Let’s discuss the option involving profession photographer in more detail.  First, you or your family will set up an appointment either at the studio or at your house or other location.  You can expect that most professional photographers will have the proper equipment along with software programs used to subsequently edit, provide proofs, and print photographs.   Just as important, their people skills should make subjects comfortable in front of the camera and posing people to look their best is a skill by itself.  Regardless, you should consider your own family and their ages and the portrait you are trying to achieve along with the background.  You should also understand the package you will receive and if you want larger size prints and the total costs involved for the preparation, shooting and photographs. If you use this alternative, you should check with the photographer to confirm if you have the right to have the photos later done at some point in an oil painting since some photographers may retain ownership of the photo set.
We photograph you at your house, on your property, a park or any place of your choosing within a 30-mile radius. Multiple poses of your family will be taken. The images are processed on the same day and can be viewed either in our studio or at your location with your photographer. A clothing change for the family can be added for $45. Please call for a quote if your chosen location is farther than 30 miles from our studio.
Think about your location and make sure your wardrobe complements the surroundings. For example, at a location in a field with a rustic barn in the background would be perfect for a little girl dressed in a simple, vintage style dress with Hunter wellies, pig tails and carrying a little vintage tin pail full of wildflowers. That same look might be out of place in an urban setting with a graffiti wall in the background. Also, consider how well the colors and patterns in the wardrobes will stand out against the backdrops of your location. A field of bluebonnets might not be complemented by an outfit with a floral pattern or the same blues and greens in it, but would look beautiful with a solid coral colored dress to pop off of the colors of the flowers and grass. Many times I’ll select a location first and then create the wardrobe, accessories and props to fit with the vision I see for the surroundings and session vibe I want to come out of it.

Timidity won’t get you ‘the shot’ – sometimes you need to be bold to capture a moment. However timing is everything and thinking ahead to get in the right position for key moments are important so as not to disrupt the event. In a ceremony I try to move around at least 4-5 times but try to time this to coincide with songs, sermons or longer readings. During the formal shots be bold, know what you want and ask for it from the couple and their party. You’re driving the show at this point of the day and need to keep things moving.


