Timing for the session depends on two things : location and time of year. If you're wanting to shoot in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or downtown Philly, we may need to adjust our start time because of the buildings. What do I mean by that? In the city, the sun goes behind the buildings before it goes below the horizon, so you lose the light in the city before the sun has actually set. Generally as a rule of thumb, I recommend starting engagement sessions in the warmer months around 4:00pm, and around 3:00pm in the winter. 

Some photographers will sit with your family after the session to review images together, allowing you to order portraits on different print media or with custom framing. These photographers can help you identify the best places in your home to hang wall portraits, even using real pictures of your home to digitally demonstrate what your favorite family portraits will look like hanging above your furniture in different sizes, groupings, or frames.
Ask the bride and groom for just three words to describe their vision of the day, then keep those words in mind as you capture it! If they say “fun”, take every opportunity to “document” a fun moment. If they say “romantic”, keep lighting in mind and snap every sweet moment the newlyweds share that day/night. Yes, you are the photographer, but it is THEIR day. Make your art reflect that! (Thanks Matthew Michaels)

We thought ahead about location, poses, logistics, and timing.  If you have a plan, it is easier to get in and out and end up with photos that you are happy with!  Take the photos of the whole family first, then the children together and individually, and then couple photos if desired.  You can realistically take great family photos in 30-60 minutes by yourself if you have a plan.
(Above) Whimsical Engagement Photo Prop Sign Photo Idea: Cute DIY photo prop signage that read “She stole my heart” and “So I’m stealing his last name”. Grab these free engagement photo prop printables here: DIY Engagement Party Projects & Free Printables {Featured here: {Engagement Shoot} A Whimsical Balloon-Themed Photo Shoot | Shot by: Adene Photography}
“When shooting a wedding I try to keep my set up really simple. I find that the more toys to play around with takes time away from the thing I am most interested in documenting: the people. Generally, I roll with 2 DSLR bodies, 2 lenses (Canon 50mm f/1.2L/Canon, 24mm f/1.4L) and a Pelican case full of cards in my pocket. I have other gear there on the day just in case but that’s pretty much it.”

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.


Think 20+ years down the road. I’m sure we all enjoy looking at our own baby pictures, but as an adult, don’t those pictures have more sentiment if they include family and friends? I know it’s easy to see someone else with a camera and quickly try to dodge out of the way equipped with every excuse in the book (My hair’s a mess! Pictures make me look fat! I’m dressed like a bum!). When your baby becomes an adult, I’m sure they’d appreciate seeing themselves surrounded by their loved ones more than having album after album of just themselves.

*Don’t Make It A Big Deal *“I shoot my children not just during the holidays, but almost daily,” says Bing Liem, who lives in Ridgefield, CT. “It lets me document their lives and physical development, plus gets them comfortable with having a camera around.” At the same time, Liem learns more about photography in a risk-free environment with willing models. (Above Photo) Shallow focus helps hold viewers’ attention exactly where you want it.Bing Liem

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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