40th Birthday Cake Smash

40th birthday cake smash photo session

Happy 40th birthday to my wonderful friend, Emily! I had such a fun time photographing this 40th birthday cake smash photo session for her a couple of weeks ago. Emily, I hope you have an amazing day filled with lots of beautiful memories.

Birthdays in the time of Pandemics

What a crazy time we live in right now. When you stop to think about how many things have changed over the past few weeks, it can take your breath away. One of the things that is different right now is how we celebrate birthday parties.

First of all, let me say that I take social distancing very seriously. I wanted to be able to take these birthday photos for Beth on Lincoln’s special day, but I also thought it was important to follow all the recommendations. We met outside in Beth’s yard. I used only my 85 mm longer lens so that I never needed to be close to my subjects, and I never touched them, like I normally might to move a hand into the spot I wanted for a photo for example. So these are my version of front porch photos. But since Beth lives on a pretty large piece of land with some woods, you don’t see her house which is right behind us.

I photographed Lincoln’s birth six years ago and it was an amazing experience. Beth has been like a sister to meet since we met in college back in 1995. I’m so glad I was able to get a few photos to commemorate Lincoln’s birthday, even though it happened to fall during a Pandemic.

People are coming up with all kinds of ways to celebrate birthdays while still observing social distancing guidelines, so I thought I’d share a few that I’ve seen here in case you have a little one with a birthday in the next few weeks. It’s disappointing to have to cancel parties and other special events, but you can still have a memorable fun time at home.

  • For my daughter’s 14th birthday last week, I used Canva to create a website “card” that included lots of videos of her when she was younger that were cute and funny. It also included some YouTube videos that would make her laugh. She was disappointed in not being able to be with her friends, so I asked some of her friends to send me a video greeting of for her, and I included those as well. It was a great way to make her smile and feel like her friends were there with her even though they weren’t.
  • For Lincoln’s birthday, Beth planned a fun scavenger hunt for him in their yard. He had to follow clues that eventually led him to his birthday gifts. They were able to get take-out from Outback for his family meal.
  • Another friend I had told of how some friends of her daughters showed up in front of their house all dressed up in silly costumes they’d found at home to wish her daughter a happy 11th birthday. They stood across the street and did a fun happy birthday dance fo the birthday girl.
  • I’ve seen on the internet where there were birthday parades to celebrate a special day.

What other ideas do you have for celebrating a birthday during social distancing? I’d love to hear your ideas!

5 Reasons to get photos of your younger teen or tween

Why it's important to photograph Tweens & younger teens

A few years ago, my friend Stephanie from college hired me to do a portrait session for her oldest daughter Logan as she was about to start middle school. She wanted the session to focus on Logan as she made the transition from elementary to middle school, and I thought it was a great idea. We do milestones sessions all the time for babies, and then again when kids are seniors in high school, but those middle years often get left out. We need to document the lives of our tweens and younger teens too. I’d love to see more clients interested in photographing tweens

This year, Stephanie contacted me again, and this time it was a big year for both of her daughters. Logan is about to start high school, and her little sister Molly is about to start middle school. So she wanted a session for both of them to document this transitional time period in their lives, and I was super excited to get to hang out with both of them.  They are really fantastic young women and we had the best time. They are both gorgeous and were so easy to photograph. 

I couldn’t get over what fantastic weather we had for this late July session. I was a bit worried it would be insanely hot, like it typically is this time of year, but we got so lucky with a beautiful mild evening.  Preservation park has definitely become one of my favorite places to photograph sessions.  My only complaint is that it’s quite a bit of walking (and up a giant hill) to get to the spots I really like to shoot at.  

Since we do’t often think of doing a special photo session for younger teens or tweens, so I wanted to outline a couple reasons why you might want to consider one.

