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How to Identify Your Ideal Client and Speak Their Language


Today’s article is from .

Kristin says:

As photographers, we work endlessly to market ourselves, spread our name, and consistently book clients. Still, our marketing efforts are futile if we are spending our time and effort speaking a language our ideal client doesn’t understand.

So, if you are going to do all that hard work, make sure you are at least speaking their language – if you do, you will no longer miss out on valuable opportunities to find (and keep) your ideal client.

What’s an ideal client? These are the ones that love not only who you are or what you do, but love what you believe in. They believe what you believe in, because they believe in the same thing. Identifying your ideal client may sound complicated, but it’s really quite simple.

Let’s get started…


Who is Your “Ideal” Client?

That’s an excellent question and only one YOU can answer. Before you go any further thinking about them, think about you. What do you value in your life? What are you emotionally drawn to? What do you believe in? And what are your interests?

Life is busy and it is really easy to forgo asking ourselves these deep questions. But the sooner you truly know these answers, the closer you are to knowing your ideal client, and thus a thriving business.

People are naturally drawn to others that value what they value. Take your closest friend for instance. Overall you may be somewhat different but you likely have lots of common values and interests.

You may have a similar strong work ethic, be devoted moms, sob over Pampers commercials…or even share a strong passion for traveling. These are combined interests that link you together.

And believe it or not, the same goes for our ideal clients.

We are who we surround ourselves with, and this rings true for our clients as well. How much do you truly believe in what you do and what you sell?

Even if you may not be able to afford the type of custom photography you sell, do you still believe in the importance of beautiful family photography?

Hopefully you do! And guess what, your ideal client believes the same! On the contrary, if you’re not quite sure of yourself and believe that most people will not pay for what you provide then that is the type of client you will attract…and I don’t think you want that!


What Defines An Ideal Client?

An ideal client is one that helps you reach your goals. Is your goal trying to make” X” this year? Is it to create a certain look in your portfolio? Maybe it is to get featured in a certain magazine or blog.

Whatever your goals are, the client who can help you reach your goals is your ideal client. Maybe it’s a person who makes enough money to have disposable income to spend on boutique photography, or clients that really like pushing the creative envelope and trying wacky and crazy stuff.

Regardless of what your goals are, if a client will not help you reach your goals, than (you guessed it), they are NOT your ideal client.


How do I Identify My Ideal Client?

Ask yourself the questions mentioned above and as you do, make as long of a list as you can. Now think of 5 of your most favorite clients that you enjoyed working with the most. (You may want to write these down as well.)

Notice the similar qualities that exist across the board of your 5 clients. Now notice what similarities and values you share with each of those clients.

Do you see the pattern? You like what they like, they like what you like. It is also likely you have shared values with them. These are your ideal clients.


How Do I Speak their Language?

Fortunately, people who share parallel values and interests have a strong influence over each other. That’s why it’s so important to spend our time with the right people. (But that’s another article!)

Once you have identified the common values between yourself and your ideal client, you can speak their language by letting the real you shine through. And then do it with a sprinkle of charm and a dash of captivation. Yep…it’s kind of like dating!

Now you know what your ideal client is thinking and what they value. As a result, you are now able to authentically engage them. As you begin to speak your ideal clients’ language, all of your marketing and sales efforts become acutely effective. Imagine that!

It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?


How Can I Implement This?

You understand how to speak your ideal clients’ language but how are you going to interact with them? First, evaluate the efforts you have made in your business thus far. How have you been “putting yourself out there” in the eyes of the client you are trying to engage?

Think about what you can change with this newfound information. Begin to think about how you can tailor your efforts to show that you are LIKE them – that you believe what they believe, you value what they value, and, most importantly, that you understand them.

Your goal should be to display these qualities in your marketplace and adjust your branding to attract more clients that you already love so much, and have loved working with.

This is another list you may want to jot down and keep in front of you at all times when you are marketing yourself through your website, creating blog copy, and expressing yourself on any social media outlets.

Ultimately, we love what we do and we all want to be valued for our work. Simply be sure to communicate to your ideal client that you value it as well. Because if you don’t…no one one else will.



About The Author

DSC_9528-widget-3.10.15Kristin Milito is a leading Chicago newborn and family photographer. Kristin has been photographing children since 2007 and has an obsession for photographing sweet babies only days old. Kristin’s photographic style transcends organic imagery. Her photography has been referred to as instinctive, poignant, and natural.

Website | Facebook | Google+

4 Tips for Portraits that Pop


What You Need:

  • Camera body of choice (a Nikon D800 [affiliate link] was used for these images)
  • A really long lens, such as a 70-200mm zoom lens (a Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 lens [affiliate link] was used for these images)
  • Photoshop for post-production editing

How It’s Done:

I adore child portrait photography. My goal at each shoot is to tell a brief story about my young subject, and get the viewer thinking about who the subject is and what makes him or her tick.

One of the hallmarks of a good portrait is that it draws the viewer’s eye to its subject. So while it’s important to scout a good location for your shoot, ultimately the image should be about the child, and not just the setting or the props.

To create portraits that pop, I like to use vibrant, moody colors, and separate the subject from the background.

There are innumerable ways to achieve this, but here are some techniques that have worked for me:

1. Use a Long Lens

I shot the images here using a Nikon 70 – 200mm zoom lens. I chose this lens in particular because it is a long lens, and long lenses create something called lens compression, which blurs the background of the image and makes it difficult to tell how far it is from the subject.

This has an effect that is somewhat similar to shooting with a shallow depth of field, but doesn’t increase your odds of shooting out focus.

2. Zoom In and Stand Back from the Subject

If you’re zoomed in, you’ll achieve great lens compression and your subject will pop more. Of course, with a lens as long as a 70 – 200mm, you’re going to have move pretty far back in order to get the shot.

If fact, a lens like this won’t even focus close up, so forget using this lens in a cramped setting. Take this baby outside! It might seem a little odd to shoot far away from your subject, but sometimes it can allow the child to relax and be more natural – some children understandably feel a bit shy or self-conscious with a big lens in their face.

The diagram illustrates a typical setup in which I am about 15 feet away from the subject.


3. Shoot Wide Open, or Almost Wide Open

To enhance the blurred background, set your aperture to a low number. Shooting wide open is tricky, and takes some mastery: it’s easy to screw up the focus. Focus on the subject’s eyes and take a couple of photos – it can be difficult to tell in camera if you got it right.

4. Amp It Up in Post Production

There are endless ways to push your photo farther in photoshop, but a good starting point is to use a curve layer to darken the entire image, then take it off your subject using a soft brush and a vector mask.

Here are a few more images from the same session that I used these techniques for:



Click here to read more Tutorials.


About The Author

Daisy Beatty is a portrait photographer serving NYC, the Hamptons, Boston, and Los Angeles. She is known for her stylish portraits of children, newborns, maternity, and families.

Website | Facebook

Off Camera Flash Tutorial


Lens: Nikon 85mm f/1.8
Focal Length: 85mm
Shutter Speed: 1/50
Aperture: f/2.8
ISO: 160

For this tutorial, the photographer recommends the following equipment:
  • Camera and lens of your choice (this photographer used a Nikon D800 with varying lenses, including a Nikon 85mm 1.8 lens, a Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens, and a Nikon 24-70mm 2.8 lens)
  • A Nikon SB 800 (or Canon or other camera make equivalent)
  • A Photoflex Octodome
  • Either a light stand or a hand-held pole attachment and assistant

Sometimes the difference between a stunning portrait and one that falls a little short is just a small pop of light. Whether you are working outdoors or indoors, combining natural light with off camera flash to highlight your subject can take an image to the next level.

Sometimes, all you need is a reflector to pop more light onto your subject in order to make them stand out from the background. A lot of natural light photographers do this, and it can definitely do the trick.

But it doesn’t work in all cases, like on cloudy days where there is no real sun to reflect, or in cases where your composition doesn’t allow the sun to hit the reflector at the right angle, or where the reflection is too bright and hurts your subject’s eyes. And even though I always bring a reflector with me, I still like to have something else in my arsenal in case it’s not enough.

That’s where off-camera flash comes in.

Using off camera flash, or OCF, can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be once you understand the basic concepts and how to modify the light to get your desired effect. In this article, I’ll go over some of the tips and setups that will help you tackle OCF like a pro.

Off Camera Flash – Make It Natural

The main rule about off-camera flash is to make it look as natural as possible. The best portraits that pull it off effectively are those where you can’t tell that anything was used.

In order to make the flash as natural looking as possible, I like to use a diffuser on the flash. Diffusers, if you haven’t use one before, soften the harshness of the flash and the shadows created by the flash.

There are a plethora of flash diffusers on the market, but the one that I like the best for portraits is the Photoflex Octodome. They come in various sizes, but for portraits of one or two people the small one is great and very portable.

After placing the speedlight/flash (I use a Nikon SB 800) in the Octodome, attach it to either a light stand or, if you have an assistant, a hand-held pole attachment. The latter can be more ideal because it allows for more flexibility with the direction of the light, as an assistant is able to move and adjust it as needed.

Once it’s set up, I like to position it at a 45 degree angle anywhere from a foot to a few feet away from the subject depending on how much light is needed (see below) – the closer to the subject it is, the brighter your subject will be.



Now that everything is positioned correctly, I use a flash trigger to trigger the flash from my camera and use manual mode on both flash and camera.

As a general starting point for camera settings, I set the flash to ¼ power. I then set the correct exposure for my image without flash, and then I underexpose my image by about one stop by adjusting the shutter speed.

Underexposing like this will underexpose your subject so that the flash can provide the additional light needed on your subject without being overpowering.

Now that everything is set up and my settings are locked in, I take the photo and then analyze the image on the camera display. If I want more light then I set the power of the OCF to a higher setting, such as ½ power.

Conversely, if the image is too bright then I adjust it to a lower power, around maybe 1/8 power. If I find that I need just a minor tweak I adjust the shutter speed up or down 1/3 stop.

Taking a few shots to perfect the light will really benefit you in the long run because after you have found the best combination of ambient light and flash for your setup, you can lock it in for as many poses as you like a long as you stay in the same lighting situation and at approximately the same distance from the flash and your subject.

Restrictions to OCF

One thing to keep in mind is that the sync speed of your flash is generally about 1/250th of a second. What this means is that if you go higher than 1/250 of a second shutter speed, the flash will not sync with your shutter and not let the right amount of light in.

So, due to this restriction, the flash is best used indoors, on cloudy days, or in shady areas where it’s not so bright that the shutter speed needs to be set really high when using low apertures.

There are solutions for this as well (such as neutral density filters) but to keep things simple when first learning this technique, stay in environments that tend to be less bright.

It takes a little while to get the hang of balancing the ambient light with the flash but once you get to a point where you can get a great exposure within a few shots you will fall in love difference it makes in your portraits.

Most of us do not want to dwell in the super technical, but hopefully by practicing these few easy steps you will have another tool that you can use confidently to create the images that you envision.

The images below (along with the one at the top) are a few different examples of using off camera flash in different lighting situations. In all of these images I balanced the ambient light with a flash with an Octodome diffuser.


Lens: Nikon 85mm f/1.8
Focal Length: 85mm
Shutter Speed: 1/50
Aperture: f/3.2
ISO: 250


Lens: Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
Focal Length: 35mm
Shutter Speed: 1/50
Aperture: f/3.2
ISO: 320


Lens: Nikon 85mm f/1.8
Focal Length: 85mm
Shutter Speed: 1/50
Aperture: f/2.8
ISO: 160

Click here to see more tips on Lighting and Flash.



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Rock What Ya Got!


Beginner and professional photographer alike are always looking for ways to reduce their budgets. Here are some clever photography ideas from one of our readers that can help you not only learn, but also minimize your expenses while doing it.

I often have people asking me questions about photography. What camera should I get? Should I take classes? Can you teach me? I wish I could teach everyone everything I know, but the truth is this: I don’t know even half of what others know, and I basically taught myself.

Success comes from hard work, determination and consistency. Step outside your comfort zone and do the hard stuff to make it happen. It takes a willingness to keep learning even after you think you “got it”.

I love taking courses and workshops and continue to do so. Not only do I learn new techniques, I also make new lifelong friends while finding inspiration from new artists.

When you are new to photography (or even just new to digital photography), there is a lot to learn. And, it can be super overwhelming. There is a great tendency to spend more money than we really need to as often we believe that more money means better equipment which in turn means we take better pictures.

