What We Can Learn From The LGBTQ Community

I always come to the same conclusion–it’s not my story to tell. Every time I sit down to write about a session I ask myself, “Do I make this about myself or about them?”  I am honored to have the pleasure of meeting each and every one of my clients and getting to know them in my attempts to make them comfortable in front of my camera and in front of me–sometimes a complete stranger.

I figure this story I am telling is being told from my perspective. Afterall, it’s my eye that made these photographs, therefore the writing should also come from my understanding. These clients, friends, families, kids are trusting me to tell their story. I want nothing more than to honor that.

My personal experience with people who are gay and lesbian is rather limited. I don’t have any friends in the LGBTQ community and I have no explanation for why not. It was never an issue for me. I’m all for being the person you were meant to be and be with the person you were meant to be with! Friendships just never happened. I recently had the privilege to work with two different couples and they taught me so much probably without knowing it. I just wish I knew it sooner. 

Gender roles are just a ridiculous social construct. Yep. With LGBTQ couples, the “roles” are just more fluid. I cannot assume who will lead the dip or whose hand will land on top. But as I was preparing for these sessions it occurred to me that the roles in my heterosexual house are fluid too. In fact, many traditional poses can go either way. Once I embraced this and got over the fear of saying something offensive, I was able to get to work and capture the love these couples have for each other. And it was nothing but beautiful!

I can’t wait to do more of these! With any luck, I’ll be seeing more of these two. They are over the moon for each other. Their happiness is contagious.

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Welcome Number Four

Welcome home little man. Here is your family. Here is your home. You are loved beyond your wildest dreams. You have two big sisters who are ready to to teach you how to use the ipad and maybe one day the car. You have a big brother who is dying to get into trouble with you. And let’s not forget your mom and dad. Oh how they cherish you! I know because I saw it. I saw all fo this. I am so happy that this is where you have been placed. These moments are not ones you will be able to recall, but you will hear all about them. Sweet dreams little man. Sweet dreams.

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Can I bring the dog?

Can I bring the dog? This is one of the most asked questions I get! YES!! I have a dog, a pitbull mix I picked up from the pound. They really aren’t an issue for me, but you should always ask your photographer if this is ok with them. I am particularly happy to photograph your whole family because–and I don’t have to tell you this–they carry a part of your heart. I know how my kids feel about Sadie and how she feels about them. She’s a huge part of their childhood. How could we choose to ignore it.

With all of that said there are some things you must consider when including your family pet, and that is them. Lets start with the basics.

  1. Bring a leash, the one you always use or treat them to a new one that coordinates with your outfit. New environments can be overwhelming. We wouldn’t want your session to take a nose dive because Rex ran after a squirl and now you can’t get him back. This would bring tears.
  2. Water and a container they can drink from. Also for their best interests.
  3. Bags for messes. Do I need to explain? 

And now for the not so obvious…

  1. Treats. These can really help with getting your dog’s attention but work with your photographer on who should be holding it. They are a great tool but can be a complete distraction if not used appropriately.
  2. A resusable grocery bag for all the stuff. I recommend this whether you bring your dog or not. We need a place for keys, wallets, and other odds and ends. It’s also a good idea because we wouldn’t want to put your purse on the ground either.
  3. An extra person. Yes. Bring a “dog sitter.” This can be your best friend, your mom, or the kid from down the street. There will be moment where you don’t really want the dog in the photo and someone needs to hang on to them. Don’t count on your photographer doing it because she’s holding the camera still.

And finally, the thing you should consider most when decididng to bring Fido is the location. It can be somewhat limiting because not all parks and beaches allow for such company. So if you are good with your local choices then game on!

Toddler Life is Magical

These two kiddos went nonstop, and I was only too happy to try to keep up. Oh my stars, this was just one morning of fun! 

We started off the morning with some books and a light “game” of Chutes and Ladders. Classic, right? But then we went on and moved into the kids’ bedrooms. There we found tents, a much loved Daddy Doll, and out came the capes. Looking at the photos, I can still hear the sound of those bare feet hitting the wooden floor. There was just a small pocket of light in the dark hallway where I could catch the movement of the little girl’s delight in the mask.

Making the most of the morning, we all moved outside to the water table. This little guy with the hose was not going to disappoint. I think it was the highlight of his morning, or maybe it was the popsicle. After some swing time, we got back into the water. There was no shortage of squeals in the big beach ball sprinkler. No need to put bathing suits back on. Go big, or go home. 

And what’s not a toddler morning without bubbles and sidewalk chalk? 

I was so grateful for the opportunity to capture the magic of these days. My kids are now into sports and Minecraft. I fondly remember these days. They were a lot of work, but boy are they magical.

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Why You Shouldn’t Bribe Your Children Through A Photography Session

I am that mom. I know I am that mom. I am the mom with the kids in the grocery store that are hanging off the cart, wrestling in the aisle, and poking the eyes on all the fish in the meat department. Yes, I have told them to stop it. Yes, I have told them they will lose their precious screen time. Yes, I am tired of the constant fight.

And I’m supposed to sign up for photography session and have you point a camera at my chaos? Umm..

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Kids are unpredictable, babies especially. They are who they are and we the parents are at the mercy of their behavior, especially in public. Yes, we are the ones “in control”. But it feels like such an illusion at times. It doesn’t mean I give up and “let them win.” Heaven forbid! But after seeing hundreds of families and seeing how they deal with the stress with a camera that is supposed to be aimed at them just magnifies everything. ¬†Here are some ways parents can do their part that will help everyone walk away smiling.

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  1. Do not bribe them. It only gives them something to whine about. Following directions for an hour can be exhausting to little humans. And for the love of all that is holy, do not give them chocolate or anything that will change the color of their teeth! “Is that chocolate or poop?”
  2. Distractions work wonders. I am for evidence of connections between family members. This can be done easily with a game–a game with you! Dads are great at throwing little people in the air. Moms are usually great for swings and cuddles. Siblings are perfect for silly secrets.chase
  3. Props. These are great but they have to be something you don’t mind being in the pictures. If it is something special to them, like a blanket or lovey, by all means bring it. It’s part of who they are at this stage in their life. Some kids are really good about “hiding” their treasure once it’s time to snap the picture. This works with big humans too. I once had a grandpa who doesn’t take his cowboy hat off for anything. It was just part of him. His family wouldn’t recognize him without it. Kids like to find sticks, rocks, or pick flowers. It only adds to the story.
  4. Mom and dad can walk away for a few. Sometimes just getting directions from too many people can be overwhelming. Some kids just need a little time and space. You don’t have to go to the car. Just get quiet or remove yourself from the energy happening in front of the camera. This also works when babies don’t want to smile at the camera, because they only want to smile at their most favorite people, mom and dad.20151025smithburg0437
  5. Take breaks and change locations. It’s okay to run around and let the photographer chase you. I purposely wear shoes that I can run around while shooting. Kids have very little control of the circumstances that are in their lives. Letting them relax is a sure fire way to maintain a positive atmosphere.
  6. Keep them happy. Forced smiles are not fun, nor do they make for fun memories to put up on your wall. Of course, we must keep the safety of everyone priority number one. But if something is not working, pick them up, comfort them, and move on to something else.20151025smithburg0743

Going with the flow is really part of my style. I know things don’t always go as planned. Be resilient. Be flexible. Be forgiving. Your next session will happen with smiles when everyone comes with the mindset ready for family play time. Book your session!