Blog Category: Family Portraits

In search of the perfect holiday gift? Have a look through your photos

Holidays are fast approaching and we’ve been contemplating the best gift ideas for family and friends. Proper gift giving requires thoughtfulness and planning, but finding the right gift for all of those special someones can get overwhelming. Want a tried and true approach to gift giving? Start by picking up your favorite device and scrolling through your photo library, it’s a treasure trove of unwrapped presents.

Today we live in a world where everyone takes photos, sometimes capturing dozens a day. A selfie here, a candid there, often for instant gratification in the form of a social media post, or for sharing in real time with friends, and then forgotten. Even more photos stay sitting on hard drives or in camera rolls never to be seen or utilized. For posterity perhaps? Only if the future knows where to find them.

Remember developing a roll of film and flipping through each print excitedly, reliving the moment portrayed in each one? Chances are you’d run home to frame a few for yourself or others, tack one up on the refrigerator or get to work on a photo album or scrapbook. With today’s dependence on digital photography it can seem like a novelty to even make a print, giving extra impact to that physical object. Just try to walk by a beautiful framed photo of your child or grandchild without smiling or experiencing a moment of pure happiness.

This holiday treat your loved ones to a cherished photo gift and watch them light up with joy and appreciation. It’s a feeling they’ll get experience again and again every time they see it–making for the ultimate gift that keeps on giving.

Need some ideas? Check out this list of our favorite photo products that we have available to our clients all year long.

  • Holiday Cards We can custom design holiday cards right in our West Tisbury studio, tailored to your specifications. Choose two to three favorite photos from 2018, and a favorite holiday greeting, and we’ll put together a compelling card that anyone would love to receive.
  • Bound Book or album Simply put everyone loves a well produced photo album, but people rarely get around to assembling one. It’s easy to skim and can be shared on your coffee table or passed around at family events. Weddings, family portrait sessions, and baby’s first year photos are especially well suited for albums, and can be easily flipped through for a trip down memory lane.
  • Wooden Box Print your favorite photo on the lid of a wooden box and the recipient will be reminded of a special moment every time they open it. Take it one step further and fill the box with a sentimental item that correlates to the photo.

  • Large Prints and Wall Displays Everyone appreciates a large print in a nice frame that can be admired at their home or office. Photos can also be printed on canvas, metal and acrylic, or choose a selection of photos and create several pieces for a collage wall or cluster display.

  • Calendar Share twelve separate memories in one with a desk or wall calendar. Photo calendars are a beloved classic and get good use. Plus it doesn’t limit you to having to choose just one photo and the pages can be saved and repurposed after each month has passed.

  • Magnets This is an affordable and easy option you can gift everyone in your family, and you know they’ll get prominently displayed.

  • Ornaments Create an ornament or gift tag with your favorite photo and attach it to a wedding, birthday, or holiday gift.

  • Phone Cases Let’s face it, we’re always holding our phones so this gift would get a lot of exposure, and it’s an easy way to identify your phone.

  • Coasters Personalized photo coasters are both versatile and practical. Who could cry at spilled milk when one of your favorite photos is staring back at you?

Interested in placing a holiday order? Let us know. Orders typically take two weeks but can be rushed in time for Christmas if received before December 17.

If you really want to shine this year give the gift of a family portrait session or baby’s first year session–the experience and the lasting memories make for the ultimate photo gift. Contact us for details and quotes.

Happy gift giving!

Dressing for success when it comes to Family Portraits

We capture a lot of Family Portraits on Martha’s Vineyard this time of year. One of the first and most obvious questions we hear from parents is “what should we all wear?” It’s understandable, we all want to look our best, and Family Photos are a special occasion to get everyone together. Plus, like any professional photograph, you want to love the results! Fear not, with a few simple strategies–how to properly coordinate colors and patterns, keep it comfy and true to your individual style–you’ll have your brood outfitted appropriately in no time.

Here’s our tips for choosing your Family Portrait wardrobe wisely. Keep in mind these considerations are just as effective when organizing a DIY family photo shoot too. And if you’re still looking for some professional shots this season get in touch, we’d love to help you work our magic with your family!

