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How to Achieve Light, Fine Art Images for Your Session


Maryland Maternity Photographer - Mama with a hat

Family photographers around DC, Northern VA, and Maryland offer many different styles. Many people tell me they love my style because it is light and airy, resulting in ethereal, elegant images. I adore photographing this way because I do think it adds a refined look to photographs. What I think many people do not realize is there are many factors that go in to achieving this aesthetic in my images.

Not any image can result in this style. Light, location, wardrobe, film, and editing all play an important role in my photography style. I delve more into each below and how to get those light and airy images for your session.

1. Light

Light is the most important factor to consider when photographing anything. I base a vast majority of my decisions on light while photographing. I choose to photograph in the early morning hours or the hour before sunset so my images have a softness to them. Avoiding midday sun is important to me because it can create harsh shadows and a lot of contrast. When photographing inside, I try to schedule sessions around midday because indoor spaces will typically have abundant light during this timeframe. When planning your session, I encourage you to trust your photographer with light! It is the number one factor affecting your images.

Family Session at the US Capitol

2. Location

Location can also play an important role in the style of an image. Photographing the same family in the same outfits at the same time of day at both the Jefferson Memorial and a red barn can create vastly different styles. When photographing at many classic DC monuments, you can expect to have bright images based on the surrounding white surfaces. Not only will the white pillars, floor, etc. create a bright background, but it will also reflect more light onto you! This will in turn create flattering photographs.

However, a red barn will not only have a large red backdrop, it will cause color casting onto skin tones. This means that your skin tone will have a red tint that is unnatural and not as flattering. Some photographers do enjoy this contrast, and there is nothing wrong with that! I just know that a red barn would not be the best fit for my style.

DC Family Photographers

3. Wardrobe

Wardrobe can echo location. Lighter, neutral, or muted tones will allow skin tones to glow naturally, whereas bright or neon colors will create color casting. I encourage my clients to gravitate towards neutrals, cream, sage, grays, dusty blue, rose, and lavender tones to form a soft palette.

Additionally, the type of clothing you wear affects the aesthetics of your photos, as well. I adore a nostalgic feel to images because it reminds us that childhood is fleeting. Long, flowing clothing can often communicate this well, so I provide dresses as part of my client wardrobe so mothers do not need to worry about finding new clothes for sessions.

DC Family Photographers - Light and Airy Aesthetic

4 & 5. Film & Editing

I am grouping film and editing into the same category because not all photographers photograph with film, and editing can be done to look like film. The film stock used for film photographers and editing can create predominant colors and tones in the images.

You will notice some photographers may have a lot of contrast with dark shadows in their images, or very bright colors, or really soft images – film stock and editing can certainly affect all of these.

All five of the above components should be a priority if you want to have those beautiful, ethereal images you love. Drastically changing just one of them will definitely affect the style of your photographs. Of course, don’t worry about making all of these decisions yourself! I will certainly help you every step of the way.

Marie Elizabeth Photography

DC Newborn Photographer

Marie Elizabeth Photography specializes in fine art Maternity, Newborn, and Family Photography based out of Washington, D.C. She also serves the areas of Arlington, Alexandria, McLean, Falls Church, Vienna, Bethesda, Potomac, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Silver Spring, College Park, and Riverdale Park. 

It is always an honor to serve as your DC Family Photographer. I provide a custom, luxurious experience to lead you every step of the way, beginning with a planning guide to make you feel confident and prepared, a consultation to achieve your portrait goals, a client wardrobe, hair and make-up artists, and finally, artwork to adorn your walls and preserve your memories forever. Let me be a part of your story today.

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