Studio Portraits of My Dog :: Meet Apollo!

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Life has been pretty busy around here. But, I’ve finally taken studio portraits of my dog.  Yes, we have a new pup! As an aside, if you’re looking for a lab, I highly recommend Northern Lites Labs in Grayling, Michigan.  We made the drive from Dexter to Grayling to pick him up, and it was totally worth it.  This pup is one of the calmest labs I’ve ever met. Except for his mom.  Apollo has got a soft mouth already, and is very tolerant of everything our crazy household has thrown his way.  Plus, he came to us practically housetrained — and he slept through the night in his crate without any issues right from the get-go.  Seriously. Northern Lites Labs is a fantastic breeder.

Now, onto the portraits!  Apollo is a chocolate lab, and he’s not quite 5 months yet. What a handsome guy.  We are so lucky to have found him! Our dog photo session was cut short because one of my little assistants left the treat container on the floor. Yes, open.  So, Apollo naturally got into them… and we had to postpone the rest of the photos for another day. No need for a sick puppy!  Regardless, our mini session was very fruitful.  I think we spent under 15 minutes getting all these studio portraits of my dog.  That’s excluding the two minutes of crazy kid photos you’ll see at the end of this post (my assistants like to pose for the camera).

Studio Portraits of My Dog, Apollo! studio portraits of my chocolate lab puppy, Apollo studio photo of my chocolate labrador chocolate labrador studio photos dog photo by puppy photographer dexter michigan

I have to admit, even though I already think my dog is a good looking pup, when I saw the results of his portrait session I was wowed.  Seriously adorable.  Okay, I’m sure you’re tired of all the gushing about how cute this puppy is!

Before we wrap this post up, here’s the “test shot” or two of my kids.  Yes, my photo assistants wanted to do some silly photos to make sure my camera was working correctly. So, per my usual, I made Toby and Zack smile first.

Although adorable, remember, they are a textbook example of what NOT to wear to your photo session! LOL

....what not to wear for your studio portrait session!

what not to wear for your studio portrait session
….what not to wear for your studio portrait session!

If you are looking to have studio portraits of your dog (or human family), please contact Betsy via the web or call 734-424-0472. Let’s get you set up with some fantastic photos of your own!

Senior Photos With Pets? Yes! :: Madison

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While I love photographing seniors, or any of my clients, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for animals.  So, when Madison’s mom asked me if I ever do senior photos with pets, I enthusiastically said, “yes!!”

A lot of my clients are concerned that their dog might be too rambunctious or energetic to sit still for photos.  But, as I reassured this client of mine, I am happy to include dogs for a portion of any session!  My secret?  Well, besides just liking dogs and being patient with them, it’s a simple matter of getting your dog mostly tired out before the photos happen.  Whether that means a trip to the dog park, or a long walk, or numerous games of tug… it’s usually a pretty good bet that when your pup is pooped, he will be amenable to having his photo taken.

I have to admit, I think this is my favorite photo of the whole senior session. We had Madison stand in the water to coax the pup towards her. Even thought he generally doesn’t like water….it worked! Yes, he was back out of the water within a minute… But, I was able to capture this priceless moment. I initially wasn’t even sure we had captured him looking at the camera!  Now, you might notice this photo looks more like a painting. I used my traditional artistic training and recent training in painting digitally to create this digitally masterpiece. Don’t you love how it turned out???

senior portrait of a girl and her dog in Dexter, Michigan. senior photos with pets
Madison’s black lab doesn’t usually like water, but we coaxed him into the creek for this gorgeous portrait moment. I painted it digitally, because it was just crying “paint me!” I think this is one of my favorite senior photos with pets that I’ve done.

Now, let’s get on to the photos of Madison.  It was such an honor to photograph Madison, she is a great person and I love her cheerfulness!  While I love all of my clients, it’s always fantastic when a session goes smooth as silk. And Madison’s senior portraits just flowed so nicely. Despite the heat, we managed to stay out of the direct sun. …and we created some gorgeous senior portraits in the shady spots of downtown Dexter. Side note — when doing senior photos with pets, make sure to also bring a water bowl and enough water. On a hot day, it’s really essential.  (I’m so glad Madison and her mom planned ahead!).

Madison, class of 2018 senior in Whitmore Lake, posing for a photo op during her senior portrait session in downtown Dexter, Michigan.
Madison, class of 2018 senior in Whitmore Lake, posing for a photo op during her senior portrait session in downtown Dexter, Michigan.
I love this photo of Madison laughing during our senior portrait session in Dexter, Michigan.
I love this photo of Madison laughing during our senior portrait session in Dexter, Michigan.
Madison is a class of 2018 senior in Whitmore Lake, Michigan. She came to Dexter for her studio and location portrait session. This brick wall was a great spot for photos.
Madison is a class of 2018 senior in Whitmore Lake, Michigan. She came to Dexter for her studio and location portrait session. This brick wall was a great spot for photos.
Portrait of Madison, a class of 2018 senior, in downtown Dexter.
Portrait of Madison, a class of 2018 senior, in downtown Dexter.
Portrait of Madison, a class of 2018 senior, in downtown Dexter.
Portrait of Madison, a class of 2018 senior, in downtown Dexter.
senior photos with pets? yes! Girl with dog in Dexter, MI
Madison brought along her black lab for some portraits during her senior photo session in Dexter, Michigan. (senior photos
Since it was a hot day, this spot under the bridge in Dexter's Mill Creek Park was a fantastic place to stop and take some senior photos.
Since it was a hot day, this spot under the bridge in Dexter’s Mill Creek Park was a fantastic place to stop and take some senior photos.
Class of 2018 senior Madison posing under the bridge in downtown Dexter for her senior photos.
Class of 2018 senior Madison posing under the bridge in downtown Dexter for her senior photos.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of Madison’s senior portraits. As I mentioned earlier, these were taken in downtown Dexter.  What I didn’t mention is that her entire session took about an hour. Yes, including a quick stop at my studio for the obligatory studio senior portrait.  Easy peasy!

As the senior portrait season ramps up, we’ll be sharing more sneak peeks. I hope you will find these senior photos inspirational as you plan your next portrait session. If you’re interested in learning more about how the portrait planning process works, just contact Betsy via internet or call 734-424-0472.

 

Senior Photos in the Backyard? 3 Reasons you should consider it!

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Senior Photos in the Backyard? 3 reasons  you should consider it!Can you do senior pictures in your own back yard?  Sure!  High school senior pictures don’t have to be in the studio anymore.  These days, it’s possible to hire a photographer to go on location, even to your own backyard, and have senior photos taken there.  Where you have many memories. Where the setting is meaningful to you.  Don’t think that these senior portraits will cut it?  Does your backyard sound too boring and mundane?

If so, here are some reasons why you should consider doing senior photos in your backyard.

Convenient

You don’t have to go anywhere.  Most professional photographers will cheerfully go on location, including to your home.

What are some of the benefits of staying at home?

Well, for starters, you don’t have to drive anywhere on the day of your session — your photographer will come to you.

Then, there’s the whole wardrobe thing.  If you’re planning on multiple outfits for your portrait session, you’ll appreciate not having to bring half your wardrobe with you (like would be necessary if you went elsewhere). Outfit changes will be easy — just head back inside.  No fumbling with clothes in a public restroom, or layering clothing so that you can “change” in the middle of a park.

