A few months back I attended a charity yoga event and won a raffle prize for a photo session with Michelle Longo of Michelle Belle Photography in Stamford. After she graduated high school, Michelle wasn’t sure what she was going to do so she took the year off to nanny for a family in Old Greenwich. While working with this family, she admired watching the mother of the family do photography work. It was then she decided to go to school for photography. And I’m so glad she did! I was extremely excited to have won this opportunity because many of my friends have used her for their family photos which have turned our amazing! It took a while on my family’s end to decide what we were going to do. Originally we planned to do a large 20-person photo session with my extended family. Coordinating schedules on short notice didn’t work for that group so we decided to just do a session for my little immediate family at a beach.
Michelle recommended having the session around sunset (between 6-6:30 P.M. in September) to achieve the best lighting. I was skeptical with this timing because in our house like many, this is the “bewitching” hour for our children. I figured that Michelle was either a complete pro at dealing with kids at this time or she had absolutely no clue what she was getting herself into with our gang. Thankfully, the stars aligned and we were able to bump the session earlier. And, she WAS a complete pro with our kids during the bewitching hour! We had such a great time! The weather was in our favor: we had so much fun “running” in the sand, posing on benches and rock walls. We even included our red wagon in some of the photos. It was such a casual session with no tremendous meltdowns, lots of smiles, some hugs, and ended our session “splashing” around in the water. My kids loved working with Michelle. No one felt uncomfortable – we all went with the flow.
I asked Michelle for a few tips, as this was my family’s first outdoor photo session. I hope these will help some of you for your first outdoor session.
*Sunset is the most beautiful setting. “As the sun gets low, it has a pretty glow.” That’s a direct quote! She loves working around sunset because it offers the best lighting (and sometimes the best temperature depending on time of year). If you need to do earlier, stay in the shade starting around an hour before sunset.
*Avoid clothing with big logos or big patterns. Simple is better.
*Capture the phase of your family at the time. If you have a child that has a security item (i.e. blanket or toy) include the item in the pictures as a memory of that phase. Taking it away may cause upset, which leads to the last tip…
*Relax and have fun! Kids feed off the stress of the parents. Enjoy the moment of the session. Michelle will capture what she can. Out-takes are just as memorable as posed pictures!
She has such a way with children and families that she was asked to nanny AND photograph for a family overseas for a few months. Michelle leaves on her journey in mid-October but will be back for Summer 2015. You can follow her on Facebook on her fan page “Michelle Belle Photography” for updates on her journey, availability when she returns next summer and special offers. I wish Michelle best of luck on her voyage and can’t wait to see her updates across the globe!