Most couples will be a little awkward about having their photos taken. However, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As long as your couple is laughing about how awkward it is you will get some great reaction shots. The beauty of photography is that the photo doesn’t know it was an awkward moment all it will see is laughter. Just play on it a little bit and get some great laughing shots. Make it more awkward if you want and get up close with a 24mm lens.
Hey Sherry! Thanks for stopping by & saying hello! I am not familiar with those editing websites (although I did just visit the homepage to check it out)…I CAN say however though, you should forget about the high price of photoshop and get yourself a copy of Adobe Lightroom 5. Lightroom is an amazing program for not only editing but easy storage/file/folder handling of photos and most important it is very easy to use. In fact, I have quite a few tutorials on our YouTube channel. It is “only” $150 or so, and I gotta say, whether someone is a pro or just hobbyist, that $150 will be among the best money you’ll spend on your photos… head over to the adobe site and try it for a free 30 day trial and see for yourself if you’ll like it or not 🙂
Your portraits are beautifully lit and fortunately don't need much retouching. The only exception I see in your examples is the family piled on top of each other on the ground where the mom appears to be in the shadow a bit more than I'd prefer. She could use a quick swipe of the dodge tool, IMHO. I do tend to spend too much time in post production working to "perfect" each file, but that's me.
We do, however, understand that you want to head into your big day prepared, with a clear picture (pun intended!) of which shots you can expect to see in your future wedding album. That's where our comprehensive wedding photo shot list, full of must-have shots recommended by some of the industry's most lauded photographers, comes in. Though this list can be useful in deciding which moments you do (and don't!) want captured, we suggest using it as a general outline—every couple's wedding day unfolds differently, which means that a wedding photo shot list can't and shouldn't be one-size-fits-all.
Her newborn photos were stunning and she was willing to accommodate some props we brought along with us. Thanks to her and her assistant, I felt that my newborn was safe and in good hands the entire time. I loved all the props and poses she was able to use in her studio. Editing was super fast and her customer service skills are excellent. Laura is so talented that we had trouble narrowing it down to the images we wanted. I definitely would recommend Laura to others and plan to use her again in the future for child and family portraits. Thanks Laura!"
I love reading your articles. I am not a Pro Photographer but just a hobbyist and will only do it when time permits. I have a day job that I think I can’t afford to quit if I’ll go full time on photography. Anyways, what I can suggest to those beginners or let me say… to the people that who just found or discover their passion in photography a very big welcome to photography world. Photography is awesome. Believe me! :)
While you can always DIY family portraits with your point and shoot camera and a tripod and timer for no cost at all, it will likely not look so great, considering you are not a professional photographer, aren’t using a great camera and don’t know how to set up the shoot for optimal lighting and composition.  Your camera will be limited in its size and quality abilities.

