5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Photographer

Pictures have so much power, don’t they?

There’s nostalgia. And memories. Multi-generational moments. And messy children.

They can represent the day you got married, the moment when your laughter becomes a cackle, the year you got your braces off or the last month with a loved one. A meaningful photograph is the stuff of legends.

That’s why it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion instead of the project details.

Organizing a photography session -- let’s face it -- is not for the faint of heart.

Before you fall in love with the idea of that gold-framed portrait above the fireplace, you have to choose the right photographer. I can help.

1. The Actual Offering
A lot of photographers include the basics -- they snap a session and send you hundreds of digital files a week later. Lickety split. Sounds fast and efficient. That might be for you. But others (that’s me!) can provide a whole slew of services including wardrobe consultation and selection, session-day direction and prompts, as well as portrait display options, then send you a reasonable (and previously vetted) amount of high-quality photos. (No closed eyes or slouching to sift through).

2. The Outside Question
This is really your choice. The outdoors can be a beautiful shot, but carry with them the chance of rain, wind, bugs, dew, and heat. Then there’s glare and squinting and lots of sweating!  (I am flexible, but do more inside portraits. To each their own!). Also, consider the participants of your portrait. Adults are neat (fewer spills) and easily maneuverable across locations. Toddlers not so much. That’s why it’s essential to see what the “time” really includes.  (See #4)

3. The Retouching Policy
This is a very personal preference. Some photographers choose five photos themselves for retouching. Others let the client choose. Some retouching can make you look dramatically different, modifying eye color, finessing your hair tone, restoring your body shape to 20 years ago and removing all traces of non-head hair. Others prefer a more natural route (I’m the classical type) and photoshop out more major issues like hair in your face, blemishes, softening lines around your eyes, or a shirt rumple. My advice? Consider your style. Review the portfolio.  And then go with your gut.

4. The Timeline

This is so critical! And it’s not just about the session! There’s

  • the time leading up to the session (Will we meet beforehand? When is our consult?)

  • the time of the actual session (Does the fee include one hour or five hours? Is there time to change outfits? How long will my infant last without sleeping?)

  • the turnaround of proofs and touch-ups (I need these for my holiday cards!).

  • Finally, once you order, how long will the photos take to be delivered?

Flexibility (take all the time you need!) is helpful, but accountability and deadlines are nice too. I prefer to meet with people in person after curating a gallery of 10-20 proofs. That gets the portrait on the wall in a few weeks, rather than a few months. But you know your lifestyle and schedule best!

5. Style is Essential

While most people choose a photographer based on personal connection -- and this matters --what’s equally important is a photographer’s style. Are they more documentarian with action shots? Or do they pose people carefully? Are they more akin to weddings or multi-generational portraits? Is there an artistic quality to their portfolio or is their style more straightforward? Only you know what’s best for your family, your home and your happiness!

Happy posing!