How do you go about finding the right portrait photographer to photograph your family portrait?
Here is a list of things we think are important when choosing a portrait photographer…
Up front prices with a choice of a la carte & packages from which you can choose after you see your portraits. Obviously this is going to offer you the most flexibility and will be the most economical unless you know exactly what it is you are after, for example… You know you want…
- 1 of 75cmx101cm family portrait to go in the family room,
- 1 of 50x60cm portrait of the kids to go next to the family portrait
- 2 of 28x35cm portrait of the kids for the grandparents.
- 1 of each of the kids as a 30x20cm for the mantle in the living room.
- 2 of 13x18cm of you and your partner for gifts and
- 3 of 10x15cm of you and your partner for each of the kids’ life albums
Unless you know this in advance and you’re certain nothing will change you could easily end up buying a package that looks like great value but costs more in the long run because you need sizes or quantities that don’t come in the package you pre-purchased.
A session fee with a comprehensive print price list that includes reasonably priced a la carte loose prints (so you can take them to your own framer if you choose) and discounted packages for the people who choose to purchase a “set” of portraits is the way to go.
How many photos are taken
Now that the days of film are behind us I think you would be hard pressed to find a portrait photographer who limits the quantity of portraits taken included in the session fee. I often see a time limit or limit to how many people are included but you shouldn’t have to look too far to find one who has no limit on the time or the quantity of people photographed.
That being said, if you have every possible combination of family members photographed, the Portrait Photographer would expect you to purchase them, don’t you think? I know I would.
When you look at sample portraits keep in mind that what you see is what you get. Obviously any sample portraits are going to be the best of the best, just make sure the people look relaxed and comfortable. People need to look like they really would, naturally. Any good portrait photographer should be able to get their subject to relax (that’s our job) and create a set up that looks natural. This is the one that really sorts out the wanna be photographers from the pro’s.
It’s good to be able to meet with or at least speak to the actual Portrait Photographer before the portrait session. You will get the chance to tell them the style of portrait you like and they will get the chance to ask you questions about the subject/s which will help them to photograph them in the best way possible.
Location, location, location – A variety of locations to choose from that suit the time of day you choose (or need) and alternative locations depending on the weather on the day.
Parks, beaches, cool streetscapes, a rural scene, maybe a sandstone building or foyers for more formal portraits or similar choices should be available, with choices for rain, wind or overcast. Keep in mind that the beach is usually the most difficult, the light is nicest in the afternoon but there always seems to be a sea breeze when you show up with a family of 5 of which 3 are girls who have long blonde hair.
Portraits at your chosen location (your home or somewhere special) should be more than welcome. Travel fees are the norm for locations over a certain distance from the studio.
It’s the light that counts – The thing is this, it’s not how good the camera is that determines the image is, it’s how good the light is.
As you look for a portrait photographer you will come across plenty who claim “I only use natural light” as if that makes them superior. Why is that?
You will probably find they haven’t been in the industry long and their prices are very affordable.
Don’t get me wrong, a beautiful family portrait shot with late afternoon light low in the sky, beaming straight onto a subject’s face is a wonderful thing, if your portrait photographer can get a natural vignette happening with some sparkles of light in the background at the same time you have got it made.
But even if you do have a sensational main light, a portrait can often be improved with a kicker or side light to separate the daughter on the left with the dark hair from the background, for example.
Don’t be fooled, real pro’s have a bag full of flashlights and know when to and when not to use them
A Portrait Session Guarantee
If it all goes belly up on the day (and sometimes it does when young children are involved) it’s nice to know that you can go back again and again until you get images you are happy with. In my opinion, only a confident photographer would offer that kind of guarantee.
This little girl had multiple sessions before we got satisfactory portraits (and they are all shot with flash).
Once you have found and booked a portrait photographer you will probably need to know a few more things…
- What to wear and what not to wear.
- How to make your session successful with children.
- The best time of day if you are having an outdoor portrait.
- Turn around times (how long before you get your portraits).
- How and when you get to see your portraits and answers to any other questions you may have.
I hope this helps you with your decision making, please feel free to comment or e-mail me with any other questions you have.