©2014 Resa Design Photography, by Resa TroyerThe yawn. One of my FAVORITE newborn image. I love how it’s a whole body experience for them, and looking at the image brings back so many sweet memories.©2014 Resa Design, LLC by Resa TroyerI shot this session in a WARM home (mom pumped up the heat before I arrived, my suggestion), and in front of a window with great light. I always bring a heating pad and warm up any place I am going to lay the new baby. It really helps them stay asleep and relaxed. Next time I need to remember how warm the house can be, and dress accordingly.

©2014 Resa Design, LLC by Resa TroyerCapturing siblings together can sometimes be tricky depending on who close in age they are. It’s hard to get them to all look at you, and attend to the newborn safely. This time I skipped that and just had them draw their attention to baby brother. Mom was thrilled how this session turned out. A happy client, is the best client :)©2014 Resa Design, LLC by Resa Troyer©2014 Resa Design, LLC by Resa Troyer

©2014 Resa Design, LLC by Resa Troyer

Grandma was at the home taking care of mom and the family when I was there. I asked her if she would like to pose with the baby for a shot or two. She was reluctant, (since she was cooking and not really “ready” for pictures) but I love how these turned out. What special images to have for your children when they are grown. Note to photographers: Consider suggesting grandma, or other special family member be present during a in home lifestyle session. They are a great help with kid wrangling, and you might even be able to get them to step in front of the lens for you too.


©2014 Resa Design PhotographyHere is a look behind getting this shot. It’s not as hard as you might be thinking. You can even do it with your phone!

STEP 1: I laid the blanket out in an area of the yard with even light. This session was purposefully schedule towards the end of the day. I usually allow 2 hours for family sessions. In the fall it’s tricky scheduling them because the later in the fall it gets, the shorter the days get. One year I made a HUGE mistake and forgot about day light savings time and schedule all my sessions after that day at the wrong time. I won’t do that again! NOTE: I faced their chins toward the sun. I did this because I didn’t need their hair lit as much as I wanted their faces lit.

STEP 2: I put the littlest head in the middle. Well relatively in the middle, since there are four kids. Then I planned to put the “biggest” head on the outside, and well I didn’t want the boys and girls together so I staggered them. I wanted the littlest head in the middle so I could get a little bit more angle and pull them closer together by differing the hight a little big. I also didn’t want her head to fall off the side and throw off the proportion of the composition.

HDUGTS_kidsHeads_bSTEP 3: Squish them together. You can see there are a few shoulders overlapping. My goal was to get their heads together as close as possible. This will feel uncomfortable, so if your clients are not into closeness, save the squishy part until the end.

STEP 4: Stepped behind the kids heads. I know! You thought I was right over their bellies right? Tricky, tricky. I was standing behind their heads (see my toes here). Why? 1- no chance of any shadows on their faces. 2- I got them to look a bit more because they almost had to look backwards. 3- it’s more comfortable for the clients, usually, if you aren’t standing “on” them.

©2014 Resa Design PhogotraphySTEP 5: Photograph! I took quite a few pictures in this pose. Them looking right at the camera smiling. Not smiling. And finally I got them to laugh. I’m not sure how, but a fart joke usually does the trick with kids. Also, threatening to tickle can do it sometimes too. Honestly, I usually start with, “Give me your best fake laugh.” If that doesn’t work, I move to the previous suggestions.

HDUGTS_kidsHeads_eSTEP 6: Rotate in editing software and edit as needed. In this case I had to take my toes out of most of the images. I also brightened them up a little bit and applied my favorite filter, all in Lightroom.

©2014 Resa Design Photography HDUGTS_kidsHeads_c

Cheers to happy posing! -Resa


Fixing Teeth in Photoshop by Resa Design Photography ©2013

My beautiful client was just days away from getting braces when we shot her Senior Pictures. I went out on a limb and fixed the one obvious tooth to gently improve her smile. The client was so excited she asked me to do a few more of the photos.

Step by step tutorial on MOVING TEETH in PHOTOSHOP: (I use PS5)

Senior Photography by Resa Troyer ©2013 Resa Design Photography

STEP 1: Lasso the tooth with a feather set at 4.

