Frequently Asked Questions and Tips to Make Your Photo Session Phenomenal
Where will Our Session Take Place?
I do not have a studio, which keeps my costs down.
I have become an expert at knowing the BEST nooks and crannies for several Gig Harbor and Tacoma parks. To help clients choose, I created a blog where every entry highlights a different spot, with pros and cons, what time of day it works, for what type of session, and with examples I've taken at each place. Be sure to click "older posts" to see all of them. Before I send you available dates for a session, I will first need to know which place you want to use so I can tell you what time slots I have available there.
I've Noticed You Seem to Have Two Different Edited Styles...?
Good eyes! Yes, if you have been looking through my galleries, you may have noticed that some of my work is light and bright, and some are more edgy looking. That is because that dark Boho look is soooo in style right now, but I also love light and bright photos, so I love to give my clients their choice between the two! As far as I know, I am the only photographer in the area that does this. These are not filters, but hand edited style which I create by varying the contrast, shadows, whites, blacks, white balance, and color grading for each spot depending on the lighting conditions that day. Most photographers have one edited style that defines their brand. I have two, and you get to choose yours. More info on how that works is here with an explanation and side by side comparisons: light and bright or muted modern?
So, What About the Weather?
Not gonna lie, living in the Northwest and doing what I do has taken YEARS off my life, especially in Oct-Dec (peak time for photos, of course).
It is kind of a lucky coincidence that I happen to be a big weather nerd, Always have been. I even have a weather station on my roof! Sometimes friends actually text me and ask what the weather is going to be because I tend to be more accurate than the people on TV.
Sun is hard but doable, and clouds are best! If we get a dry cloudy day with no wind, you have just won the photo lottery. If it is windy, over about 8 knots at a beachy location, it is best to reschedule (even though it may not seem bad, trust me; hair and wind are the worst and you'll hate every photo, trust me!)
If the weather looks iffy leading up to your chosen day, I will be watching it like a hawk. Unless it's a big system, I do not transfer session days until at least 24 hours out, since forecasts are unpredictable. I have gotten crazy good at predicting when there will be dry spells on a showery day. I will be in close touch via text about what is going on. If you are flexible on our day, usually we can find a "hole" in the rain.
If we need to switch days, your deposit is transferable, but during busy season (Sept-Dec), you may not get your best choice of make-up times. But your photos will get done one way or another!
A word about weather and kids under age 5: cold kids generally don't smile or cooperate. I recommend scheduling your shoot before Nov 1, when the weather here is known to get below 55 degrees. When it gets under 50, that's when I see the most unhappy kiddos. If you must schedule a session then (I do love Nov and Dec light!) then just bundle them up with lots of warm layers. I do not recommend beach shoots for young kids between Nov 1-March 15; it's just too windy and cold for happy smiles.
What If My Kids Don't Cooperate?
Um... let's count on it, lol! Kids ages 1-3 are the hardest to get to smile naturally, so sometimes the best we can hope for at that age is happy candids with cuddles and tickles thrown in.
My best advice: bribes and practice! Bribes are AMAZING for any age. If you want to provide a surprise of some kind, and hand it to me when we arrive (like in a goodie bag) I can tell the kids that I have a surprise and bribe them with it. Sometimes bribes work better coming from me!
Practice works wonders! In the days and weeks before your session, practice in the mirror at home and see what looking happy feels like.
I'm also a big believer in just letting kids play and see what happens. For really shy ones, I like showing them what their photos look like on my screen.
What if they cry? In 10 years, I’m willing to bet that you’ll cherish the image of your toddler crying fake tears just as much as the one that we took 10 seconds later of him happily running toward the camera. My goal is to capture the personalities of the kids in front of my lens, including all of the beautiful quirks, details, and small moments that make up childhood.
A word about discipline: I will tell your kids what to do and how to pose. If they aren't following instructions, it is up to parents to intervene.
How Do I Pose?
