By Emily Jane
Dallas Photography for Influencers and Small Business Owners

Blog Posts

Take Your DIY Workshop From Basic to Extra (6 Elevating Planning Hacks)
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So you wanna plan a super trendy gathering where you can teach people a thing you know how to do… (Basically a cool party that you have to pay to get in!) Of course you need to provide your participants with a valuable skill, but have you given in-depth thought to the overall experience you’re selling?

There are a few seemingly-obvious considerations that can easily and understandably go amiss when you’re putting together a workshop for the first time! Details can seriously elevate the affair into something people will be dying to share with their friends (and audience). As a workshop photographer and guest, I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t (IMO), from the perspective of the participant and behind the scenes.

So what separates an unremarkable event from one people will be coming back for every year? I present to you a rundown of six things you may wanna have covered before you open the doors to your DIY workshop.

I’ll also include some inspiration photos from a workshop I photographed by Kelsey Williams Weddings + Events.


1. Choose a venue that makes your work easier and the experience more enjoyable.

  • Of course you have to plan within your budget and location, but also keep in mind your guest count. Provide for just enough comfortable space for the amount of people you want to attend. You want to allow for elbow room when crafting, but too much space and it will feel a little awkward for your attendees. Like… “Where is everyone else? Where can I stand without feeling like I’m on an empty stage??”

  • Try to find a location that includes multiple rooms for use. This really comes in handy for storing all your over-flowing bins and bags of extra supplies. You can also appropriate a room for hors d’oeuvres or help-yourself materials for guests.

  • The more decor, furniture, and wall art included in your venue, the better!!! This makes it SO much easier when prepping your “studio” day-of. Trust me, you do NOT have all day to spend essentially designing an entire space from scratch before your event’s designated time slot!


2. Construct a realistic, solid timeline and stick to it.

  • Personally, I’d suggest keeping your activities within the 2-3 hour mark, depending on how much you have planned. Under 2 hours, and it’s not really worth the ticket price. Over 3, and people tend to want to get on with the rest of their day without having to abruptly leave!

  • A good flow for your event might be mingle -> eat -> lesson -> craft. The trick with this is to transition from one activity to the other while people are still having fun (in other words, BEFORE they get bored). Keep up the momentum of your event, to ensure you finish on time and avoid uncomfortable moments.

guests chatting
attendees mingling
people greeting
teaching lesson

3. Provide a full and unique experience by making the space your own.

  • I think when folks pay money by choice to take a class on their precious Saturday, it should be more than just a lesson. Make it feel like they stepped into your world for a day! Transform your event space by knowing your theme and using it to prepare a decor plan.

  • As mentioned earlier, this becomes so much easier when you’ve already chosen a place that plays into your theme well. But a great thing to cover on your own is to make sure there are no bare tables! Include some sort of centerpiece or table runner everywhere you can, while still leaving enough room to function at the table.

  • Will your guests be eating? If so, don’t forget the vibe of the place setting or the tableware. Even if they are just grabbing their own plate in a short buffet line, those details either add to or take away from the indulgent experience. Maybe use an eclectic assortment of plates already in your family; or are there some great trendy-but-inexpensive options at Target? Think outside the box.

flowers and cups
table runner
place setting
floral bouquet

4. Create an inspiring atmosphere with handmade details.

  • Remind guests why they’re here by sprinkling examples of your expert craft throughout the room. Whether this is custom signage, floral arrangements, or other artwork, use it to your decorating advantage!

  • Give your guests something to talk about. Browse Pinterest for other creative (and cost-effective!) ideas to spruce up the place. People went crazy for these flowers frozen in ice cubes pictured below! Personalized touches like these seem to get us in an innovative mood and make guests feel like they’re part of something really unique.

macaron custom signage

5. Be prepared for lots of photos!

  • If you only have a small pool of resources with which to decorate, seriously consider having one great photo opp for social media posts. Whether it’s an art wall, a great couch, or a prop photo booth, give people an excuse to show off the fact that they got dressed up all cute (AND show off their creations)! This goes hand-in-hand with choosing a hashtag for the event that everyone can use to create buzz!

