2019 Wedding Trend Predictions

Even though we’re only halfway through August, we are already turning our eyes to the 2019 wedding season, and giving you our predictions for what’s going to be coming into style, staying in style, and what’s on its way out!

What’s Out for 2019 Weddings:

Wedding Favors:

You just threw a huge bash for all of your closest family and friends – trust us: they won’t be missing the jordan almonds or the tiny succulent plant that they can’t bring on the plane home with them anyway! Save the money from favors and use it in another part of your wedding budget where it can make a bigger impact!

Naked Cakes:

Cake is just a frosting delivery system, amiright? We think naked cakes are going to see a decline in favor of frosting! Naked cakes match the shabby chic, rustic theme great, but as those themes start to fall out of fashion, we think the naked cakes are going to go with them.

Large Bridal Parties:

Couples are seeking a wedding experience that feels more intimate (even if they have a large guest list), and one way to accomplish that is to have a smaller bridal party! A good portion of your wedding day is spent with your bridal party before your other guests even show up, and having just a couple close friends and siblings there can set an intimate tone for the whole day.

Photo Booths:

While they have been quite the rage lately, we think they are going to be on the decline. Brides are wanting to give their guests an EXPERIENCE, rather than just the expected first dance, cut the cake, toss the bouquet routine we’ve all come to expect. We think our brides will be branching out and incorporating more unique experience-based things into their wedding day for their guests.

A bride and a groom in a wooded area. The groom is twirling the bride.

What’s Staying in 2019 Weddings:

DIY Food Bars:

Whether it’s a taco bar or a dessert bar, brides are loving being able to give their guests exactly what they want, and how they want it. We don’t think this trend is going anywhere anytime soon.

Unplugged Ceremonies:

We are seeing more and more brides posting signs or asking their officiants to make an announcement before the ceremony begins asking guests to please keep their phones put away until after the ceremony. Our brides want to see their guests faces and reactions as they walk down the aisle – not the backs of their phones!

First Looks:

We personally love first looks, and are looking forward to seeing this stay in vogue. Aside from affording the bride and groom a personal, intimate first meeting, it also allows for more photos to be taken before the ceremony starts – leaving you, your bridal party, and your guests more freedom to have fun and enjoy yourselves after!

Metallics:

We’ve seen a lot of gold, rose gold, and copper the last couple years, and we don’t think they’re going anywhere. However, we also think silver and gunmetal are gunna join in the fun this year!

Greenery:

Our brides are loving the feeling of bringing nature inside, with greenery galore! We think that will stay the same, but with more bright and soft florals to being some contrast and color!

A bride and groom in a wooded area in front of a lake. The bride is holding a bouquet, and they are about to kiss.

What’s In for 2019 Weddings:

Unique Altars and Ceremony Arches:

We’ve been noticing a lot more unique altars and ceremony arches in styled shoots the last few months, and we think our brides are going to LOVE THEM! (I mean, WE love them, so you probably will too!) From circular hoops dripping with flowers and greenery to arrow shaped arches and floral walls, there is something for every bride’s style in this trend!

Mis-matched Groomsmen:

We’ve seen bridesmaids wearing the same color but different styles, the same style but different shades, and different cuts and shades altogether. But now we think the guys are going to get in on the action! With a cohesive color palette, but allowing the gentlemen to mix and match some stylistic elements (bow ties, traditional dies, suspenders, and waistcoats), we think our brides are going to have a whole lot of fun with this trend!

Deeper, Richer Colors:

As we transition out of 2018 and into 2019, I think we’ll be seeing a lot of deeper, richer color palettes. The neutral with blush color palette that’s been in the last couple years is going to gain some pops of color in the form of jewel tones like emerald, plum, and ruby reds.

Mix and Match Place Settings and Centerpieces:

What started with bridesmaids dresses is carrying over to the reception hall. Mixing and matching both place settings and centerpieces can help thrifty brides keep costs down, while letting them break free from the copy and paste style of traditional wedding reception decor. I think we’ll see this trend expressed in multiple place setting options, centerpiece options, and even linen options throughout the reception hall.

How to Make Time for Self-Care

Whether you’re in the throes of planning a wedding, or in the throes of motherhood, one thing I’ve learned as an adult is that self-care is non-optional! As we navigate parenting a toddler and a preschooler, as well as begin making plans for our own wedding (on top of working 2 jobs!), this is something I have to remind myself of on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

When I don’t take time to do things that I enjoy, things that fill my cup, and things that make me feel good, I can’t perform well in the arenas of my life. As we are constantly quoting to Charlotte “If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you won’t be at your best” (A line from a great kids’ book that we love: “Toothbrush, Jammies, Man in the Moon… Why Is Bedtime So Soon?” by Nicole Tocco).

I want to be the best mom, the best partner, the best photographer, the best friend that I can be. In order to fulfill all of the obligations (to spouse, family, job, and friends), I have to make time for me, too.

What is Self-Care

Self-care is anything you do that fills your cup. This can look wildly different from person to person, and there are probably hundreds (if not thousands) of things you could do that would qualify as self-care. They can cost money (like a pedicure, getting a massage, or going on vacation), or they can be absolutely free (like having a picnic in the park, sunbathing, or taking a long bath). They can be planned out in advance (like going to a concert or a sporting event), or spontaneous (like grabbing ice cream at the store on your way home). Self-care comes in all shapes and sizes, and not all self-care fills us in the same manner. I recommend mixing up the different kinds of self-care so your cup gets filled with all kinds of goodness.

