family posing made easy

The common misconception about lifestyle family photography

common misconception about lifestyle family photography Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

I wanted to share with you a common "lie" I hear about Lifestyle Photography. Hang with me?

One thing I see all the time on social media, and from well known or talented Lifestyle Photographers at that, is they say things like "I just adore in between moments." Or, "I am obsessed with capturing candid shots." Or, "I hate posed photos."

And this always makes me do a silent eye roll. Why? Because it is probably not true and I think it confuses new photographers or even potential clients. Because the truth of the matter is that most "in-between" moments or "candid" moments were orchestrated. They were posed and directed.

Now if you have seen my work you know that my families don't look posed or stiff in the least. But I am here to tell you that I pose and direct my clients 100%.

I am fortunate enough to be friends with some of the most well known Lifestyle Photographers in the USA and we all chat about how this is a very common misconception.

And it's simply unfair to new photographers.

Why is it unfair, you ask?

Because it sets new photographers us for total frustration. I should know, I was once one of them.

I would arrive at a shoot and want to create beautiful, carefree, laid back, romantic, amazing, moments. Moments that I thought were unfolding naturally for the photographers that I admired.

I was so frustrated and literally almost quit family photography because I thought I was simply not talented enough to capture those types of moments.

But thankfully I took a different approach and started being in control of my sessions 100% and I couldn't believe the difference. I realized that I actually had to direct and pose my families exactly how I wanted them.

Truth.

When I started doing this my work finally looked like I always imagined. My visions finally became a reality.

And my clients were happier too. They wanted me to tell them what to do. They wanted me to be the expert.

So I want you in on that secret. When you see beautiful moments captured, there was likely a skilled photographer directing that moment.

And you can do it too. Promise.

xo,

Elena

P.S. Take your family posing to the next level with my FREE family posing guide! Click the button below to claim yours.

Five ways to make mothers look their best during a family session

make mothers look amazing during family photo shoot Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

I wanted to share with you something that I think is so very important. 

Let's face it. Being a mother is hard and often under appreciated. When a session is booked with me 99.9% of the time it's the mom who booked the shoot. She is usually the one who does most of the arranging for the family. 

So when she gets in front of my lens I want her to feel like a goddess. I make a huge effort to reaffirm the mama of the family that she looks amazing and I spend just as much effort making sure the actually looks amazing. 

I am excited to share five posing and guiding tips that will be sure to leave your mothers looking and feeling amazing!

  1. Photograph her from above. After I arrange the family in a pose, I guide them to lean into each other. Then, I either stand on something (a stool would work great) or I hold the camera above my head and shoot from a slightly elevated angle. Or if they are sitting on the ground, I stand up and shoot from above.This flatters mother's features and also provides an intimate and unique perspective.

  2. Remind her not to look at you but instead to look at her children or spouse. I know this may seem obvious, but most people are hardwired to look right at the camera. A mother is going to look and feel her best when she is looking at her loved ones rather than right in the camera. I encourage her to interact and snuggle with her children. She is always pleasantly surprised with how much she loves her photos and I think it is because they aren’t traditional photos of her staring right at the camera, but rather looking at and interacting with her loved ones.

  3. Ask her to look down and slightly to the side. I love to make sure to grab at least one photo of my mother's alone. Remember, she may be the main photographer in the family and chances are there aren’t many photos of her alone. Her children need photos of her. I ask her to look down and slightly to the side. She immediately relaxes and I am able to capture her gorgeous face.

  4. Incorporate movement. I love to ask mom to hold one of her children and spin them around. Movement relaxes her body and usually makes her hair move in beautiful way. Moms love seeing themselves playing and moving with their kiddos.

  5. When photographing the family as a group, make sure mom's shoulders aren’t square to the camera. A slight angle really flatters the female frame.


There you go! Using these five simple tips, you can make your mothers look and feel their absolute best. Have fun!

xo,

Elena

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Three easy ways to help dads relax during a family session

how to get dads to relax during family photos Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

I asked my IG community where they most needed help during family sessions and one thing I heard over and over again is "how do you work with cranky dads?" Or "How do you get the dads to relax during the session?" 

Well my friends, I got you covered. I can honestly say that I rarely ever have a dad who is hard to work with and the main reason is I know exactly who my people are and generally only attract those people, but the other reason is that I know how to set them at east and help them to relax into the session. 

