Family Session – Walter Jones Historical Park

“This photo session is 14 years in the making,” Rose told me as we met on a drizzly January afternoon. She told me her husband has not taken professional family photos with her for 14 years, and today was the day that ended. I hoped to not disappoint. Rose’s mother and father were there as well, and they joked and brought out the best smiles from each other.

Walter Jones Park is an interesting historical park – full of old farmhouse buildings, old trees, and famous quirky frog sculptures dotting the area. It’s great to take pictures here because amid the aging structures, we celebrate timeless relationships:

Christmas Minis 2019

Every year, I choose a different location and experiment with different lighting for my Christmas Minis. Usually I do it outside, where the lush green of Florida winter does nothing to add to the Christmas/wintery feeling. This time, I did most of the mini sessions indoors against the bright bay window of my dining room. With enough decorations and overexposure of the window, you can just imagine cuddling by the sparkling tree on a cold, snowy day. However, the gem of each picture turned out to be the Christmas spirit brought by the families photographed. Their smiles were especially merry and bright this year!

And I did one mini-session outside this year. I love this tree at Treaty Oak Park in downtown Jacksonville. The branches seem to be a metaphor for this beautiful family and the closeness they share.

Thank you to everyone who made these sessions fun and meaningful. This is my favorite time of the year because it helps you remember what is important.

See you next year!

2019 Christmas Minis are Coming!

I think what every mom/wife wants for Christmas is a good family picture. You would be surprised how hard that is to deliver. With grumpy husbands, underwear-flashing daughters, raspberry-blowing sons, crying babies, it’s a miracle we come out alive. I guess I’m just talking about my family, but if you feel the same way, let me make it easy for you. Come to my indoor studio and put a star on the tree, throw some cotton snowballs, and hug each other while smiling (only naturally, of course). I promise you’ll come out of it alive and with beautiful memories of the ones you love most!

Christmas Mini Sessions are just around the corner…

Date: Saturdays, November 16th & 23rd, 2019

Place: Indoor Studio (close to Losco Rd. in Mandarin area). Jacksonville, Florida

Times: Mornings, from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

What: 20 minute mini-photo session (perfect for kiddos, quick family pictures, and Christmas cards).

Investment: $75

You get: 10 edited digital files/print release.

You can set up a time through here. You can also check out 2017’s Christmas Minis here and 2018’s Christmas Minis here. See you there!

Windy Day at Camp Milton – Family Photoshoot

Right before Christmas, I had scheduled a shoot with Machell and her family. On the day of the shoot, it was uncharacteristically windy – with gusts of wind at 25 mph.

“Should we change to another location?” Machell asked me, worried the wind would cause a problem in the flat, open fields at Camp Milton. I pictured hair being blown in faces, and people squinting. I also pictured the beautiful fall colors and yellow grass of the fields – something that you can only find a couple months out of the year in Florida. “Let’s risk it!” I said, and with heavily cloudy sky and chilly wind, I headed out to location.

I’m so glad we did! The cloudy sky gave beautiful even light. The wind pushed everyone’s hair back – in perfect model fashion. Machell’s family even brought their dog, who was so picture perfect and made everyone else smile. I’m glad for the little unplanned surprises that make a photoshoot better than planned.

Fanaaj: Newborn Session

The first time I handled a newborn session, I was hesitant to touch or position the baby. Even after handling two babies of my own, other people’s babies seem so fragile, they could break. This session was so great for me, because the mother – and my good friend – trusted me completely and gave me full creative control. I did a lot of rocking and soothing and swaddling (quite messily I might add), but it all paid off in the end because this newborn’s perfection was able to shine through.

My friend has a bright loft in her house that was perfect for a quick family portrait.

Christmas Minis 2018 – Losco Park

Among the spanish moss-covered trees, I had the privilege of photographing two beautiful families. I had props and music to make an festive atmosphere, but the thing that brought the most fun was climbing on the trees! 

Glad to herald in the season by helping these families remember what is most important to them. Can’t wait to do this again next year!

Christmas Mini Sessions 2018

Imagine an Asian lady, balancing on top a wobbly apple crate, trying to cast lines of pom pom yarn over a tall branch while sweating profusely. It was a good idea in theory, but in reality, a lot of work!

I’ve been thinking all year of a new Christmas Mini Session set-up, and I kept coming to the idea of hanging things off of trees. When I came across photographs utilizing yarn-ball garlands, I thought I could put a Christmas spin on it and bring a little snow to sunny Florida.

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So come and play under the trees! Christmas Mini Sessions are just around the corner…

Date: Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

Place: Losco Park – Jacksonville, Florida

Times: 4-6 p.m.

What: 20 minute mini-photo session (perfect for kiddos, quick family pictures, and Christmas cards).

Investment: $75

You get: 10 edited digital files.

You can set up a time through here. You can also check out last year’s Christmas Minis here. See you there!

 

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Conrad: Newborn Photo Session

Sometimes newborn photo session make me nervous because they are unpredictable. So when I arrived at Conrad’s parents house, I was relieved to hear that he had cried the whole morning so now he was tired and ready to be photographed. Parents out there, any way to plan for this for your next newborn photo session?

Those eyes…

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Conrad’s mom said she wanted a minimalist life-style shoot. In the past, I’ve depended heavily on props or unique locations to engage children or make interesting pictures. So this was a stretching moment for me, but in the end, I liked it! There is nothing to distract from family interactions and the sweet moments they shared.

