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Guest Contributor | Michelle Morris of Michelle L. Morris Photography

Wikipedia defines the word “story” as a recounting of a sequence of events. An additional variation of the same word is defined by Webster as an account of past events in someone’s life. The official definition for the compound word, “storytelling” is defined by Wikipedia as conveying the events in words, and images, often by improvisation or embellishment. The National Storytelling Network (yes, this does exist) gives perhaps the most compelling explanation of “storytelling” by stating that it is an ancient art and a valuable form of human expression. I could not agree more. Both with the opinion that storytelling is an ancient art of human expression as well as the statement that stories are often improvised and embellished.

Photography is, in my opinion, the most brilliant way to tell a story; the most fascinating way to intimately learn how another sees the world; and undeniably the chief method of memory preservation currently available to us all.

I am a firm believer, participator and encourager in the digital world and all that it encompasses. I am genuinely stupefied at technology (in general) as well as the speedy rate at which it progresses. It’s fascinating what our tiny smartphones can accomplish and it is nearly unimaginable to me that I can call anyone and see them as I speak to them. Now I’m only 32, but these ever growing and ever changing technological advances have me simply enamored. All of this to say, the digital world is here and it is certainly not going anywhere. Not only in my personal life, but also in my portrait business, I try to keep my feet firmly planted in this reality.

The convenience, user-friendliness and myraid of helpful applications makes taking iPhone pictures just about child’s play. I always have my iPhone handy, essentially on-the-draw, to capture snippets of time with my three boys and my husband. I try to keep in mind when shooting basic portraits with my handy iPhone that I am telling a story. Mostly to my older self that will likely forget the details of said moment or, in fact, the moment/memory all together. Sad reality of age, life and forgetful minds, but true nonetheless. I don’t want a collection of just my kiddos face filling the frame, or likewise a collection of pull back shots. I want to look at each captured memory as a whole experience I am able to relive and enjoy time after time.

Remembering a couple basic principles helps me maintain a level of thoughtful shooting in my everyday iPhone capturing festivities. And, allow me to pause to state the insanely obvious. These helpful tips on capturing the entire moment clearly apply to any camera… the fancy expensive kind, the heavy and cumbersome kind, the film kind, the iPad kind, etc. This article is simply about how I negotiate these tips into my personal style of iPhone-ography.

1. Life is 360°

Life is happening all around you, above you and under you. Capture the moment from multiple vantage points. Stand up and shoot. Sit or lay down to take your shot. Find objects and/or people you can use to frame your shot – they are part of the experience as well. Move around. Never get too comfortable in any one position. Stand on something close by to get an arial perspective. Capture the same moment from multiple places. In front, behind, from the side, etc. Involve as many elements as you can from the moment you are trying to capture. Everything around you is part of this one moment in time. Try to actively remember this with the camera in your hand.

For the purpose of illustration, I have included five images from our recent day at the beach. These were all taken within minutes of one another. This small collection of images tells me a story of the day our family spent at the beach during the winter. Some of these were shot laying in the cold sand and others were taken on my tippy toes trying to achieve just the right composition. I captured the sky above, the sand below and the boys playing in the midst of it all. Not only does this collection of images tell a full and complete story but it also keeps me from being bored with the same repetitive composition and point of view. I can live the moment more fully with the elements from above and below and in-between.

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset Processed with VSCOcam Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

2. Value the Details

I wholeheartedly agree with the profound quote from Charles Eames, “The details are not the design. They make the design.” My personal interpretation of this is simple. Without all of the little details of a moment, the moment does not exist. The second set of images I have included are from a simple afternoon with my sons in our backyard. I have shots from various perspectives and I was able to capture all three in the frame as well as some of the boys alone, broadcasting their independence on the slide. They were playing well as a cohesive unit, sharing the swings, taking turns on the slide and fighting bad guys. The plan of attack for the enemies was scribbled out on the board in the fort and the best (and loudest) gun ever was safely stored in the underground bunker. It was important for me to capture these seemingly little, but very important details. They are part of the story. All the images work together as a group.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Untitled-2 Untitled-1

When shooting to preserve a story think about the less obvious items, people and scenery that might be worthy of your attention. The details will surely help you complete the memory in its entirety.


