Tips for Beautiful Fall or Winter Photos

Tips for Beautiful Fall or Winter Photos

There is a special kind of magic that comes with outdoor, seasonal photo sessions.  The snow lightly falling and icicles hanging from the branches . . . wait – what?!  We live in Southern California!  Snow or no show – So Cal is gorgeous and there are plenty of places to host a seasonal family session!  And I will travel to Big Bear, etc. for snow! Here are some tips to make your seasonal photo sessions go smoothly.

  1. Dress for the weather. You will be surprised at how often this is overlooked.  Since you’ll be standing outside for a long period of time, short sleeves, thin fabrics, and open toe shoes will not be comfortable for very long in cold weather – as well as when you want a cozy look and it’s 80 degrees outside.  Shivering or sweating makes it hard to look happy and pose properly.  If you want to look cozy in the warm weather, simply layer – wear comfy clothes and just add the cozy scarf and sweater when we actually take the pictures.
  2. Wear sunscreen. Protecting your skin should be a priority throughout the year, not just in summer.  Use a good moisturizer to protect your skin from chilly winds.
  3. Watch the weather.  If we do head up to the snow . . . warmer days may seem more pleasant, but melting snow can change the entire look of your backdrop. If you are looking for light snow flurries, try and keep an eye on the weather forecast to make sure that you don’t end up with melting or heavy snow.
  4. Be flexible. If the weather isn’t exactly what you had hoped for, see if you can still make the photo session work.  I had several sessions in one day that was overcast with light rain and the images came out beautiful as the light was so even.
  5. Incorporate color. Even though fall and winter have some amazing colors to work with, why not wear a splash of color to really stand out in your photos?  For example, vibrant shades of blues and greens look amazing among crunchy brown leaves.  Keep in mind, if we have sunshine, you will not want to wear anything too bright that will reflect on someone else’s face.
  6. Plan your day. Taking your photos just after the sun rises or just before it sets will provide you with amazing lighting so try and plan your session around those times.

Take some hot tea, cocoa or coffee along to make your photo session even more enjoyable and get ready for some beautiful results.

(We can also just create snow in PhotoShop!  LOL)

 

How to Pick the Perfect Professional Photographer

What you need to consider before you pay that photography deposit.

If you’ve started the search for a photographer then you’ll know just how many options there are.  Before you go ahead and book a professional photographer for a shoot though, there are a couple important things to consider.

What style are you looking for?

Photographers have different styles so you need to decide on someone who can help you achieve the end result you are looking for.  This applies to everything from wedding and maternity shoots to family and corporate shoots.  Ask the photographer for some examples of their latest work to evaluate whether they can cater to your needs.
Research and review.

Before you invest in a professional photographer you need to do your homework.  Get online to find a few customer reviews, browse around their website to view their latest work and have a look around their social media pages to find out what others are saying about them.  These platforms will also give you a good idea of their personality and style.  Some other important points to consider when researching photographers are:

  1. Budget.  Do their services fall within your price range?
  2. Expertise.  Are they experienced enough to give you the results you are looking for?
  3. Location.  Are they based in your area and are they willing to travel to a specific location if need be?
  4. Quality.  Is the quality of their photos good enough? Look at aspects such as sharpness, exposure and saturation.

Create a short list.

Once you have done your research, create a short list of professional photographers that stand out for you.  Get in touch with each of them to discuss your needs and to ask any questions that you might have.  It’s important that you chat with the photographer over the phone if not in person as this is the best way to get to know them and find out whether you’ll be able to work with them.  Feeling uncomfortable or stressed out around your photographer makes for bad photos.

It’s important that you pick a photographer that you have confidence in.  Your photos are there to last you a lifetime so while there is nothing wrong with helping out your photographer friend who has just started out, it’s best to choose an experienced photographer for important events and occasions that you can’t relive.

IF NOT NOW – THEN WHEN?

I know I’ve written on this subject before, but it’s a conversation I have often with friends.  “It’s just so hard getting everyone together.”  I bet if it was a wedding or a funeral, everyone would figure it out.

Family photos and individual portraits are so so important to our lives.  I know I’m uber passionate about photographs – I can’t help it!  When I find an old photo I haven’t seen before of one of my ancestors, I feel like they are reaching out to me from beyond to say hi and connect.  I get very excited and curious.

