I love being able to go into people's homes to photograph them - it's where we all feel most comfortable, if you think about it. And when it comes to those early newborn days, it's where you spend your time nurturing, bonding, and cuddling around the clock. So, it seems only natural to me that when you look back years from now, reminiscing about that brief moment in time when they were still a tiny babe, you'll also want to remember the love-filled home where you spent it. Maybe you'll still live there, maybe you won't - all the more reason to document the real, everyday moments and spaces you lived. That is why I absolutely love in-home newborn sessions. They are definitely my fave :)
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but becoming a parent has been the most beautiful & fulfilling adventure of my life. So, when it comes to photographing maternity sessions (especially for first time parents), I love going back to that place of quiet anticipation and excitement about the future. Tara found me through Hypnobirthing of CT, where we both took birth education classes and the owner (and my friend) Cynthia is kind enough to display information about my business. I always know mom's coming to me from there will be my kind of people - appreciative of the miraculousness of woman's bodies, and wanting to capture the natural beauty of motherhood. Tara was all of those things, and our session was a dream. I cannot wait to meet their little nugget in August/September and see these two become parents...it's truly an honor to do this work!
Cape Cod is a very special place to me - growing up with grandparents that retired to the area, I've been lucky enough to get to go there 3-4 times a year for as long as I can remember. Memories of catching minnows, chasing the Nauset waves, digging for clams with my dad, and late night lobster feasts are some of the best of my childhood.
Things are quite different these days - unfortunately, with my dad and my pop gone and with me and all of my siblings married and starting our own families, the traditions and get-togethers have changed quite a lot. But it will always be special to me, and I'm hoping I can start some new traditions there with my boys. So, taking Oliver to Skaket Beach at sunset last week was truly a joy to see him discovering this magical place and just generally having a blast. I felt like a kid again. Living vicariously through our children and recreating memories has to be one of the greatest things about parenthood.
Sometimes you just know when you are going to love a new client - Anne and I had so much in common from the beginning including loves of yoga and gardening, being passionate about natural birth, among other things. She and her family were just the cutest and most laid back group I could've hoped for, especially when we showed up to Weir Farm one Saturday a few weeks ago and big dark storm clouds were looming. I know from experience that storm clouds can be a beautiful and dramatic addition to a session, but I always feel a little bit nervous about the unknown - will it start raining, or worse, thundering & lightening? Will the clouds make it dark much earlier? Will the colors look blah (though that time and time again my cloudy/stormy sessions come out soooo beautiful)? So I was super relieved that these guys were more chill about it than me, and for good reason - the session did turn out to be just perfect and those big, dark clouds added so much depth and beauty.
I don't know about you all, but I am feeling seriously water logged after a wetter-than-usual spring and summer here in Connecticut! As a mom with two young kids, it is imperative that we get out of the house every. single. day. so we (I) don't go crazy!!!
I thought it might be fun and helpful to share a list of our favorite rainy day spots around our town of Ridgefield and through out Fairfield County.
My Rainy Day Activities List (for young children in Fairfield County):
1. Libraries - there are so many to choose from and most are fantastic just to go read, play and maybe even catch a story time. We love the Ridgefield Library so much, as well as our close neighbor, Wilton Library. Both have really nice play areas and lots of great activities. If we want to venture further, we are big fans of Darien, Fairfield and Greenwich libraries too!
2. Tumble Jungle in Norwalk - this place is a blast and though most of their classes are not drop-in, they DO have a once a day "Monkey Time" where you pay $20 to drop your child off to play followed by a pizza party! We'll occasionally do this in the evening after a long, rainy day and I can run a few errands like popping over to Stew Leonard's. This is for children 4 and up.
3. Stepping Stones - our favorite of all! We upgraded to a family membership this year since my baby is no longer a baby and financially it made a lot of sense to pay $145, when a single visit would now cost us about $45! It has already WAY paid for it's self, and the boys just absolutely love it there. We can spend 2-3 hours playing and still come back the following week and have a completely new adventure. Love it!
4. Children's Movement Center, New Milford - this is going to be far for many Fairfield County residents, but if you live in Ridgefield, Wilton, Weston or Danbury, I highly recommend the trip! It's only about $10 and is a huge facility full of play apparatus, a ball pit, bouncy castles, a zip line and more.
