This morning brought with it a thick offer letter from a nearby college, addressed to J who will be turning sweet (?!) sixteen at the end of this week. Almost every day on Facebook I am greeted with 'on this day' memories that show me pictures of the children who used to live in my house. The children who used to crawl into my bed in the middle of the night for reassurance after a bad dream or just for a cuddle, the children that I used to push on the swings in the park, and watch scoot full pelt through the narrow part of the river down town screeching with laughter and soaking everyone within six feet of them (sorry, if that happened to be any of you...).
I sit at the table now and instead of little hands pulling at my sleeve asking for a biscuit I have these hulking six footers asking what's for dinner at the same time as they are filling their face with a loaf of bread's worth of toast or an entire pizza (I have never known anything like it). Parents of teenagers or young adults will all tell you - the days are long, but the years are short. Before you know it, you will be driving them three hours away & dropping them off at uni, and attending college interviews.
I think that my one regret from when the kids were smaller is not having more family photographs taken. I have thousands of snapshots of all of them, from birth to now, but there are painfully few of the seven of us together and as time ticks on and life gets in the way there are even fewer chances of us managing to get some. Choosing the right family photographer is important, take time to find someone who captures real moments - especially those candid ones others might miss - and who really knows their craft, and they will give you memories to cherish for a lifetime.
Ask For Referrals
Speak to your friends and family, they will love to recommend their favourite photographer and be able to show you examples of their work.
Check Out Portfolios
All professional photographers will have galleries of their previous work and will be more than happy for you to look through. Do you like their style? Does it fit with your family dynamic? Are they the sort of pictures you would like of your own family?
Meet your photographer before your shoot to discuss your needs and what you want from your photos to make sure that you are compatible, but also to make sure that you are happy with their methods and with what they will expect from you - it works both ways!
Pricing & Budget
I know so many people who end up being stung by companies enticing them in with "special offers" of supposedly free sessions, and then finding out that the prints cost hundreds of pounds after the company insisting on a 'cinema viewing' of their shoot. Reputable photographers will either have clear prices on their website, or be happy to disclose to customers on request before the shoot.
Exactly for the reason above, always choose an independent photographer over a big studio style company. You will be supporting a small and probably local business (though lots of photographers are willing to travel particularly if shooting on location), you will know what you are paying for beforehand, and you will get a personal service tailored to you and your family. Studios are often bound by time, whereas an independent photographer will have booked their time specifically for you and your circumstances, and won't want to rush you through your session.