cades cove

5 tips for picking you Gatlinburg Photographer | Pigeon Forge Photographers | Vacation Photography

Gatlinburg TN and Smoky Mountain Photographer

While I can’t speak for all Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge photographers, I personally want you to have the BEST pictures EVER, and that starts with choosing the right photographer for you. Pssssst, that may not be me, and that’s okay! There’s several huge factors to consider when choosing your Smoky Mountain photographer and I’d love to help you dissect those and make a the perfect decision for you and your family.

Ring around the Rosie
Grandparents with Grandchildren
Family with Girls

  1. Figure out your budget for Gatlinburg Photography

    While I know this is nobody’s favorite topic to discuss, it’s usually one of the first thoughts when you go to look for a photographer. Whether your budget is $100 or $1000, there is a photographer in the greater Smoky Mountains that can accommodate you. Cheap photographers in Gatlinburg TN are typically still learning and more inexperienced ( but everyone starts somewhere!!!!), but that doesn’t mean that can’t provide you with portraits to suit your needs.

    I’m one thrifty gal, and I am known to search for the best deal possible on almost anything I purchase, so understand I don’t say this lightly. When it comes to photography, book the best you can afford. You’re not only paying for your session, you’re really paying for that photographers time and education that helps them create beautiful images that you want to proudly display on your wall. Trust me, this is not where you want to skimp. Budget is budget though, so don’t break the bank! Family sessions, can you eat a mean or two in your cabin instead of going out to get a better quality photographer? Extended families, are more people willing to split the bill to make Gatlinburg photography more affordable during your family reunion?

  2. Check out their style!

Every photographers style (both editing and shooting) is a little different. I’ll be honest with you; I’m a pretty solid mix of posed Cades Cove pictures, and fun, candid images. I do love a little of both during my sessions, and using a few prompts to get super fun pictures. When you’re researching Gatlinburg photographers, REALLY look at their portfolio and make sure you love their images. For me personally, if you tell me you lean more towards posed, or candid, I’m happy to a bit heavier on that side.

You should choose someone you love, because you want to love your images! You want fun AND posed with bright, sunny, golden tones I’m your girl. While I know you may not know the photography terms for the look you want, you’ll recognize images you love in your photographers gallery.

3. Decide what kind of experience you want

This is important! Read that again! Are you after a custom, boutique experience with guidance from a local or a “just get the job done” experience? There’s pretty much two types of photographers in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and there’s no right or wrong here. If you just need someone to show up and take snapshots, then I’m not for you, but that’s where other companies specialize and I’m happy to give recommendations. I’m a bit more personal with my session experience and offer wardrobe tips, and location guidance. When I show up to your session, we’ve personally chatted back in forth in email for quite some time. I love getting to know families, and hearing your little ones tell me all about their vacation so far!

4. Pigeon Forge photography specialty

Check out what they specialize in! If you need someone to cover your family’s reunion in the Smoky Mountains, you probably want someone that works well with big groups of people ( read herding cats) and doesn’t mind getting a bit bossy with Aunt Becky and off of her opinions or kicking out the teens new boyfriend for a few pictures.

I specialize in vacation memories and work with almost exclusively family portraits and extended family sessions and I LOVE it! I’ve met and worked with people from almost all fifty states over the last 7 years ( Alaska included!). Not only do I get to hear stories from all over, I get to meet generations upon generations of families, and all the stories they have to tell just fascinate me. I have friends all over the US from my photography career and just hitting it off during our session. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

5. Find someone local

No matter if you are booking a session in Gatlinburg TN, or Los Angeles, CA, I HIGHLY recommend finding someone local. Locals know the best locations, they know the weather, they know the wildlife, they are a wealth of information! I recently had someone book a summer session in Pigeon Forge TN, and mentioned that they heard ( through that pesky grapevine) that evenings could be chilly in the area and wondered if they should wear a jacket. My answer??? Only if you enjoy sweating to death!!!!! I grew up here, I know our summer evenings are warm and humid.

You don’t want to book with some company, whose assistant you email back and forth about your session while they sit in their New York office and have NO CLUE what the Smoky Mountains are like. I was born and raised in these mountains and I am happy to share my knowledge with my clients. Even me, when we vacation in the Florida beaches, I hire someone local that knows those great spots, and what the weather is likely to do. That information is so valuable because the internet can only tell you so much.

Smoky Mountain Family Picture
50th Anniversary in Gatlinburg
Little girl on mountaintop

I really hopes this helps some folks pick the best Smoky Mountain photographer for their needs and get the perfect session for THEM.

Cades Cove Maternity Session | Gatlinburg Photographers | Jessica's Family Session

Gatlinburg Family Photographer

Oh this session makes my heart happy <3. Jessica and her little family are just lovely, and we share an obsession with the beauty that is Cades Cove. They were visiting Gatlinburg TN before the arrival of their new addition. Of COURSE we had to do a session in Cades Cove because their sweet baby boy will be named Cade after one of their very favorite places in the world.

While a bit chilly, the weather and light was perfection for their family and maternity session. So perfect, I had a hard time not photographing them for hours, let alone narrowing down my favorites for this blog! Keep scrolling, you’ll see why!

The best part?? Jessica wore one of my client closet maternity gowns, and when she came out of the changing tent I told her sweet son to look at how pretty mom looked, and asked him to go stand next to her for a picture. His answer through tears?? “I can’t stand next to her, she’s just too pretty”. Cue the “awwwwwww” moment.

Here’s my favs!


Gatlinburg TN Photographer | Cades Cove Maternity Session | Pigeon Forge Vacation Photography

Danielle's Cades Cove Maternity Session


The lovely Danielle and her family came in all the way from Florida to have her maternity session in the serene Smoky Mountains, down in Cades Cove. Since they were flying in just for the weekend for these pictures, I was super worried about the weather! Our original date ended up being rained out, but luckily, they were able to change up their plans to be here on a beautiful, sunny day. The weather in the Smokies can be so hit or miss, I always try to leave room for re-schedules for my out-of-town clients; there's nothing worse than missing out on your pictures because Mother Nature had other plans!

Danielle borrowed a few gowns from my maternity closet, the Krysten and the Joselyn. She rocked both! I don't think there's a single gown in my closet she couldn't have pulled off. They complimented her sweet bump perfectly. 

Here's some of my favorite maternity pictures from her session.