I met Gabby over 4 years ago when she was in nursing school and I hired her to be a mother's helper for my tiny newborn baby. We loved having her help with our son over the course of about a year, but eventually she needed to move on to her nursing career. She offered that her mother was available to take her place, and as Oliver grew up he quickly became quite attached to Helena. These days we're all in different phases of life, but our families remain close. Gabby got married and had the most beautiful baby girl, and she and her husband moved to Ecuador where their families are from. This summer, while they were visiting, I told her I had to do a session for them. I just love how the images came out, not because they were dressed so stylishly (great job, Gabby!), but because there love for each other is so palpable and their bond so strong. This family truly embodies the phrase "family is everything" and I'm so happy I was able to give them this gift to treasure, even when separated by thousands of miles.
Those early days with your newborn baby. Time slows down, life gets quieter, and priorities become crystal clear in the form of snuggles, feedings and diaper changes. There's a reason new parents always say "all I want to do is stare all day"...because it is so true.
Enjoy this dreamy session from September...
Sometimes life just puts you in the path of the right people at the right time, if you're open to them. Last year, I was planning a women's retreat for our non-profit organization, Anchors For Hope, and I knew I was missing a really inspirational workshop leader. Through the magic of social media, I one day stumbled upon Lindsay Gibson's instragram account and thought, "Wow, she could be an amazing fit!" To my surprise, she lives about 20 minutes from my house, and within a few weeks we had connected, met for coffee, and begun planning the retreat workshop together. Fast forward to today, we hosted the first Hope & Healing Retreat together and she has become a good friend, and a such an inspiration to me.
Lindsay has faced many hardships in her life, including being a victim of rape as a teenager and more recently losing her child, Joseph, to stillbirth. Even in the face of so much tragedy, she has learned to reclaim her joy and focus on what truly matters - love. And as you can see from the beautiful photos, there is no shortage of that in her family.
Thank you, Lindsay, for owning your story and sharing it so openly with the world. You are an inspiration!
Last month, I was absolutely giddy with joy to get a coveted spot in Illuminated Classes "The Magic of Light Workshop," an online photography course created and taught by the incredibly talented Summer Murdock. She has been a source of inspiration for me for a while and I knew I had to take this course, although getting in is not easy. The class sold out in about 4 minutes flat this year. Thanks to high speed internet, my trusty iMac, dexterous fingers, and a little stroke of luck, I got in!
So, I'm not going to give away anything that is taught in the class, but I wanted to share my work from it and some reflections!
1. Beautiful light doesn't just appear in front of you - you have to look for it and sometimes even chase it. One of the best things about the class (aside from all the amazing technical lessons taught) was just that it simply heightened my awareness about light and I found I was constantly looking for it. So, when I was playing out in the garden with Theo, I was immediately captivated by the beads of morning dew on these plants we have, and the light flickering off of them. I ran inside and grabbed both of my cameras - the freelensed one below turned out to be my favorite. Equally, I was at this old wooden playground with the boys, and looking for light. I thought, "hmmm I wonder how it looks inside of that treehouse" and BAM. My favorite photo of the month - never would have thought to do that before!
2. ...but ALL light can be interesting - as a mom of two young boys, its really hard to get out during the golden hour when its dinner, tubby and bed time. This course helped me see all of the different ways to use light and all of the different kinds of light I could utilize because there's way more to light than the golden hour.
3. A "good" photograph is not about technical excellence or perfect people/places - those things help you make nice photos, but a truly "good" photograph is one that has the power to move the viewer. It's about the emotion that the photographer feels and how they capture the essence of that in the frame.
4. Photographer's FOMO is real - I have a serious case of FOMO when it comes to photography. Like, sometimes, I CAN NOT STOP for fear of missing something. This was never more true than during "the magic of light" - any twinkle, ray, or beam of light would have me running for my camera! I love being that excited about something, but constantly have to remind myself that there will always be more light! That's the beauty.
5. Tapping into your creative juices is essential - this course made me feel ALIVE. I love my job and I adore photographing babies and families, but stretching myself and my creativity was life giving. Even if you think you're not creative, you are. Follow your curiousity and explore it, you won't be disappointed!
In conclusion, this class rocks!!! It's a lot of information and an intense 3 weeks, but it was SOOOO worth every single penny. Thanks, Summer!!!
When my sister asked me to do their family photos during our vacation in Maine, I knew they were going to be something special - Acadia National Park is such a stunning place. Being that we are sisters, we were pretty casual about the scheduling process and didn't pick an exact date and time for our session. There were a few days we were going to do it, but I didn't have a great feeling about the sunset, so we waited until the end of the week and seriously ended up lucking out. The skies were gorgeous and it was a perfect evening...and that moon!!!
The morning of, my sister still hadn't decided on outfits though. Luckily she had me there to help, and I gave her a few tips I give all of my clients in the Style & Planning Guide they receive upon booking. If you're having trouble deciding on a look, here's some good starting point tips:
1. Start with a base outfit. Usually this will be the woman's outfit, or a little girls outfit. The one that you know you want in the pictures and that may have pattern or color that stands out a bit (such as florals, stripes or a bold color).
2. Then add other mostly neutral outfits around that, pulling out colors from the base outfit. So if you are starting with a floral dress that's say yellow, pinks and blues, then you may have the other outfits include jeans, khakis, chambray, white cotton, and pops of pink or yellow.
3. You want to coordinate, not match. Similar tones are always good, but you don't want everyone to be wearing the exact same outfits or the exact same colors.
