If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they’d book a session after they lost 10lbs, I could start giving my photography away for free. (Wish I could do that, by the way. That’s my dream: to be independently wealthy and just to photograph people for free because I want to. But anyway… I digress.)
The point being, we ladies are almost never happy with ourselves.
We’re never thin enough. Our boobs are never big or small enough. We don’t like our baby pooch. The love handles didn’t used to be there (you know, when we were 20.) There’s that pair of jeans Jennifer Lopez rocked and that we would love to wear in our session so we’ll wait until we fit into them.
Hey, I’m NOT judging. Been there, beat myself up about that.
I’m sorry to have to break the news to you but life don’t care about your tummy jiggle. Your kids are growing up every day. They’re changing. The baby fat on their face is thinning out, their baby teeth are being replaced by these crooked things that don’t seem to fit well in their mouth, that cuddly toy they took everywhere last year has been replaced by the iPad, they used to snuggle with you and now they squirm in your arms, embarrassed. Need I go on? K. You get the point.
Newsflash: you’re growing older too. You may or may not lose that 10lbs but you will gain crow’s feet around your eyes. Dig into your shoebox or back into your Facebook archives 5 years and find a picture of yourself. Go on… go do it and come back here after. How you feeling about that photo, hmmm? If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking “wow, I look so much older!” or “that arm fat really didn’t used to be there!”
And so, that’s how you’ll feel in 5, 10, 20 years time looking at the photo of yourself that you’re taking today. But if you don’t take it? You.are.missing. You have all those pictures of your kids on the soccer field, your husband with your daughter on his shoulders, your husband teaching your son how to fish… and not a single decent one of you. Not to be morbid but what if you died tomorrow? What visual memories would your children have of you as you are with them and for them and to them right now to hold onto for the rest of their lives?
What if you live and 20 years from now you realize these were the best years of your life and, visually, you’re not “in” them?
Here’s something a very good and wise friend of mine, Elena, wrote a while back and shared on Facebook.
Listen. Listen. Being photographed is not about whether you look good. It’s not about looking good. It’s not even about you–it’s an act of generosity towards those who love you. It’s about being here. In the moment. With the people who matter doing the things that are important to you. Living the moment with your heart your soul everything you have. Being here is what matters. You were here. And the photograph will be that memory for you when you need it or maybe even when you least expect it. This photograph is this precious moment held fast in your heart and mind for as long as you wish it. You will see yourself then and you won’t care about whether you looked good or not. All you will see is beauty and perfection. Don’t miss this chance to be present to be known to be here to be generous because you think you don’t look good in photographs. You are here. Stand up and be counted. You are worthy.
Does that mean you shouldn’t lose the weight? Heck no! If it makes you feel more comfortable, if it makes you healthier, if it gives you more energy, if it makes you happier, go eat that salad and take that Orangetheory class. But don’t stop showing up in the meantime.
Here’s an offer you cannot refuse
Take the photos and, if you lose the 10lbs before next fall family photo session, I’ll re-take your session for free and you can swap-em-out on your walls.
Just to be clear, none of the moms I included in this post need to lose 10lbs. I just wanted to share a broad snapshot of different moms who have had beautiful moments with their kids, so you can be reminded of what you’re missing.
Last month, I went to London. On my own. No husband, no kid, no friend, no relative, and no schedule. I had only one mission: to avoid the typical tourist traps and experience London as I know it and remember it, in all its gritty, pulsating, multi-cultural glory. And, to follow my curiosity wherever that led me.
Where better to do that than in London’s iconic markets? Where tacky and trendy meet antique and boutique, where people-watching is an unavoidable pleasure, and each neighborhood offers-up its own quintessential experience.
I walked 50 miles in 4 days, carried blister plasters in my bag, and realized (painfully) just how little I walk in the U.S.
DAY ONE: Camden High Street and Camden Lock Market
Camden is an assault on all the senses. It’s a street that moves to the beat of the dance music blaring from the gaudily-adorned shop facades that reminded me of a slightly-twisted, Through the Looking Glass version of Main Street, Disneyland.
