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.
DO learn the basics. Visit the websites of wedding photographers and see how they do it. "Try assisting an experienced wedding photographer. You will see first hand how it's done, with zero pressure on you," recommends Dennis Pike, the northern New Jersey photographer who shot the couple in the car at left. "The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be, and the people you are photographing will feed off of that."
Everything you've heard is true: Your wedding day comes and goes so quickly. That's why preparation is key. Once you nail down your photographer (do this 9-11 months in advance!),  it's time to start thinking about your shot list. While your photographer will guide you on the moments they plan on capturing, it's important to know exactly what you want too. After all, you'll want to keep these memories intact with the perfect photo album. Get ready for your close up by taking a look at these pretty picture ideas you might want to include.
Laura Squire Photography is a photography studio located in Houston, Texas, serving the entire greater Houston metro area. This photographer specializes in newborn, baby, child, family, couple, maternity, bride, and wedding photography. They also offer lifestyle portraits and high school senior photography. Laura Squire has been shooting professionally since 2009; capturing life’s precious and fleeting moments is her calling.
A photographer who’s charging for their work should consistently create excellent photos that are similar to each other in style.  Most photographers either have a website or a Facebook page, so take some time to browse their portfolio. Ideally, their portfolio will include lots of different families, in different settings, to show that the quality of their work is consistent.
If you have a dSLR and any lenses with wide aperture capabilities (like a 28-70 2.8 or even a 50 1.8) I’d recommend using one of those lenses and keeping your aperture open fairly wide, around 2.8. That will help to blur the background and make the photographs look a little more professional. If not, don’t sweat it – turning off your flash will force your camera to use the widest aperture it’s got (using the portrait setting will also help here). Your camera may have a harder time keeping the shutter speed high if it’s not very bright in your house, so consider using a tripod if you have one. Better equipment sometimes makes for better photos, but knowing how to use what you have is really more important. If you have a few months before your baby is born, spend a little time getting to know your camera. If you don’t have time to practice, following my tips will still help you improve your photos.
Creative props can be the difference between a professional photo and an amateur one. Newborn props don’t have to be expensive and you can find most of what you need at home or a local crafts stores. Other recommended locations are Beautiful Photo Props and Etsy. For ideas, consider incorporating the parents’ hobbies, their culture, their favorite colors, or their overall personalities. We came up with the concept below for Ellie because her mother used to live in Paris. For more inspiration and to see how this scene was shot, please see our Newborn Photography Workshop.
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.
Swaddling a baby is the easiest way to pose her for newborn photos at home. Simple wrap her up tight and lay her down on a pretty blanket of piece of fabric. I usually save swaddled photos for the end of the photoshoot, when the baby has woken up. Newborns love to be swaddled and will usually stay pretty calm if they’re wrapped tight enough (check out this post on swaddling if you don’t know how).
“From the moment I reached out to book newborn photos with her she was responsive, friendly and professional. During the session she was absolutely magic getting all of us, especially the toddler, to pose, laugh, and enjoy ourselves. She made it so easy. The final photos were incredible. We have done other professional photos before and I can say Kate was the best experience we’ve had.”
Portrait photographers usually don't work from a tripod when shooting on-location, but it can be especially useful for shooting inside a dimly lit church.  Bring a tripod for these situations so you can get a sharp shot even with a slower shutter speed.  Even if you can get away with shooting handheld inside, you might want the tripod so you can use a lower ISO and get cleaner shots. (Thanks Johnny Quattlebaum)
Oh wow!!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I’ve been looking for information like this for a while and here it is, in a 5 part series. I’ve been asked to take maternity and newborn pictures of my nephew that will be born in about 1 1/2 month…so excited…except I was a bit nervous as I had never done a newborn photoshoot before. Again thank you so much for the information…will be of great use. Great job!
Pro tip: "This was done by using natural light next to a window," Shucart says. "I layered Dad's and Mom's hands over her belly, making sure the rings were showing." And don't forget about black and white, which, the photographer says can be done using photo editing programs on almost any image. "It always helps to pop in some contrast to black and white images, too," she advises.
If you're working with a hair and makeup artist for your wedding day, now might be a great time for a trial. If you're just in town for the shoot, I can recommend some wonderful artists for you. While professional hair and makeup are not a must, it can help boost your confidence and ease the getting-ready process on the day of the shoot. I recommend staying away from bright whites, heavily visible logos, or crazy mismatched patterns. While trends heavily lean towards things-that-look-like-they-would-clash-but-they-don't pattern mixing, be careful that you don't go overboard. You don't want your outfits to pull attention from your faces!
The other option for remotes is a physical radio transmitter that you plug into your camera (the receiver plugs into the camera, and you hold the remote transmitter). After trying several different wireless remotes from eBay that all broke, I finally purchased the Vello ShutterBoss. This remote is well built, and has been super reliable. One of the things I really like about it is that the cable that plugs from the wireless receiver into your camera can be swapped out depending on what brand of camera you’re using. So you don’t need to buy a new wireless remote for every different camera system you have (just the cable). Also if the battery dies in the receiver, you can plug the cable directly into the remote transmitter. The Vello ShutterBoss is a bit on the pricey side for a remote ($99), but it will probably be the last wireless remote you ever need to buy.
Select an outfit that is appropriate year round. One of the more popular times for families to take their portraits seems to be around the holidays (when the kids are home from school and everyone is in the same place). The holidays may seem like the perfect excuse to bring out the Santa hats and incorporate props into your family portraits. However, you’ll want these photos to be displayed all year round. Try to avoid purely seasonal accessories and items.
Tools: Most wedding photography advice will tell you to ask your photographer what kind of camera he or she uses. Unless you are a camera buff, this is usually a wasted question (heck, most of the time I don’t even know what the best camera on the market is). But as you look through portfolios, you’ll notice that certain photographers have different tools that they use to tell a story in their own voice. I’m a hopeless romantic, so for me that’s a lens that I’ve hacked onto a sink plunger that makes soft photos like this one.

Hi there fellow San Diegan and fellow Charger fan ;-), I don’t think there’s anything I can say that hasn’t been said already. Wonderful tips and insight especially for newbies like myself. I can’t even call myself a photographer considering I’m still getting to learn my camera. But I will say that after reading your post, it definitely seems more doable and less scary. Not saying that it will be easy. I’m hoping to get together with a photographer and go on a “ride along” so to speak and maybe get some hands on experience before I venture out on my own. I literally came across your post about an hour ago and I’m looking forward to reading and learning more!
For large families and family reunions we offer our “Complete Family Coverage.” We will come to your event and photograph your family in large and small groupings. Four hours of the photographer’s time is included and we will photograph as many groupings as we can within this time restriction. (Three hours of photography and one hour of viewing and ordering.) Add on “Candid Coverage” for just $150 and everyone can view these candid images online. The “Complete Family Coverage” is cost effective as the session fee is spread over a large group of people getting photographed.
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.
×