Create Better Photos: Where to Place the Person

A while back you learned one way to create better photos is to use the Rule of Thirds. This rule suggests placing a subject to one side of the image instead of right smack dab in the middle.  So, where do you place the person?

The rule is to give the person “room to breathe.”  If they are facing toward the right, place them on the left side of the photo.  If they are facing toward the left, then place them on the right side. 

Take a look at these two placements of RJ.  In the first photo, there is a sense of relaxed space within the frame for him to breathe and an area in which to look.  In the second photo he seems pressed up against the frame and there is sense of tension. 


Of course rules can be broken.  Try out various placements with your photos.  See which you like better!

Come on over to see samples in my Portrait Galleries.

I’d love your referrals. 
Who do you know looking for Portraits?

Blog flourish

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 Tim

Capturing Personalities In Portraits ~ Let Kids Be Kids

In Part 1 of this series, I encouraged parents of small children to enjoy the “Portrait Rodeo” ride.  Expect kids to run around and be silly or to be shy and observant.  The expressiveness and unabashed nature of a child is what I want to capture in your family portraits.  To read the Part 1, click here:  Capturing Personalities In Portraits

Let’s continue…

Encourage, Don’t Discourage 

Each child has their own individual personality, and it’s that uniqueness you want to capture. Encourage them to make faces and behave silly for the camera. These are the “Kodak” moments. When they make silly sounds and whisper goofy secrets, the results are genuine expressions.

It’s Not Play Time? 

It may seem counter intuitive but preparing for family photos is exactly the time to play. Getting your wee one to act natural in an unnatural situation isn’t easy. Making up games, or playing old standbys, like Simon Says, can be an excellent way to get your stiff soldier to loosen up and have some fun.

If your shy, quiet child won’t smile, try playing a game where they’re not allowed to smile. Reverse psychology works.  Music works too!  Load up a few of their favorite songs on your phone.  Of course, for your wee ones, singing a few verses of “Baby Shark do do do do do do” is always engaging.

Security Blankets and Well-Loved Toys

Another tip I like to tell my parents is to bring props (e.g., favorite toys, stuffed animals, sports equipment, and hats) which is a good way to get your child to focus on something else besides the lens.

Candid portraits with an unaware child at play can be the best. I know you weren’t expecting to have a pink bunny in your photos, but a big smile on your little one’s face is priceless.

Take a Break

No matter if the session lasts 20 minutes or two hours, kids are always either starving to death or dying of thirst (when they’re not running to the bathroom) within ten minutes of starting the session. Am I right?

Children’s metabolism is usually on eleven and they burn more fuel than a fighter jet.  It’s wise to pack water or juice and some light, non-sticky snacks — snacks that do not melt on their face or stick in their teeth.

Now, whether you use it as a reward or bribery is up to your discretion.

Relax – Kids will be Kids!

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 portraits.

Here’s what Mary says about this session with her two running kiddos…

“Donna is an amazing photographer.  How easy it was to work with her including our two small children.  We’re never sure how the kids will react to strangers.  They felt right at ease with Donna.  We love our family photos!”

While you are preparing for your portrait session, think about letting your kids be themselves. Think about how we’ll capture their genuine expressions and how you’ll love your family’s portraits displayed.

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!

What to Wear for Your Photo Session

Getting ready for your photo session?  Here are some helpful ideas!

Coordinate and Compliment
but no Mini-Me

 When styling a photo session, let’s start out with a basic color palette.  For group sessions no patterns are best.  If there is a “Center Stage” person who is to stand out, it helps to have just that one person in a pattern of which the rest in the group can pull from with complimentary colors and accessories, keeping their outfits more simple.  Another idea is to have all folks in your group wear different colors but all within the same tone.  This means for all colors to be bright, dull, or neutral.  For pants, jeans or dark colors are best.


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… add color & interest

Think outside the box.  Scarves, hats, jewelry, sweaters, vests, jackets, flowers in the hair for girls – All of these things can make an image look interesting and feel complete.  However, don’t overwhelm the subject, as the viewer’s attention should remain on the subject’s face.  See how in this photo, her blue headband is accessorizing his blue shirt, and his tie is accessorizing her nail polish? The location colors also compliment the subjects!

