The Importance of Storytelling

This is a wonderful guest post by Ashlyn Dawson on the importance of getting to know your clients and creating a unique story for them through your work!


Have you ever heard someone use the term “shoot with the end in mind”? When I first started out on this journey, I didn’t really understand what that meant. My biggest and best selling items are albums. They’re such a beautiful way of showing off your clients images. Although my albums were beautiful and the images within them were beautiful, they were still missing something. A story.  And as I became a more experienced photographer I began to understand how important it was to tell a story with my images. As photographers, it is our job to tell a story with our images.  It’s our job to capture the story of each session and of each family in an intimate and memorable way. If you’re like me, storytelling doesn’t come naturally, but here are some tips that can help you get started!

  1. Get to know your clients — Before each session, I take the time whether in person, via Skype or on the phone, to have a very untraditional consultation. This consultation is less about their session and more about them. I want to get to know my clients and their family prior to their session. What are their interests? What do they like doing together? What makes their family special and unique?
  2. Plan ahead — Closer to the end of my phone consultation I go over what type of story the parents would like to tell. Planning out details such as: where the session will take place, who will be involved, what theme we’ll be focusing on and what props we’ll use all help tie it all together beautifully
  3. It’s all about the angles — When I first started in the photography industry, I shot monotone (if that makes sense), there was nothing unique about my angles etc. Everything was very cookie cutter. As I got more experienced I decided to experiment with different angles and positions, more out of the box. I focused less on getting that “straight on” shot, and focused more on just capturing every little detail in a fun and unique way.
  4. Don’t forget the details — For a lot of my family, child and maternity sessions I use props. Not necessarily something big, but little things that add emotion and intimacy to the session. These items often have some sort of significance or sentimental value to the family. In a recent maternity session we focused on capturing images in the baby’s room while the parents were reading. Mom and Dad simply LOVE reading and are SO looking forward to reading to their little one. Little things like these help to tell the story. There are so many details that can be captured during a session.
  5. Get close — I love shooting with my 85mm lens, not only is it tack sharp but it’s perfect for those up close and personal type images. It perfect for creating more intimate shots. These types of images are a big hit with Mom’s & Dad’s because they’re warm and personal. Not only that, but it adds a little emotion to each of your images.
  6. Be a silent observer — I always tell my clients prior to their session that i’m simply an observer, silently capturing you and your little ones as you all interact and enjoy each other. I do this because I want my clients to look and feel natural in front of the camera, not worrying about smiling and saying cheese. I want there to be a raw and emotional connection in each image. I try and move as much as I can, and will only direct clients as needed. There is nothing worse than an overly intrusive photographer. Give your clients some space let them be themselves, let them be natural and let them have FUN!
  7. Have FUN — I know that sometimes it can be intimidating going into a session. You want to remember to get every shot, every angle and every detail. While those things are very important, I find that many photographers sabotage themselves because that’s all they focus on. You become less personal and more like a drill sergeant than a storyteller. It can also make your clients feel unconnected and distant from you. When your clients feel uncomfortable around you, it shows in their body language and ultimately their images. The remedy? HAVE FUN!!! Take a few minutes to breathe and relax. Be personal, interact and enjoy your clients, their family and the session as a whole. Believe me, your images will come out looking a lot more amazing than you expected.


 My name is Ashlyn Dawson and I’m a newborn photographer in Toronto, Ontario. I love my job and I LOVE getting to know my clients. I take a lot of pride in focusing on giving each of my clients not just great images, but a great experience as well. My photography is fun, untraditional and totally unscripted.  I’m all for making fun and breathtaking memories. I love capturing raw and unscripted moments because ten years from now, when my clients to look back at their images , I want them be totally captivated emotionally by them.

instagram: ashlyndawson

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