1. What style(s) do you specialize in?
This may be the most important question to ask when you are choosing a photographer. If you are following your photographer on social media you might know a little about their style but you still want to ask. If you are someone who loves the organic and candid moments with mild posing you want to make sure you hire a lifestyle photographer. If you prefer all real life moments with no posing you want to get in touch with documentary photographer. Are you hoping for a more posed "look at the camera and smiling" feel, make sure you contact a portrait/studio photographer.
Even though you may know a really good photographer they may not be an expert in the style you are expecting for your session. Every photographer has a specific and personal style so you want to find someone who has look that is what you are hoping for. Checking out a photographe'rs website and visiting their social media accounts can help you get a visual feel for their personal style.
2. Do you provide props?
Knowing a photographer's style will help you know what you can expect when it comes to props. Many lifestyle photographers use little to no props since lifestyle is more about the candid moments and less about a styled look. Documentary photographers use no props at all. Other portrait photographers love to bring as many props as possibly. Depending on which look you are hoping for this question will help you know a little more what to expect and what props you might need to bring to your session
3. What type of lighting do you use?
You may never think to ask about lighting but trust me your photographer is thinking about it all of the time. Light can make or break an image. When you see images that just blow you away I promise you that the light (even light you don't notice) is the main element in making that image (or any image) so good. Different style photographers use different type of light to get the effect that they want. Some photographer, like in-studio newborn and family portrait photographers, use studio lighting which is created by using a lighting set up with artificial light. This type of creates soft even light and is awesome because it can be set up almost anytime of day for your session. Many photographers, like myself, use natural light. This means I only use the light from natural sources (i.e. sun). Whether outdoor sunsets or indoor window light natural light can create many different looks. I love natural light because I feel it makes an image more interesting. Understanding which light your photographer uses is important because it will guide the time of day and location of your session. For example, my outdoor sessions are almost always shot a sunrise or sunset for the best light. Sometimes sunset sessions can interfere with dinner or bedtimes. My in-home sessions are scheduled mid afternoon because that is when the indoor light is my favorite. Timing is something important to consider when you are scheduling your session.
4. Who chooses the location?
Location is almost as important as light for your images. There should be a lot of thought put into which location will fit the style of photo session you are hoping for. Do you want an urban city vibe or an lush park feel? Do you want cozy candid images of your family in your own home? Does the photographer only shoot in a studio? By asking this question you can find out if it is the responsibility of the photographer to choose the location or if you need to pick out a spot yourself. Personally, I ask all of the families I photograph what kind of location feel they have in mind and if they have any spots that mean the world to their family. Once I have those answers I help each family pick a location that matches what they are hoping for.
5. Will you help us pick out our outfits for the session?
Many photographers are happy to assist you in choosing the best outfits for your family session. Photographers usually have a little expertise in what colors and patterns will photograph the best and know a little about what style of clothing with compliment their style of shooting. You could be missing out on an awesome additional service if you don't ask this simple question
So I know I only promised 5 questions but I always like to give you guys a little more than you expect so I have added one additional question
6. When should I expect my images to be ready for viewing?
Imagine you've just finished your fabulous family photo session and you get home super eager to see your images. Maybe you get a little sneak peek from the session and they are even better than you expected. Now you are beyond excited to see the rest. Then imagine it takes 4 weeks before your photographer lets you know that your images are ready for viewing. It is not uncommon to have to wait a month for images. Because editing and prepping your images can be a lengthy process 4 weeks can be a standard time frame for some photographers. Others have a time frame more around 2 weeks. It may not be a deal breaker but when choosing a photographer it is definitely something you will want to consider. Knowing what to expect from the start can reduce frustrations later.