And then, just as quickly, it’s a serene canal framed by weeping willows, crossed by quaint bridges, and with views of transitioning barges, then a skyline of cranes and office buildings when you turn another.
It’s a street-food trip around the world with Korean, Brazillian, Columbian, German, Italian, French, Middle-Eastern, American (“Southern Fried Mother Clucker”), Indian, and a whole host of creative mixtures (think Korean Burritos) jostling for your stomach’s attention, beside the British staples of Fish & Chips and Pie and Mash.
This was my delicious lunch, served from a little stall beside the lock where you can watch them chop the fresh ingredients: a 3-curry combo with lamb and aubergine, spinach and chickpea curry, plus Dal, garnished with fresh mint, a dollop of yogurt, and a sweet chutney. All for just seven pounds.
It’s an indoor-outdoor market that never seems to end, winding in and out of buildings and alleyways and under brick eves that create a network of connected, mini neighborhoods each with their own personality; offerings alternating between vintage clothes, Union-Jack magnets, and modern art. There’s Alice Cooper blaring from a vintage record stall and, two-stalls down, Bob Marley jammin’ in a store merchandised from wall-to-wall with the reds, greens, yellows, and blacks of his home country.
In short: it’s not for people who don’t like lots of people or constant stimulation. In case you were wondering, I am not one of those people. I was buzzing with energy by the time I walked back to the tube station.
INFO FOR PHOTOGRAPHY BUFFS | Shot on a FujiFilm XT-1 with a 23mm 1.4 lens
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Photos from my 2016 London Trip.
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It’s the morning of your scheduled family photo session. The kids seem to have picked up on the importance of the day because they’re extra cranky. Your husband is asking when it will be over (before it’s even begun) because his favorite team is playing that afternoon and he doesn’t want to miss kick-off. You stand in front of the mirror in your bedroom, trying on this outfit and that, self-critiquing every lump and bump until you’re convinced you’re going to look fat and ugly. Everyone seems to be in a bad mood – yourself included now – and you’re wondering how you’re going to get everyone to smile for the family Christmas card photo.
For the love of God… STOP!
It really doesn’t have to be this way. Your photo session doesn’t have to be a chore.
Let’s put the fun back into Fall family photos.
Here are just 4 inspirations for sessions that will get everyone involved, and allow me to capture the best of you all, complete with real smiles, connections, and genuine hugs.
Make sure you read all the way to the very end for an awesome, free tool that will help you plan your best-ever, most-fun family photo session yet. There might even be a session discount involved.
ONE – Make it a stay-cation
Home is where the heart is and where all your memories are made. It’s easy to prep for a session at home because there’s no leaving and getting there, no worries about bathroom breaks or activities. In fact, you can build your favorite fall activities into your session. Like this family who wanted to drink hot chocolate and toast marshmallows around the fire pit in their back yard. We literally did their whole session last year right around that fire. And they had a blast. What fun activities that your family loves to do together could you do in the comfort of your own home?
TWO – Showcase your family’s talents
This family’s kids were budding musicians and so they decided to bring their instruments to their session last year. Not only did this give the kids something fun to do and show off but it also provided an opportunity to document what the children were interested in at this time in their life. Whether it’s an instrument, a soccer ball, a bike, or maybe even mom or dad who plays the piano while the family sings along, what could you incorporate into your session for lots more fun and personality to shine through?
THREE – Make it a family get together
Does your extended family get together around the holidays? If so, it’s a great opportunity to capture brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents together. This family with German roots had me document their annual family celebration last December. We captured some beautiful moments of them all in and around the family home where they grew up in Sacramento. I especially love grandparents being involved in family sessions. When was the last time you got a great photo of your own parents with your children to remember their special relationship by?
FOUR – Document your own family traditions
Fall is full of Holiday events and traditions that get you all interacting and having a blast. This family asked me to capture their annual Christmas tree hunt at Harris Tree Ranch in Pollock Pines. But I know there are tons of other events and rituals that Sacramento area families take part in at this time of year, from trips to Apple Hill, to pumpkin carving parties, rides on the Polar Express, and visits to see the NutCracker ballet. Whatever it is that your family does to celebrate the season, can be a great opportunity for a photo session where your smiles are genuine and your memories real.