And, if you have a instruments, a pet, or other items you want to add into the session, you don’t have to worry about piling those into your car to drive to the portrait studio or another location.  Your things are at your house already.  When it’s time for that part of the session, just go get the dog, or bring your trumpet out.

Meaningful

Your senior photos will mean more to you because of the location, the setting, and the memories you’ve made there.

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the years as a portrait photographer, it’s that people love settings that have memories.  You might think your backyard looks boring and commonplace, but trust me when I tell you, that’s a concern I voiced hear frequently when planning portrait sessions.  Trust your photographer.  Show her the space, and let her work some magic for you.

Your backyard might be ordinary, but it will look fabulous in the pictures.

Unique

If you want your senior pictures to be different from everyone else’s… to be different… then why not choose a location no one else will be using?  Let’s face it.  The local parks tend to be popular portrait destinations.

Your backyard?  Not so much.

By simply selecting your backyard as the location, you’re setting your portraits apart from the masses. Your backyard is different from Jane’s, so even if you both have the same ideas about what you want for your pictures, you won’t end up with a cookie cutter portrait.

No one else will have portraits like yours.

Unless you have siblings who also have their senior portraits done in your backyard…. but that’s a story for another day.

See what I mean?

Here are some high school senior portraits I’ve created for clients… in their neighborhoods or yards.  No park pictures here!

Hire a Senior Portrait Photographer?

Now, when it comes to the question of hiring a photographer or doing it yourself, I’m a bit biased.  Obviously I’d recommend hiring a professional photographer (like myself!) for your senior portraits.  Sure, it’s going to be an investment.  But you get what you pay for — quality portraits that make you look great.  There are several big milestones in life that you can’t let pass by without having your portraits done — and graduating is one of them.

Sure, you could do it yourself, or find a friend with a fancy camera to do it — but this is your high school graduation.  It’s a big thing.

You deserve it.

These pictures will be hanging on your relatives’ walls for years.

One thing to keep in mind?  Scheduling senior portraits can a little hectic if you wait until the last minute. As the school yearbook deadlines get closer, senior portrait photographers like myself get booked up.  Don’t wait until the last minute to schedule something!  Get it on the calendar now.

If you’d like to contact me about helping you plan your senior portrait session, please don’t hesitate to call (734-424-0472) or send me a message.  I’m located in Southeast Michigan.

 

5 Tips for Taking Pictures of Your Child in the Swimming Pool

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Water is an inherently “tricky” thing to photograph.  While I’m not going to get into the science of things, I figured I could share some tips with you for taking pictures of your kids when they are swimming pool.  The images you can get will depend on the camera, the available light, and how far away you are.

5 Tips for Taking Pictures of Your Child in the Swimming Pool - Betsy's Photography - PhotoArt.comToby has been taking lessons at Goldfish Swim School for quite some time.  I’m frankly not quite sure when we started, but I know he has progressed through the various classes and loves every minute of his swim lessons.

The facility is very nice, with numerous windows around the indoor pool, so you have a lot of ambient light.  This is *great* for taking pictures of your child in the swimming pool.  Every so often, I will take some pictures to document his progress — for that memory book I’ll eventually get around to making once I decide what format will be best (Wildflower Ramblings has a nice series on keeping and recording memories).

That being said — you have to get the pictures first.  So here are my tips, which I’ll keep simple and sweet.

1. Don’t use a flash if you can help it.

You heard me.  Water is so reflective that your flash will illuminate all the water droplets in the air as your child swims; the flash will reflect off the water’s surface too.  If you’re trying to capture something underwater, it will not be visible at all.  So, if you have the luxury of a well-illuminated pool like ours, or an outdoor pool on a bright day — don’t use the flash.  If you can’t get a photo without flash because the pool is too dark, well, then cut your losses.  Use your camera’s low light setting, or turn off the flash and see how it turns out.  If that doesn’t work, let the flash do its job.  Take the photo, deal with the flash being present in your image… and don’t worry about it.  Something is better than nothing.

2. Use “Fast” or “Action” settings on your camera.

If your camera has some sort of action setting, this may do the trick.  Basically it will have your camera take the picture more quickly (it uses a faster shutter speed to eliminate blur, to get technical).  These settings usually have the flash automatically turned off, so you won’t have to worry about that.

3. Use a higher ISO (“film speed”) or low-light scene mode on your camera.

Sometimes low light settings will work too — they typically sacrifice detail, but if you’re okay with a “grainy” photo, then have at it.  How good will it look?  Well, this depends on your camera.  As digital technology has improved, cameras have gotten better at capturing details in low light.  So you may find this works …or if you have a low-end camera, it may not be up to par.  You’ll have to experiment.

Swimming

4. Closer is better; get close.

The closer you are, the better.  Now, during my son’s lesson, we parents have to sit in the “observation deck” — depending on where my son is in the lane, I’ll be 10-30 feet away from him.  So I’ll usually wait until they come to the near end of the lane for any pictures I want to take.  If you’re taking videos, it can be fun to document the whole “down and back” swim, but this doesn’t really translate to still photos.

 

5. Don’t forget about taking pictures when your child is *not* swimming.

While he waits his turn, it’s amusing to watch my son’s antics.  I’ve taken some adorable pictures of him at the edge of the pool.  Goggle-eyed grins are priceless.  As are photos on “graduation day” …or whenever your swimmer accomplishes something new for the first time.  Toby gets ribbons from time to time for learning a new skill, and there is nothing more adorable than having a picture of him holding that ribbon, just out of the pool.

Swimming

So, there you have it!  A short and sweet list of tips for taking pictures of your child in the swimming pool.  I probably should’ve added a sixth item — don’t get your camera wet!!!  But hopefully that’s a given, right?

Do you have any other great tips for taking pictures of kids at the pool, or while swimming?  I’d love to hear them.

5 Tips For Great Pet Snapshots

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5 Tips For Great Pet Snapshots - bphotoart.comDog owners aside, most pets don’t really listen to their owners. Sure, cats will come for a treat, but often it’s dependent on their mood! So, what’s a pet owner to do when you want some good pet photos? I’m going to share five tips for great pet snapshots (this is a revised list from way back in 2006).

Now, I can’t promise these tricks will word without fail, but they should help you get more used to the idea of photographing something that won’t sit pretty for the camera, like people. Hmm, scratch that — a lot of kids don’t want to sit still for the camera either, right? I’ve covered that in other posts, so today, let’s stick with the topic at hand. Pets. Here are my 5 tips for great pet snapshots!

Step 1: Introduce your pet to the camera

This tip is an obvious one, but sometimes even I have to remind myself of it. The first few times you pull out your trusty camera, your pet probably will be excited or fearful — remember, even though you know what a camera is, your pet either thinks it’s a cool new toy or a one-eyed monster.

Give him some time to get used to the thing before you start clicking away, it usually helps.

Step 2: See how your pet reacts to having his picture taken

Try taking a FEW pictures with him nearby — and see what happens. You may have to distract your pet away from the camera by dangling an enticing toy.

When I initially tried to photograph our cats, I had to resort to distraction — those cameras just look like too much fun! Once your pet is used to a camera being around, you’ll find many cute photo ops…

Step 3: Keep your camera handy!

This of key importance — chances are if you haven’t prompted your pet to do something cute, you won’t have your camera ready. I know, it’s amazing that “hold on kitty, let me take a picture” doesn’t work.

