Olivia and Clara Turn Two! | Ashburn Child Photographer

I have been way behind on my blogging, and I've been dying to add photos from this session of cousins who turned 2 within 2 days of each other. One of the girls lives with her family in Texas, so it was really special that we were able to get these images during the few days that they were visiting in Virginia. Aren't they just the cutest?

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Oliver's One Year/Cake Smash Session | Ashburn Baby Photographer

Oliver's mama contacted me and gave me the biggest compliment ever from the get-go, which I have to share here:

"I’m based in Ashburn as well and wanted to support local entrepreneurs. I’m searching for a family photographer to capture my son as he’s turning one and I love the pureness and joy expressed by the kids you’ve photographed and posted. I am a fan of kids being kids in their own element and surroundings and not so much staged studio photos, so I’m definitely a fan of your work!"

Talk about the best compliment ever! When we met at the session, both mama and Oliver were the sweetest people, beautiful inside and out. Speaking of beautiful...will you take a moment to bask in the glory of this little one's hair? Isn't it magnificent? It's no wonder that Oliver's mama is a very talented hair stylist located in Ashburn. Definitely check her out at https://www.tresshairco.com/

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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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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!

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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Newborn Asha | Ashburn Newborn Photographer

Meet baby Asha, isn’t she stunning? I met Asha’s family around the holidays last year, they were new to the area and looking to have some family photos for their holiday card and I am honored that they chose me. They’re the nicest people, and their son Kavin, is not only sweet and adorable, but also the best dressed little guy I’ve ever seen. It was so nice getting to hang out with them while I took these photos, they are just so laid back and indulged my need to try out a multitude of props on their little one. Tina (mama), must share my excitement for knitted things, as she had already bought a few outfits meant for newborn photography which we enthusiastically included in the session!

I tell my clients that when I come to their home for a session, it might look like I’m trying to move in. I bring a lot of things, and I mean A LOT of things. I generally advise clients not to dress their newborns in any fancy outfits…as cute and tiny as those little NB sized clothes are, a lot of times they swallow up a tiny little baby and don’t photograph well. I have lots of swaddles, wraps, bonnets, hats, headbands and other pieces made exclusively for newborn photography, and I will bring those items to your session based on your answers to the pre-session questionnaire. Mama just went above and beyond in this case 

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