Snap Happy Family Photography Workshop Julie Kubal Photography Washington DC

Become YOUR Family’s photographer
With a 90-minute Snap Happy Photography Workshop


Blaming your digital camera for sub-par pictures?

Sick of settling for blurry, dim, unflattering images that make you cringe?

Know you need to read your camera’s manual but can’t make it past page 2?

Here’s the secret: it’s not about your equipment, it’s about being EQUIPPED with simple know-how. Documenting your life’s story and capturing precious moments from your children’s childhood goes beyond buying a digital camera, it requires knowing how to configure settings and set up a great shot at a moment’s notice. My clients hire me for family photo sessions and newborn portraits, but a lot of life happens when I’m not around. This workshop is designed to help you become YOUR family’s photographer and capture the moments in stunning snapshots.

the Snap Happy Workshop provides practical tips that immediate improve your family snapshots.


What is Snap Happy: Photography 101?

This 90-minute hands-on workshop is designed to equip moms and dads with the photography fundamentals that capture spontaneous childhood moments with polish and prowess. The workshop translates theory into simple tricks that you can quickly apply to each family snapshot, regardless of what camera model you’re working with. Professional photographer Julie Kubal will teach you the skills and together you’ll put them into practice alongside other local parents.


Who should sign up for Snap Happy:

Snap Happy – Photography 101 is designed for busy moms and dads who want to take better pictures of their children and family. These parents have digital cameras and a desire for beautiful portraits, but struggle to find the right settings and strategies to create quality photographs.

Most parents take LOTS of photos of their kids, most of which aren’t worthy of sticking up on the fridge – movement is out of focus, kids are out of frame, and you can’t help but feel that something was lost in translation. Rather than snapping thousands of images and hoping one or two are worthy, Julie will teach you how to hone your focus, apply the same technique used by the professionals, and snap happy.


What you will learn:

  • Photography fundamentals to break free from pre-set shooting modes
  • Five simple strategies for setting up the perfect shot
  • How to work with all lighting levels
  • Key components of beautiful composition
  • How to organize and preserve your memories for headache free enjoyment


Breast feeding center for greater washingtonWorkshop Details:

  • Time: 1 PM to 3 PM (90 minutes class with extra time for practice and Q&A)
  • Date: Saturday, July 11
  • Price: $60
    50% of your registration fee will be donated back to the Breast Feeding Center!
  • What to bring
    In order to participate in the Snap Happy workshop all you need is a camera (a DSLR is NOT required) and a positive attitude. Charge your camera, bring your equipment, take some notes, enjoy hands-on practice with instant feedback, and watch your photography skills improve with every frame.




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Can’t make it to this Snap Happy Workshop, but dying to come to the next one? If so, sign up to receive announcements about upcoming events, photography specials, and photography tips straight from a pro!

Professional Washington DC Photographer Julie KubalAbout Julie Kubal
Professional Washington DC Photographer

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice! Learn more about Julie’s background in her recent interview with Contrario Collective!


Washington-DC-family-photographer_04 As the winning bidders at the Murch Elementary School auction, the Strider family took home a photo package that included a family portrait session with me, a Washington DC child photographer, plus a beautiful heirloom photo print. But rather than an at-home photo shoot, the Strider Family opted for what is one of the most beautiful settings in all of Washington DC and one of my favorite backdrops: the Washington National Cathedral. It was 9 o’clock in the morning and the morning’s soft golden light made for near perfect photography.

As a Washington DC child photographer, my dominant client demographic hangs out primarily in the 0-5 age group. That means that there are binkies, diaper changes, the occasional nap-time tears, and an awful lot of squats and floor time for me. I scrunch up my face to induce giggles and smiles, I pander for eye contact, squat down on the floor with my camera in hand. However, this particular family portrait session had me in front of a slightly more mature audience, and while Will, 13, and Pete, 11, have little use for my usual antics, they were just as much fun. I’d go so far as to say that working with this older age group – in the upper elementary school to middle school years – is a joy. It is a pleasure to photograph older children because they are so attentive to my instruction, so willing to follow my directions instead of chasing after whatever woodland critter caught their attention from across the yard.

As we grow up, we polish our ability to form single file lines, wait our turn, sit cross legged, and smile on command – but that youthful wildness that once made us bounce, and run, and flail around…well, it gets a little bit dampened in the process. So while sage-like older children are able to wait their turn to step in front of the camera, they’re not as able to release the same natural smiles and relaxed interactions that the toddler crew has mastered so well. Why? Because self-awareness gets in the way. And nothing obliterates self-awareness quite as effectively as laughter.

