That is not to say that we don’t want to know what is important to you! We absolutely DO want to know all about the special details that you have planned for your day and we want to capture those for you. That is why we also ask you to tell us as much detail as you can about any special details, events, and surprises that you are planning for your day in our questionnaires! :)
Do you want to take better wedding photos? A wedding is one of the most precious days of life for a couple. If you’re a wedding photographer, then it’s your responsibility to capture the best moments and create a great memory for the couples. In this article, we will share some of the best tips on how to take stunning wedding photos and common wedding photography mistakes that should always be avoided.
Natalie Roberson Photography Studio is a full-service professional photography studio specializing in custom wedding, maternity, newborn and family portraiture.  Our 5,000 square foot studio is located in Celina, TX at Custer and CR 171.  The space is clean, charming and warm.  There are plenty of places to sit, relax and even take a nap.  We take great pride in our experience, having photographed over 5000 clients, and our goal is to make you feel as comfortable as possible during your session.  Our state of the art photography studio is located on 15 acres which allows for our clients to have the opportunity to photograph their portraits in our beautiful studio or outdoors in a field.
“I was definitely a little nervous going into the shoot – I wanted the photos to feel natural and not come off as too “staged.” Kate made us all feel totally at ease! As soon as I met her I knew it was going to be a great experience. It was clear she is a pro – she could not have a more perfect personality for family photography! I cried the first time I saw our photos, and I will truly treasure them forever.”
Winter engagement photos are the perfect opportunity to get into the holiday spirit—after all, you have a lot to celebrate! To pull off a festive photo shoot, consider metallic embellishments when choosing what to wear. Monochromatic embellished pieces (like the gold sequin top above) will give your engagement photos just enough sparkle without becoming distracting. Have your fiancé wear a dress shirt in a crisp solid color to complement your glittery outfit.
One memorable one had a set of parents with 3 daughters and a son. They had decided to all wear green, but their son was at that obstinate age (gotta love 3 year olds!), and insisted on wearing his favorite orange shirt. The mom was very apologetic, but would rather have smiling portraits than tear stained, sullen glares. I laughed and told her it wasn't a problem. We set him in the middle of a loose circle, and did a few other fun things with them. If you're creative, and by what I see on your site, you are indeed, you'll be fine.
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 have priced my work exactly where I need it to make a living, so I include all the digital files in the cost of the playdate (there are usually over a hundred) as well as the finished storybook. I encourage my clients to purchase their own prints and give recommendations for the best places you can go to get high quality prints. I believe that it’s a waste of everyone’s time to place these simple orders together.
LJHolloway Photography offers the most beautiful Las Vegas family photography in all of southern Nevada and northern Arizona.  Lisa’s love of family is evident as she herself is a loving wife and mother of 11 amazing children.  Lisa’s easy going nature allows her to connect with people of all ages and bring out the true personalities of each of your family members.  Lisa will be in contact with you from booking until the completion of your order to walk you through each step of the process comfortably.  If you need help selecting a wardrobe and styling your family for your Las Vegas family pictures, do not fear!  Lisa will help you choose your clothing for your photo session and coordinate your outfits with each location that is used during the photo session.  
Lisa Felthous Photography aims to tell the story behind every portrait. The photography studio, based in Sachse, shoots newborn portraits, maternity portraits, child portraits, adult and couple photos, family photos, senior portraits, and corporate headshots. Lisa Felthouse uses a spontaneous and passionate approach toward her photography. Clients have praised the photographer for her eye for detail, inventive photos, and hard work to get the perfect shot.
The first thing that we do together is choose a location. Then, we set a time for the shoot. On the day of the shoot itself, we will meet at our pre-determined location and get started! Instead of just walking from landmark to landmark and working through a set of pre-chosen poses, we'll take a walk and stop to shoot along the way. I'm looking for beautiful light, incredible backgrounds, and interesting compositional scenarios that we can use for your portraits. While I will set you in "poses", they're more gentle guides to interaction. I want to see how you are together, and how you're comfortable. If you're less inclined towards public displays of affection, rest assured that I won't have you do anything that doesn't feel natural to you. If you're exuberant and outgoing, I won't set you into poses that are reserved and hands-off.
2. USE A PHOTOGRAPHER. I have a real problem with people who buy themselves a nice camera and decide that means they can take their own amazing photos. Not usually true. Yes a nice camera is helpful, but for newborn shoots, there is SO much involved as far as lighting and posing goes that if you don't know what you are doing, it won't look good and it could even put the baby in danger. Before I ever started shooting newborns, I did a ton of research on best practices and safety and comfort for the baby. Plus, the pictures probably just won't look as good. 

