I know many portrait & wedding photographers love to shoot wide open at f/1.2 & f/1.4.  However, with newborn photography, many of the baby poses can have extreme angles and you often will have better luck with your depth of field and sharpness by shooting around f/2 & f/2.2.  Remember, it will be rare that the baby’s eyes are on the same plane of focus all the time and by closing down my aperture a bit from wide open I get that little bit extra of depth of field that is often needed.
As you start looking through photographers’ portfolios, pay attention to the lighting quality in the pictures. Are they dark and moody? Bright and romantic? Each photographer has a certain style, and there will most likely be one that you mesh with better than others. You may also notice while you’re looking through portfolios that some photographers refer to themselves “natural light photographers” which just means that they only use whatever light is available, rather than using a flash or other lighting setups. If you are getting married somewhere dark without a lot of windows, you will want to make sure that the photographer knows how to create light when it isn’t there. Every lighting situation is different for photographers, so make sure you’re looking at photos that have similar characteristics to your venue. An outdoor wedding in the middle of the day with bright sun requires a very different skill than a New Year’s Eve reception in a dark church. (Also, a hot tip: ask to see some reception shots, since many of us don’t include those in our portfolios. Because if you are having an art gallery reception with no light, you want to make sure we can handle it. If all the reception photos are a little blurry and have been converted to black and white, then low-light situations are probably not that photographer’s forte. If you see lots of backlighting and what appears to be bursts of light behind the dancing, it means that that photographer has the ability to create standalone lighting in situations where the light is nonexistent.)
4.  Can you really afford them?  Not all photographers list their complete pricing (or any pricing at all) on their website.  There’s nothing wrong with this, it just means they want to chat with you a bit before they tell you what they charge.  You’ll just want to make sure that before you book, you understand what your final cost will be.  If their website says “Session fee of $150, prints and digital images sold separately,” you’ll probably want to think about what you want and make sure you know what it will cost before you book.  We’ll talk about some of this in greater detail in my next post!
While it may work out amazingly, you run the risk of things getting a bit awkward with your friend if you really don’t like the pictures (know your friend and their sensitivity to such things: will they be completely offended if you don’t like the shots and decide to get a different photographer or if you want to take photos again? You don’t want to damage a friendship over family pictures!).
See #1 first of all. Then look at #6. Being a photographer means that sometimes you have to also become a comedian, or a clown. Knowing the right thing to say or do to make people smile is mostly experience. Sometimes you’ll get tough adults too. The dad in the photo above by the brick wall pretty much has the same expression all the time. I’ve known this family and photographed them for 13 years, they’re friends too. So I know I can bug him a little bit or get out the ducky to have some fun at his expense.
Most people recommend holding a newborn photo shoot within the first ten days of your baby’s life. When babies are this young they are generally very sleepy, which is a good thing for photos. Why? Because a sleeping baby isn’t crying, doesn’t have crossed eyes, doesn’t have a huge pacifier in her mouth, and isn’t flailing her arms about uncontrollably (all of which happen quite regularly when she’s awake). Sleeping newborns look sweet and peaceful, while awake newborns can look a little awkward. If you start your photoshoot while the baby is asleep you can get lots of sweet sleepy pictures, and then a few more when she wakes up.
Excellent points, especially about using a tripod. The main benefit is that you'll need taking many nearly identical photos in order to get "the one" where everybody in the group is looking their best. Unless you've done this before, you'd be surprised how many shots it can take. Somebody's always looking away, blinking, has their head/hands etc. in a less than ideal position. Once everything is all set up as Darlene says, just shoot as many shots as you can in a very short amount of time.
Most contracts stipulate that the photographer owns the rights to all photos taken at the wedding, even the ones of you. In other words, the photographer can use them promotionally (on their website or blog, submit them for publication and even place them in ads). That also means you can't just post the digital proofs they send you—most photographers have a policy that you can only share watermarked images or images with their credit on them. Also, unless you negotiate otherwise, if you want to print the images yourselves or order an album from another source, you'll have to buy the rights to the images.
Be prepared to edit your photos.  I am not talking about crazy amounts of editing, I am talking merely tweaking.  The photos we took were taken in the morning light, so the light was a little bit cool for my taste.  So I quickly imported my photos into Lightroom and warmed them up just a little bit!  I highly recommend using Lightroom to edit photos quickly and in bulk!  You can purchase Lightroom HERE.
I also suggest the option of styling the session to my clients. While they can style the shoot according to their own taste, I also recommend getting it done professionally. It is relatively inexpensive and saves a lot of time for the couple. I show portfolios of planners, who stylize events and engagement sessions and put my clients in touch with them.

(Above) Hilarious Engagement Card Photo Pose Idea: If you have a funny engagement card such as this “Sh-t Just Got Real” wedding announcement card, then incorporate it as a photo prop into your engagement shoot pics. {Available from: Julie Ann Art . (<-This is a referral link, which means that we’ll earn a small commission if you choose to purchase this cute item. Thanks so much for helping to support our blog!}

When styling a photo session, I like to start out with a basic color palette and go from there. It can help to have one “rock star” in the photos who carries a pattern in their outfit that the rest of the group’s clothing or accessories pulls from, while keeping everyone else’s outfits more simple. You can do this with a neutral and a few colorful brights, or try a softer palette that has different tonal ranges of the same shades.

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