Photographer for Schools and Teams

Parent Q&A

  • Do you love your child's preschool or elementary school portrait photographer? My child's school is in desperate need of a good referral for next year. 

    I'm interested in all referrals but particularly keen to learn of any non-traditional portrait photographers for younger children. I have friends in LA with the cutest school "portraits" of their kids jumping and otherwise being active, rather than sitting with hands crossed and a forced smile (or no smile). Does anyone in the East Bay do that? I found that the more casual style really highlights the child's personality, thereby making it more likely the parents will really love the images. But, frankly, at this point I think most of us parents would be happy with any smile!

    Hands down, the best school photographer I've ever seen is Roots & Shoots (  I headed a committee tasked with finding a new photographer when our public school's parent-teacher group had finally had enough of that horrible mainstay, Life-Touch, several years ago.  We interviewed several photographers and chose R&S - they are just astonishingly good.  They are more expensive than L-T, but we all felt it better to pay a little more for truly quality pictures than still pay a lot for crap.  They set up outside to get natural backdrops, they're great at getting the kids to smile naturally, and we always get compliments when we give pix to relatives.  The women who own R&S are also really nice, and we're happy to be working with a locally-owned small business.

    Teddy Bear Portraits did photos for my daughters preschool. That was 10 years ago, so you might want to find more recent corroboration, but they produces the most adorable pictures of my daughter.

    Hi- I think you'd really like Leena Chitnis. She is great with kids- has a warm and fun personality, and is creative and super invested in capturing the personality of her subjects through photography.  I used her for outdoor portraits and am super pleased with the results.

    Leena's website: for prospective clients to call her directly: 310-351-7535.    

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Alternative photography option for K-8 school

Oct 2010

Heard there were some good school photographers in the Berkeley area. I'm looking for an alternative photography option for a K-8 school. Any suggestions? Thanks for your help. Josie

I don't know if she does elementary schools, but Amy Perl took great photos (class and individual) for our preschool the last couple of years. Her website is So much nicer than the canned portraits the regular school photographers do, and really captured the kids' personalities. JP

Robin Fryday has done Child Day School pics in Lafayette for years and she's awesome. (expensive also) her email is tgirfryday [at] anon

If you want beautiful portraits of your kids that don't have the usual canned-photo feel, contact Gani Pinero at Motivated Light (info [at] Gani and his partner at Motivated Light have been doing school photos in this style for years. Gani is warm, easy to work with, and is able to really connect with the kids to bring out their individual personalities. Take a look at (the page Galleries--Kids has the school pics) to see what I mean. (Btw,I also had family portraits done with Gani, and they are great too--the proofs are online and my family across the country have been ordering prints!) Gani's number is 510-504-4258. Have fun! Joyce

Chela Richheimer took gorgeous photos of the kids at my son's K-6 school, Walden. Really, my ordinary 9-year-old looks like a movie star in his photo - a close-up set against trees, in natural light. Every kid at had least two poses, and she took buddy photos on request as well as class photos. We could go online to pick and order the photos.

Did you like your kids' school photos? Who took them?

Nov 2009

We got our school photos back and, for the life of me, I cannot figure out how they managed to make my (very cute) kid look so dorky. Anyone out there like their kids' school photos this year? If so, what company did your school use? berkeley mom

Veni Vidi Click! photography is amazing. Inga photographed the kids at my son's school and the pics were stunning. You can choose from several photos, among which are both color shots and black and whites. These are lovely, unconventional photos that allow the children to shine *almost* as much as they do in person. Here's the website: Alison

We are thrilled with our new school photographers, who are a local company that photographs the kids outdoors, and dont have that nonsense with the different backgrounds, etc. They also have a convenient online ordering system, where you can view several proofs and choose your favorite out of 5 or 6 shots. They are called Mugshots, and their website is I think they are based in Marin. rhonaco

Our school used Little Bird School Photography (www.littlebirdschoolphotography) after using LifeTouch for a couple of years. Kristen and Mary do a wonderful job of capturing the children in expressive and individual ways, without a cheesy/ugly background. All the photos are taken using natural light. All our parents have had enthusiastic responses to our pictures this year. And there is a variety of packages to choose from, including a la carte pricing, as well as the option to purchase the digital rights to the photos. Your school will not be sorry if you use Little Bird! Couldn't be happier with photos!

