Behind the Curtain at Allison Tyler Jones Photography

Hi everyone! My name is Jessica.

I have been an admirer of Allison’s work for years, and yet, when I recently started working at ATJ Photo as the new Studio Manager, I was so nervous that seeing behind the metaphorical curtain at ATJ Photo would prove to be disappointing.

Not that I’m comparing Allison to the Wizard of Oz (although she does looks great in green). But I think that we have all had a Dorothy-esque experience, where we finally meet that person or visit that place or have that adventure that we have always dreamed of…only to realize it was nothing like we expected. Because sometimes when you see beyond the perception of magic or mystery or enchantment, it somehow just doesn’t live up to the anticipation.

Blog_BTS_082417_bw2Not the case with ATJ Photo. Not even close. The more time I spend “behind the curtain” here, the more enchanted I become.

Beyond the gum balls and ever-changing walls of portrait galleries you will find a real passion for capturing relationships, moments, memories, and the parts of us that make us each unique…combined with a little bit of swearing and a whole of QT Herbal Peach Tea.

Because, like all of us, Allison has those things which make her unique, which set her apart- not just as a photographer, but as a person.

Things that I think you might love to see.


So I am going to use this blog to take you on one incredible journey, Behind The Curtain of ATJ Photo.

And it’s one journey that, I guarantee, will not disappoint.


What to Wear for Family Portraits – AZ Family Photographer

As a portrait photographer, the most common question I am asked by my clients before a portrait session is:

” What do we wear?”

One of the most stressful parts of having your family photographed is figuring out what everyone is going to wear, particularly, if you have more than one or two children (can I get an, “Amen” from my fellow over-populaters?).

So, what is the best thing to wear for family photos?

Should everyone match or should everyone be dressed differently?

Can you just buy black shirts and jeans and call it good? (no, you cannot)

The best clothing looks are COORDINATED and often layered vs. matchy-matchy clothing that looks unnatural and forced.

Because we are photographing families as a group, it is important to avoid loud plaids and stripes or large patterns that will detract from the faces of the subjects. Think dressing in a similar TONE rather than everyone in the exact same color.

For example, if you want to dress someone in dark gray, make sure everyone is in darker colors or if you want to wear pastels, have everyone in lighter colors.


If you’re going to go Sunday best, think suit coats for the boys rather than just white shirts–you’ll thank me.


You may also want to start with a palette of colors like this mom did with black and camel being her palette of choice.


The most common mistake clients make is mixing light and dark together in tops and bottoms.

It is important to remember that light color advances while dark color recedes; that’s why I LOVE to wear dark gray or black. Hide that booty!


Light colors or white attracts the eye first and can make whomever is wearing it look bigger.

Attention Mom! Your mood sets the tone for the entire shoot so make sure that you feel confident in what you are wearing. A few suggestions for body confidence:
• The more skin you show, the heavier you tend to appear. You need to be very slender/toned to carry off sleeveless.
• 3/4 length sleeved button down blouses (with a collar) and V-necklines are universally flattering.

• If you’re carrying a few extra lbs. go with a tailored item of clothing vs. loose and flowing. Tailoring in a garment will give your body structure and line.

• Wear clothing that fits–not too tight and not too baggy (which makes you look heavier)

• Wear clothing that fits–not too tight and not too baggy (which makes you look heavier)

• Pencil skirts flatter pretty much everyone.

• SHOES! A killer pair of heels will lengthen your legs. (Tell your husband I said you need new shoes. You’re welcome.)




Sunday-best doesn’t have to be boring. Clothing details such as lace sleeves, a bejeweled collar and sassy shoes keeps this more traditional family portrait formal, but still interesting.

Work with, not against, your body type:

Pear Shaped (bottom heavy)
• You can get away with drawing more attention to your neck and décolletage with a dramatic necklace or detailed blouse/jacket.

• Dark rinse jeans or black pants can help camouflage the junk in the trunk.

• Avoid a maxi skirt which will just emphasize your hips at their widest point.


