How to Capture Dad for Father's Day {DIY Video}

Dads...the ones who keep us sane. The ones who can build legos for three hours...straight. The ones who can make a meeeeean pancake on the fly. The ones who can laugh at the various antics our kids do that give us mamas heart attacks. We love 'em! With Father's Day next month, I wanted to give a few tips on how to take a picture of Dad and ideas on how to gift it to him spoiler alert: Dads, stop reading here!

Tips for Taking Great Headshots {Behind the Scenes} San Francisco Headshot Photographer

In the age of Facebook and LinkedIn, it seems most everyone can use a professional headshot these days. From babysitters on UrbanSitter to job seekers on LinkedIn to "About Us" pages on corporate websites, conveying who we are in the form of photographs has become more and more prevalent. I'd like to share two lists with on what to wear and the other on what to expect.

What to Wear

  • Wear clothing that is comfortable and fitting. You do not want to see buttons "pulling" in your photos. Look at yourself in the mirror in various positions to see what your outfit will look like in photos.
  • Be sure your clothes are properly pressed and do not wear them the whole day leading up to the shoot...change just before your session to avoid wrinkles.
  • Choose colors that work well with your skin tone. Depending on the personality you want to convey with your headshot, stick with solid colors or small checks. The general rule of thumb is if you have a light skin tone, wear colors darker than your tone. If you have a dark skin tone, wear colors that are lighter.
  • Try to avoid blacks and whites, but instead look for other colors that can offer some personality (fuschia, deep blue, etc).
  • Men: Typically, a long-sleeve button down shirt works well in photos for a "business casual" look. You'll want to dress up without overdressing for your career.
  • Women: Layers are your friend! A simple necklace or small earrings are a nice touch without being overbearing.
  • Make-up & Hair: Getting your hair make-up professionally done is worth its weight in GOLD! Not only do you feel like a rock star, but you will look your very best. Some people prefer to do their hair themselves to make sure it looks like them and that is great too - it all depends on your style.
  • Your clothing should be professional, but it should still be you. When you meet someone in person, it should match the image conveyed on screen.

What to Expect

  • Expect for me to ask you lots of questions! This helps me understand who you are and the types of portrait that would be most appropriate for your personality/career. We can then determine how formal or casual your headshots should be.
  • I will be shooting a variety of poses and angles. Some will be sitting, some will be standing. Every person I shoot has a few angles that are more flattering than others, but until I see you and shoot you, I won't know what is best. You are hiring a professional to trust their judgement on what positions are going to bring out the best you.
  • Try, try, try to relax as much as possible! Believe me, I know it feels awkward to be solo on the other side of the lens. Keep in mind that a) 99% of my clients are not professional models and b) I am there to make you shine! I will coach you through the entire session, giving you tips and tricks along the way...this is definitely a team event!

Here are some examples of using multiple outfits and giving a variety of "looks" for the camera:

Brooke Bryand Photography-ferry building-headshots--san francisco headshot photographer exampleBrooke Bryand Photography-ferry building-headshots--san francisco headshot photographer exampleBrooke Bryand Photography-ferry building-headshots--san francisco headshot photographer example

Special thank you to Loryn Barbeau for being my model!

The Rule of Thirds {Screencast | Behind the Scenes} San Francisco Baby Photographer

Just as in the previous screencast, here is a brief video on the Rule of Thirds and how I use it when editing photos in Lightroom. This is only an intro...the rule with the Rule of Thirds (or any photography composition standard for that matter) is the old adage: You've got to learn the rules in order to break the rules. Every single image I take is not off-center...some (several!) are centered (though they are almost always along the top horizontal line if they are centered)...but the way I create an interesting story throughout a shoot is by composing in different ways as the "story" unfolds.

To try this yourself, you can either envision the lines as you're taking photos, or you can turn grid lines on with either your iPhone or your digital camera.

Don't hesitate to leave a comment or a question below. Enjoy!