While my own family of three appreciates my sly sense of humor (I think), I knew that for the Strider Family photoshoot I was going to need the help of an insider. So, I shamelessly and happily employed each child in turn, so that he could dole out some brother-on-brother teasing that only 11 and 13-year-olds can understand. As one brother sat in front of the camera lens, the other acted as my sidekick, making squidgy faces, slinging punch lines, and helping out the other brother to just let loose a little. It worked like a charm. Gone where those on-demand-smiles with pursed-lips and blank stares, and out came all the sparkle and joy that make Will and Pete such a dynamic duo.

It was a home run, and for first time clients the Strider family really hit their stride (sorry – pun intended). Don’t believe me? Just take a look at a handful of the shots that we created together.


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Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!


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Though most of my calendar is full of child and family portrait shoots, every so often I get to mix things up and create a set of professional headshots for some of the working moms and dads in my network. On this particular summer morning, Molly Rauch was one such working mom in need of an updated photo to post online.

Molly and I met several years ago when our kids both attended Temple Sinai Nursery School, though they were in different classes at the time. Over the years we have bumped into each other around town from time to time, and then once more when I joined Temple Micah, where Molly just happens to be a member.

Molly is a mom who lives and works in Washington, DC as the Public Health Policy and Outreach Manager for Moms Clean Air Force. She’s part of a national conversation and movement to protect children against the health hazards that result from pollution. Over the years she has shared with me a little bit about her work and I have followed some of her articles as they’ve been published across the web. So, when Molly told me that she was in need of new headshots to use in her work and social media, we set a date to get it done.

The morning of our professional headshot shoot, Molly and I met up at the National Cathedral, a beautiful backdrop that never fails to provide a touch of class and interest to portraits. As with all of my headshot clients, I recommended she have her hair and makeup professionally done. Yes, it is an added expense, but experience has taught me that it’s the only way to ensure a top-notch, professional appearance in every frame. Thankfully, Molly took my advice and I made arrangements for her to work with a wonderful makeup and hair artist, Jjana Valentiner, who managed to provide Molly with a polished look while still maintaining her natural beauty.

We had such a nice time during our short session together, wandering around the grounds of the National Cathedral and chatting about life before DC. We discovered that we’re both from New York City and come from families of theater buffs. In fact, her father is coincidentally on the board of a wonderful theater in NYC where I had just seen an amazing play over Mother’s Day weekend.

I’m happy to see Molly’s new headshots already in use on the Moms Clean Air Force website as well as across Molly’s social media profiles. They look beautiful!



Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!


Moms with newborn babies know the deep-seated desire to capture every wink, cry, and yawn on film. We’re dazzled by our babies and entirely smitten by their soft skin and pudgy curves, but when it comes to taking at-home baby photos, something becomes lost in translation.

As a professional newborn photographer, I want to share with you 5 simple tips you can use to improve your baby photography practically overnight. These tricks are used constantly in the photography industry and they can work for you regardless of what camera model you own.

Still need help after reading this article? I’ll be teaching a class, Snap Happy: Photo 101 for parents who want to learn to take better photos of their children. The class will be on July 11, 2015 from 1pm to 3 pm at the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington. Follow this link to learn more or register! Half of the proceeds will be donated to support the Breastfeeding Center.

Get closer

Standing back from your baby to snap off a few portraits is a comfortable position for you – and a rare chance to realign your vertebrae – but it really doesn’t improve your images. This from-a-distance shot has a tendency to allow the background to take over the photo, causing the newborn baby to become a secondary subject rather than the protagonist. Try stooping to your baby’s level and filling the entire frame with your baby – whether it’s a photograph of his face, toes, hands, or rump, make sure that he is the center of attention. Just avoid shooting up the nose, that’s never a beauty shot.

How to improve your baby photography overnight


Soften your camera’s flash  

Baby photography has a way of making people swoon because of its ability to capture the natural delicacy, innocence, and softness of a newborn. The moment you flash an LED on that scene, the softness is as good as gone. For that reason, I recommend moms use indirect sunlight (through a window) whenever possible. Flash has a tendency to wash out and flatten the details of a photograph, so turn off the flash or try creating a soft light box to fit over your camera’s flash to soften the light.

