Blog Category: Family Portraits (Page 2)

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.

At Randi Baird Photography it’s not business, it’s personal

We know choosing a photographer for your special occasion can be overwhelming, and we appreciate the opportunity to not only have your business but to have your trust. On Martha’s Vineyard there are dozens of other photographers offering similar services at comparable prices. Our discerning eye, our creativity and our technical knowledge are critical to our business, but what really sets us apart is the time and energy we invest in our subjects.

From the initial point of contact with our clients we take a genuine, personal approach, and strive to build a meaningful relationship before the camera comes out of the bag. We want to know what brings our subjects together, and use that information to not only make them feel more comfortable once we meet, but to help us determine the best setting for the shoot.

For our family portrait clients we want to know where they call home, what they enjoy doing together and how old the kids are. For our engagement shoot clients we want to know how they met, how the proposal went down and what’s planned for the wedding and honeymoon. We also offer suggestions and recommendations on wardrobe, and hair and makeup preparation to help ensure our clients arrive with the utmost confidence. This type of communication and information sharing allows us to better connect with our clients and prepare for our time together.

Once we arrive to a shoot we already have an established relationship and can expand on that with the camera. Photography is a personal business and we love making new friends! We enjoy conversing and engaging with our clients, we’ll talk constantly and ask questions to help distract them from the lens. We encourage natural interaction between our subjects, and use these candid exchanges to make our clients feel more comfortable, while we capture the best shots.

One of our favorite techniques is to incite laughter and joy among our subjects. It is so important for people to feel at ease and forget that they are having their picture taken! We don’t force fake smiles or demand people look directly at the camera. The best photos happen when people let their guard down, be themselves and live in the moment–this is how we enable our clients to help us tell their story most authentically.

For some of our more comfortable clients we’ll even suggest some really silly poses. We’ve photographed kids upside down, dad’s making funny faces and parents being climbed on by their kids. Their courage and self-assurance often yield some of the best photos of the entire shoot, and most honestly capture their personality and spirit. Basically however our subjects typically and most genuinely interact is how we want to shoot them.

We honestly love what we do and truly enjoy being able to capture life’s most cherished moments for our clients. Whether it’s a secret proposal, an intimate wedding, or a lively family reunion we have the tools to capture the perfect photos of your affair.

Have something planned? Contact us and we’ll get started planning the ultimate shoot for you and your family. In the meantime take a read through some helpful posing tips so you can build your camera confidence and ensure the most flattering shots.

 

Twist Your Body and Position Your Arms.

We know you’ve heard this red carpet trick before, a.k.a. ‘the skinny arm.’ By twisting your body and placing your camera-facing arm on your hip your upper arm will look smaller. If you find the pose to be a bit forced, try holding your bent elbows out from your sides ever so slightly or put your finger tips into your front pant pockets.

 

Chin Down! 

You usually want to avoid direct head-on shots. Why? Because there’ll be an absence of shadows, which could make your face look wider, larger, or slightly discolored. Instead, stand slightly sideways and tilt your chin a little bit downward.

 

Cross Your Legs. 

In general don’t position your body straight on towards the camera, it’s not interesting and appears flat and broad. We recommend creating angles with your body, such as crossing your legs, starting at the calf. For ladies we also recommend putting your right foot forward, knee bent and place your weight on your back leg. These poses will make your hips look narrower and your legs look longer, plus it looks a bit more casual. During the shoot we work with our clients to direct and suggest different angles and shapes that can flatter the whole family.  

For more tips on getting the perfect pose check out StyleCaster.com.

www.randibaird.com | 508.505.5909 | info@randibaird.com

Photographing Kids ~ Leave the Cheese Home

Kids Portraits:

Photographing kids can be a real adventure! They’re busy, they’re squirmy, they’re fast, sometimes they’re cranky, but guess what? Comparatively, all of that stuff is a total piece of cake.

 

The real challenge? The cheeeeeeeeeese.

Never have I photographed a child who didn’t do exactly one of two things when I first pulled out my camera. 1. Put on their “camera face”—you know, the one that Mom has programmed into their psyche since infancy, or 2. immediately ran in the opposite direction.

I have exactly one rigid, non-negotiable rule for myself as a photographer: I don’t shoot fake smiles. Period. I want to photograph what’s real, authentic, alive. Not only is approaching sessions from this space a million times more satisfying for me, but it completely enhances my subject’s experience as well.

Given a choice, I’d take the latter, any.day.of.the.week. I want you to “just be you“!

I am looking to capture your families authentic connections. Leave the perfect hair and clothes at home. I would much prefer to see you just as you are—beautiful! Show up in your favorite jeans and tousled hair, your child with a lolipop-stained mouth from the ride in the car. Relax. Have fun. Be real. Be alive. Be in love, and loving each other. Perfectly imperfect.

Here are a few tips I use when photographing kids.

1: REMOVE THE “CHEESE” from your vocabulary. If you’re looking to create real, timeless images, avoid that word like a swimming pool during a thunderstorm.

2: CHILL AND BE PLAYFUL: Just relax. Kids respond authentically to normalcy. Have Fun, play a game, run around, have a pig pile on top of Dad. The possibilities are endless.

3: DISENGAGE MOM and DAD: Mom + Dad – I have your back – relax!

4: LET THEM GO: Instead of trying to contain children to a specific backdrop, allow them to explore. Remember, your subject doesn’t have to be looking directly at the camera in order for you image to tell a powerfully authentic story.

5: BE YOURSELF: The best thing you can do to create beautiful art with a child is simply relax and be yourself. That’s what I am after with your kids;  A play date.

Martha’s Vineyard Family Portraits ~ over 90 families captured in 2016!

Family Portrait Sessions:

With over twenty years of experience living and working on Martha’s Vineyard, Randi Baird Photography has shot on every beach, at every venue, in all six towns up and down the island. Our Family Portraits incorporate our expertise with your family’s inspiration, and these elements come together to create dynamic and distinctive photographs.

We work with you every step of the way; from the initial planning, to providing wardrobe advice, to sharing our favorite Vineyard locations. Families choose Randi Baird Photography year after year, we’ve been photographing Anne and Robert since 2007!

It’s an honor to photograph a couple’s wedding and then have the opportunity to capture their kids years later. This black and white picture above was taken when little Ben was only six weeks old, the photo on the right is of Rose and Ben on their wedding day.

Our personal approach focuses on making your family feel relaxed in whatever venue you choose, in keeping your photographs as authentically you as possible. New Yorkers Wesley and Natalie have been clients since 2012, two years before Sebastian was born. Their little dog Malcolm is such a ham in front of the camera!

We can’t wait to get on the boat with you, join you on a long bike ride, or assist at your clam bake. We allow you to bring your vacation home. This is our fifth year capturing the Block Family Portrait.

During each session we create an atmosphere that is both casual and fun; families feel relaxed in front of our cameras which creates images that are keepsakes for decades to come. 

Contact the studio for rates and availability for your 2017 Marthas Vineyard Family Portraits. See you all this summer!