It was a very, very good weekend! (insert high pitched squeal here)
It was a very, very good weekend! (insert high pitched squeal here)
This sunny Central Florida engagement session with Caitlin and Michael is to die for! Seriously, these two should look into modeling together. But the most photogenic thing about it all is the sweet and evident love between these two love-birds who meet in a Louisiana college library. Then this lucky girl got to capture all the sweetness on "film"! Congrats, Caitlin and Michael!
The Lido Restaurant at The Standard is one of my favorite spots to dine in all of Miami. Every time I wander through their gardens on the way from the valet to this dockside gem of a restaurant overlooking the Miami Beach bay I dream of taking pause one day to capture some photos... if only I had willing models...
Yesterday was the day.
Thanks Edwin and Caitlin for our impromtu photo session at this lovely place!
I just wrapped up round two of my iPhoneography Class with Highlands Art League, and I'm not going to lie, I may have a little bit of favoritism with this course. iPhoneography is just plain fun, we don't get muddled up with all the settings and buttons involved with a "fancy" camera plus I kind of like the fact that it pushes folks (including myself) to get more creative with the flood of photos we are all pouring into social media these days. Yay for pretty photos! So I thought I'd go ahead and share some tips and tricks I've learned along the way for thoughtful and creative photographic storytelling with my iPhone lens. So here you have it...
#1 Love what you shoot. Identify what excites you, what takes your breath away what story you long to tell and shoot that. We all can't be Ansel Adams or Anne Leibovitz and they can't be each other. Love what you are shooting and that will come across in the image you capture.
#2 When you are out there taking a photo, take a step back and think about why you are about to capture this image - what is your real subject ? Once you have determined what is making you press the shutter, it instantly becomes easier to show the end viewer what kind of message or emotions you are trying to convey.
Light is one of the most important elements of a photograph. Just try to imagine an image without light? Its impossible, right? And the way we work with and use light completely alters not just the quality of our image but also the story we are trying to tell. Hold your phone out in front of you (selfie-style) then spin around the room slowly. Watch and see how the direction of the light source (a window, door, lamp, etc.) changes the look of the image. Can you see it? Lighting changes everything. Sit with the window to your back at lunch next time and see how the light makes your lunch date's eyes sparkle (and it also probably helps to see those cute freckles too). Put them in front of the window and you loose all those details. And it is not just about the direction of where the light is coming from the time of day, the weather and the things the light is reflecting off of, the way the shadows fall all come into play in telling a unique and different story.
Sometimes the absence of light can be the most compelling storytelling tool. Search for the shadows and silhouettes and let the dark create frames in your images.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our subject we are photographing that we don't pay attention to what is going on behind them. If the background is too busy or doesn't add to the story you are trying to tell it can get rather distracting. If you want to photograph your friend and her cute outfit for the day place her in front of a solid colored wall or door. This draws your eye straight to your subject.
Or maybe the background is the story you want to tell. Like the amazing colors and buildings found on the streets of Lima, Peru…
There is an incredible beauty to be found in the details when you take the time to lean in, shift focus and celebrate the small things. Get close and see what you find.
Stepping back tells a larger story that is oftentimes grounded in place. Your friends happy dance in front of a quaint bed-n-breakfast, the still quiet moment of your pup taking an afternoon siesta on your bed, the limbs of a tree reaching out to shade a bride and groom's closest family and friends on their wedding day… it's all in there. And oftentimes these types of images are not just capturing a scene or a place but also the memory of a feeling you experienced in that place.
Our viewpoint plays a major role in the story we tell in our images. Photograph a gopher turtle from above and he looks like a wee little guy but put your camera lens all the way on the ground and look up at the fella and he suddenly becomes massive. And a personal favorite of mine is snapping a photo from directly overhead of your subject on a beach cruiser bike, in the winding staircase, in a litter of pups or at the piano with your niece and nephew. Take time to explore angles and determine what works best for your photo story.
If you have even had a photo session with me you know I am a big proponent of clicking away, especially with kids. Snap a few photos of a moment to try and capture that "just perfect expression" then go back and choose which one works best for your story. And keep snapping even after they think you are done. It is oftentimes in those moments that folks relax and you get the real, authentic smiles.