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We shifted him to different positions, held him, passed him around, and he still stayed asleep 90% of the time.

This next picture with baby and big sister was tricky. Big sister didn’t want to cuddle Conrad, and when I loomed over her with the camera, I became scary. So with the help of Mom and Dad, we laid her on the bed and held a laptop playing her favorite movie above her so she could watch while lying down. Then slowly we shifted Conrad closer to her, and like a sneaky hunter in the wild, I moved in – watching and waiting for the perfect moment. That’s what I call a parent-photographer team.

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Some daddy-son moments:

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Some mommy-son moments:

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Mom has a beautiful, contemplative smile.

Some behind-the-scenes of what daddy-daughter were doing in the meantime. Even though it doesn’t seem like anything big, I can imagine this being a cool thing to remember: “Remember how “Sing” was your favorite movie? See! You made me watch it everyday!”

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Mom was so good with engaging her daughter with Conrad. “Where are his feet?” she’d say. “Where is his nose?” Asking the parents on the best way to involve their children is something that I want to work on better in future shoots. The parents know best.

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The love and closeness in their family is very apparent in their home.

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The last few photos of the session, I tried to use some of the props I had brought because I have a secret love of photos where babies are lying in layers and layers of texture rich fabric. Don’t tell my daughter that I cut off the bow-tie from her favorite teddy bear to use in this photoshoot.

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Then, I tried to turn Conrad over and balance his chin in his two hands (I’d seen infants posed like that on other blogs), but that was too ambitious. He got shag fluff in his mouth and he started to cry – the sort of cry that I could tell it was all over. I felt so bad! Lessons, lessons.

Lollipops in Mandarin Park – Family Photo Session

We met bright and early on a Saturday morning. No chance of rain, but 100% humidity. Danielle said the kids were already restless, and taking pictures next to a playground was a lot of temptation for a little boy. I was armed with props, bubbles and lollipops, but would it be enough?

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Kids are so honest – that’s why I love their son’s side-grimace as his parents kiss. Their daughter is the perfect age for pictures – good with eye contact and always happy.

After the first set-up, we decided to utilize the big open field to expend some energy.  Sometimes I like to just sit back and let the unexpected happen.

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Interaction with his dad brought the most genuine smiles from their sweet boy.

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Next came some props! I prepared a huge jar of bubble solution, but didn’t really have good bubble wands, so the bubbles were not as prolific as I had envisioned. But they were good sports.

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The lollipops had a calming effect on everyone. Little sister is eyeing the lollipop. She’s going for it!

And then, she gets her own. Still wrapped, of course…

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I like to tell my families to do family hugs. Sometime it turns into a gaggle of heads and arms, but they got it down perfect.

At this point, I asked Danielle if she wanted any other set-ups. She mentioned she liked the wooden deck/ramp beside the playground. I’m glad she said something because they turned out to be my favorite family pictures of the shoot. At this point, their little boy was tired (and wanted his lollipop back), so I had to be a little creative to get him to smile. I tried to shake around the branches and leaves above me (like a maniac), but that wasn’t fruitful. Then, I balanced a lollipop flat on top of my head. It worked! He has the cutest smile, he just made me work for it.

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Throughout the whole shoot, their little girl was perfect – always looking at the camera, smiling and laughing. You would think she would be the first one to run out of stamina, but she surprised us all.

At the very end, we took some pictures of her in her blessing dress. It has very special meaning, because it was made by Danielle’s grandmother. The blue background fabric is also special because it was used at their wedding reception. I was glad to capture this moment for them.

In the end, I’m really glad to have worked with such stellar parents. As a photographer, I feel like I partner with the parents to make this fun for their kids, get true smiles, and do things that are meaningful/unique for their family.

Mother’s Day In-Home Session

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I love in-home sessions because there is personality and memories in the space all around. Lizzy’s living room glowed with late evening light. Her father (who happened to be visiting) helped me balance my reflector and illuminate this quiet tableau:

Lizzy’s daughter just turned 1 and likes to run around. It required some sweet temptations to get her to sit down. But now she will remember that “Dear Zoo” was her favorite book.

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I asked, “What’s your daughter’s favorite thing to do with you?” Lizzy said, “Squeeze my nose.” And sure enough…

I asked, “What’s your son’s favorite thing to do with you?” Lizzy said, “Put his feet in my face.” Ahhh, boys.

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Lizzy’s house looks like one from a magazine. I thought she maybe arranged it or cleaned up just for me. Apparently, this is how it always looks!

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This sweet moment happened when we were trying to get the whole family to stand together. Their little girl took off, and instead of trying to corral her, Rick and Lizzy stood back and watched. I’m glad they took time to appreciate things while in the moment.

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I love it when kids stand funny or do their own thing – let their personality shine through.

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Rick and Lizzy have this beautiful magnolia tree in their front yard. I’m thinking, there will be many memories under that tree.

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This beautiful girl is 1 and very sweet! She’s asking to be picked up here, and we’re just talking excitedly and clapping our hands. I think she forgave us.

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It isn’t often they get to see Grandma and Grandpa. Glad we got to capture some of these quick moments before the day was done.

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Again, I love in-home sessions for the intimacy and meaning they inherently have. If I could do it again, I would highlight different parts of the house with small family moments, framed with doorways and light. Some exciting things to try in the future!