One of the questions I periodically get asked is how do you go about choosing your baby/child/family photographer? It's something I wanted to share with you here on the blog as I get even more questions about this after having our own 'travel session' on location in Southern California. I think the idea of booking a photographer can seem intimidating enough, but could be downright overwhelming when looking in an area outside of where you live. And so, naturally, when clients or potential clients have heard that we had a family session while we were in the Lower 48, they want to know how we went about choosing our family photographer. What were my deciding factors?
I think when you first go about this process, there are a few key questions to ask: what is your end goal? Are you looking for a specialist or a generalist? Who is your photographer - who do they photograph? I don't think there is a 'right' or 'wrong' to any of these ... just what is right for you. :)
In the very early stages, I looked around for someone I knew or someone near the area that could recommend someone. Because, really, who better to refer us to someone than a friend? ... Yeah, I can't think of anyone either. :) Photographers always say it's the highest form of flattery and I'm sure in other industries it feels very similar. When someone recommends you to their friends & family, that is a wonderful feeling. Now, all of that aside, you may not know anyone in the area or you're the first in your group to get something like this done, so no one really has any recommendations. We'll start there (at the time most of my friends were several hours from where we were going to be and I didn't realize another friend was moving back to the area, so that was that).
When I first began our search, I was looking for someone with a more candid style. Semi-posed in good light was okay (we take direction well ;) ), but I didn't want it to be a completely posed set-up. I also knew we wanted something outdoors, probably urban or beach. Maybe both! (That is what we did, thank goodness for great photographers :) .)
After that, I looked at different blogs & websites to get a feel for who the photographer was (I simply googled "xyz area photographers" and "____ family photographer"), what their style was, what their passion was. If you stop and listen to your inner voice, you know pretty quickly whether you like what you see or not. That is a great place to start. If you see a photographer's blog or website and you don't immediately click with their work or their voice, then move on to the next one!
Once you've narrowed it down to a few that way, it's always a good idea to see if they are within your budget and if they offer the 'end product' that you'd like. Does this mean you have to know what you want before the session? No! Of course not. BUT, it's a good to have at least some idea of what you are hoping for ... prints for relatives, a set of cards, a wall portrait to hang in the baby's room, a display to hang in the foyer right above the antique bench. If you don't have an idea of what you are looking for, how will you know when you see it?
Something that I was looking for and easily found with Heather, is the "who do they photograph" part. It's clear that she specializes in children & families. Especially families on the beach. But it wasn't just that. It was also comforting (and a selling point!) to know that she has several boys of her own! Yes, several (I want to say 3!). So she is clearly used to photographing boys. And probably really active boys at that! Again, this may not be something that you even think about, but for me, with two kids under 3.5 at the time (and that 3.5 yo being a very active boy!) I wanted to make sure we were dealing with someone who 'got it'.
Last but not least, I wanted to make sure that our personalities would jive. Again, this may not be something that everyone considers or even gives much thought to ... but for my own family, I felt this was an important aspect. How could we get the images we were hoping for if the photographer wasn't good with kids or didn't like to photograph families or really had a passion for weddings & just did families on the side. For me, I felt like it was a no brain-er to make sure we found someone we clicked with who loved photographing children & families. Heather was our photographer! She even called me poolside that day to throw a couple more ideas into the mix last minute (of course we were up for it! :) we are a photographer's family after all ;) ).
But really ... this is just how I went about looking for our photographer. The things I thought about. The steps I took.
What do you look for in your photographer? When you hire someone to do custom work for you, what are you hoping for? I'd love to hear your thoughts as well and maybe this can head off to the land of FAQs for those who'd like to know ... how did you choose your photographer?