2. Backdrop board. I have a couple DIY backdrop boards that I made for about $10 each (full instructions in this post). I stand one up against the backs of two of my kitchen chairs. The backdrop boards can be used alone for a solid colored background, or can be used to drape blankets from for more background options. The background should be angled so it faces the right or left side of the window, not the middle of it, as you can see in the photo above. This will allow the baby’s head to be a little closer to the window than her feet, allowing the light to hit her forehead first, causing gentle shadows just under her nose and chin. If you don’t have a backdrop board, stand two kitchen chairs backwards here anyway so you can drape a blanket from them. If you use a backdrop board it must be secured with clamps to the chairs it stands in front of to assure it will not fall over.
The ability to bounce a flash or to diffuse it is key. You’ll find that in many churches that light is very low. If you’re allowed to use a flash (and some churches don’t allow it) think about whether bouncing the flash will work (remember if you bounce off a colored surface it will add a colored cast to the picture) or whether you might want to buy a flash diffuser to soften the light. If you can’t use a flash you’ll need to either use a fast lens at wide apertures and/or bump up the ISO. A lens with image stabilization might also help. Learn more about Using Flash Diffusers and Reflectors.
You’ll spend some time getting each pose ready, so take you time making sure you’ve taken a photograph from every angle that might work. Sometimes doing this can “save” a pose that wasn’t really working. In the photos below I made a few mistakes when posing this baby – first – I didn’t tuck her legs under her, which puts her feet closer to the camera than her head is, and second – her hands are stuck under her chin instead of under her had, making her look very uncomfortable. It makes what could have been a cute picture look kind of awkward. However, I moved closer to her head and zoomed in for the next shot, which turned out much cuter. (Note, see how her hand is in a fist in that second photo? It would have looked better had I gently pulled her fingers out so they were visible.)

This Canon model holds your hand in the beginning until you’re more accustomed to how such cameras operate. It literally holds your hand too, by being one of the smallest DSLR style cameras on the market. If you have dainty digits, the EOS 100D has you covered. A lot of people have trouble holding on to the bigger cameras out there because of their sheer size. Not so with the EOS 100D.


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).

Pro tip: Once you get the sign and the location nailed down, it's time to concentrate on wardrobe. "Wear something you feel comfortable and confident in," says Tempe, Ariz.-based photographer Melissa Young. "I like the way long dresses and skirts work for maternity. If you have any doubts on the outfits, you may choose to seek advice from your photographer in advance, as they can give tips as to what photographs best for your body type and the location you are shooting at."
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.
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!
Krista is natural light portrait, senior, and wedding photographer in Northwest Arkansas. A lover of golden fields, buttery backlight, and authentic emotion, she strives to transform the mundane into the magical by showcasing amazing light and interaction in her photography. She is a devoted wife and mother of a spirited daughter, who also serves as her muse. Krista loves spicy Mexican food, reality TV, the ocean, and connecting with nature. She is the author of Transforming the Mundane Into Magical.
Hi there fellow San Diegan and fellow Charger fan ;-), I don’t think there’s anything I can say that hasn’t been said already. Wonderful tips and insight especially for newbies like myself. I can’t even call myself a photographer considering I’m still getting to learn my camera. But I will say that after reading your post, it definitely seems more doable and less scary. Not saying that it will be easy. I’m hoping to get together with a photographer and go on a “ride along” so to speak and maybe get some hands on experience before I venture out on my own. I literally came across your post about an hour ago and I’m looking forward to reading and learning more!
Last summer, at my extended family reunion on the beach, I knew I was going to have to figure something out.  My solution was to find a kind soul nearby on the beach and ask for a big favor. I set up the entire family, got the tripod/camera in place, then nervously looked around.   There was a nice lady who was in her chair reading a book. I went up to her and asked if she’d mind snapping a few for us. The reason I didn’t do the running thing this time is because there were so many of us, I needed her to just snap 30 in a row to make sure we were all looking. I said that, too. Just take a bunch in one minute, then you’re done!
Depending on the feasibility it can be an idea to check out the location ahead of the wedding. However, things change so it can sometimes be best to play this by ear. You could scout the location on the morning of the wedding. Equally, you can wander around the venue when the couple are eating their food. Having an idea of where you are going to take the couple for their photos can drastically improve the end result. This is definitely one of our top tips for beginners.
It can be hard at times to remember that you are at a wedding and NOT a photoshoot. If you make the wedding all about the photos and as behave like you are the most important person the couple won’t thank you for it. Some couples are extroverts and won’t mind but others may be more reserved. Just find some middle ground between them having a good time and you capturing what you need.
Evaluate your interview notes. Spend some time looking back through the notes you made during the interview to help you decide. These notes are a record of the interview that can give you a good idea of the impression you got from the photographer. You can compare the scores across the different shortlisted candidates with your partner, and evaluate their relative strengths and weaknesses.

