Learning new things – Indoor Portrait Session in spring hill

I am so glad this family chose to have an indoor portrait session this year, as it allowed me to test out new skills I’ve been working on learning. For most of my photography career, I’ve considered myself a natural light photographer. Most of my family portrait sessions are outdoors, but I also love shooting indoor portrait sessions for families and newborns. I’m obsessed with light and love exploring all the ways I can incorporate natural light into my photography.

But sometimes, natural light doesn’t give me what I want. I love using natural light at indoor portrait sessions, given that there are enough windows (and daylight) to allow enough light to enter the rooms. But sometimes, I find that light lacking. I can generally make do with the light available, but sometimes it’s just not the prettiest, and I wish I had more control over the light.

My journey to flash photography

So I set a goal to become more comfortable using a flash, when necessary. It started last summer when I somehow let one of my best friends talk me into photographing her sister’s wedding. (I don’t shoot weddings). I knew that shooting a dark reception would require flash, so I started working on getting better at using one. It was a learning experience and got me more comfortable shooting other dark indoor events, like this Quinceanera.

But at this point, I was only using flash when I had no other choice. I decided it was time to start creating my own light when maybe the natural light was passable, but not the prettiest, like sometimes at indoor sessions. So I’ve been taking an online class on off-camera flash and playing around with using a flash in more circumstances.

An indoor portrait session – the perfect time to use what I’ve learned

This family indoor portrait session was the perfect chance to use some of the things I’d learned. I met this family at their outdoor winter session two years ago, that ended up being one of my favorites of the season. I loved being able to photograph this beautiful family again – this time in their own home. It’s so much fun to have the kids show me their rooms, and get to know another side of them just by exploring their environments.

The living room was a bit dark, so I used off-camera flash for the photos we took in there. Abigail’s room had beautiful window light, so I just used the natural light in her room. But Eliot’s room faced another direction was a bit darker, so I did use the flash in her room. The flash was a great option that allowed me to get some fun action shots of her jumping on her bed. The movement might have been blurry without the flash in the darker room.

A chance to get creative

I was happy to be able to increase the available light in the house when I wanted to, but the most fun came when we went outside! I was always jealous of wedding photographers who post the fun rain shots with flash because most of my clients postpone their sessions when it rains. (It’s easier to defer family photos than your wedding day). But since this was mostly an indoor session, I was kind of hoping for rain so I could give it a try. The girls were kind enough to go out in the rain with me to get the shot. I wish it had been raining harder, but even the sprinkling gave a fun look to our umbrella shots.

I wanted to get a photo of Eliot riding her bike because that is something she does a lot at home, and I wanted to capture that time for her family. Since it stopped sprinkling, she grabbed the bike for a few shots. Usually, it would have been getting too dark outside for me to get a good picture, particularly of a moving child on a bike. But adding the flash allowed me to not only capture her movement with plenty of light, but it also allowed me to balance the cool, moody clouds in the background.

So I think I will begin to consider flash more as an option, not only for indoor sessions but for fill light or fun effects at outdoor sessions as well. You can still expect most of my shots at outdoor photoshoots to be with natural light, but don’t be surprised if I pull out the flash once in a while.

Time is running out to book your 2019 family portrait session

Speaking of sessions, if you haven’t booked yours for this year but intend to, please don’t wait. There are only a few spots left, and I don’t want you to miss out! I hate turning people away in the fall, but editing a session takes a lot of time, and there are just only so many I can do. You can choose a traditional outdoor photo session, or schedule an indoor portrait session like this one. Book yours today.

Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.

Anthony J. D’Angelo

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? 

Point Mallard Water Park – Perfect day trip from Spring Hill

Point  Mallard Water Park - A Perfect Day trip from Spring Hill TN

I’m going to start this off by saying I can’t believe I’ve never been to Point Mallard Water Park before. I had some friends go last summer, but I couldn’t make it. After going there, I don’t understand why it hasn’t been a place that we go several times each summer. I’ve heard a few people talking about it, but in general, it feels like one of the best-kept secrets for a day trip from Spring Hill.  Or possibly maybe I haven’t been paying attention and am the last one to figure this out. Either way, I am really glad my friend Christy decided we should go yesterday, despite the iffy chances of rain. (Note: Megan isn’t really into waterparks and had the option to spend the day with her daddy alone, so it was just Kayla and I and our friends.)

