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  • What Should I Wear to My Photo Session? | Jacksonville Photographer

    Jacksonville Photographer

    Hi guys!

    One of the most frequent questions I receive from clients is:

    What do I wear to my photo session???

    If this is a concern of yours, then keep reading to see some of my top tips for dressing for your upcoming photo session. :)

    • Most importantly, make sure to wear something that you’ll be comfortable in. I know that people say "beauty is pain," but if you're wearing uncomfortable clothing, it will show in your photo session. The more you can move in your outfit, the more fun we can have with your session, running, jumping, spinning, holding little ones, playing with your furry children, and not having to worry about adjusting clothing.
    • If you are doing an engagement or couple's session, I recommend that you consider the length of your dress if you want spinning pictures or pictures being held in your significant other’s arms. For family sessions with kids, make sure to wear pants that stay up and shirts that keep you covered, so we can capture those carefree images of you lifting your kiddo up, bending down to them, and interacting naturally without any wardrobe malfunctions.
    • If you're not going to be going solo in your session, try your best to color coordinate with anyone else who will be in the photos with you. This doesn't necessarily mean being matchy-matchy, but too many contrasting colors or patterns can draw the attention away from your wonderful faces. For example, a whole family wearing plaid might mesh together into ***SUPER-PLAID*** when you're clustered together in a family photo. Below is an adorable example of color coordinating done well:


    • If you can, avoid wearing very small, repetitive patterns like small checked shirts or stripes. These can cause a funky effect in-camera camera called a “moire pattern,” which can be very difficult to correct in Photoshop.
    • If you will be bringing furry pals along to your session, try not to wear colors that contrast with your pet's fur. For example, if you'll be bringing a black dog around, wearing white may not be the best choice, and vice versa.
    • If you’re going to be in a natural setting for your photos, I would recommend that you steer clear of wearing light colored bottoms, like white pants. I love asking my clients to sit on the ground or on outdoor benches for some pictures, and while I do carry around a little blanket just for these kinds of moments, wearing darker bottoms to your session can keep things moving more easily.
    • Gravitate towards softer, lighter, more neutral colors in your wardrobe if you want a light and airy feeling in your images. I love bright colors in images, but wearing very bright, fluorescent, highlighter-like colors on top can create a color cast on yours or other people's faces in the session. This is why photographers will typically wear gray, black, or white to their clients' sessions.

    • (For Brides to Be)    Wear colors that will coordinate with your wedding colors, if you're doing an engagement session and want to include the photos in a wedding invitation. This will help you to tie your wedding invitation together, and will keep your pictures looking right at home if you display them in your reception area at your wedding!
    • If you’re self conscious about a certain body part, wear clothes that will accentuate the bits you love about yourself. My job as a photographer is to make you look your absolute best, so I will guide you in posing to make sure the images are flattering. However, if you are self conscious about your upper arms, for example, I recommend that you avoid wearing a spaghetti strap tank top. This will keep you feeling confident, and less worried about how your upper arms are looking.
    • Pretty please, unless they're meant to be showing, keep your bra straps under cover! This will save me hours in Photoshop, editing visible bra straps out of your pictures. I'm glad to be on bra strap watch, because those suckers are slippery little things, but try to be aware of them when you're getting dressed, and then we won't have to worry about it during your session.
    • This is another little tip to keep your photos clean and free from distractions: Be aware of your accessories. For example, do you want a hair tie on your arm in all your pictures? If not, you may want to take it off well before the session, so you don't have red elastic marks on your arm. 
    • (For Expecting Mommies)   Dress to emphasize that bump! This is the one time in your life when having a big belly is something to be celebrated and prized. Embrace it! Wear something that will cling to your midsection, and if you want anyone else in the images with you, think about wearing colors that have a little bit of contrast. For example, if you wear black, and your significant other also wears black, your belly may blend into your partner's shirt in certain poses. 
    • Last but not least, feel free to bring an outfit change and send me photos of outfits ahead of time if you're uncertain it will photograph well. I am here to make sure you walk away absolutely thrilled with your photos, so I am glad to give advice or wait for you to change your clothes if you want more variety in your images. Just make sure to factor outfit change time into your session length!

    Hopefully this gives you a bit of guidance in prepping for what to wear for your photo session. Most importantly of all, MAKE SURE TO WEAR A BIG SMILE! :) You are going to have so much fun during your photo session, I pinky promise.

    Do you have any questions about anything in this blog post, or would you like to get in touch to book a session? Please feel free to contact me at, or by heading on over to my Contact section. I would love to hear from you!


  • Pet Portrait Photography Session by Chelsea Whiteman Photography | Jacksonville, Florida

    Jacksonville Family Photographer

    Goodness, reader, I have some catching-up to do on the blog front! 

    For now, I'll start by sharing one of my favorite sessions with you: Sam and Jay's, plus their dynamic puppy trio, Fiona, Sophia, and Chloe! This session started in Sam and Jay's neighborhood, moved to the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens, and then wrapped up at Atlantic Beach for sunset. 

