Choosing a Family Photographer

This post originally appeared on Heather Kelly Photography (that’s me!)

The fall family photography season is upon us. This is the busiest time for family photographers, especially here in Connecticut with the changing leaves and beautiful fall colors. With so many photographers to choose from, I thought it would be helpful to do a post with helpful tips on how to choose a family photographer. Whether you hire me, or another CT professional photographer, you’ll want to keep these suggestions in mind.  I hope this posts helps you know how to choose a family photographer from the start that is professional, experienced, and will provide you with quality images you will cherish forever.

How to Choose a Family Photographer

how to choose a family photographer

Quality, Quality, Quality

In real estate it’s location, location, location. In photography it’s quality, quality, quality. When you are looking for a photographer, you want to look at their exposure, white balance, and focus. Is it all correct and consistent? Before you inquire with a photographer on pricing information, you want to make sure that you will receive quality images.  Some families get photos done yearly. Some only get them done every few years, or just once when their kids are little. No matter how often you get photos done, these images will be hanging on your walls, in frames at your office, and in albums that many generations will get to enjoy. Making sure you have a photographer that can deliver you images with correct exposure, white balance, and focus should be top priority.

Proper Exposure

You want to make sure your photographer is able to correctly expose an image. If an image is overexposed, you won’t be able to make out the details in the highlights. When printing an overexposed image, the blown parts will print white. An underexposed image will be dark and have more grain than a properly exposed image. Below is an example of an overexposed and underexposed image compared to the correctly exposed image.

The image on the top left is underexposed. Everything is dark and gloomy. The opposite is on the top right. This image is overexposed. You can not see a lot of the detail in dad’s shirt as well as the older sister’s skirt. Their faces are also very bright and will not print well. On the bottom you can view the properly exposed image. You can see the details in their faces, dad’s shirt and the older sister’s skirt.

how to choose a family photographer proper exposure

Correct White Balance

When choosing a family photographer, you’ll want to take a look at the colors of their images. When I edit my image, I want my subjects to look like they do in real life. I don’t want my subjects to look to yellow or too blue. I want them to look like themselves and their skin tone. Take a look at the image below. The image on the top left is more cool (blue) and washed out looking. The image on the top right is very warm (yellow). The little boy’s skin is yellow and a little orange looking. The bottom image is the correct white balance. Mom’s shirt is cream. Dad’s shoes have white in them, and baby boy is wearing a white shirt. Their skin tone also matches what they really look like.

how to choose a family photographer correct white balance


You want your images to be in focus. Who wants blurry images? I don’t! You want to have images that are sharp and in focus. These will look great when you blow them up and hang them on your walls. If you are viewing their work on Facebook, go to their website. Facebook can do funky things to images, but you’ll be able to view better quality on their website and/or blog.

At the image below, both of them are not in focus. If you look closely, in the top image you can see that focus fell on his shirt. That is the most clear part of the image. His eyes and his face (what you normally want in focus) is blurry and out of focus. The bottom image is also out of focus. This one is because of a too low shutter speed and there is motion blur. Images can also be out of focus because of a camera error. Your photographer should cull all those images and not present them to you.

how to choose a family photographer focus

This next image is in focus. The settings are all correct and it’s a sharp image. Look at those eyes. Nice and sharp.

how to choose a family photographer focus


When I was first learning how to use my camera, lighting is what I had the most trouble with. It is so important to learn though. Lighting can make or break a photo. All the other settings can be correct, but a badly lit image will ruin it. When looking at a photographers work, you’ll want to look how their subjects are lit. You want nice even lighting without spots from the sun on a subjects face or front of the body. The image below is back lit. The sun is hitting the back of my son (don’t mind his messy hair!) and rimming him nicely. Notice there are no sun spots on his face or the front of him. The lighting on his face is nice and even. In the second image he was in the same spot, but I moved my position. The sun is now hitting his face. That side of his face is very harsh and the exposure is blown, while the side that is in the shade is correctly exposed. It I had exposed for the sun on his skin, the side in the shadow would have been underexposed. If I moved my position even more the sun would have been completely hitting him on his face. He would have been squinting and the light would not have been pleasing. You also want to avoid dappled light on the subject. Dappled light is when there are clusters of light spots on your subject.

how to choose a family photographer lighting


Take a look at their blog and galleries. Are they consistent in all that I mentioned above: proper exposure, correct white balance, focus, and lighting? Ask for view a full gallery so you can see what type of variety you would get in a session and that all the images are consistent and flow nicely. You want to make sure that ALL of their images are high quality with exposure, white balance, focus and lighting. Below is an example of a full family session gallery. I typically give 25-30 images in a family session. You can see below that there are images of mom, dad, and baby. They are in several different poses. There are images of just baby, mom and baby, and dad and baby.

how to choose a family photographer full family session gallery
I hoped this “how to choose a family photographer” blog post helps you choose a family photographer. If you are looking for a CT family photographer, contact Heather for more information on a family session this fall!

Heather Kelly Photography is a Connecticut newborn, baby, family, and maternity photographer. She is located in Newtown, CT and serves many towns in Northern Fairfield County. She serves parts of Litchfield County and New Haven County as well. She also serves parts of New York, including Westchester County and Putnam County. Heather is an on-location photographer and brings a portable studio for newborn and baby sessions that take place in the comfort of your own home. Outdoor family sessions are on-location at a mutually decided location such as your home or a local park. If you have any questions or would like some more information on booking a session in Connecticut or New York, please click the contact tab above. Sneak peeks are always being on posted so facebook make sure to “like” that page as well!