Expert Q&A with Lele Fain Photography

We have a great new post today that’s perfect weekend reading, especially if you’re planning to snap a few photos! Our Expert Q&A series continues with an interview with Lele Fain, our wonderful photographer who’s responsible for most of the gorgeous images you see on Mrs. Southern Social (including this darling photo of Georgia and John Albert). I’ve worked with Lele for several years now and love how she’s always able to capture the exact vibe I’m envisioning, where it’s a Christmas card photo or tabletop shoot. Since summer vacation is prime time for family photos, I asked Lele to share some of her top tips for capturing the perfect shots, even with your phone.

If you’re in the Nashville area, Lele is taking bookings now for holiday photo sessions. Here is her website, and you can reach out to her via email: I promise you’ll adore her. And thank you, Lele, for these wonderful tips!

Let’s start with the basics – what are your top tips for taking better photos with our phones?

Find the good light!  Move your subject around until you find the best light. Then, use portrait mode on your phone to take the picture. If you’re up for it there are so many great presets that you can download and use the Adobe Lightroom app to edit the photos for the absolute best results.

What type of camera do you recommend for people who want an upgrade from their phones, but don’t need all the bells and whistles of a professional photographer?

I’m a Canon girl! The Canon Rebel is a great price point and a good place to start. My recommendation is to buy the camera body and get a separate lens. Fixed lenses are my go-to and I would suggest starting with at 50mm.

Best time of day to take photographs?

Golden hour always!! Either an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset will give you the dreamiest light and the best results.

What photo editing software/apps do you recommend? And, what is the most common things to look for when you’re retouching?

Adobe Lightroom is the best editing software, in my opinion (also available as a phone app, mentioned above in question #1). I think it’s pretty user-friendly and if it feels tricky to figure out, search YouTube for Lightroom editing tips. There are so many great resources out there to teach you how to do some basic edits.

For family photos, how do you bribe littles to cooperate? (I feel like we all have those Christmas photo horror stories…the whole “Instagram vs. reality” thing.)

Family photos with littles can be so tricky and we all know kids can be unpredictable. Typically, right after they wake up in the morning (or from a nap) and have eaten works best. Also, if you’re up for bribing, lollipops, trips to Target, ice cream – whatever your kid’s favorite things are! You know them best and will know what works!

What about pets? Worth it to even try to get them into the photo?

Yes! Pets are part of your family. If you have a fairly obedient pet you should definitely include them in your family photos. 

What clothing looks best in family photos? Any colors, styles, or patterns that always photograph nicely? I feel like it’s always tough to pick the right outfits.

I love light-colored neutrals. They’re classic and always look good. For Fall family photos I think deeper colors can look great, but try to stay away from a lot of patterns or anything too matchy-matchy. If you find something you like that has a lot of patterns, use it, but then try to find solid colors for the rest of the family.

When you start planning your outfits for family photos I always suggest starting with mom first and working your way from there. If you look good and feel good you’ll love your photos!

A lot of people now hire a photographer while on vacation to capture family snaps. What should people know about working with a professional photographer and effectively communicating what they want from their photos?

Ask friends (or even Facebook groups) for recommendations on photographers in other areas.  Look up the recommendations on Instagram or Facebook and try to get a feel for their work and make sure it matches your style. Once you book make sure to let your photographer know your expectations. If you’re doing a big extended family shoot it would help if you could send them a list of all the different groupings beforehand.

Dream person to photograph?

Prince William and Kate’s family. Is that too big of a dream!? Ha! I love their style how classic they are.

Favorite Mrs. Southern Social photoshoot to date?

I think I say this every time, but typically whatever was the most recent shoot tends to be my favorite. The Mrs. Southern Social team is incredibly creative, and I love getting to capture the beauty of each shoot we do. 

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