candid

Haleigh Madison // Charlotte, NC

I don't even know where to start with this beautiful girl, other than that I cannot believe this sweetheart is graduating from High School. I remember the day that I met my oldest niece (and her little sisters)—so clearly. She was around 7 or 8 years old. She stole my heart from day one. She ALWAYS had a big grin on her face, with eyes big and bright—eager to talk AND listen. Haleigh and her sisters always enveloped me with love, hugging me as much as they could from that first day (and to this day STILL). Haleigh was a barrel of energy as a little girl, and as sweet as sweet can be. She has always been incredibly graceful, with long limbs and a tall frame. And this is why she always would shine on the dance floor. She was like an awkward little long-legged, skinny fawn as a girl, and has grown into a beautiful doe. Graceful, strong and gorgeous. I am so proud of you Haleigh, and am fighting tears as I type this! You are such a beautiful woman, inside and out! Your heart is big and will touch so many people's lives. You will be an amazing nurse—or whatever else your heart desires. LOVE YOU!

Kappel Family // larson park // st. louis, mo

I recently photographed this awesome family, with three kiddos (all individually unique). The youngest was super outgoing and silly. She reminded me a little bit of myself as a child. Her name is Annie, which is what I went by as a kid. I'm pretty sure I told her Mom numerous times how funny and adorable I thought Annie was (so I must be funny and adorable- er was at one point?!). I, like Annie, am also the youngest of three kiddos, with a big brother and big sister. 

Annie clearly was the outgoing, silly child. Her energy was infectious. She LOVED to be center stage. She was unique and colorful. I think birth order is so interesting, and I'm sure there are a lot of youngest children like Annie... outgoing and silly, refusing to let their voice go unheard. I love it! 

Emma and Sam were so patient and sweet with their younger sister Annie. They let her be in the middle, in the front, on center stage. They were laughing at her funny antics most of the time, too. Like it was just another scene in their movie called life. Emma was the patient older sister. The way the light was bouncing off of her was so beautiful. Sam was a silly one himself, but also had this old-soul element. He was super comfortable in front of the camera, and did a crazy back bend. You kids rock. What a fun family! 

Faith Academy of Montessori // Mini Session Fundraiser // Larson Park, Tiles Park & Oak Knoll Park, St. Louis, MO

I did a fundraiser for my son's, preschool recently... jamming 12 Mini Sessions into two weekends. It was insanely fun, exhausting and exhilarating. I get totally energized from doing photography, so the exhaustion didn't really kick in until a few days after it was all said and done. Photography simply fuels my creative spirit. So this was like 10 cups of coffee for me. We ended up fundraising over $2,200 to go towards a new natural playground at their school! I was so proud of all of us! Here is a sneak peak of the families that participated. What well behaved, Montessori children!

Kelci House // Golden Hour // Northern VA

I can't talk highly enough about this special gal, Miss Kelci House. We are kindred photographer sisters, or something of that nature. We keep each other motivated and inspired. We push each other. We get overwhelmed together. We take photos together, and of each other. We also laugh together, a lot. Can't you tell by looking at these photos just HOW much fun we have (and how much fun Kelci is)? 

We recently trucked out to a Flower Farm somewhere in rural Northern Virginia to take photographs of each other. Ironically, there were no flowers blooming at the flower farm. Well, there were a few… but it was pretty sparse. I didn't mind at all; they weren't meant to be in the shoot. There was too much beauty elsewhere to worry about the darn flowers. The tall grass, the red barn, and of course–Kelci. And that golden evening light that just drips all over the earth as if it is kissing it goodnight. That isn't so bad either ;)

Please, please consider doing an evening shoot with me at your next session. It is just magical.

What is the Golden Hour?
• The Golden Hour occurs the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset.
• It is sometimes also referred to as the Magic Hour.
• It is the time of day when the special quality of light yields particularly beautiful photographs. 
• It appeals to photographers especially, because of its rarity throughout the day.
• The shadows are softer because the sun is so low. They aren't creating harsh shadows on faces.
• The light is literally golden.
• You can create beautiful backlit photographs with a natural lens flare.
* Photographer tip: A backlit photograph is one where the sun is behind the subject (being shielded by them), creating a blown out background. Be sure to meter the subject, not the background.
* The first series of images here are actually the last ones taken from the evening, and are less "golden" because the sun was already below the horizon. See the difference? Still beautiful, but not golden.

