Dress for Success: What to Wear for your Portrait Session

Rule #1: Coordinate

For family or group portraits make sure your outfits complement one another’s. Choose a consistent color palette (which does not mean the same color). If someone is wearing a bold pattern, dress the rest of the group in more solids, but be sure each carries one or more colors from the “star” outfit for consistency.  I like to recommend the “three color pop” method of coordinating – pick two to three basic colors, and add a “POP” color.  For instance the Templeton’s went with white, black and grey, using red as a POP color.  Their outfits are coordinated but not matchy-matchy.  Usually picking a neutral palette with a vibrant POP color works well.  But you also need to consider the decor of your home and locations you wish to display your final images.  If your living areas are grey with touches of bright blue and yellow, perhaps red isn’t the POP color for you!

Westmont-family-portrait-photograph-templetonRule #2: Accessorize!

Scarves, hats, bows, bands…it all adds a fun twist to an otherwise “standard” look. Accessories are also a great place to coordinate looks. For example, if Mom is wearing a bright pattern with lavender, pink and gray, little brother can rock a pair a gray sneakers while Dad can choose a lavender vest and big sis with a pink headband.  This inter-generational portrait of the Zuver ladies from Hinsdale shows great coordination and accessories, see the scarf, the flowers in the girls hair and belts, all picking up on the print in Grandma’s jacket – perfect!web 20140809-08961

Rule #3: Try for Texture

Layers and textures and add depth to your images. Look for clothes and accessories with rich, simple detailing—cable knits, tweed, ribbons, etc—or layer pieces to add dimension and texture. Texture is especially important if you want a lot of black and white shots, which naturally need more visual depth and detail than color images. The texture in the environment of the portraits here is complimented by the sweater knits, flowing scarves, fluttery flower petals, and so on.  Also, because you’ll want to keep the pace going during your session, layering is a great way to make quick, convenient outfit changes—pull off the sweater, slip on the vest and you’ve got a whole new look.  Change out a headband or tie, don a hat and something different takes your portraits in a new direction!

Rule #4: Dress Kids for Comfort & Movement

Kids naturally run, skip, dance and jump around during photo sessions—they’re kids! To avoid unnecessary aggravation, let them be comfortable in the clothes and opt for apparel that accentuates their natural energy. Skirts, fedoras, scarves, and knit sweaters allow for natural movement, so when the kids start getting wild, their clothes will look even better.


Rule #5: Be Timeless

You’ll have these pictures for generations—don’t date yourself! Choose classic, timeless pieces, or even vintage apparel and accessories. Opt for the latest trends and you may feel otherwise about that amazing outfit in a few years (or even a few months) from now.  In both the portraits above the clothes are simple and classic.  Who doesn’t look back on snap shots and school portraits and think “oh, that shirt is so 1990” or “wow styles were wild in the 70’s”.  By choosing simple and classic wardrobe items your images will better stand up to the tests of time and feeling like classic pieces of art in your home.

Posted in Families, Portraits

PPA Charities Family Portrait Month

I am pleased to announce my participation in PPA’s Family Portrait Month!  During September 2014, 50% of your $100 session fee will be donated to PPA Charities to benefit Dando Amor, a non-profit charity founded by photographers and dedicated to improving the lives of orphans living in deplorable conditions in the developing world.


click image to see full size!


Dando Amor means “giving love.” Give love to the orphans that Dando Amor serves in Ecuador, Africa and Haiti, and show how much you love your family by reserving your Family Portrait Month session now!  During this charity effort, your session fee of $100 will also include a $25 print credit.

Remember . . . your family portrait is perfect for holiday gift-giving and holiday cards!

Sessions are limited, so don’t be disappointed. Call 630-306-5776

Posted in Uncategorized

Calling Members of the Class of 2015!

