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May 6, 2020 by Aline Stern Uncategorized 0

Portrait Sessions during Covid-19 and social distancing

Last week I found out that starting May 1st photographers in Chicago are allowed to take pictures again. At least for May there are some rules we have to follow:

  • No multi-household photoshoots (no extended family sessions)
  • Keep 6ft distance at all times
  • Photographer has to wear a mask
  • All photoshoots have to be done outside
  • No physical contact (so no physical exchange of money – it will have to all be done online and I will not be using props that you or your kids would touch)

I have added a rule to this for myself: in May and June I will only take on two clients a week and never on the same day. This is for your and my safety but also because it looks like I will keep homeschooling my own children for the foreseeable future and I don’t want the quality of my work to suffer. That also means I am booking up fast!

Another big change for May and June: I will LOWER my prices. I know most of us are suffering financially right now so I want to make photography more accessible but I am also still figuring out how this all will work, with me not being able to be close to my clients. I will go back to my pricing from two years ago which means:

$300 for full sessions

$200 for mini sessions

$150 for porch minis

Since I can’t do regular newborn sessions right now, I will do them (and price them) as regular full family sessions and mini sessions.

I will only do mini sessions and porch sessions on the Northside of Chicago though.

Locations: You may want to consider your backyard if that is at all possible. Most parks and nature preserves are not allowing photography right now. Hopefully that will change in June. Urban and downtown shoots are also a great choice right now! I have a few coming up and I am very excited.

So while this is definitely not the photography Spring and Summer I imagined, we will get through this. Please be patient with me since I am figuring all of this out just like the rest of us but my goal is to provide you with the same quality of work you are used to from me and to make you feel normal and comfortable … at least for a little bit.

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March 30, 2020 by Aline Stern Families, Uncategorized 0

How to capture great pictures of your kids

Hi there! Chances are you are stuck at home right now. If you are reading this blog you are probably at home with your kids and maybe your partner or your pets. You may want to use this time to get better at a skill or maybe you just want to document what is going on right now. Either way, in this blog post I have some advice on how to take great pictures of your family – not on vacation or in the studio but in your home or while you are out on your walks and hikes.

Now first off – I am at home and homeschooling my own two kids so trust me, I don’t have time for elaborate photoshoots right now. This is not my goal for this blog post. This post is about how to capture your everyday life. The pictures are supposed to be natural and really capture your kids’ spirit (this is my goal for my family photo shoots too). You don’t need props or fancy equipment. I used three different kinds of cameras for this blog post: my professional cameras (Canon 5d Mk III and 5d Mk IV), my mirrorless “vacation” camera (Fuji XT-3), and my iPhone 8 Plus camera. Can you spot the difference?

Here are my tips for getting great pictures of your family:

Search for the light

Is there a place in your house that has amazing light in the morning or the evening? Where does the sunlight come through the trees at the park by your house? Keep an eye out for this magic light and then if you see it, use it, experiment with it. I love to backlight my subjects – that means that the light is behind your child, giving them a soft glow around the edges. On the other hand you can get gorgeous light if the light shines straight on your kid, illuminating them. Turn off the overhead lights and see where your window light comes in at which time.

If the light behind your child is bright and there is nothing between you and your kid, it will create a silhouette. If there is something partially blocking the light, say a tree, the light will filter and give a softer glow.

This picture is backlit only by window light
Backlit through trees
I created a silhouette by having my kids in shadow with the light behind them.
Soft window light, illuminating the face
Same window light

Capture emotion

Try and capture it all: the laughs, the tears, the hugs after a booboo, the exhaustion after a tickle fight.

How do you do that? Two things – DON’T ask your kids to “say cheese” and look in the camera, and take lots and lots of pictures so they get used to having their own paparazzi. Make fart noises. Those will get any kid older than three to smile (as well as most husbands). Photograph them in their element, doing what they love.

Celebrate color – or black and white

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you probably know that I love color. Nothing makes me happier than a vibrant picture but sometimes turning a picture black and white makes it really pop.

Reasons to choose color:

  1. You have a monochrome landscape and your child’s colorful outfit makes them stand out.
  2. You love the colors of the environment – for example Spring colors, the lake, the sky.
  3. To capture the beauty of the light.
I could have made this picture black and white to hide the mess but I actually wanted people to see it – I wanted to give a glimpse into our daily life. I wanted to take a picture of chaos and an exhausted toddler.
Kids drawing and painting are always a great idea

Reasons to choose black and white:

  1. You have a busy background and don’t want to take away from your subject.
  2. To hide a mess.
  3. To set a mood (dark editing and black and white always make a picture seem moody).
  4. The lighting makes the colors in the picture look less than ideal (for example overhead light makes everything look slightly yellow).

Change your perspective and focus on details

If you feel stuck in a rut with your pictures, try changing perspective.

  1. Lay down on the floor. See the world like your kids see it.
  2. Take a picture from an unusual angle, like from above.
  3. Look for details, focus on the hands or feet.

Now, give yourself a challenge. This coming week, try to take a picture following one or more of my tips.

