Courtney Family Session | Louisville KY Family Photographer

Courtney Family Session | Louisville KY Family Photographer

I had so much fun capturing this sweet family! When we first got there, I was worried the clouds would cover up our sun the whole time. But it came through and we got beautiful light!

This sweet family had never done a family session with their sweet daughter before. She was definitely in charge and we just let her do what she wanted. But isn’t she just adorable!?

And her eyes had me swooning.

I loved capturing this family! Take a look below!

Did you come here looking to book a family session?
Look no further! I’m located in Louisville KY.

5 Tips To Writing Your First Blog Post

5 Tips To Writing Your First Blog Post

So, you just started your blog and now you’re in the predicament of writing your first blog post? But, what do you write about? And how do you push past writing your first blog post? Will anyone really read it?

I am hoping to answer some of these questions. First and foremost, you need to decide why you are writing a blog. Is it for you? Is it for an audience? What is the topic of your blog? My number one tip is to decide on a blog topic that is very specific. Don’t just say, ‘oh, I’m writing a motherhood blog so I’ll just write about anything motherhood’…be a little more specific. Motherhood is a broad subject! You won’t get any followers doing that and you’ll drive yourself crazy with all the topics you could write about but probably won’t.

For me? My blog topic is helping mothers learn photography and blogging. It’s not just a photography blog, it’s geared towards mothers taking better images of their children. As well as blogging for mothers.

One very important thing I have learned from this blogging thing is that I need to do it for me. Meaning, I need to blog and format my posts they way I want them. I recommend seeing what other bloggers do, but then make sure you make your blog your own and blog the way you want to blog. I used to think I had to follow and copy all the bloggers I saw. THAT IS NOT THE CASE!! Do this for you, and no one else.

Now that I’m off my soapbox…

How ’bout those tips I promised?

5 Tips to Writing Your First Blog Post

1. Research

Research your blog topics! Yes, that’s right. When I first started blogging, I thought, ‘I’ll just write what I know!’. Which is good…for the most part. But you really need to become an expert on what you are writing. For example, for this post, I researched what other bloggers have said. I don’t want to copy them, I simply want to add to what they have said. Sometimes, I find that I have some very similar ideas to other bloggers…which is totally okay! I also sometimes find that what I have to say completely defers from what others have already said (which is the key, you want to stand out, right?) and it helps me build a blog post.

Which takes me to my next point…

2. Write an Outline/Rough Draft

I’m sure when you were in school you would write an outline before you wrote a paper, right? Or you would have to turn in a rough draft for the teacher to review before submitting your final paper? Well, it should be the similar thing in blogging. Writing an outline will help you pinpoint exactly what you want to say. In blog posts like this one, I usually write down my 5 tips first before I ever begin writing. After I have an outline, I’ll then type of a rough draft. I’ll look through my blog post over and over before finally submitting. I’ll even go back and edit it after it’s been published, which takes me to tip #3…

3. Revise Your Posts

So, you wrote your first blog post and you hit submit, congrats! After about a month or so into this blogging gig, you might realize your first post was not amazing. It was basically just a filler post so that you could say you had a blog post. Right?

Well, good news, nothing is ever written in stone and you can go back and revise it! In fact, I really recommend you do this to almost every single post that you write. Why? Because as you grow and develop as a blogger, so do your ideas and your insights. What you once thought was a good idea, might no be anymore. You need to revise this so that your readers are up to date. Because once you write a blog post and publish it…it’s out there for the whole world to see and read forever. Or until you delete your blog. 😉

For photography, sometimes my photos get better and I have better examples to show. I like to update my pictures from time to time and I also like to sometimes update my blog formats. One thing I like to do is try to make them all look the same. I edit a blog post at least once a week (when I’m actively blogging, *cough*). So, remember, nothing is set in stone and you can update the post after submitting.

