Getting Kids to Smile for a Family Portrait at Island Park in Ann Arbor

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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 🙂

island lake park ann arbor michigan family portrait session kids portraits outdoors family photographer
We walked along the path and found this nice little set of stairs down to the river’s edge. I had the girls sit on the steps for some portraits, and then I gathered everyone together for a standing portrait right in the same spot! Someone else visiting the park had forgotten an inflatable rubber ducky inner tube float, so I used that to get the twins’ attention for this portrait. Isabelle got a kick out of me holding the duck over my head and being silly!
outtake from family portrait session, taken just before a posed portrait. family portrait photographer ann arbor michigan photos of family
Then we moved onto another spot at the park. We went down a side trail to find this cool little spot. I included this outtake because sometimes it’s helpful for you to see what really goes on right before a great family portrait. Seriously, it’s okay if your kids are being kids. I have kids of my own, and appreciate the nuances of herding cats ;).
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Here’s the shell that Isabelle found at the second spot… she was so excited!! And yes, she asked me to take a picture, ….for which I am a pushover 🙂
family portrait by huron river island lake park ann arbor mi photographer michigan family portrait photographer
After some arranging and making sure the kids were happy AND safe, we took some more family portraits. I love how this portrait turned out… even though the twins aren’t smiling, they are definitely engaged and looking at the camera, so we’re all good, right?
candid family portrait island park ann arbor michigan portrait photographer family portrait by huron river in ann arbor michigan
Sometimes it’s nice to have a more candid portrait, where no one is looking at the camera. I like how the entire family looks like they’re having fun. Even the twins are giggling a bit. Dad for the win!
family portrait by the huron river in ann arbor michigan, family sitting on a fallen log, outdoors portrait session family photographer
This is my absolute favorite portrait from the Holler’s family portrait session. It’s also around the time that I figured out my crazy trick for getting the girls to smile. Coincidence? Maybe not. Anyways, I love how the family is framed by the Huron River, and that you can even see some of the Ann Arbor skyline peeking above the trees at the horizon. Lovely!
family portrait island park ann arbor michigan family portrait session outdoors photographer
On our way back to the car, we tried for one more group family portrait — by this bridge. The twins were getting a little bit wiggly by this time, so we decided to call it quits and head back to our cars. On the way, Isabelle kept up a great conversation with me…such an adorable girl!
twin girls child portrait island park ann arbor michigan child photographer location child portraits
On a whim, we decided to take a few photos of the girls…. in this patch of grass right near the parking lot. The girls were very happy to be free from mom’s and dad’s arms, and they were very intrigued by the branch with dead leaves that Isabelle found for them. Such a sweet candid portrait of the twins… I love this whole series I’m about to share with you 🙂
child portrait photographer location portrait session island park ann arbor michigan child portrait photographer baby girl portrait in grass
Amazingly, we managed to get very cute portraits of each girl on her own. By this time, I didn’t have to make my own silly faces, because the entire family helped get each girl’s attention when it was their turn. Love that light highlighting those curls!
child portrait photographer location portrait session island park ann arbor michigan child portrait photographer baby girl portrait in grass clapping
So far, so good. The sun went behind some clouds, so that gorgeous highlighting was gone, but this expression is so adorable I just had to share!
child portrait photographer location portrait session island park ann arbor michigan child portrait photographer little girl sitting in grass and smiling
And finally, this one. She wasn’t ready for the session to be done, in all seriousness. After we got these portraits of her, and we ended the family portrait session for real… Isabelle asked for one last portrait of her beside a tree. It was so sweet!

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!

Painted Portrait – a Father Daughter moment…

One of the nice things about creating a painting is that I can meld several photographs into one piece — and it looks totally natural.  This painting was based on several photographs that we took during Yara’s newborn portrait session (see the blog post with some of our favorite newborn photos of Yara!).  It took me several versions of the painting to get things exactly the way I was envisioning, but that’s why I do this.  Because when all the pieces finally fall into place, it looks amazing.  Here’s the final painted portrait of Yara with her dad.

father daughter portrait, baby girl with her dad, newborn portrait photographer dexter mi photography baby photographer ann arbor mi, painted digital portrait, digital art.
I absolutely love how this painted portrait turned out! Adding in Yara’s dad made all the difference in the world. For me, the painting while cute beforehand, becomes something more. The beginning of a wonderful father-daughter relationship is captured here in the final version of the painting…. love it!
baby girl wearing unicorn bow, painted portrait, digital painting, portrait artist, infant portrait photographer, newborn photographer dexter mi ann arbor baby photographer
I love the pastel tones in this painted portrait of Yara. This is the first version of the painting that I worked on before showing it to mom and dad. We felt it was lacking something…. so I added in dad. Isn’t it amazing what a difference it makes?

