Though this may seem somewhat obvious, many people only practice their photography skills during special moments. The more you become comfortable using your camera, the easier it will be for you to take excellent pictures for special occasions. Even when you do not have the camera in your hands, you can still practice with your eyes, noting which things will make good pictures.
Before you begin a photo session, look to see where your primary light sources are located. Are there awkward shadows being cast? Can you use them to create special effects? If there is shadowing that you would like to minimize on an up close photo, use the flash on your camera. It will help to light the dark areas. You also want to be certain that the light source is not directly behind you. Otherwise, you may inadvertently end up casting your own shadow into the photo.
If you are working with human subjects, interact with them. Make eye contact and give them feedback on what you would like them to do. If you want your subjects to smile, have a well rounded stockpile of jokes and one-liners that you can use to release a natural smile when you are ready. If your subject is uncomfortable, it will show in the photos. Ask what you can do to help them if this occurs.
Look At Everything in the Frame
While you want your main subject to be at the center of your photograph, it is critical that you pay attention to the other elements surrounding them. Is there garbage or something else unsightly in the background of an anniversary picture? The message you wish for the picture to convey will make a difference in how these background elements will come across. For example, if you are showing the plight of the homeless, garbage in the background may be a desired addition to the picture.