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Giving Something Back- Family Photo Session from The Blue Mountains Bush Fires 2013

I recently shared a post about tips and tricks for family portraiture. Our cover image was a laughing family with Mum centre stage. This image has received a huge amount of likes and shares on social media and we want to tell you the story behind it. It is a very special image, from a very special session and I wanted to share a little more about it.

A few years ago up in the Blue Mountains, there were terrible bushfires. Every so often the fires come through, but 2013 was the worth in a long time. Whole suburbs were wiped out with residents being given only enough time to save themselves. House was lost, lives destroyed and everything changed.

I’m originally a mountains girl born and bred and so many people I knew had been devastated by these fires. It was heartbreaking. I wanted to do something, help somehow and give what I could to the residents who were now at a loss.

There were drives to organize shelter, food, clothing and homewares for families. These drives were all organized by locals for their communities and did amazingly. But something that no one could replace, were the lost family portraits. No one could bring back those family albums of childhood and weddings, of momentous occasions or loved ones, which have now past.

But – I could help families start building new portraits and family photos. So I offered free family portrait sessions to anyone who had lost their homes in the fires.

Corrine contacted me and we set up a session for her parents to include the kids and parents and start a new family album. It was one of the most fun, uplifting and silliest sessions I have ever (still to this date) had. We all laughed, shared, connected and captured real times for them to keep forever. This is what family photography is all about and why I do what I do. Being able to give something back to these family, made things even more amazing. And since then Corrine and her family have become valued friends! Thank you guys for trusting me to share those moments with you and I always look forward to more time with you all!


Loud and Luminous Exhibition.

I’m up early this morning, feeling the morning sun streaming through my studio window. Its warm and bright and is the perfect way to start the day. My coffee is fragrant beside me and birdsong sounds flow from my garden. I am fortunate. This life I have carved for myself is one of beauty and love and while I have worked hard to get here, I know I have not had as many struggles as some.

Recently I was invited to participate in a photography project and exhibition call Loud and Luminous. This project had been developed by Hilary Wardhaugh and Mel Anderson, two highly respected photographic artists of Australia. To be invited meant sharing the concept and space with 55 other amazing women. The show was to celebrate the women in our industry and recognize the contribution of contemporary women in the photographic arts of Australia. How even through adversity we are here, we are loud and we are luminous.

I had been rolling around a concept shoot for a while, but never quite felt it was ready to shoot. I could see, I had my models ready but I could not yet actually feel it. I was waiting for something I didn’t know what yet. When I was invited by Hilary to join Loud and Luminous I knew it was the right time to develop this concept.

Hear No, See No is a visual representation of what it can feel like to live with Post Natal Depression. At the time my daughter was born, I never even considered the possibility my feelings of the time came close to what PND was. I had friends who were truly struggling with this and my own situation was nothing, I felt compared to how they were living. But 12 years on, I can look form a different perspective, and I understand I did struggle. I did isolate myself and I did shut everything out for a time. I’ve realized, that so many mothers (and fathers too) are silently struggling and suffering trying to make sense of this altered world around them.

This image, the first in the series, shows a mother closed off from the world around her. Headphones, and eye mask, a blank expression. Her baby cries, her toddler is making a mess, her house untidy and her husband glaring as he leaves the scene. This image is blunt. You don’t have to guess the narrative, you are not unsure of what is going on. Its right out there to see. As the viewer, it is in your face and disconcerting. And this is the point of this series. So often PND is hidden away behind closed doors and families pretend like it doesn’t even exist. My series is to bring it out into the open more, create unease, spark conversation and followed up by action.

We all struggle at times. And we all instinctively recognize the struggle in others.Let’ss talk about it, share it, help each other through it.

Being a part of the Loud and Luminous project has given my series a start. I am so very grateful to have been heard and counted amongst so many amazingly talented women. To share the exhibition with them is something I will never forget. I am sending my utmost thanks to both Hilary and Mel for organizing, and curating not only the exhibition but also the symposium, which accompanied the show. It has been a mammoth effort and an incredible result. It really does show we really are a powerful force when we come together and we should focus on strengthening that and getting our voices out to the world.

  • Danielle

Loud and Luminous Exhibition. Images supplied by Hilary Wardhaugh.

PS: Loud and Luminous is showing at Brunswick St Gallery, Fitzroy, until March 13th.

