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How to keep children authentic during family sessions


Today’s feature is from Cadence Feeley.

Cadence says:

“Jaymie and her family live in upcountry Maui, so they decided to do their session near home. Spending time with Jaymie, Mike, and Wesley was a dream — we played disc golf at the Poli Poli course, and explored the forest and fields at sunset.

On our way down the mountain, I couldn’t help but pull over at a gorgeous Jacaranda Tree on Kula Highway for a few more shots. If anyone has experienced Kula when these amazing trees go off, it is unexplainable – bursts of vibrant purple that seem to come from another planet!

I’m always so grateful for adventurous families. Mahalo to the Harrison’s!”

Cadence’s Photography Tip:

Wesley was full of energy — not unlike many other little ones around his age! Here are some tips and tricks I use to keep children engaged and authentic during family sessions:

1. Move around. Don’t spend too much time in one position. By keeping things moving quickly and exploring the area you are shooting in, little ones will not get restless and stiff! They will be their wild and free selves.

2. Let them play. Taking quick breaks makes a huge difference. I let the little ones chill while I get portraits of mom and dad, and after a couple of minutes they want to be back in the center of attention — sometimes they even sneak back in the shot when we see how much fun we’re having!

3. Get down on their level. I always squat down when talking to kids, and sometimes whisper to let them feel like they are in on a secret! This helps me get to know a few things about them that help me photograph their true essence.



Cadence used a Canon 5D Mark III (affiliate link) with a Canon 50mm 1.2 lens (affiliate link) and a Canon 35mm 1.4 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Cadence Feeley is a Maui Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Working with Children.

Cadence, unlike a lot of us, doesn’t have to travel too far for an exotic location (being she lives in Hawaii!).

If you’re thinking about getting into travel photography though so you can take awesome pics of your own in crazy cool locals, check out this article here about travel photography.

How To Stand Out In Your Market


Today’s feature is from Rya Duncklee.

Rya says:

“This session was captured for a client for Mother’s Day. I wanted to convey the special bond between mother and child, so we let Dad sit this one out.

I used a combination of photo and video to capture the relationship images as well as the candids, and edited the final video fusion product for my client to assure that she walked away from our session with a tangible heirloom that she could pass on to her children.

The voice-over in the video portion is my client, the subject’s mother. Her words are a reading from letters to her children that she wrote. It was important for me to capture her guidance and advice to them during this time in their lives.

I love that she describes them a little in her reading. They can loook back on this session 20 years from now and see how much she loved (and still does) love them.”

Rya’s Photography Tip:

Try to incorporate little 10-second video clips into your client portrait sessions. If you have a camera that can do both, you can use a monopod for stability and switch back and forth while shooting.

This added little bonus will not only wow your clients, but it gives you added variety and a leg up on your competition, helping you to really stand out in your marketplace.


Rya used a Nikon D4 and Nikon D4s with a Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 lens and a Nikon 35mm lens to capture these images.

Rya Duncklee is a Jacksonville, Florida Children and Family Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Marketing.


By the way, if you need help with your marketing game, Jamie from The Modern Tog created a marketing course just for photographers. I definitely recommend checking it out if you don’t have the client volume you want.


How Customer Service and Referrals are Related


Today’s feature is from El Hogan.

El says:

“This is a family session I shot in January with a lovely family in Currumbin Valley. The mum spent a lot of time thinking about exactly what she wanted and why, and it really suited my work.

I loved that her style and vision really complimented my own. Its great to collaborate with a client who gives over her full trust to you.”

El’s Photography Tip:

We shot this day late in the afternoon, in a spot we had both picked especially. I love that golden time of the afternoon. My go-to lens is my 35mm, and I shoot mainly with it wide open so I can take advantage of and manipulate that delicious light.

I only ever shoot manual, as it gives me total control over the light. I shoot many water and ocean sessions, and I have an SPL warehousing for my camera.

I spent a lot of time before the session day talking to the client about exactly what she wanted, from her vision, to location, to what she wanted to do with the final images.

I communicate like this with every client so I can gauge exactly what they want, before the session, so I turn up prepared.

For example: if I know that she has a big wall at home that she wants to fill with a huge family portrait, or a gallery wall with many images telling a story, I keep that in mind while I’m shooting.

This client had voiced to me the kinds of images she wanted (knowing they suit my style of work), as well as the details of her children she loved and wanted to remember.

From the first point of contact (whether by email or phone) right up until the handover of images and products, education and communication is vital to giving your client a wonderful experience throughout the whole process – not just during the actual shoot.

Referrals are by far the most important and valuable source for continued work, so I try hard to give clients a wonderful experience throughout.


El used a Nikon D4 with a Nikon 35mm lens (affiliate link) and a Nikon 50mm lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

El Hogan is a Gold Coast Hinterland, SE QLD, Northern NSW, and Sydney, Australia Family Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Customer Service.

El is right – referrals are one of the best forms of marketing you can get.

Learn how to create a solid referral program for your photography business here (affiliate link).


Tips for Urban Family Portraits

Tips for Urban Family Portraits // Belovely You

Today’s feature is from Edyta Grazman.

Edyta says:

“This session was scheduled around the younger child’s 1st birthday, though I had previously photographed him when he was a newborn and when he was six months old.

I love returning clients! There are so many benefits to working with a family you know; everyone is more relaxed, comfortable, and knows just what to expect.”

Edyta’s Photography Tip:

This session was shot in downtown Chicago, where I shoot most of my sessions. The city look is fantastic, but it can get busy so you have to be careful to consciously choose what you want to include in the shot and not let things get distracting or full of clutter.

With that in mind, I shot this session wide open to separate my subjects from the busy backdrop.

I also picked a spot in the city where the sidewalks were light and would act as reflectors bouncing the light back onto my subjects along with pretty landscaping for the nice backdrop.

Tips for Urban Family Portraits // Belovely You
Tips for Urban Family Portraits // Belovely You
Tips for Urban Family Portraits // Belovely You
Tips for Urban Family Portraits // Belovely You
Tips for Urban Family Portraits // Belovely You
Tips for Urban Family Portraits // Belovely You

Edyta used a Nikon D750 (affiliate link) with a Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 lens (affiliate link) and a Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Edyta Grazman is a Chicago, San Francisco, and New York Children and Family photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Camera Settings, Lighting, and Location.




4 Things To Tell Parents Before a Family Session


Today’s feature is from Madeleine Jonsson Licht.

Madeleine says:

“This session was shot at sunset at Seal Beach in southern California. The location is very near and dear to the clients’ hearts as they live nearby and visit several times a week.”

Madeleine’s Photography Tip:

I love working with kids! But as we all know it can be challenging photographing families with younger kids.

To get mom and dad in the right mindset for the session and to relax, I always send out an email before our session letting them know what to expect – not just from me, but from the kids.

Here are some of the things I go over:

  1. The kids will probably try to run away. Or cry. Or hide behind mom/dad, nor not look at the camera, etc. etc. – and that this is all totally fine! If the kids start to act up, it is OK! I want parents to know this is normal so they don’t freak out.
  2. I ask them to not tell the kids what to do or where to look. Having more than one person giving you directions can be super frustrating for a child.
  3. Don’t yell or raise their voice. If the child doesn’t want to cooperate, yelling and/or raising voices will only make for a bad experience for everyone. You want your clients (big and small) to enjoy the session, not remember it as one big family fight.
  4. Ask if I can bring snacks for the kids. These don’t have to be complicated, and can be things like raisins, M&K’s, a sucker, etc. I want mom and dad to feel like the only thing they need to do is show up and be relaxed, and that I will handle the rest.

