Lighting: If you talk to any photographer, they’ll tell you that lighting is 90% of what makes a photo good or bad. One of the best ways to understand lighting is to hold up your hand and face your palm toward a window. Then start rotating your hand back and forth and look at the different ways shadows are cast on your hand as you move it around. If you face your hand directly at the window, the light falls very evenly and cleanly, but if you start moving your hand at a ninety degree angle away from the window, it creates shadows that make your hand look moody and dramatic. This is what photographers do all day. We analyze light. So as you’re looking through photographers’ portfolios, you’ll start to notice that we all play with light differently. Some photographers prefer really bright photos that make the world look light and airy, while others use light to create mood and emotion. For example, take the photos below. They are of the same bride, taken moments apart, but the light is totally different, and therefore the photos are totally different.

Examine a photographer’s online presence. As with anybody advertising themselves on the internet you will need to think carefully and critically about how they present themselves. Try to find reviews of the people you are interested in by searching for their names. You should be cautious with reviews and be prepared to make up your own mind, but the more information you have the better.


It’s important to know a little about the photographer you are choosing. Read their “about” page, talk to them, understand their motivations and style. If they have a blog, read their blog, look for connections, ask them questions. When a connection between the photographer and the family happens, the chances of the job flowing well are huge. The family feels more relaxed and the photographer feels free to create. The result is usually the best it could be.
Bring it outside: There's no need to spend a day cooped up in a photographer's studio if you don't want to. Visit a nearby arboretum or botanical garden, or hit your favorite downtown landmark. Your photographer may be able to suggest local sites that make great backdrops for pictures too. Talk about locations you like when you make your appointment.
When styling a photo session, I like to start out with a basic color palette and go from there. It can help to have one “rock star” in the photos who carries a pattern in their outfit that the rest of the group’s clothing or accessories pulls from, while keeping everyone else’s outfits more simple. You can do this with a neutral and a few colorful brights, or try a softer palette that has different tonal ranges of the same shades.
×