Welcome to our handy guide on the best family photographers in Memphis! In doing the research for this guide, we were struck by just how many seriously talented photographers Memphis has to offer — almost too many for a city this size. Each and every one of them is producing great work and carving out their own niche in the city’s thriving photography scene. The creatives on this list — the photographers we’re brazenly calling the top family photographers in Memphis — each bring their own flavor to the photos they take.
Each is blessed with an eye that can distill the smallest, simplest moment into a profound work of art. Please allow us to introduce you to several super-talented people you probably didn’t even know were basically your neighbors.
1. Jen Howell
Jen Howell is an ultra-talented family and newborn photographer. Her family photos are shot on location, using natural light, with the aim of capturing your family at ease with each other. Her newborn photos are taken in a classical/fine-art style, in studio, where she creates elegant, dream-like compositions that really capture the innocence of your newborn and the wonder they bring with them into the world. And she also documents births in a photojournalistic style that is equal parts gorgeous and raw — showing both the miracle of your child’s birth and the exhaustion that accompanies it. Her portfolio is so versatile that we’re positive nothing is outside of her range.
Courtney Edwards is an extremely playful artist. In both her family and newborn photos, she uses soft light and shadow, simple staging, gentle playful uses of color, light, and expression, to create moving artful pieces that just work, capturing your eye and daring you to look away. She is a lover of the outdoors, a chaser of golden sunsets –– but she has a talent for capturing the connections of family that is all her own: the friendship between siblings, the miracle of couples still in love after all these years. She just doesn’t seem to miss anything. What you get from her are elegant, textured photos, that are at times sweet, other times whimsical, but always real and filled with authentic gestures that make up your everyday life.
Jennifer Saltsman made the list of the best Memphis family photographers thanks to her natural, narrative lifestyle photos, as well as her skill and light touch in post-production editing. That’s not to mention her singular ability to capture siblings being siblings. Seriously, her sibling photos really shine. And she captures emotions some people have a difficult time even seeing in children, not just joy, but introspection, curiosity, and so much more — suggesting to us that she must still be in touch with her own inner child (or perhaps this is just a skill she was born with). We’re also big fans of her maternity photography, as she’s quite adept at capturing that sense of waiting and potential, that powerful not knowing, and turning it into art.
Allison Rodgers is another talented narrative photographer who is supremely skilled at taking classically composed shots in studio. One thing we’d like to point out about Allison is that her Instagram feed offers ample behind-the-scenes looks at her process — which we quite appreciate. This way, you can really picture yourself working with her even before you meet her. She’s a versatile, talented, and romantic photographer — equally skilled taking stunning landscape photos, as capturing the real essence of your loving family. In every family photo, she captures a sense of how at home you feel together, as well as how, in a sense, your family is truly what makes your home.
Shannon Lenoir is one of the most classically skilled photographers on this list. Her photos use classic techniques and simple well-proportioned compositions imbued with just enough modern flavor to make them seem completely new. Her black-and-white photography is especially excellent — tapping into the stillness the medium is capable of in ways few photographers do these day, always managing to both embody and buck tradition at the same time. All her photos are expertly composed, both playful and moving, as well as narrative without requiring narrative devices. We like that!
6. Kyle Kelley
Kyle Kelley takes very natural photographs, choosing to avoid unnecessary trends, and instead working the old-fashioned way — using just her photographic subjects, light styling, and ample natural light — to capture photographs that both tell your story, and offer you and your family a break from the mundane. Every photo you’ll receive back is carefully selected, lightly retouched — again, retouched to emphasize the natural, not to create a false narrative — and sure to stun both family and friends alike. Also, people really enjoy working with Kyle. She’s kind, has excellent taste, and is patient with each member of your family. It’s no wonder her reputation and her business continue to grow.
Kellie Conlon is a fantastic newborn and family photographer, an ideal choice for anyone looking to start with newborn photos and then jump into a family session with your newest little addition. She’s an excellent, gentle stylist, as well as a kind, patient teacher who’s quite adept at walking you and your family through the process and putting you all at ease. The best Memphis family photographers have that skill — as what they’re after is just you being yourself. Kellie is a tremendous photographer of innocence, chubby-cheek smiles, loving siblings, and ecstatic growing families. She creates classic photos destined to be framed and appreciated daily.
8. Karen Waits
Karen Waits takes artfully composed, deeply felt family photos. She is a master of both natural light and studio light, and knows how to connect with your children and bring out their personalities, and capture their natural interactions with each other. Her newborn photos are sweet, narrative, even a little dreamy — and her maternity “bump” photos are powerful and full of expectation.
We really appreciate how much she plays with the sense of scale in her photographs — putting your littlest ones front and center so they’re the biggest thing in the photo, and yet somehow equally showing off how small they are, with their little head pressed against yours. She’s one of the best Memphis family photographers, and has also twice been named among the best newborn photographers in the city.
9. Michael and Cassie Cardwell of The Warmth Around You
The Warmth Around You is Michael and Cassie Cardwell’s photo studio. They take natural, and yet elegant family photographs that document the stories of your life. Where they really shine is in their ability to plan fun, totally unforced lifestyle shoots, where there’s just enough setup to guarantee you’re going to get great shots, but where things also stay relaxed enough that they’re guaranteed to capture tons of candid moments. It’s clear that, to Michael and Cassie, the small moments are just as important, just as evocative as the grand gestures, the big over-the-top displays of love.
We love that their photos are able to capture you and your kids being yourself. And that they’re always just as happy capturing you watching your dogs at play as they are capturing the perfect laugh. They come to each shoot with no preconceptions — they simply want to be true to life.
We hope that, somewhere on this list, you’ve found the perfect family photographer for you. It would be grand if 30 years from now, when you’re reflecting on the gorgeous photos you and your photographer took together, you’ll feel wholeheartedly happy just looking at those photos.