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

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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

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

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

1. Newborn portraits take longer.

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

2. Scheduling during naptime is ok.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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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).

Family Portrait

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Ian, Kate, and Greta came to the studio to do some simple and sweet family portraits. Here are a few of the favorites from the session, plus an outtake that I couldn’t resist including. Greta was a blast in the studio, even though she was pretty much constantly on the move. Fortunately, I’m used to that, and have some nice tricks up my sleeve for creating nice portraits of toddlers on the fly. I think we ended up with some nice family portraits — here’s one of the family favorites.  Greta had such great expressions, and a wide variety of them too. I love working with toddlers!

Brother and Sister

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I love working with kids. Whether they are willing to sit still and smile for the camera or I have to catch take smile on the fly, it is always fun to see different personalities emerge throughout the portrait session. It is especially fun to work with siblings! I love these portraits, particularly the one of big brother signing “I love you” to the camera. But the highlight of this portrait session was definitely the portraits I created of the kids together (side note, those learning towers are awesome!).

The black and white pairing of images is so adorable, and they will look great as a grouping on my client’s wall. Can’t wait to see how fast these kids grow!

Michigan Portraits Receive International Recognition

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Atlanta, GA — Portrait Photographs created by Betsy Finn of Betsy’s Photography in Dexter have been accepted into the General Collection of Professional Photographers of America’s 2011 International Photographic Competition. Finn’s work will be on display at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, from January 15-17, 2012. This exhibition is held in conjunction with Imaging
USA, an annual convention of professional photographers and several photographic associations.

A panel of over 50 eminent jurors from across the United States selected the top images from more than 4,000 total submitted entries. Three of Finn’s portraits will be displayed in New Orleans alongside other photographic works from PPA’s photographic competition and traveling and special invitational displays. These images constitute the world’s largest annual exhibit of professional photography gathered simultaneously under one roof.

The portrait below was created for a Detroit area model — the artistic nude portrait was titled: “Flesh Tones.” It received a merit award and will be on display in New Orleans:
Dexter Michigan Artistic Studio Portrait

This portrait of a high school senior was also awarded a merit and will be displayed. Titled “Tuned Out,” it features the senior’s unique and individualized sense of style:
Ann Arbor Michigan High School Senior Portrait

Finally, a family portrait of a father with his child was Finn’s final image to receive a merit award this year. The image captures the loving relationship between the daughter and her father:
Dexter Michigan Family Portrait

This was Finn’s fifth year participating in the International Print Competition — her portraits and photographs have received awards each and every year she has entered (2010, 2009, 2008, 2007). While the awards Finn has received are a testament to her creativity and dedication to excellence, the awards her portraits have received aren’t just for show. Finn frequently enters images created during client portrait sessions to prove that the quality of her “everyday” work is just as noteworthy as any self-assignment.

Studio Child + Family Portrait

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M. and her parents came to the studio to be photographed — we did a series of photographs of M. by herself, and then several photographs of the entire family.  This first one is one of my favorites; doesn’t she look adorable!

Next, it was time for some fun!  Yes, M. is actually hanging upside down; can’t you see her braids?  Obviously not very posed, but sometimes it’s capturing that moment that makes child portraits so special.

One last kid portrait.  I noticed when she came into the studio M. was wearing some very cute pink boots.  I thought it would be really adorable to incorporate them into one of the portrait images.  Can you guess her favorite color?

And finally, the family portrait.  I love casually-posed family portraits like this one; it really captures the essence of the relationship M. has with her parents.

Thanks for a great session!  I’m looking forward to seeing you back at the studio soon; in the meantime, enjoy your new family portraits!