Our school used Little Bird School Photography I loved the pics of my kid and others in the class. It's two local moms and they do a great job! Kirsten

Little Bird School Photography is absolutely wonderful. They came to our children's school this year. The photos are great - the kids personalities shine through. They are not your run of the mill school photograph at all, quite the contrary. Check them out at: liked my kids' school photos this year

Both of our schools -Redwood Day School and GrandLake Monetssori- use Dennis Geaney for school pictures and each time we get the pix back (6 years now) they are awesome. He makes my goofy sons look adorable. Also, for child or family pictures, Barbara Jerebek is great and very reasonbly priced: Heather

Photographer for Soccer team pictures

Nov 2005

In the past I have seen nice photo packages taken of baseball teams that can include a team picture, button, player trading cards, etc. We would like something similar for our girls soccer team. Does anyone know of an outfit or photographer that can provide this service? Thanks. Marta

I would like to highly recommand Linda Reynolds, a mother who lives in Moraga and is a professional photographer. She does many events at schools and for the kids' sport team, you can see sample of her work on her web site: What I like about her is her approach of the children and that eye of her that catches great moments. a fan

Photographer for Preschool photos

Feb 2005

Have your kids had their School Pictures taken by a person or groug that you really liked, who did a great job and delivered a product that you are pleased to show to friends and family? Then, WE NEED YOUR INPUT!! We like to have ''School Pictures'' taken for our preschoolers, but the group we used for the last couple years was a HUGE disappointment the last time, and we are now looking for a NEW PHOTOGRAPHER. I know there are companies out there that specialize in Preschool pictures - if you have someone you'd recommend, please let me know so I can contact them! Ideally, we are looking to have individual photos of the kids (a couple different poses would be great!), as well as GROUP shots (you know, the ''old fashioned'' Class Photo). A composite, WITH THE KIDS' NAMES, would be a bonus. Many thanks for your suggestions!!! Leslie

When my son was in preschool, the photographer took the BEST pictures of him that I had ever seen (not just the best school pictures, the BEST pictures altogether). Parents were permitted to choose among several proofs after the pictures were taken - I had a terrible time picking! I don't think the class picture was as good, and I don't think there were names, but that might have been the way that the school arranged things. The photographer was named Sharie Cohen - a quick search reveals her website to be SharieCohenPhotography [at], if that helps. Honestly, I have often thought of hiring her personally again - I still love the pictures she took of my son. Kathleen

My son's preschool has their school photos done by Bev Wanlin Photography. they are awesome - according to my son she does all sorts of silly things likes puppets and harmonicas and in all the photos (2 class, 2 individual) all the children are smiling or laughing. I am not sure if this is her number, as I can't find the order form, but found this online: Wanlin Studio (510) 758-7755 Email me if that doesn't work. Her work is wonderful Shahana

My daughter's preschool uses Teddy Bear Portraits - 1-800-33- TEDDY. I thought the photographer was good with the kids, there's at least 2 poses, they do a composite (no names though), and the kids get a free t-shirt with their photo on it. The packages are not great (e.g., I couldn't order all wallet sizes). I don't remember the prices being outrageous but they weren't cheap either. My daughter's school has used them for at least the last 4 years so they must be happy with them. Hope this helps. shari

If you are going to invest in preschool pictures, why not consider a more organic portrait photographer? I specialize in individual as well as group portraits, and I use natural light and settings to create a more comfortable environment for the kids. The results are photographs that celebrate each child's beauty and personality. My baby is 1 year old now, so I understand how precious it is to have quality photos taken of your child. Cheers! Courteney ( Courteney

