ALOHA

It seems like Mother's Day is the perfect time to post this sweet newborn lifestyle session I had with this little three-month old peanut recently. He chose to come into the world quite a bit earlier than expected, but if you had mamas as awesome as these, you’d want to hurry up and join them, too.  : )

There is nothing more enjoyable for me as a photographer than to be invited into a family's home to spend time witnessing them tenderly stoking their baby's forehead, snuggling him close, marveling at his every tiny and perfect feature and just generally loving on each other. <sigh>

sheppard_blog3.jpg

Every room in their home was so fun and a great reflection of who lives here, but I think my favorite might be the nursery with its palm tree wallpaper, surfboard and cool gallery wall. #luckykid

Little Sheppard, I hope when you are older and look back on these photos you can see how incredibly much you are loved. Sam and Q, thank you for inviting me into your home to spend this precious morning with you. If you ever want to do a session in Hawaii, you know who to call! : )

If you want your own family captured in this way, let's chat!

Miss Millie

I was lucky enough to come and spend the morning with little Millie and her family. Many years ago I was on hand to photograph her older siblings, so it was so fun to be able to come back and see them as big brother and sister this time around. I had a great time listening to the running commentary from the older kids and seeing how this group is coming together as a family of five.

It may have been cold and rainy outside, but inside was cozy and snuggly and full of love. I'm so glad I could document those early moments so you have them forever.

Let me capture your family in this same way... contact me to talk about a session!

CATCHING UP

There are so many sessions that haven't made it to the blog! Here is another one of the minis from before the holidays. This little guy had us running all through the park:

That little curl. Come on.

So sweet. I wish I could get in a time machine and have images like this with my 18-year old, 6'2" little boy. Sob!

ANNOUNCING 2016 MINI SESSIONS!

I am thrilled to announce the return of mini sessions for three dates this fall. I’ve chosen three fun locations for you to choose from:

November 5 – Folsom
November 6 – Natomas Regional Park
November 20 – Capitol Park

Your mini-session fee of $250 includes:

  • 20 minutes of shooting time for immediate families, kids, couples or individuals (this is a great way to get some new headshot or for a super quick senior session).
  • A private, online gallery where you can choose and immediately download 10 high-res digital files of your choice to use any way you'd like—for your annual holiday card, prints for your home, or maybe as gifts for Grandma and Grandpa. 
  • The opportunity to also purchase holiday cards, prints, gifts and/or additional digital files.

These limited availability sessions are filled on a first come, first-served basis. The mini session fee of $250 is required to hold your spot, so book yours as soon as you can to get the time you want.

While a mini session can't compare to the completely custom experience of a full session, they are perfect for capturing photos for a holiday card or to mark a milestone. If you prefer the luxury of a full custom session at your home or the outdoor location of your choice, there are only a couple of spots remaining this year so grab one quick!

I'm looking forward to seeing your family in front of my camera this season!

Permission Granted

I give you permission to embrace silly. 

To put your phone away and concentrate on your family completely. 

This should be their album cover.

To get dressed up. And wade right into the river anyway. 

To throw rules out the window, just for the next hour. 

To show your love.

This guy told me right from the get-go that he wasn't smiling and definitely wasn't showing his teeth. OK. Sure. #gotcha

Magic hour is my favorite.

thibodeau_blog__0016.jpg

I couldn't decide if I liked this image better in black + white or color, so I'm putting both in. What's one more?

Before and after. Personally, I like the wet and sandy look better : )

I love how she is looking at her Mama.

He would still be in there throwing rocks if it were up to him. : )

thibodeau_blog__0014.jpg

On my getting to know you questionnaire, Mom wanted to remember how happy her family is and how much they love each other. I hope when they look back on these images, they will always remember this warm summer day at the river, and they feel this love.

Want your own session like this? Contact me so we can set something up!

First day of school photo tips

With a son heading off to college in a few weeks, I'm feeling especially nostalgic and started looking through my archives of first day of school photos. Here are some from 10 years ago, when these two were heading to Kindergarten and third grade. I love seeing that my 6'1" son doesn't even come up to the peephole in these, and that my daughter chose a ladybug lunchbox.

With the first day of school right around the corner for some of us, I thought I’d post just a few tips for getting great photos of your kids before they head off to start another year. 

just do it.
You don’t need a fancy camera - your smartphone is great! Just make sure you capture that first day. In fact, if you use your smartphone, make sure you get a little video, too. You can stitch it into your 1 Second Everyday app later.

scope out areas ahead of time. 
Time is always short on the first morning of school, so look for a suitable spot for photos a day or two before the first day madness.

think about lighting.
Find a spot where your child isn’t squinting. Full shade works well. Try turning in different directions until you find the one where your child’s eyes shine.

capture the details.
I still remember my Holly Hobbie metal lunchbox with the thermos I had in 4th grade… it will be fun for the kids to look back and see what shoes, backpack or lunchbox they picked that year so make sure to capture those details in some of your shots.

