I’m no lighting expert but have found that my best results have been when I’ve used my flash in a ‘bounce flash’ way – shooting it up into a ceiling so that it’s indirect. This diffuses the light a lot which leaves Xavier less washed out in the shots, and more importantly means he’s not blinded by the light from it (we don’t want to blind our little ones by our photographic obsession – I actually asked a pediatrician about camera flashes and his advice was that it wouldn’t do damage but that for a babies comfort that indirect flash (ie bounced and/or diffused flash) would be advisable. I’m sure different doctors would advise different things but I play it safe with my bounce flash – and avoid flash altogether where possible). It also gives a fairly natural looking shot.

Before joining the team at A Practical Wedding, Maddie was a sought after wedding photographer and an entertainment industry dropout with stints at the Academy Award-winning independent film house Focus Features, The Montel Williams Show, and Rosie O’Donnell’s documentary production company. She’s been with the APW team going on eight years, and now spends a significant amount of time thinking about internet trends and the future of feminist television. A Maine native, she lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband and their toddler.


(Above) Balloon Engagement Photo Pose Ideas: There’s something about balloons that just makes everything feel whimsical and filled with joy! Add a dash of whimsy and an extra dose of joy to your engagement photo’s by using a few regular sized balloons or one large giant balloon each as photo props. {Left image by Thousand Crane Photography here, right image by Claire Thomson Photography here.}
Katie Lamb Photography is a photography studio based in Fort Worth, Texas. All sessions are conducted within the areas of Southlake, Keller, or Grapevine; travel outside of these areas is limited and depends on availability. This studio specializes in family, couple, mommy + me, and boudoir photography. Katie Lamb Photography also creates custom films that are 1.5 to 2 minutes in length.
The photographs captured NOW will be the story starters for the future. As your photographer, my job is to document your family exactly as you are… in all of the candid, crazy and fun moments that truly capture the personality of each family member, and all of you as a whole.  Just as important? That you can use your time in front of my camera to disappear from the daily stress and distractions of life,  have fun and simply “be” the incredible family that you are.

Honestly, dads are often my toughest cases. Moms, dad might need a little incentive, too:) Sometimes, I get the kids to tickle dad to crack that natural smile. Oh yeah, and mom, don’t be too hard on yourself. Wear a shirt that you feel good about yourself in and plan the family clothing options around it. I recognize that if mom doesn’t look good, she won’t love the portraits, and I want you to LOVE them! I am a big advocate of moms being in pictures with their kids because they are often the unseen behind the camera.
“I cannot say enough great things about Maddie. I'm so ecstatic that we stumbled upon her site. Maddie is truly a genius in her craft and is a hell of an artist. She went above and beyond in every aspect of being a photographer - she helped us plan our day, recommended other vendors, had Skype interviews with us to answer any and all questions, even went as far as to write us out an itinerary for our wedding day. My husband and I had an adventurous elopement - we said our vows on top of a golden sand dune in the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Maddie hiked with us all day and captured every magical moment. The pictures that she takes speak for themselves - they're amazing. She captures every intimate aspect of your day and invites you to be who you are as a couple. Not to mention that Maddie is so sweet and welcoming. She's such a people person and meshes so well with, I imagine, just about anyone. She really puts in the extra effort to make you feel comfortable and at ease throughout the entire process. I would recommend Maddie over and over again.”
The wardrobe: Whether you're going formal or casual, solid colors are a must. Try to avoid plaids, florals, patterns and head-to-toe black or white clothing—and keep the silhouettes streamlined. Some couples coordinate their clothing palettes to the point of looking a bit matchy, but there's no need to go overboard. If you're worried about color, pick a neutral and a few coordinating color tones you both like and stick to those hues.
I think the best way to get family pictures is a little of both – print and digital – especially since photographers generally charge a lot for their rights to be released via digital images/CDs. If I am limited in the package deal to only 1 image on a CD (like when we’ve gone to Sears or JCPenney), then I generally choose the family group shot as my one image, and get prints of the individual shots.
This camera is accomplished with its Creative Auto mode that simplifies instructions for the layman and has several pre-set modes of shooting. Once you get the idea, you can then do everything manually. The learning curve doesn’t exist. All it takes is one quick browse through the manual, or a run through on auto mode. You can pick up all those advanced tactics on the go.
I know many portrait & wedding photographers love to shoot wide open at f/1.2 & f/1.4.  However, with newborn photography, many of the baby poses can have extreme angles and you often will have better luck with your depth of field and sharpness by shooting around f/2 & f/2.2.  Remember, it will be rare that the baby’s eyes are on the same plane of focus all the time and by closing down my aperture a bit from wide open I get that little bit extra of depth of field that is often needed.
Krista is natural light portrait, senior, and wedding photographer in Northwest Arkansas. A lover of golden fields, buttery backlight, and authentic emotion, she strives to transform the mundane into the magical by showcasing amazing light and interaction in her photography. She is a devoted wife and mother of a spirited daughter, who also serves as her muse. Krista loves spicy Mexican food, reality TV, the ocean, and connecting with nature. She is the author of Transforming the Mundane Into Magical.
Probably not the first thing that springs to mind in the equipment section of our wedding tutorial? Didn’t think so! Some caterers are lovely. However, some will do whatever they can possibly do to get out of giving you any food even if it has been paid for by the couple getting married. It’s always a good idea to have a plan B when it comes to food. Keep some crisps, chocolate, energy drinks or anything edible in your car. A wedding zaps a lot of energy so stay hydrated and full of energy to avoid the dreaded wedding hangover the next day (yes wedding hangovers are real!)
I think newborns look best photographed naked, or in just a diaper, or in a plain white onesie. Most baby clothes are way too big for newborns and just don’t photograph very well. Keeping the clothes extremely simple keeps the focus on the baby. However, naked babies are cold babies, so keep a space heater going right next to your baby the whole time you are photographing him. You’ll end up covered in sweat, but your baby will stay comfortable.