How special it would be to have a generation photo for future generations to know who we are and where they came from.  I treasure this photo.  This is my dad, grandfather, great grandmother, and great-great grandmother.  These are my people.  I feel a connection just through this photograph and the stories my dad would tell.  This is where I came from.

There is such a huge focus these days on our DNA – our heritage.  When I get started, I spend hours searching on Ancestry.com for hints of my ancestors’ lives.  Why make your descendants search and wonder who you were and where you were from . . . what you were like.  (#Existinphotos) Have portraits done and print them – regularly.  Photographs are representations of your life – freezing life at that moment.  It is our history that we can leave behind for future generations – not selfies that are just going to die with our phone or computer (#printyourphotos).

About a month ago I was talking to a friend and I said I wanted to do a photo shoot of her and her daughters for marketing materials.  We set a date. Then a week before the session, when discussing what to wear, she casually threw out there the idea of wearing authentic Khmer outfits.  Needless to say, I was like, “Oh heck yeah!”  THEN, completely on a whim, her mom to her, “Well I want to do it too!”  Then BAM – I had a gorgeous group of women (and a baby) – three generations in authentic clothing from their country of origin.  My friend’s extended family wanted to do a shoot after they saw the images – my friend is so happy they did this.

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Friends, this is so so so important.  Don’t use the excuse that you have a hard time getting people together.  Pick a date a few months out, give me a call and just schedule it.  Another famous excuse is, “Well I want to lose weight first,” . . . really?  If you’re anything like me, that could be when you’re dead.  Your family loves you and wants you in their photos – don’t “weight” to be photographed.  It is my job to make you look the way everyone else really sees you – beautiful.  If you want to lose weight – great – take the photos and then schedule a special “look at me now” session when you lose the weight – problem solved.

Life is too short to not honor yourself and your life with beautiful photos of you and your family.

Don’t wait to be photographed.  If not now – then when?

Contact me now for a consultation – we will create something special for you.

family portrait oak glen, ca

Looking for Christmas Gift Ideas?

Give your gifts some extra thought and meaning this year.

 

The hunt for the perfect gift is on, but what do you get the person who “has everything?”

The latest gadget will probably be outdated within the next six months and simply guessing what someone might need usually results in money being wasted on a gift that will more than likely be re-gifted in the coming months.

So instead of giving a physical gift, why not give the gift of memories?  Give the gift of photography.

Whether you’re a last minute shopper or you simply don’t know what to buy, this is the perfect gift idea that you’ve been waiting for.

Our photography gift cards are ideal because it allows your friend or family member to choose from an array of photography products and services, which include prints, engagement session, contemporary glamour session, senior session or a family session.  Scheduling and gifting a generation photo session for your parents or grandparents is a priceless treasure for the whole family.

Once purchased, we can either email the gift card to the recipient or you can give them the gift yourself.

Simply select a gift card to the value of your choice and place your order by emailing me at cathleen@cmcgrathphoto.com.  Christmas shopping has never been simpler.

Wishing all of my friends and clients a blessed holiday season and a prosperous new year!

Promo:  Mention the code “gift card” and get a $100 print credit for every $300 in gift cards purchased.

What Are You Thankful For?

I am thankful for family and the abundance in my life.  I am also thankful for all the special moments I have had the privilege of capturing this year and of all the clients I have gotten to know.  I loved discovering new places and sharing in your happiness and I look forward to many more of these moments in the coming year.

Thank you for making my days brighter!

Here a few tips to keep in mind this holiday season:
1.  While entertaining, keep your glasses, ice and beverages in the living room so that your kitchen doesn’t get too crowded.
2.  Fill big pots with soapy water after dinner so that you can soak smaller items such as utensils.
3.  Need to create space in your refrigerator?  Fill an ice chest with ice to store smaller items.
4.  Prepare any sides the day before to save some time the next day.
5.  Keep kids busy by getting them to help you with any desserts that require decorating.
6.  Remember your pets and the items that can be dangerous to their health:  turkey bones, sugar-free baked goods, chocolate, tinsel and ribbon, and holiday plants – i.e., mistletoe, poinsettia and holly.
7.  DON’T STRESS OUT!  Remember what is important in your life during this what is usually a stressful season, family and friends.  Your pup or kitty can feel your stress and get stressed out as well and act out – so for yourself and your household – take everything in stride, make lists and enjoy the season!

