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photo shoot ~ how to have a perfect family portrait session, featuring kevin, melissa, & emmet

gorgeous outdoor family photoSince these are dear friends of mine, and I feel like we got the perfect family photos, I thought it might be fun to do a different kind of post where I share lots of tips on how to have a great family portrait session ~ from the perspective of the client and the photographer.  No, I wasn’t the client in this session, but I know these two well enough to know what went into this session from their end. :)  And with family photo season {aka holiday-portrait-booking-time} right around the corner, this seemed like a good idea.

First, let me introduce you to this ridiculously good-looking family..Meet Kevin {dad}, Melissa {mom}, and Emmet {perfect one year old}.  I mean, really.  How cute are they??

Okay, so this post is probably gonna jump all over the place a bit, just warning you.  But I think it might be helpful and fun, plus there’s pretty pix to look at, so win-win-win, right? :)

family with one year old photoFirst tip {for the client}:

If you have a vision, go for it!  Meaning, if you have an idea of what you’d love for your family photos to look like, clue the photographer in and do your part, too.  Melissa knew she wanted really nice, dressy photos.  She wasn’t going for an everyday, normal, real life look.  More like “real life, but polished and shined and fancied up a little” {my words, not hers}.  She communicated this clearly with me when we discussed location options.  I live in a different town than they do, so she thought about what outdoor setting would work well for their dressy session.

Now, I’m sure Melissa would be the first to tell you that she’s a mom like any other mom, so she doesn’t always wear gorgeous, floaty maxi dresses and have her hair done in a perfectly messy braided ‘do.  But she does love pretty pictures, so she went all out for this session and I’m so happy she did!  Like she told me when we were discussing plans for this shoot, “this only happens once a year”.  And sometimes it only happens once every few years, if you’re like most families.  So, she had Kevin {who is totally a t-shirt type of guy on a normal daily basis} go buy a suit for this session.  She knew he’d also be able to wear it to some weddings they had this summer anyway, so why not get it for family photos?  She gave him an idea of what we were going for with their session and then sent him shopping.  Good job, guys! :)laughing kissing coupleSecond tip {for the photographer}Always, always try to get at least a few photos of just mom and dad during a family session.

I shot Kevin & Melissa’s wedding a few years ago, and like most couples, they haven’t done a photo session since then.  So in other words, they were overdue for some photos of themselves.  :) Plus, since they’re new parents, I wanted to document that they’re still a couple who are deeply in love instead of just being “mom and dad”.  I mean, being mom and dad is pretty awesome, but so is being husband and wife! :)  {There’s a couple more of my favorites of just the two of them farther down this post in their second outfits.}the cutest father son photoThird tip {for the photographer and the client}: Not every portrait has to be a looking-at-the-camera-and-smiling-picture!  Yes, smiles are great and fun, and we fortunately got several of those, but Emmet was in a more serious mood for some of the session, and guess what?  Some of my favorites are the serious ones!  Just look at the pic above and tell me how cute it is?!  It seriously melts my heart, as does the one below, which is another serious one. sweet mother son phototoddler walking with parentsAnd when I say it doesn’t have to be a looking-at-the-camera photo, this is what I mean.  I was completely captivated by Emmet’s perfectly wispy one-year-old curls, so I wanted to showcase them in some of the photos.  This next one had the added benefit of showing Melissa being a hot mama in action in the background. :)cute toddlertoddler with momone year old in tie portraitFourth tip {for the photographer and client} Go for the good light!  I will always prefer early morning or later evening light because it’s just kinda magical.  I try to book sessions according to when the light will be best, and it’s so nice when clients trust me about session times.  Melissa even fed Emmet a little earlier than normal to ensure we’d be shooting during the good light.  :)colorful dressy family photosperfect family photo in evening lightFifth tip {for the photographer}:  Details, details ~ don’t forget to capture the details!  Baby’s toes aren’t gonna be chubby forever.  Mom doesn’t wear a sparkly dress everyday and dad doesn’t always wear a suit.  Plus, look how Melissa hands are wrapped around Emmet, and see how Kevin is touching her hip just so?  Little things like that are so very sweet to me, and I love capturing them for my clients to see ~ especially because it’s stuff they probably do unconsciously and don’t even think about until they see it in the photos.    family photo detailsdressy family photoSpeaking of capturing details {and moving on to their second outfits}, I like to get the “good shot” and then try to move in for more intimate detail shots while they’re still in the same pose.  Working with a one year old, I had to move quickly here, because Emmet wasn’t trying to stay in one place for too long.  Luckily, we were wearing him out a little at this point ;), and I was able to capture the following images right after I got the one up above.sleepy babycurious babysweet one year oldGoodness, this boy is so handsome!  perfect one year old portraitone year old curlsSixth tip {for the photographer and client}:  Don’t forget to have fun!  

