When Jennifer first started discussing her family portrait session with me, she told me that her girls were all “super energetic & goofy.” I said that was great because that’s my favorite type of family to photograph!
Kylie (8), Alexie (6.5) and Bailey (3) were so much fun and I just adored working with them. Photographing young sisters always makes me nostalgic for when my own girls were younger. (Side note: I just registered my oldest for high school. How in the world did that happen already?) Also, Trev & Jennifer are the most adorable couple. There is so much love and laughter in this sweet family, and it shows.
The family moved to Middle Tennessee from California, and in the process, left their beloved family photographer and friend. This was the first time they had pictures made since the move, and wanted a country feel to the location. They also wanted to include their sweet, 13 year old golden retriever. Since it’s still winter and there isn’t a lot of green on the trees, I though Harlinsdale Farms in Franklin would be a good spot. I always love the textures and colors on the barns and buildings there, and it’s a great place for a dog.
I was a little worried about ti being super cold, but it ended up being a really beautiful day, though still a bit chilly if you weren’t bundled up. As a bonus, the girls found the first dandelion of the year! You guys know I love a good dandelion wishes photo, and this year Kylie got to be the first. I hope they enjoyed their first Tennessee photo session as much as I did.
First of all, I want to say that I adore this family portrait session from this past weekend at the Factory at Franklin. Heather chose to have the session at the Factory because it was supposed to rain, and the Factory provides a good choice for indoor sessions. But my favorite spots at the Factory are actually outside, so I was so glad when the weather turned out to be actually pretty decent.
The combination of agreeable weather, the great color choices for their outfits, and just a wonderful family to get to know made this one of my favorite sessions. Arica and Alec were such sweet and fun kids to photograph. Also, their big sister Maria and her fiance’ were in town for the photo session. I couldn’t help getting a few sweet shots of them alone, so it was almost like getting a combined family session in one.
Besides editing this beautiful portrait session, this week I’ve been working on making it easier for clients to get information they need about sessions right away.
I was an Engineer in my past life and bring some of that analytical thinking to my business. I love efficiency and you’ll see that through my online scheduling calendar, and my automated emails that help you throughout the process from helping you choose what to wear to reminding you what to bring to a session.
This week, I’ve added to that efficiency by adding a Facebook Messenger Bot to my Facebook page. If you message me, you’ll have the option to get a lot of information from the bot immediately, without having to wait for my reply. So if I am out shooting a session and can’t respond right away, you can still get information on pricing, frequently asked questions and information on how to book a session, with just a click of a button within Facebook messenger.
I’m pondering about adding a way for clients to get communications through Facebook messenger, such as session reminders, what to wear advice, gallery links, etc, rather than just through email. I’d love to have some opinions on that from anyone who has one!
I love creating systems that make it easier on my clients, but the personal touch is also very important to me. I’m always a text, message, email or call away if you need me directly.
It means the world to me when a new family portrait session client tells me that they hired me because a friend referred them to me for photos. I have several loyal clients who are often sending new families to me and I am so thankful for their recommendations.
First of all, if a client refers someone else to me, that means they’ve been happy with their experience in the past, and that is the MOST important thing to me. I want every client to love both their photos and the experience in getting the photos made. If a client trusts me enough to refer other people to me, then I feel like I’ve done my job.
Also, this photography gig is pretty much a one-woman show. I’m not only photographer and editor, I’m also advertiser/marketer, accountant, web designer and administrative assistant. I never expect or require clients to share my work, write reviews or send friends and family to me. But when they do choose to help with the advertising of my business, I am so very grateful for that vote of confidence.
When Venissa contacted me about booking family photos, she said that she had learned about me from her friend Nicole, one of my oldest and dearest clients, who often sends other people my way and I am so very grateful for her support. ❤
V️enissa wanted to book an extended family portrait session while her parents were in town for the holidays. We had originally booked for a few days after Christmas, but the weather was awful and rainy, so we were able to reschedule for New Year’s day before her out-of-town family returned home. What a gorgeous way to kick of 2020….I loved hanging out with this wonderful family. The weather was a bit chilly but tolerable, and they were all so much fun to photograph.