Dress for the location. First and foremost you want your family dressed comfortably and appropriately for the place you’ll be taking your photos. Consider the ground you’ll be walking on. If you’re planning a beach shoot your family should be in shoes that can get sandy and can easily be taken off for some shoreline fun. And heels don’t make any sense here. Select shoes that your family can easily walk in and are tried and true. New shoes, especially on kids, can be a gamble and may result in cranky children, something we want to avoid, avoid, avoid on Family Portrait Day!

Dress for the weather. This might sound obvious but really think about the temperature and time of day you’re taking the photo. The Vineyard cools down very quickly in the evening and locations near the water can come with a chilly breeze. If you’re taking photos later in the day be sure to plan for sweaters or jackets as part of your family’s outfit and bring them along to the shoot. Our three favorite words when it comes to wardrobe selection are layers, layers, and layers.

Choose props and accessories wisely. Hats can look great on kids and can make for some extra cute shots, big bows and headbands too! Be mindful that it could be windy by the water so you’ll want something to tie back long hair if necessary (we always carry extra ties too). Don’t try to force your child into clothing or accessories they’re weary of or uncomfortable in. That goes for you as well. Everyone photographs best when they feel like themselves! If you have a favorite top or go–to outfit that you consider a second skin don’t be afraid to wear it.  

Select lightweight, breathable fabrics. When you’re posing you want to be able to move freely and comfortably cycle through both standing and sitting. This is hard to do when clothes are too tight and provide limited mobility. Plus its summer on Martha’s Vineyard so casual comfort and casual is what it’s all about!

Coordinate, but don’t try too hard to match. There’s an important line to maintain between properly coordinating your family’s clothes and being ‘matchy matchy.’ You want to complement each other’s outfits by choosing colors that work well together, but not dressing identically so everyone blends in as one. We like to provide our family portrait clients with some sample color palettes as a guide if they’re looking for inspiration.

A classic, nautical palette that compliments the natural backdrop of the Island is a combination of blues and whites. Don your family in different shades of blue–think navy, sky and royal, along with white and khaki or denim. If you’re looking for something bolder and brighter a la Lily Pulitzer, work off of a palette of coral, and bright blue or teal, and pink. And of course Nantucket red, it’s Martha’s Vineyard after all! You can pair that with whites and denims and light pastels like muted yellows and mint green, for a more understated look with color.

Don’t be afraid to dress your family in prints, as long as they complement one another, and avoid styles that are too bold or flashy. Choose smaller patterns that won’t distract from the subject matter. Also avoid wearing branded clothing with words or logos, as again these styles can draw attention away from the subject.

If you’re on Martha’s Vineyard and need some last minute staples check out Basics in downtown Oak Bluffs for simple, stylish pieces for the whole family–and yes, we have Vineyard Vines too. If you’re still undecided about what to wear, pack a second outfit to bring to the session, and do the same for any small children that might get messy.

For even more tips on preparing for the perfect Family Portrait click here. Just remember the point of family portraits is to document authentic family connections that will provide lasting memories, while having fun in the meantime! Remember to be yourself and good photos will follow.

Oh baby! An infant’s first year in photos

If you’re expecting a child, or if you’re the parent of a newborn, you’ve likely been taking a lot of photos. Your camera roll is probably full of shots of your growing baby in utero, or photos of your beloved new infant at every hour, doing their latest, most adorable thing yet. As a photographer I‘ve had the great privilege of documenting many family’s over the years, beginning with the first pregnancy or the first child.

One of my most favorite things to offer expecting parents, or those who have just delivered, is to provide a full year of photography services, from pregnancy or newborn, to the child’s first birthday. ‘Baby’s First Year’ as I call it, is a photographic diary that documents your child’s first year of life. From belly to birth, to your child’s first birthday, the changes during this first full year of life are both dramatic and fleeting. There are so many moments that come and go in a flash, and professional photographs are a great way to showcase your child’s milestones, not to mention they make fantastic gifts for family and friends.

