Posts in families
What moms really want out of family photo sessions with Millie

This is apart of a series! This is part 1.

It’s no surprise that most of the families who come to me for photos start with the mom’s desire to get family photos. I think I’ve only had a handful of dads in the last 12 years who have wanted to surprise their wives or just really want photos of their family.

I had one family where the dad didn’t have a lot of photos growing up so he really values family photos now that he has his own family.

I sat down with a good friend, Millie, to chat about the desires of moms to have these family photos. What makes a good family photo and what are some things that moms really want out of their family photos. Millie has three kids and recently has gone through some changes with her body that makes her not like photos of herself.

What I’m so proud of her is that this hasn’t stopped her from getting family photos! If you’re going through a period of time where you’re feeling self-conscience about your body don’t let it stop you from taking family photos. <<Spoiler alert…keep reading>>>

So we sat down, like I do with all my families, and talked about what she wanted to get out of her family photos, the WHY of her wanting family photos.

Let’s take a quick break to talk about how often you should get family photos!

Click on the image to see it bigger!

Watch a short clip about what

Millie thinks drives people

to get family photos

We want to be captured in our best memories. We want to remember when we were happy because it’s been really hard. I think that’s really what people want. People want to see a photo that says, you looked at me that one time or we were happy that one time, I think that’s what people want.
— Millie (awesome person, wife, and mom of three)

I also love what Millie said about this project:

“It started with a phone call to my college bestie. I had been spoiled in my acting career working with top notch photographers who knew how to get my best photo. They knew how to give directions and I, luckily, had a degree in following directions. I was also spoiled in how healthy my body was.


Now my heart is 3 kids fuller, but I wasn't having the same experience I had with family photos that I had back when I was acting. Not that we have bad family photos from the past! It was just a very *different* experience then before I had kids. Was it me? Is it my three monkeys? Is it the extra weight I carry from a hormonal situation that's management has gone about as smoothly as an ancient wooden rollercoaster? I didn't know.

But I kept thinking, surely, we could get a photo of me with the kids that captures me looking as good as I FEEL when we are together.


Photographers have so much to manage at once! It's not an easy job to get people to be relaxed AND happy. I wanted to understand their perspective and learn how to be an active participant in the process of creating our family photos. I knew @kaitlinroten would be able to help me understand where the photographer is coming from, why they think some photos are better then others, a reality check, and how I can communicate my wants/needs to collaborate better for awesome family photos that I knew were possible!


Lucky for me, she did that and so much more. I can't wait to share it with you.”

Via her instagram here

So the challenge is, how am I going to portray Millie’s family so that years down the road people looking at the photos see their little kids and remembered how much they loved each other WHILE AT THE SAME TIME flattering Millie in the photos so that she didn’t feel like she was choosing just photos of just her kids or just photos where her kids looked nice and she was in an unflattering pose.

Millie and I had a very raw conversation about the areas of her body she feels insecure. We also talked about ways we could pose her with her family so that she LOVED the way she looked. I insisted on hiring a professional for makeup. I had a great conversation with my local makeup artist that I use and she said that makeup isn’t trying to hide anything, it’s accentuating your already great features. I also knew that this move would make getting ready less stressful and make Millie have more self-confidence!

Makeup isn’t trying to hide anything, it’s accentuating your already great features.
— Christina Singh (Dallas hair and make-up artist)

We specifically talked about how I like to use prompts to get families more relaxed in their photoshoots. So I might say, “think of a time you were really proud of your son and tell him about it”. It produces GREAT reactions out of people but sometimes being lost in the moment you might pull your chin down and get unwanted necklines or tuck your arms in too close to your body and squish out your arms too much. I told Millie to watch the angle of her neck, twist at her torso, and always leave a little space in between her arms and her body. Like always, during the session, I always give feedback if posing needs to be tweaked.

So with our conversation, we left it off at we should have an in home photo shoot! Having an in-home photoshoot is hard work before the shoot - you do have to declutter and clean - just a tiny bit of space. The benefits are advantageous! You get access to toys, bathrooms, snacks, kid’s natural environments, you don’t have to reschedule because of the weather! So after listening to Millie I felt like doing an in-home photoshoot will be the best option for her family!

Here are some teaser behind the scenes photos of make-up and a headshot of Millie!

Here are some teaser behind the scenes photos of make-up and a headshot of Millie!

Next I’ll share about the in-home shoot, Millie’s feelings about the shoot,, some of the photos, and then we will wait to hear what Millie thought about the photos!

Millie and me! 😍😍😍

Millie and me! 😍😍😍

What to do with your favorite photos

Have you found your favorite photos?

I love not being weighed down by the thought of how many photos are on my phone. Your kids are the MOST PHOTOGRAPHED generation of all time! I remember when my son (who is 8) was born we didn’t have camera phones and so compared to my daughter (born just 3 1/2 years later) there are thousands more photos of her!

So what are your plans for all those photos?

You might want to start with my phone photos makeover. Want the tips? Click here! It will walk you through the best practices to get those photos more organized and actually save the ones that are worth it.

Here are some ideas of what you can do with 10 of your favorite photos!

Gallery wall!