6. EverWonder Museum in Newton, CT - A cute little kids museum with lots to explore!
7. Barnes & Noble in Westport - this is a really big B&N with a fun children's area complete with a Thomas table and trains. I love taking the boys on a rainy day, playing with the trains, reading books, then grabbing coffee and a snack. And on my way out, Mommy always treats herself to a new magazine!
8. Chelsea Piers Stamford Little Athletes Zone - For $10 you can use their super fun play area for as long as you'd like. There is a climbing apparatus, trampoline with a ball pit, slide and more. They have a great cafe where you can sit and have your own bagged lunch or treat yourself there. They also have a really fun indoor heated pool & splash pad.
9. Stamford & Westchester Malls - the Stamford Mall has a fun and clean play area in the food court where the kids can run around like animals while you mom can sit right nearby and watch. The Westchester Mall has a brand new children's zone that we have not checked out yet, but will soon! It looks awesome!
10. Ole Soccer Jungle Gym - this beautiful soccer facility in the town of Fairfield has a really fun Jungle Gym and anyone is welcome to drop in to play. It's $10 and good for at LEAST an hour of intense play!
A few weeks ago, sweet little Grace was baptized in a beautiful, traditional Greek ceremony. Speaking to her mother beforehand about how it would work, I knew to expect something extraordinary, but actually being there to witness was truly an honor.
As Carla had explained to me, there would be several parts to the ceremony and for the actual baptism the baby would be immersed in holy water and covered in a holy oil. For a little girl who only wants to be held by her parents, she did SO well, but my mama heart could barely take it when she was placed in the tub sobbing. I looked over at Carla, and saw tears welling up in her eyes. A mix of emotions that I know all too well. Wanting to go to her rescue but knowing that she couldn't. The first of a lifetime of special milestones where she'll look on with love and pride, but simultaneously wish she could keep her to herself just a little bit longer. Motherhood, I'm learning, is a constant struggle between holding on and letting go.
After a brief moment of tears, Grace was scooped up, wrapped up in a warm towel and placed back in mommy's arms. The ceremony finished and I was able to capture a few more gorgeous moments. It was such a special day for this family and I'm just really honored I got to be there helping them capture memories that they'll hopefully look back on for generations.
I am super lucky to own a business I absolutely love that gives me flexibility to stay home with my kids. It's never easy finding balance, and I've learned that there really isn't such a thing as finding it and keeping it (it's an ongoing challenge), but believe me I know how blessed I am to even be able to try. Summers spent adventuring with my kids is one of the things I am most grateful for and this summer, I wanted to create a "Summer Bucket List" that would be both fun for us and a challenge for my photography. So I'll be taking my kids on these adventures, and capturing it as we go...follow along on my instagram feed to see the fun!
My Top 10 Fairfield County Summer Bucket List:
10. Strawberry picking at Jones Family Farms (check!) - located in Shelton, CT this massive farm is just north of Fairfield County and such a fun adventure. They have strawberries in early summer and blueberries later on...looking forward to going back for the blueberries!
9. Spend a day at Tod's Point in Greenwich (more info on FF County Beaches here)
8. Blue Hill at Stone Barns lunch and walk to the lake (check!) - it's free to enter during the week, and absolutely gorgeous! Make sure to stop in the cafe and store while you're there for lots of organic and delicious goodies, and then take a hike past the stables and to the beautiful Rockefeller property lake. It's a good hour long walk, so be sure to bring water and any carry devices needed for little feet!
7. Farmer's Markets & Cooking Together - getting the kids interested in gardening and growing our own food has been a goal this year, and we are loving harvesting from our own garden, but it's also so fun to take them to a Farmer's Market. There's pretty much one every day of the week. We'll plan on picking an easy recipe, going to the market for the goods, and cooking together. Can't wait!
6. New Milford Elephant's Trunk Flea Market - this is always a favorite trip on a Sunday morning in the summer. I make a picture scavenger hunt for my 4 year old so he can have some fun while I scope out all of the antique goodness, and my favorite things - vintage rugs! Bring water, snacks and cash!!!
5. Thimble Island Cruise - this looks like such a fun little day trip. The cruise departs hourly during the summer and is just $13 for adults and $6 for kids and is a 45 minute ride. After you can head over to Stony Creek Beach...or make an IKEA run on your way home!
4. Road trip to Lavender Pond Farm - this place is a momtog's dream! I think we'll stop by on our way up to Cape Cod in a few weeks.