Want help coming up with some ideas of your own?
Click here for my FREE Session Planning Wizard. Answer some questions about your family that will generate inspiration a-plenty and I’ll send you three session ideas AND a discount for your family’s photo session this Fall. Win/Win!
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Or just get in touch with me already. If you made it all the way down here, you’re either impatient (in which case, cut to the chase) or you’re super-absorbed by my delightful words (in which case, let’s just hang out!)
One of my favorite sessions to shoot is a newborn session at home. Or, what I call a “Welcome Home Baby Session”. There’s something magical about those first few weeks at home. Your love and wonder for this new member of your family is so on the surface, exploring their temperament, discovering their likes and dislikes, tweaking your life and your routines to fit them inside of your family cocoon. I remember my daughter’s first weeks at home in a way that is almost physical; warmth, soft light, happy tears, cuddles, bleary eyes. And yes, so, so many diapers and baby wipes and bottles.
Shooting at your home gives you so much space and flexibility. We schedule plenty of time. You can break to breastfeed, or we can photograph that wonderful connection between you and your child while you do. You don’t have to shush your child to sleep to get a shot. It’s all part of the shoot, the crying and the shushing and the feeding and the stuff you’re already doing. No need to put on a show. No need to worry about nap times or misbehaving siblings. It’s all perfect. Even the discarded burp cloth. It’s all part of your story.
Here’s just 6 of the reasons why I think you should schedule an at home “Welcome Home Baby Session”
1. You don’t have to physically get yourself, your baby, your husband, and any other kids, up and out the door.
If you’re new to this parenting thing, the time it takes to achieve this previously-simple feat cannot be overestimated. If you’re a pro, you know this: it doesn’t matter what time you get up or start the process, you will be rushing around at the last minute to get out the door, you’ll be stressed, you’ll probably forget something (likely brushing your hair), and everyone will be grumpy and resentful as a result. But oh… here’s a camera… SMIIIIIILE! Nope. Not happenin’ So, stay home and wait for me there. If you’re running a few minutes behind, I photograph and watch the baby and other kids while you run a brush through your damp hair – and allow dad to gulp down that last, sweet, sip of coffee. We can just ease ourselves into this. Ahhhhhh.
2. You have everything you need, right there.
Diapers, changing table, change of clothes, favorite blankets, bottles, formula, binkies, rocking chair, a quiet place to breastfeed, a bathroom, toys for the other kids to stay occupied with… need I go on? Don’t stuff the diaper bag with everything but the kitchen sink and bribe your other kids with promises of candy or ice-cream. Home has everything you need in the eventuality of almost anything that might happen. Taking the stress out of this photo session is good for everyone. Babies and kids feed off our moods. When we’re comfortable, so are they – and that comes through in your photos. If you have other children, they can go off and play without you worrying a bout having to entertain them the whole time.
3. This is your baby’s home.
It may not be something from the cover of Better Homes & Gardens but it’s the place where he or she will grow up, the place that will hold all the sweet memories. Memories of midnight feedings and sticky-finger crawls, dribbling first solids and wobbly-legged first steps. Don’t you want to capture that? Wouldn’t it be great to accompany that “remember when…?” with a picture of that exact spot in the house, that exact mural on the wall, the exact pattern of the crib bumper? I can photograph the little details of your life that knit you all together as a family, as well as your loving and smiling faces.
4. Baby is cute but he/she didn’t get here alone.
Your baby is part of a family, no matter how big or small. Photos of them wrapped up in a beautiful muslin shawl are gorgeous and precious but they don’t need to be the only photos you have taken of your newborn. The interactions, love, attachment, and rituals of everyone at this special time in your family’s life, are just as important. Big sister carefully holding baby with love is important. Daddy’s shushing and hugs are important.
