Having professional photos taken can be quite stressful. For most people, being in front of the camera doesn’t feel natural! You’re feeling nervous and awkward, wondering what locations or outfits are best. What about timing for the best light? Oh, and don’t forget you’ve got to work around your kids’ nap schedules! Then you’ve got to figure out how to look gorgeous and natural without looking too posed. I mean, come on! Even a selfie pro has to take a bunch of snaps to get that one Instagram worthy shot – and she likes being photographed! All these questions and thoughts are running through your head before your session and all this anxiety is just building up more and more. But wait … it doesn’t have to be that way. Read on for some of my best tips for a stress-free portrait session!
At Krista Mason Photography, we want you to have a fun, relaxing, stress-free session. You can do that by leaving all the details to us, the professional photographers. Our goal is to capture your family – whether it’s just the two of you or your growing family of 4. We do this in a fun and relaxing way that allows us to capture your genuine personalities with love and laughter.
You can be sure we’ll do our part, but how do YOU make a great photo session happen? Read on for our tips:
Not all photographers are the right photographer for you. The most important step in the process to finding a photographer is finding one that you connect with and feel comfortable around. A photographer that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable and confident.
It’s a fine line between picking the perfect time for gorgeous natural light and that time when your little ones are going to be in their best mood. Communicate with your photographer if you have specific time frames you’d like to work with. But, keep in mind the best lighting is just before sunset. Of course, during the summertime, that’s the witching hour for the little ones and can prove a challenge to get kids to cooperate. The best photographer is willing to work with you and your family’s schedule while still striving for the best options for getting those amazing shots.
Feeling confident about your location and what you are going to wear are crucial in capturing the best images. Be sure to communicate your expectations with your photographer and your family. This will make for a smooth session. An experienced photographer will be one that asks lots of clarifying questions either with a Skype call or an in-home visit. This will go a long way to getting images that will blow your mind; images that you’ll proudly display in your home – beautiful art that will remind you of that fleeting magical time!
Your kids or husband may be driving you up the wall while you’re getting ready and rushing out the door for your session. Stay focused and don’t let it get to you. Do your best to keep everyone calm, cool, and collected … including yourself. If you need a moment to relax – even just 30 seconds alone to regain your sanity – just take it. Nothing is worse than showing up to a session trying to capture the love between you and your family but you just got in an argument. Even worse? Trying to get the kids to listen but one of them goes into full-on meltdown. Today is supposed to be a peaceful day! Bonus tip: bring a little something to keep the kids entertained and focused … a favorite toy (or even a new one), music, snacks … candy is my go-to favorite! Of course, I don’t have to go home with them, though – lol!
Nothing adds to the stress more than running out the door in a panic because you’re late for your session. Allow plenty of time to get ready and arrive on location for your session – maybe even add on a little extra time to deal with those unexpected hiccups that inevitably occur. We suggest at least 2-3 hours to get ready. Lay out all your outfits the night before – including shoes, socks and all the accessories – because there’s a good chance you’ll forgot the socks or won’t be able to find those shoes that make the outfit complete, lol. We also suggest to double your expected travel time, it is LA after all. It’s always better to arrive early enough to look around. It lets you and the kids unwind from the travel rather than being in a frantic high-strung state because you got stuck in traffic. Don’t make specific plans after your session, like dinner reservations, ball games or anywhere you have to be at a set time. Sometimes things can go a bit longer than anticipated.
Trust your photographer to capture you and your loved ones. Let them guide you and direct you. That takes the pressure off of you. Trust they have your best interest in mind and want you to love your images just as much as you want to love them. Don’t worry about anyone but yourself, your photographer has your back and is looking at everyone to make sure you all look your best – even the kids and fur babies.
Get a good nights sleep. Try to get everyone to take a nap if you’ve got a late afternoon or early evening session. Eat a light snack before your session. Yes, I know that you are trying to fit into that stunning dress, but hearing your tummy grumble during a session will for sure be a distraction. And we all know how testy a hangry toddler or husband can be!
