Category: Blog

image showing 5 reasons to book an autumn photo shoot

5 Reasons to Book an Autumn Photo Shoot

Autumn is my favourite time of year for outdoor portrait sessions, and it’s almost over! Golden light, early sunsets, gorgeous outdoor settings and skin that still carries traces of summer. Here are the top 5 reasons to book an autumn photo shoot:

Reason #1: Glorious autumn colours | autumn photo shoot

We Melburnians know the magic that Mother Nature brings to our parks and gardens between March and May each year. Our drab, dry, and thirsty outdoor spaces are transformed into colourful wonderlands. And the colours! Oh, the colours! Our exotic trees produce a spectrum that ranges from pale lemon through to gold, orange, red and magenta.

Autumnal colours make amazing backdrops for portraits, and flatter every skin tone.

image showing 5 reasons to book an autumn photo shoot image showing 5 reasons to book an autumn photo shoot

Reason #2: The light is gorgeous | autumn photo shoot

Summer light can be bright and stark. However, when autumn rolls around the light takes on a warm, soft, ephemeral quality. There is often a bit of a haze hanging over Melbourne throughout autumn and, while that might be a red flag for the EPA, it’s REALLY good for portraits! The haze has a diffusing effect, making skin appear softer and younger … and who doesn’t want that?

image showing 5 reasons to book an autumn photo shoot

Reason #3: Sunset is earlier & sunrise is later | autumn photo shoot

The hour before sunset, referred to by photographers as the ‘Golden Hour’, is the holy grail of outdoor portraiture. It’s when the light is at its spectacular best – soft, warm and golden. Not only does it flatter the complexion and ‘set fire’ to the hair, but it also transforms everything it touches. The two photos below were shot 15 minutes apart. See the difference the setting sun makes to the grass and the trees in the background?

In summer, the sun doesn’t set until after 9pm, and that’s late for little ones. But in an autumn photo shoot, Golden Hour happens at a much more civilised time. Even for teens and adults, this means you can book your photo shoot on a weeknight and still be home in time for an early weekday night.

Sunrise is another popular time for outdoor portrait sessions, especially at the beach. The early morning light is soft pink and lilac, flattering and gentle. The sun rises at the most ungodly hour in summer! Even by 7am, the sun is high in the sky and has lost all of its magic. But come autumn, you can sleep in to a civilised hour and still catch that gorgeous sunrise!


image showing 5 reasons to book an autumn photo shoot image showing 5 reasons to book an autumn photo shoot

Reason #4: Your skin is still glowing from summer | autumn photo shoot

There’s no need to slather on the fake tan in autumn. Even if you’ve slip-slop-slapped all summer long, your skin takes on an attractive glow that can’t be faked. Your hair is probably sun-kissed also, which means you and your family will be looking gorgeous in all your photos!

image showing 5 reasons to book an autumn photo shoot

Reason #5: The weather is kind | autumn photo shoot

Autumn in Melbourne is generally mild and dry, with crisp mornings and evenings, gloriously clear days, and the first waft of smoke from open fireplaces. Gone are the blistering days of summer and the howling northerly winds, and the winter chill hasn’t quite reached us yet either. It’s cool enough for long sleeves (which are flattering for most of us) yet not so cold that we need to look like Michelin men to avoid hypothermia!

So what are you waiting for? Can’t you just picture yourself on this bench, framed by that happy colour? Autumn photo shoots are popular, and bookings are limited, so don’t miss out. Book your autumn photo shoot today!

image showing 5 reasons to book an autumn photo shoot
Imagine yourself on this bench …
image showing Karen Quist Author at Digital Photography School

Author | Digital Photography School |Karen Quist

Author | Digital Photography School | Karen Quist

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve been added to the permanent stable of writers at Digital Photography School! See? I even have my very own author profile 🙂 This means I’ll be contributing an article every couple of weeks to one of the most popular photography websites in the world.