How did you kick off the new year? Are you planning on scheduling family portraits for 2020? I’m now booking sessions through June! Contact me today!
What a beautiful way to finish up 2019 with this gorgeous family of 5 portrait session at Harlinsdale Park in Franklin. This photo session was originally scheduled for November but we got rained out. We couldn’t reschedule right away because the family’s oldest daughter, Jessica, lives in New York so we rescheduled the session for when she would be home for the Christmas holidays. And what an amazing day it was! We could not have asked for more beautiful weather.
This is a family that I photograph pretty regularly, and I feel like they keep getting bad luck when it comes to session weather. I’ve shot a session for them in the rain. They had a session last year that was super hot, and then another where it was bitterly cold. They’ve been troopers through every single session and handled it beautifully each time. But it stinks because I generally feel like the weather cooperates for almost all my sessions – even late winter ones, but this one family keeps taking all the hits.
So of course, yesterday, when I arrived at the Park at Harlinsdale Farms where we were supposed to shoot, it felt WAYYY colder than the 54 degrees my phone said that it was. Then five minutes later my phone read 48 degrees. That’s still generally reasonable for a winter photo session, but the wind was so bitingly cold. I was worried that it would be way too uncomfortable to have fun and enjoy the session.
So when Kate showed up and asked if we could try to move the session to the Factory at Franklin, I completely agreed. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to, as the Factory charges a permit fee and I’d always booked it in advance. But the man at the front desk was nice enough to let us get the permit immediately so we were able to move the portrait session indoors, which was so much better than dealing with the bitter wind.
We were also able to slip outside for brief periods before coming back inside to get warm, and there is this nice corridor that was mostly protected from the wind. So all in all, it worked out well. But I still hope that next time they get a nice pleasant, mild day….it’s their turn.
Here goes my annual plug in favor of sending holiday cards in the mail. In almost every other way, I tend to choose the greener, more efficient way of doing things. I loathe writing checks, and much prefer Venmo. I decide to do most things online rather than paper versions. I’m content reading an e-book.
But there is just something about receiving an old fashioned paper Christmas card in the mail. I particularly love the ones with family photos (I know…shocker.) I tape each one to our front door and admire them until well after the New Year.
But I know many of my friends and clients are overwhelmed about getting a Christmas card made and sent out, so I thought I’d offer a few tips to help you with this holiday task.
STEP 1: Getting the Photos
The most obvious choice for getting photos for your annual holiday card is to use the images from your yearly family portrait session.
You can also use photos you’ve taken throughout the year. Last year, my family went on a vacation to Toronto and Niagara Falls for Thanksgiving week. I used photos I took from that vacation (including some phone selfies!) for our holiday card, and everyone seemed to really enjoy them. So don’t think your holiday card has to be all fancy or posed. I haven’t decided this year whether to use vacation photos or the more formal ones I just took a few weeks ago of our family for this year’s Christmas card.
One of my best friends recently set up her phone to take a selfie photo of her family (including their sweet dog) in front of their fireplace. They propped up the phone on a shelf and then used a smartwatch to trigger the photo, but a timer would work fine too. She had the stockings all hung, and it looks super festive and cute. This is an excellent option if you didn’t have family photos made this year, or, if like her, you had spring photos made and want something more festive looking for your holiday card.
Another great option is to come to see Santa Claus and me at the Spring Station Middle School Holiday Market on December 7. Your $25 pre-order ticket includes admission to the Spring Station Holiday Market event for two adults and your children & digital photo downloads of your Santa visit that you can use for your holiday card! Book your spot now before they sell out.
