School Photos Vs Studio Portraits

Getting Past Dull School Photos

I love my kids’ school photos–for all the wrong reasons. The last one my son had, he looked like he hated the photographer. My daughter always has a weird cheesy smile. What are your childrens’ photos like? Do they make you laugh too?In studio, I can take more time with the kids, it’s not one long procession of kids. Even my daughter tells me “you don’t have to buy the school photo mom, yours are better.” Love her!

And while I love those photos from school, they are def. not going on the wall. I prefer to keep them for maybe blackmail later. You know—that big page in their senior yearbook filled with the photos of the past.

In studio, I can take more time with the kids, it’s not one long procession of kids. Even my daughter tells me “you don’t have to buy the school photo mom, yours are better.” Love her!

If you’re like me and would prefer a more custom experience and not run of the mill and cheesy, why not consider taking some professional headshots at the studio instead?

Below are just some of the differences between school photos and studio portraits.

The Backdrop

School Photos: Your child’s school photos are usually shot in front of a generic, sometimes from the 80s background. These backgrounds tend to be distracting and move the focus off your child completely or just look flat out dated.

VS

Studio Photos: Shooting professional headshots in a studio means you have the option of choosing a more classic backdrop, something that keeps the focus on your child. Or updating the photos with a bit of color. Let your child’s blue eyes shine with a blue backdrop.

Posing and Smiling

School Photos: When it’s time to take school photos, kids are called up one at a time, placed in a standard pose and told to smile in front of a complete stranger before being rushed back to their classroom. In our studio, we do not only a headshot, but full body photos and try to get a little more personality out of the kids.

VS

Studio Photos: Our studio takes the time to make your child feel more comfortable in front of the camera, which results in a natural expression and smile.  We also try a variety of poses so that you walk away with more memorable portraits of your kids.

The End Result

School Photos: When you receive your child’s school photos you usually get one or two standard photos in various sizes. There is nothing unique or special about the photos and they usually end up in a drawer in the house if you purchase at all.

VS

Studio Photos: I not only takes a variety of photos of your child but we spend time editing them too. Did your kid cut his chin—no worries, we’ll edit that out for you. Love one pose, but like his smile on another, no worries. We are a custom studio and will help you get the perfect photo.

These images are something you can proudly display in your house, and show off your child’s true self.

Contact us today to set up your own custom portrait session. 904-891-0359.

What do you need to rock a Finding Nemo or Dory Session?

I don’t know about you, but me and my kids LOVE Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. My 7yo also loves to watch Ellen on YouTube, of course, I can’t blame her, Ellen has such a bubbly personality that just draws you in. She’s got that family friendly sense of humor that rolls out of her mouth and you just wish you were as funny as her or that she was your aunt at family gatherings!

Anyways, I ramble, lol, I’ve done a couple of Finding Dory and Nemo sets for newborns and as a cake smash session. I wanted to share with you if you are a photographer or a mom looking for help for your own photography session or for your little one’s birthday party.

Backdrops

Sometimes you have to think out of the box for a backdrop. And with Nemo & Dory, you kind of need to buy licensed to get the right look.

These would be great for a photo booth or behind the birthday child at their birthday party or behind the cake or decorations.

Here’s something you could use that has both of them large on it.

This one has the shark on it.

This looks like the one I have in my photos.

For the best results, you don’t want a plastic backdrop or anything that has a shine as that will create a glare. It takes a lot of work, but I usually put a town on the table and then the backdrop face down and then iron it to get the wrinkles out. A steam iron works best.

Our blue ONE sign was made by Design Elements by Erin. She also made the blue and white circles garland.

This is an awesome sign and high chair decoration from Etsy.


Clothing

I use cloth diapers a lot, they look nicer than a traditional diaper and you can color match them. I keep about 10 different colors in studio. They are made to fit most any size. This one from Etsy would be perfect for a Nemo or Dory theme.

This would be good for a little boy, however, I find that most kids HATE hats.

This shark tutu outfit by Pampered Paisley would be cute for a girl.

Nemo Tutu outfit on Tu2Cute1 on Etsy.

Dory tutu by Copper Arrowz is sweet.

This ONE shirt from Best Birthday Ever. would be great for a boy or girl. With a boy you could pair with Nemo or shark swim trunks. For a girl, pair it with a tutu.

If your little girl will wear a hat/headband this Nemo/Dory Mickey ear set would be cute as well.

Cake & Toppers

Our gorgeous cake was made by Bold City Confections. She is no longer in Florida, but we know some other great cake people if you need help.

Also, if you wanted something for the birthday party, this is a cute cake topper sign.

