Most of my newborn sessions take place in my studio, but every so often I get invited to go into clients homes and do a lifestyle session. They are a bit different because instead of all the posing we really focus on the family and getting snuggles in their elements. We shoot in their favorite spots: The newly decorated nursery, their bedroom all cuddled up, and of course your first baby (the furry one!) can be included during this time. It's such a nice way to capture the first few weeks without rushing to leave the house because I know that can be tricky post delivery when you are learning a whole new way to do everything.
It's not too often I get to school maternity portraits in my studio, but I LOVE the way the white walls and bed set put a real focus on the client. It's just serene and timeless. Maternity sessions are such a fun way to connect to your belly and this special time in your life. Tanikka is no stranger to my camera, this is baby number 4! And after three handsome boys she is carrying a beautiful baby girl. She will have lots of brothers to protect and care for her and I cannot wait to watch her grow up.
This little guy came to my photography studio in Chesterfield and brought many sweet faces with him. Sometimes newborns have a hard time focusing when they are awake, but his eyes were perfectly in line with the camera. His session had a lot of variety: sleeping and awake poses, and also pictures with big sister and his whole family! Style wise, we opted to keep things mostly muted to accommodate this family's wishes.
What is sweeter than one baby? TWO BABIES! And, both girls. While I may personally never get to know what it's like to have girls, I certainly get to snuggle them during sessions. More often than not I am in the studio in Chester for newborn sessions, but every so often a family wants it to take place in their home and I get to stretch my creative wings! Every space is different, the lighting is never certain, but it's fun to find the best spots. This was a lifestyle portrait session that took place in their beautiful home in Richmond. We incorporated a few pieces from the family, and I brought a few wraps, and together it was the perfect session! Thank you V family for trusting me to come in your home and capture your sweet girls, I look forward to seeing you again!
Maymont is such a gorgeous backdrop for an outdoor wedding. The threat of rain was LOOMING over us leading up to the day, even the day of was a downpour, but somehow (Thank you Jesus!) the sky mostly closed and although there was a tiny light sprinkle in the air, we were able to get all of ceremony and pictures done before it started pouring again. Sarah and Jason had a more intimate wedding of close friends and family but it was the perfect day being surrounded by only your best. All of their details came together perfectly and I know it was a day they will look back on with smiles for years to come.
Here are a few of my favorites from their big day!
There is a reason photographers sometimes dread the family formals list, and it's usually because without proper flow it can definitely be a bit chaotic! I do not mind the family formal shots and I work with my clients before the wedding to come up with a list that works well and seems to only take about 10-15 minutes after the ceremony to complete! That sounds like a win for everyone, the family can get to the cocktail hour quicker, your bridal party begins their pictures sooner, and you and your groom get to get this typically "un-fun" part of the day through so you can head to the reception and party!
I typically only have the grandparents, parents, siblings (and children if there are any!) stay after the ceremony, but I always say if there is a family member that you are super close to we definitely want to include them in the formal pictures. The rest? The extended cousins that you likely aren't going to print/frame a picture of? We save that for the reception!
As a side note, some couples DOO request one big huge whole side of the family shot which is really great to have and we can do that first if requested, but we don't typically need to break that down further than that unless requested.
The family formals list is kind of like a diamond, we start small, add in, then take out, then swap to the grooms side! Easy, right?
Here is my standard family formals shot list:
Bride & Grandparents
Bride, Groom, Grandparents
Bride, Groom, Grandparents, Parents
Bride, Groom, Grandparents, Parent, Siblings
Bride, Groom, Siblings
Bride, Mom, Dad
Bride, Mom, Dad, Groom
Now, of course this is in the perfect world of the parents still being together and grandparents in attendance, so we definitely modify it for each couple that we work with! This list and the timeline is the only thing I need from the bride and groom on the wedding day.
