With this recent cold spell, fall really seems to be upon us. But it wasn’t that long ago that we had warm sunny days like for Haylee’s senior portrait session. We planned Haylee’s portrait session to take place at Mill Creek Park in Dexter. As you might have guessed from some past blog posts, it’s a popular destination for portraits. But even so, it’s not hard to make your portraits look unique and personalized to you. Haylee was a great sport and smiled beautifully for the camera throughout her entire session…. and we ended up with a fantastic set of senior photos for her and her parents to enjoy.
Make sure to scroll all the way through this series of senior portraits, because I saved some of my favorites for the end. We did do a few portraits standing in the water, which I have to say, was cold but felt refreshing given the heat.
If you’ve been putting off planning your senior portrait session because it seems like a lot of work, just get in touch! We help you through the entire process, whether it’s choosing your location, giving advice on attire and outfits, or selecting the best portraits to hang on the walls of your family room. Your senior portrait experience can be relaxing and maybe …even fun! 🙂
It’s always fun to do senior photos someplace local, someplace meaningful. Or, in the very least, someplace that is amazingly gorgeous! And that’s what Mill Creek Park is — gorgeous. You might know it as the Library Park, because the Dexter District Library overlooks the park. Or maybe you know the park as Warrior Creek Park….which it was formerly named in years past. Whatever you call it, the park is gorgeous.
Let’s just say, if you’re thinking about doing senior photos at Mill Creek Park in Dexter, you won’t be disappointed. I love the boat launch steps, the walking path under the bridge, the grassy natural areas, and even the playground. Mill Creek Park offers a nice variety of settings for most types of portrait photography sessions — and, most importantly, there are some nice shady spots to keep you out of the heat of the midday sun!
Here’s a sibling portrait session I did at Mill Creek Park this summer. N. is a senior at Dexter High School, while C. is a junior this year. It was nice to get photos of both of them during this senior and not-quite-yet-senior photo shoot!
Since you might want to see what some other parts of Mill Creek Park look like, here’s another senior photo session that we did there. Well, at least partly. Madison’s senior portrait session took place in downtown Dexter, and included some senior photos at Mill Creek Park in Dexter too. I love the one of her with her black lab. So adorable!
I’ve done various other senior portrait sessions at Mill Creek Park over the years.. the water is almost always nice to wade in, and feels great during hot summer Michigan days. On rare occasion the water is too high, and the current too fast, but usually my older (i.e. teen or adult) clients are able to comfortably wade into the shallows of the water. Here’s a few photos from a teen photo session at Mill Creek Park….
And for those of you who remember what Mill Creek Park was like before the boardwalk and other improvements went in, I haven’t forgotten either. Here are a few senior photos at Mill Creek Park when it was still known as Warrior Creek Park. Amazing how quickly we grow accustomed to new improvements, huh?
As an aside, there’s another nice park in Dexter that’s similar, but a little different — Hudson Mills Metropark. I’ve done senior portraits there too. If you want to take a peek, you can view Luke’s senior portrait at Hudson Mills Metropark. Here’s a teaser of his senior portrait blog post:
If you want to explore Mill Creek Park a little more, you might check out this blog post of mine about Mill Creek Park in Dexter. I have a few more recent sessions on the schedule to share with you at Mill Creek Park, so if you’re dying to see more senior photos at Mill Creek Park in Dexter, definitely sign up for my email updates so you won’t miss those posts.
If you want to learn more about planning your senior portrait session at Mill Creek Park (or elsewhere), please contact the studio today. We definitely are in a busy season right now, but should be able to fit you in before your yearbook deadline.
Luke’s senior portrait session started at the studio, but most of his photos were created on location at Hudson Mills Metropark. When photographing clients at two locations, I always love to start in the studio because those portraits are a little more formal. By the time we get to the second location, everyone is relaxed and comfortable — perfect for more casual location portraits!
So, without further ado, enjoy these senior portraits taken at Hudson Mills Metropark!
