How to Choose A Professional Photographer?

I think this is a huge question – huge I tell you! I’m going to give you 5 Questions to ask yourself before you write the check, sign the contract and start shopping for wardrobe.

1. Is their photography style reflective of yours? 

Just because you love a photographers work doesn’t mean you need to book them to capture your family. Yes it’s awesome when clients book and say they love my work but it’s unawesome when clients book me and request something totally not my style. Neither of us walk away 100% satisfied.

style comparisonFor example: If you love smocking and big bows – I’m probably not the photographer for you. I can send you over to Tucker Photographer – they are awesome at that style. Me not so much. Personally I think smocking is the southern woman’s worst invention. I can say this because I am a southern woman with two little girls. See the selection above. Style A is my old style from years ago. Colorful and bright – after should searching which is a future blog post – I found my true style which is Style B. Plenty of newborn photographers still offer Style A. Do I dislike Style A – No. How cute in a white nursery with this pop of color. Now would I be happy being asked to do Style A – NO!

I also have a design background. So I see the big picture when it comes to your photography – hence the reason I use simple natural colors with punches of colors of the moment. I like to view it as art as well. When you walk away from a session I want to know I have given you options for that large 24×30 above the mantle or collection in the dining room.

Amanda McNeal Photography

Amanda McNeal Photography

2. What is the goal of the session?

Do you want only digitals to put away? Gifts for family? A large piece of artwork above the mantle? Natural photos of your newborn with no posing?

If you want only digitals please STOP NOW. When clients buy only digitals they tend to do nothing with them – unless they are designers or have constant access to photo labs.  I always encourage clients to buy some prints or albums in addition. I’m not in this just for the money but to also give clients keepsakes, family heirlooms and memories of their little ones they will see everyday when they pass a framed memory in the hall. (see below of the goal of my past personal family sessions)

What I’m getting to is some photographers only offer digitals and unless they give you a great lab to use your photos are going to look a mess when you print them. As you can see below – nonprofessional labs have a ball at changing the saturation, sharpness and color balance. In addition, if you hire a photographer that doesn’t have the correct camera or settings then a 24×30 on your wall will look like a pixelated nightmare instead of that sweet photo you see on the web.

lab comparison

3. Budget – Budget – Budget! 

Ok so this should have been first. Photographers guard their pricing like it’s gold. Mine however is not – it is on my website and blog FYI. So please always confirm with the photographer their pricing. If the photographer you want is out of your budget then plan ahead. Don’t book then not buy. You will be sad and the photographer will be mad. No one wins. I know most of my colleagues work out payment plans but plan ahead. Experienced professional photographers are an investment. 

4. Think Out of the Box

Doesn’t this contradict #1? Why yes it does but it’s awesome to step out of the box when it comes to photographers. Heck I did. I am not a bright sunshiny colorful person. Well I am sunshiny but my clothing choices and home decor are not. I’m a black, grey and white with a punch of blue kind of girl. I like to mix classic with modern. I’m natural. However when I wanted photos for my girls playroom and it was summer photo time. We had just done family photos the year before with Marla and Shane so instead of going with the calm photographers of the past I went with Angela Crutcher. Her work is brilliant with color and it’s gorgeous. She was the first photographer that I “stalked”. Seriously – I stalked her online. I don’t have any huge pieces in my living area (remember that wasn’t the goal) but do have a collection of color photos in the girls room that capture them perfectly as well as an album I now look at and smile because my babies are growing up! So take a break from your usual photographer and get wild one year. You can always go back to your old photographer but can get a different perspective from another.


5. Are they a professional? 

  • How long have they been in business or honing their craft? Are they members of any professional organizations?
  • What do people think of them in the community?  Ask around with friends and Facebook groups, check their social media, check with the BBB or Chamber of Commerce. 
  • Do they have contracts – remember a contract not only protects the photographer but you as well.  I hear too many times of clients who had a former photographer that never delivered images or  when they got their images they were poor quality. 
  • Do they have a diverse online portfolio but a consistent style?

I hope this helps you in your search for a professional photographer. I understand my style and investment is not for everyone and that is awesome! There are so many other talented photographers out there to invest in so do your research and invest well!







Amanda is the premier Nashville Baby Photographer known for her outdoor newborn and maternity work. Her studio located in historic Franklin, TN. She is available for travel and mentoring as well.


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