With 4 kids at home sometimes it's a complete disaster! Dirty dishes, clothing needing to be folded, shoes all over the place. But here is the deal....I'm tired. I'm tired of trying to keep everything clean, of trying to make my life appear to be something it's not. I'm a hot mess! My kids are their own people, they make their own decisions about what they do. While I try my best to influence them to do what I think would be the best, sometimes they decide that they are going to chose something else. I don't want to live my life trying to impress other people. I love my kids, my family, my life. I want to remember it as it is right now. When my daughter calls me 20 years from now complaining about her life, and kids I can tell her that she's not crazy. It's hard to be a parent, but it is also so rewarding. I have beautiful kids, and I have the ability to make crazy gorgeous portraits of them. Which I love. But I also love capturing moments of my life that really mean something to me. Moments that remind me what an awesome mom I am because we went to the airshow this year. I want my kids to know that I value them and love to spend time with them. I want them to know that I love the way they are right now, that we don't have to pretend to be perfect.
On Christmas night I stood next to my car in -40 degree temperatures outside of Denali National Park trying to capture the perfect photo of the Northern Lights.
Because photographing the northern lights is addictive, magical, and so much fun. It was also on my bucket list, and it’s probably on yours as well. The dancing lights can be fleeting, so I want to give you some tips on how to get it right the first time.
Protecting your camera:
Taking your camera in and out of the cold can cause condensation, and so it is very important to properly protect your camera. I place my camera into an extra large airtight ziplock bag. I then place the camera into the camera bag that I have also had out in the cold. The condensation will form on the bag and not on my camera. The reason I place the plastic bag into a cold camera bag is to allow the camera to adjust slowly to temperature changes. Just be sure to let your camera warm up slowly, it can take quite a while.
Be prepared for the weather! I live in Alaska and -20 or colder at night is normal. I wear thermal underwear, long sleeved shirts, a heavy winter coat, snow pants, snow boots, gloves, large mittens over my gloves, hat and a face mask. I also use hand warmers in my gloves, and my boots. I like to be warm! Obviously this might be overkill for where you live, so prepare yourself accordingly. DO NOT touch your tripod without gloves in very cold weather. It can be very painful, I know from experience!
Recommended Gear for photographing the Northern Lights
Tripod: You will need a tripod for the long exposures that are required.
Shutter release: Although this isn’t a requirement, I find that using one helps keep the photo sharp, and free from camera shake.
Wide angle lens with a wide aperture: I use a wide angle lens exclusively for my northern light photos.
Extra Battery: You will be taking lots of long exposures, and the cold reduces battery life! Be sure to keep an extra battery on hand. I keep mine inside my coat to keep it warm.
Recommended Camera Settings
Your camera settings will vary depending on the brightness of the Aurora, but here are some good starting points.
Aperture: Keep your f-stop around 1.4-2.8, or the widest your lens will open up.
ISO: Start with an ISO around 1000, and increase or decrease as needed.
Shutter Speed: Shutter speeds will also need to vary depending on your desired effect. If the lights are dim try shooting around 1/15-1/25th of a second. If the lights are bright and really dancing, increase your shutter speed to 1/10 of a second or faster to catch the movements.
Focus: I set my camera on manual focus, and focus to “infinity”. Then I check and adjust as needed.
The northern lights can be unpredictable, and can change in intensity. You will need to adjust your settings as needed throughout the shoot.
Don’t let the dark winters keep you indoors and away from shooting. Yes, it can be hard to drag yourself out of your cozy bed, but it is worth it! Just don’t forget to stop for a moment and really enjoy what you are seeing. Now get out there and capture some magic!
Early one morning my mother decided that she was going to take me to go get my photo done at the local JCPenny's. She had 6 kids at the time, and obviously wanted to show the world her youngest little beauty! I'm surprised that I can even remember this event seeing as I was so young, but I do. The photographer sat me up on the bench, stood behind the camera and told me to smile. Now just in case you don't know me well, sometimes right off the bat I don't like people. I did not like this photographer. Looking back on it, I felt like he was talking down to me. So, I did what every little sassy pants toddler does...I REFUSED to smile. He then proceeded to try everything he could do to make me smile, and nothing worked. Out of desperation my mother bribed me with an ice-cream shake if I would just give her one smile. I can still remember the desperation in her voice! At that point I knew I had won! I gave my mother what she wanted, this sassy little smile, and we were out the door to get that shake. What is interesting is that this last Christmas this picture came up, and we didn't talk about how cute I was. We laughed about what a stinker I was that day! So, what can you do to have a stress free photo-shoot with your toddler....
