10 Ways to Make Your Photographer Cringe

What not to say or do to a photographer

In high school and early college, I dated a Marine. Through hanging with him and his Marine Corp buddies,  I learned very quickly that under no circumstances should you ever make the mistake of confusing the marines with the army, navy, etc. It was a mortal sin committed by civilians all the time and they clearly hated it.  They knew the person making the mistake meant no harm or disrespect, but it was annoying just the same.  So I thought I would make a similar list of what not to say or do to photographers.


I suppose most professions or groups have such things that insiders complain about but are not well known among outsiders. Photographers joke about many of these items often, but many non-photographers are not aware of them. So I made a list of things that I think most photographers say cause them cringe, even though no ill intention was meant on behalf of the transgressor. 


I hesitate to write this list because I don’t want anyone to feel like I am calling them out. That is not my intention. Please know that if you have made the mistake of doing one or more of the things on this list, that is perfectly fine! We hear them a lot and we don’t hold it against you. We understand that these cringe-worthy comments are not intentional.  This list is not meant to reprimand, but merely to educate.  

What not to say or do to Photographers:


#10 – Jump in front of us with your phone camera


I know this one happens most often to Wedding Photographers, but I’ve also experienced it, usually at my annual Santa photo sessions.  Some photographers dislike if any photos are taken during their session.  I personally don’t mind someone in the background taking a few shots.  But I’ve also had several instances where parents were literally right in front of me taking photos, or for long periods telling the child to look at them instead of me, and taking up the few brief minutes available for me to get the shot. Like, what are you paying me for? 


#9 – Print your photos at Walgreens


I joke that when you get professional photos printed at Walgreens, a unicorn dies.  My portrait clients have a print release allowing them to print their photos wherever they like. But I can’t lie – it hurts my heart if they get crappy prints made.  If you aren’t going to purchase from a  professional lab, I highly recommend MPix.com.  


#8 – Ask us to alter our editing style


The root cause of this one is really hiring the wrong photographer to begin with.  Make sure you hire a photographer whose style you love.  This may sound obvious but people hire photographers for all kinds of reasons…because a friend recommended them, they showed up first in a google search, etc.  It’s fine to have a recommendation, but also browse the photographer’s portfolio and make sure they are a good fit for you. Don’t hire a dark and moody photographer and then be surprised when your photos don’t look light and airy.  


Keep in mind that photography is a service, but it’s also an art.  Would you hire an impressionistic painter and then complain that the painting looked too impressionistic? It’s fine to ask for some editing changes – like maybe you want that blemish on your face removed. That’s fine.  Just don’t ask an artist to change their fundamental style. 


Also, don’t ever ask us to make a photo all black and white, except just one splash of color.  That’s just not cool.

#7 – Put a filter on it / crop it weird


This happens a lot, despite most of us having clauses in our contracts to prevent altering the photos.  Yeah, I get it. I don’t often read the fine print either.  But remember what I said about photographers being artists in #8?  There is nothing like spending hours and hours editing a session getting the colors just so and perfecting the skin tones, and then going to Instagram and seeing that the client has added a weird filter and now the skin tones are green.  Or they’ve totally cropped it weird and now little Johnny is cut off at the knees, which is something a professional photographer avoids like the Coronavirus.  (I started to say ‘Plague’ there but do you like how I’ve updated it to have a more modern feel?)  


#6 – Share without Credit


It’s always best to tag the photographer when you share an image on Social Media.  Most of our business comes from word of mouth, so it’s very much appreciated.  I often see posts on Facebook where someone has seen a pretty photo on Instagram, maybe a landscape or a local landmark.  They liked the photo so much that they screenshot it to share on Facebook – maybe even making it their header photo.  But because they screen-shotted the photo instead of sharing directly from the photographer’s Instagram page, then the photographer loses all connection to that photo.  So just be mindful to give credit when you admire someone’s work. 