5. These little things you do, you’ll only do for such a short time
You will be a parent for 40, 50, or possibly more years of your life. Only 10% of those years are spent parenting a child. An infintisimal percentage of that time will be spent as the mom or dad of a newborn or baby. Less than one year out of 4 or 5 decades. Although those days of sleepless nights may feel long now, in the grand scheme of things they are but a blip on the radar of life with this little human you’ve made. The morning snuggles, the nightly rituals, the reading, the juggling, the crying, and yes even breastfeeding one baby while potty training their older sibling… those memories gain value over time, as they become blurrier and blurrier and you’re struggling to remember how they smelled, the names of the books you read, the sound of your partner’s voice through the bedroom door as he sang a lullabye. Capturing a slice of that, in the place where it all happens – home – can take you right back there, with a single image.
6. There is no perfect time to schedule your session.
There’s no right age or timeline for your session as there can be for those curly-q newborn portraits. The day after you get home is fine. Three weeks after you get home is fine. Three months works ok too. Of course, baby is growing every day and what we capture and how we capture it will change, along with your routines, depending on when you schedule your session. But, with this style of session, there is no “perfect” time. Just the perfect time for you. Just because I call it a “Welcome Home Baby Session” it doesn’t mean I have to be standing on your front porch when you pull up to the curb, freshly home from the hospital (although that sounds pretty awesome… I’d love to do that!)
Welcome Home Baby sessions can be booked as a stand alone session or as part of a First Moments package
First Moments packages include 3 sessions of your choice scheduled anytime from maternity to baby’s first birthday, plus other goodies like a custom-designed Baby’s First Year keepsake book with your favorite images. All sessions and packages include all the digital images.so you never have to bite your names
All sessions and packages include all the digital images. You never have to bite your nails to the quick while breastfeeding and trying to star your favorites at midnight from your online gallery. Sweet!
Let’s chat about scheduling your newborn photo session at home
“Josh and I decided to throw together a wedding in a little less than two weeks. Kind of nuts, but kind of awesome. 15ish people, ceremony down by the river in Carmichael area, then dinner somewhere TBD. It’s going to be a beautiful hot mess, and I certainly couldn’t think of anyone else who could capture that like you.”
That was the email I got from Claire at the beginning of July. With an email like that, how can you say no? I certainly can’t.
I love small, intimate weddings, spontaneity, and these two humans. I photographed them about a year ago (see that session here) in what is, to-date, one of my craziest, funnest, dirtiest sessions EVER. If there was ever a family that embodied my mantra of “Live the moment. The dishes can wait.” it’s these folks.
We began the afternoon and Claire and Josh’s beautiful, new Carmichael home, where Claire and her family were getting ready. Meanwhile, Josh and his best friend were already down at the river fishing. The river is special to Josh, especially around the Carmichael area where he grew up and his family still lives. It was a bachelor party of sorts, ending at his truck in the Effie Yeaw Nature Center parking lot where he used his wing mirrors to tie his tie and brush his hair.
We walked down a dusty trail to an opening in the brush where the river flowed before us, just beyond a beach of river rock. And that’s where we waited for Claire and the rest of the wedding guests, who carefully tip-toed over the rocks to the arbor at the river’s edge. That’s where, in the blazing full sun, under an incredibly blue sky, and watched by a gaggle of Canadian Geese, Josh and Claire said their I dos.
It wasn’t anything like a hot mess, as it turns out. It was spontaneous and beautiful and simple and… just perfect.
We closed the evening at Fair Oaks Brew Pub in the village of Fair Oaks, where everyone sat on wooden picnic tables and listened to a local band play while they ate pretzels and burgers and drank beer, this time overlooked by the resident Fair Oaks chickens.
I loved every minute of this evening. Congratulations Claire and Josh. I am so incredibly thankful you chose me to capture the beginning of the rest of your life together.
If you know someone who is planning an intimate wedding, a second-time-around marriage, or even an elopement, please have them get in touch with me. I love photographing these events and, unlike wedding photographers focused on booking full-day wedding packages, I offer a la carte pricing starting with just 2 hours of photography coverage. Forward this post to them or connect them to my wedding portfolio, here.
If it’s your special day you’re planning, click here to let me know what you’re thinking about.