Why I Shoot During "Golden Hour" | Minneapolis, Minnesota, Senior Photographer

So you want to learn about golden hour, huh? It’s a pretty popular time of day for photographers to shoot. I'll tell you what it is and why I like to shoot at that time of day!  I have heard clients ask, "Can we shoot at 1:00pm?" While I will shoot mid-day as a last resort, it is not an ideal time. Most people don't understand why, and I thought I would shed some light on it (pun intended). 

Unless there is quite a bit of cloud cover or shady areas, shooting in the middle of the day under direct sun is difficult. Harsh shadows, squinting eyes and the bright sun is not my idea of a great photo.  Yes, it can be done, and has been. I use back lighting a lot and my reflector/diffuser, along with finding hidden shade. 

Here is an old photo that I shot in direct sunlight.

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Jasmine's face is quite orange, she's squinting and she has such an uneven skin tone. This was one of my first senior sessions. Even back then, I knew this wasn't a look I was going for. Don't get me wrong, this session has always been one of my favorites, and there were plenty of great images.  But it just wasn't the ideal time of day.

I then moved to mid-mornings, which was a bit better.  The lighting was nice, but mid-morning seemed to give off a lot of harsh shadows and dark faces. I did a lot of post-processing in Lightroom. 

But then I discovered what all photographers rave about. "The Golden Hour".  This is the time just before sunrise or sunset. You may or may not have noticed that my first availability is always 1-2 hours before sunset. During this time, the lighting is absolutely perfect!  It is also shortly after sunrise; however, not everyone wants to wake up that early, especially soon-to-be seniors in high school!  

The perks of "Golden Hour":

  • You get yummy light flares and beautiful soft light.
  • There are no soft shadows or squinty eyes from the blinding sun at high noon.
  • In the summer, it cools off in the early evening, so you’re able to relax a little better knowing there isn’t sweat running down your face or making stains on your shirt.
  • During "Golden Hour", everything is warm and pretty and gives off a magical feeling.
  • We can also get some sweet silhouette shots as the sun is going down on the horizon.

Here are some of my favorite recent sessions that I have shot during this time. I think you can agree with me that nothing compares, and that "Golden Hour" never disappoints!

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We can't forget the boys during Golden Hour!

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Here are a couple from my latest session, that was just amazing!

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The Bergerson Family | Family Pictures in Rogers, Minnesota

Hi again, everyone!

I know I have said this before, but I will say it again!  I am seriously the luckiest photographer around. My clients are always so fabulous  to work with. That's true of my session with the Bergerson Family as well!

Rogers, Minnesota Family Photos

The Bergerson's consist of Mark, Breanne and adorable Connor, who just turned ONE!  Mark and Breanne are also officially expecting a little lady to join their young family at the end of August.  Yes! Connor is going to be a big brother! They are counting down the days until the cute little bundle is welcomed into our world!  

Breanne contacted me looking for a combination Family/Maternity/1-year session.  She had some concerns, as the last time she had her maternity and newborn photos done, she was less than impressed.  After she filled out her family questionnaire, we talked about what she liked and what she didn't like about her last session. We chatted up to the session date about her expecations, as I wanted to make sure they were happy with their end results!  

I met up with them late afternoon at Henry's Woods Park in Rogers, and the weather was perfect for photo-taking. Breanne liked the the park because it had two distinct features that give a feeling of where they both came from.  The dense woods are reminiscent of Mark's upbringing in the North Woods and the red barn is reminiscent of Breanne's in Illinois's farm country. 

It was a little humid (not to mention the mosquitos) but they were troopers! It was the family that made this shoot such a blast!  My daughter, Baylee, came along to assist as she sometimes does. She was a big help!  

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I did a few family photos, then we went on to do a couple of Connor alone to celebrate his first birthday!  Breanne brought a "Where the Wild Things Are" book for him to share with us!  He is such a flirt, and made my job easy! So full of smiles and laughter!

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Breanne wanted to get a few photos of just her and Mark, so Baylee entertained Connor for a while. He enjoyed hanging out with her while I took some couple portraits, and a few of Breanne alone. 