4. Define Your ‘Why’

Why are you blogging? If it’s for money…stop right now! You need to be passionate about blogging for you to get anything out of it! It’s hard work. And it takes time. Figure out they ‘why’ you’re blogging. For me, I LOVE to help people learn new things, give advice, and show off my photography. Figuring out your why will help you with your first post.

Side note: I would recommend skipping the introduction post. Just dive RIGHT into what you will ultimately be blogging about. For example, my blog is about photography. I could dive right in for my first post with a tutorial on shutter speed. Act like you’ve been blogging for years. In other words, fake it till you make it.

5. What to Include in Your Posts

I’ll break this down a little further, but there are some must includes in a post! After you decide what to write about, research your topic, write an outline, and define your ‘why’, you’ll need to be sure every post includes the following:

  • Short paragraphs – people like to skim blog posts, make sure you have short paragraphs that are easily readable. Including bullet points help, too, because then they can just read the bullet points if they’re really lazy!
  • Add graphics or images – adding images that relate to your blog post really helps enhance it and helps your readers understand exactly what it’s about. If you’re writing a tutorial, try to show the process and the setup. If you need to you can even get stock images!
  • Break your post into sections with H2 tags – Header 2 is something that google really notices! So you want to make sure you break your post into sections with H2 tags. This will also help your readers skim, by making sure your headers give them all the information they need! All the tips in this blog post are H2 tags!
  • Longer blog posts – When you first write a blog post, you might not have a whole lot of information to add to it, but try to fill your blog post with enough information that you don’t leave your readers hanging, thinking, ‘what else do I need to do?’. The most words and paragraphs you have, the more professional you look.

Remember it takes practice

You won’t be a rockstar blogger the very first time you post a blog post! Remember that, just like everything else in life, it takes practice and patience! And remember tip #3 – revise your posts. You’ll be able to go back and revise anything that might be embarrassing later down the road.

Headline Ideas

And to get you started with some really helpful blogging ideas, I created a list of headline ideas to help get your creative juices flowing! And bonus, these don’t just apply to photographer bloggers, but just bloggers in general can benefit from these. They are headline ideas that will in turn, help you decide what to write about.

Thank you so much for dropping by. If you are a new blogger, what is the most intimidating thing about blogging? Please comment below!

11 Things You Should Be Doing as a Blogger

11 Things You Should Be Doing as a Blogger

When you start your blog for the first time, it can be quite intimidating. There are so many things you need to do for your blog to be set up (if you’re serious about blogging, that is!) and I found that certain things are more important than others. I remember when I first set up my blog and it came time to write my first post, I thought, “what do I even write about as my first post?” mainly because I didn’t have any credit. Nobody knew me. Nobody knew what my content would be about. But my best advice is to just do it! Just start writing. I did, and I haven’t looked back! My first post (that I’ve since deleted because it was so horrible, I couldn’t save it) was about my photography journey. It was short and mostly filled with horrible images. I’ve since learned a lot as a blogger and how to write a decent post. And I’m hoping this post will help you as a blogger.

In this post I really want to talk about best practices as a blogger. I’ll share with you what I’ve learned along the way. Blogging is definitely a journey. If you’re new to blogging, congrats! It’s a fun career to get into and it is definitely rewarding if you put in the effort and the time and money. Remember to have fun with it. If you aren’t enjoying blogging, you really shouldn’t blog. That’s just my two cents on that. Do something that you absolutely love. Write about something you love. You’ll enjoy it so much more.

read about How to Take Better Photos for Your Blog

Blogging Tips - 11 Things You Should be doing as a blogger

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will get a small portion of revenue when you purchase something. Read my full disclosure here.

These tips will get you started in blogging and will also help keep your blog up to date.

1. take a course

Okay, I cannot stress this enough. Seriously. You can’t do this on your own. I really liked the Blog by Number ecourse by Suzi – it really changed the way I blogged. I loved this whole blog course. And the best part is that it’s not that expensive! You get a lot of information on how to start your blog, make money from your blog, blog post ideas, and so much more. Worth the money, believe me! She lays it all out for you, step by step! Go get this ecourse as soon as possible. It’s amazing. I still look back at it from time to time. Review it, make sure I’m doing everything she recommends. Once I started doing what she suggests, my stats have exploded.