Photoshop Tooth correction by Resa Design Photography

STEP 2: Copy (CTRL C)

STEP 3: Create new layer. Then Paste (CTRL V).

Tooth_2_transformCTRL T to Free transform. I moved my tooth down into position during this step since it was so high up. You can see the double layer of tooth here. If you need to twist, or adjust your tooth shape in any way, it’s easy to use with the WARP tool.

To use the WARP tool, right-click on your selected shape while it’s in FREE TRANSFORM. (See below) You can then move each point in the grid box until you get the tooth shaped the way you want it.


STEP 4: When you are happy with the tooth position, FLATTEN the image (in layers box). You will still see where your new tooth meets the old tooth at this point. Now it’s time to clean up the gum area, and finish fixing the tooth area. Duplicate the layer and name it Tooth Fix.


STEP 5: You probably want to zoom in nice and close to do the rest of this edit. I jump around between the HEALING BRUSH TOOL, SPOT HEALING TOOL, and CLONE STAMP to get the gum just how I want it. Here is some progress using only the HEALING BRUSH TOOL. I like this tool because I can select the skin really close to where I need to fix it, and it will keep sampling the original area for me. This usually gives me the most natural healing/fix.


While you are editing you can click back and forth between your original image and the layer you are editing on to make sure you are keeping things looking natural and getting the final effect you desire.

STEP 6: I touched up her skin in a few spots on a new layer I named Skin. You can also brighten the teeth if needed using the DODGE tool under 10%.


STEP 7: I have a fantastic portraiture plug-in that is really worth getting if you do a lot of portraits. I erase the effects of the Imagenomic retouching off the hair because it makes it too soft for my taste. Tooth_7_portraitAction

STEP 8: Finally I do a High Pass filter with a radius of about 4. Then change the layer to Overlay or Soft Light and then I adjusted the opacity to 63%. Tooth_8_highPass63p

STEP 9: Flatten entire image and save. Yay! You are an Orthodontist now. Well maybe just in Photoshop, but your client will be thrilled that you’re fees are cheaper than the local orthodontist.

Let me know if you found this tutorial helpful by leaving a comment below.

Happy Editing, Resa


©2013 St. Louis Family Photographer Resa Troyer of Resa DesignAfter you have chosen a photographer, what to wear, and maybe even where to take your photos, you might be wondering what will happen when that day comes.

Here’s what I share with my clients: (I wrote this with some tips from another photographer, whom I can’t remember, sorry I can’t give you proper credit.)

Some things to note about your session:
  • I’ll start by introducing myself to everyone and getting to know the participants a little better. This will help everyone get comfortable, and I’ll get a feel for each person’s personality a little bit.
  • I keep things relaxed. Sometimes kids need some time to warm up. So I’ll just go with the flow and we’ll start with whomever is the most ready. (That said, often the best photos are taken towards the middle of the session when every one is relaxed and warmed up.)
  • I’ll take A LOT of pictures (the benefit of digital photography).
  • If you have small kids, it’s a good idea to bring a non-messy snack, and/or favorite soothing item. There tends to be a lot of moving and pausing during photo shoots.©2013 St. Louis Family Photographer Resa Troyer of Resa Design
  • Small kids are usually not used to being the constant center of attention for such a focused period of time. It’s a good idea to arrive well rested and fed, and know they may be tired or cranky when the shoot is over.
  • Don’t worry about cranky kids, crying babies, spit up, etc. I do this a lot. It comes with the territory. No need to apologize.
  • My photography style, which you hopefully already know, captures people in a natural state. I’m not a portrait photographer, although we will do some posing. Feel free to be yourselves, and relax. Everyone doesn’t need to smile or be looking the same way all the time.
  • You don’t have to be the director! I’ll take charge of the shoot, so you can sit back and enjoy your time in the spot light.
  • I’ll be watching what happens in the lens, so please be sure you keep an eye on your children.
  • If you want any special props in the photos feel free to bring them along. ©2013 St. Louis Family Photographer Resa Troyer of Resa Design
  • If there are any specific poses you want (or know you don’t want) please let me know. You can send me links to images, or just describe them to me. I’ll do my best to accommodate you.
  • The screen on camera’s is not the best view of your photos, so I won’t be using it to show you the images I capture. I will do my best to send you 1 or 2 images in the week following your shoot as a sneak peek if you would like.
  • No gum chewing please.
  • With the exception of shirtless kids, or naked babies, I will not shoot anyone dressed (or undressed) inappropriately.