Not true.

An amazing artist can take just as great photographs on a lower end camera, and I personally know many talented photographers who use crop sensor “starter” DSLR cameras and you would never know it! So, how can we rock what we got?

I am going to list some of the budget friendly ways I grew as a photographer and maybe some of these will help you grow as well!

1. Learn your camera. Cost: FREE!

Read your manual. Study the little CD guide that often comes with some cameras. If you bought second hand and do not have a manual, guess what? I guarantee you can find a copy of your camera’s manual online as a free download!

Just search the make and model, and save the manual to your computer. I promise that just knowing the ins and outs of the camera you have will improve your knowledge enough and you can start taking photos outside of “auto” mode.

I shot with my Canon Rebel T3 for years, and I actually still pull it out as a back up now and then. The more I got to know it, the better my images became with it even though it’s not considered a high-end professional camera.

Taken with my Canon Rebel T3

Taken with my Canon Rebel T3.

2. Google Search. Cost: FREE!

Mr. Google knows everything, doesn’t he? Well, maybe not everything, but he can usually help us find out what we need to know. For me, Google was one of my greatest tools when I was just beginning.

Not only did it lead me to some of my favourite sources of inspiration and how-to tutorials, it’s even helped me decide when not to purchase items I didn’t really need.

When researching: a) our cameras, b) how to use software, c) a particular editing technique, or d) maybe, you just want to view images that others have created with the same camera or lens as you, Google will lead the way.

Search different keywords, then follow links found on other pages. Just spend a few moments looking around. I will say that Google has been a great tool for me especially when I was just beginning.

A second helpful and free internet source is YouTube. There are videos on everything as simple as how to turn on your camera, to advanced editing techniques.

3. 50mm Prime Lens. Cost: $100-150

This “nifty fifty” was the first lens I purchased when I first bought my DSLR, and you can usually get one for under $150.

It takes some getting used to as most of us have only used zoom lenses, but you will quickly learn to use your feet to zoom by moving closer or farther from your subject.

Compared to the lens that comes with your camera, which is usually a 18-55mm lens that changes aperture as you zoom in or out, the nifty fifty will stay put at the aperture you set it at.

This will help you learn what settings you prefer and give you more control over the pictures you are taking. The glass in this lens is also much better than the kit lens which gives you clearer images.

Not to mention you can shoot with an aperture as wide at 1.8 which will give you that “blurry background” most of us strive for (called bokeh).

Another one taken with my starter camera, my Canon Rebel T3.

Another one taken with my starter camera, my Canon Rebel T3.

4. Join a Forum. Cost: Varies

Forums are awesome. You can learn so much from photographers from all levels, from brand spanking new (as in, they haven’t even taken the camera out of the box!), to seasoned vets.

The only problem may be choosing the right forum for you as there are so many. Personally, the first one I joined was Clickinmoms.

I think it may have the largest membership and is chalked full of information. I am also a member of The Bloom Forum. It’s smaller than Clickinmoms, but I love it for totally different reasons such as the inspiring photographers and all the film talk.

Most of the forums offer a free trial too so I would suggest trying them out first to see which one speaks to you. Most of them offer workshops which can be pivotal in your learning as well.

There’s definitely more out there than this too, like In Beauty and Chaos, Light Inspired, and Rock the Shot to name a few. Take a look around and see what each one offers. Do a free trial, if that’s an option. Pick the one that you’re going to get the most out of based on your business.

5. Photography Blogs. Cost: Free!

I love blogs like Belovely You because they are full of not only gorgeous images, but tips and tutorials related to the photographs.

You can learn a lot by looking through a post of images you love while at the same time, reading about how the photographer achieved that look, style, or technique.

Warning though…you may spend many hours of your time getting lost in the beautiful world of photography!

Clever Photography Ideas Are About The Art Not the Equipment

In conclusion, you should not rely on expensive equipment for incredible pictures, you should rely on your ability to use what you have wisely instead. It is better for you to learn your equipment that you have in depth before rushing out to purchase the newest, ‘best’ thing. Experiment with different techniques to find an incredible edge to your art. And most important, connect with others who love the art of photography to help keep your creative juices flowing.

Another great, free resource to help get your ideas flowing are these free actions from MCP (affiliate link). Actions are great for helping to kickstart your editing, and may even breathe some fresh life into your editing style.

Also, here is a free app to get access to FREE photography books via Amazon Kindle (affiliate)!

Feel free to check out more DIY tips here


Every Day One Month A Year


Parents wish they had more pictures of their kids other than school pictures and the holidays.  This photographer has come up with a clever plan of action to get those photos taken. Designate a photography month, then every day (for that month) snap photos of your kids!

The Importance of Documenting the Most Important People in our Lives

I think most photographers are guilty of not taking enough photos of their own kids. I know I am. But, I do participate each year in a January – ‘photo a day’ project. It’s my way of making sure that a big chunk of their lives have been captured and preserved.

It can be a hard task to remember every day, and sometimes it’s tricky to get the kids to comply (especially the older they get)! But, it is so worth it. And I know we will all enjoy looking back on the memories that we made in their childhood.

Their are several different projects similar to the January project that I have heard of…the 365 project, 10 on 10 (where you take 10 images on the 10th day of every month) and 5-minute project. (This particular project was started by one of my favourite Canadian photographers – Dana Pugh).

I chose the January project for a few reasons, though. Living in Australia, our summer school holidays fall over the month of January, so we are more likely to do things like: days at the beach, camping holidays, relaxing at home and all of the other fun holiday type activities.

I also love that it is the beginning of a new year and a fitting way to bring the new year in. Also, the first day back to school always falls at the end of January. Typically, January is also a quiet month for my business so I have that extra time to dedicate to my favourite little clients – my kids.

These are a few of my favourite images from this years project.



Mostly these images are capturing candid moments – whatever is happening at that particular moment when I pick up my camera. I try to get two images each year where I have posed my two children together for a more formal photo – usually one outdoors and one in my natural light studio. That way I have a lovely portrait of them together that I can directly compare to the previous years and see how much they are growing and changing.



I always try to capture real emotion. January isn’t magically filled with rainbows and unicorns and always happy kids; it has its own fair share of tantrums, fights and attitude (refer to image below).

On this particular day, I had decided it would be a good day to get my in studio posed sibling shot. But, when we got upstairs, Miss 4-year-old had this foul attitude, and I couldn’t help but have a little chuckle. So, I documented her just like this and told her brother we would do the posed shot another day, because I had exactly what I wanted for today.

Remember to always go with the flow. My daughter now loves looking back on this image and remembering her day of the grumps!


Some more of my fond January moments…



Choose A Month and Take Photos Every Day of Your Children

I hope this has inspired you to start your own photo project with your own family – whatever that project looks like or what time of year you choose to do it, it is so very worth the effort.

Josette used a Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 50mm 1.2L lens and a Canon 100mm Macro lens to capture these images.

Josette Van Zutphen is a Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia Family, Newborn, and Maternity photographer.

More Tips on Working With Children.

Black and white images can really invoke an emotion and feeling that color images can’t. Josette’s are amazing, but creating great black and white images isn’t always as simple as just desaturating an image.

The creators behind Photography Concentrate know this, and created an entire guide dedicated to going over and teaching the finer points of editing black and white images to make sure you get the feeling  you’re going for. Check it out here.


Creating Composite Images

Foxy baby boy final composite

Today’s tutorial is from Shannon Jilge.

When working with clients that are difficult to give direction to, you may need to what are called composite images. Shannon has some great ideas how to achieve this result!

Shannon says:

A composite image is final image that is made up from several similar images. Some of the most common types are eye swaps and head swaps. This technique is also used regularly and often in newborn portrait photography.

Being able to create a composite image in Photoshop gives you the freedom to do some newborn ‘poses’ that may be otherwise considered dangerous or unsafe if you were actually executing the pose you want to portray.

In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through the steps I take in creating an image composite of a newborn shoot that I did.

Things To Consider Before and During the Session

If you are shooting a difficult pose and know ahead of time that it will be a composite image, take extra shots and be very attentive to detail during the session to help reduce the amount of editing that you will have to do during post-processing.

Also make sure to try and take a shot of your setup before the client is posed; this will give you an image that shows all the elements of your setup that can be added via a layer mask as needed.

With the newborn fox image (at top of post), I knew it would require a spotter that would need to be edited out later so when I was shooting that pose I made sure that my images would line up easily by keeping my camera in the same spot and at the same angle.

The majority of the final image for that pose was made from 2 images – one for the left side and one for the right side (below).

Base image used for left side of final image

Base image with spotter's hands, used for right side of final image

Before Working on the Composite Images

Before I begin to work on a composite, I adjust the color balance and levels of all of the images I took in the session by doing a batch process in RAW.

By working in a batch, I guarantee that all of the images will have the same base adjustments and will blend together better in the final composite.

Choosing the Images

Once the basic adjustments are completed, I choose  the images that will be combined into the composite. When I do this, I make sure to choose images where the subject is posed at similar angles. If I can get the backgrounds to line up a bit too, that’s even better.

For this image of the twin girls, I had two cute photos but really wanted a final photo with both girls looking straight at me.

Here are the two images I used for the composite:

Twins base image, used for right side

Twins base image, used for left side

And here is the final composite:

Twin girls composite

Creating the Composite.

To do a composite like the one above, just a few steps are required.

After the basic level and color balance adjustments click have been made, click and drag one image onto the other in Photoshop, creating a new layer just above the background image.

Lower the transparency of the new layer to about 50 percent and adjust the size and placement of the layer so that your images line up.

Screen shot of layered files. The opacity of the second layer is lowered so it is easier to line them up.

Once the layers are lined up, increase your opacity back to 100 percent and create a layer mask by clicking:

  • Layer> layer mask> hide all.

This will make the top image invisible and you can begin painting in just the parts that are needed.

Make sure black and white are selected as your foreground and background colors, then click on the black layer mask and use a soft round brush and begin painting in white.

Start with an opacity of 35 percent and increase or decrease as needed. If the images are lined up well, simply paint over the parts that need to replaced and the hidden layer will appear.

If you find the images weren’t lined up quite right, just drag them into place as needed. As you paint watch to make sure you aren’t leaving extra hands, fingers or pieces of clothing where they shouldn’t be.

Masking in progress. There are one too many hands at this point and I need to paint a bit more.

Use a larger brush in big areas and decrease the brush size near edges and small details. If you paint too much, just switch to black and repaint the area.

Pro Tip: increase and decrease the brush size quickly by clicking the left and right bracket keys and switch easily between the foreground and background colors by clicking the X key.

After the main parts are completed, zoom in and check the little details, making sure there isn’t anything in the background that is out of place.

Zoom to check background details and paint the layer or clone out as needed. A final composite should look like a single image.

You may have to do a little bit of cloning in some areas but most of the time I’ve found this to be pretty minimal.

For the last step, save the file you’ve been working on as both a layered PSD file in case you need to come back later and make any further adjustments and as a jpg.

That’s All There Is To It!

Composites do require a bit of practice to master but once learned, it is a technique that will allow you to do more creative photo shoots and to present images that look just the way imagined them.

Shannon used a Canon EOS 50D (affiliate link) with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens (affiliate link), but this can be done with any lens and camera setup.

Shannon also recommends using Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS 6 (affiliate link) to accomplish this particular technique.

Shannon Jilge is a Oklahoma City Newborn, Children, and Maternity photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Editing.

If you still need help navigating Photoshop, look no further than Lynda.com (affiliate link). There are hours upon hours of tutorials on various aspects of Photoshop.

Plus, click here (affiliate link) and you can check it all out for free for 7 days!

What to Consider When Creating a Promotional Video

Plano senior photography on location

Today’s tutorial is from .

Suggested: Creating a promotional video for your studio is becoming one of the newest trends for photographers. Not only are they a great marketing and promotional tool, but they also give your potential clients a great idea of what it’s like to work with you, which can help put them at ease and make them more likely to book you than another photographer.

Read about some of the things Dawn did when she was creating a promotional video for her studio.


Dawn says:

“Video is all the rage these days. It’s great for SEO and for reaching a large audience. On top of that, I am a fairly introverted person and find formal networking with large groups of people incredibly exhausting and not a great use of my time.