Nemo chocolate pops from And Chocolate for All.
Decorations

You could use paper puffs to add some dimension. I keep big Disney characters in my studio like Nemo.

If you have a newborn and you want something for them to hold, something like this would fit a little better.

We have one of these large plastic Dory’s that talks.

About our Model

Joey, was a special model for us in many ways. He has Costello Syndrome. He did his session when he was about 18 months old. He had only recently started eating food by mouth. Costello syndrome is a very rare disease and he is the only child in our city of nearly 1 million to have it. 15% of these children will develop childhood cancer. To learn more, visit Costello Kids.

17+ Super Cute Farm & Chicken Themed Items For Your Next Portrait Session or Your Child’s Party

17+ Super Cute Farm & Chicken Themed Items For Your Next Portrait Session or Your Child’s Party!

I have chickens and occasionally other farm animals and so farm animals is a fun theme, my kids love.

Please note, these are NOT my photos, I took them directly from the stores’ sites. As a photographer, I see many themes and this blog is for educational purposes. If you are doing any of these themes with me, let me know if you are bringing in any of these awesome props, so I can decorate accordingly!

Garland & Backdrops

This animal garland from Artifanhas is fantastic!

This chicken bunting is too cute and would be great for a rustic theme. From AmpersandGo.

Something like this would be great for selfies or a photo booth at the party. You could also put it behind the birthday boy’s chair. By LittleFancyParty. (She has different versions and colors, look through them!

Here’s a cute chicken high chair banner from RustyChicDecor.

If you prefer more of a farm theme high chair banner, this is an adorable one from PrettyLittleClippie.

Outfits

While I wouldn’t recommend this shirt for the actual smash, I might have to get one for my own kids to wear on a normal basis! From SalemGraceDesigns

This dress from Francisbel is super CUTE and if I would have seen it when my little girl was little, I would have gotten it for her. I actually used this fabric for my daughter’s room. I wouldn’t have your kid wear it for a cake smash, but for regular photos, it would be adorable. Check out her stuff, she also has a chicken dress, that I wish came in a 10/12!! 

Tutus are always a safe bet for cake smashes. This chicken one would pop off a red backdrop nicely, or do a pink color to go with the ribbon and make it extra girly. From PrincessGirlsTutu.

Alternatively, diaper covers are a good go too. For boys, with a farm theme, you could do overalls or blue jeans.

I saw these chaps on Etsy and I about died! Can you imagine this with a naked booty, OMG! From SMPstore. (Now to talk a client into doing this! LOL.)

Cakes & Cupcakes

These fondant cake toppers are fantastic and you can get the whole set or just pieces. From CarolinaCakeToppers.

These Oreo Cookie Pops from DoodlePopsCo are SOOO cute.

These cookies from CookieBliss would be a hit!

Here’s some more super cute fondant items from ParkersFlourPatch. (Please note, fondant is great for decorating, but for a photoshoot smash, it’s harder to get into, so you’ll either have to cut into it (and make sure there’s icing inside, if you want the mess for photos.) or use these only for décor.

This cake topper would be cute too, from HadleyandCompany.

Or this one from SmashCaked, which I love with the number and bunting.

Other

Maybe not for a one year old’s party, but this chicken piñata would be great for older kids. From Pinata Pals.

These cute little chicken crayons would be great as part of an activity or party favor for older kids! From Penguinwithaproject.

Watch our blog for other themes and ideas in the future. If you live in Jacksonville, MacClenny, Fernandina, Amelia Island, Oakleaf, Orange Park, Middleburg or somewhere else on the First Coast and need a photographer for your little one, check out Christy Whitehead Photography.

10 Tips on What NOT TO DO if You’re doing A Smash Session, Tips from a North Florida Cake Smash Photographer

Everyone comes into doing a cake smash imagining their baby having this dream session where they immediately dive for the cake and everything is just oh so cute. For the best session possible, check out these sometimes funny things NOT TO DO!

I don’t write this to be mean, in any way. These are just things I have learned through trial and error!

