Creative Tuesday: try it all

A photographer asked a question in a Facebook group I’m in, sometime last year, about how to get better at varying her perspectives for her photos.

So I told her:

“Try it all. Go high. Go low. Shoot between. Climb on chairs… move back, move close. Think what will help capture the moment the best. Don’t be afraid to try it all because – why not? If it doesn’t work then you still learned from it and know what to try next time. Like my 11 year old says “YOLO – you only live once” so go for it.

Creativity in any form is a learning process and how will you learn if you don’t – to borrow the slogan for Nike – just do it! Get in there. There is nothing wrong with trying it all and seeing what happens.

We learn from the failures as much as we do from the successes so get out there and fall flat on your face!

I’m serious. Get out there! What are you waiting for?

Five places to capture memorable photos of your children

DSC_3155You’re thinking to yourself right now – I’m sure you are – that your house is too dark for photos of your children and that your flash is unflattering and makes your children look albino (which isn’t bad if you are an actual albino, of course.)

So, where can you take photographs of your children that you will cherish for years to come if you don’t believe you can take them at home? (And actually you can take them at home and I’ll tell you how in my next post.)

There is nothing better than being able to distract your child, and maybe even you, with something fun so you can photograph them while they are in action and you are all relaxed. Here are five ideas where to take your children for some photographs of them that you will want to frame and put on your wall or print out to place in your scrapbooks.

1) A local playground. Here is the key about taking photographs of your children at the local playground: don’t try to pose them. In fact, not trying to pose them anywhere is probably the biggest key to child photography. Strict posing of young children often results in disaster and that disaster usually includes tears. Sometimes tears are acceptable for photographs, if you want to capture the emotion of the moment, but minimizing them is always desirable.

If you want photographs of your children as they really are, let them play and photograph them as they play, whether that’s getting messy in the mud or sliding down the slide. Are you looking for a photograph of them looking right at the camera? Well, then get that camera ready because without a doubt they’re going to need mommy or daddy at some point and they are going to turn and look for you and, consequently right at you. And if they don’t? Calling their name once or twice will, sometimes, result in them turning their face toward you. The moment they turn is when you snap the photo you want because as all parents know, asking for them to stop and pose for you may result in cheesy smiles or, worse yet, shakes of the head.


2) A hiking trail.

Not only are you all exploring and experiencing nature but the natural backgrounds and soft lighting created on many hiking trails is the perfect setting for memorable images of your children. If you’re a homeschooling parent, and even if you’re not, you can also make the excursion an educational one by learning more about the plants and trees and animals you encounter.

A couple tips: make sure to protect yourselves from ticks (as Lyme Disease carrying ticks are very prevalent in many areas of the United States, especially Pennsylvania and especially in 2018.); wear protection from the sun; bring water, a snack and a first aid kit; and read up on what those poisonous plants, like poison ivy and oak, and poisonous snakes look like!

One other tip for hiking trails: expect a mess at some point so try to grab your photographs early in the hike if you’re looking for photographs of “clean” children. I have no concept of a “clean child” in my family so this one isn’t a concern for me, luckily, and I just roll with the mud and the wet moments that are sure to occur.

_DSC08493) Museums.

Your local, or even not so local, museum is a great place to learn about history or art and photograph your children. Not only can a museum provide dynamic and interesting backgrounds but it can also provide faces looking up at paintings (great lighting and a good look at the face for the scrapbooks), colorful backgrounds and children engaged in hands on learning experiences.

Visiting a local museum is also a great way to support local art, history, science, whatever the museum features. Tip: be sure to double check for any signs that might prohibit photography in certain areas and again, like other excursions, take snacks (if they are allowed) to be sure you aren’t stuck with photographing hunger-induced meltdowns.


4) Small fairs or art shows.

Almost everything about a small, community fair or art show lends itself to stellar photographs of your children that capture their true personalities. There are rides (laughing faces), games (winning faces), food (messy faces), and sometimes animals (sweet faces). Yes, you may have noticed a theme in that previous sentence because capturing the face of your child is what this is all about after all.