I will always tell you how to pose so don't worry! I try to do a combination of posed and candid shots where you look at each other. And there will be a LOT of fake laughing. It feels stupid, but you can't tell it is fake in the photos because your eyes will be sparkling! I will also have a gallery of poses on my phone if we want or need inspiration. And PLEASE, feel free to boss me around! If you have an idea for a shot, or see a cool log you want to try posing on, or want something that I am missing, tell me. I am there to facilitate your vision if you come with one!
For single subject shots (headshots and senior photos): it helps if you send me a couple favorite photos of yourself ahead of time, that way I know what angles you like best. Plus, don't worry, I will be showing you photos as we take them on my screen. You can even say, "eww, delete that one!"
I Found Exactly What I Want on Pinterest, Can You Recreate That For Me?
Well, kind of, but mostly no. We can work together on recreating the general poses and idea (and please share them with me!), but every day brings different light, weather, attitudes, etc. Pinterest can be a great source for ideas, but every good photo really comes from a unique moment. We will make your own moments unique as well. If we’re focused on recreating someone else’s photos, that will leave us less time to create shots that showcase the unique aspects of your family. And even if we copy an online photo EXACTLY, you will always compare your photos to that one.
That being said, copying poses does generally work well for high school seniors and engagement shoots, so spam me with your vision!
I Want to Look Good, Are There Any Tips or Tricks I Should Know?
Practicing in a mirror or with your phone camera is amazing. It works well when trying to decide what angles of your body and face you like best, and what expressions (chin down, face slightly turned, etc). For smiling, try unclenching your teeth and have your mouth very slightly open. I will help coach you, too.
Always be aware of the possibility of a double chin. So stick your neck out a *little* farther than you normally would (I'll let you know if it looks odd).
Ladies, if you are body conscious, or have problem areas, please let me know and don't feel bad! I have tricks and can discreetly coach you. Also, if you are at all self-conscious of your upper arms, do not wear short sleeves. You will be hugging your husband and kids and they will be front and center. If you do want to wear short sleeves, wearing a light and airy shawl looks great in photos!
Always remember that the camera can't differentiate between a fake laugh and a real laugh. So laugh. Often.
During posed group photos, look at the camera, not at the kids (unless I ask you to look at the kids or it is a candid). Often, when I go through the group photos, it is the adult who is talking or scowling and the kids are smiling. We will do candids too, where you ARE looking at the kids. Don't worry, I'll tell you which is which!
What Kind of Camera and Lens Do You Use?
I photograph with a mirrorless Nikon Z6ii and my favorite lens right now is my Sigma Art 50mm f1.4. It makes the background super blurry and the subject tack sharp, my signature look. If you want the background a bit sharper that what you are seeing in my portfolio, please let me know what the shoot and I will adjust my settings.
All images are edited in Adobe Lightroom, with more detailed fixes in Photoshop CC.
I am a natural light photographer (I do not use a flash) which allows me to be quick and flexible. I always place the sun at your back so it is flattering and you won't be squinting.
What Should I/We Wear?
Wear what you like and, most importantly, what you feel comfortable in. I always tell women to choose an ensemble that they love, and then coordinate everyone else around it. Here are some other tips:
* The number one rule is: don't all wear the same color or pattern! Even white. Your photos will have a Family Blob effect. Don't even match two people, because we can never poise those two people together without it looking odd. Coordinate colors, but don't match.
* Want a look for women (and high school seniors) that can't go wrong? One word: flowy maxi dress. The movement of them makes magic when you walk. Ones with mid-length sleeves photograph best.
* Try to avoid black on children because it overpowers them (though if you love it, we can work with it). Navy, however, works great. Also, if you are an adult and wear black, try to break it up with a necklace or accessory.
* PLEASE Avoid bright pink! Especially HOT pink and fushia. Yes, I know it's pretty. Yes, I know little girls love it. But bright pink doesn't photograph well (yes, this makes me sad too). Patterns with pink are fine as long as there are other colors as well. (Also try to avoid bright red).
