Kevin Hail…Baby Photographer. Not!

I will be the first to admit that I am not a great baby photographer, like my friend Sherah Witt.  I think the very instinct that makes a woman a better nurturer, is the same instinct that makes them better at taking photographs of infants.  Babies don’t respond to my falsetto “coochie coo”, the same way they do to a woman’s soft mommy voice.  Most babies look at me with humor and amusement, like a funniest home video, or a Mr. Bean skit.  So, hey, I’ll go with that.  I think that if I were to really give this “Baby Photography” thing a try, I’d have to give every Mom & Dad paying me a disclaimer…don’t expect to see photos where the baby is looking up at me (the camera) with tender doe eyes.  Expect your baby to look like they just saw a monkey riding on a unicycle.

Nevertheless, I had a blast taking photos of my friends’ sweet, little 4-month-old girl yesterday.  The entire photo shoot took place in the baby’s room over the course of an hour.  I tried natural light, but the window wasn’t allowing me enough light to work with.  So I pulled out the 28″ Apollo Softbox, and put a Canon 580exII speedlight inside and filled the room with directional light.  That setup was what I used for probably 75% of the remaining shot.  It’s critical to leave yourself some options. If I hadn’t had any lights with me, I’d be up a creek.  While I feel that nothing is prettier than natural light pouring in through a window onto a baby laying on a soft blanket in their crib, I just couldn’t get that, so I had to recreate that.

Here are a few of the shots from yesterday.  If you’re a baby photographer, don’t worry…I’m not coming for you.  I’ve got to keep working on my coochie coos.

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Our Instagram Photo Wall

Since last year, Amanda and I have been taking photos and publishing them on an iPhone app called Instagram.  In a nutshell, it’s a photo community built around “instant” iPhone pics. I’ve found it to be very satisfying way to capture my life, because I always have my iPhone, but don’t always have my dSLR handy.  I’ve been awful about printing out my photos and hanging them on the wall.  For one thing, frames are so expensive.  Additionally, I get sick of my photos too quickly and want to change them out.  So we had an idea of printing out and hanging a grid of these Instagram photos in frames, with the thought being that we’d just rotate in some new pics every few weeks.  I’m very excited to show you how our wall turned out.


The frames were super cheap.  When all was said and done, we bought 16 frames for under $80 at Michael’s.  In fact, this whole thing cost us under $100. “The wall”, as we’re calling it, is in our dining area where we’ll see it every night as we sit down to eat as a family.  It’s meant to inspire us to appreciate special moments in our lives and to take more photos, all of us.  My kids photos will be joining those that Amanda and I have taken.  Already, I’ve been teaching my kids to look for moments and ask for mom or dad’s iPhone to take a picture, but honestly, they’ve already got the eye.

So the pictures aren’t perfect, the prints aren’t perfect, the frames aren’t perfect…but life isn’t perfect.  Take more pictures anyway and celebrate your life.

Laura Gaspard - April 13, 2011 - 10:30 am


Rebekah Vinyard - April 13, 2011 - 10:50 am

Wow! This is such a great idea and you guys pulled it off beautifully! Great work!

Alisha Ippolito - April 13, 2011 - 12:41 pm

This looks great! Did you print with Instaprint or somewhere else? I’ve been collecting all my Instagram prints in a folder and at the end of the year I’m going to pick my favorites to showcase framed as well. 🙂

Kevin - April 13, 2011 - 2:11 pm

Laura, your move next…home-decor-awesomeness queen!

Kevin - April 13, 2011 - 2:13 pm

The hanging with precision was all Amanda. She about to bludgeon me to death with a hammer, though, cause she was so frustrated with the frames not lining up.

Kevin - April 13, 2011 - 2:22 pm

Alisha, thanks! We printed ours out on 5×7’s on my Epson 835 Artisan. I love that printer. Had the previous one and it makes nice, consistent prints from Lightroom when printing on Epson paper and using the Epson paper ICC configurations. I think we’re going to start seeing a lot of these instagram printing services pop up, like Postagram, for instance.

Adrian Hummel - April 18, 2011 - 11:15 am

That is a really cool idea. Great stuff!

Kevin - April 19, 2011 - 9:09 am

Thanks, Adrian!

Lara - November 9, 2011 - 7:37 am

awesome idea! I think looks so great—I’ve been wanting to do this myself. Seeing yours as me motivated 🙂


hannah - February 13, 2012 - 12:22 pm

what a great idea! it looks like the photos are printed at 4×4 or 5×5…are those the dimensions? i always have the hardest time finding frames that work for my instagram photos! thanks!