#5 – Stealing Photos


Ok, this one is much more intentional than #6 (and all the other items on this list) and is really not cool.  Most of my portrait sessions include digital images so this isn’t usually an issue for me. But I do shoot some things where that isn’t the case, such as my annual preschool graduation photos.  You may notice for those events that I put a giant watermark in the middle of the gallery images. I HATE putting that watermark there, but if I don’t, people will inevitably steal the images.  Typically for these shoots, I’ve not been paid at all upfront.  So I only get paid for all my hard work if people purchase the images.  
I’ve seen people posting on social media asking if someone can remove the watermark for them from professional images they don’t own so they can print them.  Don’t do this. It’s theft.  You wouldn’t steal items from a store, so why are you stealing from hardworking artists?


#4 – Be completely silent after we deliver your gallery


OK, I’m revealing my own insecurities here but I know I’m not the only one who is super paranoid after delivering a gallery.  Even after all these years, I’m still always nervous that someone won’t love their photos.  I sooooo appreciate the clients who comment or reply immediately that they are happy.  Getting radio silence after delivering a gallery makes me imagine the worst and convince myself that the client hates them, even if I was originally very happy with the session. It pretty much never means that and generally, the client just didn’t think to comment or reply. So mostly I admit that I just need to work on myself with this one. But what can I say – words of affirmation are my love language.  


#3 – Tell us that you “just need a couple pictures”


This is a favorite line of the price shoppers. This phrase immediately says to me that you don’t really value my work but are looking for a deal.


 I do occasionally offer mini sessions but the value of these for me is that they are offered at a location of my choosing and are scheduled back to back with multiple clients. This way, I can shoot 4 families all in one day at the same location. I’m able to offer families a discount over a regular session because I save time having shorter sessions back to back, and the editing time is usually less than four individual sessions because the lighting & location is usually similar for the back to back sessions.
But if you want to schedule a “mini-session” outside of one of my scheduled dates, then I’m still doing almost the same amount of work but for less pay.  And I’m taking up a spot that could have gone to someone paying full price.  So while the request may seem reasonable to you, it’s not beneficial to me.  


Think of it this way…would you go to a steak house and ask if you could just have a couple bites of the steak because you didn’t want to pay for the entire dinner?  


#2 – Tell us that our prices are too high


Pretty much all of us got into this business because we love the art, and we loved capturing memories.  We generally do not love the business side of things. Many of us started shooting for friends for free or for very little money.  Things evolved and we realize we were working our booties off for almost nothing, so we had to raise our prices. 


We spend a ridiculous amount of money on gear, web fees, Adobe subscriptions, etc.  We work many hours where we aren’t directly getting paid at all – writing blog posts, marketing, budgeting, taxes, social media, etc. You see us work for an hour at your session, but then we spend hours and hours editing.  Believe me when I say that almost all the photographers aren’t in this for the money.  


But also, it’s very personal work.  So when you question a photographer’s prices, it can feel like you are questioning our worth. There is already this constant battle inside most of us between wanting to get paid a fair wage and wanting to be able to share our passion with everyone.  


I know this is probably a matter of semantics, but saying “That’s not in my budget right now” is totally fine.  Please use that line instead of “Wow, that’s a lot for an hour” or something similar.  


#1 – Give all the credit to our camera


Ok, this is definitely not the worst offense in this list (#5 definitely is the worst) but this one probably happens the most often.  Most people who say it intend for it to be a compliment, but they don’t realize they are giving all the credit to the gear instead of to the photographer.  


Please do not tell a photographer “That’s a great photo – you must have a really nice camera.”


I do have a really nice camera (two of them in fact).  I taught them everything they know.   Would you eat a delicious dinner and then complement the chef’s cookware? 


“It’s not the wand, it’s the wizard.”

Duff Goldman

Hopefully, my fellow photographers will relate to this list and get a little chuckle out of it. For those of you who are not photographers, I would love to know if you have a similar list.  What kind of things do outsiders say or do to you all the time that make you a little crazy? I’d love to hear about them. I’m sure I’ve often said all the wrong things.