Luke was a great sport during his entire senior portrait session. We managed to create all these senior portraits — and more — during his hour long session.
I’m always happy to work with clients who know exactly what they want… and with clients who want me to direct them completely. We will make your senior portraits uniquely you. If you’re interested in planning a laid-back senior portrait session and need someone who knows what they’re doing, call us at 734-424-0472 today!
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.
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!
Rachel’s mom contacted me this summer about doing her senior portraits in a field of sunflowers. Cool idea, right? And we were in luck, because the weather was great on the day of Rachel’s session. A bit hot for anyone’s liking,…but, hey, it’s Michigan. We have to work with what we’re given. You’d never know it from these photos, because Rachel looks absolutely gorgeous, but it was drippingly hot. Seriously.
Enjoy this slideshow of our favorite images from Rachel’s senior portraits in the sunflower field.
And in case you’re a sucker for web photos instead of video slideshows, here they are! Rachel was a great sport. She put up with the hot sun, some windy gusts, and of course, my goofy requests that she pretend to laugh at her mom. All in all, Rachel’s senior portrait session went very smoothly though. We got some great portraits that I am sure her family will enjoy for years to come. And once I’ve designed the memories panel that her mom ordered for their home, I will share that with you too!
If you’re looking at doing senior pictures while the weather’s warm, get in touch with me ASAP to plan your session! Or, we can plan something for the fall… your call. Call the studio at 734-424-0472 to learn more about having your senior portraits done by award-winning master photographer Betsy Finn today!
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).
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
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!
While I love photographing seniors, or any of my clients, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for animals. So, when Madison’s mom asked me if I ever do senior photos with pets, I enthusiastically said, “yes!!”
A lot of my clients are concerned that their dog might be too rambunctious or energetic to sit still for photos. But, as I reassured this client of mine, I am happy to include dogs for a portion of any session! My secret? Well, besides just liking dogs and being patient with them, it’s a simple matter of getting your dog mostly tired out before the photos happen. Whether that means a trip to the dog park, or a long walk, or numerous games of tug… it’s usually a pretty good bet that when your pup is pooped, he will be amenable to having his photo taken.
I have to admit, I think this is my favorite photo of the whole senior session. We had Madison stand in the water to coax the pup towards her. Even thought he generally doesn’t like water….it worked! Yes, he was back out of the water within a minute… But, I was able to capture this priceless moment. I initially wasn’t even sure we had captured him looking at the camera! Now, you might notice this photo looks more like a painting. I used my traditional artistic training and recent training in painting digitally to create this digitally masterpiece. Don’t you love how it turned out???
Now, let’s get on to the photos of Madison. It was such an honor to photograph Madison, she is a great person and I love her cheerfulness! While I love all of my clients, it’s always fantastic when a session goes smooth as silk. And Madison’s senior portraits just flowed so nicely. Despite the heat, we managed to stay out of the direct sun. …and we created some gorgeous senior portraits in the shady spots of downtown Dexter. Side note — when doing senior photos with pets, make sure to also bring a water bowl and enough water. On a hot day, it’s really essential. (I’m so glad Madison and her mom planned ahead!).
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of Madison’s senior portraits. As I mentioned earlier, these were taken in downtown Dexter. What I didn’t mention is that her entire session took about an hour. Yes, including a quick stop at my studio for the obligatory studio senior portrait. Easy peasy!
As the senior portrait season ramps up, we’ll be sharing more sneak peeks. I hope you will find these senior photos inspirational as you plan your next portrait session. If you’re interested in learning more about how the portrait planning process works, just contact Betsy via internet or call 734-424-0472.
Growing up, my mother always sent out a Christmas letter — complete with family photo. We would contribute to this family tradition by telling my mom what we wanted to share in the letter. Not all of our input made the cut, but it was definitely a personalized yearly greeting that our family and friends enjoyed receiving.
