Questions to ask your Family Photographer – Cincinnati Family Photography

Cooler weather coming to Cincinnati and families are looking for a photographer for their fall family photos and Christmas cards! Busy season for photographers has already begun! I’ve already started to see the increase in inquiries, and my autumn sessions are starting to book up. If you are looking to capture sweet family memories this fall, take a minute to think about what you are really looking for in a photographer.

There are a ton of choices for photographers these days – the terms are confusing and the options are seemingly endless. And with these choices come many, many decisions to make. I hope to be able to help guide you through the process to help find a family photographer who is perfect for you and completely fulfills the vision you have for your family. Do your research! Make an informed decision. And truly love your photographer.

Do you love your Photographer’s style?

This seems rather obvious, but do you like the photographer’s style? Have you looked through the portfolio? If so, remember that a portfolio, by its very nature, contains the very best of the best selected from a bank of many sessions. On the other hand, a photographer’s blog posts likely will show you many images from a single session. You will be able to see what a typical session with the photographer is like, in greater depth. Do most of the pictures show people traditionally posed, smiling and looking at the camera? Or are they unposed and spontaneous? Do you relate well to the people in the pictures, can you feel their emotions?  Do you like what you see?

Photographer style glossary:

  • Classic / Portrait photographer – you can expect this photography to pose you in every shot, to make sure every hair is in place and every head is at the right angle. For the most part, the photos will be looking at the camera and smiling
  • Documentary photographer – This photographer is exactly the opposite of the portrait photographer – this photographer will likely not give you much posing advice at all, and will mostly follow you and your kids and observe what happens naturally. This photography experience is so much fun! (I’ve done session like this is in the past, and those photos grace my wall with some wonderful memories) but the photos will be a bit more raw, a little less perfect than what you may be used to.
  • Lifestyle photographer – This is a middle ground type of photographer. They will likely get you to pose for a few shots, then ask to you to do a specific action. This photographer will often have their session in the park or at a styled studio, but the images are a bit more natural than the portrait photographer’s images

I fall somewhere between Lifestyle and Documentary, very comfortable with both styles. If you’d like your images to be more candid, please let me know!

Outdoor family portraits with toddlers in cincinnati

Do you like the editing?

This is another facet of photography that can play a big part in the overall feel of the pictures – the editing. Do you like the photographer’s editing style? Do the colors look good to you? Does the photographer work mostly with color, or mostly with black and white, and does that style fit with what you would like to see hanging in in your home? Are the images too bright for your taste, too dark, or are They just right? Do you like the colors the photographer tends to use and do those colors fit with your home?

Make sure you really like what you see before anything else! No sense in hiring a photographer whose work you don’t enjoy, right?

Rochester NY Photographer, Mischief and Laughs

Does the photographer have experience?

It is always good to ask how long your photographer has been in business, and how they got their start. You want your photographer to be ready at a moment’s notice, whenever your child gives “that look” that makes your heart melt – you don’t want her to be fiddling with her camera. You don’t want her to miss focus completely at that crucial moment. Because of this, experience definitely counts! If your photographer just got a camera a month ago, they might miss these moments that mean so much.

I’ve actually only been in business a little more than two years ago (yes, that still new in the business world I know) but I have been photographing children since my own were babies – and my oldest is seven now. Professionally, I photograph hundreds of children each year, and trust me, I’ve seen every difficult child there is to see, and I promise you, your little Johnny won’t phase me. 😉   To read more about how I got my start in photography and my journey, feel free to read here.

Above all else (number of years, number of sessions, etc) a good photographer should be able to fill a full gallery with wonderful images every single session. No matter the weather, the child’s temperament, etc. A good child photographer will observe your child, take cues from him or her, and allow the child to call the shots, so that they feel in control of the situation and at-ease. A good child or family photographer needs to love children first and foremost.

Lifestyle newborn photography, Mischief and Laughs, Cincinnati OH

Are the prices in your budget?

I know this is a tough one – everyone wants a good deal. It’s so tempting to go with the lowest-priced option… but this is one area where you often get what you pay for. I won’t go into all the details about why I set my prices to be what they are, except to say that this business takes a LOT of hours behind the scenes. I usually spend 10+ hours per session, including emails, editing, ordering, etc. And that there are a lot more expenses that you’d think (insurance, taxes, backup gear… FYI most low priced photographers do not spend money on these important things.)  I have agonized over my prices and carefully considered what my overhead is and what type of experience I want to give my clients. I am in this for the long haul – I want to still be in business when your little baby needs senior portraits, and I can only do this if I am realistic about my pricing.

I can certainly appreciate a deal – but if you are considering an extremely low-priced photographer, consider why you are getting such cheap rate for the session + images. Is it because if a lack of experience? Is it because of poor quality images? Is the photographer using professional gear, or did they buy the cheapest DSLR on the market? Does the photographer have backup gear in case something breaks? Is the photographer insured in case something happens to you or your family? Is the photographer operating legally? Just remember, these moments you are wanting to capture only come once – you blink and these days with your children are gone.

What portrait products does your photographer offer?

Find out what types of products your photographer offers. The list of possible offerings is endless! From digital only, to basic prints, to canvases, cards, albums, and beyond, each photographer has their own list of product offerings. Make sure your photographer offers what you want (or would be willing to special order it if they don’t normally offer a particular product.) And if your photographer is digital-only, do they give lab recommendations so that you can order gorgeous professional-quality prints yourself?

Does the photography studio get favorable reviews?

Ask around! Find out what other people think of the photographer. Ask what the client experience was like, and ask to see the final products. Make sure past clients are raving fans.

Cara Harrison is a Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky photographer. Cara specializes in capturing every stage of a growing family’s life, from maternity, to newborn, to child, and beyond.