I used to be so nervous going into sessions, especially family sessions. How would my photos turn out? Would my clients be disappointed in their final images? I honestly think those nerves greatly affected my ability to create the art I wanted to create, and left me in a rut. I wasn’t happy with where my work was at, and although I’m sure I was the only one who could see that, it still mattered to me. But over the past year or so, something shifted, and my approach to family photography has changed. I’ll share a little more below about what changed for me as a Bay Area family photographer, and how it has made me so much more thrilled about the work I’m creating.

Instead of worrying about “getting the shot”, I’ve started to fret less. I’ve shifted my perspective and goal from creating the perfect gallery to honestly and adequately capturing what’s right in front of me. This small shift has left me inspired, not heading into every session with a “must get” list, but instead showing up with some inspiration and a lot of space for creative freedom. 

Giving myself the ability to create, not just click, opened up a whole side of creativity I hadn’t seen in years. It helped me to tap into the artist that I am, not just the photographer. Maybe being a wedding photographer for so long had something to do with it. Although there’s nothing wrong at all with being a wedding photographer. To me it felt so much like a list to check off: bouquet, bridesmaids, groom and his dad, wedding shoes, cutting the cake.. and the list literally goes on and on. And although I do still bring my handy list (in my head) to all sessions to make sure we get all the combinations, it’s not nearly as extensive or specific. I’ve allowed myself room to breathe, and it’s been within that breath that I’ve found my art.

Maybe it’s the fact that I know my clients trust me, and within that I am also learning to trust myself. “I will do a great job of photographing this family, I will deliver a beautiful gallery.” Are things I tell myself often. I have turned from my perfectionist tendencies and started to embrace the fact that things are imperfect, and that’s okay.

But perhaps the most important of them all, I’ve started to approach each and every session that I do differently. I have a whole new way of preparing for sessions, executing sessions, and then critiquing my sessions. That process in and of itself has been so helpful for me to grow and learn and create. I’m hoping to share more about exactly what I do with you soon!


Rachel Howden Photography is a photography mentor in the San Francisco Bay Area who specializes in family, newborn, baby, motherhood, and maternity photography in the Bay Area. Including Livermore, Oakland, Walnut Creek, San Francisco, San Mateo, Palo Alto, San Jose, Fremont, and Pleasanton. Mentorships are not limited to being in person and can be done virtually as well. This post focuses on Rachel as an educator for other photographers. Rachel loves helping other photographers learn film photography, balancing motherhood and business, and finding your why and purpose in your business. She helps photographers build rhythms and techniques to have a successful business filled with contentment and joy (and profit, of course). 

This post helps you to have a little sneak peek into what you will receive if you have me as your photography coach. If you want to learn more about what a mentorship and coaching session looks like, you can find out more about it On This Page.

Are you interested in booking a mentorship? Contact me HERE