5 Steps to Better School Pictures

Patrick, 2013
Patrick, 2013

School picture day: who remembers? When arriving in the lunchroom, there’d be big lights and a backdrop, and masses of students to be photographed by one photographer with one assistant. Hundreds of students photographed in one single day. Not even a day, a matter of hours. Even though there was that one assistant with bad breath and a juicy jar full of black combs, and even though she always made a fuss over my hair, my pictures were always horrible. I made funny faces, wasn’t looking the right way, or my hair had its own agenda – and I always felt nervous and anxious with my peers watching… Say cheese is right! Cheesy pictures! I hated school picture day.

My children and their school photos suffered the same fate – and with three children, purchasing separate school picture packages got to be a little more than I could afford, especially for pictures I didn’t find endearing. I wanted to commemorate the growth of my children, but I wasn’t happy with the school picture system.

As a photographer and business owner, I’m now aware that I have not been alone in the dissatisfaction of school picture experiences. Many of our clients come to us after school picture day to “retake” images that were originally taken by a contracted mass-production photographer – and their reasons are the same – glasses covered up eyes, skin tone looked off, facial expressions were goofy. To be fair to the high-volume photographers, it’s difficult to photograph that many people in one day. It becomes impossible to provide personal attention to detail, and to provoke a natural smile, when hundreds of students are buzzing about waiting for their turn in front of the camera.

Jeanette, 2013
Jeanette, 2013

Here are a few things you can do to insure a better picture day experience:

1. Make sure hair is cut and combed the way you like it prior to picture day. There’s nothing worse than an image where everything, including the smile are perfect, but mom says, “Oh, I wish we’d have gotten your hair cut! They’d be great if it weren’t for your hair!” You know picture day is coming. Go ahead and arrange that hair cut.
2. Teens and pre-teens should consider facial treatments and food choices that support a healthy complexion at least a week before picture day. Retouching is possible, but can be expensive. Be pro-active and get a jump-start on clear skin for picture day. Getting enough sleep is also an important part of preparing your face for pictures! Glowing skin and well-rested eyes add refreshing energy to your images.
3. Wear solid colors, preferably that match or compliment your eyes. Loud patterns can be distracting in an image and can clash with the background. Since most school images are head and shoulder shots with eyes as the focal point, choose a solid color shirt that brings out your eyes, and a color you feel confident in. Avoid logos and print on clothing as well as patterns.
4. In the case of wardrobe on picture day, less is not more! Three-quarter-length to full-length sleeves are more attractive in pictures than spaghetti straps, halter tops, or short sleeves. Shoulder and arm skin can be distracting in an image and can draw attention to weight issues and/or skin imperfections.
5. Consider custom. School pictures taken in a cafeteria in five minutes or less are not your only option for commemorating school years. There are many photographers in every town to fit nearly every photographic need, style, and price-point.

Yesinia, 2013
Yesinia, 2013

Custom photography is an affordable option for annual school photos, and can be combined with a family portrait session at Mitchell Photography Studio at no additional cost. With our studio starter package, Mitchell Photography offers a full session, indoors or outdoors, with individual break-downs of each member of the family, as well as various groupings such as sisters, brothers, all siblings together, and then when appropriate, Mom and Dad as a couple, as well as the entire family unit. Our basic studio starter pack includes at least ten images to choose from, and we don’t charge extra for wardrobe changes. All this for just $79.99, including a print package of four 8×10 units.

Another option for the annual family photo session is our custom memory book package. Our memory book package can combine indoor and outdoor settings, includes more than 20 images to choose from, all the family break-downs and groupings, wardrobe changes at no additional cost, and a beautiful 10×10 soft-cover, photo-wrapped memory book with 20 of your favorite full page images, all for the low price of just $179.99. Imagine this coffee table memory book in your family’s home to share with friends, family, and guests.

Portrait sessions at Mitchell Photography studio are private and completely custom. We help you plan your background selections, wardrobe options, posing style, and we take into consideration the type of products you and your student will adore. We feature high-quality, fairly priced prints, mounted portraits, gallery canvas wraps, prints on metal, magazine cover styles, sports cards, and a plethora of other trinkets and treasures to showcase your images.

