Why you should hire a professional photographer

When she’s not busy getting the perfect OHbaby! Magazine cover shot, Sam Mothersole works hard taking gorgeous, candid shots of families. In a rare moment of downtime, we sought her opinion on why you should hire a professional to preserve your family on film.

Why should families have professional family photography done?
Sam: Sure, professional photography is a luxury, but it is also memory keeping. So you need to see it as an investment. Studies have shown how important it is for children to see photos of their family all together. Getting quality photographs, shot by a professional, means better composition because they know how to give direction and you end up with a more flattering result. It sounds superficial, but this is such a special time of your life, you want a good-quality record of it. Also, it’s an opportunity to get Mum in the picture, or Dad, depending on who is normally behind the family camera.

How often should you get photos done professionally?
Sam: Ideally once a year to document the changes and growth of your family, but obviously not everyone can afford that. Think about the seasons of your family life, for example, capturing your kids as babies, preschoolers, and primary school kids. And, if you’re lucky, you might pull off a happy, smiling shot with your teenagers.

How much will it cost?
Sam: How long is a piece of string? Let’s be honest, there are hundreds of photographers out there so, chances are, you will find someone to suit your budget. For someone at entry level, with less experience, you could be looking at $200-$500 for a shoot and digital files.

The sky’s the limit at the other end of the scale. Studio photographers will charge more because their overheads are higher. Middle-of-the-range photography could cost around $700-$1500, and for that you will get a one-to-two-hour shoot and a selection of digital files and/or prints, depending on the package.

What about my sister and her SLR? Can she take photos for us?
Sam: While anyone can pick up a camera and take a photo, especially today with such good cameras on our phones, there is a lot of skill involved in quality professional photography. Everything is constantly evolving, so good photographers are constantly upskilling and training.

Generally speaking, photography is often undervalued. There is definitely natural talent to be considered –you can tell a photographer who has an eye – but photography is an art form, and a good photographer is an artist.

Then there is all the post-production –hours and hours of editing. This is what you are really paying for, and this is where a photographer’s hourly rate quickly reduces.

What about the guys at the mall or the company that comes to kindergarten?
Sam: They are providing a valid service; capturing kids at kindy definitely has its place. But, if you hire a lifestyle photographer, you are able to capture personality in a more natural, relaxed atmosphere.

What should I look for in a photographer?
Sam: The internet is the best place to start. Search for family photographers in your area and check out their images to see whose style you like the most. It’s a very personal choice.

My style is all about emotion and the connection between people. I do a lot of natural interactions and those candid shots are what a lot of my clients really like. Sometimes I’ll take a few snaps without them even realising it. I look for those moments between mum and baby, or mum and dad, when their guard comes down.

I love to find beauty in the normal –naturally and honestly telling a family’s story.

My other love is light. I’m always looking to photograph in the best and prettiest natural light I can.

What is a good location for a family photoshoot?
Sam: Anywhere with good light, and anywhere that is personal to you. It can be your home, especially if you love it. Otherwise a location that is special to your family. Choose somewhere familiar to your kids so they feel natural and relaxed there.
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What should we wear?
Wear clothes that are comfortable and show your personality.

Avoid overly visible brands as they will date, and keep in mind not to clash. Coordination is fine and some people are really ‘matchy-matchy’. Others go wild.

Softer colours work better, but, in saying that, if Mum wants to wear her new coral top, everyone will need to wear strong colours to compliment her.

What will my photographer do with the photos in post-production?
Some will only adjust lighting and shadows, while others will provide more of a ‘nip and tuck’ – if that’s what you want! Again, it’s down to your choice of photographer. But be clear about your expectations and what service you’re paying for in advance.

How do I get my kids to perform on the day?
Preparation is the key. Tell them what’s going to happen: “Sam, the photo lady, is coming and we’re going to have fun”.

Take snacks, but not toys –they just become a distraction. Consider any props you might want to use, like blankets, bikes, or chairs. And feel free to bring a dummy or comfort toy if that’s what your child needs.

Book a time for your shoot which does not clash with naps; you want to avoid tired times, if possible.

Family photographers are naturally good at engaging your children –it is their job. So put your trust in them, have fun, and smile!

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