by Laura Priestley Photography | Morgantown, WV Family Photographer

Choosing the best professional photographer to serve your family

can be an overwhelming process--but it doesn't need to be. Here are some pointers to help you find the perfect photographer for your family:

black and white portrait of two little boys on a plain white background

1) Consider the photographer's portfolio.

What type of images are you drawn to? What type of images will complement your home and personal style? Do you prefer warm, rich colors, and editing that's more true-to-life? Or do you like light, airy images with desaturated colors?

Every professional photographer has a signature shooting and editing style for the images they produce, and you should choose someone who shoots and edits in a style you love. If the images on a photographer's website or social media are primarily dark, with warm, moody tones, then no matter how amazing that photographer is, they would not be a good fit for someone who wants bright, airy portraits for the walls of their home.

If a photographer's portfolio does not show a consistent style, or doesn't show enough images for you to gauge their style-- be cautious. Anyone can achieve a good photo here and there-- but a trustworthy professional photographer can show consistently high-quality work.

2) Consider the photographer's communication style and personality.

This is a vibe check, and within the realm of great service, there's not necessarily a right or wrong here... it's about what makes you feel at ease. Does this professional seem like someone you will feel comfortable working with, and mesh well with?

Every pro photographer has a different style of relating to their clients and their own unique approach to communicating; you want the artist who will be preserving your family's memories to be someone whose style and approach feels comfortable to you.

3) Consider their experience.

I should preface this point with the disclaimer that experience is not an end-all. A professional photographer who is passionately dedicated to learning and growing may advance more in five years, than one who has shot for thirty years without pursuing growth and development in their craft.

That being said-- a portrait session with a photographer who thoroughly understands their trade, their tools, and their clients is a completely different experience than a session with someone who maybe loves photography, but is still trying to sort out the nuances of posing, session flow, light and location choices, editing, data management and client service.

For a photographer committed to continual growth in their business and art, each passing year behind the camera adds significantly to the quality of your experience as a client, and the quality of the resulting images that they'll be able to provide for you. (Read up on what information your photographer needs to plan just the right session for you, here!)

Experience and expertise matter! Which leads to point #4:

4) Consider their price... and not in the way you might expect!

While a cheap photographer may look appealing at first glance, you really do usually get what you pay for in the photo industry. Many clients who value quality photography will immediately eliminate photographers with very low prices from their list of potential choices-- and for good reason!

With the accessibility of high-quality cameras, the barriers to a person buying a camera and launching a "photography business" are lower than they've ever been-- but unfortunately, owning a nice camera and a large dose of enthusiasm does not make a competent photographer or a competent businessperson who is qualified to serve your family.

A cheap price is often an indicator that a photographer is relying on sub-par gear, cutting corners in their data handling processes, or inexperienced in running a business. (If a frame of reference is helpful, my prices are in the moderate range for family photographers; many photographers in my professional network charge multiple thousands of dollars for a single family or newborn session.)

Providing clients with great service, reliable handling of their data, and stunning resulting images is not cheap; experienced professionals providing these high-quality services will not be cheap either.