The lights of my life

All the twinkling lights of the season had me eager to get my own sweet kiddos in front of the camera. This can be tricky, because my kids sometimes love to avoid my camera and I.

But this attempt was a success, thanks to my little blessings.

My plan started with two strands of white Christmas lights that I strung (with temporary decorating clips) to the wall and floor. I selected a blank wall at random. My home has many blank walls from which to choose because I haven’t yet decorated it, even though I moved in more than two years ago.

placed a little wooden chair about three feet in front of the lights, not knowing yet if I’d use it or not. 

Then I waited for the magic moment (aka, after homework was finished and kids were bribed). I used a single ring light offset to the right of the subjects.

Oh dear goodness, the results were magical. At least in my opinion, but hey, they are my kids. I would truly love any photo of them. 

The more the merrier

I’ve known this gorgeous mama (lady in white) for so many years now – seriously, since adolescence – but, this is the first time I’ve gotten to photograph her mega awesome family.

We grew up together in Morganton, NC and she is one of my sister’s closest friends. Today she is a mama of three, soon to be four, and she’s doing the whole parenting/busily practicing law thing so gracefully. 

I always knew she could juggle a lot. She grew up in a house with numerous siblings and during our teenage years we waited tables together, a job she handled with skill and speed. Maybe she’s just born with it – the ability to be busy and own her life’s balance beautifully. 

Watching her with her children during the session, I noticed she is a very collected mama. A very nurturing, caring, easygoing mama. I was impressed to say the least. We had the additional company of cousins during the session. It was an event worthy of the tagline, the more the merrier.

I certainly appreciated the crowd’s energy and enthusiasm, including some fun photo ideas, and their patience and good spirits in the chilly, post-Thanksgiving morning weather. 

It can be challenging to be a good sport while being photographed in the cold, but every single one of these subjects nailed it.

Organized by the mama-to-be as a gift to family members, their session I’d say was a success. I cannot wait to meet baby #4 in the coming months!

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!

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!

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

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.

Off to elementary school

Today was just like any other Monday, except that today marked another Busbee entering the enormous world of K-12 learning. 

Together, Natalie and I picked out her first-day-of-kindergarten clothes, and all of us Busbees gathered ’round the breakfast table to fuel up for the big day.

Raise your hand if you are excited for the first day of school!

Baby Cameron was our energetic, encouraging cheerleader.

Natalie was as proud to be a kindergartner as one could hope. She’s been patiently awaiting this day, as have mom and dad. But, oh so suddenly it was upon us.

Our tiny little Nattlebug – all five years of her – stood anchored with her backpack and lunchbag ready to take on this next chapter. 

She had a great helper in her big brother. He passed down loads of valuable information on the car ride to school.

Then it was time to set Natalie free in her classroom. If I recall the details correctly, she did tenderly push me out the door, eager to be an independent kindergartner. 

I held my tears. I did what came next, which was walk away from her classroom and up to the 2nd floor to drop Caleb off in his third grade classroom. He settled in with ease. He wore dark colors and chose a dark backpack and lunchbag, because “that’s what third graders do, mom.”

I collected my thoughts and emotions, shuffled out of the school, got an iced coffee and took a mini hike down the American Tobacco Trail with my only non-elementary-school child, Cameron.

Once I returned to the house, all was well. And then I saw Natalie’s beloved blankie sitting in solitude on the kitchen table bench in our quiet house. I realized that she hadn’t even asked to bring it with her to kindergarten. 

If there was only one sign that she was ready for kindergarten, this would be it. We survived the first day!

B is for bubbles

I attempted to make this session with baby Max and his family all about the bubbles. I thought I could distract from the camera with those enticing bubbles (and a new bubble machine, too). But not all plans are destined for success.

Folks, I was outsmarted.

Max knew better. He knew what I was up to. Don’t get me wrong, he liked the bubbles, but he is also as smart as an engineer. He wanted to dig into the bubble machine and figure out the mechanics. How does this contraption work?

Most babies leave it at, oooooohhh shiny bubbles.

Anyway, so Max made me work for it. I had to beg and plead for smiles. But oh, they were worth the wait. He’s perfection – eyes, nose, lips, brain. Everything. I love this kid and his laid back family.