Category Archives: Families

Light Like No Other – VA Portrait Photographer

A few weeks ago I had the honor of photographing a mother and her two daughters. I’ve known the mom for over 16 years now and have known the girls since they were born. I see and feel their bond and connection. It warms my heart knowing the love, respect and admiration that exists between them. And I wish I could have experienced that. I didn’t have that kind of relationship with my mother.  Not everyone does.

My mother was mentally ill — bipolar, personality disorder. And she never sought treatment for it even though she was fully aware she had a mental illness. There was a really bad stigma surrounding mental illness when she was growing up and even though perceptions and attitudes shifted over the years she never bought into it.

As a child I knew something was wrong with my mother and that she needed help. I also bore the brunt of her anger and disenchantenment with life because of her mental illness. My father bore a great deal of that as well. But he was a grown man. I was a little girl. As an adult I became keenly aware of her mental illness and tried helping her many times, always hoping that someday maybe she would come around and we could have a decent relationship. But that never happened.

So over the years I withdrew from her. I cut emotional ties at a very young age, in fact I remember when that happened. I was eight years old and she was threatening to kill herself, showing me the handful of pills she was planning on taking and telling me that she wouldn’t wake up the next day. My thoughts were who is going to make my breakfast and take care of my brothers? So I cut the cord. Why be connected to someone that might not be there the next day? There were many, many, many other instances where that disconnection would prove necessary and vital for my own well being.

And she never understood why I disconnected. It was for self-preservation. And eventually my mother died and I was relieved that it was all finally over.

I embrace my story. I don’t use it as an excuse for everything that hasn’t or isn’t going my way. I’ve forgiven the wrongs I felt were done to me. All of my experiences related to this (as well as other life events) brought me to who I am today, so ultimately I’m grateful for it all.

I’m not relaying this to be dark or to elicit sympathy. I guess what I’m getting at here is that if you have a good relationship with your mother or your daughter, be grateful. Be grateful that any conflict is just superficial and meaningless in the big scheme of things. Be grateful for that bond and connection because not every mother and daughter has it. Be understanding and compassionate to each other. Be forgiving and loving. And if you have a good relationship with your mother or daughter honor it. And if you’re like me and you didn’t or don’t have that, know that you are not alone. It’s very challenging when society deems that we must all have this relationship when sometimes it’s just not possible.

I’m seriously not trying to be Debbie Downer here! I only want to share my experiences and how they affect and drive me to use my vision and talent. Maybe that experience is more lighthearted like this one. Or sometimes maybe it isn’t. Either way, we are all shaped by our experiences and as a portrait photographer those experiences help to shape my work. And that work is to create images that will always be there to remind you of something whether it’s the goofiness of your kids, whether it’s your own personal power or whether it’s the love between you and your mother/daughter.

And now onto the light!!

Simply put this mother and her lovely daughters are beautiful, loving, kind, talented, intelligent and overall AMAZING. Talk about light. They beam it from their very core. What’s that song, something about it’s so bright I gotta wear shades? So, we did a photo shoot to capture ALL of this and honor their wonderful relationship. And it was SO. MUCH. FUN!!!

I wanted to create three distinct looks for them so we went with something more casual, something more glamourous and something more creative with a vintage/boho flair. I knew they would all have fun with hair and make-up and the whole day was meant to be a dress up, pampering, mother/daughter day out. We did groups shots, individual shots and mom with each daughter by herself. We had chocolate covered strawberries, tea and snacks. It seriously was the perfect girls day.

And I had the extreme honor, pleasure and joy of creating images of these three beautiful women for them to cherish for the rest of their lives. It’s difficult to call it work when it brings me this much joy and satisfaction. As I viewed and edited each image, looking at their eyes, their energy and that light, I was constantly finding myself tearing up. This actually happens a lot when I’m editing my clients’ photos!

And now I present the utterly beautiful, incredibly amazing, Sosa Ladies. Put your shades on folks.

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Also posted in Creative Photography, Glamour Photography, Mother/Daughter, Portraiture, Virginia Portrait Photographer

Polka Dots, Stripes and Rainbows | VA/MD/DC Family Photographer

I had planned on posting the sneak peeks today from one of my favorite family’s sessions a few weeks ago. Then I realized it was also their 6th wedding anniversary. So once again, we are taking a stroll down memory lane. I have had the honor of capturing so many life events for Dave and Carrie, all starting with their engagement session in 2009.

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Then later that year they trusted me enough to photograph their wedding. I was still very, very new to this whole journey and had only photographed two other weddings prior to theirs!

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Then things were all quiet for awhile until their baby girl joined them in late 2011. They decided to do a Year in the Life series. So we started when the little one was about 3-4 weeks old.

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The second session of the Year in the Life was when little Miss was about 4 months old.

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Next up about 9 months.

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Then we got together when she was walking and was just over 1 year.

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Since then we have gotten together every year for annual family photos.

2013 fun in the leaves and lots of cuteness!

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Last year I noticed the big difference between two and three. There was the obvious communication but something more about her shining personality was just bursting through.

