Get In Front of the Camera – Not Just Behind It


Today’s feature is from .

Alan says:

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

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

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

Alan’s Photography Tip:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Click here to see more tips on Client Direction.

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

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

Gear Selection and Unique Lens Affects


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.

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.


Why Gently Directing Your Clients is Important


Today’s feature is from .

Nikki says:

“David and Erin’s amazing engagement session took place near Lincoln, and I had the honor of visiting the ranch where Erin’s beloved horse live – a place that is both profoundly beautiful and deeply important to both Erin and David.

It never ceases to amaze me, this job of mine – it’s like a key that lets me “in,” like a confidant or a close friend, to some of the most important places and times in peoples’ lives.”

Nikki’s Photography Tip:

I always schedule my portrait shoots to begin a few hours before sunset, to take advantage of the prime light of the day. I love my golden hour…who doesn’t! This couple was easy to work with (and it shows) but even when a couple is really relaxed, I always guide them somewhat in their posing and interactions.

Taking charge (in a positive, easygoing way of course) is really important to the way I interact with my clients at a shoot. I direct them through most of the poses, giving them suggestions and often making changes to their pose/movements once they’ve gotten into it.

Even though it seems counterintuitive, gentle but thoughtful posing is really key to helping my clients relax and be themselves – they feel taken care of, and that they can focus on each other and not have to worry about if something looks “off.”

I love making sure my clients look their absolute best (and I always give them plenty of tips ahead of time to maximize the session). I see this as my job, not my clients’ job – after all, why would I expect my clients to know how to look good in a photo (unless perhaps they are professional models)?

I also love to have couples play little games for me, to get to their natural smiles and flirting expressions. I’ve found some inspiration in the Beloved type of shoot, although I don’t use those techniques at every session. I have quite a list of ideas and games to get them moving, which helps keep the mood happy and affectionate.



Nikki used a Canon 5D Mark II, with a 35L, 50L, 85 and 135L prime lens to capture these images.

Nikki Moore is a Lincoln, Nebraska Wedding and Portrait photographer.

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

When you’re out in the countryside like this shoot here, it’s quite obvious you can’t quickly retrieve something you may have left behind.

Make sure you have everything with you when you leave for this type of shoot, and a professional, easy way of carrying it all.


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


5 Tips for Bringing Out Romance in an Engagement Session

embracing couple photographed through flowers

Today’s feature is from Miranda Zynda-Kneeland.

Miranda says:

Angie and Dave had a beautiful evening for their engagement session! We had a lovely time making our way through the gardens, witnessing a woodpecker work its magic on a tree, and discovering a couple of really unique trees along the way.

The two of them have been a couple for over a decade, and we’re excited to have the honor of being their engagement and wedding photographers.”

Miranda’s Photography Tip:

After nearly eight years of photographing people in love, our couples have come to seek us out for our ability to create compelling and romantic images. We’ve learned to take something that can be potentially awkward (public displays of affection in front of a photographer) and make it into a fun and natural experience.

Most people aren’t familiar with what it’s like to have their portrait taken, are camera-shy or are self-conscious about something, and it’s our job as photographers to help them feel great about themselves. Photography can also be such a helpful tool in reigniting that spark for couples and showing them just how great they are together.

It can be a really rewarding and inspirational experience for clients to see that their relationship looks as great as it feels.

Here are our top 5 tips in bringing out the romance in your couples’ portraits:

1. Get to know them. Romance means something different to each couple, so we really like to get to know our clients as best we can. We give each couple a questionnaire to fill out together (after doing such, our clients often report back how much fun it was to complete), and their answers really influence our approach in capturing the two of them.

We learn what drives them, and we can reference it throughout the session to bring out their authentic emotion.

2. Choose a location that’s relevant to them. By learning our couple’s story, what they like to do together, and their style, we are happy to help our couples decide on a location for their shoot that tells something about them. Normally people think about where they should have their photos taken instead of where they could have them done.

We often incorporate a couple’s favorite bar, bench, restaurant, hiking trail, etc. When they’re in a location that sparks positive memories for them, they’re naturally more joyous and affectionate with each other.

3. Compliment them. Because we love getting to know our couples, we also really enjoy discovering what makes them special. By letting them know what a great couple they are during our session, their confidence is boosted and they become even more appreciative of each other. Pretty soon, we don’t even have to ask them to kiss or snuggle!

4. Give them some space. Shooting with a longer focal length, especially in the beginning of the session, will make them more comfortable with being romantic in front of the camera. It also gives them the opportunity to whisper to each other without us hearing them. That means great candid photos!

