The beaches are a great location for family photo sessions. Families arrive to get away from the cold winters up north during the holidays. Grandparents who live on the beaches of Fort Myers, Marco Island and Sanibel Island are happy when the grandchildren arrive. I have photographed family photo sessions for over twenty five years in Florida. The beautiful beaches and abundant light in Florida provide for natural portrait photography.
Light can make or break any photograph, portraits are no different. The very derivative of the word photography is “drawing with light”. The biggest thing you want to make sure you do for portraits is get light into your subjects’ eyes. There are many ways to do that and that’s a whole huge topic but there are a few things you can do to set yourself up to start off with good light.

Imagine there is a line drawn from each face to the next. Try and position them so that no head is directly on top of, or beside (same level) another. Make diagonal lines not totem poles. Use props to seat some people or bring some small folding stools. Have some people sit down, or stand up on something. Use what is naturally in the environment to pose them, or if you have nothing available just arrange them so the heights are staggered.
[…] 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. […]
Sounds great right? Well often it’s a bit of pain pairing your phone with your camera. Most apps made by camera manufacturers for smartphones are terrible. Then when you’re actually using the app you’ll find it’s nearly impossible to shoot photos in quick succession (because of the lag between the camera and your phone, and also because it’s tough to repeatedly tap the shutter release button on the app).

Thank you!! I am not yet enrolled in photography classes, but at 32 if I hear one more person say “so why aren’t you a photographer?” I will cry. I love photography, just got my first SLR which I completely don’t understand yet, (aperture what??!?) but I will be learning. And since I am 7 months pregnant I was looking for some good tips in taking my own newborn photos, I appreciate you writing this! Very good info and depending how it goes, I may be pursuing a new career!


Jackie Spivey is a Keller-based photographer crafting high-quality portraits of families and newborns for over 10 years. She offers in-studio and in-home photo sessions for newborns and babies, and also takes family, wedding, and maternity photos on location. Jackie Spivey was once voted by the WFAA as one of the Top 5 Wedding Photographers in Dallas/Fort Worth.
Dads, please cheerfully participate. I know that many dads dread the family photo session, but fathers, please understand how important capturing your family is. These images will be left as a legacy, when your children are grown, with families of their own some day. Family photos are treasured forever and they are so important. Please, please, dads… cheerfully participate in your family photo session. Once you see your happy wife and amazing photographs, you will be so glad that you gave this time to your family.

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 🙂
Don't feel that your outfit needs to match that of your future spouse. Coordination is okay, but I don't encourage matching. Look for colors that compliment each other, or are in the same color family. You will also want to make sure your outfits are harmonious. If you're wearing an evening gown, you will want to make sure your future spouse is wearing something that goes with it. Likewise, you wouldn't want one of you in a formal tuxedo and the other in jeans and a t-shirt!
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…
These are by no means "average rates". They are infact extremely high and the above comment referring to being a "new photographer" wanting to know where to price her work frustrates me. Ive been in the biz for over 5 years and charge $90-$125 per hour including digital images & copyright releases. I am in Palm Beach County Florida so by no means in a small town setting where i need to charge less. Please review where you found this to be average costs. I see so many "newbie" so called photogs charging more than I do with years of experience and it is extremely frustrating the # of calls I get to reshoot portraits that my client originally paid more for from someone else & they are completly dissatisfied. Then they say to me "your price just seemed to cheap" without doing proper research people go by claims like your making here and end up getting screwed.
Once you’ve taken 10-15 shots of the scene, figure out how you can change the setting without disturbing the baby. This picture below is from the same pose as the first photo in this post, but it looks very different. I unclamped the blanket the baby is laying on from the backdrop board, letting it fall behind her. Then I clamped pretty pink fabric to the backdrop board. Finally, I pull the edge of the blanket the baby is lying on up over her back to make it look like she’s tucked in bed. While I was making these changes the baby was snoozing away, staying perfectly posed. I got two very different looking sets of photos from one pose. This is a great way to maximize the baby pictures you get from your DIY photoshoot.
The biggest mistake I hear from people is that they hired someone because it was easy, their website looked good enough, and the price was right, and then regretting it down the road when the moment was past and the pictures weren’t what they had really wanted. Photographers all have different styles. At least, they should. If you are looking at a photographer’s website, and they don’t have a clear style, that is a sign that they have not found their voice yet. They don’t have confidence in their craft, and they probably aren’t going to be able to deliver what you want.
Whether you can admit it or not, our babies don’t always look like the Gerber baby. They get baby zits, cradle cap, thrush, snot, eye crusties, they scratch their little faces…taking coloured photos will, no doubt, capture it all. Black and white, on the other hand, tends to soften an image and eliminates some of the noise. I find black and white photos can tell an entirely different story from colour. Go on, give it a try!
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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