I Am Ashamed.

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This morning my husband rolled over and told me that our son needed to bring a family photo to school today. Cue me frantically trying to figure out when we had our last family photo. For someone who lives and breathes photography, I was ashamed to realize that our last family pictures were for our 2017 Christmas card. 

And not only that, we have our own sense of humor in our house, and that picture was this (take by my awesome friend at Catherine Vint Photography):

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I adore that image. And anyone who knows us hopefully enjoyed it, and realized it was a joke (well, for 75% of us), but I also felt a little silly sending that image off to teachers who I hardly know! Not to mention that it may only be 6 months since that picture was taken, but my kids have changed so much in that time.

I'm not much of a selfie taker, and frankly it's a bad idea to have my phone out around my kiddos right now as they're starting to realize how fun they can be. On top of that, I'm usually the one taking photos of my family, not getting in them. I have plenty of excuses as to why I shouldn't be in a picture, I don't have on makeup, my hair is a mess, I'm wearing a stained shirt and yoga pants, I need to lose 10 pounds.

Which brings me to a quick tangent. I have this picture that I took of my grandmother who I loved so dearly, fun fact, she's actually the namesake behind my business! The image is of her running out of the frame because she didn't want to be photographed. Even as a kid it made me sad. I had wanted to take a picture of her because she lived an 18 hour drive away. I loved her and missed her, but she was consumed with self doubt for some reason. Now that she's gone, I would love images of her in everyday situations. She cooked the most amazing southern meals, I can still remember her tiny kitchen, what I wouldn't give for a photograph of her cooking in that space. 

Based off of my interactions with clients, it's usually the mother who initiates, plans and makes family pictures happen. In most cases, the catalyst for that is Christmas/Holiday cards. But kids grow so fast, as I held my son's hand the other day I teared up realizing it's not the chubby toddler hand it used to be. Every day he's getting bigger and time is passing. It's so important to make time to capture those day-to-day memories.

And most importantly, mamas, make sure that you're in the frame too. 

My Own | Loudoun County Family Photographer

My kids are 3 and 1, they are my inspiration. I had been "in" to photography since my sophomore year of high school, but have gone through periods where I didn't pick my camera up for weeks and sometimes even months at a time. When I had my son three years ago, my passion for photography was reignited, and has grown stronger with every day. These years, when my little ones are little, seem to fly by, and I can't resist the urge to document...but once in a while I have to be reminded to put my camera down again and live.

My husband and I have always loved the outdoors and it's played a large supporting role in our journey together. Some of my favorite memories of ours took place in Virginia's regional and national parks, so I'm thrilled that our children already share in their parents' love for nature. An unexpected result of our family nature walks is that we've come upon new photo spots, and I've gotten to know how the light acts in these different locations throughout the year. 

Jacob is only 3, but he is already on to me when I dress him and his sister up and take them to a new park. Have you ever heard of photographer child syndrome? It's when a photographer's children are so used to being photographed throughout their young life that they are no longer interested in smiling at the camera, much less looking at it. But as a photographer who revels in capturing emotion, personality and connections, a lot of times this isn't a bad thing. Because so far, these tend to be some of my favorite images of my children. 

I just love this. On one hand, their expressions are hilarious and make me laugh. But it's also such a beautiful capture of my silly children just as they are in this moment in time.

I just love this. On one hand, their expressions are hilarious and make me laugh. But it's also such a beautiful capture of my silly children just as they are in this moment in time.

This is currently one of my favorite images of my son. Initially I posed him on the blanket in a way that I felt would work best. Never one to make my life easy, this guy started rolling around all over the place. Somehow I managed to capture this, and I love it.

This is currently one of my favorite images of my son. Initially I posed him on the blanket in a way that I felt would work best. Never one to make my life easy, this guy started rolling around all over the place. Somehow I managed to capture this, and I love it.

I recently discovered that I have a vintage quilt problem. In that I love them, and want them all. Simultaneously, my daughter has recently started playing a game at home that cracks all of us up. She brings a blanket to you, and motions that you are to wrap it around her. Then she holds it around herself and walks around the house like some kind of royalty. So for this image, we took our game outside!

