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Life gives us what we expect.

I expect nothing but the best for you and me.

So I’m willing to invest time offering the following tips.

I hope you will too.

The goal is win-win.

Tips for a Fantastic Photo Session



Tips for Children’s Photography


Before you arrive

Good planning and communications cinch good results. With a plan in place, I go with the flow and stay alert to potentials and details. Yet two minds are better than one. As you see details I might miss, please participate and tell me.


Please never tell a child to smile. Before you arrive, tell children you’re going to play with Steven Michael. They understand that. They also understand that the pictures will make grandma happy. When we hold a loose reign, we’re more likely to get bonuses.   



One outfit is normally the best choice. I’m willing to try more, but second and later outfits often produce diminishing results. Depending upon age and attitude, extra outfits make the session into work for the child, and that’s not fun. Then their next trip to the studio is shadowed by so much effort required on their last visit.


The best outfit is normally your favorite. Keep in mind you’ll be looking at it for 50 plus years. That’s why simple outfits are preferred, mostly solid colors. Designs in clothing compete with expressions. We want the pictures to feature the child. To find solid colors in children’s clothing may take effort. The internet can be a good source if time and budget allow.


Barefoot is recommended for nearly all ages, depending on direction and taste. There’s nothing pretty about the sole of a baby’s shoe pointed straight into the camera.

Toys and personal items are good to bring. The child’s attachment to their favorites can light up their faces and restore their comfort zone.


During your session

If we want images to entertain us, it’s up to us to entertain our subject.


I try to never use the s-m-i-l-e word. The look is normally forced. And this demand for performance limits a child’s flow of natural expression. Some children feel it as a burden.

Once we’re set for pictures, be ready to sing, dance and move about wildly. Animation (like in cartoons) draws a child’s interest. Games the child is used to playing produce good responses. Songs are good too. And silliness trumps bubbles and balloons most times.


Your input is always valued, yet in a session there will be times to animate and times to be quiet. Please remember that teamwork serves the common goal: a picture that will make your heart sing for years to come.




Tips for Family and Couples Photography



The best pictures are those that make you feel good and feature your values. Memories associated with the images contribute strongly. So location and related activities may be the top consideration. Where does your heart sing? It could be your home. It could be a weekend trip or a local activity. Unleash yourself from the box of old thinking and join the creative process. It’s fun and rewarding.



Your choice of style should reflect you. What do you love; how are you comfortable? Favorite colors may be a good choice. Just beware that the colors you choose should work with colors where the images will be displayed. If you were buying a pillow for that room, what colors would you choose?


Families don’t have to dress identically. But tone harmony in clothing is important. Someone in pastel will look like a lighthouse if everyone else is dressed in darker colors. Think about families of color: jewel tones, pastels, or primary colors. Or think about colors in naturescapes: the forest, the seashore or desert.



Depending on ages and numbers, we’ll capture close-ups, half-lengths and full length images. We’ll work with different groupings and poses to give you a full range of choice. Every session is different and based on planning and intuition. Please always feel free to speak up and express yourself throughout the process.




Tips for High School Seniors Photography


For Everyone

Great photos are the result of good planning and efforts to prepare yourself. They both begin before you arrive for your session. With these tips, they’re easy. And you’ve set the stage for stronger creativity, unique looks and fun.




Variety: We suggest you bring one really casual, dress-down outfit, one dressy outfit and lots of choices in the middle. Bring twice as many outfits as you plan to wear. We can help with final picks


Colors: Solid colors work best. (No you won’t be bored with great looking pictures). Simple clothing is more timeless and more appreciated over the years. Keep some of your clothes the same tone above and below the waist. Patterns, stripes and clothing with words on it date your pictures and compete with your face for attention. We want you to appreciate these portraits years down the road. Be bold and shop the closets of friends with good taste.


Dark tones work best for black and white photos. Long sleeves are best year-’round. Be careful of sleeveless tops. They don’t work for some poses. And plan shoes like you do clothing. Bring extras.


Try on clothing before you come. Check the fit, especially around the neck and shoulders. If more than one person is in your photos, coordinate your clothing.


Bringing extra outfits opens options for locations you might not have considered. If you have backup outfits we can better coordinate food stains.



If you want unique photos, being personal items. Make a list now including your senior ring. Items from your room and your life give pictures a personal touch. Don’t judge your interests or your stuff. Bring a hat, letter jacket, instrument, sports gear, a collection or hobby items, things that reflects your talents or interests. Consider pictures with your car, sunglasses, a golf club. And look in your car, your room, your locker. Get creative and don’t judge it. Hats don’t have to be on your head.


Be On Time

Being on time is a big factor. Most days we’re chasing the sun for the right light. If you’re late it also can affect your attitude and composure in your pictures.



They make a big difference in your pictures and how you enjoy the session. With them you’re relaxed. They can be your extra eyes, support self confidence and loads of fun. Please bring ONE.



Don’t try a new do before your session. For variety in your pictures, consider an easy change for some outfits.



Be sure nails look good. If you have something small to hold, a locket, ball or hat, list it now on the inventory below.



It’s best to bring an empty pair of frames like your glasses to avoid potential glass glare. Most optometrists will loan you a pair for this purpose. Plan ahead.



Don’t tan for three days before your session. Red skin is not something we can correct in your pictures.



If you want a special location where you will need permission or access, plan ahead so all is arranged.




Take a Photo Inventory

This inventory form can help trigger ideas of what to bring, clean, borrow or buy. Plan with it a week before if possible, then review it the day before. Use it to pack so nothing gets left at home. Pack up the night before so you’ll have time to remember what gets overlooked. With these details covered, relax. Come rested and ready for fun. Remember, you’ll only be a senior once. Twice max.


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Extra Outfits:





















Hairbrush, etc.:



Other items
to remember:






Extra Photo Tips for Girls


Clothing: We suggest variety. Bring twice as many outfits as you plan to wear. It can give us greater possibilities. Cover the range of comfy, casual, and dressy. Think accessories. Little things can be good to hold in your hands and give us more ways to illustrate body language.


Simple is best. Avoid busy prints, bright floral, neon colors and clothes with words. Clothing should compliment, not overpower. Beware of problems with bra straps and mismatched bra colors if they can show through. Bring extra everything. And plan outfits so tan lines don’t show.


Hair: If you’re changing hairstyles during the session, keep changes simple and quick. Remember spray, clips, etc., and add them to your photo inventory now.


Makeup: For portraits it should be normal or only slightly heavier than normal. Don’t create a painted look. Take special care with eyes. That’s where we’ll focus. Avoid excessively bright colors and make sure mascara isn’t clumpy. A touch up stick can cover blems. And bring supplies for touchups. Remember we may want some barefoot pictures. Be sure to clean there too.




Extra Photo Tips for Guys


Grooming: Come well shaved. Plan a haircut no closer than a week before your appointment. Don’t experiment. And check fingernails before you arrive.


Clothing: Bring several outfits, well more than you’ll need. Be sure they’re wrinkle free and ironed. Check the fit before you arrive. Simple clothes work the best. Solid colors and matching tones work well. Avoid busy patterns and clothes with words. Check that shoes look good and work with the clothes. Remember belts and consider a hat, maybe just to hold. And if you need to check out sports gear from the school, plan ahead.