Starting out further away for some full-body shots and then moving in for the close-ups will help them adapt to being in front of the camera, too.

5. Pay attention to their body language. It’s great to come prepared for a shoot with some posing ideas that you have for your clients, but we also pay attention to how they naturally interact with each other during our session. We use those subtleties throughout the shoot to make our poses more customized and the couple, in turn, more comfortable.

This also ties into tip #4 because when you give a couple some space while you’re setting up a shot, you can observe how they naturally snuggle, joke around, tease, hold hands, etc.

There you have it! Remember to have fun doing what you love, and that will be sure to rub off on your images, too!

walking hand-in-hand alongside giant leaves
bird's eye view
whispering sweet nothings by the white fence
kiss-on-the-cheek close-up

Miranda used a Nikon D700 with a Nikon 35mm lens and a Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lens to capture these images.

Miranda Zynda-Kneeland is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin Wedding & Portrait photographer.

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

These images are lovely, and one thing clients love to do is show off their lovely images. Make it easy for them, and get your clients to do the marketing for you.



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

How to Have a Laid-back Family Session


Today’s feature is from .

Deanna says:

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

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

Deanna’s Photography Tip:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Deanna McCasland is a Hardy County, WV Portrait photographer.

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

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

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



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

Five Great Tips for Better Portraits Outside

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

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

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

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


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

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

Best Tips for Better Portraits Taken Outside

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

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

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

1) Find Open Shade:

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

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

Example of image taken in indirect sunlight.

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

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

Image taken on cloudy day out of direct sunlight.

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

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

2) Find the focal point.

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

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

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

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

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

Using the eyes as a focal point.

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

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

3) Consider the Background

Okay, this is a pet peeve of mine.

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

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

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

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

Example of image with blurred background.

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

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

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

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

4) Get your subject to make eye contact.

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

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

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

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

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

Example of subject making eye contact with the camera.

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

5) Focus, Focus, Focus

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

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

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

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

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



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

Capturing Dancers In Motion

Senior Dancer

Today’s feature is from .

Darrel says:

“For this session I wanted to capture a dancer’s grace and motion. I have seen other tutorials on how to achieve the dust and dancer effect, but did not want to deal with indoor cleanup. Shooting into a large building provided a dark backdrop without the need for a physical backdrop or enclosed space.

We had a lot of fun with this shoot. The model would hold a pose that allowed us to cover her in flour. We would then step out of frame and she would perform a jump, spin, or other dance move. Timing is important in this so expect many shots that do not have the right spread of flour.”

Darrel’s Photography Tip:

To achieve this affect, you’ll need to shoot into a darkened area. As mentioned above, I used a barn. This allowed me to create the dark background and still use higher shutter speeds to stop the motion of the dancer.

I turned off auto-focus and used live preview, which allowed me to focus on the dancer before she jumped and meant that I could time the shutter release when the dancer is in action. If auto-focus is on you will miss the shot while auto-focus tries to find the focal point.

The lighting setup is simple. I used two speed lights behind the dancer at 45 degrees pointing toward the camera and a reflector in front of the dancer for fill. The reflector was able to catch some outdoor light and push it back onto the dancer.

We used 35 pounds of flour over the two hours we were shooting. The dancer was tired at the end, but the cold was actually more problematic than the length of the session, as there are built-in rest breaks while covering her for each shot.

By shooting into a shaded area you get a dark background that will provide the separation for the flour. This also allows you to shoot outdoors so you can minimize the after-shoot cleanup. The end result is amazing photos showcasing grace, motion, and the beauty of dance.

Graceful Senior Dancer
Senior Dancer Powerful Grace
Senior Dancer Motion
Senior Dancer Movement

Darrel used a Canon 7d with a Canon 28-135 lens to capture these images.

Darrel Summers is a Northwest Arkansas Senior Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Direction, Lighting, and Location.

Still need help with using flash? Check out this guide that’s all about using flash in portraiture photography (and get started on your way to creating breathtaking images like these ones!).



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

Working With Tall Subjects

Senior portrait hair Plano TX

Today’s feature is from .

Dawn says:

“This senior was a photographer’s dream. She brought exactly the right colors to complement her skin tones and she had an easy and beautiful smile. The session was shot outdoors in Richardson, Texas.”

Dawn’s Photography Tip:

This lovely senior is very tall and, as you can see, absolutely gorgeous. In everyday life, tall girls are often photographed from below, like with cell phone cameras, for example.

