that blend with the the vibe of the session as well, but keep them simple and meaningful. A handful of flowers that are a natural, neutral color or that coordinate with color pops in the subjects’ clothing, a vintage camera, a basket of apples, or the absolute best type of prop is something that is meaningful to the subject (grandpa’s vintage camera, their favorite stuffed animal, a quilt made by great grandma, the family’s beloved pet). But don’t let the prop be an odd distraction – make sure it “makes sense” being in the photo and blends well with the whole vision you had in mind for the shoot.
These are the main reasons why I offer engagement sessions in all of my wedding packages. Other reasons for including such sessions into your packages could be giving an opportunity for your couples to use the photos in their “Save the Date” invitations and also to print and showcase their favorite pictures during their wedding. From a marketing standpoint, both of these can be very useful for your business, as they provide great opportunities for free marketing and advertising.
Krista is natural light portrait, senior, and wedding photographer in Northwest Arkansas. A lover of golden fields, buttery backlight, and authentic emotion, she strives to transform the mundane into the magical by showcasing amazing light and interaction in her photography. She is a devoted wife and mother of a spirited daughter, who also serves as her muse. Krista loves spicy Mexican food, reality TV, the ocean, and connecting with nature. She is the author of Transforming the Mundane Into Magical.

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. 
The best photographs are often the ones where everyone is engaged or interacting with each other. Understand that not every picture needs to have everyone looking at the camera and smiling at the same time. If you are engaged as a family and loving on each other, your eyes will be on your family members and your smile with be natural. These are the photographs that you will cherish most because they depict your family connection and your love.
Your digital photos aren't going to magically appear in neat, named folders on your computer without a little effort on your part. That said, don't get discouraged -- there's still hope for your precious pics. "Establish a system today and when you have five minutes, go back and organize what you can," says Peter Walsh, organizational expert and author of It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life With Less Stuff.
"Cai took our family photos. We had very specific requirements, such as outdoor photoshoot at the location we wanted. He was able to accommodate every request we had and our timeline. He is very responsive and I never had to wait long for a reply from him. Cai had spent some time on the location, even before we got there, to familiarize himself with the place. He spent an hour with us, taking his time and creating unhurried atmosphere. Cai is very artistic and worked with us on creatively positioning our family members so that we looked our best. He encouraged us to use our props and to have fun. Our two boys, who normally despise taking pictures, for the very first time were amused and entertained with the entire process! The finished photos were wonderful, but we wanted more drama, so Cai had edited them to add more mood and drama and they are breathtaking now! We believe we got rather lucky finding such talented photographer! We absolutely recommend Cai and will use his services again!"

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.
Jilly Bean Photography is an award-winning portrait studio located in the heart of historic downtown McKinney, Texas. Jill is an expert in her field, and is known as the "Baby Whisperer of North Texas." She has over a decade of experience as a newborn photographer. At Jilly Bean Photography we pride ourselves on creating beautiful images of your newborn and growing family in a safe, healthy environment.
Good article! Something else to mention . . . if you're just starting out, I'd recommend picking up an used or refurb model. I bought a Canon 40D first without knowing what I was buying and payed over a grand (which was good for the time). I ended up buying a refurb Canon Rebel xti as a backup for less than $350, and to be honest, I shoot with it more! The 40D is the better camera and has much better build quality, but the xti gives it a run for it's money and is smaller / lighter. I could have saved the money for a full frame camera or a nice L lens. :)
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.

So you’re at a wedding. More than likely there are a few unmarried couples at the wedding. One idea is to display some photos from earlier in the day. You can take your own computer and make a quick slideshow of say 20 images to play during the evening. The couple get to see some sneak previews of what you have captured. Meanwhile, potential future couples have seen you in action and the results produced. Obviously ok this with the couple beforehand but it can be a win-win for everyone.
Speaking of having your first look on the aisle—Huang actually prefers this moment (and its resulting photos) to a pre-arranged first look ahead of the ceremony: "I find that couples are passing up the irreplaceable moment of coming down the aisle for something that was originally created as a back-up for tight wedding schedules. I think they can be really beautiful, but I would always recommend walking down the aisle as your true first look—there's nothing like it!"
…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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