We Go Way Back

throwback Thursday

Man, I thought last week’s throwback post was a sweet stroll down memory lane! But on Tuesday I did family pictures from some dear friends and decided I would look back at pictures I have done with them over the years and oh my goodness, it was so fun to remember all these times!

The first time I photographed anyone in the Stout family was also the first time I was surprising someone with pictures. I approached the kids about doing pictures as a gift for my friend Mary on Mother’s Day. That was way back in 2008 and they were just the cutest bunch of kiddos! Heather and Patricia, the twins, are the oldest, next is Alice, and Jerry is the baby of the family.

And this is where I needed to double check my dates while I was writing this blogpost. Because I was looking at those pictures and the next thing I photographed was Heather’s bridals. Three years makes a huge difference in the life of someone. HUGE.

I mean seriously. Those first pictures would have been taken about the time the twins turned seventeen. Three years later I would have photographed Heather’s bridal portraits and then her and Sean’s wedding.

Crazy, isn’t it? In June of 2012 I did family pictures before Patricia moved away and I think Sean and Heather moved to Dallas, maybe?

It was funny to me as I looked at the pictures how I could suddenly remember that day clear as could be. That is what makes pictures important I think. The ability to call up moments that happened so long ago but seem like they happened yesterday. It was also the last time I had the whole immediate family in front of my camera. Alice would graduate not long after we took these pictures and her class was the first time I did senior class pictures. All five seniors. (The perks of being in a small classical Christian school.) She was also the only girl in the class. Those were good times.

Alice moved to Idaho for college, joining Patricia who had since married and I cannot remember which came first on these next pictures. I want to say it was the family pictures but I might be wrong and it was the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of Mr. and Mrs. Stout. Which was amazing because the family was able to pull off a huge surprise party without them knowing a single thing about it until they got there.

Also, by 2014 Heather and Patricia both added sweet babies to the family fold. (There are now ten grandchildren with number eleven on the way.)

Jerry graduated and moved to Idaho and then on January 1, 2016 Alice came home and got married.

The next time she was in front of my camera it was a year and a half later and I was photographing her son.

I love doing pictures for the same family over the years and watching them grow! I am looking forward to sharing some of the pictures from Tuesday’s session with almost all of the family. I have my fingers crossed that maybe one day everything will come together and I can do pictures of the whole family. I don’t know when that might happen but I am keeping my camera batteries charged!

Spur Of The Moment

Portraiture

Sometimes the best sessions happen spur of the moment, without lots of planning and opportunity to overthink things. At least that seems to be the way it works when trying to do pictures with my own children.

The other afternoon rain was coming and the cloud cover does what it does and made for some gorgeous light. (Never decide against taking pictures because it’s cloudy. That is actually the most incredible time to do them because it creates a giant softbox and the light is fabulous.) I grabbed a dress and hat and handed them off to my daughter to put on and we left twenty minutes later.

I pass by this yard near our neighborhood frequently and love the look of the blooming crepe myrtles and picket fence. I had actually driven past it that day and it is what inspired the sudden desire to do some pictures. Abigail is past the point of being horrified or embarrassed that I will stop at random spots and ask a total stranger if I can take pictures on their property. I think she trusts me after the photo success at the abandoned greenhouse we did months ago. I’ll be sharing those on Thursday.

With teenagers it can be a tricky to move them away from what I call the instagram face. There is a certain look that social media cultivates that I like to move past as quickly as possible so I can get to real laughs and personality. I can’t remember what I said that made her laugh but I think this is one of my favorite pictures of her.

This was also a good opportunity for me to practice using my 50mm lens. The nifty fifty it’s called because of its affordability and capability. It is a work horse of a lens and for most of my photography life it was my only lens. Since my beloved got me my dream lens for Christmas though it has been collecting dust and I realised I needed to practice with it some. Different lenses do different things and I want to have a variety of tools at my disposal so that the images I create for myself and clients don’t get stale or repetitive.

It still hadn’t started raining so we headed to a field beside our church where I had noticed yet more crepe myrtles blooming.

We started on the back end of the property where the trees are but eventually made our way up near the road. There’s a small building there that has been everything from a fresh seafood store (oh, the smell in those days!) to a candy shop to a southern home cooking restaurant. It has been empty for quite a while now but a couple of months back we noticed an antique car had been parked beside it. I would love to know the story behind it because it made a fantastic prop.

All in all we had some fun mother/daughter time and I got to brush up on some skills. A total win win situation.

A Little Bit Guernsey

families

So last week I shared a few throwback images of a sweet family I have been honored to photograph through the years. Today I am going to share just a few of my favorites from our recent family session and it may look a little bit odd and you might notice that it’s missing a family portrait. But trust me, we took one and it is precious but I cannot share it for the very best of reasons.

