My own 2017

I should have written this post weeks ago, as 2017 recaps are so last year (ha) but there are a lot of things I should have done two weeks ago and I'm still working on those things as well as Tuesday's to-do list (#momlife). So, I'm just going to do it now, cross it off of my list, and count it as a win. 

I struggled with work/life balance this year, and every time I thought of grabbing my camera to take pictures of my family, it felt like going to work. So I bought a different, much smaller and lighter camera to take on family adventures; something that would do a good job with photos, but wouldn't take up a lot of physical or mental space in our time together. 

My goal in photographing my family this year was to take pictures that capture the essence of our experience together. Something that, when I look at it, moves me to a feeling. Remembering the things we were doing, the laughter and/or tears (or often both) that accompanied the experience, and the way our relationships grew or changed because of those times together.  

I want to look at a picture of my kids and SEE my kids. Not just their likeness, but their spirit. 

Here are a few of my favorites from our time together in 2017. Time spent in our new house, at the beach, in the woods, and everywhere in between. These pictures and memories that accompany them will be cherished forever. 

A morning with the Davis family | Seattle family photographer

I have been taking pictures of the Davis family since little Etta was six months old. She has always been a beautiful, happy girl, and it is a shoot I look forward to every year. Her family just moved to a new (to them) neighborhood in Seattle so we decided to do the shoot at their home, on their block, and at the beach park they visit nearly every day. 

Last year, Etta was a little timid during their photo shoot. This year, she greeted me at the door with a smile, showed me her new room, and cried when the shoot was over. What a difference a year makes! 

We got a lot of beautiful pictures during our shoot, but my favorite is the one of Etta wrapped up in her mom's arms. Etta's dad had been chasing her and she ran giggling and screaming straight to her mom's open arms. Arms that closed around to protect and embrace. Arms that feel like home to Etta.

Etta's mom closed her eyes and smiled for just a moment. Enjoying the weight of her daughter against her chest. The feeling of home in her arms. 

2017 in the rearview | Seattle family photographer

What a year. As I went through all of my pictures from 2017 to pick out a few favorites for this post, I was reminded of all of the families I met, the time we spent together, and the beautiful memories we shared. 

What a gift it is, to be invited into your lives to capture these moments. It is my pleasure. 

This fall | Seattle Family Photographer

It happens every year. Fall comes, business ramps up, and I am completely overwhelmed by weekend photo shoots and late night editing marathons. 

Actually, shooting and editing are not really overwhelming, it's trying to get through my busy season in addition to being a stay-at-home-mom to three beautiful and crazy little girls that really sends me over the edge. 

My girls are now almost six, four, and eighteen months. Norah went to kindergarten this fall, Vivienne started at a new preschool, and Emory started running around town like she owns the place. 

They would drive me nuts all week long when I would try to squeeze in a few minutes of editing in between shuttling one to school, putting one down for a nap, making one a snack, and answering a million "why" questions from the three of them. And then I would miss them like crazy all weekend and I would constantly harass my husband (Superdad) to send me photos of everything they were doing while I was away shooting. 

I feel like it's a constant struggle to achieve a healthy work/life balance (does that even exist?!) and it feels impossible to work through my busy season while also loving my family well. I let the dishes sit in the sink and the laundry pile up, I ordered takeout too often and let the kids watch too many episodes of Wild Kratts, and sometimes I let them go to bed without saying goodnight because I didn't want to stop working long enough to climb two flights of stairs to deliver their hugs and kisses. 

Worst Mom Ever. 

But. We made it through. And I even remembered to block my calendar in the midst of the chaos for Vivienne's birthday so I could throw her a party. A unicorn volcano birthday party complete with a paper mache volcano science experiment and homemade exploding volcano cake. 

Does this earn me an upgrade to Best Mom Ever? 

So. The last three months have been a blur, but things are slowing down and now I am looking forward to going back through the shoots I did this fall and sharing some of my favorites. I'll start with this family - in the perfect late afternoon fall light, laughing and playing through the entire shoot. These beautiful moments and pictures are the reason why I do what I do. All of the crazy is worth it to me to deliver images and memories like these. 

Preparing kids for your family photo shoot | Seattle family photographer

The weather has turned, the leaves are changing, and it's officially fall! The season for family photos is in full swing, and I thought it would be helpful to share a few tips on how to prepare kids for your family photo shoot. Hopefully these suggestions will help everyone show up on shoot day excited, ready to participate and have a great time! 

Tell your kids what is going to happen and what you expect from them

A few days or week before your photo shoot, walk them through what is going to happen on the day and during the shoot. Tell them why these family photos are important to you and what kind of pictures you are hoping to get with them. Show them old family photos and ask them what they think about the pictures they see. Tell them what you're going to use the pictures for, and how their behavior or attitude will affect the photos. Repeat this every day until the shoot so they really understand what is expected of them and why! 

Let them choose their outfit (or part of it)

My daughter Vivienne (4) will not walk out of the house unless she feels beau-tee-ful in her clothes. If I make her wear something she is not into, she will walk around with a pout on her face and her head down for hours. So...if you have a strong-willed toddler like me, involve them in choosing their outfit. Or let them add a special accessory to an outfit you have chosen for them. If they love what they're wearing, this will translate into excitement for the shoot and smiling faces in the photos! 

Incorporate meaningful activities

If your kids aren't into sitting or following directions for more than a few minutes, choose a location that will allow for activities, or bring a few things to use in the shoot. Beaches are perfect for squirmy toddlers because there are a million things to do there. If your shoot is in a grassy field, bring your child's favorite book or activity. If you can't think of anything to bring, bubbles are always a hit! 

Plan a fun family activity following the shoot

Extend the special family day together after the shoot by going out for a treat, or doing something special. Sounds a lot like a bribe, but frame it in a way that encourages cooperation. "Let's listen to the photographer and finish up our photo shoot so we can get on with our day and go out for ice cream together!" Because who isn't motivated by ice cream?!