The Connection Cover Contest: Top Submissions for August

Part of being a member of The Connection, my online education subscription site, includes being a part of an incredible and supportive Facebook community. That Facebook group is one of the best parts about being a Connection member because it’s full of targeted support, helpful threads, peer critiques, website reviews and more!

We also hold a monthly cover contest where hundreds of members submit their best work and vote to decide whose photo will grace our group cover photo for the month. Per usual, I was blown away by the submissions we received! So I’m going to take a moment to brag about my talented students and show off their work.

Here are the top submissions this month!

Elena S Blair Education For Photographers art of lifestyle photography

Whitney Coudray | https://www.facebook.com/whitneycoudrayphotography/

art of lifestyle family and newborn photography elena s blair

Jessica Rockowitz Fielder | https://www.facebook.com/JessicaRockowitzPhotography/

art of lifestyle family and newborn photography elena s blair

Kit Ulrichsen Bøhnke | https://www.facebook.com/siggavastories/

art of lifestyle family and newborn photography elena s blair

Angie Wynne | https://www.facebook.com/angiewynnephotography/

Elena S Blair Education For Photographers art of lifestyle photography

Amy Dale

Elena S Blair Education For Photographers art of lifestyle photography

Kasia Markocka | https://www.facebook.com/KasiaMarkockaphotography/

Elena S Blair Education For Photographers art of lifestyle photography

Lara Fisher Skanchy

We’d love to have you in The Connection!

With membership options starting at just $24.99/month and includes unlimited access to ALL my classes and this members-only Facebook community, it’s just what you need to elevate your photography. I’d love for you to check it out!

What Every Family Photographer Can Do to Create Connection During a Photoshoot

Elena S Blair Education For Photographers art of lifestyle photography

One thing I really want you to know is that connection starts with you. Before you can create meaningful photography you have to be able to connect to your subjects, even if you have only just met them.

This may sound impossible but it's doable.

Get the know the family and be relatable.

Creating connection within a lifestyle photograph is twofold. You are creating connection between the subjects you are photographing and you are also creating connection with the viewer.

When a viewer is drawn into a photograph they are connected to it, it builds interest and depth.

I believe for someone to feel something when they view a photograph something had to have been felt when the photograph was made.

You have to put genuine effort into getting to know your subjects and also be relatable so that they feel comfortable opening up in front of your lens.

I do this by having an effective client questionnaire completed prior to the shoot. I make sure to ask about each family member and simply ask them to tell me about their family. I am always surprised by how much info they give me.

I also work hard to connect with my families. I talk openly with them during the whole session to make them feel at ease. I truly enjoy getting to know them and want them to know that I care about who they are.

Because I create an environment for them to connect with me, I am able to create more authentic and connected photos.

So, really work hard to make a connection with your families. The results will be amazing!

Ready to take your lifestyle photography to the next level? Check out my free mini course download: How to Create a Relaxed Family Session!

Three Things You Can Do To Improve Your Time Management Now

Time Management For Photographers

Time management is hard. Especially for creatives. With so many distractions and potential projects it is easy to get off track. Here are three things you can do right now to improve your time management and productivity. Hint, there is not one technical device or app that you need to start.


  1. Write down your top three “to do’s” for the day.  Actually get a paper and write down the three things you absolutely have to get done today. Then, don’t open social media, don’t do a single other thing, until these tasks are done. Period.

  2. Get a planner! You are a professional. You can’t wing it each day. Get a good quality planner and start planning. I do recommend having an actual physical planner or a good online system.

  3. Set office hours or working hours and stick to them religiously. I didn’t used to do this. What ended up happening is that I was doing all the tasks on my plate at 40%. I was 40% mom, 40% photographer and business owner. This left me feeling unproductive, guilty, and exhausted. Now, I know exactly when I am going to tackle email, exactly what days I plan to edit, exactly what days I plan to write content, etc. When my kids come home, the laptop closes and I can rest easy knowing I got enough done to focus on who is most important, them.  This will take some fine tuning to figure out what times work best for you, but I urge you to figure this out ASAP.


