Extended Family Session | Northern Virginia Portrait Photographer

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One thing is certain in this world, when I go into a session with the Kien family, I know it's going to be a blast. I'll admit, I was a liiiiittle nervous when mama Lara told me she wanted a one year session combined with an extended family session. We also had very little wiggle room on the date because family was in town from across the country, and we had to make it work rain or shine. I was also nervous when Lara texted me baby Sam's go-to facial expression which I managed to capture in a shot or two.

We ended up with a really beautiful albeit humid morning, and I know that I had a great time, I hope that everyone else did!

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NOVAportraitphotographer

The R Family | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

You probably can’t tell from the images, but we shot these family photos (meant for a holiday card) in 80 degree heat. And now it’s in the 50s. Welcome to Virginia where we hit all of the seasons within days of one another. Another fun fact that you can’t tell from the images, but dad Matt was suffering from a sprained ankle and we basically had him hobble around slightly, then posed everyone around him as much as possible.

Seriously, such troopers. I love this family!

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The V Family | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I am just dying over the light for this family’s fall photo session at Morven Park in Leesburg.

Mama Ania had reached out to me while the family was living in another state, in anticipation of a move to Northern Virginia. Before booking, she wanted to make sure that I was ok with dogs, and that I could photograph theirs. I mean, I LOVE dogs…I always hope that I can photograph them well, but more than that, I just really like sneaking in some scritches.

Real talk. Buster the dog shouldn’t have been a concern, he was a model citizen. Baby Zosia however did not like me for the first 20ish minutes of our session. I’m starting to question bleaching my hair because since I’ve done it, I swear that little babies have been a bit wary of me. But I digress…

The good news is that we managed to get over our differences, and I dare say, became buddies by the end of the session.

Also, I can’t post about this session without a shout out to my would-be assistant if she didn’t live across the country. It just so happened that one of Ania’s besties was visiting the DC area from California for work. She stood behind me and jumped around like crazy trying to get Zosia to smile, created some wind for me, sang songs from a really strange amazon prime playlist. All in all, she gets a gold star for sure.

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The K Family Session | NOVA Family Photographer

Mama Jess and I went to middle and high school together, she was always super cool and I was a total nerd. Now here we are, mothers ourselves and wanting to document our children. Jess reached out for family photos, and we had to reschedule about 57 times because the weather has been such a douchebag this year. We ended up shooting on a cloudy day which isn’t ideal, but the love and connection in her family was enough to light up the images. And oh my gosh, check out her adorable daughters.

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Virginia Lifestyle Family Photographer
Virginia Lifestyle Family Photographer
Virginia Lifestyle Family Photographer
Virginia Lifestyle Family Photographer

Lucy & Cora's Sister Session | Loudoun County Family Photographer

I realize that I’ve been blogging about friends who’ve used me as a photographer a lot lately. I swear, people, I also photograph complete strangers! But let me tell you about the mother of these two beautiful girls who is one of my best friends. When I first became a “photographer” Allison trusted me, hired me, and paid me. Believe me, if you saw the images I delivered back then, you’d be astonished (they’re horrible…my fault). Despite that, she kept supporting me as I worked on learning everything I could about my camera and about photography, and she always cheered me on.

Look, I have A LOT more to learn, but I am also very proud of my personal growth. I am so thrilled that I can finally deliver the caliber of images to Allison that she deserves. Allison went through a lot for her girls, she is such a strong woman and role model, and unsurprisingly, she’s raising two smart, headstrong and very capable young girls.

Older sister Lucy came to the session ready to go. She struck these poses that shocked both Allison and I. Apparently she’s been taking on some modeling gigs in her downtime. Literally, right out of the gate, sat down on my little chair and struck a pose with her arm up (see below). Little sister Cora was pretty wary of me and my camera, but she warmed up after a bit…even if it did mean bribing her with bubbles.

Also, check out some gorgeous pieces from my client closet on both of the girls (we did an outfit change!)

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The Stotkas Sleigh Their Christmas Card Photos | Burke Family Photographer

I had to. Mama Ang and I both love a good pun.

