Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Kate is One!

Last December, a very dear friend of mine had a baby girl.  This little one was not supposed to arrive until mid-January, but showed up right before the end of December.  Guess she wanted to be a 2010 baby!!  So, a while back, my friend asked if she could hire me to take Kate's one year old photos.  Of course, I said yes... but since I don't feel that I have the right equipment or skills to take indoor photos, I offered to take the photos for Kate's birthday gift.

So, the day after Christmas, these 2 beautiful girls showed up at my house for a little photo shoot.  Kate was absolutely adorable and full of energy.  She certainly kept me on my toes as she she never stopped moving (smile)!  We followed her around just "playing" and I snapped away trying to capture her personality.  In one of the photos below, you can see she is holding a Santa ornament shaped like a bell.  She had so much fun playing with it and rolling it around on the hard wood floor (especially because Christmas ornaments are normally off limits).  We were having such a great time watching her (and I was snapping away) that we didn't think about the possibility of the inevitable... yep, she threw that bell down with authority on the hard wood floor and it shattered.  One year olds are strong and QUICK!  So, now that little photo is all that remains of Santa Bell (smile!).

My favorite is the first photo.  I love the little smile that appeared on her face as she gazed up at her mom (whom she resembles so much!).  Absolutely adorable!

On the technical side of things, I struggled with the lighting throughout the shoot and still have so much to learn about adjusting my camera's settings.   In addition, I am always striving for that super sharp edge and shooting a moving target presents quite a challenge when trying to achieve that.  I definitely learned a lot, but will not be offering indoor shoots any time soon. Of course, when I can do something special for a friend I love, I am willing to accept the challenge.

I hope that little Kate puts a smile on your face.  She is just as sweet and delightful as she looks in the photos!

Friday, December 23, 2011

More Christmas Celebrations!

We celebrated Christmas with my husband's family last week end.  He has a large family and not everyone lives locally, so it is pretty special that we are all able to gather and celebrate Christmas together!  As the nieces and nephews grow older, there seems to be less toys and more "grown up" gifts being exchanged.  I can remember when we were first married and the nieces/nephews were young... it looked like a toy store when they were done opening their goodies.  I think my husband had just as much fun playing with all the new toys as the kids!

What I look forward to the most is the FOOD... especially my mother in law's beef and noodles.  Oh, they have the traditional ham and plenty of side dishes, but all I really want is a big plate of beef and noodles.  Yum!  Yes, I know, I could make them myself (insert laughing from all my family and friends here... cooking is not on my list of fun things to do!) but it is a special treat for me every Christmas.

Of course, I am not the only one with a camera at this event.  There were plenty of point and shoot cameras popping off and one other Nikon D40 (my sister in law has the same camera as mine - she has good taste in cameras too :-).  The kids (and adults too) know the drill... open gift, hold up item, smile for picture.  I think it would actually be more funny to see a video of this little event.  I was looking through some of my childhood Christmas photos and there are plenty of photos showing myself and my siblings holding up a special Christmas gift.  It's fun to see (and remember) those special gifts from long ago.  I'm sure our nieces and nephews will enjoy seeing the same kinds of photos when they are grown up.

One of our nieces is a 7th grader.  She received some nifty new clothes... and of course, we wanted her to model them (she has been modeling her new duds on Christmas since she was old enough to dress herself!).  We all love to "oooo" and "ahhh" over how cute she looks!  This year I asked her to do a little photo shoot outside and she agreed!  It was breathtakingly beautiful with the snow gently falling and leaving a white blanket over everything.  She was a natural and I got some amazing shots.  I've included a few of the pictures below.  I thinks she is beautiful... and she also happens to be an incredibly kind and generous young person as well!

We'll be celebrating Christmas this week end with my family, so there will be more photos next week!  Thanks for visiting my blog... Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Card Photos

My sister in law had asked me a while back to take some photos of my nieces and nephews for the annual Christmas card.  I LOVE taking photos of these kids and they are used to seeing me with my camera... most of time they are AWESOME little photo subjects.  I think it helps that I've been pointing a camera at them since birth... they are pretty comfortable in front of the camera (smile).

