Peony Garden Family Portraits

posted in: Photography | 2

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.

 

5 Tips for Great Studio Portraits

posted in: Photography | 3

Studio portraits may seem overly simple, but the thing I love about creating studio portraits is how all the attention is on the people, their personalities and relationships.  There is no background setting to tell a story, true, but the simplicity of a studio setting ensures all your attention will be on the people.  That being said, I do have some tips for the next time you plan a studio portrait session.

5 Tips for Great Studio Portraits

1. Coordinate Your Attire – While you don’t have to wear “uniforms” or have matching shirts, when photographing multiple people in the studio, I always recommend coordinating the attire.  Maybe something simple, like shades of black and gray with jeans.  Jewel tones like purple can work well too.  If you’re unsure, it never hurts to ask for your photographer’s opinion (just saying!).

2. Details Matter – What you wear will be front and center, your accessories will be visible.  They will either draw attention away from you, or compliment you in the portraits.  For women, jewelry choices are important to consider.  Do you want to go with something more classic, like pearls?  Or more modern?  Make sure to pay attention to where the necklace falls in relation to the neckline of your shirt or dress.  For men, a sharp tie can add to the portrait, while a loud and cheesy patterned one can detract.  Details are important, so make sure to consider your entire outfit when planning your studio portrait.

3. Go With a Tried and True Hairstyle – Stick with a style or haircut that you know you love.  Don’t go trying something new the day of your portrait session, because if you don’t like how your hair looks in the portraits, you’re not really going to love the portraits themselves either.  For those concerned about receding hairlines or stray hairs, know that qualified photographers have tricks of the trade to take care of these concerns and minimize the appearance of issues like this.

4. Avoid Transition Lenses – If you wear glasses, that’s ok — qualified photographers know how to work with glasses and eliminate lens glare.  The only thing we can’t really do much about?  Those nifty glasses that automatically become sunglasses when you go outdoors.  Transition lenses tend to have issues photographing well, so it’s best to leave those at home in favor of a more traditional set of glasses.

5. Be Yourself – Don’t try to force a smile that isn’t “you,” or wear clothing that is totally out of character for you.  You will feel most comfortable being yourself, wearing what you normally wear, or smiling like you usually smile.  Fake smiles are easy to spot — and you won’t like the end results from your studio portrait session if your smile looks forced or awkward.  I always do my best to capture a variety of expressions and smiles, just to give you options during the ordering process.  While I might know which smiles look natural and genuine, ultimately it’s your opinion that matters — these studio portraits will be enjoyed by you and your family, so you want them to look right!

Family Studio Portraits

I love photographing families when they get together from out of town.  The studio portraits below are of a brother and sister who live multiple states apart.  We did a portrait session in the studio, something simple, but relaxed enough to capture their unique sibling relationship.

7 Ways to Personalize Your Family Pictures

posted in: Photography | 26

While I love photographing all kinds of families, the sessions that really stand out are the ones like these family pictures. Not only were the family pictures taken at a meaningful location, but we were able to incorporate some unique elements to personalize their family portraits. And that’s what makes this so much fun. No matter how many times I photograph at a given location, the people, their personalities, and their interests are always so unique.

A little further on, I’ll share some tips on how to personalize your family pictures, but first, let me share these family portraits! The family portraits were taken at Barton Hills Country Club in Ann Arbor, MI. We originally planned to use the lovely greenery at Barton Hills as a setting for the family pictures — the grounds of the country club are truly lovely when in bloom; even throughout the summer months you know it will always be gorgeously green at a top notch golf course like Barton Hills.

Family Portrait at Barton Hills Country Club - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com

On this particular day, I’d been watching the weather like a hawk (I tend to reschedule if there’s bad weather). Fortunately, the rain let up, and we had a wonderfully sunny afternoon and evening — just a little damp.