* It helps to put the younger children in the brightest color (But not hot pink!); in group photos, this helps them stand out despite their small size.
* For babies and young toddlers: avoid shoulder poofs or shoulder frills. I find they tend to bunch up and block faces, especially when doing candid shots and profiles. I would also avoid dresses for babies. They never look good and always ride up! Same goes for babies in jumpers with wide strappy sleeves. They just never lay flat and always bunch at the shoulders when being held. So what should babies wear? Good question! Something that lays flat and looks good when they are being held. If you have any doubts, text me photos of outfit posibilities before your session.
* for babies and little girls in dresses: cover those underpants with shorts or bloomers! I can't tell you how many good photos are ruined because you see those panties while sitting or twirling!
* Try not to have one child in a bright color and one in a pale color, unless the child in the bright color is significantly smaller than the child in the pale color. (The risk is that one child will dominate the photo and one will recede.)
* YOU DO NOT NEED TO DRESS UP. Really.
* For women, I like to take action shots, so flats work better than heels. If you really want to wear heels then consider bringing along a second pair of shoes.
* No hats with a brim (or your face will be a big shadow).
* I take photos from a lot of different angles, so if you are feeling body conscious, wear something slightly baggy. I LOVE when mamas (and high school seniors) wear long maxi dresses. They photograph beautifully.
* My favorite color combination is Navy with pops of aqua and yellow for other family members. It photographs SO well, especially at our area beaches.
* If you have transition lenses and we are doing an outdoor shoot, they WILL turn dark and block your eyes. Consider not wearing them or wearing a back-up pair of glasses.
* Again, ladies, if you are all self-conscious of your upper arms, do not wear short sleeves. You will be hugging your husband and kids and they will be front and center. If you do want to wear short sleeves, wearing a light and airy shawl looks great in photos!
* Search Pinterest for ideas! Type in Family photos at Beach (or whatever location you are using)
What Can I Do To Help The Session Go Smoothly?
The BEST thing you can do is to let go and enjoy! I know it’s hard not to be stressed before your session, but babies pick up on anxiety really easily. We’ll have the best chance at getting gorgeous images if we let them happen naturally (with a little guidance from me, of course!) I want your pictures to be amazing and will do all the hard work for you! Your only job is to relax and have fun.
Can I Bring my Purse and Stuff?
It makes it soooo much easier for me if you leave everything in your car. I can't tell you how many photos I have gotten home to edit and there in Dad's front pocket is his brick of a phone. If you have to bring it, put it in your back pocket.
As for bags and stuff, a backpack is easiest. We will be doing lots of walking from background to background, and often times I like to take candids of that walk, and that isn't possible when you have stuff. I can carry a small backpack for you though.
Can I Bring My Dog(s)?
YES! I am a Dog Person. I will bring my dog whistle. Please bring a way to tie them up at each spot we shoot so we can get some photos with and some without, because having pets means that not as many photos will turn out where they are "looking." No matter what, don't look at the dog in the photos... keep looking at me!
I Have Transition Glasses; Can I Wear Them?
These things are the bane of my existence. They get black and block your eyes even in dark shade. If there is any way to wear a different pair of glasses, or nothing at all, please do!
Can You Photoshop Out Acne, Wrinkles, Weight Gain, Stray Hairs, etc.?
I am a pro at making eyes pop, getting rid of acne and wrinkles! But if you want someone's head swapped from another photo, or a hand removed from someone's shoulder, or for your arm to look slimmer, then this is outside the reach of my business. There are amazing editing teams you can google who can (for a fee) help with more extensive cosmetic edits. (edits usually range from $8 to $10 a photo). I am happy to provide them the RAW image (I save RAW images on my hard drive for 4 months). As for acne and wrinkle services, more info can be found about my services in the "sessions" tab with my package pricing.
What is Your Cancellation Policy?
I know how life works. Kids get sick. Weather ruins the day. And I want to make things as easy as possible for you.