Washington DC newborn photographer


Shoot in macro mode

Portraits of tiny babies are all about the details and textures. Capturing these minute elements requires changing your camera’s settings to macro mode or zooming in as much as possible (without sacrificing your image’s definition). Zoom in on your baby’s feed, hands, thigh rolls, and wrinkled toes. Capture a snapshot of the way his tiny hand wraps around your finger, or the way his eyes look up at you when he has just finished nursing.

Washington DC newborn photographyWashington DC Newborn Photographer Abby


Widen the aperture for soft backgrounds

Blurry backgrounds in portraits are an excellent way to highlight your baby. This is achieved by widening the aperture (the size of the hole in your lens), just keep in mind that the smaller the number the larger the aperture. Try fiddling with your cameras settings and seeing how it affect the background of your images, when you hit a sweet spot make note of the settings so that you can quickly come back to them in the future.



Don’t be a poser

As a professional newborn photographer, I can testify to the fact that this tip can really make all the difference in the world. Your newborn baby’s age will determine, to a great degree, how active he or she is. Babies in their third month and older tend to be quite squirmy and active in their own ways, refusing to fold into perfect little poses. That’s just fine. Rather than repositioning your baby into some hallmark-esque pose, challenge yourself to capture their beauty in their natural posture. This will require that you experiment with distance, height, and camera modes but it will also ensure that your camera skills – and artistic eye – improve with every shot.


How to improve your baby photography overnight


One of the greatest gifts of being a professional newborn photographer is being able to capture these precious portraits of my own children and while I enjoy working with moms from around the Washington DC area, I know that there are millions of memories taking place when I am not around. That is why I want you to get more comfortable with your photography skills and to start using these 5 tips to improve your baby photography overnight. Just be sure to let me know how it goes in the comments section below!

Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!


Gray Family Photoshoot

A few weeks ago I got to leave the bustle of Washington DC behind and spend an afternoon in Great Falls, VA photographing the Gray Family in their beautiful family home. Approximately 30 minutes outside of Washington DC, parents, Awo and Bob, along with their two young children, welcomed me into their home to stage their second portrait session.

Last fall, the Gray Family and I got together for their first family portrait session and were lucky enough to enjoy one of the most beautiful fall days that the season had to offer. Awo first discovered my work after she Googled around on the internet. Then, during our first session’s planning meeting, she expressed an interest in having a kind of ongoing documentation of the family that could chronicle the kids as they grow. As Awo paged through the images in my holiday card collection, she stumbled across a few familiar faces: the Price family! The Prices are Awo’s close friends, my dear clients, and a good omen because thanks to them, Awo felt reassured that she had made the right choice in hiring me. Then, for our second photoshoot together, it just so happened that I was scheduled to photograph the Price Family the day after the Gray Family and moms Awo and Margot consulted each other to help plan for their shoots.

At our viewing session after the first portrait shoot, she took advantage of an offer that is available with the purchase of one of my collections to book a follow-up session at a 50% discount, an excellent deal that is only available when the next session is purchased during a photo viewing session. So, I dropped off her photos and we quickly got another date on the calendar for photoshoot number two.

Brother and sister, Austen, 5, and Carolina, 3, were full of energy and had eyes for everything but being involved in the day’s photoshoot. Thankfully, my own family and my many years of experience as a Washington DC family photographer, I have learned several tricks that help me get the job done. I could feel Awo’s worry that the shoot was unraveling, but experience has taught me that it’s all part of the process.

Austen and Carolina were so eager to be engaged and entertained that I decided the best way to turn the tables would be to give each of them one-on-one time and a little special treatment. Taking a few minutes to do breakaway sessions with each child helped make them feel like they had a little special time to be photographed alone – the star of the show! I also asked them for some creative ideas we could use to spice up the shoot, so low and behold the two little ones wheeled out their bikes and requested that we incorporate them into the shoot.

In order to continue chronicling her beautiful family as they grow, Awo has decided to do two sessions a year with me, an excellent way to capture Austen and Carolina’s childhood!


Gray Family Photoshoot Gray Family Photoshoot Gray Family Photoshoot  Gray Family Photoshoot Gray Family PhotoshootGray Family Photoshoot



Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a Washington DC family photographer and child portrait artist serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!



