Nine Secrets to Finding the Right Photographer for You and and Your Baby
If you have just had a baby, congratulations! What a wonderful time in your life! Your child is a gift and watching your baby grow is a wondrous experience, but it can seem to move way too fast. This is why it is important to consider having professional portraits done sooner rather than later. But what on Earth should you look for when considering photographers? In this day and age, there are so many to choose from and frankly a lot of their work looks the same. What are some things I should look for? Follow these helpful tips to find a great photographer:
1) Always ask about their guarantee
These aren't just snapshots. This is an artistic statement about the person most dear and precious to you… your baby. If these images are done with the right photographer who can thrill you, then what you will receive are images that your baby's grandchildren will fight over because they are so beautiful and a wonderful decades from now. These photographs are important to not just you but to other generations of family. You have a lot at stake with these images. You have a right to insist your photographer guarantee that you ADORE the portraits. Not just be satisfied or merely happy, but absolutely love the images they create for you. If not, they should be willing to give you all your money back. No hassles, no nonsense.
Most photographers WILL NOT DO THIS! Just suppose you had a portrait created, and your son or daughter didn’t look natural in it. The photograph was “ok,” but it didn’t speak to your heart in spectacular way. You should not have to pay for it! I believe strongly that no one should ever have to pay for a photograph that isn’t PERFECT.
2) Take a little extra time to educate yourself
Many people shop for photographers the same way as they may shop for a pair of shoes, a television or even a car or house. They tend to view it as a commodity in which the the only difference that matters is what they get (prints, albums, discs, etc) and for what price. But this is approach a mistake. Why? A photographer is creating a highly personalized artistic statement about your family. So there's lots to consider beyond simply price, their website galleries and the stuff you get.
Just a little effort in your research goes a long way. Just looking at prices and the portfolio of the photographer will only tell you a tiny bit about what it will be like to work with that photographer. Prices and a website do not tell you much about the photographer's patience, communication, experience, qualifications, their enthusiasm for working with you and your baby, their attention to the little details, the love and attention the photographer will put into everything you could ask of them.
As you call around talking to photographers be sure to notice if they take the time to talk with you and show an interest in your needs. Someone who values you enough to make a sincere effort to discover more about what may be important to you is the sure sign of a professional. Not all mothers and babies are the same. So if all a photographer does is email a price list at you and say… give me a call when you want to "do the pictures," that's a bad sign.
Of course for many moms price is a determining factor. As a professional photographer I know a lot of my clients have felt that same way, but you know what they have found? Even though the investment may have been a little more than they had wanted to spend they were so happy with the results, the images stole their heart the moments they found them and they were more than happy to invest just a little bit more than they expected.
3) Ask your friends
Just like most things. None of us have the luxury of becoming experts about all the many choices for us out there. Time is just way too scarce, especially when you have a new baby. People who don't have any interest other than seeing you really happy with a decision you have made are an excellent resource to find a professional. Ask around. Check to see if they have any images you like of their babies from a photographer on Facebook. What do they have to say about their photographer?
4) Look for Neatness
Interview your photographer. Go to their place of business and check out the small details. Is their studio tidy and organized? How does the photographer dress? Do they make eye contact with you when talking with you? Is there gear and equipment strewn all over the place? If it seems messy and cluttered that says something about that photographer's organization ability and attention to detail. You don't want someone who isn't structured enough to deliver on their promises. It also says something about potential safety hazards for your baby.
5) They Allow Your Own Appointment Time
A great photographer creates a great experience, not just great photography. If you want to wait in line with scores of other moms with screaming babies you can always go to a big chain department store's photography studio. But this is not a comfortable environment for your you or your baby and the comfort of mom and child is one of the secrets of creating terrific baby images. If you are tense, your baby will be tense.
Insist on having your own appointment time to help you and your baby feel relax, comfortable and confident.
6) Your Photographer Should Allow you at Least One Hour at Your Appointment
I'm sure you know, baby's are full of surprises. They may get hungry, have gas, need a diaper change, be tired or be getting sick. They also go through emotional phases such as separation anxiety. All these factors will be at work at any given session for your baby. One of the best ways to ensure you and the photographer can work with your child's moods is for the photographer to allow sufficient time for a quick nap, feeding or adjustment for the baby. This is why you should demand at least an hour for your photography session.
7) Pride in Their Work
When interviewing photographers you want to take the time to see examples of their work. Not just albums, but finished prints. When you receive your order is it just a bunch of loose prints stuffed in an envelope? Are they not even matted to a hardboard? Seek a photographer who is willing to take theme and expense to show pride in their finished work. Opening your photography order for the first time should be a joyous experience. It should feel akin to opening your utility bill. A photographer willing to go that extra mile is someone who cares about the little things.
8) Photographer Should be Willing to Help You Select Outfits
What looks cute in real life on your baby often does not look that great in a still photograph. When you see your child's photograph you want to delight in their expression, their eyes, their delicate features of the face, such a great photograph will give you chills because it is so perfect. Picking the right clothing is essential to not distracting from your child's wonderful face. Your photographer should be willing to provide guidance in selecting outfits for your child. The right clothing will have people raving over your baby's portraits (stay away from those crazy printed designs!) Just make sure you pay attention to what they say! The good ones know it makes a big difference and make it a priority to share their knowledge with you.
9) Look for Photographers A Priority of Safety and Comfort
A child safe, courteous and peaceful environment are crucial to making once-in-a-lifetime portraits for you and your family. After six months of age babies will often start developing ouchies and booboos simply because their sense of strength, balance and coordination are just starting to develop. A good photographer will build his studio and do the photography in such a way as to help your baby stay safe and comfortable. Look for your photographer to have an assistant or have a plan to enlist you as a helper to be on baby patrol and guard against potential spills and falls. A head hitting the hard floor means no more photography, an upset mommy and an even more upset baby. That's not good.
I hope these tips help you in your search for the right photographer for you and your baby. Remember, these images are not just pictures for your refrigerator or Facebook… they are family heirlooms. So consider these tips and you will be on your way to enjoying these images for a lifetime!
Chris Cummins, one of the top Kansas City photographers. He is the owner and chief photographic artist for Glow Imagery and specializes in fine portraiture of babies. His studio also specializes in weddings and family photography