5 Tips for Great Studio Portraits

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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

Portraits On Railroad Tracks? Bad Idea.

posted in: Photography | 38

Portraits on railroad tracks are very popular. I’ve seen many high school seniors mention this as a location of preference. And while I am always up for a creative challenge, when it comes to compromising the safety of myself or my clients, I just have to say no.

Portraits on railroad tracks? No way! Incorporate the railroad tracks into the portrait? That’s another story.

Why No Portraits on Railroad Tracks?

So, there you have it. Now you know my limits. I won’t photograph portraits on railroad tracks, no matter how much a client begs. Why? Well, first of all, it is dangerous. The tracks are in use by trains, and there have been unfortunate incidents in the news of people getting stuck on the tracks when a train is coming. I don’t want to play any part in my clients getting injured, maimed, or even killed by a passing train. And, similarly, I don’t want to get hurt myself.

Secondly, the railroad tracks are privately owned. You can get fined for being on them — something that I have seen enforced. Walking along the railroad tracks, or doing portraits on railroad tracks, it doesn’t matter. What’s more, if you do find a photographer willing to take portraits on railroad tracks, you have a permanent photo record of the fact you were trespassing on private property. So it’s not like you can claim you weren’t there…you were.

Are Safe Portraits on Railroad Tracks Possible?

Nope, no such thing according to the railroad officials. But, despite my policy of never doing portraits on railroad tracks, I do have my ways of including railroad tracks as an element in the portrait.

I am willing to photograph portrait sessions near the railroad tracks, with them as a background element.

There are parks, public land, and other areas that the tracks pass through. I’m comfortable setting up a portrait *near* the tracks, but at a safe distance so that *if* a train were to pass by, no one would be in the way. These types of portraits “on” railroad tracks work best for high school seniors, or families with older kids — old enough to know not to run out onto the tracks. Again, I don’t want to have that responsibility of knowing my clients received an avoidable injury.

Safety is always my number one priority. Art never trumps safety. That mentality could prove deadly.

The family portraits below were taken near the tracks, close enough that the railroad tracks are a prominent element — but far enough away that no one would be in danger were a train to come by (more on that concept of “far enough away” later).

Family Portrait in front of railroad tracks and train station

Family Portrait at Dexter Train Station near Train Tracks

I don’t like to be one for pessimism, but I do want to share several news stories with you that illustrate the seriousness of not doing portraits on railroad tracks. It’s not as simple as “I’ll be able to get off the tracks in time.” There are many factors you can’t account for, variables that could prove deadly. After all, a train is much bigger than a person.

News Reports of Railroad Track Photography Incidents

Train Accident Kills Crew Member of Gregg Allman Biopic

A second camera assistant was killed Thursday afternoon when a freight train struck and killed her on the set of the Gregg Allman biopic “Midnight Rider,” sources confirm to Variety. Four other people were injured in the accident, one seriously. […] the movie crew was filming a dream sequence on a railroad trestle when a train unexpectedly crossed the bridge.

Photographer Killed While Taking Pictures of an Oncoming Train

Tragedy struck Sacramento, California this past weekend after a photographer and high school art teacher was killed while taking pictures of trains.” [There was a second set of tracks, the photographer was hit by a second train]

Operation Lifesaver urges […] stay safe, stay away from train tracks

[in 2012] more than 800 people were injured or killed while trespassing on railroad property in the U.S., according to preliminary Federal Railroad Administration statistics.

Really, that’s just a sampling of headlines. There are more news stories like this out there. But enough of that. Let’s move onto the safety aspects.

Safety Tips You Might Not Know About Trains

Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit seeking to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and along railroad rights of way. The organization has some safety tips about trains that you might not know:

  • Trains can’t stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the tracks.
  • An optical illusion makes it hard to determine a train’s distance from you – and its speed.
  • The average train overhangs the track by at least three feet.
  • Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and rights-of-way are private property.
  • No tracks should be assumed to be abandoned or inactive.

While at a Thomas the Train event last year, we actually walked by an Operation Lifesaver booth; my son enjoyed learning a little about the trains from the volunteer, and he liked the coloring book and keychain he received. If you have little ones, make sure to check out Operation Lifesaver for Kids. There are coloring pages, activity sheets, word searches, and the like. I’m always a fan of making learning fun :).

Portraits Near Railroad Tracks

I have to admit that while doing my research for this blog post, I learned some things myself about the technicalities and legalities of taking portraits near railroad tracks.