Country Cove Farms Family Session

Family Portrait Session att Country Cove Farms in Murfreesboro TN

This is the time in the year when I start giving up on words, keeping blog posts short and sweet, because who has time for writing when there is all this shooting and editing to do? But I do want to say how much I loved hanging out with this adorable family during their family photo session at Country Cove Farms in Murfreesboro. It was so clear how much love there is between them and I felt blessed to be able to capture it in photos.

OK, now back to editing. Happy Fall, yall!

Are you following me on Instagram? That’s a great place to keep up to date on future openings. I have a couple spots left for my Holiday Family Mini Sessions. Or are you looking for a senior photographer? Either way, you can book a session directly from my online booking calendar, or contact me if you have questions.

COVID Killed the County Fair – Modifying traditions for 2020

Finding new traditions during the coronavirus pandemic - Crystal Freemon Photogrpahy

We ALWAYS go to the Williamson County Fair on my birthday (or at least within a day or two). I love taking photos of all the beautiful lights and the atmosphere. It’s been a special tradition since Megan was a baby. Last year I still made them go through the little farming exhibit for photos.

As you can imagine, there is no county fair this year. I miss it but also decided that the absolute BEST thing about our trips to the fair is that no one complains. They let me take all the photos I want because it’s my birthday.

I often say that my toughest family portrait session all year is when I take family photos of my own family.

It’s probably best that they canceled the fair because you know, we are in a Pandemic. But also, what if they brought back that weird double Ferris wheel? 2020 does not need that Ferris Wheel.

I think the best thing we can do to get through all of this crazy year is to modify traditions and make the best of what we can. For example, my family has chosen not to eat inside restaurants. But last weekend, my husband and I went on a date where we picked up food from Costa Vida and took it to a picnic shelter at Evans park to have a quiet meal together. Honestly, it was better than eating in a crowded restaurant.

So even though the fair was canceled, I didn’t let that opportunity pass me by to take advantage of my birthday to get family photos I wanted. They cooperated better than they usually do and I’m pleased with the results.

What kind of traditions have you altered for 2020?


Now that I’ve managed to get some family photos of my own family, I’m ready to book Fall family portrait sessions for everyone else!

You can book a session directly from my online booking calendar or contact me if you have any questions. Don’t wait to book because I can only fit in so many portrait sessions in the Fall. I always hate turning people away.

Family Portraits at Winstead Park with Epic One-Year birthday Watermelon “Smash”

Family of 5 Portrait Session at Winstead Hill Park in Franklin TN

“The laughter, the fun, the hand-holding, the love.”

Things get pretty boring and lonely for a mostly outdoor family portrait photographer in the south in the month of July. For some reason, most people don’t think first of July as the best time to book family portrait sessions.  I get it.  It’s hot.  SO HOT.  And there are only so many clothes you can take off before it’s a different kind of photography all together.  But it was perfect for this family session combined with a One-Year Cake Smash birthday session. ☀️😉


But this portrait session shows how perfect a July photo session can be, and I am so excited about sharing it with you.  I generally love all my sessions, but once in a while, I get one that just feels like magic. 


If you’ve followed me for a while, you can probably guess that those sessions almost always involve young children.  It’s no secret that the 1 – 6-year-old crowd is my favorite to photograph and this beautiful family had an (almost) one-year-old, a four-year-old and a six-year-old. I had taken their photo with Santa last year at Spring Station Middle School’s Holiday Marketplace, and they loved the Santa photos so they booked a family session. (Yes, Santa and I plan to be back at Holiday Market this year.)  July was chosen in order to celebrate sweet baby Reya’s first birthday with One-Year Cake Smash photos.