A survey conducted by Dove found that “77% of women feel self-conscious or uncomfortable having their photo taken because they aren’t feeling beautiful.” As a result, women avoid stepping in front to the camera lens and miss out on some of life’s most precious snapshots. Dove also found that 63% of women have destroyed a photo of themselves because they did not like they way that they looked. As a woman and mom, I found the Dove survey pretty alarming. As a professional Washington DC photographer, I can at least play a small part in changing that statistic amongst the women who step in from of my camera.

Women are my clients, my subjects, my friends, and my sisters in arms; I hate to think that camera-consciousness is keeping them from documenting their lives and creating beautiful memories. As women, we worry about everything: if our teeth are jutting out, if our shirt is riding up, if our panty lines are visible, if the colors will combine, if the makeup will last, if the wind will destroy our hairdos. It’s a constant mental litany that keeps us striving for photographic perfection. But, in case you’ve not listened to the news in the last decade, photographic perfection is a lie – a big one.

As a photographer, my job is to capture you in a single image. And without ever meeting you, I already know that you are a complex and beautiful woman, who has lived a full life, brought children into this world, kissed handsome men, and cried under blankets at night. You are multi-faceted, you have depth, highs, lows, shadows, curves, and warmth. My job as a photographer is to tell that story – not contort your body into impossible poses and retouch your skin until it shimmers like porcelain.

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When you step in front of a camera, you carry all your whole self with you – even the bobbly bits that you don’t find all that attractive. And rather than losing sleep over how we can best hide your flaws, I prefer to empower women to highlight their favorite features. It’s always possible to edit out the occasional blemish or wayward curl, but it’s impossible to add in that special little glow we get when we’re feeling confident. A client recently said to me, “I really don’t want [the photos] to look in any way airbrushed; I like all my freckles and wrinkles.” I was thrilled to hear her desire for authenticity and to be recognizable as her true, beautiful self. And I want all the moms I photograph to embody that same attitude. That’s why today’s tips for the camera-conscious ladies are not based around how to contort your neck to prevent double chins, or what brand of suction-shorts will smooth out all your lumps & bumps. It’s about practical things you can do to help you love the woman staring back at you from the photograph. Then watch the video at the end of this post and it will make you see yourself (in photos and in life) a little bit differently, with more beauty and confidence.


Cure for the Camera-Conscious Ladies

Do Some Gentle Grooming

Getting comfortable with the way you look is a life-long practice, especially for women. It’s so easy to be self-critical when we stand in front of the mirror inspecting our imperfections. However, a little bit of personal grooming can help us feel more at ease in our own skin. Treat yourself to a professional eyebrow wax, manicure, or face mask. Take time to primp in the days leading up to your photoshoot. Not only will you look more polished, but you’re confidence will be lifted from the moment you strike the first pose.


Go Easy on the Makeup…

…but not too easy. With an impending photoshoot on the horizon, now is not the time to test out new beauty products or spring for that wacky hairstyle you have been too nervous to attempt. If you’re uncomfortable wearing makeup, now is the time to scale down, settle into your own body, and let your natural feminine beauty come to the surface. If you do wear makeup once in a while, do take the time to apply it. As someone who falls into this category of only occasionally wearing makeup, I can tell you that a photoshoot is one of those occasions when it’s worth going through the trouble. Even better, consider getting it professionally done for your session. Working with a professional makeup artist not only makes you feel pampered, but also takes the stress out of your hands and puts it into the hands of someone skilled at enhancing your natural beauty.  (I can even help set up an appointment with a wonderful makeup artist.)

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Smile Like You Mean It

Unless you’re a professional model, smiling on command probably feels about as natural as walking down the street with a monkey on your face. That’s why I tell my clients to forget about whether or not their teeth are showing or how their jaw line catches the light – let that go. Simply let yourself be in the moment, interact with your family, let your child tell a joke, remember a funny moment, and let the smile surface naturally. Let me worry about angles and lighting, after all I’ll be able to see your good side far more clearly from my end of the camera.


Practice Self-Care

When you look back on your portraits, you’re going to do two things: evaluate how you look and pull up all the emotions that you were feeling the moment that shutter button snapped. That’s why I recommend my clients take care of themselves before the shoot and put themselves in the best possible frame of mind. Drink plenty of water, get ample sleep each night, avoid foods high in salt, and treat yourself to a little recreation and relaxation.

