Christmas Collage

What more is there to say about Christmas that can’t be conveyed in photographs?  Well, the hours of preparation and anticipation can’t be felt, but all the little touches of Just a few more days ’til Christmas! make the days of the countdown all the more exciting.

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Christmas Eve we continued the tradition of reading ‘Twas The Night Before Chistmas with Daddy, as they have every year.  Then Jax begged to be allowed to sleep in the girls’ room, so we made the necessary adjustments and even though it only lasted a few hours, it was worth it for the sweetness.

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Christmas morning was as delightful, as early, as excited and as perfect as we could have hoped.  Little H was not sure why our routine as different–why she couldn’t sit with Daddy at the kitchen table and have cereal like they do every morning–but she eventually warmed up.

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Then an hour or two of playing with their new toys…

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…before heading to Nana and Papa’s to celebrate with the family.  My favorite part was how they refused to wear their winter coats–they wanted to wear their new bathrobes instead!

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After Tommy and Stella arrived, the craziness of opening gifts happened all over again, but this time with five times the excitement!

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All the days and hours of shopping, wrapping, thinking, wishing, all lead up to this very special day.  Next year I’m hoping to add a trip to church to the mix, but for this year, I was just grateful that we were able to provide such a wonderful holiday for those we love.

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Merry Christmas!

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Our Lives Between The Lens

Sometimes when I’m hanging out with my kids, the mom side of my brain is present and having a conversation with them, but the photographer side is yelling, Do you see how the light is reflecting in his eyes right now?  Look at his lashes!  Then I slowly sidle over to my camera bag, saying, “Really?  Yes.  Mmm–hmm,” all the while, until we continue our conversation with my camera in hand.  My kids are used to this, and maybe it’s not the best parenting practice, but such is our life.  They think photo shoots are normal, like going to the dentists.  Sometimes you just have to suffer through them.

Other times, the opposite happens.  I’m hanging out with my kids, and even though the light isn’t perfect and my inner photographer is lamenting, I still sidle over to my camera bag, chatting all the while, then resume our conversation with camera in hand.  But this time, even though the photographic conditions may not be perfect, the kid is.

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Could I have asked him to move over a foot?  Sure.  Was the blazing midday soon less than ideal?  Of course.  But were we having fun talking, being silly, taking pictures, and would me getting into Photography Mode be a buzz kill?  Definitely.  So in times like this, I capture Jax as he is, basking in the sunlight and being my boy.  There’s nothing less than perfect about that.

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Is he used to having me peek at him through my lens?  Yes, and probably too often.  He humors me in this way.  But he knows that even when my eye is behind the viewfinder, I am listening to him, and that connecting with me as a photographer is just part of being my kid.  But I won’t ever let my camera come between me and him.  I love every nuance of this face, every inch, every expression, even the grouchy ones.  Sometimes I just have to document it all before he goes and changes on me yet again.

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 After all, he wasn’t just the one who made me a mama.  He’s the one who made a photographer!  My very favorite subject.

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On Her Own Terms

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As I have documented, Little H has yet to really embrace snow this winter.  How can I blame her, when neither have I and we’ve lived in Vermont for six and a half years?  But there was one day when she finally seemed to enjoy “visiting” the snow–on her own terms, of course–one Saturday in December at Nana and Papa’s house.  Maybe it was the fact that she was with her bestie cousin Stella, maybe it’s because Daddy and Uncle Tom were nearby shoveling so the parent/H ratio was a soothing 2:1.  Maybe it was because she wasn’t actually knee-deep in snow, only walking on a cleanly shoveled deck with mounds of snow nearby for her to explore and neatly pat, rather than wade through.  Whatever the reason, on this day, the experience wasn’t nearly as traumatizing as days past.  A kindly introduction to the winter world.

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Hmmm, not really sure what these are for…  Ah, well, who needs ‘em?

Stella had me cracking up with her hilarious expressions (she kept trying to see her own hat while it was on her head) and her more confident attitude made me happy to see her and Little H as a team.  Little H loves keeping up with her “Se-yah” and I’m pretty sure would jump right off a bridge if she asked her to.  There will definitely be some mischief in the future with these two (reminds me a little of her mom and I as girls)!

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JDubbs and his brother Tom finally carved out a little alcove in the monstrous pile of snow which had fallen off the roof onto the deck, big enough for the two little girls to stand inside.

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I hope this experience helps Little H realize snow isn’t so bad, as long as it’s on her own terms.  She better come to terms with it soon; otherwise it’s going to be a long winter!

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Capturing An Inspired Life

I get into a kind of Photographic Seasonal Miserable Disorder every winter because I seem to dwell on all the reasons I can’t take a good photo in my house–it’s too small with clutter in every nook and cranny and the days are too short for me to do any natural light work after JDubbs gets home–but I am also reluctant to shoot outside on a chilly winter’s day.  Professionally there isn’t anything new on the horizon and I am insecure about embracing the mediocre light in our house–embrace the grain? Orchestrate more play in my bedroom with the best light? Take fewer photos?  Take more?  There’s not much more to say other than I was in a photographic rut, taking the same kind of photos in the same places with (mostly) the same equipment for years.  I was restless.

