Some Advice on Taking Your Own Baby’s Pictures

by Guest Contributor Jimmy Bui

I’m a professional wedding photographer based in Riverside, California, and by no means do I consider myself a newborn photographer. It’s a tough job and something that I won’t consider trying professionally. As a new father, I found a new love for the genre, and although I won’t be shooting other couples’ babies anytime soon, my experience so far has opened up a whole new world of creative photography for me. Here are some advice that may help you capture some amazing pictures of your baby.

Capture Baby’s First Experiences Creatively

A baby experiences new things every day, and to witness her reaction is something truly special, especially when that baby is your own. When I’m capturing my daughter’s first experiences with things, I like to really think about the composition and take the pictures creatively rather than just plainly documenting the experience. It’s as simple as shooting above the crib through the rotating mobile and capturing her first reaction to it, or playing around with depth of field during sunset while she’s witnessing bubbles for the first time.

Anticipate Milestones

I like to setup shots, but there’s nothing like a truly candid moment, especially when it’s a milestone like first steps or first words. To be ready with those moments, I always have a camera either on me or within arm’s reach. It’s pretty easy, nowadays, to have a camera on you at all times with smart phones, and just the other day I was able to film my daughter’s first laugh with my phone.  One of her first milestones that I captured was the bonding experience between her and my wife during their first moments together. I shot this particular image with a Canon 6D paired with a Sigma 50mm f1.4 prime lens  through an empty glass cup to create a cool lighting effect around them. I love using this camera set up since it can handle low light really well and the ISO performance is amazing. Beautiful moments can happen at any given time, and it’s great if you can use a camera that can handle any lighting situation.

Exercise Patience and Learn From Your Mistakes

Posed shots with babies take a lot of patience, and it can be often times be frustrating. If you’re prepared in your set up and props, and if you can accept the fact that your initial shoot may fail and you would have to try again another time, then you’ll do fine. These are some of the concepts I took  of Kayla, and these were done over the course of a month. When we first tried doing the moon shot, it was a complete failure. The props weren’t great, the posing was awkward, and Kayla was in a fussy mood. We tried it again another day, simplified the set up, and it went much better.

Look for the Light

As a professional wedding photographer, I’m always looking for great light to shoot amazing bridal portraits. I apply the same mentality when I’m photographing our baby. I love the look of natural light, especially when it’s diffused through white curtains. I also love shooting in open shade and into the sun at sunset. When the ambient light is just not cutting it, I like to use a speedlight and bounce the light off a wall. For really extravagant concepts, I sometimes use multiple speedlights paired with umbrellas.

About the Author: A former elementary school teacher, Jimmy Bui switched his career after 10 years working in public education to pursue his dreams in photography. He specializes in wedding photography and conceptual fine art portraiture, and is based in Riverside, California. When he’s not shooting or spending hours in the editing room, you may find him exploring a National Park and spending time with his beautiful wife and daughter.



Photographer Spotlight: Courtney Bowlden

We are so excited to welcome the fabulously talented Courtney Bowlden to the Rock the Shot Blog! Take a moment to learn more about her beautiful portrait and wedding photography, and be sure to visit her website Courtney Bowlden Photography.  Thanks so much Courtney for sharing your work with us today!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
Growing up I always had a camera with me, but it wasn’t to take amazing pictures or create any kind of art. I simply wanted to capture moments and create memories that I could remember with the prints. I had no intention on ever being a photographer when I was younger, but when my second baby was born, I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to get the pictures of him that I had envisioned in my head. I got my first DSLR camera (Nikon D60) and had some friends who were professional photographers teach me what I needed to know. The funny thing now is that my kids wont ever let me take pictures of them.

How would you describe your photography style?
Bright, fun, colorful, warm, and timeless. I specialize in photojournalism.

Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
I was taught by some friends of mine who had gone to school, but for me I wouldn’t have lasted in a classroom. I am a hands on kind of person and prefer learning on my own.

What brand/model camera do you shoot, and what is your favorite lens?
I started with the Nikon, but switched to Canon because I loved their colors and skin tones better. I use only prime lenses because I feel they get the best color and sharpness. I recently upgraded to a 5D Mark3. My favorite lens has to be the Canon 85mm 1.2. The color and depth of field is outstanding. Its sharp and easy to focus. I don’t always use that lens, though. When I shoot weddings, I usually use the Canon 35mm 1.2 or the Canon 50mm 1.2 and have my assistant on the 85.

Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?
I don’t use flash unless I have to, and I also like to use a lot of backlight from the sun. When my clients book with me, I tell them either morning or late afternoon sessions are best for lighting. When I am shooting a wedding, I try and show up a little earlier to scout out any places with good lighting (or shade if its in the middle of the day). I also try to look for natural reflectors, like cement or walls that bounce light back up to my clients faces.

What is your favorite subject to photograph?
This is a hard one. I really love Seniors and I love weddings. It would have to be a tie.

What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
Take time off. Last year I over worked myself and never gave myself days off or vacations. This year I forced myself to take at least one or two days off a week and spend time with my family. It’s helped me to not get stressed out. The other lesson I have learned this year is to not rely on your external hard drive for backup. Backup your images to the Cloud (I use Backblaze). Hard drives can fail, and that was something I have never had happen to me in all my years of business. It was painful and so scary, but a lesson that I had to learn.

If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
Find your niche. When I first started, I did everything. But I didn’t always enjoy doing it all. I got to the point where I don’t accept just any job, but the ones I am confident in and ones that I enjoy. I think it’s great to specialize in something, not just for clients, but for yourself.

What do you love most about being a photographer?
The people I meet and the opportunities I get. Next year, I will be able to live out my longest dream of shooting a wedding in Paris, France.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I have no idea! I believe that God blessed me with this gift and He has provided me with all of these opportunities. I am leaving it up to Him.


About the Artist: 
Wife, mother of 2 and lover all of things art. I am passionate about music, making friends, watching good movies and going to concerts, traveling and love to sing. My family is the most important thing in my life.

Visit Courtney at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM pages today!

5 Tips For Maintaining A Better Work Life Balance

by Guest Contributor Veronica Gillas

When I first started out in the photography business, I jumped in with both feet and then forgot how to swim. I went from treading water to drowning in a matter of only months. I was priced too low for the custom portraiture market, overbooked and of course, overworked. My relationship with my children began to suffer, my marriage begin to suffer and I, of course, began to suffer.

I quickly realized that I was devoid of what I had spent a decade teaching other people; work life balance. I had to take a good long look at my business model and make some pretty serious changes. The changes prompted me to write this article about why I had to slow down. In the months following my turnaround, my quality of life has improved drastically. I meet new photographers regularly who talk about the same trials and tribulations that I faced starting out, and have shared my thoughts with them. That being said, I felt the advice deserved a larger audience, and so I’ve put together 5 easy ways that you can start today and maintain the (almost) perfect work life balance.

1. Work Smarter, Not Harder

For someone who prides themselves on being a workaholic, working smarter was a tough one. When I worked in the corporate world, putting in extra hours and moving up the chain quickly was a surefire way to success, or so I thought. Editing through the night eventually meant that I was missing movie nights with my family. Scouting locations for my fourth family session in a weekend meant that I was canceling date nights with my husband. Taking six client consults in a day meant that my kids were spending more time with Curious George than they were with their mother. I was a cranky mess.

Re-branding and changing my pricing structure (see #2) was an integral part of learning to work smarter. I started doing my consults by phone and developed a streamlined process for workflow. Working smarter had benefits for me as well as for my clients. I was able to spend more time with families individually, which meant that the relationship I have with my clients is incredibly close. In fact, I regularly have play dates, coffee and lunch dates with several of my clients and these are friendships that I keep close to my heart. My families are some of the most wonderful people I have ever met.

Ask yourself what you’re doing that is eating away at time that you could spend being more productive. Are you stuck trying to figure out post-processing? Hire a professional that you admire (like me!) to run you through their post-processing to help you perfect the process. Are you beating your head against a brick wall trying to market yourself? Talk to colleagues and join professional organizations (and forums like Rock The Shot) to bounce some new ideas around with other togs. Think outside the box and move outside of your comfort zone!

2. Price Yourself Right

This was probably the most difficult change I made. Starting out in the portfolio building phase, clients were paying very little for my work. When I sat down with my husband to re-draft my business plan (as a photographer, you should absolutely have one!) we calculated that I was losing money on every single session that I did. By the time I had figured my time, gas, mileage and expenses into the equation, I was seriously in the red. Increasing my prices was met with a great deal of resistance from about half of my existing client base. These clients were very value-driven as a lot of people are, and that is okay. When you raise your prices and charge what you are worth, there will still be people who will go elsewhere. What I found however, was that half of my clients stayed. I can’t even tell you how wonderful it felt to have a client tell me that I was worth every single penny, and then book their third family session with me in as many years.