1. Decide what types of photography services you’ll offer. Businesses and individuals need photographers for many reasons. Businesses need pictures of their products for brochures. Realtors need images of the homes they’re selling. Magazines need photos related to the articles they’re publishing. Or you can stick with non-business photography and take portraits or photograph weddings.
Nursed Shots – some of the bests shots I’ve taken over the last month have been taken when people have been nursing Xavier. This puts him into a more upright position which makes him look a little more ‘human-like’ and opens up the angles for your photos. Try a number of positions (over the shoulder, sitting him up, laying him back in arms, lying him on his tummy etc) as each one opens up different possibilities. Also remember that your baby is not the only potential subject – parents, grandparents, siblings, friends etc all can add context to the shot and you’ll appreciate having more than just baby by themselves shots later!
When you are ready to book, click Contact Kristen above, and let me know the timeframe you are looking for. I generally schedule my sessions Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings and Saturday mornings.  April, May, October, & November are my busiest times of the year, so if you are wanting to book then, do so in advance! But I will often have some openings in there if you are last minute and flexible.
Now that you and your BAE are engaged, it’s time to commemorate the momentous occasion with a romantic photoshoot! But where do you start? There are so many cheesy couples' photos and countless run-of-the-mill shots that it can be a challenge to snap a photo that is truly your own. But thankfully, you don't have to rely on those predictable poses and overdone locations. There are a handful of things you can do to make sure your photos turn out perfectly one-of-a-kind and feel right for you and your parter.
Portrait photography provides parents with lasting images of the first whirlwind months of a newborn’s life. The cost varies based on several factors, including the length and location of the session, the number of photos provided, and the amount of editing and retouching the photographer does. The national average cost for baby photos is $150-$200. Some baby photographers charge by the number of photos provided, typically ranging from an average of $299 for 20 high-resolution edited photos, to an average of $399 for 35 photos, to $499 for all of the images taken in a single session. Props and location affect the cost, too; an elaborate studio shoot with props and professional lighting may increase the cost to $600-$700 for 20-50 photos. Adding a second location or asking the photographer to travel can add $70-$250 to the cost of the session. Photographers may also charge extra fees for providing additional photos and DVDs, scheduling weekend sessions, and shooting siblings. Expect to pay at least a $50 deposit when you book a portrait photography session.
Get Down Low – one key to many natural baby shots is to get down on their level. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last week or two lying on the floor next to Xavier. It’s something I think we both enjoy anyway but it’s also a great place to use your camera. Getting down low and getting in close (see below) does present some challenges in terms of focal length (I’m using a 24-105 zoom – usually at the widest focal length) but it means you end up with shots that feel like you’ve entered the babies world rather than you’re looking down on it from above.
The day has come and your sweet baby boy or girl is finally here! After you’ve settled in at home with your little one, the next step in announcing your baby’s birth is taking newborn photos to share your joy. Loved ones and friends are looking forward to seeing the newest addition to your family and nothing makes a better statement than sending out photo birth announcements. Among many other items on your baby-at-home checklist, we have you covered with suggested time frames on when to take newborn photos below.
Welcome to our professional baby friendly boutique studio. We provide top-notch maternity, baby and newborn photography photo sessions and full service with everything included – costumes, props, apparel forming, photo taking, photo retouching, photo designing and a wide selection of customized products such photo albums and frames. Jana Photography is made up of highly experienced award-winning professional photographers, and graphic designers to help us stay on the cutting edge of beautiful portraits. We are here to create memorable pictures and joyful photo-taking experience. We invite you to contact us to book an appointment at our new photography studio. We offer maternity, baby & newborn photography services throughout the Greater Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, and Coquitlam areas.
Bonus tip: If your camera has video capabilities you have a neat way of doing manual focus. Turn on the Live View so you can see the image on your screen. Hit your “zoom” button (it may have a magnifying glass or a “+” sign on it) once or twice. The image on the screen will zoom in (your lens doesn’t) so you can see what is in focus which allows for much most precise manual focusing. Press zoom again to return to normal view and turn off Live View.
The importance of beautiful family pictures can not be understated.  Cars and televisions eventually break down and have to be replaced, but investing in your family portraits is something that will last a lifetime.  Make sure that you select a Las Vegas family photographer who specializes in creating beautiful, timeless, and classic portraits for your family.  This is definitely not the time to shop for a bargain photographer – invest your money wisely in a skilled photographer and you will have family portraits that you are proud to hang on your walls for a lifetime.
Jackie Lamas is a destination wedding and portrait photographer based on the beautiful beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She earned her degree in photography from California State University, Fullerton. Jackie has over 10 years of experience as a professional photographer and teacher. When she's not on the beach, you can find her writing on her blog and spending time with her baby and husband.
Thank you so much for sharing your advice! So what do you think - is it easier to pose people outside, with gorgeous backgrounds and the natural terrain/props to help you create interesting portraits, or is it easier in a studio? My business partner and I will be taking family portraits for a fundraiser (indoors, on-location) and it we will be using a backdrop. I much prefer taking photos outdoors because I feel it is easier to put people at ease and there is the option to change things up a little more. I am afraid these mini-session portraits will be boring. I'd love to hear some studio posing tips geared toward family photos if anyone is willing to share them.
Women don’t generally feel very sexy when they’re pregnant. Understandably so, and trust me I connect with this feeling as much as the next gal. But just because an expectant mother doesn’t feel sexy, that doesn’t mean she’s not totally knock out. Bring that out in her. Pull that beauty out of her. A good way to do this is by talking as you shoot. It’s perfectly appropriate to say things like: “That’s beautiful!” “Yes, perfect!” “Oh that’s just LOVELY.” “Pregnancy looks good on you girl!” Whatever works! If you’re a male photographer you’ll need to be careful about what you say in this crazy world of sexual harassment, but you’re even more capable of pulling the beauty out of her than a female photographer. It’s one thing when your girlfriend tells you you’re beautiful, but when your girlfriend’s brother tells you that you’re looking good, you actually believe it. Obviously be careful and be genuine. The success of this tip will depend on your personality, but you can help her help herself. If she feels pretty she’ll look a whole heck of a lot better. It’s that simple.
As a wedding is a one-time event, the photographer must be prepared for the unexpected. Covering a wedding is both exhausting and invigorating as the photographer is constantly looking for good angles and opportunities for candid shots. Communication and planning time-lines before the event will alleviate many of the stresses associated with photographing a wedding. The ability to tactfully take charge also helps - particularly when photographing large groups or families - a common expectation after the ceremony. Having a run list with all of the expected shots is also a useful tool. A photographer may work with an assistant who can carry equipment, arrange guests, and assist with clothing adjustments or holding of reflectors.
Tipping a photographer for family portraits is not standard etiquette. A great way to recognize a family photographer who goes above and beyond is to write them a glowing review. You probably found your photographer by reading online reviews, so paying it forward by letting everyone know how much you appreciate their work is a great gift. Write your review after they have delivered the final edited photos on time and you’ve confirmed that you’re happy with the terrific portraits they took.