It is so important for me to get to know my clients because taking photos is such a personal thing for me.  The first step of getting to know a client is an online questionnaire they fill out when they book a session with me. Casey did a fantastic job of giving me a head start in getting to know her beautiful family. The answers don’t have to be too long…just enough information to give me a feel for each family member and to help me envision how to capture them for who they are. 
Before each session, I study those answers and make notes for myself as I plan out the session in my head. I note things like the fact that Monroe is very outgoing and loves soccer and dancing, while Everly can be shy and loves unicorns and all things pink and glittery.  These little things may not sound like a lot, but they help me get a feel for the girls, and to guide how I connect with them at the session. 


But the thing I loved the most about Casey’s answers, is that when asked what she wants to remember about her family right now, she said “the laughter, the fun, the hand-holding, the love.”  I wrote that at the top of my notes because it just seemed to perfectly sum up my desire for every family session. I hope that she can see all those things in the photos below. ❤️

Watermelon instead of cake for a one-year cake smash? Yes, Please!


Oh, and I just LOVE Watermelon as a replacement for a one-year cake smash.  Reya seemed to dig it too because she was LOVING every single bite of it.  There is just nothing cuter than a naked baby eating watermelon.  I enjoyed getting big sisters in on the watermelon eating fun as well.  Do you think it would be weird to bring along a cooler full of watermelon to every summer family session from now on and hand them out instead of my usual suckers? 🍉  

If you’d like to schedule your own summer fun family session, you can book online now (and feel free to bring watermelon!!).  I can usually fit in a summer session pretty last minute.  But please note, if you are like the other hundreds of people that really want Fall instead, those are selling out fast so don’t wait toFamily Portrait Session at Winstead Park with Epic One-Year birthday Watermelon “Smash”If you’d like to schedule your own summer fun family session, you can book online now (and feel free to bring watermelon!!).  I can usually fit in a summer session pretty last minute.  But please note, if you are like the other hundreds of people that really want Fall instead, those are selling out fast so don’t wait to

A Christmas Gift to Last a Lifetime – Photo Session for Mom

Franklin TN Family Portrait Photographer - Family of 5 with Teens at Aspen Grove Park in Franklin TN

Isn’t it funny how a smell can take you back to a time 30 years ago?  That’s how I felt at this session at Aspen Grove Park in Franklin, TN this week when I arrived early (like I always do) to take a walk before my clients arrived.  It was an absolutely perfect spring day, and as I walked down the trail, I was overwhemed with the scent of honeysuckle.  Honeysuckle is one of my favorite smells (I even use this in my kitchen), and it takes me back to my childhood in the mountains of East Tennessee when me and a neighborhood friend use to spend hours and hours walking through the hollows and back roads just talking and enjoying the sunshine.  

It was the perfect day for a family session for this handsome family.  Dad had purchased the session as a gift for mom this past Christmas, after she had hinted strongly that what she wanted was to capture her families special memories in a portrait session. This was especially important now, because her oldest, Porter, is graduating from high school this week.  

We all know how quickly time flies.  A portrait session gift certificate is a perfect gift for moms who want to freeze time forever, if only in photographs.  

Baby Evie: Capturing the Uniqueness of Each Family at a newborn portrait session

Nashville Lifestyle Newborn Photographer

Every client is unique, and it’s important to me to capture that uniqueness in my portrait sessions.  

If you’ve ever booked a session with me, and you’re the type of person who actually does read a contract before you signed it, you may have noticed this paragraph in my client agreement:

 Each session is as different and unique as the beautiful families being photographed and I do not aim to copy or recreate Pinterest images.  Before booking a session with me, I want to make sure that you are familiar with my style, and that my style is what you are wanting for your images.

This statement isn’t just arbitrarily in my contract.  It’s there because I want you to understand that our goal with a session is not to recreate some scene that you saw on Pinterest, or even to copy a photo you saw on my website that I took.  Our goal is to create images that are as unique and beautiful as your family.