When Steven and I got married, I knew this was something I wanted to turn into a tradition for us as well. So, every year since we’ve been married, I’ve created a holiday greeting card or letter. The year, I stuck with the format from my childhood: a letter on 8.5″x11″ paper, detailing all the new events of the year, and a separate photograph greeting. Do you remember those long envelope-sized photos? They had the greeting printed on the right quarter of the photograph. And then I discovered the thrill of designing a custom holiday greeting card. A greeting card can incorporate photos and text, which streamlined the assembly process.
So, that’s what we do to this day. And I offer custom greeting card design services to the families I photograph too. There’s something nice about having someone else do the grunt work for you — just saying “these are the photos I like, and here is what I want it to say.” A far cry from the days of my childhood, when we would all spend hours composing the text, proofreading, and re-wording to fit it onto a single page… then having to assemble all the components to fit in the envelope.
Now, you might be wondering why I’m writing about this so early, right? I like to let the various seasons be celebrated in their time, and I’m not one to jump the gun on decorating.
But, with family photos being included in the holiday greeting cards, you have to plan ahead. In fact, sometimes families will take their holiday picture in the summer, during a family vacation. This year, my goal is to capture the fall colors in our family picture. I’ve been watching the weather, the leaves, making sure I don’t miss that narrow window of opportunity, when the leaves are golden but still mostly on the trees.
Now, since I promised you some tips for getting a jump start on your family photo greeting cards, here they are:
1 . Plan your family photo in the summer or fall.
There is no reason to be stressed out and trying to get a last minute snapshot of the family for your greeting card. If you have kids, your stress may be reflected in their willingness to cooperate for the photos. And you probably don’t want a family portrait with unhappy faces, right?
2. Hire a pro; outsource your picture-taking.
Let’s face it, sometimes it is tough to get your own kids to smile for the camera. A non-parent can often elicit better smiles and expect better behavior. I know my mom gave up trying to teach me flute; I just wouldn’t listen to my teacher because she was also my mom (sorry mom!).
3. Ask everyone about their highlights of the year.
In our greeting card, everyone gets a little blurb, one or two lines about what’s going on in their life. As my kids get older, I’ll begin asking them what they want to share — and an “I don’t care” answer means mom gets free reign (kind of)!
4. Have a second set of eyes check your work.
I can’t tell you how many last minute typos we’ve caught over the years, just by having another person look through the text of a card. One year, a relative discovered their card had a typo too late — and ended up gluing a strip of paper with the correctly spelled word to every card. Not a fun task!
5. Order your cards early – before the holiday rush.
While there’s no set date you need to get your cards, I like to finish mine by the end of November, so I can get it ordered at the beginning of December. That way, I can focus on holiday parties, planning, and the like instead of rushing to get our greeting cards out. There has been a time or two where we got caught with too many holiday “to-do” items — and the greeting card went out as a “New Year” card instead of a Christmas one.
6. Keep in touch with contact information.
It can be hard to keep peoples’ contact information straight, with families frequently relocating or changing email addresses. I like to include our mailing address, email addresses, and phone numbers in the card — that way our friends and family can update their contact book with any changes. Plus, you can share your blog or facebook profil if there’s more you want to share than will fit in a letter or card.
7. Use an online service.
Sometimes it’s tough to get a jump start on things like this — it’s just easier to deal with the immediate needs, particularly if you have a lot on your plate. Maybe your plans for a family portrait (professionally done) fall through, or you need to pull together a quick last-minute card on the fly. Either way, you can use a service like Tiny Prints #afflink.
Hopefully these tips have been helpful for you, and perhaps inspiring, even? I’d love to hear about any family traditions you have for the holidays… particularly if you grew up helping with some sort of annual greeting card or letter.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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).
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).
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!
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.
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.
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!
So, there you have it. 10 things to consider when planning your next portrait session!
One of the tough things for any high school senior to decide is where to have their senior portraits taken. It’s a big part of expressing individuality, or conveying personality. So, with that in mind, here are 10 places you should consider having your senior portraits done.
