Our portrait photography journey

I used to work at The Picture People at our local mall. I first discovered this gem of a portrait studio when Jaina was but 6 weeks old. I think I remember spending close to $300 on prints of her portraits. I didn't want to leave without a single one. And that black and white that they put in a frame? Its still hanging up in my hallway, now with one of Jayce at the same age with the same pose right next to it.

I had so much fun working there. What started out as a Holiday Sales job turned into an actual photography job. There I learned the art of posing, making kids smile, focusing, and composing a shot. What I did *not* learn, however, was how to work a camera, what its settings meant, and lighting. All of that was already set up for you.

(excuse the quality, these are film prints scanned using a low quality scanner)

After our local store closed, I searched high and low for a portrait studio that captured my kids' personalities. I have never been a "looking at the camera and smiling" kind of gal. Which is a good thing, because Jayce's autism and sensory issues were in full swing by this point and he screamed any time we walked into a studio to have photos made.

Then when my kids were two, I found out that a local mom was trying to start a photography business. If you met her at a park, she'd follow your kids around taking pictures of them. A whole cd of digital images were yours for $50.

Wow, pictures of Jayce not screaming? I was sold. I vowed never to get my children's portraits made in a studio again. And to this day, 4 years later, I have kept my word.

I still use Gena Murphy Photography all these years later. She has grown beautifully as a photographer and editor. She most recently invited me into her home to capture this maternity photo:

I also have her booked for this little one's newborn portraits in January. She is amazing with newborns! As a photographer myself, I know just how hard it is to have the patience to work with babies less than 10 days old. Getting them to sleep, posing, exposing the image properly, then editing out baby acne and red blotchy skin tones, jaundice... its a LOT of work! I am so excited to see what Gena comes up with for our new baby!

Using an on-location photographer that isn't bound by a studio, props, or fixed lighting really changed the way I started thinking about portrait photography. I love the fact that you can capture a family being so natural if they are in an environment that is comfortable to them.

I also discovered photography blogs at the same time. I started following the work of Little Moon Photography, Aria Photography, Drew B Photography, Jessica Claire, Jasmine Star, and my personal favorite inspiration... Kamee June Photography

With the exception of Amber from Little Moon, all of the above photographers are from out West. But even Little Moon's studio is too far away for us to travel to.

So, how do I find a photographer here in the South that captures the style of those California photographers? My kids are not "wear smoked boutique dresses and john-johns with hair bows as huge as their head" kind of kids. I don't want them posed down by a lake, smiling serenely into the camera. That's not them.

One day I was on Facebook and happened to stumble upon some new photos that my friend Julie (who used to blog, but I can't find her link!) posted. They were of her son Ian being totally two! They were amazing. The photographer had captured their family interacting at a local plaza, just being themselves.

I immediately emailed my friend Julie and said, "Who did your pictures???"

And booked our own shoot with the fabulous Jeslyn Lanier.

My kids were horrible. You can read about it here.

Despite my kids' behavior, Jeslyn rocked the shoot. I have prints from that session hanging all over my house.

I couldn't wait to book her again for this Fall. I was crushed to learn that her and her husband had moved to Louisiana!! NO!!!

But she comes back to visit :)

And since this blog post is long enough already, I'll share the rest of our photos from our shoot another day. My kids' behavior wasn't any better this time around (they did NOT get their Krispy Kreme donut bribe, much to pregnant mommy's dismay), but Jeslyn delivered again.

'Til next time....


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