Finding what makes families special and unique is especially fun when I get to photograph clients in their home.  Details like a baby’s nursery, knick-knacks or books displayed throughout the house, cherished toys, and a family’s pets are all items that can be photographed that tell part of a family’s story.  I look for those types of things as I am photographing.  For example, both of Evie’s parents are Chemistry professors at Vanderbilt.  So when I saw a set of Science Board Books sitting on the nursery table, I knew I wanted to include one in the photos.  Mom and Dad said “Quantum Physics for Babies” was their family favorite, so I asked them to read to baby Evie for a few shots. 

Other things I made sure to include in photos were the cat and dog (who Lauren had said were a huge part of the family), a blanket made by Grandma, & the stuffed Bunny Evie got for her first Easter.  

And I’m convinced that in 20 years when families look back on these photos, they will be glad to have those details captured instead of someone else’s idea of a pretty Pinterest scene. 😍

Yes, Bring the Dogs

Harlinsdale Farms family photo session with Dogs

I welcome clients including their pets in family portrait sessions. After all, they are a part of the family too.

Robin & Miles wanted to include their dogs Harley & Cassie in their portrait session, and the Park at Harlinsdale Farms was the perfect spot for including pets.  Robin is originally from Kentucky and wanted a location with a rustic feel, so Harlinsdale was perfect and a welcome spot to bring dogs. 

One reason I love to include dogs in a session, is I think it helps the clients to feel more relaxed.  It’s easier to capture candid moments when there are sweet doggies to play with during the session. Some clients worry that the dogs will be a distraction. I haven’t really found this to be an issue.  Assuming the dogs are friendly, I am generally able to include photos both with and without the dogs. For this session, my 10-year-old “assistant” actually joined me at the shoot was able to help with the dogs when they were not being included in photos.  If you would like to include your family dogs in a session, just let me know ahead of time and we can choose an appropriate place, and I can even bring my young assistant if you think that will be helpful.

Harley and Cassie were the sweetest dogs and I really enjoyed getting to know them and their lovely owners on this gorgeous day.

Haley’s Magical Dress Session

Spring Hill Children's Photographer

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I’m going to be honest and say that I booked a lot of sessions this past week and have tons of editing to do, so instead of spending lots of time writing this post, I’m just going to let these gorgeous photos of Haley speak for themselves. 

Let’s talk about aspect ratio and cropping photos

Middle TN Family Photographer

You all know that I pretty often get excited about beautiful light or a gorgeous sunset, but I have to say that this is the first time that a rainbow has shown up for a photo session, and it couldn’t have happened to a more beautiful family. My friend Christy and I had planned a combination family session with Hannah’s First Communion Photos, which I blogged yesterday. We had just finished up inside the church and let Hannah change out of her Communion dress when it started to sprinkle. I was a bit concerned at first, afraid it would start to rain hard and ruin our family portraits.  But it only rained for a few minutes and then suddenly the girls noticed a rainbow nearby.  How lucky can we get?  It was only there for about 45 seconds, but that was enough time to get a few pictures.  🌈

I thought I would take Christy’s session preview as a chance to talk about a slight change I think I’m making in my photography, and why I’m making it.  

Christy has been one of my closest friends for like eight or nine years now, and I’m in her house fairly often. Her home (which is gorgeous, btw) is filled with many photos I’ve taken. One thing I really love about her is that she appreciates photos and she does a fantastic job of getting them printed.  However, my one complaint (and I can say this cause she already knows it and loves me anyway) is that in several of the photos she’s printed there are feet cut off in the print.  And it’s not just her.  Most of my friends have sad, chopped off limbs in their printed photos that I’ve taken.  *cue sad music here*

Many of you are probably thinking ‘so what?’.  Well, as a photographer, one of the cardinal sins is to chop off limbs in a weird way. Photographers put a lot of thought into composing photos in a pleasing way, and none of those ways includes people floating on stumps without feet.   

But I don’t blame Christy or my other friends for the floating people. I blame whoever decided that standard print sizes would be a different aspect ratio than most camera’s shoot in. 

