Q: HOW CAN YOU SAY YOU HAVE THE BEST LOCATION FOR PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE EAST BAY?
A: The studio is located 15 minutes north of Walnut Creek, in The Historic Benicia Arsenal, a complex that was built in the mid-1800s. Like many buildings that have survived since that era, it is rich in layers of patina. Huge arched hallways, 30-foot tall arched windows, exposed brick, and other industrial elements are all within footsteps of Sky 9 Studio's front door. This makes it very easy to get several different looks in a one to two-hour session without having to worry about driving to multiple locations and wasting time. Because of the incredibly high ceilings and unique architectural elements, there is more than one location on the premises which lends itself to creating visually stunning finished art pieces. Beyond that, Sky 9 Studio is in a premium corner studio which is the largest in the Arsenal...featuring TWO window-filled walls which allow for gorgeous natural light to come into the studio, no matter the time of day or year. We have a selection of well-curated props and bespoke baby and toddler clothing as well as an area for you to change your clothes and touch up your hair and makeup in the studio. These little details help to ensure that you feel comfortable and that we make the most of this special occasion for you and your family.
Q: WHICH IS BETTER? AN IN-STUDIO SESSION, AN IN-HOME SESSION OR AN ON-LOCATION SESSION?
A: First, keep in mind that not all photographers have the option to offer studio sessions. If they do, it is often just a small space (sometimes a garage, a spare room in their home, or a small storefront) with a few backdrops to choose from. I love my studio because we can photograph several different looks and provide children with room to run and play (they can even ride bikes and scooters in the studio)! How cool is that? That being said, I personally love getting out of the studio, so I do offer the option to come to your home or other locations. Please check out the Galleries section of the website to decide which option complements your personal taste.
Q: WHAT IS LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY?
A: The goal of a lifestyle session is to celebrate the 'art of the every day.' Whether it's your first home or your dream home, the place you live is a silent observer and storyteller of where you and your family are IN THIS MOMENT. While our studio location is truly unique and incomparable for Bay Area family photos, there is nothing that communicates the comfort and connection you have as a family like an In-Home Lifestyle Photography Session. While I can create beautiful photos in any home, I find that these sessions are most popular to showcase a Pinterest-worthy baby nursery or for families who have a beautiful yard or want to share a special activity they like doing together at home (playing piano, cooking together, etc).
Q: WHAT OTHER LOCATIONS CAN WE GO TO IN THE BAY AREA?
I have written an extensive blog post which highlights the most popular as well as some 'best-kept secrets' when it comes to on-location photography. You can read that HERE.
Q: WHAT IS THE BEST AGE TO PHOTOGRAPH MY CHILD?
A: If you are just getting started with a new baby on the way, the ideal milestones to capture are around the 7th month of pregnancy (we will photograph you up until your due date, but 7 months is ideal), within 5-12 days of birth, seven months (or around the time they can sit up unassisted), and around one year, when they are standing or walking. Ask about our Baby’s First Year package – perfect for capturing all of these moments! After this, many families make it a goal to have professional family photographs taken once each year.
Q: HOW LONG WILL MY PHOTO SHOOT TAKE?
A: I want you to LOVE your photos and to feel that I have captured 'real' moments, so I do not put a time limit on sessions. However, experience has shown that most photo sessions take 90 minutes to 2 hours. Newborn shoots can take two to four hours.
Q: WHAT IF MY KIDS DON’T BEHAVE?
A: No such thing! I expect, embrace, and even encourage the inherent “wildling” in every child. After all, it’s their unbridled energy that makes the best photos. I consider myself a kid at heart, and I have a good grasp on how to relate to children. I'm also a mom, and I understand that parents can feel pressure to have their kids be on their best behavior when they come to the studio. Please do not stress...our goal is to HAVE FUN and allow for the 'perfectly imperfect' moments to unfold naturally. I am good at connecting with kiddoes and making the session fun. Don't feel like you have to coach your child to smile before the session, we want to encourage them to have a sense of wonder and curiosity and let their expressions naturally emerge.
Q: WHAT IF MY KIDS ARE SICK? CAN WE RESCHEDULE?
A: Yes. Sick kids won’t radiate their “happy.” We want this experience to be a blast for them because it shows in the images. Ultimately, it’s your call: A runny nose generally isn’t going to get them down, but a fever likely will. You can reschedule anytime within 6 months of your original shoot date.
Q: WHAT ABOUT BUMPS, BRUISES AND MOSQUITO BITES?