I'm a parent of two children who have gone to Via Nova Children's Center in Berkeley beginning three years ago. During that time, we have used Ralph Granich ( for photography. He does individual shots of each child, plus a classroom photo for each class. If children are missing or parents are dissatisfied with the shots of their child, he'll come back. Last year, we had some people missing for both shoots, so he digitally added them to the group photos, and they looked great. He's offered to photograph other events as well, so I know he's available for such things (like graduations). I can only speak for myself, of course, but I've been quite pleased. Laurel

You can not go wrong with Rachael and Limor from Indelible Images They are moms of two kids who are in elementary school so they know preschoolers.I have found many preschool photographers think that taking pictures of little ones is the same as taking them of adults. That is why their pictures turn out the way they do. A good childrens photographer should be able to understand how these 2-5 year olds operate (so it helps to be a mom) and put them at ease. Rachael and Limor are fun and specialize in playful, natural light, interactive portraiture. I am sure they will work with your school director to maximize convenience and ease for you. I know one nice touch of their service is that they host your proofs online in a gallery so you can share with friends and families. You should contact them at Good luck. Nilou

Dennis Geany takes great black and white photographs! And, he does everything you mention in your post, and for the quality U thought he was very affordable. At our son's daycare, we were even able to schedule a few minutes for a family photo, as well. Jennifer

My daughter had the most wonderful photo taken by Limor Inbar and Rachel McMullin from Indelible Images ( we have sent it to everyone who wants to see what she looks like at 3 years old! It captures her spirit - playfully laughing with beautiful green grass all around her and the sun lighting up her full presence! Limor and Rachel were wonderful to watch work - patient, playful, artistic, relaxed and carefree with the kids. I couldn't tell who was having more fun, the photographers or the subjects! I highly recommend them for any preschool, or any family wanting to capture this moment in your child's history. A great photo of this stage of life is irreplaceable. Scott

My son's preschool last year had the best photographer - but I can't find the name! Every shot was great, the kids just beamed. So, try calling the Model School and asking who they used in the spring of 2004. Hope this helps. ramisi

Ralph Granich took the best posed photo of my son ever when he was in preschool. He does black and white and color and candid shots. The photograph he took really captured the personality of my son and was so much nicer than the posed school photos I recall as a child. You can find him on the internet. Susan

I was thrilled with the portraits taken at my son's preschool this year. I included them in all my Christmas cards. The address on the reorder form is:
Nationwide Studios Inc. ''Home of Teddy Bear Portraits'' 400 N. Belvedere Dr. Gallatin TN 37066 Phone: 1-800-338-3339
My son's school is Play N' Learn in Pleasant Hill. You might contact them and ask the photographer's name. KB

Alternative to senior portrait

July 2004

I know it's senior portrait time of year and I wanted to recommend what we did for my daughter's senior picture. We were not happy with the official senior portrait process---the cost for what you get, the drape, etc. We did choose one of the official photos for the yearbook but we wanted something different for a commemoration of the event!

We have not had many professional photographs taken in our family but I'm very happy that I decided to ''invest'' in this option and would like to highly recommend our photographer, Jonathan Payne. He and my daughter headed up to the Cal campus one afternoon and got some beautiful shots in some great locations. I'm so used to snapshots that I was quite overwhelmed by the beauty of the light and the black and white contrast in his photographs (he gave us both color and black and white options). He has one of them in his on-line portfolio at Feel free to contact me or contact Jon directly at 510.333.6676 or info AT if you are interested in getting something wonderfully different. Sally

Inexpensive group photos for church event

September 2001

I like to reccommendations for a inexpensive photographer for an event. Our church is holding a couples' dinner and would like for a photographer to take group and individual couple pictures. If you know someone or if you are a photographer please contact me. Thank you! mey

You might try the jounalism department at SFSU, or the photography department at Cal. I took a photojournalism class at SFSU last semester and the advanced students are often looking for extra work. This might also be the case with the students at Cal. The quality of their work is quite good as many of the advanced students have been study photographer for several years. Good luck! Tamara

you might want to try calling your local newspaper to find out if a photojournalist is interested in making some freelance money. if that doesn't work out for you, call SF State's photojournalism photo lab. there are probably a handful of students who might be interested (photojournalists are great event photographers). Note: nearly all photojournalists keep their negatives, so if you are set on having them, be sure to talk about that ahead of time. Try ANG Newspapers in your area (i think they own 7 papers), the Montclarion, and Berkeley Voice, the Express, and the Monthly Angela

Nolte's Photography for High School graduation portrait

November 2000

I've read several complaints about Nolte's Photography, and want to add my perspective. My daughter graduated from Albany High in June (2000). I opted not to purchase graduation photos at that time, but only to make a selection and have it entered in the yearbook. I was told by the Nolte staff that the photo proofs were kept on file for 24 months. Recently, I contacted Nolte to make the purchase.

After getting the runaround for the last two months, including speaking to Nolte himself (who resides in Oregon) I have concluded that my daughter's photo proofs have been lost. Nolte has never actually stated this, but has said on several occasions that he will contact me in a week to let me know the status of the search. He has NEVER returned a call. During my last conversation to him about a week ago, Nolte stated that he had assigned one person to look at a couple of boxes of proofs a day, and that they'll continue to look. The tone of his response was very unenthusiastic and quite insulting. For a one time affair like high school graduation, and having explicit information from the Nolte shop that I had 2 years to make the purchase, it's devastating to come to this realization. To his credit, Nolte did say that a second sitting was possible. But he did not know if the Albany studio was open on Saturdays (the only day possible for us since my daughter now attends ! UC Santa Barbara), and wanted me to call them. He made no offer to call the studio himself, or even mandate to his personnel to be open - after all, it was his organization that lost the photos. A second sitting would be acceptable, but this is my daughter nearly six months after graduation, not as she was on that sterling evening. I do have the yearbook photo, and a video of her as one of the graduation ceremony speakers, but I desire the additional photos.

With the complaints I have heard concerning Nolte from other parents, and his attitude concerning my personal matter, I would really like the powers-that-be at all the schools utilizing the services of Nolte to SEEK OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS OR PHOTOGRAPHIC BUSINESSES TO SATISFY OUR NEEDS.

It seems as if Nolte has a hold on our schools and you are not allowed to submit your own or anyone else's photos for the yearbook which I find quite upsetting. Does anyone out there know what the scoop is on this? Is it possible to submit other photos? I find the quality of his portraits to be lacking big time. His studio took my daughter's graduation photos and she doesn't like any of them. She can go for another sitting (at more cost), but why should we pay for this when it probably won't yield any better photos? -- Toby

Toby, you can use other photos; however, that photo will not appear with the other formal photos that Nolte has taken. We are under contract with Nolte for this year. Your complaint will be forwarded to them. Frank Lynch (Frank Lynch is principal at Berkeley High)

Our daughter was unable to make the scheduled photo sitting appointment. She called repeatedly and left messages about rescheduling, and no one called her back. We have decided to have a photo sitting done by a photographer of our choice in June, basically for family and friends, and she will not have a photo in the yearbook. Fortunately, she is OK with this. Nolte sounds like a terribly disorganized business.

On the subject of Nolte photography, I must add our negative experience. A couple of years ago my BHS-graduating son had his senior photos taken by Nolte. We got back a set of proofs with nice color, nice expressions, but mostly off-center. Seriously off-center. I called and was told to attach a note requesting that the poses we wanted be centered. Many weeks and about $350 later we received a set of off-center photographs. At that point we did not pursue it. It was late, kids were giving out photos, the yearbook photo (off-center) had been chosen, etc.

This year my daughter got her approximately $35 packet of Nolte school pictures (not senior photos)-nice expression, lousy color, and off-center. Then she showed my her collection of photos of her friends. One girl was almost falling off the side of the picture!

Centering a subject seems like basic photography to me. The price of the senior photos is so high that I think some basic competence should be expected. Perhaps they are overwhelmed, perhaps they don't care. In any case, the contract should be reviewed, as we are a captive audience as things stand.