Last tip is to no take yourself so seriously. Create a few really whacky shots at the end of the session (or even in the middle if the energy seems to be fading). Tell them to do a group squish and really get them to squish. Often they will start laughing and as they pull apart you grab the shot. Do a pile on down in the grass. Ask them to jump in the air or make goofy faces (you make one too). It breaks the tension and lightens up the mood.
Choosing the right family photographer is a daunting task. Perform an internet search on “Family Photographer” for your area and inevitably you will be barraged with hundreds of options, spread over many pages (hint: if they are in the sidebar, or highlighted/sponsored in the top space, they are paying to be there). You’ve probably seen a studio located on a main street in your town, or seen friends on Facebook tagged or blogged by their professional photographer in their own family sessions. And finally, there is no end in sight to the number of friends and family who have “a great eye,” a “nice camera” and “know there way around Photoshop.”
Don't underestimate the importance of liking and bonding with your photographer. Is the photographer excited by your vision when you describe it? When they make suggestions, do they present them in a clear and respectful way, or are they timid? Are their mannerisms off-putting? In order to get the best photos, go with a pro who has a firm grasp of social graces but is bold enough to go out hunting for great images and who, above all, puts you at ease and doesn't irritate you in any way. Remember: They'll be shadowing your every move, and the more comfortable both of you are with the photographer, the better the photos will turn out. Likewise, you don't want the photographer to offend or annoy any guests, but to shoot them in their best light in an unobtrusive way. To get the best photos, your photographer needs to be assertive enough to seek out great moments, cajoling enough to coax relaxed smiles and natural stances from guests, and calm enough to be a positive force. They should ask lots of questions and be a good listener.
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.
Excellent information! I’ll be doing my first maternity shoot in a few months. A friend of mine is preggers and we are getting so excited about doing her session. Just bought the cutest basket to put her sweet baby girl in once we get to the newborn session!! The information here is going to come in so handy for me shortly!! Thanks for posting this!! 🙂