I set up our family shots with my DSLR on a tripod and then I used a 10-second timer to take the photos!  I also set my camera to take three photos in a row.  So I had 10 seconds to run into place, fix my clothes and hair and smile at the camera!  All the while my kiddos yelled, “run mommy run!” Believe me, we got some genuine smiles and laughter from them watching mommy run and act like a crazy person!
As tips go this one is pretty simple but something most wedding photographers won’t do. Just have a quick word with the Bridesmaids before the ceremony and tell them to walk slowly and smile. They will thank you for it when they see the photos. Lots of the time Bridesmaid are nervous about walking down the aisle. All eyes are on them. Just remind them that they look great and not to worry as it will be over within seconds.
Most of the time when I meet with potential clients, they say the same thing. They don’t want their parents’ wedding photos. They want natural, unposed documentation of their wedding from someone who isn’t going to interrupt the natural flow of the day. The good news is, many (and I’d argue most) wedding photographers have already moved towards this kind of wedding photography. With the exception of a few photographers who have built a reputation on the fact that they will pose and move you during the events of the day to create perfect images (and please do ask photographers about this. There is nothing worse than being poked and prodded and posed all day if what you really wanted was someone to hang back and blend in with the scenery), a good majority of photographers are going to capture your wedding as it happens. But if most wedding photographers are approaching their work from a similar logistical standpoint, well, the end results couldn’t be more different. So how do you know what makes a good photo? What should you be looking for when you look at a photographer’s portfolio?
Before joining the team at A Practical Wedding, Maddie was a sought after wedding photographer and an entertainment industry dropout with stints at the Academy Award-winning independent film house Focus Features, The Montel Williams Show, and Rosie O’Donnell’s documentary production company. She’s been with the APW team going on eight years, and now spends a significant amount of time thinking about internet trends and the future of feminist television. A Maine native, she lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband and their toddler.
If you are doing the session in the client’s home, posed newborn sessions require nearly the same amount of prep as a wedding.  You need quite a bit of “stuff” and it is easy to forget something so I make sure to pack the night before and use a checklist so I don’t forget anything (I’m a mom with a very limited memory).  To make your life a bit easier, I’ve made a print ready checklist you can use which is included in the newborn photography toolkit – one of the FREE limited time bonuses included in our online Newborn Photography Workshop.
The wardrobe: Whether you're going formal or casual, solid colors are a must. Try to avoid plaids, florals, patterns and head-to-toe black or white clothing—and keep the silhouettes streamlined. Some couples coordinate their clothing palettes to the point of looking a bit matchy, but there's no need to go overboard. If you're worried about color, pick a neutral and a few coordinating color tones you both like and stick to those hues.
These are interesting examples, but I can't think of any client that I've had who would actually purchase the subway shot. What does it say about their family? There isn't congruence in their expressions - that isn't 100% necessary, of course, but in this image it makes me wonder why the photographer chose to present them this way. Middle and bottom sister are just not in to making this image and to me it is very distracting. Now, if it were simply an interesting image, all this is fine - but if we are talking about portraits that mean something to the subjects (who presumably commissioned the work), then I think we need to work harder to engage the people in the shot.

Hey Sherry! Thanks for stopping by & saying hello! I am not familiar with those editing websites (although I did just visit the homepage to check it out)…I CAN say however though, you should forget about the high price of photoshop and get yourself a copy of Adobe Lightroom 5. Lightroom is an amazing program for not only editing but easy storage/file/folder handling of photos and most important it is very easy to use. In fact, I have quite a few tutorials on our YouTube channel. It is “only” $150 or so, and I gotta say, whether someone is a pro or just hobbyist, that $150 will be among the best money you’ll spend on your photos… head over to the adobe site and try it for a free 30 day trial and see for yourself if you’ll like it or not 🙂

Most photographers provide a set of proofs (usually unretouched, edited images) for the clients to view. Photographers may provide hard copy proofs in the form of 4x5 or 4x6 prints, a "magazine" of images with thumbnail sized pictures on multiple pages. Alternatively, they will provide an online proofing gallery. The images will sometimes include a digital watermark/company logo on the images. Some photographers provide these proofs for the client to keep, and some photographers require the client to make final print choices from the proofs and then return them or purchase them at an additional cost.
Our community of professional photographers and videographers are as talented and creative as they are passionate. We’re as giddy photographing our next wedding as we were for our first. It’s a new story to tell, a new connection to capture. We are obsessively observant and believe that it’s the combination of personal details, grand gestures and spontaneous moments that make your day truly yours—and we know how to capture it all. Although we specialize in photojournalistic style, each of our talent members has their own unique aesthetic. They’re as one-of-a-kind as your big day.
3. Wait until baby is good and sleepy before you start your newborn shoot. This way you can pose her however you like. If you catch your baby in the first few days of her life, this won’t be a problem. But if, like us, you try to do the photos around day seven or beyond, be prepared to twiddle your thumbs for an hour or so until the newborn is snoozing steadily.