If you’d like to learn more about commissioning a painting from an existing photograph, or from a portrait we create during your next portrait session with me, get in touch! I’d love to talk with you about how the process works and help create a family heirloom that matches your lifestyle and vision. Contact the studio via our web form or call 734-424-0472 today!

Newborn Portraits of Baby Yara

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I got to meet Yara this summer… and she is adorable!  Her mom had the cutest outfits planned for Yara’s newborn portrait session too.  The only problem?  Yara, who was wide-eyed and cheerful at the beginning of her portrait session, just could not stay awake by the end!  No matter how much you plan, this sometimes happens… so we made some adjustments in our plans and instead of creating newborn portraits of a wide-eyed baby girl, we created some adorable sleeping newborn portraits at the end of her newborn session. Not what mom had planned, but sweet nonetheless.

Such is life!  Next time Yara comes to the studio, she will be a bit older, and I know we’ll capture some portraits with her not-so-sleepy-personality on display!

So, here’s a sneak peek of Yara’s portraits…. enjoy!

baby girl portrait in studio, newborn photographer ann arbor mi portraits, newborn baby portrait with bunny rabbit outfit
Yara was wide awake at the beginning of her portrait session… just about as wriggly as a baby bunny too! But we got some cute portraits, including this one of her peeking out from under her hat. Love it!
baby girl looking over mom's shoulder, in studio portrait sesison, ann arbor child portrait photographer, dexter mi photography studio
Between outfits, Yara needed some snuggles with her mama, so I got to capture this adorable portrait. Such a sweet baby girl!
outtake from a studio portrait session, how to get babies to fall asleep during a portrait session, newborn portrait photographer ann arbor dexter mi
This is an outtake from Yara’s session. I think sometimes it’s helpful for my clients to see photos like this, because it can be super tough to visualize how baby gets settled into a particular pose or prop. Well, we do it carefully! Yara’s mom was within reach the whole time, and I always tell parents that safety comes first. After Yara fell asleep, her mom was able to move just out of the camera so I could capture the next few portraits.
sleeping baby girl, newborn portrait photography, newborn photographer in dexter, mi, sleeping baby with bow and pearls
First, a close up of the adorable little sleeping beauty. Love that bow!!! Yara’s mom did a great job of picking out outfits and putting together accessories for the portraits. We may not have gotten any portraits of her awake in this outfit, but… sometimes that’s how it works. Newborns will be unpredictable in whether they are awake or asleep. Fortunately Yara will be coming to the studio frequently (Baby’s First Year plans rock!)… so next time around, we’ll get more portraits of an awake baby girl, I know it!
`sleeping newborn portrait, child portrait photographer, dexter mi portrait photographer, ann arbor child photographer
And here’s the final frame. I absolutely love this one. So serene, so sweet. Yara was so precious to work with, and I look forward to seeing her again soon!!

That’s all I have for a sneak peek, but there is another adorable portrait in the works.  I have a little more work to do on it yet, as I’m making a digital painting…. but I’ll share that with you when it is ready for the world to see :).  So, for now, enjoy these portraits, and try to decide which is your favorite!

If you have a newborn, or are expecting soon, please contact me at 734-424-0472 to learn more about our Baby’s First Year plan!  It’s a great alternative to an a la carte portrait session, and you will love how easy your portrait experience is!  I’ve worked with babies of many temperaments, and it’s always fun to help bring out their personalities so you will end up with adorable portraits like these ones of Yara.  Not one newborn portrait session is alike, I can tell you that for sure!

A Relaxed + Crazy Fun Family Portrait Session in Ann Arbor!

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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!