    Meet Chloe:

    And Fiona:

    And Sophia:

    And their proud parents, Jay (left), and Sam (right):

    Gosh, pet portrait sessions are some of my favorites. Want photos like these of your special fur-children? Head on over to my Contact page on this website, and we can work out the details! :)


  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Loren and Marcus | A Couple's Series in Jacksonville, FL

    "Our love feels like the tides.
    It is ever in motion.
    From highs to lows, our lives are sculpted with its waves.
    Despite the change, we are constant."
    Loren (23 yrs) and Marcus (24 yrs): Together 6 years 9 months
    Married 4 years

    Loren and Marcus are high school sweethearts from my graduating class at Sandalwood High School, so it was a very cool throwback when they asked to be involved in my couple's series.

    They've been together just a little longer than Dylan and I, and their comfort, confidence, and trust in each other was clear throughout the photo session. I may have made them look romantic and majestic in some of these photos, but these two were a couple of goofballs just like Dylan and I, and I loved it! (Keep on sifting through the photos in this blog post to see what I mean about their sense of humor-- you'll see it.) 

    The pier at Atlantic Beach was the perfect location; it took a little bit of research on my part to pick a day where it was high tide and sunset at the same time, but we got it, and the weather cooperated beautifully! On top of that, none of us ended up soaked, which was quite the achievement considering that I had this couple doing a balancing act in the waves, and sitting just a little bit too close to the ocean at times. These two were a couple of modeling pros: well done, Marcus and Loren! Photographing the two of them was a blast. :)

    I am incredibly excited about this whole project so far, and I plan to continue to gain a large scope of couples who participate. Love crosses all boundaries, so I hope to photograph couples of all ages, races, sexualities, and so on and so forth. Variety in the participants will show how unique love can be, and yet similar in its beauty across the board. 

    If you would like to get involved in this whole series, please feel free to email me at for more information! 

  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Jen and Brandon | A Couple's Series in Jacksonville, FL

    "Our love is like a pillow.
    It's something safe to rest our heads on, and it's very comfortable."

    Jen (24 yrs) and Brandon (25 yrs): Together 1.5 years

    We live in a small world, Reader!

    It turns out, this couple and I are basically neighbors, and we didn't even know it! Our local community center ended up being the perfect location for the shoot, and it was just a short walk down the road from all of us.

    I have to give Jen and Brandon a pat on the back for being so trusting with this session. It's not every day that you have a photographer hanging over you on a stepladder as you lay in the middle of a field on some strange pillows and bedding with traffic wizzing by on Atlantic Boulevard, but I'd say it was well worth it! 

    On top of that, Brandon was ready to admit that he's far from being a morning person, but with our pillowy, fluffy set-up, he was perfectly situated to steal a few Z's between snaps.

    All joking aside, Jen and Brandon are a lovely, smiley, sweet couple, and I was lucky to have the two of them in front of my camera on a Saturday morning. I'm so fortunate to be able to meet all of the wonderful couples that I do as I continue on with this series; I've had had the privilege of diving into my imagination to create whimsical photo sets and ideas in the company of people who are in love with each other and with my photos. Dream job? I'd say so!

    I am incredibly excited about this whole project so far, and I plan to continue to gain a large scope of couples who participate. Love crosses all boundaries, so I hope to photograph couples of all ages, races, sexualities, and so on and so forth. Variety in the participants will show how unique love can be, and yet similar in its beauty across the board. 

    If you would like to get involved in this whole series, please feel free to email me at for more information! 

  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Alexis and Caleb | A Couple's Series in Jacksonville, FL

    "Our love is like a tree.
    It started as a small seed, and over time sprouted and grew into something bigger and more beautiful than either of us could have ever imagined.
    Like a tree, our love weathers the storms; it may bend, but it does not break.
    Our love is patient and giving; it takes time for trees to bear the sweetest fruit but they always do so in abundance.
    Our love is persistent and endless.
    The seasons change, but our love for one another always stands tall. Our love is like a tree; forever growing and branching to new heights."

    Alexis (21 yrs) and Caleb (22 yrs): Together 3.5 years

    This photo session has been a long time coming; Caleb and Alexis are busy bees between school and work. Even so, when they were finally able to come out for a shoot, everything else fell into place-- the weather was gorgeous, the sun was out and shining, and we nearly had Treaty Oak Park to ourselves! 

  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Alison and JD | A Couple's Series in Jacksonville, FL

    "Our love is like a good cup of coffee.
    It's welcoming. 
    It is sweet and strong. 
    It's smooth and warm.
    It wakes us up in the morning and it helps us get through our days.
    We were both lucky enough to find flavors we don't mind drinking everyday."

    Alison (24 yrs) and JD (27 yrs):Together 4.5 years

    Married 3.5 years

    I'm not a coffee drinker, myself, but Alison and JD have me thinking that maybe I should be. 

    For their couple's photo shoot, we paid a visit to Sippers Coffee House in Jacksonville, Florida.

    The staff was kind enough to welcome us in to their coffee shop and let us play musical chairs as we worked our way to every table, couch, and antique church pew to take our pictures. (For the record, if you haven't been to Sippers, I recommend that you pay it a visit-- it's cute, cozy, and offers hot chocolate and fresh-baked goodies for my fellow non-coffee-drinkers.) 