Here are some designs that will help inspire you.

I would give this some thought as to which type of gallery fits your home and your personality better. After you’ve thought about that just pick your favorite 10 photos! You will LOVE seeing them larger than your phone screen. I promise! Don’t overthink this part. Just pick your favorite nine that have a good balance between all of your kids - you don’t want one kid dominating over the other. Just pick photos that spark joy. They greatest thing about using frames is that when you get a different favorite you can just update the photo in the frame! So you are not committing to this photo forever.

Where should you get your frames? I always suggest buying frames with acrylic instead of glass so that when your kids kick the soccer ball the acrylic won’t shatter! For consumers I’d suggest Artifact uprising. They have an easy tutorial of how to update your frames with new photos.

Have you been wanting a gallery wall but the thought of it totally overwhelms you? You don’t know what arrangement you want or maybe you do know but you don’t want to add another thing to your honey-do-list with installation all of those photos? Contact me and I can schedule a free consultation to getting a family photo gallery in your home in less than 30 days ——- using those favorite photos on your phone! Just mention you want to a free consultation to put a photo gallery wall up in your home. Psst! I’ll install it for you with the purchase of three or more wall products!

A Calendar

Wouldn’t it be great if all year round you had a favorite photo to look at, and a different photo each month? Artifact Uprising has these great brass calendars that can sit on your kitchen counter, end table, or make a great addition to an office. Guess what??? You can choose the starting month of the calendar so in the middle of the year purchase this! How great is that?

Display Box

Do you get tired of looking at the same photos? Do you like to switch up your decor? My husband and I love to rearrange the furniture of our house! For this exact reason I actually don’t have a wall gallery in my house but a photo ledge that I can switch out the photos! You can achieve this but purchasing your favorite photos and putting the non display in a box. There are two different options for this. One is from Artifact Uprising and you can see a photo on the front of the box while the others hang out in the back. There is room for 50 of your favorite photos!

There are also keepsake boxes that would make a great way to keep your favorite photos on hand!

Pro tip: You should get MOUNTED 5x7 prints to go inside this. Mounted prints will withstand many people touching them and bringing them out of the box. Get those at mpix too! Mpix is a consumer company to the professional company I use for my business.

Pro tip: You should get MOUNTED 5x7 prints to go inside this. Mounted prints will withstand many people touching them and bringing them out of the box. Get those at mpix too! Mpix is a consumer company to the professional company I use for my business.

Chat Books

Want an easy solution that will get photos into your kids hands? Try Chatbooks! They’re so easy, cute, and I often see my kids flipping through them or reliving our adventures by showing them off to guests!

Chat Books. Really easy but not awesome quality.  A great way to get your photos printed in a book and into the hands of your kids. They're durable and cheap! I just made a book from summer of our family's 30 favorite photos. Get $5 off your first chatbook with the code "FIVECB"! PRICE: $10+shipping or a subscription service. They have an app where you just favorite your photos and then the print one photo per page. It’s designed to be VERY simple not flashy. This way you can see your photos and not have to flip through the thousands on your phone!

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Does all of that seem overwhelming to you? Start a FREE consultation with me to clean up the thousands of phone photos and get your favorite photos in print in your home. I’ll start by asking you about your favorite photos, any ideas how you want them displayed, give you options how to display them best to fit in your style, you can purchase what you like, and then I’ll install anything that goes onto the wall.

Spring Time Bright Colors Family Session at Arbor Hills!

There is a trend right now to bring down the green and yellow saturation in photos - but I LOVE GREEN! I just can’t get away from it. It’s so bright and colorful! They just scream HAPPINESS to me! I think that happy photos are what we want in our homes, right? Seeing photos of your family on display in your homes help you love and appreciate them even more, they serve as a reminder to do this!

I don’t usually recommend having a family photo session at Arbor Hills because of the photographer crowds but our weather has been so RAINY that our first location didn’t pan out because it was too wet. I don’t think I can say it never rains in Texas anymore! It sure feels like that in comparison to the East coast though. I have may memories of weeks of rain in Virginia. So Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano it was and it did not disappoint. Really the only reason I suggest other close locations to Carrollton and Plano is because how busy with other photographers it is! I really love how my family photos turn out here!

Check out my nature photo location list of the North Dallas area

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I love these black frames with white mats! They look so amazing!! The black brings out the darker tones of the photo and then the white mats make it look museum quality. Black frames are a great option for have a classy look to your family photos. Black frames will never go out of style. Classy but simple.

This is the Nurre family, with mom and dad, brothers, and grandpa and grandma who also made an appearance. I photographed their youngest at preschool. This year I came back to photograph the older kids at extended care and I shared that I’d be taking their family photos in a few weeks. The kids didn’t believe me so they quizzed me by asking what their last name was. I have a photographic memory (did you guess that?) so I knew how to spell their last name I just never thought about how to say it. Well I mispronounced it (I thought the “e” was silent!) so they didn’t believe me!

I have a list of places to eat after family photo sessions with playgrounds so that families can relax after sessions while the kids play (click right here if you’re interested!) but I LOVE how this family was going to have fresh raspberries as a treat afterwards! Yummm!! I think I could eat four pounds of raspberries by myself.