 

family portrait session outtake, boys full of energy smiling for camera, ann arbor family portrait photographer on location
An outtake from ourcrazy but fun session! These boys were so full of energy — I loved it!
candid smile toddler boy portrait on location in ann arbor mi
This little guy was adorable… but definitely a wiggle worm!!
family portrait in living room, location portrait photographer natural light, ann arbor michigan
We got the whole family to fit on the couch for a portrait — the boys were really excited when I told them they could stand on the couch “just this once!”
boy outdoors smiling for camera, family portrait photographer on location in ann arbor mi
The older brothers had really great expressions — what fun to photograph them!
boy being silly for camera, family portrait in backyard, family portrait photographer ann arbor mi
Sometimes I think you just have to share the goofy shots. And these boys definitely loved being silly for the camera.
family portrait on location in ann arbor, in backyard of house, michigan portrait photographer
I really loved this family portrait. It took a lot of kid wrangling because one of the boys was getting antsy. I captured this shot by having everyone else sit for the camera, and then let the wiggle worm run and sit down “just in time” for me to take the photo. I also had him convinced that my camera thought he was invisible. He was so proud that I kept “missing” him in the photos! 🙂
baby portrait candid lifestyle portrait ann arbor mi photographer
And then this little lady decided it was time to start moving. Naturally, right?
baby girl with boy, natural light portrait, location baby portrait photographer ann arbor mi
Mom wanted one portrait with this adorable bow, so we reconvened for one last set of portraits. The bow didn’t stay on long… but it was long enough to get the shot!

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!

Jacob’s newborn portrait at the studio, plus big sis!

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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!

 

newborn baby yawning while sleeping in forest. newborn photographer dexter mi studio portrait
Love this one! Since we were in the studio for the entire session, you know a little retouching magic happened here. But that’s okay, right? Jacob’s mom and dad loved this one… they’d seen my prep work for it (fake green grass, the wooden prop), but had no idea what I was envisioning for the final portrait.
newborn portrait session, infant baby photographer in studio
I loved this new photo prop — simple but adorable! The monochromatic tones really let you focus on baby Jacob — who was adamantly awake for most of his infant portrait session. Jacob’s parents chose to have this one printed as a canvas to hang in their home. It looks amazing on canvas!
sleepy baby wrapped in fabric, feet making heart shape
My heart melts with this one. I love how snug and sleepy Jacob looks… and how his feet make an adorable little heart!
studio portrait of newborn baby, newborn photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi
I love the cute wrinkles on Jacob’s forehead. Sleeping, or trying to, for this portrait 🙂
newborn baby boy with big sibling in studio
Jacob’s big sister was so adorable — you could tell she loved her brother! Darn that awkward toddler stage where well-meaning baby snuggles are just not gentle enough. But, I’m really pleased with how this portrait turned out. We photographed each child individually, and then I worked some magic to composite the two during retouching.
sleeping newborn portrait, baby portrait photographer, infant photography ann arbor mi
And one final sleeping one of Jacob. He really was adorable in every photograph I created!

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!

Portrait of Kids in the Studio

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These adorable little munchkins came into the studio for their portrait session this month.  Shh… don’t tell their grandparents, because it’s a holiday surprise!  It was really cute to see the kids interact, and to hear their ideas for how the portrait session should go.

portrait of brother sitting on sister's lap, kid portrait photographer dexter mi
I’d photographed Bella and Cole before, but they’ve grown so much since then! Bella wanted one of Cole sitting on her lap, so we did that portrait first.
brother clapping and smiling in sister's arms, children portrait photographer dexter mi
Cole was very excited…but as with all toddlers, he needed a little encouragement to smile for the camera. (This age is so cute…you get the cheesy “smile for the camera” grins and have to catch them off guard for a genuine smile). Love how this one turned out!
boy with stuffed animal, studio portrait photographer dexter mi
And a portrait of Cole by himself. I forget whether this was a bear, a bunny, or a dog, but the stuffie was definitely his favorite! 🙂
Bella had envisioned this portrait of her and her brother. I was happy to oblige! This portrait of the kids turned out so cute!
kids portrait in studio, photographer portrait studio dexter mi
And then we did a few portraits of the kids without the book. This one is cute, even through they’re not looking at the camera, don’t you think?
boys portrait brother in studio, photographer dexter mi
Next, it was time for a portrait of Bella and Cole’s cousins. Bryce and Trent were so cheerful, it was fun to photograph them!
portrait of kids in studio, children photographer dexter mi
And finally, we created a few portraits of all the kids. I like this one — they arranged themselves from youngest to oldest! Although, the younger boys weren’t as thrilled about this idea as the older kids. It’s all good though. What a cheerful bunch of kiddos!

 

If you are looking for the perfect gift to give a loved one, consider a portrait session!  While printed photographs are great to give (and receive!), it’s just as common for my clients to gift a certificate for a portrait session — especially if the recipient is supposed to be in the family photograph!  Contact the studio today or call 734-424-0472 to learn more about scheduling a session or purchasing a gift certificate for your loved ones.

