Headshot Session for Shelter House and the Purple Purse Challenge

Last month I took these headshots of executives of Shelter  House, a community-based, non-profit organization serving homeless families in Fairfax County, Virginia.

They were gearing up to participate in the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge, and even though it ends on October 25, I wanted to help spread the word and also share a little more about the Shelter House organization. Shelter House  was formed in 1981, when several ecumenical groups came together to better serve Fairfax County’s low-income population. In 1985, Shelter House’s facility was moved to its current location in Falls Church. In 2007, Shelter House was awarded Fairfax County’s contract to operate the Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter in Fairfax. In 2010, Shelter House became the first non-profit to operate Artemis House, Fairfax County’s only 24 hour Domestic Violence Shelter.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I want to share information with you that unfortunately has been or currently is a reality for 1 in 4 households in Fairfax County. 99% of victims of domestic violence experience financial/economic abuse and it is one of the tools of power and control wielded by an abuser. These are just a few examples of how this abuse occurs.For more information on the Purple Purse Challenge, https://www.crowdrise.com/shelterhouse-purplepurse2016.

I first heard about Shelter House when I went to a book reading by the author, Carene McCandless. Carene is the sister of the Chris McCandless, who was made infamous in John Krakauer’s book and  Sean Penn’s movie, Into the Wild. Shelter House helped sponsor the reading and Carene spoke about the domestic abuse that she grew up dealing with and pointed out organizations like Shelter House that works to combat domestic violence and abuse. It really struck a chord with me that what looks like a happy, healthy family on the outside, could be something very different underneath.

If you would like more information on how you can help, here is the Shelter House website: http://www.shelterhouse.org/

 

 

 

For Colorful Fall Family Portraits…Try an Urban Setting!

2016-10-17_0002At this time of year, most of the families calling me for fall family portraits are looking for peak fall foliage and the beautiful settings at the many parks in Fairfax County.

I am happy to shoot at any of these places, but sometimes it’s fun to switch it up and let the colorful outfits and fun expressions of the family brighten up an urban area. There are so many textures and cool backdrops to be found around towns and this fun family was willing to explore with me!

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Urban areas are a great place to focus on lifestyle. Kids can find a way to have fun in any area. Jumping, running, hugging…I like to play and once they know it’s ok to be silly, the posing stiffness goes away and I can capture their true nature and the relationships in the family.

Just like these ultra-cool kids – I love the way the littlest girl is so tiny, but you can tell she looms large in the family dynamic with three older brothers —  no shrinking violets here!

10 Tips for What to Wear for Family Portraits

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Fall is finally here and families are starting to book their  holiday sessions.

This is one of my favorite times to photograph.  It’s a chance for families to come together to celebrate each other and being a family.  I love seeing their joy and love as they  take this opportunity to hug and enjoy each other.

This is also the time that I start to get the questions about what to wear for family portraits. While I believe this is a personal preference and don’t really like to dictate the look of a session, I can offer the following suggestions from experience about what I’ve seen that looks nice and has worked well for families:

2016-09-19_0004Begin by thinking about what is the purpose of your portrait.

  • To update walls?
  • To announce an important life event?
  • Holiday cards?
  • To create gifts for extended family?

If the goal is to create art for your walls, think about how formal your home is, and match that style in your outfits. Naturally, people are most comfortable in comfortable clothes, but would that look right in a formal living room?

What colors do you love to decorate with? Earth-tones of brown, rust, gold, and cream? Bold pops of color on a neutral canvas?  Soft and pale tones (pastels)? Neutral tones of black, white, gray, and cream?

Which colors make you feel happy?

  • red, magenta, orange, yellow, yellow-green = energy, romance, and warmth
  • turquoise, green, blue, purple = cool, calm, tranquility, peace
  • black, gray, tan, brown, white = neutrals, foundation, classic

If your goal is for holiday cards, bright colors catch attention when they arrive in the mail, but avoid being simply the holiday red and green which may limit your opportunities to enjoy the images as year-round.