Did I mention shoes? The layered-casual style of the clothing for this family portrait perfectly depicts the cool, rock ‘n roll vibe of their family culture.

Apple Shaped (top heavy/busty)

• A V-neck is your best friend (and you might consider being fitted for a new bra–a supportive bra is good for 15 lbs of visual “weight-loss” in a photograph.)
• Simple, clean-lined tops with no ruffles or extraneous material up top.

• If you have great legs, a skirt, dress or skinny, skinny jeans with a looser top may be your best bet.

JARVIS_FM-LG-9474_20x30A palette of navy, royal blue, shades of gray and a shot of turquoise with the addition of some metallic shine in the little girl’s shoes plus texture in her dress, all combine to unify this beautiful family portrait.



• A sport coat over a button down gives structure to your body and hides that extra 15 lbs.

• If hubby is resistant to “dressing up” for this whole event, let him wear a button down shirt with jeans and flip flops or Converse sneakers for a dressed-up version of his normal casual vibe.

Wood Family Portrait

Dad pairs dark rinse jeans with sport coat and tie which keeps the whole combo from being too stuffy.



Kids look great in everything, the only concern is coordinating with the rest of the family for the group photo.
• Layered looks give us options to try photos with clothing items on/off for variation in the portraits.

The most important part of choosing clothing for kids to to let their personality shine through.

If you have a girlie-girl, let her be uber-dressy, even if everyone else is more casual. Let your Tomboy be her sporty/preppie self by putting leggings under her dress and letting her wear Chucks instead of heels. If you have a Poindexter, let him rock a bow tie, while his Skater/Surfer little bro. can work his Vans.


Boots with tulle and suspenders with bare feet. Don’t be afraid to mix it up!


Dressy doesn’t have to mean stuffy! No matter how they are dressed, Allison will bring out your kid’s personalities.


As the only girl in the family, this mom highlighted that face with this fabulous pink dress tucked in among her handsome boys.


Pattern and texture can totally work in a group portrait if you coordinate the color palette well. The shot of blue in the boy’s sneakers add some fun to this family portrait.

Selecting clothing can be stressful, there’s not doubt about that. But rest assured that the time you invest to select the right clothing will pay off big time in the final result!


Geneva O Martinez - April 29, 2017 - 5:41 PM

I’m absolutely in love with your work, I’ve been all over your site today on just an accidental google image. You have amazing work, so many great shots! I hope you’re still shooting while I save a cool grand to hire you!!

Photography Lighting Workshop – Pictureline Salt Lake City Utah – Profoto

OK, so I’m kind of (more than kind of) excited about an upcoming workshop that I’ll be teaching in Salt Lake City on Saturday, June 14th at pictureline, my favorite UT camera and gear store. Sponsored by my favorite lighting manufacturer, Profoto we are going to spend an entire day exploring the possibilities of studio lighting with kids and families. Here’s a link to a guest post I did on pictureline’s blog this last weekend with more info about the class and lighting kids. If you’re going to be in SLC, call and sign up today!


Jeanne Birmingham - August 21, 2014 - 8:20 AM

B is SO handsome!

Going to Press Today – 100% Kid in German – AZ Family Photographer

Just got this mock up from my editor at Peachpit Press for the German translation of my book 100% Kid: A Photographer’s Guide to Capturing Kids in a Whole New Light . Other translations are under way! So fun. Changing children’s photography one photographer at a time;)!!!
2196 U1 Jones 61

Sabine Arndt - September 10, 2014 - 2:43 PM

Dear Allison, I am a german photographer for family, kids, teens and other humans 😉 and I have to say, never, never read a photobook like this before. I read every word with pleasure! Thanks a lot. I ll follow you. Best wishes for you, your work (with so many love and heart) and your privat life … sabine

Marcus Woelbing - October 19, 2014 - 4:28 PM

Dear Mrs Allison Tylor Jones,

for more some weeks, I gave you a comment while I found in amazon (or ebay?) this book where I told you something about the both kids on the cover.
Today I am now here again. And these two kids I have seen in a very differnt way than on this cover, where I told what I felt.