3. Ride Train to NYC & explore - probably what my 4 year old will be happiest about! We hop on the train in South Norwalk, and take a ride into the city. From there we'll head to the Central Park Zoo or the Great Lawn to hang out and take in the city life for the afternoon.
2. Bronx Zoo - we're going to make a drive to this famous zoo in mid-week early August, when hopefully the camp crowds have died down just a little bit. I haven't been since I was a kid, so I can't wait to go again!
And my #1 Summer Bucket List Item is...
1. Bare feet in the grass & late summer nights by the fire.... Not really a destination, more a way of being. My absolute best memories from childhood are not the places we went, but the days spent truly being a kid in nature. Getting hands & feet dirty, collecting fireflies, making smores over the bonfire. If there's one thing I really want my kids to experience this summer, it is those slow and magical days of summer when their biggest worry is what popsicle flavor to choose. Sweet summertime, summertime...
Hope you all have a blast this Summer! And let me know, what's on your Summer Bucket List?
Two weeks ago, I had the honor of photographing this beautiful girl's baptism. The ceremony took place at St Catherine's of Siena in the little chapel. I got there early as I always do to test the light and scope things out - when I arrived the Deacon was already there too, sitting in a pew drinking an iced coffee! We got to chatting and he told me how back in the day he photographed weddings as a side job to bring in extra money for his family. We chatted about the days of film and he asked about what its like photographing in a digital world. Any nervousness I had about getting in the way during the ceremony disappeared as he just exuded warmth.
It was pouring rain by the time the family arrived, but everyone was in good spirits and Blair looked precious in her gorgeous silk dress. The ceremony was small and so special, and though it was a dark and rainy day, there was so much light and love surrounding this little girl. Congrats Tim & Shannon, it was such a beautiful day!
I drove over to Melissa & Pete's last Sunday and had the excited butterflies I always do. Newborn sessions are my favorite to capture, and they always come out beautifully, but there's still a little bit of nervousness about the unknown before each session - will the baby be cooperative? Will the parents be comfortable in front of the camera? Will the siblings behave or be totally out of control? What if their house is a dungeonous cave and there's not a single room with decent window light? None of these things ever happen (at least they haven't yet), but they could...oh the joy in the unknown of being a photographer.
So, anyway, I get to the front door and ring the doorbell. Melissa opens the door with a big smile and I know immediately not only will this session be OK, it will be beautiful. She had that second-time mama calmness about her, and he had that hands-on, go with the flow kind of dad vibe. It was one of those sessions that was so relaxed and comfortable, where every frame makes my heart sing, and I can't wait to get home to see them on my big screen.
Love, tenderness, joy. Everything I love to capture about young families, and what I want people to feel when the view their images. This family had all of it, and I hope these images provide beautiful memories for decades to come.
In the newborn photography world, there is a general rule of thumb that it's important to photograph your newborn between about days 5 - 14 of life. The reason given is that you want the baby to be as sleepy as possible, so you can move them around and pose them without disturbing them. Many of my clients come to me with a sense of urgency once the baby is born because they realize they want photographs and don't want to miss the "brief" window that they've been told they have.
As a candid lifestyle photographer, I always let them know that the "14 day rule" doesn't apply to what I do. The reason is because I don't pose the babies I work with - I simply capture the beautiful time when a baby is so new, as naturally as I can. I care about the emotional connection between new parents and their baby, and the sweet moments between big siblings and the new baby. I care about capturing those precious toes, that curl of hair, that adorable yawn, and yes, I love to get them swaddled up and cozy too in their favorite blanket! It's about documenting this brief moment in time, when the miracle of life is fresh and there's that feeling of "I can't believe you're really mine." And whether a baby is 5 days old or 21 days old, they are still so little and so new.
In the last few months, I've photographed babies between the ages of 7 days old and 25 days old. I think it's safe to say, for newborn lifestyle photography, there's no such thing as "the 14 day rule." And on the rare occasion that they don't sleep...beautiful baby eyes!
To see more precious babies, click here!
Pam and I met back when we were about 11 years old - those awkward middle school tween days when you're no longer a kid and not yet a young adult. We made up silly dances, crushed on boys, and screamed our cheerleader butts of on the sidelines of the football field. She was always bubbly, energetic and fun, and it's amazing how at our core we don't really change. Meeting up with her many years later for a family session, and now as a mom, it was great to see that she still has that fun and energetic girl in her, and has passed it down to her sweet daughter, Bella, who was an absolute little light.