The thing I love most about photographing Richmond VA families is being able to be silly with the kids. We try to get a few more structured shots at the very beginning, but that usually only lasts about 5 minutes before we move on to the fun. Kids do not want to just 'sit and say cheese' and I wouldn't make them do that! Unless it is an extended family session I usually recommend my minis for families, they're short and sweet at 30 minutes and nicely affordable as well! This works well for families who want to come more than once a year to capture their growing family.
Some of my favorite shots ever are the ones like the above, just a fun playful family moment that is so gorgeous it deserves a billboard size print! ;) This family has been with me for a few years and I even have a canvas of their little guys earlier sessions in the studio.
We held this session at one of my favorite locations that sits on the James/Appomattox River. It's usually very quiet so we are not fighting crowds and it's super gorgeous and has lots of options for different pictures!
Take a peek at some of my favorite pictures from the session:
This sweet baby girl came to the studio for her newborn session and I believe she (without being a twin or quad!) was the smallest baby I have worked with, not quite 5 pounds at the session. She was great at snuggling up to pose and I didn't see her eyes until the session was over and they were dressing her to go home! We wanted the session to be feminine and pink to match her cute nursery, and I made that sweet headband just for her the night before the session! I'm having fun experimenting with different wraps, outfits, and headbands for my clients! Most of what I have now is custom and one of a kind!
I love working with newborns so if you know of an expecting mama in the Richmond, Virginia and surrounding area please send her my way! :)
Julie and Graham were married on a gorgeous overcast day at the Hermitage Country Club in Manakin-Sabot in September. Yes, you heard that right, a "gorgeous" overcast day. A lot of people might get discouraged when their wedding day doesn't have the bright sun shining, but let me tell you a positive thing about it not being full sun. Overcast days mean we can stand anywhere, any time, and ALL the colors pop nicely. You're likely not going to have any squinty eye issues and if there is a gorgeous spot in the background you will not have any issues shooting from all different angles. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the sun, but as long as there's not a tornado (I am 99% lay in a closet shaking terrified of tornados) we can make different days look super amazing too!
Originally I only met Julie and her mom to discuss her wedding and didn't met Graham until the wedding day because he was out of town with the military. So after playing a quick game of "which one is the groom" we moved right along with the day. ;) The details were soft and classic, much like Julie as a bride. As you will see in the pictures, her happiness was all over her face on her wedding, I loved the expressions she had throughout the day. From coming down the aisle with her dad to being announced at the reception, she carried that joy throughout the whole day.
Take a peek at some of my favorites:
Julie and Brian's Richmond Virginia wedding at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens was honestly a highlight of my 2016 year! From the beautiful florals to her details of the lace gown and her new monogram on a necklace, she is the most genuinely smiley and happy bride and lights up every room she is in. I think I teared up multiple times during this wedding day just because she was SO happy and in love.
HIs dad was his best man. As a mom of three boys, I thought that was so sweet and I hope my boys have the same relationship with their Father! I remember his dad beaming over at him as they sung one of their songs in the church, it was definitely a proud father look in his eyes!
You couldn't ask for a better wedding to photograph. Julie's now husband Brian is one of the kindest grooms I have had the pleasure of working with. Putting these two together was clearly a God thing, and I loved every minute of their wedding day! Everything seemed to run perfectly and I know they will look back on this day for many years to come with just as big of smiles on their face.
Congratulations you two, and thank you so much for letting me take part in your special day.
Cake- Buttercream Bee
Band- Bachelor Boys
Stationary- English Tea Paperie
Catering - Merriwether Godsey
Hair/Makeup - Blackbird Salon
Church - St. Thomas Episcopal Church
Reception Venue - Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
Oh sweet baby bellies. I LOVE them SO MUCH. The magic of creating a life and taking some time to get some gorgeous pictures of yourself while focusing on your beauty and that sweet babe-to-be is a must for an expecting mama! Your maternity session does not have to be this intimate, you can certainly rock it just the same while covering up a little more, but as a secret? These sessions are my favorite! The studio offers key pieces in completing the maternity look whether you'd like to show the belly or cover it up a bit more. Dad and children can also be included in these sessions.
