Are you overwhelmed by all of the family photographer choices out there? Curious how to choose a family photographer?  The other day I was “tagged” on a Facebook post by a mom who was recommending me to someone who was looking for a family photographer on an Orange County local group page. My first reaction was the warm and fuzzies that I get whenever someone compliments my work. But then, I started scrolling through the HUNDREDS of other recommendations that were listed on this same Facebook post and became totally overwhelmed by all of the choices. How does someone go about finding the best photographer for their family? Since I have a bit of inside information on this topic, I thought I’d help you out by pointing out five things that matter when choosing your family photographer.

instagram grid showing top posts for orange county family photographer

#1 Style Matters

How to choose a family photographer that matches the style you want?  Style is something that is so personal and so subjective and there are countless options when it comes to photographic styling.  Do you gravitate towards the raw, unedited look of documentary photographers? Do you love the natural light and storytelling feel that comes with lifestyle photography? Are you more drawn to traditional formal posing or studio images?

Instagram is a wonderful resource for easily looking through images and seeing what styles you are connecting with. If you use local hashtags in your searching, you are bound to find photographers in your area who showcase the exact look you are envisioning for your own shoot.

#2 Purpose Matters

What is the reason behind why you are looking for a family photographer? This is typically something deeper than “I need to send grandma a decent picture of her grandchildren.” Most of us can use our phones to take decent pictures to share on social media and with our families. You are typically looking for a family photographer because you need something more.

Perhaps you want a gallery wall to document your family’s story filled with an eclectic mix of frames and artwork. Perhaps you’ve seen how the images of your childhood have deteriorated and yellowed over the years and for your children you want a custom lay-flat storybook album that is of archival quality and will withstand the test of time. Maybe you just need an image or two for your holiday cards or specific gifts.

When I think about how to choose a family photographer, I think about the specific purpose of the shoot first. Then you can best match up what your needs are with a photographer who is known for those specific services. For example, do you have a partially filled album (or albums) that you’ve been working on since your children were born? If you are looking for an album, you need a photographer who has the particular skill set and products to complete this for you, otherwise, you’ll just end up with more images on your computer that are taking up the mental space and adding to some unnecessary “mommy guilt.” Boy do I know how that feels!!!

member of national association of professional child photographers

#3 Professional Associations Matter

Professional associations can help with how to choose a family photographer.  Custom family photography is a luxury item and is going to come with some type of investment. So when you’re trying to choose a family photographer, ask questions such as:
Does this photographer have a business license?
Does this photographer have professional liability insurance?
Can this photographer acquire a permit to shoot in the location I have selected for my photos?

Also, for child and family photography specifically, I would check for membership with the National Association of Professional Child Photographers. NAPCP only accepts professional photographers who have an emphasis on child or family photography as members. Fun note: I applied for membership during my first year of business and wasn’t accepted but you’ll see my smiling face in the membership directory now! You can check for photographers in your state or look for me here.

crying escaping children during photo shoot how to choose a family photographer

#4 Specialization Matters

This point goes hand-in-hand with what I just discussed above regarding professional associations, but specialization matters when it comes to choosing who you want to photograph your family. This may not make sense to you because if someone knows how to use a camera, does it really matter what they are taking pictures of? It does.

There are an abundance of photographers who are essentially “generalists.”  They market themselves as a photographer for every stage of your life. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, it is hard to be the best at one thing while you are working on being good at a lot of things.

When you select someone who specializes in child and family photography, they are going to know the little tips and tricks specific to this specialization. They are going to

have invested the time and money on things like props, client closets and education specific to this niche.  Which brings me to my last point….

#5 Working with Kids (& those sometimes cranky husbands) Matters

How a photographer interacts with family dynamics is incredibly important.  There are a large number of children who get what I term “performance anxiety” when they see the camera come out. When selecting a family photographer, you want to make sure that they have tricks for working with kids as well as adults.  Now, I’m not going to give away my personal trade secrets as to what I do as the family photographer in these situations but, when you are researching your options, pay attention to what others are saying about their experience.  You’ll also want to note the variety (or lack thereof) in a photographer’s online portfolio.

These are the things that I look for when choosing a photographer for my own family and I hope you find it helpful for narrowing down your search as well!

If you read through this whole blog post about how to choose a family photographer, chances are we are destined to be friends!  I’ve started a group that is focused creative challenges to get your images off of your computer and into something tangible and would love you to come hang out with me there!  Search within Facebook for “Making Memories Tangible” or you can link directly from my Facebook Business Page.  We are kicking off 2018 with challenges geared towards organizing and storage of your digital files.   Hope to see you there!


K.C. Crow is an award winning and featured lifestyle photographer based in Orange County, California. She is one of the few photographers in the greater Orange County area that offers beautiful lifestyle portraits with a little added magic. Her most favorite things to shoot are newborn and child lifestyle portraits with dramatic light and soft warm processing. K.C. is an on-location photographer with a preference for natural light serving the beach cities and greater Orange County areas including Laguna Beach, Newport Coast, Sunset Beach, Crystal Cove, San Clemente, Dana Point, Brea, Yorba Linda, Fullerton, Placentia, Anaheim Hills, Anaheim, Orange, Irvine, Tustin, North Tustin, Ladera Ranch, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Corona del Mar, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, and La Habra. Fresh 48 Newborn Sessions are available at most Orange County hospitals and birth centers.  For more information about K.C., click here. For pricing information, please visit our investment page. Click here to contact K.C. directly.  Thank you so much for stopping by!

how to choose your family photographer five things that matter orange county photographer kc crow