Here are some free courses that I really enjoyed:

  1. I really enjoyed Summer Tannhauser’s Pinterest Course – it really helped get followers and grow my website traffic
  2. The First Month Blog Plan by Suzi is a great free course to get you started

There are other great free courses out there, as I find them and take them, I’ll come back and update this little list I have going. 🙂 I love free!

2. find your niche

When I first started, I just blogged about anything and everything. Which isn’t always good…unless you have a personal blog, then that’s different. But if you’re looking to make money from blogging, you really need to find your niche! Do you like food? You could start your own food blog where you post your recipes! Do you like helping people learn how to blog? You could dedicate your blog to that. Do you think you are a master at Instagram? There’s another niche. Once you realize your niche, blog about that and nothing else. Which leads me to…

3. update your posts

So, you wrote a blog post about 2 years ago that is totally unrelated to your blog now…what do you do? Should you leave it? My advice would be to revamp it. Either get rid of it or make it relate to your blog now. I’ve already started doing this so that all of my posts look cohesive. Just like in photography, having your blog look cohesive is important, too. You want your audience to know exactly what to expect when they come to your blog. And when you upgrade, upgrade all of your posts. Even if it takes longer, it’s worth it.

And you should also be going back and updating your posts that do relate to your blog. The more you learn on the subject, the more information you can bring (I’m actually updating this blog post right now because I have some new information!). I used to think, ‘Oh, I already aired that post, I can’t possibly revise it’. But, who’s stopping you? Only you. Nobody will really notice you updating your blog post, let’s be honest!

Pro Tip: If you feel like you need to, update the images in your blog post, too. Especially if they don’t look as professional as other posts. Like this one, I updated my Pinterest images because I recently figured out what a good Pinterest graphic should look like. The point is, don’t be afraid to update and polish your blog posts after you air them.

4. pin your posts

Make pinnable images for each and every blog post and pin them. No kidding. Also, the Tail Wind App has done wonders. It makes Pinterest so easy. All I do is make a pinnable image, post my blog post, and then I schedule my pin to pin in all types of boards using Tail Wind. I also set up other pins that aren’t mine to post at the best time. Tail Wind seriously does all the hard work for me. I love it! You can do a free trail that they offer – but be warned! If you do the free offer, you’re going to want to do the paid version, too. Ok, I warned you.

Pinterest has been my main source of traffic.

Aly Dawn Photography 11 Things You Should Be Doing as a Blogger

5. be yourself

I’m serious here. When I first started, I wanted to see what other bloggers were doing. I tried to mimic some of my favorite bloggers. And the images I was producing, and the posts I was writing, they just came across as flat and I hated them!! So, my number one advice here is to just be yourself! When I first started, I wanted to be like all other bloggers and have light and bright images. But, that’s not my photography style. Once I accepted this and made blogging work for me and my style, I feel 100% better and actually love blogging. Be yourself. You shouldn’t be starting your blog for any reason except for yourself.

6. guest post

Don’t just write posts for yourself, write for other bloggers! And while I have you here, I am in the market for guest writers, so if you’re interest, please let me know. 🙂 By writing for other blogs, you get your name out there even more. So find a website (in your niche!) that could benefit from what you have to say! Get yourself out there. I wish I had known that when I first started.

7. good pictures

You need good pictures. Pictures draw you in. Make you linger. If you have really crappy snapshots … well … it just looks unprofessional. And it wouldn’t make me want to linger on a site! I know I love going to blogs that have beautiful photography. I’m not saying you need to be a photographer, but you do need to start thinking about how your images will affect your audience. If you’re a food blogger, you need your images to make your audience hungry. You need your subjects to look delicious! That’s what will make them click on your pin. Right? So, practice that photography!

Would anyone be interested in a photography class that is designed to help bloggers get better images? Let me know in the comments below.

