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. 

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!