go for scale. 
Find a place to take a photo that shows scale. I like using the front door of my house, so every year it’s easy to see how much taller everyone has gotten. You can use a tree, the sign out front of the school, etc.

go close up. 
in addition to a full body shot that shows scale, make sure to get a close up that shows those cute missing teeth/braces/freckles/etc.!

capture the journey to school. 
Do your kids walk? Take the bus? Ride a carpool? Whatever it is, a photo of that process will be fun for them (and you) to look back on in future years. Especially if it involves your older brother walking you to his school for the first time and taking you by the hand.

consider getting in the frame. 
I am guilty of not doing this myself many years, but consider hopping in a photo or two with your kiddos. Your future selves will thank you. If you want my whole take getting in the picture, read this post here.

Happy Back to School! #themostwonderfultimeofyear

FROM THE ARCHIVES - BROTHER AND SISTER SESSION IN DOWNTOWN SACRAMENTO

In my quest to get all my previous sessions posted, here's another gem from last year. I've photographed this brother and sister duo before, during a family session with their mom and dad. This time we squeezed in a mini session in Downtown Sacramento between their activities and the crazy rain that kept popping up. 

This first image might be one of my most favorites ever. They look like they are in Europe somewhere. They actually didn't know I was shooting yet and so this casual, relaxed image is them just waiting for me to get my camera ready (or so they thought!)

lukeaudrey2015_17_lores.jpg

Want a session of your own? Contact me and let's see what we can dream up.

MODELING HEADSHOT SESSION: OLIVIA

Olivia came to me for some headshots for her modeling portfolio. We met in downtown Sacramento early in the morning to avoid the predicted hot temperatures for the afternoon, but it was quite hot already. This young lady was a total pro though. Heat? An audience of brunchgoers watching us shoot? No problem. All in a day's work for her. I, on the other hand, was a sweaty mess. Another reason I stay behind the camera!

Olivia couldn't be a more lovely girl. I can't wait to see what's in store for her in the future!

March in 31 seconds

I am determined to do a better job of memory keeping this year. I want to capture more everyday moments and I want a cool yet easy way to look back on the year. I found it in 1 Second Everyday. Have you heard of it? It's an app where you take a snippet of video every day and the app stitches it into a cool little video. It's so easy and once you see your life put together in one second bits, it's addictive. Here's March in my world:

I think I'll post each month here. It will be so cool to see the whole year boiled down to 365 seconds at the end of this project!

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

1. Because time is flying by
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling like time seems to pass more quickly every year. One minute I had a little baby boy and now suddenly he’s getting ready to graduate from high school. I just wish I could stop time! I can’t stop it, but moments can be frozen with photography. I can see him with his cute little blond curls and knuckle dimples anytime even though now he’s 6’2”. Once you have these images you can revisit your family at these stages again and again. Your children will never be this young again. Your family will never be exactly the way they are today. The time to capture now is now.

People tell me they’re too busy to book a session. They want to wait until things slow down a bit. Newsflash – life doesn’t get less busy. You may be knee deep in diaper changes and feedings now, but later it’ll be carpools, homework and soccer practices. The stages change, but life is always going to be full. We can always find time for things that are important to us; and this should be one of them. Your future self thanks you.

2. Because you need to be in photos, too
In so many cases, one parent is the family photographer – diligently capturing those soccer games and birthday parties – but as a result not in any photographs. Your children want photographs of you and with you, and you owe it to them to do that. 

3. Because your family doesn’t care what you look like
The excuse I hear the most for not booking a session is, “I want to lose weight before I get photos taken.” Well. I have to say that when I look back at photos of my mom and me, or old photos of my long gone relatives, never once have I thought to myself, “Boy, she should have waited to take this photo until she was thinner.” And neither will your children. The fact is, whatever your weight is right now is the way your family has been seeing you anyway – they love you and will want to remember you just as you are. (Besides, do you think if there are no photos of the weight then it didn't happen? Come. On.) 

If you don’t want to capture yourself as you currently look in photos, what are your actions teaching your children? Are you saying that you are only worthy of remembering if you meet some sort of ideal criteria? We are all works in progress, and the fact that we are here on the planet and have people we love and love us is reason enough to get in front of the lens. And, not that I don’t have confidence in your weight loss goals, but what if you never lose that weight? You’ll live out your life with no photos of you for your family to cherish one you’re gone. So, listen…get photos taken now. And next year. And the year after that. Sometimes you might be heavier. Sometimes you might be thinner. Your family doesn’t care what you look like. They love you the way you love them.  And they deserve to see that love in photographs.

4. Because you just never know
Hopefully you’ll have many, many years of family memories ahead of you. But none of us knows that for sure. And if something were to happen to you or one of your family members, the only thing people have to turn to to remember are the photos. 

