Choosing whether or not to do a “first look” is a personal decision. Many photographers think it’s a good idea because it allows you to take many of your wedding photos before your ceremony so that you can enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests. If you decide to stick with tradition and wait until the ceremony to see your partner, you can expect to spend your entire cocktail hour (and possibly more) taking portraits. Be sure to decide which path you prefer to take before creating your wedding photography timeline.

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.
You are taking family pictures, do, friendliness can be a big deal. The best family photographers know how to cheer up that crabby child, get everyone’s eyes to the camera, and hopefully a smile from all, at the same time, too.  So, if your photographer is not used to taking pictures of little kids, grandparents, or groups, be wary.  If they are introverted, unprofessional, lazy, tired, or not fully invested in your family photography session, chances are they won’t capture your beautiful family perfectly.
If an engagement session isn't included in your wedding photo package, hire an à la carte photographer instead. For a basic portrait sitting at a photography studio and a couple prints, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars. Hiring a professional for an afternoon's worth of photo ops will cost several times that much—the final cost will depend on where you live and the popularity of the photographer.
Moms are often rushing around before a photo shoot, making sure that their family is dressed and ready. I always encourage mothers to have their hair and makeup professionally done. This will prepare mom for her pictures and when mom is feeling pretty and confident, this will reflect on the rest of the family as well. Leave plenty of time for showers, baths, dressing, and grooming. When a family shows up to a family photo session rushed and disorganized, it sets the tone for a rushed and disorganized session. Give yourself extra time so that you are ready before it’s time to head out that door.
Think about the primary reason you are doing the session and dress accordingly. For instance, if it’s for Christmas cards you might want to dress in wintry, seasonal clothing. For a gallery canvas in the living room, think about coordinating with the colors and feel of your decor. For the canvases I hung in my girls’ playroom I dressed them in twirly, pink dresses and they ran dancing through the sand on the beach, which meshed perfectly in the girly room that’s always filled with giggles and play.
Price should be the LAST thing you consider when you select your photographer. Really? What if I come up with a list of photographers I can’t afford? First you have to define “afford.” No doubt custom photography is an investment, and also a luxury expenditure. And everyone has different levels of either saved or disposable income that can be allocated to a session. When defining your budget, determine whether you will save, and then have that set amount to spend or whether you can make that decision once you see your images. Then decide what your product goals are: digital files, a few select prints, a gift album. Understanding what you really need as well as what you want, will help you determine what you can spend with a particular photographer. You may have a budget that will allow you to purchase ALL images from one photographer of mediocre quality or SOME images, but exactly what you need, from an exceptional one. As we’ve said before, try to not get locked into the idea of “all” before you know what “all” looks like. You may even be able to work with specific photographers to find out when they schedule less expensive options such as studio or seasonal mini-session events as many photographers offer a scalable way for you to receive their services without the truly significant investment. It’s with hesitation and a sigh that we say that with most budget photographers, “you get with you pay for.” In a few rare, and very fortunate circumstances, you receive outstanding images for a fraction of what they are worth. But more often than not, if you aren’t investing in someone who has invested in the quality, expertise, style and vision, you will receive images that reflect just that. That said, there are tremendously talented photographers in every market segment, catering to any budget, and with research and patience and maybe a referral, you can find one that meets your specific needs. Circling back to the point that you barely have time to do it once, once you’ve finished the end to end coordination of schedules, wardrobes, weather and moods… you most certainly don’t have the time, or money, to do it over. Start with planning your own session goals, including what you would like to DO with your images, then consider the style and vision you would like them to reflect. Spend some time looking at portfolios and gathering recommendations, and assess as best you can, the quality and expertise of a range of photographers, and once you’ve created a short list, begin to think about pricing and budget and the best way to marry what you need with what you can afford. And if you have a gut feeling that you are cutting corners in any of those orders, take a step back. It’s okay to put an idea on hold until you are really sure about it. It’s your investment, make the most of it.

The type of wedding ceremony that you are used to may be completely different in other faiths.  Sometimes photographers get thrown by this and it can affect the photos.  For example, photographers who shoot an LDS wedding shouldn't be surprised that you can't photograph the actual ceremony at all!  Photographers who shoot inside a cathedral shouldn't be surprised if you can't use flash.  Photographers at a Jewish wedding need to know not to miss the bride breaking the glass.  All religions do things differently and you should be familiar with how the wedding goes, and respect the religious differences (Thanks Rebecca Birrell)
Give your pictures a life off the computer. "It's easy to laugh at your mother's box of 35mm photos in the closet, but that's what many people's computers are -- just a metal box full of photos like Mom's," says Walsh. Start by printing and framing any special images. You can do it yourself on your home printer using quality photo paper, or order prints for as little as 9 cents each from an online service.
Many things can go wrong in the day, so we need to be well prepared. We must have a backup plan (in case of bad weather), charged batteries, blank memory cards, think about the routes and time to get to the places and get a full day itinerary so we know what will happen in the next moment. If possible, we attend the ceremony rehearsal where a large amount of information is gathered about possible positions to shoot from the lighting, the order of the ceremony, etc.
"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."

“The key is developing and following one’s own style. One should not try and copy others but develop their own style and try and create a niche segment around it with their expertise in that field. This way the increasing competition does not affect one’s business. Good branding is an important aspect as well. So developing a niche style and promoting your business around that style is the key to survival and growth for every wedding photographer.”
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.
You can also design a digital photo book to commemorate special events. Photo book-creation sites allow you to put as little or as much effort and creativity into the process as you like -- offering numerous design choices for those who want a hands-on experience or prepackaged options if you're short on time or have a large number of images to include in a single project.

