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Behind the Shot – Go with the Flow!

Photography Tips - Technical

August 25, 2023


In today’s Behind the Shot, I want to approach it a bit differently than simply giving you the technical stats on creating a pretty picture! You see, knowing how to work your camera is just one piece of the pie when creating beautiful images! Knowing how to engage and interact with your client in order to capture true emotion is equally as important! Sometimes it’s easy…and sometimes you have to work at it or modify your plan! This shot is an example of that!

Behind the shot - Go with the Flow
Happy as a lark…holding her Daddy’s hand! 🙂

This is Josie, an adorable one-year-old who has the sweetest smile and dimples!! I mean, look at that sweet face!! When I photograph a family session, I always get individual portraits of the children. However, sometimes – like in this case – the child just doesn’t want to be alone. Josie really wanted to be held by her Mommy or Daddy during this session. I was someone new to her, and although she warmed up as the session went on, it was important that she be touching one of her parents in order for her to feel comfortable and happy!

Here’s the deal…I could’ve forced it and tried and tried to get her to stand by herself and look at my camera. We could’ve waited through the tears and had mom or dad take her to a spot and then run away really quick so I could steal some shots before the tears!

BUT WHHYYYYYYYY?!!!!! LOL!! All that would have done was make Josie completely miserable and sad. Then, her Mommy & Daddy would’ve been stressed to the max. It would’ve wasted time, and everyone (including myself) would’ve been ready to throw in the white flag! It’s just not worth it…and there’s a better way!! 🙂

I knew that I wasn’t going to get a true headshot of Josie completely alone, but I also knew that she was happy as a lark while holding her Daddy’s hand. So, instead of all the drama mentioned above, I just chose to take her individual shots while she walked with her Daddy! I got her sweet smile, her dimples…and she was happy! I made sure to focus on her sweet face and have her whole body in the shot – and just the hand of her Daddy.

Josie is STILL the focus of this image! Plus, I love the storytelling aspect that her Daddy’s hand gives the image. It symbolizes so many things: how she is wrapped around his finger (and he is wrapped around hers), how fast this precious time flies, how he is her safe place, etc. I could go on and on!

My point is that sometimes, you have to go with the flow and modify the plan in order to make the experience great for everyone! Flexibility is key!

You may be thinking…but what if she wouldn’t even walk…what if she didn’t let anyone put her down? Then I would’ve taken close-up portraits of her while she was being held – snuggled close to her Mommy or Daddy. I’ve had to create individual portraits of children by doing that many times, and it’s absolutely fine!!

So, the next time your client (or your own child) doesn’t want to follow along with what you have in mind, I challenge you to go with the flow, embrace the moment, and be flexible! You can still create beautiful art and amazing (and stress-free) memories for everyone!!


Time of Year – August

Time of Day – approximately 7:30pm

Camera – Canon 5D Mark IV

Lens – Canon 85mm f/1.2L

Settings – Aperture (f-stop) – f/2.2 ISO – 200 Shutter Speed – 1/400 sec.

Other thoughts/details – The sun was behind and to the left. The light gray gravel served as a natural reflector (reflected light back onto Josie’s face…always a good thing). I chose to compose the image vertically so that I could crop out Josie’s Daddy and get her whole body in the shot.

I hope these tips help you along your own photography journey!! If you have any questions, just ask! I’d love to help! If you’re interested in learning more about photography, I offer one-on-one coaching and would love to cheer you on!! You can view details HERE!

Until next time…Have a great day!! ~Ashlee

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