Changing Your Perspective Changes Everything


[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from Antje Egbert.

Antje says:

“For my studio’s first birthday I wanted to take some funny pics, so I decided to use the pompoms I created for my first test shoot exactly one year before.
I asked my daughter for help, and so we took these images.”

Antje’s Photography Tip:

Originally I had just planned to just take a few pictures in front of my blue-and-red-dotted backdrop, but you know what happens when you are motivated by one good picture – you want to take more!

But of course, by the time I decided I wanted to take more pictures we didn’t have too much time left, so I couldn’t create a new set or change what I had to be something more complex.

However, a little change of perspective creates a completely different picture!

First we took some pictures with my pompoms, which had a lot of motion. They look and feel like “birthday party is coming, yeah!!!!” and are really fun and playful.

After the pics with the pompoms I took very simple, arranged portraits of Lotta. I took them as a close-up portrait, which subdued the flashy dots on the backdrop (making sure to use the lens wide open so as to focus on the face and create a lovely bokeh).

Just one turn around we found our next and completely different set.

When I first took the pompom pictures I had the daylight from my windows behind me – along with my sofa. So for the next scene, I posed Lotta on the sofa and used the light from the windows, but as backlighting this time.

If I didn’t have the sofa in my studio, I could very well have also had Lotta sit on the floor or in a little chair – another super simple, easy, low-maintenance set that would have also added variety to this session.

Post-production was very minimal, and I edited the images in LR and PS to adjust contrast, brightness, red skin and clipping.

modest portrait
sofa szene
lying on sofa

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

Antje Egbert is a Germany/NRW Portrait photographer.

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

Digital pictures are wonderful, but a great way to preserve your memories of your little ones (and your clients!) is by putting together and designing an album for printing.

Don’t know how to design your own album or a little stuck on how to do it? (Or still using Photoshop to do it instead of InDesign? Which let’s face it, is making it ten times harder for you than it has to be?) Learn how to get started here.

Gear Selection and Unique Lens Affects


[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from Mark Serrano.

Mark says:

“These images are from a test shoot with a relatively new model, Amaia Mascó. I happened to have a scheduled shoot that was planned a month ago but the model decided to cancel, so I was left with a free day. Luckily, Amaia was available.

Since this wasn’t planned ahead, we had to develop a concept quickly and adapt. We also didn’t have a dedicated makeup artist or hair stylist booked, but fortunately my wife has studied makeup abroad and this was her chance to get her feet wet with makeup. For wardrobe, Amaia had an old dress she was able to use for the shoot.”

Mark’s Photography Tip:

My tip is really a series of multiple tips, everything from gear to posing. First, let’s start with gear.

For this shoot, I used a dual camera system with two full-frame Canon 6D cameras. The benefit of using two bodies is that you don’t need to switch lenses during shoots. And yes, you could shoot with one camera body and a zoom lens like a 24-105, but I find when I do that I tend to get lazy and stop moving to find better angles.

Having the dual camera setup with two different (non-zoom) lenses helps me stay on my toes and forces me to move around and be more creative.

I also chose the Canon 6D as my camera bodies because they are cheaper than 5D Mark III, but still capable of capturing great images.

For lenses, I used a Canon 50mm 1.4 and a Canon 85mm 1.8. The reason I used these lenses are they are prime lenses, decently sharp, and provide good shallow depth of field.  I also want to minimize distortion, so for full body shots I used the 50mm and for half-body or shoulder to headshots I used the 85mm.

When posing your subject, try to pose them without having them look at the camera. Then take a shot from where you are. Once you got your shot, move yourself. Pick a different spot and shoot again. Try taking shots from 5 different spots.  Then try switching your lenses to get different perspectives. You’ll be surprised that there are far better angles than what you initially thought!

And finally, to give these images that hazy, ethereal look, use a torn ziplock bag. All you need to do is put the ziplock in front of your lens, and areas where the ziplock is will tend to go hazy in the frame, giving your images a dream-like quality.


Mark used a Canon 6D with a Canon 50mm 1.4 lens and a Canon 85mm 1.8 lens to capture these images.

Mark Serrano is a Chicago, IL Fashion, Landscape, Street, and Fine Art photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Gear, Client Direction, and DIY.

Mark’s gear selection was key in pulling this shoot together. If you’re looking to upgrade or swap out some gear, check out Adorama – they’ve got a plethora of cameras, gear, lenses, accessories, equipment, you name it. Check them out here.

How To Approach Documentary Family Portraits


[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

Kirsten says:

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

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

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

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

Kirsten’s Photography Tip:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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








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

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

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

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

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



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

How to Become a Better Photographer

[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]

Being a better photographer can mean a lot of things to a lot of people – how to take better pictures, how to get more sales, etc. But regardless of what it means to you, learning how to become a better photographer has as much to do with the skills you have as the tools and resources at your disposal.

If you’ve been following along on this blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed that we like to recommend various products and services that we think would be helpful for any portrait photographer – products we feel help you learn how to become a better photographer.

So we figured, why not make a list?? So that’s just what we did.

All of these products are either portrait-photography specific, or applicable to any type of photography whether you shoot just portraits or portraits and weddings, etc.

How to Become a Better Photographer

photocrati_jpegPhotocrati Websites. Everything is so digital nowadays that if you don’t have a strong website, you’ll quickly fall behind. Photocrati websites were created with this exact idea in mind.

Not only were they created specifically for photographers and creative professionals to show off their work, but they were also created with super strong SEO options to help you get found on the web.

