A list of things I can (and will) photoshop for you, and a few things I won’t

This was supposed to be an outdoor session but unfortunately, it started raining right before the session time. As I discuss on my FAQ page, there are several options for you if i should happen to rain for your session time.  Nicole chose to move the session to her home, rather than to reschedule, which is a great option as I love capturing families in their own surroundings.

Another issue that Nicole had was that little Scarlett got a fairly significant boo boo on her chin before the session (isn’t that the way it always happens?), and Nicole was afraid it would show in the photos.

I reassured Nicole that Scarlett’s boo boo wouldn’t be too hard to remove in editing, so not to worry about it.  So I thought this might be a good post to go over what I will and will not edit in family portraits.

What I will photoshop:

  • That random zit that popped up right before your session.
  • The boogers in your two year olds nose (but lets try a Kleenex first please!)
  • The bruise your four year old got riding her bike (or boo boo on her chin).
  • Generally anything “temporary” that isn’t part of what you normally look like.
  • That ugly trashcan in the background that I saw, but knew it was worth it to remove in editing.
  • The horrible bike lane stripe on my favorite path.
  • Minor “wardrobe malfunctions” that result from clothing not laying perfectly because I don’t operate perfectly posed portrait sessions. For example: your bra strap is showing, or maybe your shirt or dress is poofed out in a weird way.

What I won’t photoshop:

  • “Can you remove this logo from the shirt I chose to wear?” (I might could depending on the location, print, etc, but if you want it done more than once or twice, I’m going to need to charge extra.) 
  • “Make me look 50 pounds smaller?” (You are beautiful, just the way you are.)
  • “Can you make most of the photo black and white and leave this one part in color?” (I just don’t want to.) 
  • “Can you get the wrinkles out of my husbands dress shirt?” (Usually, no…especially if it’s a print and not a solid color.)

So my general rule to myself when it comes to editing…I want you to look like you, because you are gorgeous.  But if something happened recently that isn’t a part of your normal, let me know and we can probably work on that.

Of all the families I photograph, mine is the hardest

I wish that I could say that this was a lovely, easy experience, but that would be a lie.

Last weekend, I was quite surprised when my husband suggested that we do a family photo session of our own. It seems like every year I forget to Schedule time for our photos and end up scrambling to get them done. But he is usually the last one who wants his picture talken, so I was pleasantly surprised when he reminded me. So I set off to find outfits for everyone that two tweenage girls wouldn’t whine about.

I was lucky and found things that everyone was happy with, except my husband who complained that it was still too hot for long sleeves. Oh well … you can’t please everyone.

So I was all set, and then it rained.

And rained.

And rained some more.

And finally, yesterday, the sun came out. So we all got dressed and drove out to the new park that I had never been to but wanted the check out. And as soon as we got there, my oldest started complaining that her head hurt. Because I knew that meant she’d never cooperate, we went home. Of course as soon as we got home, she felt better.

But that is how it goes. So no problem, because guess what??? There are TWO magic hours inthe day! So we got up bright and early this morning and headed out.

The bad part was that it was super wet from the dew and the kids didnt want to walk too far in it to explore the farm. And I got soaked from kneeling in it. And we got there later than I I wanted and the sun was brighter than I would have liked causing horid grass colors.

But the dew in the grass and all the spider webs were absolutely stunning. And it wasn’t hot at all. We also finished in time to go to a pancake breakfast for a friend’s gymnastics team, so score!

What the world needs is more dancing in the kitchen. Nashville Lifestyle Portrait Session.

Brother & Sister reading book by flashlight at a home Lifestyle Portrait Session in Spring Hill, TN

I saw that phrase written in a meme recently and it spoke to me.  I love a good dance in the kitchen.  My husband…not so much, but he humors me.  To me, it’s one of those things that reminds us to savor the mundane…those little moments at home that don’t seem very grand. Aren’t those really are the ones that matter, and that we cherish for years to come?  At a lifestyle portrait session, those are the moments I want to capture.

