5 of the best spots for senior and family portraits in the Salem area

The Willamette Valley is full of great outdoor locations for Fall family portraits or Senior shoots. Here are 5 of my favorite:

 

  • Minto-Brown Park

7B4A9722Minto-Brown park is located minutes from downtown Salem, Oregon. It is the largest park in Salem. Numerous fields and paved paths abound in Minto-Brown Park, providing a variety of locations to choose from which makes it a favorite location for me because it has a good variety of location types. There are old stumps with vibrant green foliage, grass fields  and river views that can be taken advantage for excellent backdrops. During a few weeks in the fall, there’s even a little-known road along the slew that has fall leaves everywhere. I tend to take clients to the first parking area near the entrance to the park. From here, there’s a paved pathway that leads around a large field of tall grass (which makes for a great backdrop), past a fallen tree and on towards a new bridge that connects Minto-Brown park with Salem’s Riverfront park. I really enjoy the lighting amongst some of the evenly spaced trees.

There’s a second parking lot that is reached by continuing past the first lot. Near the second lot is a small park with toys for kids to play on and a covered area. From here a path takes a turn towards the river with tranquil views of the water. Proceeding down an alternative path will lead to quiet lakes, some with small viewing platforms.

Any of these locations make for nice backdrops or quiet locations for photos.


  • Deepwood/Bush Park

IMG_9843Deepwood and Bush park are just south of the downtown area in Salem, Oregon.The parks are separated by a small stream, so I tend to stay

IMG_0300in one of the two locations during a single photoshoot. Both locations have numerous great locations to take photos. Deepwood is situated on a street corner and the original house for the property is a historic location featuring daytime tours for those interested. I often use the house as a backdrop for clients, especially family shoots. Surrounding the house are several gardens. The formal garden has nice gated sections that make for great locations. Continuing around the house there is a tennis court that is used for wedding receptions. Around the court are short trails that are quiet and not often walked. I enjoy taking photos along the creek or gather the giant leaves that fall in the Fall to use in portraits.  It’s not difficult to find shade on bright days or a quiet location beside the creek.

 

 


 

  • Keizer Rapids Park

_MG_3424Keizer Rapids park is located in Keizer, Oregon, which is north of Salem, Oregon. This park seems to be going through changes every year. They currently have a large playground called The Big Toy that can be used as an excellent opportunity for kids to play on. There is a boat down with a large field surrounding it. I’ve taken photos of families at the amphitheater that boarders a treed area. In the trees is a Frisbee golf course and if you want to explore further, a wide bend in the Willamette river has fields of rocks where the river floods in the winter. I’ve often seen small rivulets that would make excellent backdrops.

 

 

 

 

 


 

  • Riverfront Park

IMG_1015Salem’s Riverfront park has become an increasingly popular place for senior photos. Riverfront park is located along the Willamette River and is situated right next to downtown Salem. Many events and carnivals can be found here at various times of the year. As for photo locations, there are two walking bridges at each end of the park that cross over the river. The one to the north is an old train tressle made into a walking bridge. I’ve taken many photos here using the bridge pattern as a backdrop.  The park has nice grassy fields and a splash park that kids love, even when it’s not on. I find it a good place for photos featuring smaller kids. The main feature of the park is a carousel which can be used for photos. If your photoshoot is during the winter, the park also features a temporary ice skating rink!

For the seniors, I usually walk across the street from the park to capture those cool brick-walled backgrounds. It’s not uncommon to find someone has written on the wall the graduating year, which I like to take advantage of in pictures.

 

 

 


  • Downtown Salem

IMG_1700IMG_0031Downtown Salem, Oregon is ripe with old and new buildings. Between many of the streets are neat little alleys that people often use for photos. From arched alleys to wide steps to twisty trees, a short walk easily brings together a variety of brick locations and quiet spots available for your photo session.

 

 

 

Hopefully any of these locations spark your interest in outdoor photography locations. If you’re wanting outdoor photos but aren’t sure where to choose, we will work with you to take advantage of the best each location has to offer at the time of your photoshoot.

Budgeting for your wedding

Weddings are expensive. Let’s face it.