And you should definitely check it out. It is amazing to see everyone’s works in print within that space. Once the show is finished these works return to their home and may never be exhibited together again. If you miss the exhibition, make sure to check out the website: https://www.loudandluminous.com.au/

PPS: The incredible Momento Pro have worked with Hilary and Mel to create a book of the show which will last longer than the exhibition. This book contains all the information about the Loud and Luminous project, all the works and artist statements and where to find us all. You can view and purchase the book here: https://www.loudandluminous.com.au/buy-the-book

Please note: Here No, See No is my own image submitted to the exhibition. Images taken of Loud and Luminous exhibition and opening have been provided and reproduced with permission from Hilary Wardhaugh. Please do not copy without written permission of the photographer.

Help us help you: Ways to help your Professional Wedding Photography Run as Smooth as Possible

Wedding photography newcastle nsw hunter valley married natural lights photography

Advice for your wedding Day- 8 ways to help your professional wedding photography run as smoothly as possible.

Being a professional wedding photographer has taught me many, many things over the years. There are things I know now which I have no idea how I managed without in the early days! Things, which I have learned through trial and error and repeat, through the hundreds of weddings I have had the honour to share.

I have had a think about what I feel are the most important and created a list for all brides. My clients have all been wonderful, beautiful people, but are only doing this once! As are all my future brides! Hopefully, these tips and tricks will come in handy when preparing for your big day!

1: Wedding photographers often act as your unofficial wedding planner

No one will know your schedule as well as your wedding photographer. We are the only ones who are there for the entirety of your day – from your preparation in the morning often until the DJs the last song that night. The best thing here is to ask questions on both sides! Share details, time, thoughts and changes as soon as possible with your photographer. Your photographer will help you create an accurate timeline for the day ensuring you have time for everything, which needs to happen. They can coordinate with venues, florists; make up artists, celebrants and other suppliers. This helps the day run smoothly. Communicate who your other suppliers are. Discuss timing for other suppliers; ask about the best colours, flowers, and hairstyles that suit your theme. Your photographer will know all this and more!

The more details we share with you about your day, the more prepared we are on the day to ensure it runs like clockwork!

2: Allow additional time

This is a big one! As a rule, weddings generally run over time at various points throughout the day. Don’t stress, it happens. If you happen to be over right for the start, this can set the tone for a rushed day all the way through. Allowing extra time for each stage gives you the security in case of a delay. And if no delay – it allows you a chance to gather yourself before the next part of the day.

Typically preparation runs over with hair and make up taking longer than expected. This is due to the excitement of the day, lots of extra things going one, the bridesmaids required to attend to things instead of finishing their make up in one session and another number of things! It is best to allow 2 hours before you leave for your ceremony where your hair and make up will be finished. You will have plenty of time then if it goes over and still dress and have your bridal portraits captured.

Another area to leave extra time is after the ceremony – a half-hour for congratulations and guest/family photos – and in location. Location is a time for your bridal party and along with the photos, you want a chance to breathe and spend some quiet time with your husband! Having an hour and a half (without travel and depending on the size of your bridal party) will give you the breather you will certainly need by then!

3: Be aware of light times

When planning your wedding, have a talk with us about timing for the best light. Eg- if you are planning a winter wedding – don’t plan a 5 pm ceremony – it will be dark before you even say your vows! You want to aim for enough time to optimize the light. If you want sunset images, you want to plan your location shots to be almost finished by sunset with only those images to take – or plan to come outside from your reception for a half hour to capture sunset images after your official entrance. If you are having an outdoor ceremony midday sun is very harsh, both in photos but also for yourselves and your guests. Have a look where the light will fall in the afternoon compared to the direction of your ceremony. At Natural Lights Photography we can advise you and work with the many different lighting conditions the day can through at us. We know whats best and how we can make your day look magic, no matter the time of day or the weather!


4: Clean and organize your preparation space

If possible, choose the largest room you have access to and de-clutter it of all the little bits and pieces. For your own sake and that of your photos, it’s best to have a nice, clean open room to work with. This room then should only contain what you need for the wedding day. Dresses, shoes, jewellery, veil, perfume, mementoes, bouquets etc. This will make getting dressed easier, the chance of miss placing anything less and provide a good space us to work in. Try to ensure everyone you want in your preparation photos is there and ready at the same time as you so they don’t miss out. We do also have a tendency to move stuff around, don’t be afraid, we will put it back. It’s our own way of being creative and working to make the space look the best for you.

5: Eliminate multiple locations for photos

Between your ceremony and reception, you only have a limited amount of time and you don’t want to spend this in the car or stuck in traffic between places! It is best to stick with two locations at most and try to keep these within a short driving distance. We will have a list of the best photo location near to your ceremony or reception location. Have a talk us about your ideas and theme and then visit the locations suggested if unsure.


