Introducing the New Senior Photo Representative Program

Like the sound of Free prints, free family photos and free senior photos? This program may be for you!

For soon-to-be high school seniors (class of 2017), here's the scoop. I'll be accepting two students from each high school to be a representative for this program. First step is to apply for the program by filling out the application here. Once you are accepted, the next step will be to schedule your senior session with me. After your session, I will make flyers with some of your photos on it to pass out to your friends.

The purpose of these flyers are to encourage your friends to also use 4ten Design & Photo for their senior photos and to help me keep track of how many people you bring in. For each flyer that is returned to me with your photos on it, you are closer and closer to earning free stuff! Here's the breakdown for what you can earn:

3 Flyers Returned = 2 free 8x10 prints
5 Flyers Returned = Free family session
10 Flyers Returned = Your senior session is FREE!*

Fill out the application, contact me with any questions, and congratulations seniors!

* Half of the senior session fee is due at time of session, when 10 flyers come back the payment will be returned. If free session is not earned, the second half of the session must be paid in full. Free 8x10 prints are of your choice, free family session may be used in either 2016 or 2017.

Application deadline is June 1st (applications will be accepted after the deadline only for students from schools with fewer than 2 reps). Please see my pricing page for session options and prices.

Preparing for Senior Photos

We're at the end of March, which means it's about that time where high school juniors should start thinking about senior photos! Senior photos is how I started out in the business of portraiture and over the years I have had many frequent questions and have noticed several things while doing these sessions. I wanted to write this blog post to answer some of those "FAQ," help you prepare for your session and know what to expect.

Anthony '15, Traverse City State Hospital

What do I wear?

Honestly, what you wear is totally up to you. Make sure you choose clothing that reflects on who you are (i.e. if you're not a dress girl, don't wear a dress, but if you are then definitely do! Don't wear yellow if you hate yellow, but wear colors that you like and that you think you look good in). What I'm going to tell you with this section is what to avoid.

Avoid horizontal stripes and graphics. You know the saying "the camera adds 10 pounds?" Horizontal stripes are horrible for this. Because they go across your body, they make you appear "wider" than you really are. If you want to go with stripes of any kind, go with vertical stripes, they make you look taller (and I can tell you at my 4'10" height, I enjoy this!). Do make sure that if you wear stripes that the shirt is not too busy, more subtle or neutral colors work best or just a solid color with white stripes. Also avoid graphics on your shirt, they are distracting!

Don't go sleeveless. It doesn't matter what size you are, if you go sleeveless it tends to make your arms look bigger. A simple short sleeve can easily solve this problem! A long sleeved shirt in some of the hot summer days that I do sessions doesn't generally go well either, no one wants to be sweating in their photos, so be conscious of the weather too.

Colors. This kind of goes along with the dress idea mentioned above---if you don't like pink, don't wear pink. If you love green, wear green! If you are wondering about what to wear for the studio portion of your session if your package includes it, I am always willing to let you know the colors of my backdrops and what looks good on them.

Accessories. Bringing things like scarves, jewelry, hats, etc. allows for some variety in photos!

How do I change outfits during outdoor sessions? This is a tricky one, especially for girls. Easiest thing to do for girls is to wear either a white/black/skin tone cami or tank top under your shirt. That way you can easily change wherever we may be. For guys, a white undershirt seems to work best. When it comes to pants, there is no easy way (at least that I have found) to do this besides wearing the same pants with each shirt or changing in a car. Usually a nice pair of jeans or khakis work well with many tops.

Bring plenty of outfit changes and know that some may be used and some may not. If you have particular ones that you want to have photographed, make sure to communicate, but having plenty of options means being able to choose what is best for the scenery. Be stylish, but also the advice of your parents isn't a bad; you don't want to look at your photos in 30 years and say "why did I wear that?!"

Kelsey '11

What should I bring?

Outside of outfit changes, there are some other things you may want to bring along whether they may be in the photos or not. Here's a list of some things that you may find useful.

Hair brush, hair spray, hair pins, etc. This is mostly for the girls, but you never know when the wind will blow and mess up your hair! Hair spray is also a good thing to bring to help with fly-aways that may appear during your session.

Props. Do you play any sports, an instrument, or participate in other extra curricular activities? These are great things to have for your session, they truly highlight your high school experience! Other things to consider for these types of activities are any awards, varsity jackets, uniforms, medals, etc. They can always be incorporated!

