Portrait photographers usually don't work from a tripod when shooting on-location, but it can be especially useful for shooting inside a dimly lit church.  Bring a tripod for these situations so you can get a sharp shot even with a slower shutter speed.  Even if you can get away with shooting handheld inside, you might want the tripod so you can use a lower ISO and get cleaner shots. (Thanks Johnny Quattlebaum)

When reviewing a photographer's album, look for the key moments you want captured: Did they get photos of both the bride and the groom when they locked eyes for the first time? Also look for crispness of images, thoughtful compositions (does a shot look good the way it was framed, or is there too much clutter in the frame?) and good lighting (beware of washed-out pictures where small details are blurred—unless that's the style you're after). It's also very important that you detect sensitivity in capturing people's emotions; make sure the photographer's subjects look relaxed, not like deer caught in headlights. While you two are important, of course, you want to see smiling shots of your friends too.
The photographs captured NOW will be the story starters for the future. As your photographer, my job is to document your family exactly as you are… in all of the candid, crazy and fun moments that truly capture the personality of each family member, and all of you as a whole.  Just as important? That you can use your time in front of my camera to disappear from the daily stress and distractions of life,  have fun and simply “be” the incredible family that you are.
As I said, there is a photographer for all likings and likings for all styles of photographers. The biggest mistake you can make is to treat a photographer only as a service provider. Photography is NOT the same from one professional to another and the result can be completely different. Photography is art. So check the photographer’s work, their style, how they express and how their work makes you feel. Imagine your family having those kind of pictures. Remember that these photos are what you will keep forever, throughout your life and probably in the next generations. If you really want to have this photographer for your family, go ahead.
Ask your partner or other children to join you. Schedule your maternity photos on a day when your partner or other children can join you. Including your family in your maternity photos is a special way to capture your growing family.[3] Ask your partner what day would work best for their schedule. If you have other children, schedule the photo shoot on a day they do not have school, or see if you can sign them out of class for an afternoon.
The #1 way to ensure a successful newborn session is to make sure your client knows what to expect and how to best prepare for the session.  I send my prep tips a few days before our session to get mommy and daddy prepared.  In fact, in our newborn workshop includes the email templates that I send & has a full chapter dedicated to adequate preparation before the session.  Many moms choose to feed while I unpack and setup.  I have them feed the baby in only a diaper and a loose swaddle blanket so we don’t have to bother the baby with undressing them.  I also let them know what I’ll be bringing, the approximate length of the session, to expect messes and frequent feedings, and to warm the house, even though I will be bringing a heater.
I'm a huge fan of “framing” in weddings. Shooting through a crowd and having the only thing in focus be the bride and groom makes the viewers feel like they are a part of the action every time they look at it. Shooting through glass, using architecture to frame, people, nature, etc etc. It gives you a super dreamy and romantic look. (Thanks Mandy Drake)

Annie, Thank you so much for this post. I found this delightful and amazingly informative post on Pinterest. I’d been on the for hours looking at how to style family portraits. I’m going insane, we have pictures tomorrow and I still don’t know what I’m wearing. I have my husband and the 4 kids (boys age 17, 16, & 11 and our girl age 10) clothes picked out but not myself. Deep breath….. I’m going to try again to find something conducive. Wish me luck
Knowing the reason why you want the photos, it’s easier to choose the style of photographer you will look for. You already know that you want a family photographer (or newborn, birth, birthday’s party, etc). Then you can start by searching on Google, Instagram, or Facebook along with the name of your city. You will have a good idea of some options that you will have.
I like getting digital images. We live in a digital age, and it is easy and fun to share pictures with others when you have the rights to the digital images from your photo shoot. I like having the digital images so I can use the photos on Christmas cards that I order and “print” myself (a portrait studio can print the cards with multiple images for you otherwise, but usually at a higher cost than can be found online).

If you decide to photograph in a state or a national park, always be very careful with rules and regulations – most state and federal parks do not allow commercial photography without a permit. Always do your homework beforehand, so that you do not get yourself kicked out by a park ranger in the middle of a shoot – apply for permits months in advance. Personally, I avoid the hassle of applying for permits and typically stay away from state or government-owned lands and facilities.
Newborn photography can come with many surprises, especially if you aren’t a parent.  I’ve compiled a list of newborn photography tips that have helped me tremendously and I am sure will be helpful for anyone interested in learning more about newborn photography.  Of course, every photographer will have a different way or style of doing things but these are just some of the top things I’ve learned through the years as a newborn photographer.
Get Down Low – one key to many natural baby shots is to get down on their level. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last week or two lying on the floor next to Xavier. It’s something I think we both enjoy anyway but it’s also a great place to use your camera. Getting down low and getting in close (see below) does present some challenges in terms of focal length (I’m using a 24-105 zoom – usually at the widest focal length) but it means you end up with shots that feel like you’ve entered the babies world rather than you’re looking down on it from above.
The season is upon us!  Holiday cards (or Christmas cards), family photos, falling leaves, Thanksgiving and before you know it, Christmas!  Yikes!  So before this time of year gets too crazy, it is important to plan if you want to take your own family photos!  You can take family photos any time of year!  In fact, I love a good spring family photo session, but my favorite time of year is the fall and so I love to take our photos then!