Instagram Photo Wall « « TodaysMama TodaysMama - February 17, 2012 - 5:06 am

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Carrie - Careful Cents - February 21, 2012 - 10:12 am

This is absolutely one of the best ideas ever! I’m a big fan of Instagram and use it all the time on my iPhone. I also enjoy photography and displaying my photos in my apartment. I will definitely be doing this. Thanks so much for sharing your inspiration.

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Patty - February 23, 2012 - 6:15 am

Love the idea! Love your last statement! “So the pictures aren’t perfect, the prints aren’t perfect, the frames aren’t perfect…but life isn’t perfect. Take more pictures anyway and celebrate your life.”

Kel - February 23, 2012 - 11:23 am

I featured you today for my Pinterest Thursday post. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Maria smith - March 1, 2012 - 8:08 am

Did you use the same instagram “filters” for all the pics or different ones? What size are the frames? Thanks so much!

Lisa - March 27, 2012 - 11:23 pm

You can get your instagram pics printed from an app called postal pix. I’ve tried it and they turned out awesome. You can get 4×4, 5×5, 8×8 or regular size prints. It’s awesome check it out!

Our Instagram Photo Wall » Kevin Hail Photography | Max's Bric-a-Brac and Miscellani - March 30, 2012 - 5:04 pm

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Natalie - April 19, 2012 - 9:06 am

Amazing! Great Job, you guys!

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Kaye - April 20, 2012 - 8:15 pm

This is such a great idea, thank you for sharing!

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Mike Watrous - May 8, 2012 - 12:32 pm

Well done Kevin!

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kellie - May 31, 2012 - 7:26 pm

i love it!! awesome idea.

michelle - June 1, 2012 - 10:14 am

What size frames did you get and what size prints did you order?

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Hi there, wanted to let you know this was featured on FLOR’s design blog, Musings, the other day:

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seo - August 4, 2012 - 11:30 am

Whats up very cool website!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Wonderful .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds additionally?I am satisfied to find numerous helpful information here in the submit, we’d like work out more techniques on this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

Martha Locker - August 11, 2012 - 11:51 pm

Love this. just downloaded Instagram so I can do this.

Lisa Marks Schwarz - August 18, 2012 - 11:29 pm

Kevin–how are you enlarging and printing the instagram pictures?

Kim Baker - August 30, 2012 - 11:05 am

I love this idea! I think a “favorites photo wall” will be happening in the very near future.

Marsha Regeling - August 30, 2012 - 11:16 am

Super idea. I saw a nice collage frame that would work perfectly. Or maybe one of those 3 panel screens. Thanks for the mind diversion Kim!

Kim Baker - August 30, 2012 - 11:31 am

I need to get to Ikea. They have, if I remember correctly, some pretty inexpensive square frames that I think will work perfectly for this. 🙂

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Smilingwatermelon - September 11, 2012 - 8:00 pm

Where did you get your instagram pictures printed?

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Anna Servey - October 11, 2012 - 5:31 pm

@[35636298379:274:Photo Pro] in Cedar Rapids, IA can print Instagram’s up to 12×12″! They do a fantastic job!=o)

Susanne Holzer Miller - October 14, 2012 - 2:29 am

Love this!!!!

Teri Roux Ramirez - November 9, 2012 - 7:39 pm

What size frames? It looks awesome! Thank you for the inspiration!

Sheila Chaconas Melo - December 5, 2012 - 1:42 am

Not sure if the question below was answered… but what type/size frame was used from Michael’s? This picture display looks amazing!

Kimberly Robinson - December 9, 2012 - 3:01 am

Love the square frame& matte, cannot find them anywhere, please help!

David Sander - December 9, 2012 - 10:14 am

I have same question what size frame and mat? What is the mat size? Can someone please post? Are they enlarged or just your 4 x 4..

Natalie Myers - December 29, 2012 - 9:56 pm

Michaels have 8×8 matted frames for $9.99, they have an opening for the 4×4 instaprints. This week frames are on sale at Michaels.

Sheila Chaconas Melo - December 29, 2012 - 10:12 pm

Thank you!

David Sander - December 30, 2012 - 4:14 pm

Do you know SKU number?

Fresh Squared - January 16, 2013 - 6:49 pm

You should check out metal and wood prints from We feature great Instagram artists and the prints come ready to hang (no framing).


Sheila Chaconas Melo - February 1, 2013 - 12:06 am

FYI – My local Michael’s only has 8×8 frames for a 5×5 picture (reg retail $19.99). I did find 8×8 frames for 5×5 picture online at Walmart (product code 0003855539077) @ $13.97 for a 2 pk. Also, as mentioned by Anna, prints Instagram photos (and they print 5×5).

