As photographers we want every photo to be a masterpiece – perfect light, natural expressions, everyone looking at the camera. But sometimes the best photos that you wind up taking are the most ridiculous — a boy with his hand up his nose, a brother embracing his crying sister, or one sibling looking at the other with a crazy face. Don’t stop shooting just because the kids aren’t cooperating for a moment, or the parents are chasing them around. Sometimes these situations can lend to the funniest and most memorable shots.

“I will always treasure the time we got to spend with Kate. She was warm, funny, sweet, and so relaxed. She put us all at ease, and as the mother of a very wild two-year-old, I can assure you that is no easy feat. Kate is a complete professional, delivering exactly what she promises when she promises it, and the entire experience from booking to delivery was easy, fun, and totally worth it.”

One of my biggest mistakes, when I was starting out, was that I brought all my props/wraps/blankets/headbands to every single session.  When I got set up, I would have a mini panic attack because I had no idea where I should start.  Now I plan 3-4 different setups (based on the client’s preferences and expectations) and that’s all.  I am often inspired by something the client owns as well, such as a blanket knitted by Grandma or something else that’s special to mom and dad, so it is not uncommon for me to not even use everything I bring.
Jackie Lamas is a destination wedding and portrait photographer based on the beautiful beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She earned her degree in photography from California State University, Fullerton. Jackie has over 10 years of experience as a professional photographer and teacher. When she's not on the beach, you can find her writing on her blog and spending time with her baby and husband.
Hello, thanks a ton for these tips, I’ve got my first wedding shoot coming up in mid April and am doing some overall research on anything I’ve missed. What tips would you give to someone who is going in solo? I just recently moved out of state and haven’t found a helper so if things keep up like they are, I will most likely end up having to go in by myself hahaha it’s more of a “if worse comes to worse”, but if you have any tips for such an situation, I’ll gladly listen thank you
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.
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.
Your photographer may have some unique locations and places in mind for your photo shoot. Chat with them to see if those locations interest you. “I would like to take some photos by the water. Do you know of a nice lake or stream nearby that might serve as a good location?” Your photographer may have a list of their favorite spots for you to choose from.
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.
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5.  Consider some technical details.  There are photos I took 5 years ago that I thought were amazing at the time and now realize they were out of focus, or my editing made the people look purple, or the highlights were blown out.  If you (like a normal person) haven’t spent a lot of time poring over tons of professional photos with a discerning eye, you may not really know what to look for.  Maybe some of these finer technical points wouldn’t bother you, or maybe the photographer you can afford isn’t quite as technically proficient as the photographer who charges $500 more.  That’s okay, these are just a few things to consider.  First let’s talk about focus.  Often, the best way to tell if a photo is properly focused is to look at the eyes.  In the two photos below, you can see a lot more detail in her eyes on the left than on the right.  I missed the focus on the second image, so that one was not given to my clients.
One advantage of DSLRs is how much they just “get out of the way”. Maybe it seems silly, but when shooting a DSLR I never really have to think about the process of using the camera, with all the mirrorless cameras I’ve used there always seems to be something that gets in the way (poor EVF brightness or refresh rate, slower autofocus speed, ergonomics, button placement and how quickly they make adjustments – the list goes on).
(Above Left) Letter Props Engagement Photo Pose Idea: Grab a couple of letter props and carry them as you take a stroll together in your neighbourhood. {Featured here: Love and Baking Flour: Kitchen Engagement Session | Shot by: IZ Photography} | (Above Right)  Indie Engagement Photo Pose Idea: Stop by your fave coffee spot and indulge in your regular orders while capturing the moment for your engagement shoot. {Featured here: Indie Summer Picnic Engagement Shoot Session | Shot by: Jeanne Mitchum Photography}
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.

Avoid anything with logos, graphics, characters, labels, etc. These tend to take the “finished” look of a professional portrait down a few notches, can be distracting (who wants people to first notice the Nike or Gap logo before the adorable little kid’s smile?) and will date a photo quickly. I’m having flashbacks to me wearing Esprit tee-shirts with my Guess jeans back in grade school, right along side my little brother in his Gotcha shirt (and if you’re sitting there wondering what I’m talking about, you must not be an 80’s child, LOL). Note: There are a few instances where a more stylized graphic on a shirt can look good if it fits the vibe of a photo, for instance, in my six year old’s birthday session we did a total punk rock theme to go along with her party. She wore a Johnny Cash tee with her tutu and baby sis rocked a Ramones tee.
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