Create Better Photos: Leading Lines

Have you ever wondered why some photos look mysteriously better than others?  Anyone can create a better picture.  All it takes is insider information and practice.  Here is the second installment of my series called “7 Elements of Composition.”  In this series, I’ll show you how to start taking better pictures right away.

To enhance the engagement of the viewer, the second most important tool in composition is the capturing and placement of lines. Actual or implied lines will lead the eyes of the viewer throughout the image.

Take a look at this picture of a mountain road.  Do your eyes begin at the bottom, and then travel up the road?  Do you wonder what’s around that curve?  By using these familiar converging lines, you as the viewer are now engaged with the image by moving your eyes.

As you look below at the variety of lines, notice how your eyes move throughout each image.

  • Where does your attention begin and end?
  • Do your eyes move in a straight line, circle or curve?
  • Is your attention drawn
    from outside the frame into it, or
    from one area into another, or
    from inside the image to outside its frame?

Wasn’t that fun?  Now it’s time to think about your pictures.

Lines to guide the viewer into the frame are often convergent lines of sidewalks, hall ways, rows of street lights or trees, edges of buildings, trails, rail road tracks or even edges of shadows. Others can be patterns in nature or architecture.

Lines to keep the viewer inside your picture can be circles, spirals, or a light area into a dark area. Strong straight or diagonal lines can also be used when they end at a smaller, interesting subject.

Lines can take the viewer from inside your picture to outside the frame when the line starts at a bold, interesting subject and then extends to the edge.

Let’s build on what you’ve learned about the Rule of Thirds.  When using a subject place it in the center of your image if the entire work is symmetrical, or using the Rule of Thirds place it on the intersection of two lines once you’d divide your image into 9 imaginary sections.  Look at the images above again. In which images do you see symmetry and the Rule of Thirds applied?

OK, it’s now time to grab your camera and head out the door!  You are more aware of leading lines, so begin to use them in your composition.

The element of Leading Lines does not stand alone.  How to best use it depends on the other six composition elements.  Are you ready to learn more?  

Check back for my next blog!

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2022-portrait-half-inch I am a Southern California based Portrait, Fine Art and Commercial Photographer who sees the world a bit differently.

You can view more of my work here > Donna Edman Photography.
If you’d like to book a session, I’d be honored > Contact Me.

Together, we can Capture YOUR Life, One Image at a Time!

Capturing Personalities In Portraits ~ The Portrait Rodeo

The Portrait Rodeo

For some of you, especially those of you with young children, the thought of having family portraits created makes your hands clammy and fills you with more dread than a root canal. I understand.

Children have abundant stores of energy and usually choose to release bursts at the most unexpected times. These bursts often bring about fits of laughter in those of us who are friends and grandparents, but generally, parents feel that getting those kiddos to behave is like wresting a rodeo steer. You prepare to wrangle them and tire them out.

Capturing Personalities in Portraits

When the time comes for taking that trip to see me, here are a few tips for getting the best portraits of your children that you’ll cherish forever.

I know I’m not the only one who laughs at silly family portraits online. You know what I’m talking about; those awkward family photos. Everyone is trying to be so serious while one child is knuckle deep in his nasal cavity. Consider this: Staid and static is boring.

With me, playfulness is encouraged.


Here’s my suggestion to parents of toddlers and young children before we start our photo session. Don’t expect your kids to suddenly become little robots, who will sit still until you give them the command to move.

The expressiveness and unabashed nature of a child is really what we want to capture. When your adorable rambunctious 4-year-old has grown up and suddenly breaks out the old photo album, laughter trumps cringing any day of the week.

During the time I spend behind the lens with the children, I want to not only see, but feel their energy and personality in the finished portraits. Believe me. You’ll thank me later.

Remember, our precious babes are small for such a short period of time. It’s so much more fun to capture that magic together and then enjoy your portraits for a lifetime.

Can’t You Just Settle Down?

What I encourage parents to understand is not to expect the tykes to settle down. How has that worked the rest of the time? I thought so. Let them have fun with the whole process. There will come a day when your kids will stand still and smile in front of the camera. That might not be today.

My motto is: If they want to run, let ‘em run… and jump… and twirl. Let them burn off the excess energy. If that expressiveness is stifled, you better believe it’ll show up in the pictures.

