Wow, what a week. I hope that you are all finding some peace, love and toilet paper in this time of coronavirus, and above all, staying safe and healthy.
I know you have already received emails from every business you’ve ever associated with on how they are handling things during this time of quarantine, so I’m going to refrain from sending emails on my thoughts. But I will outline them here in case you have a session coming up and are wondering what will happen.
For my portrait sessions, these are generally done in outdoor parks or in clients home where close contact with other people is minimum. I do plan to take extra care in changing the way I do sessions temporarily in that I will rely on my words to guide you into position rather than touching you or your children to move you into the position I would like. This goes for newborn photo sessions as well.
But, if for any reason you are uncomfortable proceeding with a session at this time, please know that I will allow you to reschedule for any date in the future. Please just shoot me an email and let me know and we can postpone your family portrait session until things have settled down.
I was happen to get out into the sunshine and photograph this beautiful family of four at the Park at Harlinsdale Farms in Franklin this week. Little Chase just turned two, which is my favorite age of children to photograph. Look at that adorable smile!
This is a family that I photograph pretty regularly, and I feel like they keep getting bad luck when it comes to session weather. I’ve shot a session for them in the rain. They had a session last year that was super hot, and then another where it was bitterly cold. They’ve been troopers through every single session and handled it beautifully each time. But it stinks because I generally feel like the weather cooperates for almost all my sessions – even late winter ones, but this one family keeps taking all the hits.
So of course, yesterday, when I arrived at the Park at Harlinsdale Farms where we were supposed to shoot, it felt WAYYY colder than the 54 degrees my phone said that it was. Then five minutes later my phone read 48 degrees. That’s still generally reasonable for a winter photo session, but the wind was so bitingly cold. I was worried that it would be way too uncomfortable to have fun and enjoy the session.
So when Kate showed up and asked if we could try to move the session to the Factory at Franklin, I completely agreed. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to, as the Factory charges a permit fee and I’d always booked it in advance. But the man at the front desk was nice enough to let us get the permit immediately so we were able to move the portrait session indoors, which was so much better than dealing with the bitter wind.
We were also able to slip outside for brief periods before coming back inside to get warm, and there is this nice corridor that was mostly protected from the wind. So all in all, it worked out well. But I still hope that next time they get a nice pleasant, mild day….it’s their turn.
Here goes my annual plug in favor of sending holiday cards in the mail. In almost every other way, I tend to choose the greener, more efficient way of doing things. I loathe writing checks, and much prefer Venmo. I decide to do most things online rather than paper versions. I’m content reading an e-book.
But there is just something about receiving an old fashioned paper Christmas card in the mail. I particularly love the ones with family photos (I know…shocker.) I tape each one to our front door and admire them until well after the New Year.
But I know many of my friends and clients are overwhelmed about getting a Christmas card made and sent out, so I thought I’d offer a few tips to help you with this holiday task.
STEP 1: Getting the Photos
The most obvious choice for getting photos for your annual holiday card is to use the images from your yearly family portrait session.
You can also use photos you’ve taken throughout the year. Last year, my family went on a vacation to Toronto and Niagara Falls for Thanksgiving week. I used photos I took from that vacation (including some phone selfies!) for our holiday card, and everyone seemed to really enjoy them. So don’t think your holiday card has to be all fancy or posed. I haven’t decided this year whether to use vacation photos or the more formal ones I just took a few weeks ago of our family for this year’s Christmas card.
One of my best friends recently set up her phone to take a selfie photo of her family (including their sweet dog) in front of their fireplace. They propped up the phone on a shelf and then used a smartwatch to trigger the photo, but a timer would work fine too. She had the stockings all hung, and it looks super festive and cute. This is an excellent option if you didn’t have family photos made this year, or, if like her, you had spring photos made and want something more festive looking for your holiday card.