Why is this so exciting? Well! First of all, I have been trying for years to figure out how to combine two creative careers, both of which I LOVE. But since I can’t choose between writing and photography, it’s as if this gig was made just for me.

Second, I’m going to have to vary my topics, which means getting outside of my comfort zone and thinking about aspects of photography that I avoid because I either find them difficult or uncomfortable.

Third, it gives me a reason to shoot with a different purpose in mind. When photographing for a client, I have their brief and all the things they’ve told me during our consultation at the forefront of my mind. I shoot with intent, with an end product in mind, putting together collections of images that will tell their story. When photography is your passion as well as your career, it can be difficult to get motivated to pick up your camera and follow your own creative instincts.

You can read the article “8 tips for better pet photography” if you haven’t already read it via my Facebook page.

Since I’m going to have to come up with fresh material every couple of weeks, I’d love some suggestions. What topics interest you? What would you like to read photography articles on? Please leave comments on my Facebook page.

Christmas gift ideas under $100: photography gift certificate

Christmas gift ideas under $100

Christmas gift ideas under $100

Looking for Christmas gift ideas under $100? Look no further!
For a strictly limited time, you can give the gift of photography, with a $400 Gift Certificate from Karen Quist Photography for just $99.

Your $400 Gift Certificate includes:

  • pre-shoot planning consultation, where we will take you on a journey and customise your photo shoot to reflect you and your personality.
  • customised on-location photo session up to 2 hours
  • design consultation where we will assist you in selecting and customising your artwork to bring life to your home
  • $200 to $300 to spend towards art work. Weekday photo sessions are priced at $100, leaving $300 to spend towards artwork. Weekend sessions are priced at $200, leaving $200 to spend towards art work.

Hurry! Offer ends midnight 20th December 2015

To order call 0411 051 363, or email

Terms & conditions

Photographic sessions available in Melbourne metropolitan locations only. Certificates are transferrable to another person but are not redeemable for cash. Can be redeemed at one session time only. May be used towards photographic shoot and personalised artwork with Karen Quist Photography. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or towards past orders or sessions. One purchasing appointment only will be made available where all decision-makers must be present. Appointments are limited and subject to availability, therefore priority must be given to those interested in commissioning the design and creation of photographic artwork.


image of black & white father baby photography

Father-baby photography

Father-baby photography sessions: the importance of being present.

I love father-baby photography. There are few sights guaranteed to turn a woman’s knees to jelly faster than that of a man holding a baby. All that masculine strength translated into tenderness, in contrast to the fragility of a tiny human … sigh!

Fathers are often the more reluctant parent when it comes to getting in front of the camera. In many pre-shoot consultations, men have told me they hate having to look at the camera and smile. Maybe they have terrifying flashbacks of family portrait sessions when they were kids. Remember those? Everyone lined up in their Sunday best under studio lights with forced smiles. Or perhaps their wedding photography was a memorable experience for all the wrong reasons … who knows? Once I tell men they won’t have to look at the camera or smile during their photo session, they start to relax. Many end up enjoying the experience, especially busy dads who seldom have time to simply exist in the moment and connect with their children.

The photo session pictured here, featuring Daniel and baby Nyah, was one such instance. Daniel has been super-busy establishing his new business. He wants to do well, so that he can give his family everything they want and more. His wife, Karen, is equally busy with the couple’s two-year-old daughter, Zoe, and a new baby. Dan told me he frequently comes home for dinner and then returns to work until the small hours of the morning.

During our photo session, the connection between father and baby was incredible. She couldn’t take her eyes off her adoring dad! Equally, he loved being able to spend time with his precious new daughter without any pressure to do anything, or be anywhere but the absolute present. After their session, Dan told me how much he had enjoyed the experience – how he’d loved the opportunity to do nothing other than look at his new baby girl.

But you don’t need me to tell you that. The photographs say it all.

