Art Photography | Orangevale CA

Sometimes a photoshoot doesn't start the way you planned. All it takes is a little creativity, patience, & Photoshop know-how to turn those photos into something that is equally, if not more, beautiful than you originally envisioned.

This past weekend, I had a Mom & Me model call photography session with Anoosheh and her 3 beautiful children. I chose a park in Orangevale CA because this particular park has a meadow in the back with tall grass, a rustic looking trail, and a red barn. Her wardrobe style is boho, and coupled with the tall gold grass that I remembered from this summer, I envisioned carefree looking photos with the sun shining behind them, the breeze brushing their hair against their faces, and a beautiful blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds. 

A mother holding her son who is giving her a kiss with both of her daughters next to her. 

When I arrived to scout the location before our session, I found green grass, muddy areas all over the trail, and an overcast sky.

How in the world did I forget that it's the rainy season? 

I had to revise my vision. There is only so much you can do with an overcast sky, no matter the location of your shoot. The wet grass and soggy areas also restricted some poses on the ground, never mind the poses with Anoosheh carrying her young son, especially after he'd been running around on the muddy trail. Luckily, only part of the sky was covered in grey clouds. The area of the sky where the sun was setting was clear and I used this part of the location as much as I could. The rest of the session, I posed them with the intention of using Photoshop to enhance the final images. In fact, her girls were excited about the idea of having their photos look like they were taken during a summer day instead of a winter afternoon (LOL).

Two sisters child portrait at a park, taken during sunset. 

For the photographs in this post, I used sky overlays from Jackie Jean to add interest to the boring grey sky. After adding the sky to the photo, I changed its mode to Multiply, which makes the sky look more natural on top of the original picture. The trickiest part was blurring it the appropriate amount, based on the original photograph's DOF. I did this by choosing the sky layer, choosing Filter on the tool bar, clicking on Blur, then Gaussian Blur. I chose 2.7 as the radius and clicked okay. I repeated until the sky looked blurry enough to match the background. I then created a mask to brush off excess color from their skin, clothes and foreground.  I initially used a soft brush to take most of the color off, then increased the hardness of the brush before zooming in to brush off the color off of the edges. I didn't want a white editing halo around them, which usually appears if I only use a soft brush to mask off the color.   

 I also added a few of Jessica Drossin's actions to give a golden glow to the photos, sharpen their features, and brighten their skin tones. 

Finally, I added some textures from 2 Lil' Owls. I love how her art textures give textural interest to the edges, especially where this is negative space. 


I am really happy with the way these turned out! It turned out to be a great shoot, and I wound up with some some images that I am looking forward to playing with. 

My plan is to eventually offer Mom & Me Minishoots in the very near future. I am very excited to have a few model shoots for this purpose lined up. However, I do have some spots open if you and your children are interested =)

Contact me if you are interested in this opportunity - or (916) 769-5482

Mother and daughter portrait with a red barn in the background

Claire Toney is a professional natural light photographer located in Northern California. She loves working with children & their moms! Her plan is to offer Mommy and Me Mini Sessions this year - her first minishoots ever! To get first dibs on a spot, subscribe to her newsletter below, or send her a message at claire@clairetoney.