According to the British Institute of Professional Photography, there are approximately 50,000 registered photographers in the UK (and more than 500 in Surrey!). With so many to choose from, finding a studio you can trust to provide the family and baby photographs that you’re going to treasure might be tricky. But don’t worry – we have some advice concerning the things you need think about: important factors that will give you the confidence to make the right decisions.
1. Quality of the photography. A big mistake would be to treat all family photo shoots as the same and then shop around on price. The quality of studio photography varies as much (to take an analogy) as transport cafe food versus fine cuisine. But with photography we are dealing with investment rather than a nice evening. Compare portfolios on different websites and think about what moves or excites you the most? Which studio is the most innovative or shows the best craftmanship in terms of light and composition? Or perhaps getting the best expression and emotion from the sitter is the most important aspect for you?
2. Sales Process. Some studios have built a bad reputation for high pressure selling. Ensure that that the studio is happy to share its prices with you before the shoot and is generally transparent about the selection and purchasing of your images. Ideally you would return to the studio, knowing about prices and then select your images/products in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
3. Studio location and facilities. The quality of the studio again varies enormously. Some studios have invested in state of the art facilities, whilst other operate from their home or garden. Check the location of the studio and car parking – and how the facilities might affect your overall experience. You may wish to check if the studio has public liability insurance.
4. Customer service. This can affect not just the sitting itself, but all levels of the process, including pre-shoot advice, product selection and after sales service. Check that the studio has a good reputation for personal service and is always willing to pick up the phone and talk through any questions you have.
5. Product quality. Ask to see samples of canvases, frames and acrylics when you visit the studio for the shoot or viewing. How much emphasis does the studio place on the quality of the manufacturing and printing processes?
6. Photographers. How family and child friendly are they? The studio might employ fantastic photographers, but if they are generally used to dealing with fashion models they might might not be the best choice for your two year old twins! Family photography can often be about patience, developing a rapport and coaxing the best expressions from children and babies. When you visit the studio and admire the images on display, always check that they were taken in those premises and by the photographer you’re talking to – some high street photographic chains supply their branches with display photographs taken in other parts of the country.
7. Price. The price of the shoot and wall art is obviously an important factor to take into account. But ensure that price is considered alongside the factors in this list.
8. Scheduling. It is sometimes difficult to get the whole family together for a shoot – so check the flexibility of the studio. Some studios also open on Sundays.
9. Retouching (air brushing). Some of the studios will have the expertise to listen to your suggestions and make subtle alterations to an image. Look at these professional examples.
10. Bespoke service. Is the studio like assembly line, or will it consult you and tailor the session according to your requirements?
And On The Day
The MPA suggest that you take a selection of appropriate clothing to the session, as this will ensure that the photographer can provide you with a variety of images. Neutral coloured clothes are generally thought to be the best, although these can be highlighted with splashes of bright colours to add interest. It is best, however, to avoid colours that are too intense, unless of course this is what you feel most comfortable wearing. Hopefully, your photographer will have discussed this with you at your consultation.
If your child is to be photographed, take a favourite toy along to the photo shoot, as well as any other accessories which might help to bring out his or her personality. It will help them feel more secure, as well as add a more personal touch to the images. When photographing babies and very small children, it’s important to timetable the session around their own individual routines. Photographing your tired or hungry child would not produce the best quality portraits, so it’s vital that they’re made to feel comfortable. If practical – depending on their age – discuss the portrait sitting with your child beforehand, to prepare them for the event. Again, your chosen studio should be able to advise you on this.