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And now here we are in 2015. She’s a kid now! No more baby or toddler, but full blown dancing, performing, popcorn eating sassafras kiddo! And look at that smile!! If this isn’t one happy little girl, I just don’t know what is. Her cheeks had to be sore from smiling so much! And I LOVED her outfit. I even said as much and Carrie said she picked it out herself. YES!! And we even had a chance to get the rock hands in at the end. Considering her favorite song is “Rainbow in the Dark” it was very appropriate:)

We had so much fun on such a beautiful Fall morning. And, Dave and Carrie had moved to Philadelphia earlier this year. But they still wanted me to do the annual photos. Man I am blessed. So we met half way in Bel Air, MD at this cool mansion, the Liriodendrun. Next year I’m headed to Philly:) Happy Anniversary Dave and Carrie! I am beyond grateful that you have allowed me to capture your lives.

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Also posted in Couples, Engagement, Kids, Weddings

Seven Years! | VA/DC/MD Family Photographer

Back in October I got together with my first family for their annual photos. I realized I have been photographing them for SEVEN YEARS!! They are my first family because they are the first family I ever photographed and can I say what an honor and blessing it is that they have asked me to do the same every year! Wow.

I remember when a former co-worker’s sister was having her first baby. I overheard my co-worker’s side of the conversation basically saying I’m on the way! As she was leaving to join her family in the hospital for the first baby’s birth, I mentioned to her, hey if your sister might be interested in some free photos of the baby, let me know, I need to build a portfolio. Obviously she took me up on it.

I thought it would be fun to include photos from each year since 2008. And what a trip down memory lane it was. So here we go …

2008 – Baby #1 is born. And she wasn’t a happy camper that first time we got photos. But that’s ok we got shots in between her grumpies.

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2009 – Baby #2 is born just after baby #1’s first birthday. He was a little more chill than his sister when she was that age:)

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2010 – No one photo of the whole family together because both of them were mobile without consciousness! Each one needed mom or dad to chase them down. Good times:)

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2011 – From toddlers to little people now.

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2012 – And bribery starts to work:) I think opening a present early was used as leverage for listening and the Elf on the Shelf was watching to make sure they were good!

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2013 – I remember talking to mom about the kids being in school. School!? Weren’t they just born??

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2014 – Wow! I think Halloween candy was the bribe this year:)

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And 2015! We went to Leesylvania State Park this year. The kiddos are now in 1st and 2nd grade. This year we used a surprise at the end to keep everyone focused. The surprise being they would get to go in the water! If they dared. So we dared them! Not sure if they thought are these people crazy or what kind of plot is this:) All I can say is when is the last time you had this much fun doing something so simple as getting your feet wet? This should encourage us all to just get out and play. Life is too short. Go step in the water now! Thank you, thank you to the Smith family for allowing me the privilege to document them every year for the last seven years. While I don’t want time to speed up (it’s going too fast as it is) I’m excited to see where these kiddos are in another seven years!

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Also posted in Kids

Fun X Three – Northern Virginia Family Photographer

It’s Fall family photo session time. Time to get photos for cards, gifts and simply to document where everyone is, right now. And family sessions are always fun. I’m sure the parents may have a different take on “fun” but I always find watching the hilarity of kiddos fun. Last week I had fun x three, with three great kiddos.

And here’s the thing. When you’re 9, 6 and 3, being goofy and silly is the only way to be. At that age, why should you be serious? We all know there’s plenty of time for that. Plus the time will come when a kid will be horrified at the prospect of busting out a dance move or twirling around. Probably somewhere around 13:)

I have two younger brothers and for years my mother couldn’t get a photo of either of them without them making “The Face.” Tongue jammed up inside the lower lip making an amazing lump right above their chin. Classic. Sometimes I would join in but as “The Face” persisted I became a teenager and was like, yeah no, that’s not gonna happen anymore. And this went on for years. Beyond “The Face” there was general mayhem and goofiness that comes with three kids. And today those memories are the ones we remember. My 81-year-old father likes those memories the best. And seeing him smile and laugh because of our juvenile antics is one of the best things ever. We don’t sit around and talk about how fun it was in school or in church or the time we went to Olin Mills for photos unless there was some antic involved and with two brothers there usually was. We laugh about the goofiness (40 odd years later) and still make “The Face.”

So what’s my point? I guess it’s to hold onto our inner 9, 6 and 3 year old. You really need them to keep things light and not let this crazy world get to you.

Back to this awesome family. I loved every minute of hanging out with them. The outfits mom chose were perfect (LOVED the chucks!) and they are just a beautiful family. I hope they look back on these images in about 10 years and feel the same energy of this afternoon. I’m grateful that they chose me to document this afternoon in their lives.

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Also posted in Kids

Welcome to the World – Northern Virginia Newborn & Family Photographer

Last weekend I had the honor of photographing a new family. I had met mom when we did bridal portraits last year (one of these years I will be updating my wedding and bridal portfolio!) and their little man was born just a few weeks ago. What I loved about this session was the absolute, total chill and relaxed vibe. The baby was laid back, the parents were laid back, the cats were laid back … until the end. There was a bit of a kerfluffle between the cats at one point but that’s what cats do. And they have the coolest brick wall in their house:)

Anyway, we had a good time getting shots of mom and dad loving on the new baby. As photographers we have an arsenal of poses, set ups, etc… to get a variety of shots. One of them is to have the couple look at each other. I loved this couple because when I asked them to do that, it was kind of like, look at each other? But they did it and then cracked up afterwards. And I LOVE the crack up! And then dad — you gotta love dads — put a stuffed shark in one of the shots. It’s great and I’m sure he’ll come up with the perfect meme to go with it!