When your pet is sleeping or has just woken up, he’s a whole lot easier to photograph than when he’s playing with that fun toy. Know your pet’s behavior and take advantage of his lazy moments.

Step 4: Get closer to your pet

Sometimes getting on eye level with your pet can make the difference. These pictures I’m sharing of Jake were taken quite low to the ground, from a short distance.

Instead of taking a far-away picture that shows your pet as a furry dot, take some time to sneak up a little closer. With patience and persistence, you’ll get some really great snapshots.

Step 5: Try not to use your flash

You know that “red-eye” feature on your camera? Well, just like people’s eyes don’t always photograph very well with that flash on your camera, neither will your pet’s.

If possible, photograph your pet while he’s basking in the sun, or while outside in your backyard. That way you’ll have enough light so that your pet’s eyes will look normal.

Have more ideas for getting pet photos?

I’m sure you’ll think of some great tips to add to this list — as you find more, feel free to comment or let me know! Hopefully though, I’ve given you enough great ideas to get started — remember, the most important thing is to make sure that both you and your pet have fun.

10 Things to Consider When Planning Your Portrait Session

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One of the things I frequently hear when helping my clients plan their portrait sessions is the desire for individuality, for the pictures to reflect who they are and what they enjoy. I love finding ways to incorporate hobbies and the like into portraits! Here are 10 ways you can make your portraits reflect who you are and what you love.

1. Pick a place that is meaningful to you.

I love creating portraits on location, especially when the setting has memories attached. Like an engagement portrait session at the Arb where a couple met, or a senior portrait session on the football field for an athlete. Location is a big part of pictures. So when it evokes memories, that’s a great thing!

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2. Bring your pet along.

Pets are a big part of peoples’ lives. So, including them in portraits is a natural way to add more personal meaning to photographs. I’m not one to shy away from being around exotic pets, so I’d be thrilled to photograph atypical pets as part of a portrait session. Usually, though, I end up working with the more mundane (but still lovable) four legged furry friends. Dogs are the most common pet my clients bring, but I’ve also done portraits with larger animals like horses (outdoors, of course).

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3. Include your instrument.

As the daughter of a professional musician, I enjoy when my clients want to document their love of music. Smaller instruments can be easily brought to the studio, but I’ve also gone on location to photograph less compact instruments like an alphorn, or chimes.

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4. Show off your sense of style.

I’ve worked with a number of high school seniors who were interested in fashion and clothing design. Naturally, their portraits included several outfits to showcase their sense of style. Sometimes people have a signature hat they always wear, or a wristwatch that is particularly meaningful. items like these can be easily incorporated into portraits either on location or in the studio.

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5. Wear sports paraphernalia.

If you’re a die hard sports fan, there is no better way to show your true colors than in your portraits. I’ve done University of Michigan themed family portraits  — that was fun! High school seniors might want to include their letter jacket, a jersey, or other another sports item (helmet, stick, glove, etc).

Family Portrait Photography - Peony Garden Portraits

6. Choose a specific time of year.

If you love a certain time of year, it makes a lot of sense to plan your portrait session during that season! I’ve done family portraits in the snow, high school senior portraits in autumn, you name it. We can plan ahead to make sure we keep on top of the weather (sometimes it’s tough, for example, to get the fall colors in your portraits).

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7. Coordinate your accessories.

I have had clients personalize their portraits in more subtle ways too. Coordinating accessories isn’t something that really sticks out as a way to personalize your session, but it can really make a difference. I had one high school senior who made her own jewelry — she wore it for her session. A family who loved wristwatches decided they would wear their favorite watches. It’s all in the details. And if the details mean something to you, so much the better!

Family Portrait at Barton Hills Country Club - BPhotoArt.com

8. Incorporate a hobby.

While I’ve photographed family hobbies (such as golfing, see 7 Ways to Personalize Your Family Portraits), more frequently this is something high school seniors really want.  Whether they’re an aspiring artist, a fan of photography, or just an outdoorsman — seniors love to make their portraits communicate interests and hobbies.

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9. Plan a candid session.

More photojournalistic in nature, candid sessions focus on capturing personalities and interactions. The photos forgo careful poses in favor of flow.  For these types of sessions, we’ll often walk around downtown, or through a park, pausing at select areas to create some candid portraits.

Sibling Portrait at Mill Creek Park

10. Be silly.

Along the lines of candid captures — I love “forcing” silliness.  It lightens the mood for everyone, even if we’re doing a more posed and formal portrait.  The more relaxed you are during your portrait session, the more you will love the results!

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So, there you have it. 10 things to consider when planning your next portrait session!

10 Things to Consider When Planning Your Portrait Session - Betsy's Photography bphotoart.com

10 Places to Have Your Senior Portraits

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One of the tough things for any high school senior to decide is where to have their senior portraits taken.  It’s a big part of expressing individuality, or conveying personality.  So, with that in mind, here are 10 places you should consider having your senior portraits done.

1. Indoors at the studio.

Studio portraits are timeless and classic. It’s a great choice if you want to do something simple, or want to avoid the unpredictable weather.  We can do a lot indoors, trust me. Here are some senior pictures taken indoors at the studio.  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

2. In your own backyard.

While you may not think of your yard as picturesque, it likely has potential.  My job, as a photographer, is to make the most of what you’ve got.  So, if you want your senior portraits to be someplace that has lots of memories — your own yard is a great choice!  Here are some portraits taken in my clients’ yards (and outdoors here at the studio too). Click on any image to enter gallery view.

3. In your car.

Ok, so this isn’t a “place” …persay.  But work with me on this one.  If you have a car you’re proud of, I’d love it include it in your senior portrait session.  Cars can be part of a portrait session pretty much anywhere — your home, the studio, a park… you name it.  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

4. Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor.

This is a great park in Ann Arbor, with many acres. There are the peony gardens, the Huron River, wooded paths, open grassy expanses… you name it. This is also a great location if you’d like to bring your dog along for some of the pictures. Click on any image to enter gallery view.

4. Mill Creek Park in Dexter.

I love this park; my son and I visit all the time.  I’ve done all kinds of portraits here.  The greenery is fantastic, and the river is great too.  Since the addition of a boardwalk and walking path, you can even get to Hudson Mills Metropark from this spot.  Though, I wouldn’t recommend that jaunt during a portrait session.  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

5. Downtown Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor’s downtown covers a lot of area.  Some places are easier to get to than others, but there is a lot of neat architecture and urban imagery that can be incorporated into pictures.  One word of advice?  Don’t plan a downtown Ann Arbor portrait session the week of the Art Fair unless you really, really, love the crowds.  That was an experience!  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

6. Graffiti Alley in Ann Arbor.

If you’re going for a contemporary, urban look, then Graffiti Alley is a perfect spot for senior portraits.  The fun thing about this spot?  The graffiti is never the same.  So from year to year, or week to week, the senior portraits could look completely different.  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

6. Downtown Dexter.

Dexter’s downtown is a little more… quaint, perhaps?  But it is a lot of fun for senior portrait sessions.  An added bonus?  Parking is a lot easier than if you’d chosen to venture downtown Ann Arbor.  I love all the different looks we can get within a one block radius.  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

7. At your school.

Maybe you’re a sports fan, or you really love playing sports.  If that’s the case, then pictures at your school would be a great choice.  Pioneer High School has the added bonus of being kiddy corner to UM football stadium, so it’s a two-for-one sports deal!  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

8. Curtiss Park in Saline.

This is a great part for senior portraits, there is a river, grassy open areas, wooded spots, and even a playground. I have done a number of sessions here for high school seniors and it is so much fun.  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

9. Train tracks (near, but not on).

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s dangerous to do pictures on train tracks. But, I’m happy to do senior portraits near them, as in these photos of the young man. The young woman in the photos below actually had her portraits done at the caboose in Depot Town in Ypsilanti — it’s a “permanent fixture” and doesn’t pose any danger to get near (or on). Click on any image to enter gallery view.

