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There are a lot of photographers for you to choose from! While some photographers may think that’s a scary thing, I think it’s actually wonderful because you can truly find the perfect photographer for your family! One of the best parts about my job is photographing a family through the years because I’m the best fit for them. 

Today, I want to walk you through how to choose the best portrait photographer for your growing family.  There are two main types of portrait photographers: the Luxury Photographer and the Shoot and Burn Photographer. I’ll talk about what this means, why the prices vary, and, more importantly, which one is right for you!

But first, let’s review 6 questions to ask yourself to start thinking about which type of photography you want.

Choosing the right family photographer for your family

6 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Photographer 

How do you know which type of photographer is right for you? If you’re just starting to research options, this is a great place to start. If you have looked around, this will still be helpful with framing your expectations. 

6 Questions to Learn About Your Photography Wants

  1. What kind of experience do you want? No frills or luxury?
  2. How much help do you need to prepare for your session?
  3. How do you feel about getting your pictures taken? Does working with a stranger make you feel more at ease, or do you prefer someone who takes the time to get to know you and your family first?
  1. What do you want to do with the images? Is your end-goal to share them online or do you want to preserve the images in wall art or custom-designed albums to enjoy every day in your home?
  1. Do you like DIY and do you have the time, patience, and skills to print the images yourself?
  2. How important is quality to you? How long do you want your printed products to last without fading, warping, or cracking?

Learn About a Shoot and Burn Photographer 

Let’s start with a Shoot and Burn Photographer. These photographers are a volume-based business and book as many sessions as possible per month. With that, they tend to offer a no-frills experience and spend a relatively short amount of time with each client. Sometimes, they’re meeting clients for the first time at the actual session. 

Many times, the photographer will offer sessions at a specific location to fit in back-to-back sessions and don’t usually offer wardrobe assistance. Some Shoot and Burn Photographers apply bulk editing to all of the images at once to save even more time. This is similar to applying filters to images all at once, without opening each one.

Usually, they take the photos and, later, hand their clients the digital images (shoots and then “burns” to a CD, DVD, USB). This DIY model leaves it up to you to print your own images using consumer labs and hang them up yourself when you can find the time.

This is a quantity over quality photographer. If you’re looking for paying less ($100-$300) per session and are just hoping for a flash drive of medium quality images then this might be the option you’re looking for. This type of photographer won’t offer any sort of warranties and may not be an official tax-paying business.

Learn About a Full-Service Photographer

Now let’s meet the Full-Service Luxury Photographer. This photographer takes on fewer sessions per month to be able to provide lifetime value. This luxury-based business spends quality time with each client to help them prepare for their portrait session every step of the way. The session isn’t complete until your family artwork is displayed in your home for all to enjoy. 

These personalized sessions include taking the time to get to know the whole family ahead of time, learn the individual needs, and address any concerns. A common concern is putting together the family’s outfits and coordination for the portrait. This photographer will offer wardrobe assistance and sometimes even offer a client wardrobe to create the perfect look. 

The entire session is based on what you want to do with the images once you’ve had the portraits taken. If the goal is to create a family gallery wall in your dining room, the photographer will be mindful of your home’s decor when planning the outfits, location, and season so that your portrait artwork fits perfectly in your home.

After the session, this photographer will guide you through the process of choosing your professionally printed high-quality portraits that will last 100 years or more as well as expertly edited digital images for you to keep. The master retouching of every image with attention to detail leaves every family member looking their best. 

As I mentioned before, the session isn’t complete until the portraits are displayed in your home; including the actual installation of the wall art. There is a lifetime warranty on all artwork purchases through the full-service luxury photographer. 

This type of photography business is insured, licensed, affiliated with professional organizations, and tax-paying, meaning you can trust the quality of your investment with them. Typically, this type of photography costs more but in the end, you receive portraits that will last your lifetime (and beyond). 

finding the right family photographer between a  shoot and burn vs a full-service photographer

Which Photographer is Right for You? 

Hopefully, by now you have a great idea of how these types of photographers are different. Think of it this way, if you’re looking to eat as cheaply as possible then you may stop at a fast-food restaurant vs the experience of fine dining. You know you aren’t getting the best quality of ingredients when you eat fast food but it’s quick and curbs your hunger. It’s also similar to shopping at Wal-Mart for the lowest price vs investing in quality clothing that will last decades at a store like Nordstrom’s. 

Once the instant gratification of sharing on social media wanes, your digital files end up in a cloud somewhere or the USB stowed in a drawer, forgotten. Sadly, I’ve heard “Someday I’ll get to printing these photos of the kids” way too often! As a busy mom of 4 boys, I completely get it. It’s hard to get those types of projects done.  Investing in a luxury photographer that handles all the printing and installation means you have no “homework” and you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your family artwork for years to come knowing you have the best quality available to you.

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