6: Have a well-prepared emergency kit

Essential! Make sure to pack a small bag containing all the emergency items you may need (We will have one too, just in case). Pack things such as panadol, band-aids, bobby pins, small hair spray, deodorant, lip gloss/lipstick, make up wipes, tissues, small sewing kit, mints (not gum), a pair of flat shoes, pads/tampons, and anything else you feel you might need. It’s also a good place for phones to be kept so your bridal party are not worried about these on the day. Nominate one bridesmaid to look after this. We often help look after this to while out and about, were used to it!

7: Finalize your run sheet for your reception with your photographer

Each venue will have their preferred way of doing things, but always discuss this with your us. We like to run things to ensure the night goes as smoothly and flows from start to finish. We need to know this order to make sure we aren’t in the bathroom when the speeches are due to start! We can help with the order if you want to change things or have additional aspects to add. (On a side note here- there should be no surprise a photographer does not know about! I can promise you we will keep it a secret.

8: Relax and trust your vendors!

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This is one day of your life you will never forget! All the suppliers you have chosen are professionals and operate in the wedding industry all the time. We understand the importance and the value of ensuring the day is perfect! As long as you communicate, we can work together to ensure it happens all the way through. This is what we do – so don’t worry about us and enjoy your amazing day!!

There you have it! There are hundreds of pearls of wisdom I could pass on but Im sure this is long enough for now! Rest assured I go through them all with each one of our Natural Lights brides!!! If there is anything else you can think of, I would love to hear it in the comments! Im always looking for more useful advice I can pass along to my lovely brides!!! I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Much love,

Danielle xx

WINNER-Top 100 Australian Photography Blogs with Natural Lights Photography!

Top 100 Photography blogs in Australia. Wedding photography by Natural Lights photography

Yes, I’m blogging about a blog!!

Such a surprise to find out that we have been selected in the top 100 Australian Photography blogs to follow. From all genres, wedding, newborn, family, commercial and from all over Australia! We haven’t been blogging too long on our new website so its super encouraging to get this award and we are very proud!

“CONGRATULATIONS to every blogger that has made this Top Australian Photography Blogs list! This is the most comprehensive list of best Australian Photography blogs on the internet and I’m honoured to have you as part of this! I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world.”

The top ranking blog are based on the following criteria; Google reputation and Google search ranking, Influence and popularity on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, Quality and consistency of posts andFeedspot’s editorial team and expert review. We are a small wedding and portrait photography business operating out of Newcastle but we are so honoured to be top 100 out of so many other competitors.

A huge Thank you to Feedspot.com! Check out the other winners head to Top 100 Australia Photography Blogs!

To see more of our blogs you can sign up for our emails just bellow. We send them out regularly and they are loaded with helpful information for your wedding day or even your portrait session with us!

Making the most of your Professional Family Photography Sessions.

family hunter valley, newcastle, nsw, photography portraits

Blog Posts by Natural Lights Photography- Making the most of your Professional Family Photography Session in the Hunter Valley & Newcastle area.

Professional family photography is a wonderful annual event for your family. A chance to come together in a beautiful location and have moments captured with you all present together as a family! So often its images of the kids, or one parent while the other takes the photos – or of cause the awkward selfies trying to have arms long enough to fit everyone in!

So a professional family session is something special, something fun, something that adds to your memories to come.

Being a special occasion I’m sure you want to make the most of it and ensure you do all you can to work with your portrait photographer for the perfect outcome.

Below are a few things we share with our clients on helping to make your session with Natural Lights Photography the best it can be:

family hunter valley, newcastle, nsw, photography portraits

1: Timing

When talking with your photographer beforehand really think about the timing. Your photographer will have suggestions for lighting and availability, and keep in mind your kid’s nap times, moods, when they operate best. It might be first thing in the morning or more of an afternoon. Happy kids will make for the best most relaxed images.

2: Clothing

Clothing choice is very important. Have a discussion with your photographer about what you would like and any suggestions they may have for the location and any session themes. Things to keep in mind are: Keep it Simple! Stay away from big logos and bold patterns, add some variety in with colour choices (so not everyone is white top and jeans, but add some navy or grey) work with coordinating colours with highlights. If your theme is more elegant and styles, go with flowing outfits and pastel colours. Adding some personal elements which match – such as a scarf or hat etc – makes for even more personal images. The most important thing to remember is your clothing must be comfortable. Comfortable clothing means you won’t be worrying so much about the outfits and more about enjoying the moments.

3: Location

Most photographers have locations which they can recommend to suit any look and feel you would like for your family photography. You want to have a think about this to ensure you and your family are most comfortable during the session. Are you a beach family? Or park? More woodland/bush settings. Are you a studio or indoor people? Do you have a furry friend you would like to include? What do you go with them?

Each photographer will be able to suggest the ideal locations based on your families personalities and how you want your images to look and feel. Around Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, there are some stunning locations we can take you to. Whether you are local or not, we know the area and can suggest some beautiful and unique spots.