As we walked to one of the spots for taking pictures, I had a sudden inspiration. A golf cart was sitting, empty, almost asking to be photographed. Since I knew this family was fond of golf, I suggested we add another series of family pictures with the golf cart, and the idea was received enthusiastically. The series of family pictures with the golf cart turned out to be my favorite, and the family ended up liking one of the portraits so much it will be on display as a wall portrait in their home!

Family Portrait at Barton Hills Country Club - BPhotoArt.com

Click on any image below to enter gallery view mode.

How to Personalize Your Family Pictures

Now, I promised tips on how to personalize your family pictures, so let me get started with some suggestions for the next time you plan a family portrait session. You could probably adapt these for spur of the moment family snapshots too.

1. Include your family in the planning process

Sometimes I work with families who are totally nonchalant about their portraits, aside from wanting “something nice” as an end result. But, usually, families have an idea in mind for their family pictures. I like to hear from everyone — including the kids, because the more involved the whole family is with the family pictures, the better the portrait experience will be for everyone.

Kids like to have a voice. So, even if their opinion is less influential than, say, mom or dad’s… I like to hear everyone’s thoughts. Often we can work in some elements that will make everyone happy.

2. Your family pictures should reflect your style and show your personalities

Plain and simple — generic family pictures aren’t as memorable ones. You want your family pictures to be a window into your family’s dynamics and show you as you really are.

For families who are more laid-back and casual, I’ll usually recommend relaxed clothing and a more impromptu portrait style. It’s better, though, to plan a formal and elegant session for a family who is more conventional and “proper.”

extended family portrait - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com
Clothing and location can really affect how formal or casual a family portrait ends up being.

3. Choose a location that is meaningful

Even if you don’t have a specific park, country club, or spot that your family finds meaningful, there are still ways to personalize your family pictures through your choice of location. If your family likes to do a lot of things outdoors, I’ll typically suggest a park with lots of natural scenery.

There’s always the option of having your family pictures taken at your home, or on your property. I love this choice, honestly, because it’s fun for me to include the house as a background element, or pets that may not have ventured off the premises for a different location session.

Family Picture with dogs - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com
Bringing multiple dogs and a baby on location would have been tough, but worked beautifully at my client’s home.

4. Incorporate your family’s interests and hobbies

This tip works whether you’re outdoors on location or inside at the studio. Find something your family enjoys, and include it! As with the family pictures above, a shared love of golf can really enhance the creativity of a family picture. Other ideas on how to personalize your family pictures can focus on the pets you have, the sports team you love, the city where you live, or the horses you ride.

family portrait with horses - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com
When you enjoy something, it’s always great to capture that memory in a family portrait.

5. There is no right or wrong

When planning your family portraits, remember — there is no right or wrong. What works best for your family will not work well for another. You can be inspired by what you find online, or what you pin on Pinterest, but ultimately, you need to think about how to personalize your family pictures in a way that makes sense for your family.

formal generations portrait - BPhotoArt.com
Formal portraits do work best for some portraits, but there is no one size fits all solution.

6. Flexibility is important

It’s important to be flexible on the day of a family portrait session. I often find the parents are very stressed out about getting good pictures, or making sure their kids behave, so I will do my best to put everyone at ease. The more relaxed everyone is, the better the family pictures will be.

And, speaking of going with the flow, remember that sometimes things just don’t go according to plan. But, that’s ok. Honestly, some of my favorite photographs and portraits have been the result of the need to make a spur of the moment adjustment or change.

family portrait outdoors winter - BPhotoArt.com
Children can be unpredictable, but sometimes their personalities really come through even if they’re not smiling for the camera.

7. Have a little fun and be silly!

I am a big proponent of being silly and having fun during any portrait session. Whether the funny faces end up as outtakes, or you ultimately choose to include the silliness in an album or wall portrait, pictures that let you (and your kids) have fun will really bring out your personalities.

Making Funny Faces for the Camera - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com
This family picture of the kids was potentially an outtake, but helped them relax!

