5 questions to ask yourself when hiring a family photographer

When we had our first family portrait, I didn’t even know there were any other options beyond studio photography. And most people still don’t know of all available options when it comes to hiring a family or newborn photographer. Going by recommendations is wonderful idea (and to be honest, that’s how I build up my business) except your friend’s needs and more importantly WANTS as a family may be completely different to yours. Some photographers let clients take the lead whereas others take care of all aspects of the photoshoot to the last detail. They differentiate from style of photography to customer care and quality.

So, how do you discover the right kind of photographer for your family? Ask yourself few questions…

mother and baby newborn photography essex



If you prefer more casual approach where you would like to capture your family in natural environment to you, lifestyle session is for you. These are usually shot in clients’ homes, especially when it comes to newborns. However they can take place outdoors where your family love spending time as it’s very personal experience. Lifestyle photoshoots tend to involve guidance on wardrobe and styling. Collection of images is a combination of portrait and candid images focusing on capturing relaxed, natural vibe of the family. These suit children of any age (newborns can be a little older too as they don’t need to sleep for poses) and are very convenient as they can be slotted around your routine.

portrait newborn sessions

Usually taken in the studio (or studio set-up in clients’ homes) when newborns are in their first couple of weeks of life. Its artistic approach (posed baby in various positions, swaddled, in props like baskets etc) requires baby to be settled and sleeping for most of the poses which means this session tends to last upto 4 hours, leaving plenty of time for settling, feeding and posing. Bare in mind, some newborn photographers don’t include parents or siblings in a shot so ask this question if you would like to have these included. These settings can use natural or flash light.


The aim of documentary photography is to capture your family as you are and as close to real life as you can get. This session can take from couple of hour to a whole day, called day in a life. 


When I think of this style, I see warm tones, sunset, beautiful location and styling and even props. The focus of styled photoshoot is capturing your family in a magical setting, wearing specially selected outfits to compliment each other, taken at golden hour. There is upfront planning required for this session, usually discussed in great details with a photographer.

studio portraiture

Studio portraits can look more traditional because of the settings they are taken and have clean, very particular look. They are convenient because they don’t depend on good weather forecast. Most studios would use flash lighting and the focus is on experession of the client in front of the camera. The outcome of studio photoshoot is usually tangible products (wall art, albums etc).

bump maternity photography by petra leigh on sea

WHAT end product are you looking for?

One of the question I ask in my questionnaire is what is the desired outcome. The last thing I want for my clients is to have images sat on their computers not realizing their full potential. In other words, to get a return on your investment, you want to walk out from this experience with a finished item in your hands, even if it’s just a collection of prints.

So, what is it you really really want? If you would like to create a beautiful wall gallery, you might want to hire someone who specialises in frames and printed product because their expertise and quality of products will be superb. To share your images with family or create seasonal keepsake items like cards, you probably need digital version of your photos (bare in mind, not all photographers offer digitals). Or perhaps it’s a heirloom album that you are after, hire someone who will be able to finish this process with a quality product that you desire. You may think that you can put an album together yourself. The truth is, you probably will never find the time or energy (with job, kids, clubs and daily life chucked into a mix). Least to the level of quality that professional lab can do it (talking from personal experience, it took me 8 years to have our wedding album designed!!!). All this and more depends on…



There are many different purchasing processes photographers use. Just to name but few, a session fee upfront with product purchasing after via online galleries or most likely in person (viewing apt). Some packages will include all images whereas some may include only few images with upsell after the session. When hiring a photographer, consider what your budget will stretch to. Ask for a full price guide prior booking, especially if your budget is fixed, so you know exactly what you can afford. If your budget has some flexibility, choosing a photographer who charges session fee and images as an addition. This will give you freedom to choose and pay only for what you want. It’s important to realize that you won’t know what you will spend until after you see the images. On other hand, all-inclusive packages are paid prior seeing your gallery, so it’s really important to choose a photographer whose style of work you really like and more importantly, whose work is consistent.

newborn photography by petra in leigh on sea

How much editing is included?

Retouching is very subjective matter. Also to mention, there are many levels of editing. It mostly depends on style of the photographer and style of the photoshoot. The general expectation is, that portrait and styled sessions are fully edited, ie spots, blemishes (especially in newborn sessions) will be removed and blotched skin colour corrected. This level of editing will reflect in price as the photographer will need to allocate a significant time for each photo in post production. On other hand, documentary sessions embrace all imperfections in the most beautiful way. In this case, editing will consist of making sure that the composition, colour tone and exposure is right, rather than removing spots from faces. When choosing a photographer, decide what you’re comfortable with and level of editing you are looking for.


There are 2 ways a photographer can deliver your images – via online gallery or in person sale (IPS). There are pros and cons to both methods.

With online gallery, you preview and choose your images in the comfort of your own home and in your own time, no need to make special effort to go anywhere. The downside is that you may appreciate the expertise and support a photographer can offer with choosing the right images for the right product. 

IPS is a pre-booked appointment with the photographer where you go through your gallery for the first time together. The benefit is that you have your photographer helping you through the process, not only showing you sizes, frames, albums but also choosing a balanced selection of images. The downside is that i you need to decide straight away or perhaps worry about hard sell tactics.

In conclusion, don’t be afraid to ask questions and get answers to your concerns.

Is the photographer responsive over email or phone?

Is the price guide transparent – do you know what you can get for your budget?

Read the terms and condition/policies. What happens to your deposit? Can you rebook free of charge if your child is sick? What happens if the weather is bad?

If you have a voucher, make sure you present or mention it prior booking and it didn’t expire.

And lastly, go with your feeling, it never lies.