As a family portrait photographer in Edinburgh, I see people have a wide range of questions before, during, and after working with me, so I've tried to answer some of them here.
If you've still got questions, please get in touch and I'll get back to you right away!
Before your session
Are you the right photographer for me?
Well, you know, this kind of depends on you, so I’ll have to throw some questions right back at you!
Do you love nature and being outdoors? Do you prefer natural looking portraits of your family enjoying themselves outside to stiff, artificially lit studio poses? Do you prefer quality over quantity? Do you prefer a personalised service over a conveyor-belt, one size fits all service? I’m sure you know where I’m going with this!
Do you do studio photographs?
No, and I doubt I’ll ever want to. I love being outdoors and photographing in the natural light too much! And I much prefer images of children just playing and enjoying themselves to being posed in front of studio lights. In my view, nothing beats natural light. Good natural light photographers know which times of day give the best light and we know how to manipulate it when we’re out there so you look your very best.
I firmly believe your family’s personality shines through better when they’re being photographed belting a ball at a football net in a park rather than standing posing with a football against a solid background in a studio. Outdoors, there are endless location and background options so your images are more unique. However, that’s not to say studio sessions don’t have their place. They’re just not my thing, is all.
Do you do indoors sessions?
I do, but only with natural light as I think that gives the most beautiful results. Most of my clients come to me for outdoor images but I do occasionally photograph indoors. So if you’d rather be photographed in your own home, provided you have at least a couple of reasonably large windows which let in enough light, we could start there for some more posed images then perhaps even move outdoors for a completely different look.
If it’s a winter evening and you live in a dark, north-facing basement flat in the New Town, however, sticking to outdoors is probably our better option!
Do you do newborn posing photography?
Newborn posing photography, when the baby is asleep in various manipulated positions (often with props) is a very specialist genre and it’s not what I do.
I take the natural approach, much preferring to capture images of your baby lying naturally or being held by you and your family – details and moments using your baby’s everyday surroundings. Props are more likely to be a soft toy or something from the baby’s room rather than an antique bowl or bed which you may see in a posed studio session.
If you’re looking for posed baby photographs, I can recommend some truly outstanding local baby posing photography experts who can give you this.
What time of day do you book your sessions for?
It really depends on when in the year you book me for, but here’s a rough guide to times you can expect depending on what season you book in:
- Spring: 6.30 am to 6.00 pm
- Summer: 6.00 am to 9.00 pm
- Autumn: 8.00 am to 5.00 pm
- Winter: 9.00 am to 3.00 pm
Generally the light is the most beautiful late in the day, although early mornings can also be lovely. High noon in summer is tricky due to strong light making harsh shadows on faces, but don’t worry, there are ways round this if your family schedule doesn’t allow any other time of day.
I've also written a blog post about this called "What's so great about sunset photography sessions" which you should read.
What's a session fee and what does it include?
So I can keep your session date and time free for you and spend up to an hour and a half taking images you will love, a non-refundable session fee is required, to be paid when I invoice you at the time of booking.
The session fee also includes the pre-portrait consultation which my clients really value, held either over the phone or in person, where we talk through ideas for your session and establish how best I can give you images you’ll be delighted with, and the ordering appointment when your images are ready.
When it comes to your ordering session, your session fee goes towards the photographs you purchase.
What is a pre-session consultation?
My clients really value these conversations between us, held preferably in person but over the phone if needs be, where we talk through ideas for your session and establish how best I can give you images you’ll be delighted with.
You can read more about this on my “What to Expect” page.
Do you do weekends?
Definitely. I know it’s not always easy for you to take time off work and to take the children out of school for week day sessions, which is why I’m more than happy to do this for you at weekends.
How do we book?
If you’ve decided to go ahead and book your family session, that’s smashing! Just get in touch with me, and I’ll do the rest.
All my details are on the contact page of my website. Talk to me and lets start planning!
How do I prepare for our session and what should we wear?
Don’t worry, once you have secured your booking I’ll send you a “what to wear guide” and I’ll also have a good chat with you at the pre-session consultation before the session where we can talk about all this, and more.
Can we go further afield or do we have to stick to Edinburgh?
Although I’m based in Edinburgh, I do cover the Lothians and Fife too. If you’re further away from me than that, well, I love going to new places!
Just get in touch with me and we can talk about it.
I don't live anywhere near you - will you come to us?
As above … Most likely yes, so just contact me.
During your session
What if it rains?
I thought you’d never ask! It’s very likely you and your family simply won’t enjoy our session so much if it’s raining or there’s a howling gale outside. Given where we live, this does sometimes happen so the Met Office is my best friend and I keep a VERY close eye on the weather leading up to and on the morning of our session.
It’s very unlikely you would enjoy being photographed in rain, snow, high winds, or extreme temperatures, and I doubt I could capture you at your best, so if it’s too horrible outside we’ll have to reschedule. I’ll be in touch with you both the day before and the morning of your session if it’s looking unlikely we can go ahead, and we’ll figure out what to do.
What if the children misbehave and carry on?
That’s absolutely fine! A bit of mischief often yields great images, so please don’t worry about it. I know what it’s like, I’ve got two children of my own, so I’m well used to them embarrassing me in public by fighting with each other, having melt-downs, or other nonsense. It’s not a problem.
