Professional Education – Erin Tole and Rachel Vanoven’s Same/Different Workshop Part I

When I was pregnant with my 2 1/2 year old son, I researched newborn photography. Though I was just beginning to get serious about photography, I mostly wanted to find an excellent photographer to capture images of my baby. This was when I discovered Rachel Vanoven Photography. Her images blew me away. Artistic, warm with rich tones, every photograph of hers is a piece of art. Looking through her blog, I saw that she was also vocal about the importance of safety in working with and posing newborn babies. Rachel Vanoven quickly became one of my absolute favorite photographers. Through her I was introduced to Erin Tole Photography. Every gallery on her website is evocative of motherhood in a style that’s earthy, organic and flawlessly finished.

And so imagine my excitement when, this past spring, Rachel and Erin announced a joint workshop they were hosting in my home state of California. The Same/Different Workshop was two days of intensive newborn photography training, covering lighting, posing, safety, styling, photographing, and post-processing. I was thrilled to get a spot to a workshop so high in demand, since the limited seats ensured an intimate teaching environment. Well, the workshop came and went, and this here blog post is a bit of my experience.

Erin Tole led Day 1. We had three models, two indoor babies and one outdoor. It was really awesome to see Erin in action. She set up using the window light in the expansive workshop location (held at this Chino studio). The first baby was a beautiful girl with milky skin. As with all the babies, attendees were each given a turn to photograph the different poses. Here is model #1 in both bean bag and prop poses.

All images posed and styled by Erin Tole Photography. Photographed and edited by Love Light Jules Photography. 






As you can see, we were able to photograph babies in Erin’s distinctive style. Such a thrill for me!

Next up were poses with parents. Though this can be a difficult pose to explain to parents, I learned a few tips from watching Erin interact with this family. Now, how gorgeous is this mom? I think she must be a professional model.



Some black and whites because I love them so.


Next up was a sweet little girl. So many set ups, so many images to share. <3








Here’s Erin in action. 🙂


After this baby girl, we took a break from photographing and moved on to post-processing. Erin showed us her workflow, handling the files from the RAW state to completion. Erin is quite the Photoshop expert and has developed a series of presets for ACR and Lightroom and also actions for Photoshop. All of images here (and most of my images in general) use her collection. It was very cool to be literally looking over her shoulder while she worked. Seriously, it was one of my geek dream’s come true.

Evening came and so did our outdoor newborn shoot. I had never done this before, so it was a great experience for me. The momma of this model was also really awesome to work with. She birthed this little peanut in her car!


And that’s a wrap for Day 1! My summary of Rachel Vanoven’s Day 2 will be posted soon. 🙂

If you are a photographer interested in the post-processing tools used to edit these images, check out Erin Tole’s shop here.

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Julienne ratanasen is a family photographer serviing sacramento, elk grove, carmichael, & davis, ca, with beautiful, heartfelt imagery of families, maternity and newborn shoots, baby & child portraits, and mini sessions.

Sacramento, California | | (916) 282-9102