Washington DC child photographer

At the end of the day, no amount of makeup, aerodynamic poses, or girdles can ever fabricate self-portraits that you will love. I am a professional Washington DC photographer, but I am not a wizard. I cannot capture something that isn’t there, but I can highlight the stunning, beautiful, real woman that you are (and use some clever photo tricks in the process).


If you’re still fretting over how to pose, click the link for my tips on how to get started. And then go check out this video or any of the other ones from Dove’s recent campaign. Pretty much every single one of them made me tear up. After watching these, I looked at all my images of all the ladies I’ve photographed a little differently and loved them even more.

What do you do to help feel comfortable in front of the camera? Share your tips in the comments section below!



Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!


Apparently 2015 is a year full of milestones for this Washington DC photographer because, for the second time in a row, a family has reached their TENTH portrait session and that feels like cause for celebration. Parents, Margot and Adam, brought me on board from the very beginning to document their family as it grew from a mom and pop show to a five-person parade. The Price family and I go back many years and this session was the picture-perfect way to reach the big 10 milestone.

Washington-DC-family-photographer_11I have been photographing this family since their first child, Vivienne, was only 8 days old, then August arrived as the new man of the house and we did his newborn portrait session, and when baby sister Eleanore came on the scene she had some new baby beauty shots taken as well. If you’re wondering how one family can make use of ten photo sessions, let me tell you that Margot put them to excellent use. For each of her three children, she purchased a First Year Package of photo sessions (3 portrait sessions across a span of 12 months). The eldest daughter, Vivienne, has 3 gallery wraps in her bedroom and Margot plans to do the same for her two younger children as well. Margot has said time and again that investing in my photography has been worth every penny to capture beautiful images of her rapidly changing brood.

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Our latest shoot was the culmination of Eleanore’s first year package – the capstone session that took place right around her birthday. As April wound down the temperature wound down with it, and the day was a bit chilly for us to keep the kids outside for longer than a few moments. So, we got comfortable indoors and made use of the Price family’s home.

Though every shoot we do together includes numerous family portraits, we always try to draw the spotlight in on one child in particular and this time it was Eleanore’s turn. I first worked with her older siblings, leveraging all my savviest Washington DC photographer tricks to win their attention, and then it was time for a solo shoot of the baby sister. We explored different nooks and crannies of the home and wound up with some adorable images of this precocious little girl. Thinking back to her first newborn photoshoot stops me dead in my tracks because I realize just how much she has grown and just how much personality she has acquired in a few short months.


However, it wasn’t all rose-colored glasses and sunshine because as it turns out, little baby Eleanor is quite the speedy daredevil. Her happydisregard for spacial reasoning and gravity make her a hazard to herself and several times she attempted to propel herself off the bed. Thankfully, Margot has superhuman mommy reflexes and was able to keep Eleanor firmly planted on solid ground.

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Having been blessed with so much time together over the past five years, Margot and I have become close friends and I am so thankful to count her as one of my business’s biggest fans and advocates. She said to me early on that I can’t move out of the area until her kids are out of high school so I can keep photographing them as they grow. For her, Adam, Vivienne, August, and Eleanore, I am more than happy to stay put and help Margot document their childhoods.

Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!


Whether you resist technology or find yourself leading the techie trend, nearly everyone, regardless of age, is consolidating their electronic devices into one, handheld, sleek piece of plastic that is small enough to fit into your skinny jeans. It´s in your purse, your back pocket, your front seat console, and zipped inside your backpack. It can call friends in China, balance checkbooks, track your footsteps, and launch Angry Birds, but does your shiny new smartphone really make for a decent camera replacement?

As a professional Washington DC photographer, you might assume that I am bound by sacred oath to swear off smartphone cameras, demonizing them as a watered-down version of my favorite art form. However, as a photography-loving, business-building, smart phone-wielding mom, I know the value of convenience and I believe smartphone cameras deserve a fair trial.

Just a few years ago smartphone cameras produced pixelated images that were hardly decipherable much less worthy of ever being printed. Today however, healthy competition has spurred leading brands to produce ever higher quality, increased controls, and jazzy new features that nearly blur the line between cameras and video games. But if you are considering replacing your digital point-and-shoot camera with a smartphone, here are some features to consider:



Is Your Smartphone a Camera Replacement?

What your smartphone has that your camera does not:

Beyond these features, there are many bells and whistles that make smartphone cameras slightly more entertaining than your run-of-the-mill traditional camera.

