Family Photography

My Favorite Photo Products - 2018 Edition by Sharon Kenney

If there’s one thing about photography that I tell people over and over again, it’s this: photos don’t belong on your hard drive. Photos belong in your hands and in your home. Photos should be on display. You can never have too many photos up in your home.

TL;DR: Print your photos, people!

When ordering prints, it can be hard to know where to start. The amount of diverse print products out there can be a little bit overwhelming. And when you’re looking at products online, it can be hard to judge the quality.

That’s where I come in as your trusty photographer friend! I order a LOT of print products. Here’s a list of my favorite products this year. These are great for display in your home or as gifts for family and friends - especially grandparents. (I’m not affiliated with any of these companies. These are all just products that I have purchased and love.)

Spoiler Alert: If you think you might be getting a gift from me this year, and you want to be surprised, please don’t read any further. ;)

Social Print Studio

I’m a little obsessed with Social Print Studio. They’re an awesome, independent, boutique printing company based here in the Bay Area. Their products are of an exceptional quality, they are extremely reasonably priced, and their customer service is fantastic. My favorites:

  • Poster - this is the first product I ever ordered from them. A few of these framed posters hang in our home and new visitors always spend a few minutes admiring them. You can upload photos straight from Instagram (or your desktop) and they have a few different sizes. You can also vary the number of photos you include.

  • Wall Calendar - I’m old timey, and I love having a wall calendar hanging in my home. I order a couple of these as gifts every year, and always include one for myself. (Hint hint - these make great gifts for grandparents.)

  • Square Magnets - These magnets are large and sturdy, and hold things well on the refrigerator (I hate flimsy magnets.). They’re also incredibly cute. They come in two sizes (2”x2” or 3”x3”). At $15 for a set of six, they make a great, non-traditional stocking stuffer.

sharon kenney photography calendar

Parabo Press

I found Parabo Press about two years ago, and they quickly became one of my go-to spots for printing. I’ve been really happy with the quality of their products.

  • Fine Art Print - My favorite thing that I’ve ordered from them is the Fine Art Print. They’re printed on pure white, archival, matte paper and they come in a variety of sizes. I really love the large ones - a stunning image printed at 16” x 20” or 20” x 24” can make a great statement as a display piece. Pair it with a Wood Rail for hanging as an interesting alternative to a traditional frame.

Artifact Uprising

Artifact Uprising is a favorite company of lots of photographers. They’re a great design company with a simple aesthetic. You can’t go wrong with most of their products.

  • Wood Block & Prints - I love these photo prints that come with a wood block for display. The prints are done on thick, textured paper with a border. I love that you can rotate the photos. I got one of these sets for my mom a few years ago, and my kids love to switch the photos every time they’re at her house.

  • Wooden Photo Ledge - This is the only product on the list that I don’t actually own. But it’s also on my list of things that I want. I just haven’t found a good spot in our home to hang one (or several). Once I do, it will be mine!

ZNO

A photographer friend introduced me to ZNO earlier this year. She shot a documentary session for us, and gifted us one of their albums. I was sold on it immediately.

  • Layflat Photo Album - I love photo books that lay flat. You don’t lose any of the image quality or composition between the pages. The ZNO albums have nice, thick pages with really rich colors. They have a variety of album sizes and cover options too.

Pro tip: ZNO offers discounts and specials pretty frequently, so keep your eyes open.

Pinhole Press

I haven’t ordered a ton of products from Pinhole Press, but I like what I’ve seen so far.

  • “All About…” Photo Book - I found these “All About Me” photo books last summer. The kids and I created “All About Dad” photo books as Father’s Day gifts for their dad. We had a ton of fun doing it, and the books are adorable. It was a great way for little kids to make a customized, long-lasting gift for a parent or relative. They helped picked the photos and wrote their favorite things about their dad. The books turned out really great!

sharon kenney photography photo book

What are your favorite photo products? I’m always on the hunt for more, so tell me in the comments!

Photographing Toddlers | Bay Area Family Photographer by Sharon Kenney

I dig two-year-olds. It’s one of my favorite ages to photograph. I’ve got lots of toddler tested and approved tricks, but two-year-olds absolutely make you work for it. Just see how sweaty and tired I am at the end of a session with toddlers! I like to give them the space be themselves, explore, and get comfortable with me and my camera. I will always follow their lead and never pressure them to do anything other than be authentically themselves. Stuffed animals and lovies (or even mom’s car keys!) are always welcome. Once we get in a groove with each other, magic happens.

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As a parent of little kids myself, I know how endlessly exhausting days with a two-year-old can feel. But those moments are also fleeting, and before you know it… your two-year-old is taller, leaner, off to kindergarten, and a full-fledged big kid. I want to stop time for my families so they always remember how they felt and what they were like at this stage in their lives.

This is the third time I’ve photographed Rea and Richie and their family. I first photographed them when they were expecting their daughter, then again shortly before her first birthday, and now as she is an active, adorable toddler. Take a look at some of my favorites from this session.

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What to Wear for Your Family Photo Session by Sharon Kenney

The most common question I get from the families that I photograph is “What should we wear for our session?” Here is my best advice for how to dress for your upcoming family photography session with me.

Be Yourself!

My most important piece of advice is to be the best versions of your everyday selves. Don’t feel like you need to morph yourselves into something you saw on Pinterest. I am capturing memories of YOUR family - as you are at this moment in time. Be perfectly yourselves, and I will show you that your family is perfectly beautiful, exactly as you are.

Dress as you normally would, wear what you’re comfortable in, and look like yourselves. If you’re jeans-and-boots people, wear your favorite jeans and best boots. Like to dress up? Rock a fab dress. Some of my favorite family sessions feature bare feet, shorts, and flip-flops.