It’s time to schedule your sessions!  The yearbook shots may not happen until the end of summer, but let’s get together and create a session all about you!  Move up from the basic headshot with the customized Senior Portrait Experience at Mary Robinson Photography.  Include props and favorite places; reflect your high school experience and your talents.  Check out the video below to see images from past graduates and the quality of portraits you can expect.  In the past I’ve worked with students from Downers Grove North High, York High in Elmhurst, Westmont High School, and Hinsdale Central.  Of course I’d love to hear from anyone in the surrounding area!  You can use the contact page on this site, or call 630-306-5776 to discuss session ideas and set your date!

Posted in Uncategorized

Model Call –
Senior Grad Portraits in Cap and Gown!

Attention class of 2014 – I’m looking for a variety of graduates to do some quick portraits once you have your cap, gown and tassel.  Nothing elaborate or fancy; just you in your cap and gown.  I’d only need about 30 minutes and will provide you with at least 2 5×7 prints, as well as posting to facebook and google+.  Any school in the vicinity – Hinsdale Central, Hinsdale South, Hinsdale Middle School, Westmont High, Westmont Junior High, Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South!  Seniors and eighth graders eligible – if you are not yet 18 you MUST have a parent contact me.

A Model Release allowing me to use the images for marketing purposes (both in print and online) will be required – signed by the subject or parent if the subject is under 18.

Interested? Want more information? Email me at mary@maryrobinsonphoto.com -please include your name, age, school and the date you will pick up your cap and gown as well as basic contact info (email & phone number).  Looking forward to hearing from you!

Posted in Uncategorized

Dayvion and Dayshua –
Downtown Senior Portraits


While I am a DuPage County, IL portrait photographer who works with high schoolers from Westmont, Hinsdale, Downers Grove and surrounding areas, I jump at opportunities to shoot, no matter where I am!  Recently I was in St. Louis for a convention (www.shutterfest.com) and met the mother of these twins at the Hilton.  My friend, roommate and fellow photographer, Deborah Hassman (http://www.treasuringlifesmoments.com) arranged to meet the twins the next day to wander the downtown and get some portraits.  Dayvion and Dayshua  are finishing their junior years and making plans for their futures.  We discussed ACT scores, finals, summer plans and career goals.


Our sessions were fun and interactive, and it was great to work with the twins together and individually, and to work ideas and locations with Deb. Working with another photographer is inspiring and eyeopening; it got me thinking of different angles, poses and locations as we moved around the area.  Thanks Deb, for splitting the room cost, bouncing around ideas, and shooting with me during Shutterfest.

Dayvion and Dayshua, good luck with your future plans and finishing you high school careers over the next year in style!  We’ll be returning to St. Louis next April, perhaps we can shoot together again!  I hope you enjoy the images we created.


Posted in Portraits, Seniors

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

web20140422-06301 Ben Franklin had it right – involve me and I learn.  I personify that notion . . . I can read about something forever, but show me how to put it into action, let me get my own hands dirty, so to speak, and then, THEN, I’ll get it.  For that reason, I’m always on the lookout for learning opportunities in portrait photography.  Two weeks ago, that opportunity was Shutterfest in StWestmont-senior-portrait-blogboard-shutterfest. Louis, MO.  Put on by Sal Cincotta, Shutterfest 2014 offered lectures, small classroom classes and hands on opportunities.  In addition, there were chances to book a model and simply go out into the city and shoot – it was quickly dubbed the ‘rent a human’ program!  I was overwhelmed, exhausted and incredibly inspired by the end of it all!

Why does this matter?  Because, as a photographer, I want to stay on top of the craft; I want to find new and interesting ways to offer services and products that clients will love!  And, I just plain enjoy doing that!  Was it all about business and photography?  Well, the ‘motto’ of the conference was Shoot. Learn. Party – quite honestly, my roomie and I were too tired for the party part – but I consider the friendships and networking we accomplished worth it!   Need a family portrait, headshot or interested in a senior session – give me a call – I’ve got tons of new ideas!



