Best kept secrets for looking good in photos!


After being a portrait & family  photographer for a few years and then spending the next few posing for photos myself I feel like I have learned some really valuable info on working the camera!
I posted on this subject about a year ago, but after 12 more months of taking more photos I’ve stumbled on even more conclusions… and since I know many of you are gearing up for family photo season again, I thought I would share my findings.

Here we go…



Exfoliate: Dead skin is going to KILL your IT factor by making you look drab and colorless. Get rid of it.
Get rest: Baggy under eyes are not your best look. We both know that.
Water: Cause I can’t make any kind of a beauty list without adding this stuff…

The other thing that is REALLY important is that you don’t procrastinate anything else you have to get done before the photo shoot. Picking out an outfit, your kids outfit…whatever it is make sure you can have as much as possible done before hand so that you’re not stressed to the point of murder by the time you get to the picture taking part. Stress photographs TERRIBLY.



There are a million fashion blogs you can go to and get much more information than I can offer on this one but I am going to talk sheer logistics here-
as a photographer I can tell you the number one thing women didn’t like about their photos was when their body wasn’t flattered.

Sometimes the camera really does add ten pounds!

But there are ways to avoid this.

Proper undergarments are crucial.  (you know.. bras that fit, no panty lines…that sort of thing can be overlooked by the mirror but NEVER by the lens)
I like to pick flowy fabrics that don’t hug me too tight. I know if I feel like I need to suck in the whole time my photos are going to look…pained and if I have a muffin top I’m not going to be super stoked about it. (peplums are pure muffin camouflage!)
Oh, and heels, for obvious reasons.

(More on flattering posing)


shoes: steve madden (similar)  | pants: forever21 (similar) | top: forever21 (similar)



My hair ALWAYS looks flatter in photos so I amp up to volume to compensate, I do that by starting my curls at the root instead or half way down the shaft and by adding clip-ins.
If I’m taking photos outdoors I like to pick a style that can move around and not get ruined. Highly hair sprayed or perfectly coiffed styles are bound to drive you crazy if the wind makes an appearance.
Don’t be afraid to get generous with shine serum! I mean, you don’t want to look like a grease ball or anything but I’ve noticed you can use more serum than you normally would and it just makes your hair look so luxurious!

>>>>Here<<< is my favorite hair tutorial for photos.



I am always SHOCKED at how different makeup is in person vs. on camera. For me it can be so frustrating because I want to teach makeup looks that look gorgeous in person and then try to photograph it and it just doesn’t show up like it does in person. This makeup is the opposite, it looks good in person but it looks much better in photos.

I compiled all of my best makeup tricks in this video:
Beware when you watch it at certain points you are gonna be thinking: that is too much color or that doesn’t look right but the proof is in the pudding! These photos are unedited and were taken right after I filmed the video. (well I guess if you don’t like the makeup in the photos then…touche… :)

Product list:
Tomas Airbrush Tan
Loreal Perfecting Base
Make Up Forever HD Foundation
Maskcara Blush in Jem 
Loreal True Match Powder in Deep Warm
Anastasia Brow Genius in Brunette
Loreal Gel Liner in Blackest Black
NYX HD concealer wand in Glow & Yellow

Milani Color Satement lipstick- Best Red

Sephora Collection Fushcia Gloss
Ardell Lashes in Wispies on top & individuals in short for the bottom


Being photogenic is ALL IN YOUR HEAD!
It’s a vicious cycle. You see a bad photo, decide you look bad in photos, the next time the camera is out you get all awkward trying not to look bad, you look worse….etc.
Photographing well is all about being comfortable and confident….or at least convincing yourself you are.

Here are some ways I use to shake out my nerves and fake supreme comfort and confidence:

Eat some  food. You don’t want to take hangry photos…ever.
Bring some fun music to lighten the mood.
Pull out one of your old elementary school tricks and “shake your wiggles out” – really a little wild shaky dance will help loosen you up


When I used to take photos I would always tell strained smiles to laugh out loud.
I’m not that funny so I’d make them actually fake laugh. With the laugh sound and everything or it doesn’t work.
For some reason this A. Makes you actually laugh or B. Brings out a totally genuine smile.
The above photo was taken after such a laugh.
Nick is so embarrassed for me when I do this…but he is admittedly not photogenic so…maybe he should try it sometime:)

Hope this ends in you having the sexiest photos of your life:)


Beauty at any age

It’s not that she’s particularly concerned about it or mentions it much but if you asked my mom if she thinks she’s pretty she’d probably say something like “Oh, no. Not really, I’m just old.”
For her those two things are mutually exclusive.
Which is actually quite ridiculous and I’ll show you why.

Beautiful at any age.