According to CNN, the wedding industry is a 53.4 billion dollar market and the average wedding costed about 28,000 in 2012. Those are some crazy numbers, and I’m certain they are only rising. That doesn’t mean that you have to take a second job just to be able to afford your special day. Plenty of brides are on a budget and their wedding days are magical.

I believe that there are two main factors that need to come into play when you’re planning and budgeting for a wedding:

  1. Prioritization
  2. Effort

Wait, what?

Granted, those traits sound quite boring, but they are of utmost importance in my opinion.

What I mean for prioritization is to organize what you want your wedding day to be and then prioritize each component. Think about all the things you want in your wedding and then place them in order of importance. For example, you have a list like this:

  • Venue
  • Catering
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Officiant
  • DJ
  • Cake
  • Flowers
  • Dress
  • Etc

Then you need to organize them in importance to you. Perhaps flowers are at the bottom of your list and the venue is at the top. Then list everything else in order, for example:

  1. Venue
  2. Dress
  3. Officiant
  4. Photographer
  5. Cake
  6. Catering
  7. DJ
  8. Flowers
  9. Videographer

For this list, I put the venue at the top because I think that getting married in a beautiful location is the most important thing. Videography is at the bottom because I am not very interested in watching my ceremony video years down the road. Videography is still on the list though, because I put some importance to it. If my budget allows, I will hire someone to make a video. Perhaps the dress isn’t a big deal to you. List it lower. Maybe having photos is really important. List it higher. Once you have your basic list organized, you can really start seeing how much your wedding is going to cost when you start approaching vendors and seeing their price lists.

The second thing that I think is really important in planning a wedding I’m calling effort. What I mean is that the amount of effort you put into your wedding day should give it greater importance in your life. I don’t necessarily mean that you should try to arrange all your flowers or make your own cake, but by all means do so if that interests you. For me the wedding ring I gave my wife was really important. I wanted to make sure that not only did I choose a beautiful ring for her, but I actually wanted it to cost more money than I normally would have spent. I had to work more hours and save more money to buy her ring, but it was so worth it. For the extra hours and saving, I’ve ensured a lifetime of her being proud of her ring and the symbol it stands for. I’m not saying that anyone who chooses to buy a cheaper ring is going the wrong way. When you have your list of priorities, you’ll list what’s the most important thing first and I think you should work extra for that. If you really want your guests to have a great memory of your wedding day, perhaps a DJ who can keep the day upbeat and rocking is your thing.

So really take time to prioritize your list of wedding things by importance to you and then put in the extra effort for the important items on your list and you will be more successful at keeping to a budget and you’ll still have your special day, perfect for you.

3 Tips for Getting Better Photos

Capturing great images usually rests firmly in the hands of the photographer, but I have found that the people I photograph who come prepared often capture the best photos. Here are three tips you can do to improve photos of yourself:

1. The “turtle”

IMG_5607-PMIMG_2136Kathryn and I have nicknamed a method of removing double-chins in photos as the “turtle”. The “turtle” is a method of elongating your chin towards the camera. Think of it like pushing your face away from your neck then lowering your chin. It often feels awkward, but the effect when you see the photo will surprise you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Props

7B4A8793Props can make a huge difference in your photos. The best props are ones that say something about who you are. For example, I would recommend a senior bring their sports equipment or musical instrument. These kinds of props always add to the photo, and if it’s something you really love will often help you to be more comfortable in front of the camera.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Clothing choices

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Nadia Senior Photo at Salem's Riverfront Park

Nadia Senior Photo at Salem’s Riverfront Park

Nadia Senior Photo in downtown Salem

Nadia Senior Photo in downtown Salem

Clothing helps us define who we are and clothing choices at a photoshoot are no exception. I recommend families attempt to match each other when they come in or perhaps even have a change of clothes or two. Senior photoshoots should have at least 3 outfits, one that shows the formal you, one that shows the casual you and one that you are most comfortable in.

Photo recreation, Richard Weddle story

Occasionally we get a client who wants to recreate a photo. I especially like the recreations that are funny because of the posing or styling of the original.

