What's a portrait & lifestyle photographer? And why did I choose that direction?

I get asked time and time again what I photograph. Or I also get the “how much do you charge for X service?” when I don’t even photograph whatever X service is. I have come to realize that unless you are very specific, the general public who don’t know much about photography believes you photograph everything.

This is not to say this is their fault. It’s not common knowledge. Unless someone specifically states that they don’t photograph that, they won’t know. So I thought I would talk a little bit about what my style of photography is and why I chose that direction.

I am a lifestyle and portrait photographer. What in the world is that you may ask?

Lifestyle photography simply means documenting as it is. It’s very similar to photojournalism, where there isn’t much, if any, posing. The only light is what is available and currently there. I am a fly on the wall essentially. I am just there to document what I see and I do very little editing besides simple corrective edits.

Portrait photography is more of your traditional, posed photography. It’s what you would imagine as a photo session. I tell you to sit there, look this way, now close your eyes, now open them, now look straight at me, slightly tilt your head that way, you get the point. I am explaining what to do every single photo.

I typically merge these two styles to create a photo session that is a good hybrid. I love the posing, but I am not opposed to the in-between moments that create a natural photograph. I love those moments because it captures someone’s personality and real life. I love when I can pose someone and then the person laughs or shows their real emotions. That is what a hybrid of the two is.

I chose this direction of photography because like the two styles, I was trained in both. In high school, I was taught the basics of photography and that is where I fell in love with your traditional photography. I had a friend who was always my go-to model and she ROCKED it. It taught me to create in a new way. However, in college, I studied photojournalism. This is a very different style as it allows for only corrective editing, not creative. It also teaches you to just watch and observe instead of interjecting what you think would be a great addition to the photograph.

I love each of these types for so many different reasons. I didn’t want to be one or the other type of photographer. I wanted to have the best of both worlds. So I decided I wouldn’t have to choose and did both of them.

You may be saying, “Okay. So then you photography everything?” To answer that simply, no. Like all photographers, there are things that I am more comfortable shooting than others. For example, I have never photographed a wedding and until I have second shot for another photographer, I don’t believe I will be comfortable doing so. Do I think I would like to try? Yes, but I don’t want to offer a service I can’t be completely confident in. It’s the same with newborns. I envy photographers who can photograph newborns. It is hard. Both of these two things require a lot of dedication to their craft. Not saying I don’t have dedication, but this requires a skill set I just do not have yet.

So to answer the rest of that question, I do photograph a handful of subjects. This would include families, couples, professionals, individuals, high school seniors to name a few.

I want to go ahead and squash the myth that photographers will take anything they can get to make a buck. I can’t tell you how many times I have turned down a photography job just because I don’t specialize in that. I don’t want to take your money if I know that I won’t be able to deliver what I would consider my best. That is just not good business, nor do I believe that is right just as a human being. I want you to walk away happy with your decision, not questioning it. You wouldn’t go to a cardiologist for your broken foot. So why would you hire a photographer who only does weddings to do your newborn photos? The answer, you wouldn’t.

As I wrap this up, I just want you to see that all photographers are different and have a different niche. Some of us are extraordinary in photographing weddings while others are splendid at lifestyle. So make sure you do your research before wanting to hire anyone for your special event, whether that be portraits, a family session, your professional headshots, a wedding, or even newborn photos. Each photographer is unique, so play to their strengths to get the best session you could ask for.

Ania & Levi go to prom!

I have known Ania for almost two years. I work with her mother at a medical office and see her come in a few times. She has such a bubbly personality and is always smiling. I have used her on a styled session before so she knew what I would deliver.

When she first approached me about doing prom photos, I immediately said yes. I knew it would be a wonderful experience and that she could take direction very well. Her mom and I decided on Oliver Winery in Bloomington as it was really pretty and easy to walk around for many photo opportunities. As the day got closer, the rain forecast was getting more accurate to showering right in the middle of our session time.

I made sure to have some open time before hand so if Ania got her hair and makeup done early, I could run over there and try to get them in before the rain. We were able to get over there 4 hours early from the original time. There was still some slight forecast of rain, so I prayed to the rain gods and requested them to wait until we were done. They must like me because the rain held off.

Ania and Levi DELIVERED! They were amazing to work with and were up to my crazy ideas, and Levi might have got an arm workout in at the same time since I requested lifts. They also knew the possibility of rain and were totally up to using a clear umbrella to add to the photos if needed. (Luckily we didn’t, but were up for it).

I am very excited to share with you the sneak peeks of Ania & Levi’s prom session. Thank you both so much for trusting me to capture this amazing moment in your lives. I hope you enjoy them!