Consider professional hair and make-up for your session. Pamper yourself a little and take the stress off of getting the perfect style and look. Don’t have time to go to the salon? No problem … many hair and make-up artists now come to you, like our friends at glam squad!
The most important tip we can offer you is this: have fun and let loose. Allow yourself to laugh, enjoy the silly moments, whatever it takes for your session to be fun. Let your inner child run free, and of course let the kids be kids. It’s about capturing the precious moments and a genuine reflection of your family. Look at your session as an adventure, a date night or an enjoyable excursion with the family. You’ll be happy when you see images that tell the truth about who you are as a family!
It’s been another wonderful year filled with amazing weddings, engagement, portraits and some of the best clients! We have pulled together the Best of 2017 … some of your favorites and ours, too! Everything from your favorite Instagram post to your favorite tips. Stick it out to the end for a festive holiday cocktail recipe from Tal, one of my favorite mixologists from Pharmacie!
Your favorite tip of the year is a big one for many of our engaged couples, 5 Things to do to get started planning your wedding. Visit the post to get a recap on 5 things to do before you start planning.
We love your engagement with us on Instagram!! Here are the top 3 posts from this year according to YOU!! Looks like 2018 is going to be beautiful and classic!
Scotland and the Cairngorms were on our top list as well! But you guys were the sweetest, loving the pictures of Aldo and I at Arthur’s Seat! Those rolling green hills are to die for, I’ll admit, and it was so fun walking around being photographed by our good friends.
Oh yeah, this was a good one! This gorgeous maternity session has opened up a new love for in-home maternity portraits for me.
This was a close one, but in the end you all loved this beautiful Palos Verdes wedding at Wayfarers Chapel. I mean, with this adorable couple and beautiful glass chapel with stunning views, it’s hard not to love!
This was such an amazing shoot! So much color, so many bridal styles, so much beautiful awesomeness! All rolled into one killer shoot with my favorite dream team, Chic Celebrations and Lauryl Lane! I have a surprise for you next year involving this awesome dream team!
Those Santa Ynez views and sunsets are my favorite too! This beautiful engagement session was filled with as many surprises as it was stunning images!
Well, if you’ve made it this far, you deserve a cocktail!! So, as promised, here’s one of my favorite holiday cocktails! As a bonus, Tal has graciously given us his secret recipe! If you try it out this holiday season, we’d love to see your version of it! Post your pics up on Instagram and tag us: @kristamasonphotography and @pharmacie__ (that’s 2 dashes at the end )
And there it is!! All of your favorites from 2017!! We love all of you and appreciate your support and always look forward to the next event or portrait! Thank you to each and every one of you – you know who you are! You know you want to join in on the fun and be part of the KMP family! Give us a shoutout! Happy Holidays!!
People always talk about how important it is to capture your children each year as they grow. And while I know it’s true, it’s also just plain obvious. You love seeing your kids grow each year and how much they change. We all know how important it is to look back and see their growth. From that first day of school photo at your front door to the last day of school. But what about just the two of you whether you have kids or not?
Recently, I personally experienced the importance reflecting back through the years in my photos. It was super fun, but I really wish I had a photo to represent each of our early years. I’ve learned it’s never too late to start. I have vowed to have a professional photo taken of Aldo and I every year, so that in 20 years or 50 years, I have images that we can look back on, laugh at and talk about what babies we were.
It occurred to me while celebrating our 14th Anniversary, how important capturing each year is. I don’t know if you saw it on my social media channels, but I posted a photo of each year Aldo and I have been together – all the way back to 2007 and even one from what I call the early years because I wasn’t sure of the date. We were such babies! But I couldn’t find very many photos of us earlier than 2007, and you know why? It’s because we didn’t start taking our Holiday Portraits until 2007. Yes, I’m sure that we have photos during that time, but where are they? Who knows and they sure as heck are not as cute as the ones we had professionally done.
I share this with you because I don’t want you looking back in 14 years wishing you had taken professional photos. There’s nothing better than proudly sharing your life with your friends and family, no matter the style or look that you were rocking at the time. When I was looking back at our photos, I was like, “Wow, I just dated myself, lol.” But I am still so very happy to have them so I can reflect back on the wonderful years I’ve shared with the love of my life. I’m even more excited that I have current ones that represent us as a couple, showing our relationship and style.