I would argue that at 60 years old and having given birth to 9 children she is more beautiful today than she ever has been.
Look at her eyes. There are no short cuts to getting eyes like that. I imagine it took thousands of tears to polish them enough to sparkle so softly and sweetly.
You can’t see it in the photo but she has the most beautiful voice. That voice took millions of sweet words, hundreds of lullabies and …only one or two “CARALYN BROOK!!”s to become as smooth and warm as it is.
Her smile. How many happy moments and completely hilarious jokes did it take to leave those gorgeous smile impressions around her mouth? They linger after each smile as if her face remembers too many joyful moments for them to be fully erased.

I used to be so petrified of getting older. So afraid of wrinkles or pregnancy weight or for my hair to turn gray, but not any more. I know that if every year I give all I have to give, laugh as much as I can, treat every new experience as an adventure and every new person as a chance to love and care for someone than I will be more beautiful at 102 than I was at 22.
I can’t wait for the chance.

My mom is beautiful with or without makeup but we have found there are makeup tricks that make her feel her prettiest and it is only natural that as your skin and face change your makeup routine should evolve as well.
these are some awesome tips for ageless beauty
So here are some of my favorite findings:

No more big pores!

Honestly, I don’t know if I would believe this if I hadn’t taken the photo myself. The difference is pretty dang impressive. This silky stuff creates a smooth surface for applying makeup and that includes filling pores.

Instant Facelift!

Filled with Anastasia Brow Powder Duo Ebony

As we grow older often times those eyebrows start to migrate and they drag your eye and your expressions down with it!
My advice for this might seem a little radical but I think it’s by far the best option. ( I added the falling brows to this photo because we got rid of my mom’s a few years ago)

1. Locate your brow bone by feeling for it above your eye socket. Your brow bone is a rough guide to where your brows should be.

2. Wax or tweeze all the hair below your natural brow (brow bone) Even if that means you will only have half of your brow.

3. With an angled brush and some brown shadow fill in the arch by drawing in your brow above the ridge of your brow bone.

(Find a more thorough tutorial on filling in your brows here)

Amazing foundation!
NARS Sheer Glow Foundation in Stromboli

I always try to find the least expensive products I can but when it comes to foundation I get a little less stressed about price and more concerned with performance.
You wear it every day and only have to replace it 2 or 3 times a year! It is TOTALLY worth a splurge. I actually found this foundation on accident when I was testing swatches on my hand for color I grabbed this (cause it was the closest thing to me at Sephora) and rubbed it into my hand, I had to double take. Usually when I rub products on my hand the lines in my skin become exaggerated. When I rubbed this on it smoothed out my skin and made such a smooth creamy finish I was flabbergasted! I snagged a sample of it and have been in love ever since. Plus it has good yellow undertones which I prefer on most skin.

I am working on a post right now on how to get the sheerest most natural application, so check back this week for that as well.

blush & bronzer
Urban Decay Baked Bronzer or my *NEW* favorite Too Faced Milk Chocolate
Argan Infinity Lip & Cheek Tint in Boundless Berry
When I do my mom’s makeup I can’t tell you the difference it makes when I brush on the blush and bronzer.
It brings so much energy and warmth to her face. As scary as a highly saturated blush may seem they really look beautiful when mixed with the skin.

beauty at any age

I used Sephora Lip Gloss in Fuchsia Mania

I hope this helps!
Have a marvelous Monday you are dazzling,


curly hair troubleshooting

Ever watch a youtube hair tutorial, imitate her procedure exactly, look in the mirror and think..
“Hey, that doesn’t look like hers at all!”?
I have.

I know that some girls have magical hair that will pretty much swirl to perfection with ease.
If you are one of those, congrats, you don’t know how lucky you are!
If you are not…read on!
The problem is when you see a girl sit down at her youtube vanity and curl away you are missing all kinds of information.
Information she (me included) may not even think applies to this hair styling session.

Which is often the most important of all.
So I have decided to compile a list (I’m a compulsive list maker.) of the possible curl killers you may be encountering.
All of which have killed my own curls at one time or another and took me years of relentlessness to master.

Start here: (if the answer is yes skip to the next)

1. Do you have layers? 
Layers are a crucial part of curly hair. Without layers your hair is very heavy at the ends, which pulls on your girl and kills your volume.
Layers also help your curl fall pretty and keep you from getting a triangular effect (where all the curl is at the bottom)
If my curls start flopping my first thought is “when was my last haircut?”

2. Are you curling small enough pieces?
If your hair is more resistant you may need to take smaller pieces than you think. Experiment with the size of the lock to find your sweet spot!

3. Does your curling iron get hot enough?
I use and put it at the hottest setting or my hair won’t even consider curling.
I’m talking 425 degrees! (which is why I have to wear it for days to rationalize the damage!)

4. Are you using the right size iron?
What my sister can do with a 1 1/2″ curling iron, I need a 1″ for.
Her hair curls much easier than mine. So experiment with size, if the biggie ain’t cuttin’ it go smaller. Or vise versa.