Promo:  When you are planning what gifts to give and you are going to be ordering prints from me, make sure to use the secret password “thankful” and get a complimentary 8×10 gift print of every canvas order you place during the month of November!

Together We Rise – Holiday Family Photo Sessions

 

 

“Every day, 1,200 kids enter foster care in the United States.”  Together We Rise is a non-profit that changes the way they experience the system.

On November 12, 2017, I will be hosting holiday mini-sessions at Yorba Regional Park.  The entire session fee will be donated to Together We Rise for their scholarship program.  See information here – as well as additional packages offered.

I cannot imagine for one second what these kids go through and I applaud the hearts of those that can and do open their homes and hearts for these kids.

But what happens to kids when they “age out” of the system?  I can’t even imagine the difficulty unless by some miracle they get lucky with a foster family that can continue to support them and pay for their school.  What are their options?  How are they going to work and go to school?  It must feel really hopeless and scary!  Together We Rise has partnered with the Fund ll Foundation (Family Fellowship) to support youth in foster care with financial, educational, and wrap around support.  They invest up to $90,000 per student.

I absolutely love the work that Together We Rise does for kids in the foster program and I hope you will join me in showing them some love this holiday season.

Also visit their website to see how else you can help!  There are a lot of really cool and fun programs for which you can volunteer to help!

No One Wants Pictures of Me or I’m Too Fat, Old . . . Fill in the Blank

Here is one personal story about why those objections are not going to fly with anyone . . . First of all – everyone who loves you wants pictures of and/or with you – so knock that off now.  You are who you are today and your photographer is trained in posing, wardrobe advice and post-production to help you look your absolute best – we know all the tricks!

So being a photographer – you would assume I am constantly taking pictures of my family – not with my phone.  You would also think that I would practice what I preach – and have a family photo that I’m in.  NOPE.

I CANNOT stand to have my picture taken.  I think I look horrible – yes that is the word I use – HORRIBLE.  Lots of shame going on with my self-image . . . I am not AT ALL the way I want to be remembered – or seen.  I’ve had 40-50 pounds to lose since my last child – 14 years now!  Okay so with that thinking – unless something drastically changes – like I actually get serious about my weight – my children won’t have a picture of me with them except for the little selfies we take and post on FB (facebook).

This past Christmas, I said okay this is stupid!  I need to take family pictures with me and my kids.  The ONLY portrait I have of me and any of my kids, I took of my first child and me when she was three – it was a self-portrait and it was fun and I still cherish it – I weighed 40 lbs less than I do today – it’s a big difference.  I’m a different person physically and it is upsetting – HOWEVER – it was more upsetting that I could possibly be in my grave before I took pictures with my kids – and the dog!

So being the photographer I am, I chose an outfit that would compliment my body the best, got clothes for the kids so we all coordinated and asked my photographer friend, Karen ReVelle Photography, to take our family photo!  I am so glad we did this and we will do it probably every year now – which is what I hear from other mothers that resist doing this.  As soon as their session is over and they see the results – they are thrilled and hooked!

Since we had a time limitation with light, I took some photos ahead of time of the kids while we were waiting for Karen.  All-in-all, we laughed a lot and it was great family time.

In my experience – the family sessions I do go like this – the family shows up, the kids are usually grumbling or look like it took some fighting to get everyone coordinated and out the door – during the session we have fun, laugh and then they go out for a fun meal.  Getting family photos done is not just something you REALLY need to do for yourself and future generations, or a chore, it’s something to do together and can be super fun.  Think about venues – places you like to go and schedule a family session there.  Make the session about your family’s personality.  One of my packages offers a longer session so we can do some lifestyle photos of kids playing, parents torturing their kids or kids torturing their parents – whatever.  This certainly does not have to – and should not be – a chore.  The more fun we have, the more receptive the kids will be to having their photos taken.

The next VERY IMPORTANT step to the family photo session experience is PRINT YOUR PHOTOS!  Get a folio box of matted images, photo album or book, framed wall art . . . GET THOSE IMAGES ON PAPER OR CANVAS and put them on your walls.   “Let’s sit around the computer and look at pictures,” said no one ever.  I can help you with this!  I can handle everything from concept to framing.

If I do your family session, we will talk ahead of time about what you would like the end product(s) to be and we will shoot with that in mind.  Then after your session, we will get together and go through your images and decide what goes where and how.

Any other objections you can think of to not take family or individual portraits?  Throw them my way and I will bat them down!