Engagement sessions are a big hit with couples and photographers. Almost all couples agree for a session before the wedding, so engagement photography has pretty much become a staple of wedding photography. An engagement shoot is done after a couple gets engaged and it usually is captured before the wedding. Some photographers sell this session as a separate product and most photographers include this session in their wedding packages. Regardless of how you like to approach it, understanding the basics of photographing couples and knowing how to coordinate a shoot that involves more than one person is crucial. Hence, I decided to write a piece to explain what goes into the planning process of an engagement session.
6. A spotter. Anytime you are photographing a baby, you really need another person as a spotter. The other person’s only job is to make sure the baby doesn’t roll off the cushions onto the floor. If you are photographing a newborn it’s extremely unlikely they’ll be strong enough to roll anywhere, especially once they are nestled inside the boppy pillow or bean bag, but you can never be too safe. So make sure your “assistant” sits on the floor within arms length of the baby.
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).
While the quality can vary from location to location, CVS is perhaps the most consistent. Printing at the chain’s Kodak kiosks is quick for consumers who just can’t wait a few days for an online order. Ordering is also fairly simple, though photo printing kiosks aren’t without glitches. Photo quality won’t match up to professional printers, but CVS appears to have the fewest complaints for inaccurate colors and fuzzy images. Expect to pay 33 cents for one print — you can get better results for a slightly lower price at our picks for the best professional photo labs, below, if you’re willing to wait (and pay to ship). Note: You can also send prints to CVS from your smartphone via the CVS or Snapfish apps.
Earth Mama Photography photographs newborns and births in the Dallas area. The business will photograph births in any setting, including in the home, at the birth center, in the hospital, and during c-sections. The photographer aims to be discrete during birth photos while photographing the emotions and details of the day. The photography studio's Fresh 48 Sessions omit the labor and capture the moments right after the birth. Earth Mama Photography also shoots child portraits, family portraits, and maternity portraits on-site or in the studio.
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.
Aside from being flexible, be safe.  The most important thing on this list is to research newborn photography safety before you start. Many traditional poses are actually composites with spotters and safeguards in place so the baby is out of harm’s way.  Lastly, don’t give up.  I remember the first time I went snowboarding when I got back before I could open my mouth, my friend said I need to do it 5 more times before I decide to give up, that the learning curve is steep and that it gets easier.  The same is true for newborn photography.  My first session left me feeling very defeated, but I’m glad I got back up and did it again (and again and again)…and hopefully, this list removes some of your growing pains.
An hour might not seem like a lot, but depending on your schedule you should be finishing getting ready around this time. If the bridesmaids have robes, it’s fun to do a champagne toast now. Many brides request that we capture the moment of them getting into their dress while others ask us to come in after they are dressed. Either way is fine with us as this is just a matter of personal taste. If MOB is around, it’s nice to have them help you get into the gown along with your bridesmaids.
Pro tip: Once you get the sign and the location nailed down, it's time to concentrate on wardrobe. "Wear something you feel comfortable and confident in," says Tempe, Ariz.-based photographer Melissa Young. "I like the way long dresses and skirts work for maternity. If you have any doubts on the outfits, you may choose to seek advice from your photographer in advance, as they can give tips as to what photographs best for your body type and the location you are shooting at."

Thank you so much for this post! I too am trying to “learn” newborn photography, just did a shoot of my friend’s 10 month old daughter (they turned out beautiful!), but the little one month boy was another story! I am shooting another one month old little girl tomorrow, hopefully I will learn from my mistakes I made today! I am doing the pictures for free to learn, but this is so hard! I wish I knew what I was doing wrong, or do I just need to practice? Any tips would be greatly appreciated! Oh, I was raised in San Diego, my whole family is there, will be visiting for Christmas this year. Will be there for 2 weeks to pack up my mom and move her! Maybe I can get in on a photo session??? Hopefully I will have it figured out by then!
[…] One more step to shoot inside, is to really zoom in on your subject. You can get up nice and close physically to your subject or you can put on a lens that allows you to get close without getting in their personal space. By getting close, you eliminate any distractions that might be around the house. Get closer than you normally would – focus on the eyes, or just the face, or little hands and feet. Get all of those little details up close. […]
Consider COLOR: Most people look their best in certain colors (mine are green and orange).  Although I love hiding in black clothes as much as the next guy, it tends to be a tough color for photographs.  And again - you don't need to match. Pick a color tone (jewel tone) or pallette (pastels) - maybe even select 3-4 colors - and go from there.  Pinterest has some great color ideas for family photos.  Before you go out and buy anything - spend a bit of time with favorite items you already own.  You probably have everything you need. 
Like the technology of photography itself, the practice of wedding photography has evolved and grown since the invention of the photographic art form in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce.[1][failed verification] In fact, an early photograph, recorded some 14 years after the fact, may be a recreation for the camera of the 1840 wedding of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert. However, in the early days of photography, most couples of more humble means did not hire a photographer to record the actual wedding itself. Until the later half of the 19th century, most people didn’t pose for formal wedding photos during the wedding. Rather, they might pose for a formal photo in their best clothes before or after a wedding. In the late 1860s, more couples started posing in their wedding clothes or sometimes hired a photographer to come to the wedding venue. (See the gallery at White wedding.)
Let the photographer connect with the baby. In order for your baby to feel comfortable, you should avoid crowding your little one. It’ll be tempting to run over whenever your baby becomes restless or cries, but you should do your best to let the photographer comfort the baby so the baby doesn’t feel startled by too many changes. Always remain in the room though during your baby’s shoot.