Congratulations to the Poole family! This little guy has some awesome parents and I’m blessed and honored that they asked me to capture them together for the first time.

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Also posted in Kids

Family Fun – Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I met the Evanson Family back in April of 2013 when Mom was pregnant with baby #2. We started a Year in the Life series with some maternity and family photos, captured the new baby when she arrived in June and went from there. Right as it was time for their last session when the new baby was nearly one, the family moved to the Middle East. Well they made it back for a visit this year and we were able to finish the series out!

It was great to see the girls and how much they had grown. I loved how the little one mimicked big sister with so many things. In spite of the rain that afternoon (it poured just as we were about to start but it stopped after about 10 minutes leading to the cutest curls:) we had a great time. There was swinging with mom and dad, picking flowers, a performance of Frozen, hide and seek, getting to sit way up high in a special spot and then fun on the playground. We even got some of just mom and dad by themselves!

What a pleasure to see this family grow. Thank you and much love to the Evanson Family!

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Also posted in Kids

Just Another Saturday Morning | Alexandria, VA Family Photographer | Project 365

Ever wonder what your Saturday morning looks like? What you might see if you froze a moment in time on an ordinary day? Well that’s just what I did with the M Family yesterday. Back in November, we did an outdoor session at River Farm (more on that coming soon) but we were running short on time and couldn’t get the full session in. So we thought how about just do the second half at their home later.

I thought it would be cool and fun to capture their typical Saturday morning. No posing, no special outfits, just them doing their thing as a family. And that’s just what we did. Everything from playing, getting dressed, brushing teeth, dancing, silliness. And I can honestly say the last time I was around 3 little kids on a Saturday morning was when I was little myself with my two brothers. Yes, it was very similar:) Except add another 3-4 animals and then you’d have my childhood household. It was a lot of fun.

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These two photos, crumbs and all, just crack me up. I’m typically very type A about cleaning up crumbs from faces in photoshop, but that’s not what these images were about. The crumbs needed to be there! I use a little technique to get kids to look at the camera for those posed shots. I tell them there’s a little bird or butterfly inside the camera and that when they hear the click, they can see it. It works everytime! Well, these guys remembered that from last time and wanted to see the birdie. They were right up there looking for it!

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I love the teeth brushing too. Certainly with three little ones there needs to be special routines to make things happen. This is their routine for getting teeth brushed.

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And when was the last time you had a dance party on a Saturday morning. Judging from the look on this guy’s face, it’s something we should all be doing regularly. Thanks to the M family for letting me get a glimpse and capture their morning.

Also posted in Kids, Project 365

The First Family | Woodbridge, Occoquan Family Photographer

This is the First Family. The first family I ever photographed. I had this coworker who sat on the other side of the cubicle wall. I remember overhearing her talking to a family member and that her sister was going into labor. I was a budding family photographer and needed babies for my portfolio:) So I told my coworker to tell her sister that I’d be happy to do newborn shots when they were ready, for free and to ask if her sister was interested. I’m pretty sure I had an email from her sister the next day.

Well, here we are five and half years later. I’ve photographed this awesome family pretty much every year since 2008. I’ve seen these kiddos growing up and it’s just awesome.

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Also posted in Kids

Fall Fun and BFFs Sneak Peeks | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Ok, attempting to work backwards again! So here are some sneak peeks from my last family session a few weekends ago.

Miss C and Miss A are bffs. Clearly:) These little ladies attend the same daycare and truly have a connection. So when we needed to reschedule Miss A’s family session, I thought why not do it right after Miss C’s family session and get some overlap of the girls together. It couldn’t have worked out better until Miss C had to leave. Sorry about that! She was not happy to be leaving her bff after such a short amount of time together. Luckily they got to see each other at daycare the next day. All I can say about these two is that they were in a state of bliss together!

We’ve also got a few peeks of the individual family sessions here. I remember Miss C’s mom thinking we wouldn’t get any smiles out of her. No problems there. And the matching family kerchiefs/outfits … LOVED IT! Especially gangsta style:)

And Miss A’s family had some fairy fun and a little Xmas prep. Love these two families and their girls:)

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Also posted in Kids

Finally!

Well, you just never know what can happen on a Saturday when you got plenty of sleep the night before and had nothing planned. Maybe you’ll finish your website you’ve been working on for years!

Welcome to my website! It’s still a work in progress. I need to fine tune some things but it’s functional. I can tell people, hey go to my website!

Here on the blog, you’ll get session sneak peeks, my own personal work and maybe some thoughts to go along with that and other random photography related stuff.

So to entice you to keep coming back I’m hoping this guy will do the trick.

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Also posted in Kids, Random