Book Review: Digital Photography for Children’s and Family Portraiture by Kathleen Hawkins

Digital Photography for Children’s and Family Portraiture by Kathleen HawkinsThis book by Kathleen Hawkins is an interesting read. It gives you the feeling that you’re actually reading three books in one, one is entitled “How to Switch Your Photography Business to Digital,” the other is “ABC of Digital Photography,” and yes, “Children’s and Family Portraiture.”

Read through the table of contents and see what I mean. Reading the book itself confirms this. Kathleen seemed to have written this for folks who have a photography business but are still reluctant to go digital (are there still such dinosaurs, or am I so late in reviewing this book?), so she offers a sustained and convincing proposition that switching to digital is good and indeed profitable. She goes at length in Chapters 1 & 2 to convince recalcitrants to embrace digital or perish!

Which is not to say that the first two chapters are wasted, because in those, Kathleen also shares with us her insights on industry changes and such matters as copyright, advertising and stock photos from her own experience as a professional photographer (Ms. Hawkins is a member of the WPPI and PPA and has written other books).

Of course, if you’re one of those dinosaurs who still have to make the transition to digital, then those first two chapters are lifesavers indeed.

Then she proceeds to explain the ABCs of digital photography, what equipment to evaluate, how to choose a camera, even enlightening us on the difference between CCD and CMOS sensors and explaining the use of CD and DVD burners.

Chapter 6, Marketing in the Digital Age, is a gem, reflecting Kathleen’s polish as a Business Administration professor. It offers very valuable tips about running a photography business and how to interact with clients. It also offers a no-nonsense discussion on how to create a successful Internet presence, very valuable for photography businesses who want to go online.

All throughout the book, from cover to cover in fact, are lovely photos of children and families. The photos alone are quite inspiring and very instructive. Some captions relate to how those images were achieved, others just relate to what Kathleen wants to tell you in each particular chapter.

Chapter 7 is where the author discusses children’s and family portraiture, planning the shoot from clothes, props, etc. Towards the end of the book is a bonus. Chapter 12 profiles seven professional photographers who offer tips and ideas from their own careers.

So, what do I make out of the book? It’s a distillation of the author’s own experiences as a professional photographer and business person, and it’s not exclusively about photographing children and families. The insights she shares as a professional are very much worth the read.

Plus, the book looks really good.

Digital Photography for Children’s and Family Portraiture by Kathleen Hawkins, Amherst Media, 8 x 11 inches, 127 pages, $29.95 USA, $44.95 Canada

Table of Contents

About the Author


1. Philosophy
Industry Changes
Copyright Infringement
Proactive Solutions

Fear and Procrastination
Commitment to Change
Image Safety

2. Costs versus Payoffs
Instant Gratification
Increased Artistic Control
Stock Images
Business Displays
Photo Credits

Expedited Workflow
Lower Expenses

3. Education
Online Groups
Seminars and Conventions

4. Evaluating Equipment
Camera Selection
CMOS and CCD Chips
Memory Cards
Burst Rate
Full Frame Capture Capability
Shutter Response Time
LCD Panel
Lens Capability and Accessories
Color Depth/Bit Depth
System Requirements
Price versus Quality

Camera-Related Software
Computer Equipment
CD/DVD Burners
Graphic Tablet

Photo Manipulation Software
Organizational Software
Other Useful Software
Proofing Equipment
Video Proofing Tapes
LCD Projector/Digital Portfolio
CD/DVD Proofing
Online Ordering


5. Creating an Effective Digital Workflow
Avoiding Detours

6. Marketing in the Digital Age
Educating Your Client
Show, Don’t Tell
The Consultation
Studio Advantages
Internet Advantages
Website Essentials

Marketing Tips That Make You Money

7. Planning the Shoot
Props for Children’s Theme Images
Family Portrait Props
Personalized Images

8. Digital Capture
Technical and Organizational Modifications

9. Post-Session Production
Saving Your Images
Post-Session Recap

10. Photo Manipulation
Special Effects
Creating a Copy of the Background Layer
Convert Images to Black & White
Convert Images to Sepia
Create a Vignette with the Soft Omni Effect
Convert Images to Watercolor using Procreate Painter
Make Images Part Black & White, Part Color
Use the Gaussian Blur Filter to Achieve Selective Focus

Special Effects Plug-ins
The Monday Morning Filter by nik Color Efex Pro!
The Duplex Filter by nik Color Efex Pro!
Auto FX’s Photo/Graphic Edges Software
John Hartman’s QUICKMats Software

Prep for Proofing
Tracking Modifications

11. Album Production and Assembly
Lab Relationship
Monitor Calibration
Basic Monitor Calibration with Adobe Gamma
File Prep System
File Organization
Color Correction – Using Levels, Using Curves, Color Balance
Retouching – Using the Lasso Tool, Using the Healing Brush and Patch Tools

Preparing Files for the Lab
Rotate to Vertical
File Format
Burn a CD/DVD

Creating Digital Albums
Background Design
Finishing Touches
Saving Your Work
Suggested Proofing Policies

12. Contributor’s Corner
Renay Adkins
Vicki Popwell
Joann Muñoz
Frank Donnino
Kevin Richard Reppenhagen and John Eric Dove
Sherri Ebert
Jeff Hawkins

Appendix: Digital Process review


Published by Chris Malinao

Chris teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. He also teaches smartphone photography.