The days are long but the years are short.

Things change so quickly as we are raising little ones, and before you know it, some things that seemed so much a part of your daily life that you didn’t even notice them, are suddenly gone. At my house, there is not a playroom anymore.  There is no swing set in the back yard.  My children bathe themselves and read to themselves at bedtime. I don’t remember the exact time when many of these changed, but gradually, they did change.  I look back to photos of when they were smaller and am so thankful that I have those mementos of days gone by.  

Seeing the possibilities.

That is one thing I love about doing these home sessions for families. I look at these photos and imagine all the possibilities they hold in bringing back the past, years from now.

10 years from now, will Renae’s family look at these photos and think about how that was the first year Coen played the violin, which he later grew to master and love?  Or will they remember it as that time Coen tried the violin before he found what he really loved?

Maybe Coen and Peri will look at these photos and fondly remember the photo of mom and dad’s wedding day that was hanging over their bed for years.  Will they giggle about when Peri was obsessed with Fancy Nancy and the giant caterpillar and Coen (and Mommy) was obsessed with Harry Potter? 

Will Peri look around the kitchen and smile at the “Happy Fall” chalk sign? Or remember the kitchen table that the family shared so many meals on before it was traded in for something new?  

These are the things that can’t be captured at a park.  

The home session advantage.

One advantage to home lifestyle portrait sessions is that we don’t have to worry about weather or sunlight.  My outdoor lifestyle sessions are all booked up for October & November, but I have been able to add some at-home session dates to the November calendar for weekdays where the early sunset doesn’t allow for outdoor sessions.  You can book one of these spots now on my calendar. These sessions would be a perfect time to decorate the Christmas tree, make some Gingerbread Houses, and just create beautiful memories of your family together capture forever by the camera.

So what do you think? Would you be up for an at home lifestyle portrait session?

Home…where our story begins | New Home Sweet Home Portrait Sessions

It’s no secret that my passion is family photography.  I enjoy seniors, newborns & couples photography as well, but families, especially with younger children, are what inspires me.

Up until now, most of my family sessions have been outdoor, lifestyle portrait sessions.  I love these for many reasons, most of which is probably the gorgeous natural light of an outdoor session, particularly at golden hour.

But for a while now, I’ve been feeling drawn to encourage clients to also consider another option for family photography.  I want to offer in-home lifestyle & documentary sessions. I’ve always felt like the purpose of photography is to capture meaningful moments that a family will cherish always, and what better place to capture these moments than in a family’s home? 

I find that many clients are hesitant to schedule sessions in their home because they are so used to seeing outdoor sessions and they don’t know quite what to expect from an at-home session.  Here are a few things you can expect from an at-home photo session with me:

* We will be silly and play games, just like at my outdoor sessions, but those games might look a little differently.  For example, we may jump on the bed (with your permission), play shadow puppets, or have tickle fights on mom and dad’s bed. 

* Instead of awkwardly posing, I will ask that you do some activities together.  What these activities are will vary depending on what your family likes to do together.  Maybe mom and dad will have coffee on the back porch, while the kids play at their feet.  Maybe you’ll make dinner or cookies.  Maybe you can play board games or decorate the Christmas tree. The possibilities are endless. The point is that we will try to capture real moments for you…of things your family enjoys doing together.

* Your house doesn’t need to be fancy, or immaculate, or even clean.  For real. This is real life and real moments.  We are making memories…not caring about whether or not you swept the bathroom. The camera is forgiving and I promise I don’t even notice.

One advantage to home sessions, other than being able to capture memories in the place that you make the most memories, is that we don’t have to worry about weather or sunlight.  My outdoor lifestyle sessions are all booked up for October & November, but I have been able to add some at-home session dates to the November calendar for weekdays where the early sunset doesn’t allow for outdoor sessions.  You can book one of these spots now on my calendar. These sessions would be a perfect time to decorate the Christmas tree, make some Gingerbread Houses, and just create beautiful memories of your family together capture forever by the camera.

