Finding the right photographer to capture your special family moments can be a difficult experience. After all, it can be almost impossible to discern the quality of someone's work based on photos he or she has taken for other people. It tells you nothing about attitude, work style, or the drive the photographer has to produce quality work for you. In the end, you need to look for a few specific things when you are deciding on professional family photographers.
National Family Photography Companies
There are a number of family photography companies operating around the country in the form of franchise operations. There are some pros and cons associated with the use of these companies, but they can be perfect for many people.
As far as benefits go, these national companies are often much cheaper than hiring a professional photographer. The shoots will also not take very long, with most shoots taking about 15 minutes. This is roughly 1/4 of the time a professional photographer will spend with you.
The main drawback is that some people find the photographs taken through these chains to be very boring and uninspired. All the photos taken are done against a backdrop that thousands of other photos have incorporated. A professional will come out to your home, to a park, or somewhere special and take photos of you and your family in a place you love.
Picture People is a national portrait studio chain with locations in 31 states around the country. The company offers a wide range of packages with a varying range of prices, though not with much diversity. The prices here are very reasonable, with many tiered levels of pricing to suit different budgets. They also offer special promotions that allow you to save money on portraits if you have more than one set taken every year. Since many people have portraits done for the holidays, on birthdays, and on other special occasions, this can be a money saver.
Olan Mills offers a comprehensive assortment of special packages for many different budgets and sensibilities. They are especially well-known for the large number of specialty photo designs and templates that customers can use to spruce up their photos for a special event or holiday. The downside to this is that customers have to take some care when selecting their package, and this can be a time-consuming experience.
Kiddie Kandids specializes in portraits of children and young families. There are a lot of portrait packages offered here, especially when the holidays come around and people are trying to get holiday cards printed. One of the benefits of using Kiddie Kandids is that they often have a bunch of different costumes around for the kids to dress up in. The downside is that their focus is really on small children. They could potentially take portraits of older people and larger families, but you may have spotty results from location to location.
If you want something a little more personalized and creative than a few shots in front of a white background, you should consider hiring a local professional photographer. These photographers will often charge you more than you would spend at a national company, but the results can be substantially different. This is because a local professional will work with you on a creative direction for your photographs to produce something that is completely unique to you and your shoot. The time involved with setup, traveling, shooting, and touching up a session like this is also substantially larger than what is involved with shooting at a portrait studio.
To find local photographers in your area, you should look on popular review websites. Sites like Angie's List and Yelp offer an excellent forum for discussion on the qualities of photographers from people who have actually used him or her. Any other site that allows customers to review professionals they've used in the past is a great resource.
You could also try to look on directory websites that deal specifically with local photographers. Photographers Index is a great website that offers a lot of insight on photographers around the United States.
Tips on Finding a Photographer
The first thing you should look for is personal recommendations. Photographers are not in any short supply when you look on the Internet, and you should be picky about who you choose. Any photographer can post a nice blurb about himself from a client who may or may not even exist. You should look for recommendations from people you actually know whenever you have a chance. Even professional photographers will usually say that personal recommendations are an important part of finding a great photographer.
Find someone who takes his or her job seriously. This can involve a lot of things, but you should especially look at things like the cost of the photo session and the portfolio of the photographer. In terms of cost, you always get what you pay for with photography. If you are only willing to pay someone half of what a professional photographer would charge you, you will only get pictures that are half as good as they could be. Professional photographers don't just come up with their prices out of the blue. The prices reflect the expense of maintaining and purchasing very expensive equipment, paying rent, insurance, and the many other expenses that come with running a business. Most photographers are able to give you a solid breakdown of why they charge what they charge.
The portfolio should specifically show photos of the same type that you're looking for. For example, if you are looking for a photographer to take pictures of you and your newborn child, you should look for someone with experience photographing newborns.
Enjoy the Experience
No matter what anyone tells you about who you should hire or what you should do when getting your photos done, never forget that this experience really is all about you. These photos are a luxury, not a necessity for your life or happiness. If an experience looks too stressful or like it won't give you what you want, don't be afraid to move on. When you are willing to put the legwork in, there is no doubt that you'll find a great photographer who can give you exactly what you're looking for.