Darlene Hildebrandt is an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through free articles on her website Digital Photo Mentor, online photography classes, and travel tours to exotic places like Peru, Thailand, India, Cuba, Morocco, Bhutan, Vietnam and more. To help you improve and learn she has two email mini-courses. Sign up for her free beginner OR portrait photography email mini-course here. Or get both, no charge!

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.
This pregnancy, I am not planning on official maternity photos.  While I loved getting them done and preserving my "pregnant self," I found that once the baby came, I had no desire to display maternity photos; it just seemed like someone was "missing."  My DD's maternity photos were more of the posed belly shots which look kinda cheesy to me now and DS's maternity photos were more like casual family photos where I just happened to be 30 weeks pregnant.  Definitely prefer those.  
Few styles of portrait photography are as tricky as newborn photos — the unpredictable infant is always in charge! The best way to ensure a successful photo shoot is to work with a local newborn photographer within the first two weeks of the baby’s life. Some photographers even work with hospitals to offer newborn sessions within a day of the baby’s birth. But newborn photographers usually recommend scheduling a shoot during the baby’s first two weeks of life, while the baby is still sleepy and relatively cooperative, especially for posed or studio shots. During this time, babies are easier to swaddle in blankets and dress in hats or headbands, and, because they often nap or nurse, can be staged with various props or be cuddled by their parents. For casual photos, most newborn photographers recommend shooting within the first six weeks of a baby’s life. Lifestyle portrait photography is more flexible and doesn’t require the baby to cooperate with multiple poses or props.
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. 
I also suggest my bride to get their manicure and pedicure done according to the colors that they are going to be wearing for the session. Remember that they are scoring a brand new engagement ring and chances are you are going to be photographing it. So, giving a fair warning to your clients about it will save you a lot of work in post-processing and will also save you some great detail shots.
…hoping to inspire your clients in their choices of clothing and accessories, make sure that the work you are displaying portrays the kind of look that meshes with your style. Offer to help select clothing and even go the extra step to assist in shopping for new pieces or outfits. Many times I’ll arrive at a client’s home and they’ll have put together several options for looks for the kids or family, and then I can assist in making the final decisions. Another quick option is to just have them email you a few quick iPhone shots of the outfits they are considering so you can lend a little guidance. And feel free to point them to this post for pointers and examples!

Unlike the work of your other wedding vendors (music, flower arrangements, cake), photographs aren't things you can hear, smell, taste or even see at first—you don't really know what you're getting until after the fact. That means careful research and selectiveness regarding professional skills, artistic style and personal demeanor are extra important when choosing your photographer.


Posed/studio sessions – Typically must be done within the first 2 weeks of birth when the baby is very sleepy and “mold-able”.  The focus in this type of session is on shots of the baby looking perfect, usually in blankets, wraps, hats, & headbands.  The session can last up to 4 hours with feeding, potty breaks, and posing.  Editing this type of session also takes quite a bit of time as each image needs to go through Photoshop individually to get a polished end result.

Your portraits are beautifully lit and fortunately don't need much retouching. The only exception I see in your examples is the family piled on top of each other on the ground where the mom appears to be in the shadow a bit more than I'd prefer. She could use a quick swipe of the dodge tool, IMHO. I do tend to spend too much time in post production working to "perfect" each file, but that's me.
Excellent points, especially about using a tripod. The main benefit is that you'll need taking many nearly identical photos in order to get "the one" where everybody in the group is looking their best. Unless you've done this before, you'd be surprised how many shots it can take. Somebody's always looking away, blinking, has their head/hands etc. in a less than ideal position. Once everything is all set up as Darlene says, just shoot as many shots as you can in a very short amount of time.
Patterns can add visual interest and texture as well as a good dose of personality. Just make sure that either just one person is in a pattern with the rest of the subjects in simple, more solid color pieces or the patterns are subtle and complementary (for instance, a teeny tiny polka dot tie on a little boy next to his sisters bold color blocked pattern can look very complementary).
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