Another great option is to come to see Santa Claus and me at the Spring Station Middle School Holiday Market on December 7. Your $25 pre-order ticket includes admission to the Spring Station Holiday Market event for two adults and your children & digital photo downloads of your Santa visit that you can use for your holiday card! Book your spot now before they sell out.
STEP 2: Printing the Photo Cards
If you had pictures made with me this year, you could design and purchase a holiday card straight from your session photo gallery. There are lots of high-quality options, and they print and ship super fast.
If you are using your own photo, I recommend Mpix.com for all your printing needs, including Christmas & Holiday cards. They are having a 50% off sale on Christmas cards that ends today if you are ready to get it done.
And of course, there are plenty of other printing options, such as Shutterfly. I have found the print quality of cards from Shutterfly to be mixed, but with their sales and coupon codes, they are definitely a good choice if you are looking to save a few bucks.
I’m just going to remind you now that if you print professional photos at Walgreens, then a unicorn will die.
STEP 3: Mailing the Photos
I know some people insist that Christmas cards should be hand addressed and signed. I’m not one of those people. My list is huge, and in this case, I’m an advocate that done is better than perfect. So I make it easy on myself.
I either have the place I’m ordering cards from print my return address on the envelopes, or I use return address labels (this year, I got some on sale from Shutterfly).
I keep a document on my computer of addresses, formatted to print onto adhesive Avery address labels. Each year, I review the list to see if it requires changes and then print the labels to address my cards. If any cards are returned to me, I make sure to figure out why, and then edit the list accordingly for next year’s cards.
I’ve seen some people on Facebook using google forms to collect addresses of people who want to receive a card from them. That’s a great place to start if you are beginning from scratch, but be sure to save the addresses in printable form to use again next year to make it super easy for you.
Bonus tip: This year, I ordered discount Forever stamps from Ebay to save a few bucks on shipping the cards, which is good since I send out so many.
That’s it, then sit back and enjoy the rest of the holidays knowing you did your part in spreading cheer.
Gorgeous family photo session with some of my favorite people
Speaking of festive holiday cheer, check out these photos of one of my absolute favorite clients. I adore their clothing choices for this session – perfect for a holiday card, but not so Christmasy that they won’t look great hanging on their walls year-round. These kids keep me on my toes, but I adore them and always end up loving the photos of them. They are so full of life and personality, and everything I love about photographing young children.
To our men and women in uniform, past, present, and future, God bless you and thank you.
How fitting that I’m sitting here writing this blog post on Veterans Day. Jennifer wanted to schedule this session because her husband will soon be leaving for military training for six months. She wrote “I would just love some memorable family pictures that my girls and myself can look at while he is gone and just have a fond memory and smile.”
She snagged a spot that had opened up fairly last minute because I had a client that needed to change to a different date. I’m so glad she did. I had photographed the family a couple years ago and it was so great to see these sweet girls, and how much they had grown.
The day could not had been more perfect, and we had a blast exploring and playing in the leaves. I love their energy so much. I couldn’t help but smile while I edited these pictures of their sweet family, and hope that they will be able to look upon them with fond memories during their time a part.
To all of those who serve our country, and to their families who support them, thank you for your service. 🇺🇸
One of the biggest compliments for me to hear, is that a family had fun at their portrait session with me. I feel strongly that good memories need to be associated with the pretty pictures. I want kids to be themselves, and that means running, jumping, playing and exploring their surroundings.
It’s not just that I feel like I HAVE to let them do those things to get through the session. It’s that I believe doing those things actually makes the session better. Capturing a big genuine smile on a child’s face as he races down the slide, means more to me than a formal posed image.
I love photographing Hadley and Harper so much. They are so active and FULL of personality. I first met them at Harper’s newborn session, and love seeing them each year. How can you not smile when you look at those faces?
They also come to see me when I take Santa photos each year, and seeing Harper talk to Santa was one of my favorite moments from last year. If you haven’t signed up yet, spots are going quickly for my Santa photos at the Spring Station Middle School Holiday Marketplace on December 7. All the ticket sales from the Santa Pictures go directly to support the Spring Station Middle School Band. Book your slot today!
If you book a family portrait session with me most times of year, one of the questions on your booking paperwork will ask you where you’d like to shoot the photo session. I have a page on my website that will tell you about locations I frequently use, and I’m here to help you if you want it.
But you may notice that if you book a session for a weekend in October or November, that I’ve already chose a portrait session location.
The reason for this is that in the busy season, I generally book 3 back to back sessions on the weekend, with only about 15 minutes between them. This is just enough time for me to switch memory cards, so I don’t have time to drive to another location between sessions.
I used to let the first client who booked a particular date choose the location, and then those who booked the date after that would have to agree to that spot. But this complicated the booking process.
Also, I have more requirements for long shooting days than I have for just magic hour sessions. For the rest of the year, most of my sessions are scheduled for the hour before sunset…known in photographer lingo as “magic hour”. Magic hour lighting is pretty great anywhere. But when I am booking sessions earlier in the day, then I have to be sure that a location has some shade available, because the sometimes harsh sunlight of earlier in the day is not ideal for photos. But the proper location can allow a shaded spot from which the sun comes through the trees beautifully.
But for this session and the two before it, the bright sun wasn’t a big concern because it was a nice overcast day.
These two sweet brothers did an amazing job for their session. Those eyes! How can you not smile from looking at them?
The last time I blogged about this beautiful family for their Fall family portrait session, I left out some information. Mallory had told me before her session that she was in the early stages of pregnancy. I wasn’t sure if that was public knowledge or not, so I didn’t’ mention it in the blog post.
But here we are, not quite a year later, and this lovely family has an adorable new addition. I’d been following baby Mia and big sister Margot on Instagram, and was so excited to be able to finally meet her. (If you aren’t following me on Instagram, please do! I’d love to interact with you there.)
These girls were just the sweetest and did a great job at their photo session. We ran into a little trouble with my location being over-crowded but we moved around a little and made it work.
Last year, Margo had brought her baby doll and carried her for the entire session, which was perfectly fine with me. This year, she brought a different doll…Rapunzel to our session. For me, if a beloved toy helps a child to be more comfortable at a session, then I say let them bring it. My favorite part was when Margot broke into songs from Frozen. I’m also a big fan of Elsa. ❄️
If you haven’t booked your Fall family portrait session yet, please don’t wait. I have a couple of openings for November but they won’t last long. One fantastic spot just opened up because a client needed to reschedule for December. Book your session today!
I can’t even with the cuteness in these photos. The girls were just everything. ❤️
In online photography forums, you can read a lot about finding your ideal family portrait clients. I don’t know precisely how to put into words what defines a perfect client for me, but I know it and get excited when I see it.
Isla (3 years old) and Evie (1 1/2 years old) are at my absolute favorite ages of children to photograph. They brought their special Panda lovies to the session. I adore capturing young children with their special objects. The girls were so much fun to be around – wild and free and full of wonder about their world, which is everything I love about photographing kids this age.
Mom and Dad were more interested in capturing authentic, emotional images than in Pinterest perfect posed shots, which is the best kind of client for me. We danced and played and had a fabulous time.
This is a family who thought about the constraints of studio portraits with very young children and realized what a nightmare that could be. One thing that is extremely important to me is that family portrait sessions not be a stressful experience for families. I want to make it fun for the children, and for happy memories to be associated with the photographs. What good is a beautifully posed image if the memory associated with it was of a horrible experience?
I want to point out, though, that creating an enjoyable experience does not mean that everyone is happy for every minute of a session. It’s important to note this because I don’t want parents to become stressed out if there is a tiny bump in the road. Toddlers and preschoolers, by nature, have SO MANY EMOTIONS and not enough words to express them. I do not expect, nor need them to be happy and joyful every minute of a session.