So where is it?

The water park is in Decatur, Alabama….which is sort of Huntsville.  Our plan for if a downpour began and ruined our waterpark adventures was to go to the Space & Rocket Center instead.  It takes about an hour and a half from Spring Hill. Christy picked Kayla and me up around 8 and we stopped for gas and for breakfast and still got there about 15 minutes before they opened at 10 am. 

How much?

This is the really cool part. Admission is generally $20 for adults (12 and over) and $15 for kids.  But Monday – Thursdays (excluding holidays) are half-price days.  So it was only $10 per adult and $7.50 per child.  (Please check their website before going to double-check prices and half-price days.)  Just as a comparison, Nashville Shores is generally $36.99 for adults and $28.99 for kids, though you can sometimes get deals for tickets for $24.99.  That’s a big difference. And spoiler alert, I liked Point Mallard better than Nashville Shores.

What we liked about point mallard:

  • The park was clean and updated.  I was shocked when my husband said he used to go to Point Mallard as a kid. The place did not seem old to me at all.
  • It wasn’t super huge, but had pretty much everything you’d want in a waterpark…a wave pool, lazy river, kids play zone and multiple water slides. 
  • The park is situated on a gorgeous lake. It’s a really beautiful spot, and they even have a little sandy beach on the lake. 
  • It was not crowded at all.  Since this was my first time there, I’m not sure if that’s what it’s always like on a weekday (we were there on a Monday) or if the threat of rain kept the crowd down.  Either way, it was awesome. The girls never waited to get on a waterslide, and we never felt crowded.
  • There were several options for food. There was a pizza place, a barbecue place (which I’m not sure was open when we were there) and a place with all your standard park foods.  I had a hamburger and fries and Kayla had chicken nuggets. It was nothing special but good enough. We also bought ice cream cones and I remember thinking that the $2 a scoop price was reasonably priced for a place like that. 
  • You can bring your own floats.  I didn’t actually know this before we went and I told Kayla she had to leave her banana float at home, but I had I known it was allowed, this would have been a bonus for her. 

What we didn’t like about point mallard:

  • There are two sections to the park and they were kinda spread out pretty far. This is probably good when it’s crowded so it doesn’t seem so cramped, but the first time we walked between the two sections, we did so barefooted and I regretted it.  The ground was really hot and there were also sections where the road was gravel and my tender feet did not appreciate it. Then we left out of the exit in the second section and had kind of a long awkward walk back to our car near the first section. Next time we would probably park closer to that second section near the wave pool.
  • You could only use goggles that didn’t cover your nose.  This wasn’t a big deal and I’m sure there is some safety reason I don’t fully understand, but it annoyed Kayla slightly. It was also clearly stated on their website which I didn’t read before we went. 
  • You have to rent wave pool floats.  At waterparks I’ve been to in the past, the big innertube floats for the wave pool are just available for anyone to grab. At Point Mallard you have to rent them for $5. One of Kayla’s favorite things to do is to ride on the float in the wave pool so I rented her a float. 

In Summary

We all had a great time at Point Mallard.  The ride didn’t seem that long and I thought it was a better park overall than Nashville Shores. We are definitely adding this day trip to our normal rotation. 

Want to travel a little farther from home? Check out my post about traveling with my family to St. Louis.

Hannah’s First Communion Portrait Session at Catholic Church of the Nativity

First Communion Photos at the Catholic Church of the Nativity in Spring Hill TN

Two years ago, I shot Haley’s First Communion Photos.  This time, it was middle sister Hannah’s turn.  

It’s always emotional for me to photograph special milestones for children I’ve known all their lives.  But for Hannah, it felt especially so.  I started this journey to becoming a professional photographer by photographing sessions for friends of mine who would ask. It just so happens that Hannah was the very first newborn I ever photographed.  Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing and if I were able to shoot it over again today, I imagine the photos would look very different (and I hope much better).  But most of all, I remember how it felt. 

I remember a moment where Hannah’s dad was sitting on a bench and holding her on his lap and talking to her as I photographed. She looked up at him with such wide, loving eyes and it was the sweetest moment.  Later, Brian said that he felt that was the moment he really bonded with her.  And I was able to be there and capture it in photos. It was really a milestone in my journey to becoming a photographer because it was the first time that I really felt like I was a part of something special, and not just taking snapshots. 


