Johnson family brings on the charm

The Johnson family has captured my heart once again! I got to walk the fine campus of UNC-Chapel Hill with these gorgeous people for their session. Mark is currently finishing an advanced degree in education at UNC, so the campus holds a big place in their hearts.

Plus, it’s gorgeous!  We kicked off our session in McCorkle Place, which was painted in beautiful fall color.

Also, people walking dogs. Check out how I quickly removed this dog-walking photo bomber, below.

We wanted to recreate this photo on the steps of South Building from two years ago, but currently South Building is blanketed with Campaign banners (possibly for the next 10 years :( …yikes).

 

We had to frame this year’s photo further to the left of the columns of South.

And then there was my attempt to get smiles out of big brother Jacob. He was fighting an ear infection (and we didn’t know it), so truly he was a trooper. And he cracked a few adorable smiles. 

Baby Julia will be turning one in January and she was displaying her best crawling and balancing talents. She is very sweet and on the move!

Here’s one of my favorites from the session. They look absolutely snuggly and cozy and warm. Those kiddo’s sweaters are too cute.

Thank you, Johnson family, for trusting me with your precious memories!

Fall portraits in Duke Forest

The Bisanar family is always a favorite of mine to photograph – they make it so easy. They know what they want out of a photo and they come prepared, well-dressed, even when I ask them to hike into Duke Forest.

They have two children the same ages as my two eldest kiddos and they are sweet and funny and playful. They are not a hot mess like my family. Seeing their family answers many questions I have about what it would look like if I brushed my children’s hair or had them wear matching shoes. It truly quenches my curiouosity.

I get to hang out with the grandparents, too. They have an incredible sense of humor and are always game for whatever I throw their way.

Our most recent portrait session brought us deep into Duke Forest, amongst beautiful fall leaves and afternoon sunlight. There were so many unbelievable natural backdrops that helped make this session a success. Plus, the Bisanars rocked their smiles. 

Until next time!

Baby Charlie’s big day

Baby Charlie’s christening at Duke Chapel was one of the most precious events I’ve ever attended. 

He is all of four months old. All of him completely darling.

His baptismal gown was a reincarnation of his mother Annie’s first communion gown. Charlie must have known how special it was, as he grinned while putting it on.

Family traveled the distance to be with baby Charlie on his big day. Cousins from many states away even had small roles in the ceremony.

And the Godparents from New Jersey visited for the momentous occasion.

It should be noted that baby Charlie slept peacefully for his entire ceremony: as the Cross was traced on his forehead;

during the Homily, Intercessions, Prayers, Blessings and Invocation;

the Baptism and water;

the lighting of the candle;

and many, many, endless rounds of family photos :)

Baby Charlie awakened just in time for some final photos to preserve the memories of the celebration.

He seemed completely satisfied with the ceremony that just took place, and happy in the loving arms of family and friends.

Congratulations, Charlie, on your baptism!

The cutest of sisters

June and Lily aren’t just any two girls. They are sisters. The cutest of sisters.

Whenever I have the opportunity to photograph them and their sweet family I am blessed to be in their company. Seriously. These giggles and smiles make any day better.

Plus, sisters are just so darn special. I have two sisters, so I know the lucky level of friendship these girls feel. I know how easily sisters can make each other laugh (and cry). I know how comfortable they make each other feel. 

When I ask them to snuggle up next to each other for a photo, that’s all the direction I need to give. Because sisters know exactly what to do. They are like puzzle pieces that fit together effortlessly. 

June and Lily always exceed my expectations during their photo sessions. Seeing them grow up together as siblings adds something special to every visit I have with them. 

Girls, treasure each other. And consider yourselves blessed :)

Kylie and Co.

The Moore family just helped me and my camera kick off fall, and I couldn’t have picked a better crew. Kylie just turned two and absolutely lit up in front of the camera. She also has the adorable nickname ‘Squeaky,’ which I got to call her the entire session, so there’s that.

We headed to Yates Mill County Park looking for fall color. And though the leaves haven’t quite popped yet – at least not in Raleigh – this family’s beauty and joy was captivating. 

Who needs leaves when you have these smiles?!

Kudos Moore family on another successful session. Much love to this sweet bunch!

A long three weeks

Here’s the truth: it has been a long three weeks.

In my new role as stay-at-home-freelance-photographer-videographer-mom, I am blessed with keeping my kiddos during their 3-week intercession break from year round school.

That’s three kiddos for three weeks. That computes to
…let’s see here
…math
…UTTER EXHAUSTION.

But my tired is absolutely worth these kids’ smiles.

I choose to treat intercession break as “mommy camp.” I want my kids to have a memorable time away from school, and I also aim to wear them out every single day so that they can rest their little souls in the afternoon. 

Here’s a slideshow of our first intercession break, “mommy camp” style.

What are your favorite school break activities?

Pass the baton

Ages ago I was a runner. I ran track in middle school and probably high school too. I can’t even remember. It was not memorable, possibly because I was so mediocre.

One of my events was the 4 x 100 meter relay. In that event, you sprint with all your might for 100 meters before passing the baton off smoothly to the next sprinter. It was painful and nerve wracking. Again, I was not great at this running thing.

Moving on though…

Lately, the pangs and anxieties of that race have felt all too familiar.

My hubby Jed and I have entered a very exhausting phase of parenting/relationship that I’m going to call the “baton” phase. Daily, there are so many things to accomplish and so many voices talking – otherwise known as life – that Jed and I have to take turns at the helm. One of us flounders around as the parent while the other one recovers, and we pass the baton to one another as needed.

I can’t say that it’s this overt how it all happens, but surely enough, when one of us “can’t even,” the other one steps in. And we don’t necessarily transition the baton smoothly. It’s more like tapping out.