Sure, it was a dressy family session, but we still tried to do some fun poses.  We had to keep moving a lot, since Emmet doesn’t really like being still.  So we went with it, moving from one pose to another.  Not all of them turned out great, and in some cases, I only really liked one pic from a certain pose {like the following image}, but you really only need one good one per pose, right? :)  If something isn’t working or the kids are getting restless, move on.  Try to keep it relaxed {photographer} and try to stay relaxed {client}.  If you really are enjoying yourselves, that comes through in the photos. timeless fun family portraitRemember when I talked about capturing the details?  I knew Melissa had gotten her hair done for this session, so I wanted to show off the wonderful braids and waves in some of the pix.  Added bonus here: snuggles from her favorite boys!adorable messy braid updoAnd here’s a couple more of just Kevin and Melissa, like I talked about earlier.  {Personal side note:  I’ve been friends with Kevin for well over a decade now, and every time I see him and Melissa, it makes my heart so happy to see how perfect they are for each other!  I just love them, and I’m so happy Kevin found his kindred spirit. :)}magical evening light sweet coupleNow, you might wonder what we did with Emmet while taking photos of just Kevin and Melissa, which leads to the next tip….

Seventh tip {for the client}:  Bring someone along to help with the kid(s).

This isn’t a must-have, but it’s a huge help!  And sure, as the photographer I could bring someone along to help, but it seems to go much better when the extra person is someone whom the child or children know and feel comfortable with.  So, big shout out to Melissa’s awesome mom Lori for coming along and helping us out with Emmet!

Although, I have to admit that no matter who was doing the helping, there was no way any of us were getting Emmet to keep this hat on his head for more than one pic.  Haha!  But no worries, we just used it as a prop in other pix.  :)one year boy in hatcute mommy and son photofamily full length poseEighth tip {for the photographer}:  If you’ve got a field of flowers and a girl in a pretty dress, take a picture!  Now, obviously I’m kind of joking, but truth be told, sometimes as photographers we get caught up in our primary goal for the session {in this case, pretty family photos and one year old photos of Emmet}, and we might miss out on an opportunity for a great shot.  I always like to try to remind any moms I know that they’re all gorgeous women!  How better to do that than to make them pose in front of some flowers? :)  Plus now Kevin has a pic to use for his #WomanCrushWednesday post. ;)field of flowers portraitI’m dying over how cute Emmet was in this outfit.  Seriously.  Melissa did such a good job picking out perfect outfits for him!  cute one year old boy photoshandsome toddler in tieI can’t think of any more tips from this collaboration, so now you just get to enjoy the photos.  :)  sweet family photosweet father son phototimeless black and white family portraitAll the credit for this too cute pose goes to Kevin & Melissa.  So, so fun!  :)the cutest family photosfamily feet portraitfun family photoWe’ll end with one of my favorite family photos I’ve ever taken.  :)perfect dressy family photoKevin & Melissa~

Thank you for being my dream clients and amazing real-life friends.  I love you guys and Emmet so much!  Seriously.  Y’all are the best and our friendship makes my heart so happy. <3

~abi~

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true life stories ~ styling a wedding for lover.ly & over-thinking everything, as always

You wanna know something interesting?  When you start doing outfit posts on your blog, you start getting contacted about posting stuff for companies.  I mean, I have not even started tiptoeing down the path of being a legit style blogger, but apparently people pay attention to those type of posts.  So, I’m not sure yet what direction I will go when and if I get more such offers, but I did decide to take on this one today.  I was contacted by a nice girl from lover.ly, which is a pretty cool site for planning a wedding or simply daydreaming about weddings.  {I know, I know, that’s what you thought Pinterest was for!  Turns our there are lots of wedding-dreaming sites..}  I hadn’t heard of lover.ly before, but it seems like a great resource for brides-to-be!  {They’re a fun Instagram follow, as well – even if you’re not a bride.}  They invited me to style a wedding -choosing dress, shoes, and headpiece from their site- based on a specific location.  They sent me images of three different locations, and I chose the “Rustic Elegance” option, because I have always thought about getting married on my grandparents’ farm in Iowa.  And even if I don’t do that, I know I’d prefer an outdoor-ish wedding if that day ever comes.

Cue the over-thinking.

