Darlene Hildebrandt is an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through free articles on her website Digital Photo Mentor, online photography classes, and travel tours to exotic places like Peru, Thailand, India, Cuba, Morocco, Bhutan, Vietnam and more. To help you improve and learn she has two email mini-courses. Sign up for her free beginner OR portrait photography email mini-course here. Or get both, no charge!

The beauty of shooting digital and especially in RAW is that you can convert your files to black and white at a later date. If you have trouble seeing contrast you can even shoot the whole wedding in black and white. This really simplifies the photography as you don’t get distracted by colour. You can then convert them to colour in post-production. Black and White conversion can be particularly helpful with the unpredictable lighting you get as a wedding photographer. It isn’t a substitute for bad photography but I can definitely make an emotional photo pop.

That’s it! No expectations other than fun. Then prepare yourself. Bring along props, get mom to bring one of their favourite toys or books. I usually have a hand puppet and bubbles in my camera bag along with my gear. If the kids don’t want to sit and smile don’t force them. Then them run around and be kids for a while and shoot that. Play with them, make it fun. Then they may cooperate and sit for a bit a few minutes later.
In the days following birth it is especially difficult as babies tend to be kept swaddled in bunny rugs and all you end up seeing of them for 99% of the time is a little red head. Add to that the complication of the bumps, marks, scratches and misshaped heads that newborns also tend to arrive with and finding a flattering angle that will make more than just the proud parents ooh and aah can be difficult.
There are the more obvious search engines like Google & Bing, but don’t forget about social media sites like Facebook & Pinterest. Facebook search has become pretty robust—and most photographers have a Facebook page where you can see their recent work. Or, try searching Pinterest for your location + “photographer,” and browse through options visually, to find someone with a style you like.

As you start looking through photographers’ portfolios, pay attention to the lighting quality in the pictures. Are they dark and moody? Bright and romantic? Each photographer has a certain style, and there will most likely be one that you mesh with better than others. You may also notice while you’re looking through portfolios that some photographers refer to themselves “natural light photographers” which just means that they only use whatever light is available, rather than using a flash or other lighting setups. If you are getting married somewhere dark without a lot of windows, you will want to make sure that the photographer knows how to create light when it isn’t there. Every lighting situation is different for photographers, so make sure you’re looking at photos that have similar characteristics to your venue. An outdoor wedding in the middle of the day with bright sun requires a very different skill than a New Year’s Eve reception in a dark church. (Also, a hot tip: ask to see some reception shots, since many of us don’t include those in our portfolios. Because if you are having an art gallery reception with no light, you want to make sure we can handle it. If all the reception photos are a little blurry and have been converted to black and white, then low-light situations are probably not that photographer’s forte. If you see lots of backlighting and what appears to be bursts of light behind the dancing, it means that that photographer has the ability to create standalone lighting in situations where the light is nonexistent.)
When I’m photographing kids I make a total idiot of myself. I make funny noises, I sing songs (I’m really bad but they don’t care), I make fish faces, I play peek-a-boo behind the camera.  I run back and forth to the camera with the puppet. I lie on the ground, I stick my butt out. Kids are the ones that have life the right way around, it’s us adults that ruin it. Let them be kids, let them have fun. Then be ready to capture it when it happens.

8. Experiment with settings. We’re used to seeing photos of babies in cribs, in beds, the bath, etc. But how about asleep on dad’s chest, nestled inside of a box, or positioned atop a decorative rug? Unexpected settings can add visual interest to your shots. Of course, you want to be extra careful with creative settings too! Most of the amazing pro photos have a spotter’s hand in the shot to keep baby safe, and then is later photoshopped out of the photo. Don’t ever pose baby in a precarious position and then step back to take a photo.
I’ve been a professional photographer for 15 years and if I’ve learned anything about the business in that time it is that as a client you have to be a thoughtful consumer. People don’t always realize how unregulated the industry is. There are a LOT of ways that photographers differ from each other. The advice I always give when you’re looking to hire a photographer is this:

