How To: DIY Valentine Photo Cards {Minneapolis MN Children's Photography}

I love making photos cards for Valentine’s Day and every year it’s a lot of fun coming up with ideas and making the cards come to life. Here’s one of my favorite creations which was very simple to make. 


Materials needed:

• Empty wrapping paper tube

• White wrapping paper (or patterned paper turned inside out works too!) 

• Scissors and tape

• Lollipops 

• Somewhere to print your photos

• Envelopes

1. Wrap your empty wrapping paper tube with white paper and tape down the seam. 

2. Take some photos of your child holding the paper tube like it's a giant lollipop stick. Ask them to look up and pretend they are looking at a giant Tootsie Pop.


3. Choose your favorite photo and have it printed.


4. Punch a small hole near the top of the stick, insert your lollipop and your card is finished!

Check out my Pinterest page for more Valentine photo ideas.

Special Olympics Minnesota - Minneapolis Polar Plunge!

Polar Plunge season is here and I’m excited to be photographing two events for Special Olympics Minnesota this year.  I’ll be at the Mound and Minneapolis plunges and can’t wait to see all the fun costumes and be part of the action.  If you’re looking for something fun to do on a winter Saturday, come cheer on the plungers and help raise money for Special Olympics.  Click here to view a list of locations or to make a donation or create a team yourself! Polar Plunge MN 2019


Indoor Photo Locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul - Sarah Elizabeth Photography MN

With colder temps upon us, I’m sharing a few of my favorite indoor photography locations in the Cities. These are great spots for photos during the winter months or on a rainy day.

Guthrie Theater

The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis is my go to spot for indoor photos in Minneapolis. I love the modern design and large windows. The Amber room on the top floor is especially fun for silhouettes and the gorgeous views of the Mississippi River.


Como Conservatory

I love doing photo sessions in the Como Conservatory, especially in the middle of winter. It’s such a nice warm escape from the cold - you feel like you’ve gone to the tropics! There are several rooms filled with a variety of plants and flowers and the Sunken Garden area changes seasonally. For some more fun (or a bribe for the kids) after your photo session, you can tour the zoo which is located right next to the conservatory.

(Como charges a $25 photography permit fee.)


Union Depot

I just discovered Union Depot about a year ago and it’s become one of my favorite spots in St. Paul for indoor photos. Whenever I’ve been there it hasn’t been very crowded and there is plenty of open space for kids or larger groups. And while this is a great location for colder days, it's also a good option in the summer. The columns at the front entrance make a nice classic backdrop, the inside is a good spot to cool off, and picturesque Mears Park is just a block away.


MN History Center

Located on the edge of downtown St. Paul, the Minnesota History Center is filled with beautiful light and classic backdrops. The best photo areas are all centrally located so it’s easy to cover a few spots in a short amount of time and without much walking.


Walker Art Center

The Walker is a fantastic location especially if you like light, clean, modern backgrounds. The lobby area is filled with gorgeous window light and white benches and walls. There are also stairways and some fun seating nooks.

(Walker charges a $50 photography permit fee, and is available Tuesdays - Fridays only.)


Fall Family Portraits - Plymouth MN Photographer

I loved seeing this family for another round of yearly family photos. This year we went to French Park in Plymouth, MN. The fall colors were at their peak and everyone’s outfits worked so well with this setting. If anyone is googling What to Wear for Family Photos I hope you have landed at this page! :)


Kids Birthday Questionnaire and Birthday Photos {Minneapolis Children's Photography}

As you all know, I love taking photos of my daughter. I would probably do a photo shoot with her every day if she would let me!  We’ve agreed to a happy medium of about every few months. :)  Also, every year on her birthday we get out for some quick photos to document how she looks right on that day.  A few years ago I also started doing a Birthday Questionnaire.  Basically it’s a list of the same 20 questions that I ask her every year and we have fun going back and seeing how her answers have changed or stayed the same over the years. (Always has a new favorite book. Still loves cats and turquoise…)  Most years I’ve also videotaped the mini-interview and watching the ones from when she was younger are completely adorable.

I think this would also be a fun tradition to do on the first day of school every year.

Here’s a copy of my birthday questionnaire and a few photos from the twelfth birthday photo shoot!


Elm Creek Park and The Bottineau House - Maple Grove, Plymouth Family Photography

This park is a favorite of mine for biking in the summer and snow tubing in the winter.  It’s also a beautiful spot for photos, especially in the summer and fall.  Along with trees, a huge lawn, long grassy areas, and plenty of trails, there is also an old historic house.  I love the wooden steps and the white doors that are an easy way to add a little variety to the backdrops in a session.


