At the image below, both of them are not in focus. If you look closely, in the top image you can see that focus fell on his shirt. That is the most clear part of the image. His eyes and his face (what you normally want in focus) is blurry and out of focus. The bottom image is also out of focus. This one is because of a too low shutter speed and there is motion blur. Images can also be out of focus because of a camera error. Your photographer should cull all those images and not present them to you.
When shooting a wedding, I like to use a camera with dual card slots (like the Nikon D7000, or many high-end cameras) because it allows me to double up on each photo.   Every photo is recorded to both cards.  This is good insurance, but it also uses a lot of memory cards during a wedding.  I'd never shoot a wedding with fewer than 30 gigs of memory cards in my bag.  I almost never shoot that many shots, but I never want to face the situation where I'm panicking about running out.  (Thanks Robert LeBlanc, who is a regular on the Facebook page)

Our signature portrait lends itself to this entirely. No photo shoot is complete without a photograph of your child at their most open and genuine. They’re not performing, not pulling the dreaded Instagram-worthy expressions; it’s just them. They might initially seem severe, but that’s because you’re used to their constantly shifting emotions. It’s in this portrait that you can pause and see them in a new way.
To get crystal-clear photos with a dreamy, blurred background, experiment with using lower F-stops. This means you will have to take your camera off auto-focus, but the results are more than worth it. The F-stop on a camera tells you how much light you let in while exposing your photo. Photos taken with a lower F-stop have a wider aperture to let in more light, but the depth of field is very shallow. This is what creates stunningly vivid portraits with gorgeously blurred backgrounds.
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.
When I was first learning how to use my camera, lighting is what I had the most trouble with. It is so important to learn though. Lighting can make or break a photo. All the other settings can be correct, but a badly lit image will ruin it. When looking at a photographers work, you’ll want to look how their subjects are lit. You want nice even lighting without spots from the sun on a subjects face or front of the body. The image below is back lit. The sun is hitting the back of my son (don’t mind his messy hair!) and rimming him nicely. Notice there are no sun spots on his face or the front of him. The lighting on his face is nice and even. In the second image he was in the same spot, but I moved my position. The sun is now hitting his face. That side of his face is very harsh and the exposure is blown, while the side that is in the shade is correctly exposed. It I had exposed for the sun on his skin, the side in the shadow would have been underexposed. If I moved my position even more the sun would have been completely hitting him on his face. He would have been squinting and the light would not have been pleasing. You also want to avoid dappled light on the subject. Dappled light is when there are clusters of light spots on your subject.
“look at photography, talk about photography, read about it, but mostly shoot, shoot, shoot. We found that also networking with other photographers can get you inspired, but the important thing is to not be just networking for the sake of networking, you should be really interested in the other person as well. Too often this exchange remains one-sided and so for one person, it’s not so much of worth to be staying in touch with you. We think it’s also important to shoot for yourself and not just for your client so you can find your own voice and with time the perfect clients for you will cross your way and you will shoot for yourself, but get paid by them.”
DO finesse compositions. Instead of asking her subjects to move, Hotchkiss moves herself. "You don't want to disturb the moment by heavy-handed posing. I block out unwanted background clutter by tweaking my position left, right, up, or down." She also says to be aware of the lighting. If, in your viewfinder, the lighting looks harsh on your subjects' faces, it may look even harsher in the final image.
If you're someone who avoids the oh-so-tedious process of transferring photos from camera to computer, get yourself a wireless memory card -- stat. (We like Eye-Fi's SD card, $50 and up; eye.fi.) This nifty memory card automatically and wirelessly uploads the images on your camera to your home computer and/or favorite photo Website as soon as you enter your home Wi-Fi network.
The worst thing a parent can do to their child at their portrait session is to grit through their teeth “You better smile or else…” Really, they will listen to me MUCH better than they will listen to you (don’t take that personally). Plan on letting me take over and teasing them into smiling. Trust me–I have been there with my kids gritting my teeth and it DOESN’T work! And please don’t be embarrassed with less than 100% cooperation, I’m sorta used to it…I do this a lot and I don’t think anything about your parenting methods–most kids don’t want to be told what to do. I try to make it fun for them.

Doing engagement shots is one of the crucial tasks a photographer may ever encounter in his career. Engagements shots are usual for couples who are financially capable. Couples having no financial issue are expected to have an engagement shots session. The photos help them creatively narrate their love story. Wedding photographers who are new to this field should get a lot of tips from seasoned wedding photographers as well as from a blog like www.keepsake-images.net, which has some very useful and practical tips. It would also do a lot of good if they can get some experience by volunteering as a second photographer to some experienced wedding photographers. The photographer should be capable of visualizing how he wants to tell the story of the couple’s love story. Whatever the plan is, the photographer should consult with the couple to make sure they are on the same page.
We mentioned earlier in one of our wedding photography tips about having a running order of the day. In addition, it is also a good idea to get the times of the quicker moments such as the cake cut, bouquet toss, confetti and sparklers. You don’t want these moments to happen whilst you are having a quick sandwich or have just nipped to the toilet. These moments are over in a flash so it is best to have the timings locked down if possible.

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.
“My favorite part of the session was how my son connected with Kate…she just has a way to make him laugh and smile. Usually when I ask him to smile for a picture he gives me this hard smile where he pushes his chin forward. It drives me nuts… It doesn’t look like him. But then Kate comes around, works her magic, and he smiles a smile that lightens up the world. Squinty eyes, dimples, and all… and my heart melts.”
Not only is it handy to have two camera bodies for a wedding as insurance against gear failure, but it also enables you to have a different lens on each body.  This way you can very quickly switch from telephoto to standard zoom as the wedding party moves around.  Once you've tried it, you'll never go back to shooting just one body.  Fortunately, you can rent the lens and camera body for cheap.  (Thanks Kati Lewis)
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.
When I first began doing maternity work I made a pledge. A commitment I swore I’d stand by through thick and thin. I promised myself I’d never take “the maternity picture.” You know the one. Daddy’s arms around mommy’s belly with hands affectionately forming… gag… excuse me… a heart. There’s NOTHING wrong with this photo. AT ALL. Calm your rage oh you who just did this exact shot this afternoon.

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!
Shoes matter. Please don’t wear sneakers – unless we’re talking about some funky Converse that go with the feel of the session. The choice of shoes can make or break an outfit. Slipping on a pair of hip, distressed boots or some colorful ballet flats can tie everything together and complete the feel of the session. Think about coordinating those bright and colorful shoes with other accessories and clothing in the photo – not necessarily on the subject themselves, but rather match little sister’s bright turquoise shoes to the sweater or scarf her mama is wearing. It ties everything together without looking too match-y match-y. And many times NO shoes looks best, especially if you’ll be sitting or in poses where the bottoms of shoes can be seen – that never looks pretty. And don’t forget some funky socks to add another splash of color or personality if your overall look of the session is fun and bright.
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