Updates on What's Up in The Imagery World

I try to spend some time once a month to write down some tips, some stories, some lessons learned... as well as advice on when best to utilize us for specials and upcoming events.  We now have a complete book that can be ordered on Amazon called, "Prepare for your Perfect Portrait", and pieces of that will be posted on a weekly basis.  You can order your own full copy on Amazon, eBook or paperback.  Enjoy! -Stephanie Oman, Co-Owner, The Imagery.

Friday, October 13, 2017
By The Imagery


Rod was recently interviewed by Elizabeth Barnes for a school project.  Here are her questions and our answers, which make an excellent opportunity to blog!  Find out when the best time to take fall pictures is, why, and how weather affects the photography business.

Has all the rainfall lately affected the leaves on your trees?  Well all the rain we are having is actually keeping the leaves on the trees longer. My backyard has a sprinkler system so typically we are still watering the trees this time of year to keep the leaves on the trees longer to attain a longer fall shooting season.  This year we actually turned off our sprinkler system to save money because mother nature has been doing such a good job.  A severe frost will kill the leaves, turning them brown and causing them to drop early. The best autumn colors come when there's been:

* a warm, wet spring

* a summer that's not too hot or dry, and

* a fall with plenty of warm sunny days and cool nights

Is the color on them coming along as it did in previous years?  In our backyard I think my end of Aug early September was spectacular for fall color, my Japanese Maples (reds) and Tiger Eye Sumac (yellows) both "bloomed" nicely at the same time.

Are they late, early, or at peak now?  Well I usually tell people that the fall colors will peak in our area around the last week of Sept. and the first 2 weeks of Oct. They are starting to peak in the 2nd week of Oct. this year.

When is the best time of the year to take fall pictures with the best colors? Usually a Tues. Wednesday or Thursday about the 8th-14th of Oct. I would say is when the peak happens in our area.  Weekends tend to be when it rains for some odd reason, which leaves many people "soaked" from getting their fall photos done.  However, fall colors are usually spectacular when it rains.  The light glistening off the wet leaves really helps enhance the color in pictures.  Families are usually are not keen on doing pictures in the rain thou, particularly with young children.  

Has the weather lately affected your outside studio in any way or how business has been running?  Weather is a big factor in how the business is running.  It's a matter of how people are feeling that gets them to book sessions.  When the leaves start turning they know the weather is going to start getting colder and the holiday season will soon be upon them, so they are more urgent to call.  We have had a very mild fall so far, and people don't "feel" the cold coming on yet.  In the summer, if the weather stays cool through June, we may get a late start to our short picture taking season for Senior photos, and that can be very detrimental to the business as well.  This year we have had both scenarios and we've seen a significant drop in the number of sessions.  

Where are some great local places for pictures with vibrant fall colors?  My backyard!  Of course we always go where the color is currently the best and we have the best light.  Great places to take clients (besides our backyard), in our area, are Lebanon Hills Regional Park and Thomas Lake Park, as well as Red Oaks and Terrace Oaks that are just down the street. I was just up in Maple Grove and the leaves around the lakes up there were unbelievable on Wednesday.  The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum I am sure is beautiful, but it has been a few years since I have been there, way too many people for me when I am taking pictures to really be fun. I also just drove on York Ave in Bloomington and by one of the office complexes the yellow leaves covered the green grass... There was a nice blanket of yellow leaves and still yellow on the trees - but there was no kids in site to shoot...and soon all this will have disappeared before I would ever get a chance to return there with a client. The DNR keeps a website to track leaves that I often check if I'm going to travel: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fall_colors/index.html Another resource locally is:


What kind of trees do you look for when shooting? Actually when I am scouting areas to shoot... I am looking for hillsides that are higher than the tree tops in the background.  I am looking for a place where I can be slightly above the subject, typically people like themselves in pictures when you shoot down at them vs up into their nostrils.   I am looking for where the light will be at the time we are shooting usually I want the light behind the subjects so they do not squint and the light will bounce between the leaves on the trees.  I look for Oaks, Hickories, Dogwood, Birch, Poplar, and of course Maple trees.