Today’s post features the photo of two brothers as young children. They contacted us and told us about the photo, saying it was going to be funny to remake and indeed it was. Obviously the brothers were older and the younger wouldn’t even fit in the photo like the original, but we posed them. They brought a blanket similar to the original and wore similar clothes. The backdrop we had in studio was the same color as the original. Even their poses had to be the same, hence the tongue sticking out. As an added bonus, we had difficulty getting the angle of each brother to be close to the original pose. It wasn’t until I held up the pillow on the right that the angle looked correct. It was certainly a first for me to literally be underneath the blanket holding him up!

The purpose of the photo was to print and frame it for their parent’s wall right next to the original for Christmas. I hope their parents enjoy their joke each time they pass their new family portrait!

I really enjoy capturing the creative visions of clients, even for a joke =-)

The original photo the clients requested we remake

The original photo the clients requested we remake

A remake of a funny photo

A remake of a funny photo

The best weather conditions for portraits

My favorite weather conditions to take portraits in is when it’s cloudy. Can you believe it? Bright sun definitely makes for a boost in morale, but it’s really the days when it’s cloudy that I prefer to take portraits in.

Nadia Senior Photo

Why is that, you ask?

When it’s cloudy, the light is spread out better and colors are more even. If you’ve ever been in a photo studio, you might have noticed those large white screens. Those screens are small versions of clouds. Light is bounced around and reduces shadows, leaving your photos looking better. Fortunately for me, I primarily shoot in the Pacific Northwest where clouds abound. I feel very luck in this respect. I have even nicknamed Oregon the “land of diffuse light”. =-)7B4A0262

Don’t get me wrong about sunlight though. I love to shoot on the sunniest of days as well. Sometimes I’ll position you in the sun for shots, but on these kinds of days, I will usually have the light blocked with either a scrim or I will just position you in the shade.

So don’t worry about scheduling your outdoor photo shoot with me during the fall, winter or spring in the Pacific Northwest. I will keep tabs on the weather so that we can get great images for you!7B4A0961

Nadia Senior Photo

3 Posing Tips for Your Portrait Session

Part of the reason why I love photography is because I don’t have to be in front of the camera =-).

If that sounds like you too, then I have some important advice for you that I’ve learned from being in front of the camera that can make your portrait session much more rewarding.

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Be yourself

One of the best things you can do to improve your portrait shoot is to be yourself. Really! From behind the camera, it’s very obvious when my subject is uncomfortable because they are not acting like themselves. Stiff body lines, pasted grins and body language translate to photos that are not comfortable and whoever sees those photos will understand the same thing. It’s those moments where your happiness are captured and frozen in time that you will see every time you look at that photo that make it a great experience.

 

Trust your photographer7B4A3750-Edit

I want to take photos of my portrait sessions as perfectly as I can. I want you to go home with your photos feeling and looking your best because I have a happy client and because I can use that photo to promote my photography business. If you come to the session knowing that I am there to make you look your absolute best, then you can feel safe that how I direct you is helping you look great. Trusting your photographer helps you both have a great session experience and get great portraits.

 

Come preparedIMG_1068

There are many things you can do to come prepared to your photo shoot. It all depends on what you want to get out of it. A few things that I recommend thinking about prior to your shoot are your clothing and color choices and bring props or an activity that you enjoy. It will make your session more relaxing and fun.

 

 

– Photos By Orion

3 Things to Know Before Scheduling Your Spring Portraits

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Alexis and the Cherry Blossoms

Natural light is your friend

Have you ever had a photoshoot scheduled and it looks like it’s going to rain shortly before your outdoor-Oregon family photo session? Don’t worry too much about it, call your photographer up and see if they think it’ll still be a good time to take photos. If the weather is like many Spring days in Oregon are, there is likely a chance that that dull gray sky will actually enhance your photos. I like to think of those dull gray clouds as a gigantic light diffuser. Talk to your photographer to see if the weather will be good or not, you may be surprised.

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Danika in the Japanese Wisteria

Great foliage backdrops

Spring time is the best time to go out and capture family photos with excellent greenery and flowers. The grass is vibrant green and the flowers are usually plentiful and colorful. If you don’t have a special place in mind for your photoshoot, your photographer will. I have several places around the Willamette Valley that I enjoy taking clients to and I typically try to schedule photoshoots around the times when those flowers and trees look their best. A personal favorite are the Japanese Wisteria in Bush Park.

