seattle photographer

Beignets and ugly crying - my trip to NOLA for The Family Narrative

Almost a year ago, late at night and enjoying the quiet stillness of the house while cruising the Internet (like ya do) I stumbled across an ad for a family photography workshop that caught my attention. I applied immediately and then refreshed my email every ten minutes until I got notice I was accepted. I mean, it was going to be in New Orleans, and they had me at beignet.

The workshop, called The Family Narrative, had an all-star lineup of teachers from around the country and would be focused on education, demonstration, and the creation of a vibrant and supportive community of family photographers around the globe.  As someone in a competitive industry who often struggles with doubts around my ability to run my business well, balance work and being a stay-at-home momma to my three little girls, and feelings of isolation as I manage the pressure of constant editing deadlines, this workshop sounded like a perfect fit. 

A couple of weeks ago, with the fridge stocked, babysitters secured, and the pediatrician’s cell number taped to the refrigerator; it was time to say goodbye to the kids, good luck to my husband, and hop on the plane headed to NOLA.

I have taken my time to reflect on and process my time in New Orleans, and now, two weeks later, I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that I got off of the plane back in Seattle a changed person.

The time that I spent there exploring the city, eating delicious food, learning from amazing creatives, and getting to know the other attendees was incredible. It was amazing and valuable, challenging and affirming. I remember at the meet and greet on the first day, one of the attendees from 2017 she told me she was in tears almost the entire time last year. I laughed and asked her why?! And then proceeded to be on the verge of tears for the next four days, even ugly crying in public several times.

Why?

Because I was in a room full of strangers who knew parts of my HEART without me saying a word. They reminded me that the work I do as a family photographer is SO IMPORTANT. Taking pictures of families, highlighting their connections, showing them the beauty in their everyday lives, these are things that REALLY MATTER.  

How many times have you heard someone say that if their house is on fire the one thing they’ll grab on their way out is their photo album? I mean, hello This Is Us fans (spoiler alert!), remember how Jack died?

As a photographer, I stop time for my clients, recording a second for them to look back on forever.  The way they look at their partner with that crinkle-nosed smile, the way their infant son fits into their arms, the way their kids chase each other around the house, or the way their daughter stands on her tippy toes to look out the second-floor window. 

When the season is over and the time has passed, they will rely on these split-second captures to help them remember. To help them retell their family’s stories for generations.

And now I’m crying all over again.

All of this to say, I am changed, I am inspired, I have a ton of work to do, and I am so excited to continue making beautiful memories for your families. If it has been a while since you took family photos, don’t hesitate to get in touch and schedule a session. Write yourself back into your family’s history. It really is SO important.

After you send me an email to book your family session (hello@kelseymoll.com), you can come back to enjoy these pics from the colorful streets of NOLA. 

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?! 

Baby Emerson

Now that my newborn days are over (my last baby girl is going to be one soon!), I appreciate each newborn session a little bit more. It is such a gift to be around these precious little ones, and throughout the entire session, I gush over every little sound and expression that they make. I can't help myself, newborns are so sweet! 

Emerson's session was no exception since she is clearly one of the most beautiful babies on the planet. I also loved watching Olivia interact with her baby sister with curiosity and affection, and all of the real life "this is our reality with a newborn and two-year-old" moments make me smile. These are the pictures that will bring back the reality of these fleeting newborn days. 

I'm not crying. You're crying.

I edited these photos in a busy coffee shop in Ballard, surrounded by other people conducting meetings and busily typing away on their laptops. I had dropped my big girls off at school, my little girl off with the babysitter, sat down with my americano and started my podcast. My morning was off to a great start! Until I opened up these pics and started crying. 

What?

Crying because this sweet baby girl is about the same age as my sweet baby girl. And these pictures of her and her momma made me think about me and my baby. And even though I had left her with the sitter only a few minutes before, I missed her. 

So I cried. And edited. And cried some more. And then I promised myself I'd book my own photo shoot with my own baby so I could remember this sweet stage forever and not have to relive it through my client's photos. 

This baby, though. You try looking at her without shedding a tear or two.

Fourth-annual best summer ever

Whew! Fall is always a crazy time for my business but this year my fall felt like a freight train that ran me over...then backed up and ran me over again. You could say that my work/life balance needs a little adjusting. And now that I have finally had a minute to breathe, I'm realizing December is over and in two short sleeps we'll welcome in another year. What? 

I have written a summer recap each year since I started my business. I'm usually writing it in a coffee shop in late September, watching the rain outside, reliving sweet summer memories on my screen, and crying into my Americano. This year I was too busy shooting and editing like a madwoman and didn't have the luxury of writing a summer blog, (or even editing the pictures from my summer) until now. 

So, while I feel a little funny writing this post three months late, I'm going to go for it. 

We welcomed the most precious baby girl into our family this spring, so our summer adventures were quite tame compared to previous years. I jokingly referred to this as our worst summer ever, but after reviewing the pictures and reliving our summer memories, I can confidently say it was another one for the books.

We spent most of our time adventuring close to home and enjoyed frequent ferry rides, visits to the beach and splash parks, and run-ins with the ice cream man. We left Seattle in the rearview a few times when we took weekend trips to Decatur Island and Port Townsend, and later to camp on the shores of Lake Chelan. 

I'm remembering now that we stayed close to home because our baby hated the car seat and any trip in the car longer than 20 minutes ended up with screaming baby, a two-year-old yelling "my baby's crying! My baby's crying! Momma! My baby's crying! FIX IT" and a four-year-old yelling at the two-year-old to stop yelling. And that's about the time I started to fantasize about pulling a Beyonce and telling the driver to roll up the partition, please. 

Everything felt a little harder this summer, and getting out the door in less than two hours was nearly impossible, but the sweet memories that we made as we began our life as a family of five will be cherished forever.