How to Incorporate Self-Care into Your Life

For me, the hardest part of self-care is actually MAKING THE TIME for self-care. When I’m going, going, going, it’s sometimes very hard for me to recognize when I’m about to burn out (and once I’ve burned out, it’s hard to fill my cup quickly enough to keep going!). Incorporating self-care into different parts of your life in different ways means that when things get crazy, you’re more likely to continue taking care of yourself rather than diving head-first into the craziness and burning out!

Self-Care Tips:

  • Make self-care part of your routine. Having self-care built directly into your routine is the best way to make sure you get a little boost every day. Whether it’s a glass of wine with dinner, sitting down to read for 20 minutes, or taking the dog for a walk, routines are a great place to add a little self-care to your day.
  • Pair an act of self-care with another activity. Elizabeth Craft (a Hollywood writer and producer) says on the Happier podcast that she pairs watching the Real Housewives with walking on her treadmill. She wouldn’t like walking on her treadmill without doing something else, and so she chose to pair it with something that she truly enjoys doing. This turns her treadmill walk (which would have been dreaded before) into an act of self-care. She’s taking care of herself and her body while also treating herself. Other ways to pair might be listening to a podcast in the car on the way to work or while walking the dog, or keeping a book in the bathroom to read only when you’re in there.
  • Put it on the schedule. I know for me, especially, if it’s not on the schedule, it probably isn’t getting done! When I hear about something coming up that I want to do, and that would be an act of self-care, I make sure to put it on the schedule so I don’t forget about it. As an introvert, I’m also less likely to bail out at the last minute if I have a calendar square staring me in the face, reminding me that I originally wanted to go enough to write it down in the first place! Yoga and wine tasting night? Sounds good! Boysenberry festival? Going on the schedule!
  • Don’t be afraid of spontaneity. Personally, I am not at all afraid of some spontaneity, but Jeremy does much better when he knows exactly what to expect before it happens. But when it comes to acts of self-care, sometimes we just have to grab it when the opportunity arises. Tonight Jeremy and I went on an impromptu walk (just the two of us!) while his mom played with the kids. A few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to go to the library BY MYSELF while Jeremy was at home napping with the kids. Little things like that can make a big difference.
  • Have a self-care buddy. Acts of self-care do not have to be solitary pursuits. You can totally do things with friends and still fill your cup (and if you’re a mom, this is probably doubly true – especially if the only people you’ve come into contact with this week have been tiny humans and your spouse!).

Some of My Favorite Acts of Self-Care:

Everyone always seems to think taking a bath with Epsom salts and essential oils is the epitome of self-care, but I can’t honestly say I’ve EVER done that. While I’ve included a lot of examples of self-care all through this article, I thought I would end with a list of some of MY favorite acts of self-care. Who knows? Maybe you’ll like a few things on this list, too!

  • Arts and crafts (Any of them. All of them. I’m not really picky!)
  • Making popcorn on the stove and watching a movie snuggled up with my kids.
  • Walking through Target, IKEA, Joann’s/Michael’s, or Home Goods with no intent to buy anything – just to look at all the pretty things.
  • Going for a walk around the park (and maybe playing Pokemon Go at the same time…)
  • Doing a puzzle
  • Diffusing essential oils
  • Using a pen that glides really nicely (my favorites are the G2 pens and gel pens!)
  • A bouquet of flowers on the kitchen table
  • Walking barefoot in the grass or on the beach
  • I keep a sweet mint plant on the counter in my kitchen, even though I don’t actually cook with mint. I just like to sniff it sometimes.
  • Falling asleep on the couch. Don’t ask me why, but I actually really like falling asleep on the couch way better than falling asleep in my bed…
  • Taking pictures of my family (I spend so much time taking pictures of other people, I love spending a little time just photographing my kids being themselves!)
  • Keeping a gratitude list or a happy list. A gratitude list is a list of things you’re grateful for. A happy list is a list of things that make you happy or make you smile. Very similar, and I have done both over the years (honestly, I prefer the happiness list, but you might like the gratitude list better).

Hopefully this gave you some ideas to get you started on your self-care journey (or to help give your current self-care journey a little boost of new ideas). Just remember: everyone’s self-care journey is different. Every self-care journey looks different at different points in time. Your journey will not remain static; it will grow and change as you do. Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t taking care of yourself as well as you should. Just take a deep breath, do a half hour of yoga or ten minutes of meditation, and try again tomorrow. Keep going! You can do it!

If you’d like to leave me a comment below, and tell me some of YOUR favorite acts of self-care, I would LOVE to hear all about them! <3

Why Should I Do An Engagement Session?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions from brides-to-be, and one that I feel so passionate about as a photographer!

There are several reasons to have an engagement session, and some may resonate more strongly with you than others, and that’s ok. But I feel that all of them are important to consider, especially as you are choosing your wedding photographer who may or may not offer an engagement session as part of your wedding package (by the way, I include an engagement session in ALL of my wedding packages, because THAT’S how important I think they are!).

Courtney and Devin's 7th Wedding Anniversary Session

You’re Planning a Marriage

When you are planning engaged, it is so easy to get caught up in the details of planning the wedding itself, but in reality, you aren’t just planning a wedding. You are planning a marriage. And in service to your future spouse and marriage, I think it is so SO important to set time aside to be yourselves, to take yourselves out of the planning scrambling frantic rush to the aisle and just breathe. An engagement session is the perfect opportunity to do this! It’s a chance to stop worrying for an hour or two, and spend some time just celebrating how crazy in love you are! It’s an opportunity to start setting the stage for how this marriage is going to celebrate and honor you (as individuals, and as a cohesive unit).

