It’s a Child’s Smile that Makes the Season Sparkle | Bethesda Family Photographer

The holidays are a magical time for everyone, but there’s something about a child’s all-too-fleeting ability to believe that can transform a simple Christmas tree farm into an enchanted winter wonderland and an everyday glass ornament into a priceless treasure.

Though Kelley and Ben Jamieson visited Gaver Farm in Mt. Airy, Maryland, for the very adult task of producing the requisite family holiday card, what they got instead was a memory of their 1-year-old son, Ryan, unlocking the true meaning of the season through unbridled joy and an infinite capacity to wonder.

For our mini-shoot, we gave Ryan a glass ornament to play with. While many older kids have elaborate gift lists, when you’re 1, holding anything shiny and new is as good as holding the world in the palm of your hand. I love the shots of Ryan running through the grove of evergreen trees clutching his precious prize. The contrast between his bright presence and cream-colored clothes with the heavy background really make him a light in the dark—and the sheen from the sun that bounces off his glass globe is particularly dramatic. But what I really love is that as onlookers, we’re privy to a special moment between Ryan and his imagination. He is literally lost in his own little world. And a memory like that for a parent is priceless.

As parents, we work hard to give our children a special Christmas each and every year. And we know that each Christmas is different than the last. This will be a very special Christmas for Ryan in that he’ll have his parents all to himself. But as parents, we know that we always make our children wait to unwrap the most important gift—and it looks like this year, Ryan will wake to another Christmas gift about six months from now: his new baby brother or sister.


Giving Thanks | Veteran's Day 2012

It should be no coincidence that Veteran's Day falls in the same month when we give thanks for the opportunites and joys in our lives. None of which would be possible without those who give of themselves to keep us safe each and every day.

Below are some images from this beautiful fall Veteran's Day weekend.  I was lucky enough to spend it with family as we strolled along the Tidal Basin visiting with the fall cherry blossoms.  

Thank you to all who have served and are serving in our armed forces.


Fairies and Frankenstorms | Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy is steadily approaching and they are calling it a "Frankenstorm". If there is one thing that Lucy hates more than squirrels, it is rain.. followed by snow.

She wasn't very excited to be a "Fairy Westie" this year because as soon as I put her costume on, she ran across the pond and did everything she could to try to get it off. While she didn't succeed in her endeavors to  remove the costume, she did tear her wings and she won't be forced to wear it again.  Next year I guess I will let her pick her own costume. ;-)


A Picture-Perfect Princess | Bethesda Family Photographer

Everyone growing up had that singular costume to which we were particularly attached—sometimes we even insisted on sleeping in it. And for 4-year-old Emily, it’s her sparkly blue princess gown that rarely sees the bottom of her dress-up bin.

Just like our baby curls and our tiny hands, our favorite clothes were just as much a part of our pint-sized personality as our toothless grins—which is why they’re also worth preserving in a quality photograph.

I wanted to focus on the little things that were most important to Emily. Whether it was highlighting her dainty fingers that girlishly pinch at the tulle of her gown or providing detail shots of her tiara, shoes, and socks, the objects in these frames are the incidentals that will remind her parents years from now what exactly caused that gushing smile to spread across that snow-white face.

In these shots, I’ve captured Emily just as she sees herself—as a happy little princess. The joy that shines from her face as she sashays through her own enchanted forest in the heart of Glen Echo Park provides a snapshot of what every parent wants to remember: their child at their happiest.


Pleased to Make Your Acquaintance | Bethesda Family Photographer

Ask any tot (whether they can speak yet or not), and they’ll tell you they can’t wait to grow up.  Ask any parent, and they’ll tell you that their little ones grow up too fast—especially in the first year.  That’s why celebrating Colin’s first birthday with a photo shoot in Glen Echo Park was the perfect way to capture the intersection of both of these perspectives on film: Colin relishing his moment as a big boy; Mom and Dad proudly standing by watching their little baby taking some of his first daring and independent steps.

Just one look at this reel, and it’s clear that Colin feels he has earned his seat at the big-boy table.  Dressed to match his dad wearing an identical sweater and button-down shirt combo, the images of Colin and Dad look less like a father-and-son spread than they do a pictorial of a pair of best buddies.  I love the shot of Colin riding on Dad’s shoulders.  Offset by the green background, the picture has a woodsy, masculine feel that almost makes the two look like brothers horsing around in the outdoors.  It’s obvious that in one year, these two have formed a special bond.

Glen Echo provided the perfect setting not only for its natural aesthetics but also in its ability to evoke the family’s proud Irish heritage.  The rough stonework of the park’s walls and fountains mixed with the wild brush overgrowing the edges gives the images a gritty, lyrical feel that meshed nicely with the soft warmth of the family. The image of Colin being held up by his mother against a cloudy October sky was particularly poetic.  And the shot of Colin holding court in front of that crimson doorway with its Kelly green arches couldn’t conjure up any image other than that of a jolly barkeep beckoning you to his pub—Colin truly is the man-of-the-hour, and his open arms and sparkling eyes just invite you into the frame to celebrate life with him.

For many of us, the first birthday party is a coming out of sorts—standing tall and dressed in our big-boy best, we reintroduce ourselves to the world proud of the little man we’ve become.  And in this spread, Colin is genuinely pleased to make your acquaintance.


Happy Columbus Day! | Bethesda Family Photographer

I can't think of a better way to spend Columbus day! Thanks for warming up my heart today with your smiles. :-)


The Perks of Props | Bethesda Baby Photographer

When our parents tell us about where we came from, they often joke that we just showed up on their doorstep in a basket, perfect and precious. That’s exactly how Baby Kayleigh arrived for her photoshoot in the Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC—a bundle of joy wrapped up in an antique wooden washbasin her mom brought on loan from the repurposed home goods store, The Endless Elm.

I love it when parents bring props to the shoot. It really helps make the final product personal and meaningful—and it helps make the shoot comfortable from the start since there’s something familiar already in the landscape. It also gives my subjects something to play with—we had a blast with the refurbished picture frames, playing peek-a-boo with Kayleigh and making her squeal when we pretended to cough.

Kayleigh was an absolute peach in every way. She laughed and giggled the entire time, and with a face that precious and animated, I naturally wanted to make that smile the focal point of as many shots as possible.

She wore a soft violet jumper, which blended in perfectly with the violets and thistles that formed the backdrop of a number of the shots. She literally looks like she sprung up from the garden. Mom and dad wore white, which really made Kayleigh pop. With tons of natural light, it was easy to highlight different sides of her big personality and create some gorgeous effects.

One of my favorites is of Kayleigh raised up against the sun with just her dad’s arms and hands visible in the foreground. She literally looks like an angel—it’s a shot that her parents will re-purpose years from now for her wedding for sure.


Brothers and Sisters | Bethesda Family Photographer

Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet.
       ~Vietnamese Proverb


The Crop Factor | Bethesda Family Photographer

A cornerstone of my business has always been that I believe clients should always have access to their digital files. It is more likely today that you will share your moments electronically rather than in print. As I discussed in an earlier post, you can't pass down a hard drive to your children.

Because you will most likely only print a few images to gift to parents or display in your home, why not spend a little extra order quality prints from a professional printing lab?  Professional printing labs are ideal because they are calibrated to a photographers color profiles, do not auto color correct the images, and a bunch of other technical stuff that is really important. Bottom line-- sometimes prints from places like Target and Ritz Camera look completely different than what your photographer intended them to look like or even your very own computer screen. You don't know how many times I've seen my beautiful images printed out and everyone looks green!

While perusing Pinterest this evening (and by peruse.. I mean spending at least 4 blissful hours looking up succulent plant wall art.. so random!) I came across an image by another photographer reminding me of the importance of CROPPING.

Most images taken straight from the camera will be in a 4x6 format (or 2:3 ratio), but most prints you hang or display are 5x7 or 8x10.  So when you are not printing from a pro lab, be sure to check and see a preview of how the image will be cropped. Because in most cases, a computer, and not a human, might chop off a very important part of your image. :-)


Shayla + Michael | Married | Bethesda Wedding Photographer

Shayla and Michael were married at the beautiful Milton Ridge Chapel in Clarksburg, Maryland a few weeks ago on a misty August afternoon. The always chic and fabulous, Tanzi of Weddings by Tanzi worked her magic again, transforming the comfy cottage atmosphere into a romantic Tuscan theme with a modern color palette twist. As Shayla gleefully prepared to meet her groom at the alter, Michael was cool as a cucumber hanging out with his best friends. It was a long time in the making, but these two make getting married look good! Congratulations Shayla and Michael!