We met up at Fort Stamford, a beautiful little gem of a garden that many people don't even know about. I didn't know it existed until last year, which is crazy because I grew up just a few miles away! In any event, this gorgeous little garden is teeming with blossoming flowers and a trellis and patio perfect for an summer evening picnic. We had so much fun walking through the garden, exploring all of the different plants, chasing little rabbits and chipmunks, and running through the tall fields of grass behind. It was one of those sessions where the experience itself was so enjoyable, that the camera was just along for the ride. And those are the one's I love best because its where I capture the moments that are truly authentic, heartfelt and timeless.
I always knew I was destined to be a mother. As a young girl and even a teenager, I dreamed of the day I would hold my baby in my arms. And when that day came that my first son, Oliver, was born I was re-born, too. I loved him and his ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes with all of my soul and all felt right in the world. As that first year went by though, I began to get a little lost in motherhood. This little boy that I loved so dearly was so fragile and needy, and I was scared. Scared of something happening to him. Scared of not being a good enough mom for him. Scared that I was losing myself in finding him. Postpartum depression set in after about six months, and my days consisted of diaper changes, tears, and the four walls of our home. Slowly over the next few months, with therapy and self-care, I figured out ways to feel better and started to come alive again.
And then, I was pregnant again, with another little boy to love. And I couldn’t be happier because I knew this time would be different - I had figured it out and this time it wasn’t about losing myself to motherhood, rather finding my balance. But that all came crashing down on me on December 21st, 2014 when at 39 weeks pregnant, I found out that we had lost our baby boy, Henry, and after giving birth got to hold him for just one day. Once again, I was lost, but this time it was in a sea of grief and despair. There were many, many dark days, but inside of me a fire had also be lit. A fire that whispered, “you are here, you get to live.” Slowly, overtime, that whisper became louder and louder. It told me that life is too beautiful to squander and that I have a chance now to live it for Henry. To honor him and celebrate him and make him so proud. I was no longer afraid to fall because I had seen the worst, and knew I was strong enough to survive. So, I started to take more risks and do the things I had only ever dreamed of - we started a nonprofit for called Anchors for Hope and I finally made my dream of starting a photography business a reality. Best of all, my heart was ready again to welcome another baby and in 2016 my rainbow, Theo, was born in what felt like the most miraculous and redemptive day of my life.
Motherhood has been the most challenging and beautiful and worthwhile adventure I could ever imagine. But I am not unique - every woman, no matter what her journey has been like, is changed to her core when she becomes a mom. And at some point, we come to realize that it’s the challenge of it - the messy, the mundane, the pull-your-hair-out days - that makes it so darn beautiful. That it is impossible to be perfect, and every day we are falling and learning and getting back up again, and that is precisely what makes us a good mom. No, actually, we are amazing moms because we keep rising every day, and keep coming back again and again and fighting for this love that has changed us so deeply. And our kids will see that and they will be alright - in fact, they’ll grow up believing that they have the best mom in the whole wide world. And when someday we look back at the family and the life that we’ve built, we’ll know that it’s true because we did our very best and we did it with love. And that is all that truly matters.
Sara contacted me just last week, saying that she had just had a baby and that she hadn't thought she would want newborn photos but now that he was here, she realized she did! I was able to squeeze her in last week, and wow, I just love how they came out. Truly photos that I know they'll treasure for a lifetime...and have you ever seen a better looking one week old?
and the sweet video slide show...
I absolutely love giving the gift of memories to mamas through my photography, but I also love empowering them to take better photos themselves. So, I wanted to start a new blog series called "Behind the scenes" in which I show how I make beautiful photos out of ordinary days. Last night was the perfect example of this - I almost didn't pick up my camera, but we were enjoying the first sunny day in what seemed like over a month and had just finished dinner outside. Oliver wanted to play more, so I decided to quickly grab my camera on our way out back to kick the ball around. I took photos for about 2 minutes, and I am SO glad I did.
And here is the pull back of where we were , nice but truly nothing special:
3 Tips for Achieving this look:
1. Light - photography really is all about light. The soft, warm light just before sunset is amazing to work with because it gives subjects a beautiful glow. Wait until evening time if you want that really warm glow in your photos.
2. Framing - I used both the flowers and the branches to frame my son in these images, which draws your eye into the subject. Try to think about capturing your subject in a way that they are surrounded in a frame that draws you in.