Well, at the end of 2014 I reflected on my professional photography and I felt pretty confident about in which direction I want to head in that arena, but what about personally?  What about what started it all, me taking photos I love of my kids?  How do I get back to that?  I decided that in order to get out of my rut I needed to challenge myself to take different kinds of photos, in all kinds of light, and learn to make the best of whatever light and room I am given.  After all, I take photos in people’s homes all the time–what better exercise than to find the very best places and lighting in my own difficult location and learn to transfer that flexibility elsewhere?  And that led me to decide to do a 365 project, where I take a quality photo every day, but also to participate in a 52 week photography challenge at My Four Hens Photography, where I can be part of a larger group of amazing photographers, be inspired by their work and feel gratitude at the support it provides me.

At first, looking at all the amazing photos on the Facebook group daunted me, and I was hesitant to share my photo for the first week’s theme, “Fresh.”  I took a photo I was happy with, of my fresh dog Baxter sleeping on the bed (somewhere he is definitely not allowed to be), although I will admit it was more of a photo I thought I was SUPPOSED to take than one I was inspired to take.  I’m happy with it overall and I got some small positive feedback on it.

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Here I embraced the tricky lighting and used a small enough aperture to eliminate the clutter of a post-Christmas toy-strewn living room.  I love his floppy ear and love the quilt he’s laying on, made by my great-aunt.  Overall, I took what I thought was a decent shot and never gave it another thought.  Not my best effort, but it was a start.

This week, the theme is “Story-Telling” and when I saw the photos I took this Sunday of Jax and his Legos, I knew there was no better story that I could tell than a 6-year-old boy guarding his creations.  I posted it with a little trepidation that it wasn’t “serious” enough–mixed light sources! high ISO! haphazard composition!–but the photo was so much more ME.  I was in the moment, playing Legos with my kids, I happened to have my camera handy so I snapped the shot as it was happening. I didn’t orchestrate the light or consider rule of thirds. If I had, I would have missed it, and that is definitely not the kind of photographer I want to be.

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And you know what?  This photo, which is so much more true to myself and my style, the kind of photos I love to take, already has 150 likes in 6 hours and has tons of comments from people who can totally relate.  It may not be a perfect photograph, but its story rings more true.  That’s the kind of photographer these projects are going to help me become.  The one who is confident in her style and technique, and shares what makes her happy.

Oh, one more good thing.  This 365 project also forces me to pick up my camera every single day, and on a day like today where I know my afternoon is full of after-school activities and an extra-credit research project on bats (seriously), I forced myself to grab my camera and sneak in on Little H as she was taking her nap because it was the only good capture I’d get.

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I’m so glad I did.  Not only because I got to capture the sweet little details of this wonderful soul, but because I also tried something new–a softer, lower-contrast editing style which I haven’t mastered and want to embrace more.  These projects are giving me the opportunity to not only see my life in a more inspired way, but also a chance to try out some new post-production techniques without risking photos for my clients.  It really has inspired me.  I look forward to what photo I will take every day.

So, if you feel like you’re in a rut in any facet of your life, 2015 is just 13 days old.  How can you change it, embrace it, practice it, master it, alter it, combat it, learn to love it?  2 weeks into this year and I already feel invigorated.  Just wait and see how I grow.

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Paranoia

Having so much fun, playing with my Legos, la la la.

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Wait, what’s that?

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Intruders!  Dang it!  They’re out to get my Legos!

(cue sisters innocently and obliviously playing with their own Legos)

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Sister intruders!  They are the worst!  Known to wreak havoc on any unsuspecting Lego, no matter how intricate.  None of my creations will be safe with them around!

I will keep you safe, precious Legos.  I take an oath to guard you against any interloper.  

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And I always keep my word.

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Throwback Thursday

Oops!  Looks like I forgot to post a few photos of my favorite trio from November.  I was so distracted by their jumping on the bed antics, that I forgot they had been pretty cute hanging out on the bed before the chaos began.

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I am grateful every time I capture a decent photo of the three of them together.  Looking back on photos from last summer when Little H was just sitting up and they were just learning to get to know each other, I cherish every last group shot.  So even though they may humor me against their will, I know it’s worth it to have all three of them together.

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My three littles.  Glad I found these.

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Everyday H

If I needed to describe 21-month-old Little H in one word, it would be bedazzled.  This is her happy place right here: wearing purple from head to toe (No, Mama!  The purple one!) and all the jewels she can carry.

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This is her coming downstairs for breakfast, which means the very first thing she does in the morning after getting out of her crib is to grab Blankie, binkie, and her Mickey Mouse blanket (No, Mama!  The Mickey one!) and scoot downstairs to her very best friend, Daddy, to have cereal, with her crazy mullet hair flowing in every direction.  If all of those things don’t happen how she wants it, we all hear about it.

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Actually, now that I think about it, there are some other choice words for her: obstinate, stubborn, particular.  Oh, those all mean pretty much the same thing?  I guess they’re for emphasis. Love this stubborn, purple-loving, blanket-toting, jewelry-obsessed little girl!

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