10. Go on location indoors.

There are many neat places to go– indoors — for your senior portraits.  Your own home is one great place, or perhaps the local coffee shop where you go all the time.  Or, maybe you love your job and want your senior pictures taken there.  The nice thing about indoor locations?  No need to worry about the weather. Click on any image to enter gallery view.

So, there you have it. This list is by no means all inclusive, I had to leave off some fun places! What’s your favorite spot?

How Newborn Portrait Sessions Are Unique

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It’s so fun to watch families grow.. whether you get to see little kids getting bigger — or get to meet new little ones right after they’ve arrived into the world.  I have enjoyed documenting this family for a number of years, and watching (now-big-sister) A grow from a newborn into a toddler.   And that’s who is the star of the show in these photos… A’s little brother, S!

A little further on I’ll share all the photos from their session, but first, let me explain how newborn portrait sessions are unique.  Newborn portrait sessions are a bit different than most portrait sessions… in three ways:

1. Newborn portraits take longer.

Babies are unpredictable.  They have no schedule, persay …or if they have one, it changes in the blink of an eye.  I block out three hours’ time for each newborn session.  While we don’t use all that time for photographing, it does allow baby time to nurse or feed, be diapered, and tended too.  If baby is cooperative, we finish with plenty of time to spare; but if baby has different plans, the generous time allotment keeps everyone calm and non-stressed.

2. Scheduling during naptime is ok.

Often, with newborn photos, baby will sleep through most of the session (and the portraits). It’s actually not a big deal, because sleeping baby pictures capture the reality of a baby’s days.  Babies sleep a lot.   As newborns get bigger and lose that “new baby” look, there will be plenty of opportunity for wide awake (even smiling) pictures.  So for newborns, it’s ok to capture that fleeting time where baby sleeps incessantly.

3. It’s best (easier?) to stay indoors.

Newborn sessions are the only type of portraits that I recommend my clients stay indoors — either at the studio, or at baby’s home.  Why?  Well, when we’re documenting a newborn baby’s first weeks, things are going to be intimate, close up, and focused on the family.  There isn’t really a need to incorporate the vast outdoors (in which baby will visually “get lost”).  On top of that, it’s just easier when you eliminate variables like the weather and temperature.  The studio is nice and warm for newborn portraits, there are comfortable chairs for nursing baby, and a changing table with supplies is at the ready.  You don’t have those luxuries when you venture outdoors.

Now, as promised, onto the photographs from Baby S’s newborn session.  I love including the whole family in newborn portraits …it is great to see the older siblings dote on their “baby.”

There is no better way to capture baby milestones on camera than to document baby’s first year than with a first year photo album.  Actually, I like to create a series of albums, one for each of the “milestone sessions” (e.g. newborn, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 1 year).  Here is the newborn album that I designed for baby S. …similar to his big sister’s, but different, of course!

It’s hard to pick a favorite image from this session… babies are so adorable, and I love every aspect of newborn sessions.  But I think my favorite picture is the one of big sister A giving baby S a kiss.  Sibling love is so adorable!

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But then there’s this one.  And I love the lines created by the fabric draping down to the floor.  Newborn portraits as art. Peaceful.  Timeless.

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Babies grow so quickly.  It’s hard to believe that my second son has almost exited the newborn stage… Newborns are so tiny, so transient.  Get those snuggles in!

5 Tips for Capturing the Colors of Fall in Your Outdoor Portraits

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This year the signs are pointing to an early — and hard — winter. We had autumn leaves on our deck today, we’ve seen deer with antlers earlier than usual, and my friend reported that up north the trees are already sporting fall colors. This winter may come early and with a vengeance.

That being said, let’s talk fall colors. Outdoor portraits look fantastic when you have the vibrant fall colors on display. I love doing family portraits, senior portraits, and the like outdoors in fall.

So, if you’d like to plan for a portrait session outdoors this fall, make sure to contact me well ahead of time so we can plan and accommodate for the autumn leaves that will likely come — and fall — earlier than usual.

5 Tips for Fall Portraits

1. Earlier is better.

If you’re worried about the leaves falling quickly, it’s better to get your outdoor portrait taken when the fall colors are just starting to fill in.  If you wait too long, you’ll get the tail end of fall, and your setting may not have many leaves on the trees still.

2. Scout out your location.

Even within a five mile radius, the onset of autumn can vary, depending on how well the trees are sheltered or how much they are exposed to the elements.  Plus, the type of tree matters — different kinds of trees will change colors and lose their leaves at different rates.

3. Make a backup plan.

While you can prepare for most scenarios, it is always good to have a backup plan.  Be flexible, just in case you need to make on-the-fly changes.  I’ve changed locations at the last minute, and even changed appointment dates to work around the weather (or in this case, the leaves).

4. Dress appropriately, and bring a sweater.

The weather can change so quickly during autumn.  Sometimes we have been ok in short sleeves, other times a light sweater is not enough.  So, be prepared — and remember that the wind can make it seem much colder than you might anticipate.

5. There’s always next year.

Life happens, and sometimes capturing that moment you had envisioned ….well, it just doesn’t work out exactly as you wanted.  But that’s ok.  We do the best we can to ensure success, and then go with the flow.  Seasons come and go incessantly.  There will be more fall colors next year — if you miss out this year you can always try again come next fall.

Some Inspiration…

Now, for some past client portraits, taken during the fall.  I figure this will help get those creative gears turning, get you inspired and excited for fall to come (even though you might not be ready for it yet).

Family portraits like this one below are always gorgeous, but even more so in the fall.  There’s just something transient and ethereal about fall colors, don’t you think?

portrait family photographer dexter michigan - fall

And of course, senior portraits have just a little added warmth when taken in fall.  This scene would have been gorgeous with full greenery in the foliage, but by waiting for the leaves to turn golden, it has a little more interest.  There are leaves already falling, they rest on the steps, on the path, and you can enjoy the full range of greens to golden oranges in the setting.  We actually planned this senior portrait specifically to capture the autumn leaves at this location.  Our timing was impeccable.

bphotoart-portrait-420 - fall

And another senior portrait taken during the fall, after the leaves had started to turn colors.  This one was taken at my client’s home, so the setting was important and meaningful.  The fact that autumn is a transitional season, that it doesn’t last very long, also adds another layer of meaning into senior portraits, don’t you think?  Senior year is a time of transition, towards independence and adulthood — becoming your own person.

bphotoart-portrait-246 - fall

And one final senior portrait.  We spent a good twenty minutes searching for fall colors that would photograph well — sometimes scheduling constraints keep us from planning the “perfect” fall portrait session.  But, imperfect is normal…. it’s a part of life.  And we were able to find this stand of trees that had already started to turn.

bphotoart-20290-098-Edit - fall

I’ll reiterate myself now — plan ahead.  Fall comes quickly, and if you’re not careful, you might miss those gorgeous autumn hues that really make an outdoor portrait pop.

Case in point?