4: Be rested, well fed and leave plenty of time

When preparing for your family session, its best to ensure everyone is well rested, well fed and not rushed to get ready. The whole experience from start to finish should be fun and enjoyable. This starts at home while getting ready. Kids will lose interest fast if tired or hungry. It is best to avoid snacks at the session as eating images will never make for good images. If kids are full up they are usually raring to go and be involved. Leaving plenty of time will also ensure everyone is excited by the time you arrive on location, not cross or upset because of last-minute rushing to find shoes. Ensuring you have plenty of time also ensures you will have full time with your photographer for your session in the most relaxed way.

5: Everyone is excited participants

Sometimes with dad or older siblings, the idea of a family photo session is less than exciting. For these family members, you want to ask them to be cheerful, happy and excited. Join in and enjoy the moment for what it is. Be present and participate willingly to ensure it’s the best outcome for the whole family. It is so important that when looking back on these images you remember a good time spent together enjoying each others company. These types of images are what is left when children grow and move out, when family members pass on and when new ones are born. You want this legacy to be a true moment of your family, not one of dread or forced participation.

family hunter valley, newcastle, nsw, photography portraits

6: Leave the ‘cheese’ at home

Often, and always with good intention do I have parents yelling cheese at their kids. Now while cheese indeed will show teeth, it won’t show real smiles. These images look unnatural and forced. Forget about the cheese! Forget about the way you think you should have your kids be and just be. Talk to your kids, laugh with them, engage and interact. Let your photographer worry about capturing the best moments- don’t try and force them! You will see the resulting images are fun and much more real than any cheese.

7: Not everyone has to be smiling and looking at the camera all the time

Some of the best images have no one looking at the camera. These are the moments when you are interacting with each other. When you are being yourselves not worried about the camera looking at you. These moments are beautiful and real. Of cause there will always be images where you are looking and all smiling at the camera – we know that grandparents really love these ones! But don’t be worried to relax more and let the other natural images come into the session as well. These are the ones you will love the most – these are the images which most reflect you and your family connections.

8: Bring an activity to do together

The most successful family portraits have some kind of activity which you can all do together. Are you a family who like sports? Kick the ball around? Do you go on picnics? Do you read together? Play board games? Are you a family who go for ice cream? Do you swim or surf? Or bike ride? Any of these activities and many others can be incorporated into your session. These are activities you do together as a family and really show the love and connections between you.

10: Have fun

Last but certainly not least is HAVE FUN! Your family photography sessions are about coming together as a family and enjoying yourselves. Your photographer is there to capture real moments of your family. It’s a day out, a fun out of the routine activity to all get something out of. In years to come, you will look back and remember who much you laughed together and how little the kids were then. It about creating memories, not forcing a chore on everyone. So enjoy it, have fun and be present in the moment!

I hope this helps when planning for your next family portrait session! I look forward to photographing you again soon!

– Danielle

Danielle was an absolute delight to work with and the images speak for themselves. She shot in a natural, casual way (exactly what we wanted). My guests barely knew she was there. Such a pro!

Kim - March 2017

The Natural Lights Photography team are highly talented photographers with great energy and a real creative flare. They have photographed both my pre wedding shoot and wedding, my photos are incredible and I would highly recommend them as they are a pleasure to work with and they make the whole Experience enjoyable. My husband and I loved having them shoot for us and I look forward to using Natural Light’s plenty in the future

Samantha and Ron 2015

I wouldn’t chose anyone but Natural Lights Photography for my photos. I think the results speak for themselves but they make the whole experience fun and easy going with no awquardness about being in front of the camera. There dedication to the art and work is admirable and definitely something you don’t see I everyone. Weather it is family portraits, wedding portraits or anything in-between. I can’t recommend them enough. Awesome people and awesome photographers!

The Bartlett Family 2015

Danielle is easy to work with, great laughs and takes amazing photos! Would recommend her to anyone wanting beautiful photos that capture the moment perfectly.

Murielle Sassine 2015

In 2011 Danielle photographed my cousins wedding and the pictures were amazing! Last week she photographed my 8 week daughter. She had a hard morning with my squirming VERY awake and "not having anything to do with it" baby and the pictures are incredible! If you're looking for a great photographer, Danielle is your lady! Thankyou so much!

Katrina Nov 2015

Natural Lights photography recently covered our wedding. From start to finish they were complete professionals. The direction, the ability to capture the right moments and there friendly nature made the whole experience unforgettable. We knew the prints would be amazing but we were still blown away with the results. Couldn’t recommend more highly! We’re are so happy we chose them!

Kathryn and Matthew 2015