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Natural Love with a Circular Polarizer Filter

When to Use a Polarizing Filter


Today’s feature is from .

Jes says:

“Marlene contacted me through Instagram and asked if I would want to come to her home to photograph her and her husband, Salo, in their natural environment to celebrate their pregnancy.

I believe she was around 5 months in these photos. After a bit of Instagram research, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

She was half yogi, half fashion expert. Her hair was cropped and her face bare, but she made sure to ask my advice when choosing which Chanel or Jimmy Choo heels to throw on – “even if they aren’t in the photograph”.

Salo is a Grammy-winning Latin composer, and he serenaded us on the piano during the entire session, only taking his eyes off the keys to gaze at his wife. This was simply them, and I just happened to be in the room with a camera.

For the outdoor images, Marlene and I chose a white, Free People gown from her wardrobe, and we headed down the road to a nature reserve in Laguna Beach. She opted to go barefoot, of course.

Even though I had only known them for two hours, by the end of the session I felt as though I was part of their family.

By starting in their home and watching them go about their normal routine, (interacting with each other as if I wasn’t there), I felt perfectly comfortable posing them in a wide outdoor setting.

The arrangements felt natural for all of us, and I do believe it was because they had welcomed me into their personal environment versus a photographer hosting a family in the comfort of their own studio/common shooting location.

It was truly a magical session, and Marlene and Salo welcomed their baby boy, Julian, into the world just four weeks ago.”

Jes’s Photography Tip:

Soft, natural window light is my dream, and their home happened to have plenty of it. Even in areas that it didn’t, a little grain and a bumped ISO doesn’t bother me as it tends to add to the raw feeling of the photos.

For lens choice, the indoor space was also small, and I wanted to be as intimate as possible with my framing. I used my 50mm 1.4 and stayed between 1.4 and 2.0.

The outdoor light was also rare for Southern California – a thin blanket of sea fog had yet to burn off at our 1pm session, allowing for a softly-lit afternoon.

For this part of the session, I pulled out my 24-70 with a circular polarizer filter – which is a must for capturing the landscape and retaining the highlights of the sky and background in the bright California light.

There wasn’t any blue sky on this day, but the rocks and dress would have been more overexposed for my liking (had I exposed for the shadows without a polarizer). They save me every time!


Jes used a Canon 5D MK III with a Canon 50 1.4 lens and a Canon 24-70 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Jes Workman is a Greater Los Angeles Area, CA Wedding and Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Camera Settings.

Maternity photos can be a lot of fun, especially when you get to photograph the mother during pregnancy, and then the newborn once they’ve been welcomed into the world.

One of the best ways to do that is set up a package that includes a maternity session and a newborn session. If you’re still struggling with pricing and packaging, there’s a lot of great resources out there to help you sort it all out.

Using Flash to Properly Light Your Subject (Regardless of Weather!)


Today’s feature is from .

Karen says:

“This is a maternity session done in the winter, but the weather was pretty mild. The couple dressed in some retro clothing for the session with the antique cars, which was awesome.”

Karen’s Photography Tip:

Getting even lighting for your subjects and maintaining the integrity of the background of your images (in other words, not blowing out the background) can be tricky.

To remedy this, I use an off-camera flash with an SB800 speed light and a white umbrella.  I then have my assistant hold the flash with umbrella at approximately 45 degrees to the side of the clients and slightly above eye level.

I have found that this produces a soft, beautiful light that most people don’t realize is actually flash.

And since I prefer to have complete control over the lighting in my images, I set both the flash and camera on manual.

This technique allows me to light my subjects and keep my background in tact. If I were not using flash, my other options for lighting my subjects would be to either expose for their faces and blow out the background, or have them face into the sun, which will more than likely make them squint and be uncomfortable (which will definitely show in your final images!).

Using flash with some type of modifier (umbrella, softbox, etc), will produce beautiful light and will give you control over how your images look without depending on the sun or lack thereof for light.

I therefore never worry about whether there is sun, clouds, shade, etc. because I know that I will be capable of accurately lighting my subjects regardless of natural lighting conditions during the time of the shoot.





Karen used a Nikon D300s with a Nikon 18-200 VR lens to capture these images.

Karen Skelly is a Durango CO Weddings, Portraits, Events, and Commercial photographer.

See more tips on Lighting.