I had what I consider my first “real” maternity session a couple weeks ago. I call it my “first” because at the real first one I didn’t give any direction at all on what to wear and she came dressed in a black lace top with matching lace fingerless gloves! EEEK! Not exactly my style or what I wanted to show in my portfolio. But this time I was much more certain of the shots I wanted and was able to tweak the client’s prop ideas to get what she wanted and, secretly, what I wanted as well.
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.
Stephanie Krupicka is an award winning photographer who specializes in photographing pregnant women, newborns, infants and children. Stephanie is known for her simple, fresh and natural style of photography and her passion for babies makes her pay attention to the small details to show the beauty of those tiny creatures. Stephanie’s work is based in Lewis/Clark valley and also covers the surrounding areas.

And suddenly you’re pregnant, or you’ve just had a baby and you decide you want to have your family photographed by a professional. But with so many different photographers on the market, I know it can get confusing, especially if you don’t know anything about photography or if you have never hired a photographer before. So I decided to put together a mini guide with 7 tips for choosing a family photographer.


Scott Peek Photography is a photography studio in Plano, Texas that specialize in family, child, high school senior, and commercial portraiture. This studio also conducts event photography for corporations, companies, and non-profit organizations hosting parties, conferences, and meetings. Since 2009, they have been a proud member of the Professional Photographers of America and the Texas Professional Photographers Association, Inc. Scott Peek Photography was recognized as the Dallas A List's Best Portrait Photographer.

Be certain not to schedule your photo session around your child’s nap or bedtime.  The best time for lighting is the two hours before sunset and after sunrise.  If this is a bad time for your children, talk with your photographer.  Good photographers will be able to shoot at any time of day by utilizing areas of open shade that will give your skin a beautiful hue and put a sparkle in your eyes.  Don’t show up to a photo shoot on an empty stomach.  I meet many families who come to a photo session with dinner scheduled at the end.  If this is your plan, be sure to give everyone a healthy snack before the photo shoot.

Thank you so much for this post! I too am trying to “learn” newborn photography, just did a shoot of my friend’s 10 month old daughter (they turned out beautiful!), but the little one month boy was another story! I am shooting another one month old little girl tomorrow, hopefully I will learn from my mistakes I made today! I am doing the pictures for free to learn, but this is so hard! I wish I knew what I was doing wrong, or do I just need to practice? Any tips would be greatly appreciated! Oh, I was raised in San Diego, my whole family is there, will be visiting for Christmas this year. Will be there for 2 weeks to pack up my mom and move her! Maybe I can get in on a photo session??? Hopefully I will have it figured out by then!
Hi Linda! Perfect, so glad you love the article I hope you signed up for our mailing list to get your newborn toolkit and other freebies to help get you going quickly and lastly, you are among the first to know that we are working on finishing up our complete Newborn Photography Workshop Course which will be out at the end of the year…it will be an amazing product though which we are so excited for!
Our baby is pretty predictable in terms of his daily routine (we seem to have got him pretty settled into one already somehow) but there are moments all day long that he does something cute, disgusting, funny and worth capturing. Without the camera handy you’ll miss these moments as they are usually fleeting. We tend to leave our DSLR in our livingroom where we spend most of our time with him but also have a point and shoot in the bedroom for other shots.
In addition to this tutorial, if you want all the info you need in one simple package with lifetime access, check out our Newborn Photography Workshop for the On-Location Photographer which Cole and I have spent months putting together all the necessary knowledge & tools to be adequately prepared for the lovely world of photographing newborns.  On sale for a limited time and all workshop participants also will get Cole’s Essential Newborn Lightroom Collection Presets, the Pricing & Positioning Yourself for Success pricing handbook, exclusive discounts & a whole lot more.  Click below to see the workshop details.
It was my first wedding to shoot and I had never shot one before. I get stressed out really easily, so doing this was a bad idea for me all the way around. I missed shots, I missed a set of groups, and my lighting for the reception was terrible. On top of not having a clue on how to get a proper exposure for a wedding and what images were important to the couple, I delivered full-resolution files on a plethora of disks that caused more confusion than good. Today, I'm using online galleries provided by Pixieset and flash drives for file delivery. 

