19 September 2016

How to do a Lifestyle Photo Shoot...

"Lifestyle Photography" is a term that lots of photographers use, and almost no non-photographers.  And the definition probably falls on a spectrum depending on who is using it.

To one photographer "lifestyle" is any portrait photography that isn't done in a studio.  For others, myself included, "lifestyle" is a family photography done in the home, that attempts to convey the the feeling of that family's "lifestyle".  Get it?

Either way, there's a sense of casualness, less prim and proper, more loose and go with the flow.

Any many, many clients adore the idea of a lifestyle shoot:  no finding/deciding on location, no real need for intense styling of all the family members, no drive time to factor in with littles, and best of all, you can do it any time of day, you're not limited to the Golden Hour (read: Witching Hour for anyone under the age of 6.).  Plus your kids feel really comfortable at home and you get to really enjoy family time in your own space.

But then it can also feel intimidating:  letting a professional photographer, who is oftentimes a stranger into your home?!  Your messy, chaotic house?  And what if the toddler throws a massive tantrum?  How much do I really have to clean??

So let's break it down.  First of all, the toddler can throw a tantrum at any time, amiright?  And as far as your messy house, 1. I could care less and 2. We pick out the two rooms with the best light ahead of time and we don't even go in the other rooms during the session, unless we want to.

And lastly, there is something about having someone else document your family in your home.  They see light and angles that you never saw before.  And Mom actually gets to be in the pictures.

Which is exactly how this shoot happened.  Michelle is an amazing photographer in her own right, she has plenty of AWESOME photographs of her children that she has taken, in their home.  But first, she isn't in many of them, and second, she wanted to see her home and their lifestyle through another lens, if you will.

And together, we made a bit of magic...

10 March 2016


2011.  I had just started photographing people other than my own babies.  It hurts a little bit to look back on these photos.  It's probably a little hard for the Mom, to be reminded of such sweet days.  Emma was still in diapers, falling down about every fifth step.

And it's a little hard for Photographer, to realize how lacking I was.  But the intention was good.  That matters.

By the next year I had just gotten enough confidence to start charging money.  But I think I was still working with an entry-level camera and still didn't know how much I didn't know.  Emma on the other hand, was holding the world in the palm of her hand and giggling at the entirety of it.

Year 3.  Finally I had a real camera and actually understood the concepts that I had been playing around with in my head.  And Emma was definitely no longer baby but full on GIRL.  The boots, the hair, even some mannerisms, had changed.  But her smile was just growing sweeter.

By Year 4, I was fully aware of what I didn't know and frankly didn't care.  I was entrenched in grasping every opportunity to capture the children around me.  My own kids were growing at an amazing speed and my fourth had just about knocked me out of the game.  But I was determined to find a way to document these moments.

Emma was just as determined to keep growing, to keep unfolding into this amazing person.  It's incredible to realize that everything a person becomes was already there, already waiting for the body to catch up to the spirit.

Year 5.  Now I fully knew and exceedingly cared about my lack of expertise.  I knew there are so many photographers so much better than me and I couldn't figure out to achieve the level that I wanted.  I knew there was creative magic that was fleeting and hard to capture, and the only way to grab a hold of it was to keep putting myself out there.  Even if I was consistently disappointed in an outcome.  I remember this shoot vividly.  It was the time that white balance was finally, finally figured out.

And I remember that Emma came to this shoot with ideas and options of her own.  She was ready to not be entertained, to not just react to what was happening around her.  She was ready to BE the action, not just the reaction.  Emma brought EMMA that year.

Emma had found her feet and now there was no stopping her.  Maybe she had doubts about herself.  Starting kindergarten can do that to us, we realize for the first time that someone else color better or run faster than we can, and for the first time we begin to doubt.  Or maybe even realize there's a concept like "good enough".

Emma didn't stop, she didn't let creepy doubts become roadblocks.  I know she didn't.  Because this is what we created together this year....


Just like Emma, I grew from crawling to running (with a few crashes) and finally to standing strong in my own knowledge.  Of what my art is, what it looks like and feels like.

It is sweet, and touching, and powerful.  Just like Emma.

23 February 2016

Super Powered Dads

My life just returned to normal.  Like today, like just this morning when I woke up without a fever for the first time in 6 days.  The Flu.  It hit my home like a ton of bricks.  I've never been worked over like that and then to see my kids go down, one by one and realize I just couldn't even help them.  Luckily, we have The Dad.

He took that Flu and kicked its butt.  He doled out tylenol and cough syrup like a real nurse.  He made sure our Puker had a Puke Bowl at all times.  He kept the one healthy kid segregated and germ free.

Dads can be pretty amazing.  And it often shows on the photo shoots.  What Dad actually wants to do family pictures?  Almost none.  But there are a few Dads who can see how much it means to their wife and they do everything they can to make it awesome.  They remember the baby's favorite snacks, they crack jokes with the kids to make sure everyone's laughing.  And they make the best silly faces to get lots of grins and smiles....even from Mom.

Dads.  They can kick The Flu out the door.  And they can make a toddler belly laugh.  Super powers galore.

Smile and move on...

As Moms, we learn how to make life work.  We learn how to make sunrises fun instead of torturous.  We learn how to make frowning faces a game and how to find smiles instead of tears.  

And even when we can't (because kids do know their own minds and just exactly how to push our buttons), we also know how to brush our hands off, smile and move on.  We know how to find joy in the moment even if the moment is exactly opposite of what we had in mind.  And besides, we can remember it any way we want to.   

02 February 2016


     As a mom of four rough and tumble kids, it's hard for me to remember the quiet serenity of one baby.  It's not hard to remember the reality of the first baby.  I felt like I had been turned inside out, my whole heart was on the outside and I was trying my hardest to keep it happy, fed, healthy, growing.  And frankly I can't remember my son's first birthday, probably because I was already pregnant (SURPRISE!) with his little brother.  

    So when Jodie contacted me for photos of her son around his first birthday, I was so excited for her!  No matter how crazy life feels and the details start to blur, she'll have a real and tangible memory of its beauty.  

   Even better, she wanted photos both in their home and in their (our) neighborhood.  Sweet photos of baby, of course.  But also memories of his crib, his home, his community.  What a gift.

19 January 2016

Watch Your Step

My first photo session of 2016 was a really fun maternity/extended family shoot.  Kayla's cousin had gifted them the session, both for Kayla and her parents.  Photographing families, I can do that in my sleep.  Honestly maternity photography is another ball game.

Frankly your last month of pregnancy is the absolute last time in your life you want someone with a camera in your face.  But the pressure can be intense to document the time "for posterity" as Kayla put it.  But really, when your body has been taken over by another life form and not even taking a deep breath feels easy, it's not hard to just say "oh well" and walk away from that.

But I'm really glad women are able to get over that hurdle and do the maternity pictures anyway.  Because it's all about to change.  Never again will it be just the two of you, you and this man who thinks he loves you now but he's about to realize he had no idea how much he loved you.

And you, mama-to-be, you're on the cusp of change as well.  You're going to become even more amazing, even more compassionate, even more than you ever thought you could be.

Watch your step.  The next one is a doozy.