“I want to wear Dani’s dress!” she squealed in delight. I quickly grabbed my camera and headed to the side of my house where I had spotted the only thing currently flowering in the end of February. My daughter ran to the bush and instantly began smiling in my direction. She was proud to be wearing the dress my grandmother made for my mother when she was a little girl. I gently reminded her to be careful with the fragile fabric. She hadn’t had a chance to wear the dress before now, and I could tell if we had waited much longer, she wouldn’t have been able to fit in it. On this abnormally warm winter day, the stars aligned as my spirited toddler stood still, dressed in this treasure from the past. These pictures tell a story of our family, past, present and future. In my sweet girl’s eyes I see my mother and her mother and her mother before her, all giving selflessly for their families, neighbors, and friends. This dress represents the hands that lovingly stitched it.
Our legacy is not derived from the accomplishments we make in life, but by the love and joy our hearts share with others.
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!
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!
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.
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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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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From the lacy, navy dresses to the small wooden anchor emblems on each table centerpeice, this historic Yorktown, Virginia wedding was full of nautical accents. The cake was even topped with an edible boating knot.
I first met Jaye in college at James Madison University several years ago. It’s always fun to shoot weddings where you know the couple, so I was pumped to be asked to shoot sweet Jaye’s wedding! Though I hadn’t met Mark before, I quickly saw why he and Jaye are such a good match! They’re both naturally good natured and kind.
Another special thing about their wedding was their wedding party. It’s not often that I’m photographing a wedding party comprised of four brothers and four sisters! Taking photos of Jaye with her sisters and Mark with his brothers was so much fun! Their joy was contagious. Despite it raining during the ceremony and us rushing to get portraits for fear of more rain, this couple and their families were so calm and generous. Enjoy the photos from this sweet, relaxed wedding!
Honestly, I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged with myself lately. In this world of perfectly curated Instagram feeds, it’s certainly easy to play the comparison game. I’m guilty of it. Lately, I’ve been looking at these photos of strong, successful women and believing the lie that they are better than me.
Someone else’s success does not equate to your failure.
I have to remind myself of this. My friend doing well at something does not inherently mean I am bad at that same thing. It’s especially easy to do this in a creative industry. Another photographer gets published, books a ton of clients or something, and it’s easy to latch onto this idea that I must be a bad photographer because that didn’t happen to me. That’s simply not true.
I’m here to tell you that people and success come in all shapes and sizes. My definition of success is not the same as yours. My story, my path is different. That’s what makes life interesting.
What a boring world it would be if we all lived it the exact same way.
I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but it’s okay to feel awesome about yourself and your own successes. I’m awesome! You’re awesome! When we give ourselves permission to feel good about our accomplishments, we also enable ourselves to be more encouraging to others.
So, today I’m stepping back from that cycle of self doubt and remembering that we can all be fiercely successful- all of us together! I encourage you to do the same.
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