I became a mom this year. This week as my first Mother’s Day approached, I thought a lot about the first time a boy broke my heart. Not the boy, not the moment, but the feeling. And not my feelings – my mom’s. I can’t even imagine how hard it was for her to see her little girl with tears in her eyes asking questions she couldn’t answer. Back then I thought she was just trying to cheer me up. I honestly didn’t think much about it from her point of view. I appreciated it of course. But I didn’t realize that she was hurting too, in fact it’s quite possible that her pain was worse. I know this now because I’m a mother now. And my heart hurts a little everytime my daughter cries. I can’t imagine how much it will hurt the first time someone is mean to her on the playground or the first time a boy breaks her heart.  I would walk through fire to protect her if I could. The world can be a scary place when you are a mom. I was always aware that there are bad people out there (I read the news and I’ve seen my share of Lifetime movies). But now that I’m a mom, the awareness reaches a whole new level. It all makes sense now. Now I understand why my mom was so nervous the first time I got in the car with a teen driver. How scary! I don’t think I will ever be ready for that one.

But I also know something else now, how truly amazing the world is. How a baby is without a doubt, a miracle. There is no other word for it. This little girl, part of me, part of my husband came into our lives just a few short months ago, and we LOVE her beyond any measurable amount. I would do anything for her. She is my happiness. If I have a bad day, her smile takes everything else away. The sound of her giggle reminds me that nothing else really matters in this world. When you become a parent you get to see the world through your child’s eyes.. You get to relive all of those moments and experiences again. As cliche as this will sound- you get to stop and smell the flowers or watch the birds because that what makes her happy. And all I want to do is make her happy. My mom (and dad) sacrificed a lot for us. My mom was a stay at home mom. She didn’t have expensive jewelry and we didn’t take lavish vacations. We ran through the sprinkler in the backyard (until that magical day we got a pool), we gardened, did art projects, we played games around the coffee table (I remember a lot of Memory), we read books (Baby Dear), watched Hayley Mills movies (That Darn Cat, The Parent Trap, Pollyanna and Summer Magic), went antiquing, toured model homes and decorator show-houses, we danced in the kitchen while we loaded the dishwasher and we played hide and go seek. It was fun for me and now I understand how much fun it was for her too!

I now know how truly rewarding it must be to watch your daughter grow up. I know how truly excited she was for me when I was accepted to the college I wanted to attend. I can now fully grasp how hard it must have been when I announced I was moving to Baltimore after college graduation. I know how happy she was for me when she met the man I’d spend the rest of my life with and the little girl that is my every happiness.

My mom has been here four times since my daughter was born. Mom was here when my baby made her entrance into the world. She was here for 10 days when my husband went back to work and she was here the day I went back to work. That was a hard day. My mom knew it would be and her being here, made it a little easier.  She has been amazing. It’s hard to be so far away from her and I am so thankful for our FaceTime chats.

So today mom I want to say:  Thank you for being my constant cheerleader, my shoulder to cry on, and a safe place where I can always share ideas and never feel judged. Thank you for sharing your greatest possession with me, your time! Mom, you have helped shape me into the strong woman I have become and the mother I am today.

Yes it’s true, I have always known that my mother loves me. But it wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I realized how much. Thank you mom for everything. I love you so much. I am blessed to call you mom. My daughter is lucky to have you as a Grammy because you are fun, because you are talented and because through your actions, you taught her mommy how to be the best mom in the world! Happy Mother’s Day! I love you! xoxo

It was such a pleasure to take pictures of this lovely family. “G” family it was wonderful meeting you. I hope you love your sneak peek.

 

I spent some time with this sweet family last Thursday evening. Big sister was such a sweetie and she knew just how to make baby “Z” laugh and smile. Mom and dad did a great job. “M” family I hope that you enjoy your sneak peek!

 

I had such a fun day at the lake with this family.  This little boy was such a treat to photograph and just spend time with. And his parents were really sweet as well!

 

 

 

Welcome Spring! What a beautiful family. Need I say more?

 

Twins are so much fun! These boys were no exception. I had a blast photographing this sweet family. I’ve always thought that it would be great to have twins. And if they were anything like these two, I’d be blessed. They were so relaxed and comfortable with me being there. I think they liked my tripod more than they liked me, but I’ll take what I can get…:) “D” family, it was such a pleasure meeting you guys. I will see you soon for your session premiere. Enjoy our sneak peek!