Sometimes I see the photo I want before it gets there; the kids about to leap from the edge of the pool, the sailboat about to make it's way into my view, the baby about to burst into a smile because he thinks it is funny when you cough. I saw it coming. These types of photos don't happen by accident. They happen because you practice patience and you know just the right moment to click. Wait for it.
All of these images are all little glimpses of life that I was simply present in and paused to capture. The image didn't have to be perfect, but it is a perfect reminder of a moment. I can remember the temperature in each of these photos. The way sun or the night time breeze felt on my skin. The emotion in the air. I can remember it because I lived it. Because I tucked my phone back into my pocket and walked the street, chased a baby on a beach or hopped into a late night pajama dance party with my best friend and her kiddos. Be present. Sometimes the best pictures are captured in our hearts.
If you follow me on Instagram you may have gathered that my family stole away to Miami for the weekend to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday (I don't know what may have clued you in, maybe it was the 30+ images I posted over the course of 4 days). I just can't help it! Miami is such a visually appealing city and then you get my gorgeous family up in the mix and it is a recipe for photo overload. Plus my sister calls this place her home so we have a insta-tourguide for places like Vizcaya, South Beach, Coconut Grove, Wynwood and finding the best food. (Side note: Because my sis lives in Miami I have no travel fees for wedding photography in the area. Yay for Miami weddings!)
We opted to stay a hop skip and away from all the hustle and bustle on the island of Key Biscayne and found ourselves the quaintest of retro Miami places, Silver Sands Beach Resort. If you are looking for Miami luxury, glitz and glam this is NOT the place but if you want to step back in time and experience a little bit of vintage low-key Miami this is DEFINITELY your place. It was just perfect for what we were looking for for the weekend. And as an artist it was a dream… the retro feel, the swaying palms, the vintage architectural details, those aqua doors! All weekend long I plotted and planned for the photo session I had worked out to do with my 13 year old niece for a photo class I was teaching. I wanted to walk my class through how I go about a photo session and this place was the perfect setting, put a gorgeous gal up in the mix and voila… photo loveliness. But… as many photo shoots go things didn't go as planned… when we actually got around the the session the 13 year old wasn't up for it (oh the temperamental-ness of being 13). Luckily I have a 19 month old model of a nephew that is always up for photos (or rather, allowing me to chase around after him with my camera while we try to keep him as happy as possible.) And to top it all off I got myself a great teaching lesson for my photo class where I was able to talk through finding light, making compositional decisions, working through challenges, being present in the moment and telling a compelling visual story all along the way in a real life setting. Win!
Here is a glimpse into a low key morning of Miami fun! And to find out more about how I capture these type of images join me for my next This is the Day Photo Workshop or Highlands Art League class. Enjoy!
So I have to admit, Valentine's Day is maybe my favorite holiday. Seriously. I adore it. And even though we are a week past the "Day of Mushy-Gushy Over the Top Love" I can't help but to still have a bit of a heart filled high. So today I share with you a glimpse into Jamie and Cory's love-filled lakeside wedding celebration I had the joy to capture last fall. Check out the sweetness and prepare yourself for a heart all-a-flutter over all that gorgeousness and the evident love between these two.
Happy Friday! I am still working on some 2014 wrap up posts for you all with details of all the fun Caroline Maxcy Photography had in the past year. But in the meantime, in honor of the "month of love" I will share with you all this super sunny, super sweet engagement session with Stacy and J.C. from back in December. Don't you just love the way a Florida December looks! I love this state (most of the time)! Congrats to Stacy and J.C. and thanks for inviting me to capture a glimpse of your love! xoxo, Caroline
For 34 years I woke up on Christmas morning, shuffled to the living room and plopped down in a sea of presents and warmth and lots of family love. No matter how far away my current place in life may have had me living I always seemed to make it home… for 34 years.