What to Wear for your Family Photo Session | Guest Blog Post

I am so pleased to share a guest blog post with you from Kate with Undeniable Style. I told her that my clients often ask what to wear for shoots and, though I can provide guidance and am good at knowing what doesn't photograph well, I'm at a loss when giving suggestions on adorable clothes for kiddos of all ages. Kate graciously stepped in to create a special post just for you guys!!!! Without further ado, here is Kate:************************************************************************************* Undeniable Style Blog | Brooke Bryand Photography Hi Guys! I’m Kate and I’m the blogger behind Undeniable Style. I’m the kind of girl who will wear stripes with floral, gold with silver, and 20 layers at a time {unless it’s over 80 degrees}, and I’m here today to help you guys find a look that’s right for your family fall/winter 2011 photo sessions.

What to wear for photoshoot | what to wear for photo shoot | San Francisco photo shoot | Brooke Bryand Photography

My goal is always to make the outfits cohesive, but I’m not really interested in matchy matchy! And absolutely, the most important piece of advice I can give is to make sure you are Comfortable and True. To. You.

What to wear for photoshoot | what to wear for photo shoot | San Francisco photo shoot | Brooke Bryand Photography

Lucky for us, in San Francisco, it’s always a layering kind of season. Layers can be a great way to add dimensionality and personality to your session with Brooke!

Below, I’ve included some links to some of my favorite fall-hued kids clothes out there today. The pieces are meant to be mixed and matched to create the perfect outfit, layer by layer.


T-Shirts starting at $9 (1 & 2), Button down shirts $9.95 (6 color options! Alternate option here), Jeans $9.95, Boots $29.95, Beanie $7.95, Vest, Jacket $44.94, Sweater $24.95

Toddler Boy:

Button down shirts starting at $14 (1 and 2), Sweater $19.94, Zip front Cardigan $19.94, Vest, Cords $26.95, Shoes $14.94


Drop waist floral print dress $39.90, Faux Fur Vest $44.95, Sweater Vest $29.94, Chunky Cardigan $39.90, Tights $10.50, Boots $29.94, Knee Socks 3 for $10!, Ear Muffs, $9.90

Toddler Girl:

Skirt $17.90 (alternate option $16.90), Top $25.90, Sweater $48, Jeans $29.95, Cardigan $26.94, Shoes $39, Tights $9.94

Thanks for letting me guest blog, Brooke! ************************************************************************************* It's Brooke again...I just want to say thank you to Kate for putting this together!!! I have a few other tips and examples on my website under "Details" > "What to Wear". Note that the items Kate offered are for layering and stay true to keeping outfits simple (i.e. not distracting)...for example, there may be a graphic on the tee, but it's actually covered by a great-looking sweater or vest. I hope this helps you in determining what to wear for your session. As always, feel free to email me links/photos of outfits you're considering and I'll provide feedback!

What's it like to work with Brooke Bryand Photography? Check out my video!

I found this dynamic duo of videographers (Marmalade Sky Films) in the spring and knew that they were the perfect fit to create a video for me. I wanted to develop something that would show new clients what it's like to work with me...that it's not scary or intimidating and actually quite FUN! Marmalade Sky followed me on a day of shoots and then we hung out for some Q&A to help explain why I do what I do. The final result - I am so proud to share - my first ever Brooke Bryand Photography video:

Brooke Bryand Photography

For a behind-the-scenes look, you can check out the post from a few months ago.

Where to take your family photos in San Francisco? | San Francisco Family Photographer

Let me start by saying that I love when my clients let me give suggestions on where to take photos. I love being able to incorporate somewhere that is special to them that also showcases our gorgeous city elements. What I've realized over the years is that, while clients know we want a beautiful backdrop, it's not common knowledge that photographers also want shaaaaaaaaaaaade! Lots of it. Not only is it next to impossible to get a toddler to give you a geniune smile while squinting into the sun, but the colors and gorgeous depth of a photograph is so much more pronounced when taken in the shade.

As busy holiday season begins, I thought I'd share some of my favorite spots to shoot family photos in San Francisco. If you have others to add, please include them!