For some more fun after photos, you can venture further into the park to one of the best playgrounds in the Cities:

Photo credit: Three Rivers Park District

Photo credit: Three Rivers Park District

Favorite Summer Photo Locations in St. Paul and the East Metro

When planning photo sessions with my families, one of the top questions I receive is "Where should we go?" There are so many great options in the Cities and the best photo location for you might be somewhere that has a special meaning to your family or a nearby park that you go to often.  If you're looking for ideas in the east metro, here are few of my favorite spots. (Click here for my post on west metro locations)

1. Como Park

Right in St. Paul, Como Park is a great option for families looking for flowers, lush trees and stone walkways. During sessions here, I usually do a loop around the pond and find several gorgeous backdrops along the way.  The Como Conservatory is also nearby in case of rain and the zoo is a fun treat for kids after the session.


2. Silverwood Park

Silverwood Park is nestled on the shores of Silver Lake in St. Anthony, MN and is a park with a focus on arts and the environment. You'll find unique sculptures along its trails, a picturesque bridge going to an island, and many open areas with long prairie grass as well.

3. Lebanon Hills Park

Lebanon Hills in Eagan is a huge park (nearly 2,000 acres!) and offers so much variety for photo sessions. My favorite area is just around the visitor center where you can find a lake, wooded trails, open fields with long grass and wildflowers all within a short walk. This wooden bridge is also a favorite backdrop.


4. Carver Lake Park

With two playgrounds, a beach and plenty of trails, this park is a great option for active families. There is a pretty field with long prairie grass as you enter the park and also many tree-lined trails, wooden fences, bridges and nice backdrops by the lake.


5. Sibley Historic Site

Full of trees, gardens and cute brick buildings, The Historic Sibley House makes a perfect backdrop for a variety of sessions. There's a lot of variety in a relatively small area and weekday mornings are very peaceful and you often have the place to yourself. Picturesque stone steps are great for kids and also families.  There are a couple old fashioned swings in the backyard that are a fun surprise at the end of the session.


Top 5 Summer Photo Locations in Minneapolis and West Metro

With summer just around the corner, I am sharing my top 5 favorite summer photo locations in Minneapolis and the west metro. (check back next week for St. Paul and the east metro!)

1. Millennium Garden, Plymouth

If you have ever been to Millennium Garden, you know of its beauty. Tucked down a hill behind the Plymouth Creek Center, it is an amazing garden with manicured lawns, long grassy areas, a hidden waterfall, a pond, a labyrinth, and so many varieties of flowers. A little gardener's shed is also a cute backdrop for children's photos.


2. Guthrie Theater - Mill Ruins Park, Minneapolis

There is plenty of variety in this urban Minneapolis location. From the modern and angular lines of the Guthrie Theater, the grassy hillside and paths along the river, to the ruins of Mill Ruins Park. The Stone Arch Bridge is just a quick walk from here as well.


3. Lake Harriet Rose Garden and Lyndale Peace Garden, Minneapolis

During the summer, this garden is filled with row after row of the most beautiful roses. There is also a fountain, lots of open grassy areas, and across the road is the Lyndale Peace Garden.  Stopping by the lake at the end of the session for a few sunset shots is fun too. While this area can get crowded, the right time and spots make for a great photo session location.


4. Minnehaha Falls Park, Minneapolis, MN

This park is a favorite of mine anytime of the year, and it's especially beautiful in the summer. Along with the dramatic backdrop of the falls, there are trails, stone bridges, an old historic house and train station, and a vine covered walkway. As an added bonus, you can follow up your session with lunch or ice cream at the Sea Salt Eatery.


5. Boom Island Park, Minneapolis, MN

This is my number one favorite location right now for a summer photo session. It has everything I look for in a location, from variety (there are tree lined trails, steps, a wooden bridge, the river and the Minneapolis skyline) to ways to filter gorgeous light, and it's usually not very crowded.


There's no better time than summer to explore these beautiful locations. Do you see a spot where you'd like to have your photos taken this year? Contact me, I would love to chat with you about your session! 

Multi-generational photography sessions - St. Paul, MN

Coordinating a photo shoot with your extended family can take a little extra scheduling, but it’s such a wonderful way to honor and preserve those family bonds.   Take the rare opportunity of everyone being together (and dressed up!) and use it to capture the relationships between family members – siblings, cousins, grandparents with all of the grand-kids, etc.
When doing a multi-generational session, I usually start with photos of the whole group, then suggest smaller groupings that capture their special connections.   Soon everyone is coming up with a multitude of requests on their own, which is always fun!