The biggest mistake I hear from people is that they hired someone because it was easy, their website looked good enough, and the price was right, and then regretting it down the road when the moment was past and the pictures weren’t what they had really wanted. Photographers all have different styles. At least, they should. If you are looking at a photographer’s website, and they don’t have a clear style, that is a sign that they have not found their voice yet. They don’t have confidence in their craft, and they probably aren’t going to be able to deliver what you want.
"AMAZING! Stop looking and just book with him. Garrett is very professional and genuinely cares about his clients. He has amazing prices and really is willing to work with you. I was hesitant about hiring a professional photographer but I am so glad I did because the photos look amazing. If I ever need a photographer I will definitely be hiring him again."
@Darlene You have developed a portrait style that works well for you and your clients. If you check out my website, you'll see that we're not all that different... only a matter of degree of "closeness". More power to you if your clients buy 20x30 prints or larger. Mine do not, so having their faces a little more prominent in the frame is important.

Most contracts stipulate that the photographer owns the rights to all photos taken at the wedding, even the ones of you. In other words, the photographer can use them promotionally (on their website or blog, submit them for publication and even place them in ads). That also means you can't just post the digital proofs they send you—most photographers have a policy that you can only share watermarked images or images with their credit on them. Also, unless you negotiate otherwise, if you want to print the images yourselves or order an album from another source, you'll have to buy the rights to the images.

Safety should always come first when it comes to newborn and baby photography. The list can get quite extensive for tips on newborn safety, but in general, use your common sense. Never bring in any hard or sharp objects as props. Never place your newborn on high or unsteady surfaces without a spotter. And realize that some of your favorite photos of newborns are actually composites. Below is an example.


When being photographed  most, if not all, people are nervous. Yes nervous! Some are down right scared, and some would even go as far to say that they “hate it”. So it is part of your job to help your subjects feel more comfortable and relaxed. That can be hard to do when you’re also nervous, especially if you’re new to portraits. But there’s a big advantage of putting that camera on the tripod.  Two actually.
DON'T worry about shot lists. "Avoid getting mired down in a must-have shot list that you found on the Internet," advises Rich Lavigne, who, with wife Anne, operates a wedding studio in South Plainfield, NJ. "Stay alert to the moments that are happening all around you. Look for smiles, laughter, singing, or tears. If you're looking for and photographing these moments, you're doing a pretty good job of capturing the spirit of the day."
If you have a location in mind, I'd love to hear about it! Many clients know precisely where they'd like to shoot, because they have a location that is important to them. Maybe it's your parents' backyard, maybe it's your childhood neighborhood, maybe it's the street that you live on now, and maybe it's the park you went to for your first date. Choosing a location that's meaningful to you will give your engagement pictures even more impact.
Three months before: If you plan to submit a shot with your newspaper wedding announcement, check their guidelines for specifics and schedule a picture-taking session at least three months before the wedding. Larger newspapers ask to receive wedding submissions up to six weeks before the event, and you'll want to factor in four to six weeks before that deadline to see your proofs and make prints.
Inconsistent exposures create more work in post processing, as you have to even them all out. It also can cause a slight color shift, increase noise (if underexposed) and other undesirable things. To keep your exposures consistent through the whole shoot, use Manual Mode. Just remember that each time you change the pose, location, etc, you need to check exposure again. I just fire off a quick test shot, review the histogram, adjust if necessary and continue.
One thing I learned when I became a parent, was that the baby is the boss regardless of how much control I pretend I have.  The same is true for newborn photography.  If the baby doesn’t want to go to sleep for posing after you’ve tried everything, take some lifestyle shots & keep shooting.  Swaddle tight and try to get some eye contact.  Get images of mommy rocking the baby, be open and flexible – the session doesn’t always go as planned and that might just be the best thing that happens to you.
If you’re preparing your birth announcements, don’t forget take a look at our guide on birth announcement wording to answer all of your questions on birth announcement etiquette. If you’re still in the beginning stages of your pregnancy and not yet ready to schedule newborn photos a few months out, you can start preparation for your maternity photos instead, using our time frames on when to take maternity photos.Bella Baby is the face of hospital baby portraiture. We bring experienced, professional photographers into the hospitals to capture your baby's first photograph with a natural, artistic style. We believe that babies look the most beautiful when being held in their parents' arms or cuddled in one of their own baby blankets. Bella Baby captures this beauty by using only "real things"...natural window light, professional photographers and professional grade SLR digital cameras.
Consider COLOR: Most people look their best in certain colors (mine are green and orange).  Although I love hiding in black clothes as much as the next guy, it tends to be a tough color for photographs.  And again - you don't need to match. Pick a color tone (jewel tone) or pallette (pastels) - maybe even select 3-4 colors - and go from there.  Pinterest has some great color ideas for family photos.  Before you go out and buy anything - spend a bit of time with favorite items you already own.  You probably have everything you need. 
Like most newborns, baby Maesie snoozed peacefully through her very first photo session, completely oblivious to the fact that she was the star of the show. Her soft, rosy cheeks and dark hair looked so beautiful with the floral headbands. What a little doll! As parents, we’re always a little nervous to see how older siblings will handle the new arrival, but Cole seemed so enamored with his baby sister already, fully ready to take on his new role as protective big brother. I love the photo of the two of them as he kissed the tip of her tiny button nose. He held her gently in his lap so he wouldn’t wake her.
Get dressed up! And schedule ample time for the shoot. We usually make it the only thing on our schedule for the morning or afternoon, and don’t have anywhere else to rush off to. Often it takes a lot longer than you expect for everyone to get ready, to go and find the perfect spot (we try to figure out where we’ll shoot before the actual day, especially if we have to drive there), take all the shots, and then pack up. And by the end everyone will be a bit tired! So make your shoot a priority for the day, and you’re much more likely to get it done, and enjoy the process.

