If you could remember ONE thing about your family this year, what would it be?
(To get right to the fall info, scroll down to Full Session. But if you’ll indulge me for just a minute, read on.)
My husband and I are in what I consider the “golden” stage of parenting – well out of the baby and toddler years but not quite to the angst and worries of the teen years. We can, for the most part, go where we want, do fun stuff (including a surprise day trip to Magnolia in Waco – Chip and Joanna’s cupcakes are awesome, y’all!), and basically live life without worrying about meltdowns, naps, or being glued to the lure of “likes”, comments, and Snaps. Sure, we have our issues just like everyone, but I know bigger ones are coming, so I am doing my best to savor this stage of parenting.
Family life definitely isn’t easy. But each year gives us something to celebrate.
This year, I want to remember that our son got braces, ran track at school, and crossed over into Boy Scouts. I want to remember our daughter’s excitement about her competitive gymnastics season that she’s worked so hard to prepare for. I want ot remember tha twe have turned the corner form the crushing loss of my husband’s brother 13 months ago. I want to remember that through everything life throws our way, we are doing the best we can to keep the long view in mind as we raise our family. (Sorry, that was more than one thing!)
How about you? What do YOU want to remember about your family this year? Maybe Harvey destroyed your home and you’re in survival mode. (No, you won’t want to remember that, but maybe you’ve experienced the love and care of others, and you want to remember THAT.) Maybe you or someone you love has gone through a major medical event and came through it with a fresh perspective on life. Maybe you’ve added a baby to the family or gained a son-in-law or daughter-in-law.
Whatever you want to remember, I’d love to help.
My job is to create an archive of your family’s life – in THIS moment – while giving you a FUN and enjoyable experience together.
Your job is to show up and enjoy your family. It’s that simple.
I offer a couple of different photo session types in the fall to meet a variety of needs. Which one is right for your family?
With up to 1.5 hours of shooting time, and your choice of date and location, full sessions are customized, just for you. We have plenty of time to take breaks, have snacks, and enjoy some special Mom/Dad/kid time (whether those kids are 2 or 20). It’s perfect for families who haven’t had a session in a long time. The session fee is $195 plus tax and you choose and purchase your wall art, image boxes or albums during an in-person viewing and ordering session with 35-40 printed proofs to choose from – or choose my all-inclusive Storybook Session, focusing on your family’s unique bond and relationship. Book by October 15 and receive a complimentary Artist’s Choice custom collage print (8×10) with your order – plus a complimentary box of 25 cards and envelopes when you book by Oct. 5.
Petite sessions are perfect for an annual update when you need a shorter time frame and fewer images. With 20 minutes of shooting time, you’ll get a gallery with group shots and individual images of the kiddos. Smaller packages are available for Petite sessions, making them a great choice for families who want a smaller investment.
Two locations are available: a beautiful wooded property in Cypress, TX with walking trails, lakes, bridges and sweeping Spanish moss, and a Christmas tree farm in Montgomery, TX. You choose – a serene, natural setting or the energy of the holidays amidst fresh and fragrant pine and Cypress trees. Seasonal props will be on hand for those who would like to use them.
Petite sessions include 20 minutes of shooting time, an online gallery of 15-20 images, full retouching on all purchased images, access to smaller packages than a full session, and access to a 24 Hour Sale after your gallery goes live. Book by October 15 and receive a complimentary Artist’s Choice custom collage print (8×10) with your order. Session fee is $75 plus tax to book; products and packages are purchased separately through your online gallery. A la carte prints start at $65 and packages start at $197. Digital and print packages (as well as a digital/print blend) are available.
BOOK YOUR WOODS PETITE SESSION NOW (Nov. 12 and 19, 2:15-5:15pm; six spots available each day)
BOOK YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE FARM SESSION NOW (Nov. 18, 2-5:30 pm; six spots left)
I can’t wait to see you this fall!
It happens every year…”Help – we had our family photos done and I’m not happy!”
Often, I get these calls from well-meaning moms who were trying to stretch the family budget by saving money on a novice or just-starting-out photographer. I’ve been there – I get it. And with the economy contracting, everyone is doing what they can to save. Unfortunately, the old axiom “you get what you pay for” is often true, especially in the field of photography.
Sometimes, paying less for something that’s “just OK” is fine. Like laundry soap. Or a generic brand of shampoo. Or whatever it is you don’t care about TOO much.
