Haley’s 11th birthday, plus my photographic vision

So I went from celebrating Lincoln’s 5th birthday with photos on Thursday, to Haley’s 11th birthday yesterday. Isn’t she just gorgeous? I love, love, love the red shirt on her. It’s perfect with her eyes. I enjoy photographing this pre-teen age group. I think it’s an often over-looked age group when it comes to professional photos. We always photograph our babies and little kids, and then again when they are Seniors in high school, but often the middle years are less documented.

A few weeks ago, I went to a photography conference in Atlanta. One of the workshops I took was specifically on capturing tweens and teens. The photographer who taught the class, Neely Ker-fox, had a specific package in her business that focused on photographing this age group at home, focusing on the connection with their parents. I thought it was beautiful and very inspiring.

Another class I took at the Click Away conference was called “Your Voice, Your Vision” with Caroline Jenson. For that class, we had to submit 3 of our favorite photos to the instructor before the class. During the workshop we reviewed each others photos and talked about how the photos we picked gave some clues as to our photographic vision…things that we were drawn to in photography, whether we realized it or not.

Some of the things that the instructor and my classmates said about my images were that I was drawn to bold, colorful images and strong black and white edits. That was no surprise to me. But one thing that the instructor said that stood out to me is that all the photos I chose had at least two people in them. I guess I kind of new that, but it was interesting to have it pointed out. I do very much prefer photos that show a connection between two or more people.

I thought about that as I edited these photos I took for Haley’s birthday. Even though I love the photos of just Haley, who is gorgeous, all of my favorite photos were of Haley and Christy together. This is true for me even when you can’t see a lot of Christy in the photo, but she’s there…I love the way Haley is looking at her mom instead of at the camera. You can just see the love there.

Alicia’s Quinceanera Part 2: The Celebration

As I said in my blog post the other day, I have soooo many pictures of beautiful Alicia’s Quinceanera last week that I decided to split it into two blog posts.  The first post focused on the formal pictures we did before her celebration at the lovely Homestead Manor. But today I want to share photos from the actual event itself, which was a beautiful celebration of this lovely young woman. 

Alicia’s mom Nery did such an amazing job planning this special day for Alicia.  It was so perfect down to every last detail.  The event was held at the Hilton Garden Inn of Franklin / Cool Springs, TN. The hotel did a fabulous job with the event and no detail was overlooked.

The absolutely stunning cake was made by Pink Blossom Bakery. Isn’t’ it just gorgeous? It tasted as good as it looked.

As I stated in the first blog post, Alicia’s Makeup and hair was done by Kari Flournoy at Nashville Hair & Makeup. She looked stunning.

For entertainment, the DJ for the event was Osborne Studio & Sound, and the grand finale performance was by Sol Azteca Mariachi Band. I LOVED the band.. It was so much fun and all the kids really enjoyed it.

I cannot even tell you how much fun it was to photograph this event.  Just being a fly on the wall able to observe these kids having so much fun just enjoying life was truly an honor.  And my favorite part was the Mariachi Band at the end…they were absolutely fantastic! 

Alicia’s Quinceanera Part 1: Formal Pics at Homestead Manor

I have soooo many pictures of beautiful Alicia’s Quinceanera last week that I decided to split it into two blog posts.  This post will focus on the formal pictures we did before her celebration at the lovely Homestead Manor. I will write a second blog post in the next couple days that will focus on the fun party pics with Alicia and all her friends, so be on the lookout for that one! 

When I was discussing the event with Alicia’s mom, she knew that she wanted to get some outdoor portraits with Alicia and immediate family before the celebration began, but we went back and forth trying to decide where the best place would be to do that, which would be not too far from the event location in Cool Springs, but didn’t require a lot of walking. I am so glad we decided on the Homestead Manor, because it was just perfect. As I was editing these, I kept feeling a Cinderella vibe with Alicia’s GORGEOUS dress, set against the beautiful mansion, and even a lovely carriage.  

Alicia looked absolutely stunning (her hair and makeup was done by Kari Flournoy at Nashville Hair & Makeup), as did her gorgeous mama, sister and grandmother. There was so much love for this young lady on her special day, that it made it truly a joy to be a part of and to photograph.  