I recently discovered that I have a vintage quilt problem. In that I love them, and want them all. Simultaneously, my daughter has recently started playing a game at home that cracks all of us up. She brings a blanket to you, and motions that you are to wrap it around her. Then she holds it around herself and walks around the house like some kind of royalty. So for this image, we took our game outside!

Where did she get those dimples? Definitely not me!

Where did she get those dimples? Definitely not me!

I took the kiddos here to check out the light, play some soccer and get some nice images of them. Instead I get this...however, Captures like this absolutely crack me up. Fiona wants her chair back, Jacob looks pretty proud at having stolen it from her. 

I took the kiddos here to check out the light, play some soccer and get some nice images of them. Instead I get this...however, Captures like this absolutely crack me up. Fiona wants her chair back, Jacob looks pretty proud at having stolen it from her. 

There goes the queen

There goes the queen

Hiking through Big meadows in Shenandoah National Park during the most beautiful golden hour. "Hey bud, smile nice for the camera!" Jacob does this...but it's perfect. It's my wild guy.

Hiking through Big meadows in Shenandoah National Park during the most beautiful golden hour. "Hey bud, smile nice for the camera!" Jacob does this...but it's perfect. It's my wild guy.

Maybe Gnats, maybe a facepalm. Again, if it makes me laugh, It's in.

Maybe Gnats, maybe a facepalm. Again, if it makes me laugh, It's in.

Dial back the moxie, sassmouth!

Dial back the moxie, sassmouth!

As we were walking out to the car in the morning, the light was perfect. I ran upstairs, grabbed my camera and caught baby girl as she tasted a brief moment of freedom. 

As we were walking out to the car in the morning, the light was perfect. I ran upstairs, grabbed my camera and caught baby girl as she tasted a brief moment of freedom. 

Then I moved a few feet and caught this beautiful moment of a toddler taking a moment to stop and smell the roses. 

Then I moved a few feet and caught this beautiful moment of a toddler taking a moment to stop and smell the roses. 

Mid afternoon sun comes in bright white in the summer as my little gymnast balances.

Mid afternoon sun comes in bright white in the summer as my little gymnast balances.

We took an afternoon hike at a nearby trail, as Jacob started messing with the dirt I realized that it softened the light and created a magical atmosphere. So i encouraged him to kick the dirt all over the place while I snapped away, and Fiona gave him the Heisman. We all got super dirty, but it was so worth it.

We took an afternoon hike at a nearby trail, as Jacob started messing with the dirt I realized that it softened the light and created a magical atmosphere. So i encouraged him to kick the dirt all over the place while I snapped away, and Fiona gave him the Heisman. We all got super dirty, but it was so worth it.

A sunday evening hike backlit by the setting sun.

A sunday evening hike backlit by the setting sun.

And an angry baby who thinks she should be allowed to scale rocks on her own.

And an angry baby who thinks she should be allowed to scale rocks on her own.

Super serious cool guy in the harsh mid day sun

Super serious cool guy in the harsh mid day sun

And a bouncy baby in the harshest of sun

And a bouncy baby in the harshest of sun

My 365 | Northern Virginia Photographer

I don't know why I felt the desire to start a personal project like a 365...especially considering I was adjusting to life of a mama of two, with a 2 year old and a 2 month old. At the time, I remember asking my lifelong girlfriends for advice on a unifying theme for my 365, but I think we all knew that I was using delay tactics. The enormity of this project seemed overwhelming. And while I knew I wanted to do it, I was scared and so I tried to find ways to put it off. Which is so silly, because it was a personal project! And now that it's said and done, I am so glad that I pushed through the fear and did it. 

With that year under my belt, and thousands of RAW files on various external drives, I haven't been so proud of my creative self in a long time. It was such a positive experience, and the growth I can see in my images from September 1, 2016 to September 1, 2017 is surreal. And it's not just technical understanding of my camera, settings, light, shadow and composition, but the story, and the growth of my children over that time. Given all of the positives I took from this experience, I encourage you to consider a personal project as well. It doesn't require a fancy camera, in fact the megapixels on the iPhone camera far surpass those on my first DSLR. It also doesn't have to be a year, you could make it a 30 day challenge. If the idea of a 365 even so much as sparks your interest, I encourage you to take on a personal creative project. You won't regret it.