5. Does your hair have build up on it?
I have talked about this before.  Here is my DIY recipe for cutting your own build up.

6. Are you using the right products?
Texture spray is a HUGE help for hair that won’t curl try THIS one or make THIS one.
Try a styling cream like this one if you can’t get your it to hold but don’t want that crunchy gel feel.
& Use a flexible hairspray on your whole head before you curl.

7. Have you tried different techniques?
Among my hair tutorials are pinned curls, twirl curls, wrap curls and more..
If one type won’t work for you, try another!

8. Are you bored of talking about curls yet?
Me too!

Hope this helps, Let me know if you have some success!

William. Billy. Will. Liam. Billiam. The birth story.

Feast your eyes on this sweet sweet baby face! I can’t stop staring into it!

I had him on Thursday of last week, September 11th.
I’d been having contractions on going for days and it seemed like they were getting stronger and a bit closer together. I’ve been in labor before (of course) so I knew for sure that I wasn’t right in the meat of it or anything but with Christian my water broke and I progressed really fast so I was nervous about not showing up in time. Plus I hadn’t gotten my results from the Group B Strep test yet and I knew I wanted to be there long enough for the meds to run their course at well (which takes 4 hours)
So I hesitantly decided to go in to the hospital and get checked.
From the minute I walked in the doors I was absolutely certain they’d be sending me home.
They set me up to the machines and checked me I was dilated to 2.5 CM which was exactly what I was dilated to a week before at my Doc appointment. She also said I wasn’t having very many contractions according to the monitor. So much for being in labor!
I quickly texted my mom that it was a false alarm and not to bother coming over.
The nurse was really sweet and she said we should wait another half an hour or so just so she could check me again and then she could send me home.
I was starving and ready to go eat some lunch and even though the thought of having the baby was exciting, I was happy to let him cook a little longer.
A little while later she came in to give me another quick check and get me on my way.
She instantly got a shocked look on her face and said “um…you’re at a 4 now…so I’m going to go call your doctor, stay put.”
An hour later she check me again and said “Well, you’re at a 5 now. Looks like we’re having this baby today!”

Nick started to get so nervous and excited. He said it was like Christmas, his birthday and Masters week all wrapped into one times 100! I was excited but nervous since I was just barely 37 weeks. Christian was born at 37 weeks and 2 days and he spent 10 days in the NICU. I really didn’t want to see this baby go through that. My doctor was so sweet and he said at this point it was only a 5% chance he’d be underdeveloped so not to worry too much.

At about 10:30pm I was at a 10 and ready to go. As soon as he came out they laid him on me and I couldn’t believe how much he looked like Christian! I kept asking if he was grunting because I was so scared that he would be (that’s what they do when their lungs are struggling) they took him over to the table on the side of the room and said they were sorry but yes he was grunting but they might be able to get it under control. My doctor could tell I was really concerned and he kept saying, let’s believe he’s not in the 5%. After 15 minutes the nurse, who happened to be one of my friends, said she still couldn’t get him to stop grunting so they need to take him over to the NICU but they wouldn’t admit him right away, he might come back in just a few hours if we got lucky.
I was really trying not to be a baby about it but when they took him out of the room I started balling. The last thing I wanted in the world was to be separated from him and for him to be struggling. My doctor came over and said he was really sorry and he knew that was my biggest fear but that he still had a few hours to get better and I shouldn’t lose hope just yet.

I was praying for him and hoping he’d be able to come back soon.  Nick and my dad went over to where he was and gave him a special prayer as well, which did make me feel a little better.

I had an epidural and even though I was pretty sure I could walk (I could move my legs the whole time and still felt everything on a MUCH smaller scale) the nurses thought it would be best if I got some rest before heading over to the NICU. About three hours later they called my room and said he seemed to be doing really well, was acting really hungry and wondered if I wanted to come down and try to feed him. I hurried down and was thrilled when he latched right on! (it took like a million tries with Christian) His breathing had improved a great deal and once the feeding was over they said we could take him up with us!
I can’t even explain how happy and relieved I was to have him back in my arms and doing well!

We brought Christian in the next morning and he is so in love. He keeps saying “He’s really cute to me!” and he’s got his own name for him. Billiam. It’s so adorable when he says it!


Anyway I know that was a  LOOONG story but I just think that babies are such incredible miracles and I could hear birth stories all day long, so I wanted to share:)


For the next couple of weeks I am going to be all wrapped up with this teensy tiny baby and to be honest beauty is bound to be the last thing on my mind! But I thought it would be fun to go through some of my very favorite old posts dust them off, freshen them up and have some “Greatest Hit Reruns” I just feel like there are so many awesome tips that get buried and this is a perfect chance to let them shine! (I also might throw a few new ones in the mix with content I’ve already created before baby arrived. So keep an eye out for that as well.)
Love you all!!