Stay tuned for lots of fun pictures of the actual Celebration, including a Mariachi Band!!

Capturing Christmas Tradition at a home Photo Session

The years pass quickly, and that’s one reason why Whitney wanted a home portrait session to capture her family’s Christmas traditions while Haley is still young. They wanted a session that captured things they do each year around Christmas time, like decorating the tree, making Gingerbread houses, and listening to the Christmas Story and the Night Before Christmas while drinking hot cocoa by the fire.

I mean, how can you not just feel all cozy and filled with the Christmas spirit by looking at these photos? I just love this so much.   🎄❤️

What about you? What kind of memories would you like to capture for your family?

The best weekend for Family Photos with Fall Color

First of all, I want to say that any time of year is perfect for a family portrait session. The important thing is to get them done, and to do it regularly, preferably at least once a year as our littles ones grow so fast and are constantly changing.  Beautiful memories can be captured any time of year. I’m now booking January photo sessions, and those can be absolutely beautiful (you just need to dress warmly!)

With that being said, lots of my clients really want that gorgeous fall color, and ask me when they should schedule family portrait sessions to get that color.  I always hesitate to answer because mother nature is unpredictable and I cannot promise you we will get beautiful fall color at all.  Sometimes, an early freeze or drought conditions or other things can put a damper on that beautiful autumn color.  

But I can tell you, after some experience and actual forecasts, when to schedule your session to get the best chance of gorgeous color, and that is the first weekend of November (the last weekend in October is a good second choice).  That’s when our fall colors peak here in Middle Tennessee.  I find a lot of clients who assume it happens a lot earlier than that, and that’s probably because it does up north. Our friends in Michigan saw their autumn peak several weeks ago (and now they are getting snow!). 

This beautiful family portrait session from this weekend is a bit past the peak.  The sessions I did the weekend before had a lot more color, but I can’t share those with you at the clients request (some are surprise Christmas gifts, and we don’t want to ruin the surprise!) But I’m so glad that this family had such a beautiful day! We had actually rescheduled this session from earlier in October because of rain.  Are they not absolutely stunning!  I’ve known this gorgeous family for years, but this is the first time I’ve been able to photograph them.  They were so much fun to capture and I hope they love the photos as much as I do. 

The autumn leaves are going to be gone very soon, so get out and enjoy this absolutely gorgeous color while it lasts!  

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.

Repeat Portrait clients are my favorite

One of my favorite things about my job as a family portrait photographer is getting to know families, especially when they come back for repeat sessions.  I photographed this beautiful family around this time last year and just loved getting to know these three beautiful sisters, so I was so excited to see them again this year. 

Last year I wrote: “They are totally my happy place. So much energy, and wonder and joy.  They were just perfect.”  I would say exactly the same thing about our session this year.  Only one thing was different…

Last year for their session, I wrote about how important it is to tell me if one of your children is particularly shy before the session. That lets me know that I need to maybe approach that child a little differently and give her time to warm up to me.  

But you know what’s great about being able to see client again and again?  This time, the children remembered me, and they knew that the session wouldn’t be scary or boring.  They came into it knowing we’d play and have fun.  This makes it especially easier for kids who may be a little shy.  Knowing me coming it to it, they feel more at ease and have an easier time getting into the session.

And I got the chance to see how much they’d grown over the year, and hear about their new interests and what brings them joy.  (New Harry Potter fans are the BEST.)  

What exactly is Lifestyle Photography?

This beautiful family was able to take a last minute opening that I had available, and I am so glad they did.  We had so much fun running and playing in the leaves. 

I thought I might take the opportunity to talk about exactly what it means to shoot lifestyle photography, which is what I consider most of my sessions. To understand lifestyle photography, it helps to understand a few other types of photography.

One type of photography is classic posed portraiture.  These are what you think of when you think of a photographer telling you exactly where to stand, how to hold your chin, elbow, etc.  While I believe there is a time and a place for specific posing, this is not the type of photography that inspires me.  I do, however, try to capture at least a few of these shots throughout a session. 