Yesinia, Jeanette, and Patrick, 2013
Yesinia, Jeanette, and Patrick, 2013

You don’t have to suffer the consequences of a contracted mass-production photographer for your child’s school pictures, and you don’t need to write separate checks to purchase separate packages for each of your children. Contrary to popular belief, you do have options. And, why not take advantage of the opportunity to preserve your family’s growth as well as the growth of your child(ren)?

Make the most of your child’s school memories by making the most of your moments with Mitchell Photography. Contact us today to set up your free, no obligation design consultation.

And, of course, welcome back to school!

Wendi Mitchell is a writer, photographer, and small business owner in Bowling Green, Kentucky. 

Mitchell Photography
(270) 793-9871


Your Senior Portrait Experience

High School senior year is one of the most magnificent milestones life has to offer. More than an approach to emancipation, by the time you graduate, opportunities abound for demonstrating the lessons learned along the way, celebrating the obstacles overcome, and dreaming dreams for a future likely to turn out better than imagined. The paths walked, the creativity evolving in each student is different – each senior is unique. There are certain steps you can take to ensure the best possible outcome for your once-in-a-lifetime senior portrait experience: Select a photography studio that is right for your needs in price-point, products, and creative style; take advantage of design consultations if offered; prepare your wardrobe in advance; groom thoughtfully prior to your photography session, and be familiar with the products your chosen photography studio offers so when you view your incredible images, you don’t get lost in the ordering process.

Select a photographer that is right for your needs in price-point, products, and creative style. Amateurs are flooding the photography industry posing as professionals. Opposite, old-school photographers have learned how to rope entire classes of students like herds of cattle, rushing the masses through cookie-cutter sets. There are a plethora of legitimate, licensed, talented, and respected photographers to choose from in nearly every city, state, and small town in our country. Find a photographer who is licensed and legally able to operate. Once you find out they’re legitimate, investigate their creative style to make sure your desires for your images match the artwork of the photographer. Price-point is important, but you should educate yourself on what’s standard in the photography industry. Don’t be afraid to invest in the memories of your past and dreams of your future. Don’t sell yourself short on the budget friendly photog just because the price is right. Finally, make sure your chosen photographer can produce the types of products with which you daydream of showcasing your amazing images. For more, visit this link for Five Steps to Finding the Picture Perfect Photographer!

Take advantage of design consultations if offered. Design consultations are usually free of charge and no obligation. This allows you to meet your photographer(s) to make sure your personalities are a good match. Even if the creative style, products, and budget are on point, if the photographer makes you feel awkward or uncomfortable, that will translate in your images. Design consultations also allow you to scope out the environment, eyeball the sets and backgrounds available, chit chat about poses, and your photographer will usually take the time to help you figure out important details such as what to wear and how to prepare for your senior portrait session. Meeting your photographer in advance can also eliminate some of that awkward discomfort that sometimes happens when meeting people for the first time.

Prepare your wardrobe in advance. Try on each outfit and look in the mirror. Can you bend? Can you squat? Can you kneel? Young ladies particularly, with short skirts or tight dresses, feel extremely confident coming into their shoot, but quickly realize the outfit does not allow for flexible posing, or is so tight it distorts the figure on camera. Take the advice your photographer offers and make sure your clothes fit comfortably, allowing you to bend. Take the time to iron your clothes; it’s easier to remove wrinkles before you arrive than it is to pay for post-processing edits. Socks and shoes may appear in images, so think those through as well. Ladies do well to wear mid-to-long sleeves, avoiding spaghetti straps, tube tops, or sleeveless tops/dresses. Consider uniforms as well as trophies and other treasured trinkets. Its better to bring too much with you than to wish you had brought more. Bring one formal, one classy, and one casual outfit as a general rule.

Groom completely before your session. The time to wish you had a haircut is before your portraits are taken, not when you’re viewing them on the big screen! Gentlemen should consider facial hair – if a clean-shaven look is preferred, shave prior to the session rather than wishing you had after. Ladies, check those fingernails and toenails! Nail polish is the most-often forgotten tidbit and can be time-consuming and expensive in post processing. Don’t rely on Photoshop edits for things you can do in advance. Communicate with your photographer about retouching needs such as bruises, scratches, acne, or areas about which you might feel insecure. With posing, lighting, photography skill, and retouching, your photographer can help bring out the very best of your features, while drawing attention away from imperfections.