Here are three easy tips for helping your dads to relax during your family sessions. 

1. Talk to him. Okay, this sounds easy right? But it's important. I immediately start talking to Dad during my sessions.

I ask him where he works. "Oh you work at Amazon, I have a friend who works for kindle and he says it's super cut throat." 

I let him know I understand that this may not be his idea of a fun Saturday night but assure him it will be easy. "Hey I know photo sessions can seem like torture, but I promise, mine are quick, fun and painless." 

Simply talking directly to Dad will allow him to realize that you are on his side and not just there for mom.(when really you probably are ;) ) 

2. Let him know that your only expectation is for him to love on his family. Sometimes dads look stiff and uncomfortable because they are trying to look you straight in the camera with their best smile. I say over and over AND OVER again, "don't look at me, look at your gorgeous wife and children. That's all you have to do." Once they realize you don't want them to look at you and that you only want them to be with their family, they chill out. 

3. Encourage him to play with his kids and love on his wife. Usually dads feel most comfortable when they are doing something. I ask them to throw their kiddos in the air, spin them around, tickle them, chase them, anything playful. Then I tell them to kiss their wife, grab her butt (yup, I do that), or nuzzle their neck. This usually relaxes them and lets them know I am laid back and okay with some fun. 

Dads really just need to be reassured that this isn't a typical photo shoot. That I am not requiring them to wear a stiff outfit and a stiff grin. That they can play with their family and love on their wife. 

Luckily, I educate my families pretty well before shoots so they usually know this, but some dads need more encouraging. 

Hope this helps. :)

xo,

Elena

P.S. Want more tips about how to pose your families in a relaxed and meaningful way? Hit the button below to download my free family posing guide!

How to get your clients to stop looking at the camera

get your clients to stop looking at the camera Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

Are you sick of families who have been trained to look right smack at your lens with the cheesiest grin you have ever seen? Me too. 

But here is the thing... my clients rarely do that anymore and I am going to share with you my secret. 
It's because I have educated them BEFORE they ever get in front of my camera. They know what to do before we ever actually meet in person. 

Here is how I do it. 

1. I don't ever post photos of families looking right at the camera anywhere. Not on my portfolio (especially not on my portfolio,) not on social media, and rarely on my blog (but I will there *sometimes*.) 

Your ideal client doesn't know they need lifestyle photos until you tell them they do.

Clear as mud? Let me explain...
Take clothing companies. I haven't worn overalls since 1995, but all of the sudden I am seeing overalls all over the place and suddenly I *need* them. Like now. I am not a fashion expert so when I see a trend I trust it 100%.

But I *am* a photography expert. So I put my work out to the world and when a potential client lands on my page and sees an image like the one below they suddenly think "I want that to be my family. I want that." Bam. They aren't expecting to look at the camera. They are expecting to look like my art. 

 

2. I educate my clients literally as soon as they inquire. In my welcome guide I explain exactly how their session will go and I tell them that I won't be asking them to look at the camera. I explain that I want them to simply interact with their family and that I will guide them how to do so. I position myself as the expert immediately and they trust me 100% because of it. 

So getting your families to stop looking at you starts before your session even begins. Believe in yourself and that you are an expert and your families will too. 

Have a great day! Fee free to share this with a pal who you know would appreciate the tips. ;) 

xo,
Elena 

P.S. Wanna learn more about creating a relaxed family session experience? Click the button below to take my free mini course!

Why every lifestyle photographer needs to know how to pose

why i hate the word pose lifestyle family photography Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

With the gaining popularity of "lifestyle" and "documentary" family photography the word "pose" has gained a bad rap. 

One of the things I see photographers posting on social media all the time is "I just love the in-between moments." Or "I swoon over candid moments." 

You guys! Let me let you in on a little secret. Unless a photographer is a 100% documentary photographer. Meaning that they are coming into a home or location and standing back and doing zero guiding, almost all those amazing "candid" moments you see were orchestrated or "posed" by the photographer. 

Yup. True story. 

Take the image in this post for example. It looks unposed. It looks candid. But I literally made the entire moment happened. I told them where to stand. I told them what to do right down to where dad is looking. I guided the children. Everything! Except maybe the dog ;). And there is no shame in that. My families trust me to make them into my art. They trust me to tell them what will look the best and yield the best photo. 

