“For over 90 years Gittings has built a reputation in creating artful photography and exceptional portraits.”
Now, I had heard of Gittings and had seen some of their gorgeous work but to be completely candid, when we signed up to have our family portrait session I had three worries:
- I had a 1994, everyone sitting on a bale of hay, wearing denim on denim version of a family portrait in my head. This was NOT something I wanted.
(Sorry Mom! I love our family portrait of this exact scenario! Really, I do.)
- I wasn’t sure how it would work with my tiny family in the state they are in right now. My kids are ages 5 and 2. They’re unpredictable, get grumpy easily, and sit still for about 1.5 seconds. Honestly, the same goes for my husband – except add in the fact that he openly states that he “hates pictures”. Let’s be real, I love my people but they are not an ideal audience for a blogger/influencer Mama.
- My son smiles for NO ONE. He chooses when to giggle, smile, and respond and I still to this day don’t have a tried and true trick that works every time with him. He likes to keep this mama on her toes.
Not to ruin the ending of this blog post, but Gittings changed my entire thought process and went above and beyond my expectations with both their professionalism and talent. They have their portrait sessions down to an exact science and with each client they complete the following steps with ease:
I met the team (Rick, Ryan, Maggie, Kelsee, and Ariana) at Gittings. They learned all about my husband, my children, and myself. They asked about our home, our pets, and where we spend time as a family. They asked my opinion on location for the portrait, as well as what spots in our home could create a true memory that would last our lifetime. I immediately felt like I was talking with old friends and told them way more than they probably ever bargained for about our tiny family.
Rick, as our photographer, came to our home. He had thought of everything. He was asking us about where the light came in, my kids’ nap schedules, where the sun rose and set, and truly took time to view how we lived in our space. With our house for sale, I wanted the portrait to be at our home because this is where we brought both babies home from the hospital and is a spot I want us to remember forever. Once Rick knew that tidbit, we decided to either take photo on the front porch or in the living room in front of the fireplace.
Like I’ve said before, they have this down to a science. Gittings even asked where we were thinking of hanging our portrait once this was all completed and even checked to see what kind of color palettes we typically use throughout our home so that no matter where we hang the framed portrait in the future, the size matched the space and the colors blended with our home décor.
True. Professionals. They aim to create a portrait that will last a lifetime.
Towards the end of our meeting, Gittings asked me to grab a few clothing items from our closets that I felt, given the color palettes of our potential portrait locations, would work for the session. We quickly nixed some items and selected what we absolutely had to have included. Honestly, we were both immediately drawn to a vintage-looking lace tiered dress that is my daughter’s absolute favorite from BKids and built from there.
Truth bomb, I was slightly flustered during this moment as I am typically a terrible planner but quickly grew to appreciate this moment because the final product absolutely proved that this pre-planning and thought process not only works, but creates magic. Rick was also a true professional about this part and was refreshingly honest in a way that reassures you of his artistic eye.
We then reviewed my kids’ schedules and Rick gave me his tips for prepping my children for the portrait -let’s work around naptime
-do not get them dressed until after the portrait team arrives
-no bribery snacks unless absolutely needed
WHAT DO YOU MEAN NO BRIBERY SNACKS?! THAT IS HOW WE SURVIVE.
Y’all, Rick did not think it was needed and assured me he wasn’t worried about my stoic, stranger-danger son. So I smiled, nodded, shook his hand, and trusted in his expertise. (Also knowing I would still keep a plethora of bribery snacks at the ready, the day of…just in case)
We were finally at Portrait Day! Knowing how my team responds to photos, I tried to be as prepared and positive as possible. Let’s also add in that the specific day we decided to shoot it was 100 degrees so I quickly began stress eating my feelings as the time approached for Gittings to arrive. Hot, grumpy family members dressed up and being forced to smile just sounded really daunting to me.
Let’s lay out how this went from the moment Rick arrived.
- The Gittings dream team arrived. They quickly let me know that they felt the porch was the best spot for photos and that is the area they wanted to concentrate on for the portrait. This was perfect news for me because our front porch is where we spend a majority of our time together as a family.
- They then let us know he knew it was hot and they promised they would only keep us outside for a few minutes at a time. From there they sent my kids upstairs to get dressed. Once we were ready, they asked us to wait inside by the front door until they were fully set up outside. So far so good on the promise to keep us cool.
- This is where the magic started to set in. Rick and Ryan let us know they were ready, asked us to come outside, and they immediately began placing us.
Dad sit over here.
Mom sit down here.
Bitty move your leg here.
Smallest Little Guy sit here, cross your legs, sit up straight, put your hands over here, and look at me.
I’m sorry… WHAT?!
I looked over at my 2-year-old son and he was following every direction to perfection. He loved the Gittings team from the start (unheard of from this kid) and wanted to show them that he could be a ‘big listening boy’.
- So as I’m sitting there stunned, Rick goes behind the camera and begins to make noises that not only made my kids genuinely laugh, but had my husband and I giggling. He knew just what to do, at just the right time, in just the right way to have my kids make it their idea to participate in this photo. Pure magic. And I’ll have you know, zero bribery snacks were needed The entire bag I had ready was left untouched.
- They also, in case you’re wondering, fulfilled their promise. We took a few photos in that first position and were whisked us away inside as they set up the second spot. We all cooled off, giggled about the silly photographer noises, and then went right back out when the second setup was prepared. This time the kids were even more cooperative because they were loving the experience.
- Four different positions in and you could tell the Gittings team knew they had more than a few golden options already. Portrait Day was complete and not a soul cried, yelled, or threw a tantrum. My husband also uttered the following words: “This is my favorite and easiest photoshoot to date.”
My husband and I waited our two weeks and went to Gittings to view our portrait proof options. This part was so much fun because as my husband and I were cozied up on a couch, the Gittings team flashed our portrait options up on a huge screen on the wall.
Y’all. I could not believe the images that I saw on the screen. My son’s REAL smile, my daughter’s propped up foot that she does when she feels pretty, my husband’s actual happy face, and I won’t even downplay it, I had a real good hair day that was fully documented in these proofs.
We went through each pose in groups and were able to click/unclick photos we wanted to keep or toss. I quickly realized that the way they help you go through these photos allows you to very quickly downsize to your absolute favorite in a matter of minutes. Zero stress.
Next we talked about sizes of the portrait and frame options. On their screen they scaled the portrait to be the size we chose and we were able to hold up frames alongside it to see what we liked best. Every detail was thought about…down to the frame. I couldn’t believe it and now fully understand how these portraits quickly become works of art.
We had the lock box from our realtor on our door as well as a few messy parts of our porch that Rick assured us he could remove with ease so I went back two weeks later to check the proof we had officially selected. We analyzed every part and piece of this portrait and while I didn’t want us to be fully flawless (Because we just aren’t…my kids bruise and get bug bites on their legs. That’s just the stage we’re in right now and I personally didn’t want to lose the bits and pieces that show they’re kids.) but I did want our yard to look flawless. They removed scuff marks, leaves, and dirt like no bodies business to the point that I joked at the end of the session that I wish my son had his eyes more open in the portrait like in one of the other proofs I had seen but knew “he couldn’t just switch heads”.
Oh, Gittings can.
And Gittings did.
My son’s full smile with his beautiful eyes wide open is in our portrait and it’s thanks to the impeccably detailed skills that this Gittings team has perfected over the years.