LET GO OF PERFECTION
There I said it! Just let it go. Perfect images are boring anyway. Are stale images of your kid looking at a camera really what you want? Or do you want images that tell a story, take you back in time, and make you feel something.
I suggest a documentary family photo session. What does that mean? It means that the photographer hangs out with you for an entire day documenting your life. It might seem like a weird concept at first, but these types of sessions produce images that are so awesome.
These sessions take all the stress off of your shoulders because you get to be you. No need to buy matching clothing, no need to clean your home, and dads love these sessions.
LET ME TELL YOU ANOTHER STORY
I hired a mentor a couple of years ago to help me with my photography. I just wasn't happy with where I was going. I can produce beautiful perfect family portraits, and I was bored and frustrated out of my mind. Families would nit pick how they looked in each image trying to find the perfect image for their wall. It made me sad. These images where technically perfect in every way. So why wasn't I happy! Then my mentor told me a story about Picasso. She said he was a master at the human form. He could paint it perfectly, with perfect dimensions. But obviously at some point he became interested in finding his "style" what he loved to create. I have always loved documentary images, but was worried to let go of my other technically perfect work. It pays the bills, but it hasn't been where my heart is at. I love images of kids being kids. I love to see mom cry when she looks at her images because they made her feel emotion. I dare you to give documentary family photos a try and see what you think. I promise that at some point your toddler with throw a tantrum during the day, but you will cherish the images that come from it.
When people think of professional photography they often think of wedding photos. But, not long after weddings come children...and family photos are often neglected. If they are not neglected they are often thought of as portraits with everyone looking at the camera. While I still photograph families in that way, I much prefer what I call moment photography or documentary family sessions. In order to get wonderful, emotion filled images on a wedding day the photographer often spends anywhere from 4 hour to a whole day with the couple and their family. So, I like to take the same approach with families when possible. I like to spend anywhere from 4 hours to a day with you documenting the little moments that you don't take notice of. I photograph you in an artistic, unique way that will provide you with images like no other family has. I also offer a short portrait session with everyone looking at the camera for families that book storytelling sessions, if that is something you are interested in. I suggest that if you haven't thought of family photography in this way, you really think about how you want to remember your family and the life you are living. Here are some images of two of my children to give you an idea of how I photograph families. Take a look! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a storytelling, vacation, or day in the life session.
Any time a family contacts me they ask for ideas of activities that would be good to do for natural family photos. As a documentary Anchorage family photographer I tell them that family photos should be a real representation of how your family likes to spend time together. My sessions are relaxed, and natural because I work hard to make good photos of you spending time with your family. Summer is upon us in Alaska and it is short! So here are some ideas of activities that would be great for you to do as a family for your photo session.
Play at the Lake or on boat
Roasting hot dogs and marshmallows
Play in the sprinkler at home
Go to the icecream shop and get icecream
Bake something as a family
Play in your yard and your home together
Go to your favorite little town on "vacation"
Go to the reindeer farm
Visit a glacier or take a glacier helicopter tour
Visit a local farm and pick out produce or flowers
Go berry picking
Go on a short hike and have a picnic
If extended family or friends are in town this is the best time for a family session and take them around to all the local tourist spots and spend time together at home.
You don't have to limit yourself to this list! Whatever you want to do as a family I can tag along. My documentary sessions last anywhere from 4 hours to a whole day. When clients hear that I spend the day with them sometimes they are surprised. But the fact is that I am not taking any of your time, you get to spend your time doing whatever you want and I am just along for the ride. If you have any questions or want to schedule your family session contact me at email@example.com.
DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY IS A NATURAL WAY TO HAVE YOUR FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHED
The thing about documentary is that it is about capturing you and your life as it is. There is no staging, no posing, no directing. Another genre that people often confuse with documentary is lifestyle. These two styles are completely different. Lifestyle is trying to make your life look perfect with clothing, location, facial expressions, ect. Documentary is photographing your life as it is, because you are perfect the way you are. The messy house, the mismatched clothing, the wild children. That is enough, and it is beautiful to capture.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT WHAT TO WEAR
One thing that clients often worry about is worry about is what to wear. For these sessions you don't need to go buy new clothing. Just wear what you would wear on any normal day. These sessions are supposed to be about photographing your family as you are! So let the stress fly out the window and just be you.