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sharon kenney family photography outfits

Above all else, it's most important that you feel comfortable and feel like yourselves. If you feel uncomfortable, you will look uncomfortable, and that will come through in your photos. So don’t stress about your outfits! Just go for the best version of your everyday, natural look.

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Specific Tips on What to Wear

  • Don't worry about having "matching" outfits. Gone are the days of awkward family photos with everyone in the family wearing matching denim and button down shirts.

  • While not matching, you definitely want your family’s outfits to coordinate. I suggest picking 2-3 colors in the same family that are flattering for all of you, and working those in. Some good examples of color combinations are: blue-purple-gray, brown-tan-red-denim, green-navy-white, blue-khaki-yellow, etc.

  • Classic styles and combos are best. Solid colors and simple patterns work great. Try to avoid anything super-trendy that may look dated in a few years.

  • My family sessions involve a lot of movement. I’ll ask you to walk, sit down, play with your kids, and maybe even dance a little. Choose clothing that you can easily move around in. If you choose to include skirts or dresses in your clothing choices, I recommend full skirts that will allow for movement.

  • Please avoid all-white shirts and/or pants (unless you're wearing a white shirt with a sweater over it, or a similar look.)

  • Please avoid any clothes that have logos, writing or characters on them.

  • Avoid scruffy, dirty sneakers, if possible. (Not always possible with active kids, I know!)

sharon kenney family photography boots outfits
sharon kenney family photography what to wear

Questions?

If you have specific questions, please email me. I’m always happy to review outfit choices or make family-specific recommendations.

Family Photography Matters | Mountain View Family Photographer by Sharon Kenney

One of my favorite things about family photography is watching families grow over the years. I want all of my families to have a memory of exactly what their family was like at an exact moment in time. I would love to capture these memories for your family this year.

Making Memories

This is the second time I've gotten to spend time with Deborah and her family for a photography session. I couldn’t believe how much they’ve grown since our first session together. Their son was just a toddler at the time, barely walking without holding his dad’s hand. And their daughter, who was just finishing up preschool, is now growing into a thoughtful, kind and smart big kid.

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The Little Moments

As a parent myself, I can't quite believe how fast the moments that you swear you'll never forget start to slip away. Siblings holding hands and giggling together. A dirty little hand holding rocks. Snuggling in dad’s arms. Whispering in mom’s ear. When I think of my favorite memories, it’s always the little moments and small details that make my heart full.

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A Summer Evening at the Park| Mountain View Family Photographer by Sharon Kenney

I first met Michelle and her sweet family last fall for our first photography session together. I was thrilled to shoot another session for them again this year.

sharon kenney family photography mountain view

At Home Portraits

We started off the evening at their home. This session was just a few days before they moved from the Bay Area to the East Coast. We did a short shoot in front of their home and included the family dogs, Sandy and Reese. I was more than happy to love on these sweet dogs a little bit.

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Off to the Park!

We headed off to their neighborhood park here in Mountain View. They had done some previous family sessions at this location, so it was a nice way to wrap up their time in the area. My own family used to live in the same neighborhood, just a few blocks away, so heading to this park brought back a flood of memories for me. Both of my kids were born in this neighborhood, and we spent a ton of time here when they were babies and toddlers. It was great to see it again, and especially to see it hold special meaning for another family too.

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Time to Play!

I structure my sessions to leave lots of time and space to play, explore and relax. I want my sessions to be a way for families to connect with each other and spend time together. What better way to do that than through play? We ended our session with the girls swinging, climbing, and showing off their crazy good monkey bar skills.

 

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sharon kenney family photography mountain view park playground
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Dads Are Awesome! | Bay Area Family Photographer by Sharon Kenney

Over the years I’ve been photographing families, I’ve seen lots of tips about “how to handle dads.” There’s an assumption that dads have been cajoled into a family photo session by their wives and would rather be anywhere else.

I disagree.

Maybe I’ve just gotten lucky, but most of the families that I work with have some pretty amazing dads - dads that are absolutely on board with doing a fun family photography session.

I’ll never ask dads (or anyone in the family, for that matter) to sit stiffly and awkwardly smile for me. I love to photograph dads doing what they do best - playing with their kids, being silly with their kids, and laughing with their families. That’s all I ask - just love your people, have fun with them, connect with them… and try to forget that the woman with the giant camera is there. ;)

In honor of Father’s Day, here are some of my favorite “dad photos” from this past year.

And I can’t forget my all-time favorite dad (hint: I married him)!

Preschool Birthday Portraits | Mountain View Family Photographer by Sharon Kenney

I was so happy to take Ritisha’s portraits for her 4th birthday! She has gone to preschool with my son since they were two years old. It's been so much fun to watch her grow from a shy toddler in the two-year-old class into an outgoing, confident big kid about to take on her final year of preschool. (It happens so fast, doesn’t it?!) Just look at how adorable she is in her gorgeous red dress! 

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The Setting: Cuesta Park, Mountain View

We met for a golden hour session at Cuesta Park in Mountain View. Cuesta Park is one of my favorite local parks for photography sessions. It gets beautiful light in the evening, and there is an array of magical spots throughout the park that let me give each session a variety of different looks.

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Photographing Preschoolers

Parents sometimes worry that their young children won’t sit still for photos or won’t look at the camera. I say... the more movement the better! We’ll run, jump, twirl and play - which are all great ways to get lovely, playful portraits that capture a child’s true personality. (Plus, I have lots of tricks up my sleeve for active children - that may or may not include fart jokes. ;)

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sharon kenney family photography mountain view preschool portrait
sharon kenney family photography mountain view cuesta park