Family Photos with Baby + Dog :: A. Family

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I photographed the A. Family when this cute little girl was just a newborn. And now here we are, doing a family portrait already… she’s grown so much!  There is nothing more exciting than getting to watch my clients’ children grow up into their own little selves.  Oh, I guess there’s one thing almost as good… and that’s when my clients bring their pets to the portrait session.  I love including animals in family photos (or any type of portrait photo, for that matter!).

infant portrait, digitally painted by photographer dexter mi
I based this digital painting from several photographs we took during the outdoors portion of their family session. It was really fun to create this, and I especially had fun painting the background of the piece.
family portrait with baby girl outdoors dexter mi
Here’s one of the portraits I am talking about. Adorable family portrait, no? You’d never know it was buggy out by their great smiles 🙂
mom with baby girl, portrait session outdoors dexter mi
We got this portrait of mom with baby girl before deciding the bugs were too thick outside …at least in this spot.
family portrait with baby and dog in grass. dexter mi photographer
Before heading into the studio, we did one last set of images out in the grass. I was hoping the bugs would be fewer in number here, but no such luck. They were great sports though! Love this one.
family photo in studio with baby and dog, dexter mi photographer
And after a bit of a break for baby, we started in on the studio portion of the family photo session.
baby sticking tongue out with mom giving her kiss, dexter child photographer michigan
It’s always cute to capture some of those silly baby faces. I love this one of her with mom!
baby smiling while mom holds her, dexter michigan baby photographer
And an adorable baby portrait where she’s all smiles!! I love it.
baby sucking thumb in dad's arms, dexter michigan photographer
Dad’s turn to hold her came next. At this point, she was more interested in her thumb. Too cute!
dad with baby, family portrait photographer dexter michigan
She was getting a little wiggly at this point, but we managed to get this one with dad and babe in arms.
mom and dad looking at baby during family portrait, michigan dexter photography session
Oh my gosh. I totally love this photo. She is looking so sweetly at the camera, and mom and dad are so happily looking at their baby. Love it!!!
outtake from photo session, prepping for baby portrait session dexter mi safe photography
This one is an outtake from the family photo session, but I wanted to share it with you because it’s important to know how much prep work goes into some of these photos. With little ones, we’re always VERY careful about keeping them safe. And then you can’t do a portrait like this with just any dog. They have the calmest, sweetest dog ever. Dad stayed right nearby the whole time, with his hand on his kiddo to make sure she didn’t fall over. That’s when Photoshop comes in handy — I do a little magic and you end up with a safely created portrait.
baby portrait studio dexter michigan photographer. baby girll with chocolate lab dog pet portrait
Seriously. Adorable. Isn’t this the cutest baby portrait ever??? I love how it turned out. And as I mentioned a minute ago, dad was holding onto this kiddo because she’s not quite ready to sit up yet. Sometimes Photoshop magic just makes sense. Safety first.
chocolate lab portrait in studio, pet photographer dexter michigan
And to finish things up, I took one portrait of this well-mannered chocolate lab all by herself. She is really such a sweet pup!!!

I’d love to talk with you about planning a fun family portrait session — whether or not you have pets to include! Call the studio today at 734-424-0472 to start planning for your next family photo.

Baby’s First Year – P. is Ready to Stand!

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One of the best parts of my job is getting to see repeat customers. I love it when my littlest clients come back to the studio, because it’s always so amazing how much they’ve grown! And, let me tell you — if you’re worried about planning a portrait session for your child because he or she just doesn’t behave in front of the camera — don’t worry.

That’s my job — leave the magic to me. I feel a little silly telling you this, but I’ve been called a baby whisperer by clients who were sure the photo session would be a bust. So don’t stress out. After all, that’s why you’re trusting me with your memories, with creating portraits of your loved ones. Relax, and let me do my thing.