  • Mobility (most people always keep their cellphones on hand and their cameras in the cupboard)
  • Selfie mode (front-facing camera)
  • One-touch zoom
  • Facial recognition, smile and blink detection
  • Access to instant apps for editing, saving, and sharing
  • Pre-set modes for creative color effects

Is Your Smartphone a Camera Replacement?

What your camera has that your smartphone does not:

While smartphones certainly are setting a rapid pace when it comes to improvement and innovation, there are a few noteworthy features that will keep traditional cameras forever in the race. They include elements such as:

  • Optical zoom (As opposed to digital zoom, digital cameras can adjust the lens to move closer to the subject and change the focus, which produces a much sharper image than those using digital zoom magnifying effects)
  • Interchangeable lenses (Allowing for high quality macro and zoom lenses to be used)
  • High-quality, close-up portraits and macro images (produced by optical zoom)


Now for the million dollar question: are the days of using a regular digital camera over? Even the professionals in my field agree that smartphones can serve as a replacement for low-end digital cameras. However, for those of us who are serious about producing high-quality images and archival-quality portraits, there is simply no substitute for a stand-alone digital camera. Even with recent industry advances, smartphone cameras just can’t compete with the power of a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera.

Rather than getting up in arms about a tech trend that is clearly serving a consumer need, I too will reach for my smartphone camera the next time I’m out with friends or juggling my son’s backpack in one hand and my purse in the other. However, when I’m ready for print-worthy photos to hang on my refrigerator, I am going to unzip my camera bag and pull out the DSLR that I know will do the job right.


So tell me, who do you side with in this smartphone vs. digital camera debate? Share your opinions in the comments section below!

Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!


Tindale Baby Portraits: Grace Turns One!

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that baby Grace Tindale and I have been working together for the past year. Well, mostly I’ve been doing the working and she’s been simply looking adorable. This most recent baby portrait shoot was the last of three sessions chronicling Grace’s first year of life.

Grace’s parents, Christina and Greg Tindale, have been our family friends for many years and when Christina told me she wanted to do something special with Grace’s baby portraits, I was thrilled to lend my camera to the cause. Any new mom will tell you, that the firstborn baby’s first year of life goes by in lightning speed (with the exception of the sleepless nights – which drag on endlessly). Not only does time reach uncanny velocities, but new parents are so overstimulated by jobs, responsibilities, love, fear, and everything in between, that it can be hard to soak up the special moments and engrain them in their memories. That is where baby portraits come in so handy. In order to document the year, we decided to hold baby portrait shoots at the 4, 8, and 12-month marks.

The original plan was to schedule the final shoot as close to Grace’s first birthday as possible, but with the Tindale family facing an impending move to a new home, we decided to wait until things were settled at the new house. However, their move was delayed and rather than letting any more time slip by, we opted for a new location altogether: the Georgetown Waterfront.

The weather was slightly on the chilly side, but very beautiful. Spring buds were bursting and beautiful flowers dressed the Waterfront in color. Grace’s 4-month session was set at her first family home, for her 8-month milestone we shot at Bishop’s Garden at Washington National Cathedral, and we wrapped up the year at the waterfront. Looking back on the series of baby portrait sessions, it makes for a beautiful progression: from home to nature to a gentle urban scene. As Grace grows and – quite literally – finds her stride, the backdrop behind her also becomes more mature, more appropriate for a little young lady with the world at her feet!

Tindale Baby Portraits: Grace Turns One!

Speaking of which, photographing young children who are just learning how to walk is a bit like chasing a newborn puppy around the room. They are thrilled with the miracle of mobility and want to be on the go non-stop, gaining confidence and hutzpah with every step. It can be a challenge to catch them in a still moment and it certainly keeps me fast on my feet so that I can keep up.

Through the lens of my camera I was able to see Grace go from a tiny baby, rolling around on her back and playing with her toes, to an audacious babbling toddler. Even with our 3-part baby portrait project, the year flew by and I’m sure that Christina and Greg would agree. Thankfully, Grace’s cuteness continues on and I’m sure there are many, many photo-worthy moments in her future.

Tindale Baby Portraits: Grace Turns One!  Tindale Baby Portraits: Grace Turns One! Tindale Baby Portraits: Grace Turns One! Tindale Baby Portraits: Grace Turns One!


Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!