I could dedicate an entire article to pricing alone (and I have), but the truth is that you have to price yourself based on your cost of goods and services and how much you’d like your business to be making. I worked backwards when I did my business plan. I work on-location with little overhead and so I set out a dollar amount that I wanted my business to hit every year (before expenses). I then figured out how many sessions I could do per month (it is five, in case you are wondering) and divided that by the income I wanted to generate. That figure determined my goal average sale, and I adjust my marketing efforts to reflect that. It meant marketing to a higher end market, but that in turn resulted in a higher transaction with fewer clients per month. What’s your magic number?

3. Reignite Your Passion

It is easy to forget the reasons that you became a photographer when the business side of things consumes you. My husband made a comment in passing a few months ago about him not remembering the last time I took the camera out when it wasn’t for work. I was shocked (and a bit offended) but realized he was right.

There was a time where I used my photography as a creative outlet for my artistic side. I used to be an artist and I had quickly just become a photographer. A few days later, I was struck by a concept for a shoot right after dinner (about 14 minutes before sunset, go figure), so I grabbed our 6 year old and took off to one of my favorite places. The end result was the image below. To date, it is absolutely my most favorite image of her.

What did you stop doing when you became a business owner? Never stop creating. Never stop learning. Remember what it was that drove you to pick up the camera to begin with. Get back to being the artist again.
4. Take A Time Out

As a mother, wife, daughter, small business owner, friend and sister, we often put the needs of the other important people in our lives before our own. This will inevitably lead to disaster. Please trust me when I say it will.

We use time outs on our kids when really, we need to start using them on ourselves. A part of being more successful in every facet of my life meant being more self-aware, and one of the exercises that I practice regularly involves putting myself in time-out. I had to vocalize when I needed help. This means asking my husband to come home early every once in awhile so that I can go for a run when I have had a rough day with the kids and hiring help one day a week so I can dedicate myself to tasks at the office.

I learned so quickly that if I don’t put myself first and attend to my needs, I can’t really take care of the people around me very well either. Putting yourself first will make you more successful in your photography business, and in every single other role that you play.
5. Family Day

Many photographers are mothers who have a family, husband and home to look after. While we spend time with each other throughout the week, the truth is that we were not spending quality time together. I am not at a point where I can completely block off one day per week for family, but we do make sure to book time out every single week for just us. It can be something as simple as a hike in the park or a trip to OMSI. We also make sure that we have one meal a day together, usually dinner, and occasionally go out to eat.

Commit to your family and you are committing to a better you. Time with your family will make you feel less guilty about those times when you have to scoot out for a last minute booking or have a newborn session that runs longer than you expected. You will feel more confident about how things are going in your life and in even in your marriage, I know I did! Family time for me also meant time away from my children and just with my husband. I soon found that we were using date nights to bounce creative ideas off of each other. Some of my most amazing creations have come as a result of conversations I have had with my very best friend!

So, let’s hear it. Will you take the plunge and make changes for the better? I promise if you follow these easy tips your photography business will change so dramatically, and so will your quality of life.

How about it pros, was there anything you’d add to my list?

About the Author: I am a natural and studio light photographer based out of Portland, Oregon.  I specialize in the fine art portraiture of newborns, families and children.  I love playing ring around the rosy with our 6-year-old, re-enacting the epic light saber battle between Darth and Luke with our 9-year-old, chasing our one-year-old with a camera and holding hands while watching the stars with my amazing husband.

Featured Vendor + Giveaway: Squijoo

We are truly pleased to welcome our friends from Squijoo Design Studio back to Rock the Shot today! Take a moment to learn more about Squijoo and their fabulous template subscriptions for photographers.  Be sure to enter their GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a 10-Year Membership to valued at $1200.

About Squijoo

Do you use Photoshop templates for your photography business? If you answered Yes, then is the place to get your templates! Why you ask? … because we give you unlimited access to ALL our templates for just $10 per month with no limits at all. Seriously, you won’t find a better deal anywhere else.

But wait …

Special Rockin’ Offer For RTS Fans

If you join today we will let you in on membership for a whopping 50% off. That’s just $5 per month to access as many templates as you like, anywhere, anytime. Use coupon code 1EE3B and take advantage of this amazing offer… and don’t worry, if you win this giveaway we will refund you any payment you’ve with this offer. So don’t wait for the giveaway to end. Hurry and sign up so you don’t miss out on this deal.

Why Photographers LOVE Squijoo

Imagine going to one single website where you can get as many Photoshop templates as you like for just one low monthly price. A place where you can find templates for all kinds of products that you can sell to clients such as accordions, albums, collages, word art, cards and much more. A place where you can use a wide variety of marketing templates to help boost your photography business growth and profits. Now add to that a whole lot of awesome customer service, and you’ll easily see why photographers love their membership. So be warned … joining Squijoo may make your heart skip a beat and your significant other a tad bit jealous.