Last, but far from least, beware of “faux-tographers” who offer images on c.d., but don’t offer printed portraits or custom products. Think about your product needs, which family members, friends, or associates you’re gifting with prints, memory books, formal albums, custom graduation announcements, or the bling and glam that is endless with custom possibilities. Whether you’re after a personalized phone cover, bangle bracelets, or senior rep cards in custom aluminum tins, since you’re going to go through the experience of having your portraits professionally made, you should consider product needs, price points, and payment plans. During your viewing session, when you see your phenomenal images floating on the big screen, if you’ve not given some forethought to your needs, you may feel overwhelmed and have difficulty making decisions. Explore your home for potential placement for artwork, make lists of family members or friends who need images, and what sizes they may want. Of course, it helps if your photography studio offers online viewing galleries for extended family and friends, or out of town loved ones.

You deserve the best senior portrait experience you can imagine – and no one plays a more important role in planning and securing that experience than you. Go in strong, go informed, and celebrate the very most of these milestone moments. And congratulations! You’ve successfully traversed a portion of your journey you’ll recall often for the rest of your days. Be proud.

Mitchell Photography in Michigan: Featured Session: Savannah’s Christening

In May we had the honor of driving to Michigan to celebrate and photograph our grand-daughter’s Christening. Here’s a sneak peek at the loving moments shared by our extended family.


Client proofing gallery available on our website.

Tuesday Tidbits

We took the weekend to recover from a remarkable week with family, welcoming baby Amie into our lives. Monday we buckled down and busted out many of the online viewing galleries and behind-the-scenes things that have me a lot-a-bit excited.

For example, we changed our credit card processing system, which took several weeks and several steps to set up. This was not our first credit-card-processing rodeo, and while that might seem like boring mumbo jumbo to you, the benefits and savings are yours. This means when you log in to your new client portal, if you have invoices with outstanding balances, you can pay them online. It also means the ordering via online galleries is tons easier. And, as an added bonus, with the ability to safely and securely store credit card information for billing purposes, we’re able to offer in-house financing and automatic payments for those special orders that exceed planned portrait price points. And, with the processing being tied to our database, it also means you can now make convenient and easy payments by phone if online payments aren’t your thing.

With our current client orders processed, we are now moving into the processing of our grand-daughter Savannah’s Christening from the end of May, and the newborn portraits of our newest grand-daughter, Amie, born last week. But beginning at 6 this evening, we’re back in studio meeting with clients for design consultations, portrait sessions, viewings, and order deliveries from now through Friday morning, then Friday afternoon and Saturday morning bring our next promotional photo session in honor of Warren County Rescue.

We’re honored to give away free 5 minute, two-pose mini sessions with free 10×13 color family portrait in thanks of your donations to Warren County Rescue Department. If you’ve recently made a donation and have a coupon for your free photo, please call (270) 793-9871 to request your appointment, or click here to request your appointment online.

Now that we’re recovered from travels and have a few hours before our work-from-home portion of the week is over, I’m shard at work on updating the boutique. There have been some technical changes due to the change in web servers and credit card processors, so I’m smoothing out the wrinkles and ironing out the bumps.

As always, thanks for making the most of your moments with Mitchell Photography, and stay tuned for further updates.

Bama, Baby! New love!

Made it to Alabama by 1:40 a.m. And crashed by 2. Woke as the “kids” we’re leaving for the hospital. Their two-year-old, our first grandchild, sleeps soundly in the next room, unaware of the changes about to bless his family.

When little dude wakes, we’ll grab some grub, get all cleaned up, and take Payton to see his parents in anxious waiting for his baby sister.

I’m so grateful for a business (and amazing clients!) that make family times like this possible.

Today, our family gets a new love!

Updated later!


Mitchell Photography: High-Quality, Fairly-Priced Professional Photography that Emanates Classic Elegance with a Modern Edge.


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