It seems like every wedding planning blog we look at makes this recommendation but we have absolutely no idea why they are telling couples to do this! The only shot list we need from you is the list of family formal photos you would like (which we will ask for in the questionnaires we send to you) so we can make sure to budget enough time to get your family formals completed and that will help that part of the day run much more smoothly. For the rest of the day we will be watching for important moments. If we are having to check things off a list it is very likely that we will miss something that we otherwise would have been able to capture because we were staring at a piece of paper trying to make sure we “get the shots on the list” instead of paying attention to what is going on at your wedding! We shoot many, many, MANY weddings and understand the flow and key moments of a wedding day and you will get our absolute best work if you let us pay attention to what is happening around us instead of hunting down shots on a list.


See #1 first of all. Then look at #6. Being a photographer means that sometimes you have to also become a comedian, or a clown. Knowing the right thing to say or do to make people smile is mostly experience. Sometimes you’ll get tough adults too. The dad in the photo above by the brick wall pretty much has the same expression all the time. I’ve known this family and photographed them for 13 years, they’re friends too. So I know I can bug him a little bit or get out the ducky to have some fun at his expense.
Natalie Roberson is a photographic artist specializing in newborn, family, children and wedding photography. Natalie graduated from Southwest Texas State University in December 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with Minors in Business and Spanish. In May of 2004 Natalie graduated from the University of Phoenix with a Master’s in Business Administration degree. Natalie studied Photography and Graphic Design at Collin College in Plano, Texas.
Don’t see a shot list as necessarily being a bad thing. Have some shots in mind that you and the couple have discussed prior to the wedding. This way you can discuss the feasibility of the ideas. Plus if they want a shot with Auntie Edna you will know to capture that specific photo. A shot list can be unnecessary for the things you know you will capture. But for the more obscure things a couple wants photos of it can be a great thing.

In the second option involving the photo to canvas or photo to oil painting, the artist or company will send you a package once you have submitted payment and you will mail back the photo(s) you want included in the painting.  The artist will usually work from one photo of a family as an example or may be able to combine photographs of a few photos.  In addition, an artist may be able to use a slightly damaged photo as part of the painting. As an example, you might include a candid photo rather than trying to take it in a studio.  In addition, the photo might include a background for the painting.  With the painting, you can select the size from 8 x 10 inch to larger than 20 x 30 inch.  Just consider what a great memory this would be in your living room, or to be given as a very special gift.  You can consider a painting of a baby, a wedding, or for grandparents.  It is also possible to order a frame for the painting and is shipped fully framed and packaged safely.  Listed below is a sample that shows the framed oil painting that was done from a photo that may provide you a good idea of the quality of the painting.

Have your clothing chosen way in advance and make sure that your outfit choices are comfortable and attractive.  What do your dream family photos look like?  If they are soft and elegant?  Chose neutral colors with soft, flowing fabrics…. think creams, very soft pastels, oatmeals, light browns, tans, grays, and slate blues.  Want to showcase the fun and spunky side of your family?  Choose coordinating colors (but not matchy, matchy) with bold accent colors, such as hues of gray with yellow or bright red accents.  Adding fun accessories like scarves, headbands, hats, etc. can add a modern twist and sassy flair to your images.
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!
There are a few bonuses to using accessories well (as well as layers). One is that changing them up a bit throughout the session can give you multiple looks without having to do many wardrobe changes. They can also be something that the subjects can interact with. A sassy little tip of the hat, holding the ends of a scarf while running and letting it billow behind you, grabbing the lapels of a husbands jacket while pulling him close for a kiss – all these little gestures and ways to interact (and become more comfortable in front of the camera) can be made possible with styling choices. Many of my sessions will feature items used outside their intended use or subject. My girls are often seen in mommy’s hats or scarves (scarves can be used in different ways like wrapped around their shoulders, as a hair piece, etc) and they love to wear my costume jewelry.
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