Each design is completely customizable, mobile-ready, and even comes with a shopping cart built in. If you’re at all unhappy with your current website theme or are just “making due,” it’s probably time you give Photocrati a look.

Matt-Katie-IPS-thumbnailIn-Person Sales. Ah yes, the dreaded in-person sales. If you’re not doing it already, I’m sure you have your reasons. You don’t have time, you don’t want to feel like a pushy sales person, you don’t know what to say, etc.

These can all be really daunting things that would make it hard to start. But trust me, the payoff for doing them is huge – most photographers double and triple the amount of money they make per client when they do in-person sales as opposed to just delivering an online gallery.

That’s why our favorite Australian Duo, Matt and Katie, put together a guide on how to do in-person sales without sounding pushy. It comes with a script for you to use to show you exactly what to say, along with other great information about the do’s and don’t’s of in-person sales.

lindsayadlerDream Shoot Rentals. Ever see those gorgeous, epic dress shots and wish that you had a super fun dress like that to use with clients, but don’t have the time or funds to make one yourself? Well, Lindsay Adler had that same exact thought. And thus, Dream Shoot Rentals was born.

Dream Shoot Rentals allows you to rent stunning, couture gowns and clothing pieces to take your next fashion, senior, glamour, and personal project shoot to the next level.

Each piece was created and designed by Lindsay and a seamstress/designer to ensure that they would both fit and be constructed well, as well as look stunning in your photos.

With such amazing quality and talent, you’d expect something like this to cost hundreds of dollars (even though you’re just renting it) – but the dresses were also designed with the photographer’s budget in mind. In fact, you can rent most of the dresses for less than $200 (and many for less than $150).

If you’re looking to try something different or just to get your muse going again, we highly suggest renting one of these dresses.

Outsourcing Hybrid Sessions. Film is definitely making a comeback lately, and why not? It’s classic, and has a certain feel and invokes a certain emotion that digital can’t always capture.

But there are also advantages to shooting digital as well – you don’t have to carry film around or worry about ruining it, there’s more versatility, more post-production freedom, etc. So – why not shoot both? This is an option a lot of photographers have chosen too, to shoot hybrid.

But how do you go about editing hybrid shoots? You can do it yourself and match your digital images to your film images, or you can outsource it. There are some great companies out there that actually specialize in editing hybrid sessions and weddings, such as the Raw Digital Film Lab and The Find Lab.

And not only do these places do film to digital matching, but they can also develop and scan your film images for you too. The Find Lab even uses the Mastin Lab film presets, which were created just for the purpose of hybrid shooting.

fb-ads-that-work-for-photographersFree Guide to Facebook Advertising. Facebook advertising has gotten pretty high end over the last year or so. If you’ve tried to do targeted advertising, there’s a lot of things you have to figure out to get it work right – and don’t even get me started on whatever-the-crap a conversion pixel is.

However, you may have also heard of a lot of photographers who use it with overwhelming success, which leaves you wondering: how did they do that!?

Yeah, us too. Lucky for us, one of our favorite photography marketing gurus has demystified it for us all, and created a step-by-step guide on how to put together a successful (and functioning) Facebook ad that will actually bring you results, instead of just letting you throw money at Facebook without getting anything in return.

And best of all – it’s free. (No really, it’s free.) It’s a 60-some page guide with detailed instructions (including pictures!) to help walk you through the process from start to finish.

We’ve even used it before for our own personal websites with great success. Ready to get started? Check it out here.

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 9.58.46 AMProfitable Portfolio Builder. Starting out, a lot of photographers struggle with how to build their portfolio – do they just do friends and family, try to get regular clients to model for them, etc. Or sometimes you’re already an established photographer, but want to start doing more of another type of photography and need to build that portfolio.

Whatever the reason being, one thing about portfolio building that sucks across the board is that a lot of times photographers end up doing it for free. They do a TFP, or give the images to friends/family for free, etc. So the question remains – how do to portfolio-build without working for free?

The answer: the Profitable Portfolio Builder. The method discussed here was developed by a portrait photographer as a way of making sure that any portfolio-building sessions that she did, she both got a model release from the client and had an opportunity to make some sales from each session.

Now she has a solid portfolio – but she still uses this method to help fill the calendar during slow periods. So this isn’t just for photographers looking to build their portfolio, but also for photographers who want to keep a steady influx of shoots year round (and who doesn’t?).

MotibodoBoard-for-Adobe-Lightroom-600px-3The Motibodo Keyboard. I cannot recommend this piece of equipment enough. I absolutely love it, and it was a total game-changer for me. The Motibodo keyboard works with Lightroom, and allows you to use a keyboard to edit your images instead of mouse and the Lightroom sliders.

So you can ‘type’ your edits instead of having to look back and forth between the develop panel and the image you’re editing. The entire keyboard is laid out like a normal keyboard (and when you’re not using it in Lightroom, it functions like a normal keyboard), but each key is assigned an editing task that when pressed, executes that task.

For example: the exposure slider is hooked up to the ‘J’ key (darker) and the ‘K’ key (brighter). When I hit the ‘J’ Or ‘K’ key once, it makes the image either brighter or darker, depending on which key I hit, by 0.1.

And most of the development panel sliders are associated with a key this way – the contrast slider, blacks slider, shadows slider, temp and tint sliders, and so on.
It’s easily shaved hours off of the time I spend editing, and I recommend it to anyone – portrait photographers and wedding photographers alike. Check it out here.