10 ways to help you look GREAT on your session day

Getting ready for your session can seem a little overwhelming with all of the things you need to do. Figuring out what to wear, trying to figure out how to look your best, etc. I am here to give you some tips that you can do to make sure you look great for your photos. I am giving you my top 10 pieces of advice to give you some direction.

1. Drink Water 

This may sound a little silly, but drinking water helps not only with bloating, but it helps your skin look wonderful. "When your blood gets thick and water-deficient from organs pulling water from it, the blood in turn pulls water from skin cells, according to Dr. Richard Besser, the chief health and medical editor at ABC News. This causes your skin to look dry and your eyes to look darker and sunken. Over time, the condition can age you faster. When your skin is dry, it’s less resilient and elastic, making it prone to wrinkling. If you’re not feeling thirsty, however, it probably hasn’t gotten to the point of dehydration that affects your skin, says Besser." (From Livstrong.com)

2. Trial for makeup and hair

You want to make sure you are happy with your hair and makeup before your session even begins. There is nothing like getting anxiety on the day of your session because you can't get your hair and makeup right.

3. Try on the clothes

You want to make sure your trying on your clothes to see how they fit you and if you are comfortable in them. Don't wear something you are uncomfortable in; you will be able to see that in your photos. Make sure they are clean though before you wear them.

4. Don't pick

A pimple is very easy to cover with makeup, but scabs, wounds and flaky patches are more tricky. As soon as possible, stop picking at your skin. If you’re like me and scratch and squeeze at every bump and flake on your face, it’s time to pull out the big guns. Do whatever it takes. Stop examining your face closer than 2 feet from a mirror. If you distractedly pick while you’re doing something else, try wearing Band-Aids on your fingertips.

5. Exfoliate

A nice, soothing session using a grainy scrub (or gently rubbing your skin with a washcloth) on your face and body is an indulgent way to spend an evening. Plan to exfoliate a couple times before your appointment, but be sure to allow a few days between ‘treatments’, as well as a couple days after the last one before your shoot.

6. Waxing & facial hair

If you have an appointment for a wax, you’ll want to have that done at least two days prior to your Senior session.  You’d be amazed at what the camera sees!  Guys, don’t forget to shave the morning of your session [unless you want that hair!].  

7. Touch up your roots & get a trim

If you dye your hair, touching up your regrowth three days before your photo shoot is ideal. Take my advice: this is not the time for drastic changes. Trust me. Neat, healthy hair is youthful and vibrant. If it’s been a while since your last haircut, even a subtle trim can make a world of difference.

8. Get a manicure

While you’re at it, toss in the pedicure. If you’re hard on your manicures, book the mani/pedi for the day before your shoot. Minimalists can stick with neatly shaped, clear nails. Soft, neutral colors work well for fingertips. Toes can get away with any color. (Think about the outfits you’re bringing and be sure to choose a color that will compliment your choices.)

9. Clean your wedding ring

Using a toothbrush and toothpaste is a great day-to-day way to clean your bling, but most professional jewelers have sonic cleaners that make it sparkle like the day it was born. Many will even clean your ring for free. Especially if you return to the jeweler you bought it from. If it’s been a long time since your last pro cleaning, take the ring in right away. If there are any loose stones in your setting, they may get shaken loose, so it’s a good idea to allow a few days in case the goldsmith needs to re-set anything. If it’s convenient, have it cleaned again the day before your shoot. Or you could go with the old toothbrush method the night before. Or even stop wearing it between the cleaning and the shoot. Just don’t leave it at home! (If you’re bringing your man to your shoot, make sure his nails are neat and his ring is clean. Bonus points if you can get him to wear the genie masque.)

(Many of these tips you can find from Teri Klinger Photography & Emily London Portraits)

10. Practice in the mirror

If you are someone who is nervous, just practice smiling in the mirror. It will help you know what you are going to look like on the day of your session. Honestly, it helps you realize if you need to use more effort in your smile or not.

Tips on what to wear: Portrait Edition

Preparing what to wear for your portrait session can be complicated. I am here to help you and make it seem as easy as possible. You need to know what the reason for your portrait session is before you decide what to wear. I wanted to break this down into two categories: Professional and non-professional portrait sessions. This should help clear up any confusion. You can read both if you please, but you can also just jump to the section you specifically need.

General Tips

  • Keep clothing simple. Try to choose solid colors for your photo session.
  • Our photographer may suggest a full-length pose. Make sure you coordinate your family's clothing from head to toe.
  • Darker clothing slims. 
  • Scoops or v-necks flatter shorter necks and full faces. 
  • Keep clothing consistent.