AT SOME POINT YOUR CHILDREN WILL ACT OUT
Don't worry about it! I will photograph those moments where the kids are throwing tantrums, or fighting, or just being stinkers. But that is part of what family life is! It's a bundle of emotions all wrapped up in a day, and that is what makes my heart love documenting families. I have 4 kids of my own, so this is not new to me.
Location matters in terms of what you love to do as a family, and what a normal day with you is like. If you have a couple of activities that are special that you do as a family we can photograph those. But don't try to stuff your day full of too many things. The whole family will be exhausted if you do.
DADS LOVE THESE SESSIONS
Lets be honest....not many men love photoshoots. Well, that is until they have a documentary session. These sessions are really just about photographing the family spending time together.
THESE IMAGES WILL BE PRICELESS
Kids grow up fast, and life changes. I view photography as a visual inheritance that you leave for your family. It is so important to have photos done. It's the little things in life that tug at our heart. It's not the perfectly posed images. Pick up the phone and give me a call at 907-982-5409 or email me to schedule your session.
As a documentary family photographer in Palmer, Wasilla and Anchorage I have some of the funnest things to photograph! Playing around in the mountains, on the lakes, and at family homes makes me so happy. This family was going to play on Nancy Lake at their cabin and had me come photograph it.
Documentary sessions are fabulous for extended family sessions. It's so much more interesting to see moments where family are interacting verses just staring at a camera, that is why I always recommend these sessions. I also offer my documentary clients a mini portrait session while at these shoots as well because I understand that both are important. If you have any questions, or would like to book a session give me a call at 907-982-5409, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This past couple of weeks have been a difficult one for me.
My dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, 1 month after a checkup telling us he was cancer free. It was shocking, heartbreaking, and sudden. Within a few days he had passed after his kidneys failed him. What breaks my heart is that I had planned a vacation to visit my parents by myself and photograph them as a couple. I never got to do that, he passed a couple of days before I was able to make it down to Washington.
While I was at my parents home, after the memorial I went to my parents bedroom and looked through their wedding album.
That's right....I said wedding album. Not pictures on a phone screen. An album that I held in my hands while I sat on their bed. I don't recall ever seeing the photos before, and it made me really happy. I honestly don't really remember my dad being really "happy" guy. While looking at the images I saw a different man. He was happy. It was his wedding day, and there was no denying he was young and in love. My parents looked so cute! Seeing the images really brought peace to my heart. It was nice to see what he was like when he was in his 20's, Seeing him interact with my mother in a really loving way was emotional for me. It made me realize that there was another side to him. It healed my heart in a way.
When I am making portraits, they are really for the children.
Yes, you will enjoy the photos as well. But the images over time will have the most impact for your kids. They will get to have beautiful images of your family, and share them with their children, and grand children. They will get to see someone that they have heard about, but might not know. The memory and the emotion that photos bring can be a very powerful thing. Once you are gone all that your family will have will be memories and photographs. After the past couple of weeks I have had, I can tell you without a doubt that photos matter.
WHERE DID THE TIME GO?!
My youngest just graduated from preschool and is on his way to kindergarten next year! I'm obviously excited about this, but I'm also a little sad. He's the one that keeps me company in the morning. So this morning I decided I want to capture some of our time together. Usually I'm busy cleaning while he is doing his thing. But, this morning I decided to help him make an apple pie. He LOVES to make pie. If he could, he would make one every day. So check out the photos below to see him making his pie.
DON'T WAIT TO GET PHOTOS LIKE THESE!
In my business I offer beautiful portraits, and storytelling adventure sessions because I realize as a mother both of them are important. In the long run it's the little moments that matter, they can take you back in time. So don't put off having photos done of your family. before you know if they will be grown up!
THANKS FOR CHECKING OUT MY BLOG!
Not everyone loves black and white portraits, but they are timeless to me. This could have been taken 100 years ago or yesterday. I love the way her hair is blowing across her face and the way the light is hitting her face beautifully. The clouds are dramatic, along with the hair you know it's a stormy day. The plants and the mountains in the background give a sense of place, and texture to the image. The way her little hands are holding her dress out so delicately touches my heart. I really love this image because to me it's a timeless portrait of a beautiful little girl.
It never gets easier. There are always new challenges.
It's not easy being a slope wife. I always get asked if I get "used" to my husband being gone. Ummmm, no. I miss him like crazy. There are lots of times where it is just not fun. So I just wanted to pass on some tips that I've learned over my years of being a slope wife.
