Chrystal Cienfuegos, owner of Chrystal Cienfuegos Photography, offers a natural & organic style of newborn & portrait photography in Southern California. She is passionate about telling love stories through elegant and timeless imagery that is inspired by the unique beauty of each client. She's a San Diego native and mother of two fun little ladies. Among her favorite things are Chargers football, swimming, impromptu family dance parties, wine (of course), and evening walks with her neighbors.
Instant viewing of your photo session is made available with a custom online slide show posted to the Bella Baby website (protected with a unique password), thus enabling distant friends and family members the opportunity to share the experience. Online viewing and ordering is offered for two weeks to anyone you choose to share your password; immediate in-hospital purchasing is also available.
If you are photographing a couple from a different culture or religion to yourself don’t be afraid to ask. Or at least do a little bit of research on some of the traditions involved. For example, a Jewish ceremony is vastly different to a Christian wedding. Sometimes they are also in different languages so it’s a good idea to know what will be happening and when.
Timing of the shoot is very important. I often give my couples two options. The first option is to photograph very early in the morning, and the second is later in the afternoon. Both times, the light is soft and often diffused, so there is no harsh direct light to deal with. This way, I do not have to worry about finding a shade, which can be problematic in open nature parks. Educate your clients on the importance of choosing the right timing. You are the photographer and you should know best what light works for you.
I would love to meet up and talk about your hopes and dreams — Meet your partner in crime, and little(s), and hear your love story. I hope you will give me the chance to get to know you. I will bring some samples, talk about what it’s like to do a playdate with me, answer all of your questions and calm your anxieties, and you can get a feel for what it is like to work with me.
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.
At the beginning of the 20th century, color photography became available, but was still unreliable and expensive, so most wedding photography was still practiced in black and white. The concept of capturing the wedding "event" came about after the Second World War. Using film roll technology and improved lighting techniques available with the invention of the compact flash bulb, photographers would often show up at a wedding and try to sell the photos later. Despite the initial low quality photographs that often resulted, the competition forced the studio photographers to start working on location.
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.
If you have pets or kids, please feel free to include them in your session. However, I strongly suggest limiting their involvement. If you're going to bring pets or kids, you're also going to need to bring someone else to handle them. The best thing is to include them in the beginning of the session, for a brief time, and then having a trusted friend or family member take them home. If you don't, we'll spend valuable session time wrangling them. You won't be able to relax and be together if you've got kids running around that you need to keep an eye on, and it's difficult to cuddle up when you're trying to hold your dog's leash in your free hand!
*Staging Is Okay*While it’s not good to pose people, it can help to stage a shot. Know, for example, where the best light in your home is, and coax your subjects into it. If possible, declutter those spots beforehand. Sue Barr, a pro based just outside of New York City (www.suebarr.com), recommends semistaging a shot using wardrobe. “Try to dress everyone in similar tones—it will visually unify the group and makes exposure easier, too. Not too matchy, though.”(Above Photo) For this after-dark shot of his child, Teddy Madison mimicked daylight by placing his strobe out on the lawn.Teddy Madison
So many maternity sessions are done in studio. I understand the reasons behind this. I’ve been pregnant. 3 times over. I’m not the petite and pretty pregnant. I’m the gal you find wedged between the double doors at The Sizzler. Studio shoots are great because there’s privacy. I can’t argue with that. Particularly if you’re going to do anything in less than a fully clothed state (that’s my PC way of saying naked). But there’s something about being outside. Taking that natural beauty of a woman who’s ready to bring new life into the world and placing her in the majesty of the great outdoors is simply breathtaking.

4.) Baby safety is #1 paramount. Know that babies aren’t really hung from trees. That when you see something that looks unreal that’s because it is. It’s called composite and babies are never put in harms way. So if you are trying to re-enact a photo that you saw research it first and decide the safest way to achieve. That photo with baby on dads bicep for example… you don’t see moms had there on his tushy holding him steady but guess what, it was there 😉
As with all photography lighting is key. If you are shooting inside and can’t afford expensive lighting use the most flattering and cheapest form of light there is – sun light! Position your group facing or parallel to a large clean window, if it is a particularly bright day cover it with a thin veil of material, such as a net curtain or peg a white cotton sheet across to act as a diffuser for softer, more flattering light.
Consider COLOR: Most people look their best in certain colors (mine are green and orange).  Although I love hiding in black clothes as much as the next guy, it tends to be a tough color for photographs.  And again - you don't need to match. Pick a color tone (jewel tone) or pallette (pastels) - maybe even select 3-4 colors - and go from there.  Pinterest has some great color ideas for family photos.  Before you go out and buy anything - spend a bit of time with favorite items you already own.  You probably have everything you need. 
If the question is whether or not to take maternity and newborn pics, I would say absolutely take them! When else will you be pregnant? lol I just booked a package and it was about $640 (that's after a 30% discount) for maternity and newborn session. If I had a nice camera, I'd probably take a stab at capturing some nice moments myself, or having a friend do it. Also, if you're close to a university you can see if student photographers would do a photoshoot for you for cheap. If you do go with a package, you probably only really need a few poses. So don't buy into the hype of buying the files at $40 each!
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When shooting outside after a ceremony or during the posed shots you’ll probably want to keep your flash attached to give a little fill in flash. I tend to dial it back a little (a stop or two) so that shots are not blown out – but particularly in backlit or midday shooting conditions where there can be a lot of shadow, fill in flash is a must. Read more about using Fill Flash.

Annie, Thank you so much for this post. I found this delightful and amazingly informative post on Pinterest. I’d been on the for hours looking at how to style family portraits. I’m going insane, we have pictures tomorrow and I still don’t know what I’m wearing. I have my husband and the 4 kids (boys age 17, 16, & 11 and our girl age 10) clothes picked out but not myself. Deep breath….. I’m going to try again to find something conducive. Wish me luck
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