This week we noticed the leaves in our yard are already starting to turn.  The leaves are falling.  And it’s only August.

3 Tips for a Successful Outdoor Portrait Session

posted in: Photography | 3

When planning a portrait session for someplace outside, you have to do a little more planning.  There are more variables to consider, more possibilities, more potential problems.  A little later on, I’ll share 3 tips to make sure you have a successful outdoor portrait session.  But first, let me share some images from one of the portrait sessions I’ve done this summer since my son’s birth.

Debbie and Holly are both flutists in the Ann Arbor area; they came to me looking for an updated Flute Fusion group portrait.  This time around, they wanted something more casual, contemporary, and natural.

Something outdoors.

So, planning for the portrait session to take place outdoors was a natural choice.  They knew they wanted something green, maybe with some trees — something kind of “edgy” but not too much so.

Here is one of my favorite photographs from their session.  Sometimes it’s ok to not be looking at the camera 🙂

bphotoart-portrait-flute-outdoors-20315-096

Now, let’s get to those tips for a successful outdoor portrait session.  When planning for an outdoors portrait session,

1. Make Backup Plans

We all know how often the weatherman is wrong, no?  While checking the forecast is a good idea, it’s a better idea to have a backup plan.  Maybe an alternate (indoor) location in case of rain, or plans to reschedule for another day.

Debbie and Holly wanted their photos outdoors in nature, so we had scheduled their session with wiggle room — enough time to do the portraits another day if the weather failed to cooperate.

2. Wear The Right Shoes

If you’re going outdoors, chances are good that you’ll be traipsing through mud, dirt, loose gravel — you name it.  Sometimes I’ll recommend my clients wear a pair of walking shoes and then change into their dress shoes once we have walked to our location.  Stiletto heels, in particular, can be difficult to wear while walking through a field or grassy area.  Those heels poke right into the ground.

For the portraits in the field of Queen Anne’s lace, Holly wore her dress shoes, as they had a low heel and kept the hem of her pants from dusting the ground.  Debbie changed out of her heels into walking sandals, as her other shoes would’ve been difficult for walking in the field.

3. Coordinate Your Attire Based on the Location

You don’t have to go with boring clothing, but when you’re outdoors, there is already a lot going on.  Simpler clothing can help draw the focus to the main subject when the setting is more complex.

Imagine if Debbie and Holly had worn patterned blouses.  For the images with the railing, where they are separated from the background by a good distance, it probably would have worked.  But in the field with the Queen Anne’s lace?  It would have made my eyes hurt!

That’s All…For Now!

So, there you have them.  My 3 tips to help make sure your next outdoor portrait session will be a success.  I’m sure that, given time, I could add to this list (my mind is already brainstorming things like: bring a brush, include your puppy). But that’s something to be tackled another day.  Hopefully seeing how these three tips applied to Debbie and Holly’s portrait session was helpful for you!

Do you have any ideas for ensuring a success next time you have your photographs taken outdoors?

Some more images from Debbie and Holly’s session are below.  Enjoy!  Click on any image to open in gallery view mode.

Peony Garden Family Portraits

posted in: Photography | 2

Nichols Arboretum, or the Arb, as it is affectionately known by Ann Arborites, is a wonderful park to visit. It’s one of my favorite places to do family portraits (or any kind of portrait photos, for that matter). And if you’re so lucky as to visit when the peonies are in bloom? Well, then you’re in for a treat.

This family portrait session was planned not only in the Arb, but in the peony garden. And if you know anything about plants, some are limited in how long the blooms are vibrant and fresh. So we planned this family portrait session carefully, based on advice from the peony garden’s website. The peak bloom time is usually late May to early June — but depends on the weather.

Fortunately, the peak bloom time coincided with this family portrait session, and we even had a wonderfully sunny day. During the summer months, I try to plan portraits like this during the earlier morning hours so it hasn’t had a chance to get muggy or sticky out. And the weather on this particular day was great. I love how everything turned out, and that the entire family coordinated to wear University of Michigan attire.  Since, as you know, Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan.

All of these images were also compiled into a custom-designed coffeetable photo album. I think albums are a great way to tell a story, to include more images than you could feasibly display on your wall. And, it’s a great place to include those silly outtakes that I always think have such personality.

 

How to Stay Stylish for Senior Portraits

posted in: Photography | 4
Today I have a guest post from a Kalin of Modesty is My Policy. Kalin is a teen who lives on a small farm in Tennessee with her five older sisters and one younger brother. She is a homeschooler, loves to write, and enjoys spending time with her animals.

Kalin will be sharing some thoughts on how to dress modestly yet stylishly for senior portraits, as well as how important it is to stay true to yourself! She has some great suggestions on how to ensure your clothes will be flattering too, including some tips that I’d not thought of before this!

— Betsy

How to Stay Stylish for Senior Portraits

Senior year, what an exciting time, right? Senior portraits are so important to remember that special time in your life, and it’s important to make sure that you don’t regret your hairstyle, outfit choice and etc years later! When picking your clothes, you not only want to make sure everything goes well and accentuates your natural beauty, but you want it to reflect your style — whether you choose a frilly sundress or old cowboy boots! After all, these portraits are OF you and FOR you!

First off, you need to make sure your outfit isn’t too tight or too baggy. Tight clothes often reveal everything that we don’t want them to, but you also don’t want the clothes to be so baggy that you can’t see your shape. Portraits can make you look a bit different than you do in real life, sometimes making you look smaller or bigger, all depending on your clothing choice! Ill-fitting clothes can also be a HUGE annoyance during longer photoshoots – who wants to be tugging at pants all day long or pulling the neckline of a dress up? Here are a few standard tips to keep you looking your best!

Selecting Pants That Are Flattering

You should be able to grasp handful of fabric on thighs, knees and groin area. This will make different poses and etc much, much easier.

Your pants need to be loose enough so you can bend down, jump, etc without the pants/jeans riding too low.

You don’t want to have to constantly be tugging on your jeans or pulling them up during the shoot! These issues will be annoying, and are a sign of a bad fit.

Picking Out Flattering Shirts

You should be able to bend over without revealing too much chest. If it doing so does reveal too much, you can try adding a layering tank, or even a tube top, underneath for coverage.

Like the pants, having to worry about a neckline that is exposing too much would become quite an annoyance during a longer photo shoot, and may even limit how you can be photographed (you need to make sure you can do more than one kind of pose).

Shirts should not crease in-between chest. This is a tell-tale sign of a poorly fitted shirt!

Your shirt should loose enough for you to grasp fabric on your stomach area. Tight clothing can make the most petite person in the world look larger, and vice versa for baggier clothing.

Make sure your clothing doesn’t show all of your lines from undergarments, etc.

Choosing Flattering Dresses/Skirts

The same rules apply for dresses as for shirts. Additionally, knee Length and below is typically best so you don’t have to be quite as careful during the different poses and moving around during the shoot. If you decide to wear something shorter, try pairing it with a pair of shorts or leggings underneath! They won’t be visible for photos, but they make moving around much easier!

You should be able to bend down, squat, jump, etc without the waistline riding down or revealing too much upper-leg.

Make sure you can grasp a handful of fabric on the thigh area of the dress/skirt. Just like with tighter shirts, dresses/skirts can cause unflattering lines.

Stylish Makeup + Hair

As for makeup/hair, keep it simple! Senior photos are for showing who you are at that point of time. Don’t stray to far from your personality and what you normally wear! It’s always good to wear a bit more makeup than you would on a normal day because different lighting and such can make you look washed, but don’t go overboard!