1. Indoors at the studio.
Studio portraits are timeless and classic. It’s a great choice if you want to do something simple, or want to avoid the unpredictable weather. We can do a lot indoors, trust me. Here are some senior pictures taken indoors at the studio. Click on any image to enter gallery view.
2. In your own backyard.
While you may not think of your yard as picturesque, it likely has potential. My job, as a photographer, is to make the most of what you’ve got. So, if you want your senior portraits to be someplace that has lots of memories — your own yard is a great choice! Here are some portraits taken in my clients’ yards (and outdoors here at the studio too). Click on any image to enter gallery view.
3. In your car.
Ok, so this isn’t a “place” …persay. But work with me on this one. If you have a car you’re proud of, I’d love it include it in your senior portrait session. Cars can be part of a portrait session pretty much anywhere — your home, the studio, a park… you name it. Click on any image to enter gallery view.
4. Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor.
This is a great park in Ann Arbor, with many acres. There are the peony gardens, the Huron River, wooded paths, open grassy expanses… you name it. This is also a great location if you’d like to bring your dog along for some of the pictures. Click on any image to enter gallery view.
4. Mill Creek Park in Dexter.
I love this park; my son and I visit all the time. I’ve done all kinds of portraits here. The greenery is fantastic, and the river is great too. Since the addition of a boardwalk and walking path, you can even get to Hudson Mills Metropark from this spot. Though, I wouldn’t recommend that jaunt during a portrait session. Click on any image to enter gallery view.
5. Downtown Ann Arbor.
Ann Arbor’s downtown covers a lot of area. Some places are easier to get to than others, but there is a lot of neat architecture and urban imagery that can be incorporated into pictures. One word of advice? Don’t plan a downtown Ann Arbor portrait session the week of the Art Fair unless you really, really, love the crowds. That was an experience! Click on any image to enter gallery view.
6. Graffiti Alley in Ann Arbor.
If you’re going for a contemporary, urban look, then Graffiti Alley is a perfect spot for senior portraits. The fun thing about this spot? The graffiti is never the same. So from year to year, or week to week, the senior portraits could look completely different. Click on any image to enter gallery view.
6. Downtown Dexter.
Dexter’s downtown is a little more… quaint, perhaps? But it is a lot of fun for senior portrait sessions. An added bonus? Parking is a lot easier than if you’d chosen to venture downtown Ann Arbor. I love all the different looks we can get within a one block radius. Click on any image to enter gallery view.
7. At your school.
Maybe you’re a sports fan, or you really love playing sports. If that’s the case, then pictures at your school would be a great choice. Pioneer High School has the added bonus of being kiddy corner to UM football stadium, so it’s a two-for-one sports deal! Click on any image to enter gallery view.
8. Curtiss Park in Saline.
This is a great part for senior portraits, there is a river, grassy open areas, wooded spots, and even a playground. I have done a number of sessions here for high school seniors and it is so much fun. Click on any image to enter gallery view.
9. Train tracks (near, but not on).
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s dangerous to do pictures on train tracks. But, I’m happy to do senior portraits near them, as in these photos of the young man. The young woman in the photos below actually had her portraits done at the caboose in Depot Town in Ypsilanti — it’s a “permanent fixture” and doesn’t pose any danger to get near (or on). Click on any image to enter gallery view.
10. Go on location indoors.
There are many neat places to go– indoors — for your senior portraits. Your own home is one great place, or perhaps the local coffee shop where you go all the time. Or, maybe you love your job and want your senior pictures taken there. The nice thing about indoor locations? No need to worry about the weather. Click on any image to enter gallery view.
So, there you have it. This list is by no means all inclusive, I had to leave off some fun places! What’s your favorite spot?
As school starts back up, one of the annual rites of passage, aside from the obligatory “first day of school” snapshot, is school picture day. After all, these photos end up being handed out to relatives, friends, and schoolmates… and don’t forget those yearbook spreads either. School picture day isn’t a day you want to forget.
