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Session Guide

 

I’m a firm believer that every moment is special and deserves to be documented..

Whether it is bath time with your one year old splashing their bubbles and having the time of their life, or a family cookie baking tradition that you do every holiday. Those are moments in your life story. They are still as special as the big days in life as well, and sometimes we tend to forget that. Which is why I focus on those types of moments in my sessions.

My vision is capturing this unscripted moments of your family. I try to keep sessions simple and reflective of you and your family, with each session having its own unique features. Whether it is a love for hiking, playing in the rain, or just chilling at home playing video games together, I want to focus on your identity. What makes yourself and your family, well.. your family.

My goal with these sessions is for you to be able to look back on these moments and remember exactly how you felt during the, even looking back on years from now and smile remembering how your child loved snuggling with you after wrestling around, or how your father would always give you airplane rides. That connection between you and your loved ones is what I focus on. Those everyday moments that we tend to take advantage of, not really noticing that we did until they are gone. I want to tell your story. 

 

To do so, I created this session guide to help make sure your session goes as smoothly as possible, from the booking process all the way to selecting your images!

 

So let’s sit down, grab a cup of coffee together, and we can begin..

 

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Booking

 

I only take a limited amount of sessions each month due to my other business and family needs. As much as I wish I could book everyone that inquires with me, cloning has not been an every day thing yet lol.

 

So, in order to reserve a spot on my calendar, I do require a  retainer to be paid  at booking. This is usually half of your total session cost, including travel fees if they are applicable, but it does apply directly towards your session total come your session day! When we pick out a date and time that works with both of our schedules, I send over a copy of my portrait contract for you to sign and then I send you an invoice for that retainer. Both are required to be considered booked, and I will cancel your session if I do not have them received wishing 48 hours of booking.

If you wish to pay with cash or check instead, no problem! I will set up a time for us to get coffee and we can go over the contract and you can pay your retainer right then and there. This is actually my favorite way to book clients because we get to have more one on one time to discuss your session dreams. Plus, coffee shops have the best vibe and instantly make your day better!

 

After your retainer fee is paid and portrait contract signed and returned to me, we will then discuss your photographic needs and wants for your session. I will help you create an overall idea or theme for your session if we didn’t have one already in place. If you need it, I will also help with location ideas, stylizing your outfits, and the kitchen sink pretty much, you ask I can help. By discussing all of these ideas with you, I will have an artistic vision in mind going into your session.

 

The remaining balance of your session is due on the day of your portrait session, before we even start shooting. This payment will go towards the collection you chose, which includes 25 high-resolution digital files from your session with a print release, unless you booked a Storyteller session that includes all the final images. Once you receive your gallery of your images, you will have the opportunity to add on additional images and products if you wish to, as I do offer print, wall art, and album designs.

 
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Locations

 

The Every Day Lifestyle Sessions are done either in the comfort of your own home or at one of your favorite locations. Which ever tells the story you want told better.

Have an idea not in Michigan? No problem, I love to travel and will travel anywhere for a session. Though, travel fees will be added based on the distance. But, I have a bucket list of locations that I have been dreaming about photographing. If yours happens to be on that list, you get free travel fees! So it never hurts to ask.

 

Have an idea, but are not sure of what I photograph at each type of session, no problem. I have them listed below:


In Home Sessions: I will be using rooms such as the nursery, your master bedroom, living room and kitchen. All is determined based off the story you want to tell. Have a special room in your house? Perfect! I love when my clients want to incorporate something they love into their sessions, they honestly are my favorite to photography. All I need is natural light in that location and we are good to go! I usually book in home sessions in the early morning to early afternoon, it depends on how the light flows into the rooms we have planned though. Typically those times work the best I have noticed with most homes, but I have no problem with other times of the day based on the mood you want for your story. 

 

On Location Sessions: I love the outdoors! I could spend all of my time at the beach or hiking. If your family loves being outside, why not use that for your photos! The best time for sunlight is usually 1-2 hours before sunset or in the early morning right after sunrise. I typically book closer to sunset though for scheduling purposes, but I have no problems with early morning or afternoon sessions if my schedule allows it. 

 

 

When choosing a location think about the following things:

 

Where does your family like to spend time? Is there a park nearby that your kids love to play at? Or possibly a trail that you all love to hike together? These things can help you pick the perfect location that means something to you, after all, any place that is reflective of your family is perfect. Not sure if your favorite places are photo worthy? Don’t be afraid to mention them, you would be surprised that some of the places that no one considers pretty actually make for the most epic photoshoots.

 

What kind of vibe do you want: Are you a rural family or more of a city group? Are you more indie or urban? These are important things to consider. I always recommend being true to yourselves, and picking a place that works well with the vibe that you and your family love. There is nothing worse than picking a place that is not reflective of your family and being uncomfortable. Trust me, it shows up in images.