Sparkles and glitter are typically not a good idea because it can look like dry skin or dandruff. Pack a little makeup bag with you for the shoot so you can remove or add more if needed and do touch-ups!

Your Style Should Stay True To Yourself

I know how hard it is to remain true to yourself, especially during high school years and later on! We get so much pressure from everyone, especially us girls, to mold ourselves into what the world wants us to be. I know that I’ve gone through so many phases, so many styles, so many changes, and it is extremely hard and confusing! Use this time to get to know YOU better! God created you to be the person that you are; don’t change yourself because of society’s standards and desires.

Make your own rules! Don’t worry about modeling yourself after someone else when taking these photos, use it as a time to show off your own personality, as fancy, quirky or casual it may be.

Think about bringing something special with you to make the senior photo shoot even better. If you play an instrument, ask if you can incorporate it! If you have a passion for a certain era of the past, add a vintage flair. If you have a passion for something, show it off and make it your own. Make these photos something to be proud of, something that shows your individuality and passions.

As someone who is so passionate about modesty and being different from the world, I know how difficult it is to hear people’s laughter and mocking. I’ve been teased a lot, and I would be lying if I said it got easier! The only thing that keeps me from caving in is the fact that I know God gave me these convictions and passions for a reason, He made me different for a reason!

No matter who you are, God made you into the person that you are today, tomorrow and 10 years from now. Those people only criticize because they are insecure about themselves. They have problems, just as we do. They have insecurities, just as we do. Remember to stay true to yourself no matter how hard it may be.

And I’m not just talking about for senior photos. 🙂

— Kalin

What Are Your Thoughts on How to Select Stylish Clothing?

I think Kalin’s perspective on clothing is refreshing and I love her encouraging words on staying true to yourself. High school (and beyond) can be such a challenging time, and the pressure to follow along with the current trends can sometimes be overwhelming (Modest is Hottest: How to be Stylishly Modest).

Ultimately, though, it is important to be comfortable in the clothes you wear — whether or not they are in line with the latest trends. Remember, there are timeless outfits that will never go out of style!

Do you have any stories or thoughts on how to select clothes that are flattering, true to you, and modest enough you won’t feel uncomfortable? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

5 Tips for Great Studio Portraits

posted in: Photography | 3

Studio portraits may seem overly simple, but the thing I love about creating studio portraits is how all the attention is on the people, their personalities and relationships.  There is no background setting to tell a story, true, but the simplicity of a studio setting ensures all your attention will be on the people.  That being said, I do have some tips for the next time you plan a studio portrait session.

5 Tips for Great Studio Portraits

1. Coordinate Your Attire – While you don’t have to wear “uniforms” or have matching shirts, when photographing multiple people in the studio, I always recommend coordinating the attire.  Maybe something simple, like shades of black and gray with jeans.  Jewel tones like purple can work well too.  If you’re unsure, it never hurts to ask for your photographer’s opinion (just saying!).

2. Details Matter – What you wear will be front and center, your accessories will be visible.  They will either draw attention away from you, or compliment you in the portraits.  For women, jewelry choices are important to consider.  Do you want to go with something more classic, like pearls?  Or more modern?  Make sure to pay attention to where the necklace falls in relation to the neckline of your shirt or dress.  For men, a sharp tie can add to the portrait, while a loud and cheesy patterned one can detract.  Details are important, so make sure to consider your entire outfit when planning your studio portrait.

3. Go With a Tried and True Hairstyle – Stick with a style or haircut that you know you love.  Don’t go trying something new the day of your portrait session, because if you don’t like how your hair looks in the portraits, you’re not really going to love the portraits themselves either.  For those concerned about receding hairlines or stray hairs, know that qualified photographers have tricks of the trade to take care of these concerns and minimize the appearance of issues like this.

4. Avoid Transition Lenses – If you wear glasses, that’s ok — qualified photographers know how to work with glasses and eliminate lens glare.  The only thing we can’t really do much about?  Those nifty glasses that automatically become sunglasses when you go outdoors.  Transition lenses tend to have issues photographing well, so it’s best to leave those at home in favor of a more traditional set of glasses.

5. Be Yourself – Don’t try to force a smile that isn’t “you,” or wear clothing that is totally out of character for you.  You will feel most comfortable being yourself, wearing what you normally wear, or smiling like you usually smile.  Fake smiles are easy to spot — and you won’t like the end results from your studio portrait session if your smile looks forced or awkward.  I always do my best to capture a variety of expressions and smiles, just to give you options during the ordering process.  While I might know which smiles look natural and genuine, ultimately it’s your opinion that matters — these studio portraits will be enjoyed by you and your family, so you want them to look right!

Family Studio Portraits

I love photographing families when they get together from out of town.  The studio portraits below are of a brother and sister who live multiple states apart.  We did a portrait session in the studio, something simple, but relaxed enough to capture their unique sibling relationship.

7 Ways to Personalize Your Family Pictures

posted in: Photography | 26

While I love photographing all kinds of families, the sessions that really stand out are the ones like these family pictures. Not only were the family pictures taken at a meaningful location, but we were able to incorporate some unique elements to personalize their family portraits. And that’s what makes this so much fun. No matter how many times I photograph at a given location, the people, their personalities, and their interests are always so unique.

A little further on, I’ll share some tips on how to personalize your family pictures, but first, let me share these family portraits! The family portraits were taken at Barton Hills Country Club in Ann Arbor, MI. We originally planned to use the lovely greenery at Barton Hills as a setting for the family pictures — the grounds of the country club are truly lovely when in bloom; even throughout the summer months you know it will always be gorgeously green at a top notch golf course like Barton Hills.

Family Portrait at Barton Hills Country Club - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com

On this particular day, I’d been watching the weather like a hawk (I tend to reschedule if there’s bad weather). Fortunately, the rain let up, and we had a wonderfully sunny afternoon and evening — just a little damp.

As we walked to one of the spots for taking pictures, I had a sudden inspiration. A golf cart was sitting, empty, almost asking to be photographed. Since I knew this family was fond of golf, I suggested we add another series of family pictures with the golf cart, and the idea was received enthusiastically. The series of family pictures with the golf cart turned out to be my favorite, and the family ended up liking one of the portraits so much it will be on display as a wall portrait in their home!

Family Portrait at Barton Hills Country Club - BPhotoArt.com

Click on any image below to enter gallery view mode.

How to Personalize Your Family Pictures

Now, I promised tips on how to personalize your family pictures, so let me get started with some suggestions for the next time you plan a family portrait session. You could probably adapt these for spur of the moment family snapshots too.

1. Include your family in the planning process

Sometimes I work with families who are totally nonchalant about their portraits, aside from wanting “something nice” as an end result. But, usually, families have an idea in mind for their family pictures. I like to hear from everyone — including the kids, because the more involved the whole family is with the family pictures, the better the portrait experience will be for everyone.

Kids like to have a voice. So, even if their opinion is less influential than, say, mom or dad’s… I like to hear everyone’s thoughts. Often we can work in some elements that will make everyone happy.

2. Your family pictures should reflect your style and show your personalities

Plain and simple — generic family pictures aren’t as memorable ones. You want your family pictures to be a window into your family’s dynamics and show you as you really are.