I am crazy passionate about my career and love to evolve my photography and continually learn. I’m obsessed with beautiful, dreamy light and have been known to chase it, lol! I am also very passionate about this age group of girls (and guys) and I feel pretty lucky that I get to focus on you and get to know you. They way I look at it….I have a small window of time and opportunity in your life, and I have the ability to bring out the best, real you, and photograph that. I say “I photograph confidence” It is SO fun to guide you through this process, the styling tips, make up and hair, molding you in to flattering poses for your body, then showing you on the back of the camera how it’s going…..ahhh I LOVE it! In that small window of time, if I could have some influence in your confidence and seeing yourself in a wonderful way, well that’s just awesome!
They are very similar and both are cute pictures. However, the bottom photo is much more flattering to the baby’s face. In the top photo I was slightly closer to his feet and shooting up his nose, which makes his nostrils very prominent in the photo. It also makes the bottom half of his face look larger than the top half. The second photo shows his face in much better proportion. (Did you notice his hand? I should have pulled that pinky finger out so the whole thing would be visible – it’s those little details that really make a beautiful photo.)
I am very picky when it comes to photos and Laura just blew me away. The entire process start to finish was a pleasant, seamless experience. And the quality of the photos is unreal! The gorgeous images you see on her Facebook and website are exactly what you can expect to receive. There is no disappointment with her. I couldn't be more happy with our decision to use Laura for these once in a lifetime pictures. I can't wait to get them on my walls!"
Consider the value of the photos. Price will no doubt be a factor in your decision, but try to think carefully about the value of these photos to you. It will be hard to value them quantitatively, as they are a record of the biggest day of your life, which you will always look back on. You will want a photographer that will capture the emotion of the day, as well as all the key moments.
Instant viewing of your photo session is made available with a custom online slide show posted to the Bella Baby website (protected with a unique password), thus enabling distant friends and family members the opportunity to share the experience. Online viewing and ordering is offered for two weeks to anyone you choose to share your password; immediate in-hospital purchasing is also available.
In addition to this tutorial, if you want all the info you need in one simple package with lifetime access, check out our Newborn Photography Workshop for the On-Location Photographer which Cole and I have spent months putting together all the necessary knowledge & tools to be adequately prepared for the lovely world of photographing newborns.  On sale for a limited time and all workshop participants also will get Cole’s Essential Newborn Lightroom Collection Presets, the Pricing & Positioning Yourself for Success pricing handbook, exclusive discounts & a whole lot more.  Click below to see the workshop details.
If you are shooting under a large tree you shouldn't be getting dark eyes. I look for exactly that type of location to put people under a large branch. When you block the overhead light it IS darker for sure but the direction of light changes to coming from the front instead of overhead, so you don't get dark eyes. You may just need more exposure overall but the quality of light should be there.