STEP 2: Printing the Photo Cards
If you had pictures made with me this year, you could design and purchase a holiday card straight from your session photo gallery. There are lots of high-quality options, and they print and ship super fast.
If you are using your own photo, I recommend Mpix.com for all your printing needs, including Christmas & Holiday cards. They are having a 50% off sale on Christmas cards that ends today if you are ready to get it done.
And of course, there are plenty of other printing options, such as Shutterfly. I have found the print quality of cards from Shutterfly to be mixed, but with their sales and coupon codes, they are definitely a good choice if you are looking to save a few bucks.
I’m just going to remind you now that if you print professional photos at Walgreens, then a unicorn will die.
STEP 3: Mailing the Photos
I know some people insist that Christmas cards should be hand addressed and signed. I’m not one of those people. My list is huge, and in this case, I’m an advocate that done is better than perfect. So I make it easy on myself.
I either have the place I’m ordering cards from print my return address on the envelopes, or I use return address labels (this year, I got some on sale from Shutterfly).
I keep a document on my computer of addresses, formatted to print onto adhesive Avery address labels. Each year, I review the list to see if it requires changes and then print the labels to address my cards. If any cards are returned to me, I make sure to figure out why, and then edit the list accordingly for next year’s cards.
I’ve seen some people on Facebook using google forms to collect addresses of people who want to receive a card from them. That’s a great place to start if you are beginning from scratch, but be sure to save the addresses in printable form to use again next year to make it super easy for you.
Bonus tip: This year, I ordered discount Forever stamps from Ebay to save a few bucks on shipping the cards, which is good since I send out so many.
That’s it, then sit back and enjoy the rest of the holidays knowing you did your part in spreading cheer.
Gorgeous family photo session with some of my favorite people
Speaking of festive holiday cheer, check out these photos of one of my absolute favorite clients. I adore their clothing choices for this session – perfect for a holiday card, but not so Christmasy that they won’t look great hanging on their walls year-round. These kids keep me on my toes, but I adore them and always end up loving the photos of them. They are so full of life and personality, and everything I love about photographing young children.
This gorgeous family traveled from my hometown, Elizabethton TN, for their family portrait session, and I am so glad they did! Whitney is the best friend of my amazing sister-in-law, which kind of makes her like extended family. You might recognize sweet Zoe from photos I’ve taken at my niece’s birthday parties and other such events.
But this is the first time I’ve been able to do an actual family portrait session for them. They combined our session with a weekend family getaway to the Opryland hotel, which I thought was a fantastic idea. They were able to visit the ICE! at Gaylord Opryland and all the holiday fun at the hotel. Then, before returning to East Tennessee, they met me at Winstead Hill Park in Franklin for a fun fall family portrait session.
The weather was gorgeous, which was my one fear… I wasn’t sure how we would reschedule if the weather didn’t cooperate, considering the 5 1/2 hours they traveled to get here. But we couldn’t have asked for a better day, and they were so much fun to photograph. Zoe is a natural in front of the camera and so much fun to be around. As a side-note, I love the rose pink color of your outfit and think it worked perfectly for fall photos.
When many moms come to me to book a family portrait session, their first concern is if their young children will “behave” for a portrait session. I want to make a deal with you….if you properly prepare your husband or significant other for the portrait session, then I promise I will handle the children. (Also, “behaving” is overrated. I want your babies to be wild and free and real.)
Things Dads Misunderstand About a Portrait Session:
Think about it for a minute: generally, 100% of my interactions before a portrait session have been with Mom. (This isn’t ALWAYS the case. I have had dads do the booking, but usually it’s mom.) It’s likely that mom was the one following me on social media, and mom was the one who picked me. Dad’s probably not read my blog. He’s also not the one reading all the emails from me preparing you for what to expect at the session.
Dad may have no idea about my candid style, or the fact that a photo session with me is meant to be playful and fun. Maybe, in his head, he’s expecting the studio type portrait session of his youth, where everyone had to stand at attention on a tiny black dot and stare unblinkingly at the camera.