If you love my work, why not follow my Facebook page, or get in touch to discuss your own custom photographic experience?   

father-baby photographyfather & baby squishy baby botombaby holding father's finger B&Wfather and baby connectionFather kissing baby toesbaby holding father's fingerdad kisses baby's toes Daniel & Nyah lo-res-33

image of baby photography melbourne

baby photography Melbourne

baby photography Melbourne

baby photography Melbourne Karen Quist Photography.

Yesterday I photographed baby Josh for the third time in twelve months. I can’t believe it has been a whole year since we did Josh’s newborn photography session! We did another when he was six months old, and yesterday’s photo shoot capped off Josh’s first year – now his lucky parents will have a beautiful photographic record of their youngest child’s first twelve months.

The collections featured here represent some of the ways in which you can display photographic wall art in your home. Grouping photographs close together allows you to tell a story, showcase different facial expressions and capture all those precious details like curious little fingers, wriggly toes, long eyelashes and big, big eyes!

Turn your living space into a gallery of wall art that is meaningful, deeply personal, and reminds you of what is important in life every time you look at it. Display your wall art where you’ll see it every day. Create beautiful heirlooms for each of your children.

Collection 2 Collection 3

Josh lo res-2 Josh lo res-3 image of baby photography melbourne Josh lo res-5Josh lo res-6Josh lo res-7Josh lo res-8Josh lo res-9Josh lo res-10Josh lo res-11Josh lo res-14Josh lo res-13Josh lo res-12

For the animals.

Girl with rabbitSootyYeliena & girls-24
Photographers for animal rescue
Photographers help animal rescue centres find new homes for abandoned pets.

Now here is a story that will warm your heart, and restore your faith in humankind just a little.

Ever noticed how many photographers are also animal lovers? Although the number of photographers who are lucky enough to make a living from photographing animals is relatively small, a quick skim though 500px or flickr will deliver more ‘awh!’-inspiring animal photographs than the heart can safely handle, and pets make frequent appearances on the social media pages of many of the photographers I know.

Maybe it’s because photographers are, by their very nature, creative souls, ever in awe of what Mother Nature has made and committed to preserving rather than destroying it. Or perhaps because the creative gene is often accompanied by a deep empathy for other living things.

I hail from a long line of animal lovers. My mother was forever rescuing stray dogs or feeding orphaned baby birds, and the importance of being kind to animals was instilled in me from as early as I can remember. It never ceases to anger and perplex me that someone could take pleasure in harming an animal, or that a person could neglect or abandon a pet. And yet it happens at an alarming rate. Animal rescue centres in my city alone are buckling under the weight of abandoned pets.

Most animal shelters and rescue centres seek to re-home abandoned animals. Unfortunately these centres, especially the smaller ones, are poorly funded, receiving little or no government assistance and relying almost solely on the kindness of donors in the community. The process of advertising an animal for adoption is a time-consuming one. While a good photograph greatly improves an animal’s chance of finding a new home, professional photography sits well outside the shoestring budgets of most animal shelters. So, what is an animal rescue centre to do?

Amanda Radovic, a family photographer in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, hatched a plan to bring together animal rescue centres with animal-loving photographers around the country. Through her online network of professional photographers, she rallied enough support to start the group, ‘Photographers for Animal Rescue’. The group now has a Facebook page where both animal rescue centres and willing photographers can register their details on the group’s rapidly growing database.

The idea is, when the rescue centre has a pet that is eligible for adoption, someone from the centre posts a message on the group’s Facebook page, with a brief description of the animal, where it is located, whether it is being held in foster care and so on. Photographers within the group will see the message in their news feed and respond if they are able to help, or possibly tag another photographer who may be located near to where the animal is being cared for.

The photographer provides professional quality photographs free of charge, the rescue centre receives professionally shot digital images to use in the animal’s adoption campaign, and hopefully the animal finds its ‘forever’ home with a caring new owner.

