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.

Capturing 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!

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!

Why Do I Create Photo Images?

Hands 2When I was asked to describe my “Why,”  I did some soul searching.

Encouraging people, and blessing others, is my whole life passion. In my role as a professional photographer, encouraging an individual during their portrait session and blessing the work of worthy organizations, is the answer to my “Why.”

During a portrait session, when a client is nervous, self conscious about how they look, or thinks everything has to be perfect, genuine compliments with eye contact can help them relax and begin to see themselves as others do. It’s wonderful to see their body posture and expressions change as they begin to enjoy our time together.

During a family portrait session, when the kids run a muck, the parents can feel embarrassed.  With a love and life-long experience with kiddos, I encourage the parents to let me take care of the session.  They can sit back and relax.  Their kids “enthusiasm” is common and can be incorporated into the final images.  I see the parents’ “Awww, thanks” moment.

It can be when  be when a charitable organization asks me to capture images for their event, or make a donation to their silent auction.

Creating photo images is what I do for a living.  It is also what I do to bless those around me.


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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!