Beezly Sultana Groh - February 2, 2013 - 10:34 pm

I was able to find the exact frames at Michael’s. In fact, 16 frames cost me $80 plus tax (but the frames were 50% off at the time). I took me a little while to find the exact frames so I thought I would share with you. The frames are from Michael’s Studio Decor Portrait Collection (SKU 470900); 10×10 matted to 5×5 picture window (window is framed by a thin black plastic insert…it is not double matted). Also, if you look carefully, the frame finish is not smooth–wood grains are visible. You will have to print out your instragrams 5×7 to fit these frames.

Beezly Sultana Groh - February 2, 2013 - 10:39 pm

I was able to find the exact frames at Michael’s. In fact, 16 frames cost me $80 plus tax (but the frames were 50% off at the time). I took me a little while to find the exact frames so I thought I would share with you. The frames are from Michael’s Studio Decor Portrait Collection (SKU 470900); 10×10 matted to 5×5 picture window (window is framed by a thin black plastic insert…it is not double matted). Also, if you look carefully, the frame finish is not smooth–wood grains are visible. You will have to print out your instragrams 5×7 to fit these frames.

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Paige Slater - March 18, 2013 - 6:05 pm

How did you print your instagram photos?

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Sarah Janse van Rensburg - June 20, 2013 - 2:15 pm But it looks like you might get a better frame and mat from Michael’s.

Courtney Groom Denton - June 23, 2013 - 1:07 am

Why do you have to print 5×7 for a 5×5 opening?

admin - June 25, 2013 - 11:31 pm

Hi Courtney, it’s easy to just break open a pack of 5×7’s and print on them, rather than cutting a 5×5 from a 5×7. The extra white space is hidden by the matting.

Ara Zane Handayan Madera - July 4, 2013 - 12:06 pm

f you share it to facebook or other program you can copy then paste it to excel or “save image as” if you want to edit it before you print it …. i hope you get it ^___^

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Laura Killgour - September 9, 2013 - 9:53 pm

Hey, My name is Laura and I blog about tips for displaying printed Instagram photos at I have been doing lots of looking around to find unique ideas and I just want to let you know I love this idea! I love seeing the crafty ideas that people create to display their Instagram photos! thank you for the inspiration and thank you for sharing. I really hope this idea inspires people to print their Instagram photos!

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Vikki Greer - March 6, 2014 - 2:55 pm

This is a brilliant idea, and it made me think about doing one of my own. I opted for the cheap version and used photo mounts, it’s not a half bad option!

Sham Ahmed - May 8, 2014 - 2:40 pm

£3.50 a frame!! hope this helps – i definately will do this as my next home project 🙂

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Steffen Coonan - October 20, 2014 - 12:54 pm

Hi, great photos. Have you seen these guys Pico Frames:
They are bespoke picture frames for the mobile photographer. Enjoy

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Love this!!

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For the love of pictures

I believe that when my son grows up to become the photographer that I aspire to be,  we will both look back at this photo I took of him in the park the other day and we’ll laugh.  He is awkwardly holding the camera in his little hands and one of his fingers is even blocking the lens as he’s taking a picture of his daddy, who is taking a picture of him.  My laughter won’t be a mocking laughter, though.  I’ll be pondering the innocence of children and the innocence of “taking pictures” and my inner smile will turn to laughter. My son Colin is 3 years old.  He is part scientist, part wrestler, all boy, and a true work of art.  He has grown up with a camera in his face, flashes firing in his eyes from inches away, and a dad constantly hollering at him to “look at the camera!”  After all these years of seeing me, with cameras and lights, taking pictures of the world around us, it’s finally dawned on him that a camera is not just another device with cool buttons that he can push, it’s actually a way of connecting with the world around us.

In the last few months, I’ve seen this awareness turn on like a light bulb.  He’ll say, “dad, that’s a cool picture”, as he’s looking at a sky with bright white clouds, or a sunset with rich colors.  Colin chases our dog around the house taking blurry photos of paws, books, carpet, etc.   The connection is slowly being made from his head to his heart that a picture is a way to preserve a moment in time and create a memory.  When gold is being smelt from the ore that it’s housed in, the chunk of ore is taken through a rigorous process to draw out what is valuable, the gold, from what is not valuable.  In it’s purest form, the “gold” of photography, is the joy of taking pictures.  Children are closer to what is precious about photography: they are not self-conscious about their pictures compared to others’ pictures, they aren’t obsessed with bigger and better gear, and they certainly don’t wrestle with the feeling that they must chronically self-promote to stand out.  They just love pushing the button and looking at what they captured.