A: To us, loose teeth, band-aids, and minor bumps or bruises are true badges of childhood—a memorable part of growing up that’s worthy of capture. But if you prefer, we’ll gladly retouch minor blemishes without extra charges. If you’re still concerned, snap a quick photo and email it to us—we’ll let you know if it warrants rescheduling.
Q: HOW DO I CHOOSE CLOTHES FOR THE SHOOT?
A: Think color and texture! Clothing matters… A LOT. Neutrals are best. Shades of oatmeal, heather grays, whites and/or blush tones are ideal. Layering and texture can make an outfit. We love linens, nubby sweaters, soft fabrics, and accessories. Scarves, stylish headbands or a detailed blazer can make an outfit. If you’re unsure what to wear, call or email us. We will help you. Browse our galleries and check out Pinterest for more inspiration. And, of course, you can always bring a variety of options and we’ll help you narrow it down to the perfect outfit. As part of your Design Consultation, I also offer a styling service to booked clients.
Q: SHOULD I BRING SNACKS TO THE SHOOT?
A: Please feed everyone before coming to the shoot. Feel free to bring 'clean' snacks, such as small crackers or 'smarties' candy. Please keep snacks hidden in your bag until the photographer asks to use them.
Q: HOW MANY PHOTOS WILL I GET?
A: Because small children move fast, I often shoot hundreds of photos in a session. However, at your reveal, I will present a slideshow set to music with 30-80 of the best images from your sessions. The range depends mostly on the number of people being photographed and the mobility of the subject (running, jumping, climbing kids lead to more photos than a sleeping newborn). These images will be carefully selected, retouched and ready for purchase...you will not have to 'imagine' what they will look like to be ready to print. I select the images based on the best expressions, the best lighting, and the best connections (those can be family connections or connection with the camera). This is a situation where QUALITY trumps QUANTITY. I have a decade of experience of selecting the best photos and I truly feel that handing over hundreds of images without retouching or curating is a disservice to you as the client. It is simply overwhelming and likely to lead you to do nothing more than let them sit on your computer hard drive.
Q: WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE ANY OF THE PHOTOS?
A: This has honestly NEVER happened. However, I want you to love your photos so much that you just can't help but tell your friends how great your experience was. If you are unhappy with your session and feel that none of the photos are to your satisfaction, I will reshoot it.
Q: WHAT DO I DO WITH MY PHOTOS?
A: There is nothing worse than leaving a USB stick of professional photos in a drawer to collect dust. Your sitting fee includes a private design consultation to create a plan for how you want to display your images prior to your shoot. Are you interested in a gallery wall that can change and grow over time? A large statement piece for your wall? Or do you love a good story and want to create an album? I always shoot a variety of images but will make sure to shoot specifically for how you plan to display the photos in your home. Following your session, I help you select your favorites and to decide how to best incorporate them into your home and lifestyle. This meeting is one of the best parts of the process, so sit back, relax and have fun.
Q: WHO SHOULD COME TO THE REVEAL SESSION?
A: Anyone who will be placing an order or making purchasing decisions. PAYMENT IN FULL IS EXPECTED prior to receipt of any digital files or artwork, so if anyone else needs to be there to actually place the order, then be sure the date and time you select for your reveal session work for them. On the other hand, there is such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen, so keep your group small and leave the kids at home to ensure a more relaxed and uninterrupted session.
Q: CAN MY IMAGES BE ACTUAL ARTWORK IN MY HOME?
A: Yes. Yes. YES! Artfully done portraits of your children will speak volumes to all who enter your home (especially your children) as to where your priorities lie and where you see beauty. We offer a variety of ways to print and display your images which we discuss in depth at your Design Consultation so we can create finished pieces which will best compliment your home and lifestyle.
Q: HOW WILL I KNOW WHERE TO PUT THE ART PIECES IN MY HOME?
A: After years of design consulting, I have more than a few suggestions for you—all careful considerations based on your lifestyle, home and the pieces you choose. Feel free to send photos of your home or, if you prefer, I can usually come to your home to do the photo reveal and give you specific advice on where and how to hang your artwork.
Q: WILL I RECEIVE DIGITAL FILES FROM MY SITTING?
A: YES! All images that are purchased for print will include beautifully finished, sharable files, packaged in a custom app for your computers, and tablets. These files are discreetly watermarked to prevent image theft by third parties. You can share the app with family and friends as many times as you like, and it’s fully loadable to all of your favorite social media outlets. The resolution of these images is perfect for social media use, but will not allow for printing. If you prefer files suitable for printing, they’re always available for purchase.