  • Just my opinion: if you haven’t sold out the event in the last few days, start filling those seats with friends (discreetly!). For photos’ sake it’s better to look bustling. When you have a full house it also makes it easier for folks to mingle and feel comfortable, which is great when most people will be a little apprehensive about trying something new.

filled guest count

6. Delight your guests by demonstrating your appreciation.

  • I say plan for hunger no matter what time of day. Someone in your party will always be hungry (okay… I speak for myself). To me, when you’re requesting that someone spend a few hours of their day with you, it’s respectful to offer refreshments of some sort. It could be brunch or finger foods, or we all know that cocktails of some sort tend to win the day.

  • Don’t let your new fans leave without something to take home! They have just had an exciting lesson and hopefully acquired a new skill; this is a great opportunity to give them a few tools to practice on their own. They will love their hostess for this!!!

macaron tower

Attentiveness to intricacies like all of the above is what takes a workshop or party to fabuloso level. It makes it much more fun for the photographer to take photos (woohoo!), which in turn helps you look GREAT on your blog. But most importantly, careful consideration of the experience as a whole will really make your patrons feel like it was money well-spent.

Feel free to drop any questions below or let me know if this helped you! Here’s to never settling for ordinary!

Emily LeeComment
Create Endless Posing Combos With These 6 Easy Tips for Guys
6 easy posing tips for guys by emily jane

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: everyone’s mind goes blank on a first-time photoshoot when it comes to posing (even when you’re trying to avoid “posing”!). And for some reason, us photographers generally tend to have a more difficult time directing guys and keeping them looking effortless.

But, just like with anything, a little preparation and practice goes a looong way when you’re just starting out. Whether you’re having your photo taken, or taking the photos, think about some of the following concepts and it’ll keep you moving through your photoshoot. I’ll provide some example images for each point. They’ll seem really obvious now, but you’d be surprised at how often you fall back on the good ole ‘stand and smile’ when you’re on location!


Starting with the easiest:


I think we can all agree smiling is attractive in a photo. But sometimes a nice photo of a guy staring into the lens like he’s gonna devour it is even more impactful. So change it up! Between a daydream gaze and an outburst of laughter is a wide range of expressions you can work with,

young man not smiling
young man looking pleasant
young man laughing


Another hilariously easy way of differentiating your photos: take a look around! The eyes of the subject do not ALWAYS need to be aimed at the camera. Point your gaze towards a tree off to the side or pretend to look for something really far off in the distance. You can watch your feet while you walk in a straight line, or count the clouds in the sky.

black guy looking at camera
black guy looking left
black guy looking right


Alternate the positioning! You can stand in place or walk; you can sit or kneel. In either case, find something to lean on in order to mix it up. Sit forward, sit back. Plant both feet on the floor, then prop one up on something. It’s the simple things that can prevent all your photos looking alike!

boy standing straight
boy sitting with leg up
boy leaning on column


Think about straightforward tasks a guy can do with his hands with what he’s got on. Pockets? Use em. Try taking a cap on and off. If you’ve got a hoodie, zip it up and down or lift the hood up. Button buttons, straighten ties, and tie shoelaces. Roll up your sleeves and show off that nice watch! These small motions allow your photos to appear more natural and bring life into them.

graduate showing his watch
graduate with both hands in pockets
graduate with one hand in pocket


Before the shoot, think of an object that’s relevant to you and your interests. The easiest one would be some sort of sports equipment. A ball is a great way to infuse movement into your pictures, simply by tossing it around or turning it in your hands. But maybe you’re a guy who’s super tech-y and can play around with his laptop or some sweet headphones. If you are in love with your car, bring it to the shoot! Take pictures, in, next to, or even on the car if you wish. These make great day-in-the-life style photos that are less perfect and more authentic.

african american throwing football
african american holding football
african american tossing football


Lastly, one of the easiest ways to make your photos look awesome (and different from one another) is to have a great backdrop! It could be something architecturally, artistically, or naturally interesting (think colors or lines). This might be a stairway, an art mural, or a whole mountain.! If you can get in front of anything visually appealing, you’ve already taken your photos to the next level no matter what “pose” you’re doing.

guy sitting on steps
guy in front of brick wall
guy standing near doorway

You can already start to see how these concepts are naturally combined to create a variety of looks. Start with focusing on one thing at a time. Pretty soon these ideas will become automatic to you and you’ll be able to just wing it (and get more creatively inspired by what you have to work with).

Don't forget to tag your photos with #tipsbyemilyjane on social media so I can see your progress and follow your account!

