What to wear?

This is a very common question! While there is no simple answer to this question, I will try to provide my basic philosophy and recommendation. This mainly applies to families, couples, groups. Be sure to check out my other post, below, on how to dress babies for your photo shoot!

My number one suggestion is that everyone dress in something they are comfortable in. If you do not feel good in what you are wearing, this will come through in the photos.

For couples, families and groups, it is important that you COORDINATE your outfits, but not necessarily that you MATCH. We’ve all seen the family photo where everyone is wearing the same exact outfit. Nothing against that look (we've probably all been in a photo like that!). These days, I prefer a more natural, mix-and-match sort of look.

coordinated but not "matchy matchy."  perfect ensemble!

Pick a color scheme, and let everyone dress with that in mind. Bold and vibrant colors tend to add more visual interest and edit better when I am processing your photos.  Of course, not everyone can pull off canary yellow. So think of colors that you feel good in… those which complement your skin tone and hair/eye color.  Also, I usually recommend avoiding pastels and bright whites (unless you are a bride, of course!).  They are not always the most flattering and have the tendency to get "blown out" in the photo.

Consider the location where we will be shooting and try to complement the colors of that location. For example, if we are shooting inside your home, and you have yellow walls, you might want to stay away from yellows, golds and “hot” colors in general. In this situation, cool shades might work better. If we are shooting outdoors on an overcast winter day, you might want to liven things up with brighter colors. Keep in mind the overall theme of your location too. A park/nature area might call for a casual, outdoorsy look (perhaps a cute jacket and your tall boots), whereas a downtown/city shoot might be a excuse to whip out those adorable heels and your skinny jeans.

i love the vibrant green and blue against the snowy backdrop.
also, the vests create an outdoorsy theme without being too matchy.

Some other things that can add interest to your photos: textures, layers, and jewelry/accessories. Textures can be amazing in photos. Some examples of textures would be a cable knit sweater, corduroy, embroidery, beading, etc. Layers also add interest and have the added benefit of allowing you to change your look during the shoot (jacket on / jacket off). Accessories can add punch to your look too. A chunky bracelet or interesting ring works great in a maternity photo where mama’s hand is resting on her pregnant belly. A bright hat or scarf can add a little zing to a grey/overcast winter shoot.

I have mixed feelings on patterns. I personally LOVE patterns, but be careful not to overdo it. I typically recommend that only one person wear a pattern. For a family shoot, this person would ideally be the child. Remember the pattern should coordinate with the overall color palette. Try to keep patterns on the simple side (i.e., stripes, polka dots, argyle, a simple plaid, etc). Avoid clothing with large logos or graphics, as these can be distracting.

I will finish by saying all rules are meant to be broken. Sometimes mixing patterns can work, or maybe you think you look amazing in canary yellow. If you think you can rock it…bring it on! I’m also open to questions if you want to run your ideas by me! Feel free to bring multiple outfit options and we can decide together.

this is an example where i actually love the mixture of patterns!
everything else about their outfits is fairly neutral, so i think it works great!

What should baby wear?

When it comes to dressing your littlest little ones, I am a firm believer in the “less is more” approach. This is especially true for newborns up to 6 months. Newborns are the cutest “au naturel.” That means naked!! (Some newborns don't like being completely naked, so I at least try for diaper-only). My goal is to highlight their tiny little features, and clothing will usually detract from that. 

tiny newborn

Even for a 3 month or 6 month session, I still recommend minimal clothing. I love shooting this age in a diaper only. What better way to show off all those wonderful, chunky rolls? Even a simple onesie can be adorable in a photo, while still showing off those rolls and creases.

she is closer to 7 months here, but i still love showing off those chunky arms, legs and tummy!
an adorable hat adds some personality!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not totally against incorporating a cute outfit in your photos. Just try to keep them relatively simple if you can. In my experience, elaborate/complicated outfits tend to get in the way. They never lay right (especially on a baby who can’t sit up yet), tend to ride up, and all of this takes the attention away from your cutie-patooty. And let’s face it…your baby is probably way more comfortable in something simple, and that will totally come through in the photos.

While my philosophy on clothing for baby photos is somewhat minimalistic, I most definitely recommend incorporating some fun accessories for your little one!! Knit hats and dainty headbands are adorable and can add personality to your photos. There are also some adorable diaper covers that you can buy. My absolute favorite website for finding baby accessories is Etsy.com. Most items are handmade and reasonably priced. 

i loved this newborn hat that the mom purchased on Etsy.com

After 6 months is when you can really start having more fun with outfits. Babies are typically very good at sitting up on their own at this point, so the clothes tend to lay better and are not as distracting. However, I’ll reiterate my point about keeping your little one comfortable. An uncomfortable baby does not photograph well, so keep that in mind while choosing an outfit.

cute outfits like this work great on babies who can sit up by themselves.  this little guy was 9 months old.  

I’m often asked about wardrobe changes, so I’ll touch on that too. While I’m definitely open to multiple wardrobe changes during a session, I typically don’t recommend more than two outfits. From my experience, babies usually don’t enjoy being changed, so sometimes an innocent outfit change can derail a session pretty quickly.