I went back and forth between the thoughts that this would be a fun, cool little thing to do, versus this is so lame because I am a single girl styling a hypothetical wedding.  In the end, the cool-fun factor won, as it usually does with me. :)  So, let’s not over-think it, and just jump into the styling stuff.

loverlySince I am styling for a pretend bride who I am pretending is me {did I mention this is all pretend??}, of course I chose the shoes first!  I knew I would want heels, because, duh.  But I wanted a thicker heel that would work for walking around outside without sinking into the ground.  I scrolled through pages and pages of shoes before I saw them, just as pretty as could be, calling out to my soul….these perfect little mint booties!  If those don’t scream elegance, I don’t know what does.  They’re basically everything I would want in a wedding shoe.  At least right now.  I reserve the right to change my mind when the mood strikes.  But really, these are pretty great.  Decent heel height, open toe, timeless design, gorgeous color.  Not too frilly, but still delicate in their own way.  Maybe I need to stop talking about the shoes now.

Okay.  The dress.  Oh my word.  It’s so beautiful, y’all!  I can’t even handle it.  Look at the details!  It’s just insanely divine!  And it’s a good thing those shoes weren’t wicked expensive, because I’m pretty sure this dress is.  When it says “Price On Inquiry”, well, there goes my pretend wedding budget.  Because, man, I {pretend} need this dress!  First I need to work on getting a flat stomach and better posture.  #pretendweddinggoals  Also, that length would be perfect for an outdoor wedding, since it wouldn’t drag and possibly get caught on twigs in the enchanted forest setting of our Rustic Elegant affair.  And now I am going to force myself to stop staring at that gorgeous dress so we can move on to the headpiece.

I chose the shoes and dress so easily, but I struggled a bit with the headpiece.  I feel like this one could be a little cliche, with the blue feathers and birdcage veil.  Are birdcage veils overdone?  I want to be unique at my pretend wedding, not like all the other brides!  I looked at a few mesh-type veils {I have no idea what they’re called} like this one, but in the end, the blue feathers were calling my name.  Green is my favorite color and blue is my second-favorite color, so I know I’ll have those two colors in my wedding, whether it’s pretend or real.  So I had to go with this headpiece.  Plus, I like the nature-y element of the feathers, since it is a Rustic Elegant pretend wedding, after all.

Just fyi: I was not paid or compensated in any way for this post, I just thought it would be fun to do.  Oh, and I believe they will share it on their social media over at lover.ly, but that’s it.  And just in case you are planning a for-real wedding, be sure to check out lover.ly and what they have to offer, starting with perusing for the perfect dress!

Hope you all enjoyed my pretend-wedding styling today! :)

~abi~

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cherylAugust 20, 2014 - 6:32 pm

I enjoyed reading this!

photo shoot ~ brittany’s headshots

B43Here’s an embarrassing fact: I never know if I should write “headshots” or “head shots”… My bff Dictionary.com doesn’t help me too much, considering it tells me either one is acceptable.  So today, I’m going with headshots, all one word – despite my computer putting a little red dotted line under it in protest. :)

Anyway.  This is my lovely niece Brittany.  She is going to college at Oklahoma City University with a theatre performance/education double major, and she needed some headshots.  I was happy to oblige and asked her to meet up at the Plaza District, which is one of my favorite areas in OKC.  There’s such a good variety of backgrounds available within a short walking distance, and we took advantage of the great location, nice weather, and pretty morning light.

black and white and yellow

B66B28B45Maybe I am biased because she is my niece, but I think Brittany is the best at doing subtle facial expression changes.  I mean, look at this – exact same pose with just a tiny difference in the expressions, yielding a different look in each shot!  Impressive. :)

colorful headshotsB12B77Usually I am battling the Oklahoma wind, but sometimes I don’t mind the little bit of supermodel-wind-machine look it kicks in at just the right time. :)

B80Brittany~

Thanks for being a fab poser and fun girl to hang out with. :)  I’m glad you chose me to do your headshots!  Love ya!

~abi~

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that’s what she wore ~ plus a whole lot of my current life story, which is really a lot of rambling about reading books and other mostly harmless addictions

rolled jeansI’ve always known I have an addictive personality, meaning {according to my definition} that I have a tendency to get addicted to things.  This is why I never started drinking until I was twenty-five {well, this and an unhealthy dose of Baptist upbringing ;)}, because I was afraid if I ever started I might never stop.  At the age of twenty-five, I finally realized that if I’d have enough self-control to not drink {even while hanging out around much drinking}, then maybe I had enough self-control to not become an alcoholic.  While that remains to be proven, I guess, so far it’s working out okay for me.