One last thing to look for is that they know how to use light.  Outdoor photography can be difficult when the sun is out.  One thing you might want to watch for is to make sure that people don’t have harsh shadows on their faces.  The light should fall softly on their faces in a flattering way.  Part what makes this difference is time of day (that’s why most photographers like to do outdoor sessions in the evening), but there are a lot of other little tricks for getting the lighting just right.  In the examples below, the photo on the left is a test shot that I took in harsh midday light just to show my client what the location looked like.  See the dark shadows and blown out hot spots on my (super enthusiastic) son’s face?  Then on the right, you see a family posing in the same spot with soft light that is much more flattering.
Why take engagement photos? The best reason is it's a great opportunity to work with your wedding photographer for the first time and get comfortable in front of their lens and with their style. (Most photographers also include an engagement session in their wedding photography packages.) You can also submit a shot to your local paper with your engagement announcement, use them creatively in your save-the-dates and wedding day décor, or give framed prints as gifts to your families. Read on for the basics to help you make the most of your premarital photo session. 
Portrait photographers usually don't work from a tripod when shooting on-location, but it can be especially useful for shooting inside a dimly lit church.  Bring a tripod for these situations so you can get a sharp shot even with a slower shutter speed.  Even if you can get away with shooting handheld inside, you might want the tripod so you can use a lower ISO and get cleaner shots. (Thanks Johnny Quattlebaum)
Wedding photographers offer a wide range of photography styles, so when you start your initial search, review portfolios to find the look you're after. In cities like Chicago and New York, high-fashion editorial-style wedding photos are popular, with couples earmarking a larger part of their wedding budget to lock in well-known photographers. Aesthetic elements of the photographer's style include everything from lenses used and lighting to formality of poses and more. Popular requests among soon-to-be married couples include traditional/formal, candid, artistic, natural/outdoors, and high-fashion photos.
Before you do the fancy stuff, like fix red-eye and crop, you must delete! Send awkward faces, closed eyes, blurry, overexposed (too light) or underexposed (too dark) shots to the trash immediately. Next, tackle duplicates. Decide which smile or pose you like the best when photos are very similar, then delete the rest. "The fewer photos you end up with, the easier it is to sort and store them," says Walsh.
Blankets or fabric to use as backdrops. If you are going to invest in one thing, I’d say go buy a few yards of the cheapest black stretch velvet you can find (use a coupon at Joanns!). Black velvet works really well as a backdrop because it doesn’t show wrinkles and generally shows up as solid black in photos. Otherwise, walk through the house looking for any blankets you might have. Blankets with lots of texture also do a good job hiding wrinkles, like this one:
Once you have your first look and bride and groom portrait session, the rest of the family can join in on the fun.  During this time, the rest of the wedding party will come in to take formal wedding photos with the bride and the groom.  Make sure that everyone in the wedding party and immediate family is there on time so that no time is not wasted scrambling to get everyone together. Groomsmen should have their buttoners pinned and Bridesmaids should have their bouquets in hand. If there are children in the wedding party, they should be ready as well.
 I sent her an email the day after my son was born and she got back with me right away. She sent me a list of available dates and times within that first week, making it easy and convenient for mom and baby to pick a time that worked best for us. Laura was also really patient during the shoot and wasn't bothered by the fact that my son was a light sleeper."
Jeckyl Photo creates portraits of kids in all stages of childhood. The Fort Worth photo studio shoots maternity photos, newborn photos, and babies at their sitting, walking, and standing stages. The business also shoots senior portraits, engagement photos, and wedding day photos. Clients have praised the company for its beautiful pictures and knowledgeable photographer.
Meet a few photographers before hiring anyone. Any photographer should be willing to meet with you either in person or by phone before you commit to hiring them just like a contractor would be. (If they aren’t you might want to think twice about working with them because that shows they are not valuing the relationship and are more likely to think of you as a pay check.) Just like when you are choosing a pediatrician, or a pre school, when you hire a photographer you are hiring someone who will be intimately involved with your life. The only way to get beautiful, true images is to work with someone who you genuinely like and trust. True images only happen when you will feel comfortable being yourself around your photographer.
“The passion definitely has to be there. More than that, you have to really want it, especially in the beginning. Go out of your way to do shoots for free. Not just any shoots, but “portfolio worthy” ones. Take control – style it, creative direct it, own it. Admit and learn from your mistakes. And finally, only show your very best work. You will be judged by your worst shot”
Women don’t generally feel very sexy when they’re pregnant. Understandably so, and trust me I connect with this feeling as much as the next gal. But just because an expectant mother doesn’t feel sexy, that doesn’t mean she’s not totally knock out. Bring that out in her. Pull that beauty out of her. A good way to do this is by talking as you shoot. It’s perfectly appropriate to say things like: “That’s beautiful!” “Yes, perfect!” “Oh that’s just LOVELY.” “Pregnancy looks good on you girl!” Whatever works! If you’re a male photographer you’ll need to be careful about what you say in this crazy world of sexual harassment, but you’re even more capable of pulling the beauty out of her than a female photographer. It’s one thing when your girlfriend tells you you’re beautiful, but when your girlfriend’s brother tells you that you’re looking good, you actually believe it. Obviously be careful and be genuine. The success of this tip will depend on your personality, but you can help her help herself. If she feels pretty she’ll look a whole heck of a lot better. It’s that simple.
Just as you do not want the exposure to change from frame to frame, neither do you want the focus to be adjusted. Assuming you’ve taken #1 to heart and are using a tripod, you will not be moving. Likely if you’ve posed your group in a relatively static position, they will not be moving. Not much anyway. We are only concerned with moving closer to, or further away from the camera. So . . .
Gear can be an expensive investment if you are just starting out in wedding photography. We’d always recommend taking some form of a backup camera body to a wedding just in case. If you can’t afford a second body consider a less expensive model of camera. Or rent one. It might seem like you are taking money off your profits but this could quite literally save you if your main body were to fail on a wedding day.
This guy (or girl) is coming to the wedding you are photographing. Make no bones about it Uncle Bob will be there. He/she is an amateur photographer who thinks they know better than the wedding photographer. You need to effectively deal with him/her without being rude and without offending the couple. Be firm but fair. If necessary have a word with the couple. Suggest that you and them get away from the crowd for a while so you can focus on some portraits of just them. At the end of the day let Uncle Bob enjoy taking his/her photos but don’t let it affect the results you are capturing. You’re couple will be much happier if you deal with this on the day and show that you are in charge of the photography. Rather than having loads of photos with Uncle Bob in them.
Hey Jessica! Without knowing what camera body you have right now it is sort of a guess…but I’d look into the Nikon 60mm macro. Brand new (newest versions) are around $500 which is about 1/2 of the 105 macro…you can find used for even cheaper. If you aren’t using a full frame camera I’d actually RECOMMEND that 60mm length over the 105 anyway 😉 The class allows you, the viewer, to tag along on a professional shoot in which you will certainly see and hear Chrystal work throughout the shoot, including when she is getting the close details vs other shots/poses. Give it a shot!! I think it’ll be perfect for you.