StickyAlbums-ThumbnailStickyAlbums. Clients love showing off their pictures from their sessions to their friends and family. And as a photographer, we love it when they do (free marketing, woohoo!).

There’s a ton of ways they can do this, by emailing links to their blog post on your site, putting their images on Facebook for all their friends to see, showing off their prints or album.

But what if you could make it even easier for your clients to show their images off?

With StickyAlbums, you can do just that. StickyAlbums is a mobile app that you can give to your client with their digital images in them. Then, any time they have their phone on them (which let’s face it is pretty much always) they can pull it out and start flipping through their images.

And not only is whoever they’re showing their pictures to going to see your awesome work, but more than likely your client will be telling them how awesome and fun it was to work with you, how great of a job you did, and how much they love their final images.

As mots of us know, this type of word-of-mouth advertising is absolutely priceless, and is one of the best ways to get referrals from clients – so let StickyAlbums help you do even more of it.

contractsPhotography Contracts. Having the appropriate contracts in place for all of your client interactions and sessions is so important. Not only does it outline the entire session with your client (from the date it’s happening to the types of products they’ll get and how much they’ll pay), but it also gives you a lot of protection in case something goes wrong.

But how do you know if the contract you have covers everything you need it to cover? Unless you’re a lawyer, it’s pretty hard. One of the best resources out there for legal contracts for photographers is The Law Tog.

The creator behind The Law Tog is a barred lawyer – and a photographer. So not only does she understand everything that needs to go into a contract, she knows everything that has to be in there specifically for photographers as well. She sells dozens of lawyer-written contracts (that she’s written herself) for almost any kind of photography you would want – portrait, wedding, pet, boudoir, newborn, birth, and on and on.

She also has a bunch of other really important things like print releases and model releases, which are of course, also lawyer-drafted. Need to beef up your contracts or worried yours may not hold up in court? Check hers out now.

Fundy Software’s Album Builder. Who here hates sitting down and designing albums? If you have a background in design it may not be a big deal, but a lot of photographers hate it.

You’ve got a certain amount of portrait-oriented images to work with and a certain amount of landscape-oriented images to work with, and you basically have to Tetris them together into one album that looks good, is cohesive, and tells the story.

Fundy Software’s Album Builder allows you to do all of that, but creates all the design and layout for you – just drag and drop the images you want and let Fundy do the rest. No more creating and saving templates, just let Fundy do it all for you.

This list is by no means all-inclusive, so we’d love to hear:

What are some of the resources that you’ve used that have helped you learn how to become a better photographer?

Leave your favorite tools and resources in the comments below!



Note: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, and help support us and what we do and keep the site free for everyone. However, some of the links are not affiliate links, because we feel that many of the products here are solid, amazing products that we love to use and love promoting and recommending too

A Recipe for Soft, Natural Newborn Images


[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

Kelly’s Photography Tip About Soft Newborn Images:

For this particular session, my clients wanted to keep it really simple and make each image purely about capturing their baby. To make sure I was able to accommodate their desires, I chose to use soft, neutral tones and textures so as not to distract.

My studio has an abundance of beautiful natural light. But, to keep with the soft, natural images, I used my sheer curtains to diffuse the light. I personally prefer this type of lighting because it gives the images that beautiful, soft look while also highlighting all of the baby’s features.

When positioning the baby, I like to light the area from a 45-degree angle. Then, I look for where the light falls across the baby – changing my exposure in camera to suit.

For camera settings, I generally shoot wide open at f2.8 which also contributes to that soft feel each image has.  In post, I used my ‘workflow action set’ to adjust the contrast, skin reds, and  give the images a nice warm tone for these newborn images.


Kelly used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 24-70 f/2.8L lens to capture these images.

Kelly Brown is a Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Maternity and Newborn photographer.

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

Online photo galleries are a great way to deliver your lovely images to your client, manage sales, etc. But a great way to maximize your sales per client is to do an in-person sales session with each of your portrait clients.

If you’ve never done them before, this can sound pretty intimidating – but believe me when I say you wouldn’t be the only one to feel that way. If you need a little help figuring out how to do an IPS (what to say, when to say it, etc.), there are guides out there to help you get started.


When to Use a Polarizing Filter


[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

Jes says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jes’s Photography Tip:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Click here to see more tips on Camera Settings.

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

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

Rock What Ya Got!

rockwhatyagot[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]

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


[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]

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.


2 Stops Below Camera Meter For Emotion


[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

Jason Mark says:

“The couple is one of my previous wedding couples. I wanted to have a catch up with them, as well as, work on something a little different. So, I thought they would be perfect. We still went for a pretty stylised look and feel; this style suit both them as a couple, also. I wanted something very close, emotive and to capture them embracing.”

Jason Mark’s Photography Tip Using a Camera Meter:

For this shoot, I was going for a very emotive feel. So, I knew I wanted to underexpose these shots. Some of the images were even shot up to 2 stops under the camera meter reading, which was key in allowing me to bring out the detail in the sky and get that moody feeling I wanted.

Because of this, I chose the Sony A7 as my camera body because it has an amazing dynamic range, which would allow me to effectively pull off the technique I was aiming for.

I also knew I wanted to get closer shots as well as wide, landscape images. For lens choice, I knew the 35mm Zeiss was ideal for this. Which truthfully was rather convenient because at the time this was taken, this was the only lens that I had. (Since then, I have moved on and I am back with Canon and Fuji.)


Jason Mark used a Sony A7 with a 35mm 2.8 Zeiss lens to capture these images.

Jason Mark Harris is a Worldwide Wedding and Portrait photographer.