Every time I see your updates on Facebook or Instagram or you send me an email, I get super excited to see what adventures you have been up to lately. Was it a new job, a new house, are you expecting, your first, second, or maybe even your third child? Did you get a new puppy? Take any fun travel adventures? Did your kids start their first year of school? That’s been a fun one for me since it’s that time of year. Watching you all post your minis with their first day of school signs…just the cutest! This got me thinking … obviously, in addition to wanting professional photos you want to be able to take great photos on your day-to-day adventures. So, I wanted to share a few fun tips with you on how to best capture these precious daily moments with your mobile phone. Whether it’s travels, your kids first day of school, or a special moment between the two of you, you’ll want to capture them all!
The same composition rules apply even if you aren’t photographing people. Be sure that you have a focal point or main point of interest to grab the viewer’s attention. Remember the rule of thirds and put that focal point in one of those sweet spots.
One interesting subject is all you need to create a stunning photo, but we understand that sometimes you want multiple people in the image and that works just as perfect.
Don’t be afraid if your photo has a lot of empty space. This is what us photographers call “negative space” and it’s helpful in making your subject stand out.
Be sure to look at all details. Is there a trash can or water bottle in the shot? Move it. Can’t move it? Change the angle of your shot to avoid it.
A subtle muted background keeps the photo from becoming too distracting. Make sure the background complements the color of what the subject is wearing so they don’t blend in.
Lighting is the most important thing in any photo. The best kind of lighting is soft, natural, diffused light, such as window lighting. The same rules apply for outdoor photos … soft natural diffused light. The best time of day to shoot is what professional photographers call the golden hour. Either early morning just as the sun is coming out or just before sunset. In my line of work with weddings, we understand these situations aren’t always achievable on the go. So, look for soft evenly shaded areas. Again, be aware of your background. If it’s too light or too dark, your subject will get lost. Avoid harsh shadows and shooting the subject facing the sun. This will produce squinting eyes and unwanted shadows. Also beware of too dark of areas. All too often we see subjects being photographed in dark dingy corners where they tend to get lost.
Our eyes can determine both dark and light exposures at the same time, but the camera cannot. Ever have a subject with the beach as the background and either the beach is properly exposed but your subject is too dark or the subject is correct and the beach is blown out? This is because the camera can’t capture what we see with the naked eye. Most mobile phone cameras will capture everything overall and guess at what the best mix will be. This means if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll won’t get the photo you’re aiming for. Try tapping on the main subject to achieve the best exposure. Sometimes, though, even that won’t work. In that case, you’ll need to rethink your background and lighting situation. Look for that open soft shade or window lighting.
It’s been said that the eyes are the window to the soul. They are also a great part of your subject to focus on when you’re trying to capture them at their best. It’s because the eyes are the most expressive part of the face. Ready take it one step further? Focus on the eye closest to the camera.
Experiment with different perspectives and cropping. A common mistake is always putting the subject directly in the center of the frame.
You don’t have to always center your subject. Learn the rule of thirds. Try an angle from above or below. Set your subject off centered.
Photographing children is always a challenge, sometimes even more so when mom and dad are doing it. We recommend getting down on their level. Get low, talk to them, engage with them. Make them laugh and wait for that perfect expression that best expresses their personalities. This is where you have an advantage, because you know them best. You know that expression right before it happens, so be ready to click. If you try to force smiles or make them stand stiff and still that’s the look you’ll get. Put them in the right lighting with the right background and let them be them. You’ll know when to capture that perfect moment.
The #1 rule when photographing anyone is to stay positive and give lots of affirmation that the subject looks amazing. If your kids are making funny faces, make them back. I promise it will make them laugh and if you’re ready, you’ll capture the perfect smile. With couples, the same thing applies – OK, maybe not the funny faces, but you never know … that might work, lol. Just keep it upbeat and positive and you’ll get that emotion you desire. I have to make Aldo sincerely laugh anytime we take a photo, otherwise he looks like a grumpy old man! I do this by any means necessary – being a goof ball, tickles, stupid jokes, whatever – but it works, we manage to get some awesome smiles out of him. Also remember you don’t always have to smile for portraits!