That being said, I remember one year, in middle school (or was it elementary?), that school picture day snuck up on us. By us, I mean my mom and I. Neither of us had it on our radar. I didn’t do my hair, get dressed to the nines, or anything. I vaguely remember feeling silly as I stepped up to sit on the stool for my photo — sporting a half ponytail and my yellow soccer jersey. To top it off, the photographer mixed up backgrounds, so instead of whatever I’d requested, my school picture faux pas is forever commemorated with a purple background. Gotta love it.
So, what words of wisdom do I have to share for you… so you can be ready for school picture day? I’m going to skip “don’t forget” (because that’s a given), and move onto some more helpful tips.
1. Practice smiling. Teens already know how school picture day works, but younger children are new to the process. I remember hearing about how one of my nieces told her mom (after school picture day): “I didn’t smile.” Yearbook photographers have limited time to interact with the kids they’re photographing, and the whole process may leave your child feeling rushed (not to mention caught unawares). I still remember the drill. Wait in line with your order form. Step up to the “box” made from tape on the floor, sit down, smile for the camera. Lights flash. Seconds later, you’re done. By practicing smiling, you can have a better chance of that evasive on command smile showing up in your child’s school pictures.
2. Go with tried and true hairstyles. Don’t get a new haircut the day before, or try a new hairstyle you’ve never attempted. While it won’t be the end of the world, school pictures are really a capture of your child as they are that year… doesn’t it make more sense to have a haircut or hairstyle that is actually representative of your child, as my toddler would say, “in real life” ?
3. Do a clothing check. If your kid is messy and has a good chance of spilling on the shirt before photos happen, maybe a patterned shirt will be more practical. But generally, busier shirts detract from the face (especially once you add in the background). For older kids and teens, make sure the shirts fit well, and aren’t too revealing. Here’s a good guest post about dressing modestly for senior portraits — the concepts can be extended to picture day for younger grades as well.
4. Reminisce with your kids. What better time to pull out your old yearbooks (if you still have them) and laugh about all the clothing trends, big updos, or glasses that kids wore “in the old days” …right? In the very least, it may reassure an anxious child about the fact that school picture day is not something to stress out over. Being able to laugh at yourself is a really important life skill — take it from Roy Rogers!
5. Avoid glitter. This stuff often shows up in photos looking more like dandruff than sparkles. And while sparkles are fun — no one wants to look snowy. Stay away from glitter makeup or hairsprays for school pictures. You won’t regret it.
6. Glasses are fine, but pass on the transition lenses. I’m not sure how many kids who wear glasses actually have transition lenses, but if you do — leave them off for the picture. They don’t photograph all that well. Aside from that, glasses won’t be a problem. Professional photographers know how to make sure there will NOT be any glasses glare. Speaking of glasses, I remember one of the Babysitter’s Club books where the protagonist had to get glasses and was embarrassed at first, but then decided to “own” it and wore both sets of glasses for her photos. Whatever floats your boat, right? all seriousness, though, if there is something your kid feels will make school picture day be easier for them, it may be worth it to oblige.
7. This is a good day for bribery. Yeah, I’m not one for bribery, but I know it works. If it’s important to you that your kid smiles, or that you avoid the dreaded retake day, then make a deal with your kid. Good pictures? Reward.
8. Schedule a real portrait session. Let’s face it. Some kids just don’t open up well with less than a minute in front of the camera. You may prefer to hedge your bets on something that will produce those genuine expressions. Plan a yearly portrait session with your favorite photographer so that you can document your child’s growth …with pictures you know will be great.
Do you have any other ideas? I’d love to hear them. This will be my toddler’s first year of preschool, so it will be interesting to see how things go for him. Here’s one of my first school picture days (I think).
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.”
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!
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.
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!
This year the signs are pointing to an early — and hard — winter. We had autumn leaves on our deck today, we’ve seen deer with antlers earlier than usual, and my friend reported that up north the trees are already sporting fall colors. This winter may come early and with a vengeance.