Pro tip: "Using props for a maternity session should have a special meaning," Denver family photographer Jermaine Amado says. "The most common props for maternity pictures are shoes, a onesie, an ultrasound picture, block letters for the baby's name and a book. Since you will be incorporating a prop in your pictures, most of the time the focus will be on the prop. But you can change it up and shift the focus from the prop to the family or belly. Sometimes it's an amazing shot to see the belly and family, then have your focus shift over to see blurred baby shoes or an ultrasound picture."


The photographer at Barefeet Photography and Design has more than five years of photography experience. The photography studio, based in Richardson, photographs newborns, children, seniors, and weddings. The business also runs photography workshops for parents who want to learn how to photograph their kids. Clients have praised the photographer for her ability to make her clients feel comfortable in front of the camera.
Put simply, an adventure elopement is choosing to forego a traditional wedding in favor of an adventurous experience in the great outdoors. When we help you plan your adventure elopement, we take into consideration your preferred landscape, how much hiking you want to do, the number of guests attending, and many other factors so that we can recommend the best possible locations and timeline for your day. And while we are your elopement photographer team there to capture epic photos, we want your elopement to be about more than just the photos. We’ll help you craft an unforgettable experience that will fill you with awe and excitement all day long, and leave you with unforgettable memories for life.

Instant viewing of your photo session is made available with a custom online slide show posted to the Bella Baby website (protected with a unique password), thus enabling distant friends and family members the opportunity to share the experience. Online viewing and ordering is offered for two weeks to anyone you choose to share your password; immediate in-hospital purchasing is also available.
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:
This is not a decision that can be made on looks alone—you must meet your potential photographers in person. If you like what you see on their site—and their fees are in your ballpark range—call to see if they're available for your wedding date. If available, go ahead and send an introductory email with a bit about you and your soon-to-be spouse, you event and the vision for your day, and feel free to attach five or so of your very favorite photos from your research so they know what you love. If the photographer is already booked on your date, you may want to see if they have an associate or can recommend another shooter with a similar style. Set up in-person meetings with three to five potential photographers who are available on your wedding date to look at more of their work and assess whether your personalities mesh. Be prepared to talk about your venue, wedding style and what you envision for your photos.
Newborn photography is our first love and passion. We love nothing more than to create timeless photos of what love has created. The newborn stage is such a precious and fleeting time in yours and your little one’s lives and to be a part of it is truly a privilege. Tiny details only stay tiny for a little while. That is why newborn photography requires a special kind of heart, one that can appreciate how special these moments are and understand the importance of treasuring them down to the last dimple.
#2 – it allows you to get your eye away from the camera so you can actually make eye contact with your subjects. They are very real people and they feel even more uncomfortable staring straight into your lens than they do looking at you. You can make gestures to get kids attention, or make faces. But you’ll get way better expressions by interacting with them than you will looking through the viewfinder. Try it!
The bulk of the photographer's work takes place in post-production, editing and fine-tuning the photos. Special touches like smoothing out splotchy skin, adding extra sparkle to the rings, or editing out shadows all take time and skill, and are what make your wedding photos really glow. This hard work on the back end is why the cost of wedding photography is based on much more than the 8-10 hours your photographer spends taking photos on the wedding day.
One of our wedding photography tips that divides opinion is to visit the venue beforehand. Whilst this can be beneficial to a beginner the more seasoned wedding photographer will say it’s a waste of time. The light won’t be the same, it might rain etc. However, it may aid a beginner in putting them at ease to visit the venue. They can formulate a loose plan in their head and it may give them confidence going into the wedding.
“The idea of walking down an isle and having a bunch of people kind of terrified us—It felt like it wouldn't have been a day for us, but instead for other people. I've heard many people talk about how they don't even remember their wedding day or they were too exhausted to even enjoy it and they spent the whole time trying to talk to everyone who attended it. Eloping takes a lot less planning, which took a lot of stress away”
It’s amazing post! Clear a lot of my question. I always like to do a photos but just couple month ago I found myself in babies photography. I am just learning but I really enjoy it like never before anything. And I really want to create my carer towards baby and kids photography. I am only concern that I don’t have any qualification, curses or higher degree and that can put people out from me…
Family portraits are life time memories. Making a clothing choice for family photos is one of the most challenging tasks, especially when we think about our kids. Fortunately, now we have online shops like https://www.petitluar.com/ that make this task lot easier for us by giving great stylish baby clothes at affordable price. These are portraits you will hang on your walls and cherish for many years, so choose everything perfect. Through reportage and documentary photography, the true essence of the event, the atmosphere and all the fun will be truthfully photographed. Real personalities and action. In additional to the lifestyle coverage of the special occasion, organised group photographs can be taken as informal groups during the event or formal utilising a specific area.

