Honestly, dads are often my toughest cases. Moms, dad might need a little incentive, too:) Sometimes, I get the kids to tickle dad to crack that natural smile. Oh yeah, and mom, don’t be too hard on yourself. Wear a shirt that you feel good about yourself in and plan the family clothing options around it. I recognize that if mom doesn’t look good, she won’t love the portraits, and I want you to LOVE them! I am a big advocate of moms being in pictures with their kids because they are often the unseen behind the camera.
Look at an engagement session as a practicing ground for the upcoming wedding. While meeting your clients for a consultation can give you loads of information about them, working with them directly before the wedding and learning their preferences might be very helpful for you while photographing the actual wedding. At the same time, engagement sessions give a great opportunity to your clients to understand how you work behind the camera, and give a chance to practice for their upcoming wedding as your subjects.

Great shots. What I've been struggling with recently is the balance between only release your best shots and how many I should deliver as proofs to a client ( along with what the concept of a proof is ). Whilst each of the examples above is a single shot I betting there were many more to choose from as an output from each session. Many of my portrait shoots are around 45 mins to a bit over an hour and in that time I will take a range of head, mid body and full length shots along with various groups. My last session took a bit over one hour with a family of 5 and resulted in around 200 pics ( a good number of which were burst mode of kids jumping off Walls ). I selected a fair range of around 60-70 pics and did some basic proof edit cropping and light balancing, the standard stuff and delivered a disc to the client. As I am starting out my model is to deliver a disc to the client rather than sell prints I don't have that bandwidth just yet and I price accordingly with that in mind. I've had some interesting conversations since that made me think I should have delivered fewer pics ( maybe 1 or 2 of each pose ) which would have meant a delivery set of about 30 pics. So what is the right balance ?
Consider shooting a fake wedding couple in order to practice posing techniques or just to build up some portfolio images. It can be hard to get your feet on the ladder at the start and you need images in order to attract clients. Shooting couples who are friends is a great way to build confidence and experiment with new techniques without the pressures that come with a wedding.

One advantage of DSLRs is how much they just “get out of the way”. Maybe it seems silly, but when shooting a DSLR I never really have to think about the process of using the camera, with all the mirrorless cameras I’ve used there always seems to be something that gets in the way (poor EVF brightness or refresh rate, slower autofocus speed, ergonomics, button placement and how quickly they make adjustments – the list goes on).
…and think outside the box. Scarves, hats, flowers in the hair for girls, jewelry, sweaters, vests, jackets, etc. – all these things can take a ho-hum image and make it feel “complete.” Don’t let the accessories overwhelm the subject or the photos though. I believe that especially with sweet babies and toddlers that they don’t need much in the way of “accessories.” Little kiddos are beautiful in their simple purity, and I want them to be the star of the show instead of making one’s eye go straight to a giant headband as big as their head as they sit awkwardly in a big bucket. I want the viewer to notice my subject and their personality first. The accessories and clothing should just complement them – not be center stage. Choose your accent colors and fill in outfits with those punches of color in accessories. For instance, if big sister’s patterned dress has tones of aqua, coral and gray, have mom wear a coral headband and little brother in an aqua pair of Converse and bow tie. Show off the kids’ and your unique personality with accessories!
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