The Signature Sessions {Fine Art Portraits}
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By Christie Stockstill
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Maybe you read my little exposé on the Storytelling Shoots I do, or perhaps you have been waiting on me to make good on my intent to write about the Signature Sessions. I have begun and deleted word after word this morning. It has now been two three four hours and three cups of coffee (and lunch,) and I still have nothing more than the title, and it remains to be seen whether or not even that will stay in tact. (Note: It didn’t.)


It is hard to write about what a Signature Session 'IS' because they can be so different from one another. In fact, that is really one of the goals of these shoots: to make something unique. One might relate it to hiring a painter to paint a portrait for you. We're going to create a treasured work of art—something unique, something timeless.


It’s important to distinguish these shoots from the more frequent, practical, traditional photo shoots. If you like fun, sweet updated Fall photos every year, don’t book a Signature Session. The Signature Sessions are not necessarily the best for family or large groups, unless, perhaps we are doing several images that will, as a series, include the whole family, and they will not result in lots of different photos.


*If you are looking for 30 - 40 final images in a variety of outfits and locations for say making a book, sharing online, sending to all the family members or creating a holiday card, consider a Storytelling Shoot, or, dare I say, even another photographer. 


Generally speaking, these sessions are best for one, two, maybe three people, where we plan to create at least one final work of art. My hope is for that piece to be something that stands the test of time, for it to be the portrait that stays on display even while the rest of the photos get rotated and updated. This will be a museum-quality, signed work of art with you or your loved ones as the subjects, but beyond that, you (or they) will have the experience of planning and participating in creating art, so I want very much for the whole experience to be rewarding, exciting and memorable. 



The portrait could be of you, your children, you and your spouse, your mom, your grandmother, three generations of women, two friends…  And the portrait doesn’t even have to include your whole body or even your whole face! Unusual crops can be striking and even “show” more about a person than sometimes can a full face or body.  


You might choose a Signature Session to commemorate a life-changing event or to have a unique experience with a loved one where the result is a personal, signed work of art. There are many reasons to splurge on yourself, to choose a more creative outlet for expressing who you are. Creating artwork is often therapeutic, uplifting, celebratory and always meaningful. I have done portrait for parents who want a unique work of art depicting their children. I have done shoots with women going through body changes, diseases, divorces and loss of loved ones. 


Maybe you have an interesting collection of books, or your mom has a ton of birds, or your grandmother sews. Maybe your dad is quirky, always wears a suit and loves to dance. Maybe your little girl only wears red and eats red foods. Let’s create a portrait that revolves around that! Are you really into origami? Let’s create a dress from paper and photograph you wearing it! Together we can create a Renaissance feel or take a comedic approach. Let’s explore your twisted mind! 


We will discuss your likes and dislikes, your favorite art, art that is in your home already. Favorite colors. Colors that photograph well. The best colors for our concept. I'll want to know about the relationships and connections between people to be in the portrait…anything I can find out to make this a personal and meaningful piece for you or your family. 


The resulting images vary significantly. Our goal may be one incredible piece or we may be aiming for two or three pieces. Maybe you want them to sort of match one another because you want to hang them as a series, or perhaps you want one large portrait for display and several smaller portraits to share or tuck away for safe-keeping. No matter what, your final images will be hand-signed and dated. For this reason, and because these pieces should be original art pieces on the best-quality paper using the highest quality, archival inks, digital negatives are not available from Signature Sessions. I will gladly share a quality, watermarked, web ready version of the final purchased piece(s) for you to share online.


Need Some Ideas? Inspiration? Below are a few examples, but please visit my website where there is an entire section dedicated to Creative Portraiture including the Signature Sessions and Water Portraits.

















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