This session at Lebanon Hills was no different, and I was thrilled we were able to capture their family  on such a lovely day. 


5 Tips for a Fun and Successful Family Photo Session

Warmer weather has finally returned to Minnesota and it’s a wonderful time to get outside for photos.   For those of you thinking of scheduling a family session this summer or fall, I’ve put together a few tips to help it go as smoothly as possible.


#1. Communicate Your Goal for the Session

Before your session, be sure to let your photographer know your expectations and what you would like to get out of the photo shoot. Are you looking for photos for your Christmas card? Do you want a beautiful family portrait for your living room?  Perhaps your goal is to document your children at this age with individual portraits and some fun candid shots for an album.  Maybe you found a fun idea on Pinterest that you’d like to try.   Your answer may be one or more of these or something completely different. Whatever your goal, communicating it to your photographer will help ensure you get the photos you’ve been dreaming of!

#2. Time of Day - Schedule for the best light and happy kids

You may have heard of the “golden hour” which is the time just after sunrise and just before sunset. These times are ideal for photos because of the even light, no harsh shadows and the beautiful sunset glow. Portraits taken in harsh mid-day sun require the photographer to find open shade, which works fine but is more limiting.  If possible, schedule your session for morning or late afternoon/ evening times.  That said, also consider when your kids are at their happiest.  Mornings are often best for young kids because they are rested and upbeat.    Also try to make sure everyone has a snack before you leave for your session. Rested and well fed kids make for happy photos!

#3. Plan Your Outfits

The question I get most often before a session is, “What should we wear?”  I recommend taking some time at least a couple weeks before your session to plan your outfits. Try to find outfits with a coordinating color palette instead of completely matching. You can create a coordinated look by taking one or two colors and pulling them through to each family member. Layers, textures and accessories can also add a lot of interest and depth to your photos, so don’t be afraid to add scarves, sweaters, jackets, headbands, etc.


#4. Tell your kids it’s going to be fun - and bring bribes!

Explain to your kids that you are going to a park for family photos, but also let them know there will be time for laughing, exploring, playing and fun.  Get them excited about what they are going to be doing.  Trust me, this will go much further than the threats of what will happen if they don’t behave.  Also, while every family has different parenting styles and I respect that, I am all for using bribes for one day.  Plan on picking out a special toy after the session, or bringing along a treat. When I took this photo of my daughter, I bribed her with a bowl of ice cream and two marshmallows. That was the going rate at the time. Now we have moved on to cold hard cash. :)


#5. Relax and Have Fun

When the day of your session arrives, it’s time to relax and let your photographer take the reigns and create family portraits that you’ll love.  During the session, you can expect me to make fast friends with your children - playing games with them, telling jokes and maybe getting out the whoopee cushion to get the best laughs.  The best photos tend to come when everyone is allowed to play and have fun.  My goal during a session is to capture authentic expressions and your family’s connection. While I’m always watching for those moments, putting you into poses to make it happen, and keeping the session moving to keep kids happy, the best shots happen when parents relax, get a little silly and enjoy the moment.

I hope these tips help you prepare for your next photo session.  Drop me a note to get your session on the calendar!





When to Schedule Baby Milestone Sessions { Sarah Elizabeth Photography - Minneapolis St. Paul Baby Photographer }

Baby Plan Sessions are all about capturing the sweet moments that happen in the first year of your baby's life.  Grabbing their toes, giggling, tummy time, sitting up, crawling, etc! My goal is to capture those precious details for you so that you have them for a lifetime. These sessions do not have to be exactly at the 3 month, 6 month and one year mark.  Every baby hits different milestones at different times, so I encourage parents to read the following guidelines for scheduling your baby’s sessions.


Best Locations for Senior Photos - St. Anthony Main, Minneapolis, MN

When I’m asked for suggestions for senior photo locations, St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis is always near the top of my list.  If you’re looking for an urban location, you will love this spot. Colorful walls, old brick buildings, lots of activity and variety. The skyline of Minneapolis also makes for a dramatic backdrop for pictures and the Stone Arch Bridge is just a short walk away.  There is also a pretty park area just across the street on Nicollet Island with plenty of natural backdrops as well.  There are a ton of textures, colors, and variations to make this location really a one-stop shop.