I live in this dichotomous world in my head.  I’ve always been a thrifty DIY gal who loves to shop garage sales. However, I’m also a professional photographer who charges according to my expertise, which aren’t necessarily garage sale prices.  I think that every 2-3 years, investing in a professional photographer is ideal. There are many price ranges out there, and with a little researc, you can find someone in your area that meets your needs. I also know that taking Family Pictures just isn’t in the budget each year for most people, so I’m going to share some tips on How to Take your Own Family Pictures.


*Don’t Make It A Big Deal *“I shoot my children not just during the holidays, but almost daily,” says Bing Liem, who lives in Ridgefield, CT. “It lets me document their lives and physical development, plus gets them comfortable with having a camera around.” At the same time, Liem learns more about photography in a risk-free environment with willing models. (Above Photo) Shallow focus helps hold viewers’ attention exactly where you want it.Bing Liem
Being creative is a large part of being a newborn photographer, but so is making sure you get the basic, must-have shots. You should always start with the basics and move towards the more advanced photos just in case the baby gets too fussy and you have to call off the shoot. Below are some of the basic shots you should get before introducing complex, time-consuming, and difficult photographs. For more info on Newborn Posing, please see our Newborn Workshop on DVD.
Adjusting the composition is an easy way to add more variety. Take a full length shot then take a head and shoulders. Shoot one from directly above and another on their level and maybe another somewhere between those angles. Consider more adjustments than just height too — moving a few feet to the right or left can add some variety and emphasize different aspects of the pose too.
Another reason to hold a newborn photo shoot soon after birth is because babies change so quickly the first few months, and you don’t want to miss the chance to photograph that uber tiny newborn look. Does this mean you can’t get good pictures when your baby is three weeks old instead of seven days? Of course not. But earlier can be simpler, which is always a good thing.
Hi Lina 🙂 I am so happy that you loved this post! Many find their true passion is with Newborn/Baby Photography, but aren’t sure where to start. This post is a great start for quick tips but because of all of our readers who wanted more info, and more detailed information, we created a very detailed and complete Newborn Photography Workshop, it might be something that would be perfect for you. Feel free to check it out right here. If any questions, just email me 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
"Cai took our family photos. We had very specific requirements, such as outdoor photoshoot at the location we wanted. He was able to accommodate every request we had and our timeline. He is very responsive and I never had to wait long for a reply from him. Cai had spent some time on the location, even before we got there, to familiarize himself with the place. He spent an hour with us, taking his time and creating unhurried atmosphere. Cai is very artistic and worked with us on creatively positioning our family members so that we looked our best. He encouraged us to use our props and to have fun. Our two boys, who normally despise taking pictures, for the very first time were amused and entertained with the entire process! The finished photos were wonderful, but we wanted more drama, so Cai had edited them to add more mood and drama and they are breathtaking now! We believe we got rather lucky finding such talented photographer! We absolutely recommend Cai and will use his services again!"
