Sidney will be graduating from New Lothrop High School. When planning her senior photo shoot, we talked about her love of dance, reading and showing her lambs. We decided to combine all of these loves together in one concept shoot. "Sidney Had a Little Lamb." She has also wanted to pursue modeling, so we decided to head up town for some urban looks, and then out to the park for some beautiful natural settings.
What are you most looking forward to after graduation?
Taking on a little more responsibility and giving myself more opportunities to be bold, do things I normally wouldn't do.
What is your favorite quote?
"Fifty years from now, I don't want to look back on moments I lived, I want to reminisce on the moments I felt alive." mental-wonderland
What is one thing on your bucket list?
To go on the cathedral tour of Paris. I've seen pictures of them, and they look absolutely gorgeous. I would love seeing them in person.
Favorite Quote: "All who wander are not lost."
Favorite Places to Shop: Gliks, Francescas, Plato's Closet
The Thing She'll Will Miss Most About High School: Friendships
After Graduation, She's Most Looking Forward To: Traveling the world.
One Thing On Her Bucket List: Designing her dream house.
Getting Back to the Original Plan...
A Home Based Studio
In 2007 we bought our home with plans on creating a studio space there. At the same time, our building at 300 W. Main Street became available, and was too hard to resist. We fell in love with the building and the downtown area. 8 years later, we're still here. Our business has been extremely successful, and we have loved this location, but it's time to get back to our original plan, which is to design our own studio space. Anyone who has watched the transformation of our current building will have seen it turn from an empty brick room to what it is today, so you'll know that this will be no standard home studio. We know exactly what we want, and what we need. The new space have the same amount of shooting space we currently have. We will have eight times the outdoor shooting space, and the river within walking distance. Studio spaces will be clearly defined and separated from Home areas. Best of all, we'll get to make all of the design choices and spend more time with our family.
We want to assure everyone that the only thing changing about A&R Portraits is our address. Our business will maintain the same phone number, email address, website etc. All client files and digital images will be maintained. Clients already scheduled for 2016 will see no change in services, with the exception of the address. We hope to be in our new studio space by January 1st, 2016 unless construction is finished much quicker than expected.
"A&R" Portraits is "Amy and Robert", no matter where the actual studio space is.
We've been busy designing our set for our annual Christmas special on December 5th and 6th. (Schedule Now!) (See Pricing) We've gone all out crafty this year, making most of our decorations. (Rob has even built me a new fireplace to fit the theme) Our colors this year are brown, gold and red, and we're incorporating a lot of natural fibers and objects. And a lot of glitter. It's been a great way to spend family time with the kids. Here are a few of our favorites.
Glittered Pinecones. This one is super easy. Collect or buy some pine cones. Paint them with Mod Podge or school glue. Sprinkle on glitter. You can glitter just the tips, or really coat them. Let dry and then shake off. Spray with Rustoleum Clear Coat to seal on the glitter.
Twine trees. Start by with a foam cone from the craft store. Pin parchment paper around the cone so the twine doesn't stick after drying. Dip long strands of twine in Mod Podge or school glue and wrap them around the cone any way that you want. Continue until you've covered the cone. Sprinkle with glitter now, or you can wait until the end and spray paint to add color. After glue has dried, remove your twine tree from the cone and peel off the parchment paper. Add any small decorations that you like. We actually haven't completed this one yet because we're going HUGE and experimenting with chicken wire cones. We're thinking full size trees. Check out the "Our Family Four" blog for the full list of directions and pictures of smaller trees.
Snowy Branches. This is one that we made for our set a few years ago, but it's still my favorite. Collect dead branches. Coat with white paint. You can lightly coat them and leave some bark showing, or you can completely coat them. Sprinkle with white or silver glitter while paint is wet. The glitter is always "optional." Unless it's for me, then it's required. Put in vases as decoration, hang from the ceiling, or put in pots by the front door.
PIN IT TO WIN IT! I want you to inspire my work. Follow my "Inspire A&R Senior Contest" board on Pinterest, and I'll add you as a pinner. Already following? Just comment on the picture of Abby on the board (Shown Above) and I'll add you as a pinner. Pin anything that inspires you to the board. Once a month through November, I'll pick someone's inspiration and use it to create their senior photo shoot AND give a $50 credit for prints. I do my very best work when I am inspired by things outside of the senior portrait industry. Abby's picture above was inspired by my own stress, anxiety and faith. Other favorite portraits have been inspired by music, paintings, books, fashion and nature. I want to create a portrait that says something about you, and is more than the standard senior picture. I want to create something that we haven't seen 100 times, so in order to be picked, BE ORIGINAL. Be creative. Don't pin someone else's senior picture. Pin things that truly make you happy, things that you are currently struggling with, things that give you hope, things that you love. Challenge me. This contest is open to 2015 AND 2016 seniors from any school. Winners must be willing to come to the studio in Durand, Michigan for their shoot. Contest is not limited to one pin because Inspiration and imagination are limitless.
