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Five Tips for a Planning a Successful Family Portrait Session

Written by Jen on . Posted in We Are Family!

Hello Fall!

We just passed the equinox which means Fall is officially here! Crisp air, snuggly sweaters, boots (my fav!) and scarves, pumpkin picking, apples and cocoa – I heart Fall!

Fall also makes me think of families – it’s the perfect time to pull the family together for a little portrait fun. Mother Nature is painting a beautiful canvas – adding your loved ones can only make it better. Plus, it’s a great time to start thinking of holiday cards and portrait gifts. The sooner we capture your images, the quicker we can create your gorgeous products. Plus, who doesn’t love showing off their fab family to all those holiday guests!?! The timing’s perfect!

Fall Family Portrait, Family Portrait by Lake

So let’s start planning! Even prepping for just Ben and I – Daisy and Bernard have perfect fashion sense and always seem to coordinate with everything ;) – it’s surprising tricky to pull outfits together. So no worries – everyone hits that moment of “Good golly we have nothing to wear!” Deep breath – I’m here to help! Below are 5 tips to stay sane and plan an awesome family portrait session!

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Our lovely little family captured by fellow photographer and friend, the amazing Mandie Haberman of Amanda Red Wedding Photography.

1 – Relax.

Seriously. Like I said, deep breath. This is going to rock and we are going to have a blast. We are going to find you something to wear and you’re going to look fabulous. Stressing and obsession is also bad on the body and the skin. Grab a glass of water, take another breath, and let’s do this. I promise, you’ve got this – and me guide you.

2 – Coordination is key.

It’s not the 90s – we are not looking to match. I honestly don’t want you to match. Even though we are capturing a family portrait, you are still individuals. You don’t need to be wearing the same thing. By coordinating, you’ll look like a family while still maintaining a sense of self. Look for complimentary colors – blues with oranges and yellows, greens with reds and purples. Look to nature – greens, blues, and browns all work well together, because they all present in nature. We aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel here – take a cue from nature and you likely be pleasantly surprised. Blacks and grays with an accent color always look awesome – yellow, blue, reds, teal, purple, you name it. This is one of my favorite combos and is fairly easy – and we like easy. Pick a favorite color, add gray, and you’re set. For Fall, jewel tones tend to be popular – deep burgundy, forest green, navy, plum, mustard, copper – those deeps tones lend themselves well to the season changes. Conversely, if you were planning something for Spring, lighter and brighter tones lend well. During your consultation, we can look at color swatches to help visualize how colors work together.

Larger family grouping can be tricky – sometime sticking with the neutrals and an accent can make things simpler.

Speaking of the deep fall tones, besides looking amazing, darker tones have slimming qualities. Feeling self conscious about your weight? Dark colors visually slim you down. Same with longer sleeves and pants, especially if you have lighter skin. The eye (and your brain) will always go to lightest part of a portrait, so by wearing darker colors and longer sleeves, you force the eye to the face – which in a non-fashion portrait is often our goal anyway. In saying this, I by no means suggest you start wearing all black, all the time. But darker tones – richer colors – will likely be more appealing to you vs white/pastels.

Rocking those deep fall tones!

Once you have an idea for you color pallet, remember that accessories are a great way to mix in your colors. Jewelry, scarves, boots and shoes, hats are all great ways to make your outfits pop. They also add textured which helps bring portrait to life.

3 – Know your goals.

Depending on what you plan to do with the portraits impacts how the session is captured and even how you dress. Looking for a large wall portrait for your living room? Great – what does that room look like? How is it painted, furnished? Is it a formal room or casual? What is it used for? Are we looking for a single focal piece, or a grouping? A formal space done in bold colors lends itself to a completely different outfit than a room meant for relaxing and fun. Beyond clothing choice, when capturing a session, knowing your goals helps me to best capture your family. Photographing for an album is very different than photography for a single wall portrait. Looking to match or coordinate with an existing piece? Let me know so I can keep that in mind. Does your space only lend itself to a vertical portrait? Perfect – I’ll be sure to focus more on vertical grouping. I’m here for you – but not a mind reader. Help a girl out ;)


4 – Know your family.

Nature not your thing? No prob – let’s plan something urban!

Everyone’s family is different, unique, and awesome. Things that might work for other family’s may not for yours. Eat dinner every day at 5p? Than a session at 5p not be the best plan as everyone will be hungry – and being hangry does not lend itself to happy portraitist. Be sure to bring a snack or plan a different time if possible. Have fur babies? Bring a treat or toy they like to help reward and get their attention. Does mom or little Sally frequently get cold? Bring a sweater or gloves to wear between set ups. Not into bugs and nature? Plan a more urban session – being comfortable with your surrounds will show in your body language and expression. Just because grassy fields work well for some doesn’t mean we have to do them for everyone. Have little ones (and this applies partially to fur babies too) – here are some things that will help make family portrait time a success:

- Talking with them and using positive language. Maybe portraits aren’t totally your thing, and that’s ok (though I promise you, this is going to be a blast!) Children feed off of your emotions and feelings. They can tell if something is up. Be relaxed and honest – and with me too. If there is something you have concerns about – weight, clothes, location, your hair, whatever – let me know.

Fall Family Portrait, Family Portrait by Lake

- Remember they are kids. They are going to run around, they are going to act like kids, they might get dirty, they are probably going to act some way you don’t want them to. It’s ok. Children are creatures of habit, and when you change that habit, it’s a big deal. Especially for some kids. Know that this is common – and ok. (This is a big one for fur babies too!)

- That whole creatures of habit thing? Have you ever noticed your child was happier in the morning vs the evening? I’m not talking teens here, but young children especially seem to do better for morning sessions. It’s tricky as most adults need to work in the morning, but you’d be surprised how often we have better success with young children in the morning. If they are so young to still be napping, be sure to chat about what their current nap schedule is looking like and don’t plan something during a normal nap time – they will NOT be happy campers and you can bet they will be sure we all know about it.


5 – Just do it.

It’s easy to come up with a million excuses not to do a family portrait. I need to lose ten pounds, I’m a mess, I have nothing to wear, our schedule is packed, I’m fat, we can’t do weekends, my husband/wife/mother/whomever doesn’t want to, I’ll look better in a couple months… (noticing a theme?) Don’t wait. Women especially are their worst critics. I frequently hear from mom’s “Oh just do the kids – I look fat/dumpy/gross/horrible.” That’s not what I see. And it’s really not what your children and husband sees. They love you. And the awful thing is, life likes to throw you a curve ball. And then it may be too late. When your children look back after you aren’t here to hold them, love and support them, if there isn’t photographic evidence of you to share with future generations, what will your legacy be? They don’t care how you look – they love you and want to be able to remember and cherish you, just like they do now. We are all important to someone. We are all beautiful. You (and your family) deserve to be photographed and remembered.


So don’t wait! I have this feeling fall is going to be shorter than we’d all hope so call today. Let’s get together and brainstorm something fun for your family! I can’t wait to meet you – or see you and your loved ones again :)

(Had to leave you with a peek of our family shenanigans ;) )

~ Jen

PS – Too busy this Fall – or Fall just not your thing? No prob! We can rock family portraits any time – just take a cue from these awesome families!

Summer fun, lounging by the pool at home!

Sweaters in the snow – this is Minnesota after all :)

Blossoms in the spring – GORGEOUS!

The main thing – start talking about it, start planning it, and let’s rock it!

Senior Class of 2015

Written by Jen on . Posted in Seniors, The Class of....

Its summer-time fun-time around here!

So many amazing senior sessions – I’m having a blast with the Class of 2015! So much so, that I’m down to ONE remaining morning session available in August! Once its booked – that’s it for this summer! Sessions are still available for September and October on a limited bases – And fall is already booking! Those pesky yearbook deadlines are already creeping up – and some are sooner than you think! (Though I have to give a giant shout out to Tech High School for EXTENDING their deadline this year! Woohoo – way to go Tech Tigers!) SO! Amazing awesome Seniors in the Class of 2015 – especially those in Central Minnesota – if you haven’t already reserved you session for you senior portraits, DON’T WAIT! It will be too late!

Speaking of amazingly awesome members of the Class of 2015 – I have an incredible group of lovely and talented ladies rocking the JTP Model Rep Team this year! AND – their Model Rep offer is still available to anyone who might be a little on the pokey side booking their senior session – check in with them for details! (Ask to see their App!)

Nikki • Apollo 2015

HS Senior Girl

Whitney • Tech 2015

HS Senior Girl

Abby • Sartell 2015

HS Senior Girl

April • Tech 2015

HS Senior Girl

Gracie • Sauk Rapids-Rice 2015

HS Senior Girl

Molly • Tech 2015

HS Senior Girl

Kelsey • Cathedral 2015

HS Senior Girl

Sara • Sauk Rapids-Rice 2015

HS Senior Girl

Megan • Tech 2015

HS Senior Girl

Tiana • Sartell 2015

HS Senior Girl

It has been wonderful getting to know them, working with them, laughing with them, meeting their families and friends! I’m honored to have them on the team this year! You rock girlies – and so does the rest of the Class of 2015! Don’t miss your chance for an amazing senior experience!

Three weeks left! Happy Summer!

~ Jen

Congratulations Senior Class of 2014!

Written by Jen on . Posted in Seniors, The Class of....

As classes wrap up today, I wanted to take a minute and thank all my amazing Seniors from the graduating Class of 2014! With commencement ceremonies over that past few weeks, you’ve officially graduated, closing one chapter and starting and exciting new one! It has been a blast getting to know each of you – exciting in your accomplishments, cheering you on, sharing laughter and fun! It has been an honor to capture your amazing senior experience – I wish you all the best wherever your journey may lead you!

Congratulations to the Class of 2014!

Class of 2014 Senior Graduation Portraits

Keep in touch – take care – laugh often – travel – be kind – have a blast :)

~ Jen

10 Fun Winter Engagement Portraits!

Written by Jen on . Posted in Engagement Love, Will You? I DO!

Happy New Year! As if it wasn’t cold enough, apparently Mother Nature has Minnesota confused with Antarctica. Current relative temp with windchill: -34. Ouch.

But its not always so ridiculous cold – and when its not, it makes for some pretty epic portraits :) In the spirit of the new year, and hopefully new blogging resolutions, I wanted to share some of my fun from Charles and Kendall’s wintery engagement session from last year.

We started out formal and sassy – they said I DO! at a Glacial Ridge Winery and it was so fun to include that element. I love this image – they both look so fierce! Can you say power couple!?! Gorgeous!

Couple by Wine Barrels

Then on to some snuggly sweaters – ps, her socks make me swoon!

Engagement Couple Snuggling on Bed

Portrait of couple

Then we headed out to the lake :) ( **Always make sure bodies of water are totally frozen before you go playing on them – be safe!** )

Couple kissing on frozen lake

Can you say cute?!! I love Charles’ expression!

Couple snuggling on frozen lake

We ended with a little cold weather gear fun! Winter accessories are so much fun! Hats, scarves, mittens, blankets, coats, socks, sweaters – all so cozy! And fun – I just love these playful images!

Couple making funny faces in hats

And, of course, more snuggling :)

Sun flare couple snuggling in snow

I’m longing to play outside – here’s hoping this extreme cold snap doesn’t last long. Don’t let winter get you down – it may be chilly but its still an amazing time to plan an engagement session with your bride/groom-to-be. Already said I DO! – NO PROBLEM! Grab your honey bunny, your family, your pooch – heck just you! – and plan some wintery portrait fun! I’d love to brainstorm with you :) Get bundled, get snuggly, and have a blast! (Though, if you’re anywhere in Minnesota, be sure you wait until at least after Wednesday – brrrrr!)

Stay Warm!

~ Jen

Class of 2012: Recap of some amazing individuals! – St. Cloud/Central MN High School Senior Photography

Written by Jen on . Posted in The Art of You - Portrait Goodness, The Class of....

Hello Hello!

One of the amazing parts of my job is all the awesome people I have opportunity to meet and capture. This past year, I was so thrilled to meet some amazing individuals of the Class of 2012. Graduation is quickly approaching and I can’t wait to see where their journeys take them!

Alyssa ~ Sartell Class of 2012

Alyssa ~ Cathedral Class of 2012

Bryan ~ Apollo Class of 2012

Jenny ~ Cathedral Class of 2012

Jenna ~ Tech Class of 2012

Savannah ~ Sauk Rapids/Rice Class of 2012

Erik ~ Sauk Rapids/Rice Class of 2012

Karin ~ Apollo Class of 2012

Rebecka ~ Tech Class of 2012

Jack ~ Apollo Class of 2012

Ny ~ Tech Class of 2012

Shayna ~ Tech Class of 2012

Tiffany ~ Sauk Rapids/Rice Class of 2012

Jenifer ~ Sauk Rapids/Rice Class of 2012

So – while I know its a little early, CONGRATULATIONS to the entire Class of 2012! Believe in yourselves, go for your goals, and have a blast!


~ Jen

The Return of Lump Day – St. Cloud / Central MN Pet and Lifestyle Photography

Written by Jen on . Posted in Fur and Feather Friends, Lump Day, The Art of You - Portrait Goodness

Wow. Almost 2 months. I have to apologize for leaving you all in the lurch. The past several weeks have been a whirl wind of emotions and so many crazy things….but that’s perhaps a story for another day….

Today is for Daisy.

I’ve actually heard from many people how happy Daisy’s Lump Day posts make them – which make me feel even worse for being such a pokey blogger…..but Lumper’s and I had a little mini session after a lovely business portrait this morning and it seemed like the perfect timing – being Wednesday and all. I love with the star’s align.

Fun Fact: Daisy is not a huge fan of Mommy’s crazy curb-side-find chair. Not quite roomy enough for her liking – she’s much more of a lounger. Although, by the end, she did manage to lay down all the way and keep her entire body on the chair. She never ceases to amaze me.

Was only going to share the one, but this one just makes me too happy not to share. Its very ‘Classic Daisy’. By this point, Ben had gone back to working on our new laundry room and was making ‘scary’ noises upstairs.

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but Daisy HATES when Ben works on the house. Doesn’t matter what – even quiet activities like painting. As soon as she sees him put on his iPod, she in the basement cowering on her bed under his desk. To be honest, I’m surprised I got both of these shots, as they were taken after he’d gone back upstairs and I thought for sure I was going to lose her immediately to the basement. Poor tramatized puppy.

Happy Lump Day. Its nice to be back.


~ Jen

Whoopie! (Pie): The Return of Lump Day – St. Cloud Pet Photography / Lifestyle Photography

Written by Jen on . Posted in Fur and Feather Friends, Lump Day, The Art of You - Portrait Goodness

Hello happy blog world!

It has been FAR too long. Just one of those months, I guess. I’ve been planning this Lump Day post for quite awhile. The timing just never really worked out. Ben and I were out of town, then just busy bees getting things ready for clients, and overall just never really getting to it. Normally I have all day on Wednesday to capture Daisy for Lump Day. But for this particular post, Ben needed to be present – which made things a little trickier.

This morning, the stars aligned and I am happy to be able to present you with an extra special, long awaited, Lump Day Whoopie Pie EXTRAVAGANZA!

Ok. So here’s the story behind the whoopie pie :)

About a month ago, Ben and I were in search of a Dog Bakery. I needed to purchase a gift for the lovely and talented Sara Kauss, who was kind enough to come to Minnesota and speak to the MNPPA. Knowing Sara has two lovely doggie babies, I thought some goodies for them would be the perfect gift! And they were – once we finally located the bakery……

It was one of those weird days, when you drive around and could SWEAR what you were looking for was RIGHT THERE! And its not. And you have know idea where you need to go to find what you’re looking for. But, damnit, I WANT SOME TASTY DOGGIE GOODIES!

FINALLY, Ben and he’s awesome internet and driving skills got us to Lulu and Luigi.  ( )  And it is amazing! Cookies, clothes, EVERYTHING to pamper your pooch! It was devine! We just couldn’t leave with out getting Daisy something fun.

And then we saw the Whoopie Pie.

I mean, seriously!? This is a DOG cookie!? How awesome is this thing!? WE wanted to eat it! I looks so amazing and colorful and huge and wonderful! It has been KILLING me to see it on the shelf, waiting patiently for schedules to work (and Daisy’s belly to not be rumbly – there have been days in between that I could have given it to her, but I really didn’t want to clean up whoopie pie puke…..) It was so great to finally give her this awesome goodie!

And she loved it.

Our happy girl after her special treat. Oh the things we do for our kids :)

Happy Lump Day everyone – thanks for your patience!


~ Jen

Waiting For Daddy – St. Cloud Pet / Lifestyle Photographer

Written by Jen on . Posted in Fur and Feather Friends, Lump Day, The Art of You - Portrait Goodness

Hello Hello!

This week’s Lump Day post is inspired by Daisy and my morning walks. Just about every morning – well, seeing as we do live in Minnesota, let’s make that May-October mornings, Daisy and I will go for a walk. And on the nights that Ben works, our morning walk will frequently be to go and get Daddy as he’s finishing up his shift. (A little game for those of you who don’t already know – can you guess where Ben works by the photograph?)

Daisy LOVES these walks. Its basically 3 miles full of happy smells that she gets to drag Mommy all over town in a quest to find Daddy. LUMPY HEAVEN.

And when we do arrive, she will get as close to the door as physically possible and wait.


Pondering how she might get in there so she can find him faster – although she’s never actually made it farther than the vestibule (not for lack of trying though).

She just may make it in one of these days. All the ladies adore her. “She could pass for a service dog, right? Just bring her on in!”

(At this, Ben and I normally bust out laughing. Daisy is by no means graceful. Especially on linoleum floors. It is, by far, one of the most amusing, falling down silly dog dances you will ever see. She gets so excited and moves so fast, she’s all legs – splayed out all over the floor. The day pigs fly is the day Daisy will pass for a service dog.)

But anywho, today was another lovely morning filled with a lovely walk to Daddy. The complete joy she has when he walks out that door always brings a smile to my face.

What a great way to start Lump Day.


~ Jen

Oh Mother Nature – Central Minnesota Pet / Lifestyle Photography

Written by Jen on . Posted in Fur and Feather Friends, Lump Day, The Art of You - Portrait Goodness

Daisy and I woke up this morning to an April 20th Winter Wonderland. Needless to say, the big question on Daisy’s mind (and everyone else’s I would imagine) is “What’s up Mother Nature?”

Its already started melting, but still – really?

Oh Minnesota, we love you – even when you are full of crazy.

Happy Lump Day.


~ Jen

Ah Sunshine – St. Cloud Pet Photographer / Lifestyle Photographer

Written by Jen on . Posted in Fur and Feather Friends, Lump Day, Randomly Jen, The Art of You - Portrait Goodness

Since being home, I’ve been playing catch up – while trying to enjoy some time with Ben and Daisy. And when the sun is shining, its hard not to take a minute to enjoy.

Its so nice to have the porch chairs out, sit outside as a family, and enjoy the sun shine. Perhaps I’ll even be able to wrestle her out of my spot…..
What a lovely dork she is.

Happy Lump Day.


~ Jen

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