Creating a promotional video seemed a good solution for showing potential clients what it’s like to work with me and showing them what they can expect when they book a senior session with me.

Here is the final product. I am very pleased with it and will talk below about how it all came together and some things to consider should you decide to create a promotional video for your business.

Dallas senior photographer outside session

Choose a Video Style when Creating a Promotional Video

The first thing I wanted to consider is what style of video I wanted. Did I want a more corporate-looking video or did I want to tell a story? Did I have an idea of the message I wanted to deliver with my video?

There’s no right or wrong answer on this, and it really depends on you, your personality, and your brand (after all it wouldn’t make sense to have a corporate-style video if your style is very bohemian and laid-back).

For me, I concluded that I wanted a more photojournalistic approach that showed some emotion.

Finding a Videographer

Once I decided on the style I wanted, it became clear that a wedding videographer would be a route to consider.

Not knowing if wedding videographers crossed over into promotional videos, I just started doing Google searches and sending e-mails to the wedding videographers I liked. In the email, I asked if they did this type of work and what the approximate cost was (because I had absolutely no idea).

I was lucky in that Clint from Candlelight Films (my favorite videographer that I had found thus far), got back to me (yea!) and said he’d love to do the shoot and quoted me a price, which I accepted.

Clint and I had two phone meetings to brainstorm what I was trying to accomplish with the video, as it was important to have clarity on the main idea of the video.

I wanted to makes sure I was not only showing how the whole senior portrait experience worked, but also the connections among the people involved (mom and daughter, my connection to the subject, etc.).

Clint pointed out that the storytelling is in the editing. I hadn’t thought of it this way, but it is true and I trusted his advice as a professional in this area.

Dallas warehouse senior photography

Finding a Senior Subject

Now that I had my videographer and knew what style of video I wanted to shoot, I knew I needed to choose a high school student who would act as my client in the video. I wanted a junior or senior girl to make the video as current as I could.

Alexa seemed an obvious choice, as I had photographed her before. Not only is she beautiful, she also is self-assured and outgoing and sweet.

I spoke to her mother about it, too, because I wanted her in the video as well. (As payment for being in the video, I gave them edited images and am working on a special product for them, too.)

I was so thankful for their work in this video. They did a great job and I was humbled by their kind words.

Coordination and Logistics

One of the hardest parts of getting this video together was coordinating everyone’s schedules! I had to consider my schedule, Clint’s (the videographer’s), the clients’, the makeup artist’s, and the venue’s.

And though I mostly shoot outdoors, I didn’t want to risk having bad weather mess everything up, so I opted for an indoor shoot for the video.

Because the ordering session and the actual photo session were shot on the same day, I needed images to present to the Mom and daughter at the ordering session Clint was recording.

Clint suggested I do an additional photo shoot with my client ahead of time, which I did. That way, I’d have actual images to present at our ordering session that Clint was recording. This worked well and was an excellent suggestion.

When I did this session, I made sure to shoot more horizontal images than normal because I knew they would have more impact in the final video than two verticals side-by-side.

As it got closer to the shoot, I created an outline for the video, broken down into scenes, for what I wanted to show. For each scene, I wrote down the questions that I wanted Clint to ask each person for their short interview.

I did not let my clients see the questions beforehand so the answers were not rehearsed, though I did give them a few things to be thinking about ahead of time such as “What is it like to work with me?”.

homecoming dress Dallas senior portraits

The Day of the Shoot

I made sure I brought hardcopies of the outline I created to the video shoot, and I cannot stress enough how important having an outline was. There were so many things to remember on the shoot day and I was thankful I had prepared it all ahead of time. Even so, Clint was a great coach with everyone, including me. I was really nervous!

To start the day, Jane Colley did my makeup and then we headed over to the client’s home to start shooting, as we shot the consultation and ordering session part first. Once we were done shooting that portion, Jane came by the house to do Alexa’s makeup. After that, we went to our venue for the photo shoot.

When it came time to do interviews with my clients, I left the room so as not to make them nervous. And they weren’t around for my interviews, either.

The Final Product

Clint did a beautiful job on the editing. I required one very small change at the end, but that was it. I loved it just the way it was. Clint chose the music, too, though I could have had input if I had wanted to. I trusted Clint’s expertise to put it all together.

And here is the final product:

Yes, it was a ton of work to do this video, but with Clint’s expertise and the kind words my clients said in the video, I accomplished exactly what I had set out to do. I’m hoping this will help potential clients more easily decide if I am a good fit for their senior portraits, so I’ve put it on my homepage.

In summary, here are some main points to consider:

  1. Come up with a clear message/purpose for the video.
  2. Look at lots of videos by different videographers and find one whose style suits what you are trying to accomplish.
  3. Speak to the videographer and be sure you have rapport with them. Ask them how long you can expect the video to be and determine if that meets your needs, and what the videographer’s revision policy is in case you require changes.
  4. Choose models who will be comfortable talking on-camera and whom you’ve worked with before so as to help with nerves.
  5. Write a script or list of scenes and questions ahead of time to be sure you do not miss anything.
  6. Consider professional makeup for yourself and for your clients for the video.
  7. Have a backup plan in case of inclement weather or just plan to shoot indoors.

6 Tips For Better Travel Photography


Travel Photography is something I truly love. From Nepal to Cambodia, Nashville to Canada, my camera has allowed me to travel and make not only an income doing it, but also do quite a bit of humanitarian work too.

But traveling and snapping can be tricky if you don’t know what you are doing. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks that can make traveling with camera gear a little more enjoyable, and want to pass some of those off to you.

Here’s 5 fast tips that will make traveling with your camera a joy and not a burden.


1. Pick your gear carefully.

Traveling light is key. I learned this quickly on my first trip to Nepal. I took pretty much everything! It soon became clear I didn’t need half of it – especially my 70-200 f2.8!

Even though I didn’t end up using it at all, I still had to carry it – and everything else – the whole time. It may only be 3.2 extra pounds, but let me tell you it adds up when you’re trekking in 96.8 degree heat day after day.

Now when I go to pack gear for traveling, I ask myself these questions for each piece of gear:

  1. What are the conditions where I am going?
  2. How long do I expect to be away for?
  3. Can I leave behind anything while I am out shooting/is my hotel room or lodging safe and secure?
  4. What do I expect to see and be shooting?

The gear you choose to bring with you (and what you leave behind) will very much depend on how you answer these questions.


Over the years, I’ve narrowed down my gear quite a bit by asking these questions and generally I take one body, cards, batteries, and two lenses: my 24-70mm and 50mm.

Here’s a packing list of gear I generally take with me when I travel, and should cover everything you will need – from the camera itself to what you carry it in:

  • Camera body
  • Camera bag
  • Memory cards + pouches
  • Camera batteries
  • Battery charger
  • Laptop and charger (will come in really handy for our photo editing sessions)
  • Any hard drives, leads etc. that you need to store your images. Don’t forget about backups!
  • Card readers
  • Favourite Lenses (I always bring my 24-70mm and 50mm)
  • Flash + batteries (optional)
  • Light-weight tripod (optional)

Another important tip: Always have travel insurance and never leave your camera gear unattended while out shooting – it might get pinched even if you are sitting right beside it!


2. Travel Photography Going To and From

When flying, never ever check your camera gear. Ever. Always take it as part of your carry-on, but be sure you first check and see if your airline has weight restrictions for carry-ons (especially in Australia).

If you are traveling with a friend, you might be able to spread out the weight between you both.

As far as bags for packing your gear for travel, there’s tons of options out there. Make sure you find one that is suitable for you and your gear, but also make sure that the bag itself is comfortable to carry once you have all your gear in it.

This is important if your conditions require you to hike out to where you will be shooting.


3. Use Light to Your Advantage!

Light is so important when it comes to capturing a good photo, and when you’re traveling light you obviously can’t stow away a softbox in your carry-on baggage.

So picking the time of day you head out can make a world of difference to the photos you capture since you are completely dependent on the available light at your shooting destination.

Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times to shoot if you want soft, magical light. Get up early and capture a sunrise! You will thank yourself later for getting out of bed.

If you’re not a morning person, find out what time sunset is and plan to head out a few hours before. Shoot until the sun goes down and keep shooting into dusk.


4. Be rewarded: Get Lost!

When traveling, make sure you take time to get lost. Explore, lose yourself in the magic of the culture where you are.

Getting off the “tourist” circuit can bring you plenty of opportunities to meet locals in their element and find some real characters, scenes, and settings that will bring a new element to your photos.

Even ducking down a lane and heading back from main streets a block or two can bring some rewarding opportunities, and some of my best travel photos have been taken in situations like these.

(Though of course, always remember when exploring that safety comes first.)


5. Be respectful.

People, no matter where they are from or their economic situation, always deserve respect. Don’t just take their photo. Learn some language basics before you go.

“Hello”, “Can I please take your photo?”, “Smile!” and “Thank you”. By learning these basics, you will find the locals will appreciate you giving it a go and they will be more willing for you to take their photo!

If you are struggling to remember how to say something, remember that a smile and holding up your camera pretending to take a shot and asking “Okay?” will probably get you by.

Photographers, especially when traveling to third world countries, love photographing children. This is fine, but make sure you get permission from the parents first.

How would you feel if someone walked into your backyard and started photographing your children? Yeah, probably not too happy.


Be careful too around soldiers and police. Again, make sure you ask – most times they will be okay with you taking their photo. But if they say no, go with it. Be respectful of them and their space and privacy.

And please note – in some places, you might not get the photo of the person you want; a soldier might be swapped out with a higher ranking officer for example because they would rather you have a picture of an officer than a soldier.

If you’re always thinking about “respect,” you will be okay.


6. Give, don’t just take.

It’s so easy to just ‘take’ a photo and walk away. But keep in mind that in some countries, a photo you take of someone may literally be the only photo that person has ever had taken of themselves.

If you can, print out a copy of the photo and give it to them. This will mean the world to them. At the very least, allowing them to see the photos digital image on your camera will suffice.


Have fun and remember, you are seeing the world. Make sure you take the time to see it through your own eyes, not just through the camera!

Belovely You 2014 Best Tips on Lighting Pt. II


Like I said last week, we had a ton of really awesome lighting tips in 2014, and had to break down all our best tips into two posts instead of one.

Part I covered a lot of miscellany in regards to lighting, but Part II will focus primarily on off-camera flash (OCF) and the use of reflectors. And without further ado…

Best Tips on Lighitng Using OCF

Using OCF is great, but not always the easiest to pick up on. The best tips on lighting takes learning and practice to create beautiful portraits. Using these tips, your results will be amazing!

To start learning, you need a flash and something to tell it to fire, like a trigger and receiver set. Once you have your hardware, use a doll or something to practice.

Set it up on the kitchen table, and systematically try different flash power settings. Once you find settings that work, try the same thing in a different room that has a different amount of ambient light.

This will help you know approximately what to set your flash power settings to given the ambient light levels at a shoot.

Photograph by Infiniti Photography! www.irememberforever.com

Image taken at night using OCF

Even if you’re an experienced OCF user, many times when you expose for your subjects you totally blow out the background in the process.

OCF is a great way to light your subjects while still maintaining the integrity of the background.

One way to do this is to use an off-camera flash with an SB800 speed light and a white umbrella. Have an assistant hold the flash with umbrella at about 45 degrees to the side of the clients and just above eye level.

Well-exposed subject and background

Well-exposed subject and background

This way your clients are lit but you don’t have to blow out the background to do it.

More Advanced Use of OCF.

Once you get good at it, you can try some really cool effects like this editorial shot:


To pull off this shot, the photographer placed the subject so that the setting sun was off camera left and placed a beauty dish off camera right to serve as their main source of light.

Keep your aperture relatively closed to make sure you capture the background as well. From there, you can put the finishing touches on it in post-production.

Another really dramatic way to use OCF is to use it to capture the motion of dance.


This amazing, dramatic image was created using two speed lights and a barn. The barn provided a darkened area, which you need to shoot into for this to work.

The speed lights were placed behind the dancer at 45 degrees, pointing towards the camera, with a reflector in front of the dancer for fill.

Make sure to put your focus on manual for this too since as the dancer jumps and moves, your camera will try to re-focus if it’s on auto-focus and will create a blurry image.

Speed lights can also be used to create a golden sunlight look, even when it’s not the olden hour.


This image was taken in a forest in the morning, with low ambient light and using speed lights to create the warm color.