Posing and guiding is an art form. It is important that you know how to direct a session so that it yield the results you and your clients are expecting. 

I like to say that I guide my clients but really I pose them. Then I direct them to interact and that is where the moments come from. 

Heck, I will come in and move their heads how I want them. 

So don't believe the lies social media is telling you. Not many are showing up with their camera and simply getting lucky catching beautiful candid moments. They are gifted in making those moments happen. 

Posing is not a bad thing. In fact I proudly do it every time I photograph a family. 

xo,

Elena

P.S. Are you ready to get started with posing? Grab my FREE family posing guide by clicking the button below!

Three things you can do RIGHT NOW to improve your family photography

how to improve your lifestyle family photography Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

It is not a secret that I love family photography. And I SUPER love Seattle family photography because I love the people in this city! They are for sure my people.  

Family photography is what I would say is my speciality, my zone of genius. I love it. But I will admit, there was a time when I was telling my friends... "I think I am going to give up on family photography and stick to newborns and seniors." You guys! I suck at seniors. And while I do love newborns, at that time it was posed newborns I was talking about. This couldn't have been further from what I love or what my heart wanted. It was what I thought was easier. 

So what gives? 

Well, I hated family photography because I was trying to make my families look perfect. I was scouring the internet trying to find the perfect poses and then trying at every shoot to pose my families in these perfect ways which was making me feel totally defeated. It would make anyone feel that way. Sound familiar?? Please tell me I am not alone. ;)

So let me tell you three things you can do RIGHT NOW to improve your family photography and whats more is that it will make it more satisfying for you too. 

1. Give up perfection. Let it go. Today, stop trying to make your families look perfect. Instead, focus on capturing connection and emotion. Family is anything but perfect and there is no rule book that says we have to make them look that way. Put your own twist on it. 

2. Use movement in your family work. Ask them to sing, dance, spin, run, tickle, tell a story. Anything to get them engaged and moving. You will love the results. 

3. Tell the parents over and over again NOT to look at you but instead to look at each other. This will make the images more meaningful and more emotive. They need lots of reminding about this as they have been trained to look at the camera their whole lives but it will be worth it. 

Give these tips a try and let me know if even these simple tips help you make a change. Family photography is very in demand so don't give up! 

xo,

Elena

P.S. Ready to learn some poses that’ll really take your family photography to the next level? Follow the link below for my FREE family posing guide!

Lifestyle family posing that actually works

lifestyle family posing that actually works Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

When I am working with a family, my main goals are to capture love and connection; a glimpse into the essence of what makes a human relationship.  

I do not want my clients to have images that are stiff and uncomfortable (albeit well-dressed) versions of themselves.  I want them to end up with images that convey a feeling, and that bring them back to a fleeting moment in time.  

Without a sense of connection you are simply capturing the pose and their outfits.  Perceivable connection gives family photos a human feel, and makes everything contained in them appear genuine.  

Once you give yourself the creative freedom to go beyond traditional, stiff and posed family portraits, you can create artistic and emotive images. I like to think of my approach more as guiding than posing.

One of my favorite ways to achieve this is through movement. Capturing connection with movement creates a captivating portrait.  I will often ask the parents to hold hands and stand back and ask the children to hold hands and walk or run  toward me.

Posing tip: to get the whole family involved in movement, I ask them to hold hands and spin around in a circle slowly while singing a song.  Another option is to ask them to hold hands and walk away from or toward you, or engage them in an activity like playing in the waves.  

Simply encourage them to play, run, jump, or splash. They will have fun and you will capture a real moment. 

Movement creates a dynamic layer of connection.  The viewer is drawn in by the authentic facial expressions and body language that come out when the family is moving.  The viewer is connected to the activity, even if more static, perhaps pondering what the primary subjects are doing.  It is as if the viewer has a private glimpse into the family’s unique relationship or dynamic.


Family portraiture can be artistic and intimate.  I encourage you to relax and enjoy your family sessions.  Explore the deep love and connection that is present in every family, and discover how to convey these emotions through your creative work.  A successful session will often inspire a family to invite you into their usually private, intimate world.

xo,

Elena

P.S. I have a FREE family posing guide just for you! Hit the button below to get it straight to your inbox.