5 Tips for your family photo session | success

I have two boys and a husband who don't enjoy having their picture taken, so I know it can be stressful getting family pictures done.  Here are some tips I've put together to help ease the pain of getting the family ready.

1.  Location

There are so many great locations here in Calgary and in our mountain parks.  I have loads of ideas and suggestions for you, depending on the feel and vibe you want for your pictures.  Of course if there is somewhere that is meaningful to your family or a place you guys love than I am all over that and we should go there.  Location is one of the first things we talk about when you book your photo session.  If you are looking for ideas I will send you locations with pictures via email.

2.  Timing

This is key for the little ones in your group.  What is the best time of day for your kids - in the morning before lunch or maybe after naptime.  I am flexible and want everyone to be in the best mood possible.  So think about what time of day best suits your family.

3.  Feed everyone & bring snacks

It's not fun feeling hangry.  Please make sure everyone is fed before the photo shoot.  Feel free to bring lots of snacks and water.  I don't mind at all taking a snack break to bring back the smiles.  Also I will always have candy for the kids that I usually give out at the end of the session as a trade for smiles or if needed during the session if it's alright with the parents.

4.  What to wear

I know this one stresses out Moms.  My best advice is to coordinate, but not too much.  I also find it works well for Mom to pick out her outfit and then work the rest of the family around it.  Check out this post I wrote on how to coordinate your family and look your best:  https://www.limelightphotography.net/what-to-wear-for-your-photo-session-tips-2/

5.  Relax & have fun

You've got snacks, no one is hungry, everyone looks great, now let me worry about the rest.  My job is to make you and your family look good and feel comfortable.  Take this time to just have fun as a family and let me capture it.  Don't worry if the kids are crazy, sometimes those candid shots are the favourites. 

What your photographer wants you to know | Wedding Photography

I would love to be the one you trust to capture your wedding day.  I know that I am a little biased, but after the wedding you have your dress and your pictures!  So who you choose to be your photographer is important.  Here are some things I want you to know and what you can expect from me!

1.  It's your day, Your way

This is your day to do it the way you want.  I am there to capture it.  All the feels, all the excitement, the tears, joy and love.  You can structure your day anyway you like and I am here to help you if you need some advice on timelines, colours, venues, officiants etc.  In my 16 years as a wedding photographer and after hundreds of weddings I've seen some things.  I have some wisdom to share if you want it.  The bottom line though is that this your day to marry your best friend in any fashion you like.

2.  Click with your photographer

The one person following you around all day is your photographer.  It's really important you like this person and feel comfortable with them.  Someone you are comfortable with will elicit those natural expressions out of you and let your personality shine.  I want you to have loads of fun on your wedding day and have everything flow smoothly.  I think I am pretty likeable and easy to work with, but I'm not offended if I'm not the one for you.

3.  Allow the time

I need time.  I tell my couples to budget three hours for the family, couple and bridal party pictures.  If that freaks you out I can certainly do it in less time, but the more time you've allowed the more images you are going to get.   With adequate time things don't feel rushed or stressed.  We have the time to be artistic and besides getting the must have shots, be creative and fun.  I also advise budgeting in travel time if we are hitting more than one location.

4.  Staying Clean

I'll be honest I'm not super concerned with keeping your dress clean.  However, I have my assistant with us and she is way more conscious of that.  I bring lots of towels so she will tuck towels under you if I ask you to sit somewhere a little sketchy.  I had a bride a few years ago that wanted pictures in a field of hay bales.  We drove a few minutes out of the city to the desired field and used the towels to fling over the barb-wired fence.  With the help of my ladder, my assistant and her husband we got her over that barb-wire with dress in tact!

5.  Family

I don't want there to be any awkwardness on your wedding day.  I meet with my couples twice.  An initial meeting to see if I'm a good fit for you and then again a few weeks or so before the wedding.  At that meeting besides finalizing your timeline etc, we go through a family shot list.  I have a list, but we customize it to your family and who you want pictures with.  Then on the wedding day I am not asking if you want a picture with this person or that person, we just go through the list and no one is missed.

6.  First Look

It's not for everyone, but there are some perks.  Doing a first look before the ceremony has become a popular way to structure your day.  By doing your pictures earlier in the day there is no gap between the ceremony and reception, which is really nice for your guests and you look your freshest after getting ready and going straight into pictures.  I was a little leery about it at first, but each first look I have done has been moving and emotional.   There is something beautiful about having that moment between you and your fiance without 100 people watching.  I keep it private.  I use my long lens so I am not in your face at all for this moment.  I have been known to crouch in some bushes, hid in a swamp and one I was in a tree.  I understand going the traditional route of having the groom see his bride for the first time as she walks down the aisle, but this is just another option that works really well for some couples.