 

Don’t be afraid to have an in home session: There is nothing more important than your day to day interactions. Your home is the one space that defines you the best, after all you created, designed, and live in it. Your photos are telling your story, why not have them in the location where all the action happens. All the spaghetti messes, all the bedtime cuddles, and where all of the family gets together for meals. 

 

 

Still not sure on a location? Look at my location list I have for areas around Jackson by clicking HERE.

 
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Wardrobe

 

Clothing choice is always the biggest decision when planning your session.

While this is completely up to you, I can offer some simple guidelines to ensure your family photograph beautifully. 

 

 

For Outdoor Sessions, I have the following recommendations:

 

Colors: Families and groups don’t have to wear all the same color or same outfits. Instead of having everyone wear the same color, I recommend that you focus on choosing outfit tones that compliment one another. I suggest choosing from the same color family, or compliments to that family. Soft or natural and earthy tones are fantastic and photograph really well, as do rich colors such as burgundy and mustard. Yes, I thought I would hate mustard at first as well too. Using small pieces of bright color can also work wonderfully to create a captivating image.

 

Work with your Children, not against them: Picking out clothes for your child is sometimes the hardest thing ever. One wrong clothing choice and it is a full melt down, trust me, I’ve been there.. well I am still there. My child loves his rain boots!

Children look great in fun, bold colors, textures or patterns, but I would say to avoid shirts with large logos or text if you can, unless they are detrimental to telling your story, because I mean, we all know that toddlers have that favorite shit they must always wear. If that is the case, play off of it and dress your family to coordinate off their shirt choice.   If your little is currently refusing to remove their precious Batman costume, you might choose to let that go and embrace it, there are always and will be exceptions to the rules. I am all for anything that keeps your child happy and interacting with you. After all, we're all about capturing memories here.

 

Keep it simple: It’s best sometimes to keep it simple. Jeans, sweaters, hats, scarves and boots are all fun for winter and fall sessions. Sundresses and lighter clothing are suited better for the summer months. Varied textures in your choice of clothing is great (think denim, wool, linen, corduroy, cotton) and layering is excellent (such as scarves, beanies and vests if the weather requires).

 

Empty your pockets: There is nothing more distracting than having keys hanging out of your pocket or your wallet bulging through. 

 

Be aware of anything that you do not want to accentuate: For example, if you are not comfortable with your arms, I do not recommend wearing a sleeveless dress for your photos. The uncomfortability you have with your outfit does show up in your images, so I always recommend wearing something that you will be comfortable in.

 

 

For In Home Sessions, I recommend:

 

Keeping things natural: If I come to your home and your toddler's in a onsie and your son is refusing to put on a shirt, keep him that way! Those are still going to be stunning pictures and showcase the realness of your family. Those shots will be authentic and sweet and will capture something raw. Plus, we can always try to get a shirt on him when he is feeling more up to it.

If your daughter wants to wear her princess costume every day and never takes it off, then I recommend having her wear it. There is nothing more adorable than capturing your life as it naturally unfolds. Plus, it is always better to not make your children miserable for photos. I hate leaving and hearing kids screaming still screaming as I walk out the door. Getting your family around for photos is tough enough as it is, I don’t want them to be something you regret later on because our children have a mind of their own. Though, tantrums are really funny to add to their graduation boards.

 

Be comfortable: You are in your home, comfort is key. Wear some cute leggings, a sweater, anything that lets you get all cozied up with your family. These are about documenting your family as they are, if that includes PJs on an early Saturday morning while making breakfast, do it! Dress for the story we are telling!

 

Colors: I am repeating myself from before, but don’t have your family in all the same color. When we do in home sessions, I have you guys cuddled up a lot, so when you wear all the same color, limbs tend to blend together and look a bit weird. There is nothing like looking at a photo and not being sure if that is dad’s hand or the dog next to your son. Select colors from the same color family for your outfits, and avoid dressing all the same.. unless they are some really cute footie pajamas, those always break the rule!

 

The main thing is to wear clothes that represent you and who you are. Feel free to also bring a change of clothing to your sessions, if we have enough time I love photographing different looks. I mentioned color families a lot here, so if you need help with that or with clothing suggestions, you can get more information HERE. 

 
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What To Expect

 

I know having your picture taken can be nerve racking. Maybe you aren't into it, or your husband, or even your kids! At least that is how my family is. Love photos, they.. not so much. So, I understand that it can be so stressful to get the whole family ready and expect the kids to show up looking at the camera and smile. Oh, I get it! I have 2 kids of my own, my boyfriend included.

So, I say come to the session relaxed and ready to have some fun and just let things happen. It can be helpful, but not necessary to offer a few incentives to your kids for after the session. From a personal experience, when we have our family pictures taken, there is always a promise of kid free video game time and a 10 piece nugget from Burger King.