It seems like 75% of my work day is spent at my desk. I edit photos, respond to emails, answer the phone, and do most of the same things a majority of our clients do at work. Then I go out to my photo shoots and lift my camera over and over with my right arm. For years I also carried a camera bag that hung over my right shoulder. A year and a half ago my doctor told me that my severe back pain was caused by Nonstructural Scoliosis. I had a muscle imbalance and the muscles on the right side of my back were overworked and bulging. They had actually pulled and pushed my spine into a curve. My hips angled about 30 degrees to the left at all times. Changes had to be made. Some were simple and others were harder, but I know that everyone who has a desk job or a photography job can adopt one or two to make their life better. So... here they are.
- I get up and stretch after about 15 or 20 minutes at my desk. Nothing major, just touch my toes and do a couple of side bends.
- I don't "Group like tasks" quite so much anymore. It's great for my productivity, but bad for my body. If something needs to be filed, I get up and file it right away. The important part of that sentence being I GET UP.
- I replaced my desk chair with an exercise ball. To be honest this one didn't last long because the floors aren't level in our 116 year old building. It's charming until you sit down to realize your chair has rolled to a different location. A ball chair is in the works though.
- I drink more water. Muscles are more likely to spasm if you're not hydrated.
- I make an effort to lift things with my left arm, or to distribute weigh evenly on both sides.
- I replaced my shoulder sling camera bag with a Tenba backpack. Now the weight of my equipment is evenly distributed.
- I asked for help until I got stronger. I admitted a weakness and asked someone to go with me on shoots that required heavy lifting for a few months.
- I set aside 20 minutes every morning to stretch my body and strengthen my core. If you have a diagnosed issue like I did, make sure you're doing exercises that your doctor or physical therapist recommends. I did this for about six months before adding anything else. A few good options are listed here.
- I started taking daily bike rides. Riding a bike requires you to balance your body.
- Once I was physically ready, I started taking yoga classes at Samadhi Yoga Center. This one has been what has kept me on track. There's no emphasis on calories burned, and I don't feel like it's a competition. I enjoy it, so I'll actually make an effort to put it on my schedule 2-3 times a week. Now that I'm healthier I'm challenging myself to accomplish poses that require balance or core strength.
- Lastly, I started going to a balance class at All About U Fitness. This one is so far out of my comfort zone it's ridiculous. You have to wear real shoes. There are weights involved. In all honesty, I didn't intentionally start this one. I accidentally went to it thinking it was a yoga class. But they were super nice and let me do the class barefoot the first time. Once I got used to it, it was really fun. I am determined that I will be able to balance on that exercise ball on my knees soon.
After a year and a half of hard work, I have undone some of the damage I've caused to my own body over the last ten years. I can stand up straight. I can lift both arms straight up over my head. I can pick up my kids. I can play soccer with my kids. I can do a headstand, and I'm close to being able to hold a handstand (My record is currently 4 seconds). I've gained 6 pounds of muscle, and I can't remember the last time I needed a muscle relaxer. Best of all, I'm setting a healthy example for my kids.
To learn more, you can follow ARPORTRAITS on Instagram.
If you're anything like me, this never ending winter has the potential to zap all energy and creativity. (Not to mention making you incredibly grumpy.) I've found a few things that have helped to lift me out of my creative rut this winter, and I thought that I would share them with you.
- Get out of the house. I know it can be hard when the roads are bad, but here are a few activites you can join that are close to us. The Vernon Library and The Shiawassee District Library always have some sort of class or book club, including activities for the kids. Ladies Craft Night at First Congregational Church of Durand. You might get a creative spark from someone else.
- When you're feeling particularly stressed, take a few deep, full breaths. Very few people take a complete full breath during their day. Clearing your head for just a few seconds can set your brain in motion.
- Ask for a hug. It seems simple and silly, but it works. My family has been trained. Now all I have to say is "Mommy's feeling crabby" and my boys run with open arms.
- Pray. Sometimes I feel like when I talk about my troubles and stresses with God, he gives me an outlet for them. An idea for a piece of work that will convey my emotion and my feelings to others.
- Get some excercise. The endorphins your body releases give you a feeling of well being. For me, it helps give my brain and body more energy. My favorite exercise is yoga class. It includes some meditation to help clear my mind, and the classes are usually warm which makes me thankful for the cold air when I go outside. I love Samadhi Yoga Center, and I've heard great things about All about U Fitness as well.
- Read a book. I've read so many books this winter. I love books that create a beautiful picture in my mind. Then I can challenge myself to recreate it with my artwork. It also takes your mind away from the cold and snow. Curling up under a warm blanket with a book and a cup of hot tea is fantastic in the winter. A few of my favorites are The Goldfinch, Mariana,Pride and Prejudice, The Night Circus and The Day The Falls Stood Still. I'm dying to read the Divergent series as well.
- Volunteer Your Time. There are countless organizations that need your help over the winter. You will foget your own burdens while working to lighten someone else's.