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Headshots

At the end of my family sessions I always offer complimentary headshots! They aren’t obviously studio style but I love people’s response when I show them the back of my camera. Ohhhh and ahhhhh. I usually tell people beforehand that I’m going to have them stand and do things with their arms and torso that seems REALLY weird. If they feel weird then they’re totally doing it right! I wanted to show you an example of what I mean.

There is a slight difference between the two photos above but the photos on the left makes the beautiful momma appear slimmer! It’s a camera trick! The difference? Including the negative space of the background in the bottom right of the photo. You don’t normally stand like this but if you put your front hand on your hip it makes that space and then JUST slightly lean download toward that front elbow. You feel completely ridiculous but you look “ohhhhh” and “ahhh”. I also took out that ugly weed in the bottom left, those Texas weeds can be brutal with those spikes!

One 16x20 with a 11x14 mounted matte print with two 11x14s with a 8x10 mounted print. Makes a great entryway display with all Black Frames.

One 16x20 with a 11x14 mounted matte print with two 11x14s with a 8x10 mounted print. Makes a great entryway display with all Black Frames.

Session location: Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano, Texas

Russ Adoption with Hope and Kyle: Introducing Josiah Russ!

Born back in November, Kyle and Hope Russ are celebrating the official adoption of Josiah Russ today!

For about six months Hope and Kyle haven’t been able to share any photos of this cute little guy…until now! I really love the symbolism of these photos that I got in the courthouse, you can’t see Josiah’s face. It’s like waiting in ANTICIPATION…what does his face look like?!! It was my first courthouse adoption - so cool! The judge asked the family members several questions like “are you going to love this son like your own?” To the grandparents, “Are you going to spoil this child like you do your other grandkids?” It was very cute, fun, and lighthearted. The Russ’ were SO happy - it was definitely a celebration! The courthouse even has a GIGANTIC trunk filled with stuffed animals for kids to take one home!

court house adoption ft worth texas

Here is what you’ve been waiting for! This little guy! Introducing Josiah Russ!

Josiah Russ

It poured rain on the way to Ft. Worth and we were really excited when the rain stopped for us to take a few family photos right across the street from the courthouse. It was very sweet to see the Russ’ other two boys interact with baby Josiah. During the courthouse hearing the judge also asked their oldest son (5) if he was going to be a good big brother and share his toys. We all know the right answer and he pulled through saying YES! You never know what kids are going to say!

new brothers adoption in ft worth

Hope is going to be so embarrassed for me to tell you all the reasons why she’s the BEST MOM! I’ll just tell one thing. At preschool this year she had her two boys go on opposite days so that she could have one on one time with the other. That in my book is the definition of great mom. How many of us have ever even thought of that? ha!

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Celebrating with Kyle and Hope were Kyle’s parents who live in Carrollton, Texas. It was so great to see everyone so happy! This is one of my most favorite parts about being a photographer. I get to share these REALLY special moments with people! You can also tell how amazing they are because they said it was so nice to share the time with me! No one has ever said that to me photographing their special event, thank you so very much!

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I’m really digging posting outtakes from me session - that are reasonable - no one wants to see your evil eyes. But these ones are too funny. I love Josiah’s face in this one. It’s borderline grumpy man but also starring in wonder at his oldest brother.

family photo outtakes

And we can’t have family photos with toddlers without one of them putting their hands down their pants. I think I have the exact same photo of my son at this age. I think the only thing that wouldn’t made this outtake even better would’ve been Josiah dribbling spit up in Kyle’s face - probably should be grateful that didn’t happen!

So happy for your family of FIVE!!!

Welcome to the Russ family, Josiah!

family photo album mock up

So what do you do with photos from special events like this? I think the best thing that would make sense would be a photo album. My photo albums used pearl heavy paper and the cover is a vegan leather.

The paper is so sturdy that it can be thumbed through by kids for years to come and withstand that beating. Albums are a great way for little kids to see how important they are in your family! I have a lot of memories of my son going through a family album and learning all of our family member’s names. My daughter loves how she can relive memories, she swears she remembers when she was four months old…the magic of photos, ha!

Here’s to many years to come

reliving this very special celebration!

A Cheat Sheet for Acrylic Frames

The professional framing community is mostly using acrylic instead of glass these days.

Why you ask?

It’s cheaper to ship, shatterproof, and is not as heavy to bend and bow your frame or photos; to name just a few reasons. My families and school families are curious the best way to care for acrylic because this might be their first acrylic frame purchase. Here is a cheat sheet so you can reference the best ways to care for your frames.

acrylic frames cheat sheet kaitlin roten photography dallas family photographer

It seems like I spend at least ten minutes a frame wiping down so that all the dust goes away before it reaches your eyes. So I have a ton of experience getting those frames just perfect for you. If you ever want to update your frames clean the area that you will work on the frame first. The best space in my house is my oversized ottoman. I always vacuum the ottoman before I open any frame boxes! I also lay down a sheet of packaging material as an extra layer of protection from dust.

Once I helped a family update a frame and they laid the acrylic on the floor. The acrylic was crawling with SO MUCH DUST that the only option was to take it to the sink and give it a good water bath. I then wiped it down with a lint free cloth.