While I knew that trains overhang the tracks, I didn’t realize that the average train extends three feet or more past the rails.

In these final examples of portraits I’ve done near railroad tracks, I did my best to accommodate my client’s desire to be photographed at a certain railroad bridge within a public park (but not on the trestle). No portraits on railroad tracks, no portraits on the trestle – but portraits with the tracks as an element of the image. That is the kind of portrait I am happy to create for clients. A creative — yet safe — portrait.

Senior Portrait On Location - Near Train Tracks

Senior Portrait On Location - Near Railroad Tracks

Wrapping Up

So there you have it. It’s not just a matter of “I’ll be able to get off the tracks in time.” Many people have gotten stuck on the tracks – able-bodied individuals who thought they could get off the tracks.

Safety comes first, and doing portraits on railroad tracks is just plain not safe. Besides, it’s illegal… tresspassing on private property.

If you want to learn more about Operation Lifesaver, you can visit their website: www.oli.org. You can also find them on various social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Business Portraits That Look Natural

posted in: Photography | 0

Here are some business portraits from a recent studio session. Plus, at the end of this post, I’ve shared tips on why it’s important to be yourself for your professional headset, and how to get a business portrait that looks natural. That being said, I love it when my clients come back for more portraits! Aside from getting to photograph them again, it is lovely to see familiar faces and find out how life is going. Here are a their business portraits, taken in studio:

Ann Arbor Business Portraits + Headshot Photographs Read More

Foul Weather + Rescheduling Sessions

posted in: Photography | 0

With all the foul weather and thundersnow we’ve had lately, I figured a blog post with some foul weather photography tips was in order.  A bit later on in this post, I’ll also cover some situations for which we usually reschedule portrait sessions.  We don’t want to be out in foul weather photographing any more than you want to be exposed to that foul weather.

Now, first let me digress to the topic of thundersnow.  Anyone enjoying the thundersnow and lightning we’ve had the past 24 hours? We were inside and didn’t hear the daytime thundersnow, but Toby did wake up last night because of the lightening. Despite getting my son to agree a combination thunderstorm and snowstorm was pretty cool, he still wanted the lightning to stop.  In case you haven’t been privy to the lovely foul weather that is called thundersnow, here’s a brief video on the phenomenon:

Let me also say, we were out driving during part of today’s foul weather.  It was interesting to see the snowplows pushing waves of icy water off to the side of the road.  Lots of big puddles, slushy snow-water, and other runoff.  I will be curious to see how the weather plays out the next few days.  Despite our best efforts at beating this foul weather, we couldn’t keep up with all the snow, slush, and ice on our driveway.  Hopefully it will be warm enough (or at least sunny enough) to melt the ice-skating rink in progress on our driveway tonight.

When Should I Cancel My Session Due to Foul Weather?

If it’s stormy out, I always reschedule my location sessions, no questions asked. I don’t want to be out in that weather any more than you do. Weather can definitely become a safety concern. The lighting and camera equipment I use is pretty much a giant sign saying “lighting please strike here.” Now, I will add one exception — once-in-a-lifetime events like weddings.  For weddings, I’ll go with the flow, according to the bride and groom’s alternate weather plans (which usually take foul weather, thunderstorms, etc into consideration).

But for portrait sessions? It is definitely smarter to plan on doing the session another day.  Or, if the portraits “must” be done by a certain date, there’s always the option of switching to a studio portrait session.  I rarely have to resort to this second option, though.  About 99% of the time we can find a fair weather day for rescheduling a portrait session that had to be cancelled due to inclement weather.  Sometimes I do have clients interested in getting a “stormy sky” look, but please know we can achieve that going out during foul weather. If there are clouds in the sky, we can do some neat things.

Senior Portrait With Stormy Skies | Foul Weather

Our Guidelines for Proceeding with a Session during Foul Weather

Some types of foul weather that we reschedule portrait sessions for include:

  • thunderstorms/thundersnow and lightning
  • heavy rain or downpours
  • winter weather warnings/advisories, including extreme cold
  • excessive heat warnings/advisories, including extreme heat/humidity
  • tornado watches/warnings
  • extreme fog

We typically proceed with portrait sessions on a “play it by ear” basis for not-so-foul weather, such as:

  • snow flurries
  • isolated rain showers

Winter Portrait in the Snow | Not-So-Foul Weather

In short, if you’re concerned about the weather having a negative impact on your portrait session, please get in touch with us. Call, email, text… let’s discuss the weather so you can be confident as we make the safe choice for your portrait session.  Foul weather may ruin our chances for your portrait session to occur on a given day, but it will NOT ruin your overall portrait experience.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry.  If the weather is bad, let’s call it and plan for another day!