But when it comes to your family, the memories you make together, and the art you hang on your walls…do you want “just OK”? Or do you want to LOVE what you see every day? Do you want your heart to swell every time you walk by that canvas, delighting in your child’s perfectly captured expression that just oozes personality? Um, yeah! Save me a spot NOW!
I’ve been told time and again that the real expressions, the interactions between family members, and making sure that Mom always looks GREAT are what make my images stand out…and it’s worth paying for. Heck yes, save me a spot now!
If you’re ready to break up with bad family photos and have a photography experience that will not only result in gorgeous artwork for your home but will actually be an enjoyable family evening (yes! It’s true!), jump on over to the calendar to schedule your fall date. (But hurry – I only have THREE weekend spots left in October!)
There is no higher honor for me than to be invited back to continue documenting a family’s growth and story. When this sweet family decided to return to Galveston for vacation (check out a little peek of their 2014 session here), they wanted to update their family portraits with the addition of a new baby, and I was all too happy to oblige.
Despite the joys of vacation, it’s been a rough 12 months. Mom’s father passed away unexpectedly a few months ago, and she wanted to think of a way to honor his memory and legacy during their session. We settled on flying prayer papers, on which each family member wrote their prayers and remembrances. The idea was then to alight and release them, but the coastal winds made that part difficult. Despite the wind, it was a poignant and beautiful moment, with hugs and prayers and tears and laughs. I’m so glad Mom thought to include this special time in her family’s session.
To find out more about documenting your own family’s story, please use my contact form. Enjoy!
I promised a summer bucket list post awhile back, and here it is, July 15, and I’m finally getting around to it! (It’s amazing what DOESN’T get done when the kids are home for the summer, but we are having all kinds of beautiful adventures. I’m so grateful to have this season with them!)
A couple of years ago, I realized that our summer had just sort of slid by, without much intentionality about how we would spend our days. Being a working mom, I can’t bring my business to a grinding halt just because my kids are out of school (although I do take on fewer clients during the summer months), but I also don’t want the summer to pass by, not having accomplished much or created lasting memories. Enter the Summer Bucket List.
Last summer, our family made a list of all the things we wanted to do before school started back up. I’ve learned it’s one thing to “want” to do something fun, but unless it’s staring me in the face in form of a written reminder, chances are it just won’t happen. (Weird, I know.) So we made our list, prettied it up with individual scrapbook pages for each activity, and posted everything on the wall. Our den was plastered with all of the fun we wanted to enjoy together, and it was really motivating to make sure we scheduled each item at some point during the summer. And we got it all done!
This year’s list is a bit more relaxed. Rather than wallpaper the den with gorgeous scrapbook pages (as fun as that was), this year’s list lives in my Midori Traveler’s Notebook (which I’m seldom without). The reminder isn’t as constant, but our list is simpler this year. (I found that including a lot of stuff on last year’s list produced a bit of anxiety because I felt I *had* to do it all.) So here’s what we’re up to this summer:
1. Family vacation to Wimberley, TX (check!) Our vacation happened just a couple of weeks after the devastating flood that roared through the Blanco River, carrying houses off their foundations, ripping one-hundred-year-old cypress trees out of their banks as if they were twigs, and killing several people. It was a bit more somber trip than usual. But we still managed to enjoy Cypress Creek (our accommodations offer lots of private, creekfront land), some amazing food (our faves: The Leaning Pear – a MUST, The Salt Lick, The Grismtmill), and relaxing family time in a simple, natural setting.
2. Schiltterbahn – we had hoped to visit the New Braunfels location while in Wimberley, but Tropical Storm Bill had other plans, so we’ll go to Galveston in August.
3. San Antonio – we’re going next week!
4. Family Camp at Lutherhill – our annual tradition the week of July 4th. The kids always have an incredible time (so do I), and this year was even better with the addition of my sister and nephew!
5. Blue Bell Tour in Brenham, TX. Obviously, our list was created was before their operations were shut down. We are hoping they will be back up and running before the summer is out – I miss me some Blue Bell!
6. “The Farm” – friends of ours have property in Hempstead, TX, and no trip to the farm is complete without a dip in the pool and a ride on the 4-wheelers. Check!
7. Finish summer reading challenge from the library. We’re working on it.
8. Swimming. Check, check, check! They are in one pool or another almost every day.
9. Go to the beach. Coming in August!
10. Go to Mountasia. (Putt-putt golf and go kart place.) I’ll be honest, I don’t look forward to this one in the summer. But it’s part of their summer reading rewards, so OK!
