This summer I photographed the Holler family at Island Park in Ann Arbor. I had been talking with Marcy about outdoor locations for their family portrait session… and we settled on Island Park. Why? That’s where she had her senior portraits done way back before kids! (Marcy and her husband Jacob have three adorable girls that did a great job during the session)
The day of the session came, and the weather was great. We met during the morning so it wasn’t too humid and hot out …and I kept everyone in the shade to help with the heat too!
Now, sometimes, kids smile right away, and other times, kids just don’t feel like it. Well, Isabelle, the big sister, was a pro. She made sure to smile for the camera, and was a delightful conversationalist! Her twin sisters, though, fell into that other category. Some people might find that to be a problem. But not me. It’s just a matter of finding the right way to break through that shell and find the smiles I know are waiting to be shared.
Evelyn and Sadie, even when not smiling, were such sweet girls. And about halfway through the session, I found the magic key to unlock their smiles! Honestly, I don’t even remember exactly what the secret was — but it involved me being super silly, making crazy sounds, and waving one of my hands in the air while holding my camera with the other.
Whatever I did, the girls loved it! We got some adorable smiles, and as you might expect, some cute waves too.
In all seriousness, this session was a breeze. I never worry about a situation like this because 99.99% of the time, I can find a solution. And for that 0.01%? Well, honestly, that’s so rare…. but unless they’ve fallen asleep during their portrait session… I am always confident about getting adorable portraits of that child in a more serious or candid style portrait. Life is all about adapting and rising to meet whatever curve balls are thrown your way, right?
So, enjoy these portraits of of the Holler family 🙂
If you want to have a family portrait done, but are worried about whether the photographer will be able to get your kids to smile, don’t be! Get in touch with me and we can go through all the details, and I’ll be more than happy to work with you to create a family portrait session. Contact the studio at 734-424-0472 or via our web form today so we can get started!
When senior year finally rolls around, there’s a lot going on! Add senior portrait decisions on top of that, and you might feel a bit overwhelmed, right? After all, senior portraits have come a long way in the past 30 years or so. What used to be a simple studio formal portrait with one outfit has become a mini model session with multiple outfits and even multiple locations.
Senior portraits are no longer just a milestone. The senior portrait has become an experience, a rite of passage.
And with that, the stakes are a bit higher. Not only do you have to find a decent-looking outfit, you have to pick the right location for your senior portrait session. If your photographer is like me, they’ll be able to list off a bunch of neat spots based on your interests. But still, it can seem a hard to commit to just one spot.
Maybe you’re worried about the weather being bad.
Maybe you’re concerned that the location is “too popular” and your photos won’t look special.
Maybe you’re not sure if the location is really a meaningful spot to you personally.
You’re not alone in feeling this way.
But don’t worry!
Let’s take this step by step.
Could bad weather ruin your senior portrait session on location?
Honestly, it won’t ruin your senior portraits. But bad weather might make us change the date. When planning a senior portrait session outdoors, I always tell my clients that bad weather is a possibility. That’s why we watch the weather in the days leading up to the session — if it looks like it will be rainy or stormy, I’ll touch base with you to discuss options for rescheduling for another day, or moving to an alternate (indoor) location. It’s as simple as that! No fees to reschedule either :).
What if the location for your senior portraits is popular?
Definitely a possibility. But, here’s the thing. Your senior portraits will be special because of who’s in them. You like the location? Cool. You like the photographer’s style? Great! You’re still a bit concerned? No prob! Just talk to your photographer. When I know you’re looking for something a creative or different at a popular location for senior portraits, I can make adjustments to the session so you end up with totally unique images. The more you share your vision with me, the better job I’ll do of making that dream a reality!
I’ve done senior portrait sessions on the same day as other photographers, even passed them on the paths. And I can guarantee that even with the same location, each photographer can create totally different looking images. The location is just one facet of a senior portrait. Trust me.
Maybe you just aren’t feeling like any location is “meaningful”?