So what do you think? Would you be up for an at-home family session?

A Strong united pair

When Jessica contacted me about doing this family portrait session, she told me that she was going through a divorce, and wanted a way to document a new beginning for she and her daughter, Kaila.  She wanted the photos to show a strong, united pair.  

I think that documenting new beginnings is a perfect reason to schedule a portrait session.  I thought Jessica’s words in her survey to me were beautiful. 

She said ” I want to show Kaila that we are still a family even though we’re divided now and that we will be stronger and better from everything.  I want her to see how much love there is for her and how much fun we can have together.”

I love it when clients really put their thoughts and feelings in my client survey. It really helps me to have an emotional connection with them, and to understand truly what the photos mean to them. I can’t even explain why this matters.  The closest I’ve come to verbalizing why it matters to me is the quote by David Alan Harvey that says “Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.” 

Maybe it’s all in my imagination, but I somehow think I do a better job with the photos when I feel that connection to the clients story.

I know it felt super easy to capture a strong, united pair when I was photographing Jessica and Kaila.  Photographing mothers with their babies (no matter how old!) is always one of my favorite things and I just loved watching these two interact with each other.  It’s so obvious just by the look in Jessica’s eyes that there is so, so much love for this beautiful little girl.

How I fell in love with Photography

I first fell in love with photography when my youngest was a baby.  That’s when I got my first DSLR.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew I wanted to capture those precious moments with my girls when they were so little.

With my oldest, we had routinely taken her to Sears portrait studio, because that’s what I thought you were supposed to do….I didn’t know any better.  Every few months, I would take her there, and they would prop her up on a table with some cheesy backdrops, maybe throw her in a fake bathtub, or lay her buck naked on a mirror with some fake flowers around her and take her picture.  The photos were beautiful, because they were of my beautiful baby girl, but something was lacking.  

Then, once she passed that baby stage and became a toddler, it just no longer worked at all.  They would expect her to stand on an “X” on the ground and look them and say cheese.  Well, I just haven’t met many toddlers who will do that.  

Then when my youngest was born, a friend from work recommended a “real” photographer named Lauren Gill. I just loved the photos my friend had, so I hired her.  The cost was quite a bit more than the Sears portrait studio, but as soon as I saw the results, I fell in love.  The photos captured so much more than those fake posed photos we had gotten before.  She captured all those little things about the girls that I wanted to remember…Kayla’s adorable giggles, or the way Megan did (and still does) twirl her hair…all those funny little expressions or gestures that you want to remember always. 

I wanted to learn to do that too.  So I bought a camera and slowly learned as much as I could.  I took photos everywhere…at playdates, birthday parties, and every day moments at home.  Those early photos are SOOOO bad, but I am so thankful for them, as they are moments in time frozen.  

That was about 10 years ago, but that’s the time that I feel taken back too each time a photograph a family with a baby. I want so badly to create something special for those parents, because I know that it all goes by so quickly. I want to capture those silly expressions, that fascination with the world around them, and the pure joy at just being.  

This sweet girl made that job so easy and I absolutely fell in love with her (and her sweet parents) during our shoot.  How blessed am I to have a job where I can do what I love while meeting wonderful new people.

Bold Beautiful color – Spring Hill Family photographer

I’m so in love with the beautiful wardrobe choices that my friend Emily made for her family’s summer portrait session. I admittedly don’t feel like the best person to be giving advice about wardrobe choices, as fashion has never been a topic I have felt particularly comfortable with, but I absolutely know what I like for a session when I see it, and this is it. 

I’m drawn to colorful photographs and prefer rich, deep colors & jewel tones. I don’t mind a good neutral color scheme either, but its colorful choices like the ones below that I really love.