Have you ever heard the phrase “date your spouse?” I think it’s a fantastic concept, and one that I want to get into the habit of doing NOW, before the wedding even happens! Keep making time for each other, to celebrate each other, to love each other, and to honor the special, magical bond you share!

You Can’t Turn Back the Clock

Humans have this amazing habit of convincing themselves that “this phase” will last forever, and I’m here to burst your bubble! This wonderful, crazy, fun, challenging phase of being engaged and planning a wedding is NOT going to last forever. And once the wedding bells are done ringing, you can’t turn back the clock. You will never be engaged to this amazing, adorable person ever again! Some engagements last longer than others, but that doesn’t change the fact that one day you will no longer be engaged. You’ll be married. Photos taken during this magical little bubble of time can be so precious to look back on, especially years down the road when you’ve been married for years and want to look back and see how crazy and wonderfully in love you were! These photos are also fantastic to show children as they grow up. You can look back and say, “Look how in love we were. We still are!”

They Make Great Save the Date Cards

One of the most common reasons you’ll hear for doing an engagement session is that the images from this session make great Save the Date cards! I couldn’t agree more! A Save the Date card is the first glimpse your guests will get of your wedding day, and seeing a beautiful picture of you and your sweetheart on the front, ready to celebrate your love, is the best way to get your guests excited and eager to reply back with an enthusiastic “Will Attend!”

Get to Know Your Wedding Photographer

I may be a little biased (ok, I am probably a lot biased), but I think this is the NUMBER ONE REASON to have an engagement session! An engagement session is like a rehearsal for your wedding photos! You only get one shot at wedding day photos, and you want to make sure that both you and your wedding photographer are on exactly the same page as to what types of images they produce, and what kinds of images you are expecting on your wedding day. (This is also why it’s important to chose a photographer based on what you see in their portfolio and their past work. If you don’t like their past work, you probably won’t like what they offer you! On the other hand, if you love everything they’ve shown, you’re much more likely to be blown away on your wedding day!)

The other half of this equation is getting to know how your photographer directs you (or doesn’t!). I am the type of photographer that is talking, reassuring, directing, and praising almost constantly, but there are definitely other photographers who give little to no direction or reassurance at all. You want to make sure that whatever type of photographer you choose, you know how they run the actual session, and you are comfortable with their type of direction. That way, when the wedding day rolls around, you will be so much more comfortable going in knowing exactly what to expect from your photographer.

For me, I see engagement sessions as the time to start building a warm and trusting relationship with you so that on your wedding day, you are already comfortable and at ease before I even lift my camera to my face! You already know exactly what to expect from me, what kinds of directions I give, and what kinds of images I will produce for you.

So are you ready to book your engagement session? I’d love to chat!

5 Tips for Your 18 for 2018 List

Have you made your 18 for 2018 list yet? If so, GREAT! Tell me what’s on your list below! If you haven’t, it’s not too late to start! Here are some tips for how to design your 18 for 2018 list. Don’t know what I’m talking about? The next section is for you!

What is an 18 for 2018 List?

The idea for the 18 for 2018 List is that you write down a list of 18 things that you want to do in 2018. It can be anything from travel to another country to hosting a dinner party. Each person gets to define what things make the list, so it’s incredibly versatile! Then, you work on your list all year long, and try to get them all finished before the year is up!

5 Tips for Your 18 for 2018 List

Here are 5 concrete tips to help you design your 18 for 2018 List.

A picture of a slip of paper with the word "Visibility" watercolored on in blue and green. Surrounding the slip of paper are a giant white flower, two votive candles, a box of watercolors, and two paint brushes.

1. Keep it somewhere visible.

When it comes to completing a year-long project like this, keeping the project top of mind becomes increasingly more important as the days go on. When you first write your list, you probably won’t have much trouble remembering all 18 of your items. But as time goes on, life and work invade, and those 18 items get forgotten! By keeping your list somewhere you will see it all the time (taped to the bathroom mirror, on the first page of your planner, on the fridge, etc), you are much more likely to follow through on the items.

A picture of a slip of paper with the word "Complexity" watercolored on in purple. Surrounding the slip of paper are a giant white flower, two votive candles, a box of watercolors, and two paint brushes.

2. Add items of varying complexity.

At the beginning of the year, it is super tempting to think about all of the BIG plans you had for last year that never got done, and fill your list with all big, time-consuming tasks. However, we encourage you to mix it up a little. Add a couple items that are easy and quick to get out of the way, so that you can start the year off with a bang and feel accomplished, even when some tasks may take months to complete (Training to run a marathon? Completing your last couple of classes to graduate college?).

A picture of a slip of paper with the words "Any Time" watercolored on in orange. Surrounding the slip of paper are a giant white flower, two votive candles, a box of watercolors, and two paint brushes.

3. Consider “Things That Can Be Done Any Time.”

One of my favorite writers, Gretchen Rubin (of The Happiness Project and The Four Tendencies) says “things that can be done any time are often done at no time” on her podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. This is such a great point! I have been meaning to get my teeth whitened for YEARS now, and I just never seen to get around to it! There’s always something more pressing, more important, more fun, etc, so whitening my teeth gets forgotten or put off, and thus it doesn’t get done (guess what’s on my list this year!).