  1. Find the perfect light in your home and take a picture of your kid utilizing that glorious light – either backlit or lighting the face.
  2. Take a picture of your kids doing something they love and capture their emotions/expressions.
  3. Use color to frame your subject.
  4. Take a busy scene put your kid at the center and make it black and white. See what you prefer.
  5. Take a picture from a different angle. Take a picture from above or while laying on the ground.

If you have Instagram, please post a picture and tag @alinesternphotography in it! Or send me a picture to alinesternphotography@gmail.com – let me know if I can post it with your name! I would love to see all your pictures!

Also comment here with more ideas for future posts. I am thinking of doing one with links to understand your camera better and to help you all with editing your pictures. I am also going to give little tips here and there on Instagram and Facebook so follow me on:

Have fun and stay safe you all!

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Chicago Family Photographer – Fall Booking 2019 – prices, packages and booking links

It’s that time of the year again! Fall booking is open! In this post you will find all of the info and booking links for my Full family sessions and Mini family sessions since these two are my most popular options. I offer a lot of different packages but if you’re interested in other sessions, for example senior, newborn, or “Day of Lifestyle” sessions or studio, please contact me directly at info@alinesternphotography.com. I don’t want to overwhelm you!

Please be aware that my package prices changed in 2019 – make sure you check out my new pricing before booking!

Before you decide on when to book – every month has it’s advantages. August and September have warm weather and beautiful flowers but may not be great if you’re afraid of sweat or if your hair gets frizzy in humid weather.

Mid to late October usually has the best Fall foliage but it also rains more, so if you’re looking for a golden sunset you may want to book in September instead.

November has gorgeous colors – a mix of Fall colors with beautiful long wild grass and usually empty parks for photos – but it can be cold (make sure to dress yourself and the kids accordingly) – if you have little kids under 4, I recommend booking in the warmer months.

Mini Sessions

$290 on weekdays – $340 on weekends

Do you need an updated family picture? Do you just want some nice pictures of you and your kids but you don’t want anything time consuming? Then the Mini may be a good option for you.

Outdoor Mini sessions are 20 to 30 minutes long. I shoot most of my outdoor Mini sessions at Winnemac Park. It’s the perfect place for Minis because we can get a good variety of pictures in a short amount of time and the foliage there is gorgeous. I sometimes shoot Minis in other places if I have a Full session before or after.

Included in the price of a Mini are ten edited photos in both color and black-and-white. You may purchase extra pictures for $35 or upgrade to a full gallery. You will receive an online gallery with your photos to download as high-resolution files and an option to order prints.

Full Sessions

$490 on weekdays $550 on weekends

In the Full sessions we take our time and try to capture moments and emotion. We spend 40 to 60 minutes together. We start out with the sort of pictures we’d do during a Mini session – smile in the camera, the perfect family portrait. After we get those shots, we play, we laugh, we run around. I’m going to make this experience as relaxed and positive and fun as possible for you and your kids. My goal is to get everybody out of their shell and to just capture love and personality.

With a Full session you receive at least 60 pictures, usually more, in both color and black-and-white versions. You will receive an online gallery with your photos to download as high-resolution files and an option to order prints.

And here are the links to book your session:

August Full Sessions (August prices are the same on weekends and weekdays):

Full Sessions Weekday September

Full Sessions Weekend September

Full Session Weekday October

Full Session Weekend October and November

Full Sessions Weekday November

Mini Sessions (please be aware that weekends are more expensive then weekdays – mini-session time will be agreed upon closer to the date)

Mini-Sessions

I hope to see you this Fall!

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Spring and Summer – everything you need to know plus booking links

 

As I am writing this post it is 14 degrees with a -2 degree wind chill and outdoor sessions seem far far away. BUT! Spring will be here before we know it. And I’ve had people inquire about my Spring and Summer calendar since September of last year, so here we are!

In this post you will find all of the info and booking links for my Full family sessions and Mini family sessions since these two are my most popular options. I offer a lot of different packages but if you’re interested in other sessions, for example senior, newborn, or “Day of Lifestyle” sessions, please contact me directly at info@alinesternphotography.com. I don’t want to overwhelm you!

First of all – if you’re worried about the weather let me tell you – every month is different and has different things to offer. April has Spring flowers popping up. There are no bugs and we still get the clear and clean winter light. It’s also empty in all the outdoor spots which is a bliss! We often get the prettiest flowering trees in April and early May. I know some spots that have really stunning Spring foliage! May is beautiful and colorful. We get some warm days but don’t have to worry about about bugs and mosquitos yet. June and July are warm and sunny and gorgeous and golden. I love beach shoots in those months and everything is blooming and pretty. In this post you will see examples for every month!

For those of you who would really prefer a Fall shoot – I will open my booking for Fall (end of August till end of November) in the first week of July. Please be aware that while my weekday prices will stay the same – I do charge more on Fall weekends and my Fall weekends book up very fast.

So what is the difference between a Full session and a Mini session?