    Alison and JD were complete naturals in front of the camera; they made my job easy! Plus, while it can be tricky to get some people to crack a smile on demand, all I had to do was look at Alison and she'd start laughing. I was only with these two for about an hour, but it was obvious from the start that they're are very much in love, and very much cut out for each other--right down to a mutual love of Friends, coffee, and each others' company.

    I am incredibly excited about this whole project so far, and I plan to continue to gain a large scope of couples who participate. Love crosses all boundaries, so I hope to photograph couples of all ages, races, sexualities, and so on and so forth. Variety in the participants will show how unique love can be, and yet similar in its beauty across the board. 

    If you would like to get involved in this whole series, please feel free to email me at for more information! 

  • Fishweir Park Portrait Session by Chelsea Whiteman Photography | Jacksonville, Florida

    This past weekend, a free-spirited, youthful woman with a quirky sense of humor and a great taste in books stepped in front of my camera for a few hours, and we made magic happen.

    This woman is my former boss and current friend, Michele Boyette!

    Michele and I are both of the opinion that a photo shoot should be a fun, enjoyable experience, rather than a torturous hour spent in a stuffy studio with a photographer who says "cheese." So, after some warm-up shots in and around Michele's home and a dig through her rather extensive and fabulous hat collection, we ventured out to Fishweir Park to take some beautiful portraits in some crisp, sunny, early-fall weather.

    I am so fortunate that this job allows me to spend time and catch up with some wonderful friends, in picturesque locations, all while doing what I love most: taking pictures.

    Does a day in the park chatting, making memories, and taking pictures sound appealing to you?

    If yes, then email me at or go to my "Contact" page and fill out the form to book your photo session!

    Remember, a photo session only takes an hour or two of your time, but the photos that we take will last you a lifetime; they're something that you and your friends, family, and loved ones will be able to look back on and cherish for years to come. 

  • 10 Easy Posing Tips to Look Better in Photos: Women's Edition

    Hey you! 

    Yes, you. 

    What do you do when someone pulls a camera on you? 

    Do you instantly clam up, become filled with self doubt, and begin to ponder how to stand like a normal human being or where on earth you should put your darn hands (I mean, you've had these things for forever, but where the heck should you put them?!)

    If yes, then good news! This post is for you.

    If no, then go on with your bad self, Reader! Or, stick around and laugh at me intentionally giving myself a double chin for "before" poses. It's up to you! 

    Disclaimer: This blog will be an overload of my goofy looking mug, so I apologize in advance for swamping you with it. Here's a photo of my face . . . and another photo of my face . . . and did you get to see my face yet? No? Well, here! Have another photo of my face!

    Tip 1: Shift your weight

    Would you like your legs to look longer and leaner in photos? I have a trick for you that has been put into practice for centuries: shift your weight to the leg that isn't facing the camera. 

    The greats employed this posing technique for things like paintings and sculptures: it's the good ol' contrapposto pose. Ever take a look at Michelangelo's "David"? He's definitely not standing there stiffly with his knees locked. Nope, he has one leg bent at the knee, and the other supporting his weight. 

    We can learn from David and his classical posing. Shifting your weight to your back foot has a magical slimming effect on your legs and torso. If you pop your hip out a little bit on that back leg, then even better; this will add curves to your body that wouldn't be accentuated if you kept your knees locked tight.

    On top of that, when you shift your weight to your back leg, it has the happy side effect of causing the leg facing the camera to bend at the knee. Voila! Now you've added one more curve to your body, making for a much more flattering pose. Bonus points if you point your toes; that will make your leg look even longer. 

    Tip 2: Tuck your hips back

    When we stand naturally, we tend to keep our hips directly in line with our torsos; this makes sense, considering that it keeps us balanced and comfortable. But for those of you out there who are a little self conscious about your tummy areas, this tip can help to make you look leaner.

    Rather than "sucking it in" and holding your breath for the duration of the photoshoot (resulting in some lovely, delicate blue skin tones and puffy cheeks), try shifting your hips backwards a little bit. This will straighten out your abdomen and pull your tummy taughter, while also highlighting your backside a bit more (no butt pads or implants needed). A little of this can go a long way, so no need to break your back in the process; just like in Tip 1, it's all about weight distribution! 

    Tip 3: "Float" your arms 

    This tip may feel a bit unnatural, but when taking photos, try to keep your arms slightly away from your sides, rather than keeping your arms pressed against you.

    The goal is to create a little bit of separation and space between your arms and your waist. When you keep your arms closer to your sides, visually, your body appears wider and bulkier because your arms blend in with your torso. Leaving a slight gap between your torso and arms highlights your waist, making you appear slimmer. Hurray for instant, diet and exercise-free slimming!

    Looking for a more comfortable solution than "floating" your arms that will achieve the same effect? Try slightly bending your elbows and resting your hands lightly on your hips. Better yet, if you're wearing clothes with pockets, tuck your hands in to allow some space between your arms and your body. 

    Tip 4: Loosen up those hands!