Have Ideas on How to Personalize Your Family Pictures?

This list of tips on how to personalize your family pictures is by no means all-inclusive. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what works — or doesn’t — for your family. Or, if you have any memories of past family picture experiences to share, I’d love to read them!

Cousins – Family Pictures

posted in: Photography | 10

This month we were fortunate enough to have family in town; Toby was finally able to meet his cousin! He was thrilled to interact with baby and make her giggle, laugh, and smile. I think someone is definitely ready to be a great big brother. Anyways, while we didn’t get the whole family together for a portrait during their visit, we were able to at least get the two cousins to smile happily for the camera. Grandma was also brought into the portrait session by request of her grandson.

Cousins – Family Pictures

Here are a few of my favorites from the portraits of the cousins together:

Toby was so sweet with his cousin - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Toby was so sweet with his cousin
Playing peekaboo with baby - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Playing peekaboo with baby

Portraits of Grandma With Her Grandkids

And then some portraits of the cousins with Grandma. While the portrait session was really about the cousins, Grandma was thrilled to be included in the pictures with her two grandkids… but I’m sure you can tell that. It’s tough to be a long-distance grandparent!

Grandma with her two grandkids - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Grandma with her two grandkids
The cousins with their Grandma - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
The cousins with their Grandma

Baby Pictures

Finally, here are the baby portraits. Since she hadn’t been to visit before, this was her first baby portrait session. I’m so glad we took the time to create these baby portraits! She’s such a happy little thing:

Baby can sit up already! - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Baby can sit up already!
Such a cutie pie... - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Such a cutie pie…

Video Slideshow – Cousins

Of course, I would be remiss not to include some more cousins family pictures for you to enjoy, so here is a video slideshow for you!

Displaying Baby Photos In Your Home

posted in: Notes | 14

Sometimes figuring out how to display baby photos in your home is tougher than Capturing Baby Milestones on Camera in the first place! Actually, I’ll expand that sentiment to include all types of portraits. It’s great to have family portraits to document milestones — but, once they’re taken, the dilemma becomes what to do with them?

Depending on what my clients’ homes will accommodate, I do usually recommend some sort of wall display. I love displaying baby photos, especially in nurseries! All too soon, babies grow into kids, and those adorable little bundles of joy become little men and women. Where space is a constraint, I’ve found there are still options for displaying baby photos as part of your home decor — it just takes some imagination and creativity. A baby’s first year album can be displayed on a bookshelf, a floating wall shelf, or coffeetable; smaller framed pieces can grace the smallest of walls and still look meant to be.

Displaying Baby Photos – Our Wall Decor

Let me give you a little tour through my home so you can get some inspiration for displaying baby photos in your own home too!  When you first enter through the front door, there is a very small wall next to our coat closet.  It’s a little less than two feet wide.  A while back, I found the perfect shelf (with hooks!) for the wall, and created a little display that I enjoy very much.  My mother-in-law gave me this lovely frame; and while not usually my style, the frame is something I enjoy in this arrangement.  At the far right on the shelf, you’ll see a gorgeous glass frame that my cousins gave us for Toby’s baptism – it displays the correlating photograph of his baptism.  The two wooden sculptures are pieces I picked out while in Israel with my grandmother – I am so glad they made it home safely!

home decor entryway photo display - displaying baby photos - bphotoart.com

As you stand in the entryway and look the opposite direction, you’ll see our formal dining room.  This is actually an older photo — we’ve since moved around some furniture and are now displaying these baby photos in our bedroom hallway.  But I love the grid layout of these images!

