Psst.. I'm spilling my best secret to photographing kids..

All of my beach photography sessions lately have got me thinking and pushing my own boundaries.  It occurred to me that I have a legit secret to photographing kids that might help you take pictures of your own kids that will make you swoon.

Here it is, my secret to photographing children, especially on the beach or in the backyard in the summertime or playing in their bedroom any day of the week. 

It’s pretty simple:  Don’t try. 

Say what?!  I know, to all of the overachievers out there (myself included) that sounds like absolute blasphemy.  But I swear to you, when I am not trying to make it all perfect, when I can let go and let my gut lead the way, when I am not preoccupied with capturing the perfect photograph, that’s when the magic happens.

So, this is my one-stop advice column for photographing your kids this summer.

Don’t try so hard.

Observe them.  What are they doing right now that you wish you could bottle right up?  Let them do that.  Try to refrain from interfering.   Be a fly on the wall.  Be patient.  Blend into the background and anticipate those quirky, thoughtful, lovable moments.

And just let it happen.  Let go of perfection: the perfect light, the perfect composition, the perfect smile, the perfect Pinterest boards.  Just shoot pictures from the heart and I promise you, in 15 years, you’ll be so happy you have these photos of your kids being exactly who they are today.

Here's a few favorite photographs from 2 beach sessions this month.  Many break the rules with composition and lighting, but sometimes the moment and the expressions are all that matter.  

Stony Lake / Lake Michigan:

kids bike photograph
lake michigan kids photography
lake michigan kids photography
lake michigan kids photography

Malibu, California:

malibu kids beach photography
malibu kids beach photography
malibu kids beach photography
malibu beach dance photograph

Oh, and the best part is that when kids are in their happy place, sometimes they’ll just look up at you with the best smile or glance and you might still get those perfect beach portraits...

Without even trying.

malibu children's portrait
malibu beach portrait

hopeful words for a new year..

I have to admit, I’ve been proceeding cautiously into this New Year, until I read the following passage a dear friend in Los Angeles shared with me from her local Japanese newspaper:
 

"Unlike the 2013 Year of the Snake, which gradually shed its old ways,
the Year of the Horse will charge forward with unbridled energy.  
Seeds planted during the Snake year
will enable dreams and goals to finally come to fruition.  
Everything is possible and anything can happen."

 
2013 was a tough year for my family, but the gratitude and strength that I now feel is astounding.  To think that 2014 will “charge forward with unbridled energy” is exactly what I need to believe and I instantly wanted to spread these hopeful words to all of you. 
 
Cheers to a new year, to new beginnings, and for our deepest desires to come true.  

Here's a couple of moments from my recent California sessions that I found quite fitting for the "unbridled energy" ahead.

NewYear1.png
NewYear2.png

wishing you a peaceful and memorable 2014!

lake michigan's light | family photography

sometimes it rains unexpectedly.  and you realize, you remember, that it's only with the rain and clouds that such magnificent light can emerge.  

Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography
Lake Michigan Family Photography

A special thank you to this sweet, gorgeous family for braving the drizzles and allowing me to witness and document a glimpse of their life and love.  It was a beautiful and memorable evening on Lake Michigan, for sure!

Meet Laura of Real Food Wellness | lifestyle portrait and branding photography

There are a few people in this world who commit to their work with their whole hearts and Laura Burkett of Real Food Wellness is one of them.  Specializing in holistic health counseling for women, Laura is so much more.  I know firsthand.. she is medicine for the soul.

Laura Burkett of Real Food Wellness  |  Holistic Health Counselor | headshot and branding photography
Laura Burkett of Real Food Wellness  |  Holistic Health Counselor | headshot and branding photography
Laura Burkett of Real Food Wellness  |  Holistic Health Counselor |  headshot and branding photography
Laura Burkett of Real Food Wellness  |  Holistic Health Counselor |  headshot and branding photography
Laura Burkett of Real Food Wellness  |  Holistic Health Counselor |  headshot and branding photography

p.s. If you'd like to receive daily inspiration for living more mindfully with a food and health twist, follow Real Food Wellness on Facebook.  You won't regret it :)

letting go of perfection // a “day in the life” photography session

Isn’t it fascinating how difficult it can be to let go… Letting go of perfection, expectations, and the pressures we place on ourselves is HARD.  Yet, it isn’t until we truly let go that we are able to see what is waiting to be revealed.  And often times, it is actually perfect... the kind of perfect we can’t expect or control.  It just happens.

It is not uncommon for me to prepare my clients in this way.  It has become a mantra for my work.  I truly believe that the best moments happen when we have fully let go of pressures and expectations.  Not only are children most at ease when adults are at ease, but my best photographs also happen when I am able to get lost in my surroundings without worry. 

As I prepared for this session, however, something was different.  My client didn’t need a lick of advice or preparation.  She gets it.  She wrote me candidly about her life’s potential changes to come and how meaningful it will be to capture some special everyday moments with her 3 year old son.  She told me how she loves the way they snuggle up in her bed first thing in the morning, the way they lie on their bellies… she expressed how they love to cook together and explore their favorite hiking trail. 

As we brainstormed ideas and planned our session, I quickly realized that I was battling my inner perfectionist.  I was worrying about not having enough light in the bedroom at 8:30am and ending up outdoors when the sun is so harsh.  But, perfection is not the goal, here.  Instead, my goal is to be fully present in order to capture true “day in the life” moments as they naturally unfold on this ordinary day, regardless of when and where the light will be “best.”  It didn’t take long for me to step back and take my own advice.  I needed to let go.

And the result – a perfection that I could not have predicted, planned, or pre-visualized.  So, maybe this 3 year old was in “bad guy” mode on this particular day... and maybe he put his shirt on backwards... and maybe he fought the getting ready routine, which resulted in sporting his bed-head hair for the rest of the day.  And maybe there was barely enough light in the bedroom and we ended up shooting outdoors at nearly high noon.  And maybe it didn’t matter.  We chose to not let it matter. 

In all of its imperfection; it was pretty perfect.  And that is typically how it goes.

Day in the Life Photographs, Fine Art Documentary Photography
Day in the Life Photographs, Fine Art Documentary Photography
Day in the Life Photographs, Fine Art Documentary Photography
Day in the Life Photographs, Fine Art Documentary Photography
Day in the Life Photographs, Fine Art Documentary Photography
Day in the Life Photographs, Fine Art Documentary Photography
Day in the Life Photographs, Fine Art Documentary Photography
Day in the Life Photographs, Fine Art Documentary Photography
Day in the Life Photographs, Fine Art Documentary Photography
Day in the Life Photographs, Fine Art Documentary Photography
Day in the Life Photographs, Fine Art Documentary Photography
Day in the Life, Fine Art Documentary Photography