11. Take a drawing class. We took advantage of a great opportunity at our library this summer for a free drawing class. Jacob has really been enjoying it. Julianne and I hang out and read while he’s sketching.
12. Eat cookies. Every day! Our daily read-aloud time is called “Cookie Time”. We all pile on the couch with cookies, glasses of milk and great books. The den is a bit messier than usual but the kids do not want to miss a day!
13. Throw a party. I’m not sure what they have in mind for this one, but sounds fun to me!
14. All-day movie marathon. Sounds like a great post-San Antonio activity.
So that’s it! In addition to these “fun” things, I also developed a flexible daily schedule that includes chores, quiet time (for naps and/or personal reading time), read-aloud time (aka Cookie Time), and limited screen time, plus a long list of “I’m bored” activities that they can do by themselves. It’s been a great summer so far; I’ll be sad to see it come to an end.
What’s on YOUR summer bucket list? Let me know in the comments – I may need to start my 2016 list early!
This post is a little different from what I usually write on this blog, but I thought it was worth sharing. As the year winds down, I like to reflect on a couple of questions:
1. What worked last year? And
2. What didn’t?
Doing this for my business and personal life helps me restore some semblance of control at the end of a busy season and realign my goals and everyday actions with what I value most for the upcoming year. Here are a few of the things that worked for me in 2014:
Ever since ditching my Franklin Covey planner for the world of digital calendars, I’ve floundered with a good system for keeping my calendar and tasks organized. This quest has only become more difficult as children have entered the picture. This year I decided to return to the paper planner method and couldn’t be happier. While I still keep a Google calendar for my appointments (and kids’ activities), the Midori has become almost like my personal assistant for everything that runs through my brain. I love that it holds three small notebooks plus the current month of daily calendar pages.
I’m totally behind the times, I know. But it’s just been this year that I’ve harnessed the power of listening and learning while folding laundry, doing dishes, and driving. Some of my faves: After the Jump, Books on the Nightstand, Beyond the To-Do List, The Art of Simple, Read-aloud Revival, and The Accidental Creative.
Published in 2002, this book is now a classic among productivity geeks. I’ve found that as life gets more complex with more schedules to juggle and a growing photography business to run, I struggle with feeling on top of all my “open loops”. Reading this book this fall gave me hope that I can get my stuff under control and stay that way. The Weekly Review, while common sense, has really helped me face the week proactively. (A new edition is coming out this spring.)
4. Switching from daily to weekly weigh-ins
We have a scale in our bathroom, and part of my daily morning ritual has been to weigh myself every morning before my shower. It wasn’t until the battery in the scale died that I realized how this habit was affecting me. Every time the number would move up (even if only a couple of ounces), I’d start the day off feeling defeated and had a constant sense of worry (or guilt) about what was passing between my lips. Once the batteries got replaced a couple of weeks later, I discovered I’d actually LOST a couple of pounds! Not thinking about my weight every day has been surprisingly freeing – and has resulted in lower numbers.
5. Meal planning
I’ll confess I’m not as consistent at this as I’d like to be, but when I take the time to plan two weeks’ worth of meals (and the corresponding grocery lists), AND get the food into the house, there is such a sense of calm in the late afternoon and evening. I LOVE having a plan for what we’re going to eat each day and feeling good about feeding my family healthy foods. I’m loving the new Barefoot Contessa Make It Ahead cookbook for this purpose!
6. Getting crafty at home
After Reading The Nesting Place, I was inspired to add a bit of texture and whimsy to our den. This book pages wreath was the perfect thing to fill the empty spot over the TV. (She says it took about an hour to do hers. It took me five hours. Just sayin’.)
7. Subscriptions for Staples
Running out of basics like paper towels or toilet paper makes me feel like a total failure – so I put them on auto-ship with Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program. ePantry.com is another great subscription site that focuses on good-for-you-and-your-home products in the realm of home care, bath & shower, and more. Amazon automatically ships your desired items (and quantities) on your specified schedule, and ePantry sends a reminder email before your shipment so you can make any changes you want. You do NOT have to receive items every month. Now I never have to thing about buying paper towels, dish or laundry detergent, shampoo. soap, feminine products or household cleaners. LOVE!
8. Using the library
I’ve used the library before, of course, but I really relied on it a lot this year. Since there is a branch close to my photography studio in northwest Houston, it’s really easy to request a book to be delivered to my local branch and pick it up when it arrives. I also started using the e-book borrowing service for the first time – SO handy! And since I’m visiting so often, late fines have all but disappeared.
