Beach Days Are Back
It's hard to believe that only weeks ago I was posting my first Life in 52 post about our record snow fall here in Charleston. Although it's technically still winter, we had beautiful sunny days with temperatures in the upper 70s all week.
It. Has. Been. Glorious.
You'll often hear people complaining about the heat and humidity here in Charleston, SC. I've been known to grumble and complain on occasion myself (mostly during the 2 summers when I was pregnant), but I wouldn't trade it to live anywhere else.
I've only experienced real snow that actually stuck to the ground 3 or 4 times in my life. Because it's such a rare occurrence, it's always so exciting and fun.... for about 2 days. After that, I'm OVER IT. Maybe if I lived somewhere where snow was more common, I wouldn't feel that way because we'd be better equipped to handle the snow. However, I just don't enjoy the cold weather. My already dry skin becomes downright painful, and all I want to do is stay inside and eat all the unhealthy comfort food I can find.
I guess it's a good thing the cold weather usually only lasts a short time around here. We usually have beach appropriate weather from February until November - and there's no such thing as too many beach days.
I took my kids to the beach for the first time in 2018 this week. It was a bit of a spur of the moment decision. We checked the forecast - 0% chance of rain. Perfect. I loaded the kids and our beach cart in my minivan and headed to Isle of Palms. When we arrived, it was raining. So much for that 0%.
Little pop-up rain storms are very common, so I knew to just wait it out. I had packed plenty of snacks for the kids, so I kept them satiated with food for about 10 or 15 minutes until the rain passed. After that, the sun was back and the weather was PERFECT.
The water was still a little too chilly to play in, but that didn't stop Bug. She repeatedly ran back and forth to the water filling buckets for the moat around her sand castle. Bubba excitedly ran towards the water once, but as soon as that cold water touched his toes, he cried and ran the other way. He was much happier sitting in the sand, digging holes, and burying his toys.
I didn't bring my "big girl camera" to the beach that day. I just wanted to enjoy the sand and the sun with my babies without always looking for that perfect shot. However, you can't NOT document the first beach day of the year! This week's lifestyle photography challenge photo is actually just an iPhone photo. Not my most professional or artistic work, but a photo I treasure just the same.
See more from the Life in 52 challenge here.
I've heard it said that October is to photographers as April is to accountants. It makes perfect sense. The cooler temperatures, beautiful fall colors, and stunning sunsets are a photographer's dream. Plus, it's the perfect time of year for new family portraits just in time for holiday cards to be printed!
I must say, however, that October is a little different for photographers here in Charleston, SC. The weather cools down some, but temperatures in the upper 80s to low 90s are still very common. Days at the beach are a regular occurrence and the leaves usually stay green.
I still love October though. I can feel the holidays coming, and I'm still a huge kid when it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas. We also have plenty of great fall activities in Charleston, despite the fact that it still feels like summer most of the time. My family stayed busy all month, and instead of overwhelming my blog readers with tons of individual personal posts, I decided to combine them all into one highlight reel.
We started October with my little man's first haircut. Whenever I write about my children, I always refer to them by their nicknames, and my son bears the most quintessential southern boy nickname possible: Bubba. My sweet Bubba had the most beautiful blonde curls, but for some reason, everyone else seemed to think it was more mullet than precious baby curls. I finally agreed to allow my husband to take Bubba to the barber shop next time he had his own hair cut as long as he didn't complain when I showed up with camera in hand. I have absolutely no problem being that mom.
I have a love/hate relationship with this haircut. He looks like a little boy now without his little baby curls, but he's so stinking cute that it's hard not to love it.
Every October, we also make plans to visit the Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch with friends. On the weekends, the pumpkin patch has food and a petting zoo in addition to all of the other wonderful activities. However, I usually choose to go during the week. Aside from a few school field trips, the crowd is much smaller and less overwhelming for my small children. We still have a wonderful time with plenty of opportunities for play.
The biggest event for our family each October is Bug's birthday! Since she turned 5 this year, we decided to make it an extra special birthday. We had a party with friends and family at our house, but I have almost no pictures! I was in "hostess" mode the entire time. A few days after her party, I took Bug to the beach for a special birthday photo session. I always get pictures of my kids for their birthdays each year, either by hiring another professional photographer or doing them myself. This year I had something special in mind that I really wanted to photograph on my own.
I started with more traditional portraits in a white dress that were all for me, but then I switched to something all about her. Bug is obsessed with mermaids. She has a mermaid bookbag for school and requested that we make her room in our new house mermaid themed. I couldn't resist the opportunity to make her into a mermaid for her birthday. The joy in her face in these photos is so real. She giggled pretty much the entire time and asked if people walking by might think she was a real mermaid.
To top off a pretty awesome birthday week, my mom and I took Bug on a little road trip on her actual birthday. We headed to pick up my niece and then drove on to Charlotte, NC to visit the American Girl store. Again, I had planned to take pictures of the girls in the store, but I was a little overwhelmed in that place. Plus, I had to rein in the birthday girl who was making plans to buy every. single. thing. she saw.
After Bug spent every penny of her birthday money, we met up with some friends of mine who live in Charlotte for a birthday dinner at The Cheesecake Factory before heading back to our hotel. My mom found a hotel that partners with the American Girl store to provide a "pink package" to guests. All the bedding and towels had been switched to pink as well as the alarm clock and trash cans. Each of the girls also received a bag with a bed, robe, and slippers for their dolls to keep and a couple of giant chocolate chip cookies.