For families who are more laid-back and casual, I’ll usually recommend relaxed clothing and a more impromptu portrait style. It’s better, though, to plan a formal and elegant session for a family who is more conventional and “proper.”

extended family portrait - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com
Clothing and location can really affect how formal or casual a family portrait ends up being.

3. Choose a location that is meaningful

Even if you don’t have a specific park, country club, or spot that your family finds meaningful, there are still ways to personalize your family pictures through your choice of location. If your family likes to do a lot of things outdoors, I’ll typically suggest a park with lots of natural scenery.

There’s always the option of having your family pictures taken at your home, or on your property. I love this choice, honestly, because it’s fun for me to include the house as a background element, or pets that may not have ventured off the premises for a different location session.

Family Picture with dogs - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com
Bringing multiple dogs and a baby on location would have been tough, but worked beautifully at my client’s home.

4. Incorporate your family’s interests and hobbies

This tip works whether you’re outdoors on location or inside at the studio. Find something your family enjoys, and include it! As with the family pictures above, a shared love of golf can really enhance the creativity of a family picture. Other ideas on how to personalize your family pictures can focus on the pets you have, the sports team you love, the city where you live, or the horses you ride.

family portrait with horses - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com
When you enjoy something, it’s always great to capture that memory in a family portrait.

5. There is no right or wrong

When planning your family portraits, remember — there is no right or wrong. What works best for your family will not work well for another. You can be inspired by what you find online, or what you pin on Pinterest, but ultimately, you need to think about how to personalize your family pictures in a way that makes sense for your family.

formal generations portrait - BPhotoArt.com
Formal portraits do work best for some portraits, but there is no one size fits all solution.

6. Flexibility is important

It’s important to be flexible on the day of a family portrait session. I often find the parents are very stressed out about getting good pictures, or making sure their kids behave, so I will do my best to put everyone at ease. The more relaxed everyone is, the better the family pictures will be.

And, speaking of going with the flow, remember that sometimes things just don’t go according to plan. But, that’s ok. Honestly, some of my favorite photographs and portraits have been the result of the need to make a spur of the moment adjustment or change.

family portrait outdoors winter - BPhotoArt.com
Children can be unpredictable, but sometimes their personalities really come through even if they’re not smiling for the camera.

7. Have a little fun and be silly!

I am a big proponent of being silly and having fun during any portrait session. Whether the funny faces end up as outtakes, or you ultimately choose to include the silliness in an album or wall portrait, pictures that let you (and your kids) have fun will really bring out your personalities.

Making Funny Faces for the Camera - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com
This family picture of the kids was potentially an outtake, but helped them relax!

Have Ideas on How to Personalize Your Family Pictures?

This list of tips on how to personalize your family pictures is by no means all-inclusive. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what works — or doesn’t — for your family. Or, if you have any memories of past family picture experiences to share, I’d love to read them!

Maternity Pictures With the Family

posted in: Photography | 8

These days, we’re in countdown mode, awaiting the arrival of baby. I’m slightly amused at how relaxed things have been this pregnancy, preparation-wise (thoughts on my second pregnancy). With our first, we made sure we had our i’s dotted and t’s crossed. This time, it’s more go with the flow, we get done what we get done — and really, we have most things already from the first time around.

bphotoart-family-maternity-pictures-20310-131

I’m excited to share some maternity pictures with you! These were taken just shy of 39 weeks (compare to 18 weeks pregnant), and I have to admit, I had been getting a little worried about whether this little one would cooperate so that we had time to do the portraits.

In case you’re looking to plan ahead and do any maternity pictures, the seventh or eighth month is usually ideal — just don’t wait too long because sometimes babies do make their debut early (that whole “due date” thing is really just an estimate).

As a comparison, here are my maternity pictures from the first pregnancy, and Toby’s first pictures as a newborn. It will be exciting to see how these babies look similar/different compared to one another… I can’t wait!

Maternity Pictures

Click on any image to enter gallery view mode

Big Brother-to-be

And then here are some of Toby with each of us. I love doing family pictures like these… they make great gifts for mom or dad’s office ;). These sets of images were a sort of “reward” for good behavior during the portrait session. Click on any image to enter gallery view mode

Pregnancy + Birth Resources

I’ve been busy pinning pregnancy and birth resources to Pinterest lately, as there are so many good ideas out there that I just want to be able to find if needed. If you’re currently pregnant, maybe some of these resources could be helpful for you too!

Follow Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com’s board Pregnancy + Birth on Pinterest.

What About You

At this point, our child’s arrival is still up in the air. Feel free to take any guesses you’d like so far as arrival date and stats. I’ll be honest, I’m just hoping that this one is ready to come out *before* two weeks “late” :).

I’m always happy to receive advice, even though we’ve been through the birth experience before. I have to say, it’s interesting to see how our perspective on pregnancy and birth changes once we’ve “been there, done that.” Any tips or thoughts you’d like to share?

Cousins – Family Pictures

posted in: Photography | 10

This month we were fortunate enough to have family in town; Toby was finally able to meet his cousin! He was thrilled to interact with baby and make her giggle, laugh, and smile. I think someone is definitely ready to be a great big brother. Anyways, while we didn’t get the whole family together for a portrait during their visit, we were able to at least get the two cousins to smile happily for the camera. Grandma was also brought into the portrait session by request of her grandson.

Cousins – Family Pictures

Here are a few of my favorites from the portraits of the cousins together:

Toby was so sweet with his cousin - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Toby was so sweet with his cousin
Playing peekaboo with baby - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Playing peekaboo with baby

Portraits of Grandma With Her Grandkids

And then some portraits of the cousins with Grandma. While the portrait session was really about the cousins, Grandma was thrilled to be included in the pictures with her two grandkids… but I’m sure you can tell that. It’s tough to be a long-distance grandparent!

Grandma with her two grandkids - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Grandma with her two grandkids
The cousins with their Grandma - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
The cousins with their Grandma

Baby Pictures

Finally, here are the baby portraits. Since she hadn’t been to visit before, this was her first baby portrait session. I’m so glad we took the time to create these baby portraits! She’s such a happy little thing:

Baby can sit up already! - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Baby can sit up already!
Such a cutie pie... - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Such a cutie pie…

Video Slideshow – Cousins

Of course, I would be remiss not to include some more cousins family pictures for you to enjoy, so here is a video slideshow for you!

Baby’s First Year Photo Album

posted in: Photography | 14

I love designing baby’s first year photo albums! It’s always so neat to see the developmental stages and age progression of a child through their first year of life. When I design albums, I like to keep things simple so that the portraits can be the main focus of the album (see album page designs later on in this post!).

Baby's First Year Album - BPhotoArt.com

What Kind of Album For Baby’s First Year?

This is a really personal question. Most parents I know end up with a couple different first year photo albums. For instance, we have one album containing the professional portraits, plus another “boxed” set of books that holds snapshots — one book for each of the first three years for our son.

When designing albums for my clients, I’ve found many prefer to have a series of albums, one for each of the baby’s first year sessions (i.e. newborn, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 1 year). It’s really neat to have a set of coffeetable albums that you can display in the nursery (see also my post on Displaying Baby Photos in Your Home). Sometimes we’ll do an album for the newborn session, then another for the next three sessions, and a final one for the one year session. It really depends on what the parents want.