4. Dress your man last. Keep it simple, comfortable, and give him some choice so he feels good in what he's wearing, too. For example, either tan pants and chambray top, or jeans and a gingham button down. Both are neutral and will work with the other outfits, but give him some choice in the matter.
5. Avoid loud prints, logos, and really bright/loud colors that will distract from the most important thing - your connection!
For today's blog post, I thought I would try something different. Instead of just showing a recent session and saying "look at this beautiful family!" (because that is a given), I thought I would provide helpful information about photography instead. So, today I thought I'd talk about things you don't need to worry about when it comes to an in-home session...
The day of your photography session can feel quite stressful for moms - I've been there! You've invested good money hoping everything will turn out beautifully, and more importantly, you want everyone to look and feel their best. Suddenly, you have just a few hours to go before your photographer shows up and you feel like it's going to be a disaster!
I'm here to say, take a deep breath, mama. I've got this.
I've seen it all, and promise it's still going to be beautiful. So, take that deep breath, and let these worries go...
1. Figuring out where the best light is - you know the session is going to utilize natural light, but you have no idea what's going to work in your house. Don't worry about it! The first thing I do when I arrive is greet you and ask to take a tour of the home. That's when I'll assess the light and show you the areas with the best light and best picture potential.
2. Moving all the clutter - you cleaned yesterday, but now - once again - the house is a disaster. Seriously, NO worries. After I've seen the light and we've picked some spots, I'm going to move anything that would be distracting (with your permission). We'll just bulldoze those toys into one corner that won't be seen and no one will even know it was there! But also, remember that your things are what make it your home, and help tell YOUR story. So a little bit of clutter is not a bad thing in pictures either.
3. Making the house look perfect - you wanted to put crisp, new sheets on every bed, fluff all the pillows, and rearrange that bookcase like you've been thinking about doing forever. You have big plans for your home, but it's just not there yet. I'm here to say, don't worry about it! I have an eye for design and composition, and I'll pick the best places in your home to showcase what's most important...you.
4. Moody kids - it's pretty much guarenteed that your kids will be difficult at some point during picture day. I always try to get down to kids levels so they can get comfortable with me, and 9 times out of 10 they turn their mood around pretty fast. And when they don't...it's still pretty darn cute!
5. Shy husbands - last thing you need is an uncooperative husband, but trust me, it happens. Most men are not super excited about having their picture taken. I'll try my best to get on their good side by letting them know how relaxed the session is, and that I'm not going to make them do anything uncomfortable. The best thing you can do is not put too much pressure on him before the photos...and maybe even give him a beer!
This sweet family of three was my favorite kind of family to work with - fun, easy going, and totally not into looking at the camera (seriously, I'm a candid lover all the way!)...we started in their beautiful home, and this sweet little boy was loving every moment of attention from the camera. He was so excited by our session that he was literally bouncing all over the room and even his parents were completely surprised. They kept turning to me and saying "We've never seen him this hyper before!" Sure enough, like all toddlers, there was a breaking point when we arrived at the beach when the rush started wearing off and the exhaustion set in. Luckily, we were able to keep him going for 10 more minutes, just enough time to capture some beautiful moments under a perfect pastel sky.
I fell in love with Maine when I was 12 years old and got to go on an adventure sleep away camp, where we camped and traveled around the state for 3 weeks hiking, biking, rock climbing, and more. It wasn't until my sister and her husband started renting summer vacation homes in Acadia National Park that I returned, and now that they've purchased a second home we have the pleasure of visiting every year. Our kids are all very close in age, and our two oldest are the bestest of friends, so it really has become an awesome tradition. The magic of childhood mixed with the magic of Maine is something very special.
The month of August was a blur for me, and I'm finally catching up on posting lots of sessions including this beautiful engagement shoot I did before I left for Maine...
Kaitlyn & Matt's session at Tod's Point fell on one of those perfect summer low tide evenings, and it could not have been a more fun and laid back session. Before every shoot, I have clients fill out a questionnaire to help me get to know them a little better and understand why the photos are important to them. Kaitlyn told me that having these pictures done with her fiance and her daughter were important because they were their first official photos together as a family, and that her daughter will (of course) be a huge part of their wedding day so she wanted to include her in the engagement photos, too. I just loved that, and I love the idea that photography can hold such meaning in it. I often find it's a wonderful reminder to people of what they already know - that they have created a beautiful life, full of love and joy.
So happy for this little family!
When this sweet mom contacted me in July about doing a newborn session with her baby boy who was due to arrive at the end of the month, I had no idea how special this session was going to end up being. It wasn't until she filled out my questionnaire, which gives my clients a chance to tell me a little bit more about themselves and articulate what's important to them in the photos, that I learned he was actually her rainbow baby.
Many people don't know what a rainbow baby is, but I am very, very familiar because I, too, have one. A rainbow baby is a baby born after a loss of a pregnancy or the loss of a child. The idea is that a rainbow does not mean that the storm (the tragedy of losing a baby or child) didn't happen, but a symbol that there is still light and hope following. This little boy's big brother spent 10 beautiful months with his parents before he went to heaven, and I know that they miss him every single day (and will for the rest of their lives)...and still, I could feel the light and hope that this his little brother has brought them.
This is always a hard subject to touch on (especially as a newborn photographer), but I think it's so important to shed light on loss and embrace those who endure it with empathy, compassion and open hearts. To remind ourselves how blessed we are, and to allow ourselves to feel inspired that even when life is so unimaginably hard, there are still reasons to smile.
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!