Emily LeeComment
6 Ways a Sunny Day Can Affect Your Photos (With Examples)
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Whether you're a photographer, a business owner, or an influencer, two things remain certain: you need lots of images, and those images must be on-brand. You want your fans to run across a picture and know within 0.2 seconds flat that it's yours! Amirite??

That's the dream, and I'm sure you've already contemplated it. You've probably nailed down your core colors, editing style, visual elements to include and maybe even the overall vibe. But there's one HUGELY important component - which can drastically alter the consistency of your photos - that many of us fail to consider when starting out: LIGHT.

You want to be sure and take your photos on a sunny day, right? It's only one type of lighting situation; can't be too complicated, right?? All you have to do is stick to sunny days and your brand imagery will continue to look cohesive, right??? Okay, sorry, that was a setup. It's not quite right.

In reality, shooting under a clear blue sky can still create a multitude of results in your photography, depending on when and where exactly the subject is positioned. Let's compare some of those outcomes (with visual examples of course!), so you can be better prepared when deciding what you want your personal look to be.




Here we have our senior, Mckenzee, outside in full sun in the early afternoon. To be more specific, the sun is shining down on her at an angle from above. This causes some pretty harsh shadows in basically any area that's "under" a facial feature (under her eyes, cheeks, nose, and chin). The image is naturally crisp and bright.

This can be a great way to add an edge to your photos. Depending on how you use the shadows to your advantage, you can even make the bright parts of the image pop out more effectively. 



This is around the same time of day, but now we have moved Mckenzee to the side of a building where the sun is no longer hitting her from any direction (you guys know what shade looks like). Do take note that there is nothing but the open sky above her head. In this scenario, instead of light vs. dark sections, the image will be one global mid-range. As a result, you'll have lots of flexibility with brightness in the editing stage.

If you want your images to be evenly lit or understated, open shade could be your optimal choice. It's also very flattering for portraits as there are no unwanted dark areas on the skin.



Now it's late afternoon / early evening, and the sun is lower in the sky. This means it's shining RIGHT in Mckenzee's face. You can see clearly where she turned her head away from the light as the right half of her face is drastically darker. If you want a flawless portrait, this lighting scenario won't be your friend. As you can see, everything appears more orange-y in this example (including teeth - yikes!)

You can generate some very high-contrast photos in harsh sunlight (hello, drama!). If your brand is all about warm tones or living life under the sun, try this one on for size!



Here we're keeping Mckenzee facing toward the sun, but simply placing her under a tree. Notice the way the shadows of the leaves play throughout the image. Many times trees can't be used to sufficiently shield the subject form the sun entirely. But, use spotty shade such as this strategically, and you could create some very interesting imagery.

Indulge in some artistic expression for your photography! To produce a particular pattern across your subject, filter harsh sunlight through an object, such as leaves, a straw hat, or lace!



Golden hour is that window of time just before sunset where the sun is low enough in the sky that its light gets refracted through the atmosphere (or something scientific like that). Effectively, it means that for a brief moment, the light stops being harsh. It mimics open shade in that the lighting is once again even, only now the colors will be a bit more vibrant. You can even spot Mckenzee's pink undertones coming out to play.

Golden hour is great if you prefer a cool-toned image. This lighting also offers a subtle glow as opposed to sharp contrast. It can be super favorable for portraits, since the soft light fills all those cracks and crevices!



Here we are again just before true sunset, but now Mckenzee's back is turned toward the sun. We are seeing the dark side of the trees, and the subject isn't receiving direct light. Logically, this results in more subdued colors. Be careful about waiting too late to snag a shot in this light, unless you're going for a silhouette! It can quickly become difficult to properly expose for someone's face as the sun goes down.

The sunlight streaming in from behind will be the life of the photo. Face your subject away from the sun as it dips behind the trees and capture the light trickling through the leaves!

Isn't it amazing how remarkably different images can sometimes turn out when taken within hours of one another? Did you determine which effect was right for your particular brand? Definitely save this post on Pinterest for the next time you have a shoot! And if you need some advice for what to do in the event of a cloudy day, check out these tips. As always, let me know what questions you may have. Now go explore some lighting and get creative!


Don't forget to tag your photos with #tipsbyemilyjane on social media so I can see your progress and follow your account!

Emily Lee Comments