On the other hand, I don’t currently or haven’t in the past fared so well with the addictive tendencies in some areas, including but not limited to, the following: food, extreme eyebrow grooming, my love life aka certain guys who shall remain nameless, and reading books.  Yes, reading books; which is really the topic on which I wish to dwell today.  I have an ongoing struggle when it comes to my love of {aka: addiction to} reading.  {Same story as my non-love-life, but really, who wants to read about that?  And even if anyone did, I don’t really want to write about it.  Except, obviously, for mentioning it in melancholy and ironic and mostly very sarcastic ways as often as I can sneak it into other posts which are decidedly not about my non-love-life.}  Now, where were we?  My struggle with reading goes like this, and has for most of my life as far as I can remember: I choose a book to read that seems interesting to me.  I start reading it.  I don’t stop until I finish it.  Literally.  As in, all other reasonable activities, such as sleep, housework, actual work, etc., seem suspended in time, as if I am incapable of continuing on with my own life until I have neatly or not so neatly wrapped up the life of whoever I am reading about in my chosen book.  The only exception to this is when I sometimes become so tired that I cannot force my eyes to keep functioning any longer, so I go to sleep and finish the book as soon as possible the next day.

I am not exaggerating or being dramatic, I promise.  Here’s a true life story, which happened last night/this morning, and prompted this long-winded post in the first place: I laid down in my bed thoroughly exhausted from a wonderful weekend full of photographing a beautiful wedding, spending time with friends, and attending a meeting and church and a concert.  I was so very tired.  But, and I’m sure this happens to everyone occasionally, I could not fall asleep.  Just couldn’t.  And I had been itching to read a good book for awhile, since this is a pleasure I have to ration to myself {remember the addiction?  we’ll come back to this rationing thing}.  Anyway, so around midnight last night, I thought it would be a grand idea to start reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple.  I had seen it recommended by people online {I forgot to mention my addiction struggles with social media, blogs, Pinterest, etc.}, but to be honest, I was mostly charmed by the cute cover and figured it would be a fun, easy read.

Turns out it is entirely too fun and easy of a read, as I proceeded to stay up reading until nearly five! thirty! this morning!  Did I mention I have to be at work at eight a.m. every weekday?  And today is a weekday.  So, I forced myself to stop reading in time to get at least two hours of sleep.  And yes, for those of you doing the math, that allows thirty minutes for me to get up and get to work.  Which obviously ended up being less than thirty minutes, because I am a grown adult who shot a wedding and attended a concert and needs more {much more!} than two hours of sleep, so of course I hit snooze a couple of times before finally acknowledging I had to be work in about fifteen minutes.  Fortunately for me, I am a person who prefers laying down in bed as a clean human being, so I generally bathe at night, which not only helps me feel like I’m not bringing dirtiness into my bed, but also has the added benefit of allowing me bits of extra sleep in the morning.  {Of course, this only applies to mornings when I don’t go run with my friend Deidra, which is a habit we have formed over the last month or so.  But thank goodness that’s only a few times a week and not every day.  Sorry, I am veering way off subject here, and now you know way more about me than you ever wanted or needed to know.  Let’s get back to the matter at hand.}  So, today I made it to work just a few minutes after eight o’clock; which, let’s be honest, really isn’t that out of the norm anyway for a Monday morning, so no harm done, right?  Oh, and rest assured that I finished the book this morning before I started writing this post, since I had gotten through most of it last night anyway.  It’s a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it.  I also recommend finding an office job that allows time for reading, if you’re so inclined.

So, you can see what I mean when I say I struggle with reading.  I bet a lot of you can probably relate.  So tell me something, how do you deal with your addiction tendencies, whether it’s reading or other good or bad things?  Here’s what I do, which I’m not saying is the best thing:

I tend to almost never allow myself to do whatever it is I feel the addiction pull toward.  Such as eyebrow grooming.  I’ve always had a thing with eyebrows, and I used to tweeze the heck out of mine.  I blame the 90′s.  Sorry, eyebrows of mine and of my friends, whom I would also try to pull into my addiction, much like a druggie might.  Fortunately, my eyebrows are the resilient type and they kept on a-coming, so a few years ago, I became addicted to having them threaded.  At some point, I realized maybe there was a better use of my time and money than going every other week to the very funny, extremely cool lady named Sooki who threaded them for me.  So I quit cold turkey and haven’t looked back.  The problem is that I pretty much neglect my brows to the point of looking unkempt now, which I excuse because I say I want fuller brows {I really do!} and I wear glasses so my eyebrows are sort of hidden anyway, right?  Every once in awhile, I allow myself to do a bit of clean up tweezing, but I don’t let myself dwell on it or I’d be right back in that threading chair chatting with Sooki every other week and getting questioned about why a nice girl like me is still single and being told I should move to Europe where I would surely, quickly, and easily find a husband.