As is the case in other locations, be sure to watch your backgrounds so you don’t end up with the creepy looking dude at the fair standing in the background of the smiling image of your little one.


5) Ice cream stand.

Nothing makes a kid happier than dairy and sugar, unless, of course they are lactose intolerant. Actually, in all seriousness, my son is lactose intolerant and he takes enzymes that allow him to digest dairy, so the lactose intolerant still can enjoy a trip to the ice cream stand and you can photograph your children while they are in one place, slightly confined and entranced by their frozen treat. Fun images to capture are their ice cream mustaches and their first few licks when the ice cream is bigger than their head.

Bonus: if the ice cream stand has a miniature golf course with it! Even more fun photos can be taken while they play through the course a couple of times.

A couple closing thoughts to keep in mind before you head out the door for photographs with your children:

– make sure your camera battery is not only charged, but in the camera.

– make sure your digital camera has a memory card.

– If you are using a phone, make sure you have a full battery charge or bring a car charger with you.

– try to get yourself in a couple of the photographs so your children know you were there too.

And last, don’t worry if your child doesn’t look at the camera in every photograph. Photographs of children not looking at a camera but still having a good time, laughing or loving each other will still provide great memories for them and their family as they grow.


Trying to be still and remember He is God

Some days life is all topsy turvy. The world seems upside down and turned around these days. What was once up is now down and what was once frowned upon is now applauded. Those who say they love children and babies only protect them once they are born, not before. Those who say they support women don’t support them if suggest we respect ourselves by not dressing inappropriately. Those who say they respect life are murdering others. The other day every story in my Facebook newsfeed seemed to want to remind me of what foods and vitamins can kill me and what my children shouldn’t be doing that I once did because now it’s dangerous instead of fun. (Side note: I’m on a Facebook break for my sanity).

It makes my head hurt and the other day it found me shutting off Instagram and FB and just about literally huddled in a fetal position while I nursed my daughter to sleep for her nap (by the way, I’m not supposed to be doing that either, whether it feels right and natural to me or not). I closed my eyes against the tears and all the voices in my head and I heard a still small voice say “Be still.” That was weird. I said, “Huh? Why did that thought pop into my head?” It sort of creeped me out, but I heard the words again. “Be still.” And I then I heard, “Be still and know that I am God.”

It happened again a few days later as my mind raced with worry about another situation I’m currently facing. I kneeled to wash my daughter’s hair and as my thoughts raced from worry to worry to worry I heard the words “Be still..” again…

I often tell God, “Lord, I am awful at being still, at least as far as my mind goes. You know this. Yet you still urge me to remember that you are God. You are in control of my finances. You are in control of my health and that of my children. You are in control of the world, even when it seems out of control. Please, help me to not forget and please keep placing those words in my mind.”

Psalm 46:9-11 “…9He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. 10″Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.”


“I have heard other photographers say things like, ‘I went to photography school and I don’t know what to shoot because when I shoot something I mentally compare my image to so and so or so and so.’ And finally they feel so weighted down by references that it hinders their photographic practices. I don’t have any photographic influences, I don’t have any master, and I prefer to stay a good distance away from photographic culture. What matters is shooting what you feel like shooting, concentrate on that and the equipment comes second.”

~Alain Laboile, French docuentary photographer

naked babies and jumping boys | Pennsylvania life photographer

My one year old has decided her diaper is an option.
She has also decided she should be taken outside, no matter how cold it is starting to get. And if her brother is outside when she is, she shall follow him and look for him and possibly try to do what he’s doing, even if her legs are too short to accomplish her goal.

Winter is going to be tough on this little girl, who is so used to being able to going out the door when she’d like to, so she can explore.

Luckily we were able to explore outside a little this week and it isn’t yet as cold as it usually is this time of year here.





























