Announcing Mini Sessions!

I’m so happy to announce that for the first time in two years, I’ll be hosting mini sessions just in time for the holidays. My sessions are no muss, fuss. No props or set ups just joy and love. I want your pictures to last beyond the holidays—a timeless momento from this moment in your lives.

THE DETAILS || Sessions will be 20 minutes scheduled on the half-hour. The edited digital files (usually between 20 to 30 images) will be delivered via digital download.

WHEN || Sunday, November 3rd | 8:00am – 4:30pm

WHERE || Matheson Hammocks | 9610 Old Cutler Road Coral Gables, FL 33156

COST || $150

Interested in signing up? Fill out the form HERE

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Watch Me Grow

As a photographer, nothing makes me happier than being trusted to document the journey of a family and to see little ones grow  throughout the year. I’ve been fortunate to have documented the first year of many of our couples. For some we have become their photographers for life from their engagement pictures to their child’s first birthday. So much happens the first year. I’ve gone through it once with my son and am almost mid-way through my daughter’s first year. It’s all a blur. Though I hold on to many memories, looking back at the pictures that I’ve taken throughout the years transport me back to those moments—the big milestones and even the little things we sometimes forget—their mannerisms, facial expressions, how they looked when they scooted across the couch. It’s all so important and deserves to be documented in a meaningful way.

The Collections

We offer two collections Belly to Baby (maternity and newborn sessions) and Belly to Toddler (maternity, newborn, 3, 6, 9 months and one year sessions plus an album of favorites).

More About the Sessions

MATERNITY

Maternity sessions are a wonderful way to celebrate the anticipation and excitement of the time before the baby arrives. I always joke that it’s like an engagement session with a bump. It’s a wonderful time for couples to enjoy time with each other before life changes. // This session lasts from one hour to 90 minutes.

NEWBORN

The newborn session is the longest of all the sessions as it depends largely on the baby. The session takes place within the first eight days of the baby’s birth. The earlier, the better since newborns are the sleepiest the first week or so after they are born. I take my time with this session and take constant breaks for feeding, diaper changing and extra cuddling. These sessions take place in a client’s home. In addition to the posed photos of the baby, I love to document the little details of the nursery as well as candid moments of the family together. I want you to look back at these pictures and remember what life was like those first few days. // This session can last from two to three hours.

3, 6, 9 MONTHS

I consider these mini-sessions. They are primarily about the baby to document the milestones reached (sitting, standing, walking, etc.) This is great time to capture your babies developing personality. I try to take family shots if time allows and parents are willing. // These sessions last from 30 to 45 minutes.

ONE YEAR

The one year session is very similar to my regular portrait sessions. Though the baby is the main focus, this is also a time to celebrate the wonderful one year milestone as a family. Some of my sessions include balloons, posters and other fun props. Others do a cake smash at the end of the session. // This session lasts from one hour to 90 minutes.

Other details

Image delivery : All sessions are delivered via digital download. Images are delivered via USB after the newborn session (Belly to Baby) and with the album (Belly to Toddler.)

Albums // Belly to Toddler Collection: Albums are 15 page, 8×8 in size with a custom photo cover. Albums are flushmount and creased in the middle for full panoramic spreads and printed on archival paper. Client selects favorite four images from each session.

Ideas for what to wear can be found HERE.

Sample Sessions:  Maternity HERE // Newborn HERE

Interested in Watch Me Grow Sessions?

Drop me a line at elainepalladinophotography [at] gmail [dot] com or click the contact button for pricing and availability.

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What to Wear

What should we wear? This is one of the most common questions I get asked after we decide on a location. Sometimes, it’s just as a matter of course, other times it’s asked in a tone laced with panic. Rest your fears, my dear readers (there are a few of you out there? Yes?) I don’t call myself a purveyor of style or anything, but I have an idea or two of what looks good in front of a camera. Here are a few tips to help you find the best outfits for your day in the sun.

Complement the Environment:
Believe it or not, the location plays a big role in what you wear. For example, if we’re shooting at the beach, a long bilowy or cute short summer dress is more appropriate than something you would where out to a nice dinner downtown. Consider the colors in the environment also so that the outfits stand out against the backdrop.

Be Comfortable
I’m not saying to wear your sweats, but you want to be able to move in your outfit. Wear what makes you feel good. Uncomfortable shows up in pictures, and can’t be photoshopped. You want to pick something that you can move in when you are in different poses. You also want to wear shoes that are easy walk in when you move between locations. Chances are, even in the midst of “winter” Miami will be hot so if your shoot is in an outdoor location, take that into account so that you don’t sweat through your clothes.