Krista is natural light portrait, senior, and wedding photographer in Northwest Arkansas. A lover of golden fields, buttery backlight, and authentic emotion, she strives to transform the mundane into the magical by showcasing amazing light and interaction in her photography. She is a devoted wife and mother of a spirited daughter, who also serves as her muse. Krista loves spicy Mexican food, reality TV, the ocean, and connecting with nature. She is the author of Transforming the Mundane Into Magical.
Give your pictures a life off the computer. "It's easy to laugh at your mother's box of 35mm photos in the closet, but that's what many people's computers are -- just a metal box full of photos like Mom's," says Walsh. Start by printing and framing any special images. You can do it yourself on your home printer using quality photo paper, or order prints for as little as 9 cents each from an online service.

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!
Kristina McCaleb Photography is a newborn photography studio based in Garland. The business also shoots senior portraits, child portraits, and family portraits, and holds mini photography sessions that create quick portraits for kids. Clients have left positive feedback for Kristina McCaleb's ability to capture personalities and for her warm, friendly, and professional attitude.

Here’s why: The thing that takes the most time with family formals is gathering everyone together and getting people organized. If you set up your wedding day photography timeline to do the bride and her family and the groom and his family separate before the ceremony and then the bride + groom and both of their families together after the ceremony, then we have to gather families three times instead of just one. Moreover, the difference between the group “Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents” and the group “Bride + Bride’s Parents” is just saying “Groom, can you step out for a second?” which takes about 3 seconds to quickly re-arrange and will save you time in the end.

As you start looking through photographers’ portfolios, pay attention to the lighting quality in the pictures. Are they dark and moody? Bright and romantic? Each photographer has a certain style, and there will most likely be one that you mesh with better than others. You may also notice while you’re looking through portfolios that some photographers refer to themselves “natural light photographers” which just means that they only use whatever light is available, rather than using a flash or other lighting setups. If you are getting married somewhere dark without a lot of windows, you will want to make sure that the photographer knows how to create light when it isn’t there. Every lighting situation is different for photographers, so make sure you’re looking at photos that have similar characteristics to your venue. An outdoor wedding in the middle of the day with bright sun requires a very different skill than a New Year’s Eve reception in a dark church. (Also, a hot tip: ask to see some reception shots, since many of us don’t include those in our portfolios. Because if you are having an art gallery reception with no light, you want to make sure we can handle it. If all the reception photos are a little blurry and have been converted to black and white, then low-light situations are probably not that photographer’s forte. If you see lots of backlighting and what appears to be bursts of light behind the dancing, it means that that photographer has the ability to create standalone lighting in situations where the light is nonexistent.)
Ask for referrals and repeat business. If someone is happy with the photographs you took for her, ask her to refer you to her friends. Additionally, try to build repeat business; if you took 6-month portraits for a baby, contact the family 4 or 5 months later and ask whether they would like to book a 1-year portrait session. Your business can snowball through word-of-mouth.[18]

