Soulful Siblings Niche: Black & White Portrait Overview


Find Your Niche and Build Your Family Photography Business


Lesson Info

Soulful Siblings Niche: Black & White Portrait Overview

We're gonna talk about two types of different product within a product sessions. For this course, I called it "Soulful Siblings" but it doesn't have to be siblings, it can be a single child. On the course page, here, this image is my son shot in this manner. It can be a head shot, it can be a full body. The main thing is I typically do it in black and white. Now, not always. This is my studio manager's daughter, Brooklyn, before she just chopped off all that gorgeous hair. (groaning) Just makes you wanna put a knife to your eye! Right?! Five-years old, mom promised she could could cut that hair on her birthday so let me tell you, I photographed that hair a ton before she did it. So, the point is of this session is to try to get soft, genuine expressions from a child. Sometimes this is really hard, because a lot of kids are super happy, bubbly and they just wanna smile naturally. Some kids, it's super easy, okay? And they don't wanna smile, they would much rather just look at you. My so...

n, in the last image, was bored out of his mind. That's exactly what I wanted. He was like, "Mommy, are you done, yet?" Okay? But that is the look I see everyday. It's that soft, beautiful expression. It's all about the eyes. It's all about the mini adult that they are, if that makes sense. So: Soulful Siblings. I touched on this briefly, but for the most part I do do them in black and white. This image is shot with one light: a five-foot Octobank over my son's head, very much like you're gonna see me use, today. What I do is: that background is my white, psyche wall. It doesn't look white in the image. It looks very dark but that's simply a matter of pulling the subject off the background and using a smaller light source, obviously aimed correctly and put in the right position. Your lighting angle is critical. Okay? You have to get the catch lights in the eyes and sometimes children will drop their chins and when that happens, the forehead hoods or shadows the eyes and you lose the catch light in the eye. So, it happens sometimes and again, you know, I'm always about expression and connection versus absolute, technical perfection, so if you do lose the catch light, like, don't freak out about it; it's okay, but the catch light truly is what brightens and gives the eye life. You can see in this image, here, my son was kind of turning his head up and literally that five-foot Octobank was just glowing the round ball of his eye even coming through the other side to give that opposite iris glow, if you've ever seen it and then you can enhance that in post, which makes their eyes just pop. And for me, that's the case with soulful siblings. It's about the face and more importantly it's about the eyes, okay? So, it can be a single or multiple subject. I use black and white or very muted, desaturated color. So, I'm looking for texture a lot when I'm shooting this. When in terms of addressing what the client should wear, what they should help their children wear, it's typically darker tones or, like in this case, my son was just wearing jeans and no shirt. Very clean, very simple but it's about deeper, richer tones that don't compete with the child's face or with the background, which is typically gonna be dark. So, this is a lower key portrait. Last time, we did high key with a white background and then we did kind of a mid-tone where I dropped the power on the lights, now I'm literally turning off those lights. We are just working with one, main light, here and perhaps a reflector to bounce in some light from below so we don't get super harsh shadows. I do it as a mounted print, as you saw in the last segment. We showed an example of it. I brought the example of what I printed, here, of my son. It's in a museum mount frame, or at least that's what I call it. It's basically a shadow box with a float mounted print inside and a sloppy-edge border around the outside and the shadowbox frame. Nice thing is you can, and typically, since I'm doing it black and white 90% of the time I'm doing a white or black matte mount behind it instead of some kind of color but you can bring in a beige or gray background and that looks really nice with the black and whites too. So, again, we're going back to this idea of doing the product within the product. We're now on the Soulful Siblings and we're on working with museum mount print. Usually, it's a single thing, okay? I'm kind of offering it and selling it as a single-statement piece for children between the ages of around five to 10, 13 years old. Okay? This is a nice age range but think about what I'm doing for my client, business-wise. I'm telling them: okay, you come to your newborn with us, then, between the ages of, you know, three and six, we'll do this crazy, fun, let your kid be themselves kind of thing, which we're gonna shoot in this segment as well, and then once they're a little older and beginning to identify with who they are, their expressions are coming out, they're able to think and process a little bit more, we're going into the soulful sibling look, so that gives my clients excuses to come back to me several times throughout their lifetime and it breeds that loyalty to us as a studio, okay? The key with this type of portrait is to keep it full of impact and a lot of the reason why I use one light is for that impact. I want those eyes to the center of attention, okay? Then, when we convert to black and white with all that texture, it, all of a sudden, the portrait becomes an extremely soulful connection. Okay? So, don't forget the big three, this is gonna be critical. We're talking: camera angle, lighting angle and posing angle. You've heard me harp on this a couple of times and I will continue to do that throughout every single time I shoot. The smallest hint of change in your lighting angle will completely change the image. An inch of moment will change the way an image looks. So, sometimes it can be tiny, little nuances: the way a child shifts their head and sometimes it's hard to get a kid to do what you want. Instead, you've gotta move the light. So, there will be times, especially in this type of portrait when I'm using a smaller light source, I don't have as much forgiveness, I'll have my assistant come through and just make sure that everything's in the right spot. With an older child, I can have them kind of look up into the light, like I did with my son.

Class Description

Now that you're consistently booking family photo shoots, it's time to create a business that stands out from your competition. Well-known newborn and family photographer Julia Kelleher will show you how to create a personalized "niche" for your photography that also offers its own product line.

In this class, Julia will show you how to:

  • Develop a solid, definable and recognizable brand
  • Attract your ideal client's to your business
  • Develop products that your clients will buy

By the end of this class, you'll be working on creating your own niche while growing and expanding your photography business to include new clients and larger sales.


Courtney Ranck-Copher

I own I think all of Julia's classes. This is probably my favorite. I will say that it's because its exactly the type of photography I have been wanting to focus on. So the information was extremely valuable to me. But I do love all of Julia's classes and you can learn so much from her as a mentor regardless of the type of portraits you shoot. Thanks Julia for a wonderful class I have watched it multiple times!


As always, Julia never disappoints! It has been so awesome to watch her work with such incredible intention, from concept to session to sales. Her energy and strategy are so motivational and very, very creative! This class rocks from start to finish, and is a perfect addition to my Creative Live business arsenal! Five stars all the way!!!!!

Amy Vaughn

My favorite part was seeing how Julia's business evolved over time and transformed into what it is today. Good tips for finding inspiration to develop a niche and practical marketing advice. I'm glad I took this alongside Tamara's business class - the two photographers had very different approaches to their business and shooting family photography in many ways, but it really illustrators how there's no one way to do everything. I learned so much from both of them.