candid photographer

Lucy // 6 months // Jewel Box, St. Louis, MO

I can't believe Lucy is already 6 months old! Especially since I just did her newborn post. This has been a crazy year, raising my second baby boy (who decided to not sleep through the night at 10 months old, just as the busy photography season hit!). I have a lot of blogging to do in the New Year, but decided to get this adorable "holiday themed" session in while we're all sitting around drinking hot cocoa and eggnog. Tis' the Season for twinkly eyed babies that have elf hats!

We snuck in a session just after the serious cold weather hit here in St. Louis, MO. Originally we were going to brave the cold, but plans quickly changed when we arrived at Forest Park here in St. Louis, and the wind told us otherwise. The Jewel Box is a serious gem in the middle of the park, with beautiful light streaming in through the wall to ceiling windows. Lush greenery line the walls, making you feel like you are in an oasis in the middle of a desert (or in the middle of a freezing Midwestern City).

Did you notice that Lucy has twinkly eyes and never stops smiling? She also is very good at being aware of where the camera is. She is, in a nutshell, the perfect baby model. She has a sweet, calm demeanor to match. I think there is a little bit of mischievousness behind those eyes, but only time will tell with this cutie! I can't wait to watch her grow up!

Dylan at 4 months (4 months ago!)

Hey guys. I'm just doing a quick post about MY baby boy... since I haven't done that since, er.. he was born? I think that is super awesome that I am so so busy that I don't have time to do blog posts.. I'd rather have a busy business and be behind in blogging then a slow business with all the time in the world to blog! If you don't follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you should.. because I am more up to date in those places. Anywho, here is Dyl Pickle at 4 months, and he really doesn't look or act that different! He is such a laid back baby. Still bald and still not mobile! :) Good news for me! His eyes are still mystery hazel- dark green/brown.

Sweet Henry James // April 16th, 2016

Being a photographer is a pretty amazing job. I meet so many amazing people that let me into their lives. They let me into their homes. I get to meet their squishy new babies and teeter-totter toddlers. I get to photograph their teenagers as they are about to float off to college. I see babies turn into toddlers and toddlers turn into fearless children. I mean this when I say that I LOVE WHAT I DO. I have a deep curiosity for human beings, and I love photographing them more than anything (dogs come next). My point here is, that this sweet little angel was born (on the luckiest of days- the 16th is also my birthday- but in September) into an incredible home, with incredible parents. The love in this house, oh the love is indescribable. Can I just say that the chills that I felt during their maternity shoot were quadrupled during our story-telling newborn session. I will stop typing and let you see for yourself. But first, here are a few words to describe the day... 

Baseball, baseball, BASEBALL! (you guys moved to the right town) • sweetness • love, love, LOVE! • dog breath and kisses • more kisses • soft singing • orange & black • GIANTS! • Great Grandma • confidence • pride • beauty • powerful motherly love • proud Daddy • curious eyes • free thinker • independent • gentle • blue eyes • strawberry hair • did I say sweetness yet? ;)

Enjoy and congratulations Maggie & Patrick (Bart & Homer too!).. you are blessed with a sweet little man. 

Andy + Amber // Proposal + Engagement // Watkins Glen State Park // Glenora Vineyard, NY

This is a very special couple to me. Andy is my brother-in-law (who I consider my brother), and Amber is my future sister-in-law (who I will consider my sister). So when Andy asked me to be there when he proposed to his girlfriend, and photograph it– I did not hesitate to say yes. Andy had planned this surprise proposal at a beautiful waterfall at Watkins Glen State Park in NY because Amber has always loved waterfalls. Andy dropped to his knee in front of a beautiful waterfall, with dozens of people watching and cheering on (it was peak foliage season with a lot of tourists at the waterfall). 

After the proposal near the waterfall, Andy was clearly relieved and Amber was simply glowing. We were all a bit more relaxed and able to enjoy the incredible hike that ascended more than 800 stone steps, leading us to more than 19 waterfalls. Afterwards, we spent the afternoon and evening at Glenora Vineyard doing a wine tasting and an engagement photoshoot. I had SUCH a blast with these two adorable kids. I am SO, so happy to welcome Amber into the White family, and share a name with her. They are so perfect together– like two puzzle pieces that have been left astray, waiting to find one another. They just... Make. Sense. 