I was beyond thrilled when Angela asked me to take her family photos, like over the moon. And it was so awesome that they made the trip from Fairfax County to Loudoun to shoot in Morven Park, one of my favorite spots. Moreover, please take note of the outfits, coordinating but not matching. Ang straight up OWNED it.

Parker (3) was a little unsure about me and the scenario in the beginning, so we went with the tried and true "pay-attention-to-the-other-child" method for a few minutes. Not long after that we were getting great smiles out of Parker, and he was loving it. Meanwhile little Carter (6 months) is just about the happiest little dude I've ever met, and smiled away. Since I'm feeling Christmasy, he reminds me of Elf and the quote "I love smiling, smiling's my favorite!"

It was hard to narrow down my favorites, so here are just a few!

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The Orr Children Own Christmas | South Riding Family Photographer

I was a freakishly cold day in November when I met with the Orr family for their Christmas card photo session. Allie (5) and Finn (2) both fell asleep en route to the location, and I know my kids can be somewhat difficult when awoken from a nap, but these two were ready to go!

Admittedly, it got a little too cold for Finn, but even subzero temperatures couldn't stop Allie from hamming it up!

Just the sweetest, coziest little girl ever!

Just the sweetest, coziest little girl ever!

She couldn't be any more stunning!

She couldn't be any more stunning!

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The Christmas Dinosaur (as Finn called himself)

The Christmas Dinosaur (as Finn called himself)

The Christmas Princess!

The Christmas Princess!

We're the two best friends that anyone could have!

We're the two best friends that anyone could have!

This kills me, Finn is like "lady, I've had more than enough, and if you don't stop taking pictures I'm going to stab you with this candy cane!"

This kills me, Finn is like "lady, I've had more than enough, and if you don't stop taking pictures I'm going to stab you with this candy cane!"

The Schenning Family Fall Session | Loudoun County Family Photographer

This fall family session was so much fun. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I just get to hang out with cool people, play games and take photos in a beautiful location. Little Matthew started out the session a little shy, and quite serious, but as we hung out and played, his fun-loving personality shined through. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do!

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The Mortweet Family | Ashburn Virginia Family Photographer

I met mama Nadine a few years back through a mutual friend at one of the Ashburn libraries' baby story time. Looking back, I think going there was more for the mamas than the babies, I know that it gave me great practice at getting not only myself, but my 6 month old dressed and out the door. Even if it did take an hour, and even if I was wearing yoga pants and a sweatshirt...baby steps right? Anyways, I could tell from the moment I met Nadine that she was super cool and that I wanted us to be friends. And lucky for me, we are!

It was such a perfect night for the Mortweet family's session, the leaves were just starting to change but it wasn't too cold yet. We had lots of room for Tyler to run, but luckily we kept most of the evening fun enough that he wanted to be near us and play. And the sun, we all know I'm a sucker for golden hour. This one was absolutely perfect.

I loved getting to hang out with these cool people, and capture the love and joy that they exude.

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The Tosh Family - Part Deux | Loudoun County Family Photographer

I've blogged about this family before, and was actually called out at this session by mama Julie for my last post which covered how I tend to have to chase after their oldest son, William, to get photos. So now I'm calling you out for calling me out for calling you out, Julie!  But this time, I didn't have to run after William at all, not that I mind having to chase a kiddo for good shots. However, dad Chris probably has a little bit of a different take on things! Seriously though, the Tosh family has mastered photo shoots. Julie is an absolute rock star at coming up with coordinating outfits for the whole family, and even thinks about breaking up the color of one son's pants, against dad's shirt. Talk about an ideal client (and friend!) 

We took images at a few different settings within one main park to add variety to their gallery, and every step of the way was so much fun. I think the pinnacle was when we moved to the final location which had these insane ball seed things all over the place. I literally just googled as "weird ball seed brain looking things from trees" and it turns out they are Osage Oranges from Osage trees. One year old Henry was the first to spot them, pointing and saying "ball!". So we let the boys play with them (don't worry, they're not toxic, in fact my google search just taught me that they're edible but it's very difficult to extract the seeds.) Then we realized that they kind of worked as a Christmas-y props, their green coloring contrasting against the red blanket that the boys sat upon. The boys loved them, and all in all, it was just hilarious.

