While it might be the first thing most potential clients ask, “how much do family photos cost?” isn’t the only question you should ask in your search for a photographer. In fact, it’s even more important to consider the value, your experience, and your final products. By asking these four questions before hiring a family photographer, you’ll make sure that you have the best family photos this year!
1. What printed products do you offer?
When you imagine yourself and your children looking through your family photos, do you envision everyone crowded around your laptop, scrolling through a file folder of images? Or are you cozied together on the couch, paging through an album of treasured prints: large enough for everyone to see, printed on archival cotton paper? Or maybe you’re dreaming of framed artwork of your family portrait over the mantle to see every day. Or a hallway gallery with framed prints of your children as they grow through the years. Whatever’s in your heart for the way your family will enjoy your portraits in the coming years, make sure your photographer can provide that.
At Samantha Shannon Photography, clients can choose from heirloom layflat albums, matted albums, or custom framed archival prints. Each product I offer is vetted to ensure it features the best craftsmanship available and archival methods and materials so that your photos can become your legacy.
2. How do you help me plan our session?
Planning a portrait session can seem daunting for busy families, but one of the benefits of hiring a professional photographer is that they help you prepare for your session. Before booking, ask what services they offer before your session. Location scouting, so you’ll ensure a beautiful location in your photos without having to find a place on your own? Wardrobe styling or a client closet to make deciding what to wear for photos a breeze? A consultation to find out what’s most important to your family, and photograph your session with those needs in mind?
The pre-session consultation is a key part of the family portrait process at Samantha Shannon Photography. After receiving a Welcome Guide, clients chat with me in a zoom call or via email so I can find out what’s most important to their family. What’s the purpose of the session? What’s driving you to book family portraits now? What are you hoping to have at the end of the process? We’ll design your portrait session with all of this in mind.
Locations that I recommend to clients based on our pre-session consultation have all been personally scouted by me to have the most magical light and wide open settings for families to be comfortable. Clients have access to the Client Closet, a carefully curated collection of dresses that photograph beautifully, saving clients shopping time and money. To style the rest of the family, my clients can opt for complimentary wardrobe styling with shopping links for the whole family.
3. When and where will I see my final images?
I offer the benefits of an online viewing gallery so that you can make decisions on your own schedule in the comfort of your home. I find it helps to be able to look at your home’s decor style and available walls while you’re making your decisions. That said, I want to make sure you are guided through an informed decision so that the products and images you choose best serve your family. For that reason, I offer virtual ordering appointments through zoom so that I can help clients with their final choices. Clients love being able to get the whole order done in a day so there are no “to-dos” left hanging over their heads.
Be sure you ask about how long it takes to see final photos after your session. This can vary widely from photographer to photographer. It can take anywhere from 1-8 weeks to receive your photos back from your photographer. I take a limited number of clients each month so that I can give each client an incredible experience. Part of that incredible experience is a quick turnaround on final photos. SSP clients can expect to see their proofs in 7-10 days.
4. We’re nervous about posing: will you help guide us into flattering and natural poses?
Everyone wants to look good in family photos! For many clients, this is the thing that makes them most anxious about being in front of the camera. It’s my job to help put you at ease from the moment the session starts so that we can create images that reflect how beautiful your family truly is. I specialize in what I call “posed candid” family photos. This means I’ll tell you where to stand to get great light and a beautiful background. Then I’ll guide you in how to stand and where to put your hands to ensure you look your best and that you never feel unsure of what to do. After that, I’ll prompt you into connected, authentic moments with your family members. That’s all we need to do for those joyful, authentic images where you feel great about yourself.
However, every photographer has a different style and approach, so you’ll want to ask how experienced they are with posing. There’s no right or wrong answer, and it just depends on how much specific guidance you’d like during your session. Are you looking for a photographer who largely stands back and documents, maybe giving a few prompts where you’ll mostly do your own thing, even if it means slightly less picture-perfect poses? Or are you at the other end of the spectrum, with a photographer who gives exact posing instructions that you may need to hold for several images for traditional portraits? (PS, if you’re somewhere in between: that’s where I come in with my posed candid method!)
Trust your instinct! If you connect well with a photographer in your consultation and what they offer suits your family’s needs, that’s a great sign! It will be much easier for you and your family to relax and be yourselves around a photographer you connect with and trust, so that truly is the most important part of finding a portrait photographer. Once you’ve gone through the questions above and you’re clear on what they offer, it really does come down to trusting your gut.
Ready to chat about a Portland family photo session? Head over to my main website to read more about what I offer and get in touch. If you’re still thinking about it, check out more of my articles on planning a family photo session here: