G. Family | Ashburn VA Maternity Photographer

Although I don’t really advertise myself as a ‘portrait photographer’ anymore, every now and then a project comes around that I can’t refuse.

Plus I totally miss photo editing.  Something about unwinding after a long day with a gorgeous image in front of me awaiting my artistic transformation is super relaxing. Ahhhh…

(Pssst….want to learn how relaxing this can be firsthand? I’m teaching a free week long photo editing lesson online starting August 12th — learn more and/or register HERE)

This project was one of those ‘can’t refuse it’ type of deals.

Since ‘going pro’ with my photography I’ve had a dream of being part of a birth and getting to document it. My day job held me back from making this dream come true for quite some time.

Then, the mama-to-be here, who I shared an office with all last school year, found out she was pregnant with her first baby the day she took my DC/MD/VA Momtographie Class back in February. With the decision to quit my job this summer also came the decision to make this personal project of mine come true.

Thank you friend for inviting me in for what will surely be a special day in your life.

You two are absolutely glowing in these images and I can’t wait to meet your daughter with you in a few short weeks! xo.

Come relax with me and learn about the #1 editing technique I’m constantly asking to spill to moms Join me starting August 12th for a completely FREE week long online based photography class, Shades of Me.  Indulge in some self-care behind the lens while also learning a new editing technique in the process. Click HERE now to get yourself registered.

Wisdom Wednesday | Stuck

Yesterday I didn’t shower. (please feel free to follow with a chorus of “ewwwww gross” or “that’s disgusting” here). The desire to be clean just wasn’t there. Being on summer vacation, free from the “day job” has opened up a whole host of new schedules and new routines. And apparently motivation isn’t a part that routine.  I wake up, drink my morning coffee, plop myself down in front of the ______ (TV, computer, ipad, smart phone, insert your choice of technology device here), and zone out completely.  By the time I snap myself out of this bubble of brain zapping media it’s already afternoon. Another wasted day.  And this is why a shower at this point seems futile and irrelevant. So I just stink up my house until its time to go to bed and do it all over the next day. (don’t worry I do actually decide to shower when I can’t stand my own stink anymore).

Can you relate?

You know how it goes.  We get so caught up in the daily grind that we get stuck in rut. Or a funk that we can’t seem to shake.  Or something comes along that puts us in a bad place mentally. Ruts can be small and caused by routine. Or they can be much much bigger.  Sometimes, things are seemingly going along great in our world and then something happens to send it crashing to a screeching halt.  A bad day at work.  A relative gets sick.  A loved one passes away.

This rut I am in right now, for some reason brings me right back to the place I was in 2 years ago when we lost our baby girl, Bella Rose.  At 20 weeks pregnant I gave birth to her and she did not live. In an instant our world was changed. For someone who is Type A like me (a planner, a thinker, an organizer) this was absolutely devastating. The life I had planned for me, for us, was not going to be the one we would get.  In the months that followed I was in that same state of not showering, not interacting, and I felt very isolated.  That time in my life was so much more than being stuck in rut, yet so similar to today on many levels.

So how to we climb out of a rut? a funk? a bad day? a bout of depression?

Today begins my first e-course: Illuminate: Lighting the Path to Photographic Healing where we are going to be exploring just that. The course was designed out my own experiences in using my camera to heal from the loss of our precious first daughter, Bella. It’s a community for baby loss moms who have lost their “spark” to come and learn some new photography ideas and techniques to get out of their own personal funk.

