To prop or not to prop?

I would definitely say that I have adopted a more candid style of photography as my personal style.  I really enjoy and prefer the authenticity and genuine expressions captured when children (and adults) are acting as though they’re not standing in front of a camera.  There is something about walking into a room with a large camera that makes people big and small behave just a little less natural.  They suddenly become a little stiff, very aware of their bodies and maybe even a little nervous.  This slight change in behavior can sometimes make the resulting photos look a little contrived.  Now add flashes, props, tripods and backdrops to the mix and it can be pretty intimidating to some.  

However, there are times, especially with newborns and toddlers, when styling, posing and props can really work well.  I admit it, I am a real sucker for a photo of an adorable little girl playing “dress up” with her mommy’s pearls and her chubby little feet tucked into a pair of heels, or a sweet little diaper wearing baby boy with a football jersey and a football.  These types of photos can be lots of fun and crazy cute too, even if they aren’t natural in setting.  

My home, as I’m sure you can imagine, is adorned with tons of photos of my family – 90% of which are candid, but I wouldn’t rule out those precious prop-styled photos either.  Although I love candid shots where my children are the only focus, I figure I might as well throw in a few props now while they are still small.  I’m guessing that same cute photo of the little baby boy in a diaper with a football I mentioned earlier, would not have the same appeal at age 10 – ha!

One of the many reasons I love photography so much is that it truly allows you to be creative and do what appeals to you.  So discuss your wishes with your photographer or if you’re out there shooting yourself, get creative, have fun and decide whether to prop or go candid.  Either way – don’t miss a moment!

Moms – Love Yourself


I’m an optimistic, positive person, you know, the glass half-full type.  I do notice though, that I can be pretty hard on myself, especially when it comes to how I look in photographs.  Why?  I guess it’s the obvious stuff – a couple wrinkles here and there, some new strands of gray hair and a few extra pounds for starters.

When you look at yourself in a photo, what do you see?  Do you see a beautiful, talented, and hot mama or a tired stressed-out mom?  I guess much of how we feel about ourselves has to do with both internal and external forces.  Our mental images of ourselves can help determine how we react to many different things.  If we think of ourselves as worthwhile and valued, that quality will come across, not only in your posture and attitude, but also your photos.  However, if we feel overworked, tired and undervalued, we may have a warped perception of ourselves that usually only we see.

Think about how you would describe yourself to a stranger.  Would you emphasize your awesome sense of humor or physical features you’re fond of?  Or would you talk about your “trouble areas” or avoid the request altogether?”  Your answer largely depends on your mental image of yourself.

Why does it matter how you see yourself?  Well, because our children see what we do and they hear what we say (even though it may not always seem like they do – Ha!).  We work hard to teach our children to focus on the positive , yet we don’t always practice this way of thinking ourselves.  It is important that we, as Moms, emphasize what we’ve done “right” for a change.  If we see beyond our post-baby bods and tied-up, tousled hair, we might actually be able to see not only what amazing moms we’ve become, but also how truly beautiful we are, and how successful we are at balancing the duties of our everyday lives.  We do the jobs of dozens of different people each day – we’re pretty incredible when you think about it!

I have come to realize that, yes, I may be a little older and a little chubbier, but my life is exactly what I had always hoped for.  I am a loving mommy, a good wife, and a business owner.  In short,  I have a lot to be proud, as I’m sure you do as well.  So to all the Moms out there – see the good in what you do, and love yourself (both in life and in your photos).  You deserve it!

Timing Is Everything | Chicago Family Photographer

Chicago Family Photographer

Any parent of a toddler will tell you, kids can be wonderfully silly and full of laughter one minute, then turn into crabby and crazy, little monsters the next.  When a toddler is upset or frustrated, it can be quite an ordeal – crying, screaming, stomping and kicking types of affairs.  As a photographer, I try my best to inform my clients about the best “times of day” to shoot for quality of light, but my “time of day” and your child’s “time of day” don’t always coincide.  Luckily, professional photographers are trained to work around bad lighting situations and “make it happen.”    Truth be told … we could have the most beautiful lighting conditions ever but if a child isn’t happy, there will probably not be many adorable, smiley and magical images for Mom and Dad (unless, of course, they’re fine with red puffy eyes, angry scowls and runny noses).  I love a good “crying” photograph myself, but most parents would not want an entire gallery of them 🙂

When preparing for a photo session:

  • It is always best to make sure that you dress your child comfortably;
  • Be sure your child is fed well and has (hopefully) had a nap;
  • Always be sure to bring along snacks and drinks, favorite toys and comfort items; and
  • If your child is very tired or feeling ill, it is probably best to reschedule.  Bringing a very tired or sick child to a photo session simply is not a recipe for success.

I think my clients would testify that regardless of the resistance, I don’t usually give up.  I’m always up for a good challenge.  However, I would not want to push a child who has clearly had enough or isn’t feeling up to it.

The long and the short of it is, when dealing with toddlers, there is almost always a certain amount of resistance or bashfulness in the beginning and that is completely normal.  If you think about it from their point of view, we really ARE strangers to them.  However, a little fun conversation, play and learned technique (sometimes a little candy too) usually earns their trust quickly and then the real fun begins.  We like our little clients to be happy and genuinely having fun, so be sure to keep these tips in mind when scheduling your next photo session.  Timing really can make a huge difference!


Welcome to Cianne Mitchell Photography‘s new blog.  I’m so excited to be able to share my experiences and my sessions with all of you.  If you would have asked me 2 years ago if I ever thought I’d be doing what I’m doing, I would have said “IMPOSSIBLE!”  But here I am, and I’m loving every minute of it.  I am so grateful for all the incredible experiences I’ve had this past year and all the wonderful families I’ve met.  Being able to connect with other parents, document their moments and capture the beauty in every relationship brings me such joy.

As a professional photographer, I have met so many amazing parents, single, married, gay & lesbian, every race and religion.  Some of them with incredible talents and interesting stories, including a writer, an opera singer, a harpist, a chef and a professional blogger!  I love every second I spend with each of my clients and getting to know them on a more personal level.  I feel as though I become a part of their family and it’s very rewarding.

Photography is my dream job – the job that allows me to do something creative and fun, but still spend quality time with the people I love most – my beautiful family.  I am truly doing what I love, and I have each and every one of you to thank for it.   THANK YOU!