Tip #1. Let go of perfection.
I have been a slope wife for going on 10 years this year, I have 4 kids ages 13, 11, 9, and 5. My husband left for his job on the slope the week after my 3rd child was born. So, I had a 4 year old, a 2 year old, and a baby. They all have their unique challenges, and they are their own personalities. But, raising your kids alone for long periods of time is hard. My hat goes off to parents living the single life.
We live in a society today that is showing you and telling you to be perfect.
Let it go, life is too short to be living your life to someone else’s standards. Let me tell you a story. One time when my husband was on the slope, I was trying desperately to get my kitchen clean. I had some friends that were going to come over to visit, and we lived in one of those homes where it was an open floor plans. You could see the kitchen, living room, and the entry area all at the same time. I kind of hate these floor plans, because anyone who comes into the house sees your dirty dishes!
I actually spent a lot of time cleaning up the kitchen, plopped the kids in front of the TV, and ran upstairs to take a quick shower. Upon coming back downstairs nothing looked out of the ordinary. As I turned the corner to walk into the kitchen I knew something was wrong.
I was sliding across the floor like a rollerskating, disco dancing queen.
My arms swung wildly in desperation trying to grasp onto anything for balance. But to no avail. The kitchen counter was as slick as a used car salesman. Finally, I came to a stop when I slid all the way across the kitchen, and fell to the ground unable to grab onto anything.
I was upset!
One of my children had felt the need to spray the floor, fridge handle, and the kitchen counter with cooking spray. The next thing I remember is them jumping up on the couch laughing at me from the living room. I tried to get up, but wasn't going anywhere fast.
What in the world were they thinking!
All within a few minutes they managed to create a rollerskating rink for their mom and shattered my idea of having a clean house for the company. I think kids must have some sort of radar that goes off when they know you are trying to accomplish something. Eventually I pinned down who did it and asked him why. His response was that he just wanted to know what would happen. Now, we do our best to keep the house clean, but I’m not putting on a front of perfection anymore. I don't run around like a mad man trying to clean up when someone is stopping by.
Ain't nobody got time for that!
Just relax, let go of perfection. Kids grow up fast, and then who will be around to make your life interesting.
You are a rock star mom!
It's hard being home alone with the kids. Take them out for dinner when you've had a hard day, relax in a bubble bath. The kitchen can wait until morning.
As a mom of 4 kids I can tell you that it is exhausting to give birth. I jokingly tell my husband that I have been sleep deprived since my oldest was born 13 years ago. It is emotionally and physically exhausting to raise children, but it's worth it! I always heard people tell me while I was pregnant to get sleep now because once the baby was born, I wouldn’t get any sleep. It didn’t really hit me that that was true until I was so sleep deprived that I couldn’t even think straight. So, here are some tips to be a support for your postpartum partner to help her get sleep, and feel great.
#1: Take time off work to be home.
New moms have just had their bodies work harder than ever, and go through changes that are really dramatic in a short amount of time. They need sleep, which is hard to get when you have a newborn that needs to eat every few hours, and poops just as often. She will need help. Stay home, take the baby so that she can rest, shower, and eat.
#2: Accept meals and help from friends and family.
These people know how hard it can be to add a new little baby to the family and they want to help. Graciously accept their meals, it’s one less thing that you will have to worry about doing. I’ve learned over time that having a community around you that will help is essential to raising children. Just don't forget to do the same when your friends have babies!
#3: Hold the space for her.
What does that mean? Don’t assume that you know how she is feeling. Not everyone has the same emotional reactions to things, and while we might have a good idea of how she feels, you could be completely wrong. If she shares something with you, ask her how she is feeling about it. You might be surprised about what she says. We need to allow others to feel what they are feeling, and acknowledge it. I really believe that most women just want a listening ear. Instead of immediately giving advice, listen to her, and then ask if she wants advice or if she would just want you to listen to her. This is so important and something that I believe a lot of people struggle with.
#4: Surprise her!
Take the time to bring her something that you know she loves and enjoys. That could be anything from flowers, to a specific food, to a gift. She deserves to know that she is appreciated for all that she does. It's amazing how the little things in life can really affect how we feel.
#5: Enjoy this time!
I know that everyone says to enjoy the time when your kids are little. But it is so true! They grown up so fast, and before you know it they are to big to hold in your arms. Enjoy this new little one and the wonder that they are.