Since our last photo session when Miss Jojo turned one they have become a foster family! Right now they are loving on and caring for the cutest little peanut you have ever seen and it is so sweet to see this family embrace the heavy joy of caring for children who need a home. What a gift they offer by opening their home but also what a gift they receive in return for doing so.

The crazy thing is that right after they brought the little Peanut home they found out they were expecting and that was an amazing surprise in and of itself. Pregnancy is hard on mama and G and Jojo were both born very early and spent some time in NICU before coming home.

The newest little Guernsey stayed put safe and sound inside for longer than either one of her older siblings but not without some considerable help. These needles represent barely half of what mama took everyday during her pregnancy.

Pretty sure they all agree that she was worth it! She is their six pound wonder.

But can you imagine it? A brand new baby girl and a sweet nine month old? Life is very full but so are their hearts. And G-man and Jojo are old enough to be fabulous helpers I know.

One of my favorite things about shooting families is when the children get involved and start giving me ideas and places they want me to us while I photograph them. I really loved that G took me to the tree house he built for a few pictures. There was just something about this shot of him and Jojo that I love. It conjures up all sorts of Swiss Family Robinson nostalgia for me for some reason.

It was such a delightful morning spent with them and once again G captured my heart while holding his new baby sister. Such a tender moment, isn’t it?

I am looking forward to keeping up with them in the months and years ahead to see how God blesses this sweet family!

Guernsey Throwback

throwback Thursday

I love looking back and gathering pictures for a post like this! I first did G-man’s pictures when his mama was teaching at my kids’ school. He was such a cutie with those big blue eyes!

I don’t think he was even a year old at that time but a few years later I got to do family photos out at Ft Pickens. Honestly, it has been so long ago I almost forgot I had done them but as I looked through them again I was reminded of how absolutely adorable they turned out! These are some of my favorites from that day.

Fast forward a few years more and we did family pictures again that included his new baby sister! My heart still melts when I see his precious smile and that cowboy hat.

I think Jojo was my first watermelon one year old session and she could not have been any cuter!

We also did a family picture when we did her first birthday photos and it has always been one of my favorite images! Definitely one for the portfolio with the beautiful light and sweet smiles.

I cannot wait until next week when I will be sharing their most recent family session!

Puppy Love

Friday Favorites

You guys.

I got to take pictures of not one, but two, of the cutest goldendoodles this week! It was my first ever puppy shoot and oh, my goodness, it was just so fun and they are the cutest little things. They belong to some friends of ours whose daughter goes to University of Florida. This is important for you to know because I’m going to tell you my friends got a girl and a boy pup and get this…named them Allie and Gator! How fun is that?

While I had never done a puppy photoshoot before I have done children’s portraits before and let me tell ya, the things I have learned chasing around a newly mobile one year old or the mischievous preschooler had me in good stead. Basically, you just roll with it and follow them around and everyone had a really splendid time…they get to romp and play and I get to hang out with my friend and romp and play with two really fluffy uber cute puppies. Total win win.

We weren’t sure what to expect though so we did them each individually before trying to get shots of the two of them together.

We did Gator first and isn’t he just the most precious thing you have ever seen?

They apparently really enjoy playing in the grass and flower beds. He even played hide and seek with me.

I think he liked it because it was so much cooler tucked up in the shade. He would run around and play a bit and then promptly hop back into to the flowers and chew on the grass.

What was really funny was when he decided he was done with posing for pictures he went up onto the porch and just sat down.

Gator went back inside and Miss Allie made her photo shoot debut and she is just the sweetest thing! Her fur is a little bit lighter than her brothers but so very soft!

AJ (of Amy Jo Original Hats fame) had told me about this cute little quirk that Allie has of picking the flowers and holding them in her mouth for all the world like a pacifier so I could watch for it. I was hoping she would do it so I could get a picture and she did not disappoint me!

She liked to run and bounce around and get into the tall shady grass too.

There are moments when I am doing people pictures and I know, just know, that the subject and the light and everything all just came together and I got THE shot and wouldn’t you know it, the same thing happened with the puppy portraits. It reminds me of a portrait painted by the old school masters.

Once we had her pictures done we brought Gator out so the two could play. They were like two giant fur balls rolling around the yard.

They went right back up to the front door when they decided enough was enough.

They were plumb tuckered out from their morning in front of the camera. After getting some water they both went to their favorite sleeping corners and I couldn’t resist a couple more pictures. Apparently Gator sleeps with one leg resting up the wall.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this next image. There is another pup in the house and Miss Annabelle is a pretty little thing but only really tolerates enjoys the company of AJ and her mother. I asked how she was doing with the puppies and she doesn’t mind them at all and seems to enjoy their antics.