How do I apply this to iPhoneography? My professional career is less about capturing the story and more about providing beautiful imagery for my clients that emulate their child’s personality. Do I hope to showcase a “story” with each full set of images I release to my clients? Of course, and this is usually the case. However, my primary goal in shooting professionally is not to tell a story, but rather to capture the love between individuals and inside little children. The “story” is the subset of my goals and/or the inadvertent result of my shooting style. But it is not readily on my mind to capture the story as it is the case with my iPhoneography. The iPhone exists in my life primarily for me to preserve the daily with these boys and this man I love.

Speaking of details, let me share how these 10 images were edited. All images were shot with the iPhone camera. If I ever use another app to physically “take” the picture, I use the Camera+ app built in camera. I love the horizon line feature inside Camera+ because I shoot a lot at the beach and locations with obvious horizon lines. My preference is to always have a totally straight horizon line. You can turn on the horizon line feature inside Camera+ simply by clicking the menu icon at the bottom right. You also have choices inside Camera+ like a visible grid, manual settings and the option to allow your volume key to function as your shutter button. This, my friends, changed my world. You can do the same using the iPhone camera.

After I shot the photos, I took the images I knew I wanted BW into Camera+ editing filters and applied the Ansel effect (found in the retro section of Camera+). This gives a pretty substantial contrast and is usually good for images shot in high sun or images with lots of light. I rarely use the Ansel filter on low lit or indoor shots. All beach shots included in this article were edited with the Camera+ Ansel filter and then “finished” with the VSCO Cam app at a “fade” of +4. This means that I did not apply an actual VSCO filter… I just used the “fade” option and brought it to a level +4. After you explore the application yourself, I’m sure all of this will fall right into place for you!

The color images included in this article were all edited with exclusively the VSCO Cam app and filter G3 to the fullest opacity available.


Michelle is a full time professional child and family photographer. Her work has been published in print over 30 times and her imagery has appeared in more than 10 magazines, including editorial pieces as well as covers. Michelle has been married to her high school sweetheart for 11 years and they have three small boys. Her newest business venture, the unPacked Catalogue, is a 130+ page e-book detailing the success of her non-traditional school photography – available to photographers online. 

Website | Unpacked Website | Facebook





Chic Critique is so excited  to have Brooke Davis of Blush Photography be one of our March Celebrity Photographers.

brookedavis-bioScreen shot 2013-02-26 at 10.26.46 PM

Sign up to get your images critiqued by Brooke Davis this March.   Only 9 Spots Left!

Brooke is a lover of raw emotion and believes there is nothing more magical than everyday understated beauty. She is mostly known for her love of unique lighting, use of shadows and ability to sweep you away in a emotion drenched image. Along with being a full time wedding photographer Brooke has been successfully teaching workshops in the united states as well as the UK. Brookes work has been featured countless times on national and world wide blogs and was recently interviewed for Photo professional magazine on her Non wedding that really shook up the industry. Being honest to herself and always craving something new keeps Brookes work fresh and exciting.


Do you edit mostly in Photoshop or Lightroom?



We all need to train our eye to naturally compose a shot and then master it further so it becomes more than just a good image, but transforms to the kind of image that burns itself into your memory.


What camera do you use? Favorite lens?
Nikon D800 35 mm 1.4


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I rarely shoot from below, its never a flattering angle and if your clients don’t love how they look in the image, it doesn’t matter how amazing the setting was.

What 3 words would you use to describe your style?
Honest, moody and passionate.

A lot of myself is left in my work, where I am in life, my goals and experiences. But I would say music is my biggest inspiration.


I want my children to have memories worth keeping when they are older, I am always trying to create little adventures for us to go on. I work at night so I can spend as much time during the day with them.


Try to not let props be the branding of your style, it should be the subjects and their story. If you have props it should belong to the client and important to the storytelling process for the shoot. That way its something they cherish and it will never fall in the trend category.


Letting go of heavy Photoshop. I was spending so much time away from my children and loosing the natural beauty in the image.