In this post you will meet Ashley, who is one of the strongest mothers I've ever met. She was so sweet to work with and didn't hesitate to jump into any idea I had, and together we created the most beautiful maternity session for her!
There is something about a parent/child connection that I adore photographing. I have been a photographer in the Richmond and surrounding area for almost 9 years, that's crazy to think about just how many families I have had the pleasure of photographing over all of this time. About 6 years ago when I got my first studio, I was able to put the white bed set out that I had dreamed about out as that studio had a perfect double window. The first "bed" I had there was a blow up mattress, but you couldn't tell (until you went to sit on it, ha!) I got to take pictures of my Grandmother there before she passed away. I got pictures with my babies there that i'll always treasure. I've captured so many mom-to-bes and babies in that setting, there's something so peaceful about all white so that you and your little loves are the focal point.
In my new studio (which I've been in for 3+ years!) the white bed set was the first thing I put up. And I am just as obsessed with it as I was 6 years ago!
Here is a peek at a recent "Mommy + Me" session. I have ONE more spot left for the mommy + me sessions that will take place on February 11th AND they include makeup for mama from Shine Blowdry Bar!
Ohhh sweet baby Benji! (Totally acceptable for me to give sweet baby's a nickname, right?) And side story, we named our first two boys "Eli" and "Luke" because we weren't a fan of nicknames, but more often than not we call them "Li" and "Lu."
I recently read where photographers weren't a fan of parents IN the room with their baby's during the newborn session, some photographers went as far as to say parents WEREN'T ALLOWED in the room. YIKES you guys! You couldn't peel me off of my boys so there is no crazy rule like that in my studio. I love that you get to watch this session, and you are literally two feet away from us the whole time. Now, I will admit you don't have the best view because I always pose to a particular side and unfortunately the couch is pretty much right beside baby's butt, so THAT's your view, but I also encourage you to walk around and get a non-butt view too ;)
Benjamin was such a sweet baby and rocked his first modeling session! His mama booked a mini session for him, which tends to have more simple styling and not quite as many set ups as a full session, but definitely allows you to still have great images of your baby!
Here are a few of my favorites from our time together:
Niki + Deans wedding at The Mill at Fine Creek was one of my favorite weddings from the year. The weather wasn't looking so great but somehow we were able to get every picture outside that we wanted! The only change to the day that happened was instead of having the ceremony in front of the wall, the ground was so saturated that we had to have it beside the house on the flat top, but it was still just as gorgeous! And the staff at the Mill is so great to work with and handled the ceremony location change beautifully. It really makes a world of difference to work with a great venue!
I remember sitting down with Niki + Dean and walking away from the meeting really wanting them to book. It's silly how you can get attached to someone during just a quick meeting, but they were so sweet and a previous wedding couple of mine were friends with them, so I knew they would be the perfect couple for me!
The wedding party was a lot of fun. I may or may not had to receive a tetanus shot after groomsmen portraits (just kidding!) But I LOVE photographing a good wedding reception where people can just let loose and dance like no on is watching, and boy, did they! ;)
Niki + Dean opted to do a first look, which allows them to have MORE portrait time and a little time to breathe together before the ceremony. I am a big fan of first looks and will write more on them later!