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

These are some gorgeous images, something that the client would love to show off. One of the best ways to let your clients do that is to get them their own StickyAlbums mobile-friendly album. The app is loaded onto their mobile device, and you can even put the client’s image on it.

Then every time they click on it and open it up, not only are they easily able to bring up their pictures to show friends and family, but they’re also doing some free advertising for you when they say who their photographer was. Read more about StickyAlbums here.


What Would you Like to See on Belovely You?


We really do want to know what would you like to see from BeLovely You going forward. As most of you know, the site has recently changed ownership. And we love what BeLovely You is and does, and want to continue to make it an amazing resource for portrait photographers everywhere. 

What Would you Like to See From Us?

We are in the process of working on ways to help our readers get even more business.  Do you think we could use an online directory of photographers in each area? Would you like a method for advertising on the site? How can we best serve you?

In the interest of making this a win-win for everyone, we really do want to make this site a hub for photographers to come and share ideas.  That means, we want to hear from you.  To do this, we are willing to even change the format of the site to accommodate our readers.

If you haven’t submitted an article (and you have camera tips to share), why not? Not only do you get to have a credible web magazine showcasing your work, you will also get Pinterest recognition as people find your pictures fascinating.  Your tips are invaluable to the community, and those photographers that are involved with BeLovely You get free education on awesome tips for different style of photography.  This helps everyone expand their capabilities and helps to make photographers more well-rounded.

What Do you Want to Read More about on BeLovely You?

Would you like to read more tutorials? More product reviews? Maybe more stuff on lighting or editing, or something new altogether (like pet photography)?

Share your ideas below and tell us what you want to see and why! We can’t wait to hear your suggestions!

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How To Create Forest Look In City Park


[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

The challenge that a lot of urban photographers face is taking photographs that look like they were taken in a serene area.  With the hustle and bustle of the city scene, a forest look is hard to come by without traveling outside of the city…or is it?

Marcela says:

“I got these shots of local model, Marlow Rae, right in downtown Seattle in Denny Park. We know we wanted to work together, and we threw together a very impromptu shoot. Marlow and I met downtown one evening as we were racing the sun.”

Marcela’s Photography Tip For a Forest Look:

I’m a big fan of the outdoors, and I’m luckily living in the Northwest. I have tons of outdoors to explore. However, sometimes you don’t get enough time to make the most use of the sun for a long drive out to the wilderness. There’s still plenty you can do.

Go to a park! Seattle has a ton of options to choose from. And lakes, too! But wherever you are, scout out a nice park, as well as lighting during different times of day. You want to make sure everything works out in your favor.

Change your perspective. You’d be surprised how much a difference getting either high or low can make. If there’s a lot of people in your otherwise seamless faux forest background, get up high. Shooting from a higher perspective gives you the opportunity to cut out any buildings or distractions and focus entirely on your subject.

Make do with what you’ve got. If all else fails, use your surroundings to the best of your advantage. We can’t always pretend we’re in the middle of nowhere when we’re actually in a city, but we sure as hell can try.




Marcela used a Fujifilm XM-1 with a Canon FD 50mm 1.8 lens to capture these images.

Marcela Pulido is a Greater Pacific Northwest Region Portrait, Engagement & Wedding Photography photographer.

See more tips here about location.

Marcela makes a great point about making sure you’re always utilizing what you have. Sometimes though, that can be very tricky if your shooting environment is much different than what you anticipated.

Being able to work on the fly is a great skill to have, but having a solid understanding of composition is the only way you’ll be able to make it work. Brush up on your composition 101 to make sure you’re ready for anything!


Sunset Minus 2 Hours For Romantic Pictures

Portrait in Forest

[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from Sussie Mellstedt.

People are always looking for romantic pictures for inspiration.  This photographer has a great tips for creating portraits with that edge of romance. With some practice, you can make photos like these, too!

Sussie says:

“I was in a smaller city called Nettuno, 1 hour from Rome in Italy. I wanted to have variety of locations. So, I brought the beautiful couple to a forest, then later into the medieval city and ended the session by the ocean.”

Sussie’s Photography Tip for Romantic Pictures:

The gear that I use is Nikon d800 and the lens is Sigma FineArt 50mm. That’s it.

Less is more. I like to feel free as a photographer, to be able to be present as much as possible in the moment. So I prefer to work with natural light and that’s what I also did in this photo shoot.

I took the photos just a couple of hours before the sunset, in order to get softer and romantic light.

I usually use Pinterest or Belovelyyou to get some inspiration for the poses, but during the photo shoot I try to take it as it comes. Maybe I see something different or find a creative subject that I can play around with.

I also like to think in colours, so I always suggest the colours of the clothes that will suit the location. I’m a big fan of VSCO, it matches my photography style. It’s a filter that you can add either in LR or PS and it adds the film feeling over it.

I would say that the majority of my photos are romantic, dreamy and soft, so that is my goal during the editing process.

Hands in Forest
Legs in Forest
Portrait in the city
Kiss in the city
Jump of joy at beach
Portrait in forest, headshot.SussieMellstedt_7

Sussie used a Adorama Nikon D800 with a Sigma art 50mm lens to capture these romantic pictures.

Sussie Mellstedt is a Stockholm, New York, Rome Weddings, Portrait, Maternity, Fine Art photographer.

Click here for more tips about lighting, editing, and location.

Film images definitely invoke a certain feeling and emotion. But if you’re not comfortable shooting film, don’t worry!  There are tons of amazing film presets and actions out there to help you capture that film feel.