Our portrait studios have multiple camera rooms featuring professional lighting systems, along with the latest trends in scenic and full-color backgrounds. Our trained photographers use professional hand-held digital cameras, allowing them to move and interact with you to capture candid expressions.  Once your session is complete, you'll sit down with your photographer to select your favorite images, add special effects and even order custom photo gifts and keepsakes using your portraits.  All of your portraits are printed on-site, using a cutting-edge digital printing system that produces breathtaking, high-resolution images printed on the finest archival-quality, portrait paper guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Fans – A fan can introduce some motion into your portrait (think wind-blown hair or clothes). But they can also make it comfortable to work in hot studios. Continuous studio lights and strobes with modelling light generate a fair amount of heat. A fan can help provide some comfort. (In a small photography studio, you may prefer to use small speed lights.)
"I had been familiar with a lot of Jay's work from the past and knew he was amazing but had no idea how unbelievable he was until I got all the photos back from every event! There wasn't a single detail that was missed throughout any session including engagement, bridals, rehearsal dinner, wedding, or reception! Jay has a gift that is only God given and I wouldn't ever go to anyone else to help capture some of the most imporant events of our lives!"
Build a complete portfolio. In order to get hired by someone who isn't a close family member or friend, you will need to have a portfolio to show. Use photographs from multiple shoots with different subjects to highlight the range of your talents. Make sure that your portfolio is comprised of more than just five or ten photos. People will want to see the great work you've done.[8]
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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?

Chrystal Cienfuegos, owner of Chrystal Cienfuegos Photography, offers a natural & organic style of newborn & portrait photography in Southern California. She is passionate about telling love stories through elegant and timeless imagery that is inspired by the unique beauty of each client. She's a San Diego native and mother of two fun little ladies. Among her favorite things are Chargers football, swimming, impromptu family dance parties, wine (of course), and evening walks with her neighbors.


As a Dallas baby photographer, I love to capturing your little one’s personality with goofy grins and perfect pout while shooting on my all white backdrop. We will also use my collection of simple props, toys and neutral wardrobe to show off their sweet rolls and chunky little toes! All my baby photography sessions include your little one to be dressed in one outfit of your choice. And, of course naked booty cause lets get real everyone loves a nakey baby!
Keep location in mind. Another helpful item to consider when trying to decide what to wear in your family photos is the location of your photoshoot. Are you going to be on the beach where there are plenty of neutral tones or under a tree surrounded by bright fall foliage? Select a color palette for your outfits that will complement the setting. Pick out items of clothing in colors that will complement your background and not compete with it.
I'm so glad you've found my Kansas City photography studio! I have a beautiful, spacious studio space in the Red Bridge neighborhood of south Kansas City, just 5 minutes from the State Line and 435 area. Whether coming in for newborn, baby, child, or family session you'll find plenty of room to spread out, props and backgrounds to work with, and amenities to make you and your family comfortable.
*Keep Lighting Soft*Direct flash almost never works—it often fights the sense of intimacy, warmth, and naturalness that characterize the best family portraits. “I avoid direct flash like the plague,” says Sue Barr. “It will flatten an image and drain it of all spontaneity.”To work without flash, you’ll want the fastest lens you can afford. This allows you to shoot in low light, defocus (and thereby declutter) backgrounds, and use fast, kid-freezing shutter speeds.Another lighting tip: avoid direct sun. “I like shooting on cloudy days,” says Barr, “and I use gold or silver reflectors to add spark.” The latter helps lighten the shadows of wrinkles, making it helpful with older family members. Family portraiture is rewarding because it gives you the chance to celebrate something that’s life affirming and positive. As amateur photographer Jeremy Rule (www.fiickr.com/ photos/JeremyRule) of North Bend, WA—whose portrait of an extended family above —says, “Family portraits rarely focus on disease, divorce, fighting, business, addiction, or a recession. When you hand a family a portrait, you’re giving them something to celebrate, bond, and rally around.”Jeremy Rule

#2 – it allows you to get your eye away from the camera so you can actually make eye contact with your subjects. They are very real people and they feel even more uncomfortable staring straight into your lens than they do looking at you. You can make gestures to get kids attention, or make faces. But you’ll get way better expressions by interacting with them than you will looking through the viewfinder. Try it!