Newborn photography can come with many surprises, especially if you aren’t a parent.  I’ve compiled a list of newborn photography tips that have helped me tremendously and I am sure will be helpful for anyone interested in learning more about newborn photography.  Of course, every photographer will have a different way or style of doing things but these are just some of the top things I’ve learned through the years as a newborn photographer.
Hi Debbie! Babies are HARD to photograph, especially as they get a little older and more mobile. And babies at that age always have their hands in their mouth! I really love my 50mm 1.8 lens for portraits – it doesn’t zoom in or out, meaning you just have to move yourself to get a closer (or further away) photo, but it lets in tons of light and does a great job blurring the background. It’s around $100, so it’s very reasonable for a nicer lens.
Pro tip: Once you get the sign and the location nailed down, it's time to concentrate on wardrobe. "Wear something you feel comfortable and confident in," says Tempe, Ariz.-based photographer Melissa Young. "I like the way long dresses and skirts work for maternity. If you have any doubts on the outfits, you may choose to seek advice from your photographer in advance, as they can give tips as to what photographs best for your body type and the location you are shooting at."
Once your session is booked, we will have a phone consultation so that I can get to know you and your style, as well as your hopes and dreams for your shoot! I want your session to be as uniquely you as we can. We will discuss location - do you want dreamy backlit field images, or are you an uptown girl who likes to dress up in the city, want an editorial shoot? We’ll also talk about styling, outfit choices, accessories, hair and makeup, etc.to match your location choice.  You will then receive a beautiful Welcome Packet from me in the mail that covers everything you could ever think of. It even has a checklist for you for session day!
All sessions start with a consultation, so that we can craft the perfect session just for YOU and your family. I include lots of fun elements along the way - gowns for maternity clients, hair & makeup, props for newborn clients, hilarity and corny jokes for baby/child/family sessions, and everyone gets my stellar, completely unique to Kansas City, viewing and ordering process! Did I mention I also print the majority of prints sold at my studio? That means when you come in to order, you'll leave with the majority, if not all (depending on Collection) of your order that day!

2. Develop your business plan. The business plan outlines the details of your business, including the services you offer, how you’ll differ from the competition, financial projections, and marketing strategies. This is a good time to determine your pricing structure. For example, if you want to make $50,000 per year and believe you can book 26 weddings a year, you’d need to charge nearly $2,000 per wedding. Your pricing needs to take into account the cost of equipment, supplies, and travel, as well as your time.


I know many portrait & wedding photographers love to shoot wide open at f/1.2 & f/1.4.  However, with newborn photography, many of the baby poses can have extreme angles and you often will have better luck with your depth of field and sharpness by shooting around f/2 & f/2.2.  Remember, it will be rare that the baby’s eyes are on the same plane of focus all the time and by closing down my aperture a bit from wide open I get that little bit extra of depth of field that is often needed.
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.
If you’re preparing your birth announcements, don’t forget take a look at our guide on birth announcement wording to answer all of your questions on birth announcement etiquette. If you’re still in the beginning stages of your pregnancy and not yet ready to schedule newborn photos a few months out, you can start preparation for your maternity photos instead, using our time frames on when to take maternity photos.Bella Baby is the face of hospital baby portraiture. We bring experienced, professional photographers into the hospitals to capture your baby's first photograph with a natural, artistic style. We believe that babies look the most beautiful when being held in their parents' arms or cuddled in one of their own baby blankets. Bella Baby captures this beauty by using only "real things"...natural window light, professional photographers and professional grade SLR digital cameras.
Thank you so much for this article! This past weekend I did my 3rd newborn session which happened to be my grandson. It took 4 hours and I had such difficulty getting him into the poses that I had planned in my head, that when the session was over with I felt totally defeated. I experienced everything you mentioned, including overwhelming myself with too many props. I started doubting myself and wondering if I was even cut out to be a newborn photographer. Your article was very helpful and encouraging at the same time. Thank you so much!

