Let’s face it – these days, anyone can run out to the store and purchase a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera. The number of Nikon and Canon cameras with big lenses that you see down any given busy street on any given busy day is pretty high. When you head over to the zoo or sometimes your local park, it’s not uncommon to see parent after parent snapping photos of their kids standing in awe of the funny looking apes or sliding down the shiny slides. Makes you wonder why people hire a professional photographer to photograph their kids/family, doesn’t it? If digital cameras are that accessible, then what’s the point?
When you decide that you want to hire a professional family/child photographer, you’re doing so for one of the following reasons:
- You want to be in the photos and can’t quite figure out how to take them.
- You don’t want them to look like snapshots.
- You want crisp, vivid photos that come to life when you see them.
- You want a new perspective on your family, your children, or your relationship.
- Or simply, you don’t want to worry about any of it yourself.
Without a doubt, the most common question that I am asked is, “Why there are so many family photographers/child photographers here in Chicago?” And the follow-up to that is, “Why should I choose you out of all of them?” It’s a really good question, actually. If I weren’t a photographer myself, I would’ve been awfully confused when my son was born 15 months ago and I wanted some photos of him! I mean seriously, there are thousands of photographers in the Chicagoland area. Thousands. So how do you pick?
First off, you need to think about what you want the vibe of your photo session to be. Let’s say that you’re looking for super woodsy, organic photos of your family standing barefoot on a dirt path. You want photos that capture emotion, you’re looking for some spontaneity, and you really like vibrant colors. When you perform an internet search of family photographers in your area and start browsing through their websites, you can pretty quickly filter through the people that you’re not interested in using – those who shoot primarily in studios using artificial light, those who don’t seem to have any organic locations in their portfolio, and those whose subjects seem stiff with fake smiles plastered on their faces.
Once you’ve gone through and narrowed your list down to your top two photographers, you’re ready to make contact. You shoot off Emails (or make phone calls, if you’re the old school type) to your small little list letting them know what you’re interested in and requesting their pricing information. They both write you back and now you’re really confused…there’s a significant price difference between the two. You ask yourself, “When did professional photography become so darn expensive?” or “Can I really afford this?” You’re wondering what the real difference is between the two, why they’re priced so differently, and if it’s really worth hiring the more expensive photographer or if you’re going to regret hiring the cheaper one.
I can’t answer that question for you. Truth be told, I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum for people. Your decision is most likely going to be based upon a combination of experience, budget and style. Here are some things to consider when making your final decision:
- Does the photographer edit their own images?
- How long as the photographer been shooting?
- Do you know anyone who has used them?
- Do you love their portfolio? And by love, I mean LOVE? Or is it just what you can afford at this time?
- Are they open to listening to your ideas?
- Does the photographer offer the services/products that you want?
- Is their work unique? Or does it look like everyone else’s?
If you weren’t looking for something unique and special, you could easily walk into most of the big box stores with a coupon for a free sitting and a sheet of 5×7″ photos. You could have your family/child photographed against the same backdrop as the twenty families before you and you could have the employee press the same button to make your photo look just like the thousand printed before yours. If you don’t like them, oh well. It’s a walk-in, walk-out service; mass marketed and mass produced.
Instead, professional photography is an investment of both your time and money. We, as boutique photographers, want to treat you to an experience. We don’t just want to photograph your family or your child, we want to get to know you. From the first moment of reading your Email and finding out what you’re looking for to meeting in person, our goal is to deliver artwork that you’ll treasure. We want that canvas on your wall to bring you back to a time when your daughter was obsessed with the Disney Princesses and refused to be photographed in anything other than her Belle costume. We want you to laugh. In the end, those smiles are the whole point, aren’t they?