What weather conditions make for the best trees to shoot? Just after it has rained and the light is breaking through the clouds.  The leaves will sparkle when this happens.

Has the wet October been good or bad for the natural backdrop for pictures? I think this Fall has been one of the best Falls I have seen for a long time...and very few are taking advantage of it.

When should people book their appt so it’s not too cold outside? So all the leaves are still on the trees?  Earlier the better, as it gets later in the season and frost hits - sending the trees into hibernation, the wind and rain will pick-up and knock the leaves from the trees.  As you get closer to Nov the temperatures keep dropping too.   

We can always enhance leaves digitally if they are not all turned yet, but we can't add leaves to the trees. I always recommend scheduling for late September.

In The Imagery's Portrait Park we mix a bit of reality in with imagination.  We use some fake leaves intermixed with real leaves to create the illusion of fall before it is fall, and also to extend the peak season.  With the mix of trees we have (Birch, Willow, Cottonwood, Sumac, Japanese Maple, Burning Bushes, Oak) we can do "fall" pictures long after the trees in the parks have lost their leaves.  Fall equinox is from September 22nd to December 21st, but leaves  usually are completely gone by the end, and it's too cold if you wait until mid November when extended families get together on fall breaks (Thanksgiving).  Our "holiday sessions" are typically run all indoors, unless we have a beautiful snowfall, and then it's fun to pose (if they are willing) in hats and scarves outside.

More links to resources used:

 https://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-seasons .    And with the magic of Photoshop we can enhance colors to create that perfect backdrop without if being the perfect time of year!



Questions provided by Elizabeth Barnes.

Saturday, August 12, 2017
By The Imagery

YouTuber Sydney Parupsky does a Senior Photo Blog featuring The Imagery


About 6:30 through the video, Sydney lists the tips of what to wear.  Watch the entire video for tips on doing makeup as well.  Sydney brings my "tips email" and my suggestions to life with video. 

Sydney's photoshoot will focus on photos that she can use in Instagram, which are more casual, away from camera, and all about having fun.  So that's what we tried to do with her style shoot.  For all seniors, what to wear should first and foremost come from the end result that you are trying to express, which may mean having a few outfits that mom picks out, as well as a few outfits that the senior picks out.  We are all about keeping both mom and senior happy!

She reminds the senior to:

1) Pick at least one outfit matching your eye-color

2) Pick outfits from all seasons to switch things up

3) Pick outfits that express your personality, from casual to formal

4) Pick props that signify your interests in High School, and/or memorabilia that will represent that time of your life

In summary, don't pick the same outfit done in different colors...show us more of all the different aspects of you!



Tips on MakeUp and Clothes for Senior Pictures

Vlog from Sydney's Life Vlog channel on YouTube.

Saturday, July 29, 2017
By The Imagery

Do you need to go Extreme?

In the world of Instagram and Twitter, it's all about the immediate impact.  It's hard to get anyone's attention and notice these days without going all out with your image...In the examples above, we've gone from fairies to "hot and cold" and other fun things in between.  For business, we might take photos that make you appear hanging off a building or dancing on water...hmmm, some future ideas maybe?  At any rate, in our world of photography, we are serving clients in two main directions: Attention Getting Images, and Forever Images.  The attention-getting is what we call "sharable" or "Instagood" on your Instagram for that split "instant" and the Forever is that portrait that you want, well, "forever".  It's what we've always internally referred to as the "salable" image, because often we work hard on the cool artistic enhancements, and have a lot of fun doing it, but when it comes down to the actual sale, Mom or Dad will say, "That's cool, but I don't know what I would use it for."  The "forever" image, they know how to use, and they know they will enjoy it forever at home.  They want it to remind them of that moment in time when their "baby" was a HS Senior... and they want to pass it on to future generations.