A picture of a slip of paper with the words "Empty Space" watercolored on in black and purple. Surrounding the slip of paper are a giant white flower, two votive candles, a box of watercolors, and two paint brushes.

4. Feel free to leave an empty space or two.

If you are having trouble coming up with 18 things to add to your list, feel free to leave a couple of your spaces empty for now. Something may come up in the next month or two that you didn’t consider now that would be PERFECT for your list. On the other end of the spectrum, if you end up with 19 instead of 18, that’s ok too! Just call it your “19 Before 2019 List” instead! (I had 2 empty spaces until March!)

A picture of a slip of paper with the word "Specific" watercolored on in blue. Surrounding the slip of paper are a giant white flower, two votive candles, a box of watercolors, and two paint brushes.

5. Be specific.

The biggest thing to keep in mind when designing your list is to make sure to be specific. “Read more” is a great thought, but how do you measure it? When do you cross it off your list? It’s better to make a more concrete list item: Read one book a month. Join a book group. Read 2 books to the kids every night before bed. You get the idea!

My 18 for 2018 List:

How could I possibly talk this much about 18 for 2018 Lists and not include mine?! So, here you go, my 18 for 2018 List (plus a bonus!):

  1. Read at least 26 books in 26 different categories. (2/21/18 So far I’ve read 9 books in 5 categories)
  2. Learn to play 26 songs on the piano. (3/7 – I’ve learned 2 perfectly, with 8 decently)
  3. Homeschool Charlotte. (3/7 – Doing pretty good on this so far!) (5/14 – She’s signed up to start preschool in the fall, and I’m hyperventilating JUST a little thinking about my baby girl going to school and not being here with me… Just saying…)
  4. Get the 2017 holiday photos printed and framed.
  5. Host a Mother’s Circle meetup.
  6. Start using the diffuser regularly (at least once a week). (2/21 – so far… not so good)
  7. Get a new phone (and case).
  8. Take more photos of the kids (at least one photo shoot a month). (4 out of 12 done)
  9. Take more photos of us with the kids that aren’t selfies (at least one photo of each of us a month!) (2/21 – Again, not so good at this one… I have 1 photo of me with Teddy…) (5/14 – Yup… still all selfies… At least I’m taking more of those, though! Haha)
  10. Get a new bra.
  11. Go on at least 1 date a month. (4 out of 12 complete!)
  12. Have a lobster double date with friends.
  13. Write a book (novel or children’s).
  14. Celebrate the solstices. (1 out of 4 complete)
  15. Write a will.
  16. Whiten teeth (see? Told you it was on my list!)
  17. Get new headshots taken.
  18. Take a photography course. (DONE! Now I’m starting a business course!)
  19. BONUS: Shoot a wedding! (I am just dying to do a wedding, even if I’m just a second shooter!) (WOO!!!)

10 Tips to Take Better Photos of Your Kids

Let me tell you: photographing kids is not for the faint of heart! When they aren’t moving (well, let’s face it – when AREN’T they moving?), the photo still isn’t great because there’s junk in the background, or the light wasn’t quite right, or you got a big ol’ lens flare going on, and the whole photo just isn’t quite good enough to make the photo album cut.

But I’m here to give you 10 quick, concrete tips to help up your momtography game and take better photos of your kids TODAY! No fancy camera or editing software needed!

1. Get On Their Level

My number one tip for photographing kids is to get on their level! Bend down, squat down, lay down, hunch over, whatever it takes to bring your camera down to the same plane as their face. Your photographs will be 10x more dynamic when your littles are looking straight at the camera instead of up at it.

A photo taken from an adult height, looking down. The child in the photo is feeding a lorikeet at the zoo.

A child feeding a lorikeet at the zoo. Photo is taken at child height so you can see the background.

2. Get In Close

Another tip you’ll see on virtually any other list like this is to get close. Fill the frame up with their adorable little faces. This serves two purposes. 1. Aren’t they the reason you’re taking the photo in the first place? 2. It’s easier to get rid of unwanted background if it isn’t there to begin with. Imagine you’re shooting a photo in your house, laundry on the couch, toys on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink (oh wait, just me?). Pull back away from your kid, and all that stuff is now in the picture, and no one wants to post THAT photo on social media. Instead, get in closer, fill up the frame with that cute little smile. No one needs to know you haven’t tidied the house in 2 weeks!

A photo of a little girl spinning in a circle, taken from far away.

A photo of a little girl sitting on a log. The little girl fills up the frame.

3. Pay Attention to the Background

This one is very closely related to the last one, and is essentially another way to solve the same problem. If you want to take some more pulled back shots of your kiddo, pay attention to what else is occupying the frame with them. Can you move a chair out of the picture? Can you scoot some toys to the side? Shoot the picture from a slightly different angle? This tip applies equally when shooting out and about too. Choose your shooting angles means not needing to crop your photos, or try to edit objects out later (infinitely harder if you are a momtographer with no access to editing software!).

Photo of two kids and their dad staring at a shark tank.

Photo of two kids staring at a shark tank.

4. Light From Behind

When you first start photographing your kids, your first instinct is probably to have them face the sun, so that you get all that light on their face. However, this can create “hot spots” where the highlights get blown out, and it is extremely difficult to edit later. As well, it can create really dramatic shadows across the face that is distracting from the overall image.