Posted in Education

Meet Hannah H.;
Berkeley IL Newborn portraits

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Now that the birth announcements are all mailed, I can share some of the beautiful images of miss Hannah Louise – daughter of Jeremy and Laurie.  I captured her portraits on January 22nd, when she was a mere 7 days old.  She was incredibly alert – couldn’t get her to sleep – but calm and sweet!  Today, I spent time with her during a confirmation lunch; I got to hold her for at least an hour – she truly is a beautiful doll.  She’ll be two months old next week, and I can’t wait for her 3 month portrait to roll around (even if it might involve White Sox gear!)

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Posted in Babies, Custom Cards, Newborns, Portraits

I am now the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra Photographer!

I’m pleased to announce my collaboration with the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra!  I have been photographing portrait head shots of the musicians for use in the ESO’s publications and programs, as well as being available for other projects.

Muscians of the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra

In January, I attended and photographed several school visits, part of the ESO’s community outreach programs.  It was delightful to watch Janelle Lake perform for and interact with the students – she truly loves what she does and it shows!  Once I’ve processed more pictures and secured their release I will share more, so watch this space.

Elmhurst Symphony School Visits January 2014

This week, I attended rehearsals and photographed more musicians for upcoming program guides.  The ESO, along with the Apollo Chorus,  is preparing Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor, which will be preformed on March 2nd.  If the rehearsal was any indication, it will be quite an enjoyable concert.  You can find more information, as well as order tickets, at the ESO’s website.

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Posted in Charities, Headshots

It’s good to have friends

Friends are supporting me on this business endeavor, beyond what I thought possible.  This week I’m struggling with writing the “about me” page for this site.  One suggestions says to use the third person – another says to never do that.  One suggests a bullet point format, another to include your whole life story.  Checking bios of other photographers doesn’t help much either.  Everyone is passionate, or creative, or both.  And I absolutely hated the recommendation to write your own obituary – yuck!


So, what to do?  Turn to my friends and family and former portrait subjects of course.  I asked for feedback; I asked for adjectives; how was it to be in front of my lens?  how would you describe my photography?  And boy did people come through.  So far, I’ve created this wordle cloud crossed with my logo.  Just reading the endearing and heartfelt things I was sent blew me away and brought me to tears.  Thanks to you all, I’m now inspired to actually write up something and then move on to the galleries page . . . for now, here’s the word cloud.

Posted in Uncategorized

I adore my community; I love what I do . . .

Westmont is a small town, in so may respects.  We’re a little suburb nestled between bigger suburbs near a big city.  I see more and more that my community shows up.  We turn out, we help, we support each other when needed.  And I love that.  I love that I am part of that.  And I photograph that when I can – sharing my skills as a photographer feels like a small contribution, but it’s what I can do.

WEB20130817-02779 Yesterday really solidified that for me.  Weeks ago, a friend, received an email from a fellow member of her Bagpipe Corp.  He wanted 5 or 8 fellow pipers to join him in serenading a family friend of his.  This young lady loves bagpipes, and has spent the last few years battling cancer.  What jumped out at Lisa was the address – right in our neighborhood.  She contacted her fellow piper and mentioned that it’d be a pretty tough location to park and pull off a surprise . . . so she called another neighborhood friend to ask if the pipers could gather at her house and parade down the block.  Of course!

WEB20130817-02731westmont_bagpipe_flashmob_oakwood_wheelerThen it got mentioned a time or two at other meetings of moms in the subdivision, pretty soon the organizer was in touch with the Oakwood Neighborhood Association, who were in touch with the Westmont Police Chief and the Mayor of Westmont.  Meanwhile, the gathering of a half dozen pipers had grown to a corp of around 50, plus Highland Dancers, a Rifle Corp, and soon fire trucks and police escorts were in the mix.  The weather could not have been more beautiful; the participants could not have been more noble; the honoree could not have been more surprised or delighted.  Some neighbors were surprised at this flash mob parade, but all were impressed.  Weeks of planning led to about an hour of really impressive participation, spirit and music.  I was thrilled to capture just a little bit with my camera.  If you’d like to see even more photos, the YouTube link below is a slide show – enjoy!

Wheeler Bagpipe Parade, August 17, 2013


Posted in Charities, Community