Category Archives: photography

Photo Prep 101: choosing a photographer and location

Day 2 of our series:

rock the shoot.

To recap, twice a week for the next month or so, Elle Smith and I will be giving you guys tips on how to make your next photography session fun, easy, and affordable.  We’ll give you advice on what clothes to buy (for little kids and big kids…and parents, too!), how to choose a time for photos and, today’s topic, :

First, ask yourself what you’re hoping to get out of your session.  Did your daughter miss school picture day and you’re just wanting a few sets of wallets to give to friends?  Are you wanting to update the portrait above your fireplace (the days of everyone wearing matching shirts are over)? Maybe your son needs senior portraits taken or you simply want some really good photos of your children.  Different photographers have different areas of expertise and you should match up with someone who can give you what you need!

Follow these steps to find your photographer:

1.  Do your research.

Don’t just take your pal’s word for it that so-and-so takes really good pictures.  Go to XYZ Photography’s page and look for yourself.  Are the images consistently good?  You don’t want to be one of her ‘off’ sessions.  If someone is just starting out and doesn’t have a portfolio to view…move on.  Yes, everyone needs to start somewhere and everyone needs practice, but someone who is just starting out, doesn’t have a portfolio and is already charging for sessions should not be your family photographer.  Let them practice and build up a portfolio before paying them to capture you.

2. Match your style.

If you are looking at someone’s portfolio and you notice that every single one of their pictures are country style and the posing is very traditional yet you consider yourself edgy and urban…keep looking!  It’s okay to not hire someone because you don’t like their style.  There are many photographers who have their own very distinct look and you want to find one whose ‘look’ matches you!  Aren’t into the vintage edit look?  Then don’t hire someone who edits their pictures as such.

You are paying money for someone’s art.  Don’t expect them to change their style and their eye to accommodate you exactly.  You won’t be happy, I promise!  But if you like elements of their work and would be willing to try a few different things, set up a meeting and test the waters.  Most photographers are excited when clients come to them with fun ideas — but are quickly annoyed when the client basically just wants them to click a button.  Part of being a photographer is having an eye for composition, posing, backdrops, lighting….and that’s what you’re paying them for.  Trust them.

3. Have a budget in mind.

Know what your photographer charges and what your investment will be before diving in.  No one likes really expensive surprises (unless you’re surprised with a diamond necklace from your husband…then everyone loves that kind of expensive surprise).  It’s not fair to you or your photographer to book a session then come time to pay and not be able to purchase any prints. Know your possible investment beforehand.  Many photographers have session prices on their websites and if they don’t, email them to ask for a price list.  That’s not weird at all and I know they will appreciate you coming in and knowing what you can afford!

4. Be flexible. 

We’re so used to the phrase “the customer is always right.”  It’s really easy to think that we know the answer to everything and the best way to make us look good — what ‘side’ is our best side, what angle to turn our bodies, who should stand where, etc.  Truth:  we actually don’t.  Trust your photographer.  Go into your meeting with him/her knowing that he/she is the expert!  If they have an idea for a location and you had something completely different in mind, don’t nix it right away.  If they have a concept for your session and you just wanted the standard “parents in a chair and kids around us” type of shoot, step outside the box for just a moment and consider the new ideas.  But….

5. Be true to your own style.

You won’t be happy with your pictures if you aren’t comfortable during your photo session.  I promise, it will show.  If you meet with a photographer and they are insisting on your session being on the banks of the Snake River, barefooted with an au natural look but you hate the outdoors….don’t do it!  Your photos need to represent not only the art of the photographer, but the personality and the look of your family and, really, only you know if one photographer or another will be able to capture that.  If someone is rubbing you the wrong way and you don’t feel comfortable hiring them, walk away.  You will be doing both yourself and the photographer a favor.  Let’s be real — some people aren’t meant to work together and that’s okay.