Coordinate Your Styles
Avoid the uniform. You don’t normally wear identical outfits, so why start now? Just like you want your pictures to be unique, let your outfits reflect your individual styles. Want to coordinate colors? Then, find an outfit that reflects each person’s style in the chosen color. Don’t be afraid of bold colors or patterns, but both should be balanced. Treat patterns and bold colors like accessories and layer them with other more subdued colors. You can also pick outfits that have the same tonal range of colors that complement one another.

Don’t Skimp on Details
Hairstyles, make-up and accessories complete an outfit. If it’s within your budget, consider getting your hair and makeup professionally done or ask a friend to help. Accessories like hats and scarves not only add a little something to what you are wearing, but can serve as great props as well.

Cool It On the Outfit Changes
You want to keep outfits changes to a minimum, especially when working with children. Two outfits is the average for my sessions. Layers, particularly with kids, helps make wardrobe changes quick and painless. Layer jackets, scarves, hats or sweaters to change the look without having to completely change clothes.

THINGS TO AVOID:

  • Clothing with words or logos…keep things clean.
  • Anything too trendy that can date your pictures
  • Forcing kids into more than two outfit changes
  • Wearing distracting prints that take away from your face or clash with the environment
  • Wearing clothes that make you look boxy
  • The white and khaki uniform

THINGS TO DO:

  • Wear clothes that enhance your curves and body type
  • Wear solid blazers or cardigans to tone down a print, pattern or bold color
  • Empty your pockets
  • Feel good in what you are wearing

To help those visual learners, I’ve created Pinterest boards to help you visualize outfits that match my tips. You can view the board for couples HERE and the one for families HERE.

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The Wedding Timeline

Timelines. It’s the least glamorous part of weddings, but it’s the glue that holds the whole thing together. When we first started shooting weddings, we were almost always left out of the timeline planning process and it made for a more stressful day. We found that time for portraits was often an afterthought and we were left scrambling for enough time.

During weddings, I’m like a duck calm on the surface but kicking like crazy underneath. In my mind, the clock is ticking. I know, even without looking at a clock, how much time I have left before we have to head back or move on to the next thing. If the makeup runs late, I’m the one who has to make magic with a fraction of the time that I used to have. If the timeline is mess or doesn’t have any wiggle room then any delay or problem can throw a wrench into the whole day.

Here, then, is a list of tips and things to consider with regards to photography that will help the day run smoothly:

  • The timeline is a guide, a living document that needs to be flexible. The only things set in stone, typically are the ceremony start time and the end time of the reception.
  • Always include your photographer in the timeline planning process. We will know what’s the best time for portraits, how long things will take. Use our expertise to your benefit.
  • Think about how you want your day to unfold. It’s easy to get caught up in all the details when there are so many to worry about in a wedding day, but think of the big picture: the experience that you want your guests to have and that you want to have with your significant other.
  • Always overestimate how long things will take by about 10 minutes. That way each event has a built in time cushion. Things run late, the weather takes a turn for the worse; you need to have some flexibility so that you can make adjustments if and when something unexpected comes up.
  • Work backwards. Take the ceremony time and work backwards from there to figure out when you need to have transportation pick you up, when you have to make makeup and hair done, when you need to be dressed and ready to go, etc.
  • Finishing touches take a while. Getting in to your dress, putting on jewelry, the veil, etc. takes about 20/25 minutes. You don’t want to rush this part of the day. We like to take portraits during this time before the chaos so try to make it so that this is a calm moment instead of a rushed blur.
  • Make sure you let us know about the other events of the evening: Introductions, First Dance, cake cutting, sparkler sendoff, etc. so that we can be ready and so that nothing is missed.
  • Feed us. We are all day photographers so we are with you every step of the way and most days our only real meal is dinner. We make get fed at every wedding but most times, the timing of when can be an issue. If possible, we like to eat when the couple eats so that when the toasts, or dancing starts, we are ready and raring to go.
  • Communicate. Don’t be afraid to tell us of important moments or things that you want to photograph. One example is a bride of ours who designed her own invitations. Of course, we were going to shoot the invitations but knowing that she made them made it more of a priority. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. The more we know, the better.
  • Know the rules. Though we like to make sure of it myself, it always helps when our couples let us know of the venue or church rules ahead of time. Yes, it’s our job to do my due diligence to make sure that we are not violating any rules when we are shooting, it helps when our couples give us a heads up if they are aware of any rules.

How long do things take?

Getting Ready: It typically takes about 20/25 minutes to get into your dress and put on the finishing touches. We like to show up about an hour and a half to two hours before we have to leave for the ceremony or first look. Know what time you want to be at the ceremony and then work backwards from there.

