It’s that time again. You need family photos, and you need to find a photographer in your area. You’re looking for someone who will give you quality photos, and you want a balance between not breaking the bank and finding someone who will actually do a good job. You may see some affordable photographers out there and be unsure if they’ll be able to give you the quality you’re looking for. How can you even tell if they’re a good family photographer? There are some subtle things that I as a photographer would notice immediately that would tell me if they’d do a good job, and I’m here to let you in on some of those tips.

1. A good family photographer always EDITS

This is the biggest one that can be surprisingly hard to tell for those who aren’t experienced in taking and editing pictures. Let me give you an example.

This is a good, quality, cute photo I’ve taken:

Photo: Design & Photography by Rachel

This is from a senior pictures session. Isn’t she cute? The lighting didn’t leave any weird shadows on her face, it’s a nice background, and you can see the nice blur in the background from having a good quality camera and good focus (which I’ll get to in a moment).

But THIS is after I edited the same picture:

Photo: Design & Photography by Rachel

Can you spot the differences? A good family photographer will ALWAYS, ALWAYS edit. No matter how good a camera is, it can never capture exactly what your eyes see. In order to keep the same quality as the original setting was, a good photographer will always edit their pictures. My personal style is always to lighten images and make them warmer, but as long as pictures come out well-lit, with balanced light, and things like blemishes or other distracting elements removed, you can safely bet that they were edited well.

2. A good quality camera will leave the background blurred

Composition is one key component of photography, but think with me for a moment. I’m sure most of you have taken a photo on your smartphone that you felt like was a good photo, the composition and lighting were good, and maybe you even edited it up a little to make it look better. But it still didn’t look like a professional picture with a real camera. Could you pinpoint why? One HUGE way you can tell a good family photographer is a very simple tip: Is the background blurred and their subject in focus?

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. This first photo is a picture I took on my phone of some models out in West Yellowstone. I want you to look at the models, how they’re in focus, and also wayyy back at the background: also in focus. It can be cool to take photos like this: the composition was pretty good, a decent angle (not my favorite, but it’s decent!), there was a cool sky and a cool background. Not too bad!

Photo: Design & Photography by Rachel

But contrast that with the following photo:

Photo: Design & Photography by Rachel

It’s a clear, obvious difference: the second one looks professional, and the first one, while it looks okay, doesn’t. In the second picture, taken with my “real camera” (a Nikon DSLR), my subject is sharp and in focus, but the background is entirely blurred out. Just like that, it looks professional.

Add this indicator to looking for good editing and if they check those boxes, you’ve got a pretty good family photographer! You’ll probably like how your pictures turn out. If that’s all you want, you can even stop here! The other tips take it up a couple levels.

3. Social Media presence & portfolio

Here’s a tip: If they have a lot of followers on social media, they’re most likely a good photographer. The only problem with this tip is that a lack of followers does not necessarily mean that they’re NOT a good photographer! With the risk of you all only taking stock in my first sentence and thinking I’m not a good photographer after this, I’ll give my Instagram as an example.

Photo: Screenshot by Design & Photography by Rachel

I’m a professional photographer with a lot of training and a good portfolio, but I haven’t always had the time to keep up a good social media presence. As a result, I don’t have a lot of followers.

That’s why portfolio is also important! Check their photos in addition to their follower count, like my portfolio here.

But honestly, if a family photographer has a lot of followers, you can be pretty confident in the fact that they’re a good family photographer.

4. How Much They Charge

As sad as it is, it’s true that really good photographers charge more. If you’re looking for a good quality affordable photographer, then as I said before you can look for those first two things and be done. If someone charges more than $200 for a 1-hour session, you can be pretty sure they’re good! N Laylor Photography points out that someone who doesn’t charge a lot is probably just starting out in photography and doesn’t feel confident charging a lot yet, while more experienced, good family photographers know what they’re worth.

Now, just as with the last one, this isn’t an all-encompassing guideline! For example, here at Design & Photography by Rachel, I have made an effort to be an affordable, professional, quality photographer. I don’t want to overcharge my clients, even though I could, simply because I know what it means to have quality photos and be able to afford them! I’ve never been able to afford more expensive photographers, and I’ve been frustrated with the lack of quality from more inexpensive family photographers. I determined to make my prices affordable and work with people so that even people without a lot of money can have the dreamy pictures they deserve!

If you’re looking for a good family photographer, keep these things in mind. And remember – I’m here to help. Contact me with questions or to schedule a session!

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