You see, my camera (and most others) takes photos in a 2 x 3-inch ratio (same as a 4 x 6 ratio).  That means if you take the image as it was shot, and print it as a 4×6 inch print, you get the entire picture as it was taken in the camera. But 4×6 prints are where it ends as far as getting exactly what you see in a print. 

It seems that the most common size photo that people print and frame is an 8×10 (4×5 ratio).  That is significantly more square than a 4 x 6.  So if you can imagine trying to make a very rectangular image into more of a square, you definitely end up chopping off a decent portion of the image on each end. And that’s how the prints end up missing feet…because it did not crop well as an 8×10.

So I’ve been thinking, perhaps it’s just easier on clients (and on myself since I’m admittedly a bit of a control freak) if I just go ahead and make them 8x10s myself before delivering the gallery to you.  That way, you don’t have to worry about having to crop the images for the sizes you print most often. This means that if you print an 8×10, a 16 x 20 or a 20 x 24, there will be no cropping required.  5×7’s and 11×14’s will still need to be cropped a bit, but much less so and I believe you are less likely to destroy feet in the process.  

If you wanted 4×6 prints, that will require more cropping, which it did not originally. But you know what?   You can get 4 x 5 prints that I think are really cute and won’t require cropping from this new aspect ratio.  

So what do you think? Will this be helpful to you or do you prefer the original aspect ratio of 4×6 in your galleries? I’d love to hear your feedback.

Hannah’s First Communion Portrait Session at Catholic Church of the Nativity

First Communion Photos at the Catholic Church of the Nativity in Spring Hill TN

Two years ago, I shot Haley’s First Communion Photos.  This time, it was middle sister Hannah’s turn.  

It’s always emotional for me to photograph special milestones for children I’ve known all their lives.  But for Hannah, it felt especially so.  I started this journey to becoming a professional photographer by photographing sessions for friends of mine who would ask. It just so happens that Hannah was the very first newborn I ever photographed.  Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing and if I were able to shoot it over again today, I imagine the photos would look very different (and I hope much better).  But most of all, I remember how it felt. 

I remember a moment where Hannah’s dad was sitting on a bench and holding her on his lap and talking to her as I photographed. She looked up at him with such wide, loving eyes and it was the sweetest moment.  Later, Brian said that he felt that was the moment he really bonded with her.  And I was able to be there and capture it in photos. It was really a milestone in my journey to becoming a photographer because it was the first time that I really felt like I was a part of something special, and not just taking snapshots. 


That was almost eight years ago, and now here she is looking like a young lady and celebrating her First Communion.  I just can’t.  Before I know it, I’ll be shooting her prom /graduation/wedding photos.  How do we slow down time?

But also, isn’t she absolutely stunning?  💕

Combination Family & Senior Portrait Session in Thompson Station TN

Nashville Senior Portrait Photographer

A few times, I’ve been approached by a mom who needs to book a senior session for her child (or in this case, children) for graduation announcements and all that fun stuff.  But then she’ll also say that it’s been a long time since they’ve had family portraits done and that she’d like to get a few photos with everyone in them. 

I’m sure that other photographers may disagree with my approach to this, but I am 100% OK with combining a senior session with a family session.  I charge a set fee for a one-hour photo session for up to 6 people, so it is really up to the client on how they would like me to prioritize that hour. I always do individual shots of each child at a family portrait session, so it is pretty easy to combine the two types of photo sessions. 

Combining sessions might not be the best option for you if your senior is very shy and maybe might take a while to relax at a session, allowing me to get natural images. But that wasn’t the case for Sarah and Jacob.  It also might not be best if your other children are very young toddlers and may need extra time for getting family shots.  But Eli was just old enough to be pretty easy to work with, so this was an excellent option for their family. I feel that we easily got enough photos for the twin’s senior portrait needs, and also the typical family sessions shots. 

Beth had let me know that she had these adorable shirts that she wanted to get a photo of the kids in at the beginning of the session. So we planned to get these in first and then let them change for the family session. Aren’t these just so cute?