Each year was unique in its own. Some years my dad read the Christmas story straight from the gospels. Some years we had cinnamon rolls in the oven, others it was a breakfast casserole. Some years my mom had a camcorder on her shoulder (one of those super-duper heavy ones that recorded on a full sized VHS that I have no idea where they might be now-a-days.) Some years the presents were big and flashy, others they were small and heartfelt and some years they came in the form of cards that let us know a donation was made in our name. For probably 15 years straight I would get a new Precious Moment's figurine (which was not so much fun as a kid but are probably worth a good bit of money now-a-days). And for the last 10 or so years, as us kids have moved on up there in age, our presents have turned from plastic toys and figurines to paper money where my mom and dad orchestrate elaborate hunts around the house to find our "prize". (This literally happened up until last year.) Some years the tree would be in the living room, other years in the family room, and others, when we up and moved down the street, a completely different house all together. And while the details of the scene may have been different year after year there were few things that never changed. Up until this year that is.
For the first time in 34 years I would sit in a living room on Christmas morning without my dad.
When I stood at my dad's graveside back in May, holding a paper with scribbled notes in my trembling fingers I told a story of how the Lord orchestrated a journey over the past few years preparing us in His ever so mysterious and perfect way for just this moment. He brought me back home just four years earlier (which was not part of my plan) because He knew I'd look back and cherish that time I was blessed to draw closer to my dad in a way I never had been before. And He grew our family by three in the matter of an 1/2 hour long lakeside wedding ceremony of my brothers back in the fall of 2012 because He knew we'd need the extra strength to hold us up. And he brought my precious nephew into this world the following summer because He knew we'd need to be reminded of "the goodness of the Lord" in a child's laughter. As I sat back down in the row of graveside folding chairs, fingers still trembling, my brother's 10 year old stepson beside me looked over and grabbed my hand.
From that day forward I can honestly say that my family has grown closer than I think we ever have been before. There is something about the dark, uncharted territory of grieving that draws you close to those beside you on the path out of sheer necessity I suppose. And as holidays and birthdays and the 29th of each month begins its approach we all seem to take a short, tight breath in unison in an effort to someway dull the pain. So after 34 Christmases sitting in my hometown living room on the morning December 25th we decided it was time for a change.
My family opted for a change of scenery all together and we booked a trip to snowy Colorado for the holidays. It was filled with skiing and snowmobiling and two-horse open sleigh rides and hot cider and fireside games of Uno and delicious food and lazy mornings and breathtaking views and lots and lots of snow. On this 35th Christmas morning I woke up, shuffled to the living room of our condo to join my family, exchanged a few small gifts around a tree and headed outside to capture some family photos in the Colorado gloriousness. I mean, you all know it wasn't quite as easy as that. There was a 2 1/2 hour long process of picking out and coordinating outfits (out of what we all packed in our 1 suitcase for the week), a frenzy of primping and hair teasing and baby chasing all while try to muffle the sighs of "some of us" that would have rather been skiing. Yes, even for a photographer herself a family photo session is challenging... Especially for a photographer. :) But in the end we all knew that ultimately capturing this little slice of a moment in time with family was oh-so-important because if we learned anything from 2014 is that things can change in the blink of an eye… and they'll never be the same again.
I miss my dad being in these pictures more than words can explain but I am so thankful for this family that God has given me on this planet right here, right now and that these are the folks I get to walk through this uncharted territory alongside. Merry Christmas, y'all!
If you happen to follow me on Instagram you may know of my journey to setting up this family photo shoot, which involved the exciting hunt for the perfect Colorado photographer, finding not one, not two, but three potentials and having them all be heading out of town for the holidays. Bummer. So I researched and bought myself a remote control shutter release for my camera (like this one here) and captured the above photo and a few below, before I handed off my camera to a willing family member. Win!
Even though the rest of the family began to freeze over and opted to head back the warmth of the condo and ski coats my lovely 13 year old niece decided to humor me a bit more and snap some creekside photos. I already knew that she was a lovely model but when I handed the camera over to her for some rarely ever seen portraits of yours-truly I discovered that she was quite the talented photographer herself. I think I have a photo assistant in the making. Thanks, Lexi!
