How to Choose a Photographer
Consider the tone of their website – do they sound like someone you’d like to work with? Especially if you’re wanting a photo with family members, it’s worth finding someone you think will make your people feel at ease.
Do they offer products you want? Some people just want a digital file for Facebook – others want the wall art and albums they’ll be able to pass down to great-grandchildren or to be used by future biographers (who knows what you’ll accomplish in the coming decades…). A photographer relying on volume to make a living is going to have lower prices, but also less time and attention to devote to your pictures.
You’ll want to consider distance from your home, but unless you’re wedded to a studio shoot, you might find someone you love willing to travel farther than you think. A photographer in the town where I grew up who’s been taking pictures of my family since we were children was willing to drive six hours one way to do my sister’s wedding! So when you google, it’s worth taking the time to expand your search to your region, just to see who’s out there.
What's My Photo Style?
Why Would I Want Prints?
Well, you might not want them. It’s true that a lot of sharing takes places over the internet today, and people share photographs digitally more than they ever could prints. You post something on Facebook and all your friends and family – or at least the ones Facebook shows them to! – see your latest photos. There’s an immediacy to that kind of sharing that warms us.
But think back to your college papers. For many of us they were a point of pride, evidence of some of our best thought and efforts to that point. But how many of us could open one of those files? The software has mutated; the operating systems are vastly different. Maybe some of us were smart enough to convert all our old files to .pdf before changing over the years (not me, I’m afraid), but a lot of us, even if we’re thinking about file conversion in our busy lives, haven’t made the time to do something about it. Meanwhile, things keep changing and our old files sink deeper into digital dust. You may have kept your email with all your letters discussing your loves and work problems with your best friends – those letters define your life at points of great change and development. But can you actually find and read them?
Our photos are the same way. We think they’re safe because they’re on Facebook or Instagram in the cloud, but how easy is it to find one you posted a few years back? Will those programs still be here in a decade, and will they bother to keep their archives active? We document our lives better than ever before – but within months those photographs are essentially unfindable. And will their file types still be readable by whatever technology we use in the future? Our computer drives are filling up with moments that feel important to us, but as time passes, it becomes harder and harder to see those photos. We can’t flip through an obsolete laptop like we can an album to find that one photo we were thinking of and want to show someone.
So for a lot of our life, ephemeral sharing keeps us connected in the moment with people we love. But it can’t provide a stable record of our lives to share with others years, decades in the future. So for me, photos divide into the quick update photos I share with friends digitally, and the important, “this is the story of your life” photos I want future generations to stare at when they wonder where they came from. If you’ve ever pondered a photo of your mom in her youth and checked out the toys she played with and the style of bushes in the yard behind her; if you’ve laughed at your dad posed with his high school friends, played “what were they THINKING” with your aunts’ hairstyles, marveled at your beautiful grandmother in her dewy youth, or if you’re very lucky, looked for family resemblances in photos from the nineteenth century, you know the appeal of photographs handed down through time. For those latter photos, there’s no substitute for archival-quality printed photos and albums that won’t require a technology other than someone’s eyes to read them. And if you can afford it, there’s no substitute for having a professional photographer work with you to record important moments of your life as you live it.