In honor this new journey I am embarking upon with the Illuminate launch, I want to offer a few suggestions for those of you who may be in a creative rut and looking to heal your own soul through photography, take some time to reflect , and bring some change to your daily routine:

  1. FIND YOUR ENERGY Are you are morning person or a night person? When do you feel your most you, your most friendly, your most easy going, your most energetic, your most emotional? This may be a clue to when you should be trying to tap into your creativity.
  2. GO FOR A WALK  Make today the day you schedule in that nice hour long walk. It’s summer, the weather is warm, the sun is shining, there are no excuses for being indoors! Bring your camera along. Take pictures of anything you think is beautiful.  Unique architecture. Pretty flowers in bloom. The sun setting behind your house.
  3. PICK A THEME Is your favorite color blue? Photograph anything blue you find this week.  Try to take a photo of something that represents each letter of the alphabet (A – photograph a apple, B – photograph a teddy bear, C – photograph your fresh corn on the cob for dinner, etc..). Nature lover? Photograph nothing but trees, flowers, and shrubs. Now go make a collage using this fun online mosaic maker.
  4. MAKE A SCAVENGER HUNT Brainstorm a list of items you want to photograph and go find them! Better yet, find a list that has already been done for you. The Great Scavenger Hunt is a fun one to get some really obscure ideas. Or check out this Digital Photography School Group. They aren’t very active anymore, but they do have lots of previous lists to get your creative juices flowing.

Are you feeling inspired yet? Go take a shower (I’m about to get off my butt to go take one now!), get your camera ready, get snapping, and please come back and share what you’ve done in the comments below.

Let’s get out of the routine, find beauty behind our camera lens, and inspire each other.

Wisdom Wednesday | Making The Leap

This week’s Wisdom Wednesday was inspired by a recent question asked by one of my lovely Facebook followers. Shannon asks:

Do you provide assistance with selecting cameras? I’m looking to make the leap and purchase my first SLR.

As my photography classes has grown over the past few months, I have been asked this question more and more. At class last week one of the moms in attendance had actually purchased her camera only weeks before attending, after some consultation with myself and the internet. I definitely have a few thoughts on selecting an entry level dslr and I think this question is perfect to springboard into today’s blog post.

First of all I must admit, I am a little biased and will be talking mostly about Nikon cameras in this post. I have been a Nikon shooter since starting my photography journey and absolutely love the way both of my Nikons have performed. I do not have anything negative to say about Canons or any of the other major brands, in fact my point and shoot camera is a Canon, but I simply don’t have the experience or expertise in their dslr capabilities.

Now, first things first. I want you to answer two important questions before we begin talking more about the camera of your dreams:

1) What are your photography goals?
As a “momtographer” what will you need the camera to do? Portraits of lazy days at home or vacations with the family? Sporting events and lots of action? Crisp tack sharp focus? Video functionality? Extra durability when those kiddos accidentally knock the camera off the table and on the floor?

2) What is your budget?
The range of camera available to consumers these days is impressive. Entry level dslr cameras are at a price point accessible to most families, but keep in mind that more functionality and more bells and whistles usually comes with a higher price tag. Also, buyer beware the too good to be true sale or wheeling and dealing that often happens online. One of my recent class attendees bought her shiny new SLR on Ebay. She came to find out once it arrived that it was an overseas model and all of the menus were in Japanese and could not be changed to English. I personally found it VERY helpful to go to my local camera shop, try out a few different models, see which felt right, and purchase locally. The prices were comparable to online prices and I felt like I had really purchased the camera that was meant for me.

Now, as a mom I know there are a few top priorities on my list when it comes to having a nice camera. I want it to be able to: be easy and quick to be able to change settings on the fly (kids move a lot!), handle a quick shutter speed (to avoid blurry images), and have low light sensitivity (so I can take good photos indoors with out my flash), and have video built in so I only need one device to tote around.

My current top Nikon performer is the Nikon d7000. Why? It’s recently been released to market so it is new technology.  It gets glowing reviews for its ability to handle low light situations, it has a great video feature that has auto focus built in, it is durable and weather resistant, and it has many many many focus points (great for tracking moving targets!).  However, this is also the top of the line consumer dslr. If you are looking to pinch some pennies than the Nikon d5100, or d3100 would be my next momtographer picks.  My top Canon performers would be the Canon 60D (similar to the higher budget Nikon d7000), T2i or T3i (similar to the lower budget Nikon d5000 or d3100).