Instead, have the sun behind your kiddo. They will get a nice even shade and skin tone across their face (no hot spots, no dramatic shadows). The additional bonus is you often get this awesome glowy light in their hair if you can do a true back light properly (get their head or shoulders directly between your camera and the sun). They look like little angels!

A photo of two sisters sitting back to back on a log.

A photo of a girl sitting on a rock, lit from behind.

5. Avoid Sunflare

While some photographers like sunflare, I personally don’t. Now, sometimes it can add a little something to an image, for the most part it is just distracting, and looks a little amateur. Sunflares are caused when light goes directly into your lens, causing sun spots across your image. They are fairly easy to avoid, however, and the key is to shade your lens. Sometimes it can be as simple as cupping your hand around end of the lens (make sure your hand doesn’t end up in the shot!). They also make “lens hoods” for lenses that do this for you. Another method is to simply shoot from the shade. If you are standing under a shady tree, you will not get sunflare, even if your subject isn’t in the shade. Lastly, if you have a helper, friend, or partner with you, have them hold something up (like a piece of cardboard or something similar) to block the sun directly on your camera.

A photo of a little girl in a Rapunzel dress and a tiara, with sun flare on the right hand side.

A photo of a little girl in a Rapunzel dress and a tiara.

6. Shoot During Golden Hour

I don’t often get a chance to shoot my kids during golden hour – mainly because I am NOT a morning person, and my kids still nap. By the time we get up and anywhere in the morning, golden hour is long gone. And in the afternoon… well, same. Golden hour is the first hour or so when the sun rises in the morning, and the last hour or so before the sun goes down in the evening. If you have a chance to shoot during these times of days, the sun gets this wonderful golden glow that adds just a little extra touch to those photos.

A photo of a little girl laying on her tummy in the grass with her feet up.

A photo of a little girl hugging a light pole.

7. Get Them Laughing

Ever mother knows this to be true: A baby laughing is the best music in the world, and a kid laughing makes the best photo in the world. You know your kids better than anyone else on the planet, and you know what kinds of things make them laugh and smile. At the dinner table, it might not be appropriate to make farting noises and blow raspberries, but for good photos, sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered!

A photo of a little girl in a purple dress sitting on a bench.

A photo of a little girl in a purple dress sitting on a bench and laughing.

8. Capture the “Real Stuff”

Despite our most heroic efforts, sometimes our kids just don’t want to cooperate with us when we want photos, and that’s ok! They’re kids! Right now, they just want to play (and honestly, can you blame them?). So ride that wave, honey! Let them play, let them cry, let them dance – and just keep rolling! Some of my favorite photos (both of my kids, and ones I’ve captured for other people) were when the kids were done posing, so we just let them be kids!

In fact, before I was a photographer, we took our daughter for a cake smash photo shoot. Within a minute of the start of the session, she slapped the top of the cake and got frosting all over her hand. She took one look at her hand, started crying, and didn’t stop for the rest of the session… However, the Katie Trottino (bless her!) didn’t stop rolling! And in between the tears and the sad faces, she caught some wonderful shots of my daughter that capture her personality perfectly! (And yes, she did send us a couple of her crying as well, and I love those just as much! Especially because it reminds me of how much she HATED getting her hands dirty back then!)

A photo of two kids brushing their teeth. One is sitting on a toilet seat, and the other is making a crazy face.

A photo of two kids drinking water. One is far away leaning on a wall, and one is close up, with a yellow cup covering his face.

9. Take in the Details

When you are getting close to your kids, don’t be afraid of getting real close (especially if you have a camera that can handle it). Crop those photos down so all you see are their perfect little details. They won’t be this small for long, and you will love looking back and seeing just how tiny their toes, fingers, lips, ears, and eyelashes were! Favorite photos from newborn sessions are often the detail shots!

While on the topic of details, don’t forget other details: their favorite dress, the only pair of shoes they would agree to wear out of the house, their trusty stuffed animal, the ball they can’t leave home without… Photograph those things on their own, and with your child. They probably won’t have these things forever, but looking back on them will bring you so many happy memories (even if right now you secretly want to throw away that Peter Rabbit toy that tells the story over and over, because your kid keeps turning it on every 5 seconds… no? Just me? Oh, well then…).

A photo of a little boy being held by his dad at the beach. His toes and feet at in the foreground.

A black and white photo of a boy staring out of a window holding onto a ball.

10. Break the Rules

While these tips can be very helpful to get your photographs looking a little more polished right off the bat, you have to remember that sometimes rules just need to be broken! Here are examples of me breaking all those rules I just taught you, haha.

A closeup photo of a little girl's face looking up at the camera.

A photo of a little girl walking along some abandoned train tracks, overgrown with grass.

A photo of a little girl standing on a rock at the beach, holding her hair out of her face.

A photo of a girl in a Rapunzel dress and tiara, spinning in a green meadow.

A photo of a little girl in a purple dress in a yellow field, frowning.

Wrap Up:

Were these tips helpful for you? Do you feel more confident taking photos of your kids? Do you have any other tips or tricks you would add? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Great Locations for Photo Shoots in Southern California

Every photographer I know has a list of dream locations they would love to shoot a session at. Of course I would love to shoot in Paris, London, and Ireland, but there are also plenty of places closer to home that I’d love to explore with a photo shoot.

