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How to Decorate your Home with Photos

How to Decorate your Home with Photos

If there is one thing that's 100% true, it's that everyone is different. Every Client I've had has a different interior decor style, preferences, and what they would like to do with their photographs. And while I offer a fairly limited array of products, they actually accommodate many different preferences when it comes to decorating your home with photographs…

At home with Ella and Josie (Greenwich, CT)

I've been photographing a lot of families lately that choose to keep their session images private, for one reason or another. And I get this question a lot.. "What if I don't want my photos out there?"

This is one of the reasons I don't do sneak peeks. I don't post any images until Mom and Dad have the Ordering Appointment and a chance to review them first - to tell me which they're okay with me using, and which they would rather keep private.

I'm not huge corporation. I'm not a photography Studio chain. I don't have a boss or a manager, or a customer service department. I care about my clients and their needs over my own. And I would never use or post an image (no matter how much I can from a legal standpoint) without explicit verbal approval from the person who appears in it (or that person's parent, as it stands).

And as my photography business grows, I encounter more of these kinds of questions. The ones that people ask because they're used to established businesses treating them like customers and not like human beings. I have policies in place for when kids get sick and when rescheduling needs to happen.. and no, it's not a big deal because I keep gaps in my schedule just so I can do that. I don't mind if my clients are running late, because I know how hard it is to get out of the house with kids.. and I never, ever schedule sessions one after another.

And so, I photograph families in their home if it makes the most sense for them. If their kids are little (like Ella and Josie) and if they only have a few hours on Sunday morning when they're all together because Dad works most days (he runs Ada's Kitchen and Coffee, which is my absolute favorite spot in town and if you haven't been, definitely check it out!). 

And then, I only share the photos that Mom and Dad are okay with me sharing. And that's totally fine with me! :)

Charlie's Family Session (Riverside, Connecticut)

Doing an in-home family session with an 11-month old baby boy is kind of like setting aside an hour or two to play, read books, go for a walk, and generally just do whatever makes him happy. It's all very casual. And relaxed. And really pretty perfect for a super-casual Riverside family who isn't into a Studio setting.

It sometimes feels a little odd that I provide both in-home photography and Studio portrait sessions. They seem like total opposites. But I truly feel like my approach to both is pretty much the same.

The fact is, I use artificial light for in-home sessions. Most of the indoor shots were taken with the help of an off-camera flash. It's the kind of lighting that helps me take a beautifully lit photograph in any space, and not the kind that overpowers the photo with hard shadows. It took a while to master this technique, but it's so incredibly helpful when I walk into a space I've never seen before.

And my Studio sessions? They include a lot of the same posing direction as the home version. The big secret, of course, is that you really can't do any detailed posing when you have a baby or a small child in the photo. So I watch for the big stuff: an awkward expression, unflattering positions, and tension in the hands. And then it's pretty much a free for all. Ok, not completely, but you get my point. :)

So, it really doesn't matter what the location is! At home, where everyone feels the most comfortable, or in the studio, where you just have to show up.. family is worth documenting! And I arrive with the tools (and that means both the equipment and the knowledge in my head) to create beautiful portraits no matter what. 

James' Newborn Photo Session (Fairfield, CT)

While editing James' newborn photo session, one thought was running through my mind.. "I really wish I had photos like this of my boys". The truth is, I don't. I have a few here and there, mostly when my boys are a bit older.. but I have no great images of me with my babies. Nothing I would feel comfortable displaying in my home, no whole-family shots, and certainly no siblings together (which is one of the hardest images to get, btw).

All I have are iPhone snaps. Dark, grainy, and low-resolution photographs of my babies sleeping during those first few weeks, when I had a couple of minutes to myself. I have some photos that my parents took that first day after birth with their point and shoot camera, when I looked sick and terrible and my baby looked red and blotchy. I didn't need photos documenting the hardships of that first week, I needed something that actually looked GOOD. I wanted photos that showed my babies how I saw them - beautiful, flawless, and mine.

The truth is, I am a pretty good photographer and more often than not, I'm inclined to do things myself. I didn't think I needed someone to show up at my door and photograph me with my newborn. But even more than that.. I didn't feel comfortable trusting someone to make me look beautiful. Because I didn't look beautiful. I hardly had time to take a shower. I had trouble adjusting to my "new life". And the last thing I needed was to worry about looking good for someone else.. But.. there's no going back. I can't return to that time and decide that hey, maybe this is pretty important. It's too late for that.

But about a month in, things get easier.

That's why I insist that my clients take their time that first month with their baby, and we usually schedule a session about 4 weeks after birth. More than anything, I want Mom to feel like she has a good grasp on her new daily routine. I want her to feel comfortable with her new baby, and with herself too. I am not embarrassed to admit that I use Photoshop to retouch the images, because I would want that for myself, too. And the scheduling is always super flexible, because I think a photography session is really NOT the top priority after having a baby.