Sometimes I find an interesting subject, but just not an interesting place to photograph it from.  If you look at professional photos, they are very often taken from non-obvious spots.  For example, a photo of a CEO will be photographed from down low, looking up at the person to make him or her look more powerful.  Or, in the case of photographing a city, we often want to get to a very high perspective to shoot down and see the whole city.
Bella Baby is the face of hospital baby portraiture. We bring experienced, professional photographers into the hospitals to capture your baby's first photograph with a natural, artistic style. We believe that babies look the most beautiful when being held in their parents' arms or cuddled in one of their own baby blankets. Bella Baby captures this beauty by using only "real things"...natural window light, professional photographers and professional grade SLR digital cameras.
Kimberly Wylie Photography specializes in newborn photography in the Dallas area. The photo studio uses creative settings to create original portraits of babies, children, families, and expecting mothers. Kimberly Wylie is a PPA Master Photographer who regularly presents photography workshops. The business was voted The Best Portrait Photographer of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area by WFAA Channel 8 in 2015, and Kimberly's work is regularly featured in Fox 4's GOOD DAY. The Kimberly Wylie Photography studio has a kid's playroom to create a stress-free experience.
When you shoot a mommy-to-be in her own home she’s comfortable to let go in a way that she may not be otherwise. This is a fantastic reason to hold maternity sessions at home. This is not however why I do it. As a photographer I feel like it’s my responsibility to help my subjects feel comfortable and capable of giving me their best, no matter where we’re shooting. I pride myself on my ability to do this. To me, it’s a HUGE part of my success as a photographer (Uh oh. I feel a post in this regard coming on… check back soon). I shoot maternity sessions at home primarily because it’s wonderful for a couple to have a capture that truly shows what their life was like at the time their baby came to be a part of their family. I’m a second generation photographer so I’ve got some really lovely shots of my sweet momma awaiting my arrival. My favorite however is a simple picture of her standing by my bassinet with her hand on her tummy. I CHERISH it.
“From the moment I reached out to book newborn photos with her she was responsive, friendly and professional. During the session she was absolutely magic getting all of us, especially the toddler, to pose, laugh, and enjoy ourselves. She made it so easy. The final photos were incredible. We have done other professional photos before and I can say Kate was the best experience we’ve had.”
Ask your photographer to capture your paper suite alongside a mix of meaningful big-day objects, like your wedding rings, day-of stationery (like ceremony programs and vow transcripts!), and any family heirlooms, advises Shannon Moffit. Fill out negative space with ribbons in shades that reference your color palette and flowers featured in your bridal bouquet. The result? A photograph that serves an entryway to your big day—and one that'll make the ultimate album opener.
DO learn the basics. Visit the websites of wedding photographers and see how they do it. "Try assisting an experienced wedding photographer. You will see first hand how it's done, with zero pressure on you," recommends Dennis Pike, the northern New Jersey photographer who shot the couple in the car at left. "The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be, and the people you are photographing will feed off of that."

1. Decide what types of photography services you’ll offer. Businesses and individuals need photographers for many reasons. Businesses need pictures of their products for brochures. Realtors need images of the homes they’re selling. Magazines need photos related to the articles they’re publishing. Or you can stick with non-business photography and take portraits or photograph weddings.
Today I’m sharing some tips for posing a newborn baby with a family member. We’ll cover both poses where you can see the family member, and poses that use a family member to support the baby. If you want photos of yourself and your own baby, read this info and then rope someone into taking the pictures for you. For simplicity’s sake I’ve written this post assuming you are the photographer, not the subject, but the same information applies in either situation.
hand your camera off to your husband or friend and have them help take some photos of you.  having someone help you can be wonderful when taking more close up, detailed photos of your baby bump.  be sure to tell them exactly what you want, if they don’t have an eye for photography.  but also, let them take the photos they would like, as well.  sometimes their ideas can be really great!
If you and your fiancé are wearing understated autumnal colors, a fun accessory (think: a colorful scarf or bright hat) can add just enough visual interest to your fall engagement photo outfits. For instance, a pop of plaid is the perfect way to give off an autumnal vibe for more rustic or country engagement shoots. Just keep in mind that statement accessories shouldn't compete with your outfits, so if you're going with a bold pattern, keep the rest of your duds neutral. 
The fall family photography season is upon us. This is the busiest time for family photographers, especially here in Connecticut with the changing leaves and beautiful fall colors. With so many photographers to choose from, I thought it would be helpful to do a post with helpful tips on how to choose a family photographer. Whether you hire me, or another CT professional photographer, you’ll want to keep these suggestions in mind.  I hope this posts helps you know how to choose a family photographer from the start that is professional, experienced, and will provide you with quality images you will cherish forever.
Apply lotion one hour before the photo shoot. Moisturizing your skin just before a photo shoot can create a glare when the flash goes off. Be sure to apply moisturizer If you are going to have a close-up photograph of your bare baby bump, be sure to apply lotion early in the day or one hour before the photo shoot at the latest.[7] This will give the lotion enough time to properly sink into your skin.
Ansley Beth Photography is a Grapevine-based portrait photographer offering candid photo sessions for individuals and families. They specialize in portraits of newborns, expectant mothers, families, and high school seniors, and also provides photo coverage for intimate weddings. Clients commend the team of Ansley Beth Photography for their patience and ability to make subjects feel comfortable and confident.
Lifestyle newborn sessions – Are a bit more casual approach to newborn photography.  There may be some posing but the intention is to capture more natural images of the baby and their home.  These sessions can be done up to 6 weeks old and usually last 1-2 hours max.  My favorite thing about lifestyle newborn photography is capturing the wonder and amazement between the family members.  Newborns are incredible but so is the love in the air.  Memories of this time-frame often become fuzzy for new parents and that is precisely why I feel these types of shoots are so important.
If you have followed our tips from the start you will of discussed any group shots with the couple before the wedding. A good idea is to get these into a list on paper. Having a print out means you can have one copy and the person you have tasked with rounding people up can have a copy. This way you can simply tick them off as you make your way through the list.
Dears, I am a long-time passionate about dslr photography and having 2 little kids myself I know how difficult it is to take perfect shots when you need to take care of the baby and at the same time you Re the one behind the camera. I experienced a newborn session in an atelier twice with a photographer lady which I adore and now want to go this way too and give it a try. Was waiting for a girl friend newborn in order to get some training first but after I’ve read this I am going to post a note about searching a newborn model and don’t worey about the whoke thing.