6. Once you choose a photographer, trust them.

If you like a photographer’s art and work well enough to pay them (probably a lot), you should also trust them!  When it comes to location, trust their recommendations.  A good photographer will listen to what you want and what you have in mind and incorporate that into their own ideas and plans to create something you both will be incredibly proud of.  Sometimes locations and poses and head tilts and hand placements feel really weird and awkward and stupid — but they usually work out!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to clients, “I know.  It feels really weird.  But I promise it looks really great in pictures!”

On that note, don’t bring them one hundred pictures off of Pinterest and expect your photos to look exactly like that.  First of all, unless your body type, hair, clothing, and the lighting is exactly the same, it cannot ever be exactly replicated.  Secondly, that picture you are taking to your photographer is someone else’s art.  You are asking your photographer to dismiss all of his/her natural and worked-really-hard-for talent just to look like someone else.  TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER.  There is a reason he/she charges what he/she does for their time and talent.

How do you feel after reading those tips?  Feel like you can find a photographer and book  a session?  Start your research now!  Whether you have little boys, little girls, teens, tweens and everything in between, Elle and I are going to make sure you guys look amazing for your sessions!

Hop over to Life Styled by Elle to get her take on the process of hiring a photographer!


Photo Prep 101

I’m OVER THE MOON excited to finally share with you a little collaboration I’m doing with another blogger:


Elle of Life Styled by Elle and I are going to help you, the lost mom or dad (or grandma or aunt or girl or guy!).  Or maybe you aren’t lost, you just need a bit of inspiration.  Or maybe you aren’t lost because you haven’t even started your journey!  Whatever the case may be, we are here for you.

We are here to help make your portrait sessions:





(superfash is one of my favorite words.  And I use the word “word” lightly because I think we all know it’s a ridiculous made-up smash together.)

Over the course of the next few weeks, Elle and I will be giving you tips on different aspects of the portrait session process.  Everything from “Who do I choose as my photographer?” to “What should I dress my 3 year old girl in?!” We’ll cover it all.

And let me just say that it helps that both she and I are not only mamas but also know the world of fashion.  That doesn’t mean I dress in skinnies and ankle boots everyday, oh no.  But it does mean that I know exactly what works and what doesn’t.  And what you’ll look back on in 20 years and roll your eyes at (or won’t roll your eyes at if you follow our advice).  So sit back, get ready to pin and bookmark, and let us navigate you through these sometimes unruly waters known as… sessions…..


The fact is, you don’t.  Is it life or death if you don’t pay someone a lot of money to take pictures of you and your family?  Not at all.  So if you don’t have the money to spend on that right now, do not sweat it.  It’s no secret that professional photographs don’t come cheap and there is a reason for that.  But it’s also okay to pass on them every once in a while if it just won’t work out financially.

However, I do highly recommend that every couple of years at least you hire a really wonderful photographer to capture your family.  How you define family is completely up to you.  In my world, I consider a really huge handful of people my family…but when I am scheduling family photo sessions, I just include my husband and our kids.

Why do I get photos taken?  Because in my home, I want to be reminded over and over again (read: every time I walk into the living room) of these beautiful people I share my life with.  I want to see their personalities even when they aren’t here with me, I want to share them with anyone who comes to visit and I want to be able to send pictures to family and friends who don’t see us often enough.  I want my kids to go off to college some day and have something to look at besides pictures on their phones.  I want to make use of our wall space and our frames and I want to leave behind something meaningful to my family.  I especially want my grandchildren, great grandchildren and maybe even great-great-great-great grandchildren to look at a picture of me and say, “Well hot damn, she really was good looking.”

(okay, maybe that last part wasn’t really true.  but I do think having a picture of family from basically forever ago will be important to little Rafael)  (sidenote:  I desperately want a family member named Rafael.)

So to me, having professional photographs taken is extremely important.  And, believe it or not, it really does matter who you use to take your photographs…even more than if the camera being used is ‘really good.’

It can get a little overwhelming and you’ll ask:


On Thursday, check in with us and we will give you tips on how to choose a photographer, how to book an appointment, and all the decisions that go along with it:  time of day, location, time of year, etc.

Believe it or not, there are lots of decisions to be made when booking family portraits.  But don’t worry.

We’re here to help.