Tip of the Week


Beth said:
FIRST OFF…THANK YOU SO much for this FEATURE!! This shoot was a blast! Our friends are heavy into Halloween for their holiday photos and wanted to do Scooby Doo for this year’s theme. I thought it might be fun to utilize their cabin in Big Bear and be in the woods. What Scooby Doo shoot isn’t complete without some spooky smoke (which my husband scuffled his feet to move the dirt behind-genius!), creepy backlighting (provided by the headlights of Fred’s Mystery Machine aka…Toyota Tundra) and a commitment to costuming? I’m happy to report the gang saved the day! Thank you again for sharing this. I’m over the moon!

Tip of the Week chosen by @kelly.crews

Tip of the Week


Andrea said:
Thank you so much for the feature @merrakaiphotography @camera_mama. ❤️ My tip would be to purchase your child a camera (whether real or a toy). 🤗 I bought this wooden camera for my son’s 2nd birthday and he often takes it with us on adventures to “take pictures” of his own. I always love seeing which things catch his eye. If I have an idea in my head that I really want to capture, but he’s not really in the mood, I’ll ask him to take my picture first. It often gets him excited and interested in joining in and taking photos with me. 😊

Tip of the Week chosen by @kelly.crews

Tip of the Week


Sandra said:
Thank you SO VERY MUCH for the feature! I took this in my driveway with tons of Halloween decorations in the background, so I had to zoom in. I love backlit images, so I took this about an hour before sunset. I ensured there was enough light behind me so there would be catchlight in her eyes. I added the sun flare to the upper right hand corner in PhotoShop. I am still trying to perfect that! I told her to hold the flower next to her cheek and “stare at Mommy.” I am obsessed with her freckles and added a little bit of contrast to them in LR. Thank you again for the feature! Made my day!

Tip of the Week chosen by @kelly.crews

How to Take Stunning Senior Portraits

I LOVE photographing high school seniors! I think it’s so fun to get to know the rising generation and I always leave shoots feeling a renewed sense of optimism for the future! Here are a few of my tried and true tips for photographing high school seniors that I have learned through the years. In the video accompanied with these tips, you can watch the entire coaching session with Cassie where I share a ton of other tips too. Currently there are some openings for coaching clients: find out more

1. How to Get the Most Authentic Senior Photos

When you set the stage by being open, and vulnerable, and totally YOU, you automatically give your client the permission to do the same. People can innately sense if you are being real with them, and if you are, they are more likely to feel comfortable doing the same. With senior photos, it is especially important to help your client open up so you can capture their true essence.

2. Best Tip to Get the Photo that Ends up Framed

At the end of the day, after shooting different poses, different outfits, sitting, standing, props, no props…. the one photo you absolutely MUST have is ‘that shot’ of your client looking at the camera and smiling. This is the shot that your client will likely frame on their wall, send to grandma and maybe their godmother and other relatives. Don’t get me wrong, your clients will love, and want, the variety of other shots too, but if you don’t have THIS shot, and hopefully many options of this shot, your client won’t be happy.

Here’s the story behind how I learned this. Several years ago I had two different clients hire me to photograph their daughters, who were friends, for their senior photos AFTER they had already been photographed by a different photographer. I asked them if I could see the photos from their first shoot so I could get an idea of why they weren’t satisfied. I expected to see photos that were poorly done and to be able to see a clear reason as to why the clients did not like the photos from their first photographer. To my surprise, when I looked at the photos, I thought they were beautiful! This puzzled me, and worried me a bit! I wanted to find out why my clients weren’t happy with the work of the other photographer so I could make sure I wouldn’t end up in the same boat! The clients told me that the other photographer was ‘too creative’ and didn’t deliver even one ‘normal’ photo they could send to grandma to hang on her wall. I think that had their first photographer done the exact same photos, but would have added in some ‘boring’ poses, her clients would have walked away happy. 

3. Ideas to Help Them Get Comfortable in Front of the Camera

When was the last time you were photographed by yourself? How did it feel? A few years ago I was at the Insta-Inspire Retreat in Salt Lake City, Utah and during the photo walk we would take turns posing in front of the cameras. All of the sudden I found myself being photographed and I felt SO UNCOMFORTABLE! It was like I was standing on the corner naked! I have tried to preserve this memory so that when I am the one behind the camera, I can help the person or people I am photographing feel more at ease. That being said, I have found that the photos I take during the first 10-15 minutes of a senior shoot generally do not end up as my favorites from the shoot. I think a big reason for this is that my clients become more comfortable as the shoot goes on, and in the first shots that I take, their true personalities are still hiding a bit. If things aren’t ‘flowing’ at the beginning, don’t stress it! Your client will feel your stress if you stress about it which will make it harder for them to relax.