Select an outfit that is appropriate year round. One of the more popular times for families to take their portraits seems to be around the holidays (when the kids are home from school and everyone is in the same place). The holidays may seem like the perfect excuse to bring out the Santa hats and incorporate props into your family portraits. However, you’ll want these photos to be displayed all year round. Try to avoid purely seasonal accessories and items.
I use a Canon 50d, which is an older pre-pro model. If you’re starting out in photography, just about any dSLR (that allows you to change lenses) is going to work well. The lenses are actually more important than than the camera body, in my opinion. A 50mm 1.8 lens (about $100) is a great investment if you want to take great portraits of babies, kids, etc. HTH!

Imagine there is a line drawn from each face to the next. Try and position them so that no head is directly on top of, or beside (same level) another. Make diagonal lines not totem poles. Use props to seat some people or bring some small folding stools. Have some people sit down, or stand up on something. Use what is naturally in the environment to pose them, or if you have nothing available just arrange them so the heights are staggered.

Plan on spending at least an hour to get some good shots. I generally spend two hours when I photograph a newborn (some pros spend twice that much time). If you’re taking pictures of your own baby, you could also plan to spend just half an hour but try once a day for the first week. Figure out what will work best for your schedule, but realize this won’t be a quick process. Also, the photoshoot will be much easier if you have someone to help you, so rope your husband/mom/friend into being your assistant.
3. Pay attention to where your light is coming from. If you’re using the same setup you used to take photos of the baby alone, your subjects should already be positioned correctly in relation to your light source (large window). They should be facing either the right or left edge of the window (which is where you’ll be standing). Light coming at a 45 degree angle casts nice, soft shadows that define both baby and Mom’s features, while also providing nice catchlights (bright spots) in their eyes.
For us, all we wanted to do all day from the second we got up in the morning was to see one another! Our wedding day was such a huge day for us and we wanted to experience as much of it as we could together. Plus, we aren’t exactly huge fans of being the center of attention, so seeing each other before the ceremony gave us a sense of “ok, we can do this together.” When Marianne walked down the aisle, both of us were just floored because it wasn’t until that moment that it hit us: we are getting married today. We are getting married right now! This is the beginning of the rest of our lives together!
Aside from being flexible, be safe.  The most important thing on this list is to research newborn photography safety before you start. Many traditional poses are actually composites with spotters and safeguards in place so the baby is out of harm’s way.  Lastly, don’t give up.  I remember the first time I went snowboarding when I got back before I could open my mouth, my friend said I need to do it 5 more times before I decide to give up, that the learning curve is steep and that it gets easier.  The same is true for newborn photography.  My first session left me feeling very defeated, but I’m glad I got back up and did it again (and again and again)…and hopefully, this list removes some of your growing pains.
Nursed Shots – some of the bests shots I’ve taken over the last month have been taken when people have been nursing Xavier. This puts him into a more upright position which makes him look a little more ‘human-like’ and opens up the angles for your photos. Try a number of positions (over the shoulder, sitting him up, laying him back in arms, lying him on his tummy etc) as each one opens up different possibilities. Also remember that your baby is not the only potential subject – parents, grandparents, siblings, friends etc all can add context to the shot and you’ll appreciate having more than just baby by themselves shots later!
If you are shooting under a large tree you shouldn't be getting dark eyes. I look for exactly that type of location to put people under a large branch. When you block the overhead light it IS darker for sure but the direction of light changes to coming from the front instead of overhead, so you don't get dark eyes. You may just need more exposure overall but the quality of light should be there.
4. Position your subjects so you can see both their faces. A mom or grandma will probably hold the baby up on her chest, the baby facing in. This can make it hard to see both faces at once in a photo, so ask your subject to stand sideways and gently turn the baby toward you while she turns her head toward you as well. (An over the shoulder pose like the one above works well too.)
Moms are often rushing around before a photo shoot, making sure that their family is dressed and ready. I always encourage mothers to have their hair and makeup professionally done. This will prepare mom for her pictures and when mom is feeling pretty and confident, this will reflect on the rest of the family as well. Leave plenty of time for showers, baths, dressing, and grooming. When a family shows up to a family photo session rushed and disorganized, it sets the tone for a rushed and disorganized session. Give yourself extra time so that you are ready before it’s time to head out that door.
Thank you so much for this post! I too am trying to “learn” newborn photography, just did a shoot of my friend’s 10 month old daughter (they turned out beautiful!), but the little one month boy was another story! I am shooting another one month old little girl tomorrow, hopefully I will learn from my mistakes I made today! I am doing the pictures for free to learn, but this is so hard! I wish I knew what I was doing wrong, or do I just need to practice? Any tips would be greatly appreciated! Oh, I was raised in San Diego, my whole family is there, will be visiting for Christmas this year. Will be there for 2 weeks to pack up my mom and move her! Maybe I can get in on a photo session??? Hopefully I will have it figured out by then!
Destination weddings will almost definitely increase wedding photographer fees. Some photographers charge their normal rates plus travel, room and board. Other photographers may have an additional fee beyond their standard rates and travel expenses to accommodate the extra effort required for them to pack up their specialized equipment and work remotely.

Label, label, label. Remember to permanently label images with the names, dates, locations and relationships you’ve discovered. If you’re the keeper of the family photos, do this now so your children aren’t left to do it all themselves.If you’ve already scanned your photos to a digital format, remember that it’s just as important to include full notations on digital images as it is on hard-copy images, or all your efforts and expense will be for naught when they’re viewed by people without knowledge of your family’s history.From sleuthing to sharing, there are many ways to enjoy historical images.With a little time and creativity now, your photographs can be treasured for generations to come.
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