Spontaneous family photos take lots of planning

8:28 AM, Jun 10, 2013   |    comments
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Getting your family together for a photo session has come a long way from the days of herding everyone to a booth at the local department store.

This week's Angie's List report offers tips on working with a professional photographer to get that perfect picture.

Adrienne Miller hired a pro to capture some of the special moments in the young lives of her three daughters. Miller said, "How they hug and how they kiss and even just how they look at each other is sweet, so I'm excited to have that always captured to see it."

Angie Hicks from Angie's List said it takes a professional to know all the elements that go into a great picture such as lighting, positioning and timing. That understanding becomes even more crucial with the growing emphasis on candid shots rather than static, posed pictures.

A simple way to check a photographer's style is to look at their portfolio on their website. Jessica Johnston said she has gotten a lot of good feedback from her professional blog. "They're just playing or not necessarily looking at the camera," Johnston said of her subjects. "And that's exactly what they want. They don't want the awkward posing smile 'say cheese' kind of things anymore, which is fine by me. "

Talk to the photographer prior to the session about the kind of look you want, especially when young children are involved. Johnston said, "Usually families want a morning session because kids are happier in the morning. They've just been fed. They can be clean from the night before. You don't have to worry about the day's grime on them or anything."

Having family photos done can run anywhere from a couple of hundred to a thousand dollars. Hicks said, "The key here is understanding how they price and what they are getting. How much is a sitting fee, how much is it per sheet of photo that you have done with them?"

Before you sign a contract, Hicks said to make sure you understand all the details, including who will have the rights to the high-resolution images? Will you have unlimited copyrights? And are you okay if they use your photos for their marketing purposes?

Some photographers also offer incentives or discounts. Things like "baby plans" where you get a discount if you use the same photographer to take family pictures every year or so.

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