That was almost eight years ago, and now here she is looking like a young lady and celebrating her First Communion.  I just can’t.  Before I know it, I’ll be shooting her prom /graduation/wedding photos.  How do we slow down time?

But also, isn’t she absolutely stunning?  💕

Share the Love Instagram Contest Family Portrait Session Part 2

Spring Hill, TN Family Photographer

Tuesday, I shared with you the first short portrait session from my Share the Love Instagram contest, and today I am excited to share a preview of the second session with you. 

I photographed Katie and her family about a year and a half ago when Maria was only four months old. They are just the sweetest, so I was so excited when she won the contest to be able to see them again. Maria is just the sweetest little girl and she was SOOOO easy to photograph. 

In case you missed yesterday’s post: in February, I hosted my very first contest on Instagram in celebration of Valentine’s Day. For my “Share the Love” contest, I asked people in or around Spring Hill to nominate a friend and tell me why that friend was terrific, and they both had to follow my Instagram page.  Then I randomly chose a nomination to win a free portrait session for both the person nominated and the nominator to share.  I loved reading all the comments people made saying sweet words about their friends, so I wanted to share them with you. 

I shared some of the comments yesterday, but here are the rest. I just love hearing about all the amazing women we have in our community. 

acbrinker826

@katiebramcamargoshe’s such a sweet friend and awesome mama! She deserves this!

mrsjladd

I’m nominating @ginamolsen! She is such a beautiful person inside and out, a fantastic mother, and an amazing friend. ❤️

michellebrownlee

I’ll nominate @rlcard– she was a great boss, a lovely lady, and Mom to 2 almost grown girls.

emilykalisz

I would like to nominate @summerssweetshoppe . She is the wife of a high school friend and has built her own business here in Spring Hill.

myersfamfive

I would like to nominate @mommamadorin. She is SUPERMOM, in every sense of the word. She is an amazing mom to three beautiful girls and an incredible friend.

katiebramcamargo

I would like to nominate @mirrayray8 as she deserves beautiful photos with her previous daughter Savannah. Miranda is the most caring, selfless, outgoing, beautiful inside and out mom there is❤️

katiebramcamargo

I would like to also nominate @ginamolsen ! A mom of 5 whose kids are always smiling and having a blast! she is a true hero. Gina is a busy mom but always takes the time to care for me, check on me during my lows, love on my daughter, celebrate my achievements and nurture my faith

mandysuttles

I would like to nominate my SIL, @joannaheck_4 When she and my brother got married almost 22 years ago, I was excited to finally have a sister! I remember forcing her to go get her nails done with me so we could bond. ❤️ Over the years, she has listened to my stories enthusiastically, offered me advice, and taken care of me and my family. Joanna is a fantastic mother of 4 awesome children and someone I go to when I need parenting advice. She has the best laugh, and she laughs a lot! There were many times when she and I stayed up late, laughing until we cried, on the back porch of their old house. I am so lucky that she said “yes” to my brother and joined our family. I know she would love family photos with her children since they have grown up too fast!

kendallnewsom

@acbrinker826 as if being a mom to a three-year-old isn’t exhausting, she has a six-month-old baby girl with special needs. She had to wait 6 long weeks for her to come home. She breastfeeds her round the clock, manages to care for her big brother, works two part-time jobs, one of which is getting up at 4 am to teach English as a second language. She takes her new baby to multiple therapies and doctors visits with very little sleep. I’m not sure how she’s managing it all but somehow she does. She deserves to win this 🥰

Share the Love Instagram Contest Family Portrait Session Part 1

Nursing Baby - Spring Hill, TN Family Photographer

In February, I hosted my very first contest on Instagram in celebration of Valentine’s Day. For my “Share the Love” contest, I asked people to nominate a friend and tell me why that friend was terrific, and they both had to follow my Instagram page.  Then I randomly chose a nomination to win a free portrait session for both the person nominated and the nominator to share.  They could decide to each take 30 minutes of a one-hour portrait session, or they could do the session all together as a big group.  