To sum this all up, kids will be kids. Every moment is fleeting and never to be repeated. Try to relax and enjoy the ride.

As they grow older, you’ll long for these days. Enjoy their exuberance and innocence. Make memories for your children by letting their personalities shine like diamonds in these photos.

Do a little exercise for me now. Think about what brings you joy. I bet a screaming and crying child was not conjured.

So, in order to set you up for success for your next family portrait session, do these things I suggest. You will love your family’s portraits displayed on your wall!

Wouldn’t you like your memories to reflect the sweet, silly and fun time you spent with your family in front of the camera? I thought so.

I Capture Personalities in Portraits!

Let’s create a fun session for you and your family.

For Portrait Ideas, check out my galleries here
Portraits Ideas

I am a Southern California based Portrait and Fine Art Photographer who sees the world a bit differently.

You can view more of my work here
Donna Edman Photography

To schedule a session or chat about your Family Portrait experience, call me! 
(714) 746-2418

Together, we can capture YOUR FAMILY’S LIFE, One Image at a Time!

Brighten Your Day ~ The Color Purple

Do you know that colors can evoke emotions?

Purple is half-blue, half-red, and our understanding of purple lies somewhere in between the serenity of blue and the passion of red.  Purple both calms and stimulates our bodies, putting us in the right place for introspection and focused insight.

It fosters creativity by awakening our senses while promoting the quiet necessary to make intuitive, insightful observations. Purple creates a harmonious balance of awareness and peace.

How about that.  Now ya know!

As we begin this new year, find some purple! Spend time in introspection.  Be intentional to create an inward-outward balance.  May you experience awareness and peace.

For more colorful Fine Art Images
for your living and working spaces,
check out my galleries here:

Fine Art Galleries

I am a Southern California based Portrait and Fine Art Photographer who sees the world a bit differently.

You can view more of my work here > Donna Edman Photography.
If you’d like to book a session or commission a fine art photograph,
I’d be honored > Contact Me
or call me (714) 746-2418

Together, we can make YOUR LIFE beautiful, One Image at a Time!

7 Things Toddlers Say about Being Photographed

1.  Don’t tell me to say, “Cheese.” 

Unless you want pictures of me with all teeth and squinty eyes. 

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2.  Don’t make me sit still.

OK, I’ll sit still for maybe one or two pictures.  Let me run, jump, twirl and be silly.

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3.  Let me play.

Let’s play tickle, let’s play peek-a-boo, let’s play tag, let’s race, tell me a silly secret.  I’ll play along and you’re going to get some genuine smiles.

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4.  Don’t bribe me with food.

I know what you’re doing.  If I need a break, give me a break. Let me explore on my own a bit and you just might get some pictures of me enjoying being me.

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5.  Don’t feed me crumbly, gooey foods.

You know they are just going to land on my shirt and stick to my face and my teeth.  Do you really want pictures of that?

food face 2

6.  Give me something to do.

I like fiddling with my favorite toy, I like chasing bubbles, I like dancing, I like giggling at funny things you say and do.  Let me do things I like and you’ll see my eyes light up in the pictures.

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7.  Don’t Stress.

Hey … I’m a kid.  Let me be me for an hour.  Don’t get upset, don’t raise your voice, just relax. When you’re relaxed, we’ll have fun together.

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Are you putting off creating Family Portraits because you think your kiddo won’t behave? Are you afraid to invest your time and budget for a Family Portrait session when your kids will not sit still?

There is a time for portraits when everyone sits still and smiles at the camera.  Imagine those traditional wedding photos.  Perhaps now is the time in your family’s life for casual, lifestyle portraits that allow your kids to be … kids!

When you look back at these treasured portraits you have created now, you’ll smile when you see the true personality of your family.  What’s most valuable are the portraits that show your family during all the important stages of life, and yes, that includes when they are little run-about bug-a-boos.

Call me. Let’s come up with a session idea where all of you will have fun, and special portraits to remember the time together.

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I am a Southern California based Portrait and Fine Art Photographer who sees the world a bit differently.

You can view more of my work here > Donna Edman Photography.
If you’d like to book a session, I’d be honored > Contact Me.

Together, we can Capture YOUR Life, One Image at a Time!