Hey y'all! Remember when this happened… Well, the photography photo class fun is happening again. Starting next week I will be teaching photography classes for adults and teens alike through Highlands Art League in downtown Sebring. Check out the details on their website (http://www.highlandsartleague.org/education/adults/) and join me for the next six weeks to learn more about capturing images with your phone and your "fancy camera" too and hone a beautiful storytelling craft along the way.
This past year I got to spend many lovely fall afternoons with sweet families across Highlands County and Central Florida. So here it is, a peek into Caroline Maxcy Photography's 2014 Fall Family Sessions.
Prepare yourself for cuteness overload (and prepare your scrolling finger for a workout…)...
This family of three is just the sweetest and Erica, having a bit of a photographer's eye herself (and one of my Highlands Art League Photography Classes attendees too!) picked us out the most gorgeous back country road for our photo spot on the perfectly sunniest of days.
This family is near and dear to my heart (and is also pretty darn sharp too). Take note parents of youngin's. The Price parents brought along a babysitter for their shoot and the kids and the sitter out with me and my camera first. Light bulb! I got to capture sweet pics of the kids first (with out all the shenanigans that always seem to happen with the parents come into view). And then we got to get some of the shenanigans too!
This multi-family session was actually a prelude to a surprise 60th Bday party for the mom of the bunch. I highly recommend these types of celebrations, so I jumped at the opportunity to capture all the love for my sweet friends. We probably picked the windiest day of the year (seriously I was in my first art festival earlier that day and nearly lost my tent a few times.) But the location was perfectly set up to provide us with some glorious protection from the gusts and the loveliest of light on this clear fall day. What a good looking bunch this is...
I meet this sweet family for the first time when I pulled into their drive with my camera in tow and they immediately melted my heart (especially when Mr. Johnson told me his fond memories of my dad being always a jolly man. He definitely was.). I do tend to have a soft spot for those families with three kids (boy, girl, girl in order of age and spread out just the same amount as my brother my sister and I. And all with such room brightening smiles.) We all giggled at the similarities on our drive to the photo spot they picked. What a spot. We had free reign on the most beautifully old Florida pieces of land completely with a lake side hammock and and a giant oak basking in the golden hour sun. Couldn't have been a better day for photos with such a truly sweet family.
Year after year I get to hang out with this family with my camera in tow for a sweet fall hour or so and year after year I am blessed. These guys have the photo taking down to a tee. They are seriously good at it, only because they are seriously the real deal. So much love between these three and I love getting to capture it.
This adorable family could seriously be my poster family for what to wear for your fall family session. Year after year I am giddy over the combinations their sweet momma comes up with. And these two little ones steal my heart every time...
What to say? This family I call my own. When we normally snapped a photo or two in my backyard in early December this year we decided to try to give ourselves time for a full family session. We just so happened to pick the coldest of days to date (hence little Hunter's red nose in most of the photos.) But that didn't stop us from capturing some true snuggly sweetness of some folks that have a very special place in my heart. (On another note: I am super pumped that my 13 year old niece has now decided that it just may be cool to pose for photos and is gorgeous. Insta on call model!)
Oh my this family is just gorgeous and momma Denise always has them looking simply beautiful for photos year after year. I am a big fan of color and she does it just right! Plus you have the two cutest of girls both striking in their own way and simply a joy to follow around with my camera. We meet at the main road and piled in together to bump along across pastures and down winding roads (spotting flocks, literally, flocks of bald eagles and white tailed deer) to our photo location at "the ranch" arriving just in time for the glowing in the golden hour light. I love it!
I've been a dear friend of this little momma since grade school and I have loved watching her adorable family grow throughout the years. When our Orlando, FL session at their new home got rained out (literally tornado warnings the day we had scheduled) we opted for a day before Thanksgiving hometown session in Stephanie's parent's lakeside backyard at sunset. If the session wasn't cute enough, we were blessed with a spectacular sunset and a perfect lakeside view. Can't wait to photograph the extend Weisz family again next month!