Another misconception dads sometimes have is that we are trying to get “one good picture.” I try to get what I refer to as the “Grandma shot” early in the session. That’s the one where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling. It’s the one to send to Grandma…the more traditional look. But my real goal is to get you a gallery FULL of beautiful, candid images of your family that showcase their personalities and their love for each other. That takes more than 5 minutes.
Things Dads do wrong because they aren’t informed:
It’s not their fault. They are trying to help. But because they don’t know what to expect, or what the desired outcome is, they aren’t being as helpful as they could be. Here are some things they do because they don’t know better:
Telling the kids to “hurry up and behave and we will get this over faster.” (First, this is gonna be fun. We don’t want to behave as if it’s a chore. Also, we want to get lots of fun and candid images. This is not over after the first good photo.)
Telling the kids to “stop goofing off.” (Sometimes, I’m encouraging them to be goofy because it helps them relax and be real. Don’t worry, not all the images I give you will include that silly monster face.)
Staring at my camera the entire session with a clenched teeth smile that clearly says “my wife made me do this.”
What I want from Dads to make the Photo Session a Success:
Relax. Be silly. Play games. Have tickle fights. Spin the kids around in circles. Wrestle. Tell dad jokes. Kiss your wife. Hold hands. Throw the baby in the air (safely). Misbehave.
How you can help prepare dad for the photo session:
The biggest thing you can do before a session to make it successful is just to let dad know what to expect. Make sure he knows it will take about an hour, that we want lots of fun candid images, and that we aren’t trying to get studio-like posed portraits. Before each session, I send out an email on how parents can help make a portrait session successful. Share that with dad so he knows what to expect too. You can even show him the type of photos that you love from my family portfolio so he understands that not every photo needs to be of everyone smiling and looking at the camera. If dad is informed and knows what to expect, then he can help make the session fun and memorable, which is exactly what we want.
A perfect example:
I chose this session to talk about how to prep dads for family photos, because I think Brian has always done exactly what i wanted him to do at sessions. I’ve been photographing these two amazing kids since Grayson was in the womb and I shot a maternity session for their family. These kids embody everything I love about photographing young children, and I often have written about how easy it is to photograph them.
But one thing that makes it so easy to photograph them, is that their parents behave exactly the way I want parents to behave at a session. They don’t stress and let the session unfold naturally. They play and interact with the kids, and encourage silliness.
My case in point: Grayson’s pants were a little big around the waist and were sagging down. Brian made a joke that Grayson needed to keep his “booty in his pants.” That somehow evolved into a little silly song that Grayson and Alys both thought was hilarious. It kept him giggling for half the session.
Yes!! That’s the way it should be. That’s what I need from all my dads out there…less telling the kids to “behave” and more “keep your booty in your pants.”
There are sooooo many things that go into creating photos at a portrait session. Equipment is just a very small part of that. I always hesitate a little to share too much about what equipment I use, but beginning photographers can put too much stock into that, thinking if they go out and buy the right thing, that their photos will look like they want, which is not at all the case.
With that being said, what equipment a photographer uses, and in particular what kind of lenses, does really contribute to her overall style. So I thought I’d take a moment to tell you about my favorite lens.
There are two main types of lenses: zoom lenses and prime lenses. If you have a entry level DSLR, then the lens that came with it (which we often refer to as the “kit lens”) is probably a zoom lens.
Zoom lenses provide ease in mobility…you can zoom in and out from where you stand. Prime lenses do not zoom to move in and out – you have to move your feet. However, the benefit in using this type of lens is that a detailed and sharper image is produced. The focus is quicker with this type of lens and will allow more light in your camera.
Why I love my 85 mm 1.8
I absolutely love the creamy backgrounds I can get with this lens. It’s super sharp, fast, and the 85 mm focal length is perfect for flattering portraits.