What to Wear ~ Know Your Color Palette

Do You Shine Like a Diamond?

Not every color looks good on every person. Have you ever looked in the mirror when you’re trying on new clothes and your skin appeared green? The reason for your skin color transformation was due to wearing an unflattering color, according to your skin’s undertone.

So the next question is: Do you know your color palette? You may be a cool, a neutral or a warm. The first step to determining which of the three you are, is to discover your undertone.


While skin overtone can change based upon factors such as sun exposure, illness, or blood pressure, your undertone is defined by genetics and will never change. A simple test to determine if you’re a COOL or WARM is to put a dab of pink-based foundation on one cheek, and a dab of yellow-based foundation on the other. Spread the foundation evenly on each cheek, creating a thin layer. Check the mirror for which foundation blends in versus which one appears painted on. The one that blends is your match.

Pink means COOL and yellow means WARM. Easy peasy. If your husband or son won’t sit for this foundation test, read on to discover other ways to find undertones.

Hair Color

We are talking natural hair color, here.

If your hair is colored, let’s hope your stylist has helped to find a color that goes with your skin undertone.

You cools might rock very dark brown or black hair to sunny blonde. You have skin with a bluish undertone ranging from the fairest of the fair to very dark.

If your hair is dirty blonde, blonde with ashy streaks or warm-toned browns with highlights, these are all considered neutral. Skin tone for those of you who are true neutrals can be difficult to determine and is variable from warm to cool.

You’re probably a warm if your hair color is in the dark brown to dark blonde shades. Skin tones for warms range from greenish to yellow undertones and some have an olive complexion.

For those sporting red hair, the shade of red lets you move between color palettes, but you’ll typically roam within the Neutral Undertones.

What to Wear?

Cool Undertone

color pallets - cool

  • Cool colors will include bright to royal and sapphire blues, emerald greens, and moderate to deep purples, like amethyst or shades of lavender.
  • Warm colors might include ruddy hues, such as rose and reddish pinks to tomato.
  • For neutrals, your best bet is pure white, navy and grays.
  • Don’t you dare do oranges or yellows.

Neutral Undertone

color pallets - mix (neutral)

  • You look fabulous in peachy hues, and jade green to muted turquoise.
  • Pinks, such as soft rose and blush-toned pinks are your BFFs.
  • Icy blues should also be included in your fashion choices.
  • Burgundy and fire engine red (don’t be shy) will look amazing on you.
  • Taupe, grey, and off white, like eggshell and ivory, are super when you want to go neutral.
  • Bright (red is the exception) and vibrant colors can overwhelm neutrals.

Warm Undertone

color pallets - warm

  • Your best warm colors are oranges, reds, golden yellow, amber, and honey gold.
  • Cool colors that work equally well on warm skin tones are greens and blues.
  • Olives, deeper turquoise, green moss, fern, pesto, red purples like magenta and orchid are also good choices.
  • If your chosen portrait scheme is more neutral, stick with taupe, light chocolates, off whites and wheat.
  • Colors to avoid are light blues and jeweled tones.

Color is fun to consider in your wardrobe.  However, it is important to keep comfort first. If you are dressed comfortably, you will act more naturally during the photo session. By focusing on colors and styles that look best, you will confidently enjoy the process and the portraits will shine…like a diamond.



I am a Southern California based Portrait, Commercial and Fine Art Photographer who sees the world a bit differently.

You can view more of my work here > Donna Edman Photography.
If you’d like to book a session, I’d be honored > Contact Me.

Together, we can Capture YOUR Life, One Image at a Time!

Special Moments for the Holidays

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“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
-Ansel Adams



When Our Heads Forget, Our Hearts Remember

December is a wonderful time to reflect on the past year and reminisce. It’s a time to think about accomplishments, as well as look forward to the upcoming year.

As 2019 is coming to an end, take a deep breath and focus for just a few moments on remembering the highlights. Think about time spent with your loved ones; birthdays, costume parties,  new arrivals, and perhaps sad good-byes.

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Are you suddenly an empty nester? If your answer is yes, sometimes that comes with mixed feelings. There’s now more room in the house, but your heart might just hurt a little each time you walk past that vacant bedroom.

Family Traditions Dictate the Conditions

So now let’s focus on families coming together for the holidays. How do you celebrate? Is it with a handful of guests at the dining room table or with 50 cousins and aunts and uncles gathered at Grandma’s house?