My question is: have you pictures for to can buye? This with the two kids on the front of your book would be cool, to can look on the cover again and again. And when I see, the both kids where (this picture was devided into six or eight parts (2 lines)) where on the left was the girl laughing while on the right was the boy with he pollover over his mouth. Is there a way, to can buye these two photographs? Or are they advertisment for your job? I think so!! If there is no way to buye these photo, I think I will buye me the book and look at this, if me think to look at this.

To the comment I wrote to you for some more weeks, me has seen the photos in wrong light, because the photographs of the both kids (6/8 parts 2 lines) were this way, where I not feel to look into a mirror.

P.S. sometimes in my life and during the last 10 years, I have has seen maybe 7 photographs where I would have looked at the photographs again and again. This is with that photo on your book-cover, too. And the other one: maybe I would’t have seen this. But I am glad, very glad, that they are happy.


P.S. Maybe I can send a profi-photograph of mine (made at sutdioline). If I find your e-mail-adress, I will send you this. Maybe you see in my face what I see in my mirror, what was my description. (And the other two photographs, too).


Marcus Woelbing - February 9, 2015 - 5:57 PM

Dear Mrs. Allison Tylor Jones,

today I have thought on you and your work and what I told you.
When I read what I have written to you, even here, me wanted to say now, that I never have bought this book to look at the cover and that don’t wanted to buye the photographts of those both kids, because time is over where I need this. On one day I will marry and my wife and my kids will make me happy. Sometimes it was good, to have seen what my heart has warmed or in this case with the mirror I’ll be glad to have seen the photograph with 6/8 blocks in 2 lines and smiling in this case was top for me to see.

Maybe by then and have a nice day .

Marcus 🙂

Kid Photography Singapore - November 21, 2016 - 10:13 PM

Beautiful pictures & professional work.


100% Kid: The Book – Download a Free Chapter : AZ Photographer

My publisher just shared this link with me that will allow you to download a FREE chapter of my latest book, 100% Kid: A Photographer’s Guide to Capturing Kids in a Whole New Light published by Peachpit Press and available on or at Barnes and Noble everywhere.

A Lighting Gear Checklist for Photographing Kids

I hope you enjoy it!



Rebecca McBride - February 20, 2014 - 3:38 PM

Thanks! Loooooove your photography!!

admin - February 20, 2014 - 5:03 PM

Thank you so much Rebecca!

michelle c. - April 8, 2014 - 3:08 PM

I LOOOOVE this new book of yours! I picked it up at WPPI this year and am still drooling over all the fantastic content (and gorgeous pictures, of course). Quick question, though… in several places, Appendix A is referenced, but it seems like the Appendix A might NOT be included in the book? Am I missing something?

Alan M. Collopy - April 10, 2014 - 4:39 PM

WOW…I love this book. Not only is the photography stunning, but the content of the book is exactly what I was looking for. As an avid youth sports photographer, I love kids. This book focuses on the techniques of shooting kids. The lighting examples, real-world photo shoots with kids, tips, style, just love it Allison. It’s my inspiration to move forward into this area of photography more, and to practice more in studio. And, above all, simply adorable kids. Can’t wait for the DVD coming out, and vol. #2…right??


admin - April 14, 2014 - 10:46 AM

Thank you Michelle and Alan! So glad you are enjoying the book! Michelle–I will have Peachpit get back with you on the “Appendix A” issue;)!

Liz - July 28, 2016 - 7:33 AM

Hi Allison! Thank you for writing this book. I’m only on page 14 and i can’t read it fast enough. I am at a crossroads in my business and your words are “speaking to me”. ❤️ I love the part about never putting your camera away until the client leaves. I recently had a similar experience and that last shot – dressed up ready to go as the child’s “real” self is the image they chose and the one on my website. Thank you for the reminder. I’m SO excited to keep reading. Wishing you continued success in all you do.

admin - August 10, 2016 - 4:25 PM

Thank you so much Liz for taking time to write such kind words. I’m so glad you are finding the book helpful!