But back to reading.  {See what lack of sleep does to my brain?!}  I treat it the same as I do my brows, unfortunately.  I don’t really allow myself to read too often, because I know once I start the book, I will avoid at all costs putting it down until I am finished with it.  I should say that I am referring to fictional novels in this post.  When I read a serious, non-fiction book, I tend to take my sweet time.  But anyway,  I hate that I have such a lack of self-control with the fun books, because I really love to read, and I imagine if I worked on my self-control a little, I could probably enjoy reading more books since it wouldn’t disrupt my life the way it does now.  Same with my non-love-life, but let’s not go there..

I feel strongly as if I’ve rambled on quite more than enough today, so I thought why not share some outfit pix, since that might stem the tide of words that seems to be flowing out of me at the moment.  These photos were taken a few months ago by my sister Mandi, and once again feature some thrifted style.  The jeans came from GoJane, but everything else came from a thrift store. :)

thrifted street style outfitthrifted polka dot blousethrfited bright chevron flatsneon green sweaterHope you all have a wonderful Monday, and that you get more than just a couple hours of sleep tonight!

~abi~

p.s. Tell me about your lame addiction tendencies and how you deal with them!

All photos in this post were taken by my sis Mandi.

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Jon FisherAugust 11, 2014 - 8:32 pm

I wish I had a little bit of your reading habit. Although, I have forced myself to finish 10 books in the last month. That feat was made possible in large part by quitting social media and generally not being social for a month.

Hi. My name is Jon, and I had a social media problem. More specifically, I had a problem acquiring self-worth from external sources. Social media was just the easiest source of approval because it was always there, in my pocket.

I was recently handed a bad situation, and I reacted poorly to it. I let my anger and hurt feelings get the best of me. And when I ran to social media for that instant mood boost, I found that, because of the nature of the situation, social media was now a source of pain rather than comfort. I became an angry, bitter person who shouted negativity at anyone who would listen. I didn’t like the person I had become.

So I decided to unplug for a while to focus on myself, alone, and gain some perspective. I quietly deactivated or deleted all of my precious social media accounts, cleared my calendar, and went silent. It was more than a week before anyone noticed I was gone. It made me wonder if a lot of my friendships existed only because I was constantly putting myself in front of them on various screens. Slowly, those who do care about me noticed and reached out. Instead of learning about their lives in 140 characters or less, I sat down with them for lunches, happy hours, dinners, or just on a couch talking. Those friendships grew deeper and more meaningful.

The time away really helped me get my head together. I know what’s important now. I know where I want to be. I’m not there yet, but I know I’m on the road to getting there.

I guess what I’m trying to say is you get to decide which things become part of you. You get to decide what is important to you and what is noise. The problem is, most of us never slow down enough to be still and figure that out. It takes effort. A lot of it. But there are more hidden than obvious benefits to be had when take we the time and make the effort to be truly present.

Decide what’s important and focus on being the best version of you.

Also worth reading is Merlan Mann’s take on the same subject: http://www.merlinmann.com/better/

Sorry I just word-vomited on your blog.

Abi RuthAugust 19, 2014 - 3:07 am

What a great comment, Jon! I am glad to hear you are in a good place now. Prioritizing life is hard, especially when it comes to social media! Sounds like you are now doing a good job of that, though. Do you have a blog?? Maybe you should! :)

photo shoot ~ church staff headshots

LC BB Staff 03Yesterday, I posted pix of my friends Vince & Melissa and their fam.  Vince is the campus pastor at the new LifeChurch.tv campus over on Britton and Broadway.  A couple of weeks ago, he asked me to come take a few staff photos for them.  We did a couple group ones and then some headshots for any of the staff who needed them.  Just thought I’d share them here.  And of course, I love my church so I want to encourage anyone who is looking for a church to check out a LifeChurch.tv campus! :)

Okay, let’s all pause for a moment of envy over Jamie’s rock-star-cool hair and oh-so-perfect skin.  Jealous sigh.  ;)

LC BB Staff 12LC BB Staff 19LC BB Staff 24LC BB Staff 21LC BB Staff 16LC BB Staff 27Happy rainy Wednesday, friends!

~abi~

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