Some photographers work only on location; others work only in studio with backdrops. Think about the setting you prefer, as well as your timing constraints. Do you have extended family visiting for a limited time who will be part of your portrait session? If so, even if you prefer outdoor photography, you may still need a photographer who also has a studio so that you have a rain plan.
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 volunteered my time at an event called Help Portrait last year that has photographers, make up artists and organizers giving their time to create portraits for people that otherwise couldn’t afford a professional one. They ended up sending most of the families to me, initially because I had the biggest area to do the group photo and later because the other photographers said I was the best with the kids. To see some of my photos from that event go to Help Portrait, Edmonton 2012.
Build a complete portfolio. In order to get hired by someone who isn't a close family member or friend, you will need to have a portfolio to show. Use photographs from multiple shoots with different subjects to highlight the range of your talents. Make sure that your portfolio is comprised of more than just five or ten photos. People will want to see the great work you've done.
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.