    When people are uncomfortable in front of the camera, they tend to show that tension by bringing their shoulders up and balling up or stiffening their hands. Don't let that be you!

    Instead, keep those shoulders low and relax your hands for a much more flattering pose.

    Tip 5: Keep your chin single

    It's the sad truth that our chins are constantly searching for companionship, usually in the form of other chins.

    To avoid creating a double chin that isn't there, or to minimize one and better define your jawline, bring your face (chin included) forward and towards the camera slightly. Or, if you don't want your chin to be lonely anymore, press that chin closer to your neck and watch the extra chins appear out of nowhere!

    Tip 6: Keep your chin down

    If only I had been reminded of this simple tip when I had my senior pictures taken in high school, I wouldn't cringe so much when I see those pictures now: keep that chin lowered!

    Little kids are big culprits of this, but even as an adult, I find my chin floating upward when I get photos taken, creating an ultra-flattering up the nose shot with no jawline in sight. To avoid your nostrils stealing the show, keep your chin lowered and your head pointed ever so slightly downward; this will also draw focus to your eyes and minimize glare if you wear glasses.

    Tip 7: Angle your face

    Most people's standard reaction when someone breaks out a camera (besides the extremely camera shy, who will run in the opposite direction) is to look straight at the camera and smile. Turning your head and, coincidentally, your shoulders, slightly away from the camera at an angle can emphasize your jawline, minimize broad shoulders, and add some more variety to your photos. 

    Clients are always a little confused when I tell them to point their head away from the camera while keeping their eyes on me, but trust me! I'm not crazy (at least, not when it comes to posing); I'm just highlighting the pretty angles of your face.

    Tip 8: Lean in

    This pointer is in the same vein as Tip 5, but it also relies on a basic understanding of how a camera sees. 

    Cameras don't perceive depth the same way that the human eye sees it, which means that (hurray!) cameras can be tricked. The person, place, or thing that is closest to the camera will, unfailingly, appear to be larger than anything that is farther away. We can use this to our advantage to highlight the characteristics that we'd prefer to highlight and minimize the characteristics that we're less fond of.

    When we apply this to posing our faces, all it takes is leaning your head (and, if you want, shoulders) in towards the camera to make your face the star of the photo. The camera won't "see" that you're leaning in; all that it will see is that your face is closest, making your body less of a focal point.  

    Tip 9: Use perspective to your advantage

    Great news! We can apply your newfound understanding of depth and perspective to full and 3/4 length photos, too.

    Your body may be fabulous, but sometimes you don't want it to be the focus of the photo (or maybe you do- that's your prerogative.) Either way, to keep your face the focus, you can always have your photographer, photo-taker, or selfie stick positioned above you. This will automatically make your lower body look slimmer, since it is further from the camera lens than your face. 

    Tip 10: Smile and apply those tips!

    A final tip about posing: smile! It'll help you to avoid the "I'm getting a mugshot taken" look of utter misery in pictures. And if all else fails and you can't remember a single posing tip from this blog post, a genuine smile is always a beautiful thing to capture on camera. 

    Is your mind an utter whirlwind of posing tips that you'll never be able to remember or apply when the time comes? Then contact me at or fill out the short form on my Contact page! I would love to guide you through the process to help you to look your absolute best in a personal portrait session! 

    Do you have questions, comments, or posing tips and tricks of your own that you'd like to share? Please leave them below!

  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Jessica and Brandon | A Couple's Series


    Adorable Couple: ✓

    Cozy Family Home: ✓

    Blanket Fort: ✓

    Lots of Love: ✓

    With an ingredients list like that, there's no way that you can possibly go wrong.
    Jessica and Brandon, the latest couple to participate in my series What Does Your Love Feel Like, are living proof of that.

    "Our love feels like home. Not a house, but a home.
    Just like home, our love feels like the one thing where we feel our safest, our most comfortable, and where we can be ourselves.
    It's where we want to be at the end of every day - with each other, in love with each other."
    Jessica (23 yrs) & Brandon (24 yrs): Together 4 years

    This description of love truly resonated with me, as when I first started this project, my personal response to my own question was the same: love feels like home. On top of that, I've recently been seeking to build up my portfolio of lifestyle and in-home photography, so Jessica and Brandon couldn't have been a better fit with the whole project. I came back to them with several options that we could go with to illustrate their love, and much to my excitement, they chose my personal favorite concept: building a blanket fort (home, comfort, safety, and acceptance, all in one perfect, cozy package.)

    As an added benefit, I quickly learned that Jessica is one of the most unbelievably sugar-sweet human beings you'll ever meet-- take gumdrops, sugarplums, and cotton candy, and throw in a dash of smart and pretty, and you'll make a Jessica. A Jessica who will treat you to a bouquet of flowers as soon as you walk in the door on the day of the photo shoot, and make you feel instantly welcome with her upbeat, bouncy personality. 

    Balancing this is Brandon, a stoic individual who is a little hesitant to smile for the camera, but more than willing to smile for Jessica (and to have mercy in a tickle fight).

