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.
This one is a biggie when answering the question of “How do I choose a family photographer.” Are you looking for a cheap, quick and easy process where you only need 1 or 2 good images or do you really value the images that the amount of money you spend is less important? The easiest way to narrow down your list of family photographers is to set a budget. This being said, it’s important to understand that in the photography industry, you get what you pay for.  Our pricing is usually based on experience and a professional photographer comes with a professional price tag. Additionally, professionals use price as a way to attract clients who truly value photography. I would rather work with someone willing to communicate and put the time, effort and money into achieving a great set of images then someone who is just bargain hunting. If you’re looking for a cheap and quick photo, consider using a new and budding photographer who is trying to build their portfolio or a set portrait service in a department store studio. If you really do value photography but are low on funds a cheap option is to look for mini-session specials from the photographers you really love. These are usually quick 10-20 minute sessions in a set location that include only a few digital files and photographers of all levels usually do sales on this kind of session at least once a year.
(Above Left) Rustic Picnic Engagement Photo Pose Idea: Plan a beach side picnic and capture a beautiful moment featuring a few scrabble letters in the background for your rustic engagement shoot. {Featured here: {Engagement Shoot} Rustic Broadbeach Picnic | Shot by: stayconnelly Photography} | (Above Right) Country Engagement Photo Pose Idea: A romantic rock ‘n roll country themed engagement shoot photo idea set in a field filled with flowers. {Featured here: Rocking the Country {Engagement Shoot} | Shot by: Shirock Photography}
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.
That’s it! No expectations other than fun. Then prepare yourself. Bring along props, get mom to bring one of their favourite toys or books. I usually have a hand puppet and bubbles in my camera bag along with my gear. If the kids don’t want to sit and smile don’t force them. Then them run around and be kids for a while and shoot that. Play with them, make it fun. Then they may cooperate and sit for a bit a few minutes later.
If the baby has older siblings, I try to make the sibling shots my very first priority and then let them go play while we finish the session.  Toddlers simply don’t have the attention span to sit quietly and wait for you to call on them for their picture so get their poses done first while they are curious and excited about your visit.  By the time the session is over, they are usually open to participating again and that is when I try to get some lifestyle sibling shots.  If they don’t want to participate, I’ve found promises of ice cream & candy have magical powers! (as long as that’s ok with Mom & Dad).
that blend with the the vibe of the session as well, but keep them simple and meaningful. A handful of flowers that are a natural, neutral color or that coordinate with color pops in the subjects’ clothing, a vintage camera, a basket of apples, or the absolute best type of prop is something that is meaningful to the subject (grandpa’s vintage camera, their favorite stuffed animal, a quilt made by great grandma, the family’s beloved pet). But don’t let the prop be an odd distraction – make sure it “makes sense” being in the photo and blends well with the whole vision you had in mind for the shoot.
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