Niki + Dean,
Thank YOU both SO MUCH for having me capture the most important day of your lives. Your details were pulled together beautifully and I loved working with you two. I wish you many years of happiness! :)
For the past almost 9 years of being a Richmond VA wedding photographer, I've only ever ordered black leather albums for samples to show to clients. Why? I have no idea, except for the fact that likely 75% of my closet is made up of black clothing and i'm quite drawn to the black/white contrast in things. Well, that is until I ordered this brown leather baby last week and let me say, I may never go back! I offer my clients about 30 different cover choices, ranging from leathers to faux leathers and fabric. (Don't worry, the inside has only two choices: Glossy + Matte! So you will not be drowning in options) These albums are a must have with every wedding! It's such a gorgeous tangible piece to place on your coffee table for years to come. It allows for your top favorite photos to be stored in one place and for guests (and you all!) to enjoy for years to come. I usually always order 8x8 albums but can also size up, I just feel like these are the perfect pieces to leave out and not have to hide on a bookshelf because it takes up the entire coffee table and you're worried about it being ruined.
Brides: Albums also make the PERFECT gifts for parents! Either as a thank you for all your help with the wedding OR Christmas/Birthday! If you order the exact copy of yours, there's also a 50% discount there! And a 25% discount if you are wanting to customize their pages a bit.
My top 5 favorite things about these albums:
- The cover choices. There is something for everyone!
- Page options. I have a 50/50 split on loving the gloss or the matte. My mind changes every day!
- Thick pages. These are not going to bend easily or tear easily if little hands want to browse through.
- No gutter interruption. An image can go across the middle seamlessly without altering the image in a weird way. I've even had to commit the design 'no-no' and put a face across the middle and it did not alter it in any unpleasing way.
- Fully Customizable Heirloom Products. I design the album and you can make picture swaps! Years ago when I was having clients pick out the first set of images I would either continually have to go back asking for, "one more ceremony picture to fill the page" or it would take clients a long time to decide on favorites. I understand fully, you are BUSY! You have a lot to think about that doesn't include sitting down at the computer right when you first get married. So I take the stress out of it and create the first initial design for you. Then you customize it if you need any swaps!
So you are prepping for your wedding day! There are a few things that make a photographers job go super smoothly, and a big one is having all of your details together and ready to be photographed upon arrival. You don't have to style them, that's my job! Just have them all in a pile!
As an added bonus, leave a few special elements there too. For instance, if you are having a rustic wedding, leaving a piece of wood that could be used to shoot details on would be great. Or having a few extra flowers to style with can really make a big difference!
For the background of the first wedding shown, there were not extra elements handy, so I grabbed one of the bridesmaid dresses, and when it's made into an album means everything will flow nicely from one spread to the other!
Here is the checklist to have handy for your wedding detail shots:
And as you can see below, each of the weddings have a different feel to them, so I place and style them where they will coordinate with that. The first wedding was a wedding at The Jefferson in Richmond Virginia, if I had taken those gorgeous Kate Spades outside next to a brick wall, it would not have made any cohesive sense to the wedding day, so they were placed on a white mantel in the getting ready suite.
The second wedding reception was at Lewis Ginter, so I styled that around the wood elements (since it was going to be an outdoor reception) that I could find in the room. She got ready at her parents house so I walked around the house and eventually found a pretty old wooden chair that would work perfectly, so I grabbed that and took it to the room with the best lighting.
The third was at The Mill at Fine Creek using lots of natural elements, so the dress was hung in a window with full outdoor view and we used the invitation and extra greenery to style the earrings on butcher block.
The last wedding shown here was at the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel & Conference Center, and the bride loves classy (and classic!) shots, so I made sure a few hints of the gold frames were around the room while I was working with the details.
Having everything together means when I arrive you can continue with hair and makeup and not have to jump up and rush around and try to find all of the things I will ask you for. But don't worry, I always send the check list before the wedding to remind you!
Happy 4th Birthday Luke! I don't know how we got here, it feels like I should still be in the hospital with you recovering from delivery. You are my 'spitfire' child. My perfectly crazy middle child. You are so gifted with sports I am already picking out the tile for the future mansion you will build me when you strike rich. ;) (But if you don't that's totally fine too, I really do love love our current home.