So here is James. He apparently has a permanent baby mohawk (which is totally adorable!). A big brother who will undoubtedly teach him all about baseball. And two amazingly loving parents, of course. But most of all, he will have GOOD photographs documenting the first month of his life. Photographs showing how much his Mom loves him and how much she cares. And for that, I am so grateful.

Griffin and Madeline's 2016 Family Session

Happy is a home where children grow up surrounded by photos of their family. Griffin and Madeline's parents have been slowly creating little photo nooks, picture frame collections, and photo displays since Griffin (the older brother) was born. They're art-lovers and designers and have beautiful framed artwork decorating their walls already.. so photographs of their children are simply a natural extension of that.

My kids are the center of my world, I love that my life has that focus and I love seeing them grow - it’s kind of amazing.
— Mom

Family photographs in the home actually boost children's self esteem. Framed photos create an inviting space and make sure kids feel loved and cared for. And most of all, I am incredibly honored that Mom and Dad have chosen me to create their family portraits for the past three years for serving that purpose.

Photography is about preserving this time in their life. The kids' rooms and their interests. Their life at home. Their interactions. The quirks and the expressions. But it also goes beyond that.

The truth is, this is the most photographed generation of children, but also one that will end up with nothing once we upgrade our technology in 10 or 20 years. We have tons of photos on our phones and very little that's actually printed.

I never thought I would be the type of mom who would decorate a boy’s room blue and a girl’s room pink - but that’s exactly how they’re decorated. Griffin’s room has been influenced by his affinity for sea creatures, Madeline’s is influenced by the children’s book Madeline.
— Mom

When I visit my client's homes for the second or third time, I do a little happy dance (on the inside, of course) when I spot photographs on display from their previous session. And they're always on display, because of one very simple reason. I make it super-easy to walk away from the photo session experience with a ready-to-display product. Whether it's the standard matted print which fits perfectly into any 8x10" frame, a set of prints that come with a beautiful stand so you don't have to do any work to display them, or an already-framed wall-sized photograph that comes with a nail and hook. The value isn't in the specific images my clients take home, it's in the fact that they can enjoy them every single day and then pass them down to their children so they have something to remember from their childhood.

Griffin and Madeline will have that. They will have images to remember their childhood. They will see what their parents looked like when they were little. And they will truly appreciate how special these images are when they have their own children to love and cherish, as much as their own parents cherished them. 

Troy's Family Session (Fairfield County, CT)

I love every single moment with the baby, even the stressful ones. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
— Troy's Mom

How much does a baby change within one year? The first 12 months include the most incredible growth for that tiny human being.. and it's absolutely amazing to see how much Troy has grown since I last saw him. I mean, seriously. It's incredible! 

Even the home is different. Last time I photographed Troy and his mom, it was winter. The home had fur throws and cozy textures.. now, there are Springtime flowers and greenery that gives a completely new look to every room. Troy is becoming more independent and has developed preferences for toys (his boat mobile, for instance) and routines (reading with Mom). He's even playing the piano with Dad, or at least trying to! And his favorite toy is a little plush Octopus named "Captain Calamari."

I have a very old school design sensibility when it comes to homes. I love scavenging for antique and vintage finds mixed with newer traditional pieces. I am an artist, so I’m super picky about what I put on the walls, which is why there isn’t a whole lot up there right now! My parents were both passionate about interior design and architecture growing up and my dad is a building contractor so I grew up with that kind of influence.
— Troy's Mom

Babies are pretty amazing.. but a lot of people wonder how often (really) they should be hiring a photographer to document their family. I always encourage parents to take photos (and videos!) of their kids, at least once a month, to really track the wonderful growth that is happening. And trust me, Troy's Mom takes gorgeous photos of him. But here's the thing, it's very hard for her to take photos of the two of them together.. not to mention the whole family. And that's where the need for someone who can get those beautiful family images (where the whole family is in the frame) comes in.

Troy’s nursery is navy, white and reclaimed wood. It’s a nautical theme, which is a quintessential classic boy theme. We both love the beach and our favorite place to vacation is Chatham, Cape Cod (Chatham also happens to be the name of our street if you can believe it. It was fate!)
— Troy's Mom

It's important to have a record of the home, too... and parents often forget about the ordinary surroundings they pass every day. I remember digging through old photos from my childhood and being amazed at how my memory of the home I grew up in was completely wrong. Rooms change year to year and grow with the family. Troy's nautical-themed room is perfectly set up to transform into a boy's room.. and when those little details change and evolve, Troy will still be able to look back and remember what his room looked like when he was a baby. 

It's not really something I advertise, but I capture those room details for the family during every session. They simply come as part of the package, and no, parents don't have to pay for them separately. They're included, regardless of how many photographs the family ends up taking home in the end. I think it's important to have those images.. for them to be part of the family's history, ready to remind those babies where they spent their childhood.