My ‘Baby’s First Year’ package consists of up to six sessions which captures an infant’s progress throughout their first year, including: maternity shoot taken at home or on location on Martha’s Vineyard; newborn at one to three weeks, taken at home, with a focus on the baby’s hands, feet and face; three month photos taken at home, capturing the baby’s first smile, or warm intimate moments including cuddling with mom or nursing; six month photos taken at home or on location, with the baby sitting up, showing off its first tooth or hanging out with dad; nine month photos taken in and outside the home, in a stroller, crawling, grabbing and rolling around; first birthday taken at home with mom, dad and siblings, with cake and a candle.

I recently completed a ‘Baby’s First Year’ shoot with Hazel Lyla, an adorable young girl who lives on Martha’s Vineyard and is beloved by her parents Tara and Domingo.  I was first introduced to the family through Hazel’s grandparents Carrie and Eric, who wanted to gift newborn photos to Hazel’s overjoyed parents. When I suggested the option of ‘Baby’s First Year’ they jumped at the opportunity, deciding to opt for a five session package that would showcase the first year of Hazel’s many early achievements.

I began by capturing Hazel at two weeks old in her home. Tara proved to be a creative and diligent assistant, providing some amazing textures, outfits and props for each of Hazel’s shoots. During the first shoot Hazel’s grandparents were on location as well as her uncle, which allowed me to capture both solo shots of Hazel as well as some gorgeous family photos.

For Hazel’s three month session we selected Polly Hill Arboretum in West Tisbury, which offered an idyllic summer setting to capture Hazel and Tara interacting amidst the natural colors and textures.

Her six month session took place at Morning Glory Farm during the fall, which provided many seasonal, harvest-inspired props including a plethora of pumpkins and gourds that Hazel could grab and interact with.

 

For her nine month session we selected Donaroma’s nursery, a winter wonderland that made for captivating photos of Hazel playing in the snow and enjoying their decorative displays of plants, ornaments and lights.

Finally, Hazel’s one year shoot took place in my photography studio, playing with her parents and grandparents. Grinning from cheek to cheek, I was able to capture Hazel in her most comfortable environment, among her closest family, surrounded by generations of love and adoration.

As I look back on the photographs of Hazel’s first year I am in awe of the young girl she is becoming and the many milestones she’s already surpassed. I am grateful to her parents and grandparents for allowing me into their lives and giving me the chance to get up close and comfortable with Hazel. An album is in the works and I’m thrilled that her family will have Hazel’s first year collection to look back on, to bring years of joy and happiness and a reminder of the incredible journey from her earliest days.

Get in touch if your having a baby or interested in gifting a ‘Baby’s First Year’ package to a friend or family member. Three, four, five and six session packages available as well as a la carte sessions.

Family portraits on Martha’s Vineyard: Locations, locations, locations

As a resident of Martha’s Vineyard for over twenty years, I have had the pleasure of exploring this beautiful, diverse island, and I love sharing this place with my clients. I’ve discovered so many picturesque locations for family portraits and am constantly amazed with the variety of unique settings our Island home offers. 

When a family portrait client first reaches out about their session, I do my best to get to know them in order to determine the most appropriate place to capture their family. Depending on the time of year, the age of their family members, and thetype of background that appeals to them, I can help a family determine the ideal location that best fits their needs.

Martha’s Vineyard is only twenty two by nine miles wide, not to mention it’s surrounded by water on all sides, meaning you don’t have to go very far to find the picture-perfect spot. “Down-Island” is what the locals refer to as the towns of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven, and these are generally the most accessible family portrait locations, depending on where the family is staying. 

“Up-Island” or the west side of the Island, is usually a longer drive, but is home to some of the most scenic locations on-Island. Sometimes no traveling is required and a family determines that their home away from home is the ideal setting for their Martha’s Vineyard family portraits, offering an even more personal and nostalgic setting.

