photographer taking photos of a family

5 Tips for Finding a Family Photographer

Finding the perfect photographer for your family photos can be daunting — these once-in-a-lifetime moments with the kids pass quickly so it’s important that it’s photographed the way you would like to remember this time. Even as a photographer I find this hard – I am so persnickety! There are so many different aspects to a great family photo that’s different for each family, but there are some simple steps to help you choose a photographer that works for everyone. Keep reading for my top 5 tips for choosing a family photographer.

photographer taking photos of a family

1. Sync Photography Styles

Think about what style of photography (photojournalistic, editorial, or studio) you’re interested in and see what the photographer’s style is (this goes for both shooting style and final product). Do your styles mesh? You don’t want to choose a photographer whose style doesn’t fit yours or what you want the final product to look like. If you love the candid look of photos you are going to want to choose someone who has a more photojournalistic style, as well as yourself, will need to be able to just pose and interact with each other without much direction. If you like a more posed style go with a photographer who showcases that on their website and knows how to put your family into the desired pose or setup.

2. Choose the Right Specialty

Depending on the type of photos you want to take you may want to look for a photographer who specializes in family photography, or newborns and children, or even weddings or boudoir. This is important because you may love a boudoir photographer’s style but want family photos, so that specific photographer wouldn’t be a good choice as they may not have the knowledge or experience with working groups and/or kids. Try making sure you can find someone who has the style and know-how for the final product you want.

3. Be Sure They’re Client-Focused

Your photographer should be excited about working with you, easily reachable, and upfront about what to expect before, during and after the photo session. I love making my clients feel loved and important – I make sure to offer ideas for each shoot from posing to styling. Another aspect is how they will interact with you and your kids since kids are a big part of the session and really the biggest obstacle to any session. – I’m often asked if I’m good with kids or if I have experience with tricky kids. If you have a child with a short attention span you’re going to want a photographer who is willing to accommodate that within their packages.

4. Reviews and Recommendations

Ask around and search online to read reviews and recommendations from other families that have used the photographers you’re considering for your photos. This will tell you a little about the whole experience —from booking to after the session— from a family that’s been where you’re about to be. A photographer’s disposition at booking can sometimes be different from when the pictures are taken, or the portfolio will look amazing but then the client isn’t happy with their final pictures so it’s important to check these real reviews.

5. Investment and Budget

After you’ve narrowed your search down to a few potential photographers based on everything you want from your pictures, the last and fifth step to finding the perfect photographer is to see which ones in on your list are anywhere near your budget. Think about whether you’re OK with going out of your budget a little bit for the right photographer, and consider what each photographer has to offer for their stated price. Some photographers state their session fee but don’t include the cost of actually getting the photos so be sure to double-check the information about the total cost. Email the photographer and see if they’re willing to work with you on the overall cost as well.

Jessica Sullivan is a San Francisco Bay Area family, newborn and child photographer. After graduating from Brooks Institute of Photography in 2007, Jessica moved from Santa Barbara to San Francisco. Now nestled in cozy Marin county, she has fallen even more in love with life and capturing its ever-changing and growing beauty. 

This post was originally published in November 2014. Pinterest photo by Shari Stamps.

5 Tips for Finding a Family Photographer

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  1. Bethany Birchridge says:

    I love that this article mentions that you should choose a photography based on their specialty and how well it matches your needs. My friend is an aspiring photographer, so its helpful to know that advertising her specialty could help her obtain more clients. I love that there are different types of photographers and that knowing their skills helps you decide they are appropriate for your needs.

  2. Theordore Winston says:

    My eldest son is turning seven and my wife wanted us to get a family portrait. I agree that we should look for a photographer who specializes in family photography especially one with a lot of experience on handling kids in photography. Yes, one of the easiest ways to catch a good photographer is to search for them online by checking their reviews or even ask for some friends recommendations. I would also suggest taking time looking at their portfolio; also try to have a small talk with the photographer to see if they have a great attitude, photo shoots can be a little stressful so it’s important to hire a photographer that is patient and compassionate enough for their job. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Marcus Coons says:

    It really helped when you mentioned how you should consider the type of photography you need and choose a professional that has experience doing it whether it is wedding or family photos. I can see that taking the time to do this can help you find someone that knows how to take the best pictures of your special occasion and can help you create the best memories. My daughter is trying to get into modeling and wants to make sure she finds the best photographer that can help her get great pictures, so I’ll share your post with her.

  4. Violette Lebrac says:

    You mentioned asking your photographer about their style to see if it would be a good fit for what you want. I want to get some traditional family portraits, but I know that’s not every photographer’s style. I should probably ask him about how he feels about it before hiring him fully.

  5. I agree that you should make sure your family photographer shares a similar photography style as you. I would add that if you don’t know what your preferred style is, it may help to go online and look up some different kinds of examples. Once you found something you like, you can share it with your photographer to give them an idea of what you are looking for.

  6. Olivia Nelson says:

    I like your idea of choosing a photographer that is specialized in what you want. I would imagine that a family photographer would be good for your family but not for your wedding. My husband and I want to get some pictures with our newborn so we’ll have to find someone who specializes in this type of work.

    1. Thanks, Olivia! Yea, it’s definitely important to not only find the type of the photographer you’re looking for, but one who takes photos in a style you like.

  7. Kendall Ryder says:

    I also want to look for someone that deals with kids well. I don’t want my photographer getting upset about the fact that they can’t get the kids to do exactly what they want. We all know kids are squirmy! So. finding someone that deals with kids professionally is a good idea.

    1. Oh yes, definitely! They need to meet you and be someone you/you’re family is comfortable with. But that also depends on the style of photographer you choose. You’re describing a portrait session and I think lifestyle/candids with some posed (when possible) really work best, especially with littles.

  8. Nathan Johnson says:

    My wife and I are coming up on our 5 year anniversary. One thing that I am trying to surprise her with is hiring a photographer to get some professional pictures of our family. Since there are so many photographers out there, it is hard to figure out who will be good for our family. I like your tips and I think they will help me find a good one. Thanks for the info!