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Breanne's words of wisdom for other families preparing for a family session?  "Communication is key.  Let the photographer know exactly what you want.  Get your partner in on the decision making.  Not only can your partner provide great ideas, but being involved helps them know what to expect, from poses to props."  For more tips on how to prepare for YOUR family session stress-free, check out my blog post about it here.

Both Baylee and I had so much fun with this family!  I asked Breanne to relate her favorite parts of the session, and why she enjoyed it.  Her response, "Sheila and her lovely assistant were easy going and friendly, making them a joy to work with.  I loved that Sheila showed us some of the shots she had taken as we went along, and gave great direction during posing. And Baylee was amazing with Connor!" 

Aww..Thanks, Breanne and Mark, your beautiful young family was a joy to work with, and I can't wait to work with you again! (It's going to be sooner than you think, but it's a secret - stay tuned!)

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Sydney's Senior Session | Minneapolis Portrait Photography

Today I want you to meet Sydney. I had so much fun with her and her mom in Downtown Minneapolis. My daughter came along and assisted us!  Sydney wanted her session done in the beautiful Stone Arch Bridge and Mill Ruins Park area. 

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Sydney is a senior at Elk River High school and is a member of the Class of 2018. Her extracurricular activities include dancing, and she is amazing at it!  I love it when a dancer wants to have fun with her session and show us her moves!

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The weather was beautiful and the lighting was perfect!  The session came together nicely! I loved the outfits that Sydney brought to her session. They went perfect with each location and she looked gorgeous!

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I asked Sydney whether she had any advice to offer others who were getting ready for their own senior pictures. She had this to say, "I don't think I was prepared!  But Sheila was organized and helped a lot.  It went great." 

Aww...Thanks Sydney! Truth be told, you made my job easy! 

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After high school, Sydney plans to attend college and pursue a career in the science field.

Best of luck to you, Sydney! I am sure you will excel in whatever you choose to do!

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When Should I Schedule My Senior Portrait Session? | Maple Grove, MN Senior Pictures

I get asked this question quite frequently and wanted to shed some light on the subject.  Officially, my senior season begins in the Spring of your JUNIOR year.  If you are graduating in 2018, your senior photo session should be booked by June or July at the latest!  I start booking in March and am usually full for the season by the end of July.  This does not mean your photos need to be done that early, but I highly recommend you book by July.  I get calls every year in September looking to book fall senior photos and unfortunately, I have to turn them away because I am full. I start shooting in May and go up until the following March.

Most high schools require you to have your yearbook photo submitted by October or November, and I have seen it as early as August or September.  I keep a list of yearbook deadline dates for the local schools every year so I am kept in the loop. 

Not sure what season you want?  Here are a few pointers for you….

Spring weather in Minnesota is beautiful! May flowers are blooming, it’s not too hot and it is almost literally bug-free. Not to mention those who get their photos done in May or June are able to enjoy their summer and not have to worry about their senior photos!

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Summer is hot. I’m not gonna lie. I still shoot, but it’s warmer.  I shoot in the evenings so it is a little cooler, albeit more buggy. But some of my favorite photos have been shot in the summer!

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Fall. What can I say? My favorite time of year. “October is my favorite color.”  If you are in after school activities, please keep in mind that once school starts seniors are BUSY. Homecoming, sports, homework deadlines, college applications and visits, etc. Not to mention I am also very busy in the fall. My normal editing time is 1-3 weeks. Once August and September hit, it moves to 3-6 weeks.  Please keep that in mind for yearbook submission deadlines.  If we are in a pinch for editing time, I have edited the yearbook photo and sent it on through. Do not let that discourage you if you want fall photos. I will make it happen!

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Winter. Ah….Winter in Minnesota. I have to say my favorite senior session to date was shot in February. It was 10 degrees outside but you would never know it. There is something to be said for beautiful winter snow pictures. The lighting is absolutely fantastic in the snow!