Three was a big year for you! You learned to ride a bike without training wheels. You've been doing that for months actually, and i'm still impressed with it! You are SO smart and breeze through 'preschool' work. You are kind and love and protect your baby brother in a way I always dreamed of when I thought of you in a big brother position. You are fearless. The absolute don't give a hoot what anyone thinks kind of fearless. Which both excites and terrifies me. It's only by the grace of God we haven't had to call an ambulance. Let's keep it that way, okay? You are determined. To the extent of stubborn but I know it's a quality that will serve you greatly later in life so I let it go. You are a jokester. Hiding a plastic snake all around the house and just waiting until someone finds it.
We had a fun year. From crab hunting late at night on the beach to our first Disney trip, we have lots of great memories to look back on from your year of three.
And here we are, your year of four. You were so excited this morning to tell everyone how old you are. You will grow more this year than before and I am so excited God gave you to me. I am blessed because of you.
*Fall + newborn pics by me, Beach pics by Andi + Zoe, and Family brennan newborn pic by Nicole Wingo!
Part of this "new blog" is going to be some personal posts! I hope you reading more about my life as a mom and business owner raising three young boys. They are 5 and under and sometimes life is a little crazy, but I think I finally have a good handle on work/life balance and i'd love to be able to share any tips I have with you along the way!
In November we went to Disney and it was the most fun trip we've had as a family! I had a lot of people ask us about how we did things and while there are SO many ways to do Disney, I probably researched it like it was a thesis that determined whether I would pass or fail something. We're talking I probably would be embarrassed if I counted how many hours I put in to Disney research. But it's EXPENSIVE. We never went on a honeymoon so we have never poured that much money in to something so I wanted to make sure I didn't regret anything.
Here are some things we learned/did while having the best week:
We flew. Spirit Airlines from Baltimore. It was only $60 per ticket one way and saved us HUNDREDS over flying out of Richmond. It was well worth the 2.5 hour trip up to Maryland. Now the thing with Spirit is they will charge you for any checked bag, but each checked bag you're allowed 40 pounds. I figured we could fit everything into 2 and we did that just fine! Everyone is also allowed a "personal" item for free, book bags work great for that, but they have to be under a certain size or you have to pay for them to be 'carry on' items. Sometimes Jet Blue will offer cheap flights out of Richmond for a non-stop to Orlando, but our experience was at that timeframe it would have been about $300 per person round trip. The crew was SO sweet and Eli + Luke even got to go in the cockpit at the end of the flight, they LOVED that!
Amazon Prime Now. So convenient. Delivers right to your hotel and you don't have to be there to pick it up! Water is SO expensive at the parks. Like, $4-7 a bottle. We utilized the Prime Now and saved a LOT of money on snacks and water for the park. I did our first prime order the day we were leaving before we took off, everything was at the hotel for us when we arrived.
Fast Passes, Use them! This saved us SO much time. We never waited in line for anything. Except Winnie the Pooh, oh my gosh we will never get those two hours back. I'm not even sure what took so long but every grown man in line had a 10 minute crying conversation with pooh, we got antsy but chalked it up to the magic of Disney and tried to not get grumpy. Everyone deserves their magical moments at Disney! We set up our fast passes back to back in the morning and the attractions were all close to each other so we weren't running around like crazy. As soon as your third fast past registers you can get a new one so we continually rolled them all day. I'll blog about our favorite Disney rides soon!
We have young kids so we didn't exhaust them. We were there 6 days and got park hoppers, next time we go we will skip the park hoppers. It's a lot to travel to a different park and the parks are so huge and offer so much, we never needed to hop. Because Brennan was only 8 months, when he gets tired he cries until you put him to bed, so we never got to stay late at night and that did mean we sacrificed the night parades but that will be something to look forward to the next trip! Our six days were 3 at Magic Kingdom and 1 at each of the other parks.
