Love Languages: A New Blog Series

I'm starting a new series on the blog, entitled Love Languages. I've always been intrigued with how people give and receive love, and it is one of my favorite things to witness when I'm photographing people: how they show love to one another. 

I've you've never read the book, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, then I highly suggest you click over right this minute and grab a copy. It's not just for couples; there is a wonderful version for children that is so insightful. I think about love languages every time I'm with my own kids, when I'm planning sessions with clients, and when I'm actively shooting and talking to them from behind my camera. 

The five love languages are: 
Quality Time
Physical Touch
Words of Affirmation
Receiving Gifts
Acts of Service

According to the author, we all have one primary love language that we cannot do without. In addition, we may have secondary love languages that we enjoy as well.

My own three kids each have different love languages, and it's a joy to be keyed in on their individual brands of heart-speak and to be able to love them how they each need to be loved. When I'm loving them in their love language, that's when they feel it most... why would I want to love them in any other way?! So during this forever-ongoing blog series, I'm going to show you what love looks like between myself and my own sweet babies, for me as a mama/wife/sister/daughter/woman, and for my clients and their families. I hope you'll join me... I cannot wait to share this insight with you!

To start us out, I thought I'd share one of the love languages of my daughter: quality time. She's an amazing little girl with a heart of pure gold, and it is my pleasure and great honor to love on her! Lila sweetly says that she wants to stay home with me every single day, even though she loves school. To make her feel loved, all I have to do is simply spend one-on-one time with her. Doesn't matter what we do, as long as it's together. We braid hair, we take a walk, we bake gluten-free goodies together, we ride bikes, skip down the sidewalk, read together, snuggle in bed, I have lunch with her at school, we hold hands or play games or go shopping together. Just the two of us.

I also find that when I love her the way she needs it most, I fill her little love tank to its brim. And with that, she is more open with me in return, more patient, more well-behaved, more helpful and cooperative. (And in our house, friends, we high-five and call that a win-win.)

Stacey Woods, lifestyle photographer
Stacey Woods, black and white family photographer
Stacey Woods, Tampa Bay family photographer

Interestingly enough, Lila's love language to me is often acts of service or giving me gifts. She writes me letters (check out the hashtag #lilawrites on Instagram), leaves me little notes, she does extra chores to help me out, even tells me I'm beautiful when I don't wear any makeup... she is just a delight. She is so kind to her brother and sister, and loves her daddy like no other.

My Lila

So tell me, dear friends... how do you find yourself giving love? What does your spouse do that makes you feel adored, noticed, beautiful, appreciated, loved? What do your children do for you that makes your heart light on fire? Let's find your love language. Then find that of your significant other and your children. Spend this next week consciously showing love in the ways that your family receives love best, and see what it does for their hearts... and yours!

Love to you,

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 "I Wanna Help" Looks Like | Lifestyle Challenge March 2012

These days, it seems I can't do much without a little Someone asking to help me. Lila has a favorite kitchen stool that she carries from station to station, so she can reach the countertops.  Watch your toes.

She asks to feed Charlotte all the time, and she can put the spoon in her mouth, but I'm always afraid she'll jab it in there a little too "helpfully", so I offered a compromise.  Lila's doll shares the table with us, and eats when Charlotte does.

She can unsnap a diaper faster than I can.  She always knows where the wipes are (likely because she carried them off in the first place).  She picks out her own clothes 90% of the time, and I let her.  She often brings me snacks or juice boxes (one for her, and one for me).  And she's always forgiven when she sneaks a cookie for herself but brings me one too.

She asks me on a daily basis, "Can we bake?"  She's darn good at cracking eggs and she loves to add flour to the mixing bowl.  And always the chocolate chips.  Always.  She sneaks a few of those throughout the process too.

This particular day, we were baking Peppermint Crinkle Cookies.  Yes, it was around the holidays.  And yes, I know it's March now.  I've meant to share these with you every month since.  So today, I hope you'll enjoy this little morning of baking with my big girl.  My helper.