To pull this off, you need two speedlights, a reflective umbrella, a triflash holder, and  an orange gel filter (which usually comes with Nikon speedlights).

Gel one of the speed lights with the orange gel, but leave the second one open. Ask an assistant to hold the speed lights and umbrella (which were mounted onto the Triflash holder).

Using Reflectors

One of the most common uses of reflectors is to use it to bounce light back onto your subject. If you’re shooting at the end of the day and the shadows are getting longer and engulfing your subjects, this would be one of those times.

This is exactly what happened to one of our featured photographers, and she was able to use a reflector to maintain a decent amount of light on her subjects as the sun sunk and shadows got longer.


She had her subjects in the shade of a barn and used a Larson Enterprises 3×4 ft rigid reflector (with a kickstand) to bounce light back into the shadow.

She placed it somewhat far away from her subjects to make sure the light was spread wide over her subjects, and wasn’t too bright so as to blind her clients.

Keep in mind though in this type of situation that you’ll probably want to make sure to adjust your camera settings/ISO to account for the lower light conditions.


Reflectors don’t just work great shadowy settings, they work great in sunny situations too.

If you want to try a more ethereal, glowing look to your images, have your client stand with their back to the sun and shoot into the the sun.


Place the reflector in front of your client and use the silver side to get more contrast and help keep the details in their face.

Using Your Surroundings.

Fancy gear is all super nice and great, but a lot of times, you don’t need all that.

One of our featured photographers even just used a set of sheer curtains to diffuse the natural light coming through a client’s windows in their home.

For a reflector, she set up white foam core boards on each side of her at 45 degree angles.


Snow also makes an amazing reflector if you live in an area that gets snow in the winter.


Uniform snow cover is amazing, because it produces even, beautiful light (and no need to have an assistant hold a reflector!).

And if you’re shooting at the right time of day during the golden hour, you can only give yourself a step up in terms of lighting:



Here are a few of our favorite lighting resources:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 4.34.45 PMOCF and speed lights are crucial to pull of a lot of these tips, so getting a firm handle on how to use them is also important. Andy from Simple SLR has put together a great guide all about mastering OCF (and it’s less than $30!), plus it comes with portrait recipes too and great ideas for putting together portrait images. Check it out here.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 3.26.42 PMAnother key element to mastering off-camera flash is knowing your camera settings and what they need to be to optimize the use of OCF. Photography Concentrate makes a really easy-to-follow guide that is written to quickly and thoroughly introduce you to using your camera in manual mode (in fact it’s designed to do all that in just a few hours). Check it out here.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 3.42.01 PMOne of the most important parts of the OCF setup is, well, the OCF. (You can get great on-camera flashes too, and some really great accessories and flash holders and firing devices). There’s tons of options out there to suit your needs, and Adorama has a plethora of them. Check them all out here.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 3.42.09 PM

If you need a more continuous light source as opposed to a flash, there’s lots of options there too. Fluorescent lighting, HMI (hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide) lighting, LED, Tungsten, etc., and any and all accessories you need to make it work and fit your needs. Check them all out here.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 3.42.26 PMLight Modifyers and Reflectors are another common option for lighting for photographers. These include things like soft boxes, umbrellas, gel diffusers, and of course, a wide variety of reflectors that are necessary to pull off some of the tips in this article. Check out your options here.


What are some of your favorite lighting tips and gear?

Leave them in the comments section below!



Thank you for using the links above, as they help us earn a commission and support the site, keeping it free for everyone.

Belovely You 2014 Best Tips on Lighting Pt. I


We had some great portrait tips come in this year. So many, in fact, that we decided to split them into two separate articles. The best tips on lighting are going to be shared with you to make your portraits even better!

Today’s article will focus on different lighting situations and some nifty lighting miscellany, and next week’s will focus entirely on OCF and the use of reflectors.

Before we get too deep into it, let’s first start with….

Basic Tips on Lighting for Portrait Lighting

For the most ideal natural light photos (which some photographers argue is the best kind of light), you’ll want to try and avoid a couple things: shooting at night and using flash (which obviously isn’t natural light right from the start), and shooting in direct sunlight.

Alternatively, you’ll want to try shooting in open shade – which means conditions in which it’s light outside but the sun is not directly shining on the subject. Some of the best locations for this is either in the shadow of a tree or building, or the light created during a cloudy day.


Photo taken on a cloudy day out of direct sunlight.

This sort of lighting situation will give you smoother, more even skin tones, and prevent large lighting contrasts between bright spots and shaded regions on the subject.

When you don’t have Ideal Lighting Conditions

It’s great when you have 100% control of your lighting situation, but as most of us have experienced before – it doesn’t always work that way.

Here’s a few non-ideal lighting scenarios that you may (or already have) encounter, and a couple ways to make the best of it.

Shooting in Direct Sun.

When no open shade is available make sure to keep the sun to the backs of your subjects, but make sure to also maintain enough ambient light on their face.


Audrey Woulard often shoots in open sun, and demonstrates that it can be done very well and yield beautiful results.

Another good tip for working in direct sunlight is that if you must do it, try and do it later in the day during the golden hour so you can leverage the beautiful lighting that shooting during that time of day will give you.

Make sure, however, to not have your subjects look directly at you, because then they tend to squint. Instead, go for a more candid or lifestyle approach and capture your subject as-is, or interacting with other subjects.


Image of subjects interacting with one another and not looking directly into the sun, giving the image a more candid feel.

Lighting in an Urban Setting.

Finding flattering light in an urban setting is difficult with tall buildings casting really dark shadows with no available ambient light (or with colored buildings giving strange color casts).

Areas that work well for letting natural light in in an urban setting are areas like parking lots or wider alleyways that open up enough to let natural light in.


However, you can still get some good lighting to filter in to more narrow areas depending on the time of day and position of the sun.


This image was taken in a wider alleyway that allowed in enough natural light.

But always remember when shooting in an urban setting – safety first. Never shoot in the middle of a roadway or in areas with busy traffic. And never trespass onto private property.

And a lot of times, government and federal buildings (even though they look awesome) are off-limits for shooting, or may require a permit so make sure you look into that if you have a building like that in mind for your next urban shoot.

Lighting in a Client’s Home.

If you’re doing your session in the client’s home, remember what what they consider to be ‘good natural light’ is probably something completely different than what a photographer considers to be good natural light.

When you arrive at the home do a quick walkthrough of the house and take note of not only the available light in each room, but also the position of the sun and time of day since the amount of available light in each room will change as the day goes on (and can help you plan the session accordingly).


Wonderful natural lighting from large window in client’s home.

Also be mindful of the paint on the walls, since strong, bold colors will give off strong color casts.

Studio Lighting

If you have a studio with a large window that lets in lots of natural light, set up a couple reflectors in a V-shape and place your client in the corner between them.


Reflectors set up to reflect natural light back onto subject.

This will bounce the light from the window back on to your subject. Use reflectors with a neutral, skin-toned color as well (or white ones) to make sure the client’s skin tones photograph well.


Image taken with above reflector setup.

If you’re doing newborn portraits in your studio, a great method for lighting them is what’s called “feathering the light.”

This type of lighting technique creates soft, even skin tones on the newborn, and overall is pretty easy to set up. The only equipment you really need is a softbox (affiliate link) and light, and more than likely a backdrop and/or prop for the baby.


The results this type of lighting produce are gorgeous, and very popular for lighting newborns:


You can read a tutorial on exactly how to do it here.

Using OCF to Light Up The Rain

When you’re not shooting in a studio you’re pretty dependent on the weather’s cooperation because rainy days can sometimes ruin your portrait session – but it can also make it pretty spectacular.

This is exactly what happened to Two Mann Studios when they were doing an engagement session.

It started just pouring rain during their session, but they were still able to make the best of it by setting up speedlights to backlight the rain.


They managed to turn what could have been a gloomy day into an amazing work of art.

If this is something you want to try and pull off but the weather isn’t raining for you, you can create a similar affect with just sprinklers.


Have your subject stand with their back to the source of light (whether it’s the sun or a speed light) and aim the sprinkler towards them coming in from either camera left or right.

Lighting On-The-Go

Love the look of a softbox but hate that you can’t use it when you’re shooting on location?

Scott from Photocrati (affiliate link) has come up with a solution for that by creating his own to be used with a camera flash.

All you need is a backlight, a flash, a pocketwizard, reflector, and a spring clamp to make your own too (click here to see more details on how to do it)!


Always remember…

Trying new lighting techniques can be kind of nerve-wracking – you’ve never tried it before, you don’t know how it will work or if it will turn out, and what if it doesn’t?

But that’s ok – you’re never going to advance as a photographer unless you really push yourself and try new things.

And if you’re really worried you won’t get any good shots, try some with a lighting technique you already know and are good at.

That way if the new technique doesn’t work out you’ve still got plenty of images to give to your client.

What are your best tips for portrait lighting?

Leave them in the comments below!




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!

Engagement Sessions – From Before the Session to After


Today’s tutorial is from Namita Azad.

Engagement sessions is a fun trend that allows couples to share their engagement announcement to their friends and family. This photography tends to be the most fun because the couple is there to have a good time.

Namita says this about engagement sessions:

“Photographing a couple that has just got engaged is possibly the best time you can capture their love. So how do you capture this time in their life in the most candid way? Here’s a rundown of how I run my engagement sessions, from before, during, and after the shoot:


Before the day of the shoot:
1. Meet the couple over a cup of coffee and get to know them. This will make it so you feel less like a stranger to them and more like a friend, therefore helping them feel more comfortable around you.

2. Ask to hear their story! How did he propose? Where was it? What was she wearing? Did she know he was going to do it? Get into the details and learn about your couple’s story.

3. Talk with your couple about locations that are meaningful to them – the more familiar their surroundings are, the more relaxed they’ll be and the more likely they’ll be to act like themselves come the day of the shoot.


Day of the shoot:
1. Get there early and set up your equipment before the couple arrives. That way once the couple gets there, you can move right into shooting without them having to wait on you.

2. The only instruction you should give them is to keep smiling no matter what they do throughout the shoot. Besides that, just let them behave and interact as they normally would – and if you’ve picked locations they’re already comfortable with, this should come fairly easily to them.

3. Encourage them to talk to each other to get the best candid moments. This helps them focus on each other instead of you.

4. Don’t be in their direct line of vision. Be inconspicuous so they feel more comfortable.

5. Show them a picture here and there to make them feel better about how they’re doing – especially for the stiff ones!


After the shoot:
1. Leave the couple on a fun and optimistic note! Even if things didn’t go 100% as planned, the more positive you are the more that will reflect on them and leave them with a positive feeling about the day instead of thinking about what went wrong.

2. When editing, try to maintain the moment in it’s true colors so they remember the day exactly how it was.

3. Give the couple a sneak peak in the first few days. More often than not, they can’t wait to see the entire album, and a sneak peak helps them stay patient and know that you’re working on getting it to them ASAP while also making them excited to see the rest of the images.

4. And finally – stick to your turn around time! Even the most patient of couples can become antsy if you don’t deliver when you said you would.”


Namita used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 24-105mm f/4 lens to capture these images, and Lightroom to edit.

Namita Azad is a Tri-State Wedding, Maternity, Couples, Family, Baby, and Travel photographer.



*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.

The Secret to Shooting Hybrid (Film + Digital)

Shooting both film and digital images at the same time is tricky, and many photographers avoid it because it’s difficult to get the digital images to consistently match the film images, and vice versa. Film + digital makes an effective hybrid.

How I Pull Off Film + Digital Images

The secret to shooting hybrid (film + digital) effectively is to use anchor images – in other words, a scan of a film image that you take during the session that you can refer back to when editing your digital files (see below for examples).

*Click on each image above to embiggen.

When I started incorporating film into my paid work I would shoot only a few rolls of film throughout the day. It was all I could afford to do in the beginning and still make a profit for that session.

I would shoot an anchor image every time I had a change in lighting conditions: ie. backlit for a portrait, and then open shade with a family formal or ceremony photo. As the lighting changed I would take a few more anchor images that I could use to refer to later.

Later, in post production when editing in Lightroom, I use the second monitor button in the bottom left hand corner of the Lightroom Development screen (shown below) to hold the anchor image in place and then use that image to match a similar digital image using my Mastin Labs presets.


