School started, sports are in full swing, and the holidays are approaching quickly. But that sinking realization just hit – you need updated family photos… yesterday! No problem, you’ll just post to your favorite local mom social media group and ask for recommendations. Problem solved.
Except 10 minutes later, you have 536 comments with 535 different photographer recommendations and have no idea where to start.
As a photographer and mom myself, I empathize. I want to find the perfect clients just as much as you want to find the perfect photographer. The camera captures everything. Your mood and attitude are vital to quality family photos, so choosing the right photographer for you is incredibly important.
But you still have 535 recommendations. How do you know who is Perfect for you?
I have 5 rules when it comes to photographers. Rule 1 is so important that it gets an entire blog post by itself!
1. Know your priorities
Ever hear the saying “Quality, Time, and Cost: Pick Two?” The Quality Triangle is true for most service industries. Photographers definitely apply. This is the most important and probably least understood of my 5 rules. I will explore each priority and explain what you gain and sacrifice.
You have a small, limited budget, but would really like family photos.
You will definitely sacrifice quality and likely time. In the photography world, these photographers are rarely professionals. It is hard for most professional photography businesses to operate with full, 1 hour sessions below $300. (Mini-sessions are different and do not apply.)
Important questions to ask the photographer if you prioritize cost are:
- “Are you a registered business?”
- “Do you have business insurance?”
- “May I see an example of a full gallery?”
Determine whether or not you care about the answer. If you do (and you should), ask your photographer about the final product you will receive. The discounted price is often reflected in the delivery turn and finished quality.
You need images ASAP! Realize speed almost always comes with some sacrifice in the triangle.
Photographers on the Time/Quality side might be able to work with you to get you a couple images faster than the normal time frame. But expect to pay a rush fee – just like if you went to the Post Office or FedEx.
Photographers on the Time/Cost side might be able to get you images faster, but they won’t be heavily (or lightly) edited. Quality suffers.
Important questions to ask your photographer if you are prioritizing time are:
- “How many other galleries would be ahead of mine?”
- “What is your standard turnaround time?”
- “Do you have a rush option?”
Remember that Fall is the busy season for photographers. We frequently have several clients just as anxious to receive their photos.
Anyone can take a good picture, but you want a great picture.
Quality takes time and costs money. This is art and photographers who specialize on the extreme end of the quality triangle painstakingly edit each and every detail of each and every image they show you.
The qualitative difference is based on preparation and editing, editing, editing. Professionals delivering top-notch product will want to pre-coordinate details to ensure a smooth shoot and then spend hours or days (yes – days) on the best photos in editing.
Important questions to ask if you are prioritizing quality are:
- “What is your level of involvement throughout the whole process?”
- “What services do you provide/help coordinate?”
- “May I please look at your portfolio?”
Finding a perfect balance between all three might be your goal. You want high quality images, in a reasonable amount of time, and are willing to pay a competitive price. Competitive prices typically range between $300-$500 for a 1 hour session, and are delivered between 2-4 weeks. Quality images will be properly exposed, in focus, and well composed.
Take some time to think about these different aspects to figure out your priorities. Recognize that your priorities might be different from your partner’s and that you both might need to compromise. After your priorities are set, check back for Rules 2-5!
About the Author
Alyson is a mom to three crazy kiddos, and wife to an Air Force veteran. She and her husband think of Omaha as a Goldilocks city: just the right size to have things to do, but not too big. While always interested in photography, Alyson pursued a more conventional career of architecture and kept photography as a hobby. It wasn’t until she became a mom that Alyson shifted to portrait photography. When not behind the camera or chauffeuring kids to activities, Alyson loves volunteering at church, cooking, meeting up with friends, designing wood projects, hiking, and traveling. Alyson’s own experiences with motherhood, as well as friends and family who have shared their experience, fuel her photography passion. It is an honor to capture those moments for families from birth throughout all of life’s milestones and the moments in-between. Check out her website Alyson Lolli Photography