Light stands – You need one stand for each light. As a rule of thumb, the heavier your light is (along with the light modifier), the sturdier your stands need to be. Don’t invest in cheap gear or you will risk your lights being too unstable and wobbly. Prefer stands that extend to 2.4 metres and higher, as often the lights are above the model. It is also useful to have a small stand. This can light the model from below or to hide your rim/background light behind the model.
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. 
Be very open with your clients about your preference regarding an engagement session and explain how you typically do it. Be very patient with the couple and let them speak their minds before suggesting anything from yourself. As the opportunity presents itself for you to explain what you usually do, lead them the right way while showing examples of your previous work. Ask questions and make the session about them. Find out if they like certain places or if they have strong location preferences where they wish to be photographed. Are they an outdoorsy couple or do they enjoy the city life better?
Communication and planning are key. Discuss in detail what is going to happen on the day, what the clients will be wearing, and what you’re going to be bringing. Coordinate their outfits with your props, or, say, the baby’s booties with their decor. You have to think of it all. Best of all, if you hit it off with the family, you’ll get that referral and your client base will grow. Speaking of which…
Ashley, I loved your post. I am huge on annual family photos. I think it’s so important to capture a nice photo of your growing/changing family at least once a year! I love how your pictures turned out. They are very nice and the same style I like to go for. I am getting into photography and would like to do our own someday. Thanks for all the tips. I completely agree with all of them and try to do them already but seeing it written down helps to instill those ideas even more for our next shoot.
Look at an engagement session as a practicing ground for the upcoming wedding. While meeting your clients for a consultation can give you loads of information about them, working with them directly before the wedding and learning their preferences might be very helpful for you while photographing the actual wedding. At the same time, engagement sessions give a great opportunity to your clients to understand how you work behind the camera, and give a chance to practice for their upcoming wedding as your subjects.
Weddings always run late.  Always.  It's as sure as the fact that Uncle Bob will annoy the photographer.  If the bride says they'll have an hour to do a shoot with you, immediately translate that sentence into half an hour.  Your time to work alone with the bride and groom is precious, so you need to be confident that you can get the shot in only 30 minutes with many weddings. (Thanks Meagan Thompson)
My approach to this particular point may not reflect your opinion as a photographer, but I am a strong believer in a good spa day to make me feel all better. This is true for most of the ladies out there. No offence to boys who are reading this, but my first priority is to make my female clients happy and feel fabulous. After-all, happy wife, happy life, right? Hence, I arrange for a hair and makeup time for my brides right before the engagement session. This is the biggest reason I want them to disconnect from everything they do that day and take a day off. I want them to relax and get their hair and makeup done professionally. This is all done at no charge to my clients. I pay for the services of the hair and makeup artist and I am more than happy to do so. This little trip to the professional salon will assure that your female client will look amazingly confident in front of the camera.
Once we have completed your portrait session, we ask that all parties plan a viewing session in one week at our studio to review the images taken during the session. This allows you to hand pick your favorite images from the portrait session.  This Viewing/Investment session is where your product choices will be made and payment is expected at this time.  We do offer payment plans.
Whether you are all playing outside in the falling leaves, posing by the cozy fireplace or walking along the beach, you are the ones who will make the photo unique. We know that it sometimes takes the inspiration from others to get your creative juices flowing, so we have put together a list of 80 photo family photo ideas. Sort through the filters to find the best fit for your family. Don’t forget to share your photos with friends and family—easily order prints from your desk or mobile phone. And for additional inspiration check out this article: family photo wall ideas.
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