Finding a Family Photographer: Editing Style

Finding a Family Photographer: Editing Style

I hired a painting contractor last month to transform my dated honey-oak trim into a lovely semi-gloss white. I’d never hired trim painters before, and didn’t know the right questions to ask. So I ended up hiring based on price alone, since the estimates I got all looked the same on paper.

I’ll let Julia explain how awesome that idea was.

how to hire a family photographer

Where I went wrong

I should have invested the time in researching how to hire trim painters. Had I asked the right questions, and understood exactly what they planned to do (and what steps they planned to skip), I could have avoided some major headaches (and chipping trim paint for the next decade). *sigh*

Don’t be like me when you hire your family photographer.

Every photographer is not a good fit for every family, and that’s okay. Get informed, learn what to look for, and find the family photographer that’s a fit for you.

I’ll talk you through questions to ask, identifying a good fit, and ensuring you get exactly what you need and want. We’ll start by identifying the style—both editing and visual—that you’re looking for.

Question 1: What editing style are you attracted to?

Think about the images you’re drawn to. They don’t have to be family photos; any image of people will do.

Are they moodier images with rich blacks, or light and airy photos with pastels? Do they include bold, true-to-life colors or desaturated tones?

If you haven’t a clue what I mean by that, don’t worry. This is photography-speak, so let’s look at some examples. A quick Google Image search of “dark and moody family photography” is pretty clear:

Family photography in dark and moody style

Now try the same thing with “light and airy family photography“:

Family photography in light and airy style

Big, big difference.

The distinction between desaturated and bold color is a little more subtle. So here’s a side-by-side of two Instagram feeds: Shantel Phipps Photography and Rebekah Melancon Photography:

Desaturated family photography versus bold and colorful
Both are closer to dark and moody, but Shantel on the left is desaturated while Rebekah has allllll the bold colors.

There’s desaturated light-and-airy as well as colorful light-and-airy. Some photographers do bold and colorful, but desaturate just the greens. Clearly, there’s a lot of variety in each category.

I’m giving you permission to go down a rabbit hole on Instagram (the #familyphotography tag is a good starting point). Scroll away, and see what jumps out at you.

Can I ask the photographer to use the editing style I prefer?

Imagine you’re commissioning a painting for your home. One artist paints with a style you love, but he’s booked out two years. Another paints in a style you dislike, but her turnaround is fast. Would you ask the second artist to “just paint like that other guy”?

(No, you wouldn’t, unless you want something thrown at your head by a very cranky artist.)

Photography is an art form. Photographers are artists. (I know because Lizzy Jo says so. Watch this reel. I love it.)

Even though it’s called “editing style,” that style starts long before you step in front of our lens. The wardrobe guidance we provide, the location we select, the time of day we shoot, how we use light, the textures we look for… all are part of executing a certain style.

Photographers hone their skills in a single style and make choices to support it all along the way—not just when editing.

Next time…

You, my friend, are off and running! In part 2 of the series, we’ll talk about posing styles and starting your shortlist of family photographers.


  1. This is an amazing resource for clients thinking about hiring a photographer! You really break it down and explain it so well!

  2. This is perfect! Love this blog post!


  1. How to Hire a Family Photographer #5: Wardrobe & Styling • Apollo & Ivy Photography - […] Part 1: editing style […]
  2. How to Hire a Family Photographer #6: Locations • Apollo & Ivy Photography - […] POSTS: How to hire a photographer Part 1: editing stylePart 2: posing stylePart 3: digitals, prints, turnaround, and backup…



When To Do Family Photos

When To Do Family Photos

Why are so many family photos taken in the fall? Is there some reason not to do photos in July? What’s the “best” time of the year to do family photos? Get the low down on timing for your family pics.

read more