You got this! You can be in control of your schedule.


How to get personal with your photography brand

Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

Why is it so hard to share our true selves within our brand? It is so much easier to hide behind our work.


But here is the thing, there are thousands of photographers (or insert your creative field) near you who are just as good if not better than you.


I am not telling you that to discourage you… I am telling you that to encourage you to share yourself.


Your brand is an extension of you. It has to be. You will be connecting to your ideal client and you want them to choose you because they like you, not just your work. Because if all they have to see is your work then they will simply price shop you.


Now don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that you have to air your dirty laundry online (don’t do that) or that you have to share something personal that you don’t feel comfortable sharing.


What I mean is that you will want to choose some personal aspects of your life to share with your community.


For example, I love sharing about motherhood and it’s ups and downs on my social media account. I really want to connect deeply to my ideal client who is also a mother. But you will notice that even though I share about motherhood I rarely share about my children. My children are very intentionally NOT part of my brand, but motherhood is.


Another example is travel. I share my love for travel and adventure on my social media all the time because my ideal client loves the outdoors and is active and fun. I do this to connect her to me so that she knows that she and I will have this in common.


I encourage you to think about three personal things that have nothing to do with photography (or insert your creative field) you can share with your audience that will speak directly to your ideal client.


Write those three things down. Now think about how you will incorporate those things into your social media strategy.


This helps humanize your account and allows your ideal client to connect to you personally and in turn to connect to your brand.


10 Questions Every New Photographer Has

10 Questions Every New Photographer Has

I will never forget when I was first starting out on this journey.  I knew I wanted to learn how to use my camera. I knew my images looked very different from the professional photographers I was following. I knew I might want to start a business, but knew very little else. It was overwhelming, and was enough to make me want to curl up into a ball and forget about this whole photography thing!


I have searched far and wide and found ten of the most common questions asked by the new photographer. Hopefully this will jump-start your journey, because I promise you it is a beautiful one!


  1. What does “manual mode” mean, and do I have to learn how to shoot in this mode?  If I do then where do I start?


Manual mode puts the photographer in complete control of how the photo will turn out. You have to manually set both the aperture and the shutter speed.   You can take this a few steps further and control the ISO as well as the white balance.  The camera will not make any automatic changes to the exposure. Your camera will still guide you to the best exposure with it’s built in meter.  



2.  How do you achieve sharp focus?


Focus can be one of the most frustrating elements of photography when you are first starting out. Nailing focus could be an entire article in and of itself, but I wanted to touch on this very common beginner question. There many factors that go into getting a sharp image, but there are two focusing methods that help you to stay in control of focus rather than relying on the camera's autofocus function.  Chances are most professional photographers are using one of these methods and that is why their images are sharp. The two methods I am referring to are toggling your focal points or using back button focus. To toggle focus, you manually choose where you want to focus within the frame. The focal points available for your camera depend on the make and model, but they will likely look something like this:

{toggle diagram}

In the following image, I have toggled the focal point right to the inner corner of the subjects right eye.  If the subject had been on the other side of the frame I would have toggled to the eye on that side. In the following image the red dot indicates where the focus was toggled to.  

{image example}

Back Button Focus is a focusing method many professional photographers swear by. Cameras are setup to auto focus when you hold down the shutter button halfway. Back button focus changes it so that the shutter button does not control the focus activation at all, instead you assign another button on the back of the camera to activate focusing on the camera.


3.  Do you really have to edit all your photos?  


In a word, yes. While it is best to nail an image in camera, editing is how it all comes together to become a finished image. Some photographers are more artistic with their editing and some are more clean. This is really just a personal preference and will come with time.


4. What gear do I need to achieve great photos?


The gear you have in your bag is a personal preference and really depends on what type of photography you are interested in. It is recommended to start your journey with the “nifty 50,” AKA a 50mm prime lens.  All major manufacturers have great 50mm options and this really is a fantastic starter lens. After you have explored with the 50mm lens, you can try your hand at more wide angle and then longer focal lengths. If zoom is appealing to you, there are plenty of zoom lenses out there, however you will hear many professional photographers who swear by prime lenses.  


