The last few families to squeeze in a session for Christmas cards in December. These are the slackers! Just kidding. (kinda…)
So let’s start with the Dolce family. It’s so awesome to grow with a family and see how their babies change. Frank (the hubby in these pictures) and my husband are good childhood friends so we had them over for breakfast at our house before I took them out for their family session. It is essential to fill up on a good, hearty meal before venturing out in the woods for pictures! Plus, if little Nico gets used to seeing me, then he’ll work the camera for me later on, which he absolutely did! His big, fun, and wild little boy personality completely shown through during our time outside!
So the next family I met was the Matthews Family! They are the sweetest family and they moved up here from Texas. They wanted to have a session that showed the North Carolina landscape which, I assume, is different from back where they came from! So, a paid afternoon to walk around hiking trails in the woods? Yes please! Oh, and also? Their two adorable children were so sweet and fun plus their two little Dachshunds tagged along. One was a few months old and his little brother who was practically the size of my hand and they stole my heart. I tried getting them to sneak into my car when we left the Nature Park, but then I realized they’d probably be missed.
I was also let in on a little secret (which isn’t a secret anymore at this point) so see if you can figure it out from one of the images below! 🙂
Last but not least; the Crocker family! Like a lot of country lovers, they wanted to utilize our 1950 truck for their pictures, but Mr. Ralph doesn’t move at the moment so they came over to my house. All day Debbie and I were texting because the weather was a little iffy. There wasn’t any real precipitation predicted to come until late in the evening, and we were shooting for around 3:00. But after watching the skies, I told her it may be better to start at 1:00 because it would be cloudy all day and it’s better to do a cloudy session early in the afternoon when it’s still bright. So they headed out and literally as soon as I met them at location #1, it started to sprinkle. I assumed it was a passing cloud so we decided to just go for it. We got out of our cars, we took some really cute pictures and less than 10 minutes into it, the sprinkling had turned in to rain. So we rushed back to our cars and drove to my house. I figure it was still a passing shower, so while we waited I put on some football and brought out the chips and salsa and we hung out for a little bit. After checking the radar, I saw that the forecast had completely changed and it wasn’t going to let up at all. I felt so bad because they drove almost 45 minutes here just to have pictures of our truck. I tried thinking of ways to go outside but stay out of the rain, but it just didn’t seem like it would work. But instead of being discouraged, Jaime, Debbie and Kaylee were like, “screw it! let’s go outside!”. So outside we went. I stood with an umbrella and they got all kinds of wet. I need to give props to the Crocker family for not caring at all and making the most of the situation! I wish the sky could have cooperated but it was still fun way to end the session!
Like I stated in my last post (I hope you’re reading these in order!) I love real Christmas trees. Stemming from my family’s tradition of cutting down our tree every year, plus my love of farms, I decided that I really wanted to offer mini sessions at a Christmas tree farm when I went back up north to MA for Thanksgiving. Down where I live in coastal NC, tree farms are virtually nonexistent but up where I come from they are as abundant as the Waffle House is down here. Anytime I go to Massachusetts there’s always a list of friends that want to see me. Unfortunately, every time I do make it up there, my schedule is always jam-packed with people to see and things to do that I don’t always have the extra time to see everyone. So I figured if I offer mini sessions, it will give me the time to see everyone, plus get them their Christmas photos they all wanted! So around mid-September I started calling around to farms in Western MA to see if anyone would let me use their land. One of them got back to me, and it was a little farm named Allen Tree Farm in Westfield where I went to college!
The only non-ideal thing about this session was my only free time was on a Saturday morning between 8 and 10:00. After that, my husband and I were headed 3 hours away to Cape Cod for a wedding that afternoon. So my time was very limited and I was only able to get three families in (plus one more that my mother so graciously accepted to shoot that afternoon since I could not!) but these three families are my friends so I was super excited about that! Anyone who knows anything about outdoor photography knows that any time but Golden Hour is not an ideal to shoot portraits unless it’s cloudy or there is ample shade. Well, that morning was chilly but not a cloud in the sky! It proved a little difficult, but I brought my Christmas music with me and we jingled all the way through the morning! Or you could say, we rocked around those Christmas trees! (I could keep going if you want me to…)
I can’t thank the DeBonee, Ramos and Gabriel families enough for driving out to Westfield for a brief rendezvous with me! Oh, and props to Ashley (the last session) who still came even though she was in a half-leg cast and hobbling on crutches from a very bad motorcycle accident!
I kept going back and forth about offering mini sessions for Christmas this year. The upside to doing it, is I can get more family sessions done in a shorter span of time and after a huge rush last year, I decided that mini sessions were probably a good idea. So now my only obstacle was deciding on what to do! I love getting creative and I love design. I also love Christmas trees. I thought of an idea to bring a Christmas tree to the beach and let families decorate it. I contacted the town to make sure it was okay first, then I put my plan into action. I was doing the mini sessions about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. I knew that I saw trees at Walmart before Thanksgiving last year so I was hoping and praying it would be the weekend that I was planning on. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. The trees arrived a week later so I was forced to buy a fake one. Oh, the horror! For those of you who don’t know, I grew up going to awesome Christmas tree farms with my family to get our tree. We would always go the first Sunday of December, after church, hunt for the perfect tree, cut it down ourselves and bring it home to make our house smell amazing. So I have never and will never own a fake tree. But when I set it up in my house before bringing it to the beach, I was like, “wow, this is so pretty!” ….maybe having one isn’t so bad!
