The Process

Now that our busiest time of year – fall photo season – is in full swing, we thought it would be a good time to share how our process works.

If you have booked a fall photo session, you will receive an email from us a few days before your session to confirm the time, balance due, and location options. For Saturday sessions, we typically email on Tuesdays. For Sunday photos, we email on Wednesdays. This gives us a more accurate look at the weekend forecast in case we need to come up with a plan B due to weather. 

Once everything is confirmed, we’ll meet you at the chosen photo location by the start of your session time. Please do everything in your power to arrive on time. We understand it may be difficult, especially with little ones and their unpredictable nature. We schedule your session time to coincide with the optimal lighting at that time of day, and arriving late may cause you to lose out on session time resulting in fewer images returned to you.

When your session is completed, we get to work on editing your images. Included in your session fee is minor retouching and color correction. Our goal is to have your photos look as completely natural as possible, so we do not add any special effects or go beyond the editing of small blemishes. We understand that accidents happen, especially with children, so if something occurs leading up to your photo session that you think would require heavy editing (a goose-egg, stitches, sunburn, etc.), PLEASE get in touch with us to discuss this before your session. Sometimes it is best to reschedule in these cases.  

When your images are edited and everything is complete, we will send you an email with your .zip file containing your finalized full-resolution images in both color and black & white versions. Your .zip file also includes a PDF print release that you may print and take to your lab of choice to print your images. Included in your email will be a link to your private gallery with password that you are welcome to share with family and friends. From this gallery, there is the option to order professional prints if you desire. These prints will be of much higher quality and true color compared to what a local lab can provide. The pricing reflects this quality and may not fit into everyone’s budget. To help offset this cost, your session includes a $25 print credit that you or a family member may apply to one order. 

Our goal is to return your images to you within one week of your session. We take pride in offering a fast turnaround rate as we know you are anxious to see your images, get them printed, and display them.

Tips for Cold Weather Photoshoots

The busiest time of year for family photos is also the most unpredictable when it comes to weather. Fall and winter in the Shenandoah Valley can bring days where it’s 80 degrees as well as mornings with frost or snow on the ground. Here are some tips we recommend to getting your little ones through sessions on those colder days.

  • Bring tissues! Little noses start to run in even the slightest bit of cold air, so come well-stocked.
  • Check little faces for dried snot, crusty eyes, or leftover breakfast/dinner. It may not be visible at quick glance, but a close-up through the lens will show it all! A quick wipe of their faces before the session begins is always a good idea.
  • If you do not want your child wearing their winter coat in the photos, bring blankets to wrap them in between photos. These are much easier to slip on and off between shots than dealing with coats, hats, and gloves.
  • Offer a reward! There is absolutely nothing wrong with a little bribery to get little ones to cooperate during photos. It could be as simple as a warm bubble bath when they get home. Hot chocolate is also a nice treat after a cold hour of photos.
  • If your littles are extra sensitive to the cold, ask us about location options where there are places to take warming breaks indoors.
  • Plan to do photos in winter gear! Nothing is cuter than winter hats and other accessories, especially for Christmas cards.

Mother’s Day Mini-Session Recap

Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all of you amazing moms out there! A few weekends ago, we had our 7th annual Mother’s Day mini-sessions. These sessions are always a favorite because it’s usually our first time back behind the camera after a long winter and it’s great to be back out there in beautiful, colorful nature again. So many Mother’s Day minis families come back year after year, and it’s been amazing watching these kids grow up behind the lens. It’s always fun to compare this year’s photos to previous years.

This year’s group of 8 different families included 5 we have photographed before. Some of these families we have started working with more recently, and others we’ve watched grow from just husband and wife to family with children.

We usually split up the locations for the morning batch of sessions and the evening group for some variety. This year though, the delayed bloom of the redbud and dogwood trees and field of daffodils didn’t leave any doubt in our mind that Blandy was the best choice of location for both groups.

The morning group of 4 families went smoothly. We had sunlight, warming temperatures, and not many other Blandy visitors to work around, making it easy! The evening group of 3 families had a little bit of a trickier time. It was prom night and Blandy was PACKED with couples and their photographers, whether they be family and friends, or professionals. We also had some quick rain showers in and out, but thankfully no heavy downpours and the sun continued to shine in the distance making for a beautiful sky towards the end of the evening.

One family (our neighbors) needed to reschedule due to sudden illness, so we did their session a week later at another neighbor’s house. They have a backyard oasis full of bleeding hearts and allium among other flowers. It was even more beautiful than Blandy was, so it ended up working out in family #8’s favor and we were thrilled to try out a different location.

We are so happy with the way this year’s photos turned out and we hope our clients are just as pleased.

Mini-Session or General Session?

Lots of clients wonder if a mini-session or general 1-hr session is better for their family. Both types of sessions have benefits depending on what you’re hoping to get out of your family photos.

Mini-sessions are an affordable option to update your family photos, to capture photos for holiday cards or gifts, or to capture your growing baby/toddler between general sessions. We typically offer these twice a year. Our mini-sessions are twenty minutes long and run back to back with other clients throughout an entire day (10-12 sessions per day). Location, date, and time are pre-selected by the photographer. Time does not allow for more than five individuals per session or any type of wardrobe change. Clients receive 10-15 final images and a percentage discount on optional professional prints.

Photo from a mini-session shows a more direct portrait approach.

General sessions run a full hour and the focus is entirely on your family that day. There is no rushing, which leaves time for babies and children to warm up to those crazy people behind the big camera so we can get natural smiles, more candids, and truly capture the connections in your family. The location and time of day is your choice and there is time for quick wardrobe changes if desired. The greatest advantage of booking a general session is that we have time to get to know your family and what works best to get the kind of photos you desire. You get a full story on your hour spent with us by receiving 40+ images returned in both color and black and white versions along with a print credit to use towards an optional professional print order (we are happy to provide guidance in placing your print order).

Photo from a general session showing more emotion and connection between family members.

Both types of sessions will give you those updated family photos you desire. One offers more affordability, while the other offers more flexibility and choice. It all comes down to what you think will work best for your family. If you are still unsure, we are always here to help! Feel free to get in touch with us to talk through your options at any time.