  1. Chocolate ice cream, fudge, or icing. When it comes to babies, we parents get to deal with blow outs enough as it is, and while chocolate is a favorite flavor of ice cream— just don’t do it. LOL.
  2. Animals in the session. Kids are hard enough to get focused, throw in some animals and it’s likely a recipe for disaster. Your kid may run off, but the pets, on the other hand see a free meal!
  3. Shirts with words on them. It’s hard to get a good photo of shirts on a kid. Their bodies are sooo little and then having them at the perfect angle to see the words (even just O-N-E) can be a nightmare.
  4. Balloons. No seriously. I occasionally use them, but they can be a nightmare. Especially the number ONE balloon. It turns, it’s never at the right angle and THEN, kids are much more interested in playing with balloons then getting messy.
  5. Wearing only fancy clothes. Seriously. Those messy fingers will come after you! And even if they don’t, you’re going to have to wash your baby off, and icing sometimes is really greasy and sticky! If you’re coming in for portraits, make sure you have an extra pair of grungy clothes you can change into just before the smash. You don’t want to worry about whether that icing will stain!
  6. Red icing. It can look like your child is a vampire, no seriously. But, on the other hand, if it’s a vampire themed smash–great idea!
  7. Hats. I don’t know a single kid that likes to wear a hat. Unless you get one on your kid’s head almost every day without issue, don’t spend money on a birthday hat, ESPECIALLY the ones with the strings that go around the chin, the kids throw them off.
  8. Gels and things that have color (that you haven’t tested). We did a strawberry smash one day and it went REALLY well. I made a strawberry short cake and added strawberries and a red strawberry gel stuff I got from Publix in the produce department. Figured it would give it more of a mess. The problem was, after we washed the baby, she still had a red stain on her face. I do all my family photos before the smash, so it wasn’t too much of an issue, but on her bath photos, I had to clean it up in Photoshop. so it didn’t look like she had a rash.
  9. Bow ties, ties and suspenders. Pretty much anything fancy your kid doesn’t wear on a normal basis is likely to tick them off, trust me!
  10. Wait until the day of to give your kid cake. For the first year of a baby’s life they are RARELY given sugar and parents usually clean them up fast, so sweet things and being messy are usually things that make babies upset. Start giving your little one cake (cupcakes with icing work great) about a month or so before their smash session. Let them play with it. Try different flavors and such to see what they like the best. If all else fails, go with a fruit or food smash (like Spaghetti). Those go over MUCH better and are soo cute!

Looking for a photographer for your little one? Christy Whitehead is located in Jacksonville Florida and specializes in bellies and babies. Call 904-891-0359 or email her to set up your own session.

Babies and Shots–What I do! Newborn Photographer in Jacksonville, Florida

So I have two children and in conversations, I sometimes end up talking about kids, growing up, going to the doctor and shots.

2010, with my daughter

With my daughter, she got the regular vaccination schedule (born in 2010). Her pediatricians always warned us to give her Tylenol before we came.

After her shots, she would typically run a fever and be just miserable and cranky.

EVERY parent I’ve talked to has said they had the same issues and they hated taking their kids to get shots.

The 1980s

I was reading that the amount of shots I got in the 80s was like half of what kids get now in one sitting.

I mentioned this to my pediatrician and he said that they like to group the shots together to ensure that parents will get them done. If they required parents to come back more frequently, it wouldn’t happen.

2014, with my son

When my son was born in 2014, I found a delayed vaccination schedule, which meant that he would get NO MORE than 3 shots at any one time.

I printed this out and brought it to my kids’ pediatrician. He said that he didn’t necessarily agree with it but he would go by the chart and I agreed to come in more frequently to make sure he got all of his shots.

My son was NEVER cranky and didn’t run a fever. He is now 4 and STILL no issues.

Also, in case you’re interested, my child was in Daycare and PreK and I asked the nurse on site and she said it wasn’t an issue at all.

Arguments about Vaccines

I realize there are SOOO many different points of view about vaccines. There are moms that don’t want any vaccines, etc.

This is about what has worked for me and my family. My children still get all their shots.

For me, I felt like the number they give now a days is just WAYYYY to much for their little systems/bodies to handle and I didn’t mind coming back more frequently for my peace of mind.

You can Google search “Dr. Sears Delayed Vaccine Schedule, Printable” to find this to print for free.

I’ve had sooo many parents ask me about it and wanting to know more, so I figured I’d create a blog post for those who are interested!

 

Christy Whitehead is a newborn and family photographer, located in Jacksonville, Florida.

In Tribute to Lynrd Skynrd’s Last Concert in Jacksonville, Ideas for a Music Cake Smash!

Living in Jacksonville, Florida, home of Lynrd Skynrd, everyone is going crazy today for the last concert going on tonight.

So in tribute, I figured I’d throw together a musical/Lynrd Skynrd themed cake smash ideas for you.

If you want to put together a musical themed cake smash (or any theme!) let me know and let’s make some messy fun!

Props

I’m not sure what I’d do with these, maybe put them everywhere or glue them to a backdrop or have a newborn hold them.

This banner would work great.

This Free Bird sign would look awesome propped in the back somewhere, or rigged to hang.

An old tape player or record player would look awesome as well, especially if you have these to go with it.