Lastly, if we plan to shoot outdoors, keep in mind that we will most likely be sitting on the ground at some point. This is usually not an issue, but if the ground happens to be soggy, you’ll want to choose an outfit that can get dirty and/or bring along a small blanket.

If you have any general questions about wardrobe selection (colors, etc.), be sure to check out “What to Wear” above!

How soon can I get my photos?

This is a very popular question. :) My typical answer, for portrait sessions, is that you will receive your CD with digital image files within 4 weeks from the date of your session. Weddings typically require closer to 12 weeks due to the sheer quantity of photos. I know people are usually very excited to see their photos, not to mention they are eager to start printing, framing and sharing with loved ones. Believe me, I’m excited that you are excited! However, sometimes I get the feeling that clients think this is a long time to wait, so I thought it would be a good idea to discuss this very topic here on my FAQ page.

First, probably most of you know that with digital photography, you don’t just take the shot and your done. What most clients (and photographers) love about digital photography is the ability to edit, or post-process, your digital image files. Not only do we have the ability to fix blemishes, even out skin tones, or get rid of boogers and drool (this last one is more common with my baby shoots…heehee). There are endless effects that can be done to an image to really make it “pop.” This can be subtle or dramatic, but either way, the goal is to add an artistic touch and a uniqueness to your photos. This is probably the reason you were drawn to custom photography in the first place, as opposed to the big chain portrait studios.

What most people probably don’t know is how time consuming post-processing can be. It is definitely a labor of love for me! I absolutely love editing photos (thank goodness…otherwise I wouldn’t have lasted very long at this!), but it definitely eats up a lot of time. In fact, the time spent editing photos well exceeds the actual time spent shooting the images. Of course, there are tricks and techniques to add efficiency to the process. But at the end of the day, I still need to look at every single image captured, cull those down to the very best images, open each file in my image-editing program, edit-edit-edit, give it my stamp of approval, and then finally hit save and move onto the next image. That is the abridged version. Keep reading if you care for a more in-depth look at the process.

Say we have a 2-hour photo session. Your work is done, but mine has only begun! My next step, after packing up and driving home, is to import all the images from my camera onto my computer. I often take several hundred shots for a portrait session. This is to ensure I’ve captured as many special moments as possible. This also accounts for inevitable bloopers such as blinking, unflattering expressions, hair blowing in your face, etc. Sometimes it takes 10 shots to get 1 good one. So, to make a long story short, there are A LOT of images to import. I then sit down and go through the images, one by one, to pick the best ones. Often times, I’ll go back the next day with a fresh set of eyes to make extra sure I agree with my original choices or to see if I missed anything.

As a side note, I shoot all my images in RAW format. For those who don’t know what this means…RAW is basically an uncompressed file format. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty, but in a nutshell, RAW files allow a photographer more flexibility to correct color, exposure, etc. after the shot has been taken. Sometimes a great shot will be underexposed, for example. Working with the RAW file allows me to bring up the exposure and “rescue” the shot. The downside to RAW files is that they are HUGE. They can take a long time to open and process. So, after selecting my “best of the best” images, tweaking exposure, etc., I have to convert these RAW files into something I can work with easier…the JPEG.

The next step is to open each JPEG in an image-editing software. I personally use Photoshop. As I mentioned previously, this is where I can fix blemishes, even skin tones, and yes…erase boogies. I erase a lot of boogies from the noses of little ones. :)  But I have the most fun giving photos some extra love…playing with color, contrast, textures, and various effects. Each image becomes a little work of art to me, and it is just something I don’t like to rush. Often, I work on the same image twice. I might provide a color version and a black & white version, for example.

After all the images are edited and have my stamp of approval, I burn these to a CD for the client, package it up and get it in the mail asap. I also back up all the images on an external drive for safe keeping.

I also like to do a blog post featuring a few of my favorite images from each session. This requires an entirely new editing process, as I need to resize/format the images for web viewing, watermark them, etc.

All of this takes place between being a mom (#1 priority), answering emails, shooting new sessions, editing previous sessions, writing blog posts, researching/staying current on photography/editing trends. Not to mention holding down a day job and everything else life throws my way!

Another factor that impacts timing is obviously how busy I am at the time. If business is slow, then the timeframe will be a bit faster. If I have several shoots in a row, or perhaps a wedding shoot in the mix, the timeframe will be closer to the 4 weeks estimate. I build a cushion in there, to allow for the work I might have on my plate at any given time.

I will finish by saying that I am as excited to share your images as you are to see them! I always like to share a “sneak peak” so you can preview a couple of your images. And if you are under the gun to send out birth announcements, thank you cards, etc., I always do my best to get you at least a few completed, hi-res images that you can use asap (usually within a few days of your session).  Just let me know if you need me to do that.

I hope this lends some insight into what goes on behind the scenes while you are waiting for your photos.  With that, I'd like to share a few of my favorite edited images below.  As always, thanks for reading!

glowing bride

probably the most beautiful green eyes ever!

vintage look

handsome little man.  black & white with a hint of sepia.

sun kissed  :)


tiny boy / big blue eyes!

i love how this one almost looks like a painting

beautiful bouquet.  i spy a bride & groom too.   :)