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What should we wear? - Don't overthink it. Find something simple you already own that doesn't wrinkle. Round-neck t-shirts, collared shirts, jeans, and casual dresses work great. Light jackets are universally flattering. Scarves look great in every season and help draw focus to your face. I recommend avoiding sleeveless, which can be a bit unflattering in certain angles. If it's cold out, textured wool hats, gloves, and jackets photograph beautifully and add texture. Avoid fabrics that require a lot of adjusting or tugging, anything that shows sweat, or clothes with writing or pictures. Whatever you pick should fit well or be on the loose side, and, most importantly, should make you feel like you. Unless photographing a special occasion or professional headshots, I recommend aiming for a dressiness level that says, "I am a little extra put-together for coffee with a friend." 


For groups, families, and couples, I love sessions where the outfits aren’t coordinated at all. But if you want to go for a certain cohesive look, I recommend not thinking in terms of "matching" but rather in terms of "mixing patterns, textures, and solids." For example, you could mix and match any of the following among a group: a knit sweater, a patterned scarf, a button-down shirt, a plain solid-color top, pants with a pop of color, jeans, something striped, a casual printed dress, a men’s or women’s blazer, a puffy vest, or leather boots. For colors, I personally absolutely love a mix of muted classics: navy, white/cream, browns, and a few pops of maroon and/or mustard. If coordinating, aim for about 3-4 colors. 





What should I do with my hands? - I will make sure you look natural in every picture. Putting thumbs in your pockets or one hand on a hip works well to keep you loose and natural. 


Someone in my group doesn't like posing for pictures. What should we do? - Some people are naturally more photo shy. That's totally fine. I will make sure everyone feels comfortable and relaxed. Not every photo needs to be a big smiling face. I like to get people moving so they look like their natural, best selves and don't feel like they're being forced into an awkward or unnatural pose.


What should we do to help our kids during the photo shoot? - Let me direct your kiddos for the shoot. They will look wonderful and natural if left to their own devices, so we don't want you looking worried and anxious. Sometimes the best framers are where everyone is just being themselves and not looking at the camera. Don't you worry about getting your kids to cooperate. I love kids and will get great shots of them no matter what they're doing or what sort of mood they're in. The last thing we want is for the parents to look distracted or stressed out trying to direct the little ones.


What's different about Cidermill Photography? - I truly believe in the power of photography to preserve memories at every stage of life. In my opinion, the best way to capture the essence of every person in the most authentic way is to photograph them in a relaxed, natural setting that does not feel forced or contrived. My favorite photograph of my parents is one from a casual stand-up cocktail party they attended in their early 20s, and they are laughing and natural. My favorite photograph of my in-laws is one I took of them during a walk on the beach on a chilly day, and they are laughing between shots. (Actually, they're laughing at me taking so many pictures of them, but the moment is just so sweet.) My favorite wedding photographs are the ones of the bride and groom looking at each other in a natural moment, exuding pure joy. You get the picture. I don't have any favorite photographs from a stuffy portrait studio. It's not my style. If the casual, relaxed, classic style speaks to you, then we are a great fit.


What's a documentary/photojournalism "day-in-the-life" session? - This is the most relaxed, unposed type of session available. It captures all the little details and moments of your everyday life, and it also includes some more posed group and family shots to frame. These shoots are ideal for families with babies and young children who have lots of energy and don't particularly want to sit for more posed portraits. Your album from a documentary/photojournalism "day-in-the-life" session will beautifully capture your family in action around your house, from reading and eating breakfast to playing outside and riding bikes. These are the genuine moments that are all too fleeting and that you will cherish forever.  

Why invest in professional portraits? - Everyone has a camera in their pocket now, so why invest in portraits? Sometimes snapshots capture a great moment, but people's faces may be in shadow or in harsh, unveven light. Other times, snapshots get the light just right, but some people in the frame are talking, blinking, or blurry. Usually, the person who's handiest with the camera is the one taking the picture and not actually in the frame, or it's a selfie that just isn't the same timeless quality as a portrait hanging on the wall of your home. Unlike snapshots, a portrait session is about creating and capturing a beautiful moment in time that tells your story in a way that will be cherished for generations. The post-shoot editing process is a big part of the value of investing in professional portraits.


What's involved in the post-shoot editing process? -  At all my portrait sessions, I take around 5 photographs every minute, adding up to roughly 300 or more photos in a 1-hour session. Of those, I keep approximately 1 in every 10 photographs for consideration as final images for retouching and editing. I spend about 2 hours editing for every hour of shooting. Using professional editing software, I carefully adjust the light, color, and focus; smooth skin; subtly whiten teeth; remove distractions in the background; and touch up each shot to bring out its natural beauty. No matter what package you choose, that process leaves you with multiple potential framers that capture the natural look and feel of everyone in the picture, all in beautiful light. See what a difference the editing process makes with before and after samples.

Grand Rapids photographer
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