How to Choose a Great Family Beach Photographer?

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Capturing Family Fun in the Sun!
by August T. Michel with Discover Myrtle Beach

There are a wide variety of photographers to choose from for your family beach pictures while here in Myrtle Beach.  Choosing the one that best for your family and understanding some keywords or pricing terminology are essential.

Local photographer, August Michel, sat down with Discover Myrtle Beach to help families determine what to look for in a photographer to help capture your families vacation at the beach, with photographic memories that will last a lifetime!  Here is what August had to say:

When looking for a family beach photographer, I think there are three essential keys to success: Style, pricing and location.  Since photographers are artist in their own right, there styles and personalities can vary from Norman Rockwell to Picaso.  Finding a style that fits you and your families taste is a great place to start.  When looking over a photographer’s portfolio, make sure to look for what I call depth and width.  Depth, being a wide variety of shots from a given families session.  Width is a wide variety of shots in their overall portfolio.  It can never hurt to ask a photographer to see more of their work before you make a final decision.

When it comes to pricing, I have found 2 main themes, however, just as photographers can vary in their personalities and styles, so do their pricing packages.  The first theme is the “sitting fee”* style.  These tend to be a smaller “sitting fee” up front, then you choose which prints, albums, etc. you would like afterwards.  The other end of the spectrum is a “flat rate”* pricing.  These tend to be a little higher upfront fee and they typically to offer a “release”* of your images.  There isn’t a better or worse pricing strategy,  just make sure you know what you are paying for and what comes in your package. 

Location – Most photographers will take your families photos at just about any location you would prefer.  I have my humble advice / suggestions to think about.  Depending on the report, there are approximately 13-18 million visitors to the Myrtle Beach area each year and a large percentage are vacationing here from May – September.  Finding a less populated area on the beach is more difficult than you might imagine.  If you are looking for a wonderful sunset in your photos, keep in mind it will be partially blocked by the condo/hotels around your beach location.

Therefore, one of my favorite alternatives is Huntington Beach State Park.  It has 3 miles of totally untouched beach front as well as the Atalaya Castle and not a single condo or hotel in sight.  It is about 15 miles south of Myrtle Beach and there is a $5.00 entrance fee to the state parks in SC.  However, I have never had a family regret the extra drive.

A few closing thoughts, advice and words of caution…  

Please shop around.  There are plenty of great photographers in the area that will capture your family in wonderful ways for you to cherish for you years to come.  Ask plenty of questions, and make a well informed decision.

If you have ideas for your next family beach shoot, please share those with us.  I do not want to speak for all photographers but I think most of us are open minded enough to hear your thoughts and ideas and capture your families photos with your special requests.

A few notes of caution – “If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.”  There are some great up and coming photographers or even talented amateurs that offer great deals.  Shop wisely, look on Google Places or Yahoo Local and read their reviews.  You can find great deals, but the adage that you get what you pay is something to consider also.  Final note of caution is to strongly consider paying with a Credit Card and/or PayPal.  In the event you do not get what you paid for, your credit card company or Paypal, have a dispute process and at least you will have some recourse.

A few terms to understand –

“Sitting Fee” – is usually a smaller upfront fee to cover the photographers time. Carefully understand prices and packages that are above and beyond the “sitting fee”.

“Flat Rate” – Not all flat rate pricing is created equal.  Make sure you understand what comes with your package and “flat rate” fee.

“Release” or “Full Release” – some photographers will release the images to you with a letter stating just that.  A release or a full release does not necessarily mean you will receive ALL images.  Again, simply shop wisely!

In conclusion, find a few photographers style you like.  Then compare pricing and packages to see which works best for your family’s budget.  Then decide on a location that will best suit your family’s needs.

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