What Eight Looks Like | Lifestyle Project May 2012

Our big boy turned eight last month.  It was bittersweet for me, as his mama.  Parker had so much influence on me when I was first learning photography.  As a very busy toddler, he pretty much dictated that my shooting style be unposed and loose, on the go, and very much what "lifestyle" feels like to me now.  He is why, to this day, I try not to pose my clients.  He is why I want to just let them be real, and document the way they interact with one another.  He was my first muse. These days, he is not quite so unfazed by my camera.  He's usually giving me bug-eyes or sticking his tongue out when I point my camera his way.  But that's alright with me.  Whatever he gives me, I will document.  And embarrass him someday at his wedding treasure this funny, clever time in his life, while it lasts.

The past few weeks, Parker has let me quietly photograph him, just the way I always do.  He even surrendered and let me photograph him for a class that Bree and I are teaching, to illustrate a technical point for our students.  I savored every moment.


Making funny faces, stifling laughs, catching frogs and lizards with the neighbor boys, running around shirtless, playing soccer, showing off, missing teeth, building with legos, and even being sweet to his baby sister... this is What Eight Looks Like.

You are a delight, my love.  I am so glad you made me a Mama.


I hope you'll continue the blog carousel and visit my sweet friend, Deb.  I always look forward to seeing what beautiful bits of life she's documented of her children.  Enjoy the journey, xo.  Deb Schwedhelm  |  Tampa Child Photographer


What Naptime Looks Like

With a new baby in the house, we do a lot of sleeping around here.

Wait.  Let me rephrase that.  Charlotte does a lot of sleeping.  Mama is not so lucky ;)

Charlotte is on a great schedule... eat, play, sleep... eat, play, sleep.  Parker, at 7 1/2, doesn't nap anymore, and is at school during the day while the girls are here.  But Lila certainly needs her afternoon nap.  Goodness, she can be the sweetest little grump if she doesn't get a decent amount of sleep!  Although, admittedly, with so many changes to our old routine, her nap schedule at home varies quite a bit.  It's a rare occasion that our schedules get lined up so perfectly that the girls will be asleep for a few minutes at the same time.  (When that happens, I guarantee you that I will be (quietly) singing the Hallelujah chorus!)

This month I tried to document these moments when they're sleeping sweetly.  On some particularly exhausting day when they've all been naughty and I haven't had enough sleep myself... I will undoubtedly pull out these precious photos, hold them close to my heart, and remember what darling angels my children can be when they're asleep!!  ;)

Notice how she popped OUT the pacifier and popped IN her own thumb.  Sweet baby.

Yes, that's Lila wearing a bathing suit.  In November.  That's our girl!  She fought this nap so hard, and finally I caved and told her she could eat her snack in front of the TV.  A few minutes later, I looked over and saw that she had passed right out.  Love her heart.

This last image is probably my favorite... Lila saw Charlotte sleeping in her bouncy seat, and brought in her Bitty Baby to sleep alongside her.  Charlotte's first naptime friend!

I hope you'll continue the "What ________ Looks Like" lifestyle blog circle by visiting the talented Gina Oh | Arroyo Grand, CA Photographer.  She has some delightful lifestyle images to share with us, as always.  Enjoy the journey, friends.  xxoo

Also, I'm over at The Creative Mama today writing about a sweet Christmas tradition that I enjoyed with my Popaw Deb when I was growing up.  I hope you'll click over and read, and share one of your favorite Christmas rituals too!

What Dress-Up Looks Like

If any of you follow me on Facebook, or if you read this post, you'll know that my three-year-old daughter is a huge fan of dressing up.  Not just on Halloween... but almost every day.  That girl can dirty some laundry, I tell ya.  She almost always dresses herself, and I let her.  I pick my battles, and this is not one I'm willing to fight.  Whether it's changing her regular clothing four times a day, or dressing up in her favorite costumes, I rarely see her in the same outfit for more than a couple of hours.  But seeing her develop her own funky sense of style and her own independence is totally worth all the laundry I have to wash. Recently Lila's most beloved dress is that of Disney's Rapunzel character.  She goes everywhere in that purple dress, despite the fact that it's been torn and mended three times.  She doesn't mind at all that it's tattered and unraveling.  She wears her boots with it, or sometimes flip-flops, and even sparkly pink sequined ballet slippers.  In her sweet lisp, she tells me that she wants to grow her hair "down to da grath (grass), like Rapunthel."  For now her waist-length hair is worn down, up, braided, pigtailed, or crowned with one of her several various tiaras.  She usually wears earrings, necklaces, layers and layers of beads, and often carries a tiny purse with pretend makeup and other preschooler "essentials" tucked inside.  And don't forget the shiny plastic cell phone!  You never know when the prince may call.

We frequently enter Publix or Target with Lila dressed in full princess attire.  We get winks and knowing smiles from all the other moms who've been in our shoes themselves, and she trots around just as proud as a peacock.