After a few last minute cancellations I had three families come to me that day to the beach on Oak Island. Each session was so much fun! I played my Christmas music playlist while they decorated and one family brought their own hot chocolate to drink after they decorated! I loved that idea, I actually meant to do the same but completely forgot! Though, the day certainly wasn’t Christmas and hot chocolate weather! They were forecasting temps in the upper 50s, but with my experience, they’re always off by a few degrees, so I thought it was going to be colder. I told everyone to bundle up just in case, and it ended up being 65 degrees!
Afterwards, I just sat and enjoyed the view of the tree all decorated, on the beach at sunset. It was too pretty to take down! Here’s the Best Family, the Boldt Family and then the Morris Family!
Kate and Mike were expecting their first child in the New Year so we planned their maternity/Christmas card session just before Thanksgiving! This session is pretty much one of my favorites so far because we literally went all over Wilmington to get different shots. As a result, there are probably a dozen beautiful backdrops for this beautiful couple. Downtown Wilmington is so beautiful, the lighting was gorgeous, and of course Mike and Kate themselves are a model couple. As I was shooting them I kept swooning over what I was seeing on the back of my camera. Sometimes I wish I could clone myself and hire myself to take pictures of me and my husband. This is just one of those examples. 🙂
So Kate and Mike came up with the game plan and I happily tagged along. They live and love the historic downtown Wilmington area so they knew they wanted pictures done there. Kate also wanted pictures across the Cape Fear River, at the Battleship Park with Wilmington in the background. Due to lighting and traffic at that time of day, we started across the river first and walked around Battleship Park getting all kinds of beautiful shots. Then we went back over to Wilmington to get some pictures on the Riverwalk. We parked two streets over from a beautiful, quiet cobblestone side street so I suggested we start there then come down to the Riverwalk for sunset.
I keep forgetting that women are pregnant when I do maternity sessions. Not being a mom myself has proven that I just don’t know what it’s like to carry around that extra weight, on my bladder, while trying to look cute in heels. So while I suggested we do all this extra walking (up and down hills!) Kate happily obliged and didn’t complain once about being uncomfortable! (well, only once, when I had her lay down on a concrete sidewalk. Like I said, I forget that women are pregnant during these sessions…) We ended the session right at sunset and it was a beautiful evening! I congratulated them but mainly her for being such a trooper and walking all over Wilmington with me. I think it was worth it because these pictures are gorgeous! 🙂
This next round of families are both very near and dear to my heart; one is family and one is like family and I’ve watched these kids grow so much in the last few years!
I met the Lake family at one of my favorite places to visit and have a session; Fort Fisher. It was a beautiful fall day, one of those that was finally starting to get a chill in the air. Road construction was happening on the road that I wanted to take some pictures at and at first I was a little let down that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. But then I looked towards the work trucks and saw that they were creating a big wall of dust that when it hit the sunlight through the trees did something magical! So I told them if they could get over the smell of new pavement being burned and poured, let’s start there!
The lighting was beyond beautiful through the whole session, as it always is at Fort Fisher. There were a few melt downs (I’m not naming names… ;)) but I was definitely able to get a few good ones!
For the Pridgeon family, we met at the Wilmington Arboretum. I had never been there before, but what a neat place! It’s definitely a great place to spend some time with family and children and the best part is they are dog friendly!
It was mid-November and another near 80 degree day. Didn’t Mother Nature know we needed to take Christmas pictures? Humid, mid 70’s and flannel do not mix. But again, you would never know warm it was by these pictures! We walked around the whole arboretum taking pictures, bribed poses with gold fish (for both Sadie and Nate!) stopped for some play time and left with some great candid shots of this beautiful family!
I had two sessions in early November that weren’t really Christmas themed in any way but they kicked off my Christmas card season which is always my favorite time of the year! They also both took advantage of our old 1950 truck that’s parked in our backyard. Good ol’ Ralph is getting a pretty good modeling career out of being a 66 years old!
First up was Liza, Nate and their fur baby Smoltz. Back in I think, September, Liza and I made plans to have the session at my house to use my truck then I came up with a grand idea to end the session with a bon fire and roasting marshmallows. It all sounded all kinds of cute and dandy and I even planned on that being our Christmas card this year.
So now comes the day of the session where it’s supposed to be cold for Christmas time and perfect bonfire weather, and good ol’ North Carolina decided to give us 80 degrees and probably 99% humidity. Nothing says Christmas in Dixie like bundling up for summertime weather! Poor Nate was sweating while starting the fire and we were being eating alive by mosquitoes! But through it all they kept a happy spirit, kept their layers on, sat by the fire, and gave me adorable pictures! Just look at them! You would never know it was beach weather that day! 🙂
So the second session was the Morris family and it was a family/first birthday combo session. Remember Caswell’s first debut to the world? Yeah, well, now she’s one year old and she’s taking the world by storm with her new found ability to stand and her dazzling, wide-open smile!
This session was a tad bit colder and with a threat of rain coming, it was the better day for a bon-fire and marshmallows. And you can always count on Cammie to have everyone dressed in perfect Southern coordination!