Lucy’s dress is definitely the focal point, and when choosing clothing for a family photo session, that’s a great way to start…pick one person’s outfit (doesn’t really matter who) to be the focal point and then build the rest of the choices around that one piece.  I’m obsessed with this deep mustard like yellow color, as I think it looks beautiful in most outdoor photos (deep purple is also a fantastic choice). But I do warn clients to be careful with yellow, because if it’s too neon, it can create a color cast on the person’s face which is really hard to correct in post processing. But Lucy’s dress is just right.

And I love how Maggie is wearing a bit more neutral of a top to balance out the bold print of Lucy’s dress, but ties in the floral pattern in her shorts. And mom’s orange pants are the perfect pop of color and look beautiful with the mustard. It all comes together looking beautifully coordinated, but not to matchy matchy.

What do you think? What are your favorite colors for photographs? 

The Good Memories

I’m really struggling with how to start off this post, so I’m going to jump right into it. 

This is my beautiful friend Chelsea and her daughter Molly.  Chelsea is one of the most kind hearted and loving people I’ve ever met and would literally give the shirt off of her back to anyone who needs it. And my heart is hurting for her.

I’ve been photographing Chelsea & Molly for several years now.  Last year, she wanted to include her parents and her brother Chris in their session. Chelsea’s brother, Chris, had recently gotten out of jail.  He had struggled with addiction for years, but at the time, was clean and doing very well and the family was full of hope for his future.  We met at Harlinsdale Farms and it was a gorgeous evening full of laughter and love, and of course photographs.

On Saturday, I photographed this session for Chelsea & Molly.  They are one of my favorite families to photograph always, as the love and connection between these two is truly something special to capture.

On Sunday, Chelsea’s brother Chris lost his long battle with addiction.

Chelsea and her parents received the heartbreaking phone call that he had been found unresponsive at home and it was later confirmed that he died of an accidental overdose.

They loved him so and his loss is is heartbreaking for their family.

I sat with Chelsea last night and listened to her talk about her brother & how much she loved him. It has been years of heartbreak for her family, but she wants to focus on all of the good memories she has of him.  I didn’t really know Chris at all, but I do know that he looked at his sister and his niece with such admiration and love. 

As they mourn the loss of his precious life, Chelsea and her family hope that Chris’s story may help someone else to seek the help they need to overcome addiction.  And to seek help again, and again and again, until they beat it, if that’s what is necessary. When lost in addiction, a person might believe that their life doesn’t matter.  But I promise you, it matters.  Addiction impacts so many people and has reached epidemic proportions. Below are the beautiful faces of people who have been heartbroken by this disease. 

Chelsea & her family are asking that anyone who would like to honor Chris’s memory do so by making a donation to the Dismas House of Nashville.  The Dismas house believes that second chances saves lives, and their mission is to provide a safe haven for offenders transferring out of prison to aid them in beginning a new life. 

If you need more information about addiction resources, check out Bradford Health or call 1-888-577-0012.

Photo Session Location Selection – Light & a good dose of Imagination

Sometimes, clients already have an idea of the type of location they would like to use for their family portraits, and other times they come to me for suggestions.  Sometimes, my suggestions sound a little crazy and not like a “normal” place that you would want to have photos made.

You have to use your imagination.

Lucky for me, if you are a client who is also my friend, then you trust me when I say “meet me by the U-Haul place off the side of the street. That’s exactly what Erin did without blinking, and I love her for it.

I happened to notice the spot when I was scouting for light before our session, and it just called out to me.  I snapped the first two photos below with my cell phone, just so I could show you how ridiculous it probably looked as a location option.  It’s really kind of a dirty, uninteresting stretch of road with a broken down old building, a billboard facing the interstate, and a parking lot full of U-haul trucks.

But on this particular day, the light, the clouds, the wildflowers, a little fence and the way the weeds were growing caught my eye.  Now, if I go back in a few weeks, I might find the place completely uninspiring, but for Saturday, it worked.  So I wanted to show it to you as an example of how it might look to you, versus how it looks through my camera.  

For when scouting out locations for a portrait session, the most important factor is the light, and then a healthy dose of imagination to see what it might look like through the lens of the camera.