Q: CAN I KEEP MY PROOFS?
A: When you meet a spending threshold, you will receive a keepsake wooden box full of 4x6, individually printed proofs of EVERY single image we took. This is pretty special as we are one of the few photography companies left that still print physical proofs. Clients love proofs, so we keep making them.
Q: HOW LONG WILL MY ART PRINTS TAKE TO COMPLETE?
A: I personally print 90% of the artwork in the studio, so it does take time. But rest assured, it’s worth the wait. It takes about 2 to 3 weeks to process your images into proofs and then, once you order, it generally takes from 4 to 6 weeks to create & perfect your custom prints.
Q: WHAT CAN I EXPECT TO INVEST IN TOTAL ON MY PHOTO SHOOT AND PRINTS?
A: We charge a “sitting fee” for the photography session which includes the time and talent of the photographer, the design consultation, the photo session, photo retouching, and file preparation. Please note that session fees are non-refundable and do not include any products, prints or digital files. All of our products, including our prints, are priced à la carte to give our customers the freedom to order exactly what they want. A la Carte items start at $250 and clients typically spend anywhere from $400-4,000 on their portraits...this all depends on how you plan to preserve and display your images. Of course, we welcome clients with any budget. Contact the studio for more details.
Q: WHEN SHOULD I CALL TO SCHEDULE MY NEWBORN SESSION?
A: Before your baby is born! It is so important to plan ahead. Capturing your newborn within the first two weeks of life while they are still sleepy and curled up, can make all the difference in your newborn portraits. The studio schedule fills up about four weeks in advance so please call to schedule your newborn appointment before your baby is born. Since we never really know when your little one will arrive we will put you on our calendar to hold a spot for you once your session is reserved. When your baby is born we will move your appointment accordingly. In order to ensure availability, we are currently only taking reservations for 1 due date each week.
If your baby came early or if your baby is already born, please don’t panic! Because of the way we handle scheduling, we may still be able to accommodate you. However, reserved sessions will always be treated as a priority. I don't want you to miss out on capturing this amazing time in your baby's life, so please contact me and we can chat.
Q: IS ONE WEEK TOO EARLY FOR MY SESSION?
A: Absolutely not! Newborn babies photograph best between 6-10 days old. At this point, they are still very sleepy and like to curl up as if they were still in the womb. We take up to two to four hours for a newborn session and leave plenty of time for feedings, diaper changes and breaks for mommy and baby. Come as soon as you are ready. We can’t wait to meet your new little one.
Q: WHAT SHOULD BABY WEAR?
A: Jennine loves to photograph newborns swaddled in blankets with lots of texture, so if you have a special blanket or two bring them. We have an extensive supply of newborn hats, bows, and headbands that coordinate beautifully with our blankets and props that Jennine will use to stylize your images. You are welcome to bring any hats or props that you would like to have the baby photographed in. Julia encourages her clients to bring special, personal items which make the session and images especially meaningful.
Q: HOW SHOULD I PREPARE FOR MY NEWBORN SESSION?
A: We recommend that you bring the baby to the session well rested and plan to feed the baby as soon as you arrive. Sleepy babies photograph perfectly, so Julia will ask you to undress and swaddle baby before the feeding so as to not disturb them by undressing them after the feeding. We take several breaks for feeding baby during the session to ensure that the baby is happy and has a full tummy. We ask that you are not too concerned with scheduled feedings during the session and that you feed baby on demand or when they get a bit fussy to ensure their comfort and a smooth session.
Q: CAN I CIRCUMCISE MY BABY BOY BEFORE THE SESSION?
A: NO!! Please wait until after your session. We will be tightly swaddling your boy naked in scarves and delicate fabrics. The fabrics are soft, however, a fresh circumcision is very fragile and often uncomfortable for a newborn. When we wrap and unwrap, along with changing his position or pose, the circumcision can become irritated even further which leads to a VERY unhappy baby who is not able to be photographed. We do not want to make your baby hurt or uncomfortable. Please note, we feel very strongly about this and we WILL send you home if your baby arrives at the studio and has been circumcised within 5 days of your session.
Q: CAN I BE PHOTOGRAPHED WITH MY BABY?
A: Of course! This is our specialty and we wouldn’t have it any other way! Jennine loves to capture the emotion of those special first days with your new little one and believes that there is no greater image than a new mommy or daddy cuddling with and admiring their newborn child. Skin-on-skin images are a unique way to capture the purity of these relationships, but we also ask parents to bring a long-sleeved neutral colored shirt so that they may serve as a backdrop for the baby for some of the images.