Let’s discuss the option involving profession photographer in more detail.  First, you or your family will set up an appointment either at the studio or at your house or other location.  You can expect that most professional photographers will have the proper equipment along with software programs used to subsequently edit, provide proofs, and print photographs.   Just as important, their people skills should make subjects comfortable in front of the camera and posing people to look their best is a skill by itself.  Regardless, you should consider your own family and their ages and the portrait you are trying to achieve along with the background.  You should also understand the package you will receive and if you want larger size prints and the total costs involved for the preparation, shooting and photographs. If you use this alternative, you should check with the photographer to confirm if you have the right to have the photos later done at some point in an oil painting since some photographers may retain ownership of the photo set.
Ashley, I loved your post. I am huge on annual family photos. I think it’s so important to capture a nice photo of your growing/changing family at least once a year! I love how your pictures turned out. They are very nice and the same style I like to go for. I am getting into photography and would like to do our own someday. Thanks for all the tips. I completely agree with all of them and try to do them already but seeing it written down helps to instill those ideas even more for our next shoot.
What are you willing to invest in getting the images that will bring you (and your kids) back to this moment? Are you willing to save up for the perfect experience? Are you willing to make payments? Or do you have other things that you have to prioritize and you’ll have to make compromises in one place or another? Of course we all have to manage a budget, and this may be a place where you make it a priority, or a place you are ok with making a compromise.

First, you have to make the decision--and stick to it--that you'll download (or upload) all your photos and videos within a day or so of taking them. It's a good idea to get in the habit of at least copying your photos and videos off your device and it really takes no time; once you've got a system in place, you can do it while watching TV, eating dinner, or playing with the cat. Why bother? The last thing you want to do is run out of space on your card at a key moment or lose your media if you misplace or break your device. If you want to keep it portable to share, that's fine. But you also want to be able to hit "delete" or "format" if necessary. And you need to commit to the plan. If you don't, you'll end up more confused, having to remember whether you downloaded something or not before you can start looking for it.
Contracts provide mutually beneficial protection to both you and your photographer. Your photographer should send you a contract once you’ve both decided to move forward. The contract should define studio policies, payment and deliverable schedules, and contingency plans. Read the contract before signing; don’t make any payments until the contract is in place.
Do you have any advice for when the kids are dogs? It’s really hard to get one, and especially both, dogs looking at the camera at the same time for our family portraits. They are a busy breed (Australian Shepherds) and still young. I’ve been wanting to do self portraits of just me and our dogs as well, however that’s hard to get too since they won’t “sit, stay” while I focus and get back into the picture. My husband isn’t too thrilled about getting into the picture unless we’re on vacation so most of the self portraits are done on my own.
Once you are ready after hair and makeup, we will meet up at your location of choice. Do you need to know how to pose? Nope, that’s what you have me for! I know tons of ways to position you based on your body type and what you are wearing. The slightest movement one way or another, can make the biggest difference on how you look on camera…I’ve studied it, and I can help you get those magazine style poses!
Shoes matter. Please don’t wear sneakers – unless we’re talking about some funky Converse that go with the feel of the session. The choice of shoes can make or break an outfit. Slipping on a pair of hip, distressed boots or some colorful ballet flats can tie everything together and complete the feel of the session. Think about coordinating those bright and colorful shoes with other accessories and clothing in the photo – not necessarily on the subject themselves, but rather match little sister’s bright turquoise shoes to the sweater or scarf her mama is wearing. It ties everything together without looking too match-y match-y. And many times NO shoes looks best, especially if you’ll be sitting or in poses where the bottoms of shoes can be seen – that never looks pretty. And don’t forget some funky socks to add another splash of color or personality if your overall look of the session is fun and bright.
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