home decor dining room - displaying baby photos - bphotoart.com

As you continue into the main area of our home, you’ll see the huge fireplace, and lots of windows.  We wanted to place a portrait that would balance out the fireplace, so large scale was a must.  The photo over the fireplace is actually before kids, from a trip to New Hampshire (taken in the southernmost part of Maine).  We have several small frames on the mantel holding snapshots of life after kids — 8x10s and smaller are great tabletop options for displaying baby photos that you want to keep updated on a regular basis.  Our furniture setup has changed a bit since this photo was taken — we added in a rug, and moved couches to create a cozier, kid friendly play are.  But the open feel remains.

family room photo decor over fireplace - bphotoart.com

Next, we’ll swing by the kitchen, where we have another tiny wall, maybe a foot and a half wide.  This one presently display’s four portraits from our son’s first year.  These framed art pieces are great because they fit pretty much anywhere — giving you lots of options for displaying baby photos wherever you want to see them in your home.

home decor photos baby's first year - bphotoart.com

Finally, we’re about to get to the best place for displaying baby photos — baby’s room!  Once again, if you were to visit our home today, this room looks slightly different… We’re preparing it for the arrival of our second son (and Toby got to move to his “big boy” room”).  Anyways, the focal point of the room, when we designed it, was the wall with the crib.  We set this up before baby arrived, and I wanted to have it be personalized from the start.  So, block letters over the crib were a great choice.

wall decor displaying baby photos in nursery - bphotoart.com

The nursery also holds a very comfortable recliner, in which I spent many hours.  I set up a side table right next to the recliner so that I could easily grab my waterbottle, reading material, knitting, or whatever snack I needed while nursing our new arrival.  On the wall, you’ll see a neat three-dimensional piece that has four of our son’s newborn features — who doesn’t love infant hands, feet, ears, and even belly buttons?  If you look in the reflection of the left window, you’ll see where we placed the dresser with changing table — along with a painting to match the theme of the room.

wall decor displaying baby photos in nursery - bphotoart.com

The final wall in our nursery had to hold books, of course!  Being a bookworm myself, I wanted to encourage a love of the written word as soon as possible.  We stashed age-inappropriate books (as in “too old for a newborn”) on the shelves from the beginning, leaving space on the bottom shelf for the cloth and board books.  This was a wonderful location for reading material — right next to the recliner, which became our reading chair later in baby’s first year.  On the wall, we decided on another three-dimensional piece — it has part of our birth announcement, plus a baby photo of our son.  The top of the bookshelf has a cute frame (matches the theme of the room!) — we updated this from time to time so that we could continue displaying baby photos that were developmentally on track.

wall decor displaying baby photos in nursery - bphotoart.com

wall decor displaying baby photos in nursery - bphotoart.com

Finally, what baby room is complete without a nightlight?  I love this custom photo nightlight that displays a newborn baby photo of me with our son.  It’s now in our upstairs hallway, but regardless of where it’s plugged in, the bas relief photo looks really neat.

home decor nightlight displaying baby photos - bphotoart.com

In the studio area, where I meet with clients, I have some more ideas for displaying baby photos to share.  I mentioned this first option earlier, for those with limited wall space.  It is easy to display baby photo books on a floating shelf — you can arrange multiple books, or pair with picture frames, for a nice, modern look.

home decor baby photo albums on shelf - bphotoart.com

And finally, another framed image series.  I really love these for displaying baby photos because it really demonstrates how much change there is over the course of a year, or even a few months’ time.  This particular series showcases images from birth through around the ninth month.

home decor baby photos - bphotoart.com

Not surprisingly, we do have more photographs on display throughout our home, including ones from our wedding, photos from trips, and of course, artwork.  But that’s for another time.  For now, let me just say, I hope this virtual tour of suggestions for displaying baby photos in your home has been inspiring and helpful.  I think it is so important to surround ourselves with images of those we love and cherish, to keep the memories we hold dear on display for all to enjoy.

What About Your Wall Decor?

What memories do you have on display in your home?  Are there photos you’ve always wanted to put up but have never found the “right” spot? 

