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!

Backyard Confetti – Family Photo Session

I was excited when Jen decided to have her photoshoot in her backyard. My thinking was that it was a good intimate space that has connections to other family memories. It’s a place of meaning.

Her thinking was that it was a familiar place that would keep the kids contained and calm. Well…it turned out to be a high-energy, bouncing around session, but we rolled with it and got a lot of action shots.  Half the time, as I was editing these pictures, I would burst out laughing. Their family’s craziness reminds me of my own.

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Jen’s son is so sweet. I love his expression when he hugs his mom.

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This whole family is gorgeous.

The confetti shots were tricky because we only had so much confetti and so many chances, and it had to be thrown up high to give us plenty of falling time – this was a task for an adult.

Here are some of our failed tries.

Hands and arms tended to block faces, but after several tries we got it!

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After we got the confetti to look good, I helped coach the family’s reactions, because it’s actually not human nature to look up into the sky and let things fall on your face and eyes with glee. But the whole family proved to be such good sports to doing it over and over.

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At the end of the photoshoot, this kids wanted to throw confetti themselves, so we had some unscripted play on their trampoline. These candid moments are my favorite of the shoot.

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The kids are laughing because I had them lay on top of each other. Why did I had them lay on top of each other? Because I was shooting with a prime and couldn’t fit the whole family in the frame. It’s as good a reason as any to snuggle close.

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In the end, it wasn’t just a fun photoshoot, but a fun memory.

Green Pier on Atlantic Beach – Family Photo Session

Heather, having lived in Florida for awhile, said to me she wanted the obligatory Florida beach photos – because everybody has them. I laughed, but then set out to make her photos different from everyone else’s.

First, I wanted a cool pier or structure to break up the horizon. Atlantic Beach has a perfect green pier that doesn’t quite reach the water. It is old and faded, but I when I first laid eyes on it, I loved it!

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This picture is my favorite. The way their little girl is twisting out of their arms, Heather’s hair is whipping in front of her face, and Greg is looking up for just a split-second – it’s just a moment full of motion and spontaneity. You wouldn’t have even guessed their daughter was squirming and screaming because I was threatening to tickle her. I think she’s looking at my tickling left hand while my right hand is struggling to balance the camera.

As the sun went down, we witnessed amazing colors in the sky.

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I love their daughter’s one eye poking out.
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Heather looks like a model. It’s like a fan is blowing her hair.

Second, we took a step back from taking pictures and did some free-form candids – which is risky because it’s just me dashing around trying to get a good angle of while them play. I’m gave them little direction, and didn’t know how it would turn out. But the ocean is too great a temptation to ask anyone, let alone a toddler, to sit still for long. So I relaxed a little and followed them as they played. We ended up collecting a lot of seashells, but it made the moments feel fresh and alive!

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3. I like to bring props to mix things up. At the end of the photo session, I pulled out a surprise! I feel with little kids, you can’t ask them to act or pretend – their feelings of joy or surprise must be real. So I bought some yellow balloons and because I’m a dork, I hid them in a large black garbage bag and hauled that on the beach.

When their little girl saw the balloons, it was like she had a sugar spike.

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She’s not letting anyone touch the balloons.

At the end of day, when the light was almost gone, I told them to let go of the balloons and watch them fly away. Their daughter was very concerned. The balloons flew higher and higher…gone. Afterward, she kept on saying, “Balloons, go home.” It was so cute.

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This was the last shot of the day. I asked Heather and Greg to kiss their daughter on the cheek, but she was still so concerned about the balloons that she didn’t want to be bothered with a kiss. This is why compositing photos is such an important part of what I do. If any moment is missed, I can merge the best part of two photos.

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Final edited image. It has the best of expression from both pictures.

In the end, I’m glad we took the obligatory beach pictures. But by finding a great structure, taking part in free-form candids, and having a surprise prop, these pictures become so much more!