Interested in joining the group? Here’s what you’ll need to do:
♥ Go to the group’s Facebook page
♥ Using your OWN PERSONAL Facebook identity (you can’t join as your business or organisation’s page) request to join the group
♥ When your request has been approved, you’ll see two posts pinned to the top of the page. One is titled ‘Add your rescue group here’, and the other is      ‘Add your photography business here’. Choose the post that applies to you.
♥ Click on the highlighted link, which will take you to the document where you can add your business or centre’s details
♥ Keep an eye on your news feed for posts from the group, or check in on the page regularly
♥ Got questions? You can contact me via the messaging service on my Facebook page

Now doesn’t that warm your heart?

Personal project 52 {week 6} black & white portraits

Back when I studied photography, I was taught that if colour doesn’t add anything significant to an image, one should stick to black & white. These days, I’m leaning more and more towards black & white – finding my way back to my beginnings and what lit the fire in my belly in the first place.

There’s just something beautiful and timeless about black and white. It makes me work harder as a photographer, to get back to the essence of what photography is.  I’ve been trying for some time to nail the perfect black and white editing formula, something that emulates the contrasty, gutsy black and whites that I could produce in the darkroom ‘back in the day’. I achieved something close to what I wanted, and then the lovely Briony from Sundays Child Photography​ in Adelaide was generous enough to share with me her custom black & white Lightroom preset that she’d created. I’ve tweaked it just a little to make it my own.

I’m really stoked with these pics I took of my daughter, Molly, on the train. We were heading to an event in town, and the light coming from the window was just perfect, and she was just perfect in her little navy beret ♥

B&W on train April '15-2B&W on train April '15

B&W on train April '15#


How to take better photographs of your children #2

Last week, we covered the first three basics for photographing children:  get down, get close and get ready. In this, the second in my series how to take better photographs of your children, I want to talk about capturing your child’s natural expressions rather than ‘camera smiles’. I also cover the importance of focusing on the eyes, and of simplifying your images so that the child or children in your photographs really shine.

Don’t force a smile

Cheesy smiles say nothing about your children’s quirkiness or the traits that are unique to them. Celebrate their individuality by capturing their natural expressions. The spaced-out stares, the frowns, the way they poke their tongue out when they’re concentrating on a task – these are the expressions you’ll be glad you captured when you look back.

Allow your child to become immersed in an activity, or just chat to them while you sit back and watch, camera at the ready. With minimal direction from you they will put on a stellar performance, and here’s where you will capture their true selves. Wear something ridiculous on your head. Say and do things to provoke a reaction, and be ready to capture it when it happens.

When I approach a photo session with children whom I don’t know, I get down on the ground with them and start to chat about what they’re doing, who their best friend is at school, what they want to be when they grow up, their favourite flavour ice cream, what they would have for dinner every night if they did the choosing instead of Mum and Dad. In other words, anything to make them forget that there’s a stranger pointing a camera at them. Once they’re immersed in their chatter, they soon forget. Better yet, some of them see their reflection in the big, shiny lens and become transfixed, like the little boy in the middle photo below.

Dont force a smile

Keep it simple

All of it. Less is always more. Simple clothes, simple colours, simple backgrounds … in portraiture, simplicity is key to letting your subject shine through. Things that the naked eye processes and puts into perspective suddenly become glaring beacons in a static image. For example, that striped top that your son looks so adorable in becomes a magnet to the viewer’s gaze if you photograph him in it; the pile of toys you didn’t notice in the corner is full of bright colours and it’s distracting when you look at the photograph; the sauce bottle on the table … the parking sign growing out of your baby’s head …

Wherever you have control of the background, declutter it. Remove distracting objects. If you can’t move them, move your shooting position to avoid trees, poles and rubbish bins growing out of people’s heads and harsh horizon lines that look like they’re decapitating people.

