I love using props for my portrait sessions. I have simple props available; however, if you have something specific in mind you are welcome to bring your own as you know your family/child’s preferences/colors and activities/hobbies, etc. I have holiday props for Halloween, Easter and Christmas. Balloons for children’s birthdays make great props too. We use high resolution backgrounds and flooring complimented with designer furniture to create vintage, timeless looks for your portrait session.
When shooting a wedding, I like to use a camera with dual card slots (like the Nikon D7000, or many high-end cameras) because it allows me to double up on each photo.   Every photo is recorded to both cards.  This is good insurance, but it also uses a lot of memory cards during a wedding.  I'd never shoot a wedding with fewer than 30 gigs of memory cards in my bag.  I almost never shoot that many shots, but I never want to face the situation where I'm panicking about running out.  (Thanks Robert LeBlanc, who is a regular on the Facebook page)
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.
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.

Once you have the basics set up, you can drape a solid colored blanket over it all. Use clamps to attach the blanket to the backdrop boards and make sure the clamps also attach the board to the chairs so it will not fall over (if you don’t have a backdrop board just attach the blanket to the tops of the chairs). Let it drape down the board until it is level with the pillows, then lay it over the pillows. You want to minimize wrinkles as much as possible, because they will be very distracting in the final picture, so use more clamps on the sides if you need to. Additionally, you might want to clamp the background board to the chairs it’s resting against to be sure it won’t fall during the photoshoot. It should look like this:
Drew is a family photographer and owner of DrewB Photography. In addition to her blog, Mom*tog, Drew has released her new photography guide UnManual2. To see more of Drew’s work, follow her on Instagram. With so many family photographers out there it can be overwhelming to find the right one for your family. And, typically, it’s a big investment. … Continue reading How to Choose Your Family Photographer
Hopefully this post has helped you answer the question of How do I choose a family photographer. Still want to learn more about choosing a family photographer for your shoot? Here is another great blog about choosing the right photographer which covers some of the same tips as well as additional information on the topic. I love to include other people’s writing on the same topic just because I myself am kind of a research addict for big purchases! Remember, Proper prior planning is everything and research is where it all starts!
Plan on spending at least an hour to get some good shots. I generally spend two hours when I photograph a newborn (some pros spend twice that much time). If you’re taking pictures of your own baby, you could also plan to spend just half an hour but try once a day for the first week. Figure out what will work best for your schedule, but realize this won’t be a quick process. Also, the photoshoot will be much easier if you have someone to help you, so rope your husband/mom/friend into being your assistant.
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.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to storytelling. Sure, according to Wikipedia or any online photography forum, there is a right and a wrong way to take a photo. But when it comes to wedding photography, what you’re really looking for is a storytelling technique that matches your idea of how your wedding will be. For example, I was recently photographing a wedding with my assistant and I took a photo of the couple dancing that I really loved. She laughed and shrugged and said to me, “You are such a romantic.” I was kind of surprised, but then I realized that I had specifically chosen to tell a story in a way that made the moment very romantic. This story, for example:
If you are doing the session in the client’s home, posed newborn sessions require nearly the same amount of prep as a wedding.  You need quite a bit of “stuff” and it is easy to forget something so I make sure to pack the night before and use a checklist so I don’t forget anything (I’m a mom with a very limited memory).  To make your life a bit easier, I’ve made a print ready checklist you can use which is included in the newborn photography toolkit – one of the FREE limited time bonuses included in our online Newborn Photography Workshop.

Adjusting the composition is an easy way to add more variety. Take a full length shot then take a head and shoulders. Shoot one from directly above and another on their level and maybe another somewhere between those angles. Consider more adjustments than just height too — moving a few feet to the right or left can add some variety and emphasize different aspects of the pose too.
Talk to each other: (Duh, right?) DON'T match. But DO coordinate.  Wearing clothes that are the same level of dressiness is really as matchy as it needs to be. You guys already look like a family. Don't hamper each person's individuality by forcing the matching.  Let's be honest: You guys always look awesome together, you don't need special matching outfits for that. 