    After a few warm-up shots, my lovely assistant Dylan and I spent some time getting the lay of the land and staking a claim on the best blanket-fort-building real estate. The dazzling duo was eager to jump right in and help with the building process, and with some innovation, Christmas lights, and balloons, the fort was complete. Not built to code for Brandon's over 6 foot frame, but hey, it was cozy.

    These two brought that pile of blankets to life, and made that fort into a home. That's the beauty of their relationship: they can light up a space and make it their own, just by being together and present. And that, Readers, is what love should feel like.

  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Brooke and Dave | A Couple's Series

    Two weeks can really fly by, Reader!

    In the blink of an eye, it was time for me to come back home from Pennsylvania after my semi-annual family vacation. Now that I'm back in the good 'ol swamps of Jacksonville, I've been wading through 2,500+ pictures and looking back on the trip.

    This is the beauty of taking an outrageous amount of pictures: when it's time to come back home, I have the gift of hundreds of photos to help me reflect upon and relive the little details and big highlights from the trip. 

    I'm going to save my vacation pictures for another, much longer blog post; instead, this post is dedicated to the latest addition to my couple's series, What Does Your Love Feel Like?

    And now, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the budding star and starlet, Dave and Brooke! 

    *cue applause, even if I'm not there to hear them*

    "Our love is like a movie. You have the drama scenes: The arguments.
    You have the action scenes: Chasing after a toddler.
    You have the comedy scenes: Him farting in bed.
    And you have the horror scenes: The realization that a world without the other is the scariest of any movie sequence.
    Yet finally, when the credits roll, you can look at the person beside you and know your movie ended right; with an everlasting happy ending."
    Brooke (24 yrs) & Dave (32 yrs): Married 3 years

    Featuring their daughter, Alivia

    When my cousin, Brooke, and her husband, Dave sent me this in response to my question for the series, I admit, I had a bit of trouble figuring out how to cram four movie genres into one, catch-all photograph. Eventually, I settled on creating a staged, behind-the-scenes style photo of Brooke and Dave's personal "movie set," showing them as they prepare to continue to create the motion picture that is their daily lives.

    So far, every photo that I've done for this series has been a blast to shoot, but in terms of what was going on behind the scenes, this had to be one of the most hectic, hilarious, and fittingly theatrical. 

    There were 13 family members, two dogs, and a cat mulling around my grandparents' snug home at the time of the shoot, and many bopped their heads into the frame at one time or another (most, understandably, not fully grasping what kind of strange production was going on in the living room).

    My "makeup artist" and "lint-rolling stylist," my brother and boyfriend, respectively, fully embraced their roles and enjoyed the opportunity to poke Brooke in the eye with a powder brush. Meanwhile, Brooke and Dave's daughter, Alivia, although not thrilled to put on her dress, was perfectly happy to sit on the floor and look adorable while playing with her toys when prompted.

    Ultimately, everyone involved went along with the crazy, and all of that crazy combined into something wonderful. 

    Sounds a little bit like love, doesn't it?

    I am incredibly excited about this whole project so far, and I plan to continue to gain a large scope of couples who participate. Love crosses all boundaries, so I hope to photograph couples of all ages, races, sexualities, and so on and so forth. Variety in the participants will show how unique love can be, and yet similar in its beauty across the board. 

    If you would like to get involved in this whole series, please feel free to email me at for more information! 

    Each couple who participates in the project will receive a 30% discount off of a future photo shoot with me, as well as a free low-resolution copy of the photo that I take for the series that you can post on social media.

    If you would like prints of the photograph that I take for the series, then you can also email me for information about print prices for your photo. The photos that I am taking for this series are each an original work of art that I've put time and effort into creating as an illustration of each couple's love; I would love to have them grace the walls of people's homes.  


  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Amber & Brandon | A Couple's Series by Chelsea Whiteman Photography

    Hello again, Reader!

    After much preparation and planning, I am happy to finally be able to share the second installment in my series, What Does Your Love Feel Like? 

    Tomorrow, I will be heading off on a two-week vacation to my favorite place, Frenchville, Pennsylvania, to spend time with family and unwind in our family cabin in the middle of nowhere. (Stay tuned for pictures from the trip!)

    In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy this little piece of love, paint, and happiness:

    “Love is like laughter. You can't not smile.
    Laughter is the best feeling; you want it to last forever and when you're with the right person, it happens without warning.
    It doesn't have to have a reason or make sense to anyone but the people involved. Love and laughter make everything better, so it makes sense that they're one and the same.”

    Amber (23 yrs) & Brandon (22 yrs): Together 1 ½ years

    I have known Amber since high school, and her bone dry sense of humor and quick wit have always kept me laughing. I wanted to give her and Brandon an experience that would make them crack genuine smiles -- and what better way to do so than to have them splatter paint at each other?

    To make this shoot happen, Dylan (my boyfriend and unintentional part-time photo assistant, for any newcomers in here) and I concocted homemade paint out of equal parts flour, salt, and water, plus a load of food coloring. One white sheet, a clothesline, and a little accidental trespassing on church property later, we had the ingredients for this beautiful chaos of a photo shoot.