1) Presidio / Lover's Lane: This is an awesome location because it has beautiful greens/blues/ fairly secluded and provides a dozen backdrops in a very confined location. Here are some examples of shots taken in the Presidio: Brooke Bryand Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer | Lover's Lane Presidio Photograph Brooke Bryand Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer | Lover's Lane Presidio Photograph

2) Crissy Field/Palace of Fine Arts: The plus side? Gorgeous golden colors all around the Palace of Fine Arts. The challenge? Weekend crowds!! Dozens...and dozens...and dozens...and dozens of wedding parties being photographed each and every weekend! But if you don't have to drive or can shoot early, it's worth all of it! Brooke Bryand Photography | Palace of Fine Arts Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | Palace of Fine Arts Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer

3) Ferry Building / Bow & Arrow {Embarcadero}: I love this combo because there are so many gorgeous colors in the Ferry Building, coupled by the beautiful Bow & Arrow structure with the Bay Bridge in the background. Caution: you'll want to shoot this early in the morning or late afternoon as there isn't much shade cover near the Bow & Arrow! Brooke Bryand Photography | Bow and Arrow Embarcadero Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | Bow and Arrow Embarcadero Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer

4) Land's End/Sutro Baths: Ahhhh...I love these locations. They are gorgeous, tons of shade, dozens of backdrops and iconic San Francisco...fantastic! Brooke Bryand Photography | Sutro Baths Golden Gate Bridge Photography | San Francisco Maternity Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | Sutro Baths Golden Gate Bridge Photography | San Francisco Maternity Photographer

5) Baker Beach: This one gets its own because you can easily do an entire shoot just at Baker Beach. First, it's a bit of a hike to get down to the "end" of the beach where the rocks are (beware if you have toddlers/carrying kids!). Second, there are a dozen (or more) areas behind Baker Beach that are fabulous photo locations too...from awesome trees to winding paths, Baker Beach has a ton of fantastic photo opportunities. Brooke Bryand Photography | Baker Beach Photography | San Francisco Maternity Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | Baker Beach Photography | San Francisco Maternity Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | Baker Beach Photography | San Francisco Maternity Photographer

6) DeYoung Museum/Botanical Garden: Similar to Baker Beach, I'd suggest either early morning or late afternoon for these locations. Shade is definitely available, but not as prominent as I'd like (if I could walk around with a giant sun shade, I would! Are you sensing a theme here?). Awesome leading lines, great colors and a huge variety of backdrops make this a great spot for photos. Brooke Bryand Photography | DeYoung Museum Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | DeYoung Museum Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | DeYoung Museum Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer

There are dozens...dozens of other locations that are great in San Francisco. We are so fortunate to live in a city that lends itself to us daily! Some more favorites include:

  • Alamo Square
  • Buena Vista Park
  • Dolores Park
  • Legion of Honor

I hope this was helpful to you! Most of all, Happy Shooting!!!

How to decide which "big camera" (DSLR) to purchase | San Francisco Family Photographer

This is such a difficult question and one that I am asked several times a week from friends, clients, and strangers alike. People know their cell phone camera and point-and-shoot cameras aren't cutting it to take pictures of their lightning-speed kiddos, but aren't sure which "big camera" to purchase that will give them the results they want without putting them in the poor house and the camera becoming a dinosaur before it even arrives in the mail.

So here are some points I emailed a friend yesterday that I thought might be helpful to other people too:

1) "Nikon or Canon? Nikon or Canon??": Let me start by saying I'm a Canon girl through-and-through. I use Nikons in my 101 Workshops, but I truly can't speak to which body is better than any other. What I can say is that my professional photographer friends who shoot Nikon are beyond pleased and I'm sure whatever Nikon you choose will be fantastic. Having said that, I can only recommend Canon because that is all I have experienced. It's not to say that whatever Nikon you have or are considering isn't equally fantastic.

2) "Which Canon should I buy?" Check out this YouTube about Canon Rebel comparisons and note that the big take-away is that if you don't care about video (you'll use your cell phone, your point-and-shoot, your Flip, etc. to capture video), you might as well save some money and get the Canon Rebel Xsi.

