Posts categorized: Tips & Tricks

how to: prep your home for a photo session

It’s no secret that I love photographing in the homes of my families. It’s so much fun to capture you in the place you’ve decorated and lived in and now call home. The backdrop might be a favorite piece of art, or a brand new kitchen, or the tail of the family pet. Any way you slice it, it’s too much fun!

Sometimes it can be intimidating to welcome a photographer into your home knowing that your it will be immortalized forever on film. But that’s the fun part guys! I promise.

Since I don’t do a whole lot of crazy editing, here are a few things that you can do around the house so it looks like the best version of itself.

In Home Photo Session Ideas with Maggie Winters

1. If there’s something you’ve been putting off, like hanging a new print or changing the blankets on the bed, the time is now! If you do it before the photos, you’ll have proof of the awesome. Doublewin.

Creative Offbeat Maternity Family Photography DC
Ideas, In the Shop /

Holiday Gift Catalog :: Custom Photo Gifts Always Win!

Well, somehow we miraculously have power over here, so I’ve been finishing up the holiday gift catalog for 2012! I hope everyone is staying all safe & warm & snuggly at home today :)

If you’re looking for beautiful custom gifts for your parents, grandparents, or spouse–or pretty much anyone–photo gifts are an easy choice. I’ve scoured the internet for the prettiest, most fun, highest quality items to offer this year, and the collection is fairly…awesome.

Photo gift ideas for the holidays

We have crazy cool frames, beautiful gallery wraps, standout displays, fine art prints, custom archival DVDs…you name it!

You can download the catalog here. For the sake of simplicity, I’ve left some sizes, colors, etc. out–if you’d like something specific, get in touch and I’ll see what I can do!

Holiday Photo Gift Catalog

For some new items: I’m offering a 25% sample discount to the first person who purchases a Luxe Frame, Archival DVD, Gallery Wrap, and Standout Display so that I can photograph the items and show them off here on the site. [Photo credit in this post goes to my print vendors.] This is an exclusive discount, probably the only one I’ll offer this season (I try to keep the prices of my items as low as possible so they’re affordable for everyone, but it doesn’t leave a whole lot of space for discounts!). Email me for more details.

Professional Photo Gift Ideas for the Holidays

Resources, Tips & Tricks /

a guide to “just photoshop it”, and why I don’t.

“Well, you can just Photoshop that out, right?”

If I had a nickel…

Let’s be clear. Photoshop is awesome! The things people do with it are crazy. But it has also created a culture where we expect that anything can be “fixed” afterward. Many photographers will remove trash cans, light posts, and other objects from their photos for a fee; I discussed this with another photographer and completely understand why she provides this service. I have taken many awesome photos that are just so much less awesome because of an ill-placed parking meter, or a random dude in the  background.

Washington DC Engagement Photography Session 0918

This shot rocks! And it wouldn’t be nearly as cool without all the random people and signs in the background. It’s the city!

As a lifestyle photographer, though, I feel that it would be dishonest for me to remove objects from photos, airbrush skin, or do a whole lot of “photoshopping”. When clients ask me, “can you just Photoshop that out?” I completely understand why they would request this service. However, my photographs represent truthful emotion, and are a realistic depiction of life today, at the very moment the photo was taken. That parking meter in your photo will be outdated soon enough, and then it’ll represent that time in your life forever.

I never want there to be any doubt about whether I really did take a photo the way it’s displayed, or whether my couples/families do really look that amazing. They do. You guys are awesome!

So when you prepare for a photo session with me, please be prepared to love yourself as you are! If you’d like lipstick in the photos, wear lipstick. If you have a black eye, well, let’s reschedule.

The one exception I make to this rule is for headshots: if you have a huge zit that totally ruins your favorite shot, I will probably remove it for you in one photo, because that’s not how you normally look. If your skin is all sorts of stressed out, we can talk about what to do in the photos. Bad skin happens! But I’m just not the photographer who creates airbrushed, dreamy, flawless photos. I love flaws. They’re what make us humans, not robots.

Though I shoot in color, I love to create black and white and vintage style images. But I will not alter the contents of the photograph, other than to crop it. I believe that life is beautiful exactly the way that it is, and you can be 100% sure that photos you receive from me are not a fake depiction of ideal life, but a beautiful representation of your own real existence.