First of all, that’s not real life. Second, the pouty moments are beautiful too. And third, and most importantly, toddler moods are like Middle Tennessee weather…if you don’t like it, wait a few minutes and it will change. As long as no one over reacts to momentary grumpiness, they will typically forget the mood in a manner of minutes…especially if we move on to a new activity…which I will generally do if they become impatient with what we were doing.
Can we talk about these outfits for a minute? These girls (mama too) look fabulous!! The color combinations are gorgeous! The cheetah print and floral prints are so fun and coordinate beautifully together. I talk about adding texture to clothing choices in my online “What to Wear Guide.” The girls’ vests accomplish this perfectly and are so adorable. The sisters were coordinating but not wearing the exact same outfits, which I prefer. But most of all, the girls seemed happy and comfortable.
Don’t be surprised when these images end up in my guide, once I have time to slow down and stop editing. LOL
Y’all, I’m editing my booty off, and I’m running out of words to put in my blog previews of my family photo sessions.
It’s the height of peak season. We were gone all weekend to my beautiful nieces birthday party in Ohio. But someone I still managed to shoot 5 sessions in the past week, with one more tomorrow, and another three on Sunday (please pray it doesn’t rain on me.)
I’m keeping up, but if you need to find me, I’m probably at my computer. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know it sounds cheesy, but I really love being a part of shooting these moments for families, especially when I get to see the same ones year after year.
For example, It makes me smile to think about how much little Jace has grown since I first started photographing his family three or so years ago. I love meeting and photographing new families too, but I especially look forward to seeing repeat clients each year. ❤️
If you are a procrastinator, I do have two November spots open…once just recently opened up because a family needed to move their session to December…it’s a magic hour session too! You can book your portrait session online from my scheduling calendar or contact me if you have questions!
Photographing young children is something that I do regularly. If I had to choose one genre or age group of photographs to take, it would be families with pre-school age children for sure. It’s where I am most comfortable. It’s the age group that I am most passionate about shooting (though I still love taking pictures of people of all ages).
I have to remind myself that my clients do not do this regularly. This might be the first time they’ve been to a photo session like mine, and at the very least, it’s the first time they’ve done family photos with a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old (or whatever the case may be.)
Because of that, I try to reassure my clients throughout a session that this is normal. I swear. Listen, photo sessions with multiple pre-school age children is by nature, a little bit of organized chaos. One client I had once called it a beautiful mess, and I love that term. Your kids are doing great. Really, they are.
I think one thing that makes parents nervous is when I start asking small children to do things, and maybe (probably) they don’t do what I ask. Please believe me when I tell you that I have NEVER met a two-year-old who did everything I asked. Never. Expecting them to follow all my instructions is not age-appropriate or realistic. Also, it doesn’t bother me one bit if they aren’t interested in something I suggest.
There are three main reasons it doesn’t bother me:
I have LOTS of tricks up my sleeve. Some kids like racing, some like flying, or Ring around the Roses. Some want to talk. Quite a few like to talk about farts (though I let them initiate that in case mom and dad don’t approve). Others want to interact only with mommy and daddy. That’s all OK.
I take a LOT of photos. I will delete tons, particularly at a session with small children. But I’m always left with plenty of keepers.
The only thing I want from your kids is for them to be authentic. Two-year-olds don’t know any other way to be, so whatever happens, we are winning.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes an image doesn’t tell the whole story. Today I want to talk through what happens at pretty much every session with small children ever, using photos from a family portrait session. So you can read what was happening in real life, and see the resulting image. I’m hoping this will prevent any future anxiety when you think “my kids aren’t cooperating.” I promise you; they are doing exactly what I want them to do.
So as you can see, these two beautiful sweet girls did an amazing job. They did exactly what I wanted them to do….to be wild and free and full of wonder. Because that’s the way it should be. Here are a few more photos from their session.