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Dears, I am a long-time passionate about dslr photography and having 2 little kids myself I know how difficult it is to take perfect shots when you need to take care of the baby and at the same time you Re the one behind the camera. I experienced a newborn session in an atelier twice with a photographer lady which I adore and now want to go this way too and give it a try. Was waiting for a girl friend newborn in order to get some training first but after I’ve read this I am going to post a note about searching a newborn model and don’t worey about the whoke thing.
Keep location in mind. Another helpful item to consider when trying to decide what to wear in your family photos is the location of your photoshoot. Are you going to be on the beach where there are plenty of neutral tones or under a tree surrounded by bright fall foliage? Select a color palette for your outfits that will complement the setting. Pick out items of clothing in colors that will complement your background and not compete with it.

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!
If the baby has older siblings, I try to make the sibling shots my very first priority and then let them go play while we finish the session.  Toddlers simply don’t have the attention span to sit quietly and wait for you to call on them for their picture so get their poses done first while they are curious and excited about your visit.  By the time the session is over, they are usually open to participating again and that is when I try to get some lifestyle sibling shots.  If they don’t want to participate, I’ve found promises of ice cream & candy have magical powers! (as long as that’s ok with Mom & Dad).
As with most things, there is no substitute for practice and experience…with each shoot you will get better and better, just keep your head in the game! A fellow “kinda” San Diegan?! Cool 🙂 We actually are working on a Newborn Photography Online Course/Workshop teaching everything you need to know, start to finish, including an actual on location photo shoot so you can see exactly what its like and how to deal with common pitfalls when shooting on-location! Make sure to subscribe to Cole’s Classroom so you’ll be in the know when we release it in a few months 🙂

Bonus tip: If your camera has video capabilities you have a neat way of doing manual focus. Turn on the Live View so you can see the image on your screen. Hit your “zoom” button (it may have a magnifying glass or a “+” sign on it) once or twice. The image on the screen will zoom in (your lens doesn’t) so you can see what is in focus which allows for much most precise manual focusing. Press zoom again to return to normal view and turn off Live View.

One advantage of DSLRs is how much they just “get out of the way”. Maybe it seems silly, but when shooting a DSLR I never really have to think about the process of using the camera, with all the mirrorless cameras I’ve used there always seems to be something that gets in the way (poor EVF brightness or refresh rate, slower autofocus speed, ergonomics, button placement and how quickly they make adjustments – the list goes on).
Almost as important as quality and expertise is to find a photographer who has a style that resonates with you, and your life. Take some time to think about the style of images you are looking for. Do you want studio (either classic and simple or with props for some shots) or do you want on-location or natural light, and if so, where? Where will you display your images and what are you looking to accomplish with them (i.e. wall displays in a casual or formal room, to compliment a display that has been built over time, a heirloom album showcasing your entire shoot)? It’s extremely important that you choose a photographer whose galleries and portfolio reflect what you are looking for, and reflect it consistently without a constant changing style. Check out their work on their blog and website. You should be able to get a feel for whether they maintain a style and have mastered it, or whether they jump from trend to trend. Regardless, make sure you really assess what you want your outcome to be, as it relates to your life, and your personal style, and try not to be swayed by “what’s hot” as whatever is hot might not really make sense in the big picture. Once you have selected a few photographers that you believe meet your quality, expertise, style and vision goals, make sure you have a conversation with them to discuss planning your session, and your goals. You will want them to understand what you are looking for so they can agree it’s something they can accomplish.

…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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