For those looking to get out of the house take a trip to the south-east tip of the island, In Edgartown’s Katama area, to South Beach, a three mile stretch of pristine beach, and one of my favorite family portrait locations. Separated from the parallel road by a vast swath of dunes, this location is convenient, requires minimal walking, and showcases the natural, raw beauty of Martha’s Vineyard–with expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean and Nantucket Sound. I recommend this location for its sunsets and secluded, yet accessible location.




Nearby in historic downtown Edgartown is Lighthouse Beach, an iconic Island location with boats, beaches, docks, dunes and pathways, making it one of my favorite locations for its diversity of portrait backdrops–not to mention its stunning views of the Edgartown lighthouse, Vineyard Sound and Chappaquiddick Island. For those that don’t know, Chappaquiddick Island or “Chappy” as it’s called locally, is a small peninsula and occasional island (depending on breaches due to storms) located on the eastern end of Edgartown. The Chappy Ferry runs across Edgartown harbor, transporting cars and passengers across the short 527 foot stretch to Chappaquiddick, a rural island with only one main road.



Another “down-island” treasure is the town of Oak Bluffs, which offers a vast array of family portrait locations all within easy walking distance. From the East Chop marina to the Oak Bluffs Harbor, the Flying Horses Carousel, expansive State Beach, scenic Ocean Park, the charming gingerbread cottages and the beloved Jaws Bridge, Oak Bluffs offers a little bit of everything. The Steamship Authority operates seasonally out of Oak Bluffs as well as the Island Queen, Hy-line, Seastreek and Rhode Island Fast Ferry, making it an extremely accessible location for day trippers too.

The next town over, due west, is Vineyard Haven or Tisbury. Historically the area was called “Nobnocket” by the Island’s original settlers, the Wampanoags, and was first referred to by the colonial settlers as “Homes Hole,” and eventually Vineyard Haven. The storied town is home to one of my other favorite locations, Owen Park, a little-known spot with a casual intimate beach and boat dock. An ideal family portrait location, as it allows clients to relax in the sand, play on the grassy hill or pose along the harbor, offering a wide range of backdrops in very close proximity.



For those families who prefer to head “up-Island” and are looking for an authentically Vineyard experience, I recommend a family portrait session in Menemsha, the quintessential fishing village within the town of Chilmark. Classic and charming, Menemsha boasts a wide variety of nautical backdrops for photos: stacks of lobster traps, long-line fishing boats, colorful shacks along the docks, and beautiful Menemsha Beach.




Visitors flock to the beach in the summer for their breathtaking sunsets, where they get a front-row seat at these daily phenomenons, while enjoying the freshest seafood from the village’s local fish markets. A portrait session in Menemsha allows families to connect with each other while appreciating the timelessness and beauty of one of the Vineyard’s most historic harbors.





Even further “up-Island,” is the town of Aquinnah which lines the southwest point of Martha’s Vineyard and offers some of the best landscapes on the entire Island. The town was known as Gay Head until 1997 when it was formerly renamed to Aquinnah, which is Wampanoag for “land under the hill.” Aquinnah has become celebrated as a center of Wampanoag culture, and is known as one of the earliest sites of whaling, where the Wampanoag first harvested whales by harpoons, long before the 19th-century whaling boom on Martha’s Vineyard. Today, Aquinnah is most known for its colorful clay cliffs, perhaps the most striking and well-known natural feature of the Vineyard, and stunning views of Vineyard Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. For families that are up for a little hiking during their visit, Moshup Beach is a must-visit and results in a majestic backdrop that really captures the scenic beauty of Martha’s Vineyard.


Sometimes it’s hard to believe that so many unique settings exist on our small Island–it really is a photographer’s dream. I’m so fortunate to have access to such amazing locations, and nothing makes me happier than sharing them with my clients. Over the years I have collected dozens of other secret spots to keep in my arsenal, and along with the more popular locations, those hidden gems really show off the diversity of the Vineyard, while complementing a family’s dynamic.

Visiting the Island this summer? Get in touch and we’ll work together to discover the most picture-perfect spot for your family’s portraits. 