This makes it super quick to get an exact match between your film images and your digital images and see how film handled that lighting situation in terms of white balance (warm/cool) and tint (green/magenta casts).

Once I have a similar digital image adjusted I can apply the same settings to all digital images in that group and make everything look like a cohesive set of film images.

As I started making more money from every shoot I increased the amount of film I shot, while still matching the digital images to the film images later in Lightroom.


I still prefer to shoot film for anything I can, as it goes beyond the look for me. I just love the method of working with film cameras and how it forces you to be in the omen with your subject.

It is also far less distracting for me to have no LCD screen to look at after every shot, since that seems to become a habit that is nearly impossible to break. Shooting film removes this ‘chimping’ habit completely.

Here are a couple final tips I have for you as well on combining both digital and film photography:

1. Film Development. Be sure to have your film developed at a good lab like The FIND Lab. They have skilled technicians that will produce great, high-quality scans on Fuji Frontiers, the king of all film scanners, for amazing color and depth.

2. Digital SOOC. Make sure to expose your digital images for proper or slight overexposure. This will give you a good base for applying film emulation presets like the ones I created for Mastin Labs, and will help you better match your digital images to your film images.

And to make it even easier for you to mimic my method, I’ve even provided a tutorial video of me editing an image in Lightroom here.

And there you are! I hope I’ve shed some light on shooting hybrid, and maybe convinced some of you that it’s not impossible and to give it a try. Please let me know if you have any questions about my article or my presets.



*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.

Finding a Make-Up Artist


When I decided to make Senior Portraits my niche back in 2009, I knew that I wanted to work exclusively with one makeup artist.  First of all, I wanted to set myself apart in the market and by including makeup in all my sessions, I knew that I could offer my clients something they weren’t getting anywhere else – creating that experience for them. Finding a make-up artist is easy with these tips.


Secondly, it just makes my job a little easier!  There is the rare high school girl who knows how to apply makeup perfectly and beautifully, but let’s be honest…..most often, that is not the case.  Oftentimes, my clients don’t even wear a lot of makeup, and if they do, they do not know how to apply it effectively for photography – especially natural light photography.


I didn’t want to refer my clients to a “bank” of approved makeup artists either; I didn’t feel connected that way.  My goal was to have everything be cohesive.  So there I was, wanting to find a makeup artist I could work with, but wondering where to find one….

But then I got lucky – I was hired to shoot headshots and my client had hired a makeup artist for the shoot, and well….the rest is history.  Jami Cox and I have been working together ever since.  She applies makeup for every one of my Senior Portraits and also does hair styling for the sessions that include that – and she stays with me during the shoots to assist with touch-ups, etc.


Over the years, we have cultivated not only an amazing work relationship, but also a friendship; and my clients love her.

Tips on Finding the Right Make-Up Artist

So how do you go about finding a makeup artist?  How do you coordinate schedules?  How do you pay her???   How does she know what type of makeup to apply?   These are all the most asked questions I get either from my facebook fans or from my mentoring clients, so I thought I would outline some things to look for in a makeup artist:


  • Education/Training:  Obviously, you want to hire someone who has proper training; however, I do believe some people have an innate talent for makeup – and that any type of school can simply enhance it.   Look for makeup artists at local makeup schools; recent grads or even current students who are willing to learn more and get hands-on experience.


  • Know what you want:  you can’t train someone to apply makeup the way you prefer it if you don’t know what you want. For instance, do you want to keep your high school senior girls natural or are you more open to a fashion/editorial look?  Do you like a contoured face or prefer to keep it more even – some of these things will depend on your own shooting style.  For me, I am a natural light shooter 99% of the time.  I like to start out very natural for all my girls, then move into more eyes or lips, depending on what their outfits are.  I like Jami to do a little contouring, but just enough to enhance.  I personally do not like thick, heavy black liner inside the entire eye – I think it ages the girls quite a bit; and although Jami will do a fab smokey eye occasionally, she will keep it on the outer lids, unless we are purposefully going for an intense look. But again, she knows what kind of eye shape she can do that on without it looking odd or out of place.


  • Eyelash Application:  Yes, this is a big deal to me, since I do suggest that all my girls wear eyelashes, but we do not use theatrical lashes or ones that are too big. I simply want them to enhance the eyes, not overtake the face.  A good makeup artist will also know that the lashes are applied onto the lashes, and not on the eyelid.  If you can see the separation, this does not work and looks really bad in close up shots (which are my favorite).


  • Personality:  This is of the utmost importance to me.  I am bringing my client to someone who will be touching their face, sometimes for hours!  This person has to be professional, but also someone they can relate to – someone who can help put them at ease.  My clients are usually a little nervous at the start, but Jami is gentle in her words to them, being careful not to say anything insulting or something that could make them self-conscious.   She communicates easily and clearly with them.  Before the shoot, I send out in-depth instructions and information to prep my client, and when we arrive to do makeup, I go over the makeup part once more, as does Jami.  We both communicate at length about (1) What is the client’s comfort level with makeup (2) Are there any allergies (3) Are they a regular makeup wearer and if not, then we talk about how it will feel much heavier than normal, while assuring them that it will still look natural.   An easy-going personality is a big plus, since you are going to be working pretty closely with this person.


  • Punctuality/Professionalism:  Jami cannot stand that makeup artists have a bad rep about being late, flaky, etc.  She is not only on time, she’s early – always.  She takes her job very seriously and makes sure her kit is always clean, organized, and that she has all the products and supplies she needs.  She always has all the color palettes she needs for all different skin tones.  Her kit is HUGE – she actually just condensed it, but for years it was two huge makeup cases; she said she would rather be prepared than not have something we needed.  Kits are very expensive to replenish, which leads me to:


  • Payment:  Fees are something you need to discuss at length with your potential makeup artists; make sure you are paying them sufficiently but not cutting into your own costs.  If you are including makeup in your sessions, then your session fee should reflect it.  I have session fees and a minimum order for each of those sessions, so I know I am meeting my sales goal.   A good starting point is asking what their kit fee is; sometimes makeup artists who are right out of school do not charge as much because they want the experience, etc.


One more thing I want to cover is scheduling.  I like to choose my session dates months in advance, then clear those dates with Jami before opening my calendar up to clients.  She subscribes to my calendar which is synced with my online booking system and is able to see when dates are booked.  This is great because it also frees her up to book weddings and other jobs.


Adding a makeup artist to your sessions may seem like a daunting task, but I can honestly say that it has been extremely beneficial for me and my business, and definitely adds to the experience that my clients enjoy.  A nice side effect is that I have a partner in crime and someone to act silly with on shoots.

Check out a video of Jami in action here:





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The Finishing Touches Tutorial

Putting the finishing touches on an image often includes skin smoothing and retouching, and really gives your photos that clean, finished look. It is the finishing touches that makes each portrait perfect.

But there are other Photoshop techniques you can use that really take your your images to the next level and give your senior portraits a much more completed, enhanced look.

Nicholas Alexander, a fantastic senior portraits photographer and lead shooter at the Seniors Ignite event, has put together a fantastic video tutorial on some of the Photoshop techniques he uses on a regular basis to enhance his senior portraits.

How To Add the Finishing Touches

You can check out his hour-long feature tutorial video (yes, video, so you can follow along) on the Seniors Ignite website here, as well as check out some of his work:


*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.

Senior portraits are a very important keepsake for most people. The benefits of retouching these photographs gives an added mystique to the nostalgia of remembering these years. Properly finished photographs are invaluable to your clients.

It is in your best interest to learn how to do photo retouching. This skill is marketable, and it allows you to become a better photographer to know what things take too much time to retouch.  For example, if you spend too much time cleaning up the background of images, you’ll get creative to take photos with decent backgrounds to begin with.  Not only will you save time, you will also save stress and frustration.  This is your chance to get an education on photo retouching for senior portraits and more. You owe it to yourself to learn this skill, if you do not already have it!


Five Great Tips for Better Portraits Outside

When it comes to photography, it is great to know tips for better portraits – especially outside. When taking photos outdoors, there are many logistics to work out. And sometimes, you need to wait hours for the perfect shot!

I’ve been a professional photographer for over 15 years. In that time I have been lucky enough to work with and for some amazing people.

I’ve photographed celebrities, professional musicians, athletes, and of course, “regular” people, most of whom were still far from regular.

It’s an amazing gift to be welcomed into someone’s life to collaborate on a photo, and I feel that creating a portrait should be considered an honor.


We often take it for granted with cell phone selfies and Instagram but sitting for a portrait is a time-honored event that was once reserved for the wealthy and powerful.

But now, thanks to technology, we all get the opportunity to “take” a portrait. And we say “take” because it was believed that when you do a photo of someone you are actually “taking” a bit of his or her soul.

Best Tips for Better Portraits Taken Outside

Don’t get me wrong; I certainly think you can take a fun fast image of someone that does not require the consideration of how that image will be used for eternity going forward.

Regardless of what you or the subject intends to use the image for, I think there are some key things you can do to make sure your images look their best.

In this article I talk about five very important tips to keep in mind, specifically when taking daylight shots.

1) Find Open Shade:

I’m writing this on July 20th, at 33 thousand feet somewhere between LA and NYC. If you live in the Americas then it’s summer (sorry Australia) and with summer comes the ability to be outside and enjoy those long days.

When shooting outside during the summer you should really try to avoid two things: 1) shooting at night and using flash, and 2) direct harsh sunlight. Alternatively, the best kind of light you can get is what we call open shade.

Example of image taken in indirect sunlight.

Open shade means when it’s light out but the sun is not getting direct contact with the subject. It can be from the shade of a building or an overhang from a tree or even a garage.

This is also the type of light you get when it’s overcast. The great thing about this light is that it causes no harsh shadows or strong contrast.

Image taken on cloudy day out of direct sunlight.

You will get smooth, even skin tones and your subject’s eyes will look nice and clean. The subject will not have to squint or have to wear sunglasses either.

If you don’t believe me try a test: place your subject in the sunlight and take a shot then put them in the shade and do another shot. Blow up the image and compare the light on their faces!

2) Find the focal point.

Okay, now you have the best light to photograph your subject in – What’s next, you ask? Well lucky for you, I have the answer.

The next thing to consider is what the focal point will be. In other words, what is the main thing in this composition that you want the viewer to see?

Consider that you will not be travelling with the image to explain what you thought was so important. Will the viewer know what was important to you?

The viewer will know if you have considered your focal point. Focal point is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the point at which the focus of our attention will go.

If you photograph a person I suspect it should be their eye or eyes. If you photograph a car racing by I suspect it should be the car and not the background, audience or a helicopter in the sky.

Using the eyes as a focal point.

So take the time to think about what is the most important thing in the composition. If you are not there to defend it will the image do a good job of talking for you and what you wanted to convey?

Think of the most famous paintings and what it is that we all still talk about. Those talking points are the focal point.

3) Consider the Background

Okay, this is a pet peeve of mine.

I see people who seem to be in such a rush to take a shot that they don’t bother slowing down to compose the image. To see what is going on behind whatever it is that made them barely stop to take the shot in the first place.

If you were compelled to take a shot in the first place then take the time to make sure it looks well-composed. This goes double for portraits.

When you compose your image, scan the background and make sure there are no poles that appear to be growing out of the top of the subject’s head or some strange element stabbing them in the side.

When you have people and backgrounds and are not using depth of field (aka DOF or Bokeh – which is when you use a wider aperture to throw the background out of focus) then the background and the subject can appear to be on the same plane.

Example of image with blurred background.

Example of image with subject depicted on different plane than background.

When this happens, whatever is going on in the background can appear to be growing out of the subject.

When the background is out of focus or blurry then our eye tends to go to what is in focus and what we can identify with. Try to use DOF to really draw attention to your subject.

Great example of bokeh/blurred background, bringing the focus to the subject.

4) Get your subject to make eye contact.

Now, people might tell you that you don’t need to have the subject make eye contact for a good portrait and theoretically, that’s true.

Creating a portrait is really just a photo of a person were they are clearly the main point of the composition or at least the reason why the photo was taken in the first place.

At least that’s how I think about it. However, we as humans identify with other humans by looking them in the eye. Like when we speak with someone, we look someone in the eye.

In fact, if someone does not look you in the eye you tend to think they might be a bit shady or untrustworthy.

When the subject makes eye contact with the camera it makes it more likely that ideas of trust and humanity will be transferred to the viewer of the image.