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Layers and Texture
… add detail and depth

Tweed, crochet and embroidery details, lace, hand knit items, smocking, ribbons and ruffles can add interest to a photo creating layers and textures.  Also adding different layers of clothing and accessories can add another dimension to the overall texture of the image.  These are especially important in black and white images.

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Subtle Props
… add meaning

The absolute best prop is something that is meaningful to you.  This can be grandpa’s vintage camera, a child’s favorite stuffed animal, a vintage magazine, mom’s handmade quilt or the family’s pet.   Without distraction, props add meaning to, and compliment  your image.

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On Your Feet
… shoes matter

The choice of shoes can make or break an outfit.  Slipping on a pair of hip distressed boots, colorful stylish flats or funky colorful Converse can tie everything together. Pick a color or texture to accent your clothing. Sometimes wearing no shoes at all look best, especially if you’ll be posing where the bottoms of shoes can be seen.  And don’t forget to add another splash of color with some funky socks if your overall look is fun and bright.

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How Will They be Used?
… where will they be displayed?

Think about the primary reason you are doing the session and dress accordingly.  For a business or actor’s head shot, consider your industry standard.  Then decide to match or deviate from it.  What message do you want to portray – conservative, artistic, trustworthy?  Will the image be displayed on a business card, website, brochures? Will the family or children’s image be displayed in the drawing room, family room, bedroom?  Is the image to say, “conservative”, “fun”, “funky”?

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Don’t Date Yourself
… A timeless look extends the life of photos

Considering Who You Are Today, choose clothing that is timeless, perhaps a little vintage in style. Use soft neutral tones with a pop of color then add interesting accessories, layers and textures.  I do love color so consider bright and funky as long as it’s not distracting from your face or personality.  Of course, this is a personal choice and many folks will go all out in the latest trends, thinking of their clothing choice as a time stamp.

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… clothing that flows and moves

In both the studio and in wide open locations, I love movement and flow.  Nothing better than a twirly, whirly dress or scarf or hat that moves when dancing, spinning, jumping.

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Get Comfortable
… to be You

Make sure clothing and accessories are comfortable, without the pull or scratch of some new items, especially with children.  Allowing children help to pick out their outfit can make them much happier during the session and  allows their beautiful personality shine through in images.  Think of layers instead of changing outfits.  For both children and adults, make sure you select an outfit that makes you feel stunning and relaxed.

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Patterns are Good
… in moderation

Patterns can add visual interest and texture as well as a good does of personality.  Just make sure that either just one person is in a pattern with the rest of the folks in simple, more solid color pieces or the patterns are subtle and complementary.  A patterned dress can actually be the secondary focus  and part of the story as long as it doesn’t distract from the face.

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Think About Location
… dress to compliment

Make sure your wardrobe complements the surroundings.  In a park, a little girl can be dressed in a simple, vintage style dress with boots.  That same look might be out of place in an urban setting in front of a harsh graffiti wall.

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A Few More Tips
… things to do & not to do

  • Avoid anything with logos, graphics characters, labels, etc. They distract from the face and take the professional portrait down a few notches.
  • Wait two weeks after a hair cut for the most natural look.
  • Don’t make everyone wear the same color. Matching is boring and dated.  Let everyone have a their own spin on the same color palette.
  • While staying current, avoid obvious fashion trends that will be dated soon.
  • No bright white socks and no sneakers unless we’re talking about something fashionable like funky Converse. Remove watches or jewelry not complementary to the session’s look.
  • Clothing should cover your arms to at least the elbows. All that extra skin can distract from your face.  With that said this depends on the purpose of the portrait.
  • Nails should be trimmed and clean. Gals, newly applied nail polish or none at all.
  • Guys, make sure your neck and any facial hair is trimmed of those pesky little hairs.

Check out Pinterest for some great examples at “Paint the Moon” and other fashion pages.

These ideas were gathered from Annie at Paint the Moon.  The best  collection of What to Wear tips I’ve found.

Images are selected from my work, Annie’s and a few others. 

Blog flourish

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.

Website Home Page 2018 stroke

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!

Irina, Jet and a 1936 Ford Roadster

Do you like the look of a Vintage Photo?  Here’s the story behind a recent photo session.