You might be interested in reading more about the 411 on acrylic frames and comparing it to glass! Head over here to read about that…

Frame Sizes Displayed and Explained

Have you ever wondered about how to choose the best size of frame for your wall? I’m going to explain the different sizing along with some cropping issues you might not be aware of.

Here are the different sizes of framing that are standard and that I offer. This gives you a good perspective on sizing so that you can buy the right size so that it looks the best on your wall. Even better, you can even send me a photo of your wall so that I can size your wall gallery specifically to your wall!

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All of my frames come with the mats so that is also something that you need to consider. If you are wanting to put 8x10s or 5x7s on your wall I suggest no mat because for the 8x10 frame the print size is 5x7 and for the 5x7 frame the print size is 4x6. Kinda small for a wall gallery. But if those same frame sizes are going up on a photo ledge or bookcase then mat or no mat, it’s up to you. I generally prefer the mats for the bigger frames because I think it gives a finished look. I hope this also gives you a perspective that BIGGER IS BETTER! That 8x10 on a lone wall looks pretty silly.


You might be interested in reading my four mistakes in hanging wall art here!

Cropping

This is a tad confusing but with instagram square crops you will be familiar with this a little. Obviously if you want square photo product some of the image will have to be cropped. The red line indicates which portion of the photo will be printed. So obviously with a square crop you can’t get all of the photo. This photo would totally work, it’s just your preference if you want the whole photo printed. Cropping is a bit more complicated because cameras and standard product sizing aren’t the same ratio. So what that means is that some of the standard product sizing means you’ll have to crop some of your image. Normally your photographer will do this for you so you won’t be involved but sometimes it gets a tad tricky.

Here are the sizes that you get your FULL photo printed: 4x6, 6x9, 8x12, 10x15, 12x18, 16x24, 20x30, 24x36

You’ll notice that those sizes above are not NORMAL frame sizes! Just to make it a tad confusing, right?

So if your photo product is ANYTHING besides those sizes (and they were shot with a regular camera) than some portion of the photo will be cropped off. It’s important to know in some circumstances.

What about if you have a specific spot and your photo needs to have a different crop orientation? For instance, if you have need a horizontal photo but you love the vertical one.

By the way - this is a HUGE communication thing you need to tell your photographer before the shoot! I remember the very fist school that I photographed a mom asked if I could change the crop orientation of her child’s photos because she has a whole wall of horizontal photos and I only photographed vertically. Since then I try to get both orientations but I think I’m more heavy on the vertical photo orientation…no idea why!

You might have some options if you need to change the orientation. Photos that are closer in crop (meaning the subject fills more of the photo) are harder to change crop orientation. This one could work, just depends on your liking of the crop and the other photos paired with it. I also think it depends on the size of the photo product you’re getting this for. Would he want his face HUGE like 20x30? Probably not.

But as an 8x10 his face wouldn’t be as huge :)

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If your subject doesn’t take up as much room in the photo, like there is a lot of extra space, then the changing the orientation of the crop might not be as severe like this example…

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That’s a basic as I think you need to know as the consumer! One thing I would again say is COMMUNICATE with your photographer if you need something specific beforehand!

Happy Texas State Wildflower Day! Family Portraits with Bluebonnets

April 24th is the official Texas State Wildflower Day!

Here are some bluebonnets trivia if you’re ever on Jeopardy!

  • Did you know that as the bluebonnet ages one of the top petals turns purple-red? Some of them shrivel (probably because of the heat!) before getting the purple-red tip. So I guess if you see that claim yourself lucky?

  • Some main species of bluebonnets ONLY GROW in Texas! That’s something that Texans can sure be proud of!

  • There are NO laws against picking bluebonnets in Texas according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, but there are laws against damaging or destroying government property. This could include picking bluebonnets on the side of the road. It’s just common curtesy to be nice and save the bluebonnets for everyone to enjoy!

One of my favorite spots in North Dallas to photograph bluebonnets is the JCPenny’s headquarters. That’s my go-to-place this time of year and it didn’t disappoint.

When families show up who’ve followed my style guide it is THE BEST THING EVER. This family’s style was on point! I love how Jennifer, the mom, referenced it and I noticed when her family showed up in the most perfectly styled outfits. I love her navy jumpsuit and the layering of some of her kid’s clothes. Jamie (the dad!) did a great job keeping it clean looking but casual at the same time.

——-what’s my style guide??? After booking, I mail each family a detailed 20-page magazine that goes into detail about what to expect, what to bring, what to wear, where to shop, how to hire for hair and make-up. The addition for this year was suggestions of how to style your session to fit in your home. What products look best in your home, how to pick clothes based off of your home colors, etc.

The below gallery would make the perfect addition to a large wall. It is great because it incorporates a variety of different groupings of family members. Just remember in your home to always try to style your photos with plants. The added touch of the plant on the coffee table and beside the couch is a great example. Especially with these very spring like photos! It’s an added bonus of having plants in your home near your photos.