When it comes time for the session, my sessions are always about the kids. Right when they pull up to the location I greet the kids before I even talk to the parents.

I’ll ask them things like, “Hey who’s ready to play some games? If you do good I have a surprise for you! Don’t tell mom and dad.. it’s a secret!”

That way, you have the kids on-board from the get-go. If a pose or game isn’t working out the way I planned it, if I can tell the kids are getting restless or bored, we move on right away.

I always follow the kids’ lead and never make them do something they don’t want to do (like holding hands, sitting down if they want to stand up, etc).

All this makes for a smooth session – happy photographer, happy parents, and most importantly – happy kids.


Madeleine used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Sigma 50mm ART lens and a Canon 35mm 1.4 lens to capture these images.

Madeleine Jonsson Licht is a Southern California Maternity, Newborn, Family and Children’s portraiture photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Working with Children.

Prepping clients for a session via email is fun – it gets them excited, makes sure they’re ready and know what to expect, etc.

But how do you deal with the difficult client situations and emails? It’s not easy. Pick up a package of templates to help you through it and make sure you not only cover the situation, but also do it with the best possible customer service.

Get In Front of the Camera – Not Just Behind It


Today’s feature is from .

Alan says:

“Lee is a local photographer and our daughters are friends so we connected that way. Like many photographers Lee was great at shooting other families but her own family had been neglected, especially when it came to having her in the photos with her family.

So the session was set to go play and have some family photos as well as some cuteness from the kids. We are lucky to have a heap of great beach locations around us and were able to find a quiet beach so we would only have to contend with the dog walkers at sunset.

And of course the weather ended up being very warm so it turned into a very busy beach. Some preconceived ideas were forgotten about and the fun of improvising started – including how to get great family shots of just the family and not everyone else at the beach.”

Alan’s Photography Tip:

Honestly, my biggest tip for this shoot is to and get family portraits of yourself and your family every year, and get it done professionally.

If this is what you love to do, make sure you get in front of a real camera (selfies don’t count).

Get to understand what goes on at the other side of the session, as it will help you sympathise more with your clients on things like deciding what to wear, getting the kids ready, talking the partner into playing along, sorting out what props to bring, and also what it is like being directed, how it makes you feel, what you like and don’t like about the experience, etc.

Understanding these sorts of things will improve the way you shoot and handle your clients.

Once the session is over, the anticipation to see the images beings!  I guarantee you will want to see the photos ASAP, so it gives you a reminder that you need to turn around your images quickly for your clients. Don’t let the excitement fade!

Plus in the future, your kids will have photos to look back on like all the other families you’ve taken pictures for in your career.


Alan used a Nikon D600 with a Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens, a Nikon 85mm 1.8 lens, and a Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Alan Moyle is a Melbourne, Australia, and International Wedding and Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Direction.

Like Alan said, family portraits are a great thing to pass on to your children. Leaving them the digitals is great, but the best way to do it is with physical prints and canvases.

However, getting your client to understand why this is important is hard. So start small – just start by showing them how great the prints will look displayed in their home.

How To Approach Documentary Family Portraits


Today’s feature is from .

Kirsten says:

“Kari contacted me about doing a Day in the Life session with her girls in Maine this past winter and I couldn’t have been more excited. For one, Kari is a photographer herself and I really admire her work.

Secondly, Maine is one of my favorite states in the US and I was really looking forward to photographing a session there.

Our day began around 6:30am and the girls did not end up going to be until around 7:30, so it was a long day to say the least.

That being said, there wasn’t a dull moment the entire day. From making breakfast to visiting the dairy farm, arts and crafts to bath time it was a full day with countless moments, laughs, and tears alike.”

Kirsten’s Photography Tip:

Day in the Life sessions can be extremely rewarding – but at the same time challenging and exhausting and sometimes even frustrating. To do a good job, you have to constantly be making decisions visually, socially and physically.

You have to find a balance between being a photographer and being a part of the family. You have to hold a camera up to your face as long as 14 hours a day and get up and down and up and down more times than you could ever keep track of.

Here are a few tips for Day in the Life sessions:

1. Be Present At All Times.
It is your job to document the entire day, which means if the family goes to the grocery store, you go to the grocery store. Family goes swimming in the pool? Get your suit on!

The idea is to be brave and remember that you need to photograph everything.

2. Integrate Yourself.
A documentary photographer develops a strong relationship with their subjects with honesty, empathy, and humility.

This requires you to balance your socialization with your photography and know when it’s appropriate to talk and when to shoot. The most important thing is that your desire to connect with your families is genuine.

Building trust and gaining access is the foundation to photojournalism. You must approach these types of sessions as that of a photojournalist and completely immerse yourself into the family.

This means engaging in meaningful conversation with your subjects, relating to their life, and basically becoming a member of their family for a day.

3. Go In Without Expectation.
I tell each of my students not to expect anything the day of the shoot other than there will probably be some sort of melt down throughout the day, most likely in the later afternoon before dinner.

Other than that, go in embracing the unexpected. Because of this, you have to be constantly thinking, watching, anticipating and reacting.

I don’t even like to know anything about schedules or family plans ahead of time because I really enjoy just moving through the day naturally.

This being said, I do ask a lot of questions during the shoot so that I can try to stay 3 steps ahead and prepare for activities as well as transitional moments throughout the day.

The more information you have, the higher your chances are to succeed in regards to being in the right place at the right time. i.e., “What time does the bus pick up the kids for school?”

4. Remember That These Shoots Are Visual Documentaries.
A Day in the Life session is totally different than a portrait shoot. It should be completely organic, not directed, and the environment should not be changed in any way.

This means you do not move or touch anything during the shoot, including turning lights on or off, opening or closing shades or blinds or using a flash.

While it is necessary to communicate with the family throughout the day, it is not your job to influence the moments or actives. Let them happen totally on their own.

By remembering the following tips, you will find Day in the Life session to be the most honest reflection of the family you are photographing. You will walk away with pictures you would never be able to capture in a one- or even two-hour session with them.








Kirsten used a Nikon D3 and Nikon D3s with a Nikkor 85mm 1.8 lens and a Nikkor 35mm 2.0 lens to capture these images.

Kirsten Lewis is a Denver, Colorado Documentary Wedding, Family, and Business photographer, but also photographs families all over the U.S. and internationally.

Click here to see more tips on In-Home Sessions.

Need help composing the perfect image on-the-go? Let’s face it, these kinds of sessions are pretty face-paced.

You won’t have an opportunity to pose your subjects as you want, so you’ll have to be picking up on the natural composition of your surroundings pretty quick. To help better train your eye to see the perfectly-composed piece, check out this awesome guide all about photography composition!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Spotlight Lighting Effect

Dad & Boys

Today’s feature is from .

Michael says:

“This family hired us to do a shoot on what ended up being a very cold December day. We had access to an industrial complex in our area, but were limited in terms of the variety of backgrounds and locations within the warehouse.

Our clients were tons of fun – these two boys were full of energy, they literally ran around in a full circle for almost 15 minutes straight. The day before the shoot the older boy had an accident at the park and ended up with quite the black eye, but it really added to the rough-and-tumble look of the photos.”

Michael’s Photography Tip:

In this shoot we were limited to a small space inside an industrial complex, due to bad weather. I decided to use dramatic and edgy lighting to add character to the location and give it a theatrical effect.

This family was very high energy and so traditional wasn’t really an option. I complimented their characters with dramatic lighting, which allowed me to take a situation in where I was limited and create really fun photos out of it.

To pull off the lighting, I used two lights in total – an off-camera flash (Nikon SB 910) (affiliate link) with a snoot on the flash to create a spotlight effect, and a light for backlighting to create drama in some of the images.