Example of subject making eye contact with the camera.

I have always found that my most successful images of people are the ones where the subject is looking dead on into the lens. Try it!

5) Focus, Focus, Focus

I can’t say this enough: if you bother taking the time to create a photo of someone, then take the time to make sure it’s in focus.

If you are going through the exercise of communicating with someone that you want to take their photo or if someone asks you to take their photo then show them the respect they deserve by making sure they are in focus.

My suggestion is to focus on the eyes or the eye closest to the camera.

So there you have it – 5 simple tips to help you get better portraits in daylight. Though truthfully, you can use most of these tips and concepts for any and all types of shots.

Good luck out there, and shoot, shoot, shoot!



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The Dress Shot


Today’s feature is from .

Some of the best artistic photographs involve dresses. The dress shot has become a niche of portrait photos with some amazing results!

Lindsay says:

“When I was first trying to create striking creative images, attaining beautiful wardrobe was always one of the hardest parts of the equation.

Either it was too expensive to get the clothing I envisioned, or I just couldn’t find an ideal piece, or it was too time consuming to track the clothing down.

To remedy the issue and fill the void, I recently started a business called Dream Shoot Rentals that provides avant garde dresses and headpieces (like the ones I was looking for) to photographers across the US in hopes of providing photographers like myself even more tools to create the images of their dreams.

This piece, the Ursula dress, was inspired by images by one of my favorite fashion photographers, Kristian Schuller.

I helped design and collaborate with a seamstress/designer in China to create this striking piece (and now have 3 sizes/colors available through our company!).

Because I loved this dress, I wanted to create an image that really captured the essence of it and what makes it so magical – the endless flowing and undulating trains that ripple like the waves in the sea, and the fact that it is elegant and soft, yet still aggressive.

I created this image in one of my favorite locations, the Metropolitan Building in NYC.”

Lindsay’s Photography Tip for the Perfect Dress Shot:

To create this image, I knew that I would want to do a composite (combine multiple shots together) in order to get the perfect movement in each train of the dress.

I started the session by shooting around the scene and finding the right angles, and then I locked down on a tripod.

Once I had the perfect angles set, I had my team start giving movement to the trains, like the images shown below.

I shot dozens of images, making sure my camera exposure and focus stayed consistent – something that would make it easier to combine the images together in Photoshop during post production.




Once I had all the shots I looked through the images in Lightroom to find all of the right movements of the dress, and then started to combine them in Photoshop.

I also worked with the toning of the images to make them a bit more mysterious and theatrical.

The end results (below) I couldn’t be happier with!


Lindsay used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Sigma 24-105mm 4.0 lens to capture these images.

Lindsay Adler is a New York, NY Portrait and Fashion photographer, and as already noted, creator of the company Dream Shoot Rentals.

The goal at Dream Shoot Rentals is to provide photographers a stunning piece of clothing that they could not get anywhere else – and they rent to anyone around the U.S.!

To celebrate their growing success, they’re running a giveaway a chance to win a $150 gift card to go towards a rental – and I already looked, $150 will get you almost any of the dresses on the site.

Check out the giveaway here! But don’t hesitate…it ends in a little over a week!



*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.

5 Things to do Before you Respond to that Angry Email

And BAM. There it is. That angry email, that nasty, accusatory email from a client. Maybe you suspected it might come, maybe it came out of the blue but now what?


1. Step away from the angry email.

Many people have a knee-jerk reaction to defend themselves when they receive emails that are accusatory or inflammatory. It isn’t always lashing out in anger, some people lie down like a beaten dog and do whatever it takes to make the customer happy at any expense when faced with conflict. Neither of these responses is healthy for your business.

If you think it’s going to be more than a day, then respond to the client with a short email that says “I’ve received your email and understand your concerns. I’m not able to answer fully right now, but I will respond to your concerns by X date.” Try not to make it more than 48 hours.

2. Write the email that you want to send.

Step One: Open a word document and get it alllll out. (You’re going to write this in Word so you don’t inadvertently send it instead of saving it as a draft.) You know the email that I mean. The one where you tell them how many times you bent over backward for them, the exceptions you made. How you had to deal with their jerkface kids or their stupid husband, how you TOLD them that time of the day wasn’t the best lighting conditions, how you have been clear 1000 times that digital files are not included. That you RUE THE DAY you took them on as clients. Go ahead, get it all out.

Of course, you’re not going to send this. Like the love letters you wrote to your unrequited high school crush,you’ll just hang on to this draft until one day you’ll stumble upon it years later and be embarrassed for yourself…but at least you won’t have sent it.

3. Call upon a trusted friend in the business.

Who’s your go-to? That person who just seems to know how to answer an email or calm the most upset client. A good friend will tell you honestly how you screwed this one up, what kind of music you should be willing to face and how to make it right. They should also be able to commiserate with you on when a client is being unreasonable so you know it’s not just you over-reacting, and help you lay out a foundation of what to offer the client as solutions.

4. Decide what you can and can’t do at the end of the day.

At the end of the day, what are you willing to concede on? What are you not willing to budge on? There’s going to be a lot of factors that will play into this decision and it’s best if you are not making these decisions based on your first emotional response. Take some time to think it over, offer solutions and half-way meeting points. Decide at what point are you going to stand firm because it will be much easier to do so if you’ve prepared yourself for it in advance.

5. Revise the email.

Now you’ve got 3 different arsenals to draw from to compose your email
· The bullet points/facts from your first email that you are never, ever going to send to draw from.
· Advice from a trusted colleague/friend.
· A clear definition of concessions you are willing to make.

Trust me on this – if you wait a couple days to get it all out of your system, and then respond with a level head, you’ll be much more likely to deliver a calm, professional response that will hopefully lead to at least a compromise between you and the client.

Love this advice?

Kim and Charo (the brains behind A Camera and a Dream) are total pros when it comes to client management and dealing with difficult situations.

(Oh yeah. You’ve had them before. And it sucked, didn’t it?)

awesomsaucePlus, they’re hilarious. And they recognize the fact that if you’re spending more time managing your client relations than shooting, it’s time to make some changes.

Thankfully for us they’ve put together a handy procedures guide that’s all about dealing with difficult clients and difficult situations.

And it’s full of awesome advice like the article above.

Plus other great stuff like procedures to have in place to make running your business easier and keep clients happy, how to identify problem clients, and what to do when it’s really not you (it’s the client) and how to break up with them.

And even better, they’re giving $15 off to the Belovely You audience with discount code BELOVELYSAUCE (no really, that’s the code).

Click here to check it out now!





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Simulating Golden Sunlight with Speedlights

Today’s tutorial is from the wonderful Andy Lim.

Within the world of photography, speedlights give portrait photographs that professional, polished look when used correctly. Here are some tips to use speedlights to your advantage when working with clients.

How To Use Speedlights Effectively

Here is a list of equipment you will need to complete this tutorial:

Andy says:

This entire series of 5 images were taken with two speedlights and a reflective umbrella. The shoot took place around 7.30am in the morning in a forest, where ambient light levels were pretty low.

My assistant was holding the speedlights and umbrella, which were mounted onto a Lastolite Triflash holder. I asked the couple to push their bicycles forward while my assistant walked backwards.

I always shoot in Manual mode, both for the camera exposure as well as the flash (speedlight) exposure. This meant that my assistant had to keep a fairly consistent distance from the couple as they moved forward.

The warm color is achieved by putting an orange gel filter on one speedlight, and leaving the other speedlight without any filters.

This effectively creates what is commonly referred to as a half CTO (color temperature orange). A full CTO would have created too warm of a cast on the couple, and I wanted to make sure that I balanced the flash color nicely with the ambient light.


The angle at which my assistant stood in relation to the couple is important. In this shot, he needed to be to the left of the couple, aiming the light to the right. This creates short lighting, which is generally flattering.

Short lighting is essentially lighting the side of the face which is furthest from the camera. In this scene, it creates depth by highlighting the couple and separating them from the background.


The shot below still uses the same lighting tools (speedlight and umbrella) but as a separator light instead of a key light. Used as a hair light, it now provides separation of the couple’s heads from the background.

portrait-photographer-malaysia-andy-lim-1 Again as a very subtle hair light, below.


and here too:

portrait-photographer-malaysia-1 Interestingly, all 5 images were taken with a Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 lens, at various focal lengths. Different impressions of depth-of-field are created in each because of varying subject-to-camera distances, and subject-to-background distances.

Love this tutorial?

We did too! Andy is awesome with lighting, and wrote the book on portrait lighting – no literally, he wrote a book about it (an eBook to be exact!). And it’s filled with all sorts of goodies about lighting specifically for portrait photography.

And for the month of July, if you use the coupon code BELOVELY40, you get a 40% discount on any purchase!

There’s more there than just portrait lighting books too, so click here to check it out!



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Four Ways to Create Unique Value for Head Shot Clients


Whenever I do a head shot session for an actor, musician or entrepreneur, I look at it as an opportunity to forge a genuine connection with the person in front of my cameras so that they come across authentically in their final portrait, and that their images are in line with their brand.

Primo Head Shot Tips

No matter what line of business we’re in, we’re all brands! Our personalities, how we dress and how we interact with others are all part of our brand, and capturing that in a photograph or a photo series can prove to be a challenge.

Here are my four best tips for creating authentic head shots:

1. Really Get to Know Your Client

I always recommend that photographers spend time getting to know their clients before the day of the shoot. Not only does this help create a sense of trust to combat day-of jitters, but it also gives plenty of opportunity for you to foster communication with your client and get to know what they hope to achieve with their photographs.

Getting to know the client also gives you a chance to understand their fears, where your services can solve their problems, and how to provide increasingly better service as time goes on.

Consultations with me are also a must! If I can’t meet a potential client for coffee then we schedule a Skype date and I go through a series of questions with them to help me understand their business and the value that they provide.

For a larger shoot where I am providing a series of images for a website, there might be several meetings before we get into the studio. While this means I do a lot of work up front, it also helps me create images that my clients feel truly resonate with who they are.


2. Have them Identify their Target Clients and “Branding Words”

For a recent shoot with a client, Rachel, who is a Life Coach, we had several meetings where we dug into her brand identity and looked at the overall market together to see what other brands and websites she was resonating with.

I asked her about her ideal client and what that person is experiencing before they encounter Rachel’s services, as well as what she wants them to feel as they browse her website, and finally end up contacting her to set up a relationship.

During our conversations words like Graceful, Authentic, Connected, Depth, and Self-Empowerment were coming up again and again. Because Rachel’s brand of coaching is an extension of herself, I wanted to make sure that our photos communicated those ideas.

If I were working with an actor, I would want to know the kinds of companies they are looking to be hired by, or the kinds of commercials they want to be considered for.

This also requires that the client has a clear idea of themselves and their messages before they step in front of the camera.

If a client isn’t clear, it makes your job a lot more difficult. I also never try to sell a client on a larger package than what they’re ready for – if they only need a single head shot to get them started, then that’s what I recommend.

While there are some photographers out there who will create a brand identity for a client, that’s not where I do my best work. So I look for a level of clarity from my clients before recommending any of my more extensive packages.


3. Coach Your Client through Posing and Connection

During a session I almost never stop talking or moving, so I always have a lot of water on hand.

Unless you’re working with a professional model, dead air is a confidence killer in the studio. I’m always showing the client the pose, letting them mirror me, and then talking them through tiny tweaks.

I jokingly call the posing “Photography Yoga,” because I understand that they feel like they’re stretching and moving their bodies in unfamiliar ways. Letting them know that I relate to how they feel is important, as is giving them positive feedback while they’re moving.

If a pose isn’t working, I don’t communicate that. I simply say, “Great, let’s move on to the next pose! Now what I want you to do is:_____.” That way they don’t feel as though they’ve failed and I haven’t lost the connection or their trust.

The same thing goes with expression. I watch the client’s eyes the entire time during our session. If I feel tension in their expression, we take a break and work out our facial muscles together. Yes, I make the silly faces with them!

If I feel like I’m losing connection, I change things up. In a recent session I saw my client begin to fade before we were finished, so I suggested a water break, a wardrobe change, and a quick walk outside to see if we could find some fun outdoor locations. It was a great way to revive her energy and focus.

4. Create Variety and Value

If I book someone for a basic headshot session, and they feel that they got enough value to upgrade to a larger package when we’re doing our viewing then I always let them know that it’s an option.