Family portraits in Plano Texas with perfect spring outfits

While I don’t sell ready made configurations of gallery walls, this configuration is very versatile. Parents love it because they can get a large family and sibling photo and spotlight individual kids in the smaller frames. The rest of the spaces can be filled with mom and dad photos, another sibling photo, and another family photo. It makes it visually interesting when the large products are filled with posed shots and then the coordinating smaller products of the same family groupings are filled with casual shots (or vice versa!).

The best compliment is that there are just “too many” good photos! yah! So a large wall gallery like this can accommodate for you to put all that you love up on your wall to love and appreciation the ones closest in your life even more.

One last design tip about this specific gallery is that it also looks very nice on the wall going up the staircase, just slightly rearranged. The only thing I would change would be to make the mom and dad photo a tad larger for the end to balance the upwards design.

plano texas family wall gallery with bluebonnet family photos

Jennifer and I were also talking about down the road when she wants to update family photos these framed photos will look nice dispersed around the house in different groupings.

Location: JCPenny’s Headquarters Spring season

Survival Tips for the working Mom

Raising kids AND working can feel like this…

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It can be tricky but you’ll need to have a few tricks up your sleeve to battle all the things you have to get done.

I meet a LOT of moms so I asked their best tricks to staying sane and getting everything done. Here is what they’ve said…

Julianna (her kids were my FAVORITE models for a school model call I did!) said…

“Stay as organized as possible is a lifesaver. Use a calendar and a planner for events/activities. Set reminders and alarms on {your} phone for al events. Make sure to take regular sanity breaks with friends and significant other are CRITICAL to survival!!”

Tiffany (she’s with her kids during the day and her husband is with them at night…)

“I work part time so we really have no free time. The only way that things can work is for us to share responsibilities. Communicate with your spouse about how to share the burden of household responsibilities. My husband and I alternate meal planning every week. Whoever’s turn it is will pick the meals and write the grocery list and we will shop on the weekend together so one person doesn’t have to shop with both kids. We try to prep as much as we can ahead of time. 
We both will tag team laundry.”

Many moms agree (me too!) that exercise is key! See here is me exercising with my kids. There are SO many options of exercising with your kids so if you’re short on time you can try that tactic out too!

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Katie Predergast says,

“Don’t cut out personal time to do what feeds your soul, no matter how busy you are.
Schedule everything and stick to the plan. Say “no” to things you don’t want or don’t need to do. Ask for help/hire help.”

This is GOLD. I think the world would be a better place if more people said no to things. Saying no to things is saying yes to other things, like more time with your family.

Adrienne Scott said something really good,

“Having "people" in your corner makes a huge difference. Momming can be isolating, despite what I planned before having kids. Being able to be real and share with others is a real necessity for me. Getting enough sleep, adequate sleep makes the biggest difference.”

Something that was pretty universal was doing things to make dinner easier. This was using crockpot recipes, insta pot, and the thing that was said most of all was GROCERY PICK UP! Don’t feel guilty over using these modern technology conveniences!

Have you tried grocery pick up? Or any of these tips? I’d love to hear below!

Should you buy new outfits for your session?
Style Guide Cover

My style guide (which comes in the mail to you before your session) goes over some serious details about what they best colors and clothes are that look best on camera.

Gone are the days of everyone wears the same thing. The idea is for your family to look natural, but styled so that all the colors look great together.

So should you buy new outfits for the session?

Most of my families do in some aspect buy something new for the session.

After you’ve received your style guide, you should look to see what you already own. I’m not one to waste, so I’d hate for you to buy something if you already have something you could wear. I think buying something new attributes to family photos as being special.

Once you’ve seen if you actually need to buy something, you can see if you can incorporate things you already own into your session.

Accessories are a great addition and you might already have something that could add that extra wow piece to your session. Accessories are also a great thing to ask to borrow. Chances are your friends won’t be needing that necklace the time of your session and they will be more than happy to lend it to you. They probably will feel special that you asked!

Necklace accessory for photo shoot

Many women are more than happy to use this as an excuse to rent something from Rent the Runway. I have some examples here on my blog of options. CLICK HERE TO SEE

What about this one for a spring session?

The KIDS

What about your kids? My kid’s clothes are usually pretty beat up so in my case I always buy new clothes for them. The secret? Once Upon a Child. Besides saving money (obviously!) I love that place for photo shoot clothes because they are sorted by COLOR! I already know what color scheme I’m working with and I’m in and out in a matter of minutes! It’s seriously the best! The even have kid’s shoes, which can be tricky to have for a photo session.

Target also has some great affordable options for the kids.

The MEN

My thing that I stress for guys is wearing pants. Now I’m not talking about skinny pants exclusively because not all guys can pull the skinny pants off. In fact, if your guy has muscular legs, don’t do the skinny pants! Go for the fitted pants that can be found at most stores. You can also rent stylish clothing items for your guy from The Black Tux (more than just tuxes). I’d suggest renting if your guy doesn’t have to wear the clothes again for work or going out. If he’s not going to wear them again then you should rent or BORROW! Here is a really details post about what the guys should wear. You can also read a funny story about my husband borrow an item for a photo shoot

Intimidated by Photo Session

Are you intimidated by a photo session?

Does the thought of getting your photos taken make you sweat in your armpits?

