A Woodland Animals Themed Birthday Party

I’ll admit, when it comes to fall birthdays, using a woodland theme for a party is pretty easy. Stores have forest colored party supplies in abundance for Thanksgiving. And if you don’t want to buy decor, you can easily make it from your backyard. Sticks, pinecones, and leaves are everywhere. With my trusty friend, Pinterest, and some of my own DIY creativity, I was able to throw a rustic, woodland animals themed party on a dime. It was pretty fun! Now I kind of wish I could just use this theme every year.

These little owl cupcakes were delicious and easy to make.

My favorite part of the setup was naming all of the food items woodland themed things.

That cheese ball is so adorable!

The spread!

I made this number 1 cake topper from twigs, thin gauge wire, and hot glue.

A fox tail for baby is the perfect addition.

Cake and presents are great, but man, parties can be exhausting.

Have fun planning your very own woodland themed party!

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Surviving a Photo Session With a Toddler

Anyone who’s ever had a toddler knows that they are a pretty opinionated demographic. These little people rule their kingdoms with authoritarian precision. We are but serfs in their quest for independence and knowledge. Understanding how toddlers behave and react to situations can be a lifesaver when taking their portraits. Bribery only goes so far, but does have its merits. 😉 I’m looking at you, promised ice cream cone. Here are my humble and sometimes successful tips (I’m really selling this, right?) as a mom and photographer of toddlers.

Schedule around naps and meals.

I know what hangry looks like in my house. Hunger + Angry = Hangry for those of you wondering what I’m talking about. Hangry looks like a little girl who’s melting down over multiple things per minute, and an impatient and grumpy mama who’s having a hard time coping with said meltdowns. Don’t schedule a photo shoot for a time when you know your child will be in dire need of food or sleep. It won’t be good for anyone.

Make it Fun!

Blarghhh getting your photos taken can be such a bore, am I right? Nope! Not with a toddler. They can either be fun or they can be terrible. Obviously, we aim for the first option. Try to frame the photo session as an exciting adventure that’s going to happen. Sometimes in an effort to get their children to behave, parents begin a photo session with angry threats. This sets a tone for the session that is negative. Try to find something to occupy kids with. Let them run around for a minute to get some energy out, or let them jump up and down or give them a piggy back ride. Every session is different, as is every family. Finding a way to get children excited creates an atmosphere that lends itself for more natural and honest photos.

Know When the Session is Over

With kids, it’s usually pretty easy to tell when they’re over something. Meltdowns ensue. Once you’ve reached this point, it’s pretty hard to make a come back. Quickly move through the five stages of grief and accept that the time for photos has come to an end.

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A Lush James River Engagement Session // Richmond, Virginia

Ya’ll this session was so much fun! I met Anna and Reed at Anna’s parents’ house for them to “bury the bourbon.” I wasn’t really familiar with this southern tradition, but I’ve never seen two people look so cute while digging a hole. The weather was perfect, and now that they’ve buried the bourbon, hopefully their wedding day will be rain free as well. These two are so sweet together, and they kept each other laughing the whole time. I can’t wait for their wedding!

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A Scenic Mother’s Day Session // Great Shiplock Park, Richmond, Virginia

I had the opportunity to take Gideon’s newborn photos last summer. He was the tiniest babe I’d ever taken photos of, and he was so so precious. You can see my blog post on that session here. So, when his dad, Chuck, booked a Mother’s Day session as a gift for his wife, Rachel, I was pretty excited to see this sweet family again. The session was at Great Shiplock Park in downtown Richmond, a location that never disappoints. It provides a variety of backdrops, from train trestles and city landscape to scenic river and shady, draping trees. From the moment I turned the camera on, Gideon was all smiles. He’s a charmer! I couldn’t resist taking a few photos with both mom and dad. These are a few of my favorites of this lovely family.

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Tips for Taking Better Pictures of Your Family // Turtle & Hare Photography // Virginia Weddings & Portraits

I had the privilege speaking to a wonderful group of moms this week about simple suggestions for taking better pictures of our families, specifically children. I wanted to make these tips available to a wider audience, so here I am typing them up for you!

Being a photographer, I don’t think I anticipated how different taking photos of my own child would be.

As parents, we are constantly taking photos of our kids. Maybe you use your phone, a point-and-shoot camera, or even a DSLR. Regardless of what you use, these simple tips can help you better capture those special moments.

Being a photographer, I don’t think I anticipated how different taking photos of my own child would be. Patience is a necessity! She will be doing the most adorable thing, and as soon as I ready the camera, she has inevitably stopped said cute activity. She also likes to try to play with the camera, so keeping her far enough away from the camera to actually get her in focus is often a problem. But sometimes she just gives me this huge grin and, miraculously, the stars have aligned and I can get a composed photo.

Here are my ideas for increasing the odds of those miraculous photos.

Find Good Light

What constitutes “good” light? When I say good, I’m really meaning soft, natural light. An example of soft light would be a very cloudy day. When the sun is beating down with little cloud coverage, we see a lot of shadows. This is referred to as harsh light. Photos of people facing the sun and squinting to see the camera are examples of harsh light. Clouds function as a filter and diffuse the sunlight more evenly. That’s why overcast days are a good time for photo sessions. This doesn’t mean we can never take photos in harsh light, it just means we have to be creative in how we use it to avoid the quintessential squinty photo. If it’s very sunny outside, try taking photos under a large tree, or in the shadow on the side of a building. If you’re inside, try to find the room in your house that gets the most light. You’ll notice that some rooms are better in the morning or in the afternoon.