Cake

One of these would be awesome on a small smash cake or set up along the ground.

Or this one, which can be customized.

Clothing

This crown is sooo cute.

And this diaper cover would work great for a boy or a girl.

Here’s a bib to go with it.

Here’s a more colorful diaper cover, depending on the look you’re going for.

This shirt looks like it would go with the above diaper cover (you could probably ask if they could match colors. But this might look better with some blue jeans, especially if they were ripped, to give off that rocker vibe.

Tutus always make great smash outfits for little girls. This one has musical notes around it’s edge. It could go with a background of most any color or look.

I LOVE this little outfit and she makes it in different colors.

Here’s another one that’s clean and very easy to see what it is.

 

Finally, as the parent, you WILL likely get messy helping with your kid’s first birthday smash session, so you might need a change of clothes too. There’s a couple of vintage and new choices for Lynrd Skynrd inspired shirts on Etsy. Here’s a good newer one for a die hard fan.

And these musical fingernails are pretty awesome too.

 

Christy Whitehead Photography is located in Jacksonville, Florida and specializes in newborn, family and cake smash photography. Contact her now to set up your own session. 904-891-0359.

Cake Smash Sessions! Toy Story Cake Smash -Jacksonville Florida Studio Photography Ideas

Disney Pixar Toy Story sets are one of my favorites. I occasionally get asked to do something with Disney in most all of my newborn sessions. And every once in awhile a mom wants a Toy Story set for the cake smash as well.

If you would like me to create a special Toy Story session for you, contact me. These are ideas for clothing for moms, but also ideas for other photographers who would like to create something similar. Or if you are looking for decoration ideas for your own child’s first birthday, hope this helps!

The above image was something a little more simple and clean. The brown was so nice against this little boy’s skin. Mom and dad work in law enforcement and are huge Disney fans, so Woody was a MUST. (I got that little Woody doll out of a cereal box, I think., a couple of years ago!)

Containers

When I went to do my first Toy Story session, I was trying to figure out what to put the baby in. Photographers usually use baskets or buckets. And that just didn’t seem to fit. I searched the web and Pinterest and found nothing. I was watching Toy Story 3 and saw the boxes, where Andy’s mom was putting the toys to donate and it dawned on me! Now, of course, if you search Pinterest, everyone copies the idea and I’m flattered. BuzzFeed has twice picked up some of my Toy Story themed sessions and posted them to their site.

Something like this bucket would be a cute idea as well, from DeLaDesign. It could be used for Easter or Halloween after. For photographers, it would make a great gift for after the session.

This wood box would be cute as well, from CarriageonCherry. This would be a more stable option, as boxes or buckets can tip. Plus it has a classy look and can be used in a bedroom after to store supplies or books.

Clothing

My daughter, in the photo above, is wearing a Jessie costume from Disney, and then the Buzz Lightyear hat came from Etsy.

For newborns, I NEVER recommend onesies or standard clothing, they typically don’t fit and if you have writing on them it can be awkward to see.

So the next image isn’t mine, but I couldn’t help but share it. I found LoverDoversBaby on Etsy and she has some ADORABLE Disney outfits for newborns up to 12-18months.

 

This is a cute little Buzz Lightyear romper from 4YourLittleStar on Etsy, and would look cute for any little girl who wants something different. Or if you had twins, one could be Woody and the other Buzz.

I’m in love with this Jessie romper from JuneBuggsHatchlings.

For boys, you could do denim pants and a red bandana (see the photo below).

Pair this little outfit below from Sonorali with jeans and you’d have a perfect little outfit for a boy or girl. (Add a huge bow or the Mickey ears below for a girl)

I NEED to pick this set up from Etsy. How cute is this?

This is an adorable crocheted hat that would be cute for a session!

I found quite a few Disney Toy Story ears on Etsy also. You could do a simple diaper cover, jeans or tutu, partnered with something like this cute Two sided ears from Myforevercharmed on etsy.

Decorations

The toys in my sets were all items I had in my collection. You can usually pick some up at flea markets, yard sales or Ebay, if you don’t have a Disney Store nearby or don’t want to spend a fortune.

Some other ideas for decorations, I LOVE these blocks that look like Toy Story blocks and you could spell out your child’s name from AuntJJsAttic.

 

Of course, I’m also a huge fan of naked baby booty.

I think I got the flags from Target. You could do something like this from Amazon.

This is an adorable printable from Etsy that has all the characters on it.

I made the backdrop for my Story sets. I designed it in Photoshop and then had it printed out. Etsy has a couple of vendors who provide a digital file for printing your own.

Like this one from, Printerama:

Here’s a cute one from KbKParties.