Rosy Posie Photography is a portrait photography studio in Sachse, known for their expertise in beauty, maternity, and family photography. Their team offers in-studio and on-location photo sessions for children, newborns, expectant mothers, families, couples, and high school seniors, as well as corporate headshots and boudoir photos. Rosy Posie Photography is perfectly rated on Facebook.
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.

If the baby has older siblings, I try to make the sibling shots my very first priority and then let them go play while we finish the session.  Toddlers simply don’t have the attention span to sit quietly and wait for you to call on them for their picture so get their poses done first while they are curious and excited about your visit.  By the time the session is over, they are usually open to participating again and that is when I try to get some lifestyle sibling shots.  If they don’t want to participate, I’ve found promises of ice cream & candy have magical powers! (as long as that’s ok with Mom & Dad).
We're getting maternity & newborn photos taken. I think the total is like $650 and we'll get all the photos on a disc. We had a disaster of our wedding photos three years ago and I always said from then on that I wouldn't pass on photos of a once in a lifetime event just because they are pricey. And I'd pay top dollar to get the best if I needed to. It still hurts my heart when I realize that we don't have a single picture of just my husband & I on our wedding day. Not one. When I thought we were taking photos together our photographer later explained she was just "testing the light & setting her settings". Who does that?!
Contracts provide mutually beneficial protection to both you and your photographer. Your photographer should send you a contract once you’ve both decided to move forward. The contract should define studio policies, payment and deliverable schedules, and contingency plans. Read the contract before signing; don’t make any payments until the contract is in place.
We spend extra time with you and your little one under 2-years-old. For newborns, we keep them cozy and cute. For older infants and toddlers, we have other tricks up our sleeves and many cute props for you to use including bows, hats, etc. Call us to learn more about our props and talk about the types of portraits you want to create. Our goal is to help you remember the beauty of this fleeting time.

Speaking of having your first look on the aisle—Huang actually prefers this moment (and its resulting photos) to a pre-arranged first look ahead of the ceremony: "I find that couples are passing up the irreplaceable moment of coming down the aisle for something that was originally created as a back-up for tight wedding schedules. I think they can be really beautiful, but I would always recommend walking down the aisle as your true first look—there's nothing like it!"
Usually, I recommend a change of clothing in the middle of the shoot, reserving the wardrobe for something classic (a cute dress and heeled shoes for ladies) and for something more casual. If needed, I will send them a color chart to pick out clothing that compliments the background we chose to photograph against. I also send my clients a lot of example photos of what I mean, so that they can visualize my thoughts.
Blooming Tree Photography is a family-oriented photography studio located in Frisco, Texas. Jessica, their photographer, specializes in child, family, and newborn photography, and is an expert in custom portraiture and lifestyle photography. Blooming Tree Photography’s style is natural, and driven by Jessica's passion for capturing intimate family moments to be shared with everyone.
In order to capture your newborn in adorable curly poses, you should take newborn photos five to twelve days after giving birth. If you want your baby’s sleepy and curly newborn demeanor to be photographed, try not to wait any longer than two weeks for the newborn session. When it comes to setting a date, you should reach out to your photographer before giving birth to avoid any added stress in clearing your calendar. Typically it’s a good idea to schedule the session to take place a week after your expected due date. The date may change seeing as how baby will arrive when baby wants. However, you should do your best to give your photographer a tentative date since classic newborn photos of your baby curled up, like they’re in the womb, have a short window of time to be taken. If you’re working with a popular photographer, book your session 2-3 months in advance of your due date.
Clothing is the most important element of a photograph. I welcome multiple wardrobe changes during my photo sessions. I generally recommend dressier, layered, non-matching clothing as it adds more depth and character to the photograph. An easy way to achieve this look is to add, scarves, leg warmers, boots, big costume jewelry, jackets, glasses, hats, etc. It is important to keep in mind that photographs will appear more fluent with low contrasting colors. This includes not only your clothing but also the location, background, lighting and surroundings.  Please click here for our “What to Wear Guide”.