I know sometimes it’s taken me several tries to find the perfect home for a piece of wall decor.  What is your experience with displaying baby photos and planning out your ideal wall decor?

Resources on Baby Spaces + Nurseries

Here are some of the other blog posts being featured today. Topics are cover all sorts of baby spaces, from – nursery ideas and to play spaces. You may also want to check out Pottery Barn’s How To Create A Frame Display (PDF), and my Pinterest board on Photo + Wall Decor. Links open in a new window for your convenience.

Follow Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com’s board Photo + Wall Decor on Pinterest.

The Ultimate Guide to Baby's First YearThis post is part of The Ultimate Guide to Baby’s First Year — I’m one of 30+ blogs participating. Over the course of a week’s time, there will be posts on these topics:

  • taking care of new parents
  • feeding baby
  • taking care of baby
  • baby’s milestones
  • baby play
  • baby spaces
  • celebrating baby

Check out the The Ultimate Guide to Baby’s First Year for a list of all the posts on each topic.

Documenting Generational Family Portraits

posted in: Photography | 7

I really love documenting family memories. And while it is fantastic to plan outdoor sessions with a relaxed feel, there’s something to be said for the more “formal” generational family portraits. Keep in mind, I don’t mean stiff and overly posed. I’m talking about extended family portraits which span generations.

For this generational family portrait session, I helped plan a lovely series of images in studio. Coordinating 16 people for a portrait can be complicated, but fortunately for my clients, it comes easily to me! This family was really a pleasure to work with and create portraits for. Everyone was so cheerful and laid back, I didn’t have much to do in terms of helping them relax for the portraits! It’s always great when personalities shine through — especially in photographs, don’t you think?

At the end of this post, I’ll share some tips for documenting generational family portraits and important milestones (like new additions to the family). First, let me share these lovely family portraits with you. Here’s the complete generational family portrait, with all the extended family groupings included. I love images like this that span multiple generations. Besides, they’re great for documenting a growing family as well (see the adorable new baby!!).

Generations Family Portrait in the Studio

Whenever I plan an extended family portrait, I ALWAYS recommend doing smaller family group portraits as well. Why? Well, because I have everyone in one place. That’s usually tricky to do, right? Everyone is in different places at the same time because of schedules. It’s best to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself. Plus, this way I can offer my clients a lovely portrait to pair with the main generational family portrait when it comes time to creating wall displays. These smaller family portraits are going to look great on the wall next to the generational family portrait!

Family Portrait in the Studio

Another portrait that I highly encourage is one of the grandparents, like this portrait below. In organizing my own personal family photographs, I’ve noticed that as a couple grows older together, they become more focused on having professional portraits to document their children and grandchildren rather than themselves. I totally get this.

But, all the same, kids and grandkids appreciate having the portraits to document how they remember their grandparents. So don’t forget to include this portrait in your next generational family portrait session. Another cute one along these lines, if you have reluctant grandparents is to do a portrait with grandparents and grandkids all together. What grandparent doesn’t want to have a portrait of them with their grandchildren, right?

Grandparent Portrait in the Studio

And here are some more portraits of the smaller family groupings. I don’t think I’ve mentioned clothing yet — but notice everyone is NOT wearing the same color. Sometimes my clients want matching outfits, and I’m happy to do so. But, choosing outfits in complimentary tones works really well visually while still preserving a sense of individuality. I love the shades of gray, white, and black in this image …and denim jeans usually go well with everything too.

Family Portrait in the Studio

Family Portrait in the Studio

Tips for Natural Looking Generational Family Portraits

As promised, here are some suggestions for when you plan your generational family portrait. I typically go over this sort of thing in more detail during the planning stage of a portrait session, so don’t get overwhelmed thinking you have to have all these things decided ahead of time. It’s my job to help guide my clients in the right direction.

