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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!

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.

Stop doing what you "should" do and do what feels right

create before you consume tips for entrepreneurs Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

If you are at all familiar with my newborn work you know that it is completely "Lifestyle."

Now the words we use to define our work aren't really important. What is truly important is the feeling behind our work.

My newborn work is family and baby centered. I don't pose my newborns on a beanbag and rarely take them out of their parents arms.

But it didn't used to be that way. Until about four years ago I was still operating as a traditional "posed" newborn photographer. I had the beanbag, brought the heater, and even had the props.

And if you know me you know that this so so NOT me.

But I was believing the lie that in order to make money doing this I had to do it a certain way. I had to pose babies because that is what my families would expect.

After I gave birth to my third daughter I realized that this was so not in align with my artistic vision and my values.

Right then and there I rebranded, took every posed image off of my website, and started over.

Guess what happened? My newborn business exploded. Why? Because people can sense when something isn't coming from a place of passion. When something isn't authentic.

So if you are doing something that just doesn't feel right, don't be afraid to make a change. I know it is scary to do that, but I am here to tell you that you can and that you SHOULD.

I hope you all are having a fantastic week!

Be you!!

xo,

Elena

P.S. If you are curious about Lifestyle Newborn Photography and how to get started or make a change to this type of Newborn Photography in your business, grab my free download "Getting Started With Lifestyle Newborn Photography” by clicking the button below.

My number one trick for "posing" newborns

One of my favorite things to do when posing newborns is to use the parents' hands.

Now I use the word "pose" loosely as I do very minimal, newborn led posing.

But I do like to get some shots of the baby alone on the bed, awake or asleep, if the baby is okay with it.

Simply ask the parents to come and hold the baby firmly in the position you desire. This allows you to capture the newborn with their parents loving hands on the baby, which is a beautiful shot, then allows you to capture the newborn alone. The baby is usually very calm after he or she has just been comforted by familiar hands.

Parent’s hands:

lifestyle newborn posing baby led Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

Calm baby:

calm+baby+newborn+posing+elena+s+blair+photography.jpeg

Try it out next time you photograph a newborn. Let me know how it goes.

xo,

Elena

P.S. I have a FREE downloadable guide to get you started with lifestyle newborn photography. Click the button below to get it sent straight to your inbox!

Why it's so important to create before you consume

create before you consume tips for entrepreneurs Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

We live in a magical time where we have access to entertainment, art, and friendship literally in the palm of our hands. I will be the dork here and say that the power of the internet still blows my mind.

However, this instant access, instant gratification, instant everything has many downfalls in my opinion.

I could bore you and go on and on, however I won’t do that. Instead I am going to share with you one major downfall that I feel can be detrimental to your creativity, your confidence, your mindset, and ultimately the growth of your business.

This downfall is the comparison game. I play it EVERY SINGLE DAY and my gut says you probably do too. Am I right?!

You scroll through Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc and you are flooded with so much beauty and talent. You are flooded with people showing themselves looking absolutely gorgeous doing epic things, creating incredible art.

Cue the inner narrative:

“Wow, my photography is so boring. Why can’t I use light like that?”

“I need that lens. I need that camera.”

“I look like a slob. My kids look like ragamuffins.”

“I don’t travel enough. I don’t spend nearly enough time in bed with gorgeous lattes.”

“I suck at all things and will never be able to be half as much as these bad asses, I quit.”

Yeah, you know what I mean don’t you?

Here is the thing. Inspiration is a beautiful, wonderful, motivating thing. But it can also bring you down to a place that is hard to get up from. And it can also suck so much time out of your life that you don’t get half the things done you were capable of.

But here is the good news, my friend. I have a very simple solution, a practice really, that I have been implementing and it has changed my life.

I now have a hard and fast rule. Create before you consume! Create before you consume!

It is almost meditative and I will admit it was hard to implement. It took some major self control to not roll over, grab my phone, and start binging on all things social media.

Now, I wake up, make my coffee, meditate for 5 minutes (that is it) and then I create something. That can be as simple as writing a blog post, writing an email like this one to you, editing an old personal photo, writing a note to my best friend, scheduling my own Instagram feed or facebook posts, culling a session, working on one of my upcoming talks or retreats…. ANYTHING BUT CONSUMING.

Then, when I do start guzzling social media (because I absolutely do) I come from a more firmly rooted place. I feel more sure of my own abilities to be a creator and I look at others from a more subjective place.

I urge you to try this. Create before you consume. See how it changes your mindset. And let me know if it helps.

xo,

Elena

P.S. I want you to start achieving your goals! What better way than this handy goal setting guide ;)

What I learned from being a full time mother and photographer

life of a working mom and photographer Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

I tend to write to women. I tend to write for women. Because really, who I am writing to is myself.

So today, I write to you, and to me.

It’s okay to want more than being a mother. *Cue all the gasps!