But children often behave better for strangers don’t they, so just let me deal with it. I know you might find it hard to bite your tongue and stand back, but if you get angry and the kids get upset, you’re really not going to get pictures you love. Take a break and just let me take charge. In ten years’ time, you’ll love the image of your wee one crying crocodile tears just as much as the one that I took ten seconds later of her happily running toward the camera, beaming. I just want to capture the personalities of your children in front of me, including all the beautiful quirks, details, and small moments that make them who they are.
And of course, one of the great advantages of being photographed outdoors is, instead of your children feeling under pressure and confined in a hot studio, they can run around as much as they want!
With wee kids it’s best to let them explore and get a feel for their surroundings, and I actually like to get them walking and running in the photos because then they really look like they are having fun. Let them lead the way and see what happens! And while it can take time to get reluctant children to cooperate, I am usually rewarded for plain old perseverance and persistence.
I've written a blog post about this called "Worried about your feral beasts? Don't be" which might help you here!
I’m really not keen on being photographed. Can you just do the children?
Of course! It’s not a problem. But please do think very carefully about this … Perhaps you feel you aren’t photogenic, but remember, your children don’t care what you look like. Images of you will be one of the most important things they have at some point in the future and will mean the world to them.
Do we have to pose? I really don’t think I can do anything more than the teapot!
Just be yourself! Interacting, laughing and just generally messing about together produce beautiful photos that you will feel a connection with forever.
Posing you all as a human pyramid wouldn’t really be top of my mind, but if that’s your thing, then let’s do it! Sometimes I might direct you to get everyone’s face in the shot and some images will be loosely posed, although naturally so you look your best. But don’t worry about this – I’ll show you what to do!
How long does it take?
Normally around 60-90 minutes, but as I know these photographs will be so important to you, I don’t impose a strict time limit.
However, children tend to get fed up and want to do something else after an hour or so, so I use this as a guideline. But I don’t rush you, and if anyone wants to stop for a snack or break, that’s fine.
What can I do myself to make sure everything goes smoothly?
The best thing you can do is to just relax and enjoy it! Sometimes people feel a wee bit uptight and stressed before a photography session – fear of the unknown! – but what’s the worst that can happen? Just look at it as a chance to enjoy yourselves, and let me worry about what the children are doing.
We’ll have the best chance at getting beautiful photographs if we let them happen naturally (with a little guidance from me). You absolutely do NOT have to worry about your children being on their best behaviour; in fact, that would probably be counter-productive and we’d end up with photos which are stiff and unnatural looking.
After your session
Can you edit out a scrape on my toddler’s face?
I meticulously hand edit all the images I give you and my normal practice is to remove temporary things like blemishes, cuts etc, but leave in permanent marks like scars that make the person who s/he is, unless otherwise requested.
However, it’s very helpful if your toddler’s nose is wiped beforehand and during, if you know what I mean!
When and how will I see my images?
I send you an online gallery with your collection of images, and then it's time to decide which images you would like to purchase and how you would like them displayed in your home.
I'll guide you through the selection process - it's fairly straightforward although it's often very hard to decide which of your photographs you really want to keep!
This takes as long or as short a time as you like - there's no time pressure because I want you to be absolutely delighted with the choice of images you purchase.
Do you do colour or black and white?
I very often provide a mixture of both, unless you specifically ask for all of some, or none of the other. Some photographs lend themselves particularly well to black and white, however, and I’ll process each image according to how I think it works best.
When I'm showing you the images from your session and see one you really want in black and white, just tell me - I should be able to do this for you.
Who has the rights to the images, and what do you do with them?
You have the rights to the images for personal use but I have copyright.
People who book me have usually seen my photographs online first, so I’m sure you’ll understand that it’s vitally important to my business that I can use your images to promote and market my photography services.
Most clients love this and are very proud when I select one or more of their images to showcase my work. It’s important for me to clarify that the images I take during our session together may in the future be used on my website, blog, Facebook or other social media page, or in any other promotional material. It might also be the case that I enter one of the photographs I've taken of your family in a photography competition.
However, if for any reason you do NOT want your images used, please let me know and I’ll keep them under lock and key.
Also, if you’re planning to present some of the photographs I take to family or friends as a surprise, I am always happy to delay using images until after the gifts have been received. I’d hate to spoil the surprise!
Get in touch with me
I take on a limited number of clients so I can give each of you the very best experience possible, so get in touch with me now so we can talk about how to create your daily reminders of how much love can be found in your family home and the beauty of your everyday life that too often gets forgotten about.
Now is the time, not sometime, or another time.
I’ve just looked at them … I absolutely LOVE them, they’re my favourite photos that we have EVER had taken. I’ve loved some of the other shoots we’ve had done, but I really think these photos you did are our favourites.You have captured my children so perfectly, thank you so much!
There’s only one word – amazing!!Not only are Donna’s photos amazing, but also the photo shoots. Our kids had a great time, running, jumping, climbing – and Donna is happy to go with the flow and catch the kids’ own specific characters because of this! An absolutely great experience from start to finish – the girls enjoyed it and the pictures are just stunning! The photos really capture our girls’ personalities and I just love the natural surroundings.Donna was amazing working with the girls. They are quite lively, but she kept them entertained and engaged. The girls had so much fun! If you are looking for natural photos of your children, I couldn’t recommend Donna any more highly.