You’re totally not alone. In fact, I think it’s REALLY AWKWARD to get my photo taken. It’s really comfortable to be on the back side of the camera for me but when I’m the subject - I totally get the sweats. I think it’s so weird having the lens pointed at ME! You can see yourself in the lens and that makes it even MORE awkward! Yikes!

awkward photo

I’ve tried to think of EVERYTHING that might bring you anxiety and I want to ease your fears so you know it’s not as scary as you’re thinking. I’ve included the answers to these questions in my style magazine that you receive when you book a session with me.

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I have to remind myself this every time I’m getting my photos taken - the person taking your photo is NOT starring at your FACE while they’re looking through the camera.

So what is a photographer doing?

You’ll see me first hold my camera down and fix all the settings because I shoot in total manual mode. At this point I’m not even thinking of you, honestly, I’m thinking about all the technical things of my camera to get a crisp and perfectly exposed photo. THEN I’m thinking about how to communicate how to set up the shot.

Where will you stand, who will stand/sit with you, how should you stand, where should you put your hands, what should you do with your head and where should you look. So I’m doing this for every person in the photo.

Next, after you’re approximately how I want you to be for the photo I’ll bring my camera up to my eye and put everything in focus - and then give some sort of prompt to get your relaxed and warmed up. Some of my favorites are “walk toward the camera, look at each other, and talk about really yucky flavors of ice cream…like PICKLE ice cream!” Something like that.

When I have my eye up to the camera I’m totally not starring at your face - that would bring me anxiety. I’m making sure that everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do to make that awesome photo you’ve dreamed of having above your couch.

Photo Wall Gallery in living room above couch, Kaitlin Roten Photography

Beyond that, I’ve tried to make all your questions answered before the session by giving a style magazine. Some things that are answered in the magazine are:

  • What clothing colors look best on camera?

  • What should the vibe be for our session?

  • What types of clothing look best on camera?

  • Who should do my hair and makeup?

  • When should we have our session?

  • Where should we have our session?

  • What should I say to my husband to get him to go along with a photo session?

  • What clothing colors should my kids wear?

  • How much will we spend on products to style our home with the photos?

  • Where should my photos live after our session?

  • How can I style my home with these new photos?

  • What arrangement looks the best in X space?

  • What if my kids are too naughty?

  • What should we bring to the session?

  • How will we view our photos?

  • How long will it take for us to see the photos?

  • What are the best photo gifts to give family that’s not in the photos?

  • Should we give our kids a reward for being good after the session?

I tried to think of ALL of the questions you might have that could cause you anxiety and ease your fears. I’m totally here to help all along the way. That’s why I also have a planning meeting. We can talk about things that you’re worried about and things that you need to plan for.

The biggest thing people almost always say after the photo session is that it wasn’t as awkward as they thought it was going to be. The person who says this the most is THE DAD!!!! ha! The way I get everyone on my side is using many prompts to forget that I’m taking photos of you and think you’re just playing as a family. I do snap a few “everyone looking at the camera” photos in between the candids.

So I hope that eases your fears!

As much fear as you might have,
the memories you make and the
physical photos you’ll have in your home
to remember your family during this time will be totally worth it.
You won’t remember your fear at all!

Styling your home with photos and plants

When you’re thinking about styling your space for you home that will have your photos you should also consider what other elements you can add to the space that will give it a different dimension for visual interest. I’m not one for clutter, so whatever you decide on should not detract from your photos.

I love adding plants to either the wall, in vases, or in planters. I think plants are a great visual interest because they add 3D dimensions and make your home come to life! Just make sure you follow the correct recommended lighting for the plant if including live ones (which are my favorite)

styling your home with photos and plants
wall art styled with plants
frame with plant on wall

These tips are included in my 2019 style guide that talks about how to style your session as well as how to style the space where your photos will live!

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2019 New Product Contest!

UPDATE: voting has closed now. Thank you all so much for voting! Congratulations to Cortney and Milo for winning!

I'm having a family photography product contest.  I'm offering NEW PRODUCTS that are SO beautiful for 2019! I will continue to offer my beautiful frames (a 2018 favorite) standouts (a 2017 client favorite!), canvas wraps, and albums but this year I'm adding 

  • Metals

  • Circle Wood Canvases

  • 10x20 Frame Collage (with three 5x7s mounted prints)

  • Velvet Fine Art Prints with Stand (as accessory add-on items)

So I need new samples of the above products to bring with me all around DFW area to show!  

VOTE FOR YOUR FAMILY PICK IN THE COMMENTS! 

The winner will be the face of my wall art studio set for 2019 and receive a custom heirloom locket! (You can vote once!)

Voting ends Saturday 19th at midnight!

New 2019 Wall Products and Accessories

VOTE FOR YOUR FAMILY PICK IN THE COMMENTS! The winner will be the face of my wall art studio set for 2019 and receive a custom heirloom locket! (You can vote once!)

The Contestants!

How to style a gallery up a staircase and Cortney and Milo's photos!

There are some gallery designs that are fitting for up the stairs and some that are not.