Seeing is Believing
We could go on all day about how awesome Squijoo is, but frankly speaking we are not in the business of tooting our own horn. The best way for you to judge for yourself is to visit our website at and have a look at all that we offer. Also be sure to stop by our Facebook page and read all the wonderful positive feedback from fellow photographers .. and while there be sure to “Like Us” so we can begin our friendship.

Oh and one more thing …
You know that feeling you get when you walk outside just after it’s rained and the smell of fresh rain tingles your senses? Well, being a Squijoo member will kinda make you feel like that because we deliver fresh, new templates on a weekly basis, all included in your membership.

About The Founder

Hi there, I’m Nirav Desai, Founder and CTO (Chief Template Officer) at Squijoo Design Studio. While I was the pioneer in launching I can NOT take all the credit for it. Instead, I’d like to dedicate this bio to the wonderful design team that works tirelessly to create our beautiful templates and most importantly the Squijoo photographer member community that supports and encourages us each and every day. A big “thank you” to all of them.

Visit Squijoo at their WEBSITE | FACEBOOK pages today!

Enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a 10 Year Membership to {valued at $1,200}.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hurry! Giveaway ends on Tuesday, January 27th. Winner will be announced on Saturday, January 31st.

LEGAL STUFF: This promotion is in NO WAY sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You will NOT be notified publicly via Facebook if you are a winner. You MUST be 18 to participate. By entering this giveaway, you are providing information to Rock the Shot and NOT to Facebook. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items.

Congratulations to Lauren Lynch-Heath on winning a 10-YEAR Membership to Squijoo!! Sarahplease email me at in the next 48 hours to claim your prize. Thank you all for participating and have a wonderful weekend!

Featured Vendor + Giveaway: Liz Franco Photography Workshops & Mentoring

We are so thrilled to welcome Liz Franco Photography Workshops and Mentoring to the Rock the Shot Blog today! Learn more about her workshops and mentoring classes and enter to WIN a seat to their upcoming Spring 2015 Workshop in Chicago {$950 value} – how SWEET is that?!

About Liz Franco Photography Workshops

Liz Franco Photography Workshops & Mentoring Classes have been created to help fellow photographers around the world. Our goal is to help them find their creative soul and learn how to listen to it. By teaching them how to create stunning creative sessions with simplicity is our goal. Whether you are trying to find some inspiration and learn new techniques to take your post processing to a whole new level or if you are interested in learning posing and how to work with available natural light. We are here to help you with that.

With our one on one online mentoring classes we offer a complete open door to the secrets behind the post processing of Liz Franco. From adding richness to creating a deep whimsical Fine Art touch to your images, the entire class is focused on helping photographers find a creative editing workflow.

As we are growing and creating more workshops for the upcoming months we are truly excited to offer something unique to others. Teaching how to use natural light and posing will be one of our focuses. By bringing together a variety of creative sessions and an intense day of learning how to find the light and how to create unique sessions with simple things. In these workshops we also include a day of post processing and business talk.

We are giving away a seat to our upcoming Spring 2015 Workshop in Chicago. This workshop has been created to help guide you to where your passion already is. Learn how to take that first step out of your comfort zone. Learn how to find inspiration and how to create stunning portraits with simple setups and details.

Intensify your creativity and take your post processing to a whole new level at The Seeking Workshop in Chicago | Spring 2015{$950 Value}.

About the Artist: Liz Franco is a Fine Art natural light photographer serving the Chicago are and surrounding suburbs. With her focus on capturing life, love and beauty in a unique way with her unique vision she enjoys every second of this journey with the amazing support of her husband and daughter.

Visit Liz at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK  pages today!

Enter the Giveaway using the Rafflecopter app below for a chance to win a seat at The Seeking Workshop in Chicago | Spring 2015!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hurry! Giveaway ends Tuesday, January 20th . Winners will be announced on Sunday, January 25th.

LEGAL STUFF: This promotion is in NO WAY sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You will NOT be notified publicly via Facebook if you are a winner. You MUST be 18 to participate. By entering this giveaway, you are providing information to Rock the Shot and NOT to Facebook. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items.  Prize does not include airfare or accommodations to Chicago.

Congratulations to Sarah Anna Hansen on winning a seat at The Seeking Workshop in Chicago | Spring 2015!! Sarahplease email me at in the next 48 hours to claim your prize. Thank you all for participating and have a wonderful weekend!

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