7.  First Kiss

I like a 7 second kiss at the ceremony.  It's hard for me to fire off more than one shot of a quick peck at the altar.  A decent kiss gives me the opportunity to get a portrait and a landscape shot of this moment.

8.  Consider no Iphone/Ipads at your ceremony

An unplugged ceremony is so nice for your photographer.  Too often guests pop out in the aisle with their iphones or worse their ipads and obstruct important shots.  I provide you with an online gallery after the wedding that you can share with your guests so they can also have those shots and can just concentrate on enjoying your ceremony.

9.  I am bossy

In the nicest way!  I understand that most couples don't know how to pose, what to do with their hands or where to look.  I will make sure you look good and tell you what to do.  I will also joke around with you and have fun until I get your natural expressions.  I don't settle for fake smiles.  After the ceremony everyone looks to the photographer for what to do next and I am completely comfortable with that.  In our final meeting before the wedding we have talked about where you want to go for photos and I have it all mapped out.  I know where the best light and spots are in your location(s) and I am happy to lead the way and get things going.  You have hired me for my experience and style, so no worries, I've got this!

10.  Tell me what you love & what not so much

I want to know if you love brick or could give that wall a pass.  We will talk about your location(s).  I want to make sure I don't shoot somewhere that really doesn't reflect who you guys are.  I also want to make sure you like my style.  I am not your dark, moody photographer.   I like vibrant, happy and fun images.  When you meet with me and look through my sample albums you will have a clear picture of what that style is and hopefully it's a good fit.

11.  Engagement session

I love doing engagement sessions.  They are excellent warm-ups to the wedding.  If you are uncomfortable being in front of the camera, this is a great practice session.  This is also an opportunity for me to get to know you better and build more rapport with you both, so that on the wedding day it's very comfortable.  I also find couples use their engagement pictures for all kinds of things from slideshows to centrepieces and wedding favours.

12.  Second Shooter

I've been doing this a long time and have never felt that I needed a second shooter, with the exception of the Epcor Centre and all the escalators in there.  I wear soft sole shoes at every ceremony so in case of old church floors I am quiet.  I move around a lot but in a discreet manner.  I always wear black, so I don't stand out and I am respectful of your ceremony.  I had one bride call me a ninja because she was surprised at all the different angles I got without noticing me move around.  However, if it is a deal breaker for you, I am totally good with hiring a second shooter for your ceremony.

13.  Feed and water the bridal party

If the bridal party is going to hang out with us for the day and duration of the pictures please consider bringing them some food and drink during transportation.  People get hangry and I just want everyone to have a good time.

14. Please Print

You will receive all your images on a USB drive in high resolution.  It makes me so sad when clients just leave their images on their computer.  Please print them, frame them and hang them on your walls!   You can order professional prints, canvases and plaques through me or you can develop them at a photofinisher of your choosing.  An album is another physical family heirloom that you can consider.  If you can't afford one right away it is something that can always be purchased later after the wedding.

15.  Review

Word of mouth referrals mean the world to me.  Most of my business comes that way.  I appreciate it so much when couples leave a review for me on my Facebook page or on Google.

Tips for your Engagement Session

An engagement session is a great chance for me to get to know you better, build some more repore and a good warm-up session before the wedding day.  Here are five tips I've compiled to check out before your engagement session.

1. Location

I have many location ideas if you need them.  There are plenty of beautiful parks, urban areas, cool back alleys, sandstone buildings and mountain settings outside of the city that we can take advantage of.  I also love going to new places if there is a location that is meaningful to you as a couple that we can explore.

engagement session locationinglewood engagement session


2. Season

Doing your engagement session in the opposite season of your wedding photos gives you lots of variety.  Don't rule out winter.  A winter background can be beautiful and romantic.

winter engagement sessionfall engagement session


3.  Pets & Props

Pets and props are welcome.  Bring your furry family member to add an element of fun and playfulness to your session.  Props are also a good way to express your personality as a couple and make your images unique to you.

dog engagement session

engagement session with dogsengagement session prop


4.  What to Wear

Wear something that makes you feel confident and comfortable.   Don't be afraid of color, layers and accessories.  Try to think about your location and choose colors that fit well or stand out from the background. Coordinate without being matchy-matchy.  For more tips and advice click here for my post on What to Wear.

5.  Hair & Make-up

An engagement session is a great opportunity to do a trial run with your wedding-day hair and makeup artist.

hair and make up trial


I hope you found these tips useful and I hope to see you soon for your engagement session.

