How To Choose Your Family Photographer

Photography: Julie Abreu Photography |

By Julie Abreu

7am, Monday. You are getting ready to go to work, with your 3 year old putting his socks on (of course one is blue and the other red), your 6 month old baby is having a feed while you are trying to take a photo of the first one with one hand. Click. The photo turns out blurry, and for some reason the light is very orange. But, well, it’s good enough to send to your own mum, right? As you browse your picture gallery, you realise suddenly that it’s a recurring problem. That’s when you think: “We need beautiful family photos.”

Nowadays, everyone has a camera and anyone can take pictures, but it is wise to hire a professional photographer to capture images of your family once in a while. Because there is always someone taking the photo who does not appear on them (selfie mode, anyone?). Because professionals have an eye that can show your family in a way you never thought of. Because your children are so amazingly gorgeous that they deserve amazing photos!

We all take a lot of photos on our phones to share them on Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp. It’s easy and convenient, but what about the legacy we will pass on in our family? These images are at risk of being deleted or disappearing if your mobile device suddenly dies (or falls into the toilet, but that’s another story). On that Monday morning, you have decided that you want beautiful images, an album to display on your coffee table to show family and friends, and maybe a canvas above the fireplace. But where do you start?

Step 1: Choose a style

Do you want studio newborn photos with props? An outdoor styled maternity shoot? Or natural, in-home images of your kids being kids? These are three different approaches of photography, for three different photographers. Never ask a studio photographer to come to your place for a lifestyle session, or a documentary photographer to pose a family of 20. This is not who they are, they won’t be doing a great job at it. If a photographer says that they can do every possible style, that’s not a good sign. Like in many other fields, you can’t be good at everything. You are probably not a great surfer, skier, and ice-skater. But you may excel at skateboarding. It’s the same for photography.

I, for example, don’t offer any photos that involve posing people. I make an exception at weddings, but that’s it. I am a documentary photographer, and I travel to people’s places to capture intimate, authentic moments of their lives. I don’t have a studio, nor the gear for posing newborns in baskets. This is not what I am passionate about. I am passionate about showing people how their house, their family, and their lives are beautiful as they are, and how they don’t need to be pumped up to look good. This is why I wake up in the morning, and why I first opened my photography business for.

“So, how do I choose?” you might say. Figure out which style of photography you are looking for. Type “Lifestyle photographer newborn + the name of your city” in Google and look at what happens. Then try with “Documentary photographer newborn + the name of your city”, and “Studio photographer newborn + the name of your city”. It should be very clear which one is for you. It’s either love at first sight, or nothing. Then browse a few photographers’ websites in the genre you like most.

Step 2: Ask to see their work

On a photographer’s website, you can see their portfolio, aka their best work. It’s great to see what they are capable of, but let’s be fair: as a professional who takes thousands of photos a week, it is quite easy to capture one or two good photos during each session. But it’s much harder to have consistency. So ask your prospect about seeing a full gallery. No lies here, you will see what their clients get when they receive what they paid for. If you meet them in person (which I highly recommend to do), also ask to see a photo album. You then will have all the information you need to take a decision about hiring them (or not). Having a session with a professional photographer is an investment, and you don’t want to throw money out of the window.

See next page for Steps 3 and 4!

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