    It takes a special couple to get up early on a Sunday morning and frolick around in a field for a paint fight, and I am lucky to have had such good sports involved. There was plenty of laughter and plenty of mess, and, especially in the brief cease-fires to grab more paint, there were occassional quiet moments where Amber and Brandon's love showed through the most. 

    I am incredibly excited about this whole project so far, and I plan to continue to gain a large scope of couples who participate. Love crosses all boundaries, so I hope to photograph couples of all ages, races, sexualities, and so on and so forth. Variety in the participants will show how unique love can be, and yet similar in its beauty across the board. 

    If you would like to get involved in this whole series, please feel free to email me at for more information! 

    Each couple who participates in the project will receive a 30% discount off of a future photo shoot with me, as well as a free low-resolution copy of the photo that I take for the series that you can post on social media.

    If you would like prints of the photograph that I take for the series, then you can also email me for information about print prices for your photo. The photos that I am taking for this series are each an original work of art that I've put time and effort into creating as an illustration of each couple's love; I would love to have them grace the walls of people's homes. 

  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Tiffany & Jamison | A Couple's Series by Chelsea Whiteman Photography

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. 

    Showertime ideas are the best ideas.

    Showering gives our minds a prime opportunity to float, while our bodies are on autopilot, taking care of the lather, rinse, repeat.

    It was thanks to a showertime several weeks ago that I came up with the idea for a new series. My mind was drifting around, thinking about how I could best capture my relationship with my boyfriend of five years, Dylan, in a photo, and then landed on how great it would be for me to do the same for other couples: to genuinely illustrate exactly what they believe their love feels like. Couple's photograpy is so often a formula of "smile and look at the camera," "kiss each other," or "flash your engagement ring," but this doesn't say much about who each person in the relationship is as an individual or what they feel about each other as a united front. 

     With this in mind, I came up with the question:

    What Does Your Love Feel Like?

    I know that sounds strangely-phrased, but rather than asking couples how their love makes them feel emotionally (i.e. happy), I became curious about what different couples would compare their love to. There are so many cliches about love: "Love feels like flying." "Love is like a warm blanket." "Love is like being caught up in a storm." It's a topic that authors, poets, and songwriters have dedicated decades to describing in new ways.

    The wonderful thing is, since everybody feels love in a different way, every couple's response to the question will be unique.

    For this new photo series, I've already asked several interested couples to answer my big question, and I've gotten so many inspiring, "aww"-producing, and heartfelt results. The beauty in the whole project is that the question has been thought-provoking for the couples who have taken it on; it gives people a chance to stop for a moment, turn off Game of Thrones (or, in my case, Friends on Netflix) and have a meaningful conversation about what their significant other means to them. It's a personal question, but it's an important one.

    For each couple whose response I've received, and for those I continue to receive, I am creating one artistic photograph that interprets the couple's response into a picture. Each time, I get the pleasure of putting on my thinking cap and contemplating how to make these beautiful concepts into worthy pictures. So far, it has been a ridiculously enjoyable challenge. 

    With each photo that I create and post, I will be including the couple's answer to my question, as well as a little bit about their identity as a couple. 

    Now, Reader, the best way for me to really describe this project is to stop gushing about the series and start showing you some results, so, without further ado, here is the first photo that I have taken for the series!

    "Our answer may be cliche, but our love feels like sunshine.
    What we mean by that is: We see the light within each other; it's comfortable to know that our love will never die in our lifetime.
    It can be hot at times, 
    and we look forward to it every single day."

    Tiffany (24 yrs) & Jamison (23 yrs): Together 8 years

    High School Sweethearts

    Jamison and Tiffany were the first to volunteer for my series. When they gave me their response to my question, I came up with the idea of "liquid sunshine" and surrounding them with light and warmth.

    They were so natural at showing how much they love each other that it only took about fifteen minutes for me to get the shot I needed for this photo. They were absolutely wonderful to photograph, and I hope to take their pictures again soon!

    I am incredibly excited about this whole project so far, and I plan to continue to gain a large scope of couples who participate. Love crosses all boundaries, so I hope to photograph couples of all ages, races, sexualities, and so on and so forth. Variety in the participants will show how unique love can be, and yet similar in its beauty across the board. 

    If you would like to get involved in this whole series, please feel free to email me at for more information!

    Each couple who participates in the project will receive a 30% discount off of a future photo shoot with me, as well as a free low-resolution copy of the photo that I take for the series that you can post on social media.

    If you would like prints of the photograph that I take for the series, then you can also email me for information about print prices for your photo. The photos that I am taking for this series are each an original work of art that I've put time and effort into creating as an illustration of each couple's love; I would love to have them grace the walls of people's homes. 

  • Atlantic Beach Retro Portrait Session by Chelsea Whiteman Photography | Jacksonville, Florida

    Hey there Reader, 

    We've all had it.

    That one perfect, wonderful, super-fantastic idea for portraits that we said "Nah" to and buried away in the dusty upstairs attic of our mind to save for another day. Maybe it was a cute, imaginative photo that you wanted to capture of your kids, or that photo idea with your significant other that you pushed back, and back, and back . . .  

    Well, guys-- it's time to drag those fun photo shoot ideas out and brush them off, because those unrequieted bits of inspiration need to be brought to me ASAP. I want to make them happen. 