- Do a mindless task. Another silly one but it works. After a while doing a task my brain doesn't really have to focus on it starts to drift on its own. My files are very organized, my oven is very clean, and my floors are beautifully swept this winter.
Simple Tips to Look Great In Holiday Photos
For moms like me, Christmas means late nights working and wrapping presents, baking pies and playing Santa. Here's a few of my favorite quick tips for not looking quite as tired as you feel in those holiday snapshots.
1. A quick swipe of peachy blush with a hint of gold will counteract the blue in under eye circles.
2. A light peach or beige eye liner will make your eyes look larger, and the whites look whiter so you look quite so tired.
3. Use a primer before applying makeup both on your face and your eyelids. Your makeup will stay put all day. Because we all know you won't have time to touch it up. My absolute favorite is Laura Geller Beauty Spackle Trio.
4. Keep dry shampoo on hand. Just spray it in and brush it out when you don't have time to wash your locks. My favorite is "Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Dry Shampoo."
5. To tame static filled hair, rub an unscented dryer sheet gently through you hair.
6. Cut your hair drying time in half by using a round vented brush.
7. Fill in your brows a bit. Use a brow pencil lighter than your actual brow, and use light feathered strokes. A little goes a long way to make your eyes look more awake.
8. A sheer tinted moisturizer can quickly even out your skin tone, and give you that "I just stepped out of yoga class" look.
9. Drink lots of water.
1: When in doubt, use hot glue. (Seriously, this thing has so much hot glue in it)
2: Get a tetanus shot. (There are so many pokey weird metal things holding that chair together)
3: Don't count on finding anything cool in there. (All I found were some really old peanuts)
4: Invest in some Scotch Guard. (The first child to get chocolate on this thing faces certain death)
Now that this mammoth chair is finished, there is no way it is leaving my living room. It will be there forever. Or at least until it doesn't look pretty anymore. Then I will put it by the curb and laugh as the next Martha Stewart loads it into the back of their truck saying "I could reupholster that." Good luck lady, I used a pneumatic staple gun.
We had our day all planned. A trip to the zoo with two groups of friends, and their boys. We had our giant picnic lunch packed and ready to go. Bert was excited to go to the zoo with his friends, and I was excited to bring my camera along and get some great photos of the boys. Phone call number one, "Eli is having an off morning, and we're just not up for taking him out." Ok, we can deal with that. Phone call number two, "Ummmm.... Lucas is still sleeping." Now being a mom that doesn't believe in arguing with a three year old when you don't have to, or waking them up when you don't have to, I was Ok with this. We broke the news to Bert, who's reply was. "Yeah, but I'm still gonna go ride my bike at the zoo." Crisis averted. So off we go to the zoo. A half hour in to our super fun zoo trip, and here comes the rain. Pouring rain. And we're at the back of the zoo. So we end up at Grandma's house having our "picnic" lunch on the living room floor in soaking wet clothes. The rain eventually passed by, and with clothes fresh out of Grandma's dryer, we decided to take Bert's bike out on the river trail. He had a great time splashing through the puddles. We still had the camera with us, so we propped it up on the edge of the stroller and set the timer. Nothing went as planned, but it was the best zoo day ever, with a great family picture to go with it.
As my kids get a little older, and a little wilder, I wonder why my family and children's portraits haven't done the same. After all, my recent family photo included one very happy upside-down two year old. I recently shot a family session where the grown up kids wanted to get a shot jumping off of the swings. It is one of my favorite pictures this year. So, if anyone else is tired of their boring family picture, let me know. I'm thinking trampoline jumping, beach swimming, furniture climbing FUN portraits. Is anyone with me?
Don't be afraid to wear some bold colors for your senior portraits. Show off your personality and style. Long sleeves and solid colors are great for your formal yearbook picture, but feel free to have some fun with your other outfits. Not sure what to wear? Bring in a few choices, and Amy or Rob can help you decide what's going to work best.
Many of our clients will be attending bridal shows this summer. Here are a few tips to help you keep things organized.
- Bring address labels. If you enter drawings you will end up writing out your name, address, phone number, and email a lot.
- Only enter drawings of vendors that you would like to receive more information from.
- Bring a bag with you. Some shows provide them, but others don’t. You will need something to carry all of your information and vendor giveaways in.
- Make notes or stars on brochures for vendors that you like. When you get home you may not remember who was who.
- Take a note book and pen with you. Write down information about vendors that you would like to remember.
- Ask if your wedding date is available. You may love a vendor and spend time talking with them, only to find your date is unavailable.
- Don’t fall for high pressure sales. Most vendors will give a discount for booking your wedding at the show, which is a great deal IF they’re a great vendor. If you’re sure of yourself, go for it and save a little money. If you’re not, take some time to think it over.
- Bring your check book just in case there’s a vendor you feel you NEED to sign on the spot.
- Wear comfortable shoes. If it’s a good bridal show, you could end up walking a lot.