Baby's First Year Albums - BPhotoArt.com

Baby’s First Year Photo Album

Here are some examples of portraits that have gone on to become fabulous album keepsakes for the new parents. First, an actual newborn photo album, created from the family’s newborn portrait session. This particular family chose to have their album designed with images from just the newborn portrait session, rather than a “true” baby’s first year concept. See the actual album design by watching the video below:

Another family whose baby I photographed did something similar, but wanted to include another milestone — mom’s maternity portraits! This video slideshow features the photos that went into their newborn photo album, but not the design itself:

You’ll notice with newborns, the setting is usually indoors (as in both examples above, the families came to my studio). It’s generally just easier to see baby when you don’t have to have her all bundled up in outdoor clothing! When a little older, though, I find that outdoors portraits work really well for families wanting to commemorate baby’s first year. Here’s a winter family portrait session that was planned specifically to welcome a not-quite-so-new addition to the family. Here are two favorite portraits, from the sessions I did to welcome each girl into the family. For the older sister we planned an outdoor summer session, so for the younger sister, we did the opposite – an outdoor winter session. Make sure to check out the images from each, as they are really adorable (and look great as albums!)

Winter Snow Portrait - BPhotoArt.com

Summer Newborn Portrait With Family - BPhotoArt.com

And finally, here’s another family who chose to do a series of albums, one for each of the sessions their child had throughout the first year of life.  Her toddler portraits, taken at one year of age, show just how much little ones grow …and how quickly they grow up! These images below are a sampling from her sessions, which spanned from birth through the first year, plus an additional session at two years of age. I love how her albums turned out — what a great keepsake!

Include The Whole Family

My final thoughts on creating an album for baby’s first year? Make sure to include the whole family. Some of my favorite photos, both personally and for my clients, are the ones that include not just baby, but siblings and parents. It is another way to document your family from generation to generation (see what I mean by looking at the family’s separate newborn session: baby Ridge’s newborn portraits).

Here are some family portraits that did a great job of documenting a new addition to the family. Albums don’t have to exclude family members to be a “true” baby’s first year album. In fact, I prefer albums that include the whole family… and if you ask my toddler, I’m sure he will tell you that he likes looking at all the photos with his family in them too.

Celebrating Baby’s First Year

Here are some posts about celebrating baby’s first year. Links will open in a new window for your convenience.

Baby's First Year Albums - BPhotoArt.com

The Ultimate Guide to Baby's First YearThis post is part of The Ultimate Guide to Baby’s First Year — I’m one of 30+ blogs participating. Over the course of a week’s time, there will be posts on these topics:

  • taking care of new parents
  • feeding baby
  • taking care of baby
  • baby’s milestones
  • baby play
  • baby spaces
  • celebrating baby

Check out the The Ultimate Guide to Baby’s First Year for a list of all the posts on each topic.

Documenting Generational Family Portraits

posted in: Photography | 7

I really love documenting family memories. And while it is fantastic to plan outdoor sessions with a relaxed feel, there’s something to be said for the more “formal” generational family portraits. Keep in mind, I don’t mean stiff and overly posed. I’m talking about extended family portraits which span generations.

For this generational family portrait session, I helped plan a lovely series of images in studio. Coordinating 16 people for a portrait can be complicated, but fortunately for my clients, it comes easily to me! This family was really a pleasure to work with and create portraits for. Everyone was so cheerful and laid back, I didn’t have much to do in terms of helping them relax for the portraits! It’s always great when personalities shine through — especially in photographs, don’t you think?

At the end of this post, I’ll share some tips for documenting generational family portraits and important milestones (like new additions to the family). First, let me share these lovely family portraits with you. Here’s the complete generational family portrait, with all the extended family groupings included. I love images like this that span multiple generations. Besides, they’re great for documenting a growing family as well (see the adorable new baby!!).

Generations Family Portrait in the Studio

Whenever I plan an extended family portrait, I ALWAYS recommend doing smaller family group portraits as well. Why? Well, because I have everyone in one place. That’s usually tricky to do, right? Everyone is in different places at the same time because of schedules. It’s best to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself. Plus, this way I can offer my clients a lovely portrait to pair with the main generational family portrait when it comes time to creating wall displays. These smaller family portraits are going to look great on the wall next to the generational family portrait!

Family Portrait in the Studio

Another portrait that I highly encourage is one of the grandparents, like this portrait below. In organizing my own personal family photographs, I’ve noticed that as a couple grows older together, they become more focused on having professional portraits to document their children and grandchildren rather than themselves. I totally get this.

But, all the same, kids and grandkids appreciate having the portraits to document how they remember their grandparents. So don’t forget to include this portrait in your next generational family portrait session. Another cute one along these lines, if you have reluctant grandparents is to do a portrait with grandparents and grandkids all together. What grandparent doesn’t want to have a portrait of them with their grandchildren, right?

Grandparent Portrait in the Studio

And here are some more portraits of the smaller family groupings. I don’t think I’ve mentioned clothing yet — but notice everyone is NOT wearing the same color. Sometimes my clients want matching outfits, and I’m happy to do so. But, choosing outfits in complimentary tones works really well visually while still preserving a sense of individuality. I love the shades of gray, white, and black in this image …and denim jeans usually go well with everything too.

Family Portrait in the Studio

Family Portrait in the Studio

Tips for Natural Looking Generational Family Portraits

As promised, here are some suggestions for when you plan your generational family portrait. I typically go over this sort of thing in more detail during the planning stage of a portrait session, so don’t get overwhelmed thinking you have to have all these things decided ahead of time. It’s my job to help guide my clients in the right direction.

Who are you going to include? Sometimes families will decide to do sibling portraits, grandkid portraits, and on rare occasion some families ask me to do a second shot of the portrait without significant others (“just in case”). If that’s important to you, please let me know. Generally, though, I always suggest including significant others and spouses in the images because I feel they help document that time in a family’s life. And no one likes being asked to step out of a photo 😉 because they’re “not family.”

Where will your family portrait be? I’ve planned portraits in the studio, at clients’ homes, or even at a location outdoors that has special meaning for that family. My favorite generational family portrait on location? It was done at the family’s farm house that had been passed down through generations.

What will you wear? Make sure to plan your attire so that it will work for your family. You don’t want people feeling uncomfortable or stiff because of the clothes they’re in. I’d much rather plan a more relaxed generational family portrait with casual clothing if it means that everyone will be relaxed and interact cheerfully for the the camera!

What about pets? Sometimes there are family pets that need to be included too. I’m happy to accommodate these requests, but it does help me to know ahead of time whether that pet is a lap dog …or a horse. So, don’t feel like you have to exclude your animals from the portraits — they’re a part of the family too, after all!

Resources for Documenting Family History + Genealogy

Here are some resources if you’re interested in documenting or researching for family’s history. It can be fun for kids to learn from their elders by “interviewing” them about what it was like growing up — whether it is 20 or 50 years ago, the differences are still amazing. Links will open in a new window for your convenience. (Also, check out my Family History + Genealogy Pinterest board).

Follow Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com’s board Family History + Genealogy on Pinterest.

What About You?

What are your favorite family memories? Are there photographs you treasure because they capture a moment in your family’s history as you remember it from childhood? Do you have generational family portraits that are special to you? Or maybe you don’t have many photographs from your family history… does this make you feel a more urgent need to document your own family’s milestones and memories?

As always, I welcome your comments, thoughts, ideas… and if you are looking to plan a professional family portrait, I would be more than happy to talk with you about how we can best document your family through photographs.

Extended Generational Family Portrait in the Studio

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