    My friend of over a decade now, Erica, had one of those ideas about a year ago, and knocked off the dust to swing it by me recently: a retro-inspired photoshoot. The results ended up being one of my favorite photo shoots so far! 

    Now, before we could really hop on the retro train, we had to pin down a destination: would it be 1930s inspired? '40s? '50s? How far back were we really going, here? We got together for a Google search-fest to get some inspiration, and after a couple of misses (who knew that Googling "pinup photography" would lead you to such a strange little corner of the Internet?), we decided on a classed-up, less cheesecakey version of the 1950s as our time travel destination. 

    I'm a classic overpreparer, so from here, I went ahead and put together some inspiration photo grids with 1950s poses I wanted to try out, gathered up some props, and went on a Walmart and Goodwill shopping spree with Erica to pull together the perfect wardrobe on a budget. 

    The weather for the weekend that we picked was a little iffy, but when the Doppler said there'd be a couple-hour clearance at the beach before the rains arrived, we snatched the opportunity and hit the beach with my lovely photo assistant and boyfriend, Dylan, in tow.

    He was a great sport. Shh, don't tell him I showed you these. ;)

    It took a few minutes of warming up for Erica to embrace her new "1950s bombshell" role, but all bloopers and goofing-off between friends aside, she ended up capturing the grace and beauty of a retro goddess, 110%. 

    (A little homage to Rosie, anyone?)

    Erica, I've never seen you look so gorgeous.

    You've been a joy to be around since I first met you in middle school, but now I know that you're also the perfect 1950s time-travel companion and model.

    Love you, DeMarco.

    So, what's the moral of the story here, Reader? 

    Don't let those awesome photo ideas of yours go into some tiny mental storage unit!

    Bring them to me, so we can have hours of fun bringing them to life and I can give you some souvenirs from our jaunt that will last you so long, they'll become genuine, retro pieces of art. 

    Email me here to book your photo adventure:

  • Graduation Session at Treaty Oak Park by Chelsea Whiteman Photography | Jacksonville, Florida

    It's been a month now since I photographed this beauty, and I just realized that I never gave her a space on my blog.

    Time to fix that!

    Dear reader, I would like you to meet Chakeiya Nixon-- but you can call her Keiya.

    I am incredibly proud of all that Keiya has accomplished in recent months. She has earned her GED (General Education Diploma), passed her ASVAB test, and moved on to enter the US military . . . all while taking care of three children and working a part time job. 

    With all that she has achieved, this was entirely a celebratory photoshoot. Set in downtown Jacksonville's Treaty Oak Park on a blue-skied, early spring morning, under the cover of a 200+ year old oak tree, Keiya and I clowned around for a couple of hours and captured some beautiful portraits.

    The outtakes. Forget the eyes; these outtakes are the real window to Keiya's spunky personality:

    Congratulations, Keiya! You have made me, and everyone else who has had the privilege of knowing you, very proud.

    To book your own portrait photoshoot, send an email on over to and we'll set the date. :)

  • Flashback Files: Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia

    Hello Reader!

    I have another confession for you today: I am a photo hoarder. 

    On my computer (and on an assortment of external hard drives), I have a grand total of

    . . . brace yourself . . . 

    27,623 photos

    Of all of these photos that I've amassed since I got my first camera in 2008, I've only shared about 300 or so with the Internet. This feels like a waste.

    Cue "Flashback Files."

    Starting today, I'm going to introduce an additional series to my blog, with entries that are pulled entirely from my archives.  I'll never get around to sharing all 27,000 photos with you, but at least this is a start. :)

    Now, where to begin? Well, I'm gearing up to go for my annual trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia, this Wednesday with my family (it's becoming a sort of Spring Break tradition) so to start, I'm going to share a few photos from my last trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains (or, more specifically, Clayton, Georgia) in March of 2014. I hope that you enjoy!

    To give you a little background on this cabin, here's a short excerpt from the owner's original rental posting (the link to their cabin is at the end of this post):

     "This property, high up on Tut's Mountain, used to be the petting zoo of Coca Cola heiress Frances Woodruff. Remnants of the bear den, eagles' lair and other artifacts still can be seen. Neighbors graze their horses and cows in our pastures."

    Bear den? Eagles' lair? Coca Cola heiress? Mountaintop cabin? Not to mention, 25 acres of land. This place was incredible to explore. 

    Our first few days at the cabin, we were greeted with some very foggy weather.

    This made our first encounter with the resident cows embarassingly intimidating.

    My boyfriend, brother, and I are a bunch of suburban Floridians, so during our first foray around the property, we ended up being herded by the resident cows into an empty barn. Stuck behind a gate with four cows impassively staring at us and blocking the way, we did what all good suburbanites would do in such a situation: We pulled out our cell phones and called my parents back up the hill at the cabin for help. 

    I wish I was kidding. 

    They could barely answer us through their laughter. 

    We mustered up some bravery and got out just fine.

    That evening, we went back out and did some light painting of the structures on the property. 
    (The cows left us alone.)

    The following morning, we were greeted with an extremely beautiful sunrise over the mountains.