Normally, I am just shooting the "moments" as they occur.  The kids are doing their thing and I'm snapping away.  However, this little photo shoot had a specific purpose.  The kiddos had to dress up in their Christmas finery and basically pose for some Christmas-y photos.  They were pretty good sports about it, but trying to get 4 small children to all look at the camera at the same time (and possibly smile naturally - ha!) is quite a challenge.  I normally do not offer to take indoor photos for anyone because I am more of a natural light photographer and I'm much better at taking outdoor shots.  ...but I'll do ANYTHING for those nieces and nephews and my family.  So, there I was, IN the house, taking Christmas card photos.  Yes, the lighting was a HUGE challenge and the littlest one had her OWN ideas about how this was all going to go down, but in the end, I think we got some great pictures.  I especially LOVE the one of them lying in front of the fireplace (their idea) because I have a very similar photo of me and my siblings lying in front of our Christmas tree when we were little.  I added some snow to one of the photos just for fun (a freebie on a photography website that I wanted to try out) and that picture was the oldest nephew's favorite.

When I look at these photos, I am reminded of all the fun my family had at Christmas time when I was their age.  It's such a special time... Santa, the excitement, the magic!  When my nieces and nephews are all grown up, I hope these photos will bring back the magical feeling of  childhood Christmas!

Check out my fake snow! 

This is totally staged!  I told them to act "annoyed"... and they were cracking me up!  
I like this one as much as the smiley ones!
Title:   "Are we done yet?"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's a Christmas Party!

I've been throwing a holiday party to "kick off" the Christmas season for my family every year since I moved into my own apartment (which would be about 20+ years ago!).  When I started this tradition, I squeezed everyone into the tiny living room in my apartment.  They were good sports and it was always FUN!  One year my Grandmother (who lived to be 100 years old!) brought us all these little envelopes filled with pictures we had given her as children... and a "glow in the dark" rosary.  She was always doing cute things like that and I miss her!

So, the party tradition continues...  we have gifts for the nieces and nephews, door prizes for the adults (this year I bought gift certificates to 3 local businesses - I like to support our local small businesses as much as I can! - check out Reinos Pizza, The Tiffin Bake Shop and Rosie's!), food and drinks and a game /activity for the kiddies.  We always have a wonderful time and the kids provide lots of entertainment!

It's a fun way for all of us to get into the holiday spirit and I'm sure we'll continue the tradition for many more years to come.  I'm posting some photos from our celebration below.  I hope you enjoy the images and maybe, they'll remind YOU of your own holiday traditions!

If you want to view without the blog distractions, just click one photo and you can view as a slideshow.

PS - Today I photographed some on my nieces and nephews for their family Christmas card... I'll be blogging and posting some photos later this week, so check back if you are interested!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

...a time to be thankful.  I love Thanksgiving - time with my family, annual shopping with a friend (none of the crazy shopping in the middle of the night, just a nice lunch and a relaxing afternoon of shopping) and of course, decorating the house for Christmas.  

Thanksgiving is always such a fun day with my family.  We eat, we talk... there's lots of good food and good wine - and everyone is relaxed.  My parents set a beautiful table for us complete with my maternal grandmother's crystal water goblets, my paternal grandparent's silver flatware and their own china place settings.  There are plenty of beautiful fall colors in the candles and flowers.  The house smells amazing and we often sit at the table long after all the food has been consumed just talking and enjoying each other's company (the kids have all eaten and escaped to the other room).  Sometime in the afternoon, we take a walk over to the Circle K to get hot cocoa (or frozen drinks, as this year it was pretty warm outside!).  I can't remember when we started doing this, but it has become a tradition.  It's about a 40 minute round trip.  My nephew, who is 5, was so excited about this walk.  I guess he wasn't allowed to go last year because he was "too little" (or at least that is how he remembers it - it could have been the not so great weather conditions...  ).  Well, he was big enough this year and had a great time.  I love that my nieces and nephews get so excited about the little things like taking an afternoon walk.  