This particular design kind of drives me crazy. Your eye starts with the photo of him laying on the ground then carries up to the right - only to be left for visually wanting to see more or a natural end to the room. It just feels awkward to me.

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The staircase is also a great place to start with a wall gallery and then add to it as you get more photos.

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This is just looks much better visually. I do think the only thing I’d say is needed is MORE photos! But again this could be a great started gallery!

I think this design below fits better above a couch

It also makes my favorite wall design “shape” a rainbow.

over the couch wall gallery

So these have to be some of my FAVORITE people to photograph! The are one of my 2019 family reps! I’ve photographed Cortney and Milo many times before and every time I rush home and look at the photos right away. I also tell her that after every time I need to get new business cards because I have a new favorite image! These images are from the 2019 family rep mini sessions! Which are great kick off to the year because I don’t offer mini sessions.

Not quite sure what my family rep program is? Read all about it here. Applications are closed for 2019 but you can still read about it. Application for 2020 (that seems so weird!) will begin last summer, early fall 2019.

Maternity Session (Family rep!)

Introducing one of my family reps for 2019! Now technically you have to be a family of three to be a member of the family rep, but that’s only a “rule” so that I can really focus on families with kids and not just couples BUT this is almost a family of three!

Doesn’t it seem like everyone’s pregnancy and labor goes by way faster than your own? It really does feel like yesterday Rebecca told me she was pregnant and that I needed to clear my calendar for December!

A while ago I wrote a post about the unspoken rules of where to hang different types of portraits. Like, is it appropriate to hang family photos in your bathroom? It got me thinking after we painted our bedroom and I (finally!) could hang something on the wall.

So what about maternity photos? The post addresses maternity photos so you should read about it here

Is there a spot in your home that maternity photos shouldn’t go?

For instance, this huge print of Rebecca (she looks GORGEOUS!) over the couch contrasted with an album….

maternity photo on wall design

Large maternity print contrasted with large album

photo album design

To me, and this is totally my design opinion, but the album feels more natural for a maternity session. Once the baby comes, the baby will be the center of your walls. You could totally design a wall gallery with baby and maternity photos, I just would advise a smaller version of your maternity photos - and using an image of you and your partner would also be nice!

What do you think? Have you ever gotten wall art that you thought after the fact wasn’t fitting for the specific room? I’d love to hear about it!

Welcome to the World Sadie!

How to style your photo shoot

If you’re thinking about a photo shoot there should be some questions going through your mind. You probably are thinking there are a MILLION QUESTIONS! I want my families to have the less stressed photo shoot ever. So I always help beforehand with questions to make it go smoothly.

One of the first questions I ask is, “Where do you imagine your photos living in your home?” Often times this will happen in their home so I can see first hand the room they’re thinking about.

You should definitely look at the colors in that space and plan on using those room colors for wardrobe color inspiration. Take a look at this design…

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The yellow in the chair with the yellow in the girls clothes pair it nicely. It looks like this shoot was styled for this specific space. The warm colors of the location also help add to that affect too.

Did you notice this wall is brick too? What a nightmare to install a gallery on, right? Well no fear, all of my wall gallery purchases of three or more pieces come with professional installation. So you can sit back and watch your gallery being installed.

Location: First United Methodist Church, Carrollton Texas.

The best practices for just enjoying your family

Often times when holiday’s (or birthday’s) come about as a mom you’re the designated photographer.

Do you struggle with just wanting to enjoy the moment but wanting photos for memories?

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For a while I would bring my camera everywhere. I would find myself looking through life through my camera lens instead of using my OWN eyes to enjoy the moments.

So how do we enjoy the moment AND get special photos?

Think about what photos you want before hand. If it’s a birthday party, you probably want photos of your kid blowing out their birthday cake. Do you want a group shot? Narrowing it down to what you want will give you the freedom to put your camera down and LIVE in the moment. Do you want your kid to remember you at their birthday with your phone/camera in your face?

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If it’s Christmas then also make a photo plan. What photos are you going to want? Maybe you will organize a group shot before Christmas breakfast. Maybe there is a special gift and you’ll want to announce you want a photo of the person opening the gift right before they start to open it.

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All of these events will likely occur someone where you can also set up your camera settings. This even applied if you’re planning on using your phone camera. There are certain spots where you’ll need to stand to get the better spot. Don’t be afraid to ask to stand there if someone is in your spot. If it’s your kid’s birthday party, then you got this. Don’t be afraid to ask to stand somewhere.

I think with these tips you can have successful photos AND enjoy your family!

Like I always say photos help you love and appreciate your family better. So actually love and appreciate them more by taking less photos and being off your phone more :)

How to style your living room (color choices!)

I talk about this during my planning meetings with my families but this is one tip that is so good to share!

If you want a photo gallery wall for your living room then you should style your clothing choices around the color of your room.

Take for instance this beautiful beachy shoot I had at Rockledge Park in Grapevine. Mom, Paty, did such a great job picking out clothing colors to match her blue decor colors.

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Notice their clothes aren’t matching, but perfectly coordinated. The paler colors work really well with my photography style, so extra bonus points for that! I also love the location choice with the general color scheme.