Take a stroller! I've heard people complaining that their stroller was moved by cast members but we never lost ours for more than a minute. We have a double bob and flew with it. Easiest thing ever. It meant the kids were contained at the airport when we needed them to be, and in the crowds at disney when we were going from ride to ride, we never worried about losing anyone. All 3 of ours fit in the stroller. Brennan and one in the seats and the other child sat at the point where the front wheel is.
Buy the memory maker! Would you think I was lying if I said I didn't take many pictures? Considering it's my 7-day a week job, I remember saying a few times, "wow I haven't taken any pictures today!" Any photo cast member will snap a picture for you, it's the easiest thing ever! And usually they are in prime spots so it's very much worth the money. It drops the photo (usually within 20 minutes!) right to your magic band account. Now, you CAN get them to shoot on your phone/camera, but this was one less thing to worry about.
Hotel advice: I can't offer much help here, we stayed at Shades of Green because David works for the DOD. If you are military or DOD you have that option and I definitely recommend it. It's right across from the poly so you can walk and use their monorail or catch a bus. The buses run all day and we never had to wait long for them. They have an amazing buffet dinner with a different theme every night that we utilized every day.
My Disney Experience App. This is what I used ALL day long at the parks. Since it was our first time we didn't really know where things are, this app has everything you need. From walking directions to a ride/restaurant to information about the rides/restaurants. It lets you know where the photopass photographers are AND wait times for rides! So if there's something you didn't get a FP for and you want to make sure it's worth walking over to, you just check that baby to see if it's worth it. This is also where you get all o your cute pictures from. I actually downloaded and started "using" the app about a month before we went so I would be familiar with it. I was a little obsessed with tracking wait times too to see what time of day we should ride certain things.. LOL see, I told you I was planning like a crazy person!!
Speaking of pictures, here are a few of our favorites:
Disney is EXPENSIVE. But it's soooo worth it. I made a commitment to leave work at home and go, something i've never done before. I did chat with ONE bride while I was there, there was an afternoon I did laundry and because brennan was asleep on me I was able to make a quick phone call, but other than that I was 100% devoted to my family. That alone was worth the trip.
You CAN go to Disney and not plan it like a crazy person, and the planning CAN be a little overwhelming. But I know MY kids and we are not the most patient people to stand in line for every. single. ride. for an hour. Plus, when you do that you are not maximizing your time OR money. So I wanted to plan it out to make the most of both. And it totally paid off! We had the most amazing trip and came away with great memories!
So you found out you are expecting multiples, congratulations! Once that first wave of excitement (and nausea?) wears off, I am sure you will take a deep breath and realize that now all of your costs will at least double. The good news is, not with me. Whether it's newborn session or the cake smash, the cost is the same for your family as it would be for my 'single' babies. And you can include any older siblings or you (and your spouse!) that you'd like. After all, it's not just your babies that will be changing over the course of the year, you all will be! And I want to capture that for you.
Having a session with multiples can be a little nerve-wracking. I wonder if they will both sleep at the same time and fall into posing together naturally, but they just spend months of their lives being so close that it almost seems unnatural to pose them solo. (But don't worry, we still do!) My moms of multiples will read the same helpful hints post that I share with my singleton parents and so far I've had great success with "my" babies. I promise that I will treat them as if they are my own! I adore working with babies and families and I think it shows :)
PS. Did you notice the special up top, Expecting moms of multiples? Book a baby plan before February 1, 2017 and receive a free canvas from the newborn session!
Here are a few of my favorite newborn images from my twin and quadruplet sessions:
For the past few years Christy has come to me with an idea for her daughter's session and we pull ideas together to make it happen. This year was by far my favorite and I am not sure how we will top it next year! She brought in some things, and I pulled together things I had that would nicely add to it, and then set up the "dream" set. I thought it turned out SO great that I am offering a limited number of Dream Sessions here at the studio!
Oh this session was SO much fun!! I think it could comfortably fit two (or three small!) children. If you would like to book a dream session for your child, here is a little more information on it: (but act fast because this is only offered for January and I only have a few spots available!)