Washington DC Engagement Photography Session 0918
Ideas, Tips & Tricks /

8 Things To Do This Fall

Since I grew up in the Arlington area, I sometimes feel like I’m in-the-know. Plus, I’m a huge fan of encouraging families to spend quality time together. It’s one of my favorite things about photo sessions! It’s pure hug-&-enjoy-each-other time. But regardless of the photo-ops, spending time together is awesome. Here’s my personal list of favorite things to do in the DC area during the fall season. Yeah, I had to sneak “photo sessions” on there–but it’s the last item–promise!

things to do in dc area for families


1. Claude Moore Colonial Farm 

…has really, really delicious roasted corn. And I’m told they have some sort of good meat food too, but since I’m not a meat eater, I wouldn’t know. I do remember the magical roasted corn though, from when I was a kid–amazing. Plus, they have old-school events like the “tobacco harvest” and “the autumn colonial market fair”. A time before the iPhone!

2. Pumpkin Patches

Ok, so I didn’t get to a whole lot of these as a kid. Now I’m mad, cause they’re all small and not as fun when you’re an adult. There are so many great ones around here–although I wouldn’t know which to recommend. But go, go! Play in the hay!

3. Apple picking

Pick-your-own farms are one of the coolest things ever. The farmers do all the planting and cultivating, and you get to go in when the pickin’s good and get huge barrels of delicious fruits! Berries are a lot of fun, but apples are much less thorn-y, and they make great snacks. And great crisp. I always find farms at, but they’re a bit of a drive. Still, it’s a great day of fun and a really affordable way to get produce!

ideas for your family photo session

4. Pumpkin Bagels

As you may know if you’ve ever talked to me during the fall, well, I’m a little nuts for pumpkin stuff. Especially bagels–and I’m about to let you in on a great Arlington secret–Chesapeake Bagel Bakery has the best pumpkin bagels ever. They usually start carrying them in September, through Thanksgiving-ish, at which point I go in and buy the last dozen and cackle because I have so much pumpkin greatness in my belly!

5. Making Apple Cider Wine

This one’s definitely for the adults. But maybe the kids can help make the wine–my partner swears he learned how to make beer in elementary school, and it inspired him to love science. If you go apple picking, they usually have huge gallons of cider for sale, which makes a great starter for the wine. And…if you’d really like a recipe for a delicious batch of fall yumminess, shoot me an email and I’ll have Steven write his down for ya. It’s delicious.

6. Baking & Cocoa

Fall is awesome because it’s no longer too hot to use the oven! Plus, the awesomeness that is Pinterest makes finding recipes a cinch (my list of awesome recipes is here). A day in, baking, drinking cocoa, and watching movies with the family is so much more magical while watching the leaves fall…bringing me to the next item:

7. Leaf Piles!

An awesome way to get the whole family involved in the dreaded leaf-raking: leaf piles! Jump! Play! It’s fall!

8. Fall Family Photos

The fall is my favorite time for photo sessions. The leaves are bright and warm, and everything feels magical. At a pumpkin patch, Claude Moore, or even a Sunday leaf-raking, cookie-making party–fall photos rock. Plus, talk about being ahead of the game for holiday cards! I’ll be uploading to TinyPrints again this year, so if you’d like to use photos from our session for your Festivus (or other choice of holiday) cards, easy peasy, just let me know!

 Do you have favorite Fall things to do in the DC area? Share the awesome & comment below!

fall family photography ideas in arlington virginia
Tips & Tricks /

Choosing a wedding venue that will shine in photos

Hey guys! This is a new category of posts, where I try to answer all the questions I’ve been asked about photography. I figure that I have all this wedding & portrait photography knowledge up top, and it couldn’t hurt to share! Seriously, I have too many thoughts. 

So I’m going to start writing tips & tricks posts here and there. If you have questions about photography that you’d like me to answer, shoot me a quick email or ask me on twitter

There are tons of things to think about when choosing a wedding venue. But as a photographer, I have some little-heard advice of my own: how to make sure your photos will look beautiful at your chosen venue.

Lighting is the singular most important factor in having great wedding photos. I’ve photographed weddings at awesome venues with terrible lighting, and at venues that were cool, but the light quality made them awesome. I specialize in natural light photography, so I prefer to photograph outdoors and at venues with lots of natural light.

A few months ago we had a wedding at the Atrium at Meadowlark (Nyssa and Brian I’m lookin at you guys!). Upon researching, it looked beautiful, but no different than any other outdoor nature venue. But! When we arrived, we saw that the lighting was gorgeous. Check it out:

Advice on choosing a wedding venue in washington dc



Nyssa and Brian’s wedding photos turned out beautifully because of the lighting, and of course because they are awesome!

Backdrop Another thing to consider is what will you get married in front of? Few people think about this in advance (Nyssa and Brian did–her dad created that gorgeous white wood arch for their wedding!), but the backdrop has a huge effect on what your ceremony photos will look like. Check out this amazing backdrop by Fresh in Love Photography that I found on 100 Layer Cake:


Wedding venue ideas - DIY streamer backdrop



























Imagine how much different this shot would look without the backdrop! It’s so beautiful and bright and colorful. Amazing. (A tip: ask your officiant to stand out of the way when they announce you as married, so that the photo is just the two of you!)