3. Depth of field - the beautiful blur (called bokeh) is created because of depth of field in which the subject is isolated from the background making it go out of focus. To achieve this on a DSLR, you'll want a wide aperture (mine was set at f/1.4) to keep the focus and DOF very narrow on your subject. If you're shooting with an iPhone, try to position your subject so that there are some flowers close and some off in the distance. Select your subject as the focus point by touching them on the screen and you will get a blur in the background.
I hope this give you a little inspiration for the next (hopefully very soon) sunny evening!
As some of you may have seen, I recently started a new feature in some of my posts - slide shows! I just love how adding music to images can add so much depth and feeling to a session.
Here is the video from Charlie's session back in March. Enjoy!
Last week, I met Christine & Aaron and their beautiful baby boy. These first time parents were so down to earth, and perhaps not coincidentally, their sweet little boy was too. He pretty much slept the whole time as we moved him around and passed him around in many different positions. He didn't seem to mind as long as we didn't try to wake him up!
I'm always in awe when I photograph new parents...they've only been doing this job a few days or weeks, and yet they instinctively know. I guess it's not surprising that we would be built to know how to take care of our young, but it really is true. All the books, the advice, and the pressure to do this or do that - so much of it is unnecessary. We were chosen for our babies, and we have everything we need to do this job.
It was such a pleasure to photograph this sweet family of five last week! When Jennifer went into labor nearly four weeks early, she was sure she was about to welcome a baby boy into the world - thankfully, baby was just perfect and to their surprise, a girl! They're settled at home now, and seem to be handling life with 5 so well. Motherhood sure does look good on this mama...
Oh and be sure to go all the way to the bottom for a new feature I am trying out - video slideshows!
This past weekend, we had my 2 and 4 year old nieces up to Ridgefield to stay over while my sister and her husband were away. It was just me and my mom since my husband happened to be traveling for business. To say it was crazy would be an understatement. Oliver and Sophia are absolute best buddies and major trouble makers. On Saturday afternoon we took them to Weir Farm National Park, one of my favorite places to visit in our area, which also happens to be a 2 minute drive from our house! For the past week, I had been driving by and staring in delight at the blooming lilacs. So taking a visit was not just a treat for the kids, but for this mom photog, too! Despite the gray skys, the gardens were alive with rich greens and vibrant purples. Absolutely beautiful!
All in all it was a fun and tiring weekend. As much as they drove me nuts and I raised my voice a few too many times, it was also filled with so much sweetness. Childhood is so magical, and I finally understand what it means to live vicariously through your children. Watching them experience the world is nothing short of wonderful.
I don't remember exactly when I met Taryn, but it was probably during cheerleading practice when she was about 7 and I was 8. We grew up in the same town and in highschool were teammates on our Varsity Cheerleading squad - we bonded over our mutual love of screaming at the top of our lungs at cute boys in tight pants. I hadn't seen her for probably 10 years until this past Friday when we met up for session in Westport. To see an old friend with two beautiful kids in her arms was really kind of surreal and so much fun...even if it did make me feel old! My how life has changed...
Nostalgia aside, we completely lucked out with the weather and had an amazing evening. It was 70 degrees and sunny at Compo Beach which was a complete treat after all the rain we've been having! Little Pratley's golden blonde locks were perfectly fitting for a gorgeous golden hour, and her personality was just the cutest! Lucky for me, they were super adventurous and didn't mind wading through the water to get that perfect reflection shot. I have to say - as much as I love capturing the whole family dynamic, to me there is just something so beautiful about focusing just on the bond between a mom and her kids. It is everything to me to give mom's the gift of documenting these precious days, and it really is the heart of why I love what I do so, so much.
Pregnancy and infant loss awareness and research is a cause that is very dear to my heart, since we lost our son Henry in 2014 to stillbirth. Along our journey of healing, we created our own foundation - Anchors for Hope - and have also had the honor of getting involved with other organizations such as Star Legacy Foundation. Last year, I connected with Hilary Hughes who lives in my town and is the President of the Star Legacy Metro New York Chapter. She and her husband, Tyler, lost their son Oliver is 2013 for unknown reasons (very similar story to ours) and they have been working hard to raise awareness and funds for Star Legacy ever since. The event has a huge turn out, raising almost $100,000 and Lindsey Wimmer, the founder of Star Legacy, was there as well. This was an awesome and inspiring event filled with so much love and support, and I was so honored to be able to participate and help out through my gift of photography.