©2013 St. Louis Family Photographer Resa Troyer of Resa Design

Fall Family Photos by St. Louis photographer Resa Troyer of Resa Design

I began professionally photographing clients over five years ago. What started out as a nearly life long hobby, turned professional the day the first client paid for my service. (Or maybe the second or fifth client?) Since then I have had the privilege of quite a few return clients year after year. I am so grateful for them and the friends they have referred to me.

My tip for getting return clients?

Clients are attracted not only to the photos they receive, but also the experience they have with you when they are in front of the lens.


It’s easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of photography, because there are A LOT of them. The more familiar and practiced you are with your camera and photography in general, the less consuming this part can be. My shoots go downhill (sometimes fast) if I am having equipment or technical problems. So try to nail those out before your paying sessions start. Posing also proves challenging for may new photographers. My advice is to have a game plan. When I started I even wrote it down. I had a list of shots I wanted to get (or the client wanted) in the order I wanted to get them. Sometimes you have to get creative depending on setting or people issues, but this will really help you feel like you have a handle on the session.

Let your personality shine. If you are very reserved, this might be more challenging for you and you might need to dig deep. Sometimes I have to jump around. Sometimes just being silly with little kids will help them warm up. With all children (who can speak) I spend a lot of time asking questions. I also do my best to explain to them when we are doing so they are not so freaked out in front of the camera. For older kids this usually helps take the performance pressure off of them.



Being prepared with a plan for your session will really help with this. Be sure you have scoped out your location in advance and have a plan on where you want to stage your photos. If it’s a public place, I always check the city website to see if there will be any events happening at the time of our session.

When I look at photos of my own family, I don’t just see what’s printed on the paper, I remember the experience. I remember the mood, the weather, the smells, the laughter (and the sometimes fighting). So what I’m really seeing is the whole experience. Your clients do the same thing when they look at the photos you deliver. If they had a good time, felt cared for, had fun, etc.. those feels come back when they see their images. I’m always reminded of this when a client falls in love with an image that didn’t stand out to me. Instantly I realize they are having an emotional connection to that image. A connection I may or may not even understand.


This was the third year in a row I have photographed this family (others here and here). The first year a few of the boys were not so interested in having their photo taken. They were skeptical of me and what was going to happen. This year I am excited to share, even the most unwilling participant smiled and even talked to me! Yay! Patience and time are the best methods for clients like that I think. I anticipate next year’s photo experience being even better.

Leslie2 Leslie4

This weekend I photographed a family session for one of very first paying clients. I looked back at that first session and reflected on what a ride it’s been over all these years. I recoiled as I saw mistakes in composition, lighting, posing, technique… but I was also proud. Proud I stuck with it, even when it was hard. Proud I continue to fight off the internal struggle to be perfect and competitive. Proud I feel like I have found my “voice” as a photographer.

With photography more accessible and popular than ever, I see and hear so many people looking for their style and voice with their camera. I have been there. Trying to emulate what other people do, hoping it will work for me too, or my results will look the same. It reminds me of a child trying to laugh or talk like their parent. It’s funny, because it doesn’t ever fit their face or size. You know right off it’s a copy and not original.

Sometimes this type of process, replication/copying/mimicking/emulating call it what you want, can land you in your own space, with your own voice. When I studied art, our teacher had us copy great works. This process annoyed me at first because I wanted to be an original. Had I been mature enough, I would have seen her plan. Copying the masters taught us technique. Paint doesn’t just land on a canvas, you have to mix it just right, hold the brush a certain way, even pay attention to your posture and breathing. After we copied the work, we used the technique we discovered from the “masters” to create our own works of art “inspired by the masters”. Ah-ha!