Reasons for photographing tweens & Teens

  1. They are changing so fast.  We typically book lots of photo sessions for our babies and toddlers because “they are changing so fast” and we want to document all those seasons and changes.  Well, that’s happening now too.  It seems like you look a way for a moment, and when you look back, your baby is gone and somehow a young woman is standing in her place. #dontblink
  2. Even if they don’t admit it, they enjoy the extra attention. I don’t actually know this for sure and it’s probably not true for every kid, but I think most of them welcome the opportunity to be made a fuss over just a little bit.  Especially when they figure out that my sessions are pretty laid back and casual and we are just gonna hang out and chat. 
  3. They are really becoming amazing, unique human beings and a session is a chance to get to know them better. We joke a lot about how tough it is to parent teens, and believe me, it is.  But also, it’s so freaking cool to be able to have these real, meaningful conversations with these amazing people that you MADE.  A photo session is an opportunity to stand back, take a deep breath, and appreciate your beautiful creation. 
  4. Maybe the photos will help them to see what amazing humans they are, if they don’t already know it. As tough as it is to parent a teen, it’s probably even tougher to be one.  Maybe the photos will help them see how beautifully made they are, if they don’t know it already. 
  5. Before you know it, it will be time for that Senior Portrait session.  As my friend Michelle always says, “the days are long but the years are short.” Before you know it, this season will be over, and you’ll wish you had documented it. 

So there you have it…5 reasons to either pick up the camera and get photos of your “big kids”, or hire a professional for either a family portrait session or a session of just your older kids. Did I miss any? 

Hannah’s Senior Portrait Session in Franklin, TN

“And suddenly you know… It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

I’m a pretty strong extrovert.  This may or may not be obvious, depending on the circumstances of how you meet me, but I definitely prefer being around people and am not huge on quiet time. But for some reason, the exception to that is that I do enjoy the time before my sessions. I always show up to a location for a shoot pretty early. I’ve sometimes said that I do that to scope out the place, but that’s not completely accurate because I still show up early when it’s a location that I know like the back of my hand.  

Even if I’m very familiar, I still like to walk around and look at the light..light is always changing.  And since I consider light to be the most important element to my “backgrounds” it’s important to take a look. I’m a light chaser, always looking for interesting things the sun is doing. So a lot of the time on my walks around a location, I’m looking at the light. 

But also, I’m thinking about my session…who am I about to photograph? What part of him or her or them do I want to capture? What is important about this time period that the client wants to remember? For my family sessions, my goal is to capture interactions and emotion between family members. With senior sessions, that’s different because there is typically only one person. So the interaction is between me and my camera, and the subject. Hannah made that so easy because she was such a joy to talk to and get to know. She’s graduating next week from Independence High School, and even though this is the first time we met, I feel so proud of her and happy for her to begin this next stage in her life. Her parents can be very proud to have raised such a lovely young woman.  

So I guess that I enjoy this quiet time before the session because I don’t feel quite alone…I feel that it’s the first step in getting to know my client…imagining where they’ve been, where they are going and what these photos might mean to them.  I hope that these photos mark the beginning of a wonderful adventure for Hannah, wherever she may go.  Congrats to Hannah and to the entire class of 2018. 

Hadley’s Cake Smash and Family Portrait Session

“A baby makes love stronger, the days shorter, the nights longer, savings smaller, and a home happier.”

I cannot believe it’s been a whole year since I met this sweet girl and her lovely family at her newborn session. It is such a blessing to be able to watch families grow as the years pass. I just fell in love with this family last year when I met them and was so excited to be able to photograph them again. 

The weather was absolutely perfect…the kind of day you dream about all winter long. Kelly wanted this session to be a cake smash for Hadley’s first birthday, but also to include some family and sibling photos. One thing I absolutely loved about our last session was the beautiful energy that big brother Harper brought, and he did not disappoint. It’s so obvious how much he adores his baby sister and watching him laugh and run and play just brought a smile to my face. 

And such a sweet birthday girl!  It’s always interesting to see how the baby reacts to her first bites of cake.  Some babies seem very hesitant and not sure what to do with it, but Hadley immediately dug in.  She didn’t even mind when her big brother crashed the party to help her finish up the treat.