Yeah, that can happen. But trust me. If you’re not set on a particular location, there are things we can do to make sure you end up with senior portraits you love. If you like being downtown, we can plan a session in downtown Ann Arbor, Dexter, Chelsea, or wherever you like to hang out! If you are more of a nature person, you’re in luck. The greater Ann Arbor area has a ton of parks with grass, trees, paths, and even water. If one park doesn’t stick out to you, that’s fine! We can pick a park that is convenient and easy to get to — because if forests and trees are your thing, you’ll love the results regardless of the park you pick as the location for your senior portrait session.
Now for those tips. Which are really questions to make you think….
10 Questions to Help You Choose a Meaningful Location for Your Senior Portraits
You can think of this as a list of tips, formatted as a questionnaire. By answering these questions, I bet you’ll be able to see what types of locations are really meaningful for you! Or, if you can’t, maybe a family member, or even your photographer, will be able to help you connect the dots.
1. Where do you go, or what do you do, when you have had a stressful day and just want to relax?
You might go for a run. Or maybe you head to your favorite cozy chair and curl up with a book, a blanket, and your favorite hot beverage. You might have an instrument you pick up and let out some chords and melodies, letting the stress of the day fade away. You could be a nature person — you head outdoors to breathe in some fresh air. What works for you?
2. What are your hobbies? Where do you go to do what interests you?
If you like to swim, you’ll head to the pool. If working out is more your thing, you’ll go to the gym, or maybe the great outdoors for a cross-country hike. Maybe you meet up with some friends to make music together. Or you’re an artist at heart and you love going to your studio… or downtown Ann Arbor so you can sketch passersby. Where do you go when you do what you love? Think about how we can incorporate your hobbies into your senior portrait session!
3. Do you have any pets? Or do you like animals?
While some people are ambivalent when it comes to pets, most of us know where we stand! If you have a dog, a cat, a horse, or any other type of animal… do you want to include it in your senior portraits? Some pets, like dogs, are pretty versatile and you can easily transport them to most locations for a senior portrait session. On the other hand, if you want senior portraits taken with your horse, we’ll probably head to head to the barn where your horse is stabled. Cats are rather particular about their surroundings, so if you want to include your feline, that likely means a senior portrait session at your home. It’s all about making the animal feel comfortable. I’m happy to photograph a variety of animals, and am personally not afraid of bugs/insects/snakes — but it’s always best to let your photographer know ahead of time if you plan to include your pet. I like to be prepared!
4. Do you play any sports, or are you on any teams?
If you play football, you might want to do your senior portraits at the high school stadium. Or if you are on track, it might be cool to create some portraits of you at the starting line. If you know you want to do something sports-related during your senior portrait session, but you’re not particular about the location, we can definitely work that into your senior portrait session! I’ve done sports-themed senior portraits in the studio. And if you play soccer or another outdoors sport, it’s pretty easy to find a nice looking patch of green grass for your themed portrait if you don’t feel the need to pose by a soccer goal! Think about the sports you are involved with, and which might be good to incorporate into your senior portrait session. This should help you come up with some senior portrait session location ideas!
5. Do you like the outdoorsy, nature look?
In the greater Ann Arbor area, we have a TON of parks and recreational areas. I am always happy to suggest locations if you need ideas. Some of my clients are happy with whatever location I suggest, as long as it is outdoors and is some sort of natural setting. Other clients want me to do portraits at a specific park where they spend a lot of time. I’m happy to make suggestions, but it’s ultimately up to you. If you like being outdoors, I bet you have some places that you go to frequently. If you go there a lot… chances are it might make for a meaningful location for your senior portrait session!
6. Do you like going downtown?
If the answer is yes, think about where you go when you head downtown. Is it to a particular park? Maybe you go window shopping, or maybe you love being right downtown by Michigan Theater. I’ve done senior portraits all over the place… and no two senior portrait sessions ever look alike. If gritty urban portraits are more your thing, we can definitely talk about a visit to graffiti alley — they walls are always changing so you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a unique backdrop for your senior portraits.
If a smaller downtown scene is more your thing, we can look into downtown Dexter, Chelsea, Saline, or even Ypsilanti. Each city has their own unique charm, so if one spot means more to you, by all means, let’s head there! If you like going to Depot Town in Ypsilanti, it’s always a nice spot. If you want to head downtown Ann Arbor, expect to do a bit of walking. I will add that parking is usually plentiful, unless you want to have your session downtown during the week of the Ann Arbor Art Fair (been there, done that!)…and then it’s going to be more walking!
