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What precautions are you taking during COVID?

Although I am fully vaccinated, it is still important that everyone feels good about their session. I will approach each photo shoot with an empathetic ear and be mindful about how each family navigates back into "normalcy".

Prior to sessions, a wellness check and COVID waiver release will be filled out by all families. If anyone's health is questionable, we'll reschedule accordingly, without penalty. During the session, I will be wearing a mask and sanitizing my hands.

Can you describe a family photo session? Are there any posed portraits? Does your non-directed approach mean you don't give any direction?

A typical session lasts about 1.5–2 hours, go with the flow (without the use of props), and is casual and fun. Together, we'll choose a time where everyone is most happy and a place that reflects your family. I usually recommend shooting in the mornings when everyone is fresh and well rested. With older children, a favorite activity or outing is usually established prior to the shoot. Otherwise, staying close to home is not only my favorite, but is also favored my most children under the age of 1.

Though I value posed portraits, I feel that they should not dominate a photo session. That said, Grandparents love them—mine do! Please let me know ahead of time if you would like to have some posed shots and I can spend a few minutes for casual portraits. Otherwise, the rest of the time will be more unscripted fun.

I do not call out direction throughout the session, but I will give some gentle guidance if I see an opportunity that could easily be made in better lighting. I may also help facilitate the kind of fun that makes for good candid photographs.

How long will it take to receive my photos?

Editing photos carefully is just as important to me as taking them. It's also where I spend 90% of my time with them. Normal processing time for photos is 2-3 weeks, but due to the unpredictable nature of the corona virus and irregular childcare options for my family, photos can now take as long as 1-2 month and 2+ months for films. If you would like prints during the busy holiday season for cards, I recommend that you schedule your session 2-3 months in advance.

How much do you edit the images?

I apply a light hand in editing. I try to keep the integrity of the original photos, but I may adjust the lighting, crop images, or remove boogers if need be.

Family Film sessions are the best gift that you could gift yourself and your family. This is where your memories come alive. These 3-4 hour sessions may sound overwhelming, but I swear that they're not—scout's honor. Through these sessions, I capture the beauty and chaos of your family's ordinary day. This is where the simple, honest moments shine. Like the moment she reaches out to touch your cheek. The way he cracks up when you say that one word. The way he looks at your when you don't know he's looking at you.

Think of me as a close friend that tags along with your family as I follow you through your routines (snuggling, laughing, cooking, playing) that are meaningful for your family .

Included with each package are a consultation, 4 hour session coverage, 20+ high-resolution images delivered by digital download, and a highly edited 3–4 minute film set to thoughtfully hand selected, licensed music.

What can I expect from a typical Family Film session?

Portrait Films celebrate everyday milestones, 1-2 minutes at a time—like little intimate time capsules that you'll want to revisit. They focus on 1 person and a specific time in their life. These abbreviated films are perfect for newborns, graduates, birth days..basically any finite time that you would like to memorialize. The same basic description of a Family Film applies here. No scripts, no props, no posing

What is the difference between Family Films and Portrait Films?

What's involved in editing family films (or videos)? Why does it cost more than photos?

Editing family videos is more labor intensive than editing photos, but it is so worth it! After our session, I cull, edit, and arrange video clips in a way that is cohesive and best narrates your story. I also fine tune audio for each individual clip (for eg., I may enhance soft, little voices or remove distracting background noise). My favorite part of the editing process is finding the perfect song to reflect your family. That can sometimes take an entire day...or two...and I may have to edit the song if it's too long or repetitive. Another factor that accounts for its price is that licensed music can be as much as $200 for a single use which means that I will not be reusing that song for anyone else without repurchasing it (which I normally don't do).

What should I wear for the session?

I encourage you to wear what is comfortable and something that you can move in while playing with your children. As a general rule of thumb, I recommend that you wear what would make the most sense to the location that we'll be shooting in. For example, if we're at a beach, wear something that would reflect your family on any given day at the beach, not high-heeled shoes—that's not that type of session. Also, be mindful to colors and prints so that they compliment other family members. Lastly, logos and distracting text should be avoided as they do not lend themselves to timeless photos. More detailed information will be provided with your session information.

I check in with all my families a week prior to the session to discuss details and to answer any questions that they may have. In case of illness, I appreciate a 2 days notice and I will do my best to accommodate your plans when rescheduling. Likewise, if I or any member of my family falls ill, I do expect the same courtesy from my client-families as well. Outdoor shoots are weather permitting and if weather is questionable, I will be in close contact the days before and on the morning of the shoot. Please note that retainers to secure a session are non-refundable.

Is there a cancellation policy?

No one is more awkward than I am in front of the camera, so I can completely relate! Most people tell me that I make them feel comfortable right away, which is exactly why I make sure to get to know as much about you before our sessions and find out what's important to you. The beauty of a photojournalistic approach is that it is inherently unscripted and genuine—you don't have to pose or be anything other than yourself. And, if you are planning on a family session, you can take comfort knowing that children are great at chasing away the photo jitters.

What if I'm not photogenic or am completely uncomfortable in front of the camera?

sisters holding baby newborn with mom and dad at home in bed

father and daughter snuggling near window smiling

beautiful tender portrait of mother breastfeeding baby with father caressing son's head newborn photo sf bay area home session

father and son at home connecting and reaching for mother's hand

beautiful pregnant woman playing piano with warm sunlight glow

beautiful teenage girl portrait at sunset castro valley

mother rocking baby girl in swaddle at sunset

father holding baby son bonding at home newborn session sf bay area menlo park

baby boy being held by other and father newborn session sf bay area

portrait of mother and teenage son connecting and hugging each other at crab cove beach alameda at sunset

siblings baby boy connecting in nursery newborn session bay area

mother connecting with baby at home newborn session bay area

father and newborn daughter looking at each other in nursery while dad is holding baby

cute infant girl being goofy at home in nursery

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carmen dunham photography black logo

Bay Area Family Photographer & Filmmaker