    The Blue Ridge Mountains truly are a magical place.

    For what it's worth, Reader, I encourage you to consider this cabin if you ever find yourself in or around Clayton, Georgia; it was a photographer's dream to wander around the property and explore all of the old outbuildings. If you are interested, you can check it out here: 

    Now to continue the countdown to my next Blue Ridge Mountain trip (at a new cabin, this time).

    Only two more days!  

    Thank you again for reading. 

    Until next time,


  • Before & After Series: I

    Hello Reader,

    When I first built this blog, I planned to get in the habit of posting a before-and-after series for my more complicated photos, to give you a behind the scenes look at how I get from point A to point B in the process.

    Here comes the first in the series!

    The Flight

    Step 1: Brainstorming

    However much I may wish that I was the type of person who had great photo ideas pop into her head at random throughout the day, I am not. Instead, the first step I take in creating a photo like the one above is to have a good, old-fashioned brainstorm.

    Where I am when I start brainstorming doesn't matter; many of the photo ideas I've come up with in the past had their start when I was showering, eating, or in the car. All that matters for a productive brainstorming session is my mindset. Once I am focused and put other distractions aside, I am able to come up with new ideas and make associations that I may not have arrived at, otherwise.

    When I do come up with a photo idea, I always think in images. The picture that I want to create is there in my brain-- all I have to do is make it a reality.

    Step 2: Sketching

    I don't know about you, Reader, but the pictures that pop into my imagination usually don't pay attention to the laws of physics. Sketching helps me to figure out the different photos that I will need to take in order to create my final image; it's my time to plan, take inventory, and work out how I will make my subject float or my lightbulb glow without being plugged in. 

    *Note: If you wonder why I stick to photography, my sketches may give you a clue.*

    Below is the sketch that I created for "The Flight": 

    Step 3: Shooting

    Once I've come up with a game plan, it's time for me to jump in with my camera and start taking the photos that I will need for my final image.

    The advantage to creating images this way is that I still have room for experimentation and error. There's no telling for sure whether Oliver, my fuzzy, orange hot air balloon pilot, will pose properly for the shot, or whether one shape of lightbulb will work better in the image than another until I load the images into Photoshop.

    For this reason, I always take far more pictures than I will need; I like to have options.

    Below are all of the photos that went into "The Flight":

    Step 4: Editing

    At this point, it's time to play.

    Editing is my favorite stage in the process of creating images like these. Up until this point, I'm still not certain whether the image will pan out the way I want it to. It's not until I get my photos into Photoshop and start putting the pieces of the puzzle together that I get to see the image I'd envisioned begin to emerge.

    It is also at this point that my photos start to take on a life of their own. I don't typically have a goal in sight for the exact color palette I'm going to use, or even the complete composition, until I start experimenting during the editing process and see what my eyes believe works. The product that I end up with can depend on my mood, the season, what music I'm listening to, or what art, movies, or books I've been interested in at the time.

    I also tend to go through phases where I stick to a certain editing style or color scheme. I can look back at my photos and see stages when I really loved the color blue in my images, for example, or when I gravitated towards an atmospheric, hazy look.

    Step 5: Sharing

    And that, Reader, is where you come in. 


    In the future, when I write these blogs, I won't include so much background about my process; instead, I'll just stick to sharing before and after images with you, and occassionally the sketches. My process with making these images is generally the same each time, so these blogs would get repetitive very quickly if I gave you a play-by-play for every single image.

    However, since this is the first blog in my Before & After series, I thought I'd throw in some more background this time around. 

    Thank you for stopping by, Reader, and as always, your feedback and comments are always appreciated!

    Until next time,


  • Why Photography?: A Confession

    Dear Reader,

    I want the relationship that we share to be as honest and candid as possible, so I thought it best to begin with full disclosure. When you book a session with me, you’re not the only one who benefits.

    I am selfish. 

    I pursue photography because I love it. I put my all into my photos and exercise constant perfectionism because I find the end product personally fulfilling. I capture other people's smiles and laughs and happy moments because it gives me joy and excitement. I create otherwordly photographs because it allows me creative expression and unlimited possiblities. On top of all of that . . . 

    I am greedy. 

    I love the giddiness that photography brings me so much that I hate when photography sessions have to come to an end. I always want more-- more time, more battery life, more cameras, more subjects to photograph.

    It is for these reasons that I have decided to make my photography into a business. It is for these reasons that I see photography as my passion. 

    I hope that you don't mind. 

    Now, what does all of this mean for you, reader?

    It means that from me: 

    you can expect dedication

    you can expect perfection

    you can expect joy.

    Because for me, taking photos isn't just a way to pay the bills; it's a way to see the world with a fresh perspective, create scenarios and scenes that live exclusively in the imagination, and document memories and moments that would otherwise be forgotten or diminished with time. 

    And that, dear reader, is why I pursue photography.


  • Hello, and:

    Welcome to my blog!

    Please keep an eye on this space! Now that my website is up and running, I will be frequently updating my blog with before-and-after photos, behind-the-scenes shots, and my thoughts and musings  about this whole "build your own photography business" adventure.