A house full of love | Laceyville, PA newborn photographer

It is a house full of life, of children, but more importantly it is a house full of love.

Five children, all under the age of ten, crazy, sweet, lively, grumpy, silly, precious.

One has lipstick smeared on her top lip and mom is wondering where she got it. The boys are darting in and out of the house. The baby hasn’t slept all morning and all the children want to hold her. The second youngest is into the Halloween candy again and her hair is crazy.

It is chaotic. It is confusing. It is noisy. It is messy and fun and real.

It is perfect because it is life in a house full of love.

Thank you to the K family for allowing me to photograph your latest arrival. She’s the perfect fit for your family.

Finding joy. Even in winter.

I’m not a fan of winter. Winter depresses me. It is cold, obviously, void of sun,most of the time and it is long and dreary and yucky and I hate it — so there.
I thought I would have longer before it stretched out its bony fingers but alas, snowflakes started  falling this past weekend, two weeks before Halloween. Yuk.

Before those flakes made their unwelcome appearance, the offspring and I enjoyed some time outside in the sun. I breathed in the smell of warm sun on brightly colored leaves crunching under my feet. I delighted in the sight of my children walking without coats, knowing all too well they would be soon bundled up and constricted in winter fabric.


Constricted is how winter makes me feel. I feel trapped in my home but also inside myself. I feel like my creativity fades away with the sun and my excitement for life crumbles like the dead leaves strewn across the ground.

But this year I’m going to try my best to find joy in the dreary. I’m going to draw on my son’s enthusiasm for each season. He finds the good in what otherwise could be bad and I want to be more like him. I want to seek and find joy.

Yes, winter is cold and nasty and dreary and sad and all that is bad, but it is also an excuse to have an extra cup of cocoa and stay home to cuddle under a blanket. It is a chance for the world to slow down and families to find each other again as the snow piles up or the cold scrapes against the windows and doors.

I will not let winter steal my joy this year. This year I claim joy even in winter.

And I will enjoy Fall as long as it is here; until the last brightly colored leaf falls from the limb of the naked tree limbs.

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Seeing in black and white | Elmira NY area Documentary Photographer

When I document my family’s life I enjoy doing it in either black and white or color photographs.
This week I decided to challenge myself  by trying to see my photos in black and white as I took them. I always shoot in color and convert to black and white in case I want a color version of my image one day. There are some photographs which simply scream black and white to me.

I love how black and white can strip away the distractions and focus the viewer on the scene or subject within the frame.

Sometimes I need this in life too. I need to remove the distractions and focus on what’s in the frame, not the distractions around me.

I’ve been taking more social media breaks lately.

I was doing this anyhow, but really started to take it more seriously when I realized I couldn’t hear my own voice beyond the noises of social media.

There is so much pressure anymore to make ourselves and our lives look just right on social media.

It’s even spilled into the photography world where photos have all started to look the same. There is a certain style out there these days and it seems to many photographers are afraid to break away from that style and make their own style. I find myself caught up in this effort to fit in too, whether it is in the photography or the Facebook world.

That’s why a break is needed, to remember who you are and why you fell in love with photography in the first place, if it’s the photography world that’s screaming at you, or remember who you are in general, if it’s the social world screaming at you from so many different directions.

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Whoops! | Rome, PA Child Photographer

_DSC8264Rome PA Child Photographer
I’ve been trying to get a photo of Gracie playing in this splash pad all summer long. The problem? She hates it and won’t play in the water. Instead she looks at it, seems interested, I put her down, she reaches out, changes her mind and then clings to me like a barnacle on a ship hull, and promptly cries.

It was our last chance. She was on the ground. She was next to her brother and that made her happy. I was going to get a photo. She was leaning in like she wanted to drink from the splash pad (ew! I wasn’t about to let that happen, but let’s just see how far this goes..) Yes! I was getting my photo!!

Then her brother stepped on one of the holes and up came the water into her face.

Tears, fussing. She hates the splash pad again.

Eh. Maybe next year.