Someone who will make them smile. You don't want to look grumpy in your photos! Someone that can make you smile or laugh is always a good person to bring along. On the other hand, don't bring someone who is going to be too distracting.

Michelle '13, Calder Sculpture in Grand Rapids

How do I pick a location for my session?

I have my favorite spots (along with a bucket list of locations) to photograph, but I always leave it up to you, the client unless you ask for a recommendation. Is there a spot that is special to you (i.e. a certain beach, a certain building, a nearby park, etc.)? Think of the places that you like to go in your area, where you and your friends/family hang out, somewhere that you think is beautiful, there are many possibilities. Is there a location that you love in my photos that you want to go to? Just ask where it is! Asking others places that they like or places where they had their photos done never hurts either.

Audrey '16, Hager Park in Jenison

Other things to consider

Details, details, details! Certain details commonly go unnoticed until after photos are taken and create more editing time (which means not only more work for me, the photographer, but a longer time in between your session and when you see your photos). Make sure that you remove unwanted or partially-gone nail polish, clothes are clean and stain-free, no hair ties around your wrist, and any other things that may be "everyday" items that go unnoticed.

Hair cuts. Don't get your hair cut the day before your session. If you need your hair cut, do it about one week before your session, that way it has time to "grow into itself." I'm sure you'd also hate to get your hair cut 3 hours before your senior photo session and get a "bad" hair cut, then there is no time to have it fixed.

Scheduling. Make sure to schedule your session out far enough that you will get your photos back in time and time to pick your yearbook submission before the deadline. For me, plan on 4-6 weeks after your session before your proofs are posted. Rushing a photographer could mean a sloppy editing job and I'm sure you want your photos to look the best that they can! Make sure to also communicate your yearbook deadline and any information you may have from your school on submission.

Ben '14, Interlochen Arts Academy Campus

With all things considered, I hope this helps those of you getting ready for your senior year! Don't ever hesitate to ask questions either, I'm always willing to help. Check out my senior photo page for more photos and  contact me today to book!

St.Patrick's Day Giveaway

I love St. Patrick's Day! To celebrate, I'm giving away a $50 Gift Certificate to one lucky winner. Entering is easy: First, if you haven't already, like my Facebook Page, then share the image with your friends on Facebook! Want additional entries? Get 1 for following me on Twitter, and another for following me on Instagram (for both: @4tendesignphoto).

I'll be drawing the winner on March 17th and will announce it on Facebook, so keep an eye open for it!

May the luck of the Irish be with you!

I'm now all over Social Media!

For a long time now I have had my Facebook page, but I've moved up in the world of Social Media! I've now added myself to Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus! You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @4tenDesignPhoto and all of the links are in the footer of my website for you to click on, I'd love for you all to follow me!

Reflections on a Special Day - Sarah and James

One of my favorite things from Sarah and James' wedding day in June was the big ponds in front of their venue in Holland, MI. They had a beautiful day at the Holland Fish & Game Club, plus their wedding party was pretty awesome and all of them had a pretty good sense of humor, making it fun for me. Check out some of my favorite photos below!

A Rainy Day Wedding - Fallon & Sam

Remember those umbrellas I said I searched far and wide for before Olivia and Eric's wedding? I got to use them! Fallon and Sam had a windy, rainy end of May wedding day, but we made the best of it. Another beautiful sanctuary, some creativity for the wedding party photos and a fun reception made this wedding a great one! Enjoy some of my favorites:

Upcoming Show

Last night I turned in my entries for the Colors of Community competition at LifeSteam church in Allendale. Show details and my photos are below:

Thursday, October 15: Meet the Artist Reception starts at 7 pm.

Open viewing starts October 16 and runs through October 30. Open viewing hours are:
Monday - Friday, 9 am - 4 pm
Thursday - Saturday, 5 - 9 pm

Friday, October 30 is the Awards Ceremony at 7 pm.

There are judge's awards along with people's choice awards so you as a viewer may vote, and I would love for some votes on my work! My work is also for sale, so if you would like to purchase these pieces, please contact me (these are just cell phone photos of my work, so seeing them in person is better!).

Wedding Designs

I love getting design requests! They don't happen a ton, but when they do I have fun with them.

Kelsey got a hold of me looking for some custom designed items for her May wedding. Ceremony programs, thank yous for her table settings and a little something to go with her wish tree. Her and her fiance chose navy blue and coral for their colors and had an "infinity" theme to their wedding. 