So if you're ready to give it a go, here are my tips on how to make it successful.

Let it Be Organic
Like I mentioned before, I became so hung up on brainstorming a theme that I let it serve as a roadblock to actually beginning. Just start! I guarantee that a theme will present itself as time goes by. And if you do have an idea of a theme before starting, that's awesome. You're way ahead of me!

In the beginning I didn't really know where this was going, so I took photos of my kids. I'm pretty sure my thought process was "Uhhh, yes. Baby on carpet. Go."

In the beginning I didn't really know where this was going, so I took photos of my kids. I'm pretty sure my thought process was "Uhhh, yes. Baby on carpet. Go."

Plan Ahead When You Can
Part of this journey meant bringing my camera with me everywhere. At first it felt cumbersome and somewhat annoying, but over time it helped me see the beauty in even the most mundane daily occurrences. Now I kick myself when I forget to bring it to a local playground, as the light dances around my son's curls.

An everyday afternoon trip to the playground can be such an amazing snapshot into life as it is today.

An everyday afternoon trip to the playground can be such an amazing snapshot into life as it is today.

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Embrace the Chaos
I really do try to keep my house clean. But I've come to terms with the fact that while I have a few toddlers running around, it just isn't going to be the pristine escape I envision. This brings me to a really odd memory. When I was in college, disposable cameras were all the rage. Do I sound like Grandpa Simpson? I feel like I did right there.  Anyways, I don't know if I took this picture on purpose or not, but I have an image of my dorm room, as it was. I remember getting that roll of film developed and almost throwing out that photo. But I didn't, and I actually really love it when I come upon that mistaken image. It's such a great window into this tiny little cube that was my home for a pivotal year of my life. 

So! I say work with the mess, shoot with it, around it and through it. Someday you'll love that window into your life as it was. 

Messes everywhere, but I will always cherish this...my crazy little guy racing his trike through our house.

Messes everywhere, but I will always cherish this...my crazy little guy racing his trike through our house.

Find even the smallest amount of light

Find even the smallest amount of light

Know that You'll Get Stuck
There will be days when you have no idea what to shoot. I reached a point where I just didn't know how many more photos I could take of my son at his train table. When you hit a wall, change something up. Try out a different lens, why not take a macro shot of Thomas on the train tracks!? Take your camera somewhere completely unexpected. I'll admit I still haven't garnered up the courage to take my camera to the grocery store, but I will. And I know those images will be a fantastic representation of the chaos in the mundane. Or try to shoot in a lighting situation that feels completely crazy difficult. You'll be surprised at the results.

Forgive Yourself
Unless you have the discipline of my man Dwayne Johnson, you will most likely miss a day here and there. I absolutely missed some days, it happens. In fact, I ended up continuing my 365 for an additional month to try to make up for those days. I remember one night I was in bed and then I realized I had forgotten to take my image for the day. I must have been feeling particularly motivated, because I got out of bed, brought my camera up to the bedroom and tried to find a random composition. I ended up taking an image of the video monitor sitting on my nightstand. It took a few tries to get the settings right given the tricky lighting, but I always stop on that image as I scroll through my favorites from the project, my angelic sleeping 2 year old. Such an everyday moment, looking at your monitor to check on your babies, and I am so grateful to have frozen it in time with that last minute capture.

But you know what? There were way more nights where I realized I had forgotten to take my daily image, and I said "oh well, there's always tomorrow." That's the nice thing about a personal project. You're the boss, you can be as hardcore as you'd like. 

Reward Yourself
I'm working on a photo book of the finished images from my 365. It won't be anything crazy, there are a bunch of companies that will take all of your files and compile them into a beautifully laid out design, ZNO comes to mind. But it will be such a great snapshot into this year in the life of my family.

Go forth and chase the light, my friends!

Go forth and chase the light, my friends!