Finally, let me share some resources that I rely on when checking the weather.

Obviously, none of these are foolproof, and there has been a time or two when we’ve rescheduled a session, expecting foul weather — and it turned out to be a false alarm. But those instances are few and far between. Usually when we play it by ear, we can agree to decide a few hours beforehand whether it looks wise to proceed with your portrait session or not.

“Foul Weather” Nature Photography Tip:

From a nature and landscape photography point of view… if you choose to take photographs of storms or want to venture out during foul weather, please exercise care and make sure you are not being reckless about your safety. Sure, it would be awesome to capture a time lapse photo of the lightning storm going on.  But, that photograph won’t mean much if you’ve been injured in taking it. It would be far safer to photograph a storm from inside a building, or even sitting in a car in a parking structure (remember, rubber wheels?).  After all, who wants to be caught on the ground holding onto a tripod turned lighting rod?

Safety first…then art second!

Foul Weather Winter Snowstorm | Fine Art Nature Photograph

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Portrait Photographer

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What to ask when hiring a portrait photographerYou may be wondering, “how do I hire a portrait photographer?” Or maybe, more specifically, “what should I look for when choosing a photographer?” While there are many different answers to these questions, the important thing is to give questions like these some thought before working with any portrait photographer. Obviously, we’d like to be the perfect fit for your portrait needs, but we recognize our style and approach is specific — photography portraits are not always one-size-fits-all. Generally, the more experienced a portrait photographer, the more flexible they will be in creating portraits that meet your needs and vision. Of course, along with that talent typically comes a correlating price.

When it comes to quality, you get what you pay for. If you are looking for bottom dollar, then you may need to be willing to sacrifice on quality and creativity. But, if you are able to invest accordingly, it really is possible to plan ahead and have your portraits turn out as creative and as good as you expect and deserve.

So, what are some things to consider before working with any portrait photographer? Read More

Simple Portraits are Best

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From time to time I create so-called “simple” portraits, like this one below.  Usually they are for clients in need of a new professional headshot portrait — either for their website, business card, or even a networking site.  Sessions like this are quick and painless; the whole thing almost always takes well under an hour.  And who wouldn’t want to give up an hour of their busy schedule in return for a wonderful portrait that really captures your personality in a professional way?

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Maternity Portrait

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As promised, here is one of the maternity portraits that my little assistant helped me create in the studio.  I’ve not been one to keep track of which week or trimester I’m in this time around; that must be due to the busy life of mothering a toddler in addition to running my studio.  Anyways, the “calendar” I consulted puts me at around 18 weeks (mid-second trimester).  Toby is excited to be a big brother and keeps checking on baby: “baby is drinking and eating.”  Yup, likely the case.  Sort of.

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Sports Car Senior Pictures

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It’s hard to believe Paul is finally a senior… maybe that’s why I’ve put off posting his portraits? At any rate, I’ve had the privilege to do senior pictures for his older siblings, and the neat thing about all three of their sessions (see Kathleen’s senior pictures here; Doug’s aren’t even on this blog!) is that they have a common theme — We did a canvas wall portrait for each session featuring each of the kids with the car. Here are all three siblings with their respective car senior pictures. I love how these look together, don’t you?

We started off in the studio, then went to two parks for the outdoors portion of Paul’s pictures.

Senior Portraits at Pioneer (and UM) Stadium

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Brad is a senior at Pioneer High School, and since he plays football, we made certain to incorporate that into his senior portraits. So, off we went to Pioneer High School’s football stadium for the outdoors portion of Brad’s session. Unfortunately, the gate was locked, so we had no access to the field. Despite that, we still ended up with a wonderful senior picture that included a view of the scoreboard and such — through the gate. I actually really love how it turned out!

We also included the humongous Block M sign from the University of Michigan Stadium in Brad’s senior photos… (in case you’re wondering, UM has long since limited access to the interior of the stadium, probably for security reasons).

And a search for fall colors proved difficult, but we managed to locate a stand of trees over by Vet’s Park. I think it turned out pretty nicely, especially considering we ended up driving around looking for “fall colors” as the planned spots weren’t particularly colorful.

Finally, we also did some more traditional portraits back at the studio…. for the yearbook.

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