I designed the contest the way that I did because I was really feeling the need for some positivity and wanted to see what people would say about other women in their lives, and I was not disappointed.  

Katie, a fantastic client who I have photographed in the past, was the winner of the contest who nominated her friend Anna. This is the preview of my 30-minute session with Anna and her family.  I will do a separate post of the 30-minute session with Katie and her family.  In the blog previews, I want to include some of the inspiring words that women wrote about each other for the contest, including the winning nominations.

Here is what Katie said about Anna:

“I’d also like to nominate Anna! Mom of two that rocks it as a momma!! She deserves pictures of her adorable family. 💖”

In return, Anna said of Katie:

“Katie is such a sweet friend and awesome mama! She deserves this!”

Anna was also nominated by another friend, Kendall, who said:

“As if being a mom to a three-year-old isn’t exhausting, she has a six-month-old baby girl with special needs. She had to wait 6 long weeks for her to come home. She breastfeeds her round the clock, manages to care for her big brother, works two part-time jobs, one of which is getting up at 4am to teach English as a second language. She takes her new baby to multiple therapies and doctors visits with very little sleep. I’m not sure how she’s managing it all, but somehow she does. She deserves to win this!”

Even though it was my first time meeting her, I would have to agree with Kendall and Katie…Anna is a rock star momma with a beautiful family.  

I also want to share some of the nominations that didn’t win, because these rock star mamas are also deserving of praise.  Here are some, and I will include more in part 2 when I show you Katie’s beautiful family.

lotsofweavers

I nominate @theelizabethtaylor 
She is a giving and kind friend who goes out of her way to help and love others. I know she would greatly appreciate pictures this year with her husband and kids. It would be a great year to mark change and new beginnings. 💕

cborrello4224

Thank you @crystalfreemonphotography for hosting such a meaningful giveaway. Pictures capture a moment in time to be treasured forever. Your talent allows treasured keepsakes. I would like to nominate @amylynncanaday she is kind, considerate, and always goes above and beyond while she herself is suffering from 2 diseases and is praying a doctor in Michigan can help regain her life back.

emilykalisz

I would LOVE to nominate @anothergirlmom ! Not only is she an amazing mother of 4 beautiful girls, but she manages her husband’s business, her work schedule, and ALWAYS remembers when her friends have appointments. She has selflessly driven me to doctor appointments and helped us with our children when we needed assistance. She is one incredible woman!

tinalynnmartini

I would like to nominate @rhondaschmitz!! She is amazing in so many ways❤️! I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone as selfless and loving as Rhonda. I’m continually inspired by her commitment and love for others. She asks nothing in return and gives everything!

acbrinker826

@kendallnewsom my better half, she’s the most selfless friend I know and goes above and beyond to help my family, especially with my sweet Fisher girl. She deserves beautiful pics with her family!

bandteachergirl

I would like to nominate Kellie Olson @nellieisme777 . She is an amazing woman! She is a selfless, single mom that works full time to bring the best out of her students. She loves completely and never gives up on those she loves! This would be a chance for her to see the beauty in herself and her family. #sharethelove

myersfamfive

I would like to nominate @lyndtodd12 She is an amazing mom to a beautiful daughter, twin boys-one with special needs, a full time teacher, and a great friend. She is one of the strongest women I know and is absolutely the kindest. She is constantly thinking of others despite having her hands so full. I feel honored to be her friend. ❤️

Be Our Guest: Scarlett’s Beauty & the Beast Birthday Party | Spring Hill TN Photographer

Beauty & the Beast Birthday Party in Spring HIll TN - Event Photography

My longtime client & friend Nicole throws the most magical kids birthday parties.  Her attention to detail is superb, and she has a special talent for making everything look amazing.  

It’s so exciting to see how much fun Scarlett has at these parties and to see her grow each year. I always look forward to her events. 

When I noticed that Nicole had re-used the tables and teacups from Scarlett’s second birthday party,  I knew I had to recreate this photo from three years ago.  Are they just adorable?  

There were several extraordinary guests at Scarlett’s birthday party, including the Beast (played by Scarlett’s daddy) and Belle.  Belle came from Nashville Kid’s Parties (formerly Copy Cats Nashville Kid’s Parties, the same company Nicole hired Strawberry Shortcake from two years ago.)  Belle did a wonderful job entertaining the children and and played her part perfectly.