Newborns aren't the only subject we love to photograph... we love to capture all of the milestones of family life. Using a photojournalistic style approach to photography, we capture your baby learning to stand, your 5-year old riding his bike with no training wheels, and your teenager's last photograph before she becomes an adult. Go to our Bella Life section to view samples of these important family moments.
I am an award-winning, internationally published photographer. My photos have appeared in Dallas Modern Luxury, D Magazine, Time Out New York, La Gazetta dell Sport Rome, and Time Out London. My studio, conveniently located in central Dallas, offers a comfortable environment for creating my one-of-a-kind images using both natural and studio lighting. I also shoot on location in your home or at an attractive outdoor setting of your choice.
Think about it: Your photographer doesn't automatically know that your wedding photo list would include a shot of your mom with all her sisters, or that you want a photo with all the cousins. Consider this wedding photo list a family portrait checklist for your photographer. By providing this wedding photo list before the big day, your photographer will be able to plan out the portrait timing, and which family wedding photos to take when. Not sure who to include in your wedding family photo list? We've done the hard work for you!
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).

Natalie Roberson Photography is built of a husband and wife team based in Frisco. The photography studio, founded in 2008, photographs newborns, engagements, weddings, child portraits, corporate headshots, family portraits, maternity photos, and hospital photos. The studio's photobooth service lets guests take silly photos at special events. The business offers digital photos, color prints on luster paper, metal stand-outs, canvas gallery wraps, albums, mini accordion books, announcements, and custom flash drive cases.


So if you want to shoot weddings you will have to break your duck somehow or another. But diving in at the deep end is not recommended. If you just got a new DSLR for Christmas chances are someone will know someone who is getting married. That’s just the way to world works for some reason. Before you have got to grips with how to actually use your camera you are thrown into the bear pit. Asked to shoot Auntie Jackie’s daughter’s wedding. And you aren’t prepared. Be honest with yourself about how good you are. It’s also an idea to be honest with the couple. Your best option in this situation is to begin your journey by second shooting for a photographer. This allows you to gain vital experience so that you can enter your first wedding full of confidence and more importantly ability.
The wedding couple has chosen the venue because they like it.  Show up early to the event and take some nice shots of the venue to include in the wedding album.  Little things can make a big difference.  Also, you can chose to share your photos with the venue owner and you might get some referrals! (Thanks Tom Pickering, who is a regular on the site and frequently comments)
I live in this dichotomous world in my head.  I’ve always been a thrifty DIY gal who loves to shop garage sales. However, I’m also a professional photographer who charges according to my expertise, which aren’t necessarily garage sale prices.  I think that every 2-3 years, investing in a professional photographer is ideal. There are many price ranges out there, and with a little researc, you can find someone in your area that meets your needs. I also know that taking Family Pictures just isn’t in the budget each year for most people, so I’m going to share some tips on How to Take your Own Family Pictures.
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