About mercystreetstudio

Southern Maine Photography Studio. Named 2018 "Photographer of the Year - Portraits" by the Maine Professional Photography Association.

How to choose a Senior Portrait Photographer | Southern Maine Seacoast NH Senior Portrait Photographer

It’s that time of year again! Senior portrait season is here. For some soon-to-be seniors this is the day they have dreamed of since junior high and for others, they dread the vulnerability of someone else “controlling” the camera and seeing the pictures before they do.

This is the selfie-generation we’re talking about.


There are a ton of photographers and “people with nice cameras” who are willing to take your senior’s photograph. How to choose?

1. Look at their portfolio. Let’s face it, a photographer’s website is going to have their best work. Start there. The website should be beautiful. Perfect skin tones, true to life color, and facial clarity. If the website is “just okay”, chances are, their every day pictures are probably not great.

2. Look at their recent work. Check them out on social media. Do you like what you see? Different photographers have different editing styles. Stay away from photographers who look like they put trendy instagram filters on their pictures. You can put filters on your selfies, but when you pay a professional to take your pictures, you want a clean, timeless look. These are your forever pictures.

3. Look at their longevity. How long have they been in business? Do you want to trust your senior portraits to someone who just opened up a photography Facebook page, or slapped “photography” onto the end of their name on their instagram account? Probably not. If your hard drive crashes five years from now, it would be nice to go back to the photographer who took your pictures to see if you can get a copy from them. You won’t be able to do that with someone who is no longer in business.

4. Ask questions. Approximately how many seniors do you shoot per year? How many years have you been shooting seniors? What kind of camera do you shoot with? (then google it; your photographer’s camera should cost thousands of dollars). What software do you edit with, do you edit blemishes? (ACR, Bridge, Lightroom, Photoshop – all acceptable answers). At Mercy Street Studio we all use both Lightroom and Photoshop on our pictures.


These are your forever pictures. It’s an investment worth getting right.


..or you could just skip the hassle and contact us, we’ll take care of you!





How to take your own #FrontStepsProject Photos

As you might imagine we have been tagged, texted and DM’ed much about the Front Step Project, which began in March by a photographer outside of Boston, and rapidly gained momentum.

The principle reason we have not participated in this project is because we are under a stay at home order. As a legitimate, law abiding, tax paying business we feel that it’s important to stay compliant with our governor’s orders. In addition to that, we are turning away our clients right now; clients we love who have time-sensitive photography needs, like maternity and newborn photos. We don’t feel right turning away our clients and then driving around taking pictures of everyone in town.

However, as true picture lovers and historians, we love the bones of this thing: documenting this time with an informal family photo at home. Yes to that!

It is in that spirit that we want to unpack this for you so you can create your own front step photo, using principles that we would follow if we were to come to your home for a real photoshoot.

The limitation of the project photo is lighting, which is absolutely the most important aspect of photography. The word “photography” literally means, “light writing”. Your image is only going to be as good as your light. So the first limitation is actually the most important part of this endeavor.

Here’s the thing: when the sun is beaming down on your front door, your neighbor’s door is in full shade. Which means, you are in two very different lighting scenarios, one picture is going to be good, and one not so good.

When you do your own front door picture, you can do it at a time that your front door is perfectly lit.

We’re already one step ahead here. One giant step.

The problem, you say, is who is going to take the picture. Valid point. But I think we all know that our phones and cameras have self timers. So the answer is quite simple: your camera is going to take the picture.

Queue the self-timer function.


You might be asking yourself what the heck is going on in the above image, it looks like a gratuitous use of a precious resource: paper towels. It may be. But first, let’s back up and start from the beginning.

  1. Ideal light: I would highly recommend shade. Choose a time of day when sunlight is not hitting any part of your door area. This may be in the morning if the sun rises behind your house, or in the late afternoon if the sun sets to the east/west/ or in front of your house. If you aren’t sure, just think about when your house gets the most sun, and where that sun is coming in. At my house, the sun floods into the windows on the back of my house all morning. So it’s during that time of day that the front steps are in the shadow of the house.

If the sun is beating down on your steps everyone is going to have a bright ball of gaseous flames burning their eyes, and they’ll be squinting. The sun may also cast shadows from trees and shrubs as seen below:


At other times of day you might have uneven light, where half of your subjects are in shade and the other half in sunlight. This is also no bueno.


Have I sold you on the virtues of full shade yet?  If your child is only smiley at 10am and your front steps are in full sun at 10am, you can take your picture on a day that is not sunny. Or wait for a cloud. That’s the beauty of doing this picture yourself; you can do it whenever you want.

2. Now that your lighting is right, the next part is just logistics.

  • First and foremost. Set up by yourself. Don’t invite your family outside until you have this ready to go. TRUST ME on this.
  • Test out the timer function on your phone or camera. Just run a quick test to see how it works. (iPhones give you a choice of 3 or 10 seconds, choose 10 seconds)
  • If you’re using a camera you can change your white balance to “shade” – so fancy. If you don’t know how to do this, don’t worry about it. “Auto” typically works well and you can always adjust color temperature after-the-fact if you need to.
  • If you don’t have a tripod, you’re going to have to get creative. I used a cart thing I found in the garage and packing tape + a paper towel to “cradle” my phone to the handle of the cart thing. (The paper towel was so my phone wouldn’t stick to the tape; I could pull it in and out). You can build your own contraption however you want: tape your phone to a ladder, a tree, whatever you can find that’s 4-5′ high.


  • If you’re using a phone, use the camera on the back of your phone (NOT THE SELFIE SIDE). And don’t zoom, just set your camera up so that your steps are in view. Take a test shot. IMG_4149
  • Clear off your front steps, remove debris. Shut the front door (the one behind the storm door), so you can’t see into your house.
  • Once everything is set up, invite your family outside and position yourself on the steps with them.
  • Then hop off the steps and go press the shutter button on the phone/camera (I used the button on the side of my phone). Then I had 10 seconds to run back to my spot on the steps.
  • Note: if you have small children you can also secure a stuffed animal next to your phone so they have a place to look.


Screenshot 2020-04-25 at 7.25.06 PM

I had both my iPhone and my camera taking pictures of us. The timer on my camera was fancier; it gave me 20 seconds and then took four photos of us.

Can you tell which is which?

HT 04.25.20 iPhone


Probably only if you zoom in or try to print…

c1HT 04.25.20 iPhone

But let’s face it, these aren’t going on your walls or holiday cards, these are documentary style images that you’ll share on social media and then file away so you’ll always remember this time.

Now go young ones, try this for yourselves.

…Oh and if you want to, you can donate to a charity close to your heart, but if you can’t do that right now, that’s fine too. You can spread cheer by texting someone or telling someone in your family that they’re doing a good job with all this. Being kind is simple and powerful.

We love you.

Erin, Lynn, & Sarah

New Year’s Eve Cutie|Maine & NH Newborn Photography

I’m a mom of two so it’s been forever and a day since I had and kind of late night new year celebration.  I wouldn’t have it any other way!  This is all the excitement I need.  What better way to ring in the new year than spending it photographing this adorable little guy and his wonderful parents!2020-01-06_0002


His sweet parents are new to the Northeast.  They searched around and found our studio.  I’m so glad that they did!  2020-01-06_0005

It is not lost on me that it is a big decision who our clients chose to trust to handle and photograph their precious new baby.  It also never stops feeling like an honor and privilege to be trusted with such a task.  2020-01-06_0004

I hadn’t even realized that this sweet boy smiled while his dad was holding him until I was going through the images in post processing.  What a gift.

I do it for the snuggles  ~Sarah

York Hospital & Fresh F8 Photography

YORK HOSPITAL PHOTOGRAPHERYesterday we announced some very exciting news, for us, and for parents delivering at York Hospital; we will be providing their in-room photography services. Amazing. Since we made the announcement we’ve received lots of questions about what this means and if it’s too good to be true.

Well, we’re pleased to confirm that it’s not too good to be true. We will be at York Hospital on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10am to take pictures of the fresh new faces (and probably some tired-but-excited-and-utterly-in-love-parent-faces).

If you are delivering at York Hospital and would like to have us photograph your new addition you simply need to notify your nurse. That’s it. You don’t have to tell us, you don’t have to fill out a form, sound a trumpet, or send a stork to drop your room number down our chimney for us to wake up to in the morning. Simply notify your nurse.

Our process is to call the charge nurse on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays at 8am to see if there are any families who need photography at 10am that day.

We will pop by and photograph your family in a “fresh 48 style” – capturing your baby, and your family’s first moments together – those precious details that will soon fade into the depths of our memories.

Braden-56The sessions will be approximately 15 minutes and you do not have to prepare for them. These are documentary-style photos; no need to think about coordinating outfits or even combing your hair. The focus is on the baby and the soon forgotten details – like how they fit into your hands.

We have teamed up with York Hospital to offer this service with no up-front cost and very competitive print and digital image pricing (based on a volume discount in partnership with the hospital). This pricing plan is available only to York Hospital patients who are able to be photographed when we are scheduled to be there.

We still offer our traditional Fresh 48 photography to clients who wish to have a more personal experience: us being “on call” for your baby, delivering at home or any hospital, a full hour session with larger gallery of images, or would like the session to take place at a time that is convenient for them. Our Fresh 48 photography session fee is $195 and then prints and digital images are purchased at our regular studio pricing.

Olivia fresh 48-9


I am delivering at York Hospital, can I get on your schedule?

We do not schedule in-room sessions at York Hospital, we show up to patient rooms who have indicated to the nurses that they would like an in-room photo session. For the most part, all sessions will take place on Mon, Wed, Fri at around 10am.

However, if you would like us to schedule you for a full Fresh 48 session, and be “on call” for your session, we are certainly still able to do that, but the pricing structure would be in accordance with our normal studio fee structure, not the York Hospital rate.

What happens if I deliver on a Friday night and get discharged before Monday?

Our normal photography days are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. We will do our best to get to the hospital over the weekend if we are notified that a family would like pictures, but there may be cases where it is not possible.

If you would like us to be “on call” for your session, you would need to book a full Fresh 48 session through our studio.Janousek-55

I would really love a photo of my baby with her sibling, but her sibling is in school until 3pm, can you come later in the day?

Unfortunately we are not be able to accommodate each patient’s individual schedule preferences under the York Hospital pricing structure. However, if you would like to schedule a full Fresh 48 session with our studio, you can contact us and we can arrange for a scheduled session for your family (a session fee would apply).

What is the difference between the in room photography at York Hospital and a full Fresh 48 session?

  1. In-room photography is “Fresh-48 style” (also known as “documentary style” or “lifestyle”) photography that takes place at York Hospital on certain dates at a specific time. These are not scheduled around each family’s needs. Our studio’s Fresh 48 sessions are scheduled individually with each family when it’s convenient for them.
  2. Our in-room sessions are about 15 minutes long with a gallery of 15+ images. A Fresh 48 session can take up to an hour with a gallery of 35+ images.
  3. In-room photography sessions take place at York Hospital. Fresh 48 sessions can take place at any hospital, birthing center, or home.
  4. There is no up front cost for in-room photography sessions at York Hospital. Our Fresh 48 sessions have a session fee of $195.
  5. The print and digital pricing for in-room photography sessions at York Hospital is based on a volume discount rate, while there is no discounted rate for our full Fresh 48 sessions.
  6. Both in-room sessions and full Fresh 48 sessions receive the same award-winning photography our studio is known for. Both types of sessions view and purchase their images via a password protected online gallery.

Will you be using props like you do in your studio?

No. The in-room sessions are very “documentary style”. If you would like to have your baby photographed with props at our studio, please contact us to schedule a session with the studio within 7-14 days of birth.

However, if you would like to include personal items, such as a special blanket or hat in your in-room session, you certainly may do so.

I would like my baby photographed but I don’t want to be in the pictures, is that possible?

Yes, just let us know your preferences when we arrive.2018-08-29_0008

Can I get both the in-room photography at the hospital and a newborn photoshoot at your studio?

Yes! Of course you can! The photography is so very different, it makes sense to have both.

I’m delivering at a different hospital, can you still do our Fresh 48 photography?

Yes, we would love to! We have provided Fresh 48 photography for patients at Wentworth Douglass Hospital, Portsmouth Regional Hospital, and at home for several years and will continue to do so. Lynn is our resident Fresh 48 photographer and is passionate about providing this type of beautiful imagery for families. She loves being “on call” for our families and getting those “we’re heading to the hospital” texts.

Do you offer birth photography?

Yes, we love capturing “the big moment” for families. At this time we only offer birth photography for scheduled c-section deliveries. Pricing would fall under our normal studio pricing regardless of where you deliver.

More questions? Feel free to contact us!




Janousek Fresh 48 | Seacoast NH Fresh 48 Photographer

I know I have said it before but when I am waiting for one of our Fresh 48 babies to be born, I basically check my calendar and phone every half hour to be sure I haven’t missed a call or text that the big day has arrived. Every now and then there is a baby that likes to make me wait…well me AND their parents of course! 🙂 This little lady took her sweet time coming into the world and I was so excited to get the text that she had arrived nearly a week after her due date. Her parents remarked more than once during our time together  that she was worth the wait, and I think we all can agree they are correct!2019-05-18_00142019-05-23_0001

This little lady was the sleepiest baby I have met! I think she yawned probably 6 times…WHILE she was sleeping! And if she did manage to open her eyes for a minute, it wasn’t long before she was peacefully snoozing again. Because she was so sleepy I got to photograph all her tiny features.2019-05-18_00062019-05-18_0005I asked Mom and Dad to tell me the story leading up to her birth…am I the only one who LOVES labor and birth stories? They shared with me that Mom had been feeling contractions for a couple days and when she was finally went to be checked they immediately admitted her to the hospital! She hadn’t realized HOW far along in the process she was since this was her first baby and she was unsure of what to expect. Are women amazing or what?! She told me how things had progressed and that she eventually needed a c-section. I empathized at how it must have been hard to labor all that time and have it end that way, and she was so pragmatic about it; she simply said “it was all worth it now that she’s here.” As a c-section Mom myself, I love her outlook on that.


Those adoring looks from Mom and Dad weren’t for my benefit..I had to ask them a few times to NOT look at the baby and look at me. Thats what happens when you have the sweetest little bundle in your arms; you cant look away!2019-05-18_0011.jpg2019-05-18_0003.jpgScreen Shot EM EDITNot only did I get to photograph this new family on Mothers Day weekend, but I happened to be photographing these new parents on their wedding anniversary! That gave me an excuse to use  their rings on the those teeny baby toes…because I will use any excuse to stare at teeny baby toes!2019-05-25_0001

I m so thankful I was able to meet this family and take their first family photos. It is such an honor to be invited into these first sweet moments. And this little lady reminded me that being so cute was very tiring with one more might yawn before I left 🙂2019-05-18_0001.jpg