 

A  session usually lasts up to an hour, but generally 45 minutes is the sweet spot for time, especially with children. I always say to please plan for the full amount of time allocated to be used, because no one likes to feel rushed and things can happen that might take longer than anticipated.  My style of photography is a mixture of photojournalistic lifestyle photography and documentary portraiture. I love when my images covey a story and express emotion and personality. I focus on the interactions between family members, those moments that your heart is the most full and filled with love.

 

I will talk, laugh, and play with your children in order to warm them up to capture their personality in all the photos. and then, I take a step back and just observe with my camera and let your family do it's natural thing. I have a handful of ideas, but I pull most of my inspiration from your connections and moments at your session. Posing is very loose, if done at all. Of course we will try to get that one picture of everyone looking and smiling at the camera for grandma to have because we all know that she loves those.

However, I want to document your lives how they are right now. The chaos of toddlers, the energy of kids, snuggles with mom and dad,  how you look at your partner with love and excitement over your upcoming engagement that they don’t know about yet, everything in between what we normally see in a posed session! More than anything, don’t be afraid to play with your children during our session. They may get a little rambunctious, and that’s ok! It is apart of your story, I want to tell it! I have a little baby tyrant at home who destroys everything in his path, but with the biggest smile on his face while it's happening. 

 

 

I am telling your story, so I shoot until I feel it is told to my liking, and what you will cherish. But there are ways to help prepare your children for a session:

 

Prepare them: I have a child that is weary of photos, even being around a camera all the time. I have found that preparing your children ahead of time for a session does wonders. In the weeks leading up to your session, talk about it with them. Get the excited for it! Tell them how much fun they will have and how silly I am, how we will play games and what you guys will be going to do after. Give them something to get excited for!

 

Have fun: I don’t use the approach of having children just stand there and say “cheese” for my sessions. I focus on their interactions and the realness of their personality, so that usually means telling jokes, being silly, and just having fun. If your children get a little rambunctious during the session, it is okay, that is the goal. Hopefully afterwards they will be so tuckered out that they will have a great night sleep and you can enjoy some quiet time.

 

Interact with one another: These sessions are about telling your story. Don’t be afraid to! Tickle your kids, touch your husbands butt, just be yourselves and your photos will be amazing. The genuine emotion in them always surpasses any forced smiles, though we will get a couple for grandma to have on her wall. Children can sense the stress of a photo session, so working together as a family through it helps ease everyones tension. Plus they make for some adorable moments.

 

Since I am photographing those intimate moments with your family, please feel more than free to bring any personal items that you would like to include in your session, it makes all of your moments that much more personable and special. This could be a quilt that grandma made, a favorite toy, or even bubbles and balls. 

 
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After Your Session

 

Following your session, you can expect to see some sneak peeks posted on my Facebook page within a few days. Please, feel free to tag yourself in these images and share them with your friends. A huge part of the success of my business is word of mouth and referrals. I genuinely appreciate when my clients spread the word about my business, and Facebook is a great way to do this. Plus, you get 10% off your next session for each referral that says you sent them when they book! Win, win for everyone!

If you haven’t followed my page yet you can do so HERE.

 

You can expect your gallery in 2-3 weeks after your session. I put a lot of time into processing and editing the images that I capture to make sure they are perfect and tell your story just the way it was when I was there. When it is ready, I will email you the link to view your images in a gallery, which you may share with friends and family.

Once you receive your viewing gallery, you may then choose to add on additional images or products, or you could stick with your original package. All sessions get 25% off additional images and prints or wall art if they purchase them through their gallery. To select the 25 that come in your package, you click the “heart” icon in the gallery to pick your favorites. After you complete that, I will send you a link to download them directly to your computer. If you can't pick them out, no problem, you have the option  to have ALL the pictures in your gallery if you want for $200.

 

If you want to purchase other prints and wall art outside of your package, it is easy to do so. You just click each image, pick the size you want and then check out. I recommend checking cropping measure before you checkout though, because I do not see the orders placed through my gallery until after they are processed and then it is out of my control. If you want though, you can pick your sizes and order personally through me in person if that is your preference.

 

When you get your images downloaded, I recommend saving all files in multiple places, that way you can be sure not to have anything happen to them. You can expect to receive printed orders delivered to your house within two weeks, and albums will be delivered within four weeks.

 

Galleries will only be open for 30 days to download images, afterwards they will be closed and a $50 reactivation fee will be applied. I recommend selecting your favorites and ordering as early as possible, in case life gets in the way and you forget to do so. I do offer digital image preservation services, where I keep your images archived for a certain amount of time that can be purchased as a back up plan to make sure your memories are never lost as well.

 
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