For good portraits you must turn off your flash. Your camera’s pop-up flash does more harm than good in most photography situations, so make sure you aren’t using it when you try to photograph your newborn. Instead, find a good source of natural light, like a large window or glass door, and set up close to it. If you have enough light coming in you won’t need either your flash or your overhead lights (which are also not a good plan when taking portraits). If it’s warm enough you can even set up in your garage with the door up to allow lots of light in. Start paying attention to the light in the room in yourself with the largest window – notice when the room is bright, but you can’t see the shadow of the window on the floor in front of it (see this post for more explanation of this). That’s the time of day when you want to plan your newborn photo shoot.

Thank you so much for this post. I’m also a newbie to the world of professional photography, but I’ve been a photographer for most of my life. I would usually simply do shots with friends and their families, or just my own, but I’m actually starting to get paid for it now. I had the privilege 3 days ago to shoot my friends newborn son and her older 2 kids. It was my first newborn shoot, and I was thrilled at how the pics came out, but I felt like I could have done better. Fortunately, I get to try again tomorrow, because Daddy was working last time! Your list and examples are fabulous, and I can’t wait to put then into action!

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)


The temptation with digital is to check images as you go and to delete those that don’t work immediately. The problem with this is that you might just be getting rid of some of the more interesting and useable images. Keep in mind that images can be cropped or manipulated later to give you some more arty/abstract looking shots that can add real interest to the end album.
#1 – it automatically forces you to slow down. That’s a good thing. You can check your settings, review the composition, and exposure to make sure you’ve got everything right. All to often it’s easy to get carried away once you put the camera up to your eye and forget to check something only to see later you had the wrong White Balance, or ISO was 6400, or you accidentally shot Small JPG. Slow down, avoid an “oops”.
Send out an email a day or two before their appointment with the time, date, and place of the session. Provide a checklist reminding them to make sure the kids are fed and they pack any essentials with them. Depending on the season, your checklist will change (e.g., knit hat reminders in winter and sunscreen and water in the summer). A family shoot will never go perfectly, but by making sure the family is prepared, you can maximize the likelihood that things will go as smoothly as possible.
From a professional photographer stand point, I second what a lot of people have said already. Try looking on Craigslist to see if there are any photographers that are just starting out. I know that I brought in a lot of business from Craigslist, and charged very little while I was portfolio building. This is especially great for maternity photos....

One of my biggest mistakes, when I was starting out, was that I brought all my props/wraps/blankets/headbands to every single session.  When I got set up, I would have a mini panic attack because I had no idea where I should start.  Now I plan 3-4 different setups (based on the client’s preferences and expectations) and that’s all.  I am often inspired by something the client owns as well, such as a blanket knitted by Grandma or something else that’s special to mom and dad, so it is not uncommon for me to not even use everything I bring.
You don't want to be in the position as the wedding photographer of needing to fight the client after the fact (or during!) with what they have and have not paid for.  Before the event, clearly communicate to them what services you are prepared to offer for the price they pay.  Do you include digital files?  How many hours of work will you shoot?  Are you going to shoot the reception too?  Is there a travel charge?  What prints are included?  Will you do an album?  Provide answers or face the wrath of bridezilla. (Thanks Gaelene Gangel)

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. 
We know you’re not models. Fear not! We keep things super laid back and will subtly direct you into poses that look natural and EPIC. We’re usually talking and laughing the whole time, unless we’re hundreds of yards away capturing that big wide shot, in which case we’re probably telling you how epic you look through a walkie talkie 😉 Our main goal is to have fun out there together, making some stunning images in the process.
If having the digital files from your session is important to you, then there are some details that you’ll definitely want to understand up front. Does the photographer offer digital files to the client? If so, are they included in the price? And if they’re extra, how much will they cost? Will you get a print release? Some photographers will give you a print release that allows you to print the photos anywhere you want, while others will restrict you to a certain printer, or even to web-use only.

If there are small children or babies involved make sure to get their attention. It even helps to have an assistant, tell them to bring Grandma along or a friend to help out. But what always happens is you get the kids all looking and smiling, and what are the parents doing? Looking at the kids!  Oops again! I always tell the parents, “no matter what keep looking at me as I make a total fool of myself, do NOT look at your child”.

Some wedding photographers work in duo’s and that can be great for relieving some of the pressure of the day. However, if you work alone it can be a great idea to hire a second shooter for the day. You can split up the shots of the day. One can take candid photos of guests whilst the other is working on the formal shots. This can be a great way to increase coverage and especially helpful at a larger wedding.
Hi. I'm having hard time deciding if I want to do maternity or newborn photos or both. I have emailed several people in my area and for the two sessions and rights to the pics we are looking at $400. I can think of lots of other things to buy for baby but I know these pictures are once in a lifetime. Also we do have a nice Nikon camera that I could attempt to take them myself and have someone take them of me. I keep going back and forth because in all honesty what ends up with these pictures anyway? Please help me persuade myself one way or another. TIA!
The small details that a couple has spent hours upon hours planning deserve to be photographed. Moreover, these details make for great photographs that you can use to tell the complete story of the wedding. It can sometimes be easy to forget to photograph these or the schedule might not allow it. But there is no doubt the couple will appreciate photos of things like flowers, rings, dress details, table settings etc.
There are a few bonuses to using accessories well (as well as layers). One is that changing them up a bit throughout the session can give you multiple looks without having to do many wardrobe changes. They can also be something that the subjects can interact with. A sassy little tip of the hat, holding the ends of a scarf while running and letting it billow behind you, grabbing the lapels of a husbands jacket while pulling him close for a kiss – all these little gestures and ways to interact (and become more comfortable in front of the camera) can be made possible with styling choices. Many of my sessions will feature items used outside their intended use or subject. My girls are often seen in mommy’s hats or scarves (scarves can be used in different ways like wrapped around their shoulders, as a hair piece, etc) and they love to wear my costume jewelry.
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