What about party styles, do you do things last minute or are you a planner? And how about traditions, is there something special everyone looks forward to doing together?

christmas cookies and making

No matter the size of your family or your party style, gift giving most likely plays a big part in your celebration.

It’s a Wrap, so Let’s Tie that Bow on the Box

Given that humans are visual beings, it’s hard not to make snap judgments based on presentation, and gift giving is no exception. When a person makes the effort to artfully wrap a gift, it never goes unnoticed.

According to certain studies, we apparently attribute more worth to the exact same present if it was skillfully wrapped in beautiful paper with ribbons than if it was given unwrapped.

Christmas gifts stacked

Here’s a fun fact: The idea of wrapping presents to get them to seem more valuable or make them stand out from the pack is not new. As far back as the Han dynasty in China, paper was used for wrapping, possibly even before being used for writing.

Koreans have practiced the art of gift wrapping presents in colorful and patterned bojagi, a cloth made from a variety of materials, such as silk or ramie, and the art has been traced back to at least the Three Kingdoms Period (220–280 AD).

Love is Capturing Special Moments

A family photograph fulfills many of love language’s ideals, from time spent together to closeness to acts of service. The idea that you went out of your way to gather the family and commit to a few hours outdoors or in the studio, shows your loved ones how much you care.

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So, my holiday helpers, let’s tie a nice, big, fat, red bow on ideas for this season of gifting. As a person who captures images for a living, I get front-row seats to the most joyful moments with families.

My clients tell me that the beautifully framed photographs on the wall have become treasured keepsakes. Knowing how much people love seeing their families, but there are times when they can no longer travel and visit, a family photograph becomes the perfect gift.

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I am a Southern California based Portrait, Commercial and Fine Art Photographer who sees the world a bit differently.

You can view more of my work here > Donna Edman Photography.
If you’d like to book a session, I’d be honored > Contact Me.

Together, we can Capture YOUR Life, One Image at a Time!

Plaid Is Not a Neutral ~ What to Wear at your Portrait Session

Never wear anything that panics the cat.
-PJ O’Rourke

So you’ve made the decision to pull together the whole family for one big photo session. You’ve wrangled the hubby and your teens, tweens and toddlers, and now Grandma and Grandpa have asked to join in. You thought setting the date was challenging with syncing everybody’s schedules, but now you’ve got to figure out what to wear.

You’d like to create a beautiful and timeless family portrait and you know that finding the right colors and clothing that will flatter all ages and shapes is important. In order to help ease you into what should be a fun and engaging family time, I’ve listed a few hints on what to wear (and what not to wear) that will tell your loving story.

Roses are Red, Denim is Blue

For years, white tops and blue jeans were all the rage, but not any longer. Now, pairing blue jeans and simple solid-colored tops are popular for that casual, “We dress like this all the time” look. Denim comes in a variety of shades and styles, so make sure to mix it up with pants, dresses, and jackets that play to each person’s body shape.

Color photos featuring jeans and tees work well, but if you choose the blues, pay attention to the hues. In black and white, everything will be a shade of black and grey, and these types of photos display denim particularly well.

Though your teen may like neon colors, tell Junior to leave the fluorescent yellow tee in his drawer. Neutrals and coordinating colors are best when working with more than one person in a portrait.

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White is Outta Sight

While all-white outfits may seem like a good idea and are very popular (thank you Claire from Modern Family) the color white is not always the best to capture in a photograph. Very pale pastels and whites can make you appear washed out, unless you’re rocking a Southern California spray tan.  When wearing a white top, because our eyes notice white first, you’ll see your blouse and then think, ”Oh that blouse has a face.” We want you to see your face first.  If you want to wear that extra special white outfit, I can compensate by using different backgrounds and lighting techniques.

Polka Dots, Paisleys and Prints. Oh My!

Colorful prints are so much fun to wear. The selection is mind-blowingly endless, and the blaze of colors help you stand out in a crowd. My suggestion, though, is to keep busy patterns to a minimum. Wild prints tend to draw the eye. One print may create visual interest, but two is a crazy party. The focus should be on your faces and not on summer combo prints.