My best advice is to stay completely honest to yourself. If you focus on finding what makes you tick and creating images that reflect that you cannot lose. No one is better at being YOU than YOU.


Word of mouth is my number one and I feel is the most important way to grow as a business but, I have found instagram and basic social networking to be really helpful for promoting yourself


I do not attend a lot of workshop to be honest, although I did really enjoy Jesh De Rox beloved workshop.


What is your most popular product?
Flash drives and canvas prints.


Sign up to get your images critiqued by Brooke Davis this March.  Only 9 Spots Left!





Guest Contributor | Leslie Vega









LeslieVega_ChicCritiqueForum Inspiring quotes by Leslie Vega for Chic Critique Forum

Leslie Vega is a seasoned brand designer for photographers and wedding professionals. She founded Leslie Vega Design in 2008 and has been creating breathtaking brands for clients across the globe ever since. From logos to stationery and beautiful web presences, her passion exudes in her work and in her client experience. View her work at

Leslie Vega
Leslie Vega Design, LLC
Brand Design for Photographers & Wedding Professionals
Web | Twitter | Facebook | Blog




Today in the SPOTLIGHT is Cindy Reeves of  Magazine Mama


cindy LOGO-01

Magazine Mama / Website / Facebook


Use code chic40 at checkout to get an additional 40% off your purchase.

(Offer good thru 2/28/14).


Turn pages to profit – let Magazine Mama show you how! From beautifully designed studio magazine templates, professionally written articles to promote your studio and even workshop curriculum to teach DSLR photography to kids and adults, Magazine Mama has everything you need to channel your creative energy, talent and passion into a thriving business.




Cindy, tell us why Magazine Mama is unique:

All of the products available through Magazine Mama can be customized with the photographer’s company name and logo, and easily modified to display their own work. Perfect for photographers who want to show of their photos in professional marketing materials but don’t have the time or resources to design them. In addition, we offer professionally written articles that can be used on your website, blog, or in other marketing materials. We have articles relating to engagement sessions, kids & family sessions, senior session, newborn, wedding photography & more!


How did Magazine Mama come about?

When I started Magazine Mama I was publishing two local wedding guides along with photographing weddings. I decided to combine my love for photography, publishing, and being a mom… and “Magazine Mama” was born!




What is your most popular product or service?

One of our newest releases is the Studio Welcome Guide. This 16-page magazine style template is great for most any genre of photography. It features a clean, fresh and modern design that will fit seamlessly within most any studio’s branding materials. Six text/article sections are included featuring topics such as “Why Hire a Professional”, “Displaying Your Images”, Choosing an Outfit”, “Choosing a Location” and more!




Use code chic40 at checkout to get an additional 40% off your purchase. (Offer good thru 2/28/14).




Learn from the best. . . in your pajamas!

jean-smith-bio2You can check out more of Jean’s work at



In this 90 minute LIVE web event, you will learn:

  • How to use the right equipment to get the lifestyle look;
  • Directing your clients to get “candid” moments;
  • Using motion to achieve a more lifestyle look;
  • Everything you need to know about location for a lifestyle shoot!


WHEN: Monday, February 10th 2014 @ 8 pm Central (6 Pacific, 7 Mountain, 9 Eastern)

Can’t watch the LIVE event? No worries. A downloadable video recording is available for pre-purchase (below) & will be sent to you 48 hours afterwards.



Live Event: FREE for forum members!  

>>REGISTER HERE!<< Hurry though, seating is limited!


Live Event + Video Recording Download:

$39 for forum members. Price will increase to $79 after the live event

(must join forum first)

$59 for non-members. Price will increase to $79 after the live event




The definition of ROMANTIC is “inclined toward or suggestive of the feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.” These gorgeous shots fit the definition perfectly!  In each and every one of these pictures, it is about the connection.




{Image from Axioo }


{Images from Jose Villa}


{Images from Claire Dam Photography}


duo 8
Woodsy 84
Woodsy 58
Woodsy 77
{Images from True Atelier}



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  • Jama Pantel says:

    These are beautiful! Love the inspiration.

    January 30, 2014 at 12:05 pm