5.  Do I have to be in business to be considered a professional photographer?


No!! There are many, and I mean MANY photographers who are not in business and only photograph their children and they are incredible!  You absolutely do not need to be in business to be respected or taken seriously.



6.  What is white balance?


Again, a whole article could be written on this question alone so I will try and keep this answer brief.  Do you ever wonder why sometimes your subjects look bright yellow or orange, or why sometimes they look grey or blue?  Well, this is because your white balance is off. To define this very simply, in reference to digital photography, white balance means that the colors in your image are true to life.  White balance is measured by numbers, lower being cooler and higher being warmer.


Now white balance is a lot more than an exact science of numbers as it can also be a matter of preference.  There are many ways to control white balance. You can set a custom white balance, trust your camera and put your camera on auto white balance, or directly set your Kelvin temperature.  White balance is often one of the first things photographers adjust when processing their images.




7.  What is the difference between JPG and RAW?


JPG is the most common file format for digital photographs.  Your camera can be set to shoot and store the images you make in varying sizes of JPG. The thing with JPG is that a lot of detail is lost when the image is shot this way. When a JPG image is taken, the camera does some automatic processing which varies with make and model of camera.  When you go to edit an image shot in JPG you do not have as much data to work with, and it can be hard to recover over or underexposed parts of the image. It also gives you less control in post processing in the way of color. RAW files are uncompressed and unprocessed shots of all of the detail available to the camera sensor.  RAW files are completely unedited and need to be post processed.


While it is recommended that you shoot in RAW to remain in complete control of your images, there are many photographers who shoot JPG and love it. While certain benefits of RAW files are clear cut, the files are quite large and in the end It is a matter of preference.  


8.  How do I know when it is okay to go into business?


Take your time! But I know it can be very exciting and hard to wait. If you are thinking about going into business ask yourself these questions: 1.  Are my images consistently properly exposed, properly focused, and well composed? 2. Am I ready for hard deadlines and to act like a professional? Make sure the answer is yes to these questions before even thinking about going into business. You see, being a photographer may be the best job in the world, but it is a JOB. To succeed in this business you must be professional and ready to take on all that it entails. If you are thinking about getting a business started, talk to an accountant and if you can, a lawyer. You must have a proper business license and you should have insurance before you ever take a paying client.  Above all, be legal. Do not charge pennies for your time, as that is the most valuable resource you possess. You are an artist and you should receive a good wage for your work.


9.  How do I learn how to pose people?


Posing and directing is an art form, and it takes lots of practice and confidence. I recommend shooting as many people as you can as often as you can. I also recommend thinking long and hard about your vision. What do you want your images to say?  Plan ahead, and then you can guide and direct in such a way to execute your vision. Do you want your images more posed or do you want them to appear more candid? You have to know what you want to achieve before you begin posing and directing.


Check out my free posing webinar by clicking HERE.


10.   How do you find balance with life and photography?  


Weather you are in business or a hobbyist, photography has a way of running our lives.  This is because we feel so passionate about it. I think making a schedule and sticking to it is very important.  So if you have shoots to edit (personal or commissioned), pick a time each day to dedicate to editing and stick to it.  If you like to blog, pick a day of the week that you will carve out time to blog. I am a big fan of the old fashioned paper planners and I chart  out my entire week there. This really keeps me sane and in control.


5 Things Any Photographer Can Blog About Right Away

5 Things Any Photographer Can Blog About Right Away Elena S Blair

You have heard it a million times, you have to blog if you want good SEO. But what do you do if you don’t have fresh content to blog about? This can be especially troublesome for photographers who don’t have a high volume of shoots as you might not always have a new family to share each week.

Well girlfriend, we got you covered. Here are five topics you can blog about right away that will keep your blog fresh and your readers engaged.

  1. A what to wear guide! You guys, if you don’t have one of these already, do this now. What to wear guides get so much traffic and are very helpful for your future and present clients. This doesn’t need to be complicated. A few simple tips can go a long way and serve a lot of value.