I require a $50 deposit to save a slot, but if anyone gets sick or if it rains the photoshoot can be rescheduled anytime within 6 months (subject to availability - please don't wait until the last minute to reschedule!).
If you cancel within a 48 hour window for any reason aside from illness or weather, then your deposit is non-refundable and you can reschedule another day with another deposit. (The 48 hour cancellation period does not apply if the cancellation is weather related AND we have been in contact about the possibility of rescheduling due to weather).
Further, if your photoshoot was subject to a seasonal promotion (like a 20 minute mini or Santa photos) and you need to reschedule to a time outside the promotional deal, then a higher rate will apply.
How Many Photos to I Get Back? Can I Choose The Ones You Edit?
Great question! Many photographers send a proof gallery and clients choose 5-10 favorites for the photographer to edit and return. My website service doesn't come with this option (I have asked them to add this feature). Instead, I edit the best photos, and depending on what package you choose, you get them all in your album to download. For basic 30 minute packages, I use my discretion and edit the best 30. You can tell me beforehand if you want mainly posed photos, or more heavy on the candids.
For 60 minute packages, you get it all; at least 60 edited images. For 60 minute packages, you can send me the file numbers of your 10 favorites and I can smooth skin and make eyes pop in close-up photos. To do this for 30 min packages, skin editing is $15 per image.
I edit in a light and bright natural way that makes colors a tad more vibrant and contrast a little higher, all while brightening shadows (sometimes hand painting) to make subjects pop. For any other package other than my 20 minute minis, you will get your choice of either this standard look, or my muted modern edit, where the colors are a bit darker and richer and the contrast is a bit higher. (More on those two styles here). Within 48 hours of your shoot (60 minute sessions only), I will send you side by side comparisons of the two looks with your photos, and then you can tell me which look you like best for the rest. Go with your gut! You can only choose one look so your album has a cohesive artistic look.
How Long Does It Take to Edit my Photos and How Do I Get My Edited Images?
Editing images to make them the best they can be is my FAVORITE part of the job! It typically takes me 3 hours to edit each hour of shooting. I usually finish all galleries and have them back to you within 7 days of your session. Even during my very busiest season (Sept-Nov), your wait should never be more than 9 days. I typically send sneak peeks (to choose your edited style) within 48 hours.
When your photos are done, you will receive and email with a link to your online gallery with detailed download instructions to for both your computer and/or phone. The gallery is public unless you ask for password protection, which is no problem to add. No one can download your images from your gallery without a download password (which you will receive in the email with your gallery). The images are yours to print and share wherever you like.
Where Should I Print My Images?
You are free to print them wherever you want! I do NOT recommend printing your images at Shutterfly, Target, Walmart, CVS, or Costco. These labs are not designed to handle printing professional photography and the sharpness will never be as good as a professional lab.
But for the best quality tack-sharp prints, I recommend ordering prints right from your album. It is one of the reasons I chose this website platform. They are affordable, ship quickly, and are super high quality. Along with basic prints, there are tons of cool products to choose from, including canvases and metal products.
OK, We Are Ready to Book, Now What?
I can’t wait to work with you! Please send me a message using the Contact tab above and include the following info:
1. The location you want to use. If you don't know, click on my Blog tab; I created it just to help clients choose a spot. Each entry spotlights a different location with pros and cons and examples if photos I have taken there. Be sure to click on "older posts" to see them all!
2. What package you would like. All my package prices are located under the "Sessions" tab above. Prices are at the bottom of each page.
3. How many family members and their ages. It helps me to start thinking up poses and groupings!
4. Optional: your session goals, if any.
Once we decide on a date and time, I will send you a booking page to fill out a questionnaire and sign a contract. A $50 deposit is due upon booking to reserve your date (via Zelle, Venmo, or Paypal: please contact me and I will let you know my user names on these platforms), and the remainder is due on the day of your session paid via the same method. Please remember to write your name and session date in the memo field.