Still need a little help with mastering flash photography? The Portrait Lighting guide from Simple SLR is designed to help you master using the flash for portraiture photography. Click here to check it out!



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Patient Maternity Portraits by Riitta Kulinski

I wasn't planning on including the windows in this shot, but I'm sure glad I did.

Today’s feature is from .

Riitta says:

“Meghan is one of our brides from just two years ago. I remembered walking into the dressing room on the wedding day and seeing her as one of the most strikingly beautiful brides I had ever seen, so it was no surprise when when showed up to the studio for her maternity session that I had the same feeling.

As this is their first child, I wanted to capture a peaceful and patient look to her images. I wanted viewers to feel her thinking, “Whenever you are ready to come into this world, we’ll be waiting,” by using natural light for everything and keeping wardrobe simple.”

Riitta’s Photography Tip:

When working with Maternity clients, I suggest keeping your session calm and loving.

Peacefully remind her of her beauty so that she can focus on the already existing relationship between mother and child. Ask her to think about how she is feeling, what the baby will look like, to imagine feeding and holding him.

If you remove anxiety from your shoot, you will be able to bring out the mother’s emotions and thoughts to create images that not only will she love, but her child will look back and feel loved and anticipated by seeing the images you created for her.

Imagine the joy she will get from sharing that image with her child!

She just looks so excited to meet him!
Patiently waiting....
The simple detail on the shirt reflects the happines on her face
I love how the wondow light gently outlines her belly
Finally, she is just imagining what he will be like.

Riitta used a Nikon D800 with a Sigma 85mm 1.4 lens to capture these images.

Riitta Kulinski is a Southeast Wisconsin Wedding & Portrait photographer.

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.

Winter Maternity Portraits by Tanya Plonka

Closeup of expecting mother tummy with golden backlight

Today’s feature is from .

Tanya says:

“Marin and Michael traveled to Canada over Christmas to visit family and wanted to take some maternity photos since the small town they live in doesn’t have a photographer. This was a very special session, as they had been trying for a long time to have a baby. We were lucky that the weather was warm enough to do some nature locations.”

Tanya’s Photography Tip:

Shooting with the clients directly in the sun can be difficult, but if done late in the day it creates beautiful, colorful results. With the lower sun in December, I was able to achieve this look in the mid-afternoon rather than waiting until closer to sunset when it would be too cold for the family.

Even when the sun is lower, it’s important not to have the subjects look directly at you because they will usually squint. Instead, it’s a perfect opportunity to get candid photos of them interacting with each other.

These late afternoon sunlit images turned out dramatic with deep, rich colors while still being easy for the subjects to keep their eyes open in the sun.

Family of three with expecting mother
Close up of father and mother holding tummy
Expecting mother looking at her belly in trees
Young boy hugging mother's stomach

Tanya used a Canon 5D MIII with a Canon 100mm 2.8L lens and a Canon 24-70mm 2.8L lens to capture these images.

Tanya Plonka is a Lethbridge, Alberta Wedding and Portraits 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.

Modern Maternity Portraits by Sally Ann Field

I turned around to change my lens and look what I see? This reflection in the van was my favorite surprise of the day.

Today’s feature is from .

Sally Ann says:

“While our session was most certainly a celebration of maternity and that cute little baby bump, I wanted to capture this future Mom and Dad as naturally as possible, doing what they do and going where they normally go. So a walk around their beloved neighborhood made for the perfect afternoon.”

Sally Ann’s Photography Tip:

Make it personal.

My clients are a modern, creative, non-traditional couple. Mom is a hairdresser, wigmaker and milliner. Dad is a skater, performer and actor. So it makes perfect sense to bring some of these things to the shoot. Familiar surroundings and having the board in tow immediately made the session more real. And if a photobomb happens… it happens. 😉

Talk to your clients and find out what makes them tick. The things that matter to them right now. And find a way to bring that to your session.

What I wouldn’t give to have photographs of my parents right before I was born, just hanging out and doing the stuff they loved. Kids today are so darned lucky.

A colorful cubby.

Photobomb #1

The bump.
Pretty alley.
The kiss.

Sally Ann used a Canon 5D Mark3 with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM + Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens to capture these images.

Sally Ann Field is a Los Angeles Lifestyle photographer.

See more tips on how to work your Client’s Personality into their session to make it more personalized.


*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.