Who are you going to include? Sometimes families will decide to do sibling portraits, grandkid portraits, and on rare occasion some families ask me to do a second shot of the portrait without significant others (“just in case”). If that’s important to you, please let me know. Generally, though, I always suggest including significant others and spouses in the images because I feel they help document that time in a family’s life. And no one likes being asked to step out of a photo 😉 because they’re “not family.”

Where will your family portrait be? I’ve planned portraits in the studio, at clients’ homes, or even at a location outdoors that has special meaning for that family. My favorite generational family portrait on location? It was done at the family’s farm house that had been passed down through generations.

What will you wear? Make sure to plan your attire so that it will work for your family. You don’t want people feeling uncomfortable or stiff because of the clothes they’re in. I’d much rather plan a more relaxed generational family portrait with casual clothing if it means that everyone will be relaxed and interact cheerfully for the the camera!

What about pets? Sometimes there are family pets that need to be included too. I’m happy to accommodate these requests, but it does help me to know ahead of time whether that pet is a lap dog …or a horse. So, don’t feel like you have to exclude your animals from the portraits — they’re a part of the family too, after all!

Resources for Documenting Family History + Genealogy

Here are some resources if you’re interested in documenting or researching for family’s history. It can be fun for kids to learn from their elders by “interviewing” them about what it was like growing up — whether it is 20 or 50 years ago, the differences are still amazing. Links will open in a new window for your convenience. (Also, check out my Family History + Genealogy Pinterest board).

Follow Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com’s board Family History + Genealogy on Pinterest.

What About You?

What are your favorite family memories? Are there photographs you treasure because they capture a moment in your family’s history as you remember it from childhood? Do you have generational family portraits that are special to you? Or maybe you don’t have many photographs from your family history… does this make you feel a more urgent need to document your own family’s milestones and memories?

As always, I welcome your comments, thoughts, ideas… and if you are looking to plan a professional family portrait, I would be more than happy to talk with you about how we can best document your family through photographs.

Extended Generational Family Portrait in the Studio

Family Portrait Album

posted in: Photography | 1

Now that the design is finished, I wanted to share this family portrait album with you! Typically I will also design a full color cover for portrait albums, which looks really gorgeous on display. This slideshow only highlights the album pages, so here is a peek at the cover design. Keep in mind, the left side of this image is the back cover, and the front cover is on the right side.

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Welcoming a New Baby

posted in: Photography | 2

It is always wonderful when I can be a part of welcoming a new family member. Sometimes my clients bring in tiny newborns, and sometimes life is so crazy that I get to meet the babies when they are a couple months old. Either way, I love creating these family portraits because the portraits are a celebration of change and growth — family growth! Here are some portraits from a recent family session. We created a whole range of portraits, including both family groupings and individual newborn-esque portraits. I love sessions like this!

 

Newborn Portraits :: Mia

posted in: Photography | 0

Big brother Nate and big sister Tessa helped me to create some adorable portraits of their new little sister, Mia! We had lots of fun, and the kids were really cooperative. After creating a few portraits of all the kids together, it was time for Mia to hog the spotlight so we did some portraits of just baby girl by herself. I love how these all turned out; it is always great to include family in newborn sessions.

Family Portrait :: Baby M.

posted in: Photography | 0

Here are portraits from Baby M’s newborn session.  I absolutely LOVE the one of her big brother holding her; he looks so proud to be an older sibling!

Interestingly enough, we spent most of the session trying to get Baby M to fall asleep so that we could create the tour de force — that adorable artistic portrait of her sleeping on the settee.

I hope the family enjoyed their holiday gifts 🙂 — portraits always make wonderful presents, don’t you think?

Holiday Portrait :: Baby A and Family

posted in: Photography | 0

Baby A is growing so quickly!  It seems like just the other day that we were doing her newborn portraits… and now she’s already over half a year old!  Time really flies.   A isn’t crawling yet, er, at least not when we did the portrait session… but as you can see, she definitely is getting closer.  Sitting up, pushing up, and having great head control!

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