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Meet Lisa Seidel of Portraits by Lisa and School Portraits by Lisa in Coolidge Corner

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Seidel.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve always been interested in people and especially good with kids. I’m the stranger on the airplane your shy child will talk to or the person smiling crazily at your baby in the grocery store. And I am obsessed with faces. I love to look at them and study them. A camera is a natural tool for feeding that interest.

When I finished grad school I asked for my first “good” camera as a gift. I took some photos here and there for folks, but mostly I took classes at a local photography school.

Since I was shooting film, I learned about darkrooms and chemicals and color correction and printing. A particularly astute teacher noticed that the obvious choice for my final project was children’s portraiture. And I never looked back. It’s really all the things I love–people, connection, stories–all put together in one package.

I have clients whose family photos I have been taking annually for 7-8 years. Watching those kids grow, being trusted with the memories of that family, it is such a great honor.

When I walk into someone’s house and see my own work on the walls, it’s not easy to describe how much that touches me. It’s a task that I take very seriously.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Photography in the digital age is a struggle for sure–everyone is a photographer. Kids have more photos taken of them at a picnic one afternoon in the park than I probably had taken of my during an entire year of my own childhood. But parents (often moms, but dads too) are frequently not in the pictures. There’s a saturation of photos, people don’t think that they need more, but there are very few special ones.

I tell parents ALL THE TIME, these photos are not really for you. Please enjoy them in the meantime, but they are for your kids and grandkids. YOU need to be in them. They are a visible record of the love you have for your kids. It’s important that your kids have that reminder forever. Really, it’s the MOST important thing. But it’s not easy to convince them. And it’s often challenging to get them to invest in a private sitting.

One way that I have tried to get families to print more images has been to branch out into school portraiture (–which I LOVE. I have a growing number of schools that use me for their annual school picture day. I work hard to create beautiful images for parents that are full of personality. And, since most parents order hard copies of their school images, I feel like I am giving the children (and their families) at least one beautiful image of themselves each year. Parents and school staff have been thrilled with these images.

Please tell us about Portraits by Lisa and School Portraits by Lisa.
I specialize in portraits of children and families. I want to make images that look like your family–silly faces, thumbs in mouths, security blankets, bikes, running, laughing, loving one another. I don’t ever ask you to say cheese and I’m not at all frustrated by three year olds acting three. In fact, that’s what I want to capture. My most common feedback/compliment is a parent who says something along the lines of, “It was so crazy on the day you came, I did not think you got anything–and then these proofs came and how am I ever going to choose?”

My other goal is to help families purchase physical prints. Although I do sell digital negatives, no one ever put a digital file on their dresser and looked at it every morning.

Archival images are my passion. I really feel as though being seen and feeling connected are key to everyone’s health. Images do that–I’ve had clients say to me, “OMG, my husband really loves me, look at how he’s looking at me in this picture.” And I want kids to have a record of how they looked as a toddler so that later, when they have a child, that kid can say–“Man, my baby looks exactly like my dad did at that age.” I’m always ecstatic when I take an image I feel like a child will have on her dresser as a forty-year-old.

Finally, the actual process is fun. I come to you for your family’s shoot. We play and laugh and enjoy the crazy that is life with kids and I just happen to photograph it.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I think that I have two favorites. First was with my (still) best friend, when we were 13, traveling across the country to Wyoming with a small group of scouts. Seeing the world, appreciating nature, taking pictures, making memories, and moving outside of my own every day was so rich. I can recall sitting on the edge of the Badlands in South Dakota really feeling my own smallness in the world and knowing that travel was going to be a part of my life forever.

The other was visiting my grandparents during the summers. One set lived in St. Louis and my grandmother would haul us to the zoo, museums, the Arch, help us make and decorate cakes for a combined birthday celebration with cousins, and ride the rides at Six Flags. When my grandfather would come home at night, he would snuggle with us and laugh his amazing deep laugh at all of our antics. The other grandparents used to get a house on the beach in Delaware each summer and we’d go for weeks at a time. The sea is my absolute love and I used to swim and ride the waves for hours. They’d have to drag me out of the ocean to eat lunch. I still love it. My four-year-old niece has been groomed for days at the beach since she was two. We spend as many summer days as possible playing in Gloucester, MA. She’s a beach bum and ocean lover in the same mold as me. I hope that these times we’ve spent together will be among her favorite childhood memories.


  • A custom, on-location photo shoot for a family of up to 4 is $299, each additional person is just $35

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Lisa Seidel, Portraits by Lisa

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