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!

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 :)

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

Herndon family strikes again!

And what I mean by that is, the Herndon family delivered incredible, glorious perfection once again during their family photo session this weekend. I’ve had the pleasure of photographing the Herndon’s since the birth of their first child. Each and every photo session is an absolute joy.

Madeline has blossomed into an adorably sweet, friendly little lady.

Avery is a mini-Madeline, but with slightly more toddler energy.

Both of these sisters are unbelievably charming and playful. They somehow remember me from photo session to photo session, even though I only see them annually. 

It’s impossible not to fall in love with this family. The parents are the coolest. They scuba dive, they enjoy good beer, they refurbish mountain cabins. They work hard and radiate in the presence of their children. 

But then again, who wouldn’t?!  LOOK AT THESE GIRLS. They are angels, I tell ya. They are sisters who probably never fight or whine.

 

Even Madeline, who developed a painful blister on the back of her heel for the sake of wearing pretty shoes during the photo session, barely uttered a complaint. 

Thank you, Herndon family, for always coming to life in front of the camera for me, and for trusting me with your sweet memories.

Woodlake Community trail

As a photographer who leans toward taking portraits in natural settings, my eyes are always peeled for new and different locations. I once visited the Woodlake Community trail in southwest Durham with a photography class and fell in love with the variety of scenes found there. There is a playground, two lakes and three miles of paved walking trails.

For families, this is great. It provides a great deal of entertainment for young children within a small space and keeps them energized throughout a photo session.

From the photographer’s perspective, the setting is nice because there is both shade and sun, plus a variety of backdrops that range from forest to fence, and lake to tall grasses.

While it is most exquisite during fall, when the foliage surrounding the lake is on fire, today’s visit (and inexcusable cell phone photos) showcase some nice nooks for photos even in the dead heat of summer.

One critical thing to note: this is a neighborhood community. I would recommend bringing only very small groups here (4 ppl or under) for photos, and absolutely no equipment beyond a camera and maybe a reflector. Also, because it is a natural setting, there are often geese present. Just something to consider. 

Now snap away to your heart’s content.

Museum trekking in under a minute

If you haven’t yet visited the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?

Museum trekking in under a minute from Melanie Busbee on Vimeo.

This video hardly scratches the surface of wonder and amazement at the museum (we only had time for 4 of the 11 outdoor exhibits), but it honestly highlights what a 1-hour visit looks like through the eyes of a 1-year-old child. The adorable subject is none other than my youngest daughter, Cameron. 

My goal when shooting a subject is always to accurately and candidly preserve a moment in time. I want the viewer to be tugged and pulled into the memory – to be able to feel it, see it, hear it, smell it (maybe not taste it, unless it’s commercial food photography or wedding cake). 

Shooting lifestyle projects is my ideal method for telling a story. This time around it just so happened to be the story of my sweet little gal enjoying a super fun day in nature.

Let kids be kids

Would ya take a look at these two sweeties, Cameron and Mia? Their relationship is nothing short of incredible. They like to make one another laugh and they play together pretty seamlessly, despite the 4 years of age between them. 

Photo of Cameron and Mia

We had plenty of fun together during our Sunday afternoon family photo session, and these two had gorgeous smiles each time I aimed the camera their way. But, they were truly at their best when I asked them to do what kids do best ‚ÄĒ play:  they raced through the grass, they rolled around on top of one another, and they told me their favorite jokes. Sometimes, you just have to let kids be kids. And this applies to “serious” photo sessions too.

My newest assistant

Today’s morning photo session with the lovely Herndon family was a delight. We had perfect fall weather and enjoyed gorgeous scenery at Yates Mill Park in Raleigh. Molly and Jason (mom and dad) are always good sports and their two sweet daughters – Madeleine and Avery – have smiles that melt my heart.

Madeleine and I shared a special few moments today when she asked to take pictures with my camera. And who could deny that request!?

She’s nearly three years old and super friendly, offering hugs to me throughout the session. So of course I let her control the camera, just a little bit. Here is what she produced:

Madeleine

For a three-year-old, isn’t she amazing!? I asked her if she wanted to be a photographer when she grows up. The girl has talent, already.

“No, I want to be an Octonaut,” Madeleine¬†replied.

And that’s why I love toddlers. They have dreams. Big, glorious, superhero-sized dreams.

But if that falls through, she has a future in photography.

A different day, a different toddler

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Meeting a new family is always exhilarating and always keeps me on my toes. As a photographer, I go into each session confident with expectations on lighting, posing and the technicalities of my camera. But meeting new families creates an ever-changing environment in which to work.

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I get excited to learn – if the family has children – the kids’ names and ages. Before shooting the King family’s session, I discovered their daughter, Dolan, was almost exactly the same age as my daughter.

Oh, this should be a piece of cake, I thought. Relating to Dolan will be exactly the same as relating to my daughter. Dolan will offer smiles galore at the mention of puppies and chocolate, just like my daughter.

But, in the world of photography and families it doesn’t quite work that way. Each child is so very different, and each child performs differently in front of the camera. Some choose not to perform at all.

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Lucky for me, that wasn’t the case with sweet Dolan. She and I made friends quickly, though of course it was a different friendship than the one I have with my daughter.

Dolan led us all through the park, as if she knew the way, as if she had been there many times. Dolan’s favorite game was throwing sticks and rocks in the river to watch them make a big splash. Dolan loved finding structures to climb – rocks and steps and bridges. We held hands on the walk back to our cars.

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I treasured my time with this sweet two-year-old gal!