And, as we know, when we photograph from below, the subject tends to look bigger. I don’t know a girl who wants to look bigger, so I work hard to shoot down whenever possible.

Because I am average height, I brought a stepstool to the session so I could get a better angle when I needed to.

If you’re working with taller subjects and you follow this advice, your client will get more flattering portraits – even if this means you have to bring a stepstool to the session.

PESH senior headshot
PESH senior photography
PESH senior portraits
Plano senior portraits
Richardson TX senior portraits

Dawn used a Nikon D600 with a Nikkor 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 lens to capture these images.

Dawn Attebery is a Dallas, TX Senior Portraits photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Direction.



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

How to Create Real Moments During a Family Session


Today’s feature is from .

Heidi says:

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

Heidi’s Photography Tip:

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.  Creating Real Moments

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

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

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

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

4. Keep Talking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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

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

Click here to see more tips on Client Direction.



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Alexis Lawson’s Glamour Photography Sessions


Today’s tutorial is from .

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

Alexis says:

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

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

Glamour Photography Lighting

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




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


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


Soft, natural hands.

Client Direction

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

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

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

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


Example of great eye connection with the subject.

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

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

How It All Comes Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example of great eye connection with the subject.

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

See more tips on Client Direction and Lighting.

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



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How to Put Newborns at Ease

Adorable Newborn

Today’s feature is from .

Desiree says:

“This adorable newborn was 10 days new at the time of this session, and super cute. She arrived at our studio with her Mom, Grandma, and Auntie who were all so helpful.

During the session I used one studio light with a large Octobox on camera right, and a large white reflector coming from the opposite side to fill in the shadows.

Sophie had been awake for three hours prior to arriving to the studio so after a top up of milk, a bit of rocking, and soothing she was sleepy and ready for her session.”

Desiree’s Photography Tip:

Safety is a huge concern when it comes to newborn photography, and I find that by explaining and demonstrating safety precautions parents are put at ease.

And since the feelings and actions of parents reflect onto their babies it’s especially important to make sure the parents are relaxed and comfortable, as then the babies tend to be more settled.

I always have a parent sitting next to their newborn throughout the session. It allows the parents to gently touch and rock their little one until I’m ready to take the shot, and allows them to be right there in case the baby pushes themselves forward and startles.

An added bonus is that the parents are close enough to hold the baby’s hands where I want them and then quickly pull away right before I take the shot so I can easily get the hand placement right.

With this newborn session, Sophie’s mom’s hand is just out of the frame. The baby was comfortable the whole time, and her mom, grandma, and Auntie were at ease knowing that the care of their baby was the number one priority.

By following this tip you will have a comfortable session with adorable images to share with your clients.

Cute Baby Girl
Sleepy Sophie
10 Days New
Tiny Toes

Desiree used a Canon 7D with a 24-105mm F4 lens to capture these images.

Desiree Veldkamp is a Edmonton, Alberta Maternity and Newborn photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Direction.



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How to use a Friend to Put Your Client at Ease

Lucy looks wistfully towards her mother

Today’s feature is from Natalie Thornton.

Natalie says:

“Lucy was looking for a photographer to capture her in the fine art approach. We shot this session in the hilly and quiet Idyllwild Park, a mere 30 minutes up a winding and scenic Hwy 74 and were transported from a dry, desert landscape to a view of unending pine trees.

Lucy brought her mother and best friend to accompany her for her portrait session. These two very special people brought her to life, as she wandered and smiled among the trees.

In a long pink dress, borrowed from her sister’s closet, Lucy hummed and daydreamed about filming her next music video, and giggled at the thought of performing it with her boyfriend.

With love around her and cool wind blowing through her hair, Lucy’s spirit is perfectly captured in these peaceful and soft photographs that mark her graduation and the life she has ahead of her.”

Natalie’s Photography Tip:

Let’s face it: most photography clients who come our way have no modeling experience. Many clients that hire me open with, “Just so you know, I’m really awkward in front of the camera.”

While a few clients get visibly uncomfortable when I turn my camera on, the vast majority are comfortable, but need direction. As photographers, it’s our job to make the process of a portrait session a painless experience.

Here are a few things that I do to make sure my client stays relaxed and comfortable:

1. Ask your client to bring a loved one along: Individual portraits can become uncomfortable for the client and the end product can be visually boring if there isn’t any interaction.

To counter the intimidating nature of my camera, ask that the client bring a loved one or close friend to the session. The company of someone they know and love always eases tensions and puts the client in their element immediately.

