What to consider when hiring a family photographer

September 24, 2021

Family photographs are a symbol of love and joy. They are displayed proudly in your home and have the power to take you back to not only how you looked but how you felt in that exact moment. Picking a family photographer who you want to represent and capture each of your unique personalities and relationships can be extremely intimidating, but it doesn't have to be! 

Read more: Top 5 reasons to hire a family photographer

We compiled a list of what you should consider before you hire your next family photographer. 

Check for personality fit

Photo: Haley Skof Photography

Each family is unique; with tons of personalities and fun characteristics, one size definitely does not fit all. When looking for a family photographer, one of the most important things is finding someone that fits your family’s personality.

“Do you like quieter moments? Do you like things to be in complete chaos?” asks Calgary photographer Haley Skof. “I very much let the kids run the session. So, whatever they want to do is what we’re going to do. Some people want things to be a little more controlled in terms of the [opposite] situation. Knowing what your photographer offers is so important.”

When hiring a family photographer, it’s important to find someone who understands kids and is patient -- not only so they respond better to your children, but because it can ease any anxieties if you’re worried about how your kids will react.

“My number one goal is to put people at ease and create an environment where I can get them to stop thinking about being photographed and start thinking about the relationships that are around them,” says Calgary family photographer Sarah Murdoch of Modern Photography.

Photo: Sarah Murdoch (Modern Photography)

See Sarah Murdoch’s family portfolio on the Focal Marketplace

“I always try to express to my clients that I know what it's like,” adds Haley Skof. “You know you're not going to be judged because you have to bring out your mom voice [or that] kind of thing.”

Portfolios tell a lot

How can you see beforehand if a photographer works for you? Check out their portfolio. A strong, diverse portfolio is key. A portfolio should give you a highlight of what you can expect. You want to see the range.

“When you book a family session, you're looking for 10, 20, [even] 30 photos,” says Skof. “If a photographer only has five photos, do you even know what you're getting?”

See Haley Skof’s portfolio on the Focal Marketplace

Look at not only how many photographs they have, but what the photographs are depicting. Are the photos candid? Are they posed? Are the kids having a good time? Does it show that everyones having fun in their photographs?

Photo: Haley Skof Photography

"I think you want someone whose work shows that they do crazy things,” adds Skof. “So, you want to look at someone's body of work and you want to see the piggyback rides or the rock throwing in their work and know that their kids are going to be able to come to that session and unleash all of that energy there.”

“I love capturing real [laughter] and play, joy and happiness, admiration in somebody's eyes, but also I will make sure we have a formal set of pictures for grandparents and albums,” adds Vancouver photographer Julie Doro.

Preparation is key

In any photography session, every photographer should plan for the worst. Realistically, kids get messy, they run, and they can’t sit still for posed pictures. Your photographer should be aware and understand this. Look for a photographer who looks after the little details.

“The reason why the clients are coming back to me year after year is because they know that I will do everything for them to look and feel their best, fixing that little fly-away hair or bringing a toy for the baby to make them smile,” says Doro.

Photo: Julie Doro Photography

See Julie Doro’s family portfolio on the Focal Marketplace

“It’s different with every kid,” adds Victoria family photographer Brittany Barry of Burrow & Bloom. “A big [trick] is, ‘do you want to come and look at my camera?’ I mean, what kid doesn’t want to push buttons, right?”

A key factor when it comes to looking for a photographer is knowledge of locations. This not only helps ease the stress of your mind, but you discover some amazing spots and sceneries. 

“I typically like to go somewhere with water, because kids love throwing rocks. That’s just so easy to do to keep them entertained,” says Haley Skof. “Also, places with trees with low hanging branches, places that they can climb things -- so that they feel like they're not ‘oh, I’m going to my family photos, my mom’s gonna yell at me, I have to wear this dress, I hate this.’ One of my [favourite things I heard] in my last handful of sessions has been, the kids don’t want to leave, they want to keep playing because that's what it is like. We’re going out and we’re playing and I’m taking pictures.”

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