Sara getting a few helping hands to get ready.

Pre-Ceremony Pictures: These include individual portraits, bridesmaids and groomsmen pictures as well as individual pictures of couple with their respective parents. This takes about 20/30 minutes. This can happen after the first look but if you are not having a first look then these portraits happen after you are dressed and before you head to the ceremony.

The timeline made it possible for Carlos and his groomsmen to take lots of portraits and even get creative like in this shot.

First Look: I talk about first looks in THIS post. If the ceremony starts or ends at night, then a first look is a great option so that you can make the most of natural light during portraits. From our experience, weddings with a ceremony at night leave the least amount of time for portraits (if the couple doesn’t do a first look) since it only leaves about an hour (typically during the cocktail hour) for portraits including family, wedding party and the couple portraits. A first look helps bypass the stress and gives the couple time to either join cocktail hour or spend some downtime together before the reception. I like to allocate 15/20 minutes for the first look. The actual seeing each other doesn’t take long but coordinating getting to the first look location can take a little while.

Jessica and Alison had their intimate first look in the balcony where Jessica was getting ready.

Couple’s Portraits: Portrait time varies by wedding and whether couples will see each other before the ceremony during a first look. I like to have at minimum 30 minutes for just the couple, though I average about 45 minutes. Try not to cut this time short. This is one of the only times where you will be alone during the wedding day so don’t rush it. Enjoy this time together and give us the chance to take pictures that will last beyond a lifetime. We also like to scout locations beforehand so we know where to go and don’t waste time trying to find good locations.

Though they saw each other for a first look, Claudia and Mitch made room in their timeline to take some photos at sunset after their ceremony.

Family Portraits: We insist on getting a family group list in advance of the wedding day so that we can ensure no one is forgotten. We like to keep this to about 20/25 minutes. One way we do that is to keep it to 6-8 groupings if possible. For extended family, we recommend combined, larger groups instead of small individual groups. You want to keep this short and enjoyable so that guests can move on to the rest of the celebration. We also recommend you inform the guests who will be photographed where they need to be and when they need to be there.

Not rushing through the family portrait time allows for candid moments like this one between Fiona and her grandmother.

Wedding Party: This depends on the size of the group but usually we keep this to 20 minutes. If bridesmaids and groomsmen pictures happen before the ceremony, then this time is just for the whole group together. Be sure to include flower girls and ring bearers.

When things aren’t rushed, we can take wedding party portraits and have room to capture more candid moments like this one between Natalie, Jose and their wedding party.

What can be gleaned from all this information? The more you communicate with us, the more that you are aware of what it’s going to take to make your day run smoothly, the easier our jobs will be to tell your story.

Need more help planning your timeline? THIS is a great place to get started and THIS is a wonderful resource.

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The First Look

Maybe I’m spoiled. The first time that I ever took part in a First Look as a photographer was during the wedding of one of my best friends. There, under the tall North Carolina trees blowing in the soft breeze I witnessed Scott see his bride, Laura, for the first time. It was one of the sweetest moments I have ever experienced as a photographer. I cried to the point that I couldn’t see through the viewfinder. As a friend, it was an absolute honor to be able to witness something so beautifully intimate. As a photographer, it was pure gold. You can’t orchestrate moments like that; it would be disingenuous of me if I even tired. So when I get asked by clients whether I think a First Look is a good idea, it’s all I can do to not pounce with an emphatic and resounding “YES!”

I could list all the practical reasons why a First Look is the way to go:

  • There is more time for portraits
  • Depending on your timeline, the portraits could take place in natural light as opposed to night portraits
  • You’ll be relaxed and be able to enjoy cocktail hour
  • We won’t have to cram family, wedding party and couple portraits into 30 or 40 minutes

These are very valid reasons that the professional photographer me wants you to do a First Look. The hopeless romantic and artistic photographer me wants you to do a First Look because of just how wonderful they are. It is intimate in a way that most of your wedding won’t be. It’s a moment between the two of you completely separate from the rest of hoopla that accompanies any wedding, big or small.

But what do I know? I’m just the girl wielding the camera. I’ll let the pictures and my past couples speak for themselves.

Lindsey & Ryan

Lindsey: I am exceptionally traditional in most areas of my life, and was convinced I’d never do a first look, but when we decided to time the cocktail hour so that it was during the Kentucky Derby, we knew if we wanted to see it, we’d have to do pictures beforehand. It was a good thing we did, because as soon as I was dressed, all I could think about was getting to Ryan. If I had to wait until the ceremony, I might have gone crazy! It was just us for those few moments, and it was fantastic. Well, it was supposed to be just us, until I saw the pictures later of the entire wedding party watching from inside the hotel.