Last week I took “the baton” and traveled sans hubby with all three of my children out of town. I do realize that many moms might not struggle with such a trip at all. I am not one of those moms. Perhaps I am built differently, with different anxieties and capacities and weaknesses and strengths.

The trip included endless amazing experiences, and cherished time spent with my mom and dad. We went on hikes, we went rock hunting, we dined on fancy lunches and dinners, and we trekked through caverns. We had a blast!

Unfortunately, I was somewhat on edge the entire time, and left feeling a bit depleted. I wish that weren’t the case. These days in my kids’ lives are so short and I want to truly savor the moments, but I confess (is that even the right word?…confess) that I sometimes find it a challenge.

I took many pictures to capture the experiences, because I knew in hindsight it would all look pain free and magical, and I’d be better able to see the happiness of it all from a distance. That’s the way photos work. 

I’m not sharing these thoughts in order to gain sympathy. Jed and I chose to parent this many kids; we love having a big family. We are suckers for the pain, and a happy, beautiful, luxurious, blessed pain it is.

When the kids and I returned back home from our travels, I was eager to pass the baton to hubby. I may have even told my kids to not ask me for anything for an hour once we entered the house (and no, that didn’t work). I needed to tap out, to officially be “off the clock.” And hubby was there for me when I needed it. He grabbed the baton for the evening, bathed the kids and put them to bed. I escaped for a fun photo session the next morning, went to the gym and meandered around Target for an hour. It was the break I needed before picking back up the parenting baton.

“Baton parenting” is not perfect – or anything close to perfect, but it is where we are. At least at times.

One thing is certain – I don’t want to be a mediocre parent, like I was a runner. I want Jed and I to be the best parents that our family could have. I welcome insight from more seasoned parents, those long-distance runners out there. Because I recognize that we parents are in this race for the long haul.

Evie, maker of exquisite expressions

This is my third time photographing sweet Evelyn, aka Evie. She has been a little charmer since she was born.

Now, at 14 months old, Evie has perfected the art of exquisite expressions.

I don’t know many toddlers who are experienced in the closed-mouth smile. But Evie has nailed that skill as well.

Even here, when I asked Evie to sit nestled amongst tall, itchy autumn grasses, she obliged, and even applauded a little bit. 

She also has a really cool canine pal named Keno. Keno makes an appearance in most of our photo sessions together. 

Evie is a mover and a shaker now. She kept me on my toes the entire photo session.

I’m betting she keeps mom and dad on their toes as well :) Because, well, that’s what 14-month-old cuties do.

That’s a wrap on the adorable, exquisite Evie and company. 

Check back next time for more incredible families!

Happy shooting :)
Melanie

Having some fun with Lensball

Look what finally arrived at the Busbee studio: my very own Lensball! It is this crazy little spherical lens made out of K9 crystal. I ordered the 80mm version that produces unique and breathtaking images. The company also sells a 60mm version that is lighter weight and a bit better for travel.

I just pulled it out of the box yesterday and am clearly a novice. Using this nifty gadget takes a bit of practice, and slightly better scenery than the woods behind my house where I tested it out. Consider it the widest possible lens on the planet. I am looking forward to bringing this little guy on my next trip!

The lensball itself is seriously high quality and I want to do it justice once I get more experience.

Also, I want to praise the company and its customer service. I originally ordered a Lensball a month or two ago and was unfortunately out of town when it arrived in my mailbox. While I was away, our mailbox was robbed (disgusting, right?) and all of its contents ripped and scattered around our neighborhood. A neighbor found my ripped and emptied Lensball package. The robbers had stolen my sweet little crystal ball. I am very curious how they might be using it, if they didn’t immediately take it to a pawn shop to cash in.

On a whim, and lacking hope, I emailed Lensball customer service and told them what happened. And though it wasn’t the company’s responsibility at all, they offered to replace my stolen Lensball free of charge. I could not believe they were willing to do that! 

Kudos to a company that works to make its customers happy and satisfied. Thank you, Lensball. I hope to create some beautiful images with this gift.

Happy shooting!

Melanie

Welcome to marriage, Josh & Elaine

There is no comparison to the anticipation of photographing a wedding, especially a wedding like Josh & Elaine’s. This couple is beautiful, inside and out, and might be the most down-to-earth bride and groom I have ever worked with. (Though, I confess, I’ve been very blessed with amazing couples).

Josh and Elaine knew exactly what they wanted for their big day – to get married to one another in Carolina Tar Heel fashion. They managed to seamlessly weave together their team spirit and their faith. Folks, I was impressed. 

There were surprises around every corner. Genuine, personal touches from the couple that kept my eyes wide open in amazement the entire day. 

Elaine (bride) had the most gorgeous gown I’ve ever seen AND it had pockets. She had a spectacular playlist blasting as she and her ladies got prepped in the hours before the ceremony. They wore “Nasty Women” tank tops as they sipped mimosas and had their makeup and hair done. And it was clear that Elaine pulled those around her whom she loved the most. She was enjoying her day and had a tour de force behind her. 

Josh (groom) barely slept a wink the night before the wedding, which was coincidental because one of the quotes shared during their ceremony was this (credit: Dr. Seuss): “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” 

Shooting weddings is no easy task, but it is the most extraordinary challenge of all photography, and I adore being a part of something so important. 

Below, I’ll share a few favorites from the day. Trust me when I say it’s tough to narrow these down. 

By clicking the below image, you can view the entire Sneak Peek album.

Portal to Pixieset Sneak Peek image gallery. Click to view all the images from Josh & Elaine's Sneak Peek album.