Welcome to the world, little one // Northern VA

Sweet little Emmaline was born into a house full of love, laughter and a whole lot of activity. She has a big brother AND a big sister to chase after for years to come. It's a good thing that Emmaline has a very easy-going temperament. She actually seemed to perk up with curiosity when she heard her brother and sister talk or laugh. These kids are going to have a blast together. Sure, there will be fighting and tears– but there will also be laughter and super-fun-happy-times. Evan and Ellie are going to be amazing big siblings to Miss Emmaline. Apparently Ellie doesn't take anything from anyone, and has already stood up for her big brother Evan. I think Emmaline is one lucky little girl to have that big sister Ellie! What a fun bunch.

My heart swelled seeing how much Emmaline's parents cherish her. Seeing a Mom hold her newborn child is one of the most beautiful, heart-warming images. Then put a tiny baby girl in her Father's arms and your heart melts all over again.

I normally like to spend a good amount of time on posing the baby, capturing "naturally posed newborn" images. But the shoot led me in the direction of capturing a lot of candid family portraits and "life moments". I love that this happened, since these are much more special and natural than some of the posed newborn shots. They capture the relationship and special bond between the family and the newborn. The little red sack that Emmaline wore in a few of the posed shots came as a gift from a friend of the family (a neighbor I think). I just ADORED that sack! What a beautiful, hand-made gift. I think someone should open a shop on Etsy!

This little beauty was making my camera sing. That hair! Those lips! Those ears! Enjoy!

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Little Aly // Northern VA

Happy Friday ya'll! Here are some photos from a recent shoot I did for my coworker and her ADORABLE baby girl, Aly. This little munchkin is so full of cuteness, and is incredibly sweet on top of it. She's also incredibly laid back. You know how everyone says they want a laid back baby? Well this girl is that baby. She did not have a single fussy "peep" during the whole session. I think back on Finn, and he would have demanded milk and/or a nap at least once in the span of time that I was with Aly. And he would have tried to eat the balloons. And the crate. And probably the grass too.

Aly also had these great little expressions. Check out that "I may be little, but I have a big personality!" face in the series on the bridge. You'll know which one I'm talking about. This little girl is awesome.

Her parents are chill too, so it all makes sense. Of course my coworker wore a dress that perfectly matched the balloons that I picked up. Totally perfect coincidence. And as two geeky Graphic Designers, we were thrilled. Oh, and their beautiful dog, General Patton hung out with us too. He was also a perfect gentleman! The few times I've done a shoot with a dog, it ends up making things pretty tricky. This fine Sir even let me take a couple snaps of him calmly standing (or laying) guard over his sweet little family.

What a beautiful spot and lovely evening spent with this very cool little family.

Beautiful Savannah // Tybee Beach, GA

Is there a 'command z' (or 'edit undo') button for life? 

I recently posted that my little family was packing up and moving to Savannah, GA because my husband took a new job. I am happy (and sad) to announce that we are not moving to Savannah. We were two days away from moving when my husband and I decided that it was not the right move (no pun) for him professionally. Sure, it would have been nice to have figured this out a couple weeks sooner – but I sure as heck am happy that we figured this out a few days before loading up the moving truck. 

So here I am, editing this blog post that was originally an announcement about our move. I really do not have much to say, other than – I remain grateful for all of the things that I have in life, rather than the things I lack. There have been a few things that have happened in the last couple months that have given me great perspective. Life is just too short to worry about something like packing and unpacking boxes. And not living near the beach again. Sigh. ;)

So, as I said before, I'll say it again: Sometimes life takes us in a new direction and we just have to follow that flow. It can be exciting, scary, thrilling and sad all at once. But we have to embrace it and make the best of it. We can't look back. We can't worry about the future. We just have to ride that wave–trusting that it is going to be one hell of a ride. 

Here are some awesome reasons to visit Savannah, Georgia. We'll be back someday, pretty lady.

Here are some shots from our visit a month ago… when Finn discovered pure "gold". The beach, the sand and the mysterious ocean. I swear I did not coordinate Finn and my color matching. 