Using locations and wardrobe is another great way to create an immense variety for clients to choose from, and therein create another level of value for them. Just make sure that these choices are relevant and resonate with the brand identity that you’ve previously established.

For example, if you’re working with a yoga instructor, you will want to look for locations that give a sense of peace and enlightenment – like a park or a zen studio. Unless the instructor has a brand that is all about finding zen within an the harshness and waste of an urban environment, you won’t likely want to be shooting in an abandoned industrial park.

By the same token, if you’re photographing a lawyer, you will want to advise them to stay away from wardrobe choices like flowing tunic tops – again, unless they are a humanitarian vegan lawyer who is crusading in third world countries for human rights.

So for my client Rachel, I wanted to create a few looks that spoke to her professionalism and education, so we did a few looks with crisp blazers and simple jewelry. These would be images that she would use if she were speaking at a high-level conference or were to publish a book someday.


We also wanted something that spoke to her softer side, so we created some casual looks that gave you a peek into who she is as a person.


Lastly, because she works with a lot of clients via technology, I wanted to create images that gave a sense of physical context. So we looked for places that would make a visitor understand the environment in which she works: doorways, porches, and a welcoming back patio.


Once the shoot is over and you’ve sent the client their proofing gallery, there are still ways to provide value. I always offer to go through the client’s favorite images with them to see which would work best for their website or project. This is where a lot of my upgrades happen, as well as discussions for future shoots.

With these tips in mind, you clients will feel more confident and guided through their experience from start to finish and hopefully you’ll have return clients who spread the love about your amazing work!



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Alexis Lawson’s Glamour Photography Sessions


Today’s tutorial is from .

When doing glamour photography sessions, it is a good idea if your client is relaxed.  Part of the allure of glamour photography is that is looks natural and artistic at the same time.

Alexis says:

“I recently photographed Maggie, who is a 30 year old woman who has never had professional photos taken. In other words, she’s not used to being in front of a camera, and probably represents the majority of most photographer’s client base.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through an overview of how I approach my natural light glamour sessions, and focus on client direction and getting my clients to relax in front of a camera.”

Glamour Photography Lighting

In my studio, I have two large V-flat reflectors set up across from a window. I place a cushion in between the reflectors and place my subject on the cushion, which allows the reflectors to bounce natural light from the window back onto my subject’s face. You can see a couple examples of my setup below:




My best tip when it comes to this type of photography is to really pay attention to the overall shapes the client’s body, hands, head, and shoulders are making. You want to look for diamonds and triangles. You also want to make sure their hands look soft and natural.


Notice the triangle shape created with the subject’s face/shoulder, elbow, and hip.


Soft, natural hands.

Client Direction

When photographing a portrait like this, you have to get strong connection in the eyes. The best way to do this is to continually move them through poses, always talking, so they forget the camera is there because they are so focused on what you are saying that they don’t have time for nervousness.

I often drop my camera when walking my clients through poses to show them what I want visually.

This is especially important with connection, because then you can show them exactly the look you want them to give you with their eyes (making sure the connection with the eyes is strong, as mentioned above).

This triggers a mirroring instinct which allows your client to more easily replicate the facial expressions you are showing them.


Example of great eye connection with the subject.

Another tip is to not be afraid to be relaxed and even somewhat silly with your clients, as connection with the photographer behind the camera usually translates to connection with the camera.

Basically, anything you can do to get a client to relax and laugh in a session will help tremendously. It’s much easier to flow through your posing with a client who is relaxed and engaged and doesn’t give you “dead eyes.”

How It All Comes Together

Remember (as mentioned above), most of your clients haven’t been in front of the camera before, and are likely very nervous and self-conscious.

It is therefore important, above all, to keep your client happy and having fun during the shoot, while maintaining the air that you are knowledgeable so you can earn their trust.

The more they trust in you and your abilities, the more likely it is that they will relax and enjoy themselves and allow you to capture natural and effortless expressions and poses, leading to an overall better and higher quality final product.

Plus, a client that has had a good experience with their photographer will connect with the experience more when they see the final images, whereas a client that felt stressed out or awkward the whole photo shoot will revisit that emotion when they see the final result, which translates to less sales for you.

So be mindful of all of the items we’ve discussed – the technical aspects, like lighting and composition, but more specifically the experience you’re creating for the client.

The more they enjoy themselves, the more they’ll associate positive emotions with the session and be more likely to purchase more product.

Example of great eye connection with the subject.

For this session, Alexis used a Canon 7D with a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens to capture these images.

See more tips on Client Direction and Lighting.

P.S. Still having trouble with composition? The Incredibly Important Composition Skills guide from Photography Concentrate is definitely the place to start, and gives you super detailed and broken-down explanations behind photography composition. Check it out!



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Newborn Lighting Tutorial

Today’s tutorial is from .

Getting the perfect newborn photos is critical for your clients. These photographs are very prized, and if done well, your reputation for a newborn photographer will spread.

Keely says:

I’m going to discuss one lighting technique that you may or may not know about, which is called feathering – a lighting technique I used to create the image below.


Whereas it sounds like a silly term, it actually produces some really amazing results in terms of lighting, and works well for almost any subject.

I personally like to use it for newborns quite frequently (including bean bag shots, prop shots, parent shots, etc), but it even works well for studio maternity sessions.

Newborn Lighting Tips

Here’s a list of equipment that I use to achieve this affect, plus the equipment I use for the overall image:

To set it up, I put my softbox at a 180 degree angle I put my box at a 180 degree angle and place it about 6 inches from the side of my set up and about 6 inches in front of my set up.

Feathering chart

Seems a bit strange, doesn’t it? But with the size and quality of the softbox (shown below), the light trickles or “feathers” onto my subject – creating softer shadows and even light across their face.


Photo credit: Adamos Photography

This type of setup will also make the background slightly darker, and the farther away your subject is from the background, the darker the background will be.

When it comes to settings for both the lighting equipment and my camera, here are the settings that I use that work well with my style:

  • Camera shutter speed: 1/200
  • ISO: 160
  • Aperture: between 2.8 and 2.2
  • And for the lighting equipment itself I never set it higher than 1/16th power

Photo credit: T.Y. Photography

However, note that if you’re looking for a brighter style you will have to increase the power on the Alien Bee. For me, I’ve found that keeping the power at 1/16 makes the lighting much softer (than it would if I were to set the light at a higher power), which is what I’m looking for in my style.

Another fact I will point out is that you cannot go faster than 1/200 shutter speed on a Canon 5D Mark III with studio lights. My previous camera, a Canon 7D, could not go faster than 1/250. So be sure you’re aware of that when you are choosing your camera settings, as max shutter speed will differ for different brands and models.


Photo credit: T.Y. Photography

It took me a little while to get this lighting technique correct and perfect it, but once I did I had so much fun with it.

And since the lighting on my subject is so even and the background already illuminated properly (via placing the light and subject at the correct distance from one another), it has helped tremendously with my post-processing.

I also never have to mess too much with settings during a shoot, which is a big help when working with newborns.

Final image

To see more of Keely’s newborn work, check out her feature here!



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Newborn Safety Tips Tutorial, Part II


This article is the second half of a tutorial on infant safety during Newborn and Infant photography sessions. To read the first half of the article, click here

The second half of the article is based around infant posing and safety during posing, and is written by the same author as the first half of this tutorial, Anya Wait.

The safety of the littlest ones when taking photographs is very important. Not only is the environment very important, but even the equipment that the newborn rests on must be free of hazards.

Newborn Safety Tips for Infant Posing

I do not do any images that are composites.  I am sure some of these can be done safely; however, I personally don’t feel comfortable hanging babes in slings or doing the chin-on-wrists pose (as I will discuss below).

If a photographer is going to do these types of images, where baby has the potential to fall over or be unstable, they should always be done as a composite.

Below are a couple examples of poses that I do (or don’t do along with reasons why) and suggestions on how to complete the poses safely.

The Head-On-Hands Pose

I have heard that a lot of photographers do the head-on-hands pose as a composite image. However, because I am so conscientious about the safety of the newborn, I do this pose frequently and don’t actually do it as a composite.

Here’s how I do it.

For safety purposes, I use a very large bean bag (like one from Shoot Baby or Newborn Nest) and place baby closer to the center of the bean bag to insure that if the baby’s head does start to fall over, the baby is safe and will not fall off of the prop.

I also shoot this image very close (with my 35mm), which allows me to be within very close proximity of the infant at all times in case I need to use a steadying hand.

Oftentimes when doing this pose I’m just moving my hand slightly to capture the images and rapidly shooting to get as many as I can in the shortest amount of time.


When the baby is in this pose (and really, when you’re putting the baby in any pose where you’re posing the feet and/or hands), pay close attention to circulation.

If baby is in one position too long and I see the baby’s hands and/or feet starting to turn red or purple, that’s an indication to me that their circulation is starting to change. When this happens, I gently adjust the baby again to restore good circulation.

This is why I try to shoot as quickly as possible, so I don’t have to leave the baby in a certain position for very long.

Head-On-Wrist Pose (also known as Froggie Pose)


Photo Credit: Hope Brown Photography — used with permission.

This is a pose I do not do for a variety of reasons; however, I ultimately believe that if this pose is done with safety in mind, it will not harm baby in any way.

First and foremost, when it comes to approaching this pose, I believe it should always be done as a composite. This is because newborns have no control over balance and could easily topple over in the middle of the pose.

Secondly, prior to doing this pose with a newborn, it is crucial that you ask the parents if their newborn has been diagnosed with Congenital Hip Dysplasia (CHD), as the positioning of the legs could cause the infant’s hip to become dislocated.

CHD is found in 1 – 1.5% of the population and according to Dr. Melissa Murphy, DC,

An infant with unrecognized congenital hip dysplasia will risk full dislocation if placed in that posture.  Dislocation can lead to chronic pain and life-long problems with mobility, so make absolutely sure that doctors have ruled out CHD before placing an infant in that pose.

To do this image as a composite, hold the baby up by the wrists (shown below):


Photo Credit: Jennifer Snook Photography – used with permission

Then, once the baby is positioned safely with you bracing their wrists, take the image quickly.

Next, hold the baby up by their head (shown below):


Photo Credit: Jennifer Snook Photography – used with permission

Then, as before, once the baby is positioned safely with you bracing their nead, take the image quickly.

Once the session is over and you’ve moved on to post-production, merge the two images in Photoshop to get the final product:


Photo Credit: Jennifer Snook Photography – used with permission

shoot, hold the baby up by the head, shoot, and then merge the two images during post-processing in Photoshop later.

By creating a composite image, you will guarantee that the infant will always remain in a safe position for the duration of the pose.

In the end….

Infants and newborns are exceptionally fragile, and their safety during the session is in your hands.

It’s up to you to always make sure that you have their health in mind – from making sure you’re healthy and prepared to work with the newborn before the shoot even starts, to posing and working with the newborn during the session.

And finally, if you don’t feel comfortable or familiar with a particular prop, shooting location, or pose – DON’T DO IT! It is not worth the health and safety of the baby if (heaven forbid) something should go wrong due to your inexperience and/or lack of knowledge.



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Newborn Safety Tutorial, Part I


Today’s tutorial is from .

Anya is a Madison, Wisconsin and Brooklyn, New York Maternity, Birth, Newborn, Baby, and Family photographer. She’s had years of experience working with newborns, and has written a two-part series on Newborn Safety just for Belovely You.

Newborn safety is a concern for photographers that work within this niche. The fear of injuring a precious, little one stops many photographers from entering this niche. Take these tips into consideration.

Anya says:

As a professional newborn photographer for the past 7 years, a mother of 5, and a midwife, the safety of newborns at every newborn session I shoot is critical to me.

In this two-part tutorial series, I’ll walk you through some of the most important aspects of infant and newborn safety, and some of the best practices I use to make sure I am always keeping the health and safety of my little client in mind.


Before the Session Begins….

First, foremost, and arguably most importantly, I fundamentally believe that if you are around newborns, you should be updated on at least two critical vaccines – DTaP (for Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis) and MMR (for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella, which is also known as German Measles).

Both Pertussis and Measles are very dangerous to newborns, and whereas previously there had been little to no threat of either disease, recent outbreaks in numerous states have been reported. Newborns are especially prone to such sicknesses, as their immune systems are not quite developed yet, making it incredibly easy for them to get sick.


