Ohio is such an interesting place. It is home to an array of cultures across different cities, boasts a ton of history, and brings more to the table in terms of the arts than many of its other Midwestern neighbors. Columbus is, of course, a booming college town with a lot going on, but do you realize the city’s got an unusually high number of photography studios? It’s true. Maybe that says something about the people of Columbus and their appreciation for family, good photography, and professional expertise. We like to think so. That’s why we’ve assembled our list of the 11 best Columbus family photographers — to showcase a bit of that excellent local talent.
1. Amy Miller of Beloved Photography
We can admit it: we’re suckers for good documentary photography. Amy Miller’s approach to family photography is generally strictly photojournalistic: she hangs out in her subjects’ homes, lets them live their lives, and captures what her lens sees skillfully yet honestly. The result is something bare, raw, and vulnerable — and guess what? Even without the coordinated clothing, hair and makeup, and all the veneer, every family is endearing. There’s an intimacy and authenticity to this type of photography that’s really special when it’s done well, and Amy Miller does it beautifully.
Stephanie Barnes has been shooting professionally for over a decade, and her training extends earlier than that — she holds a bachelor of arts in graphic design, fine art, and photography. In other words: she knows what she’s doing. Barnes creates fine art photography with a focus on weddings and editorial work, but she brings that same attention to detail and deep expertise to family photoshoots. Families love her ability to interact with each family member, as well as her pixel-perfect execution and lovely editing.
Amber Elizabeth takes family portraits with a natural, candid style, allowing families to interact naturally regardless of whether they’re posed or not, snapping shots in those perfect in-between moments, when everyone is natural and relaxed. And though most of her work is outdoors in natural light, she’s also got a 700-square-foot studio space in Powell full of props, clothing, and furniture. Sometimes you really want a controlled environment with professional lighting options, and she’s got you covered. She’s an all-around top-notch talent, easily among the best Columbus family photographers.
Jacqueline Marie’s newborn photography is so insanely cute that we just can’t even. She does all of the first-year photography styles that we all love, like one of our consistent favorites — “cake smash” photoshoots, which are exactly what they sound like if you’ve never seen one. But rest assured, she’s got you covered well beyond that first year as well. Jacqueline can shoot both on location or in her studio, and her fine art compositions are classic and timeless.
Erin Foster is the owner of Irish Eyes Photography, but she’s got an excellent and well-rounded team of professionals backing her up. Foster’s Gahanna-based studio is a whopper at 2,200 square feet, and it features a wardrobe with options for children and maternity clients, as well as a wide variety of backdrops and furniture. Irish Eyes Photography’s style has a contemporary fine art feel, and they offer shoots both outdoors in natural light and in their studio for a more controlled, glamorous, and high-end look.
6. Amanda Estep
Amanda Estep is an accredited Columbus family photographer who also happens to live on a lovely farm just outside downtown Grove City. In fact, clients who are down to take a short jaunt out there will find a sun-filled, white farmhouse-style photo studio that will delight them. It’s a relaxed, open-concept atmosphere, and Estep makes a variety of furniture, backdrops, props, hand-tailored outfits for all ages, etc. available. Estep does, of course, shoot outside the studio as well. You’ll love the resulting images, with their bright but gentle lighting, silky-smooth color, and warm feel.
7. Natalie Curtis of White Elm Photography
Natalie Curtis’s family photography style is bright, airy, and intimate, full of light colors and sunny vibes. Most of the White Elm team’s family work is outdoors among the light greens of Columbus’s foliage, but at other times they shoot in locations near and dear to the family, whether that’s a Christmas tree farm, a street they love to take walks down, or right in their own bedroom. Whatever the circumstances, Curtis strives to create images with a palpable authenticity and easygoing grace that never goes out of style.
Sarah Cropper is a Columbus family photographer who offers family photography in both her Grove City studio space and outdoors throughout the area. She’s another talented technician who prefers classic, timeless methods: natural poses, neutral or classic colors, with few props or editing gimmicks. When you strip away the artifice, you end up with something timeless, and that’s what Cropper shoots for.
Gwendolyn Zaczepinski is a fine-art photographer specializing in children and families. She’s got just about every certification a family photographer can have under her belt, and her technical abilities are immediately apparent — especially in the studio, where she has some excellent lighting setup chops. Her outdoor photography is just as beautiful, though. Regardless of the specifics, her images always appear cohesive and tidy, with all the little details carefully considered to deliver an image that clearly communicates the love and laughter between family members. Check out her website for an expansive portfolio, which has many more photos than her Instagram stream.
10. Hannah Spencer of Milk and Hannah
Hannah Spencer practices a raw, fearless documentary style that doesn’t shy away from anything. Some might consider some of her feed NSFW, but it’s never vulgar or exploitative: it’s just real in a way that some aren’t comfortable with. For others, Spencer will be the absolute perfect family photographer, as she makes images nobody else in Ohio does. Her birth photography depicts the birthing process frankly and openly (spoiler: it gets messy and painful), and her couples and family photography pull no punches in allowing subjects to bare as much of themselves to the world as they want — regardless of who they are.
This radical truth-telling lends a narrative aspect to the work, even when it’s closer to mainstream, and it comes across beautifully in family photography. Regardless of what the subject wants, the effect is always very intimate, as if the family is pulling back the curtain to let you into the nitty-gritty of their real, beautiful, everyday life together.
11. Lynn Leitch
Lynn Leitch is a family photographer who does a lot of newborn and senior portraits, which means she’s great at wrangling kids and vibing off of their energy to get great, fun shots. We also love that she likes to come up with creative themed mini-shoots to put new spins on her craft — we always love when photographers push themselves that way. Take a look at her portfolio and you’ll see shot after shot of nicely saturated colors and clean contrast.
Columbus, this list could’ve been much longer. There’s so much going on in this town, and we should all be thankful for the talented photographers bringing their best every day to capture it. Kids grow up so fast your head will spin, and photographs are a powerful way to capture these beautiful days and enjoy them for years to come.