Have Natural Interaction

Since children are always so well behaved, it should be no problem to have your children posed and sitting or standing still for photos. Right? Ha. It’s easy to become frustrated when taking photos of small kids. They are bouncing targets. Something I’ve found to be helpful is choosing an activity the child likes to do. It can be as simple as reading a book on the sofa. You’re then able to capture genuine, positive emotion and have some distraction for them. If you’re outside, have the kids run around for a couple of minutes to help get the wiggles out. You can even take some photos of them running towards you!


Create a Pleasing Background

I don’t know about your house, but at mine there are always toys strewn about. Always. And stacks of papers and at least one dirty dish at all times. It’s okay. It doesn’t have to be perfect. When you’ve found a place with good light for photos, just do a quick check that the background isn’t cluttered. Take a minute to clear it out of the shot, and now your house looks spotless. Ta-da! Clearing the clutter just helps the person in the photo to stand out more. Take it a step further by choosing a creative background. Have your child lay on a colorful rug, or if you’re outside, let them play in the leaves, or have a picnic on a blanket.

Use Props or Accents

A fun way to really make your photos pop is to utilize props or accents. When I schedule newborn portrait sessions, I always ask parents if they have any sentimental items they’d like to include in the photos. Have an outfit you wore from your childhood? A favorite stuffed bear? A quilt your grandmother made? Use these things when taking photos of your kids, and it will add extra meaning to them. Another fun idea is to add pops of color. Try dressing your kids in neutral colors, but adding colorful shoes or hats. This adds some pizzazz and will make the photos stand out.


Create Depth of Field

I could go into a long explanation of depth of field, but for these purposes, I’ll keep it simple. Depth of field is how much of what is in your photo is in focus. It can be shallow or deep. For example, generally landscape photography has deep depth of field, meaning most everything in the photo from trees in the foreground to mountains in the background, is in focus. Conversely, for portrait photography, we often want to achieve shallow depth of field where our subject is in focus, but our background is blurry. There are camera settings we can utilize to help achieve this, but that’s for a different blog post. For now, I want to give you some easy, practical ways to effect your depth of field. One way is by adjusting the distance between your subject (child) and the background. Taking a photo in front a brick wall? Have your child step forward a few feet. Another way is by adjusting the distance between the camera and the subject. Standing close to your child when taking the photo will reduce the depth of field, and standing further away will increase it.

Some Final Tips

Don’t stress! Kids don’t always cooperate. Just take a deep breath, and if it doesn’t work out remember that making the memories is more important than capturing them. Seriously. You can always try again later. Finally, back up your photos! They’re priceless. There are many cloud based services available. Even if you’re just backing them up to a hard drive, try to make sure they always exist in two places and you’re much less likely to lose them.

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Heirloom Wedding Albums // Turtle & Hare Photography // Richmond, Virginia Wedding & Portrait Photographer

Your wedding day has finally come! It’s a beautiful, perfect celebration of your love. It’s a glorious day, and then it’s over. Now you begin a new chapter with your chosen partner in life. What do you have to remember that special day by? Memories, of course, and probably also photos. You can enjoy those photos in an exquisite album.

We’re proud to offer heirloom quality wedding albums for all of our Turtle & Hare couples. These keepsakes offer a timeless and sleek glimpse back at your day for years to come. From the antiqued leather cover to the high end mounted pages and textured endleaves, these albums are durable and sophisticated.

Take a look at this video of our newest sample album!

Here’s some of the play-by-play.

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Refreshing Our Branding: Exciting Times for Turtle & Hare Photography // Virginia Wedding & Portrait Photographer

I was probably way too excited yesterday when I ripped open the beat up bubble packaging holding our brand new business cards, but I had been waiting way longer than expected for these little pains in my rear to arrive. In keeping with the disappointment of their delayed shipping, I half expected them to be bent, scratched, or the wrong color. Thankfully, none of those things were accurate.

The cards looked pretty much exactly how I expected them to. Simple, clean, and iridescent.

I had no complaints, and I still don’t. The title of this post might be misleading. We are by no means rebranding ourselves. Much of what comprises Turtle & Hare’s look and feel is sticking around for the forseeable future. We are just cleaning house a bit. Refreshing ourselves in preparation for all things wonderful. What does that mean exactly? All things wonderful include sunny days, rainy days, wedding days, portrait days, lazy days, and bake-a-bunch-of-sweets days. That pretty much covers everything.

We’re proud and pumped for these changes. In addition to the new business cards, we’ve updated some of our other graphics for seamless cohesion, we’re adding new print materials to give to each of our wedding couples, some pretty new advertising materials, brand new sample albums (I’ll be going into detail about these GORGEOUS heirlooms in my next blog post) for clients to peruse and find inspiration in, and some overall subtle changes to our website. Whew, that’s alot!

We’re so thrilled with what Turtle & Hare is about, what it’s become, and where it’s going. Thanks for all future things wonderful!

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