The reception area is also really important–lots of great venues have boring ol’ white tents. And if they’re decorated nicely, they can be great backdrops (and light reflectors). But for a kick-you-in-the-face-awesome tent, check this one out. Every single photo is whimsical, circus-y, and festive. The ceremony looks crazy awesome, and the reception does too!

Photo by Cameron Ingalls, found on Green Wedding Shoes


Of course, the degree to which you consider this advice will depend on your personal priorities for your wedding. These are just some thoughts that I’ve come up with after shooting lots of different venues. And also, super jealous of that big top circus tent.


Advice on choosing a wedding venue in washington dc
Tips & Tricks /

tips & tricks for lifestyle newborn photography

Hey guys! This is a new category of posts, where I try to answer all the questions I’ve been asked about photography. I figure that I have all this wedding & portrait photography knowledge up top, and it couldn’t hurt to share! Seriously, I have too many thoughts. 

So I’m going to start writing tips & tricks posts here and there. If you have questions about photography that you’d like me to answer, shoot me a quick email or ask me on Facebook

Newborn photography is awesome. And I don’t just mean awesome in the, “This-is-so-cool” sense. I mean, they are awesome in the, “Wow, I can’t believe those people just created a new person” sense. There’s such a magical feeling to newborn portraits, and it makes them completely different from other family portraits in many ways.

So here are some tips for newborn lifestyle portraiture!

Newborn portrait photography by Maggie Winters 001


There is no right way to have a newborn lifestyle session. Lifestyle portraits are all about you, and your personal version of “normal”. So, if you’d like to serenade your little one on the kazoo, or read books, or take a nap, or a walk around the neighborhood–all will be great for the photos. Well, the napping probably not so much. But sessions are pretty short, so you can nap afterwards :)

I have an idea of the photos I’ll take during a newborn session, so you don’t have to make a ten-item list, but if there’s anything you would specifically like, let me know.

Know what you want as far as a general idea of photos. If there are special family heirlooms you’d like to include, put them aside ahead of time. If you’d like photos of baby in any specific place, jot down a little list somewhere. Those first few weeks of being a parent are really crazy, hectic, and unpredictable (I’m told), so if you write a couple things down to remember at the session, it’ll be that much easier for us to take all the photos you not-so-secretly hoped for.

Newborn photography lifestyle portraiture 002


Siblings are great for newborn photos. Human or animal siblings!

Lots of outfits are a good idea. We usually use 2-4 outfits, depending on how agreeable your little one is during the session and how many you’d like to use. Since most newborn portraits are taken indoors at your home, a plain white/light colored onesie can be a nice neutral outfit. It’s generally ideal to have a plain outfit, maybe one with a bold pattern or two, and one goofy/funny outfit, depending on your personal taste.

Visitors tend to come often when you have a newborn baby, but the most relaxed newborn sessions are those with just your photographer, you (and your partner & siblings), and the baby. If grandparents would like to be included, I suggest they arrive about 45 minutes into the session. Sessions usually last about an hour, so that leaves a few minutes to take some photos with the grandparents, without the stress of additional people during the session.

And have a really, really good time! Lifestyle sessions are all about you, so you’ll be in the photos, and if you’re having a great time it’ll definitely be reflected. Even if the baby cries the whole time, we’ll still get great shots! I have literally had a baby scream for 80% of her newborn session, and the photos are some of the best newborn photos I’ve taken to date.

As always, if you have any questions about your newborn session, outfits, lighting–anything–give me a call or email!


Tips & Tricks /

How to Prepare for Awesome Bridal Party Portraits & Family Formals

Hey guys! This is a new category of posts, where I try to answer all the questions I’ve been asked about photography. I figure that I have all this wedding & portrait photography knowledge up top, and it couldn’t hurt to share! Seriously, I have too many thoughts. 

So I’m going to start writing tips & tricks posts here and there. If you have questions about photography that you’d like me to answer, shoot me a quick email or ask me on twitter

Wedding photography bridal party portrait ideas
Wedding photography bridal party portrait ideas
Ideas, Slice of My Life /

oh yeah, headshots can be creative too / turning the camera on myself.

So I really hate having my photograph taken. Really. A lot.

But I thought it would be kind of interesting to have my own creative headshots taken and see what it feels like to turn the camera on myself. Plus, it’s not exactly professional for a photographer to have an iPhone photo of herself on her website.

Enter my partner, Steven, with my camera in hand and my car key in the other.

05 Washington DC Creative Headshot photography