Nicole’s sister made the cake pops, cake, and tea pot and tea cup cookies. Her mom made all the food and flower arrangements. Nicole created the rest of the decor herself, as well as making the chocolate rose lollipops.  The hand mirrors came from the Dollar Tree and were Nicole decorated them after seeing inspiration on Pinterest.  They were a huge hit as party favors and I personally loved them as a photo prop.  The Chiavari chairs were rented from Southern Party Rentals

I have to say that my favorite part was watching sweet Charlotte play hostess to her friends. She was so sweet in serving them tea, handing out party favors and making sure all her guest had a good time. 

Welcome to Spring Portrait Season

Fall was so amazingly busy and beautiful at the same time, and my Fall portrait season seemed to run right up until Christmas somehow.  For January and February, I had intentions of really focusing on and promoting my at-home documentary sessions, but honestly just enjoyed the time off too much to really have much motivation to book winter sessions.  But I did enjoy using the time to continue my education working on workshops and shooting personal work for my 365 project.

But now the sun is finally coming out and I’m feeling SOOOO ready to get back to photographing outdoor family sessions, which is my true passion. And what a beautiful March weekend we had to kick the season off right.

This session was actually a prize that I donated to my youngest daughter’s school.  The session went to the teacher who’s class raised the most money for their Fun Run this past Fall, and Ms. Stalling’s class blew it out of the water!  As PTO president, I was so overwhelmed with all the support that we got for the Fun Run, raising over $37,000.  With that money, we’ve been able to write a check for a new outdoor track (and now that Spring is here, hopefully they will be able to start working on it soon), AND we were able to buy 90 new Chromebooks for the school. 

Our teachers work so hard each and every day for our kids, I really wish I were able to give them all a session.  Please take a minute to thank a teacher in your life…it’s been a really rough month for most of them and they could really use some encouragement right now. 

There are only a few dates left for Spring Portraits, so if you want to book a session, don’t wait! 

Top 100 Personal Images in 2017 | Crystal Freemon Photography

Last year, I did a blog post of my top 100 personal images of 2016.   I really enjoyed looking back through the year to make that post, and I also made a coffee table book for our family out of the images, so I decided to do it again for 2017.  

I cannot even explain how much it means to me to look back over these images.  Like last year, I chose based purely on personal meaning, and not necessarily technical expertise, and they include photos shot with my “big girl camera’ (a Nikon D750 for those of you so inclined to ask what I shoot with), my Olympus Tg-4 point and shoot, and even some phone selfies.  For our family, the images include birthdays (9 and 11!!), holidays, Fifth grade promotion, Megan’s second hockey season, Kayla’s star role in the school play, and the birth of my beautiful baby niece, Laurel.  There is a beach vacation and everyday moments in the backyard, the best freaking Nashville Predators season ever and even a total eclipse of the sun! 

One thing that has always inspired me about photography, is the way it forces me to step beyond myself and identify the beauty in even the simplest moments.  I truly believe that the key to happiness is recognizing this every day beauty.  It is so easy to get caught up in the everyday treadmill of life, and to overlook all the amazing things we have in our lives. In our world in general, 2017 was pretty rough.  I don’t think many would deny that.  But even still….there is SOOOOO much good.  Looking back at these photos helps me see that more clearly than I would without them.  I am thankful that I am able to view the world through this lens. 

What about you? What good did you experience in 2017?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments.  How do you plan to recognize those moments in 2018?

Yes to Puppies at family portrait sessions

I am often asked, sometimes hesitantly, if it’s ok to bring the family dog to a photo session.  The answer is always, one million times, yes.  Unless your dog is a terrifying, savage beast who is going to maul me, then perhaps not.  But for cute, adorable puppies, always yes.  

Here are my top 10 reasons to bring your puppy to a photo session:

1.  They are adorable. 

2 They help to get for real, not fake smiles from your children.

3. Puppy kisses.

4. They are part of the family, so why wouldn’t you?

5. Tiny kids holding puppies is adorable.

6. Tweens & teens holding puppies is adorable.

7. Grown ups holding puppies is adorable.  

8. Puppy kisses.

9. Taking the puppy for a walk is a great photo op, and a real moment.

10. Puppy kisses