I just had such a blast hanging out with this fun family. And look at the eyes on these boys, talk about stunning!

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Choosing a Color Palette for your Fall Family Photos | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I've noticed that styling outfits for a family photo session is probably the biggest stressor for clients. And I'll fully admit, since having children, I feel like I've lost touch with what "the kids are wearing" and what's in. So while I'm no fashion guru, I do have an understanding of color theory and what photographs well.

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When you're having your fall family photographs taken, think about the colors in the outdoor setting around you. Hopefully we've set your session for peak color, so there should be oranges, reds and golden yellows around you. From there, you can check out the color wheel to the right and see that opposite to golden yellows are navy blues and purples. Your family would definitely pop against yellow leaves in those tones. 

Neutrals also work against almost any backdrop, and always look timeless. Neutrals can be anything from white, ivory, cream, tan, khaki, mocha, camel, brown, grey, black, denim, and sometimes even blush pinks or olive greens. I truly don't think there can be too many neutrals in a palette.

Not sure where to start? Pick 2-3 main colors. There should be elements of these colors in everyone's outfits. From there, pick some neutrals. A lot of times, neutrals will be the blueish tone of denim, a khaki or brown, blacks and grays, or a toned down version of the main colors that you chose. Lastly, pick 1-2 pops of color. These accent colors tend to be bright and vibrant and oftentimes are the most visible element tying the photos together. When choosing a color scheme, consider the season, setting, and where you'll display the images in your home. 

Some classic fall color combinations

Some classic fall color combinations

Here are some general rules for picking clothing for a family photo session:

  1. Start with one piece. To get the ball rolling, start with one outfit that you really love, and build the other outfits around that. Matching is out, coordinating is in.

  2. Layer, layer layer! This adds dimension and depth to your images.

  3. Fit. Purchase clothes that fit now. I know, if I'm buying a fall sweater for my son from Janie and Jack, I want to get as much wear out of that ridiculously priced piece of clothing as possible. But I beg of you, buy your child's current size. Rolled up sleeves and pant legs end up looking sloppy and undone in your final images.

  4. Dress for the weather. Be prepared with a flexible wardrobe in case you have to switch it up at the last minute. If your child is burning up in a sweater, he won't be happy and we won't be able to get images that you will cherish forever.

  5. Footwear. Shoes are such an important part of the wardrobe. Imagine your daughter dressed to the nines for the family shoot, but with her light up paw patrol shoes on. It causes the entire look to lose cohesion. My recommendation for shoes are boots, leather sandals, Converse All-Stars, Toms, Sperrys, and Mary Janes. Also, weather and setting-permitting, barefoot is always an adorable option, especially with babies.

  6. Let Your Child's Personality Shine! Allow your child's personality to shine through in what they’re wearing. If your daughter has a favorite pair of boots, let her wear them (at least in a few pictures). Whatever makes your child their own amazing self, let’s focus on those things.

This family nailed it for their Christmas shoot with plenty of neutrals (cream, tan, browns and olive) with pops of a bright Christmas-y red.

This family nailed it for their Christmas shoot with plenty of neutrals (cream, tan, browns and olive) with pops of a bright Christmas-y red.

Check out this coordination, mom and dad wore olive green and dark navy, and let the kids pop with a beautifully textured velvet dress and the quintessential fall mustard yellow. Nailed it!

Check out this coordination, mom and dad wore olive green and dark navy, and let the kids pop with a beautifully textured velvet dress and the quintessential fall mustard yellow. Nailed it!

Mom did a great job pulling colors from this little one’s dress for everyone else’s outfits.

Mom did a great job pulling colors from this little one’s dress for everyone else’s outfits.

You can’t go wrong with neutrals, this family is picture perfect for their holiday card!

You can’t go wrong with neutrals, this family is picture perfect for their holiday card!