7. Do you have a favorite hangout?
Over the years, I’ve photographed seniors in coffee shops, libraries, book stores, restaurants… you name it. If there is a place that you go to hang out, chances are good that we can plan a senior portrait session there. If you love the store where you work, maybe you want to have senior portraits done there. Maybe you go to Nichols Arcade a lot, and want portraits there. Get the idea? If there’s a place that you go with your friends for fun, maybe we can make that into a location for your senior portrait session. It would definitely be memorable!
8. If you had a friend visiting from out of town, where would you want to take them?
The spots that you want to share with an out of town friend may include a great place for your senior portrait session. Maybe you want to take them to Gallup Park because of all the cool walking paths and bridges over the Huron river. Maybe you would take them on a walking tour of downtown Saline because you love that area (followed by a side trip to Curtiss Park). Or maybe Michigan Theater would be at the top of your list. Wherever the spot — you’ve chosen it because it’s important to you. So maybe it’d be a great location for your senior portrait session!
9. When you scroll through your phone’s camera roll, is there a spot where you frequently take photos or selfies?
If you have location tagging turned on, take a peek at the different spots where you tend to take photos. Do any of those locations seem like a fun spot for senior portraits? You might be surprised to find some ideas for where to have your senior portrait session!
If you take a lot of selfies, think of where you were when you tend to take those photos. Maybe we could use that location for a fun “candid” senior portrait of you taking selfies!
10. Does your family have a location that is meaningful to you as a family?
Okay, I know these are your senior portraits. You want them to be special to you,… but sometimes part of that “special” comes from doing portraits in a location that you’ve gone to since you were little. So, if you can’t come up with any ideas, but know you want something special… try asking your folks! You could do your senior portraits at the same park where your mom or dad took you as a kid, or maybe your backyard has many happy childhood memories for you. We can incorporate those memories into your senior portraits by choosing that as your location! If you have older siblings, your parents might suggest the same location as their senior portraits. If so, don’t worry about your senior portraits looking the same. We will be able to make your experience unique to you, I promise.
Also, if you end up doing your senior portraits at your house, we could do some pictures of you in your environment — your room! That’s up to you, of course. Some people prefer to stay outside in the backyard for senior portrait sessions at their house. But I will say, choosing your home as your senior portrait location all but eliminates your travel time. And outfit changes will be a breeze!
Now, look through your answers….
Do you see any similarities? Any locations listed more than once? Maybe that’s a spot to consider for your senior portraits. Seriously, though, there is NO wrong choice when it comes to a location for your senior portraits.
Your portraits will be a reflection of who you are because you are in them. Your senior portraits will be meaningful because you are special.
You don’t have to stress out over finding the perfect location. It’s okay to flip a coin, or ask others for input.
I hope these tips to help you choose a location for your session have been helpful. I’d be happy to help you plan your senior portrait session in further detail too — just call the studio at 734-424-0472, or get in touch via our web form. I’ll look forward to chatting with you soon!
Because of all the musicians in my family, you could say music is in my blood. And yes, I play occasionally — most often piano accompaniment these days. A year or so ago I was able to join the Ann Arbor Grail Singers for a performance, which was really fun! Sadly, my schedule didn’t allow me to continue on singing with them, but I was really excited to be able to come back to photograph the group last year right before their performance!
Now, usually I photograph groups or individuals with some kind of studio lighting, even on location. But in this instance, we didn’t have time to set up any kind of lighting, as the photoshoot happened right after the dress rehearsal and about five minutes before the doors were opened to the public. We literally had less than five minutes to get this group portrait taken. So, we made the best of it!
First, let me show you the beautiful space that the Ann Arbor Grail Singers performed at, and then I’ll share two group portraits of the Ann Arbor Grail Singers with you!
If your ensemble or group is in need of a group portrait for publicity purposes, please contact the studio at 734-424-0472 so that we can discuss your needs and come up with a plan to fit your vision! We can plan for your group portrait to take place either on location, as the Ann Arbor Grail Singers did, or at the studio. It’s all up to you!
What family portrait session would be complete without a little bit of crazy? Because, honestly, that’s life with kids. Fortunately, part of my job is to make the portrait experience be fun for the whole family… and we definitely succeeded during this portrait session.
