Finding a Family Photographer: Posing Style

Finding a Family Photographer: Posing Style

Welcome to part 2 of the series on How to Hire a Family Photographer.

In part 1, we explored editing styles. Next up is what I call “posing style.” I’ll explain the two primary styles, how to identify a photographer’s style, and what to do if you want a mix of both.

At that point, you’ll be ready to start researching and creating your short list of photographers. Yay! Not sure where to start? I got you; I include tips on how to find photographers in your area.

Question 2: Are you drawn to lifestyle or posed?

Think back to the photos you find yourself looking at over and over again. Now let’s narrow it down to the photos of families. Are the subjects precisely posed with everyone smiling at the camera? Or are they interacting with each other?

If the former is what you’re looking for, seek out a photographer who does more directed posing. If you prefer the latter, find a photographer who shoots lifestyle images. (I categorize myself as a lifestyle photographer.)

Husband and wife looking at each other during a family photography session
Here’s an example of lifestyle. I guided them into this location and gave direction on where to put their hands and how to stand. They interacted with each other, and were reminiscing about their wedding photos when I snapped this shot.
Senior couple looking at camera during family photography session
This is an example of directed posing, with both subjects looking at the camera. I shoot a lot of extended families, and grandparents always ask for this shot. Aren’t they so darn cute?!

How do I know what style a photographer uses?

The proof is in the pudding portfolio. No matter what a photographer claims as his/her style, their portfolio reveals what they actually produce. Go to their website, or their Instagram, or Facebook, and look at the photos there to find your answer.

What if I want a little of both styles?

Many family photographers, me included, capture a mix of posed and lifestyle images. My ratio is ~80% lifestyle, 20% posed for a 45-minute session. Every photographer is different, so ask up front about their typical mix.

Pro tip: If you want a mix of both styles, but a photographer’s portfolio shows only lifestyle images, don’t count them out! Most photographers stack their portfolio with images in the style they prefer. (There are very few “look at me and smile” images in my portfolio; they’re not the images I find compelling.)

You can ask to see a sample gallery for a session like the one you’re considering. This will give you a very clear idea of what they deliver. (Some photographers aren’t comfortable with sharing other clients’ photos in that manner, but you can ask. Just be kind with your request.)

You know the kind of photos you want… now how do you find the photographer?

You can go about this one of three ways:

1. Google it

I live in North Liberty, Iowa, so I’d search for “North Liberty family photographer.” Browse through websites, Instagram feeds, Facebook pages, and pricing to start making a shortlist of local photographers who fit the editing and posing style you like.

Not all photographers publicize their prices (which encourages shopping based on product rather than price), so you may need to inquire to get pricing.

2. Ask your friends and neighbors

This is a great way to go about it, but you’ll probably get recommendations for photographers from many, many different styles. Be specific with your ask and you’ll get better suggestions.

3. Ask randos on social media

Strangers are always hit or miss. Someone’s idea of a great photo might be completely different from yours. They may love a desaturated, posed style while you want a colorful lifestyle vibe. Include a photo with your request, and ask for photographers that shoot in a similar style. You’ll have much better luck.

Next time…

You, my friend, are off and running! In part 3 of the series, we’ll talk about questions to ask while vetting a photographer to see if they’re the right fit for you.

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