A Family of Triplets

Matchy-matchy is now a no-no in the photography world. A very good rule of thumb to follow is: No mini-me’s. Matching outfits are not only totally ’70s but are sure to land you on the awkwardly family photo website.

Allow your kids to be kids and let them rock what they’re comfortable wearing (of course, within reason). When they wear clothes they like, rather than a suit and tie with a starched white shirt, their enthusiasm will shine right through the lens and you’ll capture happy-happy kiddos. A proper suit may be appropriate for office wear, but not for a family-fun photo.

To reiterate, color coordination is your aim. Solids are the best. Basic black, grays, deep purple, and navy all work well with jeans and slacks alike.

 The Long Sleeves Rule

When dressing for your studio session, avoid no-sleeve and short-sleeved clothing, and short pants. My mantra is, with long, you can’t go wrong. Three-quarter length sleeves work well, too.  Even in casual portraits long pants trump shorts. Every. Single. Time.

Exposed arms and legs are a major fleshy distraction to the visual storytelling we do with portraits. Do you want friends and family commenting on your large biceps (girls, please) skinny white legs (got you, mister) or your beautiful face? I thought so. Leave certain things to the imagination, and remember, pictures are a forever thang.

Accessories: Dress for Success, Not Excess

Jewelry, hats, scarfs and the like should be strategically used to compliment and not overwhelm. Less is more, if you get my drift.

Keep comfort first. If your family is dressed comfortably, they will act more naturally during the photo session. By focusing on styles that look best on each family member, everyone will confidently enjoy the process and the portraits will shine.

See you in the studio!

“I capture personalities in Portraits.”  ~ Donna Edman

I am a Southern California based Portrait, Commercial and Fine Art Photographer who sees the world a bit differently.

You can view more of my work here > Donna Edman Photography.
If you’d like to book a session, I’d be honored > Contact Me.

Together, we can Capture YOUR Life, One Image at a Time!

A Special Way to Brighten Your Day ~ Green

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What’s your favorite color?  Can you guess mine?

Color can affect our moods.  Did you know that?

For those of you, like me, who are drawn to green, here’s what researchers in the field of color psychology suggest:
Green has strong associations with nature, bringing to mind lush grass, trees and forests. It’s often described as a refreshing and tranquil color, having a calming affect reducing anxiety.

For more colorful Fine Art Images for your home or office, check out my galleries here: Fine Art Services


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I am a Southern California based Portrait, Commercial and Fine Art Photographer who sees the world a bit differently.

You can view more of my work here > Donna Edman Photography.
If you’d like to book a session, I’d be honored > Contact Me.

Together, we can Capture YOUR Life, One Image at a Time!

The Importance of a Professional Business Portrait

People Do Business with People.

You are the face of your business. That’s why having a professional business portrait is essential.  To a prospective client, a high quality image means a high quality experience.

Most professionals schedule a business portrait session once a year.  They want to ensure their image is consistent with their current brand.

Consider hiring a clothing & hair stylist and and makeup artist.  They can help you create the right look to match your brand.  The clothing stylist can put together your professional look from items in your closet or accompany you on a shopping trip.  The hair stylist and makeup artist will tidy up an existing style or suggest one that more closely matches your industry and brand.


Make it Easy for the Media.

In addition to getting that perfect headshot, also consider full body shots and family pictures that can be use for media interviews. Often times when magazines do feature articles, they request at least 4 photos other than a headshot. This may include a spouse, children or pet; in the studio or on location.

You may also want 3/4 or full body images for banners and signs.  All of these images should capture who you are and what you do.

Tell Your Story.

Think outside the box.  What clients do you want to reach?  What story do you want to tell?  How will you use images to accomplish your goals?


Consider using your images on

  • Business Card
  • Print Marketing: brochures, banners, signs, promotions, mailers, newsletters
  • Digital Marketing: Profile image, website Home & About pages, email signature
  • Promotions: Speaking engagements, conferences & art shows
  • Bio descriptions and art catalogs
  • Blogs and Magazine Articles
  • Book Covers: Print and Digital

5 Steps to a Superior Image.

Whether you are ready for a full image session or a simple head-shot, consider these steps:

  1. Hire a professional photographer, hair stylist and makeup artist.
  2. If you need to tweak your style, hire a professional clothing stylist to go shopping with you to pick out a few outfits that would be flattering and represents your brand.
  3. Select at least two looks to be photographed.  Color can be good if it doesn’t distract from your face.  Click here for tips on What to Wear.
  4. Plan on spending at least $200 for a head-shot session and $500 for a full session.
  5. Be sure to receive high and low resolution files so you can use them in print and online.