When Cynthia and I chatted about what she wanted from her portrait session, she told me she was really just looking for one good portrait of everyone together. Well, I think we accomplished that — and more. The kids definitely had me improvising, but that’s what I love about working with little ones!
We planned the family portrait session to take place at their home in Ann Arbor. So, on the day of the session, we started out the session in the family room, and when I asked Samuel, Joseph, and Elijah to sit on the couch for me… the older two boys listened a bit better than their younger brother. No worries. He got to hide behind the couch for some portraits. I convinced him to come out for a few portraits to check and see if my camera was working — and told him that he was invisible for my camera’s pictures.
That trick lasted pretty much the whole session…. and didn’t get old!
Once the rest of the family was ready, I photographed everyone on the couch before we headed outside to the backyard. We did a series of portraits outside…. most of which were casual and on the fly. I try to get a couple posed family portraits during a typical session, but am totally willing to create family portraits where kids can be kids. Ryan and Cynthia were so patient with their kids’ antics, and I am glad they trusted me with creating their family portrait.
By the end of the session, I could tell that we were losing the two youngest kids. It’s hard to try and sit still, right? I used a few tricks to get a few last portraits in, and then we called it quits.
Well, almost. We realized that Liliana hadn’t been wearing her bow during the portrait session — so Cynthia asked if we could give it a shot. Of course, I said yes! It didn’t take long for someone to figure out how to take off the bow, but I captured several adorable portraits of her wearing it. After a few more rounds of Mom putting on the bow, snapping a photo, and seconds later Liliana pulling it off…. we were all set.
I hope you enjoy these family portraits as much as I enjoyed creating them. It’s always so much fun to work with kids — I love their energy and vibes!
If you have been putting off planning a family portrait session because it seems too stressful, or you’re worried your kids won’t be able to sit still…. please don’t wait any longer! I love working with kids who are on the move, and it’s part of my job to create great family portraits while your little ones are on the move. Contact the studio today at 734-424-0472 so we can chat about your family and what kind of family portrait you’d like me to create for you!
For sleeping newborn portraits, it’s almost always best to do the session when baby is less than a week old. Why almost? Well, because every once in a while, you get a stalwart nap objector — like Jacob! Jacob was determined to stay awake for his newborn portrait session, even though there was sleepy dust in the air!
It was actually really adorable. I used a number of my photographer tricks to help Jacob try to fall asleep, but ultimately we gave up and went for photos where he just looks like he’s sleeping. Too funny, right?
Jacob’s big sister was very intrigued by the whole portrait session process. She wanted a front and center view of the action. And I literally mean that. Fortunately, mom and dad came prepared with snacks, and I had a stash of new-to-her toys — so big sis was happily occupied for a lot of the portrait session.
Life is all about making adjustments and being flexible. And that’s how I manage my portrait sessions too.
Usually when we create sibling portraits in the studio, I have all the kids in front of the camera at the same time. But, for this set of siblings, I could tell that just wasn’t going to work!
I am so grateful that my clients were willing to trust my vision… because by thinking outside the box, I was able to create an adorable portrait of both kids. Before we photographed Jacob, I had big sis hunt for cheerios on the crate. We got some cute individual portraits of her, and then it was time to swap kids! My retouching magic put both kids in one portrait, and made the cheerios disappear.
I know you’ve been dying to see these portraits — so without any more chatter from me…. here you go!
If you are expecting a baby, or have a newborn, I’d love to chat with you about planning a laid-back and stress-free newborn portrait session with me at the studio! We can do a standalone portrait session, or to help you plan ahead, we can discuss the benefits of my Baby’s First Year plan. Contact me today at 734-424-0472 to learn more!
It seemed fitting that I should post rainy day senior portraits on a rainy winter’s day like today. After all, it doesn’t feel like winter right now here in Michigan at all, does it? Anyways, before I share the still senior photos, here’s a video highlight reel of some of favorite senior portraits from Genna’s senior photo session. I just have to say, I’m so grateful that these old growth trees were plentiful in number, because even though it was rainy we stayed relatively dry!
And in case you’re not one for video shows, here are some still portraits from Genna’s senior photo session. Enjoy!