  2. A day in the life post. Not only is this super interesting for your readers but it is fun to create. Document what a day in your busy work from home life looks like and blog about it.

  3. A before and after edit post. It is super interesting for your readers to see the process behind your edits. Show them a straight out of camera shot and then the edited version. This shows your clients how much love and care you put into their images and is interesting for your fellow photographers who are readers as well.

  4. What is in your photography bag. People love to know what camera gear you use. Share the lenses you own and include a few examples of photos taken with those lenses.

  5. Why photography matters to you. Sure, your readers know you are a photographer. But do they know why? Share why you choose to be a photographer and why it is important. This will create connection with your readers and humanize you.

There you go! Now you have five weeks worth of blog post ideas ready to go! Happy blogging!

If you want EVEN MORE business tips, check out the rest of the blog, Connect The Dots, where I share tips and tricks for art and business every week! 

Xoxo,

Elena 

How to conquer your fears to achieve your goals

conquer your fears  tips for entrepreneurs Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

I know you have heard this so many times but I am going to go ahead and say it again.

You are your own worst enemy.

You may not even realize it, but fear is probably holding you back from so many things you are trying to accomplish.

You might be thinking, “woman, I want to make six figures, I am not afraid of that.” or “I want to book out months in advance, there is no fear there.”

But I invite you to explore this concept a little.

For example, say you do have some big monetary goals but for some reason you aren’t reaching them. Perhaps you want to make six figures. You may actually be afraid of this. Afraid of what people will say if you are asking for significant money for your photography services. Fear that having a lot of money may change you. Fear that you don’t have what it takes to bring in that kind of money. Fear, fear, and more fear.

Or let's use the bookings you want for example. Say you want to book 2 shoots a week. You may actually fear this. Perhaps photography is your side hustle and you are worried you won’t actually have time for this. Or maybe you are afraid that there aren’t enough people in your area to even make this booking goal a reality. Perhaps you are afraid your competition is taking these bookings from you. Maybe you are afraid that you will be called a fraud and that you won’t know how to handle these sessions. Again, fear, fear, and more fear.

The reason I am sharing this with you is because it happens to me all the time.

I often get in my own way of success.

The very first step in conquering your fears is to name them. Sit down and think about what you want to achieve and ask yourself what fears might be getting in your way. Write them down. Then, explore where those fears are coming from, what they are rooted in. Now, bust through those fears. Tackle them one by one. Call them out.

Nobody can get you to your goals but you. Take a look at this concept, kiss fear goodbye and invite abundance.

You got this.

Xoxo,

Elena

P.S. if you’re looking for motivation and accountability, download this free goal setting guide!

Four reasons why I don't do traditional newborn posing

lifestyle newborn posing baby led posing Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

The journey of an artist is a long one.

There was a time when I brought a newborn posing bag, a stock pile of props and hats, and a space heater to my newborn shoots. It took a lot of trial and error, self discovery, and facing my fears to realize that I didn't enjoy posed newborn photography. It really wasn't in line with my "why" and my overall values as a human.

“Baby Led Posing”

Now, I practice what I call "Baby Led Posing." This means that I don't ever put a baby in an unnatural pose, that I don't spend countless hours calming or posing my babies, and that ultimately, I don't really pose at all.

Sure, I do place my newborns for portraits, however I don't "pose" in the way that many traditional newborn photographers do.

Four reasons I don’t pose newborns:

1. I don't believe that babies should be out of their parents arms for any extended amount of time. You see, I used to be a Newborn Intensive Care Nurse. During those years I learned that a newborn needs to be held, nourished, and ultimately with their parents and in their arms as much as possible. It doesn't make sense to me to have a baby on a beanbag or a surface away from their parents for an extended amount of time, even if in the name of photography. During my sessions, babies spend most of their time in their parents arms, where they belong, in my humble opinion.

why i don't do traditional newborn posing elena s blair photography education

2. I think babies are beautiful as they are. The natural unfolding of a newborns limbs when the stretch, the way they curl up when placed on their belly for a moment, they way they look when comfortably swaddled, all of that is so simple and beautiful to me. That is how I want to remember my babies so that is how I capture them.