When we got home, it was time to get ready for Halloween. Bug decided she wanted to be Moana this year. That was easy enough because she already owns a Moana dress up costume. Since this will likely be my last year with full decision-making rights on Bubba's costume, I decided to dress him as Maui to go with his big sister. I found a cute Maui pajama set on Amazon and used my crafty skills to create a wig and fish hook. I was worried he wouldn't wear the wig, but he was perfect!
Now that October is over, I'm looking forward to the fall weather finally making its way here to Charleston. Plus, I'm allowed to talk about Christmas occasionally without constantly getting side-eye from friends and family.
What was your favorite part of October? Did you dress up for Halloween? Your kids? Tell me about it in the comments!
What To Expect: Portrait Sessions
The What to Expect series on my blog is an overview of the different types of sessions I offer and what you can expect from the experience. Other posts in this series include:
Fresh 48 Sessions
Although I chose to specialize in birth and fresh 48 photography, I really enjoy portrait photography as well. My favorite portraits are those that come from ongoing relationships with my clients - taking maternity portraits and then being present when the baby growing in that sweet bump is born or seeing a baby from a fresh 48 session grow throughout their first year. I love capturing families as they grow and change over the months and years.
I have two options for portrait sessions: the Mini and the Full. They are both great options for all types of portraits; the difference really boils down to the length of your session and the variety of options presented in the gallery at the end.
A mini session is 30-minutes on location. These sessions are ideal for seasonal/holiday photos, baby milestones, children's birthdays, pregnancy announcements and gender reveals. Minis are also available for family or maternity portraits, but photo options are more limited by the time available.
Full sessions are one hour on location. These sessions are perfect for any client looking for more variety from their portraits. Because we have more time, we are able to include an outfit change if desired and possibly a change in location if another option is close.
I sometimes have clients ask which type of session is best for families with young children, and my answer honestly depends on the family. Some children are excited to take photos and are very cooperative at the beginning, but by the end of the session they're tired and ready to be done. In those cases, I think a mini session would be appropriate. On the other hand, some children take time to warm up to me and a longer session gives them time to get comfortable and pose well for photos. You know your family best, and I am happy to talk it through with you to decide which option might be best.
Once a client has chosen the type of session they want and paid the retainer fee to secure their date/time, I send an email with an overview of what time to arrive and some suggestions for choosing outfit(s). Sometime in the week before the session, I will consult with clients by email, phone, or text - whichever is easiest for them - to go over any final details and answer any questions. I am also available if they need help choosing what to wear! It's not uncommon for clients to text a photo of some options and ask for my help and opinions. I want them to love their photos, so I am always willing to help choose a location and clothing that will make the portraits look their absolute best.
The day of the session has arrived. Everyone is dressed and ready. Now what?
I usually plan to arrive early to walk around, even if it's a location I have used before, just to make sure there are no surprises waiting. I also prefer to be unpacked and set up, so clients don't have to wait on me when they arrive. If children are involved in the session, I usually take a few minutes to introduce myself and talk to them to help them feel more comfortable with me.
The flow of the session depends on each client and their family dynamics and what they want from their portraits. However, I usually include the same four prompts within each session.
Posed Group Portraits
These are what most people think of when they hear the word "portraits." Everyone placed in a specific spot, looking at the camera, and smiling.
These are more active photos. I encourage clients to walk together, tickle, dance, or move in some way. These portraits usually show more geniune smiles and the relationships between family members.
These are similar to traditional posed portraits, but instead of the whole family/group being included, these are individual photos of each person or smaller combinations of family members.
No matter what form a portrait session takes, I always end my sessions the same way: PLAY!
These are often my favorite photos from a session. This is when personalities really shine. I take whatever time is left at the end of a session, and I encourage clients to just let loose! If we are at the beach, go splash in the water. At a park, clients will chase each other or pick flowers or whatever comes most naturally to them.
Once the session is over, I try to post a couple of sneak peeks on my Facebook and Instagram accounts as I edit over the next few days, and the gallery is delivered within 2 weeks.
Contact me today to plan your next portrait session. I would love to work with you!
Have you ever had a portrait session? What were your favorite photos? Posed or Playful? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Beach Maternity Portraits
One of the many perks of living in Charleston, SC is the access to so many beautiful beaches. There is no shortage of gorgeous ocean views in this area. However, there's one stretch of beach that holds a special place in my heart. I have memories from my teenage years of sitting on the rocks with friends talking about nothing and everything. It's a quiet stretch of beach with a spectacular view.
When Allie contacted me about taking maternity portraits, I knew this would be the perfect place.
Allie and I went to Winthrop University together. She is a teacher in the upstate and was planning a vacation to Charleston and Hilton Head with her husband, Andrew, and her son, Liam. She asked if I would take beach maternity portraits for her while she was in town. Having recently finished my photography certification program, I jumped at the opportunity to use some of my new knowledge.
We started with some posed family portraits on the rocks. I loved what they chose to wear because they all coordinate without being super "matchy."
Liam did a great job listening to my directions and suggestions, but he eventually started getting restless (as all kids do). We let him take a break while I took some photos of mom alone. We did convince him to run back in and give his baby brother a quick kiss though.
My favorite part of every beach portrait session comes at the end. That's when it's time to get wet! The family takes a walk in the water. Kids get to splash and get wet. My favorite photos almost always come from the spontaneous moments the waves bring.
I only wish I lived closer to this family so I could photograph this sweet new baby boy on the outside too!
Do you have a favorite beach spot? Tell me about it in the comments!