A Wedding in the Tulips - Olivia & Eric

Olivia and Eric's special day was truly wonderful. I met the couple through one of my own bridesmaids (thanks Chani!), and I have to say they were awesome people to work with. The whole day turned out great. Having everything happening at one venue, Windmill Island, was rather handy (no traveling and taking up photo time!), the weather prediction was rain all day (I ran around like crazy trying to find a white umbrella) but it was absolutely gorgeous out, and of course I absolutely love the photos that came from this wedding. I can't wait for you all to look below at the photos!

2015 Weddings Kick-Off

Remember how I mentioned I was able to book 5 weddings for 2015 after Kory and Stacy's? I forgot to mention that the first 4 weddings were literally booked every other weekend starting with the first weekend in May. I think maybe I was a bit crazy booking every other weekend, but I can't say that I didn't enjoy every minute of it!

The first wedding of 2015 was Andrew and Jenn's. Their church was absolutely beautiful and photographing them at a train station was definitely fun. Take a look below at some of my favorites from this special day:

Jenn's dress had some stunning detail in the lace.
© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

Something about the lighting in this church just made these photos almost magical! I loved the brick walls and the wooden ceiling.
© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

Andrew, Jenn, and Brooklyn lighting the unity candle as a family.
© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

Mom and daughter
© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

A busy day - Family/Engagement

More catching up on photos... This is one of my favorite days in 2014 where I had the Dreese Family Photos in the morning then Krystal and Robert's Engagement session in the afternoon. It was a very busy day, but I absolutely LOVE the photos that came from it! It was a perfect fall day starting at Lake Michigan and ending up in Grand Rapids. Here are a few of my favorites from each session:

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

My first wedding - Kory and Stacy

Since this is a brand new blog, I wanted to post some photos from the past year and get a little caught up.

I decided to start with my first wedding. Kory and Stacy are good friends of my husband and I's, Kory and Justin met through the fish breeding hobby, specifically through the Grand Valley Aquarium Club (check out the website, I designed and maintain the website and club newsletter). 

I'll admit, being that it was my first solo wedding, I was rather nervous. After all though, I was pretty pleased with the outcome. Here's just a couple of shots from their special day:

The bride and her dad on their way to the aisle.
© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

Right on the water! Beautiful place for a ceremony.
© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

Pere Marquete beach was a beautiful spot to take the bride and groom in Muskegon. The wedding party seemed to enjoy themselves on the beach as well (especially chasing the seagulls).
© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

Knowing that this was an October wedding, I wanted to have a little bit of fun with props and picked up these pumpkins.
© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

Great colors for a gorgeous fall day!
© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

The pumpkins are back!
© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

The first dance as husband and wife.
© 2014 Shealyn McGee-Sarns

After building my portfolio with this wedding, I was able to book 5 weddings in 2015! So to Kory and Stacy, I can't thank you enough for letting me photograph your special day and helping me book more weddings! Check back on this blog for photos of those weddings.

Interested in having me capture your big day? Check out my website and Facebook page for more information and more photos.


Welcome to 4ten Design & Photo!

About time I start a blog, I love sharing all of my recent photography adventures and design projects! I hope that many of you will follow this and keep up to date on everything involving my work, as well as like my Facebook page for updates as well.

A little about myself and the history of my business... My name is Shealyn, I grew up in Traverse City, MI and now have moved to the Grand Rapids area after college. I graduated from Traverse City Central High School in 2008 and from Grand Valley State University in 2013, double majoring in graphic design and photography. My interest in photography started around the age of 9, when my grandpa took my girl scout troop into the darkroom for the first time (earning our photography badge of course, before digital cameras!). I got my first camera at the age of 15 as a Christmas gift and started taking photos of flowers around my parent's yard. That then turned into exploring with landscapes, still life (generally my ice skates and trumpet) and eventually I found my way into doing portraits, weddings, etc. I am the official photographer/designer for the GVSU Laker Marching Band (as well as an alumna of!) and I also work full time as a graphic designer at SpartanNash (formerly Spartan Stores, you may be familiar with Family Fare, D&W, etc.). Oh, and in case you're wondering, the name 4ten comes from my height (I am 4' 10" tall).

My business started in Traverse City when I was requested by many of my brother's friends to do senior photos his senior year. After acquiring many clients for senior photos, I started getting requests for family photos before their seniors went away to college. Since then I've continued to do both senior and family photos, but have also begun doing wedding photos, newborn photos and product photos.

I hope to work with many of you sometime in the near future! Check out my website, check back for future blog posts and like my Facebook page!