Creative Lighting Techniques Using a Projector

Lyndsey wearing a Forever 21 dress and Ray Ban sunglasses

[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

Photographers know that the use of creative lighting techniques can turn a normal photo session into an extraordinary one. Have you ever thought to use a projector as a photography tool?

Danielle says:

“For this session, I had a Valentine’s Day fashion theme. I shot with three awesome girls (one senior and two juniors) in fun, funky outfits from Forever 21, H&M, and American Eagle. I shot in studio with a Savage seamless background and just one single heart-shaped spotlight.”

Danielle’s Photography Tip:

The lighting technique I used for this session was extremely simple. I borrowed my boyfriend’s gobo projector – basically a spotlight. There are a bunch of stock images that you can buy or you can create a custom design. I just bought the stock heart design and put that in the projector to create the shape of the light. I used the white setting since the seamless paper was a pink tulip color, and also there were color filters that could also be added to make the heart more pink, red, purple, etc. It took two minutes to set up and I loved the look of the images.

Here’s one more tip: The projector is extremely bright, so standing off to the side a bit or shooting from below for some shots worked the best so that the models weren’t staring right into the light. I grabbed some sunglasses for my blue-eyed model, too, which helped! Shooting from the side also helps to not get your own shadow in the shot.

Lyndsey wearing a skirt and vest from Forever 21 and Ray Ban sunglasses
Anne wearing a Forever 21 skirt and top
Anne modeling a Forever 21 beanie
Dana in a Forever 21 skirt and her own top
Dana in a Forever 21 skirt and her own top

Danielle used a Canon Rebel T2i (affiliate link) with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Danielle Chudolij is a Boston, MA Senior Portraits, Wedding, and Family Portraits photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting.

Off-camera lighting is key to understanding some of the ideas in this tip from Danielle. But if you’re not 100% familiar with it yet, it can be a bit of a struggle.

Thankfully, there are a lot of resources out there to help you understand the in’s and out’s of off-camera lighting, and one of our favorite guides (affiliate link) even includes a list of portrait recipes with 24 different lighting setups to use for quick reference.


Spotlight Lighting Effect

Dad & Boys

[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

Michael says:

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

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

Michael’s Photography Tip:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to see more tips on Lighting.

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

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


Things to Remember when Location Scouting


[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

Susan says:

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

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

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

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

Susan’s Photography Tip:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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

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

Click here to see more tips on Location.

Directing Children in In-Home Sessions


[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

Roxanne says:

“Last year I took photos of this family of four when they welcomed a new baby. This year, that little boy turned one and we did a session at their home right before the holidays. The session was held in the middle of the day, and we had nice strong midday winter light.”

Roxanne’s Photography Tip:

My main goal during an in-home session is to let families unfold naturally, with their chemistry and groove leading the way. But there is no denying that directing them to the right light is crucial for visually rich photos.

In the beginning of this session, we let the children play in their playroom, roam outside, listen to stories, and jump on their bed – allowing for many playful, unstructured moments.

But before calling the session, I took one last roam around the house and found a pocket of strong light streaming in the dining room window.

I had passed this room on my first round of the house because it felt too formal to let two very small children feel at ease. But on second sighting, I trusted my hunch and we turned one of their big overstuffed chairs into the light for some portraits.

The pocket of light was quite strong, even with gauzy curtains giving us some shield. I wanted to honor the light and let it illuminate their faces, but needed to balance it against the deep shadows it was also creating.

By keeping my ISO between 800 and 1000, I was able to still shoot wide open at 1.4 and get a good range between the glowing pocket and detail in the shadows. Next, I switched to manual focus, which I love to do after taking a few shots on auto.

Doing this gives me greater control while forcing my eye to slow down and be more experimental and selective – resulting in moodier, softer shots – which I love.

For the final photos in this light, we took the chair and put it across the room to get the light facing the window. This light was predictably flatter and more even, and felt like a good way to finish up the series.

I don’t usually set families into poses, yet the images here from the last 10 minutes of session ended up being my favorite. By trying something new and taking a small risk with the stronger light, I was able to offer this family some classic portraits with a bit of a modern twist.

It was a good reminder to take creative risks, even with clients.


Roxanne used a Nikon D700 (affiliate link) with a Nikon 35mm 1.4 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Roxanne Bryant is a Rhose Island Family, Children, and Newborn photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Camera Settings, Client Direction, or In-Home Sessions.

If you’re new to in-home sessions (or want to get started), take a few lessons from a pro like Kirsten Lewis to help get the ball rolling.


Creating Composite Images

Foxy baby boy final composite

[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this awesome photography tutorial on Belovely You”]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 (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!

Tips on Seeing the Whole Picture


[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from Taylor McCutchan.

Taylor says:

“These photos are from an anniversary session of a couple whose wedding I shot last year. They love exploring and the mountains, so we decided to head to Castle Lake near Mt. Shasta.

I really wanted to focus on intimacy between the couple and compose them in a way that really showed the natural beauty of the area.”

Taylor’s Photography Tip:

The best words of advice I can offer are be aware of your surroundings and focus on not just what’s in front of you. I find a lot of the time when I shoot, I tend to get tunnel vision and just focus on the people standing right in front of me.

When that happens, I step back, take my time, and look at everything around me. From the foreground to the background, to the shadows and how all of these can be tied in together to create a unique photograph.

Don’t be afraid to get weird and try new things. Show movement, play with light, step back, get close, find reflections, make double exposures. Learn the craft and techniques and use those in as many different ways as you can think of. In the end, just have as much fun as possible.