I also underexposed the ambient light to finish off the effect. I used my long lens (Nikon 70-200) so I could compress the background, which allowed me to get more options out of the location.

Instead of posing the shots, I set up the lighting and staged them instead, and let the family play and be themselves while I documented the whole thing.

Boy 5 Years Old
Boy 7 Years Old
Mom with Boys
Family Photo
Mom & Son

Michael used a Nikon D800 (affiliate link) and Nikon D3S (affiliate link) with a Nikon 70-200 lens to capture these images.

Michael Tigchelaar is a Toronto, Ontario, Canada Lifestyle / Documentary photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting.

These are some very memorable family photos, and what family wouldn’t want to show them off? Make it easy for your clients and give them their very own mobile app (customized with their image on the app) with all their images from their session with StickyAlbums.

Plus, the more your clients share their images – the more free marketing for you!


Things to Remember when Location Scouting


Today’s feature is from .

Susan says:

“This session took place a couple of hours away from Santa Rosa, CA where I am based. I had never seen the two locations we would be using before, but I had some photographs from my client to use in my planning process.

This family wanted photographs that captured the essence of their adorable little daughter and highlighted her spunky yet sweet spirit as well as some candid moments that captured of all three of them.

I work primarily in natural light, and always try to push myself to use the light available to me to create portraits that are artistically minded as well as emotive.

We had a great time photographing in the two hours before sunset, and were able to really highlight the strengths of golden hour lighting as well as the beautiful softness the end of the day brings to the world to create some unique images that speak of the relationships this couple holds most dear.”

Susan’s Photography Tip:

My favorite image of this entire set is the one of the family warming their hands over the fire in Grandma’s backyard. Sometimes natural light can be challenging, however there are always elements available to create unique shots that have that “wow, how did you do that?” factor using only what is around you.

Since I had never seen the areas we were going to shoot in before, I had to think on my feet to get the interesting perspectives that make a portrait go from good to great.

At our first location in a nearby golf course, I was able to use huge rocks to take shots of the little one from below — a great technique for photographing children, as they are usually shot from above.

Then we moved to Grandma’s backyard, and as my clients were changing outfits, I scanned the area for things that I could play with. The first thing that caught my eye was their beautiful pool.

I was able to play with reflections as the sun was setting to get some beautiful shots of just the two parents. I then espied the fire pots, and as twilight was setting, I placed them in a way that creatively harnessed the lighting situation I was in to create a shot unlike any other.

Having your “go-to” prompts and poses are a necessary part of lifestyle portraiture, but creatively using things like bodies of water, landscaping, and unorthodox sources of light in the settings you are in can introduce a certain artistry to the portraits you take.

The next time you are scouting a location, look for unique elements to play with as you position and direct your clients. You may be surprised at how easy it is to create artistic images that stop viewers in their tracks.






Susan used a Nikon D800 (affiliate link) with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens (affiliate link) and a Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Susan Suard is a Santa Rosa, CA Lifestyle Family photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Location.

2014 Best Tips on Working With Children

Children’s photography can be a really fun time – they’re adorable, and energetic. But getting them to cooperate for you can present a challenge that you don’t get when photographing other age groups. Working with children can be a good experience for everyone involved with these tips.

In this article we’ve compiled our best tips on Children’s Portrait Photography that we’ve received in 2014.

Making Kids Feel Comfortable

Remember, kids don’t always really understand what’s going on when you shove a giant lens in their face, and it can make them really nervous and clam up a bit.

A good idea to get them warmed up to you is to put the camera down and just play with the kid(s) at the beginning of the session. That will help you earn their trust and make them less likely to get nervous once you do get out your camera.


This can also make it easier on the parents – once they see their kids having fun, they’ll be less anxious and worried about the session as well.

It’s also important too to remember that kids are kids (sounds obvious right?), so they’re not serious all the time. Sometimes a great way to get them to loosen up is to loosen up yourself!

Let go a little bit, and don’t hesitate to be a little silly to get them to smile and relax.


Directing Children

Once you get them to relax, the next challenge is getting them to (at least sort of) do what you want.

A great way to do that is to think like a child – if you were a kid, what would you want to do? What are fun things you like to do?

One of our featured photographers, Sarah Parker, used this idea to get the kids she was photographing to behave the way she wanted.


For this session (above), she had the older girl pretend she was reading the book to the younger girls, which gave them a task (that they enjoyed) that the photographer used to distract them and capture their natural facial expressions.

Working with Children to Keep Their Attention

Once the session has started, you’re not necessarily racing the clock so much as the kids’ attention spans. But there are a lot of tricks and ideas that our featured photographers use to help combat this that you might find useful as well.

If you’re using props in your session (like Sarah above), you can use those to distract the kids and help keep them still long enough to take a good picture.

seekjoyphotography-13-of-15 If the session is taking place somewhere where toys aren’t readily available, bring some of your own!

Baskets, dolls, games, etc. – all of these are great things you can bring that will entertain a child.

And a lot of times once they’ve started to play with the toys and relax a bit (instead of thinking they have to ‘sit still and behave for the photographer’ you can remove the toy and get some shots of them without it.


Sheets of fabric are even a cheap, fun item that can inspire play.

If you have older siblings present, sometimes they can help you out with the younger ones too. One of our featured photographers suggests ‘telling the oldest kid a secret,’ which is telling them to tickle their younger sibling(s) when you say ‘three’.

If you’ve got little girls in the crowd, you can get them to play by telling them to pretend they’re their favorite movie character, like Elsa from Frozen.


Little girl pretending she’s Elsa during a family session.

But at the end of the day – let them be kids.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can’t get the kids to do what you want.

And that’s ok.

You can use their energy to your advantage and capture natural interactions with the kids playing with their families and siblings.

If they’re wanting to run around and be active, have them run to their parents and be caught to capture those moments of fun between parent and child.


Mommy catching her active, energetic little boy.

If you’re able, sometimes it’s best to just step back and watch the kids as they are. Camera settings can help with this too, and one of our photographers, Jennifer N., uses a Canon 5D MKIII and 135mm lens (for example) and sets the aperture at its widest possible setting.

The MKII can handle the high ISO, but will give clearer images of busy-body kids with ants in their pants.


Jennifer stepping back and watching her kids do what they do best.

Watch Their Moods

Kids can be a bit unpredictable, but they generally wear their mood on their sleeves. So pay attention to this.

Kids have short attention spans (as we’ve mentioned), so try to keep the session moving at a good pace and try switching up your location regularly.


If you see them getting bored or antsy, take the session somewhere else – outside, nearby park, upstairs instead of downstairs, etc.

If you’re trying to get pictures of each kid separately, do the younger children first. They get sleepy, hungry, distracted, etc., faster, so work with them first in the session so they can be let go sooner.


Another idea is to try and schedule the session in the morning. Kids will have woken up not too long ago, so will be less prone to be tired or cranky.


Or talk to the family and see if there’s a better time of day for their little one(s).

Sometimes though, it doesn’t matter how many of these tips you try – the kids just won’t want to cooperate.

If that happens, just take a break. It doesn’t have to be a long one, but take a few minutes and let the kids do some running and get a little energy out of their system.




What Are Your Best Tip for Working With Kids?

Leave them in the comments below!

2014 Tips for In-Home Sessions


Lifestyle sessions are a lot of fun, but can seem a bit daunting if you’re just starting to get into them – especially if the client has asked you to do them in their home.

We’ve had some very experienced lifestyle photographers contribute some of their best tips on how to handle that situation, as well as ideas for what to photograph once you’re in the home.