These guys are my kin (can't you tell by the incredibly good looks?) and my cousin Angie (mom of this crazy crew) was actually my roommate for half my stay at Florida State University back in the day (DO NOT ask her for stories. Seriously though... Haha.) She and I also have been working out together before the sun comes up for few months now in this little group called Boot Camp at our local YMCA and I am so proud of us (seriously, if you know me you know that I am not a morning person. at. all. Big sacrifice.) And the plus side is that you get to eventually look as good as Angie! Then you add in the rest of her cutie-pie family and you get photos as lovely as these… I love this family!
I get to capture this sweet family of three year after year and have loved watching little Savannah grow into such a precious young lady. We also, year after year happen to pick the windiest of windy days to capture our lakeside photos, so we have to get a bit creative and avoid the lake. Haha. But I always love the creative results and the sweetness I get to capture along the way.
One of the perks of my brother marrying a Lake Placid girl is that I have been able to meet the sweetest of Lake Placid families like the Wheelers. I love these people. Back in May in my first photo session after my dad's passing, I hopped in a car with the Wheelers and their oldest daughter Laura to drive to a gorgeous piece of Old Florida property and capture some seriously gorgeous Senior photos (complete with a Brahma bull) for the Lake Placid High Senior. I couldn't have asked for a more gentle and kind family to be capturing during that time. And this past fall I got to hop in a car with them again, this time in Lake Wales, FL in their very own groves on the outskirts of Bok Tower Gardens (you guys should know how much I love photographing in that place by now) for a session that is just… well… truly gorgeous. You can check it out for yourself...
I got to meet this adorable family this year for the first time when I pulled into their drive for our fall session. I loved getting those simply gorgeous smiles out of this cutie-pie (which may or may not have been due to a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal I had in my hand while snapping away. (Whatever it takes.) And I love now calling these three my friends. :)
Here we have another sweet family three that I meet for the first time when I stepped out of my car at their home with my camera in tow. And from moment one we had nothing but smiles from their little sweetheart. What pure joy I got to capture and lots of true love I got to marvel at through my lens. Thanks for inviting me!
I have known the Smoak family for what seems like forever. So getting to photograph them at their home is a bit like hanging out with family for an hour or so. And these two little guys are going to seriously steal some hearts one day. Seriously. Thanks for having me (and thanks, Phillip for spreading the feed to get the cows in the photo just right.) :)
I love that I get to wrap up my fall family sessions with this family of five. I've been capturing the Wells family since the girls were just one year old babes, and I was newly back in Florida. This crew is one of my originals which means they have a very special place in my heart. Last year as I clicked away while the girls oooo'd and aww'd over their momma's belly and the baby that was on the way, their little brother. This year I got to see how love grows. I got to marvel at how two sweet little independent girls have become dotting big sisters and how a little blue-eyed boy brings so much joy to one of my favorite families.
With Much Love,
If you happen to follow my blog, or Instagram, or anything really that gives you a peek into my personal life you are more than likely aware that 2014 was one of the most difficult years of my life when on a Tuesday in late April the unexpected passing of my dad rocked my family to the core. And I sat across the table from a dear friend in the coming days and admitted that the world, this once bright and beautiful place, had lost a bit of its luster. If you have ever experienced the loss of a loved one… I am sure you know all too painfully well exactly what I mean. The place was dim. But I began to pick up my camera again and again and through the lens, light and luster slowly started to make its way back into my world again. I had to find the light again. And looking back I can't help to but to marvel at a God that in a time that felt a bit like a haze, processing the loss of my dad, He continued to not just bless but grow my business and my passion in extraordinary ways.
And although the way the Lord has grown Caroline Maxcy Photography this year is broader than it ever has been before with much more than just lifestyle photography (I'm talking editorial work, and the launch of a fine art collection, and educational endeavors and publishings and speaking engagements and unexpected honors and awards) at the heart of it all is people. And as I mentioned in my previous post with each new person I got to meet this year with my camera in hand, this girl on the brink of despair got to marvel at the "goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" once again. (Psalms 27: 13)
Thank you, for inviting me in to tell your stories this year and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to tell a little bit of my own along the way.
This week I want to take a look back at 2014 and gush a bit at the way the Lord and the Lord only brought luster and light back into this dim world in 2014.