4. Creating Meaningful Photos by Creating a Meaningful Photo Shoot

Getting senior photos taken is sort of a rite of passage and will likely be a memory your client will carry with them for many years. I usually suggest to female clients that they invest in a professional hair and makeup artist for their photo shoot so that they feel extra special and confident in front of the camera. I often ask my senior clients to suggest locations that hold meaningful memories for them which often results in me discovering awesome new locations!

5. Ask Your Client What They Plan to “DO” with the Photos

Many times clients won’t know what they want to do with the photos and they will rely on your direction and suggestions, but sometimes clients have very specific plans in mind. For example, especially in families where the senior I am photographing is the youngest sibling, there are often well established family traditions with what they do with the senior photos. One client was the youngest of TEN and his mom had a wall off their kitchen where she had 5×7 framed photos of each of her children their senior year of high school. Another client had a series of framed photos of each of her children as seniors with one main photo and 4 smaller photos surrounding it that showed the senior doing their extra-curricular activities like musical instruments and sports, so I planned the shots accordingly. I just recently designed an album for one of my senior clients and I found myself wishing I had more horizontal shots, especially from far away. Note to self! It’s definitely an ever evolving learning process!

6. Genuine Compliments Go a Long Way!

Tell your client the things you like about the way they look in certain photos. Try to add in some specifics in addition to the more generalized ‘You look amazing!’ compliments. 

7. Use the Same Lighting but Different Poses

In the same exact spot, without even having your client take one step from where they are, you can create a TON of different photo options. Closed mouth smile, open mouth smile, look to the left, look up and slightly to the right, look down, look just past the camera laughing as if they just spotted their best friend, zoom out and get a 3/4 body shot, zoom out more and get a full body shot, change arm positions, take a horizontal shot, take a vertical shot…you get the idea!

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I can’t wait to help you with your photos! 

Xxo, Rebecca Franson, Camera Mama Founder

Six tips for extended family photo sessions

This is a photo I took of my own family last summer after church one Sunday while we were all at the lake. I used a tripod and a remote trigger and my sister helped me a lot with arranging everyone. Our outfits were not coordinated as you can see. All the spouses are standing next to each other but the kids are scattered around, not arranged in family groupings (read #3 to find out why). Usually I would probably put the youngest kids on the front row, but in our case, the teenagers are all super tall so it was easier to have them sit down and to have the younger kids stand. Everyone looks so happy and cooperative right? Haha! In reality they were all complaining! Ok, not ALL of them, but it kind of seemed like it in the moment! But totally worth it!

In the video accompanied with these posing tips, you can watch the entire coaching session with Tiffany where we also discussed cropping and much more. I’m currently accepting coaching clients: find out more

1. Make Mom your priority

“If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” This is especially true when it comes to family photos! I like showing mom the back of my camera during the shoot to get her thoughts and feedback. I have learned that this can greatly contribute to having an end result that the client is thrilled with. For example, several years ago I was photographing a darling family and the mom was wearing a bold red lipstick. I showed her some photos on the back of my camera and she hated the way the lipstick looked so she took it off and opted for a softer lip. If I wouldn’t have showed her the back of my camera, she would have been wearing the red lipstick the entire time and she wouldn’t have liked the finished photos nearly as much.

2. Get everyone in focus

Large groups can be tricky with making sure everyone is in focus. Here’s a good rule of thumb, set your shutter speed to 200. Set your ISO to 400. Put your f-stop as high as possible without making the photo too dark. Focus on the eyes of the person in the middle, front. After taking a test shot, zoom up on the faces in the photo to make sure they are in focus.

3. Balance heights and colors.

You may want to consider arranging people by heights and what they are wearing rather than strictly by each individual family being together. This can result in a much more balanced looking and cohesive photo. It kind of depends how well the family has coordinated clothing and the height differences between family members. For example, if everyone is similar in height, you may need to have some family members sitting down in order to see everyone’s faces.

4. Creating Connection

If everyone’s hands are stiff and to their sides, the end photo will probably look stiff. My goal is to create a feeling of genuine connection in photos like this. Holding hands, linking arms and leaning into each other are a few ways you can create connection in large group photos.

5. Posing to maximize flattering angles

The people at the edges of the photos will look larger than those at the center so it’s a good practice to position smaller people at the edges of the photo, and larger people towards the center. And for goodness sakes, if you are the one taking the photo and you have to run and jump in the shot, unless you’re one of the smaller people in the group, carve out a flattering spot for yourself. (I have learned this the hard way!)

6. Have a second set of eyes and hands to help you

With a big group of people it’s hard to see everything, and it is super helpful to have someone helping you out. No need for your helper to be a photographer. One year when I was taking this group photo of my family, the twins, the youngest ones, were both pulling faces in almost every.single.photo! The next year I was READY! Or, so I thought. I was so laser focused on the twins that next year that I didn’t notice that their oldest brother was making faces in every.single.shot!

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I can’t wait to help you with your photos! 

Xxo, Rebecca Franson, Camera Mama Founder