Yes, you can take newborn photos after two weeks but you’ll have to opt for different poses and concepts. Your newborn will likely be awake during the session so you should go for photos that include the baby with clothes on and wide awake. Taking newborn photos after two weeks isn’t unheard of and your photos will still turn out well. However, your little one won’t curl up so easily after two weeks so we encourage you to take a different approach with your photos. Babies begin to stretch and extend their arms and legs after two weeks, making it harder for them to naturally curl up during photos. Don’t be discouraged though by timing as you should still schedule a newborn session even if two weeks have passed by.
Prior to the big day, your photographer will likely ask you for a wedding photo list, which will outline specific family wedding photos you and your soon-to-be spouse want to be sure and take during the wedding. Thanks to WeddingWire's wedding day timeline generator, you know that you have about an hour allotted between the wedding ceremony and reception (or following the first look) for wedding family photos. A complete wedding family photo list will help you and your photographer make the most of these 60 minutes.
Hi there fellow San Diegan and fellow Charger fan ;-), I don’t think there’s anything I can say that hasn’t been said already. Wonderful tips and insight especially for newbies like myself. I can’t even call myself a photographer considering I’m still getting to learn my camera. But I will say that after reading your post, it definitely seems more doable and less scary. Not saying that it will be easy. I’m hoping to get together with a photographer and go on a “ride along” so to speak and maybe get some hands on experience before I venture out on my own. I literally came across your post about an hour ago and I’m looking forward to reading and learning more!
I have priced my work exactly where I need it to make a living, so I include all the digital files in the cost of the playdate (there are usually over a hundred) as well as the finished storybook. I encourage my clients to purchase their own prints and give recommendations for the best places you can go to get high quality prints. I believe that it’s a waste of everyone’s time to place these simple orders together.
Honestly, dads are often my toughest cases. Moms, dad might need a little incentive, too:) Sometimes, I get the kids to tickle dad to crack that natural smile. Oh yeah, and mom, don’t be too hard on yourself. Wear a shirt that you feel good about yourself in and plan the family clothing options around it. I recognize that if mom doesn’t look good, she won’t love the portraits, and I want you to LOVE them! I am a big advocate of moms being in pictures with their kids because they are often the unseen behind the camera.
“It is no small feat keeping a 3- and 6-year-old happy and engaged, but my kids had so much fun with Miss Kate that they kept asking when our next play date with her would be! From the moment I first contacted her until the day my final photos were ready, Kate was responsive, detail-oriented, full of helpful information, and a pure joy to work with! And the photos? Simply gorgeous. She captured my children’s personalities beautifully.”
4. Create a business name. What you name your business will become the brand image, so choose a name that fits the type of photography you want to do. If you want to take kid portraits you can have a whimsical name, but if you want to do business photography or weddings, you’ll want something that sounds professional or elegant. If you don’t use your given name in your business name, you’ll likely need to file a fictitious name statement with your county clerk’s office. You also need to check with the U. S. Patent and Trademark office to ensure the name isn’t protected by trademark.
Please, parents… leave the “cheese” at home. Cheese is for crackers. So many times I have found parents who stand behind the photographer and scream, “Say cheese to the lady kids!” Yelling and demanding young children to look at the camera to smile will only stress your children out (not to mention the photographer) and will result in strained, unnatural and often unflattering photographs. Step back, and allow the photographer to naturally interact and talk with your children. This will result in natural, gorgeous smiles. Help the photographer capture the true essence of your child’s personality by talking with and coaxing out those smiles naturally and easily.

Destination wedding photographers may run into challenges not typically associated with their normal weddings, ranging from location familiarity to client familiarity. Photographers may be familiar with venues if they are shooting locally; but if they travel, everything is new. For example; a Tampa wedding photographer is used to shooting a beach wedding where the sun sets over the ocean. In Miami, the sun no longer sets over the ocean. When planning for a local wedding a photographer may often meet the couple over coffee or dinner, or handle their engagement shoot. These jump start the getting-to-know-you process and create client familiarity. Typically, a destination wedding does not afford those conveniences.

The day has come and your sweet baby boy or girl is finally here! After you’ve settled in at home with your little one, the next step in announcing your baby’s birth is taking newborn photos to share your joy. Loved ones and friends are looking forward to seeing the newest addition to your family and nothing makes a better statement than sending out photo birth announcements. Among many other items on your baby-at-home checklist, we have you covered with suggested time frames on when to take newborn photos below.


Hi Debbie! Babies are HARD to photograph, especially as they get a little older and more mobile. And babies at that age always have their hands in their mouth! I really love my 50mm 1.8 lens for portraits – it doesn’t zoom in or out, meaning you just have to move yourself to get a closer (or further away) photo, but it lets in tons of light and does a great job blurring the background. It’s around $100, so it’s very reasonable for a nicer lens.
Swaddling a baby is the easiest way to pose her for newborn photos at home. Simple wrap her up tight and lay her down on a pretty blanket of piece of fabric. I usually save swaddled photos for the end of the photoshoot, when the baby has woken up. Newborns love to be swaddled and will usually stay pretty calm if they’re wrapped tight enough (check out this post on swaddling if you don’t know how).

This is the biggest question I get from almost all of my couples. While clothing is very subjective, your clients will seek assurance from you that their style is worth being photographed in. Regardless of what you say, your clients will probably end up wearing something they feel most comfortable in. However, from your experience, you can guide your clients into choosing to wear things that will look good in the camera.
Ever notice your child in his own world looking at a handful of wiggling worms, blowing his breath against a cold window or watching the dew drops fall off morning leaves? These are the moments that photography was made for. Seize these fleeting moments in time by zooming in close to find that special angle that tells the story from your child’s unique perspective.
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