I start off today with one of the most extraordinary honors that I am given the opportunity to be a part of as a photographer, and that is the wedding day. Seriously y'all, I get to follow around this pair for a full day on one of the most important days of their life and capture nothing but love. How luster filled is that!? It was my biggest wedding year yet and I was blessed to capture love stories all the way from downtown Raleigh, NC on a sunny, chilly day to a glamorous old mansion on in the light of the gorgeous west coast sun, to an Alabama hay field filled with warm summer light, to beneath the giant oaks and the church steeples in this place I call home right here in Central Florida. Thank you again to my lovely 2014 brides and grooms and here is to many, many years of lovely wedded bliss!
I got the call that woke me out of a dead sleep on a Tuesday morning in April before the sun came up. And I hopped in my car and drove in the dark to a hospital where my dad went in for a routine knee surgery. Over the course of the morning we were to find out that he had a completely blocked artery and another that probably collapse during surgery causing a massive heart attack. When I emerged from the hospital just six hours later, blinded by the noon day sun I was fatherless.
Family and friends gathered at my parents home that afternoon to sit and stare and wonder. I stood outside and squinted at the horizon that evening begging the sun not to leave the sky. For when the sun rose on this day I had a father... and I would never have another day like that here on earth again.
That is kind of how I feel at the far end of 2014. In a time where one would think I would be looking forward to putting this year of all years behind me, I am standing here squinting towards the horizon begging the last 2014 sun not to leave. For half this rotation of the sun I had a dad.. and I'll never have another year like that here on earth again.
As I ponder the year I don't look back with fondness, or warmth I can only seem to muster up a deep, tired sigh of confusion/thankfulness that I have survived, it seems, the most devastating year of my life.
"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living…" (Psalms 27:13)
And this is where I come to you, my dear clients and friends and family and anyone that stepped in front of my camera these past 8 months. When devastation, and questioning, and fear and doubt and heartbreak and on and on hit in April I almost despaired completely. And while the morning and the evening and well, pretty much everything in-between was filled with heartbreak, just less than one week after my dad's death I picked up my camera again and began to marvel through my lens at my little glimpse at "the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."
And the dim world slowly began to gain its luster again.
It is almost fitting that today of all days, the last day of 2014, a dense layer of clouds hovered in the sky not giving the sun a single chance to break through, not one. I longed to stand in my regular sunset watching spot and stare and ache at its passing. But not a chance of that today. It was almost as if the Lord was giving me a dear gift.
So as I sit here in the now darkness of the eve of 2015 I am looking hopefully towards the other side of that 27th Psalm, taking a deep, strong courageous breath and stepping into a new day.
"…wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord." (Psalms 27:14)
I think I'll watch the sun rise tomorrow, because I have no doubt that it always will.
Congrats to this engaged duo! Thanks Becky and Jake for inviting me over on such a gorgeous evening to capture a little bit of your love. <3 Caroline
Last night's sunset engagement session at the most gorgeous Central Florida ranch was just lovely… Congrats Stacy and J.C.! <3 Caroline
Saturday couldn't have been more lovely and I couldn't be happier for these two. Congrats to the new Mr. & Mrs. Goodrich!
The date was set, the invitations out, the engagement session was scheduled but there was still no ring! What a better place to get that diamond "sparkler" than in a sunlit Disney rose garden followed by an engagement session "around the world". Loved every minute of Michelle and Steve's Epcot engagement session last month and a had to share a few sneak peeks into the day before the pair get's hitched tomorrow! Congrats Michelle and Steven!
Hello CMP clients and friends! Caroline Maxcy Photography is offering 20% off all SmugMug print orders through the month of December with coupon code: CHRISTISBORN. Head on over to your gallery today and snatch up some high quality, professional printed, perfect Christmas gifts with a discount! xoxo, Caroline
I'm in the middle of getting some more fall happenings together to share with you here on the blog. But in the meantime allow me to introduce you to Sebring High School 2015 Grad (and swimmer!), Gabi and our equal parts sun, sparkles and "splash" senior session we did earlier this fall...