Check out my post about getting better images for your blog.

8. be original

You need to find a reason for people to wander to your blog. There are so  many food bloggers, mommy bloggers, photography bloggers, etc. out there that it can be quite hard to become noticed. But you need to figure out what makes you original, what makes you special compared to those other bloggers. Once you find it, you blog and blog about it. Try to come up with blog posts that are original. Found a way to get your kids to be quiet and well behaved? Please, do share. I’d love to know your secrets! Figured out a ‘hack’ to photographing in backlit situations? Share your experience! I used to think coming up with blog post ideas was really hard stuff…but there is literally so many things you can blog about. I’m blogging about blogging for crying out loud! You’ve got this.

Aly Dawn Photography 11 Things You Should Be Doing as a Blogger

9. don’t do it for the money

If you’re doing it for the money, stop. You need to blog about something that really truly inspires you and gets you excited and happy. The money comes later after lots of work. And I mean lots of work. You have to market your blog, create quality content, create opt-ins, advertise affiliates, email your email list, etc. There is a lot of work that goes into a profitable blog. Trust me, I know. It takes practice, time, and patience. Which is sometimes hard for us to grasp. You might see a blogger say they made money in their first month, but chances are, they worked their butts off to get to that point in the first month. You can do it, too, if you are consistent and aggressive about starting your blog.

10. schedule your posts

Pick a day, write your posts, then schedule them for that week. This, of course, comes after you’ve managed to put your blog together. Scheduling posts is a legit life saver. I really don’t know what I’d do without it. In this little sit down I’ve already typed up and created 4 blog posts, that can now be scheduled for later times. That’s one lovely perk of being a blogger. It’s totally up to you to make up your hours and it’s the perfect stay at home mom job. Just sayin’!

Pro Tip: Quality blog posts go a longer way than how many blog posts you have. You don’t want to just spout out blog posts that have no use to your readers. Do your research, create blog posts that are beneficial to your readers. Take your time in creating blog posts and make sure they are consistent to your previous posts. Blogging takes work, remember?

11. comment on other blogs

Yes. This is similar to Instagram. You write a blog post, you need to go comment and show love on other blogs! That’s a really nice trick to getting some more traffic. Networking with fellow bloggers can do wonders. 🙂 A little hint I came across one day that’d like to pass on … when commenting, write your name out as Name @ Business Name (example: Alyssa @ Aly Dawn) – that way people know you are a blog and will click on your name. Sometimes the @ can look spammy, so you can also try Name at Business Name or Name (Business Name) something along those effects. When you comment, always make sure you link back to your blog!

And just like with my Instagram hints … leave genuine comments. Don’t comment on a post unless you really love it. Be genuine and be nice. Ask questions. You never know, it might get you comments back!

So, that’s it! Those are my 11 things you should be doing as a blogger. What is something you think all bloggers should do? I’d love to hear from you!


How to Blog for You and No One Else

How to Blog for You and No One Else

There are many reasons why you would want to blog for you or no one else. I came to a realization lately, that I was trying to be someone I wasn’t. I was trying to blog for people that probably didn’t care. I wasn’t blogging for me. And in turn, that wasn’t making me happy! Blogging was a chore. Now, I love blogging. But I had to find my why. Why do I blog?

check out my 3 Tips to Get Started in Photography post

blog2 (1)

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

why you blog

If you don’t blog for the right reasons, blogging will be very hard. You need to decide your ‘why’. I’ve had to do this recently. My blog used to be a place where I didn’t like what I was producing. And that’s all because I didn’t have a solid why. I was doing it because everyone else was doing it, it helps with SEO, and I heard it could make money. I sat down and really thought about my ‘why’. My why is I genuinely love helping beginner photographers and I love blogging. But first and most important, I love photography and showing others how I achieve something. I love learning new techniques and I love sharing what I’ve discovered. Figure out your why. Your blog might be based on something different, like food, fitness, style, etc. Why do you take pictures? Why do you love food? Why do you love to be healthy? Why do you blog? Focus on what your blog is about. Write down your why. Let it drive your blog posts. Let it drive your blog.

how to blog for you and no one else

There are, of course, a lot of reasons to blog for you and no one else. If you aren’t happy blogging, why do it? For the money? I think blogging will only make you real money if you truly love blogging and what you’re blogging about. Don’t blog for the money. Blog for you, and the money will come. My three ways on how to blog for you and no one else is below, keep reading or just simply look at the headlines to get the general idea.