However, even more so than the camera are the lenses you will want to use after purchasing your new toy.

Lenses are really the star of the show. A lot of times it is the lens that determines what your camera can handle.  The lens can zoom or not zoom. The lens can tell the camera to be great in low light or not so great in low light.  The lens is what allows the camera to create a tack sharp image or not.  The lenses that come with these entry level SLRs are not always the most ideal for the momtographer.  They have minimal zoom capabilities, they don’t produce the most sharp images, and their capabilities in low light stink.

My #1 must have momtographer purchase to go along with your new shiny camera is the 35mm or 50mm / f 1.8 lens.  It produces GORGEOUS images. It shines in low light. It’s absolutely an amazing lens. And its a rather affordable top performing lens option.  The one downfall is that it isn’t great for sports because it doesn’t zoom. If zoom is what you need then I recommend investing in a 70-300mm zoom lens. That’s the lens for you.

Is your head spinning yet? I know there is a lot to think about when making this big investment. And don’t forget that once you’ve brought that camera home and you’ve started to play I’ll be here ready to teach you what you need to know to really use that baby to it’s fullest potential.

BUT, if you’re looking for a head start in your learning, hop on over HERE and sign up for Christmas in July. I’ll be sending free gifts to your inbox all month long with photo tips and tricks to get you snapping better photos this summer. You don’t need the dslr for this one so come join in on the fun!

The Session is Over…Now What? | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

One of my favorite things to do as photographer is not just taking the photos but helping clients figure out what to do with those photos once their taken. Prior to every session I complete a pre-session consultation where we discuss location, wardrobe, and plans for the photos once their done. From albums, to prints, to digital files, to storyboards, to enlargements the possibilities are endless!

Today I want to talk about enlargements, specifically canvas enlargements, and what they can do to make a bold yet personalized statement in your home.  I absolutely love seeing family photographs on canvas in a home. Canvas prints are made of high quality textured material and are gallery wrapped around a wood stretcher frame. The benefit? No need for framing once they arrive. However, if you’re going to order canvas its important to order an image size that best compliments your space, and usually bigger is better. One thing I’ve noticed across the board with clients is that they’re afraid to go BIG with their final image enlargements.

Let’s imagine if you will a perfectly blank wall above your fireplace mantel, the prime spot for your recent family photograph.  You’re thinking an 8×10 canvas print would look just lovely to fill the space. Here is what that 8×10 would look like:

Hmmmmm, not quite the statement you were hoping to make huh? What about a 16×20 canvas instead?

Maybe a little better, but it really is still on the small side. I would recommend a 20×30 canvas in that space to fill the wall and really bring your attention up to the photo.

With the 20×30 canvas you can easily see each family member and your focus is immediately drawn to the photo and not the fireplace. Bigger really is better in this scenario.

But, if going that big really isn’t your style, canvas can also be great for storytelling with images as well.  Groupings of several smaller canvases can tell the story of your family and its personality.

Recently one of my clients ordered a canvas grouping for her family room wall space. I absolutely love the story her grouping tells, but I also love her combination of both black & white and color images. Thanks Kelly for sharing your final results!

I love to talk with you about making a statement with the images from your session. Contact me for all the details!

What to Wear: Fall Inspired | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

One of the most frequent questions I am asked when having a pre-session consultation is, “What should we wear?”. It can be so much fun to put together a unique, timeless, and fun look for your session and I am here to help you do just that! Color, pattern, and texture can create a great look in pictures as long as you don’t go too crazy. With our upcoming fall mini sessions in October I thought it might be helpful to share some fall wardrobe inspiration. There is still space left on October 30th to book your mini session but contact me soon to reserve your spot as space is limited.  I’d love to help you put together a look to make your fall photos just perfect!

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