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.
We took a little road trip today and had some fun hiking and exploring. Gathering treasures of tiny shells, fossils, driftwood, and just climbing around nature's jungle gym made for the perfect homeschooling morning after our bookwork was finished. I can't wait to get back here for a sunset family session!
I am currently booking Spring and Summer Child and Family sessions. Please contact me if you would love for me to capture your children at play and are interested in getting on my calendar.
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.
Josephine has been loving the extra attention and treats from Grammy during our visit. My mom has been keeping her out of trouble (mostly) by involving her in the cooking and cleaning the past few days. I just knew when she looked at my mom with this smile that it was THE moment of the day.
And here are a few more from this mini-story.
I am committed to completing another 365 project this year and will continue to approach it without stressing about shooting and sharing daily. But I will start this year off with this image- to remind me of the road ahead. I can't wait to look back at the end of this new year and see what we've experienced together as a family and the images I've created.
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!
My newly-turned five-year old looked up at me with sparkling eyes as we pedaled the surrey down the boardwalk and said, "Mom, I'm never going to forget this vacation." I pray the time never comes when they are less satisfied with simplicity. Larger than life sandcastles, collecting sea shells and hermit crabs, learning to ride the waves for the first time, playing arcade games, eating our way down the boardwalk- Kohr brother's peanut butter + chocolate twist ice cream, cotton candy and saltwater taffy.... these are the ingredients of vibrant childhood summer memories.
We are wrapping up summer by crossing off another tradition from the bucket list- peach picking at Bob White Acres in Coopersburg, PA. We love all the different varieties of peaches they have available, and the kids love the neat basket wagons they have as well as the apple cider slushies served up at the little farm stand afterwards!
Peaches are only $1.05/lb for more than 20 pounds, and they are quick and easy to pick! I now have about 35 pounds of peaches to deal with, but they sure are delicious! Tastes like the end of summer! I wish these last two weeks of summer vacation would last forever, but we'll freeze lots of sliced peaches so we can enjoy a little taste of our favorite season in the dead of winter.
If you are interested in my documentary style of portraiture, I'd love to work with you to document your end-of summer fun! My schedule is getting tight but I have a few days available :)
I stepped out of my comfort zone this week in my personal work- I made my first self portraits. I hadn't styled my hair, put on makeup or cute clothes- but I did see some lovely window light and stopped what I was doing around the house to create a memory of me and my Josie. The boys were away at Vacation Bible School all week at church, and I soaked up some rare one-on-one time with baby girl. Which also meant lots and lots of pictures of just Josie. And yes... her diaper is hanging out of her romper. Don't judge- she got changed :) This is our life- when I see her playing in a patch of pretty window light, I'll make the picture, saggy diaper and all.
6:00pm You worked all day, stopped to pick up a gallon of milk, the kids run to you and beg of your attention. You feel like relaxing and spacing out but you play with the kids, do some work in the garden, change a diaper. We eat dinner as a family and maybe we take them to the park and you push Josie on the swings or throw the ball with Henry and John Patrick.
8:00pm You bathe them, we pray with them and read them stories, you take them upstairs and cuddle them and narrate their bedtime poems. You've made Longfellow and Stevenson, and many others comforts to them before their sleep.
9:00pm Kids are in bed, I am still working. You are downstairs cleaning up the kitchen and get your Netflix in while washing dishes.
Middle of the night- Josie wakes up crying for you. "Daddy, I need you!" You are up and snuggle her.
6:00am You often wake up with Josie and get her breakfast. Her breakfast lasts all day because she never stops eating but you start her buffet off to a good start with oatmeal and flax and chia seeds. Henry begs you to read and you oblige him before leaving for work because he needs that extra attention and morning is busy time for me in the kitchen. You get ready to leave for work by bike- the kids see a man who is healthy and active. Before heading out you might wipe a bottom or two, compost our food scraps so we can grow our own organic produce in our lovely garden that you built for us.
You teach our children about God, goodness, history and literature. You play classical music in the mornings and bluegrass come evening. You make it to the ball games and entertain the littles as they wait through the long game... You do so much balancing to make it manageable for me to run a business and also homeschool our kids. You never complain. I know I am pretty damn lucky to have a husband as selfless as you. Thank you for all that you do for our family. We live such a deep and joyful life because of the love you breathe into our home. Our children are blessed by all the ways you show them what love means.
Disclaimer: Forget about the less than perfect pictures from years past. These are just family memories :)
It's been a long time since I've shared some from my personal 365 Project because Spring/Summer busy season fell upon us. But I am shooting daily (for the most part) and working on making time to edit my personal photos. I've also been sending my personal pictures to the lab when I order for clients so that I am forced to get some tangibles from this project! And my kids love seeing their daily life on display in our kitchen!
These images tell a lot about our messy, silly, crazy day-to-day life together. My Josie turned two in April and constantly reminds us "I not baby, I big girl." Which means she must do everything on her own, including changing her outfit 538 times a day into various crazy combinations of her brother's clothes and PJ bottoms worn as mini skirts. She loves her baby dolls and pretends to babywear by shoving the dolls into her shirt.
I know I am sharing a lot of pictures from the end of Spring/beginning of Summer. But seeing them as a whole reminds me constantly that our life is so very rich. We are so blessed by these little people and the life we are living.
Her latest today was getting into the dress-up bin and coming out with one of my old wallets and a knight's helmet, letting herself out the back door waving, "Bye Mommy! I have a photo shoot! See you later! I buy ice cream with mine money!" And off she went on her trike in the 7:30am sunlight.... Because truly, I always wear this helmet when I leave for portrait sessions HA.