If you are scheduling a photo shoot with me, keep these locations in mind, as I think they would make wonderful backdrops, and they could be a lot of fun! I’ve included links so you can get a little more information about the location, if it interests you.

In no particular order:

La Tour in Laguna Beach: A castle tower built into the side of a cliff right on the beach in Laguna Beach. It reminds me of Rapunzel’s tower, and other photo shoots I’ve seen done there are just fabulous!

Huntington Gardens in San Marino: 12 distinct gardens spread over 120 acres, including a California garden, a Japanese garden, a desert garden, a conservatory, and a rose garden, this would make an AMAZING backdrop for engagement photos especially.

Corona del Mar Tide Pools: The first time we ever did a family photo shoot done, we had them taken at the Corona del Mar Tide Pools, and I love them so much! I would love to do a session here as a photographer, too!

Huntington Beach Pier: I grew up in Huntington Beach, so I have a rather strong attachment to this particular pier. In fact, my first real job was at the Ruby’s at the end of the pier! But is also makes a wonderful photography backdrop!

The Lighthouse in Long Beach: I’ve done a photo shoot in downtown Long Beach, which turned out beautiful, but we didn’t make it down to the lighthouse for photos. I’d love to go back for another session and make sure to include the lighthouse!

Walker Canyon Poppy Fields: The poppies only bloom for a couple of months each year, but they are absolutely spectacular!

Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach: I love the aquarium – it’s one of my favorite places to go, and shooting an engagement session there would be so much fun!

Huntington Beach Central Park: I have done a family photo shoot here before, which was great! But I love how big Central Park is, and there are so many more areas to explore and shoot! I’d love to do another one!

Griffith Park in Los Angeles: Griffith Park is so beautiful, and how have I lived my life in California and never been!?! And to do a photo shoot there would be amazing!

Los Angeles County Museum of Art: The iconic light posts are absolutely sublime, and I love them for a great funky urban photo shoot!

Los Angeles Arboretum: The arboretum is beautiful and would make such a fantastic backdrop for an engagement shoot.

Disneyland: With plenty of options for fun, funky, silly, sweet, and adorable photos at Disneyland and lots of different backdrops to take advantage of all over the park, engagement sessions at Disneyland are awesome!

Crystal Cove State Park: Beautiful beaches with tide pools, and also hiking trails that include wooded areas, desert areas, and spectacular ocean views along the bluff trail.

Quail Hill Trailhead: Give me all the meadows with hill and mountain backdrops!

These are the ones that I can think of off the top of my head, but I will update this list as I think of more or if I get to shoot at any of these locations. They all seem like so much fun, and are so beautiful!

Why Photos of Our Kids Matter

Child photography is my absolute favorite! I love taking pictures of my own kids (totally biased, but they are my favorite subjects), and I especially love looking back and seeing how much they have grown and changed.

Hazel - Edited

It actually makes me a little sad that I don’t have more photographs from when I was a little girl. Back then, my parents didn’t have fancy expensive cameras, and most of the photos they took were on disposable ones. You never knew what a photo was going to turn out like until you got the film developed, either, which was one part exciting and one part nerve-wracking. It meant that during special occasions, you really only got one shot to get a good photo in, and you couldn’t really have any do-overs.

I remember going to the grocery store and turning the film in to have it developed. I loved coming back to the grocery store, opening the big drawer in front of the photo development counter, and flipping through all the packets until I came to the one with our name on it. I loved looking through the different photos and telling my mom which ones were my favorite.

Violet - Edited

But despite my memories surrounding the photos, we just don’t seem to have many of them left anymore. I know my parents probably took a decent amount of photos over the years, but because this was all before the digital age of photography, they went missing, got lost, boxes of photos got ruined or misplaced while moving. Now, I really only have a handful of photographs of me as a little girl.

I would LOVE to share photos of little me with my kids (especially my daughter, who will happily look at photographs with me for HOURS).

A photo of a little girl in a sparkly purple dress in a meadow.

Now that I have kids of my own, I realize the importance and feel the weight of the pressure to take pictures of them while they’re little. I don’t want them to feel like this when they are older and have kids (or grandkids) of their own.

A picture of a little boy in a Wild One shirt crawling towards the camera.

I love taking these photos of my kids, but I recognize that these photos are not just for me. They are for my kids, their kids, and future generations. They are also for my parents, Jeremy’s parents, and our grandparents. They are for friends and loved ones across the United States and around the world who don’t get to see them every day, and love the little peeks inside our life, our world, and enjoy loving them from afar.

As much fun as I have actually photographing people, my favorite part of any photo shoot is actually when I hand the edited photos over, and watch you post them on facebook, instagram, and pinterest. I love watching your loved ones, relatives, and friends like, comment, and heart your photos. I love seeing how much other people love you, and love seeing great photographs of you.

This world needs more love, and if my photographs can help bring people together, create conversations, reignite friendships, and celebrate the love people have for each other, well, then I have done my job.

 

If you’d like to book a child, family, or couples session with me, I’d love to talk to you! I am still accepting dates for spring and summer sessions, and would love to work with you to create heirloom images that will bring your family joy and love for years to come!

You can find my email address and phone number over here.

How to Prepare Your Child for Their Session

You’ve booked a photo session for your child. You’re so excited to create heirloom images to cherish forever! You’ve picked out the perfect outfit, you’ve had your pre-session consultation, and you are ready to go!