The Choi Family | Leesburg VA Family Photographer

Right out of college I took a graphic design job at a small government contractor in Northern Virginia. The hours were grueling, the work wasn't fun, and it was quite the wake up call for me in terms of what I could expect in the real world. However, I will always look back on my time at that company fondly, as I met my husband there, and some of my best friends.

One of those friends also met her husband there.

Christina was the receptionist, the ever-friendly face of the company, and Mike was the quiet but hilarious (when he spoke up) accounting guy. I know that I rooted for them to start dating, and I think of the rest of the company felt the same. It took much longer than many of us meddlers would have liked, but eventually Mike and Christina went on their first date and the rest is history. Here we are over 10 years later, and they have started a family that I was honored to get the chance to photograph.

It was such a joy to capture their love and connection, plus they were such great sports with the heat and unbelievable amount of gnats!

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Henry's First Birthday | Ashburn VA Family Photographer

You might be noticing a theme here...I met Julie through my hospital's new moms group following the birth of my son and hers. She has been a huge supporter of my work, and has booked sessions time and again, and it's such an honor to be able to photograph her adorable guys as they grow. William, her son who's the same age as mine, gives me an excellent workout during our shoots, as I find I spend a lot of time chasing him around. But I honestly love that, I get to capture real images of who William is, mischief and all. And get to my 10,000 step goal quicker too!

Julie asked me to do some first birthday pictures of Henry along with some family shots. First off, this family always come dressed and coordinated impeccably. On top of that, Julie always has multiple ADORABLE outfit options for the boys, and for this session she even came with balloons and a birthday hat for Henry. And on top of that, they're always in good spirits and such good sports, even when nature is out to get them (sorry Chris!) 

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What to Expect for Your Session

It's not every day that you and yours get dressed up, load into the family car and head to a random location in exurban Virginia. I've compiled a list of things to expect when booking an outdoor session with Lennah Press Photo & Paper.

Light + Timing

I'm not alone in the photography world when I say that I love shooting during "golden hour" or the hour after sunrise/hour before sunset. The light at these times of day is soft, the temperature of the light is warm, and colors appear so rich and creamy. It's utterly magical, and I just can't get enough of it. There's a fleeting nature to this time of day, and the images captured within it feel like a enchanted memory to me.

Even shuffling along a dirt path can be magical with the right kind of light

Even shuffling along a dirt path can be magical with the right kind of light

Golden hour isn't actually an hour, it depends on a number of factors including the date, time and location of the photographer in relation to the sun. Some days might only have that magical light for 5 minutes, some days it doesn't make an appearance at all due to cloud cover. 

The timing of golden hour can pose problems when photographing babies, toddlers and young children who might usually be in bed during this time. I stand by the statement that I would rather have a happy child than a beautifully lit angry child. But if the sun-drenched images in my portfolio drew you to my work, I ask that you consider being flexible to scheduling your shoot during golden hour. As a mother of two myself, I understand how important routines are to a child's day. But if you think your child/children can handle it, and you can do things to mitigate meltdowns (such as pushing nap time back, bringing snacks, promising a very special treat following the session), my advice is to go for it.

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Location
I've lived in Loudoun county for 6 years, and I am still taken aback by it's rural beauty. Some of my favorite spots for photographing families are rugged and rustic...i.e. you will probably have to drive a ways to get to the location, that route will most likely include a gravel road, we might have to pause the session to swat a few gnats, and I'll almost always advise to check for ticks afterwards. I prefer locations that aren't teeming with people so that your family can relax and be yourselves, and you are free from fear of your child/children running into danger. 

Posing
I call my brand of photography "life-inspired." I almost always try to get the "grandma shot" early in the session. You know what I'm talking about, the one where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling, the kind of image that a grandma would love! Once that's out of the way, we can all really relax and just have fun. You should know that I will be hands on, I will pose you, I will fix an errant hair, I will ask you or your spouse to stand SUPER close to me so that your 9 month old is looking at my lens and smiling, not off to the side. And in some cases I might seat you in a way that might feel really awkward and unnatural. But trust that I am posing you in a flattering way and making sure that everyone looks their best. On that note, please tell me if there are bad knees or other injuries I need to consider! Dads already don't care for family photo sessions, I'd hate for him to come out of it with a stiff hip or tweaked knee!