I think this is one of the most valuable lessons of my education. While copying outright and calling it your own, is ethically, morally, and legally wrong, it is a great lesson in technique. Just as our parents showed us how to walk by walking ahead of us, each of us has our own stride, sway, stance… My hope is that the same is true in the world of photography.

Photography is art. I see my photography as a way to capture a moment in time. When I am photographing families, I count is a deep honor to capture a moment in their love, their lives together, and their growth as a force of change in their world. I am not just “taking pictures”. I wait for the moment when comfort settles in, when personalities show, when who the subject really is becomes visible. Those are the images that mother’s cling to, that father’s are proud of, those are the images that make me smile.

If you are a photographer trying to find your way. Keep looking. Everything that works for me, will never work for you. You can read a hundred blog posts and books, take classes on technique and posing, have the best equipment available, and still not have a voice. Take what works for you, and keep it. From what doesn’t work, figure out why you don’t like it, and move ahead from there. Soon enough, you will find your place. Now stay there, and grow taller. Get better at what you do. There is room for everyone, because every eye sees life differently.


Need a quick DIY Father’s Day gift? A few years ago I put this together for my husband. I grabbed a chalkboard and the boys and headed out in our yard. They took turns holding the board with the letters WE LOVE DADDY on it. I saved them to a zip drive and headed to Target to do a quick print and find a frame. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. So was dad!

Don’t have a chalkboard? Cut the letters out of colored paper, or cardboard; bend pipe cleaners, or use found letter objects. Possibilities are endless.

Indoor Natural LightIndoor Natural LightA few months ago I got to create these images of two adorable siblings. Sister was not so thrilled with having her photos taken, but we got a few without too many tears. Big Brother was a trooper and totally great in front of the camera.

Taken in the client’s home using natural window light.

How to utilize natural light indoors during cold weather: 1- find the brightest set of windows in the house. (windows act as a great diffuser as long as the light is blasting through) 2- play with the position of your subject. In these photos, i had the clients perpendicular to the windows and I mainly kept my back towards the light source. Because of this, one side of their faces is a little darker than the other. If you don’t like that, turn the subject more straight on with the window.

I love this video tutorial from Photography Concentrate on how to use window light:

If you are like me you have thousands of photos saved on your computer from this year. Looking for something creative to do with them this holiday season? Why not make a photo book?

Tips on creating a photo book you’ll be proud of:

1)  Have a central theme. Maybe it’s “2012” and you do a page for each month. Or what about “Our Adventures” and you include photos from your outings and travels throughout the year. “Smiles”, include the obvious, smiles of your favorite people.

2) Less is more. I personally love books that have a strong and large image on each page, or a single image across two pages (a spread).

3) Sort your photos before your get started. Save them in a folder so they are easy to upload in one action. Trust me, this will save you a lot of time. Aim for 2-3 images x the number of pages you want in your end book.

4) Choose a layout that best matches your images. If you are going to put more than one photo on a page, use layouts that match the content of your photo. Don’t crop out important details. Also, be sure all the photos on the page have a central theme. Even if they are from different events, keeping the photos of the same person will make the page feel more unified and not random.

5) Research printing options. Search for reviews before you start working on your book. Be sure the company you choose meets your needs. Do you want an eBook and a print book? Do you want to be able to print more than one run of your book? Do you want to use your Instagram or Facebook photos? Hard cover? Soft cover?

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Second year in a row I got to photograph this great family in St. Louis.

When kids are not fond of having their photos taken, work with them. The most important thing in these situations is to keep the photo session relaxed. Sometimes kids arrive at the location unsure of what to expect or afraid they won’t “do it right”.

I like to start my sessions just talking to the family, and the kids directly. Ask them questions about school, life, etc. Have them tell you a story. Let them loose up. Investing a few minutes in the beginning will get you better pictures in the end.

After you’ve gotten them relaxed, if you can, consider letting them choose a location to take their photos (or from a few you suggest). Using common objects (aka props) in unexpected ways can ease the experience for those camera-shy kids too.

I always keep this in mind when I am shooting, the goal is not a smile, but capturing the essence of the child in a beautiful way.