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Taking perfect family pictures to adorn the house has always been a challenge. Even with today’s do-it-all digital cameras, you might not know what you’re doing and it shows. So why not hire a professional? Our favorite Red Tricycle photographers give you tips on why and how.

1. First and foremost, choose your photographer wisely. Photographer Kim Hildebrand recommends meeting the photographer in advance and see if your personalities mesh well, because it may lead to a long-term relationship with your family.

2. Don’t focus too much on the price but rather on the value. Hiring a friend or distant cousin might seem like a good idea to save a little money, but you should think about the final product, Seattle photographer Meryl Schenker suggests. Ask questions and figure out what the package offers.

3. Do some research and find a photographer who matches your style, according to photographer Libby Lewis. Depending on what you’re looking for (formal, modern, vintage, in a studio or outdoors), checking different photographer’s websites or blogs will help you decide because they usually showcase what they are best at.

4. Communicate with your photographer and be precise about what you are expecting of the final images, Laura Lowery says. “Do you want high-quality fine art prints, baby announcements, a large canvas for your living room, or just digital files?,” Kim Hildebrand asks. These photos will be a part of your family for ever so make sure you explain clearly what you want.

5. Make sure the photographer is flexible and can accommodate your schedule, Hildebrand says. Nobody wants to see a cranky baby or teenager on those beautiful photos!

6. Trust their skills and professionalism. “We know how to create interactions between you and your family members to illicit true emotion, and capture your relationship. We not only capture your children as they truly are now; we can also ‘stop time,’ so that you will always be able to remember your children just as they were then,” Teddi Yaeger says.

7. Think of the benefits of letting a pro take your family pictures. “Taking pictures at home on a regular basis is great and you should keep doing it, but heading to a pro once or twice a year will make sure there are standout pieces of art to complement the family pictures,” Martha Larson says.

8. Your professional photos will be archived, Larson reminds her clients. A fire destroyed all your albums? Your computer crashed forever? The photos are not gone.

9. Come prepared! “Ask if the session fee includes a pre-shoot consultation meeting. I always offer these about a week or so in advance of a shoot so I can meet with my clients in person and formulate an artistic plan for the shoot together,” Lowery says.

10. Finally, Lowery recommends booking early. “The creative process takes time, and clients who get on my calendar early tend to get a lot more of my ‘creative attention’,” she says. Also, summer weekends fill up fast.

Looking for your perfect match? Start by looking at Red Tricycle’s favorite Seattle photographers page!

– Sabrina Blardone