This storytelling session has long been on my heart. I first met Diana a few years ago when we visited her Bucks county in-home Waldorf school one September day. I fell in love with their lovely land, their quaint, cozy home, and the beautiful simplicity and intentionality of their family life. I was delighted to return earlier this October to capture a small snippet of their life at home together. We spent from afternoon into evening together and I observed as they went about their activities: watercolor painting, kneading dough together for the pizza, gathering goldenrod to make homemade fabric dye, feeding their fluffy bunny, playing in their forest, picnicking pizza by a campfire and dying fabric, and playing guitar together before heading in for bedtime rituals. What a joy to tell their story of family life.
When most people think of extended family sessions, they think of white shirts and denim and lots of stress to organize rows of family members and attempts to get all 12 people to say cheese. Maybe that's why families only do these like once in their lives ever?!
Documentary family photography means everyone can just BE themselves, come as they are, hang out, wear whatever they usually wear, and you come away with a collection of images that tell the story of your family in this season of life. Part crazy, chaotic, part quiet and connected. We have time to capture the children in their rooms, surrounded by their beloved stuffies or pile of Legos, along with the meaningful relationships between extended family members.
The Garcia family is a fabulous bunch that starts with 5 brothers who all are grown and have their own families and mostly live local. About monthly they get together for family brunch. They mix up some pancakes and eggs, brew some coffee, and hangout. They share a meal, light saber fight, tickles, play music and games together, draw or color with the kids. I was so touched by the loving way this family connected. The kids are so lucky to have all these aunts and uncles in their lives. I hope you love this story of a Sunday morning with the Garcia crew as much as I do!
Custom designed albums tell your family story. Fine art museum archival prints make a statement in your home.
After all of my sessions clients have the option of me helping them to select fine art products to complete their digital portrait package. I believe in the power of the printed image and I believe in a finished job for my clients. Most of us are so busy we just never get around to designing that gallery wall that Pinterest makes us think is soooooo easy. Few of us take the time to design a storybook album with our beautiful images, because honestly, it can take forever and be overwhelming to decide which images to include and how to lay them all out.
I work with clients to find out how they want to display their images, and then I design it for them! I can show you what a gallery wall would look like and what arrangement fits best in your space. I can even deliver your prints matted and framed so you don't have to do a thing to get them off the hard drive and onto the walls.
I recently started offering these beautiful torn-edge and matted prints that are printed by a boutique lab on museum cotton paper. They are THICK and they are unique. They make such a bold statement whether just framed and displayed on a side table, or framed large for the wall. Either way you choose, they are going to be a conversation piece and draw people right in. A beautiful linen-covered coffee table album is another beautiful way to highlight the whole session, and assure that you actually get to revisit and enjoy all of the amazing images in your gallery, rather than forgetting about them except for the few that make it onto the Christmas card.
Of course my clients are not forced to purchase products from me, but I sure love it when they do because I offer options you cannot get elsewhere, and it means you don't have to worry about what to do with your images after the session. I love receiving these finished products in the mail to review before re-packaging and sending them off to my beloved client families. It makes me happy that our session fulfilled a bigger purpose than just a few shared images on social media.
"We recently invited AnneMarie to photograph our growing family as we welcomed our second son into our home. She was not only professional but more importantly she was such a personable and friendly woman who made our session fun. I love how she was attentive to our two year old son who was not always the most cooperative, but she managed to put him at ease long enough to capture many beautiful moments. It was also a fabulous decision to have her assistance with selecting photos. I loved physically sorting through the photos rather than just simply viewing them online. I also loved how she was able to show us different gallery arrangements for our wall spaces. Our experience was wonderful and we highly recommend her services." - Kristen A.
When this family first contacted me a few weeks ago about doing a Lehigh Valley documentary session with their three-year old and 4 month-old boys, I was beyond excited. They are moving this week to the midwest for work and wanted a candid way to remember their Coopersburg home where their boys have grown up.
I think documentary sessions are the perfect way to keep that story of early childhood alive. A keepsake album of pictures from your home, their toys and favorite books tell such a rich story that traditional portraits leave out. My boys moved from Maryland to Lehigh Valley Pa when they were just 4 and 2, and their memories are already fading from that house where they grew up and the surrounding neighborhood. But they still talk about their favorite park and remember certain features of it. I wish I had though to make an album of our daily life there before we moved.
If you are interested in a documentary photography session in Lehigh Valley PA or surrounding areas, please reach out! This is a fabulous way to bring to life childhood milestones and all the upcoming holiday traditions.
Are you interested in my pricing for a documentary session? Please have a look at what I offer and let me know if you have any questions!