This project was 2 years in the making. Although I had the model who would dress in authentic vintage wear, the goggles, access to the Borzoi and location, I couldn’t find the right car. I wanted a classic 1930s convertible.

Recently, as my husband and I were driving, I saw this shiny dark blue miracle of a Roadster parked at a gas pump. It was like the clouds of heaven opening up. “That’s the car!” I shouted as I directed Bill to pull into the station. I waited for 3 breaths before opening the car door. I didn’t want to be “that crazy lady” as I approached the owner.

Although surprised by the request, he was delighted to offer his car for the project.

212-mat-wmThe car is a 1936, Irina’s dress was made in 1938 and her hair is makeup are 1930s style, her shoes were made in 1940, Jet is a Borzoi breed popular in graphic art pieces during the 1930s, the goggles are originals from the 1930’s, the house was built in 1902.

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When all these pieces came together it … Made Me Smile.  Hope it makes you smile, too!

Do you like Vintage Images?  Let’s create your personal story in photos! 

Here’s how to contact me > Contact Me.

A huge Thank You goes to:

  • Irina, for coming up with the perfect vintage presentation.
  • Karen, for offering Jet, a therapy dog with Pet Prescription Team who helps children in hospitals and through the family court system.
  • Sabine, for finding and offering the vintage goggles.
  • Jim and Sharon, for offering your fabulous car, and finally making this project happen!

To see more images and a peek behind the scenes from the project, click here >Irina, Jet, & a 1936-Ford-Roadster


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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!


Skid Row Community, Los Angeles

When you see people sitting next to a tent on the street, have you spoken to them?  Have you looked into their eyes and smiled?


These are things most of us do without thinking about it … when we meet someone who looks like us.

Recently I went to the Skid Row area of Los Angeles with a friend who knows these streets.  He is Alan Pinel, the President of The Burrito Project.  With donations, he and dozens of volunteers make and take hundreds of burritos to the homeless each month.

Alan has a heart bigger than anyone I know – A humble man who lives to give.  He gave his time to come with me asking nothing in return.

Please take a few minutes to view a video or two of Alan’s Burrito Project.  Learn how you can help by donating food or funds, or by joining the volunteer “party!”  The Burrito Project, Los Angeles

Thanks to all who came to visit my Facebook page & website to look at and comment on the photos I captured of folks I met.  If you haven’t seen them yet, come on over!  Skid Row Community, Los Angeles.  Here are a few …

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The next time you see someone who is living on the street, stop for a moment. Just for a moment.  Look into their eyes. Smile.  Both your heart and theirs will be touched.


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I am a Southern California based Portrait, Event 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!



Create Better Photos: Rule of Thirds

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

The Rule of Thirds is the most basic composition element.  This simple principle will help you to take well balanced and interesting shots that are pleasing to view.

Start by dividing your image into three equal sections both horizontally and vertically.  Place your subject on one of the lines or where two lines intersect.

The placement doesn’t need to be perfect.  Let’s take a look!

On my visit to New Zealand, I was captivated by this glacier ice.  You can see the mountains are placed at the top third line giving the ice the remaining two thirds.  Imagine this photo with one third ice and two thirds sky.  Which would make a more interesting image?

What if we applied the Rule of Thirds to a floral, animal or person?

Before you bring the camera up to your eye, look at the scene.  What’s the most interesting thing you want to capture?  That’s your subject.  As you bring the camera to your eye, move your body or the camera angle until you place the subject on one of these imaginary lines or at the intersection of two lines.  Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Can this rule be broken?  Of course!  Remember the Rule of Thirds creates a pleasing image.  Do you want pleasing?  Maybe your goal is to make the viewer uncomfortable, creating stress or drama.

Time to experiment!  Go out and take some pictures. Use the Rule of Thirds and then break the rule.  Which do you like better?  Which captures what you felt when you first encountered this scene?

The Rule of Thirds does not stand alone.  How to best use it depends on the other six composition elements.  Are you ready to learn more? Keep your eye out for the next lesson!

Blog flourish

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

Come on over and view more of my work here > Donna Edman Photography.
If you’d like to schedule a session, I’d be honored > Contact Me.

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

Capturing YOUR Life, One Image at a Time!