2. Distract your client: Once we get started, have the loved one stand at your side and talk to your subject. As the subject reacts and talks back, use continuous shooting to capture the subject in a variety of expressions and angles.

Once the subject is in conversation, interject when you want to add a comment or an observation, and suddenly, you are just enjoying each other’s company (while getting some awesome natural shots!).

3. Direct them: Once the subject has loosened up and you’ve captured some candid shots, direct the client to look at you, look to the side, take a walk, or move around a bit.

I have found that directing the client a little in the beginning (by instructing them to talk to their loved one) and towards the end of the session (looks and movement), you can make the client comfortable and snap some wonderfully candid photographs without them even knowing it.

By following the tip above, you will be able to capture natural, engaging, and beautifully candid photos with very little discomfort or stress on you or the client.

Lucy in conversation with her best friend
A genuine and hopeful smile

Natalie used a Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 35mm f/1.4 lens to capture these images.

Natalie Thornton is a Southern California Fine Art Wedding, Portrait, and Lifestyle photographer.



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Using Wardrobe To Tie It All Together

Ottawa, Major's Hill Park

Today’s feature is from .

Stacey says:

“Even though it was supposed to be spring when these photos were taken, we still had snow here in Ottowa but that didn’t stop this energetic couple from doing their spring engagement shoot.

The groom is of Irish descent, so we decided to take some photos in and around The Heart and Crown Pub (an Irish pub of course), and then headed over to Major’s Hill park and made use of the Ottawa downtown core to come up with these fun, urban-chic shots.”

Stacey’s Photography Tip:

Sometimes we overlook the fact that not everyone knows what “camera ready” should look like. Just because it’s obvious to us, does not mean the client knows what works in front of the camera.

A few times I have had clients show up in much less than their “Sunday best” and the photos did just not look polished.

So my piece of advice is to make sure to discuss location with your clients and what look they are trying to achieve, then plan your wardrobe around it.

If you want your sessions to stand out and your couples to look fabulous and feel fabulous, discuss wardrobe options, give them ideas from something like a Pinterest page or favorite website and make sure they choose something they are comfortable in.

For example:  it makes sense that if you are shooting on a farm to wear casual, but smart, clothes. In the city, you might go for a more urban, polished look.

When I spoke with this bride-to-be, I was  clear that wardrobe is very important to achieve a clean, cohesive look, and that it can really make or break a photo shoot.

We discussed what to wear and definitely what not to wear, such as shirts with words across them, everybody in monochrome colors with matching outfits, etc.

She also told me if the weather was blah she had a great pair of red wellingtons – awesome!

Then, since I knew red boots were going to be part of the shoot, I looked around for other bits of red near our location so I could make those red boots pop and tie everything together.

Overall, this couple didn’t really need too much wardrobe coaching as they came prepared with multiple outfits, hats and accessories.

Discussing your clients needs, brainstorming with them and guiding them about what to wear to a photo shoot, will help the finished product appear polished. Your clients will be comfortable and everyone will be happy with the final outcome.

Snowy spring in the park
On the steps of the Snug pub (heart and crown) Ottawa
Laughter in front of York Street Spa
Making eyes, Ottawa's York Street

Stacey used a Nikon D800 with a Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens and Nikon 24-70mm 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Stacey Stewart is a Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Wedding, Engagement, and Boudoir photographer.

See more tips on Wardrobe and Client Direction.



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Tips on Pacing Your Portrait Session

Under the bridge

Today’s feature is from .

Emily says:

“This is a senior portrait session shot in under 2 hours in Charleston, West Virginia.”

Emily’s Photography Tip:

One reason why my shoot with Sophie was so successful was because we moved quickly. In less than 2 hours, Sophie wore three outfits and we drove to three different locations around Charleston, WV.

I don’t like to linger too long in one spot or one pose while doing portrait sessions. Usually, after more than a few minutes in the same spot, clients start to look noticeably bored or self-conscious.

So even if all I’m doing is having a client take a few steps in a different direction to set up the next shot, we are still are moving along and keeping a nice pace. This allows me to use natural light in a lot of different ways – direct, open shade, back-lighting, etc.

Also, once you have a composition you like and you’ve positioned your client, don’t be afraid to try a lot of simple, small tweaks regarding where they are looking.

With one pose and setup, you can have your client look at you without smiling, then with a smile, then look down and to the side, then up above and past you…. you get the point.

Since clients sometimes have different preferences for how they think they look the best, these small tweaks can help ensure your clients will not only love how the photo is composed, but also how they look in it.