I know many portrait & wedding photographers love to shoot wide open at f/1.2 & f/1.4.  However, with newborn photography, many of the baby poses can have extreme angles and you often will have better luck with your depth of field and sharpness by shooting around f/2 & f/2.2.  Remember, it will be rare that the baby’s eyes are on the same plane of focus all the time and by closing down my aperture a bit from wide open I get that little bit extra of depth of field that is often needed.
While the quality can vary from location to location, CVS is perhaps the most consistent. Printing at the chain’s Kodak kiosks is quick for consumers who just can’t wait a few days for an online order. Ordering is also fairly simple, though photo printing kiosks aren’t without glitches. Photo quality won’t match up to professional printers, but CVS appears to have the fewest complaints for inaccurate colors and fuzzy images. Expect to pay 33 cents for one print — you can get better results for a slightly lower price at our picks for the best professional photo labs, below, if you’re willing to wait (and pay to ship). Note: You can also send prints to CVS from your smartphone via the CVS or Snapfish apps.
Lori Wilson Photography is a photography studio located in Dallas, Texas that specializes in wedding, travel, puppy, portrait, newborn, child, expecting, family, and engagement/couple photography. Since she was a little girl, Lori has been in love with taking photos. Her mission is to capture beautiful, real moments that make people identify with the subject. Lori Wilson studied photography under the best photographers, including her mom.
Dress your partner and other children to complement your style. If you are including your partner and other children in your photo shoot, help coordinate their outfits in advance so that everything will work well with your outfits. Talk to your family about what they would be comfortable wearing and include their ideas and visions into the overall look. Consider having everyone wear a certain style of clothing, or have them dress in varying shades of a particular color.
It was my first wedding to shoot and I had never shot one before. I get stressed out really easily, so doing this was a bad idea for me all the way around. I missed shots, I missed a set of groups, and my lighting for the reception was terrible. On top of not having a clue on how to get a proper exposure for a wedding and what images were important to the couple, I delivered full-resolution files on a plethora of disks that caused more confusion than good. Today, I'm using online galleries provided by Pixieset and flash drives for file delivery. 

No doubt there are many wedding moments you won't want to miss. The best way to ensure your photographer captures the right moments for all posterity is to provide a suggested shot list. Of course, the style and number of these images will all depend on the photographer you've chosen and how long you've hired that pro for, but a shot list of photos you'd love to have is a great way to cover your bases. Since you should count on at least five minutes per shot, it's unrealistic to expect all the photos below, but pick and choose those shots that mean most to you.

You never know where your next big referral will come from, so you have to be prepared! Make sure to add those stunning newborn baby pics to your online portfolio, so prospective clients can see your infant photography skills. The more amazing newborn photo shoots and newborn photos you have on your portfolio, the more folks will want to hire you to shoot their little ones!

