What to look for when selecting a photographer?

Photographs that capture moments in our lives are worth investing in…they freeze those precious moments and memories in time, forever. Anyone can take a photo, but it takes a true artist to create a photograph, that moves you emotionally.

Portraits can be enjoyed in many different ways, they could be beautiful wall art in your house or decorate your desk at work or be gifts for your entire family. The options are endless, and the thing they all have in common is that you are taking pleasure in the gorgeous images that a professional photographer captured.

So, how do you know which photographer to choose, as there are so many out there. I have put together a few tips to assist you with selecting and working with a photographer for your and your family’s portrait needs:

Meet or email several photographers   

When I was looking for a photographer, I wasn’t able to meet them in person as I was setting-up a photo shoot in London for myself and my husband. So I emailed about 5 different photographers to find out if they were available and I also told them a little about what I wanted and was looking for and they gave suggestions. Maybe it is just me but I was able to choose a photographer based on their responses as their personalities seem to come out in their emails. However, if you are able to meet the photographer in person then you will know immediately if they are person to capture your precious moments.

Look at or ask about style     

I I suggest online ‘stalking’ of the photographer / photographers you are interested in hiring… visit their website portfolio, latest blogs, etc and see what kind of photos they take. Either you like them or you don’t. Most of us are not photographic savvy – so we do not really understand that difference between a whimsical and a romantic style. So my advice is always look at their work and if you don’t like it – don’t contact them… as you want photos that you love and best captures your and your families personality.


Does the photographer you are interested in ‘get you’ or understand what you want and expect. Do you communicate well with them and feel comfortable with their personality, experience and expertises? If the answer is yes, then that is great as you want to feel at ease when being photographed as then the final product will be glorious!


You need to find a photographer who is flexible enough to meet your needs, not only in terms of date and time but also be willing to do your photo shoot at your favourite location, and take you needs and want into accounts. Many a time, we let the expects do what they want and at the end of the day that is not want we necessarily want, so find a photographer that not only understands your needs but is also willing to fill them.


I know I have mentioned this previously but for me it is so important it needs it’s own heading. One of the most important aspects of a photo shoot is the relationship between yourself and the photographer. If you are uncomfortable with the photographer, it will show in the final images. So make sure you are comfortable, at ease and happy with the photographer you choose. It really can make all the difference.


Can you get along with the photographer? Are you able to easily communicate and will the photographer fit your style? If you answer yes to all these questions then you are on the right track. Just think about it this way, if you are a fun, crazy and slightly out there family, you do not want a conservative photographer – neither of you will enjoy the experience and you will be disappointed with the final images.

Check references

I am only including this in case you are suspicious or worried about choosing a certain photographer as you feel that maybe they are a fly-by-night or taking you for a ride. It has happened in the past in SA, so better safe than sorry. I would suggest getting a friend’s recommendation or go on social media and ask if anyone knows the photographer and what they think. Your social peers have lots of useful info that I am sure they would be willing to share. Having said this, you also might need to take some of the comments with a grain of salt because just because Sally had a bad experience (depending on what the experience was) doesn’t mean you will.

So you have chosen a photographer – yay! Now what? I can only hope that your hired photographer will chat to you about yourself and your family, if you have any favourite activities, favourite locations, etc. They should also offer location suggestions if you are not sure about a location. In addition, they should assist with clothing choices – I have written a great blog on what to wear – so that should help 🙂

I wish you all the best in your search for your perfect photographer. Should you need any help or have any questions – I am always available on email to assist how and where I can – shelley@shelleybphoto.co.za.

A selection of photos taken by Shelley Burt Photography

What to look for when selecting a photographer? Photos taken by Shelley Burt Photography

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