FAN // linked hearts

I recently had the pleasure of volunteering for an incredible program here in DC, called FAN. FAN's mission (I quote) is to cultivate a focus on youth well-being and positive development in an environment infused with safety, security, and love. The woman in charge of the program is beyond words. Nia (which means Purpose), not only gives her life to these kids, but also her heart. She's one of those people that would probably adopt all of the children in the world that need a home, if she could. Not just the babies, but the teenagers too. She actually has adopted, on top of having her own. {She's the third person down in the color series blog post below}

FAN stands for (I quote) Fihankra Akoma Ntoaso. In the Akan culture of West Africa, the Fihankra is a communal housing compound which symbolizes a "safe enclosure" or "safe house." Akoma Ntoaso means "linked hearts," and is a symbol of understanding and agreement. Many young people do not have access to such safe environments, which are critical to their development.

So I came in and volunteered as a photographer teacher, and taught foster children, ages 6-18 the basics of photography. We made pin-hole cameras out of Quaker Oat's containers, learned about the difference between film and digital. We spent a TON of time playing with a polaroid camera (instant gratification). Really, I was there to show them love, guidance and creativity. And we had a lot of fun in the meantime! I showed them that they could count on my arrival every Friday throughout the summer. My mission was to break them out of their shells. To get them to smile, laugh, and be free.

You can see in some of these photos the difference between a closed heart, and an open heart. These kids just need love, guidance and someone they can count on. This program gives them that and much, much more.

The most rewarding part of my time with them was when one of the teenage girls–who was usually pretty quiet and closed-off (and didn't smile very often)– opened up her heart in front of my camera and started BEAMING, dancing, jumping and laughing. It was so incredibly gratifying. I saw her true spirit, and I captured it. When two hearts touch, there is no greater reward.

You just have to spill your light onto others, so they know that they too, can shine their own.

Follow FAN on Facebook!

kelci alane photography

I have a dear friend that I want to write about. Her name is Kelci Alane House, and she is one amazing photographer. She is also an amazing person. She is incredibly sweet, but will also tell you like it is. I am so grateful that she came into my life! She is so naturally energetic that she doesn't need coffee. Actually, she should stay away from coffee. Decaf will still give her a burst. Or maybe that is just her. I really can't figure it out. I see a younger version of myself in her.. although she is an old soul (and is wise beyond her years). But she can be a total goofball, which I love! I am so excited for her future. She is going to shine.

We are teaming up to do weddings together, so check her out if you are interested in working with me! If you want to work with me, and I am not quite in your neck of the D.C./Maryland woods, hit up Kelci. She is on the Maryland side of town, while I'm down in Northern Virginia.

This girl rocks! Check out the headshots below I took of her (and you can see the ones she took of me on my "Me" page). She has taken a ton of beautiful photos of my bump and my family. And I am forever grateful for that. 

We recently got together and had an incredibly productive coffee date called "Let's Make Sh%t Happen". Here are few things that we went over, that might be helpful for other photographers (or aspiring photographers):

• Establish your pricelist and stick with it. Be fair to yourself and your clients.
• Create questionnaires for you clients. Here's a sample Bride/Groom questionnaire from a well known photographer, Katelyn James.
• Organize all of your pricelists, contracts, questionarres, etc. through a virtual studio manager like ShootQ.
• Hire a lawyer and/or accountant to help you with contracts and making things legsl. Register your business.
• Take a workshop that is right for you. Maybe this one is better.
• Never stop learning.
• Sign up for a photography conference.
• Practice practice practice. Call your friends if you have no bookings. Use your iPhone for practice. You can learn a lot about framing and lighting (seeing how light bounces off subjects, available light, back-lighting, etc.) Sign up for Instagram. Follow other photographers that inspire you.
• Work with other photographers, like Kelci Alane Photography or your Aunt Pretty!
• Do something good for the world and use your photography skills to volunteer, near or afar.
• Go on location scouting trips! Speaking of… our headshots below were shot in Old Town, Alexandria VA and an overpass near the Rock Creek Parkway. My bump photos were taken at Lockhouse 22 C & O Trust.

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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