8 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Family Portrait Photographer

What are the most important moments of your life? For most, it’s rarely a big promotion or a sports championship season. Instead, it’s quality family time that is most often cherished.

Nothing captures these moments better than family photos. If you’re looking for a photographer to capture those memories, make sure you ask prospective photographers these eight questions.

This is the most common question asked, and for good reason. But how do you distinguish between an amateur and a professional photographer? An amateur may be able to take a few great shots every now and then, but professionals know how to consistently create great results. Ask to view an entire session’s images or a compilation from different sessions to get a sense of depth of the photographer’s work. Based on what you see, if there’s only one or two shots you’d consider framing, then you’re probably not dealing with the right photographer for your family.

You want to work with the best, and PPA photographers do more than just snap pictures. They have the technical expertise and artistry to get that one shot – that one look – that captures your family’s unique personality. PPA photographers also abide by a strict code of ethics and work constantly to create beautiful images that will meet your expectations. Watch this video to see how PPA photographers make a difference in capturing families’ unique personalities.

Photographers often specialize in one genre over another. If they mention solely working with family portraits, then you can rest assured that their passions are aligned with your needs. You may also want to ask why they chose that particular area to better understand if/how they will be able to connect with your family. A photographer’s style is reflected in their portfolio, so asking them to produce a radically different style is a recipe for disaster. You’re counting on their knowledge of composition, lighting, posing and more to create images that fit your vision.

You’ll want to understand what you’re getting for your money: how much time, how many images, album types, the format for delivering proofs, what’s included in your package, etc. Pros will always include these details and more in your contract. PPA photographers’ code of ethics should also give you peace of mind, but always, always read the contract and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the fine print and the contract itself.

Pros will give you tips so your family can feel comfortable and have fun while being photographed. They might even ask for things you would not have thought. PPA photographers will also be able to answer questions such as: What colors and styles of clothing are best to wear? Should you bring a change of clothes? How do you handle a fussy child or plan for nap times? Trust them: they have their timing down and know what works.

Photographers’ websites are a great place to view their portfolios, read client testimonials and get a better sense of their personality. Of course, like a resume, websites often put “their best foot forward,” so be sure to dig a little deeper. Look at their social media pages and read customer reviews, as these can be very telling. Find a PPA photographer near you at FindAPhotographer.com.

Find pictures similar to ones you would like to display on your mantel and show them to the photographer. This will help them understand the style and genre you want, and they will be able to determine if you are a good match. Real pros will always refer you to someone they feel will better accomplish your vision if they are not the right fit. PPA photographers should be able to explain why and how they can or cannot create the same effects. So go ahead and ask if they are capable of taking the same kind of picture; do not settle for a simple “yes”.

Professional photographers have a reliable system for delivering photos to you in a timely manner. This may include a private, online portal where your photos are stored, cloud sharing, uploading to social media sites and may even offer an app for that. However, your photographer should accommodate your needs – so state your preference upfront to avoid any false expectations!

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7 Tips for Taking Beautiful Family Photos

Family photos are one activity many families dread. What’s meant to be a fun, memorable event can quickly become a stressful, panic-inducing nightmare. Here are some tips from PPA family portrait photographers to help your family take beautiful photos.

Best case scenario, meet the photographer to ensure there is mutual chemistry between the two of you. Even better, bring your kids with you to see how they and the photographer relate to each other. Most photographers perform better when they have a good connection with a family… and it shows in the pictures. Also review a photographer’s online portfolio, pricing and policies, and look at their social media pages and customer reviews on third party websites. If you want a large portion of your session to be in black and white, find a photographer who loves black and white. If you want a natural, candid session with minimal posing, find a photographer whose existing work reflects that. Don’t waste time and energy hoping that the photographer will understand your vision, rather, find someone whose work communicates that.

All too often people spend the day(s) before their photo session running around to the dry cleaner, hair stylist, and novelty stores for last minute purchases and props. Instead, plan the look you want a few days before and don’t be shy about asking your photographer to help you prepare for your session. He or she knows what to expect during a family photo session and will be happy to share their tips with you so your family will be comfortable and relaxed the day of the shoot. Have everyone try everything on beforehand. It is often hard for families to recover from a day of being nagged, so set expectations ahead of time. And try to spend time enjoying yourself and your kids a few hours before your session.

Instead of looking for top-to-bottom looks for everyone in your family, look in each closet for color themes. For a soft, elegant look, choose neutral colors with soft, flowing fabrics. Want to showcase the fun and spunky side of your family? Choose coordinating colors with bold accent colors to complement each other (but not matchy, matchy which would make you compete with each other). Including fun accessories like scarves, headbands, hats, etc. can add a modern twist and sassy flair to your images.

Kids are smart and they love feeling big and informed. Tell them a “professional photographer” is coming over. Show them the clothes they will be wearing, involve them in the discussion of what you will be doing and where you will be doing it. New people and places can be unsettling to kids especially to toddlers melting down in the afternoon hours. So do what you can to turn your photographer into a new friend familiar to your kids before the session.

Bring your kids’ favorite toys or treats and give them to your photographer to use when he or she needs to get their attention. But don’t overuse them or they’ll lose their magic. Kids need far less prompting and are much better at candid expressions than adults. Don’t needlessly bribe them, it, too will lose its magic. If the photographer gets to say that your family goes out for frozen yogurt afterwards, your kids will be far more apt to cooperate.

Pick a time when your kids are usually well behaved. If they’re grumpy in the morning, don’t plan a morning photo shoot and expect them to be pumped about it. Bring their favorite snack as long as it’s not messy and they can eat it hands-free (no red teeth or chocolate chins needed!). But bring an extra set of clothes and some paper towels just in case!

All too often parents get nervous when their child isn’t looking at the photographer or smiling “right”, causing their child anxiety and robbing the photographer (and themselves!) the chance for candid portraits. Seasoned family portrait photographers know how to make your children feel comfortable so let them work their magic. After all, you’re paying them to create just that, right?