If you are looking for an adventure elopement any type of adventure photography sessions you MUST have these two amazing humans do it!! Gabi & Brandon are such amazing photographers and it shows in their work!! My husband and I Never had professional pictures taken before so we were a bit camera shy but immediately got over that with them by our sides. Every picture came out to be absolutely beautiful. Seriously, just pick these guys as your photographers...they were born to do this. You will not be disappointed!!
Hey Jessica! Without knowing what camera body you have right now it is sort of a guess…but I’d look into the Nikon 60mm macro. Brand new (newest versions) are around $500 which is about 1/2 of the 105 macro…you can find used for even cheaper. If you aren’t using a full frame camera I’d actually RECOMMEND that 60mm length over the 105 anyway 😉 The class allows you, the viewer, to tag along on a professional shoot in which you will certainly see and hear Chrystal work throughout the shoot, including when she is getting the close details vs other shots/poses. Give it a shot!! I think it’ll be perfect for you.

Earth Mama Photography photographs newborns and births in the Dallas area. The business will photograph births in any setting, including in the home, at the birth center, in the hospital, and during c-sections. The photographer aims to be discrete during birth photos while photographing the emotions and details of the day. The photography studio's Fresh 48 Sessions omit the labor and capture the moments right after the birth. Earth Mama Photography also shoots child portraits, family portraits, and maternity portraits on-site or in the studio.
Rosy Posie Photography is a portrait photography studio in Sachse, known for their expertise in beauty, maternity, and family photography. Their team offers in-studio and on-location photo sessions for children, newborns, expectant mothers, families, couples, and high school seniors, as well as corporate headshots and boudoir photos. Rosy Posie Photography is perfectly rated on Facebook.
“Kate isn’t just a photographer, she’s an artist. Spending even a few minutes with Kate, you will recognize tremendous talent, patience, and a winning personality that reflect exactly what a gifted photographer should be. Kate arranges the photos but simultaneously lets you be you, such that you almost forget you’re being photographed. I wouldn’t trust my family photos to anyone else!”
Inconsistent exposures create more work in post processing, as you have to even them all out. It also can cause a slight color shift, increase noise (if underexposed) and other undesirable things. To keep your exposures consistent through the whole shoot, use Manual Mode. Just remember that each time you change the pose, location, etc, you need to check exposure again. I just fire off a quick test shot, review the histogram, adjust if necessary and continue.
Love is Love Photography is a photography studio located in Dallas, Texas that serves the areas of Keller, Grapevine, Dallas, Fort Worth, and beyond. This studio specializes in candid family portraits. Clients pay $350 to secure their reservation. With Love is Love Photography, no image two images are the same; they take each photo with a unique stylistic approach.
Emotional moments during the ceremony—everything from belly laughs to happy tears, both of which come out during the vows—are especially worth capturing, notes Gil. Huang says shooting poignant ceremony happenings is often both the most challenging and rewarding aspect of wedding photography: "The ceremony can be difficult because it is wildly out of the photographer's control in terms of timing, location, and lighting, but I find these moments tend to be the most real and the most sacred," she says. "It's a balance of creating beautiful images without disturbing the sanctity of the ceremony that I love."
Yep, it's true… and it has been true for over 150 years.  If you want the dress to stay white instead of a dull gray, then you'll probably need to dial in some positive exposure compensation.  The light meter in your camera will see the white dress and think it's bright, but it isn't bright–it's just white!  The camera tends to compensate for this large “bright” spot in the photo and makes the exposure of the dress too dark.  Positive exposure compensation fixes this problem in a jiffy (Thanks Jess Joey)
Do you have any advice for when the kids are dogs? It’s really hard to get one, and especially both, dogs looking at the camera at the same time for our family portraits. They are a busy breed (Australian Shepherds) and still young. I’ve been wanting to do self portraits of just me and our dogs as well, however that’s hard to get too since they won’t “sit, stay” while I focus and get back into the picture. My husband isn’t too thrilled about getting into the picture unless we’re on vacation so most of the self portraits are done on my own.
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Photographs deserve to exist as more than just digital pixels, but despite how easy it is to order a print online or in-store, getting a good quality result isn’t always guaranteed. When moving from digital to print, a photo can take on weird colors, lose detail, gain unexpected borders, and more. So what’s the best place to print photos online? We’ve rounded up the options from personal experience, pro photographer recommendations, and web reviews to put together our seven favorite photo printers, from online to brick-and-mortar.
Remember that often a baby is coming into an established family unit (not to say that Mom and Dad alone aren’t an “established family unit” but for the sake of my point, go with me on this one). If the siblings are available, make sure to include them in at least a few frames. I have to mention the dog, because I’ve got a sister-in-law who’s dog, Wanda (seriously that’s her name) is her pride and joy. When she and her hubby have kids, you can trust that Wanda will be right there in at least a handful of her maternity photos. She’s as much a part of the family as the next guy.
They’re more important than senior class pictures, get more exposure than a drivers license photo, and serve as a visual debut to the world… The birth announcement photo! If you’re like me, newborn photo announcements are a standard parent operating procedure. I have a huge collection of my friends’ and families’ newborn announcements, most of which are still stuck to my fridge.
With #2, I feel so guilty not doing them. I looked and looked for cheaper photogs but they just didn't have the same quality as the one we used, so we booked her again. Mom guilt kicked in that the kids should be treated the same...this time around we probably won't do as pricey as a pkg since we didn't really do much with the digital files we did buy since you take a thousand pics of your new baby on a weekly basis