But first —

Preparing for the Session: You and Your Client

First off, keep in mind that you’ll be doing the session in your client’s home – ok, it sounds obvious. But my point is that you won’t have access to everything you have at your studio.

Props, lighting, etc. – you can probably bring some reflectors with you, but ideally you won’t want to bring much more than that, your camera bodies, and your lenses.

You can try to bring all of your props and backdrops with you – but that can be a bit cumbersome and time-consuming.

Instead, plan your session ahead of time and think forward on what sort of props or backdrops you’d like to bring (if any). This will drastically cut down on packing/unpacking and time spent setting up gear.


Even simple newborn wraps are a great, simple, easily-transportable prop you can use.

Not only do you want to prepare for an in-home session, but you also want to make sure your clients are prepared as well.

Doing a pre-session consultation is a great way to go over information the family will need to know about the session before it happens (and is great for establishing a client relationship).

This will help clients to trust you and get to know you, which will help them be more relaxed in front of the camera on the day of the session. It’ll also give you a chance to go over how the session will run from the time you arrive at their home until you leave.


One of our featured family portrait photographers, Emily Lapish, puts it this way:

Since every family has their own unique dynamics and quirks, there is no way that pulling out the same tricks and trying the same poses and shots on each session can capture a family authentically – so this pre-session consult is vital.

Another one of our family portrait photographers, Maegan Hall, suggests telling the family to prep any activities at the home that they like doing together before you arrive.

This will insure that you capture some of the family’s favorite memories together instead of leaving it up to chance.


Once You Arrive

When you get to your client’s home, you’ll want to take note of a few things. First, make note of what time of day it is and what direction the light is coming into the house from in the various rooms. This can help you plan what rooms to shoot in at what time of day.

Secondly, take note of the paint on the walls. Dark walls will make your images look darker, walls with solid, vibrant colors will give your client’s skin a color cast, and of course, white walls will give the cleanest light and skin tones.

And of course, as you do your walkthrough, take note of the light quality and intensity in each room – ‘great natural light’ usually means something completely different to your clients as it does to you.

Perfect example of a well-lit in-home portrait.

Perfect example of a well-lit in-home portrait.

Ideas for In-Home Sessions

There are multiple ways you can approach an in-home session too. You can do a Lifestyle-type session, a session that’s more posed, newborn sessions, whole family sessions, etc. etc. – the list goes on.

For newborn and toddler sessions, a great way to approach it is to use your client’s home and things in the home to document the growth of the baby.

If you’ve done a newborn session of your client’s child in their home before, photograph them as a toddler next to or near places or items that you used in the newborn session to document how they’ve grown in their family home.

Or, if you’re planning a newborn session and hope to photograph their child again as a toddler, try to plan for areas like that in the home that you can use for future.


A picture of a toddler in their newborn crib is a great way to document the child’s growth.

If you’re doing a family + newborn session, doing the session in the home is a great idea because the parents will be more comfortable in their own space – which will rub off and affect the mood of the newborn.

Since parents will be holding their newborn for the majority of the session, you want to minimize the amount of moving around you do so as to keep the baby calm and relaxed.

Don’t worry though – this doesn’t necessarily mean that this limits your variety of photos, especially if you remember to work your angles and distances from your subject.

Michael Kormos, an experienced in-home newborn photographer, uses principles of cinematography to accomplish the same goal.

Many times, he will start out with a wide shot (like peeking around a doorway) that sets the tone for the rest of the session, and gives the sense of “peaking” in on the clients’ lives and tender moments with their newborn.

Once that’s established, he’ll start closing the distance between himself and his clients for the closeup shots, which are a great way to capture the emotion and attachment the parents feel with their newborn.

Both of these shots can be done while the client is seated in the same position, but it still provides a variety of images that can be included in a final collection.

If you’d like to forego posing altogether, Kirsten Lewis, suggests capturing the day naturally as it unfolds and taking a documentary-style approach.

She suggests making yourself (more or less) a member of the family for the day – whether the family is going grocery shopping, cleaning, swimming, playing outside, reading books, etc.

She even goes so far as not even bringing any additional lighting equipment, since her goal is to capture a family’s life and interactions exactly how they are – down to every detail.


Working With Multiple Ages

When you’re doing an in-home session (and even when you’re not), working with multiple age groups can be challenging. The older kids want to run around, but if there’s an infant or toddler in the picture, that’s not always an option if you want to get pictures of everyone.

That can be ok though – if your active children want to be active, let them burn off some energy! Capture some shots with mom or dad and baby in the meantime while one of the other parents supervises.

Or direct their energy a different way and have mom or dad play games with them while you capture their interactions – it will help hold their attention but still allow you to get in some good shots.




What are some of your best in-home session tips?

We’ve told you ours, now it’s your turn! Post some of your best tips for in-home sessions below!

Games to Play to Engage Children

Finding treasure on the beach

Today’s feature is from .

Angela says:

“This photo session was great because I was able to get a lot of candids of the family enjoying Maui. I am always very conscious of the ocean and the amazing energy it brings to my photo sessions, and letting kids play in the surf aways brings out great candids!”

Angela’s Photography Tip:

This sweet family came all the way to Maui from Texas. To celebrate their time together as a family, they booked me for a session on the beach. It was a morning session, which is always best for young children as they are typically happy in the mornings.

There were three children ranging from ages 8 to 3, which is a pretty large age gap maturity-wise. So I knew this session would be all about playing games.

I immediately got the oldest, Ava, to be my assistant. She was going to help me with the younger ones because she was an expert with her younger siblings. Even if that meant calling her over before a posed shot to “tell her a secret”–which was just when I said “THREE!” she would give them a tickle!

The girls had long dresses, so I asked them to pretend they were Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen” and twirl around int he surf, which they loved. So they pretended to be princesses–and they took it hook, line, and sinker, and were easily won over by the idea.

The little boy, Pierce, was a different bundle of energy. He wanted to run, jump, climb and look for treasure!

So, naturally, we were monkeys! We had contests about how high we could jump, how fast we could run, and how high we could climb (but don’t worry, the branch wasn’t that far off the ground). We even found a coconut treasure!

As soon as the kids were playing, the parents were able to loosen up too. And before I knew it, the whole family was playing in the surf and having fun. It made for the absolute best candid session I have had!

Even mom got her dress wet in the surf!
Running to try the jump again! "This time I can jump HIGHER!" she said.
Jumping siblings
Letting the surf twirl her dress
Pierce pretended to be a monkey and climb the tree!

Angela used a Nikon D800e with a Nikkor 85mm 1.4 lens and a Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Angela Nelson is a Maui Portrait and Wedding photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Working with Children.

Being a destination photographer can present a bit of a challenge since you’re generally not marketing to local people within your area of residence.

You really have to make sure that potential vacationing clients can not only clearly understand your website, but that they can also find it amongst the many photography websites out there.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Working with Little Ones


Today’s feature is from .

Katy says:

“This session was a family session featuring their newest addition.”

Katy’s Photography Tip:

For this session I focussed on getting that feeling of the unique time when there is something new in the house. I did this by looking for interesting light, moments that were evoking some kind of mood, or relational feeling.

After we were done shooting inside, we headed outside. The older sibling had a love of being free and running, running, running.  I feel like it is always really important to speak the language of your littlest client and allow them to put on their ‘show’ for you, so we tried to harness her energy by asking her to run and be caught.


Katy used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 35mm 1.4 lens to capture these images.

Katy Tuttle is a Seattle, WA Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Working With Children.

Black and white images can be stunning, and invoke a certain level of emotion that colored images can’t. Don’t forget though – editing black and whites is different than editing colors.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.


Personal Family Lifestyle Portraits


Today’s feature is from Nate and Amanda Howard.