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get great photos…and remember, the best camera you can have is the camera you have with you! Don’t be afraid to experiment. You’re mobile camera is digital, so if you don’t like the image you can delete it and try again!
Congratulations … You’re engaged! The proposal was absolutely perfect! You suspected something was up, but when he dropped down on one knee and asked you the one question you’ve dreamed about all your life … “Will you marry me?” you were filled with excitement, tears, and an overwhelming feeling of love! You are on cloud nine! But now it’s time to start planning your wedding!
You’ve made the big announcement to the world and now you’ve got some big decisions to make, but where do you start? You’re still glowing in the excitement of your new engagement, but you know you’ve got to get started planning soon, so what is your next step? The venue? The planner? The date? The guest list? Colors?
Oh, there’s plenty of advice out there on the internet, but it can all be so overwhelming! Well, don’t worry, I’m here to give you some expert advice on where to get started.
First of all, don’t forget to take time to CELEBRATE. This is the beginning of the best of your days spent with the love of your life. Take time to reflect on why you’re doing this and what it is that really matters to you and your love! Open that bubbly and celebrate!
Even before you start making your guest list, you’ll want to decide on a time of year. First of all, decide which season you’d prefer. Do you want a spring wedding on the lawn of your favorite winery? Or are you looking to have a winter wedding at the hottest venue in town? Then you’ll need to think about holidays and special family events. You don’t want to conflict with other important family celebrations and risk forcing people to decide between important family events.
Once you’ve decided the season and a date, next comes the time of day. If you want the best, most fabulous pictures, I recommend having a late afternoon or early evening wedding. You’ll want to plan your ceremony time so you can take advantage of the beautiful sunset light. The best time for sunset photos is about half an hour before the sun sets. Typically, family group photographs are taken in the 30 minutes after a ceremony, that is if you’ve already taken your couple’s portraits before the ceremony. If you opt to wait to see your beloved until you walk down the aisle for the first time, then you’ll want to allow about at least an hour for photos post ceremony.
Sunset times vary with season and location around the US. Here in Southern California, springtime sunsets are around 7pm, with summertime sunsets an hour or so later, and fall and winter sunsets an hour or more earlier.
Another reason to choose your date first? Your style and colors will be reflected by the season you choose. Soft pastel colors are perfect for a springtime wedding, and bolder colors are perfect for fall. Obviously rules are meant to be broken, but it is something to consider.
You have your date selected, now let’s talk about the look and feel of your wedding. Close your eyes and think about the wedding of your dreams. Was it a beachside wedding with the sand between your toes? Or do you dream of candles and roses in a fairy tale castle? Perhaps you have something much simpler in mind and dream of walking among the flowers in your grandmother’s garden. Whatever you have in mind for your dream wedding, there are a few other things to keep in mind. Do you want a big wedding or something small and intimate? Indoors or outside? City or countryside? Home or Destination? Modern, classic, rustic, Hollywood glam? Again, all this can be overwhelming. Spend some time perusing your favorite wedding magazines and blogs, looking for inspiration in styled shoots and real weddings. But don’t stop there, while you’re out running errands, watch for patterns and colors that catch your eye. You can even find inspiration in your favorite movies or your grandmother’s favorite brooch. Just keep your eyes open, you never know when inspiration will strike.
Still don’t know where to start? Sit down and ask yourself and your partner the following questions (sourced from Martha Stewart). Perhaps they’ll inspire your big picture and settle on some of those lovely details.
You’ll hear so many differing opinions on when you need to hire your wedding planner. Many will tell you to wait, that it’s too soon. But in my opinion, the sooner you engage your professional planner, the sooner you’ll be on your way to stress-free wedding planning.
