3 Tips for Capturing Emotion in Photos

Raise your hand if you have ever taken a photo that lacked interest? Yes, it may have been pretty. Yes, it may have been technically sound. But did it hold your attention? Did it tell a story?

I have found that the photos that stand out most to me are about so much more than a perfect smile; they are about who the subject is right in that moment. If it is a child, I’m more excited to capture who they are at this stage: their curiosity, their shyness, their ability to ham it up for the camera. The “perfect smile” does not intrest me. In my years of taking photos my style has really evolved. I have moved away from standard poses, props, and stiff photographs. I have really tried to focus on the in-between moments. The moments that a mother will cherish. If I can make a mom cry, I consider that #winning haha. No for reals, I feel there is no greater compliment than capturing an image that is so beautiful and so real that it brings someone to tears.

I tell many clients that although these photos are for you as the parent, they are just as much for your children, as they are the legacy that’s going to be left behind. I always think about that scene from the movie “Beaches”, where Hilary is digging through an old box of photos trying to remember what her mothers hands looked like. One day, photos will be all that’s left, and I want to ensure that each client has photos that tell their story.

So how do you ensure that you are able to capture that kind of emotion in your photos? People are very hard to read and already feel awkward enough in front of the camera without us asking them to get all mushy with a complete stranger, right? So let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start)…

  1. Make sure your clients know your photography style BEFORE they book a session.

    This may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many photographers advertise one type of photography, then get disappointed when people show up and just look at the camera dumbfounded. You will notice that neither my social media nor my website show any photos of people looking at the camera; I only post photos that display connection and emotion. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely take some posed “christmas card” photos during my sessions, because we all know grandma will want a copy, however I only post what I want to attract. I don’t want to attract clients who come expecting to sit and smile. My ideal client is going to be wanting emotional photos, and therefor will come to their session prepared to open up.

  2. Educate your client on what to expect and help them prepare their families accordingly.

    Once you book a session, it is so important to educate your clients on what to expect during their session. As mentioned, many people are not comfortable being that vulnerable in front of the camera, and even though they WANT intimate photos with their family, they don’t know how to get them. I give every client a welcome guide that gives a detailed breakdown of how each session will unfold. I give them tips on how to prep their husbands and children so everyone feels at ease and are not shocked when I ask them to get close. I also provide them with styling tips and am constantly reassuring them that there is nothing to fear. I think many people default to a pose-and-smile type photo session because they honestly just don’t know how to do anything else. As a photographer, it is our job to guide, to reassure, and to set the tone of the sessions. Most of what unfolds during the session is all due to what happened before the session. Do yourself and your clients a favor and give them the tools they need to help get the photos they want.

  3. Set the Tone. Be Silly. Keep Talking.

    It’s time for the session. You have a dad who does not want to be there, kids who want to act up and a mom who feels self concise and is also worried that you think her family is a circus. BREATH. It is our job as the photographer to set the tone of the shoot. Remind the family of what to expect during their shoot. Get down on the kids level and try to connect. Be silly with them, compliment their clothes, ask them about their favorite tv show. I always reassure the dads that I will be fast and that I won’t make him do anything he is not comfortable with. I explain to the family that I don’t want them to look at me, rather at each other. They can choose to smile, or to close their eyes and soak it all in. I will give them prompts and I will guide them as needed, but most of all, I just want them to love on each other. I encourage them to ALWAYS be touching someone in the family (connection is key), and then I just bunch them up and let them go. Sometimes they laugh because they feel so awkward at first, and hey, those make great photos. But no matter what, I keep talking. I encourage and tell them how great they are doing. I crack jokes with the kids (mainly fart jokes…P.U.) lol. I let dad know that he is amazing and how great the photos are turning out. If kids act out, I reassure the parents that its normal, not to get frazzled, and just to hug and love on their kids. Just keep talking and keep snapping photos, you will be surprised at what you get.


The more you do it, the more you will get comforatable with doing it. I have clients come back to me crying because they are so in love with their galleries. Many tell me that they didn’t even realize I was taking photos during that break (when everyone let down their guard). Those in-between moments are some of my absolute favorite and quickly become that photo that a mom didn’t even know she needed in her life.

So, take a look at what you are advertising so you attract the right clients. Educate the clients that do want what you have to offer. And set the tone while you are shooting. I promise you will be able to draw out that emotion and start building a portfolio that makes your heart sing and is full of captivating, emotive images.

- Beth.

POP Goes the Color Wall: La Jolla, CA

"Where did you find that amazing color wall", people ask. This gem is located in the beautiful city of La Jolla, California (7596 Eads Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037) to be exact. 

As many of you know, I'm sorta addicted to color. I'm attracted to things that make my eyes LAUGH, and this is definitely one of them.  Me and my sister decided to go on an early morning adventure, traveling the 120 miles from San Bernardino into San Diego county in order to experience the wonderfulness of this wall.  Its randomly placed in the middle of the downtown area, next to a small Ju Jitsu shop. Parking is scarce, but hey, it's San Diego; the weathers always perfect for a short stroll. The story behind this wall is pretty cool too. You can google it, or check it out HERE. 

I wanted to scout this location out for Senior Sessions and Engagement Sessions. It's a drive from my normal area, but with something this fun, its soo worth it.  Of course, we decided to do our own fun photo-shoot to document this awesomeness. We are silly and just goofing around, but check out the photos below if you need a little color in your life today! 

Want to book a session and travel down to this wall with me? Contact me HERE and lets get something on the books!!

Much Love, Beth

Warm Southern California Spring-Family Session

Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me..... 

It's March, and everything is neon green here in sunny SoCal. Between the bouts of rain (which were desperately needed), we had a handful of cool sunshine-filled days. The Fisk family seemed to have brought their own blend of sunshine to their session, as every photo was just bursting with light and a brightness that encompassed their family vibes.  I worked along side Cherie to help her plan and coordinate her families wardrobe to make sure her family photos turned out exactly how she had it in her mind. Her two sweet kids were laughing and playing and reminded me why I adore taking photos.  I not only got to play outside, but I got to connect with some amazing new people and serve them in a way that they will always remember. 

This blue floppy hat was that extra accessory that brought some added dimension to their photos and Cherie's outfit. It also added a little coy somethin-somethin as her and her hubby got close. I am so giggly over how sweet these two are. Looking sharp in that suit too Sir; thumbs up. 

Bow-tie and suspenders are always a go-to for small boys. Pair it with this cuties red hair and you have instant perfection! I know this isn't my kid, but would it be creepy if I hung this photo up in my house? haha. He looks like one of the model's that come in the picture frames you buy from the store..... Too. Cute. For. Words. 

The Fisk's were open to any ideas I had, and were troopers when I had them all lay down in this tall grass. I'm loving this San Dimas location because it really does give me so many options for the different photos I want to take. 

This face say's it all..... Big sister is all love and little brother is clearly "thrilled" with it all. haha. 

Thank you guys for trusting me, I'm loving the way this session turned out. Lots of variety, but most importantly, it exudes YOU. Who you are as a family is evident in all the love I see here. What a blessing. 


Like what you see? Want to book a session? Contact me HERE and lets get you set up for a Spring session of your very own! 

Much Love, Beth