Nate and Amanda say:

“The shoot took place in the families home in Chicago. It is filled with their traditions and what home means to them. And for them, that’s snuggling and playing in their bed, sharing lunch together, quiet moments in their space and sweet little giggles echoing through their walls.

Our hope with this session, and all of our family sessions, is that we capture all the senses. That they can look back on these images someday and remember how they felt. Remember how their house smelled. Remember how the giggles sounded. We want their favorite day-to-day traditions and spaces to be documented for them to look back on someday.”

Nate and Amanda’s Photography Tip:

We primarily focus on telling stories of families’ real life and love and try to include day-to-day traditions and favorite places. We don’t ever pose our families because we want to capture the emotion, movement, and messiness of real life. To achieve this, we try really hard to get to know our families before we shoot with them.

We want to learn about the nitty gritty of who they are and what matters most to them because 20 years from now, they are going to care a lot less about having pretty pictures of themselves sitting in a perfect formation at the park. They are going to care a lot more about having memories captured at their favorite place to spend time together.

They are going to care about bare feet running across kitchen floors while making chocolate chip cookies and eating sugar straight out of the bag. They are going to care about snuggling in bed with messy hair. They are going to care about their child’s favorite, ratty t-shirt. They are going to care about laughter, tears, and capturing how they felt at this stage of their life.


Nate and Amanda used a Canon 5d MKII with a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens and a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens to capture these images.

Nate and Amanda Howard travel nationwide as Wedding and Family Portrait photographers.

Click here to see more tips on Client Relations and Client Personality.

Leaving clients with life-long keepsakes is a wonderful thing, and one of the best ways to do that is with prints and albums. If you’re not super familiar with creating your own albums, don’t worry – there’s plenty of info out there to get you started.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Proper Lens Selection for Storytelling


Today’s feature is from .

Jean says:

“They are just those types of people, you know? The type who show up with awesome clothing, awesome props, and are willing to do whatever you tell them. We shot this at their lake, in their favorite spots, which made it so special and fun to shoot.”

Jean’s Photography Tip:

For me, a big trick in shooting lifestyle family sessions is using a variety of lens focal lengths and subject-to-camera distances. Typically, a wider angle lens is more storytelling (24-35mm), and 24mm just happens to be my favorite focal length.

So I shot much of the session at that focal length. I also tell a story and get a wide variety of images by starting out far (by either using a wide angle lens or walking away), and then moving closer to my subjects, and then closer again (again, by using either a telephoto lens, or walking to them).








Jean used a Nikon D700 and Nikon D3S with a Nikon 24-70mm 2.8 lens, a Nikon 85mm 1.8 lens, and a Nikon 45mm Tilt shift lens to capture these images.

Jean Smith is a Chicago, IL and Michigan Wedding and Portrait photographer.

Need help getting the right clients to find you? Doing lifestyle sessions is great (and Jean has given us a beautiful example here), but if you can’t get clients who want lifestyle sessions to find you, it doesn’t do much good, does it?

There’s tons of great marketing ideas out there, but as I’m sure you’re aware most of our clients today find us either by referrals or on the internet, so make sure you’re doing everything you can to help your clients find you on the world wide web.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Working with Pets During Family Sessions


Today’s feature is from .

Hannah says:

“Sarah and Pat’s session was right before Pat was deployed overseas for a year. I wanted to document their family – two legged and four legged – playing in Lake Superior before he left.

I mostly focus on candid photography that tells a story about my subjects, and this session is a prime example of my style.”

Hannah’s Photography Tip:

When you have a family session that includes both a baby and at least one pet (especially a dog), avoid any posing – especially at the beginning.

The dog needs to get to know you, and any attempt you make at posing will probably make the dog nervous. This leads to less than stellar images as its owners try to get it to sit for you, and the frustration will make for a bad start to the session.

Starting the shoot with candid and playful images allows the dog to get to know you, and tires it out a bit, so it is more likely to sit still when it comes time for posed shots.








Hannah used a Canon 5D MK3 with a Canon 35mm f/1.4 and Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens to capture these images.

Hannah Hudson is a Nationwide Candid and Documentary photographer.

Click here to see more tips on working with Pets.

Looking at getting into Peg Photography? Make sure you have the right contracts and legal documents in place with the Pet Contract bundle from the talented and brilliant photographer-lawyer Rachel of The Law Tog.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

How to Have a Laid-back Family Session


Today’s feature is from .

Deanna says:

“This family was such a great crew to work with! They drove to our little mountain town for a weekend getaway and some family photos on our property.

Casey, the mother, is a fantastic photographer whom I met online a while back when she was a student in one of my online workshops. It was an honor to finally meet her in person and be able to photograph her and her family.”

Deanna’s Photography Tip:

I strive for my sessions to be extremely laid back, and I find the key in that is communication. From the first email to the first time we meet I try to have an upbeat, positive energy that I think rubs off on them.

After all, I want my clients to be excited and relaxed – though it can be difficult to get them to relax at first. I find that if we start with some small talk before jumping into the shooting it helps take the edge off.

For these guys we even took a small walk before we started, which helped everyone feel more comfortable and at ease.

I also find that when a family has small children, the young ones tend to be a bit timid around my camera (or myself). To help remedy this, I ask them to sit on a blanket for the first series of images.

This allows me to be on their level with them, and helps them get comfortable and acclimated with me. I mainly focus on the kids while doing this and as they warm up to me I start to slowly back away to focus on the entire family.

If this doesn’t work, then I just go with the flow. Their older boy was full of energy and the baby needed nursing as soon as we sat down, so I took the 3-year-old to look for bugs in the grass and I was able to snap a few portraits of him while we explored.

While this was going on I was also able to turn around and snap a photo of Casey nursing her youngest, which ended up being my favorite from the entire session.

When I let my guard down and just let things flow naturally is when the magic seems to happen. What the families do on their own is often better than anything I could dream up and prepare for.

I am not a portrait photographer, but I do think portraits are important to have each year to mark growth. I do the portraits during the first half of the session so that the rest of the session can be completely laid back and focused on their connections. If another opportunity for a portrait presents itself then I take it, but I don’t force it.

I also make sure the family knows ahead of time that while they will receive a portrait, their session is based on connection. Being up front and honest like this with what you produce and what the end product will be is key to finding your ideal clients.

At the end of each and every session I ask to photograph the mom and dad alone because in my experience, the last time most of them had been photographed as a couple vs. mom and dad was on their wedding day.

At the end of the session I am left with a series of images to present the family that capture their personalities and honest, raw moments that celebrate their bond and love.


Deanna used a Nikon D700 with a 35mm 1.4 lens to capture these images.

Deanna McCasland is a Hardy County, WV Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Direction and Working With Children.

Need help composing the perfect image on-the-go? Let’s face it, these kinds of sessions are pretty face-paced.

You won’t have an opportunity to pose your subjects as you want, so you’ll have to be picking up on the natural composition of your surroundings pretty quick. To help better train your eye to see the perfectly-composed piece, check out this awesome guide all about photography composition!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

How to Create Real Moments During a Family Session


Today’s feature is from .

Heidi says:

“This session was a mother’s day gift from her husband. Every year this family spends time at Cannon Beach and this year they wanted to document it in photos! It’s a fun beach session with a beautiful, stylish, and fun family.”

Heidi’s Photography Tip:

My photography tip can really be broken down into four different tips.

1. Practice. My first tip is one that nobody wants to hear –  but it’s extremely important. It’s called practice…. and that’s what it takes. Unfortunately, most people who don’t pick something up right away end up giving up.

Do you think a runner just becomes a runner over night? I think not. There’s no way I could run 10 miles right now – I’d need practice first.

