Dear Portrait Customer:

Thank you for considering a Thomas & Bruce Master Series designer image for your special portrait.

We wrote this guide to acquaint you with our procedures and policies, and to facilitate you in the process of having your portraits created. By reviewing these notes you will get an instant overview of the entire process, from beginning to end. Please take the time to read them. They should answer many of your questions. Of course, if something is unclear or you would like clarification, please don't hesitate to call our studio at (515) 987-1055.



Creative Possibilities

Having your portrait created is a unique and creative undertaking, almost unlike any other in your life. We use our experience and talent to make your portrait a one-of-a-kind original. As a work of art, you will want to display it with pride, knowing that it communicates powerfully, not only to your family, but for all who view it. Its very similar to commissioning a painting

There are many decisions and choices to be made, but rest assured we are here to guide you every step of the way. You may prefer a formal or informal look, a classic or contemporary feeling, a romantic or realistic mood, or a color or fine art archival black and white. We can recommend the best approach and location for the setting. Thomas & Bruce (father and son) have over sixty combined years of experience in "setting the stage" for an exciting and timeless result.


Step by Step Guide to Having Your Portrait Created


Step 1: The Consultation

Thomas, Bruce, or a staff member at the studio, may be involved in the initial consultation. The most important decision is what "feeling" you would like when viewing the finished work as it hangs on your wall. In this personal interview we work with you to determine your preference regarding the style and type of photography to be created. This conference can cover any and/or all aspects of your portrait session. Items which are usually decided at this time are who, what, where, and when type of questions. 

Step 2: Optional Home Visit

An optional visit to your home can be scheduled. This additional step in our designer sessions can be helpful in pre-planning the specific design, color scheme, or location of the portrait in your home. The more information you have about the placement and final look of your portrait (before photography has taken place), the easier the entire process becomes. You will find in these notes a section dealing with how best to pre-plan size, placement and framing. Please be sure to read over that section: it can be extremely helpful. We will also consider proper illumination for the best presentation.

Step 3: The Photography Session A Fun Experience!

Whether you are on location, in the studio, with children or alone, the actual photography session is a fun and entertaining process. Thomas or Bruce excel in making subjects of any age relax and forget they are being photographed. Their special ability to communicate, entertain, and even at times to perform for children never fails to break through that rigid "posed look". Perhaps you never enjoyed having your picture taken in the past because the results were always disappointing and less than flattering. They have the ability to help you to relax. At the same time they know how to capture those precious, fleeting moments which reveal personality. The results are photographs with natural expressions and tremendous emotional appeal. Their unique style of photography combined with a keen eye for composition, light, and color are the reason they have accumulated so many professional awards as well as a loyal following among their past clients.

Step 4: Seeing Your Previews

Approximately a week following your photography session you will be invited to come to the studio for a showing of your images.  This experience is often a moving and wonderful phase of your portraits creation. Please note, it is vitally important that all parties who have a final and direct role in the decision-making process be present for the showing.

The Presentation is designed specifically to assist you in selecting the images which you desire. It requires time to accomplish this. You should allow at least one hour. We strongly urge you not to bring infants or very young children as you may find them short on patience and very distracting. During this step in the process we will do preliminary discussion about everything pertaining to your final order. This includes such details as the quantity, size, final retouching, framing and planned delivery date.

Step 5: Presentation of Finished Portraits and Frame Selection

Voila! You come to the studio to pick up your finished portrait. Because of the many complex steps involved, the production of finished portraits requires about four to six weeks. Those steps include:  retouching, various tests, print production and print mounting.

Now is also the perfect time to make your frame selection! Seeing the right frame on your portrait is as important as any other step in the process of delivering a finished work of art. Frames may be chosen based on our selection of samples. A custom handcrafted frame will be made to order and often can be ready for you to pick up when your final print is delivered. We like to think of it as putting the icing on the cake. 




The Choice of Background

One of the key elements of your portrait is the location and choice of background. Both location and lighting are essential elements to consider. They determine the overall look and feel of a portrait.

Portraits can be created in the studio, with very controlled lighting, or they can be done in a natural outdoor setting with nature providing the light. Both can be magnificent. For example, a beach setting done in the soft glow of the late afternoons golden sunlight against a pastel violet sky can be spectacularly beautiful. Alternately, an image done in the studio, illuminated with the same classic sculptured light of the Old Masters, then combined with a glimpse of an antique chair and a feeling of soft brush strokes in the background can be equally powerful.

Because we are blessed to live in such a diverse and naturally beautiful environment, there are many outdoor locations. Most are only a short drive from our studio. We also have excellent outdoor scenes here on our acreage. For our Master Series Designer Portraits, Thomas or Bruce always "scout" the location for ideal angles as well as best times of day for the light. The seasonal changes here offer subtle colors and beautiful texture. All this is considered before deciding on the location and background for your portraits. Virtually anything is possible, so don't hesitate to ask if you have an idea or a location you would like to try.


You don't need props to make a portrait powerful, but sometimes they can contribute to make a portrait more personal. They can suggest a story, or a theme which is meaningful to the family. Items such as a golf club, tea set, quilt, Christening gown, a piece of jewelry or an heirloom, could add a special feeling to the portrait. Even pets can be considered since many people feel their pets are part of the family. They just require the right planning and proper setting. Again, please don't hesitate to ask regarding any idea you may have. We encourage your creativity and personal inspiration.


Clothing is one of the essential ingredients contributing to the final look and style of your portrait. For that reason we like to be very involved in the selection of wardrobe. Because you want your images to stand the test of time, and not appear dated by current fashions, your choices should be very simple and classic. The most beautiful portraits are often those done with the most understated wardrobe. By all means avoid especially eye-catching patterns, colors, and prints. Generally, solids work best. Simple all white, black, or muted solid colors work especially well. Because bright colors like red and yellow are so dominant, they tend to take over the picture. The idea is to make you the most important element in the portrait, not the clothes.

Jewelry can contribute to making a statement, but in general a small item or two is most adequate. Of course, if a family heirloom is part of the concept in your portrait, feel free to wear it. Remember, we want to convey a clean and uncluttered image. If you are in doubt, please feel free to ask about any item of clothing or jewelry.

As a rule of thumb, 3/4 or long sleeves work best for both ladies and men. Your clothing should fit comfortably. Avoid clothes that restrict movement, or sitting positions. For example, we may ask that you try sitting on the carpet or lawn, or on the edge of a chair to get an attractive angle. Looser fitting clothes will make this easier for you. For example, if the look is more casual, both men and boys look great in V-neck or crew neck sweaters. Again, remember the color formula: avoid bright or busy patterns and extreme contrasts in one outfit (like a white blouse and a black skirt). Solids work best. The same applies to sports coats and jackets.

Using like or complementary colors can make a large group blend well and create a feeling of family and togetherness. Ideally, no one person should stand out due to color or style of clothes (unless, of course, you want them to). All colors should blend harmoniously.

At times the above "rules" and suggestions may be ignored. However, it should be done with considerable thought. For example, dramatic effects can sometimes be achieved by breaking the rule of not having black and white in the same image (too much contract). Please don't hesitate to make any suggestions you may have regarding clothes. Remember, we will be delighted to consult with you in this important step in the process.

Hair Styles

Hair should be styled and groomed in a manner that is completely natural to you. Now is not the time to experiment with a new look, or major change in styling or color. Bear in mind that you want your portrait to represent you and your family for years to come.

We sometimes have a tendency to "over groom" our children. Try to keep a child's hair natural, and not overly perfect. Also, its always a good idea to bring your own brushes, hair sprays and a small mirror for last minute touch-ups. Hair should be clean, neatly arranged, and combed so as not to cover the eyes. 

Both men and boys should avoid the just cut look by having hair trimmed a week or so before the sitting. Men should be clean shaven. If facial hair is part of their style, it should be neatly trimmed.


Ladies eye shadow should be applied lightly, and with care. The center of greatest interest in a portrait is the subjects eyes. Consider at least one application of mascara on both upper and lower lashes. Use your normal foundation. Avoid using much powder as it makes your skin photograph flat and dull. Be sure to blend very well and avoid obvious demarcation or tan lines. Its a very good idea to bring your make-up with you in case any additional application or changes are necessary at the sitting.

Because this is a portrait, and not a "fashion" type of look, we recommend you just follow your normal make-up routine, if any, and not become overly dramatic. If you have any questions about shades of make-up or application, please feel free to ask.


Glasses, because of their reflection and magnifying characteristics, can distort the eyes of the subject. A good way to solve this problem is to not wear them or have your optician supply you with a similar frame to you own, but without lenses. Contact lenses, of course, present no problem.




To help avoid misunderstandings, and promote customer satisfaction, we would like to provide you with a few simple standard guidelines. We have found over the years that these practices really benefit all parties and assure clear communications.

Upon your initial consultation and decision to have Thomas & Bruce Photography do your portraits you will be asked to pay a retainer fee just as you may do with other professionals as part of "goodwill". 

Ownership of Images

Please note that all originals are copyrighted and the property of Thomas & Bruce Photography. The Studio reserves the right to use any images for display advertising, publication, competitions, or other purposes. Technically, by copyright law, all images remain the exclusive property of the Studio, and any reproduction or attempt to reproduce them by copying or scanning without express written consent from Thomas & Bruce is prohibited.

Payment Schedule and Fee Structure Explained

On the subject of money, we try to keep the transactions as simple as possible. As previously mentioned, we request a retainer at the time of your photography session which applies to your account. The balance is due when the order is finished.

The cost of the prints ordered including size, type of finish, and the quantity of prints, all factor into the final total. Bear in mind that this type of fee structure allows you the greatest freedom in choosing your final product and in determining the final cost.

There are no required number of prints or kind of finishes you must buy. Everything is a la carte and is your choice. Cost for prints does vary with the size and style of the finish.

Since photographic print prices can change, please inquire at the studio for current price quotes.


Congratulations! You have read a comprehensive segment detailing how we work and all the steps to achieve your goal of a magnificent portrait. We can assure you that your active involvement and dedication in this process will contribute to your complete satisfaction. For ourselves, we can only say that it is our utmost desire that you will find the process enjoyable and the final product the best one ever.



The pleasure of owning a fine portrait is yours, but the joy of creating it is ours.



Like an inspirational piece of music, a fine portrait can instantly evoke the feeling of love and harmony which a family ideally represents.

In a sense, our role as portrait artists is like that of musical conductors. We interpret and highlight the beautiful themes and melodies, which each family member contributes, in their own unique manner.

On the deepest level, the portrait celebrates those feelings of appreciation, love, and respect families share but which often lack a voice to express and sing out. The art is in bringing forth all these elements so that they ring brilliantly for all who see that image to experience and share.



Thomas Belling - Bruce Belling


Master of Photography Photographic Craftsman

Certified Professional Photographer Fellow of Photography


Phone 515 987 1055