Tips for Urban Family Portraits

Tips for Urban Family Portraits // Belovely You

Today’s feature is from Edyta Grazman.

Edyta says:

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

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

Edyta’s Photography Tip:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Changing Your Perspective Changes Everything


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.

A Recipe for Soft, Natural Newborn Images

A Recipe for Soft, Natural Newborn Images


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.


Natural Love with a Circular Polarizer Filter

When to Use a Polarizing Filter


Today’s feature is from .

Jes says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jes’s Photography Tip:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Click here to see more tips on Camera Settings.

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

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

2 Stops Below Camera Meter For Emotion


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.


Directing Children in In-Home Sessions


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.


Water Droplet Portraits


Today’s feature is from Nadia Stone.

Nadia says:

“We just moved into a new house with a big forest garden and  automatic sprinklers, so we decided to take advantage of our new surroundings and have some fun!”

Nadia’s Photography Tip:

My garden is exposed to the South, so I had my kids stand with their back to the light and had the sprinklers come in from camera left.

At first I had the sprinkler setting too high, and the water obscured their faces. But all I had to do was turn down the intensity of the sprinkler spray a little bit and the water droplet size was perfect.

We used two umbrellas to catch the water from the sprinklers, and I use a long shutter speed to stop the movement of the water.

For the editing, I just use a lot of clarity to really outline the droplets of water.


Hiding spot



Nadia used a Nikon D4 with a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G lens to capture these images.

Nadia Stone is a Southwestern France (Labenne, Hossegor) Children, Family, Couples, and Wedding photographer.

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

Nadia’s black and white images are really lovely, but to really get a solid black and white image, remember that you have to edit them differently than you do your color images.



*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.

A Glimpse into Kristina’s 365 Project


Today’s feature is from Kristina Dominianni.

Kristina says:

“I’m not a professional photographer – just a mom with a camera that loves capturing moments with my 3 year old. While I’ve been into photography for years, I’ve been a pretty lousy photographer for most of them.

By just picking up my camera and actually learning how to use it, day by day I’m getting better and making images my daughter will one day be proud of. While I still make mistakes and have my fair share of failures, my 365 project is my way of working though those failures and growing.”

Kristina’s Photography Tip:

I’m a hobbyist photographer and committed to a 365 project earlier this year. While there are times I hate it – I can truly say it is the single best thing to help me grow as a photographer. There is no better way to improve your photography skills than by picking up your camera and just shooting everyday.

Because I have a full time job, a spouse and dinner to make, I try give myself 20 minutes of shoot time a day. It’s not a lot of time, but I generally shoot with a plan in place and a vision of what kind of image (and how I want to edit it) in my head. I preplan what I can but still try to capture organic, storytelling moments – but just in an expedited way.

Shooting daily with a 365 has the obvious benefit of documenting our daily lives and telling our story – but beyond that, it is a great way for me to really visualize my progress and inspires me to keep going.

In only 145 days, my 365 has made me finally able to see the light and know how to use it. I know where the light is best in my yard/home/neighborhood at any given time and I can plan my shoot accordingly based on our schedule and based on the mood of the photo I want to create.

Shooting in manual is a breeze since I literally pick up my camera every day. I’ve learned to intuitively know what my settings should be before I check the meter, and taught myself how to use Kelvin. I streamlined and refined my editing workflow and keep it clean (but I’m still a sucker for matte processing… I can’t help it!).

The most important thing however, is that I can finally see my voice – my “visual style” forming all on its own. It’s really amazing to see!

Just to give you an idea of how far I’ve come, I’m sharing day my day 1 image (it’s not even in focus!) and some of my last few days. Proof positive shooting daily works!

1/365 - Day One



Kristina used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 70-200 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Kristina Dominianni is a Middle Island, New York photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Camera Settings.

Kristina is right, in that shooting regularly is really the only way you’ll get to using your camera intuitively. But keep in mind there are guides out there to help jump-start you on the path.



*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.


Nighttime Couples Portraits by Heather Kanillopoolos

Hillsdale Michigan nighttime portraits streetlight

Today’s feature is from .

Heather says:

“This session was a blast! The couple were so comfortable and cuddly with some simple guidance.

We shot in a small town with a LOT of character, so I decided to use Off-Camera Flash in order to make the most of the gorgeous location and couple – not to mention the gorgeous sunset.

Most of these shots follow a VERY simple setup: one speedlight on a stand, shot through an umbrella at the couple. Another bare flash 6ft behind the couple, angled toward their elbows with very low power, to create a “rim” light.

The silhouette image in this set shows what the ambient looked like without flash (the black and white silhouette was shot with one flash: backlight only).”

Heather’s Photography Tip:

OFC (off-camera flash) is a very important tool to set you apart and give you the freedom to follow your creativity.

In order to start learning off-camera flash, you simply need (1) a flash and (2) something to tell it to fire – such as a trigger/receiver set.

(I personally like the Yongnuo 568EX II flash and the Yongnuo 622c trigger/receivers.)

Once you have your flash and receiver, I recommend the following procedure for putting your gear into practice:

  1. Set a doll or other object on the kitchen table
  2. Meter for the brightest part of the ambient- for example, the window, if there is one.
  3. Take a shot with the flash off. Your window will look great and your subject- the doll- will be way too dark.
  4. Take a guess at a flash power setting. Take the shot with flash.
  5. Check the histogram / back of the camera. Adjust the flash power to taste.
  6. Fire again.
  7. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.Repeat.Repeat.

These steps boil down to this basic mantra: “Expose for ambient in camera. Light the subject with the flash.”

