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!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think it’s more important to have the time in your life captured…than making sure it’s captured professionally. I want to cry when I hear that some families have never had an official family photo, and so many moms just don’t get in pictures at all with their families. I’m here to offer some advice on how you can get it done this year–promise me if it hasn’t happened for a while, that it will happen for you this year!


Inspiration is everywhere – probably even in the form of Pinterest emails from your client.  It is a great idea to have some poses in mind before you arrive at the session.  However, like letting the love story of a wedding day unfold organically, I believe the best images are unplanned and inspired by the uniqueness of each baby.  Whether it is cute dimples, big beautiful eyes, full lips, or a great head of hair, try to highlight the beauty of the baby.
You won't be able to nail down an exact dollar amount until you're sure of what you want, how many albums you need and where your photographer is based, and packages range from $2,500 all the way up to $15,000-plus on the higher end of the spectrum. When interviewing candidates, ask for a general range based on the photographer's standard "shooting fee" and package, plus their standard rates for the type of album you think you'll want and the amount of coverage you're hoping to book them for (day of, full weekend). It's important to find out what's included in the standard package, plus the basic range for any extras you may want, like an engagement shoot, special effects or additional coverage, so you can compare rates. In particular, find out exactly how many hours of coverage are included. Ideally, you want your photographer to be there for your full wedding day—from when you start getting ready until after you make your grand exit from the reception. While packages vary, most include about 6 to 12 hours to cover everything from preceremony events (getting ready with your bridesmaids or first-look photos) to the end of the reception. It's usually better to pay for more coverage if there's a chance you'll run over and you definitely want your photographer there until the end (overtime is usually charged at a higher hourly rate). Also consider whether you'll want to do an engagement shoot or have your photographer shoot other events during your wedding weekend (the guys' golf outing, the bridesmaid lunch). 

Yes, you can take newborn photos after two weeks but you’ll have to opt for different poses and concepts. Your newborn will likely be awake during the session so you should go for photos that include the baby with clothes on and wide awake. Taking newborn photos after two weeks isn’t unheard of and your photos will still turn out well. However, your little one won’t curl up so easily after two weeks so we encourage you to take a different approach with your photos. Babies begin to stretch and extend their arms and legs after two weeks, making it harder for them to naturally curl up during photos. Don’t be discouraged though by timing as you should still schedule a newborn session even if two weeks have passed by.
I did a research with mothers about their experience in hiring a photographer. One of the questions was about regrets and one of the top regret reasons was hiring a cheap photographer with bad quality pictures. I have more than 50 answers and not even one mentioned expensive service as a matter of regret. It doesn’t necessarily mean that more expensive photographers will always be better, but there is often a price/quality correlation. The tip I give you is: if you need to limit your budget, it’s better to choose a simpler product of the photographer you liked the most than a top package of a photographer that is only ok. After a while, you won’t remember how much you paid, but the beautiful photos (or not) will always be with you.
taking your own maternity photos is so easy and i hope it is something you do for yourself, and for your baby.  it will be so fun for your little one to see what you looked like when you were expected him or her.  again, it is also a wonderful way for you to remember what your pregnancy was like.  it is amazing what memories a photo can hold and how just one photo can take you back to the moment, allowing you to remember all the details of pregnancy.
It doesn’t matter what kind, type or brand of camera you are using as long as you know how to use it. Important thing is you are familiar with all the knobs and controls, DOF, exposure etc… to capture the shot. Elements & lights are very important too when doing landscape photography… make sure you know at least to use the MANUAL instead of AUTO function. I am talking all of that for the non-Pro level. But when it comes to Pro level that would be a different ball game. For me, Pro level are those persons who are making money for their photography (i.e. wedding, event, sports photographer) they need to produce what the payee are expecting for. But like me a hobbyist or beginners… it is much better to concentrate on how to capture a nice image or how to work with lights.
Know someone in your area who has gotten beautiful photos taken of their own family? Reach out and ask them who they hired! Not only can you feel more secure knowing they’re recommended, but a lot of photographers offer bonuses or discounts when you’re part of a referral. And, if no one comes to mind, you could try posting a status update, asking if anyone can recommend a local photographer.
I really like your site and the tips you give on photographing toddlers, children, and newborns! They are so very helpful. I think your photos look 100% professional! I was wondering if you had any articles on photographing babies (older than newborns)? My son is 6 months old and I want to photograph him. If not, these tips are still super helpful! Especially the other article that includes the links on how to make different backdrops! Thanks!
It doesn’t matter what kind, type or brand of camera you are using as long as you know how to use it. Important thing is you are familiar with all the knobs and controls, DOF, exposure etc… to capture the shot. Elements & lights are very important too when doing landscape photography… make sure you know at least to use the MANUAL instead of AUTO function. I am talking all of that for the non-Pro level. But when it comes to Pro level that would be a different ball game. For me, Pro level are those persons who are making money for their photography (i.e. wedding, event, sports photographer) they need to produce what the payee are expecting for. But like me a hobbyist or beginners… it is much better to concentrate on how to capture a nice image or how to work with lights.
Wow Annie thank you thank you so much for the “what to wear” guide!! I just cant stop reading it! you have made my day and made me see colour marchers in a whole new way! you have covered everything!..(i only wish the places you linked to were available in New Zealand..But im sure i can find beautiful clothes over here 2!:) And the cool examples at the bottom of the page!!! YAY love to see little outfits you have put together im so going to take this post with me the next time i get to the shops!:) You are truly AMAZING in everything you do and thank you again for shearing your Amaziness with the world <3
Unless you use flash you will need to learn to use natural light. It can sometimes be tricky to use but does provide the most natural looking photographs opposed to using flash. Try and avoid shooting in the midday sun if possible and also look for shaded areas outdoors. These areas can provide cover so you avoid big shadows on faces and people aren’t squinting in the images.
Just as you do not want the exposure to change from frame to frame, neither do you want the focus to be adjusted. Assuming you’ve taken #1 to heart and are using a tripod, you will not be moving. Likely if you’ve posed your group in a relatively static position, they will not be moving. Not much anyway. We are only concerned with moving closer to, or further away from the camera. So . . .
When I was first learning how to use my camera, lighting is what I had the most trouble with. It is so important to learn though. Lighting can make or break a photo. All the other settings can be correct, but a badly lit image will ruin it. When looking at a photographers work, you’ll want to look how their subjects are lit. You want nice even lighting without spots from the sun on a subjects face or front of the body. The image below is back lit. The sun is hitting the back of my son (don’t mind his messy hair!) and rimming him nicely. Notice there are no sun spots on his face or the front of him. The lighting on his face is nice and even. In the second image he was in the same spot, but I moved my position. The sun is now hitting his face. That side of his face is very harsh and the exposure is blown, while the side that is in the shade is correctly exposed. It I had exposed for the sun on his skin, the side in the shadow would have been underexposed. If I moved my position even more the sun would have been completely hitting him on his face. He would have been squinting and the light would not have been pleasing. You also want to avoid dappled light on the subject. Dappled light is when there are clusters of light spots on your subject.
Claire Smith Photography is a photography studio located in Dallas, Texas. Claire Smith is a natural light photographer who specializes in newborn, baby, child, and family photography. Claire’s style is casual, modern, and fun. Claire Smith Photography aims to document a child’s unique personality, opting for candid shots rather than directed poses.
I also suggest my bride to get their manicure and pedicure done according to the colors that they are going to be wearing for the session. Remember that they are scoring a brand new engagement ring and chances are you are going to be photographing it. So, giving a fair warning to your clients about it will save you a lot of work in post-processing and will also save you some great detail shots.