So the answer is, for the moment, going "extreme" is hot with the HS Senior, and perhaps a little cold with the parents, who 'dig' it for it's wow factor, but maybe they don't have an Instagram account.  The "forever", or "classic" (pictured below) is what the parent needs to see daily to remind them of their kid who has now moved away and is starting a life of their own.  

Some examples of the "classic" photo that you can use are below...

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
By Summary of Article

We found this great article from Shutterfly, including sample photos of successful combinations.  They agree with everything we have in our book "Prepare for Your Perfect Portrait".  Check out their article here:

What to Wear for Family Photos

Monday, July 24, 2017
By The Imagery

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“But Mom, I have nothing to wear! [for photos]”  We hear this all the time, and so do moms, but don't worry, we have a plan for you... check out these 4 simple rules and tips to getting your wardrobe right. 

[Excerpt from "Prepare for Your Perfect Portrait" available on Amazon]

Rule #1                             

Coordinate, don't "match." Thankfully it is no longer in vogue to “match” your tops and your bottoms so you look like you are in a uniform. Portraiture is about sharing your individual style and personality, while still looking like you belong as a family, so go ahead and wear all kinds of different combinations, but lay them out together in a grouping on the floor of the room where you’ll put the photo. Consider that no one set of clothing should stand out from the others, and that your faces need to pop, versus the clothing. Do this by coordinating “palettes” of color that intermix with one another, but NOT by doing all the same exact color.

Caution: by different "styles" I don't mean that one person can be dressed in a fancy dress and another in denim. Pick a style, from casual to formal, and stay within the same feeling. Decide as a family if you want to all look like you are going to church, or going to a barbeque, and then look for palettes that coordinate.

How to do this without being a professional stylist?  Even if you hate shopping, here are some tips to help you pick out clothing choices that will work for your personality:

TIP #1! Use Pinterest as a guide, not the rule.

Pinterest is a social site that acts like your own personal cut-and-paste “bulletin board.” In the past to gather ideas for inspiration, you might have clipped ideas out of magazines, and taped them into a book or pinned them onto a bulletin board. There is now an internet version of the same method. “Pinterest” allows you to “pin” any photo that you find while roaming the net, and save it to an “interest board.” Categorizing different ideas this way, you find and gather all kinds of things that you can refer to later when you need them. Most users incorporate this idea for a) recipes they find and like, b) travel photos of places they are hoping to visit, c) fashion ideas, d) weight-loss ideas, e) makeup ideas, f) art inspiration, and g) for planning a portrait, to show your photographer ideas you found online that you like, and h) planning what to wear for your portrait. Caution: please don't treat Pinterest as ideas to simply copy, but as inspiration, and also follow the other rules in this chapter.

How Pinterest Works

If you are not computer savvy, save some time and have a friend who loves the internet help you with this, but in summary, it works like this:  get a Pinterest.com account. Now create a category called “family photo ideas,” Google search “family photos,” find things that you like and “pin” them to the board. Now create a category called “family outfit ideas,” within your Pinterest account and Google search for “family photo fashion” or “casual clothing solid colors,” or “formal family outfits.” See what you can find, and pin things that you like from other people's pins. Now you have a reference gathered for when you go shopping, and you can hone in on just those things when browsing racks of clothes, and hopefully save yourself a lot of time in the store hunting for things that not only work with your color scheme, but will have the fashion and style that resonates with your different personalities.

At The Imagery we have already gathered Pinterest ideas for our clients, as well as PDFs of photos with clothing combo ideas, but it is impossible to come up with something that is all-inclusive. The options, especially when you don’t limit yourself to “matchy matchy” are limitless. We share Pinterest ideas from all over the internet, not just photos from our studio. The idea is to expand your typical thinking to beyond your everyday wardrobe, and help you to think in terms of what will look best together as a grouping for the finished photo.

TIP #2!  Hire someone to plan your clothes for you.