5. Because this is a great experience in and of itself (really!)
People (most often dads) dread the shoot as something that is going to be awkward and tedious. Maybe they’re scarred from their own family photo memories (in my house we got dressed up in scratchy clothes and trooped down to the local Olan Mills to pose stiffly in front of the fake backdrops and rest our hands on those weird carpeted little props – remember those?) This scene couldn’t be farther from a Christie Spencer Photography shoot! My everyday magic sessions consist of a family doing something fun together – be it making cookies and playing tickle fight on the couch to heading out into a field and jumping off logs and picking wildflowers. This concentrated time just being a family and paying 100% attention to one another doesn’t happen very often in our busy, multitasking lives. We are often rushing from one thing to another, maybe checking our phones as we interact with our kids. More than once it’s been reported back to me that kids say the shoot was the “best day ever” and I think it’s because the kids just really love that concentrated quality time with their parents.

I'd love to capture these memories for you. Let's talk and plan a shoot for your family.

MAGIC HOUR

I have all kinds of sessions that I've never shared here so I'm planning to roll them out and relive them all again!

This family's session was especially fun because this is a repeat family. It's always such an honor to get to capture families through the years. I love seeing how big the kids have gotten and how the family dynamic changes as the kids get older. We booked the session for my favorite time to shoot: magic hour – that hour right before sunset when the light is golden and beautiful. 

The love they have for one another is so apparent. This first image is my favorite kind of family portrait – I love the way Dad and his daughter are embracing, the way Mom is simultaneously adjusting her daughter's clothes and enjoying her son's goofiness, the golden light... it's all magic. 

Sometimes people tell me they don't think their family is interesting enough for photos. I promise – your family just loving each other and being themselves will be plenty interesting.

There was a lot of jumping and running and tickling and general fun to be had during our time together and the scenery of tall grass and large oaks was a beautiful backdrop for it all. After we were finished and walking back to the car this glorious magic hour light gave me this image with their long shadows behind them. This is why I never put my camera away even when we're done! You just never know when an image is going to appear.

If you're looking to capture images like this of your family, send me a message. I'd love to design a session that's just right for your family.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I know that somehow it's already the middle of February (whaaaat?), so the year may not feel so new anymore, but because my birthday is in February the year always starts here for me. 

This photo sums up the year: crazy, fun and together. (BTW: you can't tell here but more than one child was on the verge of tears from being hungry and/or freezing in this photo. Way to pull it together to get the shot, kids!)

This year was FULL. Full of driving the kids to and from school in a city 30 minutes away, all four kids playing soccer in three different cities, school projects and their inevitable drama, driving lessons, filling out college applications, getting meals on the table and laundry folded (again and again and – again?) all while working an office job as well as doing photography sessions and Isis working a demanding job made for full days and weeks that just whizzed by.

This was also the year of The Great Sewer Backup of 2015. Getting the phone call at work that, "Um, there seems to be a leak? In the bathroom?" turned into sewage flooding our downstairs bathroom/hallway/kitchen and needing to remove the bottom three feet of drywall of our walls and take out all the flooring in the entire downstairs...the flooring we had just put in exactly a year prior. The fridge was in the dining room and we would go on a scavenger hunt to find what box held the kitchen items on a nightly basis. We added a couple of workmen to our family for a few weeks there. I think we saw them more than our kids! Even though things were topsy turvy there for a while, everyone had the best attitude. Our life is crazy, but it is great.

Watching Isis and the girls break into spontaneous song and dance in our kitchen last night after our smoke detector started chirping, you'd never know this room used to be in a shambles. And even when it was, things were still pretty darn great. We are luckier than most people on the planet, and better still, we know it. 

I'm excited to see what this year holds. We're excited for more home improvement projects. We have launched a year-long family service project that we are all super inspired by. And we have some things on the calendar to look forward to.

I know I've promised this to myself before, but I'm looking forward to keeping this space more up to date with what what's going on here at Christie Spencer Photography and at home, both for any readers who may have stuck around through this blog drought and for myself, as a record of this life that is speeding by. I have so many sessions from last year that never made the blog, as well as some other photography-related topics that have been on my mind. I also want this space to reflect more of the whole picture around here. I'm excited to share more from our regular life, from DIY house projects to organizing and memory keeping to other things I'm passionate about. 

I hope you'll stay tuned! I think 2016 is going to be amazing. : )

my own at homecoming

I don't get my kids in front of my camera nearly enough. I was thrilled when they wanted me take photos of them on homecoming, although the logistics were quite a challenge! Their respective groups were meeting in different parts of town at the same time, so I had to do some quick shooting but I'm just glad I got to give each of them a little love!

This is her first homecoming. Luckily for me, this spot was right across the street from where she was getting ready. #thatworks The light was so beautiful, and so was she. She told me her friend's sister and sister's friend (are you following that?) were going to do her hair and makeup, and I didn't know what to expect - but wow!

Such fun hair!

Next we raced across town to capture him at his last homecoming. Sniff! Where does the time go?

This was their first homecoming, back when they were still just best friends. : )