I think white simple frames with mats would make this gallery look top notch! They have a great beachy feel to it. Living in north Texas this might be the closest thing to a beach shoot!

Most of the time I don’t really have that great of a story of how I met someone (I think because I’m really bad at telling stories!). BUT…I met Paty a few months ago on a preschool forest hiking excursion. That already starts her out as someone I want to be friends with! As we hiked with our kids it was so refreshing to talk to someone who has the same opinions on a lot of parenting things!
I also really admire that she is opening her own ice cream truck! The ice cream is REALLY yummy and the flavors taste exactly like the ingredients. We bonded over the struggle of becoming a mom and then finding yourself again after that big life change. I’m really excited about her ice cream truck - find it local in Carrollton “Zuzu’s Ice Cream”!

Thank you Paty for the adventure of my new favorite location, Rockledge Park!

I hope that your photos help you love and appreciate those closest in your life even more!

Best time for a photo session

Quickly on in the photo experience we will talk about the time of your session. Typically, I shoot in the morning or evening.

So what’s better?

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I ask a few questions to get to the bottom of that question. First, if kids are involved they rule (the world!) and so it’s when they are the happiest. This is key (among other things!) to avoiding meltdowns.

It also depends on the time of year. During late spring and summer the morning and evening times are pretty early and late, respectively. During the late fall to winter the morning and evening times are later and early, respectively. If I really kept to the rule of shooting towards sunset, your two year old might be up until 9pm. So there is some flexibility when choosing times. BUT I do try to shoot around the same time to have a consistency to my photographs. Being a mom, I totally get it. I will never push a certain time on your family. That’d be bad for both of us.

Do I have a preference?

I’m so glad you asked! If I do have a preference it’d be for the morning. There are several reasons for this. The first photography technical side would be that in the morning I’m gaining light instead of loosing light. I love the photos that happen at the end of a photo shoot and so if I’m gaining light then I have more of a chance of getting those great shots.

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The morning light is just prettier to me too, if I had to be a poet (which would be the most awful job to me) I’d describe the morning light as innocent and humble. Does that make any sense? That might be such an artsy statement that shows I live on a different planet.

The morning is also less crowded. This comes in handy when photographing at an urban location. I also get the creeps when other photographers and families are around. In asking my families, they don’t like people around either.


Urban family photos: Wendel Family

I never walk away from photographing Amanda and Eric without a great story.

That’s why photographing them this year apart of my family rep program has been such an adventure!

Amanda has great style and I expected no less when I knew she was bringing her very stylish sister along for this shoot. The colors of their outfits were SO great! AND I love the urban feel with the colors they chose…and to get even more dorky obsessed I love the juxtaposition of the floral dresses with the urban landscape - ok ok I’ll stop!

But seriously if you’re here because you have NO idea what to wear for your photo shoot…just go grab what they wore. You won’t be disappointed!

I cant’ exactly post the specific location where we were (that’s the great story from this shoot) but you might recognize it if you’re from around here. And if you’re here looking for location inspiration for your shoot, you can’t take photos here. wa waaaaa.

Bummer, because I really loved it! I guess these will be considered collector edition prints?

Photo Wall Gallery

Here is a PRO tip:

During our planning meeting for your session I’ll ask you where you want your photos from the session to live. Look at the room that you’re envisioning and select your outfit colors to compliment the space. LIKE THIS CHAIR! I think it works really well with the grey and small bits of purple in the floral dresses.

What is my family rep program?

You might enjoy taking a peek at:

Their sunflower session

Their styled wedding shoot

Spouse photos or skip them?

During a family photo session should you take time to take photos of you and your spouse?

Let’s be real.

During the toddler years your relationship with your spouse often takes a backseat! Those toddlers require so much physical energy. So while family photos are about documenting your growing family through these years should you take photos of you and your spouse?

What if you haven’t lost those extra pounds you were hoping to loose?

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What will your kids do while I snap a few of you and your spouse?

I mean besides run around like crazy animals??? Who RAISES them??? haha.

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I’d argue that this is the PERFECT time to take photos of you and your spouse together. It’s probably been a few years since your wedding, when you last had professional photos, and as much as it is important to photograph your family together at this time, you and your spouse are equally important! So what if you haven’t lost those extra pounds? You’ll just feel even better when you do and you look back on these photos. If your weight is holding you back from taking photos DON’T LET IT! As the years pass you’ll want to remember these days, no matter how you look or dark the days are for you.
I’ve talked to MANY people about this conflict - not wanting to take photos because they’re aren’t happy with the body. They did take photos and guess what? NONE of them regretted having their photos taken. My style guide goes into details about what looks best on camera, that could help you a lot picking out the right outfit for your body type. I also have some posing tricks that will make you look comfortable in the photos. It’s REALLY important to voice your concerns to your photographer BEFORE your shoot so your photographer can help you achieve the best photos!

So what will your kids do?

In my style guide it prepares you with things to bring for your kids for the photo shoot. So those tips could come in handy during the few minutes I set you guys up for a photo. I also have some sneaky tricks that work well during this time that always are really fun. Most of the time the kids are behind me trying to “make mommy and daddy laugh”. It’s really fun for them to be on this side of the camera being my special helper.

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