However, also keep in mind that you can definitely move too quickly and stress your client out by being too hyper. So definitely don’t do that.

But I’ve found that keeping your client in the same pose in the same spot for a few minutes and then moving onto another setup is a great way to keep things feeling fluid and productive.

By sticking your client in one spot and giving yourself a few minutes to work the scene and then moving along to the next spot, you can get a wider variety of images and prevent your clients from feeling bored or over thinking things.

In a field
Under a Bridge, part 2
On the East End at sunset
In the grass
In a field, part 2

Emily used a Nikon D3s with a Nikon 35mm f/1.4 lens, a Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens, and a Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens to capture these images.

Emily Porter is a West Virginia Wedding & Portrait photographer.

See more tips on Client Direction.



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How to Successfully Prep a Couple for an Engagement Session


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

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

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

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

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


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

Engagement Session Homework and Suggestions for Great Looking Photos!

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

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

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

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

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

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


Engagement Photos:  What to expect?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Some final tips:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


See more tips on Client Direction.



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How to Prep a Family for a Lifestyle Session

Emily Lapish Photography - authentic lifestyle session

Today’s feature is from .

Emily says:

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

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

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

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

Emily’s Photography Tip:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Patient Maternity Portraits by Riitta Kulinski

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

Today’s feature is from .

Riitta says:

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

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

Riitta’s Photography Tip:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riitta Kulinski is a Southeast Wisconsin Wedding & Portrait photographer.

See more tips on Client Direction.



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Dreamy Babies & Toddlers Portraits by Amy Pate

Angel in white

Today’s feature is from .

Amy says:

“This baby was a dream to photograph and the creative juices just flowed with him! He was putty in my hands! I used a mixture of studio light and natural light to achieve the looks I wanted.”

Amy’s Photography Tip:

I am such a believer in informing the parents on how to prepare the baby. It is so crucial! The four components I stress the most are:

  • Heat
  • A Full Tummy
  • A Sound Machine, and
  • Warm Hands

And to take it one step further – use gloves when holding the baby. Seriously the best trick I have ever learned!

I also send the parents a questionnaire to fill out before the session. It helps me pick the colors and props I will use for the session so I can get them ready to go before the parents arrive. Plus, allowing the parents to choose the color scheme will mean that the color in the images will compliment the colors of their nursery and home. It also makes parents feel like I’ve really listened to them and what they want.

As already mentioned, make sure to have everything ready to go before the clients arrive. That way you can move from one prop to the next. However, I would suggest keeping things to a minimum – don’t overdo it and think you have to give the parents all these different looks.

If you follow this advice, you’ll have a full, warm, sleepy, easy-to-work-with baby that will be a dream to work with. He’s under your spell for two whole hours!

Little Man
All Cozy
Little Pilot
Future Pirate
Boy Blue
Amy used a Canon 5D MKIII with a Sigma 35mm lens to capture these images.

Amy Pate is a Birmingham, AL Family, Newborns, and Senior Portraits photographer.

See more tips on Client Direction.



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Modern Senior Portraits by Dawn Attebery

Senior in warehouse doorway

Today’s feature is from Dawn Attebery.

Dawn says:

“Professional makeup (and hair) makes a tremendous difference for the teenage girls, as makeup smooths out skin tones. Plus, a good makeup artist can feature the eyes, lips, or whatever is especially beautiful about the girl.

As you can see, this senior has beautiful eyes. The makeup artist and the lighting and posing highlight her eyes.

This senior came to the session with several hangers of clothing plus several accessories. I love how adding something as simple as a scarf or a hat really changes the look.”

Dawn’s Photography Tip:

I normally do an in-person consultation prior to the session, but in this case, I did not. So, to ensure the senior arrived prepared, I asked her to bring solids and colors that I knew would go with the location where we would be working.

She arrived at the location with lots of clothing and accessories to choose from. I spent maybe 5 minutes looking at everything and putting outfits together for her to wear during the session.

I made sure to mix up the accessories a bit so she could get a few different looks from the same basic outfit. Using accessories help save time because they can transform an outfit quickly without the senior having to completely change clothes.

If the photographer (or the assistant) talks to the senior ahead of time about clothing, and then looks at the clothing and makes recommendations, the photographer can recommend outfits that are flattering and fit the location they are shooting in.

Accessories can quickly change the look of an outfit and allow more options for the parent who is purchasing the senior portraits. Often, parents buy more portraits when there are more clothing options presented in the final portraits.