9. Implementing two inboxes in my home
This one is an offshoot of #3 above. I discovered I need an inbox for both the downstairs kitchen area (where I receive mail and school papers from the kids that need attention) and in my upstairs office. I chose a six-tray box for items that need attention downstairs, for filing, reading and a place for my meal planning items. I selected a three-tray box for upstairs. Now bills, notices, etc. aren’t slipping through the cracks like they were.
10. Tidying Up
I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up just before Christmas and have been inspired to get my house in order. This simple concept makes the decluttering process so much easier: if it doesn’t inspire joy, toss it! I’ve also converted our drawers to the author’s folding method (folding clothes into bundles and placing them on end in drawers, rather than stacking) and it truly has freed up space and made it easier to find clothes.
So what’s worked for YOU this year? Leave your wisdom in the comments!
“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.”
– Andy Roony
The muddy paw prints can drive me crazy. The hair seems like a snowstorm during shedding season (which in our house, seems to be year-round). The occasional potty accident from a senior dog can be an inconvenience. But when I’ve been gone all day, my dogs are always the first to the door, tails wagging and happy to see me…and have been for the last 13 years.
I’ve had a dog (or two) in my house as long as I’ve been alive. And if you’re like me, you may know of other pet-owning friends whose furry family members get the best of everything – food, treats, shampoo. So when EarthWise Pet Supply opened up just around the corner from me, I was delighted to have a local, woman-owned business to support that carries products I feel good about giving to my dogs. In a moment of inspiration, I spoke with the owner about creating images of their customers to decorate the store, and we were off and running! With three days of mini photo shoots, both at my studio and at Happy Dogs Day Care and Inn‘s beautiful outdoor location, there are loads of images to ramp up the “woof! woof!” factor in the store.
EarthWise carries foods that have all human-quality ingredients and are manufactured fresh-to-order, so they are not sitting in a warehouse for months. EarthWise also offers grooming service and a self-wash station that’s great for both large and small pets. When you run out of dog or cat food, or needs anything else pet-related, head on over to EarthWise Pet Supply at 22454 Tomball Pkwy., 77070. You may see one of these adorable faces on the walls!
Want to schedule a shoot for YOUR furry family member? Just use the “contact” button below the post and let’s set up YOUR pet photography session!
PS – take a peek at the video for even more photos from the shoots!
Some of you know that my annual weekend of Sand & Sea Limited Edition beach photography sessions in Galveston happens in…SEPTEMBER. I know, I know…school has started and we are all looking ahead to that first cold snap and all the fun & excitement of the upcoming fall holidays. So WHY do I go to the beach in September? My top 3 reasons:
1. It’s not crowded. The vacationers are back home and we’ll have the beach (mostly) to ourselves. The only photobombers will be seagulls and, if we’re lucky, a jumping fish!
2. The seaweed is (usually) gone. This has been a record year for seaweed in Galveston, so I can’t make promises that it will be COMPLETELY gone…but seaweed is always highest in the spring and early-to-mid summer. The beaches will definitely be cleaner than earlier in the year!
3. It’s not so miserably hot. You’ll be able to play for a bit without immediately wanting to immerse yourself into a pool of ice water.
There you have it. To book one of these sessions (Sept. 19-21), see my 2014 Sand & Sea Magazine for packages and booking details. See you at the beach!
August in Houston…some might say it’s a bit warm outside. (Others will be truthful and say it’s as scorching as an insulated room filled with 100 ovens baking cupcakes.) But with these last weeks of summery weather also comes in-CREDIBLE light. I give you Exhibit A, from last night’s family session:
I’d like to make our sweltering August just a bit more bearable for you…so here’s the What’s Hot in August special:
Schedule your Classic or Storybook session in August and receive a free pack of custom-designed holiday cards ($75 value). (Don’t know the difference between a Classic and Storybook session? Check out my Family & Kids Portrait Magazine to find out which session type is right for you.) These are not your run-of-the-mill cards. The design and colors are chosen especially for your family’s aesthetic and images from your session, and the paper stock is thick, creamy and oh-so-luxurious.
AND, when your order totals $950 or more (pre-tax), you’ll also get a FREE 4×8 accordion book ($149 value) featuring an assortment of images from your session. (It makes a great stocking stuffer for grandparents.)
Pretty sweet deal, right? But if that’s not enough, the first three people to book their August sessions will also receive a $100 studio credit toward your order. That’s your reward for reading all the way to the end. So use that contact button just below and let’s get your session on the calendar!