Treaty Oak Park – Children’s Session

Trees have the magic ability to turn children into monkeys, so we decided to go to Treaty Oak Park – a small patch of land in between busy streets and office buildings in downtown Jacksonville. The tree has huge branches that shade a boardwalk and stretch to the ground. It was the perfect place to capture the happy antics of Lizzy’s young children – shady, quiet, and fun. Most of the time I felt like I was chasing them with the camera, like paparazzi. But I’m glad that in the end, we had some sweet and completely unplanned moments.

Siblings always get the best smiles out of each other.
I love this picture for so many reasons. I love how she is standing perfectly in a aisle of light, how she has folded her arms for me (unplanned), and her cute rabbit teeth.
I believe they are falling over here. I may be too.
What a beautiful family!

I’m glad I get to explore beautiful areas around me and focus on capturing these precious human connections.

18 Month Old Photoshoot; Balis Park, San Marco Area

Balis Park is a little oasis in a quaint yet hopping part of San Marco area in Jacksonville. As I met up with Lizzy’s little girl, I saw her peeking out from behind her mom’s legs. At 18 months, kids are full of movement and personality, but they also are beginning to get more nervous around people. Cue the dog statue! Cue the fascinating water fountain! Cue many rounds of peek-a-boo! Cue tickling. After a tag-team effort between Lizzy and I, we saw many gap-toothed smiles and mischievous looks.  It was such a loosely-structured, carefree session, I thought, “I wish I could do this all the time!”

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Playtime in the Trees: Losco Park

Losco park has a beautiful stretch of old, old trees. There is something about the crawling branches, the close blanket of leaves, and the dotted light that makes me think: fairytale. If anyone is thinking of coming here for a photo session, they would be hard pressed to not be completely charmed.

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P.S. This is the first day in two weeks that Simon has agreed to wear a shirt that doesn’t have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I thought it was a moment to commemorate.

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!

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.