Another type of photography (one that does inspire me), is documentary photography.  In documentary, the photographer doesn’t give guidance at all, but is merely a fly on the wall capturing what happens as it unfolds. I LOVE documentary.  I love to capture real life moments and emotions.  My birth sessions are documentary, as you can imagine.  In that setting, I am dictating nothing, but just capturing the story that is happening in front of me.  

The problem with using a PURE documentary approach for family sessions is that if I tried to be a fly on the wall and just capture what was happening, it’s likely, at least at first, that your family would stand around awkwardly, not sure what to do with themselves. Probably after enough time passed, they’d forget about me and start going about life, but unless something particularly engaging were happening it may take hours and hours to get a full gallery of images that showed a variety of things. 

So that brings us to lifestyle photography.  Lifestyle photography, for me anyway, is a balance between posed and documentary.  My goal at lifestyle sessions is to capture images as I would at a documentary session, but to hurry things along a bit, and if possible, make them happen in pretty light.  Instead of being a fly on the wall and waiting on your children to play, I’ll suggest they race (on the pretty bridge), play in the leaves, play ring around the roses, or play Simon Says with me.  These are things they might do naturally, but probably not in the span of an hour long photo session unless I asked them to.  

I want to capture real emotion, but instead of waiting on it to happen organically, I might whisper to your kids to go give you a big hug.  I don’t believe that the fact that I asked for it, makes the emotions any less real. It’s a combination of posed and documentary because sometimes I tell you just what to do, sometimes I just suggest an activity and sit back and wait for a moment to happen, and sometimes I act like a documentary photographer and hang back and capture moments that I notice have happened organically without any interference from me.  

This is the combination I find that works best for me at my family sessions, and I think it helps clients to feel more relaxed and natural as well.  As my friend Emily said recently, “my favorites are the posed candids.”What exactly is Lifestyle Photography?This is the combination I find that works best for me at my family sessions, and I think it helps clients to feel more relaxed and natural as well.  As my friend Emily said recently, “my favorites are the posed candids.”

The junk in my trunk

I’ve photographed the birth of both of these beautiful babies, and documenting their growth through photographs is truly one of the greatest joys of my job. This is my favorite session so far, probably because this age is my absolute favorite.  For both of them, the world is still so new and interesting and every tiny thing is a wonderful discovery.  I will never ever get tired of photographing toddlers.

Every now and then, there is a photo that stops me in my tracks as I am editing, and the one below of sweet Charlotte running towards her family did that for me in this set.  Have you ever seen anything as beautiful as that overwhelming and enthusiastic love a toddler has for her parents? 

I recently received a really random text from an acquaintance. She said she new it was an odd question, but wanted to know if there was any chance that I had any sparklers…well past July when they were available at stores and fireworks stands. She needed them for a birthday party she was helping to plan.

I told her that of course I had sparklers. I keep them in my trunk. How many do you need?!?

The sparklers had recently come in handy another time too…I was at the birthday party of one of my closest friends four year old, and they had forgotten candles for the cake. I ran to my trunk and brought her sparklers and we lit those as we sang “Happy Birthday” to the guest of honor. In some ways, it was more fun than candles and maybe that will be a thing from now on.

The sparklers led me to think about the other random things I carry in my trunk, so I thought I would list them for you in case you were curious. So here it is – a list of things actually in my trunk this very moment.

  • Sparklers
  • 6 quilts in various colors
  • A bubble machine
  • Bubble Juice
  • An extra camera bag with camera (not my main camera…I carry that inside)
  • A lightstand
  • Some bottles of water
  • A lighter
  • Some smoke bombs
  • Three clear umbrellas
  • Sophie the Giraffe
  • Yummy Earth Suckers
  • Organic Bug Spray
  • For Real Bug Spray
  • A Tide Stain Remover Pen
  • Wet Ones Wipes
  • Rain Ponchos
  • Sun Screen

Sometimes, I don’t use anything in my trunk, but I like knowing it’s there if I do need it.  For this session, I pulled out the umbrella, though we didn’t need it thankfully as the rain stopped just before we started, and lots and lots of bug spray.  I also stuck a poncho in my bag just in case I had to protect my camera from the rain.  And of course, the suckers came out after the session.

What about you? What do you have in your trunk?  Is there anything in mine that you are surprised about?  Anything you think I’m missing?