3. Frankly, I don't think major posing is safe. If a baby has to be molded into an unnatural position, I believe their safety is at risk and that is not worth it to me, even in the name of a pretty photo.

4. I don't want my photo sessions to be stressful. When I used to pose babies, I would spend up to four hours at a session, trying to make the baby sleep, trying to get the poses just right etc. I know what it's like to have a newborn. It is already so stressful. I want my families to know that I think their babies are perfect as they are. Awake or asleep. Placed on a bed or in their parents arms. I have no expectations. I am in and out of my families homes in under two hours now that I don't pose. I don't wan to invade their precious time any longer than that.

why i don't do traditional newborn posing elena s blair photography education

The Takeaway: Babies are perfect.

There you have it. My top 4 reasons why I don't pose newborns, mostly, because I think babies are absolutely perfect as they are.

xo,

Elena

P.S. I have a FREE downloadable PDF to get you started with lifestyle newborn photography today! Click the button below to get yours.

What does the term "lifestyle" even mean?!

lifestyle family lifestyle newborn what does lifestyle mean elena s blair photography education

The term “Lifestyle”

I wanted to talk a little bit about the term "Lifestyle" since it is one that is quite often thrown around in our industry and it is what people of use to describe my work.

The words we use to describe our work matter very little in my mind. What matters is how I work makes those who view it feel.

However, as humans we like to label things and use words so Lifestyle it is. ;)

What is “Lifestyle” photography?

Lifestyle photography sits comfortably between traditional portraiture, which is more posed, and documentary photography which isn't posed at all.

Lifestyle photography is a more emotive approach to photography, really allowing you to break some rules and express yourself creatively.

Lifestyle photographs typically captures the essence of the humans you are photographing, really capturing a little piece of humanity. It often includes movement, loving gestures, and often environmental storytelling.

Lifestyle photography means that you are going beyond stiff and boring portraiture to capture the true personality behind the humans you are capturing.

What I do want you to remember is that Lifestyle photography does require quite a bit of guiding and directing. But it does give you the room to express yourself more creatively, I think.

There you have it... a very simple explanation of lifestyle photography. I hope that helps.

Have a great week!

xo,

Elena

P.S. Are you interested in learning more about Lifestyle Newborn Photography? Or maybe you want to brush up on your Lifestyle Family Photography? I have free education just for you ;) Click the buttons below and have at it!

How to attract high quality clients with a high quality portfolio

high quality clients high quality portfolio Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

Hey there, friend!

I hope you are enjoying your summer.

I wanted to talk to you about something very important and that is your portfolio.

There are two main things I want you to focus on when you are preparing your online portfolio.

Your portfolio should be a place where you:

1. Show your best work.

2. Show the work you want to attract.

This can be tricky when you are first starting out or trying to make a shift.

For example, if you want to attract clients who appreciate emotive lifestyle images YOU CAN'T post images that aren't in this fashion. If you have a portfolio full of images of everyone perfectly posed and all looking at the camera then that is what you are going to attract.

Clear as mud?

Okay let me go deeper.

I strongly believe that you should push your portfolio to its limits. For example, if you check out mine, there are no photos of everyone looking at the camera. Do I take shots like that at every single session? You bet. But I never show those images on my portfolio or online. Why? Because I want to be absolutely sure that the clients I am attracting are connected to my true artistic style.

As I mentioned above, you have to only show your best work. I see so many photographers with super out of date portfolios full of images that are not their best work.

Don't do that.

How can you expect to attract high quality clients if you aren't showing high quality work?

Now I get it. When you are learning your work will change and grow rapidly. So this means that your portfolio needs to reflect that. Go in regularly and remove your subpar work and replace it with your better work.

Your portfolio is where you show off your talents and skills AND where you share your unique style.

Okay, friend. So ask yourself this. 1. Am I showing my best work? & 2. Am I showing what I want to attract?

You got this!

xo,

Elena

P.S. I have a free mini course that I think can help you! Hit the button below for three steps you can take right away to ensure that your clients arrive relaxed and ready for a laid back and fun family session experience.