Chicago Family Photographer

Mini Sessions

$290

Do you need an updated family picture? Do you just want some nice pictures of you and your kids but you don’t want anything time consuming? Then the Mini may be a good option for you.

Outdoor Mini sessions are 20 to 30 minutes long. I shoot most of my outdoor Mini sessions at Winnemac Park. It’s the perfect place for Minis because we can get a good variety of pictures in a short amount of time and the foliage there is gorgeous. I sometimes shoot Minis in other places if I have a Full session before or after.

Included in the price of a Mini are ten edited photos in both color and black-and-white. You may purchase extra pictures for $35 or upgrade to a full gallery. You will receive an online gallery with your photos to download as high-resolution files and an option to order prints.

Full Sessions

$490

In the Full sessions we take our time and try to capture moments and emotion. We spend 40 to 60 minutes together. We start out with the sort of pictures we’d do during a Mini session – smile in the camera, the perfect family portrait. After we get those shots, we play, we laugh, we run around. I’m going to make this experience as relaxed and positive and fun as possible for you and your kids. My goal is to get everybody out of their shell and to just capture love and personality.

With a Full session you receive at least 60 pictures, usually more, in both color and black-and-white versions. You will receive an online gallery with your photos to download as high-resolution files and an option to order prints.

 

 

My favorite time to shoot is the golden hour before sunset but I will also shoot earlier. The results will be a bit different though, so if you are in love with the golden sunset pictures on my website, I have quite a few tips on how to get your kids to be happy even at 6.30 or 7pm for a shoot! If I’ve convinced you to book with me, please follow the links below to the different months. You can just scroll down and pick a date. If you can’t make the days or times in the schedule please contact me with a preferred time and date and we will find a way to make it happen!

 

The retainer is non-refundable but it is transferable to a different session or session date which has to be done within a year.

Chicago Family Photographer

Booking links for April through July:

April Weekday

April Weekend

May Weekday

May Weekend

June Weekday

June Weekend

July

 

If you have any questions about the booking process, please contact me at info@alinesternphotography.com

 

 

I can’t wait to meet you!

 

Read On
December 7, 2018 by Aline Stern Families 0

Chicago Fall Session

Guys, I am so behind on blogging. I’ve been shooting non stop for months but there are a few sessions I’d like to show you, even if the landscape looks very different now.

I’ve known this family since their oldest was less than a year old. They are just such wonderful children and such a joy to photograph. I love how big brother is so protective and such a gentleman. Middle brother is such a ham and so sweet. And the youngest one is most definitely the boss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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October 31, 2018 by Aline Stern Uncategorized 0

November Outdoor Sessions – booking links and everything you need to know!

 

September and October have been crazy busy! I got to photograph so many families! I originally planned to play November by ear but the trees changed colors so late this year and now it’s warmed up a bit, so I decided to make it official and post all my family session dates for the rest of the year! This includes mini-sessions and full sessions!

I am going to take December off to spend with my family (except newborns – newborns are ALWAY welcome in my studio :)) so snag your holiday spots now!

 

Outdoor Mini-Sessions

$200

Mini-sessions include 15-20 minutes of shooting and 10 digital files with print rights. You pick your 10 favorites from the session and you will receive hand edited pictures in both color and black and white.

I only do mini-sessions in Winnemac Park or close by Winnemac Park (I will do Giddings Plaza once they put up the lights!). I shoot minis only on weekdays. If you want a mini booked on a weekday morning between 9.30am-1.30pm, please send me an email at alinesternphoto@gmail.com. If you want to snag up one of my Monday spots (I shoot every Monday in November at 3pm and 3.30pm, you can book here directly:

Weekday mini-sessions

 

 

Outdoor Full Sessions

$350

I only have a limited number of weekend sessions left for this year. My full sessions include 40-60 minute of shooting time, 60+ edited pictures in an online gallery and you get to pick your location in the Chicago area. I have a long list of locations that I have shot in and we can come up with the perfect spot for your family pictures. Please be aware younger kids don’t do well being outside for longer. If your kids are under 3, you may want to consider only doing a mini-session and book a full session when it gets warmer again – unless you don’t mind having your kids in a full snow suit set up :).

You can book your full session here:

Outdoor Full Family Session November 

 

Things you need to know:

I will bring blankets and hand-warmers. We will move fast through the session – not because I want to rush you but because kids do NOT do well in cold weather and I don’t want you having to stand around for a long time and catch a cold. If you book one of the later sessions we may not have beautiful foliage anymore, your pictures will still be beautiful! If you book a full session we have the option to do an urban session, for example with Christmas lights in Giddings Plaza, once they are up.

Do dress your kids according to the weather!! Kids will not be happy if they are cold. If you are set on a cute Christmas dress, layer, layer, layer underneath – long thermal underwear, two pairs of tights on top of each other, a cute scarf and hat to go with the outfit, …

Should the weather just completely turn on us and it rains all of November, we have the option to do the shoot in my Lincoln Square studio instead!

 

I am looking forward to meeting you!!

 

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