2. Connection. Besides experimenting with your camera and constant practice, the second most important piece of advice I can give for a family session – or for any session really –  is that you have to connect with your subjects.

Photography (to me) is about connection: the connection with subjects within a photo and the connection that a viewer should feel when looking at that photo.

You can have all the technical skills in the world, but take away that connection and it’s just another picture.

3.  Creating Real Moments

How do you create real moments that translate great in photos – images that even outside viewers can relate to?

My honest thought: you don’t. You wait and let real moments happen – you find where your light is best then you set up a familiar scene for your subjects (something or somewhere they may already be comfortable with).

That’s why I love shooting at a client’s home or, in this case, the beach where they go every year – it’s familiar. You, as the photographer, direct them with activities or change subtle angles but then let them do their thing and wait for the moment to come.

Much like a surfer waits for the perfect wave – you can’t always make this stuff happen – you have to be ready, be watchful, and wait for the exact time to click!

4. Keep Talking.

Dead air time is uncomfortable and awkward. To avoid this, talk through everything – the more you can connect with someone on any level the more they will trust you and the more at ease they will be in front of the camera.

Try and be genuinely interested in what you are saying. If you aren’t a people person, maybe come up with some set questions before a session that you can talk about with the clients. Talk while you’re shooting, or while you setting up the shot – you can even just explain to them what you are up to or what you are thinking or that they look great.

I like to make corny jokes, and I don’t care how I look to passersby or how silly I must sound making my Epic Elmo Voice. If that’s what I have to do to get kids to cooperate, I do it.

After all, it’s not about the photographer – and it should never be. (I think about that every time I pull up to a session in my Chevy Silverado pick-up truck with the dented hood… listen – it’ ain’t about me! I’m from the country and I like it that way 😉

So finally – it comes down to knowing and practicing your camera. Knowing which lens will give you what effect, automatically knowing what your settings should roughly be for any setting you encounter, etc.

If you know your tools, what they do, and how to apply them – you can focus on your connection with your subjects and free your mind to see your subject and take in the surroundings.

You won’t have to look down at the camera all the time – you’ll be looking all around you instead and finding those perfect moments unfolding naturally like we discussed above.






Heidi used a Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 35mm 1.4 lens, a Nikkor 50mm 1.4 lens, and a Nikon 45mm Tilt shift lens to capture these images.

Heidi Haden is a Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA Lifestyle Family and Wedding photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Direction.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

How to Efficiently Plan a Lifestyle Family Session

Mom baking cookies with daughters

Today’s feature is from .

Maegan says:

“This session involved a lovely day of mom baking cookies with her daughters.”

Maegan’s Photography Tip:

When I plan a lifestyle session, I interview the clients on their actual lifestyle. I ask them what memories they want to capture, and we plan the lifestyle session based on those memories.

So for example, for this session, my client said that they wanted to preserve the memory of mom baking cookies with her girls – so that’s what we did!

Since I generally do my lifestyle sessions in about 1.5 hours or less, here’s an example of how I would plan it out with the family and some suggestions of things that clients may request:

  • If the family wants pictures of Dad reading books to the kids, have the book already laid out on the bed and ready to go.
  • Like this session, if you want pictures of mom baking cookies with the kids, have Mom have a batch of cookies already baked, and batter already prepared to play with.
  • If you want images of toenails or fingernails getting painted, make sure the clients have their nails painted beforehand. The brush can just be applied during the session for the camera to make it look like they’re painting their nails at that time (but will help you keep the session moving at a decent pace)

This is a really great way to make sure you’re capturing memories that are special and unique to each family you work with while also making sure you’re making the best use of your time during a session (and not having to wait around for nail polish to dry or cookies to bake!).

By taking this approach to lifestyle sessions, you’ll have a quick and easy session that documents the story of a family, without the pressure, stress, and mess of impromptu interaction.

Mom baking cookies with daughters

Mom baking cookies with daughters Mom baking cookies with daughters

Maegan used a Nikon D4 with a Nikon 24-70 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Maegan Hall is a Atlanta, GA Maternity, Birth + Lifestyle Photographer photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Direction.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Editing Consistency: Is It Always Necessary?


Today’s feature is from .

Amber says:

“This was a personal session for me, as the subjects are my sister and niece. My goal was to capture the close bond between the two of them.

I took them out to an overgrown area that, on camera, looks more like a beautiful meadow. The lighting on this beautiful fall afternoon was perfect, and brought out the best of the fall colors.

For their wardrobe, I purposefully dressed them in clothes that don’t really point to any particular era to try and maintain a timeless quality to the images.”

Amber’s Photography Tip:

You’ve probably read about the importance of consistency in post-processing. Knowing how to give your photos consistent editing is important! However, it is not something I feel the need to practice all of the time, or even most of the time.

It actually goes against my grain to refer to what I do as editing, because that implies making a change to something, whereas for me the portrait is just still in the process of being created!

For me, post-processing is my favorite part of photography. It is where I can really see my efforts and vision come together to create something special.

The processing of each photograph involves quite a bit of time and thought, as each images presents it own mood and requires a different approach.

This doesn’t mean I might not try out a few actions during the process, they can actually jump-start you to where you want to be!

Even if post-processing consistency is the cornerstone of your business, I challenge you to pick out a favorite from each of you sessions to process as a fine art piece. For me, even without a specific approach to my editing, I still get messages from people telling me how much they love my style.

Photography is such a competitive arena these days, it can’t hurt to have an edge in this area. See what kind of reactions you get from you clients when you present them with something a little different, a little special.






Amber used a Canon 6D with a Canon 135L lens and a Sigma 50mm 1.4 lens to capture these images.

Amber Jones is a Jonesboro, AR Portrait and Wedding photographer.

See more tips on Editing.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Working with Mixed Ages During a Session

Family Time

Today’s feature is from .

Rachel says:

“This is a newborn/family session done on-location at my client’s home. There is something so magical about a new child being born into a family and I really wanted to capture this time in a way that showed the beauty of having a new life added to a family.

Rachel’s Photography Tip:

We started this session in the master bedroom for the first setting. It was fun to watch the father and son interact as they held little sister, and I was able to capture that candid moment where the father was helping his son hold the baby.

We also used the nursery as one of our settings since the mother really wanted to remember that space as it was. Their dog wanted to hang out with us and was being cooperative so it was a nice touch to have her in the scene as well.

In order to get my young kids to sit in their parent’s lap I will often have the parent play with their child to distract them from the fact that they are being made to hold still.

I will have them toss the little one into the air and as soon as the child lands I tell the parent to look at me and smile. Sometimes I will just take the shot of the parent laughing as they interact with their child since that is genuine.

As this particular session wore on, the older son started to get a little energetic and started bouncing all over the place, which started to stress the parents out.

If and when that happens, I have everyone take a break or let them have a break and play while I photograph someone else. I always say “the two-year-old is in charge!”

If you’re mindful of the attitudes (and attention spans!) of all the members of the family and do your best to cater to each one in turn, you’ll be more likely to have a stress-free and fun session, giving you natural and authentic images.

Father with his Children
Brother and Sister

Rachel used a Nikon D800 with a Nikkor 2.8 70-200mm lens and a Nikkor 85mm 1.8 lens to capture these images.

Rachel Paulus is a West Central Wisconsin On-Location Portrait photographer.

See more tips on In-Home Sessions and Working with Children.


*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

How to Properly Use a Reflector in the Shade


Today’s feature is from .

Amanda says:

“This family made me fall in love with photographing families with adult children. There is a special quality of love and laughter that is unique to adult families and it was especially true of the Gordons.