Taylor used a Mamiya 7 medium format (6×7) film camera (affiliate link) and Nikon FM2 35mm film camera with Portra 400(affiliate link) and tri-x 400 (affiliate link) film.

For his Mamiya camera he used an 80mm f/4 lens and for the Nikon he used a 28mm f/2.8 AIS lens. The images were developed and scanned by Indie Film Lab.

Taylor McCutchan is a Redding, California, and National Wedding and Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Location.

Taylor did a killer job shooting in film. But if you’re not quite comfortable shooting in film or like the control that digital gives you, there’s some amazing film presets (affiliate link) out there that can help you capture that film look.

Ensuring Proper Lighting in Client’s Home

New York Newborn Photography by Karilyn Sanders Photography

[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

Karilyn says:

“This mother contacted me about photographing her son’s Jewish bris ceremony. Unfortunately, the ceremony fell on a Saturday which meant there could be no photography. So I went to their Upper East side apartment the day before and did a newborn session instead!”

Karilyn’s Photography Tip:

I’m an on-location photographer, so I asked the client to send me some photos of her apartment before the session to show me what sort of natural lighting they had. New York apartments can be tricky, since they are usually small and don’t always have good window light.

If the pictures the client sent me showed that they didn’t have good windows, I would have brought my speed light + umbrella setup. But in this case, the client had a large window in their bedroom. The window was at least 10 feet wide, so I posed the newborn on their bed, which was parallel to the window about 5 feet away.

It was an overcast day but there was still plenty of light, and I used my 50mm lens at f/2.8, shutter speed between 125-200 with ISO 320. I brightened up the photos in Photoshop, but they still had good lighting straight out of the camera.

I did 90% of the shoot on their bed, without any backdrop/backdrop stand. They had a white bedspread, which definitely helped as a large reflector to bounce more light on the baby. These things are important when you can’t bring a ton of gear with you!

New York family, photographed by Karilyn Sanders Photography
New York mother and her newborn son, photographed by Karilyn Sanders Photography
New York Newborn Photography by Karilyn Sanders Photography
New York Newborn Photography by Karilyn Sanders Photography
New York Newborn Photography by Karilyn Sanders Photography

Karilyn used a Canon 7D (affiliate link) with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens (affiliate link) and a Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Karilyn Sanders is a New York City metro Newborn + Baby photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting.

Not having a studio (or choosing to be an on-location photographer like Karilyn) can be a lot of fun, but also poses its own difficulties – like how to do in-person sales sessions (affiliate link).

Thankfully, the creators of YouProof (affiliate link) have already thought of that and created an in-person proofing app that can be used from anywhere – your studio, a coffee shop, and especially your client’s home. Check it out here. (affiliate link)


What to Consider When Creating a Promotional Video

Plano senior photography on location

[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this awesome photography tutorial on Belovely You”]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.

Lenses for Imperfect Backgrounds

Little Girl in Red

[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from Karen Lewis.

Karen says:

“These are Christmas Mini Session Portraits done for Christmas cards! They were taken in a greenhouse full of poinsettias.”

Karen’s Photography Tip:

These were Christmas Mini Sessions done at a greenhouse here in Anchorage, AK. The greenhouse had lots of unsightly green hoses and fans all around, so I used a long lens (70-200 mm) to make sure the focus was on the children and the sea of red poinsettias.

Some of the kids did want to play around so it is more obvious in their photos that it is a greenhouse, but I felt that the pictures still worked because the energy of the kids was captured!

Moose Hands
Little Girl in a Red Hood
Boy in a Wagon
Little Girl on Bench

Karen used a Canon 5D Mark II (affiliate link) with a Canon 70-200 f/2.8L lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Karen Lewis is an Anchorage, Alaska Child and Family Lifestyle Photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Working With Children.

Even if you’re only doing mini-sessions, a great way to maximize your sale is by doing in-person sales sessions (affiliate link). This gives you a chance to show the client the images you took, and is a lot more engaging than just having them look through images on an online gallery.

There’s some great software out there to help you with this, and can even show the client what the prints or canvases will look like on their wall (affiliate link).


Tips on Posing Newborns

Newborn baby on white fur, shot in the shadows

[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from Erica Courtine.

Erica says:

“This was one of my favorite newborn sessions from the fall. This little girl was a last minute session that I was able to squeeze in. She was just over two weeks old, but slept soundly through the entire session.

She was quite a dainty little baby with the most beautiful skin and strawberry blonde hair. I wanted to share this session because I love simplicity and portraits that focus on the newness and beauty of a newborn baby.”

Erica’s Photography Tip:

I have learned so much over the past year about posing. One tip that I would like to share about posing deals with placement of the newborn’s head.

When I first started posing newborn babies, I did what many new photographers do and I simply laid them on a blanket in a horizontal position. Because our eyes are almost always first drawn to the newborn’s face, I learned quickly that a head in a completely horizontal position is very difficult to look at.

Our eyes are not used to seeing and processing faces horizontally, so when posing a baby, try your best to get their head out of that horizontal plane. This can be done in a few ways.

1. When posing a baby on a bean bag, I always have a swaddling blanket rolled up and under their little head to gently angle it. When looking at your image, the eyes should be above the nose and mouth.

2. Tilt your camera slightly to make the head appear more vertical. For every pose on the bean bag, I take at least a few shots where I tilt the camera significantly.

3. Find other angles or poses where the head will naturally be vertical in the frame. Some of my favorite poses are shot from above where I can easily position the head in the frame in a more vertical orientation.