Few styles of portrait photography are as tricky as newborn photos — the unpredictable infant is always in charge! The best way to ensure a successful photo shoot is to work with a local newborn photographer within the first two weeks of the baby’s life. Some photographers even work with hospitals to offer newborn sessions within a day of the baby’s birth. But newborn photographers usually recommend scheduling a shoot during the baby’s first two weeks of life, while the baby is still sleepy and relatively cooperative, especially for posed or studio shots. During this time, babies are easier to swaddle in blankets and dress in hats or headbands, and, because they often nap or nurse, can be staged with various props or be cuddled by their parents. For casual photos, most newborn photographers recommend shooting within the first six weeks of a baby’s life. Lifestyle portrait photography is more flexible and doesn’t require the baby to cooperate with multiple poses or props.


Our signature portrait lends itself to this entirely. No photo shoot is complete without a photograph of your child at their most open and genuine. They’re not performing, not pulling the dreaded Instagram-worthy expressions; it’s just them. They might initially seem severe, but that’s because you’re used to their constantly shifting emotions. It’s in this portrait that you can pause and see them in a new way.
Our differences are truly our strengths since Nick photographs from a man’s perspective and Natalie from a woman’s point of view.  It’s getting dual artistic coverage of your portrait session from individuals who see life through different lenses!  Because we’ve photographed so many sessions together, we remain calm and happy regardless of the circumstances. We want our clients to be at ease because the best pictures happen when people feel free to be themselves! Every single person is uniquely different from the next so we spend time getting to know each client personally so when we create photos together, they reveal who they truly are.
Thank you very much for the tips. My son is 9 months old and I have took thousands of pictures but I never satisfied with the end result. We had to use professional photography when he was new born. It was very expensive. He is very chubby, charming and beautiful boy but it does not justify in the pictures. Now I have learnt few tricks thanks to you I will definitely try it once and I will let you know. I have bought one of the fancy expensive camera but I have no idea how to get the good result.