They truly enjoy one other, laughing and sharing life together. And this shines through in their images.”

Amanda’s Photography Tip:

You always hear you should choose your location based on the quality of light not the background. Thankfully, this rustic barn location was the perfect marriage of both ideal lighting and a beautiful backdrop.

This barn’s second story as well as the tall trees surrounding the location provided the perfect amount of open shade to photograph in.

However, because we started the session a little late in the evening, the shadow of the barn was longer than preferred, making the directional sunlight a bit far from where I wanted the subjects to stand.

And because we were facing green grass as opposed to cement street, sidewalks, or a large reflective building, the light fell a bit dull on their faces.

I was so thankful for my recently-purchased (AWESOME!) Larson Enterprises 3×4 ft rigid reflector (with a kickstand!) because BOY! That thing is magic.

I set it up very far away so it would spread the light fully across the barn. This setup also weakened the light enough that it didn’t blind my clients.

Instead, it created a beautiful golden color on their faces as well as catch-lights in their eyes.

The kickstand feature also came in super handy because we were able to anchor it with a chain I found lying nearby to keep it from blowing over in the wind. Otherwise, I would have needed an assistant to hold the reflector for me.

When shooting in open shade, I highly suggest using a reflector to bounce back the right amount of light onto the subjects so you end up with a nice, even light in their eyes and faces.

Assuming your camera settings are correct, there will be almost no need to edit the resulting images prior to the ordering session (assuming your camera settings are correct), which saves time and as we all know, “time is money”.






Amanda used a Canon 5D with a Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens to capture these images.

Amanda Coleman is a Fort Worth, TX Family and Children’s photographer.

See more tips on Lighting.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

How to Personalize a Family Lifestyle Session

Are you ready for this?

Today’s feature is from Lisa Novakowski.

Lisa says:

“This lovely couple have an active toddler, and those precious toddlers grow into big kids so fast!

The mother Nicole loved the idea of my “A Day in the Life” documentary-styled sessions, and wanted their session to focus mostly on capturing their sweet boy in this short, ever-changing stage of life.

We started the session fairly early in the morning on what turned out to be a hot summer day, choosing a location that had both fun play areas and lots of open shade that helped keep us cool as the day heated up.”

Lisa’s Photography Tip:

My lifestyle family sessions are my absolute favorites.

The focus is always in telling a true-to-life story of this day in the life of a family, and while we do make some portraits, even those are loosely structured, as the intention is to show personality and focus on the relationships represented in the frame.

I take time beforehand to talk about what’s going on in the family right now, what activities they love to do together, where they like to go, and even a bit about the children’s personalities.

The more I know, the more personalized their experience will be.

I also tend to start the session at what is generally the happiest time of day for the youngest child!

Sometimes I start the session at the family home to document life there, and sometimes we shoot the whole thing at an outside location where they can just spend time together and enjoy the sunshine!

With this session, for instance, that Teddy bear is Mateo’s absolute favorite thing, he sleeps with it and it goes EVERYWHERE with him, so I knew Teddy had to be featured in the photos.

He also loves his trucks, so I wanted to make sure to get some shots with them as well.

Mateo’s mom told me he’s at the stage where everything is fascinating…. for about 17.5 seconds until he finds the next fascinating thing, so I knew I had to be prepared to move fast!!

Communicating closely with the family beforehand means that they will know how your session is going to go, and they will be more relaxed and confident in you.

The result for everyone is a relaxed, fun session, with images that tell the real story of their life and their relationships.

Sunshine at the park
Higher Daddy!
Little Man
Pure Joy.

Lisa used a Nikon D4 with a Nikkor 70-200 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Lisa Novakowski is a Kamloops, BC Wedding and Documentary Family Sessions photographer.

See more tips on working your Client’s Personality into their session and Working with Children.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Capturing Genuine Moments Between Parents and Newborn


Today’s feature is from .

Michael says:

“We have a lifestyle approach to newborn photography. Although we still take the time and effort to capture a few posed portraits, we spend most of our session capturing genuine moments between parents and their brand-new bundle of joy.

These are the portraits that have the most meaning to us, and allow us to preserve the “story” of this special time.

For anyone else who’s been thinking of dabbling in a lifestyle approach to newborn photography, we thought it might be nice to share some of our personal insight.”

Michael’s Photography Tip:

We’ve found that the comfort level of our clients tends to be much more relaxed in their own environment (such as their home), which really shows in the final images.

Not to mention, parents have spent so much time and effort perfecting their home decor, and it’s a pity not to feature all of the adorable details. I enjoy finding creative ways to incorporate décor, nursery accents, and family memorabilia to really personalize the portraits.

We allow the session to unfold naturally, which yields images full of raw, intense emotion. We may help Mom and Dad get comfortable on the sofa, and get them into a position that allows me to shoot from a variety of angles, but once they’re set, we don’t interfere.

As in cinematography, I always start out with a wide establishing shot that sets the tone of the story.

Sometimes I shoot through a door, or closet, to create a sense of undisturbed observance (fancy word for a simple concept). Few shots include direct eye contact, and the images flow like a story.

I love to capture the same moment from different angles. With unique crops and perspectives, the possibilities are endless.

For example, if the baby is lying in the crib, I have the option to capture the infant a few different ways, including:

  • At eye-level trough the bars
  • From the top-down through the crib mobile
  • Or even a wide-angle portrait through the chandelier.

Or if Mom is feeding the baby in the nursery, for example, I’ll shoot wide-angle to include the setting, and close-up to capture the emotions.

If parents are having an intimate moment of cuddling their baby on the sofa, I love to have a bouquet of flowers or cute home accent in the foreground to add depth.

I also like to shoot over the shoulder to capture the parents’ view of their sweet newborn.

Yet another favorite technique is shooting a mirrored reflection of an intimate moment. This often works beautifully for portraits in Mom and Dad’s bedroom.

It’s almost as if we’re “peeking” into our clients’ lives to capture those natural, candid moments that hold so much meaning.

Years from now, Mom and Dad will look at these photos, and be reminded of the sweetness of their newborn baby, those first cuddles, and their tender emotions.

It may just be a short story of one lovely afternoon, but it’s a story that will be treasured for a lifetime.


Top-down perspective
True Love
Bundle of Joy
Teeny Tiny

Michael used a Nikon D4 with a 58mm f/1.4g lens to capture these images.

Michael Kormos is a NYC & San Diego Maternity, Newborn, and Family portrait photographer.

See more tips on Evoking Emotion and In-Home Sessions.



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How to Prep a Family for a Lifestyle Session

Emily Lapish Photography - authentic lifestyle session

Today’s feature is from .

Emily says:

“True lifestyle photography is what moves my heart – real families being real with each other. My business tagline is “Life is beautiful. Life is art,” and I believe that with all that I am.

I was so thrilled when the mother of this beautiful family wanted to do a lifestyle session with me. In our pre-session consultation, we planned some activities that were typical for their family to really enjoy together.

Since the kids were young, we kept the activities simple and engaging. The day of their session, we started with some family cuddle time, reading a favorite book.

Then on to cookie making (producing a lot of mess and fun). Then we headed to downtown Chattanooga (one of my favorite shooting locations) to explore the gorgeous Riverwalk area, and finished with some gelato at our favorite local dive.”

Emily’s Photography Tip:

For me, with the type of customized lifestyle photography I do, a pre-session consultation is an absolute must. I love meeting with clients in my cozy studio over coffee and just getting to know them – it’s vital to establish that relationship so that they:

  • Trust me to capture great photographs without the urge to micromanage me during a shoot
  • Relax in front of the camera
  • Have awesome portraits that really show who they are as a family
  • Know exactly what to expect at every stage of their experience.