And as always, whenever posing and working with newborns, safety is always first – never do a pose that you’re uncomfortable with (or the newborn doesn’t seem to like).

Newborn girl on dark teal backdrop
Newborn girl on dark teal backdrop wrapped in purple
Newborn girl on brown backdrop
Newborn girl on brown backdrop, tucked in pose

Erica used a Nikon D600 (affiliate link) with a Nikon 50mm f1.4 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Erica Courtine is a Raleigh, NC Portrait photographer.

When working with newborns, it’s crucial to remember that safety always comes first. One of our contributors, Anya from Anya Wait Photographer, is a very experienced newborn portrait photographer and offers a large breadth of information on newborn photography safety.

You can read her articles here and here.


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!

Tips on Finding Your Photography Style

Organic and natural newborn in ostrich feathers

[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

Julie says:

“This session is of an 8-day-old newborn little girl.

I kept the posing natural and organic, and used all natural materials like weathered antique wood, ostrich feathers, up-cycled fabrics, and antique lace.

I don’t over-process my newborns either because I like their skin to be pink (just like they are in real life).”

Julie’s Photography Tip:

Find your own style, and your photos will improve. You’ll enjoy what you’re doing more, and passion shows in your images.

Instead of buying every newborn prop on the market or trying to compete with all the other photographers in your newsfeed, make a collection of things that speak to you and start there.

Inspiration can come from anywhere too. Like Pottery Barn’s spring bedding? Find an old photo of your grandfather in a pair of levi’s? Build a collection of images that inspire you to find what you love stylistically.

Organic and natural newborn in up cycled romper and bonnet
Newborn on antique weathered wood in simple basket
Organic and natural newborn vintage-inspired bonnet
Organic and natural newborn antique Mexican dough bowl
Natural newborn wood bowl, antique lace, handmade rag rug
Lots of skin newborn in womb pose lush white rosette fabric

Julie used a Nikon D7000 (affiliate link) with a Nikkkor 50 1.8 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Julie Bradley is a Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Newborns and Babies photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Do-It-Yourself.

A great way to organize your ideas, as most of you know, is using Pinterest. If you’re not following us yet, you can sign up here and see inspiring photos and ideas in your Pinterest feed every day.



Keeping Clients Confident on Cold, Cloudy Days

This is a prime example of why shooting in winter can be fantastic. Layers, faux fur, and so much texture.

[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

Victoria says:

“Michaela’s session was a senior and dance session combo. I had worked with her in the past with dance, but was more than excited to be taking her senior photos as well.

We shot the session on Michigan State University’s campus, at the Board Art Museum and a few other areas around campus. It was absolutely freezing out, but Michaela was more than willing to brave the cold (even with bare legs!).

The first half of her session was focused on dance, using part of her costume from The Nutcracker. She wanted an “alternative” look, so she paired it with a lace top, bare legs, and long hair rather than the traditional top, tights, and a bun.

The second half of her session focused on her awesome sense of style. Not only is she gorgeous, but she also has some pretty amazing clothes.”

Victoria’s Photography Tip:

This session was shot on a very cold, overcast, ugly day. We made sure to bring plenty of blankets to bundle her up between shots, and I made heavy use of a reflector to brighten up her face.

Sometimes, it’s hard for clients to trust us when we tell them that shooting when it’s twenty-five degrees out, overcast, and in the dead of winter (with no snow in sight), can actually be a great thing.

By continually raving about the photos throughout the session, I know I helped Michaela and her mom both feel more comfortable with the shoot.

During outfit changes, I’d look through what we’d already shot and talk about how amazing they were turning out, how excited I was to process them and show them.

I’d also thank them for trusting my instinct and experience, and continued to reassure them that overcast days are better than full on sunshine because the light looks better, there are less squinting eyes, etc.

I know that both Michaela and her mom left the session feeling confident with the images that we got, as well as the experience as a whole.

This has to be my favorite dance photo from the set. This perfectly captures Micheala's essence.
Dancing on pointe always turns out beautifully in photographs. Attention to the little details, like the arch of her foot, makes all the difference.
Allowing her to have freedom with posing during the dance portion of our session provided with some very elegant images.
This image showcases the "alternative" feel that Michaela was hoping for.
The tall grassy areas around the museum provided for some great contrast compared to the metal building.
Allowing Michaela to relax throughout or session helped keep poses flowing freely and  natural looking.
Michaela's eyes were just to die for. I had to showcase them in at least one image.

Victoria used a Canon 6D (affiliate link) with a Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Victoria Simmons is a Columbus, GA and Phenix City, AL Seniors and Couples photographer.

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

Working with seniors is really fun and rewarding, but also challenging – who are you marketing to? Their parents? The seniors themselves?

Thankfully, the masterminds at Seniors Ignite (affiliate link) recognize this challenge, and have put together a ton of free information on their website all about addressing this issue. Check out the Seniors Ignite Website (affiliate link).

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!
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.

Turning fun shoots into paid shoots

It Had to Be You

[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from Tracy Waitkus.

Tracy says:

“On a beautiful day last November, I brought a few different teens to the Village of Arroyo Grande (California) for a vintage-inspired photo shoot.

This was a personal project that I had planned over several weeks and reflected my love for portrait photography and vintage clothing.

I sent out a model call (affiliate link) on my Facebook page and via email, and got great response from a number of girls who wanted to participate in the shoot.

Before the shoot, I communicated with the girls via email, sharing my vision with them and giving them guidelines for hair, makeup, and wardrobe.

