this process?
The photographer you choose can have a drastic effect on the personal time and effort you invest in having photos organized, taken, printed, and displayed. It can be a long, sometimes complicated, often frustrating undertaking amidst everyday life, which is why it often gets pushed to the bottom of the list and forgotten.
Find a photographer who's job description includes taking care of all of that for you, someone whom you like and trust to take care of all the details! In order to have a positive experience with your session from start to finish, you need to be honest about what you're willing to invest from your personal life in order to get products that you and your relatives can enjoy in a timely fashion.
4. How often will I have photos taken?
Every 6 months? Every year? Every few years? Is this a once in a lifetime thing?
For budgets and for planning, this is important to note! Some photographers offer packages that will save you money for your loyalty. This is a great thing for kids, too, because they will feel more and more comfortable around that crazy person behind the lens each time you return. Sticking with one person also means you know what to expect, can form a friendly working relationship, and if you like the results, that's even more stress off your plate.
5. What kind of person do I like working with?
No matter what kind of photographer you choose and how little or how much they are involved in the process from start to finish, there is bound to be a good amount of communication via email, phone, and in person. Everything is more pleasant if you actually like the person to whom you're speaking. Not to mention, you'll feel way more comfortable in front of their camera!
* Do you feel at ease asking questions?
* Do you feel like you can be yourself around him/her?
* Do you share a similar sense of humor? Does he/she _have_ a sense of humor?!
* Do you feel like you can trust him/her?
Remember, this person is going to be working with your kids, with your personal life, maybe even in your home.
Liking and trusting your photographer is just as important as the quality of his/her work.
Hopefully these questions will help you feel more prepared for your first or next custom photography experience.