What "I Wanna Help," Looks Like

I had already made the dough the night before, and we were rolling the cookies into balls and dipping them in confectioner's sugar. Never a girl to stay clean for long, she had sugar all over her face about thirty seconds into it.

I love the softness of this one.

The hardest part is waiting for them to bake.  Such long minutes for a little girl.

And of course, the finished product.  They were delicious!

I always remember Mom letting us help her cook, even when we were very little, and very messy.  She would let us crack eggs and quietly pick out the shells without saying a word to us about them.  I remember dumping flour and sugar into the bowl, holding the electric mixer, scraping the last bits of batter from the bowl into the pan.  I know that by letting us "help", it made her time in the kitchen that much longer, and her cleaning the kitchen back up took that much longer as well.  But she always let us help anyway.

I hope that when Lila grows up and "be's a mommy" as she calls it, that she will remember these days with me and let her little ones help her too.


Please continue on our blog carousel to the extremely talented Wendy Vonsosen  | San Francisco Bay Area Photographer.  Wendy's lifestyle work is so insightful, and I can't wait to see what wonder she's captured for us this month.

Elevate: A Fine Art Photography Exploration | March 2012

I think it's high time I get myself posting regularly on this blog again, what do you say?  Photography is healing for me, after all.  And so is writing.  Maybe this is part of what I've been missing lately? After what we've been through for the past six months, I feel like I need to celebrate this sweet little one a little more.  My darling Charlotte.  Perfectly happy 99.5% of the time, and the other .5% she only gently fusses to let us know she needs something (usually milk or a nap).  She could never know how much her birth has meant to me.  Even through my ppd, she has remained so happy and pleasant.  Charlotte has been our angel.  She has the sweetest smile each morning.  She pushes up on her hands and gives me a wrinkled-nose grin that melts my heart.  Each night when I nurse her to sleep, she quietly holds on to me and drifts off; content, peaceful, full.

In comparison to my other two children, Charlotte and I have a lot of catching up to do in the quantity-of-photographs department.  But hopefully this is a good start toward making up the difference...

Sweet girl.  You can't possibly know how much you're loved.  But I promise to try and show you, now and every day until forever.

I'm honored to be a part of Elevate: A Fine Art Exploration with some extremely talented photographers.  Each month, these women and I have vowed to push ourselves and simply shoot for us.  I've had to skip a couple of months recently, but this month, I am ever so grateful for this project and for the healing comfort it's given my heart.  I encourage you to follow our circle, read on and discover what beauty the extremely talented Renee Popat is sharing with the world today.  Thank you so much for being here.  I so appreciate you, friends.  xo


Elevate: A Fine Art Photography Exploration | December 2011

This image spoke to me as soon as I pressed the shutter.  My little girl is in between waves.  One has just swept over her, and another is breaking and tumbling toward her.  But she's peaceful, focused, and she takes each wave as it comes.

Some days I wish I could just slow down and take it one wave at a time, don't you?  In the family portrait photography business, these late months are always the busiest of the entire year.  We squeeze in extra sessions, we stay up late at night editing, we rush print deliveries and we package them up just as soon as they come in.  We appreciate this time while it lasts, because we know that January and February will be much different.  The phones won't ring as much and we will get a bit of a break until the next wave comes onshore.

My goal this season is to be peaceful in the midst of these waves, to focus on my tasks as well as my own family's contentment, and to make sure I get up from my place at the edge of the water and take my kids for a stroll on the beach.

I read this quote on Pinterest some time ago, and I whipped up a very simple art print to remind me to slow down and take the waves in my life as they come... one at a time.  You're welcome to click the image to download it.  Print it for yourself to always remember that the tide does ebb and flow.  I hope you don't simply dip your toes in the water, but that you jump in with both feet and enjoy the surf.

The Elevate Project is a circle of photographers who long to indulge our artistic sides at least once a month, by exploring photography as a fine art form.  You can see my October and November posts here if you'd like to.  As we think, and shoot, and think some more... we grow, and we develop, and we become better at our craft.  I encourage you to follow our circle by visiting my very talented friend Gina Oh  |  Arroyo Grande, CA Photographer next.



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!