They did a great job prepping themselves, and arrived ready to go!

We shot for about 90 minutes in the late afternoon, using several different locations including a public garden, the steps of a historical museum, and a bridge.

We had a great time together and both the girls and parents were really excited with the final images.”

Tracy’s Photography Tip:

Here’s something important that I’ve learned as I’ve been building my part-time photography business: make the time to do you own personal projects and shoots in addition to your work for paying clients.

I try to do at least two such shoots throughout the year, recruiting models from my client base and personal contacts. These personal projects end up being my favorite, most enjoyable shoots and yield some of my strongest images.

The benefits to doing personal projects are many:

  • You can plan a shoot that aligns completely with your artistic vision and style, including location, wardrobe, or even a theme.
  • It’s great practice for your paying gigs. You can try new locations, poses, gear, processing, etc. without risk of failing for a paying client.
  • If you do it right (affiliate link), you should be able to even end up with some sales from the shoot. I did!
  • You might end up with some fabulous images to add to your portfolio, images that speak to the type of work you’d most like to be hired for.
  • You’ll have a blast and be reminded of what you love about photography!

Let's Fall in Love
We'll Meet Again
Sentimental Journey

Tracy used a Nikon D610 (affiliate link) with a Nikon 85mm 1.8 (affiliate link) lens to capture these images.

Tracy Waitkus is a San Luis Obispo County, California Portrait and Performing Arts photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Wardrobe.

Doing portfolio shoots (or even shoots just for fun!) can be rewarding just for the images you take during the event.

But if you work the event right, you can even sell prints from it like Tracy did.


Getting Your Images to Stand Out


[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

Jordan says:

“This session was for a couple who flew out from Texas to visit Seattle and have these photos taken.

When we were talking about location ideas, I asked them where they were willing to go. Their reply was, we will go anywhere, hike anything, we just want to go somewhere epic.

As a photographer, that is my favorite thing to hear from clients.

This session ended up being the longest session I have ever had, because we spent 20 hours together (leaving at 7am and arriving back home at 3am).

All in all, it was one of the best sessions I’ve ever had. It’s always great when clients become good friends afterwards.”

Jordan’s Photography Tip:

I love the outdoors and I love the amazing scenery the pacific northwest has to offer so I began trying to incorporate that into my photos.

It’s a no brainer that an epic location is going to make a photo more appealing to people, so my advice to other photographers would be to get out, explore, and make use of the beautiful nature that is around them.

Yes, it’s much easier in the Pacific Northwest as there is a lot of epic scenery but every state has unique scenery to that area.

I also put a lot of work into my sessions. I do not do 1-2 hour sessions. Instead, I spend around 8-12 hours with a couple (on average) depending on how far we’re driving/hiking.

Having more time during a session can help in many different ways.

First, it generally allows me to plan the shoot around the best times of the day to shoot.

Second, since I’ve been able to spend more time with the couple, when we do begin shooting, they are already comfortable enough with me and we can dive right into it.

With 1-2 hour sessions it can be tough getting couples to open up right away (especially when you’re limited on time). This tremendously helps with posing as well as it’s much easier to pose couples who are comfortable than ones that are nervous.

I tend to have my couples walk around quite a bit as well to loosen them up and capture some genuine moments between them as they walk together.

All in all, I think if photographers want their work to stand out more, they need to go to the places that no one has been to yet. The places less-traveled.

These are the unique photos people like to see because it’s not something they’re used to.


Jordan used a Canon 5D Mark III (affiliate link) and Canon 5D Mark II (affiliate link) with a Canon 35L lens, a Canon 45mm lens, a Canon 50L lens, and a Canon 135L lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Jordan Voth is a Seattle/Tacoma Washington Engagement Portraits and Wedding photographer.

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

Having your images stand out is great, but nowadays if you can’t get people to find your website online you’re pretty much out of luck.

If you’re not on the ball with website SEO, you’ll definitely be missing the boat here. Make sure you have your site SEO optimized (affiliate link) to make sure you’re getting found.


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!




Bringing Seniors Out Of Their Shell


[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

Mitch says:

“These images are part of Luke’s senior portrait session that were taken in Anchorage, Alaska.

The first day we went out to photograph it was an absolute downpour of torrential rains, so we were mostly limited to photographing in areas with overhead cover.

For day two of Luke’s session we lucked out with better weather (which is always a blessing in Alaska!) and were able to walk around downtown to photograph in various locations.

We have a general rule at our studio too when it comes to finding great places to shoot – the more awful the place smells, and the more sketchy it looks, its likely the best place for pictures!”

Mitch’s Photography Tip:

One of my favorite parts about working with high school seniors is bringing them out of their shell and showing their character!

A lot of the times Senior Year is a year of self discovery, and oftentimes their senior photos are the first time they are expressing their newly found selves.

Conversation can be a bit awkward at first, but as the session evolves, its important to maintain high energy the entire time.

Most importantly, make sure they feel comfortable in their poses.


Mitch used a Canon 5D Mark III (affiliate link) with a Canon 70-200mm 2.8 (affiliate link) lens, a Canon 24-70mm 2.8 (affiliate link) lens, and a Canon 50mm 1.8 (affiliate link) lens lens to capture these images.

Mitch Kitter is an Anchorage, Alaska and Destination Senior Portraits photographer.

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

Working with seniors is a lot of fun, but marketing to them is a bit different than other portrait markets.

The leaders behind Seniors Ignite know this, and there are tons of free resources all about Senior Portrait marketing on their website. Check it out here!