Category Archives: Helpful Articles

Why You Should Consider Sharing a Creative Work Space with Local Artists

We start a creative business because we love creating.  We underestimate how much “stuff” comes along with running a business, and often, we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and a tad bit lonely.  For the first six years of my business, the bulk of my office work had taken place in my home, alone (well, with a husband, two kids, and too many pets walking in and out of the room)


My workshops for local moms and indoor photo sessions were held in rented rooms in the community.  I spent a lot of time carrying equipment into my makeshift spaces, and too many emergency calls were made to my husband: I forgot a power cord at home, my keurig broke, I cannot get my projector to work, etc. How stressful!


I dreamed of my own space, but could not imagine the financial burden of running my own studio.

A local photographer invited me into his studio last summer, and my jaw dropped.  Huge windows, beautiful shootings spaces, a client meeting space, a prop closet, and space for desks!  He invited me to join the loft, along with another photographer.

After reviewing the rent specifications, I could only say yes.

I have learned a lot over the past nine months.  My time at the studio has been inspiring.


Three Reasons to Join a Studio with Creative Professionals

  1. Community:  It is lonely when you are in business by yourself. Liking your studio mates is key! Collaborate with people that you love.  It makes communicating much easier if you are comfortable.
  2. Education: We can all learn so much from each other! Consider joining with colleagues who have different specialties than you.  You will not be competing with each other and you will learn a lot from their varied experiences.
  3. Prestige without the Price Tag:  My current clients have been incredibly excited to check out my new space. New clients are impressed, and they often start an inquiry with similar wording to this, “I love your work and your studio looks AMAZING!!”
    You can control, the look, the ambiance, music, snacks, the temperature (this one alone is worth it’s weight in gold)!


Have you ever shared a studio? What worked for you? What tips would you add?

Happy Fridays: Back to School Organization


Back to School is such a busy time for you and your kids, and with everything going on, it’s important to stay organized. In that spirit, we’ve put together a few ideas to help keep your school year running smoothly.

1. With sports, extracurriculars, and weekend activities, we turn to for gorgeous Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Planners.

2. These printable, alphabet lunch box notes are adorable and smart.

3. With a few corkboards, frames, hooks, and marque letters, you can turn a cozy corner of your home into a tidy, organized homework and chore center. Here’s more inspiration.

4. NAPCP Designer Kristen created these amazing, customizable Morning Chore Charts to help your kiddos stay on track in the morning. Download them FREE at the NAPCP Store!

Finally, we’re always pinning to our board, “Staying Organized” with tons of great ideas, DIYs, and printables. Be sure to follow us on Pinterest!

Spotlight: Travel Photography

Wanderlust. That’s what some people call it. Whatever it is…most people would tell you that I certainly have it–an incurable desire to see the world. It might be inherited as my father certainly had it. Or, it might be something I picked up watching him travel to Asia often when I was a child. I was fortunate enough that my parents helped me see the world when I was younger. At 16 years of age, they encouraged me, and even helped organize, a trip to Europe with my Girl Guide troop. That trip sealed the deal for me. localsinhonduras In my 20’s this manifested in a constant need to move. When I met my husband and settled down, I knew that it would not end. I knew that I would want to take my children with me because travelling teaches you a great many things including the very important fact that despite all of our differences, people all across the world are essentially the same. Now, as a photographer, I enjoy travelling for the opportunity to photograph new places and cultures. When the NAPCP asked me what my top 5 things to photograph while I travelled were…I had to truly stop and think. I am NOT a landscape photographer. When I travel, I occasionally take the obligatory landscape shots, but they feel like just that–obligatory. So, what do I enjoy documenting on my travels? india16 #1) The food. It never used to feel like a cliche, but thanks to social media…it does now. But, it’s true…I love to take photographs of food in foreign countries. For example, every morning in Spain, I found myself eating the exact same breakfast. So, I have a series of photographs documenting my breakfasts in Spain. Or, the train food in India…or the frozen custard in Belize. In that case, I wanted very much to document the place where we bought it as well since it was a constant through our trip. india30   Calgary Family Photographer (Photo by Dana Pugh) #2) Rituals or Festivals. I have even been known to plan an entire trip around the opportunity to participate in one–like Easter in Spain. But, often, there are local traditions or happenings that are usually more interesting than the ‘tourist spots’…I try to find those. While in Honduras recently, we made our driver take us to where the locals swim in the river. He was completely dumbfounded by our desire to want to do this, but it was one of the highlights of our trip. honduras_048 underwaterinhonduras   india32 #3)The Locals. A long while back, I took a workshop with Jesh de Rox and one of the exercises he made us do was to photograph a stranger. The caveat was we had to ask permission. It really stuck with me and is one of my favourite things to do while travelling. Of course, sometimes I skip the whole permission thing!india27 India06 #4) The unexpected. When I travel, I like to take risks in my work. I feel free to create whatever I want so I don’t like having limitations. Soooo…I recently purchased an underwater housing for one of my SLR’s allowing me to capture unique images in the water. I also ditch the rules so I will push my ISO and shoot at night–trying to capture the unique life that happens after the sun sets in the areas that I am visiting. _MG_9881 Belize_20130253 copy   india28 #5) Myself. And, lastly, I try to get myself in a couple of images. I am not usually someone who aims for an artistic self portrait…rather, I like casual photographs of myself. Selfies. Or, handing my camera to a companion to capture me. Or photographing my reflection or my shadow. But, I want proof that I was there because often I am nonexistent in my family photographs. indiaselfie indiaselfie2 And just a quick note to say that one thing I often think I should take but rarely do are those ‘typical toursity shots’…you know the ones of your kids standing beside signs. Sometimes I wonder if my kids are missing out because I don’t take those. Travel images aren’t for anyone but yourself and they should be a reminder of that time in your life. They don’t have to be perfect to be wonderfully enjoyable. Calgary Family Photographer (Photo by Dana Pugh)   Check out these wonderful travel photographers and their work: Carl Zoch | Doug Shobbrook | Deb Schwedhelm | Gabe McClintock | Alpana Aras | Photography Concentrate | Joey L