While you shoot, keep in mind that the shutter speed effects the ambient but does not effect the flash, whereas the ISO and aperture will effect both the ambient and the flash.

So, for example, if the background is overexposed, drop your exposure in camera. This will mean raising the flash power to match the new settings so that the subject remains well lit.

Or, if your background is underexposed, let in more light by adjusting the shutter speed. This won’t effect the look of the flash at all.

Personally, I always suggest that you get yourself in the habit of using flash Manually (that is, choosing the settings yourself) rather than in ttl/ettl.

After a bit of practice, you’ll know intuitively the ballpark you want the settings in, and you’ll only need to tweak a bit.

Also remember that with most cameras, you must keep your shutter speed below 250 in order to use flash.


Because any faster, and the shutter is opening and closing far too fast to actually “see” the flash at all. And when that happens, you’ll often get a “bar” of black across your shot because the flash only has enough time to light a part of the room by the time the shutter closes.

So, set your camera to 200th of a second, leave it there, and try to use ISO and depth of field alone to manipulate the ambient light, at least while you’re learning.

With a basic knowledge of OCF, you can make a big jump to the next level of photography skill – and your potential clients will notice.

Hillsdale Michigan nighttime portraits sunset clouds
Hillsdale Michigan nighttime portraits backlit
Hillsdale Michigan nighttime portraits silhouette
Heather used a Canon 5dmrkiii with a Canon 24-70 2.8 lens, a Canon 85 1.8 lens, and a Canon 135 2.0 lens to capture these images.

Heather Kanillopoolos is a Lansing, Michigan Wedding photographer.

See more tips on Camera Settings, Flash Photography, and Lighting.


Need more help with using flash and speedlight? Check out this great tutorial on flash photography from Simple SLR!



*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.

Classic Senior Portraits by Marie Janssen


Today’s feature is from .

Marie says:

“This session took place in January, as I wanted to showcase how beautiful winter portraits can be. Often people think winter is the time NOT to have photographs taken, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The light is soft and the muted colors allow for my subjects to pop. Winter is also perfect as one has no humidity to contend with, nor snakes or mosquitoes – which can be an issue during the hot North Carolina summers.”

Marie’s Photography Tip:

To achieve perfect exposure and color, I highly recommend the use of an ExpoDisc.

Using the ExpoDisc ensures gorgeous images in camera, which makes editing a breeze and much less time consuming. Getting it right to begin with is the key to better time management and better results in post production.


Marie used a Nikon D700 with a Nikkor f/2.8 24-70mm lens to capture these images.

Marie Janssen is a North Carolina Senior Portraits and Weddings photographer.

See more tips on Camera Settings.



*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.

Dramatic Glamour Portraits by Chris Loring

A beautiful glamour session with stormy skies by Chris Loring Photography in Denver, CO

Today’s feature is from .

Chris says:

“I did this modern beauty session with a colleague as an opportunity to concentrate on my art and have a little fun while also using the experience to help another photographer who would become one of my second shooters for weddings.

Our model showed up just as storm clouds started to roll in, which made me nervous that we were going to lose an incredible opportunity to work with her in the bright sun.

Instead of the beautiful back lighting I’m used to working with, these incredible blue and gray storm clouds rolled in and provided me with incredibly dynamic light and rich colors, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It was thrilling!

Even more thrilling was that for 15 minutes, we were stranded under a picnic area while the rain let loose. . .but once it stopped we were left with a rainbow and some rolling clouds.”

Chris’s Photography Tip:

Super-sharp, focused images are an art, especially when working with portraiture and a shallow depth of field. However, this will also give you the opportunity to distinctly separate your subjects from the background. For this, I love using prime lenses as I find they give me the ability to turn my backdrops into creamy bliss!

But I also have a little secret: you do not have to take your f/1.4 lens and shoot it at f/1.4 to blur the background! I do ‘wide open’ on occasion, but not for every image. There is a very beautiful look that comes from proper use of a lens wide open and I love to play with that concept, but I also love when my subject has clarity and detail.

By stopping down to f/2.8 (I found that to be the sweet spot on my 85mm f/1.8G) I am able to create a deep enough focal plane to have my whole subject in focus and still blur the background.

Another trick is to use a fast shutter speed! Nothing obliterates focus on an image like a little camera shake, right? I keep my shutter speed at 1/250 or faster unless I’m using speedlights, even if it means bumping my ISO.

Lastly, the one thing that absolutely changed my life when it comes to focus was when I learned how to toggle and choose my focus point! The focus-recompose technique is really popular, but with our high-resolution camera bodies and f/1.4 glass it’s not the most reliable way to compose a frame. The slight movement during the ‘recompose’ part is very likely to knock your subject out of the thin focal plane you’ve created by shooting at wide apertures.

I generally have my camera set on a single focus point that I choose by using a toggle on the back of my camera, and I center that point right on their eyes. I then follow that with a press of my back-button-focus to activate it.

This works well at weddings, and even with moving children! Just make sure to see the scene in your mind, fix your focus point, and wait for the scene to happen in the frame you’ve composed.

Good quality glass, a clean sensor, good exposure, and a proper post processing sharpening workflow also contribute to pin sharp focus.

If you follow these tips, you’ll get a sharp, beautiful focus and creamy, blurred backgrounds.

A beautiful glamour session with stormy skies by Chris Loring Photography in Denver, CO
A beautiful glamour session with stormy skies by Chris Loring Photography in Denver, CO

Chris used a Nikon d700 with a Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G lens to capture these images.

Chris Loring is a Denver,Colorado Wedding, Couples, and Newborns photographer.

See more tips on Camera Settings.



*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.