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Here are a few simple tips:

  1. Avoid being too “matchy, matchy.”  It’s okay to look semi-coordinated but don’t all arrive to your session wearing identical blue polos unless that is how you want to remember each other. Your family portrait may depict a blue shirted monster with 5 heads if you all wear the same exact color.
  2. Keep your location in mind. If you are planning to photograph in peak foliage season season, deep reds, oranges and greens look great.  You may want to save your pastels and icy blues for summer or more urban locations. Blacks and whites, although they make a nice statement, do not necessarily complement autumn colors, but if you are at a location with a lot of brick or stone could look great!
  3. Denim or not? Decide if this casual or semi casual look is what you’re after. If not, decide what will be worn for pants/ skirts/ etc. Too much denim an be overwhelming.
  4. Select a favorite color family. It is okay to have blue be your theme, but combine lights (tints) and darks (shades) with your main color to create variety and contrast.
  5. Textures photographs well!  Choose a few items that will add texture: a scarf, vest, fun boots, jacket, a woven cardigan, etc. Layers are great. Rather than just a boy in a T-shirt, add a layer by wearing a button up shirt  over the top. Belts, jewelry, watches all add to the “texture” element.
  6. Shop in your closet. Before you go out and buy an all new wardrobe, gather from your closets some samples of the colors you are considering  and line them up on a bed or couch and see how they look together. When you blur your eyes do you see lights and darks? What pops out? Save money by using clothing you already own, with the addition perhaps a new piece or two. After you’ve done your line up, see what is lacking (ie. another dark shirt, a complementary color, etc.) If you want your portrait to be authentic- avoid buying clothes that you know your family would never wear “in real life.”
  7. It’s okay mix solids and simple patterns.  I know a lot of photographers might argue with me on this one, but I like to think that SIMPLE patterns add interest and texture to a picture.  Three of the men above have patterned, buttoned-down shirts, and it works just fine with the solid colors.  If you stick to a color scheme, everything just naturally blends together.
  8. Think of the rule “Three Colors and a Pop” (credit to Orange County photographer Meghan Owens for this phrase). Pick three colors, with one being a neutral, and add a “pop” of color. It usually works best when it’s a bright color on one of your littlest family member (think red scarf or purple boots).clukey-1
  9. Colorful Accessories. Similar to the above tip, colorful accessories photograph best for all family members.  You want the focus to be on the faces more than the outfits. Similarly, a bright jacket or cardigan that can be put on or off works well!
  10. Watch the shoes. Even if they are your kids’ favorite shoes, character and light-up sneakers date a portrait. Even some of the “louder” sneakers can be distracting in a family portraits.

Think Timeless. Again, you want the focus on your faces, your emotions and your family. Not the outfits. Too styled a look can deter from the emotion that is displayed in the togetherness of your family.

So, that’s it!  Hopefully, the above tips will help you do a little advance planning for your family sessions to create beautiful family portraits. For even more ideas and tips, check out my Pinterest Board Family Portrait Outfit Ideas.

 

Another High School Senior Portrait: A Senior I have watched grow up…

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I always enjoy sharing pictures of high school seniors that I have photographed throughout the years and now am doing their high school senior portrait. Thanks to Kyle’s mom who scanned in these toddler pictures of him (yes, this was BEFORE I went digital!) I can compare this pensive toddler with the big blue eyes and precious dimple with the handsome young adult (who still has those eyes and that dimple!)

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Kyle’s mom and I met in a playgroup and exercised with Jan Crerie of BodyGrace Fitness  while our kids played together in the nursery.  We lived in separate towns and our children did not grow up as friends but we get together to discuss our parallel lives and anguish about the time passing so quickly as they grow up and leave the next.

I’ve loved hearing about Kyle and all his accomplishments as he has grown, from swimming and diving to being an accomplished violinist. I had the added bonus of listening to Kyle perform live on the Vienna Town Green as I photographed him with his instrument.

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Good luck with all you do Kyle. And good luck to his mom in watching him move on to greater experiences!

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Refresh Those Headshots!

It’s time isn’t it?

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Does that profile image on your LinkedIn Page really still look like you?

Or that realtor image that shows up in all your marketing materials. Would your clients recognize you, or was that three hairstyles ago? If that’s the case it’s time to update your headshots.

Remember the saying “a picture Is worth A thousand words” – overused, but there’s a reason people say it. Your image often precedes an in-person interaction or a phone call discussion with a potential client or employer.

Don’t worry.  Headshots are not the stiff and fake/posey style they used to be. They can actually be fun now and, more importantly, reflect your personality.

A good set of headshots and portraits can help advance your career or create your personal brand.

When I shoot headshots I spend time discussing the type of image you hope to present. We determine whether the simple, plain background will work or you want an “environmental” or “Lifestyle” image. That depends on you and your needs. For more information on the different type of headshots click here. No matter what type of session, we will discuss preparation, outfits, makeup and grooming and even lighting and location.

I would love to help you present your best image, contact me for more information and schedule your session today!