If you are not technically savvy, or simply don’t have the time, you may want to consider investing in a professional wardrobe stylist to help you create a collection of ideas. This is not as intimidating as it may sound, and stylists are more accessible today with various options for anyone’s budget. A stylist will take you a step beyond the general information and tips that a photographer will supply. Stylists are pros and get to know your body type and your skin type, and help you select things that will work best specifically for you and your family. This can be invaluable if you struggle with your own wardrobe, much less getting everyone coordinated for a portrait that will last for generations, hanging on the wall. You can go as far as having them shop for you, or you can have them come to your closet and pick out clothes, or simply have them do a consult over the phone. We work with a stylist that gives our clients an exclusive discount for working with her. Your photographer might have the same offering, or do an internet search for “wardrobe stylists” in your area.

Rule #2                             

The old adages of, “Keep it simple,” and “Less is more,” apply in planning clothing for the family portrait. The expression on your face is the star of the show, not the clothes. Even though we say “layer and texture” for a photograph, you still want to keep things fairly simple where no one person might have been trying too hard and “over-dressed,” versus someone else in the group. Layers can flatter, but they can also add bulk if done in the wrong way. Look at the clothes in a full-length mirror. Does what you’re wearing widen your body anywhere? Are you leading your eye to an area that you want it to go, or drawing our attention down into the clothes rather up to your face?

Rule #3                             

Solids vs. plaids and stripes. However, do not “matchy match” (see rule #1), but keep to solid colors on each person. If you layer, and we often suggest that you do, you can add slightly darker or slightly lighter shades from the same color to add depth and interest, i.e., add a scarf, add a jacket or vest, place a tee underneath the sweater or shirt. Moms are usually better at this than dads, so be sure to pre-plan, and you might have to shop a little bit to add dad's "layers." You don’t want the body to flatten and widen, which can happen if you are wearing just one color and one layer.

“But Mom, this is so not ‘us’”

Rule #4                             

Make a clear decision on how you want to “be,” and get on the same page with everyone in your group. In other words, as I cautioned earlier, decide on casual vs. formal. Now that you’ve have a color scheme in mind that you love, are you going to show a playful side of your personalities or perhaps you want to have a setting where we show everyone at their most “stately” in a portrait—then make it consistent throughout everyone in the group.  You achieve beautiful results either way. Portraits can be done with formal tuxedos on the men and ball gowns on the women, and the result is a timeless look that gives you an old-mansion traditional feel of the portraits done in stately homes of Europe since the dawn of portraiture. On the flip side, maybe it’s a fun portrait for your family room, and every time you look at it you want to smile and laugh seeing the casual interaction of your family. In that case, everyone in jeans and different tops (within the same color palette) would be more appropriate.

Caution! Don’t take this step lightly and just say, “casual,” or “formal.” If you want to do either, everyone in the family must be prepared to tell the same story and look and be completely on board as to how they will act in the photo session itself. Too often everyone is dressed in jeans, and then dad in khakis and a button-down shirt, and the dad doesn’t match the rest of the clan.  Conversely, everyone is dressed formally, but one of the men doesn’t have a tuxedo, or doesn’t own a tie, and he is the only male in the photograph just in a dress shirt. Don’t let anyone in your family “stick out,” or they will always be drawing the focus of the viewer—and that member of the family will always hate you for putting that photo on the wall. Keep the peace. Plan accordingly, and rent a tux if you have to, or go and buy someone jeans and a casual shirt so he or she looks part of the family. The extra effort will be well worth it.

Rule #5

Have fun with it.  If you aren't being YOU, and the photos don't look like YOU, then no matter how great the photos look, something will just not be 'quite right'.  Get the input of everyone involved in the portrait... and if it is a HS Senior, make sure you have something the HS Senior wants to wear, and something the mom or dad wants them to wear, and bring them BOTH to the session.  Keep the peace.

Order the complete tips book on Amazon:  Click here to pre-order the complete book on Amazon

More tips:  Pinterest Link for more ideas

More tips on Google+: What to wear for special interests