3) What about the lens? I want the blur": "Blur" is actually called "bokeh" and you get that effect with shallow depths of field (an entirely different blog post and part of my 101 workshop) When you decide which body to purchase, ignore the lens they sell with the body. It's usually a 3.5 or even 5.6 and won't give you the "blur" that you would like in portrait photographs. In fact, if you can buy a body without a lens, do it. Put that money toward the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens...nicknamed the "nifty 50" because it's an awesome lens for right around $100. Buy the $5 Tiffen 52mm UV Protection Filter too (protects the lens from dust/dirt/fingerprints).

I can say that whatever camera you decide on is going to be a huge, humongous, awesome improvement. What you'll notice quickly is that babies...even little ones...are FAST little guys! They blink, they rock the "startle reflex" (where they jerk their arm up for no good reason and scare you half to death), they turn their heads at the wrong time, etc. etc. etc. A point-and-shoot, even the latest-and-greatest ones...just aren't going to cut it. You need a DSLR (like the ones you're looking at, or even a lesser version) to get those moments.

Another note, I buy ALL of my gear on Amazon. Yes, there are cheaper places but I love Amazon. Great customer service, great returns, great quality. And, for a little while longer, no sales tax (at least for CA). Feel free to buy through B&H or any other reseller...I'm just telling you what I've found to be the best solution for me. Here is a link to my gear (not that you need this gear...just want to share what I use):

Good luck in your quest and don't hesitate to contact me with questions. I feel like I need to put a doctor's statement here that the views and opinions expressed here are mine only. Brooke Bryand/Brooke Bryand Photography can not be held liable for the photography items you purchase.


How to Take Great Photos of your Kids this Summer {Workshop Tips} San Francisco Family Photographer

Tired of returning from vacation, downloading 1,000 photos and realizing Little Johnny is squinting or has his eyes closed in most of them? Find it daunting to flip through them and figure out what to do with the other 999 of them? Here are some tips to make taking photos of your kids this summer a little easier (on everyone!):

1) Find Shade: Although it's a common misconception that sunny days make for beautiful photos, it's actually the opposite. Cloudy/overcast days are ideal for photos, both because the subject isn't squinting and because the cloud cover brings out gorgeous color tones in your surroundings that are often washed out when the sun is beating down. Try to take photos in the early morning or late afternoon, and if you need to take them mid-day because you're at a picturesque lunch, find shade to snap that shutter.

Brooke Bryand Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer | Photography Tips

2) Play Games: Most kids rate having their picture taken right up there with having a tooth pulled. Why is that? Because many parents make it about the picture...but if you make it about the kiddo, all of a sudden it's not so bad. Find yourself in a gorgeous setting and want to capture it? Play a game with your child (depends on their age, but it's as simple as singing a song or playing peek-a-boo or asking ridiculous questions like, "Do you think Mommy should eat a spider for lunch?")...they are much more likely to engage with you and have a genuine smile on their face if you make it about them.

Brooke Bryand Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer | Photography Tips

3) Put Away the Camera: If your child thinks that your iPhone is an extension of your fingertips, put it away for a few hours. Cameras on cell phones or actual cameras are used so much on kids these days, they are either immune to them or they are really annoyed by them and our constant harassment ("look at mommy! look at mommy!"). Put the camera away for a bit and just enjoy the freedom of doing nothing together. When you take it out again, they're more likely to be refreshed and ready to go!

Now...when you get home...that is the other part of the challenge. What do you do with 1,000 photos? The quick answer: delete! I recommend deleting 75% of the photos taken. Yep, I said it. Delete! The truth of the matter is that an overabundance of photos weighs heavily on all of us. We think that because digital photography is "free" (i.e. no film to develop), we should keep everything we've ever shot, lest we risk missing 10 seconds of our cutie-patooties lives.

Here are my quick tips to free yourself from digital photo overload:

1) Organize: When you download your photos, put them in folders and sub-folders (yes, sub-folders). So if you took a week vacation to Hawaii, the folder would be: 07.13.2011 - Family Vacation Hawaii and then you'd have sub-folders according to date and activity (i.e. "07.14.2011 - Snorkeling" and "07.15.2011 - Luau"). Taking the time to organize photos from the point of origination (i.e. download) will save you lots and lots of time later.