 

Cakes & Cupcakes

For the cake, I love the above Toy Story cake. We used an actual toy hat for the top. However, you can find some cupcake toppers and such on Etsy.

Like these from BellaMiaUs, if you just want character toppers for cupcakes.

Or these number super cute toppers from Thingamaparty!

Skylar in blocks, Toy Story newborn and sitter session!

 

Christy Whitehead is a photographer, based out of Jacksonville, Florida. She specializes in maternity, newborns, families, and cake smash sessions. Her studio is located right off of I-10, ten minutes from downtown.

Unicorn Set, Ideas, Tips and Links to Buy, Cake Smash in Jacksonville, Fl

Unicorns have been a popular theme in kid’s clothing and in sets for our studio, especially cake smashes.

As a Jacksonville, Florida based children’s photographer, I love photographing all the different themes that come my way. I recently had a really cute unicorn themed smash and I wanted to share it with you, along with ideas and tips for your own session or to use as a backdrop at your child’s birthday party.

Backdrops

I buy backdrops from all over the place, so I can’t remember exactly where I got this one from. But, here’s some suggestions and ideas for backdrops:

Rainbow Clouds backdrop on Etsy

Unicorn backdrop on Etsy

We used a ONE sign made on Etsy by TinCakes at  but if you wanted something even more elaborate, this might be an option. Super cute and layered.

Cake

Our cake was made by Sweets by Staci, here in Jacksonville. She will deliver the cake to the studio for you on the day of your session.

One of these cake toppers would be cute for your cake as well.

If you are doing something at home and need to make a simple store bought cake look like a unicorn, you could always pick up something like this.

Table Skirt

A lot of parents like to buy a decoration to go around the table or high chair.

Here’s a pink tutu style one.

As for clothing choices.

We just used a simple rainbow tutu and a headpiece similar to this.

Tutus are always a fun choice for a first birthday session.

This is a SUPER cute outfit from Etsy‘s DabinDesigns.

This outfit is a little more subdued in colors, but is def. cute with the unicorn on it. Would match a lot of sets. Sold on Etsy by CoraandViolet .

This is all pink and super girly by DwellAndAbidePtyLtd .

Here’s a white onesie style with a gold ruffle butt and accessories.

And of course, Unicorn shoes!!!

Different Kinds of Headshots– Corporate Photographer, Jacksonville

Are you needing head shots of your employees or maybe all the executives in your company? Most companies need updated portraits, but often aren’t sure exactly what they need.

I did a session with Michael recently to update some business portraits for him and I thought I would share a couple of variations and their uses.

The above two shots are very common requests.

The left image is what I do for many companies who just need something quick for each employee. These types of shots are typically great for email signatures, ID badges, etc. It might also get used in casual usages and ads.

A horizontal head and shoulders is also a popular option for this type of headshot. 

I saw the above image on Pinterest. I wish I knew who created it. But it has some interesting information to think about as well for a standard headshot.

Three-Quarter Length Stance

The right is a little more formal and it crops down to about the waist. Not only does his outfit imply it’s a little more formal, but also because it shows more of his body. These types of portraits are more ideal for managers, relators, job seekers, etc. If you want an employee to stand out a little more, this option might be good.

Seated

The above example doesn’t show the seated example as good as say the next image, but he is seated. I like how it pulls him forward and makes him feel more inviting.

Seated poses definitely feel more warm and personable. They also usually give the person somewhere to put their hands, something to do.

However, it’s not appropriate for all portraits, if it’s done wrong it can make the person look bigger or frumpy in the mid section.

Full body

Occasionally, I get a request for a full body. And Michael had on red shoes, so I HAD to include those as it shows off part of his personality.

For executives and owners of a company, this is can be a good option. It can also be cropped in at waist level for a secondary look or use. These might be used for an annual report, or for a full portrait for the wall.

Environmental Portraits

There’s an image up a little higher where you can see a window behind Michael. That’s another “environmental” type portrait.

These can be done in your office, outside or on location somewhere. They help to show off the personality of you and your business.

For realtors this might mean near a house. The brick wall is popular.

A lawyer might use a library, or their desk.

If your office has great big windows or great architecture, those are all great places for this type of shot.

These usually are a little more custom and aren’t as ideal for name tags, or a large company with a 1,000 employees.

These are often used for formal portraits or prints to hang on the wall since they often have that extra bit of color or personality.

ABOUT

Christy Whitehead photography has travelled all over the US photographing employees and executives for news publications as well as internal use (uniform manuals, websites, etc). She has photographed companies that have one employee as well as those with multiple locations and 1,500 employees.

Email her to set up your own custom quote.