Online dating profile | Professional pictures for Social Media

Do you want better results on your online dating profile or social media accounts, professional pictures will go along way!  I recently had a client come to me for some professional pictures specifically for his online dating profile.  Here is the email I got from him a week after our shoot:

Hi Paula,
Thanks for your all your help in taking those pictures for my social media accounts.  I certainly get a lot of people checking me out now on eharmony, about 5 or 6 a day. I'm sure the pictures are attracting the attention, simply because I continue to get comments on my smile or how sophisticated the pictures look.  Your taste in posing me really helped.  I've had 50 or 60 women check out my account and I've only be doing this for a little over a week.  Several people have mentioned how the pictures that attracted them to me in the first place.

I am grateful that you selected the right place but also for your judgment on what to wear and how to stand.  This has been a really positive experience for me and helped me to get started after my  divorce.  Rather than some hastily taken selfie I believe your pictures bring out the best in me.

headshot elgin arches

Distinguishing yourself from the masses can be difficult, but great pictures will help set you apart.  Here is an article I found that talks a little more about my point.  You want to make a good impression whether that be for online dating or your other social media accounts.  A mini-session is great for this purpose.  Click here for pricing.  We spend a half hour together and you receive 25-30 images that you can use for all kinds of purposes.  Let me take some great shots of you that show off your personality!

guitar headshotband photossocial media headshotheadshot social mediaband memberheadshotlifestyle pictureportrait shot




What to Wear for your Photo Session | Tips

What to wear for your photo session is a big decision!  Not only do I get asked often by my clients, I also fret myself how to dress my own family for our pictures every year.  So I've compiled a list of styling tips that I hope you find helpful.

1.  Coordinate, but don't match

This is a big one and might sound a little confusing.  It's about picking a color palette and not having everyone wear the same color.  Pick 2 - 3 colors that everyone can coordinate with.  You can have one member of your family wear a pattern and everyone else pull colors from it in their clothing and accessories.  Here is a link to my Pinterest board with lots of color palettes and ideas:  https://www.pinterest.com/pbitner/what-to-wear-for-photo-sessions/

what to wear for your photo shoot

coordinate clothing

color palette

2.  Layers & Textures

Layers & Textures create interest in photos.  Texture can be achieved using different clothing materials such as lace, tweed, ruffles, crochet, buckles etc.  Also adding different layers can create texture.  This can be done in a fun way with bright colors or can also look beautiful with neutral soft color palettes.  Go with what suites your own style.

Layers, colors & accessories were used so well on these cute kiddos right down to the stylish shoes.

canmore engine bridge


3.  Accessorize!

Accessories can complete a look and make your pictures pop.  Scarves, hats, jewelry, vests, ties, sweaters, jackets, boots and flowers in the hair can all add a little pizzazz.  The subject should be the most important thing in the picture, so don't let your accessories overwhelm you.  Accessories should compliment you, but not take the focus.

what to wear


4.  Think about your home decor

I'm hoping your pictures get hung up on the wall, so think about where you will hang your pictures.  Coordinate your clothing with the colors and feel of your room.

I picture this hung up in his man cave, but it could go anywhere to add some color and fun to a room. I also love the textured sleeve of her dress.


5.  Be Comfortable

Each family member should be comfortable in what they are wearing.  Wear clothing that suits each member's personality and body type.  Make sure kids are comfortable and happy in their clothing.  If they can't move, if they are scratching or pulling at their clothes they will just be grouchy and feeling miserable.

what to wear to be comfortable


6.  Patterns are great in moderation

I think patterns are great, but not everyone in the photo should wear a pattern or it becomes distracting in the final images.  Balance patterns with solid colors that work well together.

what to wear patterns

The purple and blue colors pulled out of Dad's patterned shirt look smashing on this family.

awesome mustache

Besides his awesome mustache, I love how the wife took the little bit of purple out his patterned shirt and coordinated to look fabulous.


7.  Think about the location

Where you are doing your family pictures should be taken into consideration.  If you are outside at the park you might dress differently than if you are downtown with a graffiti, urban backdrop.  Think about how the colors and patterns you've chosen in your outfits will stand out against your location.

winter family pictures

This family got it right for winter. Their clothes go perfectly with their surroundings.

what to wear for location

I love the vintage look on this couple that works fantastic with their cool vintage truck.

8.  Keep it Classic

Again I'm hoping these are going on your wall and I don't want them to look dated in a few years.  Think of simple, timeless pieces of clothing that will look great for years to come.

classic family picture


Here are a few don'ts: