This girl! I’m partial because she’s my own, but she is so fabulously stunning I can’t even handle it. For her 12’th birthday, I wanted to help her feel like the rockstar that she already is. We went shopping and picked up this adorable new dress, then on to the beauty salon for some simple makeup. I had promised at some point that she could start to wear some simple makeup on her 12’th birthday, and you better believe she wasn’t going to let me forget about it! Of course she doesn’t need a drop of it, but a mom has got to let their daughter grow up at some point….. I guess. In the end she was feeling fabulous, and off we went, just the 2 of us to scout out the perfect spot to take her official “tween”age photos. We laughed our heads off the entire time, and acted as crazy as possible, only stopping the crazy for a moment here and there to snap a few photos. I think I like the finished product. Although she looks super grown up, and I don’t know if I”m ready for that part of her life just yet. I’m trying to slowly let go, and remind myself that the ultimate goal in parenting is to have raised a precocious child into an amazing adult who is ready to soar on her own.
Over the years my business has evolved and changed many times. I’ve been photographing other people for over 8 years. In the beginning I gave everyone a disc or USB with their images on them. Many of these clients have turned into friends, and I would run into them years later, and I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard the same sad story. It goes something like this, ” Oh my gosh, we just love all those pictures that we had done with you. But we never actually did anything with them. They are still sitting in my desk drawer waiting for me. Someday I’ll get to it” Talk about breaking my little artist heart! I want you guys to have great big lovely images on your walls, and gorgeous albums in your hands to share with your kids, with your friends, to enjoy every day and to someday pass down to your kids. I’ve heard so many similar stories that I knew it was time to change how I did business! I wasn’t finishing my job as your photographer. Leaving the printing and finishing job undone, just isn’t good enough for me anymore. So NOW I am a full service photographer. I offer prints, canvas collections, framing, albums, metals. And I help each and every client design their wall art or custom album start to finish. No more guessing what sizes will look good on your wall. No more sending images to a crummy online lab to get a mediocre photo book, that looks nothing like the original images, and best of all NO MORE CD’S sitting in drawers! You guys, I couldn’t be happier to be doing this for you. It makes my heart soar, and I know it does yours too. Here’s some previews of some of our most amazing products you can expect when you book a session with me.
It seems like the babies come in seasons for me, and recently I had several all in the same week. Can I just say right now how much I adore shooting newborns <3 As my own babies get older and older, I just crave the squishy cuddling that I get while working with these gorgeous babes. This little one is the youngest of 7! Yes seven! Her mama is a total rock star. And this little one was absolutely perfect in the studio. Just quiet, mellow, and sleepy. And hello gorgeous! To say I enjoyed having her over for a couple hours would be an understatement. Now on to the pretty baby photos.
One of the number one questions that I get asked, “but what should we wear?” And really it’s a valid question, because what you decide to wear to your photo session makes a HUGE difference in the final product that you end up with! Clothing choices absolutely help tell a story. Here in these farm photos I wanted a country feel, but I still wanted my kids to be comfy, not overdressed, and definitely looking for timeless in these photos. I knew exactly where I wanted to hang them in my house BEFORE I took even one photo. Making those decisions early really help create a product that you will love for years to come <3 Notice that we have no logos, no words on shirts, and a really specific color pallet. I chose these because I knew they will match the decor and overall vibe of the room I’m planning on hanging them in. Even in 20 years, these simple clothing choices will still be timeless. And hopefully these kids won’t be cringing when they look at themselves as kids and saying “mom what in the heck did you make me wear!” Like I did to my mom in the 80’s hahahaha.
When we work together we are creating art. I’m the painter, you guys are the canvas… but the paint colors, that’s up to you! The clothes you wear will decide the overall feel of the photo. I always say to match the feel of your home, because ultimately that’s where you will be viewing your new art piece. Is your home light, airy and colorful? Well then you should probably consider those words when choosing your clothes. Is your home traditional and formal? Then definitely consider dressing up to help match the decor of your home. You get the idea! This helpful blog post from Click Magazine will help clear up some confusion on that one huge question, what should we wear?
There are also some super great shopping links in here too! And I mean who doesn’t want to shop for new pretty things?
Link to full article: http://www.clickinmoms.com/click/the-style-guide-how-wardrobe-can-make-or-break-your-pictures
And then some of the highlights!
Some dos and some don’ts (but more dos)
There are definitely some rules to using fashion to it’s greatest potential in photographs. Let’s start with some YESSES.
YES to timeless and classic. This includes:
- simple dresses
- button downs
- baby rompers
- pea coats
- ballet flats
- brown knee high boots
YES to trendy items. But keep them small, like accents if you will. And if possible, keep them timeless, too — like animal prints, military-inspired pieces, sequins, wrap dresses, patterned clothing, little black dresses, etc. If you have a child who is totally into the trends of the year, try to steer him/her into choosing a trendy accessory item, like a headband, scarf, or hat, so you can remove it at some point in the session and get a few classic pics, too!
YES to mixing it up with different patterns — checks, plaids, stripes are all okay! Keep them on a smaller scale if you are trying to style a group. You don’t want loud patterns to take attention away from anyone but play with the large scaled patterns if you are trying to make a funky, loud, and colorful portrait of an individual!
YES to keeping it real. I have never gone out and bought something special for a shoot and I tell my clients they don’t need to either. I can guarantee you that there is already something in your closet that will work perfectly. Keeping it comfy is key, too. Anything stiff and too formal will translate so in the picture, especially for kids. Keep the dresses and boys clothes in soft cottons or flannels. Not only will they be more relaxed in these types of items, but these materials photograph better, too. They don’t get wrinkled or look too starchy, know what I mean?
Okay! So now we are onto the NOS. I hate to be negative, but some of these nos can really break a picture. There are not many rules here, but the ones I have picked I consider important to follow.
NO logo wording on clothing. No “GAP,” “Old Navy,” or “POLO” splashed in huge letters across a shirt. Sorry, but this is never okay. When shopping for your family, just stay away from this trend all together and you will never have this issue. If consulting with a client, please make sure you bring this up. It can truly ruin a photograph. Your eye will go straight to those words, therefore deeming them the most important part of the picture!
NO to little newborn babies in starchy, frilly, or detailed outfits. And no jeans! Babies don’t wear jeans. These outfits make baby drown in the material and they can easily get lost in the photo. Keep babies in a simple onesie or soft cotton rompers. Also, make sure that all of baby’s clothes fit perfectly. I stress this to my newborn parents. Sometimes I even suggest sizing down in their onesie if they have just grown into that next size because usually that new size is still too big on them.
NO to matchy-matchy. Just no. A group of people in all the exact same outfit is boring, strange, and very 1995. Right? I don’t think this needs much more explanation.
Now where do I find some awesome clothes and accessories? Don’t worry we’ve got ya covered. More from the article at Click magazine below!
Where to Shop
Our world is essentially one big store everywhere we turn and so many choices. So which stores can you find the best clothing pertaining to what we talked about here? Here are some of my favorites and what they offer and what their price points are (refer to the key for pricing info):
- $ Bargain finds
- $$ Not cheap, but do-able
- $$$ Paycheck blown
Nordstrom Rack: Nordy Rack has some great finds and carries some solid brands, like Peek and Tea. (Side note: Peek is awesome for finding shirts with cool quotes). They also have some amazing shoe racks. And their clearance racks can blow your mind sometimes. I won’t shop full price, like ever, so to the Rack I often go. $$
Janie & Jack: Oh my goodness, the wonder of Janie and Jack for those very special pieces that are classic and timeless and precious all rolled up in one. Beautiful coats, 50’s inspired swimwear, fedoras, capelets… the list goes on and on. But you pay. A lot. $$$
Crewcuts: Okay, I will admit it here, I am a Crewcut fanatic. I just can’t get enough. It’s fun, spunky, colorful, stripy, glittery, sassy, modern but classic. I am just such a fan. I never ever buy this stuff full price though because unfortunately it is quite pricey. It pays to subscribe to their mailing list for notice of sales. They have really solid sales quite often, like 40% off clearance. Really awesome! But regular priced stuff? $$$
Target: Yes, I am a sucker for Tarjay, too. But you know why? Because they tend to rip off Crewcuts! I can’t tell you how many times I have bought something JCrew inspired from there and tricked other Crewcuts fans. It’s the best. $$
In fact this whole outfit is from Target! And I mean, well he’s adorable so….
Boutique Consignment Stores: I am a huge consignment shopper. I believe recycling clothes is best for the environment and best for my pocketbook. I seek out the stores where the least expensive brand they accept is Gap. It saves me time sorting through a lot of junk and some of the brands I find are amazing, like Marc Jacobs, Burberry, and Vince. This stuff isn’t marked cheap, but the condition the clothes are in and the quality of the pieces make it worth it. $$
This sweet little dress was found at a kids consignment store. It would have been big bucks new, but I found it for under $20! The hat is from the dollar store of all places, and the little lace coat is from my closet, and I shared so nicely with my cute little one.
Garage Sales: Dig and you shall find. $
Once Upon a Child: This is a chain store consignment store. If you dig here, you can come up with just as amazing brands as boutique consignments. I have found many Crewcuts, Janie and Jack, and Matilda Jane for practically pennies. Great place for accessories, too! $
Aritzia: I love this place for it’s modern, yet simple clothing with really beautiful, neutral palettes of color. $$$
ASOS: Awesome online store for all different types of trendy clothing. You can find everything from shoes to coats to party dresses. They offer petites, too! $$
Boutiques: Boutiques can be awesome for finding those special one-of-a-kind pieces. But again… $$$ (sigh)
And for same reasons stated above:
Nordstrom Rack: $$
H&M/Zara/Forever 21: You can find awesome accessories for women at these places! $$
Boutique Consignment Stores: $$
My favorites for Men:
Target (Merona Brand): $$
Nordstrom Rack: $$
Banana Republic: $$-$$$
Urban Outfitters: $$
I hope some of these ideas and thoughts help when pondering: “Whatever shall I wear?”
Family sessions may be the type of session dearest to my heart. Family is the whole reason I started Nicole Ratliff Photography 7 years ago. My family is my world, and I know it’s yours too, and that’s why you’re reading this right now. I love watching kids grow, families interact, and I especially love capturing the real true connection between families. My approach to shooting family sessions is casual and laid back. I love to see real moments between siblings, and parents alike. The in between moments of a session are always my favorite, and it’s my job to wait and watch for those special little interactions. Here is a list of the questions I get asked most often about booking a family session with me.
1. How soon should we book our session?
Fall and back to school is when everyone suddenly realizes that the year is ending quickly and Christmas gifts, and Christmas card season is quickly approaching. The kids have all moved up a grade in school, and we realize Ackkkkk, the time is moving too fast! August-November are my absolute busiest times. If you are interested in booking a session during this time, it’s best to contact me 2-3 months before hand to make sure you get the date you are hoping for. And Weekend dates always fill the quickest. I hate turning people away, so the sooner we can get you on the books, the better! I do shoot select weekday dates also. Please send me an email to inquire about available dates. Nicole Ratliff Photography is available by appointment only. Dates are secured with a retainer and contract.
2. What time are your sessions?
I am a lover of light, and I don’t use artificial lighting for my outdoor sessions. Because of this, I always shoot 1-2 hours prior to sunset. This gives me the yummiest light! I know that this may affect naps and dinner times, but it’s only for one day, and in order for me to achieve the same quality of images you see in my portfolio, this provides the most optimal light and time for us!
3. Will you help us with our outfits? I really need help with putting my outfits together.
Yes I will! I am here for you to help you out put your outfits together. I will send you a clothing guide by email or pinterest, and will be there for you to help your coordinate everything. I also have some fun shopping links for online ideas if you are looking to purchase new things for our photo shoot. I consider it a part of my job to help make sure that your vision becomes a reality, and turns into beautiful art to hang on your walls. This process starts at the very beginning!
4. Are the sessions always going to be candid or posed?
I do offer gentle posing suggestions throughout our session, mostly this is done in the beginning of our session until everyone is feeling comfortable. I know it feels strange not to be posed exactly, but the best photos really come when everyone is being themselves! I love capturing the in between moments of a family interacting. Mom kissing baby cheeks, Dad tossing a toddler in the air, and kids laughing and tickling.
5. What if I only need a couple of shots? Would you do a mini-session?
Since my style is very much based on observation and story telling, a mini-session is not something that is regularly available. I want to be able to offer a full story for your family, and minis give us too much time constraints, which then does not produce a relax environment.
Occasionally, I do offer mini sessions, but they are still not going to be the same compared to a full family session. A mini-session is a great way to take a peek of how things work with my style. Think of mini-sessions as a sampler for a full session. My minis are always 20 minutes long, and are grouped with 3 or 4 other families on the same day . It’s a little bit more traditional as most mini-session clients are looking for posed photos, usually for Christmas cards, and if there’s time available still, then we will try to add some candid images. If you would like something more relaxed and will convey a better story, please book a full family session.
6. Do you ever shoot at your clients’ homes?
I do! I offer documentary day in the life sessions. During these sessions, I will come to your home, or any place that you would like to have your activity at, and I will spend the next 2-3 hours with you. Unposed, unscripted, and real! Your home does not need to be a mansion. Your ordinary everyday is beautiful, I promise!
7. Does your session fee include digitals?
My session fee includes a session up to 1 hour, and a presentation of 30-50 images, but not the rights to print for the digitals. The digital images with print rights can be purchased via packages. I offer a variety of packages, from digital only to digital + prints. All digital files include a print release so that you can print them through your choice of print labs.
8. Can we print through you?
Yes! I highly encouraged that you do. Along with your session fee, you also receive my help with design consultation, and a small credit to apply to ordering your print package. As great as the benefits of having digital files are, we can only guarantee that you are going to receive the best quality of your heirloom images if you print through me. A CD of images does not look as awesome sitting on your desk, and a big beautiful fine art image hanging in your living room <3
9. Can we tag ourselves on the sneak peeks? And who decides what will be the sneak peek?
I highly ENCOURAGE that you tag yourself on the sneak peeks! The only things that I do ask is that filters to not be applied to your images. The sneak peeks are complimentary from me, and I pick the images that are my favorites from your session! I do ask that you do not print your sneak peeks. They are optimized for web only, and are not meant to be printed.
10. We would really love to have you photograph our family, but we want to figure out first if this is in the budget. Do you offer any discounts?
Currently, all I have is a military discount of 10%. I do offer a payment plan. Simply book a session with your $200.00 session fee, pick a package, and you have free reign on how many ways you’d like to divide the remainder of your package fee. Final installment is due one week prior to your session.
11. Will you be taking individual photos of each child? How about one of me and my spouse?
The beauty of the full sessions is that we do have enough time for individual shots of each child! This includes more traditional shots, down to more lifestyle and detail oriented shots. At the end of the session, I love to finish off with photos of just the parents!
12. What if it’s overcast? Will we reschedule?
I don’t reschedule for overcast sessions. To the contrary, overcast sessions actually produce nice dramatic lighting. I only reschedule sessions for rain, and occasionally for extreme wind.
13. Will you be using props? I love the ones from pinterest! Do you provide them?
I love focusing more on light and emotion, so props are not something I use with my style. I do bring a quilt every now and then for us to use to sit down on.
Nicole Ratliff Photography is now booking family sessions for the remainder of 2016 – Spring 2017. To book, send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
All pricing can be found under investments.