She runs around the house in some swimsuit or another, all year round.  And, usually, she wears three or four swimsuits in single day's time.  It's not uncommon for me to say, "We can't go inside, honey.  You're wearing a bathing suit and fairy wings."

She has been known to hit the playground in her tiara and her shiny red patent shoes.  And run just as hard as she would if she were wearing tennis shoes.

She wears clip-on sparkly earrings to the doctor's office.  Or anywhere else she wants, really.

And ya know something?  I love it.

Lila is such a girl's girl.  Sparkles and sequins, glitter and garb, dresses and plastic high heels.  She revels in it all.  We keep her dress-up treasures inside a vintage green Lady Baltimore suitcase that I picked up at a thrift store last year.  It's perfect.

I've had these photographs in my head forever, and I plan to continue with a little series of Lila in all her dress-up adventures in the coming weeks.  I have lots more images swimming around in my head that I want to realize.  So stay tuned.


What DRESS-UP Looks Like...

I always ask my clients what they want to remember about their children, what they want to preserve.  I ask them how they want their children to feel when they look back at their family photos years from now.  And I want to remember this stage of Lila's life.  Her innocence, her free spirit and her feminine ways.  Her funky sense of style, her confidence, and her independence.  I want her to look back and appreciate all those times she wanted to express herself, and that I let her do it.  Times when Mama just shook her head, smiled, and said, "Alright, you can wear the Snow White dress to the store," and she happily chirped, "Yay!"  I want her to know how much we love her and cherish the little things that make her so unique, so sweet, and so fun.

I want her to remember her carefree days of dressing up.  Forever.



Next, please visit my sweet friend Gina Oh | Arroyo Grande Photographer for her take on our "What ____ Looks Like" project this month.  I hope you continue to follow the circle until you come back around to me.  There are 11 other extremely talented women who have wonderful stories to share with you.  Enjoy the journey!

Finally Unwrapping My Blessings

I know.  I've been gone awhile.  I could offer you many reasons, because I actually do have many.  ;)  This December, I'm certain, was my most hectic month ever.  I promise to tell you about it all in time.  Another blog post. I will say.... my whole month felt like this picture:


Our infinite blessings, "unwrapped" and given to us, yet they're cluttered and stacked, strewn all over the place... almost too many for me to even grasp and appreciate all at one time.  Kind of like my kids and their Christmas presents.  And me (ahem, the drooping tree) standing exhausted in the middle of the whole scene.  ;)  Does that make sense?  Life.  Husband.  Kids.  Work.  Photography.  A new business.  Friends.  Christmas.  Blog.  Shopping.  Decorating.  Housework.  Sleep (or my lack of.)  Just everything in general.  All amazing blessings, for certain.  But so overwhelming when they all beg to be opened at one time.

I've come to realize over the years that while I'm definitely a constant multi-tasker (in that I always have at least 5 plates juggling at once), when I really need to crank out a project, I just have to shut down most things around me in order to focus on the one most important one.  That was the case with my December.  So sorry, dear blog.  You were left out in the cold.  Kind of like that stray red stocking up there, that somehow ended up on the door handle.  LOL!

In any case, I'm so thankful for the fresh start that January promises, and that I have actually made it through the other side of 2010.  As my sister said yesterday, "I'm claiming 2011 as my year!"  And I'm doing just that, right along with her.

Thank you to the sweetest clients in the world, who made it possible for me to make a living doing something I very much love, again this past year.  It's a real blessing to be able to wake up every day and know that I'm in the right place.  I'm where I'm supposed to be.  No matter how hectic the day turns out to be, it's absolutely positively worth it.

Happy New Year, friends.  I hope your 2011 is amazing for you.  It's certainly going to be amazing for me.


it's the little things...

... that I love so much about my family sessions.  Like a quick glance back.... and a sweet unexpected wave.  :)

Tiny feet...

And even silly faces!  (You just wait, these boys are going to be heart-breakers one day soon.  Just look at that wink!)

Honest portraiture.  That's what it's all about.  I aim to capture boys being boys (walking sticks and all)....

...babies being babies...

...Mamas and Daddies lovin' on each other.

Cause that's the heart of the family anyways, isn't it?  It's not some photographer making you sit still, turn your head this way or that.  Your family is about YOU.  Not me.  :)  I just want to photograph you the way you are.  Even if that means the baby has her fingers in her mouth!  (And seriously, how unbelievably precious is that anyhow?!)

Let me just say, this sweet family was awesome to work with.  The boys were so much fun, I think I laughed for the majority of the session.  And part of the time I held back a little ways, photographing them from afar, just watching them explore the water, the trees, the sticks, the horseshoe crabs who'd lost their way.  Mom and Dad were so laid back, which truly makes what my job so much easier.  Baby girl was snuggly and a little unsure at first, but by the end of the session, she was giggling in Daddy's arms.

And putty in Mama's.  ;)

Thank you, sweet family of six, for letting me capture who you are!  I hope you enjoy your images.  :)