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!

Kimberly Wylie Photography specializes in newborn photography in the Dallas area. The photo studio uses creative settings to create original portraits of babies, children, families, and expecting mothers. Kimberly Wylie is a PPA Master Photographer who regularly presents photography workshops. The business was voted The Best Portrait Photographer of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area by WFAA Channel 8 in 2015, and Kimberly's work is regularly featured in Fox 4's GOOD DAY. The Kimberly Wylie Photography studio has a kid's playroom to create a stress-free experience.


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.
Know ahead of time how formal the wedding will be, and how you fit into the event.  Some wedding photographers, like David Ziser, like to wear a suit to every wedding.  Other photographers think it is perfectly appropriate to wear slacks and a shirt.  Some female photographers wear a dress, and others wear jeans and a nice polo.  I wouldn't say that there is one right answer here, but it is worth thinking about beforehand.

As with most things, there is no substitute for practice and experience…with each shoot you will get better and better, just keep your head in the game! A fellow “kinda” San Diegan?! Cool 🙂 We actually are working on a Newborn Photography Online Course/Workshop teaching everything you need to know, start to finish, including an actual on location photo shoot so you can see exactly what its like and how to deal with common pitfalls when shooting on-location! Make sure to subscribe to Cole’s Classroom so you’ll be in the know when we release it in a few months 🙂


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.
The easiest way I’ve found to take pictures of sibings who aren’t old enough to be trusted holding the baby is demonstrated in the photo below. When your have the baby positioned on your bean bag or couch cushion (like we talked about in posing), have the older sibling come stand, kneel, or sit (depending on how tall the sibling is) right next to the baby. Ask the sibling to gently lean his head in close to the baby and snap away, leaving the baby happy and snoozing the entire time.
Tipping a photographer for family portraits is not standard etiquette. A great way to recognize a family photographer who goes above and beyond is to write them a glowing review. You probably found your photographer by reading online reviews, so paying it forward by letting everyone know how much you appreciate their work is a great gift. Write your review after they have delivered the final edited photos on time and you’ve confirmed that you’re happy with the terrific portraits they took.
"I cannot thank her enough for her partnership in this moment in the life of my family. She is simply awesome! She took care of everything (i.e. took time to learn and understand my needs; recommended locations as a result of her gained insight; suggested apparel; etc. etc.). From beginning to end she was responsive, timely, thoughtful, courteous, thorough, engaging, friendly, and collaborative. The images are simply amazing!!!!!! I am hiring her as my photographer for every season of my family’s lives. She will be there to capture every moment! I’m already securing her for my wedding! Ms. Neri is a warm, genuine, and kind soul with a keen eye and instinct in capturing authentic moments. THANK YOU!"

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.


DOCUMENTARY PHOTOS: this is perhaps the least known category for many people. Even tough documentary photography is not new as a style, it has begun to become a bit more popular for commercial family photography in recent years. In this case, the photographer spends time with the family recording their day to day, not interfering in what happens. It can be a whole day or a few hours, and the result is usually quite authentic, since no family is the same. The photographer will be recording not only the connection of you and how you look, but also the essence and small details of the family’s routine. The photos don’t take place in a specific location because they are according to family activities. It can be at your home, on the street, at school, in the car or during your vacation activities, for example. You can search for this style by documentary or photojournalism.
When being photographed  most, if not all, people are nervous. Yes nervous! Some are down right scared, and some would even go as far to say that they “hate it”. So it is part of your job to help your subjects feel more comfortable and relaxed. That can be hard to do when you’re also nervous, especially if you’re new to portraits. But there’s a big advantage of putting that camera on the tripod.  Two actually.
In addition to this tutorial, if you want all the info you need in one simple package with lifetime access, check out our Newborn Photography Workshop for the On-Location Photographer which Cole and I have spent months putting together all the necessary knowledge & tools to be adequately prepared for the lovely world of photographing newborns.  On sale for a limited time and all workshop participants also will get Cole’s Essential Newborn Lightroom Collection Presets, the Pricing & Positioning Yourself for Success pricing handbook, exclusive discounts & a whole lot more.  Click below to see the workshop details.
All the photography advice in the world can’t really prepare you for the unexpected things that can go wrong. Ultimately, this is going to come down to the experiences you have when you’ve shot a heck load of weddings. However, as long as it isn’t completely and utterly devastating you should embrace the unexpected. These are the parts of the day that will particularly stand out as memories for the couple.
Thank you!! I am not yet enrolled in photography classes, but at 32 if I hear one more person say “so why aren’t you a photographer?” I will cry. I love photography, just got my first SLR which I completely don’t understand yet, (aperture what??!?) but I will be learning. And since I am 7 months pregnant I was looking for some good tips in taking my own newborn photos, I appreciate you writing this! Very good info and depending how it goes, I may be pursuing a new career!
Set goals. Create several long-term goals. Then, short-term goals that will bring you closer to achieving the long-term goals. The short-term goals should be measurable and have a time frame or deadline. For example, a short-term goal would be to book 5 new clients in the next three months. This could help you achieve a larger goal of having an established clientele within a year.

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.


I just wanted to say THANK YOU! I am not as experienced in newborn shoots as I am with other types and my latest one just kicked my butt! I’ve been trying to edit a particular image for 2 days. And then… I found your tutorials and it made all the difference in the world. I also really needed to see that you started out shaky with your own kids and how you’d improved. Sometimes, I forget it’s ok that I don’t know everything yet. Thanks again!
I am not a huge photo prop person.  However, some props will make your session easier!  We brought a blanket, a wooden crate, and a fun turquoise chair!  All of these allowed us to take certain photos easily.  In the photo above, the crate enabled me to photograph my two children who vary greatly in height a lot easier!  You can tell that my son is shorter than my daughter, but the height difference is not as noticeable as it is when they stand next to each other.
8) Market, market, market. The key to success in a photography business is marketing. You can’t take and get paid for photos if no one hires you. Along with business cards, brochures and a website, use your personal and professional networks to spread the word about your business. Attend trade shows and events geared toward your market. For example, if you want to do wedding photography, attend wedding shows. If you want to take pet portraits, attend dog shows. 
Thank you so much for this post. I’m also a newbie to the world of professional photography, but I’ve been a photographer for most of my life. I would usually simply do shots with friends and their families, or just my own, but I’m actually starting to get paid for it now. I had the privilege 3 days ago to shoot my friends newborn son and her older 2 kids. It was my first newborn shoot, and I was thrilled at how the pics came out, but I felt like I could have done better. Fortunately, I get to try again tomorrow, because Daddy was working last time! Your list and examples are fabulous, and I can’t wait to put then into action!
are beautiful and create interest in photos. I absolutely love using multiple textures and layers, especially important when working with a color palette a bit on the neutral or softer side (with a subtle color pop here or there). When I say textures one of the ways to achieve this is with different clothing materials and accents – tweed, crochet and embroidery details, lace, hand knit items, smocking, ribbons, ruffles, etc. Also, having different layers of clothing and accessories can add another dimension to the overall texture of the image. These details and added depth are especially important in black and white images. And it can be done beautifully with colorful brights or just pops of color here and there as well. Follow your own vision and style, also looking to what fits your subjects best.
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