Finding the Best Photographer for Your Family!

Holland Beach Family Photography

Finding the best photographer for your family can be a bit overwhelming… like choosing a pediatrician, or dentist, you want to find a professional who is experienced, friendly, and someone you look forward to seeing (ok, maybe comparing it to the dentist wasn’t the best idea)! It can be overwhelming to take that first step to finding the perfect photographer to create those beautiful images of your family that you will cherish forever. Now, also like the dentist, some people may put off having family portraits taken… you may be waiting for something to be “just perfect” (to lose that 5 lbs, for teenager to get their braces off, etc.) but here’s a tip, it will never be the exact “perfect” time (you can always find an excuse to wait) but you will want to remember your family just the way they are, even if you don’t think so today! To quote Nike, “Just do it!” We promise, when your kids are grown, you will never look back and wish you hadn’t had those photos taken! (We know from experience). So, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you find the right photographer for your family…


1)The Search:

You can easily look at social media sites and your friends homes (virtual walls and actual walls). Almost everyone knows a photographer these days, so begin by looking at your friends professional portraits (either in their home or online) and maybe you’ll find one with a style that fits you and your family. You’ll want portrait art that’s going to look great on your walls, and fits your home decor. Maybe the latest trend in photography isn’t your thing, so look around and find a photographer with a style that speaks to you. You can make notes of images (what you like about them) is the light pleasing, is the image well composed (do you like the crops and edits) does the photographer capture the uniqueness of the family through their images? Check out the photographers website and see if they have complete galleries displayed, or just one or two images from many sessions? You should be able to see an entire session somewhere (either on their website, blog, or social media) posting multiple images from a family session, or a slideshow of a complete session. (Tip: If the photographer doesn’t have a website, be cautious, they may not be running a legitimate business if they only have a social media page or blog).

2)Their Style/Your Style:

Professional photographers generally have a specific style you will see throughout their work, while others change with the trends (or with the clients who hire them). We recommend you look for a photographer whose professional work consistently showcases the style you’re looking for. You’ll also want a professional who’s experienced and comfortable photographing a family, whether it’s just a family of four, or parents with grown kids and dogs, or a large extended family group. (Not all photographers know how to work with large groups). A true professional will know how to instruct their clients to stand/sit in a manner that is flattering, but as you’ll find, some may not. It’s usually obvious by how pleasing the lighting and posing is in the final portrait (trust us, proper lighting and posing make a huge difference!) If you want a beach session, find a photographer who has photographed families at the beach at the right time of the day (for the best light) or with amazing sunsets if that’s the look you’d like. (FYI, not all photographers have the necessary lighting equipment to do this!) Some “professionals” are just people who own a nice camera, and some are Certified Professional Photographers, true professionals that have spent years in training, and have years of experience creating beautiful photographic art.

3) Referrals:
You can ask for referrals from your friends. If you have a friend who has beautiful family portraits, ask them who they hired to photograph their family, and if they would recommend their photographer. Find out what the session was like… was it fun? (It should be!) How did the photographer interact with their children? Was the photographer friendly and outgoing, and were their children comfortable and at ease during the session? If you find a friend with beautiful portraits created by a photographer they love (and have been going to for years) that’s usually a good indication that they are an experienced professional. We think you should not only love your portraits, but also enjoy the photography session experience!

Kari Douma Photography Studio Brothers

Most professional photographers will have a Studio, either in a professional/commercial space, or a private studio set up in their home. If you hire a professional with a studio space, we recommend you make an appointment to meet them, see their work in person, and get an overall feeling for their personality before your session. You’ll want to hire someone you get along with, who is friendly and fun. (We have become wonderful friends with many of the families we have photographed over the years!) Some studios will have only one photographer, while some have many, so that’s important to know before the session. We at Kari Douma Photography do a planning meeting with all new families before their session… we want to meet you in person and get to know your style and what you’re looking for before we photograph you. We give you tips about planning for your session, and clothing suggestions as well as session options and pricing information. If you decide to hire a photographer without a studio space, you may want to find out what the backup plans is in case of poor weather (or if you want to have a session when your baby turns one in December, then what?) Some photographers call themselves “natural light” photographers, which usually means they don’t have access to a studio (or they may not know how to use studio lighting). This is all good to know ahead of time, and information you should be able to find easily on a photographers website, or by calling and asking to set up a time to meet. With so many photographers out there, you should find one you LOVE, not just settle for the one with the best deal.

Grandville Studio Family Newborn Session

5) Options/Investment
Get all the necessary information before you hire a photographer. This can either be done in person at the studio (which is the best option, so you can talk face to face about details, and ask questions) or via email or over the phone. You should see everything in writing… if there’s a miscommunication somewhere you don’t want it to become a “you said ____ on the phone” disagreement. If overall cost is a deciding factor to you, you will want to know what your total investment will be before you start. Most professional photographers will not have their pricing information posted online, and for those that do, it’s best to clarify details in person. (Shopping online pricing can be deceiving as most photographers will have different standards for their sessions and portrait options). Some photographers may seem to be a great deal from the start, but end up being the most expensive in town after you finish ordering everything you wanted. Some may have very low up front fees (little or no session fee) with nothing “included”, while others may have higher up front fees (session that included print credit or digital files) so it’s best to ask those questions ahead of time. A professional will always provide session and pricing information in writing (either at their studio, or via email/PDF etc). If you find someone who seems much less expensive than all the other professionals you’ve found, you may want to ask yourself why. Do they have professional equipment? Do they have a licensed business (and pay taxes) as well as insurance? Are they booking numerous sessions each week (trying to get them all in during the fair weather months) and if so, will they devote the time necessary to to your family session? Will they provide you with proofs in a timely manner? A photographer who owns a professional studio should provide you personalized attention, and understand the time necessary (as well as their expenses involved) when setting up their sessions and portrait pricing. If you find a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is!

6) Ask questions! These are some good questions to ask:
How long have you been in business? (Are you insured, etc)
Where is your studio located? Is it family friendly?
Do you regularly photograph families? (Large family groups, if necessary).
What’s included in the session (time, number of proofs)?
Are their different session options?
Is there an order/print credit included?
What are portrait prices/options?
Can I purchase digital images as well as prints? What are the options for poor weather (cancellations or rescheduling)?
What days/times do you schedule sessions? (Time of day is important!)
How long will it be between the session and when I’ll see the proofs?
Will I get to see the images in person at the studio, or will I only see them online?

Summer Beach Family Session

7) Relationship
We think the most important part of finding the right photographer, is building a relationship with a photographer you can trust with documenting the milestones of your family. If you find someone who creates beautiful portrait art for your family, you are going to want to go back to them over the years as your family grows. You’ll want a photographer who remembers you and your children (and knows you all by name). Someone your kids are excited to see when it’s time for a new family portrait! Your photographer is going to capture those precious moments between the people you love the most in this world, and they should be someone you can trust with that important task. We cherish the relationships we’ve built over the past 10 years with the families we’ve been trusted to photograph! It’s such an honor for us to be asked to photograph every wedding day (for siblings) of a large family. When they’re engaged, and we’re one of the first people they call, we feel so blessed to be able continue creating their photographic legacy! When we’re trusted to photograph each newborn baby as a family grows over the years, their families become like family to us. There’s nothing we love more than capturing those priceless moments and creating beautiful portrait art that will last for future generations. We think you should have a photographer who does that for you too!

Written By: Jayne Wirebaugh
Kari Douma Photography
Grandville, Michigan 49418