Each Additional Grouping – $25  Turn your family portrait session into a complete pictorial session if you have separate groups to photograph. For example, include one group of the whole family, another group of just the grandparents, others with each adult child’s family, and maybe one with just the grandkids. Construct as many groupings as you like.
I am not a huge photo prop person.  However, some props will make your session easier!  We brought a blanket, a wooden crate, and a fun turquoise chair!  All of these allowed us to take certain photos easily.  In the photo above, the crate enabled me to photograph my two children who vary greatly in height a lot easier!  You can tell that my son is shorter than my daughter, but the height difference is not as noticeable as it is when they stand next to each other.
@Darlene You have developed a portrait style that works well for you and your clients. If you check out my website, you'll see that we're not all that different... only a matter of degree of "closeness". More power to you if your clients buy 20x30 prints or larger. Mine do not, so having their faces a little more prominent in the frame is important.
You don't want to be in the position as the wedding photographer of needing to fight the client after the fact (or during!) with what they have and have not paid for.  Before the event, clearly communicate to them what services you are prepared to offer for the price they pay.  Do you include digital files?  How many hours of work will you shoot?  Are you going to shoot the reception too?  Is there a travel charge?  What prints are included?  Will you do an album?  Provide answers or face the wrath of bridezilla. (Thanks Gaelene Gangel)

Julia Lauren Photography creates relaxed, casual photo sessions in its newborn photography work. The Dallas photo studio also photographs family portraits, maternity photos, and high school senior portraits. Julia Lauren Photography has been featured in Fort Worth Texas Magazine, WFAA 8, and Us Weekly. Clients have praised the photographer for her stunning, meaningful work and fun photo shoots.

Dads, please cheerfully participate. I know that many dads dread the family photo session, but fathers, please understand how important capturing your family is. These images will be left as a legacy, when your children are grown, with families of their own some day. Family photos are treasured forever and they are so important. Please, please, dads… cheerfully participate in your family photo session. Once you see your happy wife and amazing photographs, you will be so glad that you gave this time to your family.
First, I would recommend never hiring someone, even a friend, without looking at their portfolio first.  While a portfolio only showcases a photographer’s best work, if their best isn’t very good, you can safely bet they won’t be taking amazing photos of you and your family, and you should think about hiring someone else. Looking at their portfolio will also give you an inclination as to their creative vision and methods.
Don't feel that your outfit needs to match that of your future spouse. Coordination is okay, but I don't encourage matching. Look for colors that compliment each other, or are in the same color family. You will also want to make sure your outfits are harmonious. If you're wearing an evening gown, you will want to make sure your future spouse is wearing something that goes with it. Likewise, you wouldn't want one of you in a formal tuxedo and the other in jeans and a t-shirt!
Not sure where to begin with your wedding planning? Take our Style Quiz and we'll pull together a custom wedding vision and vendors to match, just for you. After that, create a free, personalized wedding website to keep your guests informed (and excited!) about your plans, and a time-saving Guest List Manager to organize your attendees. Even better? You can sync your Guest List Manager and wedding website to update everything at once. 
There is plenty of advice on the internet on how to find a wedding photographer. And you know, most of it is actually pretty good. I assure you that is not a thing). But recently in the comments of some of our sponsored posts, it’s become clear that a lot of the advice out there is geared toward people who already have a handle on photography, people who can look at a photo and say, “Yup, that’s a great image.” But there isn’t really a ton of information out there for people who are at a photographic square one.
We do, however, understand that you want to head into your big day prepared, with a clear picture (pun intended!) of which shots you can expect to see in your future wedding album. That's where our comprehensive wedding photo shot list, full of must-have shots recommended by some of the industry's most lauded photographers, comes in. Though this list can be useful in deciding which moments you do (and don't!) want captured, we suggest using it as a general outline—every couple's wedding day unfolds differently, which means that a wedding photo shot list can't and shouldn't be one-size-fits-all.

That’s why we compiled 100 newborn photo ideas to help inspire your upcoming photo shoot. There are endless ideas for newborns including fun costumes, poses with their big brother or sister and options for parents who want to keep it simple. When your baby is done being the star of their own photo shoot, use these pictures to decorate your baby’s room with custom nursery decor.
oh, lord.  writing this post has me hinting at the husband for another baby.  having photos of myself when i was pregnant with our first was so important to me, as i really wanted to document the time and the experience of pregnancy in photographs.  looking back on these photos makes me realize how important maternity photos are.  it seems like, once the baby is born, you literally forget what feeling pregnant was like.  all those aches and pains when walking, the feeling of baby kicking inside, the waking multiple times a night to pee…those memories can be forgotten, without photos.  but the second i look at these photos, i remember exactly what pregnancy was like.  photos spark a memory, and take you back to that moment.  if you don’t want to hire a photographer for formal maternity photos, taking your own maternity photos is so easy.  in fact, it’s almost better because you can take photos throughout your pregnancy instead of having photos done all in one day.  as you are documenting your growing belly, here are 8 ways you can photography your sweet bump.
Identifying faces and places. It can be both fascinating and frustrating to see the faces of strangers gazing back at us, piquing our curiosity about their stories and their connection to us. Often there is scant information available other than cryptic notations in an unfamiliar hand, or the faces themselves that bear a subtle or profound family resemblance. With a little sleuthing, however, you may be able to fit the pieces together.
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