That being said, let’s talk fall colors. Outdoor portraits look fantastic when you have the vibrant fall colors on display. I love doing family portraits, senior portraits, and the like outdoors in fall.
So, if you’d like to plan for a portrait session outdoors this fall, make sure to contact me well ahead of time so we can plan and accommodate for the autumn leaves that will likely come — and fall — earlier than usual.
5 Tips for Fall Portraits
1. Earlier is better.
If you’re worried about the leaves falling quickly, it’s better to get your outdoor portrait taken when the fall colors are just starting to fill in. If you wait too long, you’ll get the tail end of fall, and your setting may not have many leaves on the trees still.
2. Scout out your location.
Even within a five mile radius, the onset of autumn can vary, depending on how well the trees are sheltered or how much they are exposed to the elements. Plus, the type of tree matters — different kinds of trees will change colors and lose their leaves at different rates.
3. Make a backup plan.
While you can prepare for most scenarios, it is always good to have a backup plan. Be flexible, just in case you need to make on-the-fly changes. I’ve changed locations at the last minute, and even changed appointment dates to work around the weather (or in this case, the leaves).
4. Dress appropriately, and bring a sweater.
The weather can change so quickly during autumn. Sometimes we have been ok in short sleeves, other times a light sweater is not enough. So, be prepared — and remember that the wind can make it seem much colder than you might anticipate.
5. There’s always next year.
Life happens, and sometimes capturing that moment you had envisioned ….well, it just doesn’t work out exactly as you wanted. But that’s ok. We do the best we can to ensure success, and then go with the flow. Seasons come and go incessantly. There will be more fall colors next year — if you miss out this year you can always try again come next fall.
Now, for some past client portraits, taken during the fall. I figure this will help get those creative gears turning, get you inspired and excited for fall to come (even though you might not be ready for it yet).
Family portraits like this one below are always gorgeous, but even more so in the fall. There’s just something transient and ethereal about fall colors, don’t you think?
And of course, senior portraits have just a little added warmth when taken in fall. This scene would have been gorgeous with full greenery in the foliage, but by waiting for the leaves to turn golden, it has a little more interest. There are leaves already falling, they rest on the steps, on the path, and you can enjoy the full range of greens to golden oranges in the setting. We actually planned this senior portrait specifically to capture the autumn leaves at this location. Our timing was impeccable.
And another senior portrait taken during the fall, after the leaves had started to turn colors. This one was taken at my client’s home, so the setting was important and meaningful. The fact that autumn is a transitional season, that it doesn’t last very long, also adds another layer of meaning into senior portraits, don’t you think? Senior year is a time of transition, towards independence and adulthood — becoming your own person.
And one final senior portrait. We spent a good twenty minutes searching for fall colors that would photograph well — sometimes scheduling constraints keep us from planning the “perfect” fall portrait session. But, imperfect is normal…. it’s a part of life. And we were able to find this stand of trees that had already started to turn.
I’ll reiterate myself now — plan ahead. Fall comes quickly, and if you’re not careful, you might miss those gorgeous autumn hues that really make an outdoor portrait pop.
Case in point?
This week we noticed the leaves in our yard are already starting to turn. The leaves are falling. And it’s only August.
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.
Studio portraits may seem overly simple, but the thing I love about creating studio portraits is how all the attention is on the people, their personalities and relationships. There is no background setting to tell a story, true, but the simplicity of a studio setting ensures all your attention will be on the people. That being said, I do have some tips for the next time you plan a studio portrait session.
5 Tips for Great Studio Portraits
1. Coordinate Your Attire – While you don’t have to wear “uniforms” or have matching shirts, when photographing multiple people in the studio, I always recommend coordinating the attire. Maybe something simple, like shades of black and gray with jeans. Jewel tones like purple can work well too. If you’re unsure, it never hurts to ask for your photographer’s opinion (just saying!).