Why it doesn’t stay on my lens all the time
If you’ve had a portrait session with me, you’ll notice that I switch lenses A LOT. That’s because I do generally only photograph with prime lenses. If I’m shooting with my 85 mm, and your toddler comes to close to me, then I’ll be photographing their nose hairs and not much else. I can’t zoom out with my lens, since it’s not a zoom lens. So I either have to back up, or switch lenses. Also, I want to give you a variety of images for your gallery so I don’t always use the same lens. For example, if I want a wide photograph that takes in the entire scene, I’ll switch to my 20 mm lens that will include a lot more of the background in the photo than my 85 mm would. Here is are two photos taken from relatively the same spot.
The first is with my 85 mm and the second is with my 20 mm. You can clearly see the difference. Notice how with the 20 mm, you can see a wide view of the town in the background that you can’t see with the 85mm. I also stepped a lot closer to Gabe to get the second shot with the 20 mm lens.
A suggestion for new photographers:
My 85 mm is by far not the most expensive lens out there, but it isn’t the cheapest either, and not what I recommend (yet) for those trying to learn photographer. But I DO usually recommend that new photographers consider a prime lens. But instead of an 85 mm, i recommend the much less expensive, 50 mm (sometimes called a “nifty 50” or a 35 mm. Either of these will be a good overall lens that will perform way better in lower light than your kit lens. Are you into photography? What’s your favorite lens? If you are interested in learning more about photography, ask me about my photography workshop for moms.
Gabe’s Senior Portrait Session
One thing I love about shooting Senior Portrait sessions, is that I am able to use my favorite 85 mm lens a lot more than I can at a family session with little kids, because I have more control over my subjects, who generally stand where I tell them to (unlike an energetic two year old.) I also love that Senior Sessions allow me to play with creative backgrounds and framing more than I typically can with younger kids.
I have to brag a little on the guys I’ve photographed lately for Senior photos. They’ve done an amazing job, Gabe included. It’s no secret that the guys are normally having these photos done just because mama wants them, but that hasn’t stopped the guys I’ve photographed lately from doing a fabulous job. Their mama’s should be very happy & proud of their young men.
I welcome clients including their pets in family portrait sessions. After all, they are a part of the family too.
Robin & Miles wanted to include their dogs Harley & Cassie in their portrait session, and the Park at Harlinsdale Farms was the perfect spot for including pets. Robin is originally from Kentucky and wanted a location with a rustic feel, so Harlinsdale was perfect and a welcome spot to bring dogs.
One reason I love to include dogs in a session, is I think it helps the clients to feel more relaxed. It’s easier to capture candid moments when there are sweet doggies to play with during the session. Some clients worry that the dogs will be a distraction. I haven’t really found this to be an issue. Assuming the dogs are friendly, I am generally able to include photos both with and without the dogs. For this session, my 10-year-old “assistant” actually joined me at the shoot was able to help with the dogs when they were not being included in photos. If you would like to include your family dogs in a session, just let me know ahead of time and we can choose an appropriate place, and I can even bring my young assistant if you think that will be helpful.
Harley and Cassie were the sweetest dogs and I really enjoyed getting to know them and their lovely owners on this gorgeous day.
Alicia’s mom Nery did such an amazing job planning this special day for Alicia. It was so perfect down to every last detail. The event was held at the Hilton Garden Inn of Franklin / Cool Springs, TN. The hotel did a fabulous job with the event and no detail was overlooked.
The absolutely stunning cake was made by Pink Blossom Bakery. Isn’t’ it just gorgeous? It tasted as good as it looked.
As I stated in the first blog post, Alicia’s Makeup and hair was done by Kari Flournoy at Nashville Hair & Makeup. She looked stunning.
I cannot even tell you how much fun it was to photograph this event. Just being a fly on the wall able to observe these kids having so much fun just enjoying life was truly an honor. And my favorite part was the Mariachi Band at the end…they were absolutely fantastic!