My most successful family sessions have incorporated an activity that the family loves to do together. This gives you something to do with your hands and feet, engages the little ones, and brings an authentic smile to your face. Do you love to read together? Bring some books. Is your favorite dessert ice cream? Bring some ice cream bars or drumsticks to your session or better yet… hire an ice cream truck to come to your session. Love to play board games or cards? Plan to play a round of Uno or Monopoly during your family photo session. Other ideas include: football, piggy back rides, races, bike riding, hiking, singing, picnics, the ideas are endless. When families are engaged in doing something that they love together, the photographer will have the opportunity to take some beautiful and authentic photographs.


Working with your wedding photographer to come up with some great wedding photo ideas is a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. But not to worry, we’ve put together an amazing collection of photos to help get it covered. From intimate shots of your wedding dress and wedding rings, to the dance party at your reception, we’ve pulled together a variety of wedding photo ideas for you. After the wedding, you can slip your favorite shot into your thank you cards so everyone can remember your big day.
“I will place my couples in a location that I want them to be in and “pose” them but always letting them know that the “pose” is simply a starting point and to make it their own. Remembering that they are not mannequins and can move. Additionally, most of the images I share online show my couples connecting: being with each other, holding each other. So I often get hired by couples who are comfortable in their own skin and are not overly shy with their partners.”
Set your camera up to do one of the following: use focus lock, back button focus, or use manual focus. With any of those options the focus will not change from shot to shot. If you use the shutter button to focus and someone moves a little bit so that the focus dot hits the background, you got another “oops”. If you aren’t sure how to do this, consult your camera manual.

If you are doing the session in the client’s home, posed newborn sessions require nearly the same amount of prep as a wedding.  You need quite a bit of “stuff” and it is easy to forget something so I make sure to pack the night before and use a checklist so I don’t forget anything (I’m a mom with a very limited memory).  To make your life a bit easier, I’ve made a print ready checklist you can use which is included in the newborn photography toolkit – one of the FREE limited time bonuses included in our online Newborn Photography Workshop.


“I cannot say enough great things about Maddie. I'm so ecstatic that we stumbled upon her site. Maddie is truly a genius in her craft and is a hell of an artist. She went above and beyond in every aspect of being a photographer - she helped us plan our day, recommended other vendors, had Skype interviews with us to answer any and all questions, even went as far as to write us out an itinerary for our wedding day. My husband and I had an adventurous elopement - we said our vows on top of a golden sand dune in the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Maddie hiked with us all day and captured every magical moment. The pictures that she takes speak for themselves - they're amazing. She captures every intimate aspect of your day and invites you to be who you are as a couple. Not to mention that Maddie is so sweet and welcoming. She's such a people person and meshes so well with, I imagine, just about anyone. She really puts in the extra effort to make you feel comfortable and at ease throughout the entire process. I would recommend Maddie over and over again.”
Tipping a photographer for family portraits is not standard etiquette. A great way to recognize a family photographer who goes above and beyond is to write them a glowing review. You probably found your photographer by reading online reviews, so paying it forward by letting everyone know how much you appreciate their work is a great gift. Write your review after they have delivered the final edited photos on time and you’ve confirmed that you’re happy with the terrific portraits they took.
Develop your photography skills. There is no “right way” or "wrong way" to become a better photographer. Some people take a class or get a college art degree with a photography focus. Others believe that college is a waste of time for becoming a photographer. You may find that you can teach yourself about photography from books and experimentation, or you may want to learn from other professionals. Whatever you decide to choose, if you work for it you can achieve it.
Do you want to take better wedding photos? A wedding is one of the most precious days of life for a couple. If you’re a wedding photographer, then it’s your responsibility to capture the best moments and create a great memory for the couples. In this article, we will share some of the best tips on how to take stunning wedding photos and common wedding photography mistakes that should always be avoided.
DO finesse compositions. Instead of asking her subjects to move, Hotchkiss moves herself. "You don't want to disturb the moment by heavy-handed posing. I block out unwanted background clutter by tweaking my position left, right, up, or down." She also says to be aware of the lighting. If, in your viewfinder, the lighting looks harsh on your subjects' faces, it may look even harsher in the final image.
To get crystal-clear photos with a dreamy, blurred background, experiment with using lower F-stops. This means you will have to take your camera off auto-focus, but the results are more than worth it. The F-stop on a camera tells you how much light you let in while exposing your photo. Photos taken with a lower F-stop have a wider aperture to let in more light, but the depth of field is very shallow. This is what creates stunningly vivid portraits with gorgeously blurred backgrounds.
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