But you’re scared your child won’t want to cooperate, won’t sit still, won’t pose… You’re scared you’ve wasted your time and money, and won’t get any good photos out of it.

So how can you prepare ahead of time to ensure the best use of your time (and money) for your upcoming session? Start by preparing your child.

Talk to Them

If your child has never done a photo shoot before, they might get nervous and scared. Reassure them that it’s going to be fun! You’re going to go have some fun together, and there just so happens to be someone there to take some pictures. Let them know the photographer may ask them to do something specific (jump in a puddle, sit on a stump, look at mommy), and might ask them to hold a pose for a couple of seconds.

Bribe Them – Just a LITTLE!

Now, we aren’t talking about big bribes like a new toy or a trip to Disney World! No! A lot of times, a mini marshmallow or a Cheerio will be all that’s necessary to coax a great, authentic smile out.

Many child photographers will have a small bag of bribes on them, just in case. And while I always ask before giving any food to a child, be sure to communicate with your photographer if you have any food allergies or preferences BEFORE the session, so if the photographer plans to bring bribes, they have an opportunity to choose something appropriate.

If you are going to bring your own little bag of bribes to a session, remember to choose something small enough that it won’t be noticeable on camera that the child has something in their mouth. Also, nothing with artificial colors! You don’t want to ruin a photo shoot with a purple tongue or blue teeth!

Know My Tricks

Children have shorter attention spans than adults do, particularly if it involves something they’re not interested in doing. Because of this, I have my own set of tricks that I use to help keep the photo shoot on task and as productive as possible. By being aware of what some of my tricks are, you can help prepare your child ahead of time, and help encourage them to cooperate during the session.

Some tricks I may use to keep your child on task or posing will be:

  • Ask them to look at you, a rock, a tree, my hand, etc. We don’t want the child looking directly at the camera 100% of the time, and we also don’t want them looking at the ground 100% of the time. A nice mix of directions makes for a more interesting set of photos.
  • Ask them to try something fun, like climb a tree (for older kids!), stand on a tree stump, smell a flower, etc. By asking them to do new, novel things every minute or two, rather than taking 20 variations of the same pose, we help stimulate the part of their brain that gets bored easily.
  • If I need them to hold a particular pose so I can frame the shot correctly, I will ask them to freeze for 3 seconds and count slowly. If your child (toddler age) doesn’t “freeze” well, try making this into a game to play before the session so they know what to expect when the time comes.
  • Set them free. Occasionally, some children just aren’t interested. They are too focused on something else to participate in the photo session. When this happens, I like to set them free to explore a little, and stay close to the action to make sure I still get those magic shots when they happen. I wrote an entire article on just this tip, if you want to read more about the how and why.

Relax

You are probably going to be way more emotionally invested in this photo shoot than your child is. That’s just the way it is. So during the session, I don’t want you to stress about posing or getting your child to smile just right.

Your job during the photo session is to help encourage your child, and let them know what a great job they are doing! Enjoy watching your kid pose and strut their stuff for the camera. With your enthusiastic praise, your child will open up and be their true authentic selves for the camera.

How to Choose an Outfit for Your Session

Choosing an outfit to wear for a photography session can be a little overwhelming, especially if you are trying to coordinate looks for the whole family. There are many important things to consider before deciding, including what type of session you are booking, and how you plan to use the photos.

What Type of Session Are You Booking?

The type of session being booked can have a huge impact on what outfit you decide to choose.

Birthday/Milestone Session

Birthdays and milestones are so fun! And oftentimes, this is when we choose to have a little whimsy and fun in a session. If you are documenting a birthday, consider letting your daughter wear her favorite dress (sure, right now you’re sick of seeing her in it every day but laundry day, but someday you will look back on these photos with nostalgia and miss seeing her in that dress every day!). Milestone/month onesies and shirts are also great for little kids. Try to avoid clothing with logos or patterns that are will be distracting for the feel you want.

Another option for birthday and milestone sessions is to go classy. Nice dresses, slacks and ties, etc. Classy attire in a milestone session means the photos can be used for many different purposes, and they truly stand the test of time.

Can’t decide if you want to go fun or classy? We always give you the option to include an outfit change in the middle of the session so you don’t have to!

Family Session

In a family session, the biggest thing to keep in mind is cohesion. You don’t want everyone’s outfits clashing. You want everyone to look like they belong together, without everyone being perfectly matched. To do this, pick two (or three) coordinating colors, and base everyone’s wardrobe around those two colors. Typically, at least one of those colors is a neutral (black, white, beige, gray). BUT you don’t want everyone wearing the exact same thing. Visually, it is more interesting and stimulating if everyone is wearing the same colors in different variations.

Example: Colors – black, gray and teal.

Dad: Teal polo, black slacks.

Mom: Black shrug, gray blouse, teal jeans, black boots.

Child: Teal top, gray leggings, black boots.

Engagement

What you choose to wear for an engagement session is very dependent on what type of photography style you are looking for. (Don’t know what type of style you like? We can help you figure it out!)

A lifestyle photo session typically calls for a cute but casual style outfit. You might consider going a little dressier for a posed photo session. In the end, you want your engagement photos to be a reflection of you and your fiancé. If you’ve never worn 4-inch heels in your life, now is probably not the best time to test them out. Ultimately, you want your engagement photos to show off your excitement, love, and connection with your significant other, so where something that makes you feel beautiful, confident, and amazing!

What Are These Photos Being Used For?