In 2008 Natalie began doing freelance photography for several clients who requested her services. This ultimately led her to formally create Natalie Roberson Photography, LLC. Natalie has traveled all over the United States and internationally documenting people’s lives. Natalie and her assistants use high-resolution Nikon digital cameras and lens to capture their photographic images. All photographs are enhanced by using Adobe Photoshop software.
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!
When it comes to props, I gently discourage them. The point of the engagement session is to create beautiful portraits of you two together, and the addition of props is just a distraction. I know that there are many websites that will encourage you to bring vintage items, huge bunches of balloons, signs to hold, and so forth, but then the entire engagement shoot becomes all about those props and less about you two together. If you have always dreamed of running across the Brooklyn Bridge together holding a huge cluster of balloons, then let's do it….but let's open the session with that and then put the balloons away. Likewise, if you have a Thank You sign or a Save The Date sign, let's shoot those quickly and then tuck them in your bag. I want to create a shoot that fully brings to life your vision for engagement pictures, but I also want to focus on you!
To get crystal-clear photos with a dreamy, blurred background, experiment with using lower F-stops. This means you will have to take your camera off auto-focus, but the results are more than worth it. The F-stop on a camera tells you how much light you let in while exposing your photo. Photos taken with a lower F-stop have a wider aperture to let in more light, but the depth of field is very shallow. This is what creates stunningly vivid portraits with gorgeously blurred backgrounds.
DO be clear about what you're offering. "Make sure the couple knows that you're shooting as a favor and that you can't guarantee results," says New York City-based wedding pro Cappy Hotchkiss. "I've seen many friendships end over this." Limit expectations, and "don't get roped into doing a ton of large family groups. Explain that you will capture groups as they occur," adds the photographer. If it's going to take you months to deliver the photos, let the couple know in advance.
If you are doing the session in the client’s home, posed newborn sessions require nearly the same amount of prep as a wedding.  You need quite a bit of “stuff” and it is easy to forget something so I make sure to pack the night before and use a checklist so I don’t forget anything (I’m a mom with a very limited memory).  To make your life a bit easier, I’ve made a print ready checklist you can use which is included in the newborn photography toolkit – one of the FREE limited time bonuses included in our online Newborn Photography Workshop.
Now is not the time to be starring dreamily into space – make sure you look at the camera (and remind everyone else in the photo to look into the camera too!). Try to get the “looking at the camera” shots out of the way first when everyone has enough attention. It can quickly get tough to get kids to cooperate, so aiming to get this shot first is key.
2. Backdrop board. I have a couple DIY backdrop boards that I made for about $10 each (full instructions in this post). I stand one up against the backs of two of my kitchen chairs. The backdrop boards can be used alone for a solid colored background, or can be used to drape blankets from for more background options. The background should be angled so it faces the right or left side of the window, not the middle of it, as you can see in the photo above. This will allow the baby’s head to be a little closer to the window than her feet, allowing the light to hit her forehead first, causing gentle shadows just under her nose and chin. If you don’t have a backdrop board, stand two kitchen chairs backwards here anyway so you can drape a blanket from them. If you use a backdrop board it must be secured with clamps to the chairs it stands in front of to assure it will not fall over.
Tipping a photographer for family portraits is not standard etiquette. A great way to recognize a family photographer who goes above and beyond is to write them a glowing review. You probably found your photographer by reading online reviews, so paying it forward by letting everyone know how much you appreciate their work is a great gift. Write your review after they have delivered the final edited photos on time and you’ve confirmed that you’re happy with the terrific portraits they took.
Blankets or fabric to use as backdrops. If you are going to invest in one thing, I’d say go buy a few yards of the cheapest black stretch velvet you can find (use a coupon at Joanns!). Black velvet works really well as a backdrop because it doesn’t show wrinkles and generally shows up as solid black in photos. Otherwise, walk through the house looking for any blankets you might have. Blankets with lots of texture also do a good job hiding wrinkles, like this one:
Leah has always had an interest in photography and art but that interest increased when her dad, who has a great eye for photography, gave her her first digital camera. Leah currently uses a Canon 5d mark II and a variety of lenses. She shares a home in Dallas with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. Spending time playing in the yard, taking a long walk, watching a good game, or eating a yummy meal with her family is the recipe for a good day in Leah’s world.
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.
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
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