Brooke Bryand Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer | Photography Tips

2) Star & Delete: If you use a program like Picasa (my favorite for from Google) or iPhoto (very similar), there is a rating system (either stars or numbers). When you load your photos into these programs, go through and star your favorites. If there is a numbering system for selecting favorites, go through and choose all of your "1's" (i.e. anything that has a chance of being salvaged) and then number some of your favorites "2's". My process is then to go back through the "2's" to edit my favorites of those and making them "3's" which are those I'll share with family. I may then select my top 10 images as "4's" which are the ones I'll share on Facebook. Nobody needs to see all 50 family photos...just pick the very best-of-the-best. And what to do with all of the pictures that didn't make it to be a "1"? Delete. Let 'em go. Adios. When you want to go back at the end of the year to create a calendar/Blurb book/etc, you'll be grateful that you just need to flip through your BEST 25 images from that trip to Hawaii and not all 1000.

Have questions? Let me hear 'em!

Why Custom Photography Costs More {Marketing}

I sometimes hear friends/acquaintances talk about photographers and the high costs associated with hiring someone to "just click a few photos". I came across this article today by Marianne Drenthe of Marmalade Photography and I found myself nodding my head in agreement. I am so grateful to ALL of my fantastic clients, but I do think this helps explain a little more of the "behind the scenes" of what goes into each and every shoot that I do:

Check out full article at

I also really loved this story (excerpt from the same article as is linked above) appropriate for a zillion situations in life, including photography:

There is an old story about a ship that cost a company millions of dollars. Something went wrong in the engine room and the ship was stuck in dock. They called various "experts" who spent weeks trying to fix the issue to no avail and at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. Finally a older gentleman was called in who simply brought in his small tool bag and a hammer. He set about pinging on various parts of the vast engine with his hammer, finally settling on one area. He spent a few minutes pinging in that area, took out a few tools and fixed whatever what was wrong. After a few moments the man straightened up, looked at the captain and instructed him to "start her up." The captain disbelievingly went to get the engines started while the man sat in the engine room listening as the engine roared to life. The man tipped his hat as he exited the ship to the staff who sat dumbfounded because they had seen all the experts come on board for days with their expensive equipment only to have the ship not fixed. This man did it in a few minutes with a few pings of his hammer! A few days passed and the man sent the shipping company a bill for $10,000. The accounting department contacted him immediately. Why all the rumors mentioned that this man had only spent "a few minutes" fixing the ship "with his hammer and a few other random tools". When questioned about why his bill was for $10,000 – did he accidentally leave an extra zero on the bill? The man confidently responded: "In fact the time was worth the $1,000. The other $9,000 was for the years of experience and the ability to discern the issue as quickly as possible for the company."

Behind the Scenes {Newborn} San Francisco Photographer

I always think it's interesting to see how other photographers capture the images they do, and Rocket's mama took a few photos of me working during Rocket's photoshoot that I thought would be fun to share. The photo on the left is the "work" photo and the photo on the right is the resulting image.

Brooke Bryand Photography | Behind The Scenes | San Francisco Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | Behind The Scenes | San Francisco Photographer

What you DIYs at home will want to remember is that in image one, I've created a very SIMPLE don't see any knick-knacks, sippy cups, burp cloths, etc. to distract your eye from what I want you to see (the super-cool rocking chair and of course baby Rocket). In image two, you'll notice that I wanted to capture this moment as they were...just Dad & Rocket...not super-posed, but just capturing the essence of Dad supporting and loving his new son. Again, I used the natural environment but made sure the distractions were not part of my shot (you don't see dad's feet or anything else that was peripheral). I may choose to incorporate those elements in other shots (see the full post on Rocket for other examples), but it's important to create a variety...nobody needs to have 50 of the same exact shot!

Let me know if you have questions - I am happy to answer!