I am excited to announce that Caroline Maxcy Photography is officially a Preferred Vendor for Once Wed, one of the top wedding resources on the internet today! What an honor to be hand-picked for one of the select few spots! Thanks to my brides and grooms for being so gracious to invite me in to capture your love stories and so gorgeous all along the way! Go check out the listing y'all. You may just see an image or two of yourself.
Caroline Maxcy Photography's fall has been jammed packed with so much good stuff. So much so, that I haven't even posted a thing on my blog here for you all for coming up on a month now. Eek! The last month has included everything from my very first Art Festival appearance (where I snagged a prize, complete with a ribbon!!), to our fall This is the Day Beginner's Photography workshop where another group of lovely gals scooped up a whole bunch of camera knowledge plus some inspiration and a few new friends, to the Annual Florida Hospital Gala where I got to photograph The Temptations (!!!), to session after beautiful session full of fall family loveliness. And this is where I am going to begin catching up with you all, right here in the middle of my Fall Family Photo Session Season. While I normally wait to the end of the season for a fall family photo recap, after all the Christmas Cards have been posted on refrigerators and mantels across the county, I thought I'd share with you all an extra special session I did with my very best friend earlier this fall in Tampa, FL (complete with captions).
Right smack-dab in the middle of my 20+ Family Sessions I have scheduled for this fall I have found that I take for granted the "excitement" and anticipation in the process of gathering your kin together, getting all dolled up in your best duds, hair freshly combed and praying through smiling teeth that your kids aren't picking their nose as you train your gaze on the camera with your most authentic grin. Come to find out the process is a bit stressful for most families. From the very first decisions on where to go (you can check out my Pinterest board with Location Ideas in Central Florida by clicking here if you don't have a fantastic piece of family property or a park with personal significance already in mind). On to what to wear to put your family in the best light (I'll help you out a little with that too if you want to check out my "What to Wear" Pinterest Board by clicking here!). And then there is the how to keep your kids (and husband) interested, having fun and smiling here and there too during the session. What if the three year old decides to not listen to a single instruction and run about wildly (and they always do)? What if the one year old decides to shove their entire hand in their mouth the entire time (and they always do)? And what if my husband is done with it all after 10 minutes and tells the kids they can no longer get the extra special "bribing" treat of bags full of candy and ice cream and oreos you promised, resulting in a complete meltdown (this may happen from time to time too.)
Here is the thing… this is real life. Your family is not that much different from any other (and yet completely unique all in its own). Everyone has kids that would rather be digging in the nearest dirt pile and a husband that would rather be fishing (or even working!) than smiling at a camera with a strange lady behind it. But you know that this time in life is precious and even if the session doesn't go just as you imagined you are capturing an heirloom for generations to come of a moment in time of your lives right here right now. Every little detail counts, even the hand in the mouth, the digging in the dirt and the knowing gaze between a young mom and dad. You value all of that and I work to make the process as comfortable as possible and capture a lovely story along the way.
So here is my advice to you and the same advice I gave my best friend as we hopped into the car and headed to our family photo session destination of choice, relax, enjoy your kids, enjoy each other, and let's just have some real life, real story fun for the next hour or so (with my camera on hand)...
Now let's begin… Meet the Bachman kids, pre-shoot. (Eek! Those little guys have my heart! And luckily I have a spare room with my name on it at their Tampa home)...
As we sorted through clothing in her living room to come up with the best complimentary combinations my best friend asked "Do you think it is this stressful for every family?" And she went on to say the one thing that was making her a bit more comfortable is that she knows that I know and love her kids. Here is the thing, I may not know and love all of your kids (yet) but if one is a photographer of people you can probably bet that you love people. Seriously it is the diversity and uniqueness of humankind that makes my heart sing and I absolutely love capturing that with my camera. It is why I do it. And I have ended more than one shoot walking hand in hand with a three year old I just meet an hour before. Trust that your photographer is going to take care of you guys, that they are going to use their expertise and knowledge to put you in the best light and that they love the process.
Do you have a lovely home where many memories have been made, a favorite park or fishing hole? Where will your family feel comfortable and the most themselves.