It’s important to have a visual brand that presents you at your best with expert lighting, artful editing and re-touching, with an up-to-date look.  It will do wonders for your business!

Ready to invest in your professional business image?  Let’s talk!

Some of these ideas were found in a Huffington Post article by Melinda Emerson.


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I am a Southern California based Portrait, Fine Art and Commercial Photographer who sees the world a bit differently.

You can view more of my work here > Donna Edman Photography.
If you’d like to book a session, I’d be honored > Contact Me.

Together, we can Capture YOUR Life, One Image at a Time!

How to Choose a Professional Photographer: Family & Children Photography

Many people think of hiring a professional photographer for baby portraits and weddings. However, a professional can help you in almost every event and time of your life.

All professional photographers have special areas of interest, their own personality and artistic style.  Areas of expertise can include one or more of these:

  • Family & Children Portrait Photographers
  • Senior Portrait Photographers
  • Commercial Photographers
  • Photo Restoration and Retouching
  • Wedding Photographers

Let’s start with Selecting a Family & Children Portrait Photographer.


The images created by professional photographers touch every aspect of your life and give you a beautiful way to preserve those memories. A portrait can be enjoyed in many ways, whether you incorporate it as a wall portrait in your home décor, create an album or purchase copies of the final print for the entire family.

Consider the following tips on selecting and working with a photographer for your family’s portrait needs:

  • Interview several photographers.
    They should be willing to take the time to listen to what you want and ask questions about you and/or your family. A photographer needs this information to create images that tell the story of who you are, or who you would like to be. Keep in mind that you are not hiring someone to simply take a picture, but to tell your story.
  • Ask about style.
    Do you like photo-journalistic images? Or is your style more classical, whimsical, vintage or romantic? Let the photographer know what you have in mind, and ask if he or she has experience in that area. You want them to use the style that best captures your personality.
  • Look at samples.
    Ask to see some of the photographer’s work. This will give you an idea of both the style and quality each photographer provides.
  • Additional services.
    Some professional photographers may provide specialized services in addition to photography. These services may include retouching, for removing blemishes or otherwise altering images; photograph restoration, which can help preserve memories from past generations; and custom framing, to make your portrait look its best. While your photographer may not offer all of these services, he or she can refer you to a quality vendor.
  • Communicate.
    Make sure the photographer has a clear understanding of your expectations. Take the time to discuss the services and fees involved. This helps avoid any future misunderstandings. The conversation can include asking what you receive for the fee, how you will see and choose from your proofs, amount of editing and retouching, the digital and printing options and how long it takes to receive your final images.
  • Ask about credentials.
    Membership in a professional association, certification or a photography degree shows a certain level of commitment to the profession. Ask for proof of insurance.  These types of credentials can help you determine which photographer is right for you.
  • Check references.
    A friend’s recommendation, the Better Business Bureau and professional associations are excellent sources of information.

The photographer should take time to talk to you about your family and their favorite activities, as well as offer suggestions on location and coordinating clothing and colors. The photographer will use this information to create a photograph that tells your family’s unique story.

In fact, many families make their portraits more memorable by turning them into an event. One way of accomplishing this is traveling to your favorite location, like local parks, your family’s place of worship, or at a family member’s home.

Now ask yourself …

While chatting with each photographer, how did you feel?  Which photographer understood your vision/story, will help you prepare, make you feel at ease and look your best?

After reviewing images from each website, which photographer has the skill needed and the style you desire?

Are you ready?

Call me.  I’d sure enjoy hearing about your vision and telling your story!

Check out my website.  As you browse through the Galleries, you will see samples of my artistic style.

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Information for this blog was gathered from the Professional Photographers of America.


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I am a Southern California based Portrait, Fine Art and Commercial Photographer who sees the world a bit differently.

You can view more of my work here > Donna Edman Photography.
If you’d like to book a session, I’d be honored > Contact Me.

Together, we can Capture YOUR Life, One Image at a Time!