Christine & Rey:

Christine: We decided to take our First Look photos at our venue because we wanted to take advantage of how gorgeous the space is when it’s empty.  We included our parents because the 6 of us have such a great bond and we also wanted to take formal portraits with them that weren’t standing at the altar of the church.  The logistics of getting us all from the hotel to the venue and then to the church were nerve wracking… I clearly remember the butterflies being in the brides room of the Cruz Building… having my dress fluffed by my mom and mother in law… waiting to see my husband.. and then came that loooong walk up to him.  Even though our parents were watching, in that moment we were the only ones in the room…. until we turned around to find the four of them hugging and smiling with tears in their eyes!!!  It was the best wedding day decision we made (2nd only to hiring Elaine and Mike)… and because we did the First Look, we were able to enjoy every single second of our cocktail hour and got to take fun, casual photos with our guests.

Dean & Kaio

Dean: The wait; the wonder… What does he look like?  The last time I saw my husband in our wedding attire was at our fittings.  I was crazy-excited!  (Note: We, as well as groomsmen all wore bubblegum pink Converse Star Players.  You would have died to see it all together, too!). I wanted this moment to be memorialized.  It was really important to me.  I knew that Elaine and Mike would capture this visceral reaction we both would have for each other. I was really nervous!

Then I could hear him.  I gripped my own hands in anticipation to finally look and kiss him; and kiss him with quite possibly the greatest smooshy-faced kiss!

And when the days come and go, and we easily get lost in the daily life events and the changes that happen to us, coming back to the kiss of the first look brings everything back to that most amazing day of my life.

Erica & Adam:

Erica: I loved our first look! From a logistical perspective, I was happy we did that and all of our photos before the ceremony so that we were able to enjoy the cocktail our with our guests.  I loved the moments leading up to the first look as well. The whole weekend was full of emotions and I really feel like they were culminating in two main events: the first look and the ceremony. For me, the first look was one of the most emotional parts of the weekend. You spend the whole day apart, getting ready, and by the time the first look comes around you are giddy with excitement (or at least I was). I particularly loved being back to back with Adam (although because of the dress we weren’t technically back to back, but rather hand to hand).  I was also REALLY happy we did a private first look without our friends/family around, to really take it all in and enjoy the moment just us.

Laura & Jeremy:

Laura: Getting ready was exciting but of course, I was rushing to stay on schedule.  Going into the first look, I was certainly feeling the stress of the BIG day and the anxiety of hurrying to be on schedule.  But the instant I saw Jeremy, that all melted away.  In the whirlwind of wedding day activity, it was a moment where time stopped.  It was a moment to focus just on each other.  It was very calming to have that moment with him and it was incredibly special to have a few minutes of private time to ourselves. I left the first look feeling more relaxed yet filled with excitement at the same time. In addition, since our ceremony was at a different location, it gave us the opportunity to get a few photos with our beautiful hotel as the backdrop.

Laura & Scott:

 Scott: Looking back, I am really happy we decided to do the first look. It gave us a very intimate moment together; a “calm before the storm”. We were able to really enjoy the moment as we began the journey of becoming husband and wife.

 Laura: The First Look was without a doubt one of the best decisions we made during this journey. I didn’t want to do one initially, but thought about two things, the first obviously being how amazing it would be to see my sweetheart for a few minutes before the ceremony started. The second reason I wanted to do one, was because Scott and I had the good fortune to have photographers who are equal parts amazing photographers and amazing friends. I felt completely comfortable with them being there, and honestly didn’t really notice their presence at all I was so focused on Scott. Also, I knew that I would get some amazing photographs from the session, which was very important to me, because I knew that the picture-taking time post ceremony would be a fast moving hectic time. The First Look was a perfect way to get some beautiful photographs and spend a few moments together.

Lisa & Lamar

Lisa: Lamar and I decided to do a first look at the hotel where I was staying and the moments that Elaine and her husband captured right before the ceremony were priceless. Getting a chance to look at him and feel like we were the only people on the planet reassured me in that moment — this is the perfect thing to do. Elaine and Mike were great and managed to capture every detail of our emotions during that time from the intensity of our love for each other to the goofball sense of humor that we share. Furthermore, they were super flexible, photographing us at multiple sites and ultimately letting me pile into the back of their car when the limo company didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. By the time the ceremony came around, I was relaxed and happy knowing that we already had hundreds of great shots and we could now focus on being captured with the 150 family and friends that came from all over the country to share our day with us. After seeing the photographs, I can truly say that Elaine and Mike did amazing work that I’ll treasure forever.

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