I just finished this digital painting.  Maybe on the next one I’ll take step by step photos and post a tutorial.  Until then, enjoy the finished product.


I have been taking photographs my whole life.  I remember as a child lining up my teddy bears, dressing them in doll clothes, setting them in trees, planning adventures- all so I could take pictures of them.  Unfortunately I do not have any of those early photos.  I do, however, have photos from the last ten years, ever since I switched to digital and actual started teaching myself how to do this correctly.  I opened my own studio, originally in my living room and now in the basement of our new house.  Some of my clients have given me permission to share photos, so here are a few of my favorites with tips on how to get the look yourself.

The most recent portrait of our family.  I used a single flash with a diffusing umbrella next to the camera, but you could easily face a window for the same lighting effect.  Have a favorite relative shoot the pic so the kids will smile and cooperate.  Then cropped and rotated in PhotoShop or Lightroom.

This one wasn’t taken in the studio.  Just in the playroom.  Have your kids get out their favorite toys, lay down on the floor so the overhead light is illuminating them, and shoot away.

Use candy canes to create a heart shape.  Little ones can be held in the hand, giant ones like these can be used to make a frame.  These are lawn ornaments, and are super cheap.  I used Lightroom to remove all color except for the candy canes.

I took my flash for this photo shoot in a customer’s house, but they had a gorgeous window creating the perfect soft diffused light.  Sometimes when taking photos, focus on the pet or another unexpected focal point.

Sometimes dark and mysterious is a good thing.  Especially on Halloween.

Create your own backdrop by purchasing a canvas drop cloth from the hardware store and splatter painting it.  The kids especially loved doing this!  I had the whole neighborhood in on the fun.

Inexpensive fabric leaves can be purchased in the home decor section of stores in the fall.  Perfect for fun filled photo shoots.

Shoot from the hip sometimes.  Literally. I held the camera down at hip level for this photo, which puts the buildings in the background instead of the boring street.

No need to purchase expensive wood flooring for photos.  I found a nice “plank” image online and printed it on matte poster paper about a dozen times and adhered them to a sheet of cardboard (another go-to for instant backdrops).  Also, this color “look” can be achieved by pulling out the cool colors and desaturating the image.

We call this pose “cheek to cheek” around here.  Feels awkward, but looks great in photographs.

Shooting from a low angle emphasized the books in the cases behind her.  Move around when taking pictures to find new and interesting angles.

Shooting from above is another great angle to try.  Here the kids are laying on the floor.  Which is actually just a wood plank image I found online printed on matte poster paper.  Try it.  It is awesome.

You can shoot adults from above, too.  You just need a step stool or really long arms.  It is a flattering angle for some women as it opens up the eyes and decreases neck visibility.

Now we’ll talk about making sure you photograph special items with your kids.

Mom and Dad’s things look great with kids, too.  Either as props…

Or being worn.

Photographing relationships can be fun.  Supportive big sister can be seem in the distance.  Taken outdoors, the distance could be even greater.

Relationships often shine from behind.

And of course, showing the love makes great relationship photos.

And don’t forget pet relationships!

A favorite trick is using alphabet blocks or scrabble tiles to spell names and other words.

Babies always need photographed with hands of family members, because they will never be that small again.

And my favorite trick of all- sunrise or sunset silhouettes.  I expose for the sky, and then boost contrast in Lightroom or Photoshop.  Occasionally I’ll need to blacken the shadows.  Easy peasy!


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