Whenever possible, I photograph in a natural environment. The beach, a garden or park – somewhere with a background that is soft and inviting without being the focus of the image. Leaves, grass, sand and water make beautiful backdrops, and children tend to respond well to those environments, too. If you can, try to place some distance between your subject and the background, so that the backdrop will be out of focus.

What should I wear‘ is the single most common question I am asked by my clients before a photo session. Plain colours, especially near the face, are a must. If you are photographing a group, having them dressed in similar tones works well. It’s one of the reasons wedding photos always look so ‘together’; everyone is dressed in similarly-toned outfits. Denim blue, soft and mid-toned pinks, cream, white, stone and beige all look lovely on children and work well for adults, too. Dark colours like black, charcoal, navy and maroon translate well to black-and-white, and really put the focus on the face. And because my clients are not only good-looking and charismatic, but also very clever, they take all of my advice on board and – see? How fab do they all look 🙂

Keep it simple

Focus on the eyes

With close-ups, especially in low light, depth-of-field can be very shallow. This means that one part of the image can be sharp while the rest is out of focus.  This technique can be used deliberately to great effect, especially when photographing babies and newborns, but more on that in a later post.

In a portrait, depth of field can be so shallow that it means you end up with crystal-sharp eyebrows and slightly soft eyes if you are not super careful with your focal point. Eyes should almost always be the focal point in a portrait (there are exceptions), so make sure they’re sharp.

If using a DSLR, make sure the red focus dot is directly on the eye. If you want to compose your image with the face or eyes off-centre, first centre the face and focus on the eyes, depress the shutter button halfway and then recompose the image with the shutter still held halfway. When your image is composed as you like it, depress the shutter fully. I’m aware of how ludicrous this advice is to someone trying to photograph a crawling baby, or a three-year-old on a scooter. However, in theory …

See the difference below between the innocent, hazy gaze of a newborn, the knowing stare of a teen, and the curiosity in the eyes of an eleven-month-old girl.

Focus on the eyes

Next week: lighting!





How to take better photographs of your children: week 1

3 tips for taking better photographs of your children

Sam on lawnOur children are so precious. From the moment they are born, every breath, every expression, every milestone is a miracle. As parents we love to photograph those moments so that we have a visual record of our children’s lives to look back on. Digital photography has made this easier than ever before, but parents often tell me they are disappointed in the photographs they take of their children. They feel the images somehow miss the mark and fail to convey what they saw at the time. In this series, I want to show you how to take better photographs of your children.

This series is not about recording those moments when your child tips a bowl of spaghetti over his sister’s head or takes his first steps (unless you anticipate the event; more on that later). Those are the times when you grab whatever device will record the moment and shoot, because there is no time to remove distracting background objects or fuss over lighting. 

The focus in this series (see what I did there?) is on planned shots. By ‘planned’ I don’t necessarily mean contrived, rather that you make a conscious decision to take a photograph. Whether it’s an event like a birthday party, your daughter’s first haircut, or just a quiet afternoon in the garden, there are a number of things you can do to take your photography up a notch, and then some. And you don’t need a fancy camera, an exotic location or a fine arts degree to take good photos!

The first three tips: Get down, get close, and get ready!

Get down to your child’s level and you will be amazed at the difference it makes to your photos. Suddenly you will see how big the world is to them. You will see your home, your garden, your local park from their perspective. Most importantly, you will be photographing them as an equal rather than a towering adult with a camera.

Children interact with us differently when we bring ourselves down to their level. Babies and smaller children look at you with a mixture of wonder and curiosity when you lie flat on the floor and start chatting to them.

Get down

Get close … and then get closer. If you’ve heard this a million times, it’s with good reason. Often we get so caught up in trying to capture the lovely scenery around them that our children get lost in the picture. Sometimes it’s important to include the surrounding scene in order to tell a story, but nine times out of ten you will create a stronger image if you fill the frame with your child. A close-up draws the viewer’s gaze to the eyes, and they tell a story no amount of scenery ever could.