Photographing Your Kids’ Sports

Gosh, they’ve grown quickly, haven’t they? From cruising in the playpen to romping around the backyard, you’ve documented hundreds of endearing moments of discovery and playtime. And now, they’re sprinting up and down soccer fields, racing up and down the swimming pool or swinging a wooden bat with all their might.

Photographing kids’ sports is a fun endeavor. If your kids are like mine, they can’t wait to see themselves in action. So, here are a few easy tips for capturing your kids’ best athletic moments.

Camera Settings

Put your camera in sports mode – it’s usually the Running Person on the main dial of your DSLR. This will automatically set the shutter speed high to freeze the action.

Alternatively, you could use the semi-auto mode for shutter priority (Tv on the main dial) so you can set the shutter speed where you like it – I usually use 1/1000 of a second but you could go as low as 1/500. The camera will figure out the appropriate aperture and ISO to achieve the correct exposure. Take a few shots and check if you’ve sufficiently frozen the action. If not, just keep dialing up the shutter speed.

Because there’s a lot of action, you should keep your camera on continuous or burst mode. Several frames will be taken when you press the shutter so that you have a better chance of capturing the right moment(s).


Camera Gear/Equipment

I’m often asked what the best lens is for photographing sports and honestly, it really depends on the sport and how close you can get to the action. I mostly photograph soccer and field hockey games right now so I prefer my 100mm-400mm lens. However, my 70mm-200mm has worked well for those shots along the sideline or across the shorter width of the field. I’ve also used my 70mm-200mm standing outside of the arena for my daughters’ horse shows.


Know where your light is coming from so you can decide where to best position yourself. On bright sunny days, it’s easy to light up your subject by making sure that the players are facing the light (sun). This light can be harsh, causing stark contrasts of light and shadow on your players’ faces. Sometimes this works well with the drama of the action and sometimes, you’d like to see more of the tense facial expression. This is a creative choice; so see what works for the images you’re creating.

Or take a different approach and make sure the light is behind the players. This could result in images with a bit of rim light around the player as well as more even lighting across the player’s body and face.

As the light starts fading in the late afternoons, you’ll need more light on the players. Try bumping up the ISO or using a flash.



A clean, uncluttered background will really make your player stand out in the photo. So, take a look at what’s in the background of your shots and change your position if necessary. If this isn’t possible because you’re at a very busy venue, as for most soccer tournaments, you could blur the background by using a wider aperture – set your main dial to Av (aperture priority) and try f/4 or f/5.6. The camera will set the shutter speed and ISO for the correct exposure.

Patience and Anticipation

It really helps to know the sport so that you can anticipate the action. For example, in soccer, when you know that the player is about to kick the ball, press the shutter release all the way down just before the ball is kicked. This way, you’ll be sure to capture the player kicking the ball with the ball still in the frame.


Action and Composition

The most interesting sports action shots are when the player is facing straight toward the camera with the ball in the frame. At soccer games, my favorite spot to stand is along the end line on one side of the goal. Here, I wait for the action to come to me as the plays are designed to bring the ball toward the goal.