I don’t think my cats, Tom and Milo, would appreciate us getting a puppy and I know we aren’t in a place where we could give a puppy the attention they require but man, I sure had fun with these guys! Maybe I need to start advertising as a pet photographer?

Grand Greats

families

I always think doing pictures are a good idea whether it be to document a special occasion, as a surprise gift, or just because. When it is a gift it can be difficult because I have to wait to share them. It is even harder when it’s my niece’s babies and they are just so cute! But Father’s Day has passed so now I can finally post a few of my favorites.

Somebody please tell me how these kids grow up so fast?

Their mama is the firstborn of my sisters’ children and I can still remember holding her for the first time. It’s a little surreal to be photographing her kiddos. I had to look up exactly what term is used to describe their relationship to me and it seems that both grand or great are equally correct…as in my grand niece or great nephew.

That first grandnephew of mine was more interested in being a crocodile than taking a picture with his sister and brother and this outtake just made me laugh. Especially because of Miss Jae’s expression.

He didn’t mind getting into the spirit of things for his own pictures though.

And oh my goodness, she did just fine in front of the camera all on her own.

And the littlest mister was not about to be outdone in the cuteness contest.

While Mr. E was not too thrilled at the idea of a sibling shot his brother and sister didn’t seem to mind. I love how these two are so sweet together.

After we did pictures we went over by the brand new splash pad that opened at the park and E had a bit of fun in the water. I loved this picture of him that finished out our time together. Such a classic summer picture, don’t you think?

Sprouting!

Our little green square

A little back story: my husband has worked really hard over the years to create a beautiful lawn. Yard work is his domain and a way for him to relax so when we bought our home almost six years ago we put in a sprinkler system and sod. Well, a little over a year ago this weed showed up that he just could not get rid of no matter what he tried. We ended up calling a landscaping guy we know who promptly pronounced the death of our yard. I cannot remember the name of the weed but basically once you get it the only way to get rid of it is to kill everything, grass included.

Knowing it would be a bit before we would be able to re-sod the only thing he continued to do was mow the lawn the rest of the summer. Let me tell you, that weed took over and our yard was U.G.L.Y. As winter turned into spring we started talking about what we were going to do to make it beautiful again. Two things were decided ~ first, we would sod the yard with zoysia grass. A little bit more expensive but very resistant to weeds but beautiful and thick. Second, we wanted to reconfigure the layout of our yard so that we needed less grass since even with a sprinkler system it can be difficult to keep it alive and healthy in Florida. We started talking about raised beds and small gardening. After three months of sweat and really hard work (mostly by him although I did help more than just telling him what I wanted) we have a new fence, a small garden area, some beautiful flower beds with African iris and hydrangea, and three new crepe myrtle trees. And my ferns! Y’all, one of my favorite things about this are the ferns we hung along the back fence.

We have a some finishing touches to put on it but overall the finished project has been a delight and we have enjoyed it so much!

We, and by we I mean Rob, tried some small gardening once but it has mostly been this romantic notion in our heads. But in our planning we decided we wanted to create a specific space to grow some veggies and even though it seemed sort of late in the season we put some stuff in the ground. We are the proud plant parents to cucumber, red & yellow bell peppers, sweet peppers and jalapenos, regular and white eggplant, sweet potatoes and a host of herbs. Thanks to the way Rob reconfigured and designed the sprinkler system each bed has its own drip line with little mini sprinklers so watering is a breeze! Yesterday morning I was outside and noticed one little watermelon sprout working its way through the dirt. Yesterday afternoon all three watermelons had sprouted and I was doing a dance as if I were the first person in the history of forever to put something in the ground and have it take root and grow. Started nosing around and found buds and flowers on almost everything we planted. Let me tell y’all, this is some kind of excitement and if you haven’t ever experienced it at least get a pot and some kind of plant and watch it grow! In the words of my friend Donna, “Life is good whether it is human, plant or animal.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s good for our souls.

We have some good friends with green thumbs who gifted a beautiful thornless blackberry bush. It was a little unhappy with the transplant to our yard at first but on the second morning it had noticeably perked up and we are pretty sure it’s going to like it’s new home. We planted it so that as it grows it can climb up the fence and be decorative as well as fruit producing.

All in all we are so pleased with the result of all the hard work. We do have some things we still want to do like finishing off that area in the middle of the veggie garden so we can have a lovely sitting area with a fire pit for in the fall and we also want to plant some wisteria along the other side fence.

Francis Bacon once said, “God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures.” So far we are finding that to be true.