OK

The Davidsons in jackets

 

Clothing Choices

The weather in Oregon during the Spring is a time of change and your clothing choices should follow suit. =-) I recommend being prepared for both rain and sun. If you happen to have a new jacket, bring it along. It may go great with the background. Not every photoshoot needs to be formal.

Props

Sometimes, props can be great add-ons to a session. Here in Oregon, an umbrella may not get used in the rain, but it can make a great prop for photos! Giving it a little thought and grabbing a couple things that are special to you can take a good photo session to great in a flash.

 


From your photography team at Photos By Orion

Wedding Ceremony at the Oregon Gardens by Photos By Orion

What does a typical wedding ceremony look like?

You’re engaged, planning your wedding, and are super excited to start meeting with vendors. They ask you about your ceremony and you suddenly realize you have no idea how to put together a wedding ceremony! You start to freak out as you add yet another thing to your list of to-do’s that is already a mile long. But…DON’T PANIC!

A wedding ceremony can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Realistically, the list I have compiled below is what happens in a typical American ceremony. Different cultures will change this accordingly. I have tried to keep this list as bare-bones as possible, just the things that are typical and/or necessary, and labeled everything else optional. If you follow this simple formula you can have a ceremony plan in a few short minutes!

Wedding Ceremony Elements

Processionals – where the wedding party and parents of the couple walk in. Typically the parents are seated by ushers or groomsmen/attendants (attendants = the people standing with the couple up front, not the guests) first, then the groom/partner#1 walks in with the officiant, then bridesmaids/groomsmen/attendants walk in, followed by the ring bearer. Finally, the flower girls/grandmas/people walk in just ahead of the bride/partner #2.

žBride/Partner entrance

žOfficiant opening remarks – These are typically short comments welcome, of what makes a marriage work.

žCharge to the couple – This is the remark about the couple coming together seeking a committed relationship and that they are here to take the other person as their husband/wife/partner.

žVows – These are your promises to each other. They can be the same to each other or completely different. They can be repeated after the officiant or read from a paper. However and whatever you choose to promise to your soon to be spouse, this is the important part of the ceremony as it is what will bring you together. Spend time on your vows, be honest and committed to what you say here.

žRing exchanges

žUnity event – (optional) I have included this because about half of all weddings have some sort of unity event. Some examples I have seen are unity candles, hand-fastenings, and sand/bead/candy ceremonies, although this could truly be anything that brings two things together into one.

žPronouncement of marriage – “…By the power vested in me…”

žThe Kiss

žClosing Remarks and presentation of couple – “May I be the first to present…”

žRecessionals – wedding party walks back in reverse order.

 

There are many ways to make the wedding ceremony all your own, but as long as you start with this framework you will be good to go.

Comment below to let me know if I missed anything. These are the elements I have noticed in my wedding photography career as going into a typical ceremony.

Getting started on your wedding photo “Must Have” list

Your “Must Have” list is a very important part of your wedding planning. It not only determines the amount of time you need for your photography, but it also helps you with your timeline planning, with the order of events, with knowing if you need one or two photographers, and if there are other options like bridal portraits that will help you keep your wedding on track and on budget.

The list given below is a general list that I have used to help my clients over the past 10 years plan their wedding day photography. It is by no means completely inclusive, but I have found it helps my clients start the process of making their own list. While the list is written in “Bride and Groom” language, the ideas and concepts can be used for any wedding couple!

For planning purposes, plan to set aside 3-5 minutes per pose/picture on your list. This is a great starting time reference.

“Must have” wedding photo list ideas

Pre-wedding/Getting Ready

Rehearsal area before guests have arrived/details

Prep Shots – Bride & Groom getting ready

The Dress – Hanging or Draped

The Rings – with invitation, bouquet, etc.

Zipping Dress

Bride Applying Make Up

Groom Fixing Hair

Attaching Boutonnière to grooms lapel

Ceremony

Groom waiting at altar

Church Wide Shot (with & without guests)

Bride walking down aisle ( Side Profile & Front )

Father giving away bride

Groom over the shoulder shot of bride ( & Vis Versa)

Holding hands – Bride and Groom

Bride & Groom Kiss

Bride & Groom Leaving Church ( Receiving Line)

Reception

Reception/Banquet Hall Outside shot

Food Shots (Cocktail Hour, Drinks, etc.)