Sweet baby Nolan

There was another very special baby that was born right before Christmas. Finn's younger cousin, Nolan. We were so glad that our rotation of holiday visits landed on this side of the family for this past Christmas, which fell two weeks after Nolan was born. The timing couldn't have been more perfect! He came into this world calmly and is just about one of the most laid back babies that I have ever met. He is also incredibly sweet and snuggly. Finn is always SO excited to follow his big cousin Trevor around, trying desperately to keep up. One day Finn, one day. It will be fun to see the three of them following each other around next year!

Here are some tips for any Mommy photographers or Moms that are just trying to take photographs of their newborn: Stay calm, patient, turn up the heat, have a blow-dryer handy, burp the baby, rock the baby and photograph near a window. See more below...

We had the heat set to 80 degrees, went through 5 diaper changes2 feedings and ran the hair-dryer before little Nolan happily fell asleep on his parent's bed. Also, his Mommy's relaxed and soothing attitude (see her hand on him below) helped him fall asleep with not a care in the world. Having the Mom stay close usually helps keep the little one relaxed. If they are hungry though, they will smell her and wail. So keep them well fed! Some babies do get distracted by Mommy's sent regardless, so if they don't calm down, send her away to get some R&R. Using the parents bed is a great way to have a lot of space around the baby to work with. Just make sure you shoot in the room of choice when the lighting is best. Don't get frustrated if the baby is awake, those can be beautiful photographs as well. When they sleep though, they tend to have a more relaxed face, with no "Benjamin Button" wrinkles, haha. A hair-dryer, white noise machine (a ton of apps for your smart phone) or a vacuum cleaner also tend to stop the crying if it gets really bad. Remember to burp the baby after the feedings as well, and don't rush! A last ditch method is to either you or the Mommy hold the baby on their back with the head in your hands and feet pressed into your belly and sway him/her left to right (back and forth), keeping their feet in the same place. This motion creates some kind of effect that is similar to being in the womb. Remember to be patient, and give yourself 2-4 hours if needed. Babies are like sharks and pick up on fear, hahaha! G'luck!

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Nothing beats family time

Here are some more photos from my visit to my sister's place somewhere between here and the West Coast, right near Lake Erie to be more specific ;) There is nothing more important than family, so I soaked up every second I could. I took a lot of photos of my nephew Ross, aka "Rossy Boss". He just turned two a few days ago, happy birthday bud! The angel faced, deep thinker.. who has few things to say (but he seems to choose his words carefully, like his Daddy). He likes to call Finn by his middle name, Jude... which actually sounds like "Dude".

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A shoot on Lake Erie- behind the scenes

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! It snuck up on me fast, and flew right on by.

I was lucky enough to see all of my immediate family, near and afar. Over Thanksgiving we all headed to the Midwest to see my sister and her clan of boys. She has an awesome little family; three boys and a Rottie named Petunia. My sister is my other half. I would be lost without her. I wish we lived closer, but I'll take what I can get.

Here are some behind the scene photos, in addition to the actual photos of me shooting my sister's family photos on Lake Erie, (my husband took iPhone pics of me shooting them). You'll also see a photo of my hubby photographing my sister, brother and I in one. My Dad is the one that took the holiday photo of my little fam (see previous post). Any photo of me in it was taken by either my hubby or Dad. So yea, I ask the family to step up if I need to be in the photo. I just adjust the settings and hand the camera over... and pray they get me in focus!

I have some more awesome shots from the visit, which I'll post soon. Here is the bunch from the Lake. And to any of you who think you can't have a photoshoot in the winter, you are wrong (have you seen my shoot of Finn in the highchair while it is snowing- which the Grandparents thought was cruel, but he loved it, I swear). My sister's boys LOVED being outside, regardless of the chill in the air. Natural light is best, and my absolute standard for shooting. 

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Boo Bear

I spent a relaxing-but-not-so-relaxing week in my family's cabin in the woods (on a lake) in upstate New York about a month ago. It was my "summer vacation". My husband wasn't with me, so I was a bit short of help. I was basically chasing Finn around the whole week, aside from a few moments of solitude. My parents (MomMom and Poppi) were there too, but they were also on their vacation. It was a great vacation, since the sole purpose was to spend some quality time with my boo bear. My husband's Aunt conveniently sent this (un-coincidentally) adorable hat a couple weeks before the trip!

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