Together we rise.
This is a visual love story between a mother and child, of their bond that is as certain as the sun rising and setting day after day.
This truly was the kind of Life Story session that I dream about. It was authentic, full of raw emotions and universal expressions of motherhood. This storytelling session candidly portrays the daily rituals of a mother and babe at the end of the busy workday, running home from daycare to spend some quality time together before bedtime.
When Allison contacted me about doing a documentary session, she had a really special request: that it didn't end with bedtime so that we could capture the special time she shares with Enzo as they wake together each morning. We agreed for me to stay over so that I could be there come dawn to capture their waking moments, snuggled in bed, nursing and playing before beginning another hectic workday.
If you would be interested in having a part of your daily life captured through my lens, please contact me to book. I am available for limited travel sessions. I am offering a discount on Life Story documentary sessions that are booked and shot during the month of August.
Fair warning: If you get squeamish about the feminine figure, and mothers nursing their babes, then you might want to close right out of this post. This is a very intimate portrayal of motherhood- the daily rituals of caring for a baby, nursing to sleep, and nursing upon waking.
What kind of life story would you like us to tell during our session?
These images are mainly for me. I want real snapshots of our life together.
We start with getting home, checking the mail together, changing into play clothes to go outside.
We go sit at the pool, on the lawn, or sit on our porch and read a book.
We take a bath, sing/dance, brush mommy's teeth and read before breast feeding and bed.
Why is it important to you to document this particular life story? What do these images of your everyday family life mean to you?
This is the hardest most amazing chapter of my life so far. When I'm not busy working, folding laundry and contemplating our life together, I'm trying to be incredibly present to him. I'm so in awe of this motherhood journey, but haven't documented it as well as I'd like to. I have very few images of us together, and sadly, most of them are selfies. Although I'm busying myself trying to build a life for us, I don't want to lose sight of the value of savoring the quiet, intimate moments of our life, too. I'm trying to capture this chapter before he's all grown up.
I feel these images deep in my core. Allison and I chatted about where we're at in life, and she asked me a really good question: What does living the fullest life look like for me? I had no answer for that question at the moment but it's one to really sit with for a while. After spending the past few days working with this story, I realized I am already living it. I need to remember that :) Creating art out of the beauty of motherhood, childhood, and family life feels very much like living this life to the fullest.
Would you like an authentic, documentary photography session with me? Please contact me for details. I am available for travel for Life Story sessions.
It's my favorite time of year! I have so many fond memories of strawberry picking with my mom from the time I was an infant on through adulthood. My mom would jam enough berries to last a year of my PBJ sandwiches. I carry on the tradition with our kids, who especially love toast with butter and jam for breakfast.
We went to Trauger's Farm Market today which is just a pretty country drive away from home. It has been so cold and rainy I didn't expect too much out of the picking yet, but I figured we'd give it a shot since the kids were kind of bored at home today. We were so surprised by how fast the picking was! My kids have never picked so many berries in record speed! (The rock candy treat from their market store was a handy incentive ;) ).
If you are interested in making jam, I suggest trying Pomona's Universal Pectin instead of the grocery store brands available because it allows you to reduce the sugar by 50% or more. I've been using Pomona's for years now, and it is amazing. Our jam tastes like actual fresh berries rather than refined sugar. You can find it at Wegmans, Whole Foods, or on Amazon :) I'm not a Pomona's rep or anything, I just like to share my experience with something different. And guess what? I called their hotline last night while making the jam with a question about one of the recipes I'd never tried before, and today a real human being called me back and talked to me to troubleshoot! How awesome is that?!
I hope you get out and enjoy some berry picking with your family! According to Trauger's Farm, they should be out through the month of June.
And lastly, a little tip if you enjoy photographing your family's adventures as I do: I like to go strawberry picking on a cloudy day. The colors pop so much more and otherwise, it is usually harsh mid-day sun and there are so many shadows on the kid's faces.
SUN! At long last! My kids acted like it was summer. My boys came home from our errands and put on shorts and t-shirts even though it was only 50 degrees. They ran for hours at the park while Josephine did her best to ride the giant hand-me-down scooter that she's been dying to learn to ride. I chatted with one of my besties and we made pictures because who could resist that light after weeks of fog and clouds.
Do you love my work? I am now booking storytelling sessions to capture the beauty of your family's day-to-day. I'd love to plan a session with you!
When it's 50 degrees out in January, I declare that we head out for a treat from Yum Yum Bakeshops in Quakertown, and then spend some time burning off the winter energy at the playground that my kids affectionately call, "The Castle Playground." (I have no idea what it is really called, but I know that it is across from the Quakertown Library!)