For the Bachman family session we decided on The University of Tampa for our session. It is gorgeous. Right on the water, lovely architectural details, a lush park, overlooking downtown and less than 10 minutes away from their home. The location has been the backdrop for many park visits for their family and is an icon in their family's home town. Perfect.
As we arrived I counted at least five other photo sessions that were going on at the same time! I guess every had the same idea on the fantastic location. But I love out every photographer can see things a little different with new and diverse eyes and every family is unique in its own. I love seeing a new place for the first time and was immediately drawn to the sparkling leaves of the bamboo. So this is where we began.
Ahhh… those Bachman's are gorgeous (seriously, their little guy was on the cover of a magazine when he was a baby.) All of the above photos were captured in the span of about 5-10 minutes, which just so happens to also be the precise amount of time the 3 year old decided was appropriate for smiling and look at the camera with the rest of her family. Haha. We got a few more here and there but had to work extra hard (with lots of bribing and maybe counting to 3 at one point.) I am learning to take advantage of those precious first 5-10 minutes (for the sanity of the parents) when things are new and little ones are up for cooperating to capture the family's desired posed photos up front so we can relax and get the rest of the story for the remainder of the session without the stress of "stand here, look here, now smile!"
The rest of the session was a little like this...
Which brings me to my next tip...
Your kids aren't always going to be sitting perfectly and smiling at the camera but seriously is that even real life? If you have kids under the age of 10 (or any age for that matter) the way your session's images turn out is entirely dependent upon your response and reaction as the parent. Like I mentioned to the Bachmans right off the bat, just enjoy your kids and enjoy the process and we will capture beautiful photos along the way, even if your three year old decides to run about wildly or your 5 year old decides he'd rather have candy corn for teeth. I promise.
Next for our Bachman family session we started crossing streets and exploring and making fun of it. And bribing with things like this...
The candy corn photo is probably one of my favorite of the day. It was more than likely not on mom's perfect family session photo Pinterest board but it is pure joy from a little guy having some fun with his treat. He deserved it. He was seriously a champ the entire session. And look at that sparkle in his eyes! Plus I think that dad (and myself) ate more candy corn that day than anyone else.
Yes, I strongly support bribing on family photo sessions. Bribe the kids. Bribe your husband. Bribe the photographer. Hehe. You can bring treats for along the way during the session (like candy corn) or you can make it a fun family night with the promise of going to their favorite restaurant or out for ice cream afterwards. I like ice cream too. I'm just saying.
I also suggest showing your kids (and husband) some of the types of photos that they can capture during the session beforehand. Get them excited about having fun and having some ownership in the session. It's their story too! This is extra important too for your spouse. Let them know what the outcome from taking out an hour of your afternoon will be. Let them see it is worth it!
As I mentioned before I like for the entire family to feel like they have ownership in the session. Ask your spouse for location ideas before hand. They may have a great and unique idea. And I always try to make it an adventure for the kids. I will say, "let's go on an adventure over here!" I ask them to hunt out good photo spots (with a little coaching, of course.) They get really excited about their finds.
We let the three year old pick out our next location and got really excited about her choice. I love her proud grin in these next photos. Yay for more family smiles!
Next we ventured down by the water to explore some more...
And captured some sweet, sunny pics of mom and dad...
while the little ones did a little bit of this… (we called it "grass swimming"). Score for picking a location the kids were comfortable at with room to play!
And then I had them take one last stroll down this gorgeous little palm tree lined path. The excitement you see in the kids eyes may have to do with the fact that I had been taunting them for a full day about an extra special treat I brought for them for after the session, that was in my camera bag… by my side... that they were walking towards. I get excited about treats too.
They got their treats (cookies!) for a job well done and the rest is history...
Until, of course, I decided to dress the three year old back up the next morning and capture a smiley photo (that I only got by making the silliest of faces just to the side of my camera while clicking away. Easy-peasy.)...
I love that Bachman family and I love that they invited me in to capture a bit of their story, every last bit of it. (And if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen a peek into our pajama dance party we had later that night in the living room.)
I hope the "Anatomy of a Family Session" helps calm the nerves of my future families set to make their way in front of my camera in the coming weeks. Can't wait to capture your family's authentic story and have fun along the way!