5 Tips for Choosing Your Family Photographer

5 Tips for Choosing Your Family Photographer

With so many family photographers out there it can be overwhelming to find the right one for your family. You're trusting someone else to capture your family's dynamic, and that’s a big investment. So to help in your search for the perfect photographer for YOU, here are 5 tips I’ve found after 5 years of experience, both as the photographer and as the client.

What to Wear Guide: The Motherhood Sessions

What to Wear Guide: The Motherhood Sessions

One of the more daunting tasks of any portrait session is the outfit planning. Some people are naturally great at this, others get heart palpitations just thinking about it. I'm here to help!

What to Look for in Your Photographer

There are a LOT of options when it comes to photographers. The price range is even more vast. The thing is, you can get absolutely stunning pictures from any of those options because it is about what YOU want from your pictures. This post is written in my opinion, from personal experience and feedback from clients and other photographers. You may have your own criteria as well, and I'd love to hear about what you would add to the list!As with any creativity-based business, you are not only paying for the time involved and the final product but for the style. Anyone can pick up a book about photography and read about how to take a correct photograph, however, in my opinion, great photographers evoke emotion and present it in a unique way.

Quality: I am all for helping out friends and family members learn about photography but if you are paying anyone for photography services they should have read that book I was talking about earlier. It seems obvious, but you should always look at a photographer's portfolio before you hire them. Look for the sharpest part of the photo, are the subjects' faces/eyes in focus? Is the photo too bright or too dark? Is the coloring natural-looking? Again, style may mean these things are altered (vintage photos have an type of unnatural coloring, for example) but you will probably have a gut feeling about whether or not you like that change.

Price: Everybody has there own budget for an elective service such as this. Every area is different and  everyone prices themselves based on different things. I've heard of some people with a low session fee but require you to buy a certain amount in products afterward. Some people price based on how many people will be present during the session. If you shop around, you will find many different methods to this so it is important that you at least know what you want (will you be satisfied with just digital files or do you want a huge canvas wrap for the mantle?) and make sure it is included in what you will end up spending by the end, not just the cost of the session.

Style: This part is very important but it is also probably the easiest to know. Some photographers have bright, clean colors, others love hazy pictures, still others love a vintage look to their photos. Some are studio photographers and some only shoot outdoors. Some mix and match all of these depending on the type of session. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so this one is all on you.

Personal Connection: Moods rub off on people, even during photo sessions. Meet with your photographer beforehand to see how they will interact with you, and your kids, if possible. It will also help to be the first ice breaker and allow you to be more comfortable in front of the camera, when the time comes.

Versatility/Variety: Be on the lookout for a lot of photos of the same people, or different people in the same poses. This could mean that they aren't very experienced. Capturing beautiful images with a variety of subjects consistently is an important skill for any photographer. Again, if you like the photographs, that's great. They may be just starting out the business part but they've been a hobbyist for years. Bottom line, if it puts you off, just ask.

Referrals: Any photographer should be happy to put you in touch with past clients if you ask for a referral. Also, if you are considering the same photographer as a friend or family member, ask them about their experience. They might even have answers to questions you didn't even know you had!

In case you didn't notice, I mention that you should ask questions a few times up. I always love getting questions from potential or existing clients because it means that they really care about their photos. Another perk to asking questions is that you never know what opportunities will arise from it. Say you found a photographer you love but you are interested in a maternity session and there aren't any example in their portfolio. Ask and you may find out they are trying to get into that genre and offer you a discount for helping them learn! I can't emphasize enough how important asking questions is, for so many reasons. Just do it. :)

Hopefully I've mentioned at least something that helps you in your quest for the right photographer. Happy hunting!

5 Tips to Taking Better Photos

Believe it or not, having or buying a better camera doesn't mean you'll automatically start taking better photos. I can't tell you how many times I've heard of someone buying a fancy camera so they can take better pictures, including myself. I speak from experience when I tell you that you don't have to shell out a bunch of cash to take better photographs. Today, I'm going to help YOU be the photographer.A quick note before we dive in: Aside from portraits, I mainly take pictures while traveling. The photos I use in the following examples will be from those two genres of photography.

Tip #1: The Rule of Thirds

blog_rulethirdThe Rule of Thirds applies to all forms of visual art. Essentially, things are more interesting if they aren't in the exact center of the photo (It is important to mention that this is a guideline, symmetry can also be just as pleasing to the eye). blog_rulethirdsImagine a grid over your image as you take the picture. In the portrait, you'll see that her eye is lined up at an intersection and the entire right third is background. In the landscape example, the horizon is lined up with the lower third and the snowy mountain, my intended focal point, was almost in line with the left third.

Tip #2: Repetitionblog_rep1

I personally apply repetition mainly in my travel photography. It is my favorite way to show off food, souvenirs, almost anything that can be found in a street stall really. The examples show some statues that surround a shrine on Mt. Takao in Japan and some ceremonial wish dolls.blog_rep2 There isn't anything super special about this technique, I just find it adds interest to my photos.

Tip #3: Leading Linesblog_lines

Leading lines do just what you think, lead. The goal is to lead your eye to the subject in an interesting way. Since most of my portraits and a good deal of travel photos are taken outdoors, a great place to find natural lines are in rows of shrubbery or trees, paths, fences, curbs, etc. Click on the family to see the leading lines.

Tip #4: Eyesblog_eyes

Ah, the window to the soul. Typically in portraits, the eye closest to the camera is in focus if nothing else. Eyes can create leading lines of their own as well. If, for example, you're taking a photo of someone looking at something, show what they're looking at. blog_leadingeyesThe direction of the eye will create a leading line to the object or scene.

Tip #5: Fill Flash

Fill flash is used in situations where there is ample light, just not where you want it. If you are picnicking under a shady tree with your kids, their faces might be dark, but the field behind them looks nice and green, because it is in the sun. Turn the flash on, even though it is daytime, and you should be able to see everything in the photo. This doesn't always work the way you want it to, but it is better than just taking a bad picture and then giving up.

The important thing with all of these tips is to experiment with them and practice. Your photos will be frame-worthy in no time!