Get dressed up! And schedule ample time for the shoot. We usually make it the only thing on our schedule for the morning or afternoon, and don’t have anywhere else to rush off to. Often it takes a lot longer than you expect for everyone to get ready, to go and find the perfect spot (we try to figure out where we’ll shoot before the actual day, especially if we have to drive there), take all the shots, and then pack up. And by the end everyone will be a bit tired! So make your shoot a priority for the day, and you’re much more likely to get it done, and enjoy the process.
In addition to providing this wedding photo list of family portraits to your photographer, you also want to give some consideration to the overall photography timeline of your wedding day (we have sample wedding photography timelines here). Think about the different location options for your portraits, and discuss these locales with your photographer. Also, make sure you settle the "first look" debate with your soon-to-be spouse. Finalizing your wedding photo list, portrait locations and other details in advance of your big day will ensure that your wedding portraits and family wedding photos go smoothly and, best of all, quickly.
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.
By having someone else take your photos you’re going to be able to be in a lot more of the shots, and you’ll get a lot more variety. You’ll also be able to focus more on having fun with your family – taking your own photos is definitely a bit of a juggling act! A pro behind the camera can catch a lot more of the special moments that come when you’re simply interacting with your loved ones, instead of worrying about whether your remote is working.
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!

One thing I learned when I became a parent, was that the baby is the boss regardless of how much control I pretend I have.  The same is true for newborn photography.  If the baby doesn’t want to go to sleep for posing after you’ve tried everything, take some lifestyle shots & keep shooting.  Swaddle tight and try to get some eye contact.  Get images of mommy rocking the baby, be open and flexible – the session doesn’t always go as planned and that might just be the best thing that happens to you.
Hi! Great! Thank you for your article. I just started with photography and I have a Canon Rebel T5 bundle (2 lenses), but I would like to focus on portraits, weddings, babies, engagements, seniors, etc, but I feel that those lenses don’t help me a lot. I want to achieve a more professional and sharp image. I’ll really appreciate if you can help guiding me in which accessories (camera, lenses, flashes, everything) do I need to buy in order to take great photos and start my business. I hope you can help me.
Leah Robinson is an award-winning photographer who specializes in capturing child, wedding and family photographs. Her work is based Melbourne, Australia and she focuses on her photographs on capturing those special moments that deserve to be immortalized. Waiting for the right moment to capture is highly responsible for helping Leah Robinson to create amazing photographs especially while photographing young children. 9 Elena Shumilova – Russia

If you have an important upcoming shoot, I highly recommend that you start learning composition by at least learning the rule of thirds.  The rule of thirds is the most basic rule of composition that basically tells the photographer to imagine a tic-tac-toe board on the frame of the picture, and to put the most interesting part of the photo on the intersection of those lines.

One thing that I’ve done at every wedding that I’ve photographed is attempt to photograph everyone who is in attendance in the one shot. The way I’ve done this is to arrange for a place that I can get up high above everyone straight after the ceremony. This might mean getting tall ladder, using a balcony or even climbing on a roof. The beauty of getting up high is that you get everyone’s face in it and can fit a lot of people in the one shot. The key is to be able to get everyone to the place you want them to stand quickly and to be ready to get the shot without having everyone stand around for too long. I found the best way to get everyone to the spot is to get the bride and groom there and to have a couple of helpers to herd everyone in that direction. Read more on how to take Group Photos.
Select an outfit that is appropriate year round. One of the more popular times for families to take their portraits seems to be around the holidays (when the kids are home from school and everyone is in the same place). The holidays may seem like the perfect excuse to bring out the Santa hats and incorporate props into your family portraits. However, you’ll want these photos to be displayed all year round. Try to avoid purely seasonal accessories and items.

I tried to read this article but gave up quickly. The first tip alone contains at least four or five instances of the wrong word -- or wrong form of a word -- being used. We're photographers, not writers, but there's no excuse for such lousy basic communication skills. Even if you don't wish to hold your contributors to a standard, you surely make enough money from this site to have someone take a low-level proofing run through the articles before posting publicly. Please?


I like getting digital images. We live in a digital age, and it is easy and fun to share pictures with others when you have the rights to the digital images from your photo shoot. I like having the digital images so I can use the photos on Christmas cards that I order and “print” myself (a portrait studio can print the cards with multiple images for you otherwise, but usually at a higher cost than can be found online).

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)

No matter where you shoot, studio, home, outside, 7Eleven, you’ve got to simplify your surroundings. The beauty of a mother anticipating the arrival of her child should be captured in a way that allows the miracle to speak for itself. Pregnancy doesn’t require anything “else” to be present in a photograph to help tell it’s story. Everything in the frame that may not belong will simply serve to distract from the story that’s already being told, naturally. Pay attention to background.
Prior to the big day, your photographer will likely ask you for a wedding photo list, which will outline specific family wedding photos you and your soon-to-be spouse want to be sure and take during the wedding. Thanks to WeddingWire's wedding day timeline generator, you know that you have about an hour allotted between the wedding ceremony and reception (or following the first look) for wedding family photos. A complete wedding family photo list will help you and your photographer make the most of these 60 minutes.
One last thing to look for is that they know how to use light.  Outdoor photography can be difficult when the sun is out.  One thing you might want to watch for is to make sure that people don’t have harsh shadows on their faces.  The light should fall softly on their faces in a flattering way.  Part what makes this difference is time of day (that’s why most photographers like to do outdoor sessions in the evening), but there are a lot of other little tricks for getting the lighting just right.  In the examples below, the photo on the left is a test shot that I took in harsh midday light just to show my client what the location looked like.  See the dark shadows and blown out hot spots on my (super enthusiastic) son’s face?  Then on the right, you see a family posing in the same spot with soft light that is much more flattering.
That is not to say that we don’t want to know what is important to you! We absolutely DO want to know all about the special details that you have planned for your day and we want to capture those for you. That is why we also ask you to tell us as much detail as you can about any special details, events, and surprises that you are planning for your day in our questionnaires! :)
I use a Canon 50d, which is an older pre-pro model. If you’re starting out in photography, just about any dSLR (that allows you to change lenses) is going to work well. The lenses are actually more important than than the camera body, in my opinion. A 50mm 1.8 lens (about $100) is a great investment if you want to take great portraits of babies, kids, etc. HTH!
One memorable one had a set of parents with 3 daughters and a son. They had decided to all wear green, but their son was at that obstinate age (gotta love 3 year olds!), and insisted on wearing his favorite orange shirt. The mom was very apologetic, but would rather have smiling portraits than tear stained, sullen glares. I laughed and told her it wasn't a problem. We set him in the middle of a loose circle, and did a few other fun things with them. If you're creative, and by what I see on your site, you are indeed, you'll be fine.
Avoid anything with logos, graphics, characters, labels, etc. These tend to take the “finished” look of a professional portrait down a few notches, can be distracting (who wants people to first notice the Nike or Gap logo before the adorable little kid’s smile?) and will date a photo quickly. I’m having flashbacks to me wearing Esprit tee-shirts with my Guess jeans back in grade school, right along side my little brother in his Gotcha shirt (and if you’re sitting there wondering what I’m talking about, you must not be an 80’s child, LOL). Note: There are a few instances where a more stylized graphic on a shirt can look good if it fits the vibe of a photo, for instance, in my six year old’s birthday session we did a total punk rock theme to go along with her party. She wore a Johnny Cash tee with her tutu and baby sis rocked a Ramones tee.
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