Six Things To Look For When Choosing A Portrait Photographer

You’ve decided that the time is right to have portraits made of your entire family or your children. Great! Soon you’ll have beautiful memories on your walls, your bookshelves, or your computer.

What you may not have realized, though, is that there are so many options when it comes to choosing a photographer for capturing your family’s memories. It can be extremely overwhelming; how do you know if you’re making the right decision or asking the right questions? You definitely want to be sure you end up with photos that you will enjoy for years to come.

As a RI family photographer, I have a lot of experience working with clients and listening to questions and concerns that they have regarding their portrait sessions. Below I’ve compiled a list of some of the most important considerations when hiring a photographer, to make sure that you and your photographer are a match made in heaven!

portrait of a boy in Narragansett, RI

WHAT DOES THE PHOTOGRAPHER SPECIALIZE IN?

This is one of the most important things to look at when you’re choosing a photographer. There are many different things photographers specialize in, from weddings to families to commercial or product photography. Some photographers cover various niches, but the majority specialize in just one or a few things (like me…I specialize in families, children, and high school seniors. That is all I photograph). This means that they’re generally very good at the specific things they photograph. If you’re wanting family photos, make sure you’re looking at photographers who specialize in family photos, vs someone who is a wedding photographer or landscape photographer.

HOW MUCH DOES THE PHOTOGRAPHER COST, AND WHAT IS INCLUDED WITH THAT COST?

You have a budget in mind when it comes to your photos. You’ll find that, like with pretty much everything else in life, there is a broad range of price points from very low to very high. When looking at a photographer’s pricing, look at what is included in that, and look at if what they provide is what matches your needs. Is the experience full-service, or not? Is their pricing all inclusive, or are products a separate cost? There are many different business models out there with many different costs; one of them is the right one for you.

portrait of a family in Wakefield, RI

HOW INVOLVED IS THE PHOTOGRAPHER/WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE DO THEY PROVIDE?

Again, here you will find that there are many varying options, from a photographer who will meet you once at a session and provide you with a link to digital files several weeks later to a photographer who will consult with you ahead of time, provide wardrobe assistance, meet with you again to choose your prints and digitals, and hand deliver your order and help hang your wall art. And in between that, there are, again, many different models. As a client, YOU know what type of experience you are looking for from start to finish. Make sure that the photographer you choose is able to provide the type of experience you want, whether it’s simpler or more involved.

WHAT TYPE OF ENVIRONMENT DOES THE PHOTOGRAPHER GENERALLY SHOOT IN?

If you’re wanting an outdoor family session and a photographer’s portfolio is full of studio work, you may not be a good match. Conversely, if you are wanting a studio newborn session and a photographer’s portfolio is full of outdoor work and/or they don’t have a studio space, they may not also be a good match. It never hurts to ask a photographer if they have examples of work in a setting similar to what you’re looking for, especially if you really love their work—you may be pleasantly surprised. The bottom line is to find a photographer who you can be confident will provide you with the type of photos that you are envisioning.

portrait of three siblings in Narragansett, RI

HOW DOES THE PHOTOGRAPHER PROVIDE YOU WITH FINAL IMAGES?

Some photographers deliver finished prints, some provide digitals, and some offer both. The bottom line is to find a photographer who fits your needs in this realm. Wanting high quality art for your walls? Pick a photographer who provides printed products and uses a professional lab. Looking for digital photos to share online, via social media and email? Someone who provides digital files is the type of photographer who would make sense for you.

HOW LONG DOES THE PHOTOGRAPHER STORE YOUR IMAGES FOR?

This is something that clients often overlook or simply don’t even think about. You have your photos taken and you get them delivered after the session. What else is there to think about? Why would you need to think about how long a photographer stores images for? There are a few reasons. Maybe your computer crashes and you lose your digital files. Maybe there’s a flood or fire or other disaster, god forbid, at your home and your photo albums and canvases are damaged or destroyed. Maybe you or another relative wants to order a few more prints nine months after the session. In any of these cases, you’d go back to your photographer and just get more prints and digitals, right? Yes…but they might not have them any longer. As with everything else, how long a photographer keeps or stores a client’s images will vary on a case by case basis. I keep my clients’ photos forever. Some photographers retain files for only a year, or six months, or even delete soon after initial delivery, to save storage space or for other reasons. Whatever their policy is, make sure you are aware, so that there are no surprises if you ever do want or need more prints or digitals down the road.

All of these things will help to ensure that you have the best possible outcome from your portrait experience!

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