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How to Choose the Best Photographer in Atlanta (For You)



The Best Photographer in Atlanta (for you!)


If your search for a family photographer has left you a little confused, with lots of open tabs on your computer, I understand why. There are so many photographers in Atlanta! With varying approaches and a wide price range, you're probably wondering how to figure out which photographer is best for you and your family.

Mother snuggling and smiling at her baby


The first thing, and maybe the easiest thing to look at is pricing. This is very real, and everyone is working from a different place on this one so I can’t really help you there.


But I will say be sure to compare like services. Some photographers charge for the session and then sell products, so you don’t know ahead of time how much you will pay. Other photographers include the digital images, which is what I do. I hope that you will print your photos, and get them off your device and into your home, and I am happy to help by designing your album or suggesting which photos to print.


My longer Day in the Life sessions (that last 3-4 hours or 6-8 hours) include a professional linen album. I really want you to get your photos off of your computer and into your hands, and I think albums are a lovely way to view documentary family photography.


Boy playing with his pet cat in the living room


The second thing to look at when searching for a photographer is how someone is editing their photos. Are their pictures light and airy or dark and moody? Are they high contrast with dark shadows or have a matte feel with lifted shadows? Or do they edit their photos in a more natural way, which is where I tend to fall on the spectrum. I want your family photos to look like real life but just a touch better. I don't shy away from grain and love shadows.


Siblings playing in the bubble bath


Once you figure out the editing style that you like the best, hopefully you can close a few computer tabs.


The last piece to look at is the shooting style, and this is a little harder to tease out. For the most part, stuffy portraits with everyone wearing the same thing is out, and I doubt you ended up here if that’s what you want for family pictures. So of the tabs still open on your computer, I'll try to help clarify photographer styles.

Three Styles of Family Photography


There are broadly three styles of family photography: portraits, lifestyle photography, and documentary photography. There's a lot of overlap with these three styles, but if you can figure out which one you like the very most, you'll be able to narrow photographers down. So what’s the difference?



A family portrait outside

A Family Portrait


Portraits are pretty straight forward, and often what we see on the holiday card. But there is variety when it comes to portraits, with the amount of posing and direction that the photographer is giving. Natural portraits are minimally posed portraits of your family, maybe smiling at the camera and maybe not. Often families are snuggling and laughing, and acting more “natural” than the JCPenney portraits of our childhoods.


The location of portraits can vary widely--I always prefer a location that is meaningful to the family that I'm working with over a pretty location. I include the location as part of the story, which often means photographing families at home. If you want a family portrait in a pretty field, be sure that the photographer you are thinking of hiring is showing that on their website.


Family lying on the couch playing airplane

Lifestyle Photography


Lifestyle photography usually includes natural portraits, and also more storytelling photos that are often suggested (notice I didn’t say “posed”). Think of the photos you have seen of a family snuggling on the bed with their newborn baby. Gorgeous, maybe even emotive and seemingly candid, but likely not quite real life. In the above picture I said to the family "oh my god look at that light, you guys go hang out on the couch," and this is what unfolded.


Lifestyle and Documentary overlap a lot. A lifestyle photographer likely catches the real "in between moments," whereas a Documentary photographer does not direct at all.


Family feeding the goats at the zoo

Documentary Photography


Then there is documentary family photography, which makes me so very happy. Documentary means completely unposed and totally real life. A documentary family photographer does not control the light in the room or even suggest a good spot for the family to be in together. This is really and truly making beautiful pictures out of candid moments. Authentic life, just as the photographer sees it, shot beautifully and with intention.


The snuggles are real, and the tantrums are too. Real life everyday experiences of childhood and parenthood.


 


So where do I fall on the family photo shooting style? I’m drawn the most toward documentary family photography. I love tagging along during a family’s day and making beautiful pictures. I love showing how amazing a client's everyday is, and I don’t shy away from the messy and chaotic. My favorite pictures are of real life moments that I never could have staged.


BUT, I understand why some people want some gentle suggestions, so sometimes my work dips into lifestyle photos (especially when there’s a newborn involved). As someone who isn’t comfortable in front of a camera, I know that some people prefer some guidance. When I do this, I am not "posing" clients as much as suggesting a nicely lit spot to engage in activities together in.


AND, I love a good portrait in a meaningful location that tells me something about the subjects. This is sometimes called documentary or environmental portraits. I also recognize the historical importance of a portrait where everyone is looking at the camera, so I often try to get this shot too.



Kids spinning their mom at the playground


So to summarize my photographic style: I make pictures that make me feel something when I look at them. That might be a completely candid picture or a lovely portrait that oozes love and connection.


Just like my style of music and interior design, I can't be put into one box.


My photoshoots tend to include all three styles of photos, and the breakdown depends on the length of the session. My 30 minute session is mostly portraits with lifestyle and maybe some candid pictures, and on the other end of the spectrum my full day in the life sessions are mostly candid documentary with a few (like 10 minutes worth) of portraits.



 

I hope this helps you figure out what you are looking for in a family photographer. Atlanta is full of amazing family photographers, and finding the best one for you is important.



If you think I might be the best photographer for you and your family, click the button below and let's talk some more!




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