If you have kiddos, we will play games, and let them be kids! I've found that this is the best way to get real smiles, and capture lasting memories of such a fleeting time. As they say, the days are long but the years are short. Someday you won't be able to scoop your child up in your arms and flip him upside down. Let's preserve memories like that.

In many cases I will ask that you NOT look at me. It sounds like such a cliche photographer thing to say, but oftentimes my favorite images are those where it's like I wasn't even there. I want true interaction, emotional connections, and real feeling. Those are the moments I live to photograph. Life-inspired.

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Props
In the same way that I veer towards rustic settings, I'm drawn to a vintage vibe when it comes to props. In most cases I'll bring a crocheted vintage afghan, vintage quilt and a neutral blanket for sitting poses. Then I will tailor props to the age of your kiddos. For a 10 month old, I might bring a vintage galvanized steel wash basin to plop her in, for a baby that can stand supported, I would bring a crate for him to lean on. You're more than welcome to bring props of your own, but try to keep them timeless. I also have a few tricks up my sleeve if we are really having trouble getting smiles out of little ones.

Clothing
Upon e-signing the contract, I will send you a little "what to wear" guide to help you in choosing your family's outfits. First and foremost, I want to photograph YOUR family, not the family you found on pinterest. So while I offer advice for those who would like it, most importantly, you do you. The reason I send the guide is that I've found that clothing has been one of the biggest concerns for clients, and part of my job is alleviating any stress you might feel about your session.

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Ridiculousness
You should probably know that when I'm trying to get smiles out of kids, I act really ridiculous. Maybe you're laughing at me, maybe you're laughing at how badly you want to be anywhere but sitting on a quilt in Loudoun getting family pictures taken. But I just love personality, especially when it comes through in a photograph. I will include silly pics in your gallery where your husband is photobombing, or your baby is giving her brother the stink eye. If it makes me laugh, I will include it. 

Ready? Let's do this!

Newborn Adam | Ashburn VA Newborn Photographer

When I go into a client’s home for a newborn session, my top three objectives are to capture the family connection, their personalities, and life as it is that very day. Those days right after the birth of a new little baby seem to fly by, which is why I think that newborn photography is so important. Sure, in that moment you’re exhausted, probably pretty sore and banged up, and not exactly in the mood to get the whole family dressed up and smiling for photos. But I know from my own experience that those are the images that I treasure the most. I look back now at images of my children as newborns and can see their personalities as I know them now, shining through even then.

So back to personality! I met Giana (mama to Ari and Adam) through my hospital’s new moms group, her daughter has grown up alongside my son. Knowing her family, I knew there would be no shortage of personality with this clan. And I was not disappointed. Enjoy a few of my favorites from this great session!

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Christmas Family Session | Leesburg Family Photographer

Before I tell you about this Christmas family session, I have to back up and tell you how I met Becca, the gorgeous pregnant mama in these shots. Both of my children were born at INOVA Loudoun at the Birthing Inn, and one perk that the hospital touts is their new mom support group. In all honesty, that wasn’t something that I would have pursued if not for a friend of mine who already had a baby who strongly encouraged me to attend. I went for the first time when my baby was 3 or 4 weeks old, and after a somewhat traumatic emergency c-section, it was one of my first outings with him on my own. Being a first time mom is no joke, this group turned out to be a real Godsend to me. I learned so much as other moms and as the weeks went by, the ladies in this group became my friends. Our children are toddlers now and although we don’t get to see each other as often, it’s been such a blessing to have met these moms and watch our children grow together.

Here’s a link to information on the group for anyone who might be interested.

So about this session! On a cold November day, this immaculately coordinated family and I met up for a quick little photo shoot right before they headed out of town to visit with family for Thanksgiving. Their son Gage had already had a busy day partying it up at a pajama party at his school but was a total trooper. A cold front had just come through so we had to move through the session a little quicker than usual. Despite the cold, the S family handled the shoot like a bunch of old pros. It was such a blast to get to hang out with these awesome people, and capture these precious memories for them.

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