1. don’t take pictures for your blog – write a blog post based on your experiences

My husband surprisingly made me realize this. I had a blog post in mind and I thought, “Oh now I have to go take pictures to match this blog post”. The pictures I was producing weren’t my style. They didn’t speak to me. But they fit the blog post. Which is great…sometimes. Sometimes you might have to do this. But don’t always do this. Blog about your experience. Blog about how you do something. Don’t try to fit in. Try to be unique. Who wants to go to a blog that looks just like all the rest? I know I don’t. This was a hard realization to realize. Write a blog post based on your experiences.

2. write about what inspires you

To go along with point number one, you should be writing what inspires you. Did you just try a new recipe that you want to share with your fans? Write about that! Did you just figure out an awesome new exercise? Write about that! Did you just learn a new photography technique? Share your experience and how you achieved your end result. If you aren’t inspired by the content you are writing, do you really expect your audience to be inspired? I didn’t think so.

3. blog because you love it

Very important. Don’t blog for the money. Don’t blog because everyone else is doing it. Don’t blog because you think it will help get your name out there. Blog because you love it. Do it for you, I really can’t stress it enough. I’ve had to realize this and it has helped me become inspired again. It has helped me want to blog again. I blog because I love it. I love blogging and I love sharing what I’ve learned. I want to help other photographers.

blog for you

Don’t forget the reason you started blogging. Feeling a little lost about what to blog about? Try reading my 100 Photography Blog Post Ideas post. It’s packed full of wonderful blog post ideas. You can even cater some to whatever genre of blogging you do. Have a question about photography? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below! Are you a fellow blogger? Comment below! I love to connect. Thanks for reading.

Lightroom Shortcuts You Should Know

Lightroom Shortcuts You Should Know

Shortcuts make everything easier, am I right? I am about things to make my life easierLightroom shortcuts are amazing. They help get your work down in half the time. No joke! I love using these shortcuts to quickly edit pictures. And who wouldn’t want to quickly edit pictures? I love Lightroom for so many reasons. One of them is because of how easy Lightroom is to use. I will be honest, I started off a Photoshop only girl. But one of my friends convinced me to switch to Lightroom and I’m hooked. I don’t know what I’d do without Lightroom! Lightroom shortcuts make Lightroom my go to editing software. I only take an image into Photoshop if I have to. Like if I need to clone something horrendous out! But that doesn’t happen often. I hope you find these Lightroom shortcuts helpful and I hope they speed up your Lightroom and editing time!

check out my Why You Should be Comparing Your Images in Lightroom post for ideas to get you started

Lightroom Shortcuts You Should Know

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

lightroom shortcuts you need to know

why lightroom

As I stated above, I love Lightroom! It is so easy to use. That is my number pro. It’s also easy to learn.

Allow me to give you 4 good reasons why you should use Lightroom:

  • It’s easy!
  • You can cut your editing down by 50% from using it
  • It allows you to edit your images beautifully
  • You can make presets to make your work flow even faster

And now, without further ado, I give you my handy list of shortcuts! I have tested and made sure each of these work! I use Lightroom Creative Cloud – if you have a different version of Lightroom, and these shortcuts don’t work, let me know in the comments below so I can update my list!

general shortcuts

Press Tab to hide side panels.

Press Shift + Tab to hide all panels

Press to show/hide toolbar

Press F6 to show/hide filmstrip

Press to enter in lights out mode.

library module

To switch to Library Module press Ctrl + Alt + 1 (Cmd + Option + 1).