People might think we photographers are just so obsessed with our own kids that we have to take a million pictures wherever we go. Actually, the truth of it is (for me, at least), is that the art itself is the addiction and you just feel a release when shooting. You see colors, patterns, angles, repetition, lines and light all around you all the time. And on a day like today when my kids just ran and played for over an hour, I got to just play too. I don't ask them to pose and smile, and they just ignore me anyways lol. I just get to capture them being THEMSELVES on a gloomy but warm winter day :)
And can I just say that as much as I LOVE me some dreamy backlighting, shooting on a cloudy day is so fun! The colors just pop!
When you can't rely on interesting light to make photographs more visually engaging, you have to see things from different perspectives and angles. I am drawn to really balanced and simple images with few distractions. I am drawn to lines and shapes in my imagery. And I just love working with a Sigma Art 24mm lens. Today I left the house with just this lens, and I love how it helps me to capture what I see.
This year I saw my work grow more than during any of the previous 8 years of shooting primarily due to my commitment to a 365 Project. A 365 Project is a personal project to shoot daily. If you define a successful 365 by having a folder of exactly 365 beautiful images shot in perfect light in the perfect clothes and in a totally clean home, then I failed miserably. I have thousands of images from this year in monthly folders, a folder designated "365 project" with a few handfuls of favorites, and lots of images of our messy and imperfect life. Not all (probably not many!) of the pictures are jaw-dropping works of art yet still this work was worthy. I look at them and see the beauty and wonder of the world around me. It changed the way I shoot, the way I see and use the light, and the way I tell my family's story.
If you are a photographer and want to push yourself to a new level of artistry, shoot daily. Here are 10 tips for having fun with a 365 project without making it an impossible or overwhelming feat.
1. Don't stress yourself out over missing a day. I made a mental effort to shoot daily, and did so mostly, but without stressing myself out if I didn't feel inspired or feel like it.
2. Don't stress yourself out about getting "THE" most perfect shot for the day. I would have given up entirely if I had been so focused on getting something totally post-worthy every single day.
3. Don't worry if your kids are dressed in mis-matched PJs or are half-naked and haven't brushed their hair in days.
4. Don't stress about your messy house, or having magazine-worthy backdrops. Shoot your real life. Not every moment is of your kids frolicking in sun-kissed fields.
5. Don't stress your kids out about it either. Respect them enough that if they don't feel like being in pictures that day, find something else worthy of your artistic vision.
6. Edit daily. Upload your card every day, and pick a few favorites. Usually I knew which image was "the" one from that day. Rename the file with the date and export that favorite image into a folder designated "365 Project 2017". Back that baby up! I sadly did lose 2 months of my personal work this year and gratefully had at least the 365 images on a back-up drive.
7. Don't feel like you have to share every single image you create. I started out by focusing on "Day 12/365" for example, and soon lost track of which day I was on, and found it too much hassle. Once I freed myself from these burdens, I just had fun shooting daily and sharing when I felt like it.
8. Print from your 365 Project folder often. I bought a giant cork board from Hobby Lobby and had my hubby hang it in my office to tack up favorites that I had printed from this year's project. It's fun to see, and my kids love reliving these memories of our year together.
9. Explore new light and new angles. Shoot in nooks of your home you haven't tried before. If you live in a dark home, find new window or artificial light sources that you haven't relied on before.
10. Don't worry so much if you have to shoot in less-than-ideal light. As much as it's about creating beautiful art, it's also about documenting your real life, which doesn't always happen in perfectly photogenic light sources and settings.
Finally, have FUN and relax! I didn't join a group for support because sometimes comparison is the thief of our joy, but I know a lot of people find it helpful to be a part of a 365 online community. I also didn't use prompts for daily shooting because for me, that is just another thing to stress me out and make me feel like a failure when I don't meet the expectations. But for some people, having new ideas of what to shoot is really helpful!
When my client contacted me a few months ago to inquire about an extended family session and mentioned that they wanted to do some formals at a park and then move back to Grandpa's house for a campfire and smores, I knew we were going to be the perfect match :)
I just loved how playful this family was and the bond between sweet Paige and her G-Pa was just too beautiful for words. I don't have many pictures of me with my grandparents (maybe one from my high school graduation?!), so I am very drawn to capturing these expressions of play and affection. Thank you so much D Family for inviting me to document your adorable family's campfire, and for sharing the delicious smores :)
If you are interested in having me document a fun family gathering or just tell the story of your family engaged in a holiday tradition, please contact me know to get on my calendar for November and December.