Once you have the baby posed, step back and look at the whole picture for a few minutes, checking for details that need fixing. If her hand is visible, make sure you can see all her fingers are visible – sometimes one or two get tucked into a fist and then if the photo it looks like the baby only has three fingers. Also, be sure baby’s eyes are closed completely – in the second photo above the baby’s eyes are not quite closed. A simple stroke down the bridge of her nose will cause her to close her eyes all the way. Make sure the headband is positioned how you’d like, and the background blanket is free of wrinkles, etc. Above all, make sure the baby looks comfortable and peaceful – if not, try again.
I know many portrait & wedding photographers love to shoot wide open at f/1.2 & f/1.4.  However, with newborn photography, many of the baby poses can have extreme angles and you often will have better luck with your depth of field and sharpness by shooting around f/2 & f/2.2.  Remember, it will be rare that the baby’s eyes are on the same plane of focus all the time and by closing down my aperture a bit from wide open I get that little bit extra of depth of field that is often needed.
Hopefully this post has helped you answer the question of How do I choose a family photographer. Still want to learn more about choosing a family photographer for your shoot? Here is another great blog about choosing the right photographer which covers some of the same tips as well as additional information on the topic. I love to include other people’s writing on the same topic just because I myself am kind of a research addict for big purchases! Remember, Proper prior planning is everything and research is where it all starts!
Our signature portrait lends itself to this entirely. No photo shoot is complete without a photograph of your child at their most open and genuine. They’re not performing, not pulling the dreaded Instagram-worthy expressions; it’s just them. They might initially seem severe, but that’s because you’re used to their constantly shifting emotions. It’s in this portrait that you can pause and see them in a new way.

Lighting: If you talk to any photographer, they’ll tell you that lighting is 90% of what makes a photo good or bad. One of the best ways to understand lighting is to hold up your hand and face your palm toward a window. Then start rotating your hand back and forth and look at the different ways shadows are cast on your hand as you move it around. If you face your hand directly at the window, the light falls very evenly and cleanly, but if you start moving your hand at a ninety degree angle away from the window, it creates shadows that make your hand look moody and dramatic. This is what photographers do all day. We analyze light. So as you’re looking through photographers’ portfolios, you’ll start to notice that we all play with light differently. Some photographers prefer really bright photos that make the world look light and airy, while others use light to create mood and emotion. For example, take the photos below. They are of the same bride, taken moments apart, but the light is totally different, and therefore the photos are totally different.
Adjusting the composition is an easy way to add more variety. Take a full length shot then take a head and shoulders. Shoot one from directly above and another on their level and maybe another somewhere between those angles. Consider more adjustments than just height too — moving a few feet to the right or left can add some variety and emphasize different aspects of the pose too.

Great tips! I tend to be the photographer for a family of 10 siblings, with 33 children collectively, and, so far, 16 grandchildren. It can be real challenging to get that many folks' heads even visible from the shooter's point of view. Most of all, it takes practice, practice, practice on the part of the subjects.... and a great sense of humor. That many people are not going to look into the sun, or wait very long to have their photo taken. My best advice is to be prepared and have your equipment set so that expediency will promote spontaneity and candor. That way everyone naturally looks genuinely happy and NOT anxious to "get this over with".
×