Have fun and be prepared: Getting the most out of your Family Portraits

We get it. The thought of organizing your family for a portrait session can be overwhelming. Let’s face it, families can be complicated and coordinating large groups of people with their own quirks and personal dynamics, across multiple generations, can get complicated too. Throw in a couple of unruly toddlers, a crying baby, and some stressed out parents and it can be even more intimidating for our clients.

Not for us. We’ve made it our job to get families comfortable in front of the camera, and we promise it’s possible for us to get great shots of your kids too. After a family portrait session we often hear from our clients how surprised they are by how relaxing and enjoyable the shoot was. We love to hear this and we agree!

So how do we do it? We have a lot of fun and a lot of patience, and we ask our clients to try to do the same.

It starts by preparing your family in advance for the shoot. This means ensuring your family is well rested and well fed. We ask that you don’t schedule the shoot around your kids’ bedtime or nap time. If you request an afternoon shoot before going out to dinner, make sure the whole family eats a healthy snack in advance. Everyone is more relaxed and agreeable on a happy stomach. You know your family the best, so find a time of day that makes the most sense for your active brood.

Give the kids a heads up. Let your children know a few days in advance that you’re planning a photo session and tell them how much fun it will be. Be sure to allot enough time the day-of to get everyone comfortably and appropriately dressed, well fed and organized. Running late will add stress and you’ll show up worried about lost time. If possible Mom should treat herself to professional hair and makeup so she doesn’t have to preoccupy herself with her own appearance and can feel most confident when she arrives. Make sure Dad is on board and excited too. While Moms are typically the ones booking the sessions it’s important that everyone who shows up knows what to expect and is willing to embrace the process.

Pick a meaningful location. Many of our family portrait clients are visiting Martha’s Vineyard and want to take advantage of the diverse landscape it offers. We recommend selecting a location for your shoot that best matches the interests, personality, and attention spans of your family. Think about whether the kids are better suited for a casual walk along the beach or a longer hike near the Aquinnah cliffs. Some clients will opt for a more organized activity that we tag along for, like a clam bake or boat ride where the family is already comfortably engaged.

Have fun! Fun is the operative word. We want families to laugh, cuddle, giggle, be silly and play! We’re not afraid of a good time and if the kids aren’t feeling it we’ve got a whole bag of tricks up our sleeve. We always come equipped with fun activities and props to get the kids’ attention (if the kids have a favorite toy or item that always calms them we recommend bringing it along too). We’ll attach stuffed animals to our camera, play with hand puppets, make goofy faces or don costume glasses and accessories to get laughs and smiles. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and you shouldn’t either. We’ll ask Mom and Dad to get in on the fun too, kids love to see their parents let loose. And if all else fails, we have organic jelly beans parents can use as a last resort.

Don’t worry about the final product. It’s our job to get the perfect photo, it’s your job to enjoy yourself and your family. We know these photos will last for generations and you want them to be great, and they will be. We’ll  remove the “cheese” from the family photo and create real, timeless images that will allow you to relive the experience again and again. Remember, not everyone has to be looking straight at the camera to get the best photo. Many of our favorites are often the candid, unposed images that tell the most powerfully authentic story.

Make it a family tradition. Some of our family portrait clients have been coming back to us annually for over ten years. Many of them started as wedding clients whose families have evolved. We have come to really know those couples and watch the kids grow, and year after year everyone becomes more comfortable and excited by the shoot. By making it a tradition the kids know what to expect and you end up with an annual collection of great photos to share, not to mention good inspiration for holiday cards and gifts.

Looking to visit with your family this summer? Sign up to receive our Six Family Traditions which offers inspiration for the best family portrait locations on-Island and wardrobe tips for the whole family. Contact us to make your appointment.

Lastly, we just had to share one of our favorite reviews from Philip M. who sums up his family portrait experience:

We have used Randi as our official family portrait artist since the summer of 2012… Randi has effectively captured the personality and dynamics of our family within the context of our beloved Martha’s Vineyard rich scenic backdrop. Our friends and family have marveled at the quality of her work. She has become an important part of our summer tradition… Our recommendation for her services is without reservation.