Full length senior pose
Simple clothing complements the colors in the room
Pop of red brings attention to the senior
Window adds simplicity to the image
Closeup highlights senior girl's eyes
Green scarf and hat add interest to a simple outfit
Changing angles changes the background to create a simpler image

Dawn used a Nikon D600 with a Nikkor 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 lens to capture these images.

Dawn Attebery is a Dallas, TX Senior Portraits photographer.

See more tips on Client Direction.



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Peaceful Babies & Toddlers Portraits by Renee Barber

Peaceful sleeping newborn

Today’s feature is from .

Renee says:

“This was a newborn session with an 11-day-old little sweetie named Carter. His dad is in the Air Force and they had recently moved to the area. I did an on-location sessions for them in their home, which was beautiful. I set up while Carter’s mom nursed him. I used a one-light setup with natural light coming in from the windows close by. Carter fought sleep for a while but I soothed him until he fell asleep. Once he was out, he didn’t wake up for the entire session. He was a dream!”

Renee’s Photography Tip:

As photographers, we tend to stay constrained to studying photography books and materials. As a newborn photographer, and this is true with every type of photography, there is so much more to a session than just “taking pictures.” It is very important that we anticipate client problems and prepare for them ahead of time.

For me, soothing newborns didn’t come easy at first, even with a child of my own. Being awkward at soothing them proved stressful to me, the newborn, and the parents. I have to admit that I was less than thrilled when a local newborn photographer asked me to read “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Dr. Harvey Karp before assisting her on a session. Surprisingly, reading it was one of the single best things I have done to improve my newborn photography.

This newborn session is the perfect example of this. Little Carter did not want to go to sleep for his parents after his mom nursed him. After I wrapped him, shushed him, and rocked him for about 10 minutes, he slept soundly for the entire session. Reading this book (and a couple others) not only helped me to better soothe newborns, it gave me confidence in what I am doing and parents now see me as a newborn expert.

Studying resources outside of the realm of photography will help you be more prepared to manage customers which will lead to smoother, less stressful sessions.

Newborn sleeping in a basket
Newborn dressed like a football
Newborn sleeping and comfy
Newborn sleeping on suitcase with hot air balloons in background

Renee used a Canon Rebel T4i with a Tamron 28-75 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Renee Barber is a Miami & Fort Lauderdale, FL Newborn and Baby photographer.

See more tips on Client Direction.


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Lighthearted Couples Portraits by Andy Stenz

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Today’s feature is from .

Andy says:

“These are from the engagement session I shot for Kelly and David, a wedding couple for 2014.

We shot in a city park in Milwaukee on a beautiful fall day.

Kelly and David both have style (more so than I do) and love to laugh. They are comfortable in front of the camera and aren’t afraid to show their emotions.”

Andy’s Photography Tip:

Engagement sessions are a great chance to let your clients get comfortable with me and the camera; and for me to get comfortable with them.

Each couple is a little different in how they relate to each other, what they find funny, and how they like to express their love physically.

I spend a lot of time observing them and how they interact. I try to stay pretty light-hearted for the first half of the session, until I know I have their trust.

I’ll give them questions about the other person and it’s not always the answer that makes a good photo, it’s the response from the other person. But don’t be too quick to laugh along with them if something is funny, keep your eye behind the camera ready to capture what might be a great laugh.

Being attentive, remaining ready for the reaction, and helping to stir the pot a bit (with questions or invitations from the Beloved Technique, which work well with my personality and my approach to couples) will help prepare you to capture moments that your clients will remember years from now.

One of my favorite comments was when a couple saw their album design from the engagement session and the gal said, “I remember what he was whispering into my ear then to make me laugh.” I don’t know what it was, but it’s a memory for her and the photo enhances that memory and her feelings of being loved.

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Andy used a Nikon D3S with a Sigma 35, 50 and 85 (all 1.4) lens to capture these images.

Andy Stenz is a Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin Weddings and Portraits photographer.

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Gorgeous Glamour Portraits by Molly Keyser


Today’s feature is from .

Molly says:

“This beautiful family of ladies wanted to do a photo shoot of the three of them as a Christmas gift. The three had a fabulous afternoon with girl time- enjoying professional hair and makeup services, laughing, joking, and enjoying each other’s company. It was such a fun glamour-girl photo shoot!”

Molly’s Photography Tip:

Chat with your clients while they’re prepping for the shoot so that they feel comfortable with you and are able to open up during the photo shoot.


Molly Keyser is a Eau Claire, WI Women’s Portraits photographer.

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