Dana Menendez Photography is a Carrollton-based photographer, dedicated to capturing organic, heartfelt moments within family interactions. Owner Dana Menendez specializes in newborn, maternity, and family photography, and offers additional services such as wall prints, canvas gallery wraps, and keepsake albums. Her studio is equipped with different hats, wraps, blankets, and props for producing colorful, lively images. Dana Menendez Photography is highly rated on Facebook.


Not sure where to begin with your wedding planning? Take our Style Quiz and we'll pull together a custom wedding vision and vendors to match, just for you. After that, create a free, personalized wedding website to keep your guests informed (and excited!) about your plans, and a time-saving Guest List Manager to organize your attendees. Even better? You can sync your Guest List Manager and wedding website to update everything at once. 
The #1 way to ensure a successful newborn session is to make sure your client knows what to expect and how to best prepare for the session.  I send my prep tips a few days before our session to get mommy and daddy prepared.  In fact, in our newborn workshop includes the email templates that I send & has a full chapter dedicated to adequate preparation before the session.  Many moms choose to feed while I unpack and setup.  I have them feed the baby in only a diaper and a loose swaddle blanket so we don’t have to bother the baby with undressing them.  I also let them know what I’ll be bringing, the approximate length of the session, to expect messes and frequent feedings, and to warm the house, even though I will be bringing a heater.

Anyway, thanks for these tips… For a guy with boys of two, it’s pretty neat to read that I have been doing the right thing all this while… There’s no such thing as enough photos when it comes to self-triggered shots.. One thing that I have to seriously put into action is the “Make it An Event” part.. most often than not, we tend not to put priority on the group photos as we get busy planning the place to visits, transportations, FOOD!, etc. I will surely put this one in my checklist for our next family vacation…
These sites also have great finds for the rest of the family, even for your home. I find a lot of my jeans there, as well as fun shoes, accessories and sweaters. Some of the brands I’ve picked up for myself there are 7 For All Mankind jeans, Hudson jeans, Paige Denim, Current & Elliot jeans (yes, I love my denim), Free People, some vintage finds when they have a Vintage Bazaar boutique (great for props), etc.
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