You might think it’s a little early to start planning for senior portraits, but in fact, we’ll be publishing our senior portrait “model” call soon! If you’re interested in have a two part senior portrait session and getting some *perks* for sharing your senior photos with all your friends, then you’d be a perfect fit! Let me add that you don’t have to look like a model to participate. We love having real, normal teens as a part of our program — because everyone is special in their own way.
To learn more about planning your senior portait experience with Betsy’s Photography, please contact the studio at 734-424-0472.
This week my husband and I attended a happy hour event for One More Moment, a local Ann Arbor charity that helps create “one more moment” for late stage cancer warriors.
(We’ve gone to several events in the past, and all of them have been fabulous)
Maybe you’re wondering:
What is One More Moment?
It’s a nonprofit charity based in Ann Arbor that works with local donors and supporters to give late stage cancer warriors their “one more moment” together:
One More Moment …[was]… created to help give local late stage cancer warriors and their families … one more special moment together. … They needn’t be extreme or “typical”. The key is for something special and unique for every individual & family; simply “their” moment to enjoy.
So, back to the Happy Hour event. It was nice relaxing end to a busy day for us. There were a lot of people there (One More Moment sold tickets in advance, and ended up announcing that tickets were sold out earlier in the week!).
Everyone left with a goody bag, but there were a number of winners that took home raffle items too! Like my grandmother, I have a knack for winning things. So, we left with a really cool Shock-Top logo-ed patio/beach umbrella, and a wooden crate full of other Shock-Top swag. I think the wooden crate may make an appearance in future kid photo sessions, as it is just the right size for babies and toddlers to sit in! Thank you!
If you were there, we hope you had as much fun as we did. My kids “helped” me dig through the bags today, and I was reminded how MANY wonderful local Ann Arbor businesses have contributed goodies to help these One More Moment fundraisers fabulous. So, when you look through your swag, please consider supporting all the local businesses who made the even possible!
Here are some photos that I took of the event. Feel free to share them with friends and family, upload to Facebook or whatever social media. I just ask that you leave the discrete watermark intact.
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.
I always love using this traditional studio backdrop! It’s a little more interesting than your run of the mill textured color wash, and pairs wonderfully with earth tones and blues alike. While this senior portrait wouldn’t cut it for the yearbook, it would definitely be a nice portrait to display at home!
I typically run through a series of poses when doing studio portraits, changing out chairs and such to create a variety of portraits for my clients. Love how this one turned out!
And here’s another from the studio portion of Ian’s session, with a smile this time. Love it!
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?
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Baby Ridge has already grown so much since his newborn session in the studio… it’s amazing how quickly these little adorable babies change! I love helping to document these first weeks of life, especially since babies leave the newborn stage so quickly.
We had some bugs spend the night at our house the other day. Well, in the garage, to be exact. Grandpa sent these home with us, so we could watch them a little while longer before setting them free the next morning. The katydid took up residence on our deertick flower, and the praying mantis liked the Jerusalem artichoke we set her on. In case you can’t tell from these pictures (see more below), someone was REALLY excited to have these bugs around. He’s been talking about praying mantises all week. katydids, not as much…but then again, we didn’t have the interesting backstory for that little lady. The praying mantis had just eaten a humongous bumble bee before entering captivity. Read More
I recently was able to create a combination family and executive business portrait for Finn’s Insurance. We created a business portrait with four of the five Finn brothers and their father, and then by adding in the fifth brother we were also able to create a great gift for their mom. Here is the business portrait for Finn’s Insurance:
Doing dual-purposed portraits is actually a common request for me. Frequently my business professional clients love their headshot portraits so much that they ask about ordering a few prints to give as gifts. I love it!
I am excited to share with you that some of my fine art photography is on display (and available for sale) at the downtown Ann Arbor Sweetwaters Cafe. While I had been over there to help install the exhibit, tonight was my first return trip since then. We ventured to Ann Arbor’s downtown for a nice weekday dinner with family — and while we were there, a quick stop at Sweetwaters was in order.
Right in the entryway, we stopped to take a picture of my artist statement and one of my photographs. Since there were some willing hands, I happily stepped in front of the camera to prove I was there.