We met early on a rainy, Saturday morning while the house was still, yet the energy of newborn restless nights was still lingering from wee hours of rocking, pacing, and feedings. An energetic toddler greeted me with open arms and was eager to show me around their beautiful, tucked away home, while baby finally slept soundly upstairs.
The parents wanted the shoot to focus mostly on these new sisters and their first days together, even though big sister Blake had not yet shown a great interest in her new family member. We took things slow, breathing in the morning calmness and taking care to allow time for Blake to explore her sister in her own way and time. Sometimes in the bustle of life after baby, siblings don't always get to set the agenda, but once she realized she was playing an important role, Blake began to love on her sister in brand new ways.
Locations are always one of the first and biggest decisions to make when planning your session, and many clients are surprised to learn that there's a lot more that needs to go into choosing this spot than simply some pretty scenery! In fact, sometimes some of the most "scenic" views make for the worst spots for a full session. And you'd be surprised at the locations hiding right under your feet that may not seem ideal, but given the right conditions and clients, are the perfect fit.
These locations all provide areas of open shade that make shooting at relatively any time of day a possibility. This is a big one for me because while I would love to shoot in the "golden hour," every time (the 1-2 hour window of magical glowy light before sunset), this is rarely a possibility for families with young kids. I like to think that families appreciate my flexibility and understanding from a parents' perspective. The golden hour often doubles as the witching hour for kids under 4 who typically are eating dinner, getting tired, and going to bed around that time. Confidence that I can make it work whether shooting at 10 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon is must!
One of my very favorite things about being a family photographer is that I often get to witness and capture couples growing into parents. This is even more special, however, when I've known the couple beyond that journey, as with Josh and Laura. They dated all through college at William and Mary, where they became good friends with my oldest brother. Josh was the best man at his wedding, they've been at numerous family events and celebrations, they brought us dinner when we had our daughter-- when I get to photograph people with that kind history, my heart just overflows.
Quality family photography is an investment, I get it. (It's one of the most important ones, in my opinion, but that's a different soapbox. Like this one or this one.) When that family is growing and you've got a lot of other things on your plate, it's hard to commit to a full session. I understand that! But let's not let that stop you from capturing what's important before it slips away.
I want to make capturing life's little moments SUPER accessible and show you the power of investing in your heritage.
SO for the month of JULY ONLY, I'm introducing
WEEKDAY MINI STORIES
When planning with this mom and discussing the details, I was so excited to hear her honesty and desire to capture the real beauty behind the day. She knew her 3 year old son would be so infatuated with his new sister when they met, and wanted her daughter to see what life looked like on the day she was born. Audrey came a few days early, but on a lovely summer evening at just 6 hours old, I met their little miracle and captured their love for her unfolding. And she really is a miracle -Audrey was born with her umbilical cord tied in a knot, so doctor's weren't quiet sure how she was able to get the nutrients she needed throughout the pregnancy, but she was surely created for great things.
You may remember Alex and Steve from their maternity session - well now their officially parents and soaking in the world with fresh eyes as a family of three... or five, if you count their adorable furry friends.
Before Connor was born, his dad worked tirelessly to renovate their home and redo the entire upstairs to add his nursery. Unfortunately, they fell subject to the hurry up and wait syndrome, as Connor didn't make his appearance till about 2 weeks after his due date. But once he did, this couple embraced being his parents with such love; it was a joy to watch them make that transition from excitedly throwing around names to rocking their sweet boy to sleep.
Documentary sessions have quickly become the beat of my photographer's heart. There's something so incredibly powerful about seeing the truth in a season of life that just speaks to the power and purpose of what photography is all about -- documentary the people and things in life we want to hold onto most.
In our initial planning for a documentary session, we dove into the things they love to do as a family, including any traditions or activities that were common in their house during this stage of life. She described a typical weekend morning that includes cooking Saturday morning pancakes from scratch with dad, doing art in the dining room, and playing outside in the yard. From the inside, these things probably seem typical or uninteresting, but looking back, they are a timestamp of simple spring days, filled with details that will fade but when capture, will melt the heart.
About one month ago, I made the trek up to the little town of Martinsburg, WV to capture these two lovebirds committing their lives to one another. (You can read a little more about their back story and how we came to know one another in this post of their engagement session.) This wedding may look a little different than all the big, fancy, dreamy days we see flooding the internet, and that's exactly why I wanted to feature it: Niki and Thom chose to focus on their marriage. They pulled together their wedding in months and focussed on creating a day full of love that honored their families, each other, and God. The kept things simple, leaned on the talents of their friends, and made their own rules. It was perfect.
With a 1 year old boy and a girl on the way, along with preparing to move and start a new job, the season of right now is so unique for them. They cherish their quiet Saturdays, going on walks in their neighborhood, playing in the backyard, and especially reading books together in the nursery so we decided to capture just that! How cool will it be for their little girl to see her mom feeling great at 7.5 months pregnant, right down in the sandpit with her older brother -- to get to peek into the home her parents first made their own and how life looked before she arrived?!
I'm flipping through my daughter's 1 year photo album- filled to bursting with images from our first days together, monthly milestone images from the same angle of her laying on the same white bed to show her growth, stats of her height and weight and favorite foods, mini sessions I've set up to show off her adorable little outfits or a specific holiday. I fall in love over and over again with every page.
But it's the picture of her napping on my husband's chest that makes my fingers pause. It's her tiny feet flung high in the air from the slots of a swing that I want to pull and frame because there's something about it that instantly makes me feel nostalgic, to recall the peace at the empty neighborhood park and the sound of her wild giggle filling the warm, spring air.