Hiring a full-time wedding professional is well worth the money, especially if you and your fiancé are super busy, have demanding jobs, or just have really big (translated complicated) dreams for your big day. The full-time planner will see to all the details for your entire wedding, from the engagement party to the honeymoon. They will even guide you to the perfect locations you have envisioned for your dream day, finding that secret gem!
Don’t have the cash to spend on a full-time planner? Hire a coordinator to help you come up with the blueprint for your wedding – your budget, a schedule, lists of vendors and venues to match your vision. Once you’ve got a plan, then you’ll be able to tackle the individual projects one by one.
Once you’ve figured out your style and hired the perfect wedding coordinator, then it’s time to choose your venue and finalize your date. This is where the fun begins. Think about the big picture, but don’t rule out something outside the box. If the wedding of your dreams is fairy tale gala set in a candle-lit ballroom, consider the possibility of having that princess wedding in a garden instead. A springtime wedding in the garden could just as easily transition into an intimate seaside affair complete with barefoot dancing in the sand. With your dreams of style options in mind, your professional event planner will guide you to choosing the perfect venue. Everything is falling into place…your dream wedding is well on its way to becoming a reality!
Now you have the final date, dream venue and a planner by your side guiding your through the journey, what’s next?
Head on over to Wedding Wire and get a personalized wedding checklist for all the nitty gritty details you will need to think about. The fun has just begun. But remember, when things start to overwhelm you, (I’m not gonna lie, you will get overwhelmed and that is ok), just take a deep breath and call your event planner! He or she will know what to say to talk you back from the edge! With the right team members and family and friends there to support you, it will all be ok and you will get through this. Just take a moment and ask for help from your fiancé, planner, mom or maid of honor. You want this to be a fun journey and you can build the perfect team by your side to walk you through every step. Don’t get carried away, enjoy the process and remember why you are pulling all this together. To celebrate the love you and your fiancé have with the people who matter most to you!
You’ve booked an engagement session, but now you’re just not sure where to start on figuring out all the details like what to wear or where to take your photos. Scrolling through Pinterest didn’t help…there’s just too much “advice” out there and now you’re just overwhelmed.
Don’t worry…the professionals are here to help! When you work with us here at Krista Mason Photography, we do our very best to make the whole experience as easy and relaxing as we possible can!
Your engagement session isn’t just another portrait shoot…it’s an important part of your wedding photography. (Read my blog post about the Top 5 Reasons to Have an Engagement session to see how important!)
As a wedding photographer, my most favorite thing to capture is you – the happy couple – on your wedding day. I just love first looks, couples’ portraits…any opportunity at all to capture precious moments between you and your love.
BUT…a very close second is the engagement session! I love working with my couples to help them feel as beautiful and special as they already are! I mean, who doesn’t want to feel amazing and glamorous when they’re having their portraits taken?
The engagement session is the perfect time for both the photographer and couple to get beautiful, creative photos without all the stress and pressure of keeping your guests waiting on your wedding day! We’re able to add a very personal element to these photos, capturing your love in a setting and style that truly reflects your personality as a couple.
Working closely with the couple to achieve their vision for their portraits is very important to me. I enjoy working with my couples on location selection and outfit styling. Through the whole experience, the couples and I get to know each other really well.
Let me tell you about Nicole and Ed’s engagement session. These two have the busiest schedules of anyone I know, but somehow, we made it happen! We started off with an outfit inspiration board with a color scheme that matched their home. Why match their home? Well, the goal is to capture images they will love and cherish AND that will look beautiful as art in their home.
All these little details matter and we’ve got you covered. As your professional photographer, we will guide you through choosing outfits, finding the perfect location, and especially how to pose so you look natural, and of course, beautiful!
After answering a few simple questions, sending me some snaps while out shopping, and a little help from Nicole’s mom, these two nailed their style and ended up loving their images!
Look how adorable, classic and stylish they look. Choosing the garden and city hall as their shoot locations, we were able to complement their outfits perfectly!
Even though Nicole and Ed ended up having to work right up to the last minute before the session, they were comfortable and confident even before we started the session. Were they a little nervous? Of course, but after the first few clicks and a few laughs, they fell right into the role of models for their session!