1. show the shortcuts

I just found this neat shortcut. If you press Ctrl + / (Cmd + / for Mac users) it will allow you to view a full list of shortcuts for each module. How neat is that? This shortcut expands beyond just the library module – it’s for each module that you are in. If you want to see a list of shortcuts for the develop module, make sure you are in the develop module! Easy peasy.

2. import + export photos

Here’s a nice little shortcut that can save you about 2 seconds 😉 If you press Ctrl + Shift + I (Cmd + shift + E for Mac users) it will allow you to import your photos. I love using this. I sometimes get distracted with all the buttons available that it takes me a little while to find a certain button. With this shortcut, I don’t have to, and it really does help to save 2 seconds of my busy editing time!
Just like with importing, if you press Ctrl + Shift + E (Cmd + Shift + E for Mac users) it will allow you to export your images.

3. set ratings, color labels, and picks/rejects

I use these shortcuts on a regular basis!! They help me when I cull my images. To set star ratings, simply press 1-5. I usually rate my images a 1 if I am unsure and a for keeper. Of course, you can come up with your own work flow. To set color labels, press 6-9. This will change the boxes around your images to certain colors. My favorite is 9 – blue, which is my favorite color! I change all my editing, finished, and ready for export images to blue.
Here’s one of my favorite tricks for Lightroom! I love setting my images as  picks/rejects. How you do this is simply press for a pick and X for a reject. I ‘reject’ any images that are for sure ones I need to delete. Missed focus, doesn’t tell a story, etc. Then I can go to Edit > Select by Flag > Rejected and have all of the ‘rejects’ highlighted and then deleting them all. Really quick & easy and now all of my complete rejects are gone!

4. different view modes

I love using the different view modes in the library modules. If you press it will enter into Grid Mode, showing all of the images in that library in a grid. Get to look through a lot of images. If you press E it will enter into Loupe view, which is basically viewing one image at a time. If you press it will enter into compare mode, where you can compare two of your images. This is great if you are trying to get your editing to be consistent. If you press it will enter into Survey mode, which will allow you to press as many images as you’d like to survey and make sure they are consistent. I love this view. After I am done editing, I press all of my images and then to see if they all look the same. Then if I need to tweak any, I can click on that image, switch to develop, and edit, then switch back to Library to see if the changes look more consistent with the other images.
If you press = or – it will change the size of your grid thumbnails.

develop module

To switch to the Develop Module, press Ctrl + Alt + 2 (Cmd + Option + 2).

1. crop shortcuts

By pressing R it will bring the crop tool up, allowing you to crop right away. Then while in the crop tool, you can press X to rotate your crop view from landscape to portrait, and vice versa. Then if you would like to change the overlay of the crop, simply press O. This will cycle through some different crops, like the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Spiral, Golden Ratio, Golden Triangles, and more. While you’re in some of these crop overlays, you can also press Shift + O to rotate the crop view.

2. adjustment shortcuts

Press Q to pull up the Spot Removal tool. Pressing M will bring up the Graduated Filter. Pressing K will bring up the Adjustment Brush. Pressing will show your clippings, highlights or shadows. Pressing [ or ] will change the brush size (I sometimes find it annoying that Photoshop doesn’t have this shortcut!).

3. edit in photoshop

Sometimes you have to take your image into Photoshop to ‘clean’ it up a bit. Lightroom, sadly, does not have the best cloning tool. If you press Ctrl + E it will pull your image into Photoshop for you to edit it there.

4. create a new preset

The shortcut to create a new preset is Shift + Ctrl + N. If you aren’t making your own presets to help cut down on editing time, I highly recommend it!


What are some things you struggle with and would like to know about Lightroom? Comment below! Also comment what your favorite shortcut is.

Lightroom Free Shortcuts Printable

Along with this fancy little guide, I’ve created a FREE Shortcut Printable for you to print and hang near your computer. After you start using and implementing these shortcuts into your workflow, you’ll start remembering them instantly.