A photo being used for invitations or holiday cards might call for a different outfit than a photo that you plan on hanging in your home for years to come. Be sure to consider the purpose of the images before your session!

A picture of a little boy in a Wild One shirt crawling towards the camera.

Birthday Invitations/Thank You Cards

If you are booking a session for your child, with the intent to use these photos on their birthday card invitations and thank you cards, you will want to consider dressing them with the theme of the party in mind. Now, a Mickey Mouse party doesn’t mean you have to dress your child up like Mickey Mouse. Instead, choose a red and black outfit to highlight the theme without being too over the top. (Plus, red and black is a great choice for holiday cards, if you’re planning on using these photos again!)

Holiday Cards

If you plan on using these photos for holiday cards, consider whether you will be sending out formal holiday cards or more casual holiday cards. Formal cards probably mean more formal attire. If you’re setting up a lifestyle session, you can get a little more casual with the attire. Either way, it’s important to consider color choices to make sure everyone is cohesive without being too perfectly matched.

Home Décor/Nursery Décor

Do you plan on framing these photos to hang in the living room, in the hallway, or in your child’s room or nursery? If so, you should think about the themes of these rooms to make sure the styling and outfits fit with the rest of the space. If your daughter has a teal and green room, it might be best to dress her in coordinating colors instead of a bright pink dress that will clash with the rest of your carefully-chosen accents. A chic, ultra-modern living room might call for classic black and white outfits for the family. Think about the tone and colors already incorporated into the room, and draw inspiration from that. You want the photos to look like they absolutely belong in the room they’re going in, rather than simply stuck up as an afterthought.

Courtney and Devin's 7th Wedding Anniversary Session

Save the Dates

Many people choose to use their engagement photos for their Save the Date cards. If you don’t know what the theme or colors for your wedding are going to be yet, don’t panic! It’s ok! Your Save the Date cards do NOT have to have the same look and feel as your wedding is going to.

Save the Dates are typically a little more informal, and are just a nice way to let family and friends know that they should be expecting an invitation (and give them plenty of time to make sure they’re available!). That being said, you can dress a little more informal, have some fun, or add a little whimsy to your session.

If you already have a theme and colors picked out for your wedding, feel free to incorporate some of that feeling and flare into your engagement session! Pink and white garden theme? Get dolled up in a full circle skirt and let’s head to a rose garden to do the session! Chic modern wedding? How about classic pencil skirt at a pop art museum? Ultimately, Save the Dates are a way to give your loved ones a little sneak peek at the love they’re going to witness at your wedding!

What Type of Portrait Photo Style Do I Like?

When you’re booking a photo session, there are a lot of different portrait photography styles to consider. Candid, posed, lifestyle, themed? The number of different choices can be overwhelming!

Let’s discuss each of the four photography styles I mentioned above (Candid, Posed, Lifestyle, and Themed), to help you get a feel for which ones are your favorites, and which you don’t prefer. When booking a session, it’s important for you to be able to verbalize your preferences to your photographer before the shoot even begins – that way you and the photographer are on the same page and working to capture the style and feel you want!

Candid

Candid photography, by definition, means that the subject is unaware that the photo is being taken. However, you’re booking a session! You know the photographer is there, because you ASKED them to be there! Candid photography at a session is when it LOOKS like the subject is unaware the photo is being taken. The subject (that’s you!) isn’t looking at the camera, but is instead relaxed and natural in the environment.

Posed

Posed photography, for the purposes of this article, is when it is obvious the subject knows the photo is being taken. There may or may not be eye contact with the camera. The photographer may coach you or ask you to try different variations (hold hands, put the baby in your lap, kiss, etc). They will probably ask you to hold certain poses for a few seconds in order to get a few different shots of each pose.

Lifestyle

Imagine a photographer followed you around, taking pictures of you doing ordinary things in your ordinary space. That’s the basic idea behind lifestyle photography. It’s photography based on real-life happenings, telling your everyday story in a moving and engaging way.

An example is a newly engaged couple that likes to cook. The photo session might take place in their kitchen, as they cook a romantic meal together. A closeup of their hands holding the same stirring pot (showing off that beautiful ring!), a sweet photo of her sitting on the counter and he is leaning in to kiss her, him holding a spoon up for her to taste their meal, followed by a series of photos of them playfully playing with the dish soap bubbles as they clean up.

Another example is a family going on a picnic. The photo session might include shots of the family choosing their picnic spot, closeups of the food spread, everyone laughing at dad’s funny joke as they share sandwiches and watermelon, and conclude with a friendly game of soccer or tag.

A good lifestyle photographer will capture many different angles of one event, and present them as a story, which unfolds with each new picture. For the most part, these photos are candid, to keep the emotions real, but the photographer may ask for certain posed shots to complement the candid ones and enhance the story being told.

Themed

A themed photo session is designed to evoke certain feelings based on location, wardrobe, and prop choice. Themed shoots are typically not based on real-life events, but instead pull different elements together for cute, whimsical photos.

An example of this is a 50’s travel themed session. The photo session might include a little girl in a pull skirt and pearls, sitting on a vintage suitcase on a train platform, detail shots of the suitcase, the clock, and the train pulling into the station, and finally a shot of the girl stepping onto the train before it departs.

Another example is a backyard bubble bath session. Shots from this session would include a baby or toddler playing in a metal tub full of soapy bath water, complete with rubber ducks, bath toys, and all the bubbles a baby could ask for.