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Whichever time of year you choose, I have beautiful locations to compliment the season. Just remember to book your session early!

7 Tips to Take the Stress Out of Picture Day | Elk River, MN | Family Photographer

When it comes to family picture day, a lot of stress is typically associated with days leading up to the session. I'm here to help you relax and be prepared all at the same time. Here are some tips: 

  1. If you are having problems figuring out what to wear, check out my Pinterest style board here! (And my other Pinterest boards on lifestyle photography, posing, etc., if you are inclined to do so!)Find the outfits you want everyone to wear a month in advance and set them aside somewhere safe. Then try them on a week ahead of time to ensure everything still fits comfortably and that you didn’t miss any stains or holes that you couldn’t see until they were being worn.
  2. As soon as your family changes out of their photo attire, make sure it is clean and pressed to be ready for the big day. Set the clothes together (sorted by person) and place them somewhere free from harm and dirt. Be sure to tell everyone that these are picture clothes and not to be worn until picture day. This will help to be sure that no articles of clothing go missing. Don’t forget about shoes, jewelry, belts, and other accessories.
  3. About three to four days prior to the session, start talking with your husband and kids about the session and what will happen and how they should behave. If you plan to use a bribe, now is a good time to set that in place. Continue to talk to your children daily to prepare them for the session.  
  4. Two days prior to the session, pack a bag of everything you will need on picture day – snacks, props, bribery, etc. and put it somewhere you can grab it and go. Be sure to include wipes in case things get messy, an extra hairbrush, and other “emergency” items, such as bobby pins and a backup lipstick.
  5. On the day of the session, make sure everyone is well fed, but not overfed. We don’t want sick little tummies from overeating, but we don’t want anyone getting “hangry” (angry because they are so hungry) either. Do not get your family dressed in their photo clothes until after they have eaten and brushed their teeth. This will prevent spills and other messy accidents.
  6. If you have young children, avoid any colored drinks the day of the session until after we are finished. Also, get them to wear a bib or drop cloth if they drink anything on the way to the session to save their shirts from wet spots or stains.
  7. Once you get to the session, try to relax. If you have set a bribe, please let me know so I can use that throughout the session if the children get restless. Trust your photographer - know that I will take care of things and will deliver amazing photos of your family.

Try to follow these simple steps and see if it doesn't make a difference the next time you have schedule a family session!  

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Congratulations to the Class of 2017! | Senior Pictures in Elk River, MN

I was so blessed to have almost 40 seniors as clients for the Class of 2017!  Softball, football, tennis, basketball, hockey and lacrosse players, dancers, band and orchestra members, gymnasts and many more. Elk River, Anoka, Andover, Zimmerman, Princeton, Rogers, Buffalo, Champlin Park High Schools.  Too many I'm sure I'm missing someone!  We had so much fun traveling the Twin Cities in search of the best locations.    

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you all and to thank you for entrusting me with your senior photos!  

For more information on how to book your Class of 2018 senior photos, please contact me!

Why Hire a Professional Photographer? | Minneapolis, MN Senior Portraits

"Thanks for the info, but we found someone with a good camera who will do it for free."  

"Susie said she would take my senior photos, and put all 150 of them on a CD for me."

Would you trust your husband to cut your hair? After all, he's got a great pair of shears. How about your teenage son doing your landscaping? He mows exceptionally well!  And why not have your best friend's cousin's sister's aunt do professional senior photos? I mean, she has a great fancy camera, right?

Wrong!  

Just because someone has the right camera, does not mean you should entrust an amateur to capture the milestones in your life. Even if it's a nice, expensive one. 

As a student, you’re busy with school, sports, college visits, etc., and if you’re a parent of a student, you’re equally as busy. I take the hassle out of process to make your senior  photography session enjoyable and stress free.
 
I have several years of experience specializing in senior photography. I know how to capture these moments in ways that are special and memorable. "A picture is worth a thousand words" has subtle nuances. To capture them, it is essential to have a trained eye and perfect timing. Having hundreds of photos under my belt doesn’t hurt either.  

I have the camera and technical skills to capture your best you!  It is NOT the camera that takes the picture. It is the photographer! To consistently take beautiful portraits, you need more than fancy gear. You need to know how and when to work with that fancy gear on whatever lighting circumstance you’re in. It’s much more than pointing and shooting. Even on the most perfect days at the perfect locations, lighting can be tricky. I have seen many senior portraits online that make me cringe at the lighting.  The hottest, brightest, sunniest time is NOT the best time for pictures. Shadows on faces and eyes squinting does not make a perfect portrait.

Want a fun, hip, urban Downtown Minneapolis location?  Or would you prefer a beautiful park in Elk River? I have many location options in the Twin Cities area for your senior photo session, taking the stress of finding the perfect spot off your shoulders!  With that being said, I'm also open to a session at your choice location if you've happened upon the perfect place!  Another part of my job as an experienced senior photographer is to pose you in ways that are flattering, put you in the best light (literally) and make you feel at ease.

Plus, there’s much more that goes into making your senior photography session so much fun and worthwhile!

The quality of your photos should be the number one factor you consider before even thinking about price. My photos speak for themselves. My portfolio is the purest reflection of me, and how I capture your fondest memories. 

TRUST ME!


Jordan's Senior Session | Elk River, MN Senior Photos

As we wind down to the last few weeks of the school year, I'd like you to meet Jordan!  Jordan is a member of the Class of 2017 at Spectrum High School. He is on the Spectrum Baseball team, and enjoys fishing, camping, hockey, football, video games and hanging out with friends.  He describes himself as fun, creative and disciplined.  After spending the morning with him, I would have to agree!

We kept Jordan's session simple and stayed in Elk River and Otsego for his shoot. He wanted some at Handke Pit. Fun fact, Jordan works at Handke Pit during the winter :) Jordan brought his baseball jersey and equipment with to get some baseball images on the field.  My favorite part of the session is to capture seniors in their element.  He was very photogenic and a natural in front of the camera.  

Jordan was looking to incorporate baseball and nature into his photoshoot, and I think we took care of that. The outfits he chose were easy and casual. When I asked him what was one piece of advice to give upcoming seniors to help with their photo shoot, he said, "Have an idea of what you want it to look like and what to wear".

After high school, Jordan plans to attend Anoka Ramsey Community College and major in sports-related business.

Good luck in the future, Jordan!  Thank you for choosing me to capture your senior pictures!

Elk River Senior Photographer

If you would like more information on my portrait photography, please contact me!

Senior Pictures in Anoka, MN | Madeleine's Senior Portrait Session

Introducing Madeleine!  This beautiful senior attends Elk River High School and is a member of the Class of 2017! Just a few short weeks left of school!  I had so much fun with this young lady and her mom last summer!  Madeleine is involved in the ISD 728 Cadets and the River Valley Winter Guard, River Valley Sound, Band and Pit Orchestra, and the Yellow Ribbon Club. She is a member of the National Honor Society and also plays piano! Whew! She's busy!

Madeleine didn't really have a preference to location, so I picked Downtown Anoka, Minnesota.  I love taking my seniors to Anoka, it is such a versatile place. Old brick buildings, a park on the river and a vintage feed mill all within blocks of each other.  I loved that she brought her french horn, flag and rifle from her color guard. It was a blast capturing her in her element! Color guard and music has been such a huge part of her high school years.

Madeleine was looking for a classic senior shoot with a little edge. And I think we captured that well! She chose outfits that fit her style and looked great on her! Her advice to others getting ready for their senior photos? "Relax and have fun!" And so we did!

Madeleine's overall senior photo experience? “It was great!” She stresses to find a photographer you feel comfortable with ;)  

After high school, Madeleine will be attending the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, majoring in social work or speech therapy. She will be involved with their marching band and hopefully be involved in their music scene! I have no doubt that you will, Maddie!

Congratulations, Madeleine! I'm so excited for your future endeavors and I know you will do great things with your life!

For information on my senior sessions, you can click on the photo.