Professional Portrait Session Tips

  • Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you look great
  • Make sure your jacket and shirt fit you well. A poor fitting jacket or shirt will be obvious in the photos (especially around the neck)
  • Don't overdress
  • Turtlenecks are almost always a bad idea (since they crowd the face)
  • Clothes should be neatly pressed and should look new or like new
  • Avoid busy patterns and large lines/stripes
  • Blue/green/turquoise shirts/blouses or accents can help emphasize blue/green/hazel eyes
  • The standard business look for men is a suit jacket, dress shirt, and tie
  • A casual business look is often a jacket and open dress shirt, shirt and tie (no jacket), or dress shirt on its own
  • Polo shirts are a good look for some businesses. Be sure the shirt is in good condition and fits well
  • For a no-jacket casual look, bring colored shirts - ideally darker than your skin tone
  • A white dress shirt by itself is a bad idea - unless you plan to wear it underneath something (jacket or sweater)
  • Bring a few different jackets, shirt colors and ties so we have choices for the photo
  • Avoid big prints and busy patterns
  • Different necklines will change the apparent shape of your face. Bring a variety different shirts/blouses to see what works best
  • For a no-jacket casual look, bring various colored blouses - ideally darker than your skin tone
  • Be stylish and fashionable, but remember the picture is about your face and not your clothes or jewelry
  • Sleeveless tops/dresses can draw attention to your shoulders/arms. Consider bringing items with a variety of different sleeves

(From: Headshots by Steven Noreyko)

Non-Professional Portrait Session Tips

  • wear solid colored clothing
  • choose muted tones that are a bit subdued
  • choose similar tones for your top and bottom (both dark or both light)
  • choose 1-3 colors for your group portrait, ones with similar tones that go nicely together and have everyone work within that color palette. For example dark green, navy, and burgundy – all dark jewel tones.  OR tan, a lighter olive green, and denim – all lighter, softer tones.
  • choose a top with sleeves at least to the elbow
  • choose long pants for men/ladies or a skirt below the knee for ladies
  • choose dark socks and footwear (unless it’s a barefoot photo on the beach)
  • keep jewelry simple and minimalistic
  • do your hair the way you’d normally do it while wearing these clothes (I’ll explain later)
  • if getting a haircut or new hairdo, make your appointment at least 2 weeks prior to your portrait session

(From: Clothing for Portraits – How to Tell your Subjects What to Wear)

Choosing what to wear can seem complicated, but hopefully these tips will help you out!

New Year, New Photos Mini Session

This year I have decided to partner with some local charities around Bloomington in order to give back to the community. I have always wanted to do more, but was not sure how to do so. I am going to be offering 5 days of scheduled mini sessions this year which will have all the session fees ($100 each session) donated to the paired charity.

What does that mean for you? All you have to do is schedule a 30 minute session in an open timed slot for the day of the mini session. You would pay the $100 and that will be donated to the organization that is paired. The photos will then be available for purchase. Each scheduled mini session day will have a specific location.

This month's theme is New Year, New Photos! I am pairing with Stone Belt for this session! Start the new year off right by updating your photos. This is open to families, couples, and for individual portraits. This will be held in a photo studio. Since this studio is not mine, but I am borrowing it for the day, the address will be only given to people who book a session.

Stone Belt is a nonprofit organization that provides resources and supports for individuals with disabilities. Stone Belt was established in 1958 and is now the oldest and largest agency of its kind in south central Indiana, currently employing over 500 individuals and serving over 2,000 clients. They offer a full range of programs and services in Monroe county, empowering people to demonstrate self-determination, contribute to the building of community, and experience quality of life. Their services are accredited by CARF (formerly the Commission for the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities), and they are an affiliate of The Arc and United Way of Monroe County.

They provide residential, employment, manufacturing, life skills training, family support, child development and psychological services to help people actively participate in the community. Services are provided with a person-centered, customized approach that focuses on a person's capabilities and interests. Their beliefs are self-determination is essential; learning creates empowerment; all people have contributions to make; housing/home life must be self-directed; employment is a fundamental part of adult life; and social life and relationships help create quality of life. Stone Belt has earned a very positive reputation for assisting individuals with developmental disabilities, especially those with challenging behaviors, to be meaningfully included in community life.

They believe in the uniqueness, worth and right to self-determination of every individual. Therefore, it is their mission, in partnership with the community, to prepare, empower and support persons with developmental disabilities and their families to participate fully in the life of the community. Most of their services are paid for with third party reimbursement from Medicaid and other state and federal government sources. But, while vital, state and federal funding only provides for the health and safety of recipients. They rely on community partners to maintain a margin of excellence which allows us to provide appropriate training to staff and more enriching programs to their clients.

In order to book a session, you just click this link to fill out a form! You will then receive a follow up email from me confirming your time with the exact location of the session.

Message me with any questions or if you would like to know more!