baby's first year portrait, hand painted in photoshop, digital painting, master photographer artist dexter mi
I seriously can’t get enough of this smile. P. has the cutest expressions. I just had to do a painting from one of the priceless expressions he shared during his final first year portrait session. I am really excited about how this painting turned out!! LOVE!!
toddler baby boy with wooden car. studio portrait, baby's first year plan, dexter michigan portrait photographer
Like many little boys, P. loves cars. So when his mom told me he was super interested in anything that has wheels, I made sure to hand him a cute wooden car right away. No better way to help a kid relax and get excited about letting me take their portrait!
baby boy one year old, standing with a chair. photographer studio portrait dexter michigan.
Since P. was not quite standing on his own for this session in his baby’s first year plan, I brought out a chair to give him a little support. Now, when photographing little ones (or any clients, for that matter), safety comes first. For portraits where I have a toddler who may topple over, there’s always an adult literally right out of the frame. My rule? “If you feel uncomfortable at any point, grab your kid.” No photo is worth a little one getting hurt.
toddler boy riding rocking horse for baby's first year portrait in studio. dexter michigan photographer
I think P. smiled most of the way through his first year portrait sessions! By now, he’d started moving the chair around as a walking aid, so we switched to a new prop — this lovely wooden rocking horse that used to be one of my nieces’ toys. I’m all for repurposing well-crafted pieces. He was so excited to ride the rocking horse!
baby boy one year old, standing with chair in photographer studio. Baby's first year photos in dexter michigan
P. needed a little break, so we took the opportunity to do an outfit change. I love that his mom planned this portrait to correlate with his older sibling’s portrait at the same age. That will be so adorable to compare their portraits! Of course, the chair thing didn’t last long… but we got a couple before he was off to the races! (pretty typical for a first year session).
toddler boy standing and holding mom's hand during portrait session at dexter mi photographer studio
Here’s the closest we came to having P. stand unassisted. We tried seeing if he would let go of Mom’s hand for any length of time, but he was having none of it. Oh well. No worries, this portrait is still cute! One of the less smiley photos of P. ….but still adorable.
toddler boy with curly hair, smiling at camera. dexter mi portrait session for baby's first year.
And finally… look at those curls!!! I can’t get enough of this cutie. Isn’t it interesting how some siblings look so similar, yet have different features, like curly/straight hair? What a sweetie.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these first year portraits of P. (sigh, I can’t call him a baby anymore, he is getting so big!). If you want to learn more about planing your own portrait session with Betsy’s Photography, please call the studio at 734-424-0472 today. If you have a little one, or are expecting, make sure to inquire about our baby’s first year plan!

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!

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

5 Things to Include in Your Newborn Photos

posted in: Parenting | 0

It’s always a debate whether you should include accessories in newborn portraits.  Babies are so adorable to begin with… you don’t *need* to add anything else.  But, if you wanted to add some finishing touches, here are my suggestions.

5 Things to Include in Your Newborn Photos - Betsy's Photography1. Baby Blanket

If you have an heirloom baby blanket that is special to you, I definitely suggest including it in your infant’s portraits.  There is nothing more adorable than a baby sleeping on (or swaddled in) a blanket that was handmade by someone dear to you.

2. Handmade Items

By that same token, anything handmade …with significance to you… will add meaning to your portraits.  I try to stay away from clothing items, because they will usually mask the cute little newborn folds of skin, but hats and booties?  Those are accessories that won’t hide how tiny your baby is as a newborn.

3. Cute Diaper Covers

If you cloth diaper, you probably already own some diaper covers with cute patterns or ruffles.  If you’re using disposables, be aware that there are many neat bloomers and covers that can cover the diaper area and be a little more visually appealing than a plain disposable diaper.

4. Heirloom Baby Items

If you have any family baby heirlooms that have been passed down through generations, these can be really nice to include in portraits.  For instance, I have a silver baby rattle that was mine, and probably my mother’s before me.  heirloom baby items like this add so much meaning to a portrait.

5. Headbands or Bows

Over the next weeks, you’ll see some of these in a few sessions… but for now, you can take a peek at the headbands I got.  Aren’t they cute?  I am particularly fond of the yellow one.

How Newborn Portrait Sessions Are Unique

posted in: Photography | 2

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!

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.

Getting Bigger!

posted in: Photography | 0

While we have been keeping up to date with my own toddler’s portraits, I haven’t had time to share them with you before now. So, here we are — this series was from a few weeks ago; it’s interesting to see how quickly they change.

One of his new favorite toys (thanks in part to his cousins, both here and in Chicago) — trains.  Thomas or otherwise, this kiddo is enthralled by all things train.  Or anything with wheels, wings, or propellers for that matter.

And since someone was getting a little antsy (i.e. jumping off the stairs towards the end of our session) — I decided to step out from behind the camera and let my assistant take a portrait of both of us.  I love this one.  (shh… don’t tell but I was tickling him to get such a big grin).

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