Angie's List: Tips on getting your family portrait

The holidays are right around the corner. So maybe you have been thinking it is time for a new family portrait.

A well-done portrait can be a treasure for generations, which is why you want to give it your best shot when you hire a photographer.

While a photography session can be expensive, there are ways to save money, and still end up with a pretty picture.

A photo session and pictures can cost anywhere from a couple hundred of dollars to a thousand dollars. So before you sign on the dotted line, talk to several potential photographers.

Consumer expert Angie Hicks said, "We've certainly heard stories of how consumers have saved money on getting their photography done so don't be afraid to talk to the photographer. Find one and develop a relationship. You might find they offer discounts for repeat visits, for example."

Sometimes, saving money means thinking out of the box.

"If your neighbors consider using the same photographer, you might be able to schedule the same day and save some money. Also, talk about what type of packages they have to offer and make sure you have someone who can work within your budget," said Angie.

You should also decide how you want your family photographed.

"If you're thinking about having photos done of your family, first start with exactly what you are looking for as far as the photos. Do you want them to be spontaneous? Do you want them to be a fixed portrait? Also, figure out when the best time is for your family to have their photo taken. If you have small children scheduling it during nap time is never a great suggestion. Also, consider where you want the photo taken. Photographers today will even come to your house which is sometimes a nice convenience especially for people with small children," said Angie.

And by all means, check out what a particular photographer has done with other families he or she has worked with.

“If you are looking for a photographer for your family, the first step is to actually look at the photos they've done. You want to find a photographer that matches the style of photos you are looking for. A lot of times, the photographer will have a website, so it's a very easy process to see what type of photos they have. Then talk to the photographer. You want someone you are comfortable with, who is going to bring out the best of you and your family in the pictures," said Angie

If you are including the family pet in the photos, take your dog for a good walk before the session and bring treats.

Many photographers will meet you at a park or your home. For high-energy dogs, this may be a better option than going to a studio.

When choosing what to wear, coordinate the clothes.

They do not have to match, but you will want to make sure they do not clash.

Below are some more tips:

How to Have a Stress-Free Family Photo Shoot:

Talk to the photographer prior to the session about the kind of look you want and the results you want to achieve. Do you want an indoor or outdoor photo shoot? Posed photos or candid? Will the photographer come to you? We've • heard from Angie's List members who prefer to schedule the shoot at home so the family is more relaxed in their element.

• Schedule the session around the best times for the kids. If you have kids, schedule the session after naps and meals to ensure the little ones are happy, well-rested and relaxed.

• If you are including the family pet in on the photos, take your dog for a good walk before the session and bring treats. Many photographers will meet you at a park or come to your home. If you have a high energy dog, this may be a better option than going to a studio.

• When choosing what to wear for the photo session, coordinate the clothes. They don't have to match, but don't have to clash either.

• Get a couple of available photo shoot dates from your relatives before you call the photographer. That way you don't have to keep going back and forth trying to set an appointment. Don't wait until the last minute to book an appointment.

Photographer Hiring Tips:

• Each photographer has their own style. Look at photos on the photographer's website to give you some insight on whether the style fits your needs.

• Call and talk to the photographer. Do you have a good rapport with them? Communication is always important when hiring.

• You should feel comfortable telling the photographer exactly what you want the end product to be.

• Is the photographer available to meet for a consultation? During this time you can talk about all the details prior to the shoot.

• If your photographer is not giving you any direction during the photo shoot, find another photographer. A professional photographer should be able to determine your best features and pose you in a very natural and flattering manner.

• If there is something that you feel self conscious about talk to the photographer about it before the session.

Money Saving Tips on Photos:

• A photo session and pictures can cost anywhere from a couple hundred of dollars to a thousand dollars.

• We talked to highly-rated photographers on Angie's List who told us many photographers offer discounts for many different things - so it doesn't hurt to ask! Some offer "baby plans" in which you can save money by committing to more than one session. Others offer "mini sessions" that have shorter, less expensive session fees.

• Instead of purchasing the entire photo shoot on DVD, which the photographer initially suggested, one Angie's List member purchased just a handful of photos, but asked the photographer to put them on a disc - that way she didn't have to purchase the entire shoot's worth of photos disc, but was still able to print them herself - saving even more money.

Don't spend a lot of money on a new outfit that you or your children will only wear once. If you want to buy • something special, make sure it is something that will be worn again.

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