My husband and I always decorate for Christmas the week end after Thanksgiving.  For years, we tagged a live tree and had my brother deliver it the Sat. after Thanksgiving.  I just loved the smell of the live tree in the house.  In fact, I even had a live tree before I was married and lived in an apartment.  One year, I was out of town the Sat. after Thanksgiving and asked my brother to just "drop off the tree" at my apartment.  He and my Dad would cut off the bottom and put it in the tree stand for me.  Well, when I returned, there was my tree, all set up and ready to be decorated. The funny part of this story is where I found the piece of trunk that they had chopped off before putting the tree in the stand.  It was in the microwave!!!   They thought this was hilarious - not just because of where they hid it, but because it took me about a month to notice it was in there (that tells you how much cooking I did!!).  Cleaning the sticky sap out of the microwave wasn't so funny, but it did make me laugh (they laughed hysterically when I called to "yell" at them!).  My husband and I have an artificial tree and it is just as lovely (...I do miss the smell but not all the needles!).  When we hang the ornaments, I'm reminded of a person or an event - it's like hanging little memories!  The picture below of the little angel inside the plastic holder is from my childhood.  I think there were a couple of these ornaments (with something inside them) and I remember them hanging on our family tree each year.  I love seeing it hang on my tree today as a reminder of those special Christmas times when I was very young.

Now all we need is some SNOW and it will really feel like the holiday season has begun!  I'm sure I'll be posting some wintery fun photos when winter finally decides to stick around! 

...my niece was holding a white card so I could learn how to make a fake polaroid!  
I'd seen this on a website and wanted to try it out... I think it looks pretty neat!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kyle's Senior Photo Session

Today I photographed a very handsome Senior boy!  I have known Kyle since he was 6 years old... because he was a student in my first grade class many years ago.  I remember what a wonderful little boy he was and how much I enjoyed being his teacher.  He has grown to become a kind, well mannered, friendly, funny and mature young man.  This is the kind of young man that my first graders can look up to - the kind of person I want them to become!  A few weeks ago, he visited my classroom to read a story to my first graders.  You should have seen the looks on their faces - they were just in awe! I'm so proud to have been a part of his educational journey.

We decided to take pictures on the campus of Heidelberg University and it was a picture perfect day.  The sun was shining with a few clouds helping to soften the light, the air was crisp and cool and campus was very, very quiet (it was before 10am and I'm guessing the students were all asleep :-).  If you have not taken a stroll around the campus, you should!  It is quite beautiful and provided lovely background material for our photos. 

I had so much fun hanging out with Kyle and his mom.  Kyle's mom helped in my classroom when I had her kids in my class.  She is a pretty amazing person and I am so grateful that she was able to give up her free time and spend it in my classroom.  We haven't seen each other for years so it was great fun chatting and laughing during the photo session.  

Kyle was such a good sport!  I told him how my nephew was worried about how long it was going to take... and he didn't ask once "are we done yet?" (smile)  He said he was trying to learn from my nephew - which made me laugh!  He posed, smiled, squatted, sat in the grass, climbed down to a creek, sat on rocks, posed by his jeep and even let me take a few shots of him and his mom!  It was pure fun for me (and I hope a little fun for him too :-).  I got so many great pictures that it is really difficult not to edit, edit, edit and keep editing!  When you have personality, it shows... and you can see Kyle's in each and every photo.  

I decided to play around with a few of the pictures I've edited by creating some collages.  I especially like the photos with his football helmet and football... I had to lay flat on my belly to get the shot, but it was worth it!  I hope you enjoy viewing a few of Kyle's Senior Pictures!

PS  If you want to view the photos with a black background and no "blog distractions", just click the first photo and then scroll to see them all. :-)