If you’re hunting for a newborn or family photographer, you’ve probably found yourself inundated with hundreds of options and a throbbing headache. Which one is right for you? What questions should you ask? How can you separate the hobbyists from the professionals, and ensure that you hire someone truly exceptional?

Checking out websites and portfolio collections is an excellent place to begin, but no decision should be made before having a one-on-one conversation (over the phone or in person). The default questions that most people ask are about prices and about digital file offerings, but these two questions offer little to no insight into the quality of the final images and don’t provide a true apples-to-apples comparison of photographers.  Arm yourself with a few strategic questions and a notebook to jot down your thoughts, just make sure these seven essential questions are on your list!

E_twins_02 Washington DC Child Photographer Julie Kubal

How to Choose the Right Photographer for You:
7 Questions to Ask Before Handing Over a Check


Question #1: Do you have many repeat clients?

Gorgeous website and glimmering portfolio aside, the true test of a phenomenal photographer is how many clients come back year after year to work with him or her again. Asking this question is a great litmus test of customer service as well as quality photography.

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Question #2: How much experience do you have with creating newborns/ young children/ family portraits?

Perusing online portfolios is certainly a great place to start, but keep in mind you’re only seeing the photographer’s select images, which may not be representative of a full portrait shoot package or their overall experience. Rather than allowing a few beauty shots make the decision for you, ask about how many years he/ she has been in the industry, how the business began, and what environments they tend to shoot in.

Also, if you have any special concerns or unique requests, be sure to ask photographers if they have any past experience in that area as well. For example, do you have any experience photographing special needs children? Or if you’ll be incorporating the family pet into the portrait, ask if he or she has worked with animals in the past.

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Question #3: You can Photoshop out the bad stuff, right?

We’ve all got bits that we’d like to change – blemished skin, under eye puffiness, a few wayward strands of hair, which makes editing software such a blessing. However, not all photographers edit images to the same degree or in the same way. Experienced photographers will use posing, location scouting, and camera settings to prevent eye sores, but minor touch-ups are inevitable. Because editing in Photoshop can be very time-consuming, be sure to clarify how many images get full editing and if any additional fees may apply.

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Question #4: How should I prepare my family before the portrait session?

Professional photographers will be able to supply lots of tips for how to prepare for you family portrait session and ways to make the most of your appointment and they will want you and your family to feel comfortable and have fun. Be sure to ask what colors and styles of clothing they recommend, if you should bring a change of outfit, how they will handle a fussy child at nap time, and what they will do if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Photographers who stammer around these questions may not have the level of experience or charisma necessary to pull off a seamless photoshoot.

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Question #5: When will the edited photos be made available for viewing/ purchase?

Every photographer has a different process, some whip out edited images in a matter of days while others may carefully retouch and color balance photos and have a processing time of 1-3 months. Some photographers will polish all your photos, while others may only edit the images that you decide to order. It all depends on the photographer’s style, quality standards, number of images, and overall workload.

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Question #6: What photo products are available to purchase?

There’s an industry phenomenon known as “shoot and burn photography,” which refers to photographers that shoot hundreds of images, do very minimal editing (if any), burn them onto a CD, collect the bill, and walk away. I recommend always working with a full-service photographer who will fully edit the images and hand over high quality prints and products that put your photos on display. However, every family and child photographer offers different photo products and varying quality standards. Before booking a session, ask what deliverables are available and if you can see any finished samples.

Julie_Kubal_Ben_R_02 on location baby and family photographer Julie Kubal in Washington DC

Question #7: You know your industry much better than I do. As I’m searching through dozens of photographers, what is it that makes you stand out from the rest?

Evaluating portraiture and various photographers can be a tricky business for someone not familiar with the lingo or the industry. This is a great question to an “insider” help you navigate the search a bit more effectively. Invite photographers to answer honestly and to open up about how they differ from their competition. Their answers may be related to photography style, equipment, turn-around time, price points etc.

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How to choose the right photographer for you comes down to equal parts online research and one-on-one interaction. There are hundreds of family photographers in the Washington DC area alone, and it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed and confused by how to pick one person out of such a massive crowd. Use these questions – and the positive feedback of past clients – to help you narrow down the search, and eventually land upon the one photographer who best fits your family’s needs.

For additional useful information about choosing a photographer, I often refer clients to this excellent website that provides a wealth of helpful answers on the subject.

Have you ever hired a family or child photographer? Any excellent interview questions that you’d like to add to the list? Tell me in the comments section below!


Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!

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