Since every family has their own unique dynamics and quirks, there is no way that pulling out the same tricks and trying the same poses and shots on each session can capture a family authentically – so this pre-session consult is vital.

Emily Lapish Photography - authentic lifestyle session
Emily Lapish Photography - authentic lifestyle session
Emily Lapish Photography - authentic lifestyle session
Emily Lapish Photography - authentic lifestyle session

Emily used a Canon 6D with a Canon 24-70 2.8L lens to capture these images.

Emily Lapish is a Chattanooga, TN Family and Beauty Portraits photographer.

See more tips on Client Direction, Client Personality, and In-Home Sessions.



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Hipster Baby Family Portraits by Ryan MacDonald

Elijah and camera

Today’s feature is from .

Ryan says:

“Amanda and Ami were wedding clients. They now have two active and curious little boys keeping them busy in Victoria, BC. Amanda is a photographer and wanted images to remember life at this moment, even if it’s often chaotic.”

Ryan’s Photography Tip:

For many of my sessions, I like to begin in the home of the clients. There was no posing necessary because I the just did what they’d do as a family on a normal weekend.

At the time of our session, Elijah enjoyed taking photos and wanted to show me his room and talk about Star Trek. I don’t have a clue about Star Trek, but I listened and asked questions. From that point, all I had to do was follow them around documenting the next few hours. Take a genuine interest in your clients and you’ll earn their trust.

With kids I also try to keep them moving. We went outside to their parking lot just for some different light and variety. Changing a location can sometimes change a mood, so if I feel that a kid is getting impatient, I suggest we move a little bit or burn a little energy. It usually does the trick (for a while!).

Pay attention and listen to your clients, especially kids and especially their mood(s). I’m always moving around in sessions with kids because I want to maximize their patience. Happy kids make for happy photos! Find out what they’re interested in so you can engage with them when needed.

Bike concentration and family.
Baby Luc.
Bunk beds and Star Trek.
Bike wipe out.
Chasing Papa.

Ryan used a Canon Mk III with a Canon 35mm f/1.4 lens to capture these images.

Ryan MacDonald is a Victoria, British Columbia + Nova Scotia Portrait and Wedding photographer.

See more tips on Working with Children.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Authentic Family Portraits by Amy Kolodziej

A new photographer is born.

Today’s feature is from .

Amy says:

“This session was a natural light lifestyle session to celebrate the 6 month milestone of my littlest client featured in the images. I spent an hour in their home playing and laughing and documenting the joy that their new baby girl has brought to their family.

It was extra special when the older daughter asked her mom if she could take pictures too, and brought out her little camera. I was in the right place at the right time to document her mimicking my interactions with her baby sister…and it was simply adorable.”

Amy’s Photography Tip:

Sometimes it can be stressful going into a client’s home without the certainty that you would normally have in a location of your choice (or studio if you have one). Often times your definition of “great natural light” and the client’s definition can differ, leading to the dreaded panic attack when you walk into the unknown and it isn’t as described.

Once I have booked an in-home session I like to give the family a heads up that once I arrive I will quickly walk through their home to choose the best location for our session, or at least where to start.

I make sure that when I arrive I make note of the time of day and which way the sun will be moving so that as the session progresses I can have an idea of where the light will be in relation to the different rooms of their home.

Another thing to take into consideration when you are in a client’s home is the paint color on their walls. A dark color is always going to make your images seem darker, while a nice white wall is a pleasant surprise!

If you get the details out of the way first (such as light/location) you will be free to spend your time really enjoying the session and your clients. The more relaxed you are, the easier it will be for your clients to relax, leading to more genuine images.

She must have seen this a few times!
So engaging for only 6 months!
Cuddling with her lovey
A happy family moment
So very happy, and full of light.

Amy used a Nikon D600 with a Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art Series lens to capture these images.

Amy Kolodziej is a Charlotte, NC Wedding and Lifestyle photographer.

See more tips on In-Home Sessions, Lighting, and Location.


*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Rustic Family Portraits by Ryan MacDonald

Lifting Ruby.

Today’s feature is from .

Ryan says:

“The MacGillivray/MacDonald family session took place in Point Aconi, Cape Breton Island. The storm clouds were rolling in as the session started, so I knew we had a limited amount of time before the rain would start. Luckily, little Ruby was a dream to photograph…happy as a clam the entire session.”

Ryan’s Photography Tip:

I’m not much of a fan of green grass, but I love golden grass. From the end of summer through autumn, I try to use golden grass as much as possible because it always photographs warm and reflects making nice skin tones. We were on top of a giant cliff, surrounded by the Atlantic, so it was pretty cold and raining a bit.

I wanted to make sure Ruby was warm so we put her in the long grass to break some of the wind and I got down on my stomach and photographed the session from her level. The colour of the grass makes the session appear much warmer than it was.

By using your environment and surroundings, you can trick the eyes and tell a different story and turn a chilly day into a warm afternoon.

Ruby close.
Snuggling in the grass.
Ruby, funny face.
Family on the ground.

Ryan used a Canon Mk III with a Canon 35mm f/1.4 lens to capture these images.

Ryan MacDonald is a Victoria, British Columbia and Nova Scotia Portrait and Wedding photographer.

See more tips on Location.


*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Fun Family Portraits by Ana Pascos

Relaxed Family

Today’s feature is from .

Ana says:

“This was a truly incredible session! Originally intended to be a maternity-slash-family session, it turned out to be a super fun, tickle fest of curiosity.

Like all young children, these munchkins were much more interested in playing with their newly-discovered toys than paying attention to the camera.

But by embracing their curiosity and allowing them the freedom to be themselves, I was not only able to capture the authentic versions of their young personalities, but allowed them to have a great time doing it!”

Ana’s Photography Tip:

The best tip I can give to a photographer shooting young children is to just go with it!

Kids can be a bit of a challenge to pose, calm down, or made to look at the camera. But sometimes it is just as important to let them be themselves and have fun with you.

Once you interact with them and they start having a good time, the photos speak for themselves!

If you remember this tip when working with children, you’ll be able to capture authentic smiles and interactions that are precious at this age and dear to a parent’s heart.

Silly Face
Who's there?
Family time
Tickle time

Ana used a Nikon d300 with a Nikon AF-S 24-70 F2.8 lens to capture these images.

Ana Pascos is a Toronto, Canada Newborn and Family photographer.

See more tips on Working with Children.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Modern Family Portraits by Sally Ann Field

On the bridge.

Today’s feature is from .

Sally Ann says:

“Three sisters wanted to give the gift of family photographs to their parents.”

Sally Ann’s Photography Tip:

Know your location inside and out.

When first discussing this session with my friend/client Elizabeth, she mentioned a new park that might be a fun location for her extended family shoot. Google confirmed this location looked pretty cool, but for me, a scouting trip is mandatory. I visited the park a week before on the same day and time we would be shooting.

Fairly easy parking, not too crowded, and gorgeous light at that time of day. Check, check and check! I took some test shots and worked in some of the fun and modern features of the park. After reviewing my test shots I was even more excited for the shoot.

This was the largest family I had ever photographed so having a plan made all the difference. Going in, I had a shot list in my head so we moved from one shot to the next very easily, which left plenty of time for spontaneous shots as well. Of course, playground breaks to keep the kids (small and large) happy were also part of the plan. Thanks to scouting, this session was a walk in the park.

A smooth and relaxed session makes everyone happy.
On the playground.

In the sky.
The kiss.

Sally Ann used a Canon 5D Mark3 with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens to capture these images.

Sally Ann Field is a Los Angeles Lifestyle photographer.

See more tips on location.


*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.