As photographers, do we ever just sit back and look at our pictures and enjoy them?  I know I don’t do that often enough.  I’m always obsessed with criticizing my own work. And even that word “work” is so self-important, isn’t it?  It’s like we feel that we have to add gravitas to our pictures by calling it our “work”.  Hey, I do it too!  I spend hours looking back at early pictures I took, ripping my self to shreds…if only I’d framed that differently…. look at that horrible HDR, what was I thinking?…if only I’d had a better lens when I shot that. No doubt that self-evaluation is what makes us better, but it can bit-by-bit  steal away the “gold” of photography.  Are we having fun?  Are we feeding that child inside of all us, who longs to capture a moment that captures our imagination, and to proudly hold the camera up and say, “dad, look at my picture”?

Everything in life is subject to competition.  Photography is highly competitive.  Many of my fellow photographers are competing with other photographers for actual food on the table.  I feel for them.  I truly do.  How difficult it must be to be magnanimous and gracious to other photographers who are competing for the clothes off your childrens’ backs.  I believe that with anything in life, though, the world favors those who favor others and those who pursue their imagination.  How do you define success as a photographer?  Is it the money you make?  The awards and recognitions you rack up?  I don’t judge anyone for their personal criteria for defining photography success, but I do believe that most of our definition of success in photography is inversely proportional to the fun we’re having.  If you’re a full-time photographer, are you carving out enough personal time for projects that inspire you?  For all of us, are we printing our images out and hanging them on the wall so we can enjoy the fruits of our labor?

I want to be more like Colin, grab whatever camera I can get my hands on and take a picture when I see something that interests me. If my big fat finger is in the way, so be it.  To respond to what is in front of me, whatever nature presents, or whatever captures my imagination.  For you beginning photographers, don’t take this as a charge to not spend your time learning and striving to be better, just don’t lose your love for taking a picture, as you become more and more technically proficient.  Be like Colin…as God speaks to you through his wonderful creation, tell him you’re listening and that you appreciate what he’s given you enough to capture that moment in time and show others.  Never lose sight of the gold…take pictures that inspire you and enjoy the moments you’ve captured along the way.

Laura Gaspard - April 5, 2011 - 4:32 pm

AWESOME blog post Kevin! Very inspiring! I loved this picture from the moment I saw it! Great perspective on photography.

admin - April 5, 2011 - 4:41 pm

Thank you!

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How I Shoot Senior Portraits

Senior Portraits are some of my favorite photo shoots.  I never had senior portraits done for me and I kind of regret that.  But even back then, I was not interested in getting my picture made in front of some large numbers, or standing there in a studio with a cap and gown.  I hate that kind of stuff.  So as an adult and a photographer, I have zero interest in photographing people in those cliche ways.  Tiffany asked me to take her senior portraits and I immediately knew I’d do it, because I knew that she had a strong sense of style and an engaging personality.  A lot of teens are incredibly awkward and self-conscious, so it can be quite challenging to get them to open up and put themselves out there.

When I approach a senior portrait, my philosophy is that you are freezing in time a moment when a girl or guy is just becoming an adult.  They have one foot in childhood and one foot in adulthood.  It’s a wonderful time in their lives, full of hope and promise of things to come.  Your images should reflect that unique moment in their lives.

Here are some tips for senior portrait photography :

1) Ask the senior to do a lot of research and give you links and photos of what they perceive as stylish.

2) Pick a location that stimulates creativity, i.e. downtown with lots of different walls and alleys.

3) Over-communicate.  The longer you sit there and fidget with the back of your camera and leave the teen in silence, the more paranoid they’ll be when you start shooting again.

4) Keep moving.  A young person’s attention span is kind of short and they can lose interest fairly quickly, so be prepared to take a few and move along.

5) Make it fun.  Your connection is everything if you want them to come alive in front of the camera.  Trust is vital.  So, tell jokes, make a fool of yourself, etc.

Our senior, Tiffany, was such a pro.  She was fully prepared for the shoot and had great patience.  She told me she wanted images in the style of the store, Anthropologie, and that she wanted to have a vintage feel to them.  A lot of the vintage style is accomplished in post-processing, but her clothing was timeless and that made a huge difference.  She did a great job setting us up for success. It was a joy to work with Tiffany and we’re proud of her upcoming graduation. She’s got a bright future ahead of her.

Thorpe - March 8, 2011 - 10:12 am

Great tips to think about. And man… really nice pics from that session. Im sure she’s thrilled!

admin - March 8, 2011 - 11:29 am

Thanks, Thorpe. Any tips you’d like to share about nailing good portraits? You’re a great photog.

Deb Osorio - October 1, 2012 - 9:59 pm

your thoughts?

Michae Michael - December 5, 2013 - 6:05 am

nice shots…. i really love the concepts of your photos… 🙂

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