Shot of each table full of guests

Bride and Groom Hand & Ring Portraits

First Dance

Bride & Father Dance

Groom & Mother Dance

Bouquet Toss

Guarder Belt Toss

Cake Cutting

Bride and Groom Feeding each other

Misc. Guests Dancing

Best Man & Maid of Honor Toast/Speeches

Bride & Groom Toast/Speeches

Centerpieces & Flower/Decorations

Guestbook Signatures

Bride & Groom “Just Married” Vehicle – Driving Away

Thank you picture (if doing one)

Posed Photography

Bride alone

Groom alone

Bride and Groom

Bride and Groom at alter

Bride and Groom with Officient

Bride and Groom kissing

Bridesmaids/Flower Girl(s)

Groomsmen/Ring bearer

Bridal Party

Bride with Groomsmen

Groom with Bridesmaids

Bride with Bridesmaids

Groom with Groomsmen

Bride with flower girl(s)

Groom with ring bearer

Bride and Groom with bridal party

Bride with parents

Groom with parents

Bride and Groom with bride’s parents

Bride and Groom with groom’s parents

Bride and Groom with both sets of parents

Bride and Groom with bride’s grandparents

Bride and Groom with groom’s grandparents

Bride’s parents alone

Groom’s parents alone

After a bridal show: Now what do I do?

Beautiful green and orange bridal bouquet by Stem Designs in Salem, Oregon

Beautiful flowers by Stem Designs

So you just got back from a bridal or wedding show. You have tons of materials from all sorts of vendors and you are on wedding overload! You are probably asking now what do I do?!? If you read our previous article Bridal Shows: 5 tips for couples then you are prepared for this moment and I recommend you skip to step 3 and take a week or two off! If you haven’t read that article that is ok, there are a couple steps to do right away before you take your time off.

Step 1 – Take notes and Sort the materials

When you get home from the wedding show, or very shortly after (hopefully within a day), you will want to clear the floor and dump out your bag (or bags!) of information you received and start going through them. You will want to start separating the information into categories (venues, caterers, photographers, etc.). As you do, take a minute with each to remember each one and takes notes on what you remember. Think about how each one made you feel, a memorable quote or experience at their booth or while you were talking with them, your likes and concerns about their work and how they would work with you, and anything else you can think of. You want to do this while it is still fresh in your mind and when you can remember the most.

Step 2 – Order the categories by which you want to hire first

Next you want to order the vendor types into the order you are planning on booking them. This helps balance your priorities and all your desired pieces. It will also help you in step 4 to stay focused and should make decisions easier. If you need help on when to book there are several helpful articles available online, such as this compiled timeline from MyDeejay. I like this timeline because it gives you the suggestions from the three biggest wedding websites (The Knot, WeddingWire, and Brides.com) as well as the author’s suggestion and why they suggest it.

Step 3 – Take a break!

Now that you are all organized, you deserve a break! Take a week or two off to relax and recharge before you get into actually choosing your vendors. This will not only help you clear your head, but should help you narrow down your choices in each category.

Step 4 – Choosing your vendors

While each couple will approach this part differently, there are a few tips I can pass on here. First is to choose one vendor at a time according to your organized categories. This will let you more easily compare packages/offerings from vendors in this category and will let you deeply explore what you want from that type of vendor. Next, You will want to discuss each type of vendor together and make some choices before you start talking to vendors. For example, do you want a religious ceremony? Do you want the ceremony and reception all in one place? Do you want a DVD or digital files of your picture? How much are you hoping to spend on this category? And many other questions.

Once you have narrowed down what you want from each category, then take the first category and read the materials you collected, looking for those elements which you decided were most important for you.

Finally, choose your top 3-5 from each category based on what you want and your budget, and call them for a consultation. This will allow you to get a better feel for them and a personalized quote for your wedding. If you find what you feel is your perfect vendor from these consultations, put down your deposit and move on to the next category. If you are still on the fence and can’t seem to make a decision, move on to the next category and come back to it. The important thing is that you can make the decisions without feeling pressured or frustrated with the process. Planning your wedding should be a wonderful experience. And always remember the experts are there to help you. There are many wonderful planners and vendors out there that can help you along the way.

 

Happy Planning!!