2. Details Matter – What you wear will be front and center, your accessories will be visible. They will either draw attention away from you, or compliment you in the portraits. For women, jewelry choices are important to consider. Do you want to go with something more classic, like pearls? Or more modern? Make sure to pay attention to where the necklace falls in relation to the neckline of your shirt or dress. For men, a sharp tie can add to the portrait, while a loud and cheesy patterned one can detract. Details are important, so make sure to consider your entire outfit when planning your studio portrait.
3. Go With a Tried and True Hairstyle – Stick with a style or haircut that you know you love. Don’t go trying something new the day of your portrait session, because if you don’t like how your hair looks in the portraits, you’re not really going to love the portraits themselves either. For those concerned about receding hairlines or stray hairs, know that qualified photographers have tricks of the trade to take care of these concerns and minimize the appearance of issues like this.
4. Avoid Transition Lenses – If you wear glasses, that’s ok — qualified photographers know how to work with glasses and eliminate lens glare. The only thing we can’t really do much about? Those nifty glasses that automatically become sunglasses when you go outdoors. Transition lenses tend to have issues photographing well, so it’s best to leave those at home in favor of a more traditional set of glasses.
5. Be Yourself – Don’t try to force a smile that isn’t “you,” or wear clothing that is totally out of character for you. You will feel most comfortable being yourself, wearing what you normally wear, or smiling like you usually smile. Fake smiles are easy to spot — and you won’t like the end results from your studio portrait session if your smile looks forced or awkward. I always do my best to capture a variety of expressions and smiles, just to give you options during the ordering process. While I might know which smiles look natural and genuine, ultimately it’s your opinion that matters — these studio portraits will be enjoyed by you and your family, so you want them to look right!
Family Studio Portraits
I love photographing families when they get together from out of town. The studio portraits below are of a brother and sister who live multiple states apart. We did a portrait session in the studio, something simple, but relaxed enough to capture their unique sibling relationship.
I love outtakes like this that capture laughter and emotion!
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!
Click on any image below to enter gallery view mode.
How to Personalize Your Family Pictures
Now, I promised tips on how to personalize your family pictures, so let me get started with some suggestions for the next time you plan a family portrait session. You could probably adapt these for spur of the moment family snapshots too.
1. Include your family in the planning process
Sometimes I work with families who are totally nonchalant about their portraits, aside from wanting “something nice” as an end result. But, usually, families have an idea in mind for their family pictures. I like to hear from everyone — including the kids, because the more involved the whole family is with the family pictures, the better the portrait experience will be for everyone.
Kids like to have a voice. So, even if their opinion is less influential than, say, mom or dad’s… I like to hear everyone’s thoughts. Often we can work in some elements that will make everyone happy.
2. Your family pictures should reflect your style and show your personalities
Plain and simple — generic family pictures aren’t as memorable ones. You want your family pictures to be a window into your family’s dynamics and show you as you really are.
For families who are more laid-back and casual, I’ll usually recommend relaxed clothing and a more impromptu portrait style. It’s better, though, to plan a formal and elegant session for a family who is more conventional and “proper.”
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!
This month we were fortunate enough to have family in town; Toby was finally able to meet his cousin! He was thrilled to interact with baby and make her giggle, laugh, and smile. I think someone is definitely ready to be a great big brother. Anyways, while we didn’t get the whole family together for a portrait during their visit, we were able to at least get the two cousins to smile happily for the camera. Grandma was also brought into the portrait session by request of her grandson.
Cousins – Family Pictures
Here are a few of my favorites from the portraits of the cousins together:
Portraits of Grandma With Her Grandkids
And then some portraits of the cousins with Grandma. While the portrait session was really about the cousins, Grandma was thrilled to be included in the pictures with her two grandkids… but I’m sure you can tell that. It’s tough to be a long-distance grandparent!
Finally, here are the baby portraits. Since she hadn’t been to visit before, this was her first baby portrait session. I’m so glad we took the time to create these baby portraits! She’s such a happy little thing:
Video Slideshow – Cousins
Of course, I would be remiss not to include some more cousins family pictures for you to enjoy, so here is a video slideshow for you!