Get close

Get ready
1. Camera settings: Whether you have a digital pocket camera or a DSLR, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using it on full auto setting if that is what you’re comfortable with. Contemporary cameras are designed to do the thinking for you and, on the whole, they do a pretty good job. Both of these types of camera usually have a portrait setting as well – also fully automatic. If yours has one, I’d advise using it. This setting is designed to render lovely soft skin-tones, gentle contrast and warm colours.

If you have a Digital SLR and you’re a more advanced user or feeling adventurous, try using the aperture priority (AV) mode. It’s what most portrait photographers shoot in. I’ll delve deeper into this topic in a later post. As a general rule of thumb, wider apertures (that is, smaller f-numbers) are better suited to portraiture as they soften the background and give you a faster shutter speed to capture action.

2: Anticipate the moment. Anticipating a great shot before it happens is half the job done. The moment your child blows out their birthday candles, the split second the bubble bursts, the moment the dog runs through your frame – these are the moments that make dynamic images. Make a habit of charging your camera battery, and keeping the memory card clear so that your camera is always good to go.


Anticipate the moment

Next 3 tips:

  • Keep it simple 
  • Focus on the eyes
  • Don’t force a smile

Memories are made of this.



One of the greatest gifts my father gave me and my siblings was to record our childhood in photographs. Although he had no formal photographic training, Dad had an eye for composition, lighting, and capturing the moment – evident in the above collage, which is a minuscule collection of my favourites. He recorded much of our childhood growing up in South Africa on slide film, shot on his Minolta SLR.

Every once in a while, Dad would haul out the slide trays and put on a slide show for us at home. Far from groaning and rolling our eyes, we looked forward to these occasions – even requested them, especially after we immigrated to Australia. I think you leave a piece of yourself behind when you leave your birthplace, and Dad’s slides helped keep alive our love of the country we had left, and moments we had shared as a family. These images trigger a deeply emotional response in us all.

A photograph is more than just a visual image. It possesses a kind of magic in its capacity to evoke feelings, sounds, smells and even tastes. The picture of my brother eating watermelon, for example, calls to mind so much more than what is visible in the frame. When I look at that image I see the tiny whitewashed cottage on the Cape’s west coast where we spent many summers; the sparse scrubby landscape, the smell of salt and kelp and drying fish. I fall back into the hours and days of unstructured play on the beach that encircled a lagoon so clear that we could see stingrays swimming in the water beneath us; of sitting in Dad’s wooden dinghy with salt crystallising on my eyelashes; of boerwors cooked on coals, fireflies, and a cosy bed to fall into at the end of the day.

While digital photography offers innumerable benefits over film, its one undeniable drawback is that the images we capture seldom escape the confines of our hard drive. When my first child was born, digital photography was in its infancy. It was clunky, expensive and confined to the realms of professional photographers who had no choice but to move with the tide. There was no such thing as smart phones, and the world wide web was another planet, inhabited only by geeks. Hence, my firstborn has two fat photo albums to her name, burgeoning with images that record every event in the first two years of her life.

Since the advent of digital, I could count on my fingers the number of photographs I’ve had printed. The images I’ve captured (and there are thousands of them) remain imprisoned on my hard drive, despite my frequent vows to ‘do something’ with them. As I’m a social media junkie, a number of them make it to Facebook, where they are glimpsed and maybe appreciated for a moment by my friends before they scroll on down their news feeds.

To me, there is nothing that says home like a wall full of eye-catching portraits displayed in simple frames, or even a single enlarged photograph. While the photographic packages I offer cater to popular demand, I know that in offering wholly digital packages I am perpetuating the problem of the unprinted image.

It has made me wonder if I should incorporate a print element into the packages I offer. Not for extra profit, but to illustrate the beauty of the printed image; to give my clients a tangible piece of art,  a little slice of their lives trapped in layers of paper rather than in so many pixels. Or is this simply imposing my preferences on others?

I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