Secondly, keep your nails clean and well-trimmed with no chips in your nail polish (if you choose to wear it). This will help reduce the spread of germs, as a multitude of bacteria and dirt can live underneath your fingernails and spread to the newborn during handling.

I always carry unscented hand sanitizer to every newborn session and use it liberally.  Additionally, prior to beginning every newborn session, I always let parents know when I wash my hands as I believe that shows how important the health of their baby is to me.

If you are bringing blankets and/or wraps with you, make sure they are clean (launder them between each and every session), sanitized, and have been washed with unscented detergents or dyes. To find a good, unscented detergent, look for labels that state that the detergent is “Free and clear of perfumes and dyes.”


If you are traveling to the client’s home and know you’re in for a long day, it’s a good idea to pack and bring your own snacks, as I always do. However, if you choose to do so, make sure they are nut free, as a lot of people have nut allergies, which can be fatal.

When preparing your clients for their in-home session, tell them to prep the room by increasing the temperature to about 85 degrees (which is what I personally suggest for my clients). Babies lose heat rapidly, as they are still figuring out how to thermoregulate their body temperature, so the added warmth helps them stay comfortable during the shoot.  

During the Shoot…

As already mentioned, it’s a good idea to keep the room you’re working in relatively warm.

Besides heating up the room temperature, a lot of photographers also like to use warm air from a space heater blowing on the baby to keep the baby warm.

While I think this is ok, always be aware of how close the heater is to the baby, as well as placement of the heater. Make sure the heater is securely placed, not too close to the baby, and does not have the potential to tip over, causing a hazard.

If you use a heating pad to warm your newborn posing space, it should never come in direct contact with the newborn. Newborn skin is extremely delicate and can easily burn, and by placing the heating pad in direct contact with the newborn, you run the risk of injuring their delicate skin.

If I use a heating pad (which is rare) I place the heating pad on my beanbag until baby is ready to be set down, which warms up the beanbag. I then remove it prior to placing baby on my beanbag.


Whichever method you decide to use to help keep the baby warm, make sure that when you’re not posing them you gently place a blanket over them, which will help keep them warm as well as keep them feeling safe and secure.

Keep in mind though as you’re making sure that the environment is comfortably warm for the newborn that you’re not letting the little one get too warm, as it is possible for the infant to become overheated.

Make sure to keep a close eye on the infant for signs of overheating, such as consistent rapid breathing.

Prop and Newborn Safety

There are so many available props out there for newborns.  I personally prefer to stick to natural poses, which is just personal preference based on my style of newborn photography. Any props I do use tend to be very simple (and of course, safe).

The prop I use the most often would be my large wooden bowl that I use to gently curl the baby in so he/she feels safe like in the womb.


Other great props that you can use for simple, natural posing would be something like Shoot Baby bean bags or Newborn Nest Newborn Posing Bags.

Props or items/locations that are considered not safe for posing the baby include any of the following:

  • Props made of glass or any other type of breakable jar
  • Putting the baby on a bookshelf or high up
  • Putting the baby in unstable baskets (make sure they cannot tip! – always have a spotter)
  • Putting the baby in a mailbox, refrigerator, or any other type of appliance.


Be VERY careful posing babies with animals.  Always remember that they are animals and have animal instincts, and it is not the animal’s fault if he/she is upset by the baby.

My typical scenario when the family wants to incorporate a pet (dogs specifically) is to shoot lifestyle, like the image below.


 And finally…

Don’t forget about mom! Make sure mom has plenty of water, snacks, is sitting down most of the time, and is not getting overheated either. I routinely check in with how mom is doing during the shoot as well to make sure she’s having an enjoyable experience all around.

The second half of the Newborn Safety Tutorial will discuss infant posing do’s and don’t’s, so be sure to check back next week for the second half of the tutorial!



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How to Successfully Prep a Couple for an Engagement Session


Whether you incorporate engagement sessions into your wedding packages or offer them as an a la carte option, preparing your clients for the session by explaining the process is a great way to build trust for the session that leads naturally into established trust on the wedding day.

I find that giving the clients “homework” prior to the session alleviates those awkward moments between some couples when you can just tell the groom is totally clueless on what is going on and is only there to appease his fiancé and the bride-to-be is annoyed before the session even starts.

I always start the process of planning the shoot with my couple by sending them a link to some photos so they can begin talking to each other about what they like and what they envision their engagement photos to be.

After that, I send them the rest of the “homework” that contains questions that will help me gather important information I need about them and what they’re looking for prior to their session.

I also send them a list of FAQs to help them better prepare as well.


Here’s a rundown of what I send to my engagement couples prior to every shoot:

Engagement Session Homework and Suggestions for Great Looking Photos!

1. Discuss ideas on locations for the session. The photos I’ve shown you (referring to the link with photos I sent them previously) are popular places to take photos around the city, but any place that is special to you can make a great location for photos.

Talk about if you want an urban feel, an intimate feel, or even something that centers around something you love to do together.  If you’re stumped, let’s chat more and brainstorm some ideas.  Where would you like to do your session?

2. Talk to each other about any concerns that you have about the session and what you want your photos to reveal about your relationship! 

Being on the same page about the photos is a big part of the photos looking natural and not forced.  Are there any concerns I should know about?

3.Ultimately, what you plan to do with the photos? Are you looking for Save The Date cards, a piece of wall art, or a sign-in book for the wedding day?

Discuss who you might be purchasing the photos for as gift items as well.  What would you like to have as a keepsake from your session?  


Engagement Photos:  What to expect?

With a few exceptions, most people haven’t been photographed professionally many times in their lives.  Being engaged is a really special time in your life since it’s the transition from couple to married couple.

A great engagement session will show the connection that brought you together in your photos.

As your wedding photographer, this is a great time for us to get to know each other.  You’ll get used to having your own personal paparazzi following you around and I’ll see the connection you have with your fiancé through the lens before your wedding day.

If you’re a bit nervous about being photographed or have specific concerns, the engagement session is a good time to discuss these.

From a photographic standpoint, I can also assess if you are a blinker, seem nervous in certain situations, or favor a certain kind of pose, which is great for me to know before the whirlwind of your Big Day.

Couples that take the time to do an engagement session have a much easier time getting into the flow of the portraits on the wedding day.

Since time is at a premium on the wedding day this is very important!  With the engagement session we can take our time, and you’ll both feel at ease with the process of being photographed.

Beyond that, this a really good excuse to pamper yourselves and have a fabulous date night when the session is done.

Before the session consider getting your hair and makeup done (a great excuse for a trial hair or make-up run) and if your hubby-to-be wants some pampering, how about a great shave at a premium barber?

With the stress of wedding planning it’s a good idea to remember what being a couple was like before you got caught up in the whirlwind of the wedding day itself.

The goal of the engagement session is to create beautiful images that capture the essence of you as a couple!

As for what to wear, check out some of my boards on Pinterest for pairing clothing and inspiration.


Some final tips:

Footwear matters!  Your photos will show your full body as well as close-ups so make sure shoes are clean and not scuffed, and pay attention to coordinating socks if worn.

Pets are welcome!  It is helpful if you bring along a pet wrangler to take Fido off when we are done with his role in the photos.  Bring along water and favorite treats as well.

Your photos will be retouched for skin imperfections, so don’t worry if you have a break out. However, if you are very sunburned or have very visible tan lines, please reschedule your session.

Because my focus is on you as a couple in the photos, I do not provide props for engagement sessions.  The goal is to have beautiful, unique photos that will not become dated by trends or fads.

Please leave your purse at home or locked away securely in the car. Guys, please remove wallets or cell phones from your pockets as well as sunglasses.

I’m happy to carry keys, cell phones and anything needed for touch ups for you during the session.

Once I get the homework back we discuss their ideas on the session, their concerns and I give them final instructions on what will happen if the weather is bad and the session needs to be rescheduled.


The “homework” gets sent out to the clients two weeks prior to the session and they are required to return it to me no later than 7 days prior to the session.

I use a form that they fill out on my site, but you could use a simple Word document, an email, whatever works well for you.

Along with the due date for the form to be returned to me, I also include this gentle reminder:

I’m so excited for your engagement session!  In order to have a fun, stress-free session I’m going to be giving you a little homework.

It’s three simple questions that will greatly impact the outcome of your photographs.  Please read it over and discuss this with your fiancé and return this information no later than [insert return date here] and then I will contact you to confirm our date and time for the session.

Along with the homework I’ve also included some FAQ’s about the sessions and what to expect.

Everyone has different styles as far as how to pose clients, and my goal during the engagement session is to make my clients as comfortable as possible.

If I am going to pose them, I tell them before that this is going to be a formal pose and I will say “I’m going to position your shoulder” before I touch them, or ask them to mirror my movements to get them in the right position.

For the more causal poses, I still give them instructions, but just more loose.  I might ask them to stand in a certain light and look at each other and snuggle up a bit.

I’ll often discuss the fact that some of these poses and tips will be incorporated into their wedding day and assure them along the way how great they are doing.

Giving them lots of positive feedback on how great the session is going, how great they look and how easy it is to work with them helps them feel at ease that they have chosen the right photographer!


See more tips on Client Direction.



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How to Replicate Softbox Light by Scott Wyden Kivowitz

Today’s tutorial is from .

A softbox light is used by many professional photographers, and it can be very expensive. These tips allow you to create the look without killing your budget.

Scott says:

“If you’re like me then you enjoy soft light on the couples you are photographing. However, if you are also like me then you are not keen on carrying a softbox with you for an engagement session.

Softbox Light Tips

That is why I am here to share a tip for replicating softbox light, without that light modifier. In fact, this tip is extremely light, portable, and convenient. It does, though, need a second person to hold the new modifier.

Here’s a list of everything you’ll need:

  • Nikon D800 (or camera of your choice)
  • Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (or lens of your choice)
  • A backlight
  • A flash
  • A PocketWizard
  • 1 TriGrip reflector from Lastolite
  • 1 Justin Spring Clamp from Manfrotto

Let’s dig in, shall we?


The photograph you see here was taken in Dumbo (Brooklyn, New York) where there is a small but beautiful park in between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.

As you can see, the Manhattan Bridge is in the background, and the couple is exposed nicely.

The day I took this image I was traveling extremely light, with only one camera body, one lens, a backlight, a flash, a PocketWizard, and a couple pieces of equipment combined together to make a faux-softbox.

The faux-softbox is something I came up with (and will be explained in this tutorial) that allows me to achieve a softbox-like lighting setup simply and easily and away from the studio.

It’s composed of two different pieces of equipment, including a reflector and a spring clamp.

The reflector has to be large enough to cover the couple, but compact and light enough to travel with for the session.

For this job, I use a TriGrip reflector from Lastolite.

I choose this particular brand for two reasons. First, because you can choose from silver, gold and white reflectors.

Secondly, because it has a solid handle that your assistant can use to hold the reflector.

Typically, I’d start with the white reflector and depending on the couple’s skin tones, move to silver, if needed.

However, note that once you switch away from white to silver or gold, the effect is less like a softbox.


The second piece of equipment I use is the Justin Spring Clamp from Manfrotto.

For this situation, I clamp the tool to the grip of the reflector. And with the help of an assistant to hold your light modifier, the setup of your faux-softbox is complete and you have an easy-to-hold mashup of lighting and tools that replicate the look of a softbox.

Then once setup is taken care of, I mount a PocketWizard to the shoe mount and my LumoPro LP180 on top of that.

Be mindful when you get to the point where you’re adjusting your flash, as the flash will have to be set to a higher power than normal because it’s losing light as it fires, bounces off the reflector, and reaches the couple.

However, even with the light loss and power bump, the light is flattering, soft, and even.


Above you’ll see my assistant Gevon holding the faux-softbox for me while my wife assists with makeup.

My final piece of advice would be to make sure that the person holding the setup has a good grip for when the wind picks up.

Reflectors turn into sails when the wind hits it, and the last thing you want is for the setup to go flying somewhere into the abyss.

At the end of the day the couple was happy with their photos, they ordered many prints for themselves, for family and friends.

The last two photographs you viewed here were a taste of the fun we had with the lighting setup, backlights and mixing artificial and natural light with the beauty of the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn.

If you have any questions about the lighting setup please do not hesitate to ask.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting!


See more tips on Flash Photography and Lighting.



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