Filling the frame with the player’s body is always a great individual action shot. In addition, the “rule of thirds” applies to action shots, probably even more so. Try to make sure that if you’re photographing kids fighting for the ball, place them just off center in the frame.


Take a LOT of Photos…More Than You Think You Need

I usually take a storyteller approach to my daughters’ games. So, I’m also looking for more than just shots of kids playing the game. Here are some ideas:

–       The team in a huddle or just when they run onto the field;
–       Close-ups of kids’ tense expressions as they meet at halftime;
–       The scoreboard;
–       The dejection or elation on the kids’ faces after the game is over.

Of course, when your camera is set on burst mode, you’ll naturally end up with a lot of photos from which you can choose your favorites.

Good luck and enjoy it! Remember kids’ sports are all about the fun of the game.



Making the Most of Your Family’s Vacation Photos

Making the most of the boatload of family vacation photos:

Now that every member of your family has incredible picture-taking power at their fingertips, your vacation images are likely spread out across multiple devices and have been liked, pinned, tweeted and hashtagged across a half dozen social media accounts.

But with just a little bit of time and thought, there’s so much more you can do with these pictures as you’re taking them and after you get home.

vacation napcp sara harris photography
vacation napcp sara harris photography
vacation napcp sara harris photography

Start with the end in mind.

Think about how you would like to “live” with your memories. So many options… An album, framed prints, a wall of gallery-wrapped canvas, a slideshow set to music. You can in fact do all of these with photos you took with your phone as well as your camera.

vacation napcp sara harris photography
vacation napcp sara harris photography
vacation napcp sara harris photography

But as you are in the moment, living and documenting, here’s a tip for the moms. Make sure you include yourself in the moment, historically as well as literally. You may end up behind the camera most of the time. But whatever it takes, make sure that you all appear together and individually coupled off at least a few times in your printed memories.

vacation napcp sara harris photography
vacation napcp sara harris photography

So what’s the best way to do that? Learn the art of the “selfie” or the “ussie” by mastering the self-timer and the hand extend. You could stalk that random person who looks friendly and appears that they know what they’re doing, or better yet, learn and get creative with the self-timer. Remember that the self-time is your friend — as are mirrors, plate glass windows, and water with reflection. At the end of the day, no one is concerned more about your family pictures more than you, so take control of it.

vacation napcp sara harris photography
vacation napcp sara harris photography
vacation napcp sara harris photography

Here’s the one that the nice well-intentioned stranger offered to take.

vacation napcp sara harris photography

Here’s the self-timer, a beach chair, and a creatively positioned book.

vacation napcp sara harris photography
vacation napcp sara harris photography

How do you want to remember this moment?

Round up all the images to one central location.

Once you get home, it’s all about the gathering of the images and what to do with them.

First, figure out where all the pictures currently “live.” Then create a single folder on your computer and start dumping all the vacation pictures in it. Most importantly make sure you create at least one redundant copy of the folder, in a different location!!

vacation napcp sara harris photography

Hashtagging in advance can make gathering much easier. A tip: while you’re on vacation, create a family hashtag and have all your people use it when they are sharing images socially. Ours is #harrisagogo, and it makes it really easy to go back and search for images. If you didn’t use one at the time, no problem – you can always go back to Instagram, Facebook, etc. and add a comment with your new family hashtag later.

vacation napcp sara harris photography
vacation napcp sara harris photography
vacation napcp sara harris photography

The idea is to figure out all the great images your family captured that you may not even know about yet!

So what’s really the ‘best’ thing to do with your pictures?

The right answer is that it doesn’t matter as long as you get them off your devices, and actually do something with them.

You may not yet feel all nostalgic about what happened last week, but I promise you that in 10 years, 5 years, and probably even next year you will — after your kids have changed and so much water has continued to flow under life’s bridge.

You will be so ever grateful that you invested a couple hours to get the digital pictures off the family iPhones and cameras and on to the walls and family coffee table in priceless tangible keepsakes that you will cherish for years to come.

vacation napcp sara harris photography
vacation napcp sara harris photography

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We are so delighted that you are here. The National Association of Professional Child Photographers is an association whose mission is to promote and support the artistry and integrity of professional child photographers. To accomplish this mission, NAPCP provides the most comprehensive resources for its members, bringing together a community of passionate artists committed to growth in their skills, their artistry, and their businesses. (formally pronounced "NAP-C-P") is a place where professional child photographers can come and connect, learn, teach, aspire and grow. It is also a valuable resource for parents who are looking for a professional child photographer in their area, and want to be inspired and educated about our specialized industry.

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