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. 

Choosing the right family photographer is a daunting task. Perform an internet search on “Family Photographer” for your area and inevitably you will be barraged with hundreds of options, spread over many pages (hint: if they are in the sidebar, or highlighted/sponsored in the top space, they are paying to be there). You’ve probably seen a studio located on a main street in your town, or seen friends on Facebook tagged or blogged by their professional photographer in their own family sessions. And finally, there is no end in sight to the number of friends and family who have “a great eye,” a “nice camera” and “know there way around Photoshop.”


As the busy fall season for family photography approaches, I’ve decided to do a series of blog posts on things you may want consider when choosing a family photographer!  If you’re looking at hiring a photographer for the first time, I’m sure the options can be daunting.  How does this all work?  Why does it cost so much?  How do you know you can trust them to do a good job?  Whether you’re reading this here in Fort Collins or far away in another state, I want to share some thoughts that might be helpful as you make this decision.  This isn’t meant to be a black and white list of dos and don’ts, just some food for thought!  I want to start by talking a bit about some things that I think are important to look for when you’re checking out potential photographers’ websites.
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.
A summertime family photo shoot offers beautiful landscapes for your photos and warmer weather. The season reflects a laid back vibe that can be mirrored throughout your family’s outfit selections. Take advantage of light cottons, pretty sheers, denim and slip into your sandals for a casual look. If your family is taking a summer vacation, use this time to take your family portraits. No matter where you may be during summertime, you can take advantage of the following summer color arrangements and styling tips to guide your selections.
Thanks so much for this. I’m not a photographer but I understand lighting and just want to know how to set up and get the “look” of shots I see all the time. I’m so grateful for all of this info especially as I’ve just found out I’m having a boy so now I need to find poses that will work as I can no longer do the whole headband and ruffles thing lol! I can’t wait. 🙂

This one can be really bad and it is super important. Five weeks before your wedding and on the same day of the week as your wedding (i.e. if you are getting married on a Saturday, then look at the Saturday five weeks prior to your wedding), pull up Sigalert (or any other traffic monitoring site) and see what traffic is like on the routes you will be taking at around the times that you are likely to be on them. Do this every week and you might notice that there is consistently more or consistently less traffic on your routes than you had planned. You can save yourself a LOT of stress (and perhaps even prepare appropriate tasty treats and beverages!) by knowing ahead of time if you are probably going to be sitting in traffic for 45 minutes between your getting ready, ceremony, and reception locations.

Darlene Hildebrandt is an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through free articles on her website Digital Photo Mentor, online photography classes, and travel tours to exotic places like Peru, Thailand, India, Cuba, Morocco, Bhutan, Vietnam and more. To help you improve and learn she has two email mini-courses. Sign up for her free beginner OR portrait photography email mini-course here. Or get both, no charge!


Cinnamon Dreams Photography & Weddings is a wedding planner and photography studio in Dallas, Texas, serving clients in Ft. Worth, Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Highland Park, Irving, Addison, and the surrounding DFW area since 2011. This studio specializes in bridal, wedding, engagement, family, child, corporate, and executive photography, as well as wedding planning packages. Cinnamon Dreams Photography & Weddings has been featured in Style Me Pretty wedding blog site.

Carrie Smith's two young boys inspired her love of photography, leading to the creation of Carrie Smith Photography. The Dallas photo studio specializes in newborn photography and also provides in-studio or on-site maternity portraits, hospital photos, children's portraits, and family portraits. Clients have praised Carrie Smith for her memorable photos that capture the subject's spirit and her warm, patient personality.


Bring the Fun, Dads: There is nothing more attractive than an amazing father/husband. I KNOW that your wife probably had to talk you into photos. And, I want you to know, I'm thrilled that you're participating. And, if you're at all affectionate with your loved ones, you've probably already melted my photographer heart. Today isn't about smiling and posing, it's about having a blast.  And, I have yet to meet a dad who doesn't know how to break a house rule or two in the name of family fun.  At the risk of minimizing your outfit choice, Dads, the most important thing you can wear to picture day is a good attitude.  If you've got a signature hat, belt buckle, or something that you really love - let's find a way to include it. 

Blooming Tree Photography is a family-oriented photography studio located in Frisco, Texas. Jessica, their photographer, specializes in child, family, and newborn photography, and is an expert in custom portraiture and lifestyle photography. Blooming Tree Photography’s style is natural, and driven by Jessica's passion for capturing intimate family moments to be shared with everyone.
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.

Have the couple appoint you someone that knows all the ‘key players'  as your go-to person for questions. Especially helpful during the formal family shots since the bride and groom are in all the shots. They can help point out that uncle or go get grandma from the reception (cause she always manages to leave first to get over there LoL). They are also helpful during the reception to ask questions when you don't want to bother the new couple. (Thanks Melinda Lutz Ledsome)
These close-up “detail” shots are not only adorable but they are great accompanying images for albums and accordion books.  Because of the sensitive focus on a macro lens, the best time to get these images is when the baby is very still (in their deepest sleep).  As shown with the newborn workshop where you get to shadow me on an actual on-location shoot, when I notice the baby is deep in dreamland, I’ll just stop whatever I’m doing and I’ll pull out my macro for 10 minutes and get all the shots that I need.
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.)
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!
The afterparty is often the most fun part of a wedding (and perhaps the part with fuzzier memories). Taking snaps throughout the night will let you record interactions between friends and family, and relive all the best bits. A Best Buy compact camera is the perfect companion to have on hand; it will be small enough to keep in your pocket or clutch bag, freeing you to enjoy the night.
When being photographed  most, if not all, people are nervous. Yes nervous! Some are down right scared, and some would even go as far to say that they “hate it”. So it is part of your job to help your subjects feel more comfortable and relaxed. That can be hard to do when you’re also nervous, especially if you’re new to portraits. But there’s a big advantage of putting that camera on the tripod.  Two actually.

The first thing that I want to mention is that if you currently own an SLR camera DO NOT immediately go and sell your camera in order to purchase one of the cameras here. Just because I perhaps don’t mention your camera in this article doesn’t mean it isn’t suitable for portrait or wedding photography. You may just want to keep this article in mind for future purchase, or upgrades.
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.
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!
There’s something intriguing about poring over old photographs. Whether the photos are black and whites from the Old Country or yellow-stained images from the halcyon days of our own youth, looking at them is like peeking through a window at another world. But if you’ve inherited boxes and boxes of old photos, whether you’re a family history buff or just trying to get organized, you may find yourself asking, “Who are these people?” Well, here are some tips to help you research, share and preserve those dusty old prints.
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