~in-joy,

Melissa

“E” Family sneak peek. What a great family. Full of energy and love. This mom and dad know how to work together as a team which was actually one of my favorite things to watch during this session. With a one, a three and a five year old, I’m sure you need that. And these two definitely have it. These boys made us work for our pictures. But I think we still got some cute ones. They were super sweet and were excited to get out and run a little despite the cold…ah to be that young again. “E” family , it was so great meeting you. I hope you enjoy your sneak peek! See you soon for your premiere night!

In~joy!

Melissa

It’s that time of year…time to decorate the house and put up the tree. It’s no secret that I love taking photos. But what I love more than taking photos, is taking holiday photos. It’s such an awesome time of year. Everyone is excited and it makes for some great photos. And how about the magic of the holidays. For me the magic is illuminated in those little twinkling lights on my tree. But the big question I often hear is how do you take the photos of the lights on the tree? Here’s a quick guide to how I take these photos.

1. TURN OFF YOUR FLASH! This is very important. We are going to be shooting without it!

2. Turn down the lights and don’t use any overhead lights

3. Set your ISO low to avoid any graniness in your image

4. Set your aperture high F/11-F/16 (play around with wih this to find the style you like0

5. Choose a slow shutter speed (2 seconds works well for me)

6. Use your tripod and your timer to prevent camera shake (Camera shake happens at slow shutter speeds and ceates a motion blur you do not want)

7. Set the camera on our timer and click the shutter.

*If you don’t have a tripod, you can use a book or table to stabilize the camera.

 

Here’s an example:

 

But don’t stop here. Get creative. Here’s an example of a photo I took with a low aperture. This is called shooting wide open. I focussed on the foreground to make sure that my background (the tree) was nice and blurred. Photographers call this yummy blur Bokeh. I love the way the tree looks this way.  The settings for this photo were

ISO 100

Aperture 4.0 (If you can shoot wider, go for it but for the purposes of this tutorial I am sticking with a more standard aperture)

Shutter Speed: Half a Second

 

How about family photos in front of the tree? 

Have fun with this! This is your family and you are one of a kind. Let that shine through in your photos. Maybe dress the family in pajamas or if you are doing a Christmas thank you card, let the kids pose with their favorite gifts from Santa.

Consider what you wear. Don’t blend into the tree. Wear pale or bold colors to pop. My clients know that I advise against match matchy. You are all individuals, stand out, don’t blend into the background.  Choose a color and coordinate everyone’s clothing around it. Make sure to break up similar or same colors like I did here.

 

If you want a more artsy look, put your family 5-6 feet infront of the tree and focus on them so that the tree is blurry and the lights make the shape of the tree. It’s super fun.

Survival Tips (Based on experience, trust me) :)

1. Set up your scene and camera before you introduce kids, pets and husbands into the mix

2. Use your timer so that you avoid camera shake and so that you get in the picture

3. Practice

4. Have fun!

 

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A little change of pace from the usual. My awesome family – to be loves Halloween! Every year my fiance Clint and I, Clint’s aunt and uncle and his mom and stepdad decorate my future mother and father in law’s backyard with a fun theme and watch scary movies while enjoying the fire and some yummy food and drink. The best part of it all is getting together a few weeks before to decorate. We go all out! This year I was a bit busy and didn’t get a chance to decorate with them. That definitely made me sad. But they did such a great job I had to show it off here!  This year’s theme was the graveyard! Great job guys. Love you!

The scary movie we watched was “Exit Humanity“. Actually surprisingly a no name movie that was very good. It was a zombie movie and followed the experiences of a confederate soldier. – So that’s why the guy at the end is dressed like that…:) My future mother in law created him and also found the movie.

Clint also did a great job carving our first pumpkin of the season. More of that to come!

Clint’s uncle Joe made the best tasing witch fingers I’ve ever had (chocolate covered pretzel rods)

And as always, Clint’s aunt Maria (The Sign Lady) did an awesome job with the annual banner. If you need any kind of banners, signs or lettering on your car, truck or boat, she is your lady. Check her out here.

It was a great night and the best part was that Clint’s stepdad was back with us after spending more than 3 months in the hospital. He did tell us he’d be home in time for our movie night. And he was right!