I am crazy passionate about my career and love to evolve my photography and continually learn. I’m obsessed with beautiful, dreamy light and have been known to chase it, lol! I am also very passionate about this age group of girls (and guys) and I feel pretty lucky that I get to focus on you and get to know you. They way I look at it….I have a small window of time and opportunity in your life, and I have the ability to bring out the best, real you, and photograph that. I say “I photograph confidence” It is SO fun to guide you through this process, the styling tips, make up and hair, molding you in to flattering poses for your body, then showing you on the back of the camera how it’s going…..ahhh I LOVE it! In that small window of time, if I could have some influence in your confidence and seeing yourself in a wonderful way, well that’s just awesome!


I’m a newbie trying to get into the awesome career of Photography. My friend is pregnant with her 3rd child. First girl! I’m shooting her maternity photos in 2 weeks! I am super excited but very nervous about it at the same time. This helped A LOT! I’ve got a lot of ideas but I’m still trying to figure out ‘my style’. Thanks so much for the tips! Might post some photos later on…get some feedback? That would awesome!
"I recently did a photo shoot with James and he was great! I contacted him 4 days before I needed to have the photos done and he was responsive within 15 minutes. He is really flexible with times and locations. We went to a few cool locations downtown that I would have never thought of. Very nice young man who knows what he is doing. I would do another photo shoot in the future!"
Contracts provide mutually beneficial protection to both you and your photographer. Your photographer should send you a contract once you’ve both decided to move forward. The contract should define studio policies, payment and deliverable schedules, and contingency plans. Read the contract before signing; don’t make any payments until the contract is in place.
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.  
2. Backdrop board. I have a couple DIY backdrop boards that I made for about $10 each (full instructions in this post). I stand one up against the backs of two of my kitchen chairs. The backdrop boards can be used alone for a solid colored background, or can be used to drape blankets from for more background options. The background should be angled so it faces the right or left side of the window, not the middle of it, as you can see in the photo above. This will allow the baby’s head to be a little closer to the window than her feet, allowing the light to hit her forehead first, causing gentle shadows just under her nose and chin. If you don’t have a backdrop board, stand two kitchen chairs backwards here anyway so you can drape a blanket from them. If you use a backdrop board it must be secured with clamps to the chairs it stands in front of to assure it will not fall over.

With thirteen uncles and aunts on my dad's side, I have a very large extended family. I don't do family portraits often, but when I do, I've found that the best two techniques that work for me for ensuring everyone's looking in the same direction and are ready for the group shot is (1) telling them beforehand that if they can't see my camera's lens from their position in the group, then my camera is likely not going to see them either, so they need to find another position, and (2) I give them a "3-2-1" (or for larger groups, a "5-4-3-2-1") countdown before taking the shot. This usually results in me getting the shot I want pretty quickly, and I don't have to go through dozens of shots to find one where everyone is actually ready for their picture to be taken.
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