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A Busy Mom's Guide to Choosing the Perfect Family Photographer

As a busy mom, capturing those precious moments of your family as they grow is essential. Whether it's a milestone event or simply a Sunday afternoon, having the right family photographer can make all the difference.

How to Find a Good Family Photographer

With so many options out there, how do you choose the perfect family photographer for your unique needs? How do you conduct a photographer search with confidence that you will find the right one who can work well with your family?

In today's post, we'll walk through the process of selecting the ideal photographer, covering everything from different photography styles to lesser-known considerations you need to keep in mind!

Photography Styles: Posed vs. Lifestyle vs. a Hybrid Approach

  • Posed photography involves carefully staged shots with everyone looking at the camera. These are typically the ones that make it onto the Christmas card and Grandma's fridge. In these sessions, they photographer tells you exactly what to do and how to do it, which can be nice, but can feel fake.

  • Candid/lifestyle photography captures authentic, unposed moments and emotions. These sessions are the exact opposite of posed. Your photographer will not tell you what to do and it leaves a bit of guesswork if you are uncertain what looks best. This can be great for telling a story and preserving genuine family interactions.

  • A Hybrid approach is my personal style. I tell my clients where to go, what to do, and even where to look. I like to make sure everyone feels confident in how they look! I get a combination of traditional portraits looking at the camera mixed with "engineered candid" moments of the family interacting based on prompts I know photograph well. I love the hybrid approach as it results in a well-rounded family gallery with photos for every purpose--your holiday card, Grandma's fridge, the walls of your home, and even updating your social media accounts if that is your jam.

Family photographer photographs young family
Family poses candidly for a qualified family photographer

Exploring Artistic Styles: Light and Airy, Dark and Moody, True to Color

  • Light and airy (L&A) produces bright, soft, and vibrant images with a cheerful and airy atmosphere. If you like the look of sunshine in pictures--this is for you! In the images above--Image 1 is in the Light and Airy style.

  • Dark and moody (D&M) consists of deeper, richer colors that are bold and more intense. These images tend to have a bit more of a dramatic effect. If you like the idea of stormy skies, this is for you! Image 2 is Dark and Moody.

  • True to color (TC) editing preserves the natural colors and tones of the scene. This offers a timeless, classic look that suits a variety of settings. If you don't really feel drawn to a style--start here! Image 3 above is true to color.

Like anything, these are just the main three styles. If you could imagine a linear graph with D&M on one end and L&A on the other, with TC in the middle, most photographers fall somewhere in between. For example, my own work (above) leans on the L&A side of TC.

Key Considerations As You Find a Photographer

  • Ensure the photographer is experienced in working with families like yours! This can mean working kids who have special needs, young children, tweens or teens, big families, etc. Look at their website and social medias to see if you can envision your own family in those images.

  • Look for reviews or testimonials that mention a photographer's patience with kids. Word of mouth from friends is any easy way to vet a photographer, but Google Reviews are the next best thing!

  • With children's short attention spans, efficiency is crucial. Experienced photographers know this and do a good job communicating this to you on their website or in their welcome email.

Pricing and Packages

From a client's perspective, there are distinct differences between IPS (In-Person Sales) and shoot-and-burn photography pricing models. Understanding these differences can help you make an informed choice based on your photo needs, budget, and preferences.

  1. IPS (In-Person Sales): In an IPS photography model, the photographer typically schedules a separate sales session/call with the client after the photo shoot. During this session, the photographer presents a carefully curated selection of edited images to the client.

Pricing Structure for IPS:

  • Session Fee: Clients pay a session fee upfront, which covers the photographer's time, expertise, and often an initial consultation.

  • Product Sales: Clients have the opportunity to purchase prints, albums, canvases, or digital files during the sales session/call once the images are edited.

  • Customization: Clients receive guidance on selecting and customizing their final products, ensuring they get exactly what they want.

Pros for Clients:

  • Personalized Guidance: Clients receive professional advice on selecting the best images and products to suit their needs and preferences. Many photographers can even create mock-ups of how photos will look printed in your home.

  • Quality Assurance: The photographer maintains control over the final products' quality, ensuring they meet professional standards.

  • Customization: Clients can tailor their packages to their specific requirements, getting exactly what they want.

  • Often includes access to a client wardrobe, which can save on the cost of buying photo outfits for your family.

Cons for Clients:

  • Typically Higher Cost: IPS pricing models often result in higher upfront session fees and product costs.

2. Shoot and Burn: In a shoot-and-burn pricing model, clients typically pay a flat fee for the photo session, and the photographer provides them with all the edited digital image files from the session without further sales sessions or product offerings.

Pricing Structure for Shoot and Burn:

  • Flat Session Fee: Clients pay a single fee for the photography session, which may include a set number of edited digital images.

  • All Digital Files: Clients receive all the edited high-resolution digital image files from the session for their personal use.

  • Limited Post-Processing: Photographers may apply basic editing, but extensive retouching or artistic enhancements may not be included.

Pros for Clients:

  • Lower Initial Cost: Shoot-and-burn models often have lower upfront costs compared to IPS.

  • Immediate Access: Clients receive all digital files shortly after the session, allowing for immediate sharing and printing.

  • No Sales Pressure: Clients don't face additional sales sessions or pressure to purchase products.

Cons for Clients:

  • Limited Guidance: Clients may lack professional advice on selecting the best images or products.

  • Quality Control: The photographer may not have control over how the images are printed or displayed, potentially leading to subpar results.

  • Potential for Lost Images: Clients are responsible for archiving and backing up their digital files, which can be risky if not managed properly.

In summary, IPS focuses on providing a tailored, guided experience with higher-quality products, while shoot-and-burn offers a more budget-friendly and immediate access to digital files. The choice between these models when searching for a family photographer depends on your budget, preferences, and how much control and guidance you desire in the photography process.

A Summary of How to Find Good Photographers

Choosing the perfect family photographer can be a rewarding experience, as they help you capture memories that will last a lifetime. Remember to consider photography styles, editing preferences, inclusivity for special needs, patience with little ones, efficiency, and communication skills when making your decision.

By doing your research and having a clear vision of your family's needs and preferences, you can find a photographer who you can build a relationship with and will create beautiful, cherished memories with your family for years to come.

If you value a photographer who is educated on working with ALL families, we got you! We have a directory of photographers from around the world who are CapABLE trained and would love to work with your family!

Don't see a CapABLE Photographer in your city? Comment you city and state below so we know where to grow!

All my best,


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