When my first child was born nearly 11 years ago my world stopped.I didn’t just give birth to him I gave birth to me. A new me.

Like many mothers I became absolutely wrapped up in my role as a mother. Happily. And in time I gave birth to two more babies, two little girls. For 10 years I was pregnant or breastfeeding. Basically my whole 20’s. 

I put them before me every single day. I skipped showers and workouts and time with their father and time with my friends. I disappeared. I rarely did anything for me at all, I am sad to admit.

And on the outside I was beaming with pride. Truth be told, I still am. I have three beautiful, confident, intelligent, creative, curious, well-behaved children. And it was worth every ounce of sacrifice I made for them.

But I want to be honest. There was always a little voice, a yearning inside me, that said “I want more! Where the hell are you, Elena!”

I was all things mother. All things!

But something burned hot inside me. So I picked up photography. And it saved me. But even that started about them. I was a photographer because I wanted to capture my own kids so it was okay that I was doing something not about the kids, right? Right?

Slowly, gradually, I realized “no, Elena, this isn’t about them. This is about YOU. You want to create for YOU!! For the you who used to like to sing and dance, for the you who laughed with her friends, for the you who loved passionately, for the creator inside you that you put to sleep when you became a mother, when you became an adult and did all the adult things you thought you had to do.”

Despite all the doubt and all the feelings of guilt for being selfish I went into business. Because turns out, I LOVE business, I love setting goals that have NOTHING to do with my kids and achieving them.

Turns out I don’t actually enjoy photographing them every day, only when I really feel like it.

Turns out I actually like photographing other people's families more.

Turns out I love pushing boundaries with my work.

Turns out I LOVE getting up on stage and speaking my passion and my truth.

Turns out I LOVE educating and inspiring others.

Turns out I like being in control of the amount of money I can make which is a stark contrast to my “safe” job I went to college for, which was a nurse. Yup, I just said I like making money.

Turns out I need to work out nearly every day to feel human, even if it means dragging my kids to the park to run around a crappy track.

Turns out I don’t like wearing yoga pants every day and that I actually like looking put together, for ME!

And I want more. I have goals that seem out of this world and they are FOR ME!

This doesn’t make me selfish. This doesn’t make me less of a mother. This doesn't make me less of a woman.

Self acceptance and self care is an act of rebellion for mothers.

How dare we want more than the precious children we mother?

Well, call me a rebel. I know I am a kick ass mom. Proof is in the amazing little humans who call me Mommy.

But guess what, being a mother isn’t enough for me.

I need more and if you do too, it is okay. I give you permission. Be a rebel. Find YOU within the role of a mother.  

I only just started to fully realize this in the past year. I literally look back at photos of myself over the past eleven years and don’t recognize who I am looking at.

Not anymore. Now, I take care of ME first, I make goals for ME first.

And guess what? My kids are still alive and well.

xo,

Elena

P.S. Interested in doing something for YOU? Download this free quick start guide and learn how to get your photography business started!

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.

Tips for photographers to stay motivated year round

stay motivated as a photographer Elena S Blair Education For Photographers

I will never forget the thrill of my first booked year. Finally, after lots of trial and error I managed to book up my fall months. It was amazing! I was finally making a good income with this photography gig and was really finding my way in business. 

Then January came and cue the crickets. My inbox was empty and so was my bank account. But what’s worse is my motivation was also in the tank. 

It is hard to stay motivated when you are judging success on inquiries. I get it. I have been there. Self doubt creeps in and you think "maybe this isn't for me?"

But it's not true, friend. This is for you! Here are a few things you can do right now to get your motivation back and start planning to make this year awesome! 

1. Start shooting for yourself again. I know my personal work goes by the waist side when my business is busy. I take the winter months to take a class, think about my art and really start picking up the camera for my own personal use again. 

2. Ramp up your in-home photography sessions. I will reach out to past clients and say that I am taking in home sessions for the months of January- March. This gets them thinking about me and excited about a new photo shoot option. (Photo above was an in home session.) 

3. Get business savvy. Guess what, friend? Having a photography business that thrives is about 20% art, 80% business. I now don't have a slow season. Sure, fall is far busier, however I have steady bookings all year long. Because I have learned how to be a good business woman. So dive in to business podcasts, education, and content. You have the art thing down, now it's time to get the business thing down. What better time to learn about business than when business is slow?

4. Diversify your business offerings. Ever thought about trying something new, like fine art school photography? It’s a great way to bring in income during slow seasons! And it’s an easy way to get your work in front of more families.

So, use this time wisely. Busy season will come again and you will be so much better prepared if you use this time well to educate yourself and to grow. You got this! 

xo,

Elena

P.S. Are you interested in seeing if fine art school photography is right for you and your business? Download this free quick start guide to learn all about it!

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

P.S. Want more posing tips delivered straight to your inbox? Hit the button below!