Thank You!

After 10 years of photographing your beautiful families, Catherine Amiss Photography will be closing. I have SO very much enjoyed getting to know you and your families and watching your children grow up in front of my lens! During this season of life, my attention is needed elsewhere – namely with my kiddos. I have every intention of returning to business when my youngest goes off to Kindergarten. I am hoping in the next 4 years I can catch up with my family photo albums, and perhaps get my 8-year-old middle child’s baby book completed, ha! Thank you for the privilege of working with you!

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Audrey’s Nursery

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Have you guys ever seen those gorgeous online nursery reveals?  Looking through design blogs is a guilty pleasure of mine and when I was pregnant, I poured over image after image of beautiful nurseries.  Should I go blush pink with soft ethereal accents?  All white with bright pops of color?  Light aqua, perhaps?  What I did know, is that I wanted my baby girl’s room to be light and airy…like a breath of fresh air.  Serene and a bit whimsical. Feminine but not Pepto pink.  We ended up settling on a very pale mint color – one that pulled more greenish than the typical aqua I usually go for – paired with pops of hot pink, and accents of gold.

My baby girl turned one year at the beginning of this month, and is quickly on her way to toddlerhood.  Life has sped up since her birth, and I can’t believe that I’m just now documenting her space!  My hope is that the room, while fit for a baby, of course, will grow with my girl easily, without the need for a major overhaul for many years.  So…come on in!

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This room gets a lot of natural light, so the paint color seems to change depending on the time of day.  Below is what it looks like when you enter the room as the late afternoon sun pours through the west facing window.

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And below, is typical of mid-morning.  The paint on the top half is “Lightest Sky”by Pantone.    It’s so light that it looked white on the walls when the paint was still wet, but at night appears decidedly green.  The bottom half is a bright white.

Now I’m going to spin you clock-wise around the room.  Hang on!

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Are you dizzy?  It’s hard trying to capture the essence of a room in photographs!  At this point it may be dawning on you that there are four doors in one half of the room.  Our house was built in the 1920s and has had 2 additions put on it since then. The door to the left is the entrance to the room.  The second one to the left is a very small closet.  The 3rd opens to a “bonus” room of sorts; it’s part of a 1950’s addition designed to rectify the fact that in the ’20s people did not use or have any need for closet space at all.  And the 4th door is a walk-in attic, the result of a 1980’s addition that added a room onto the first floor only.  (So you’re walking into the “roof” of the added-on room.)

I’m going to let you take a little peek into the tiny little closet, but I can’t bear to show you the mess that is the other two spaces.

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I know, it’s pretty bad!  But it’s still better than the attic, trust me. Before this room became Audrey’s room, I was lucky to call it my office.  My office is now downstairs in the basement, but I have yet to deal with this closet.  It’s only now starting to be an issue, as our girl is collecting more toys and will soon need this storage space.

Let’s talk details.  I’m a visual person.  And I needed to “see” the room, before I could start pulling it together.  So I created this little design board.  It is nowhere near the amazingness that you will find on Pinterest if you search “design board.”  (On a side note, how can WordPress NOT recognize the words “Pinterest” and “Pantone?”  It keeps highlighting them as misspelled.)  🙂

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I first saw this crib skirt on Etsy.  I fell in love with the bright colors, mix of fabric and feminine feel.  I’m not a particularly fou-fou girly-girly.  I like pink okay, but it’s not my favorite color.  But when mixed with the light paint, I found these fabrics to be not cloying at all.

I did not fall in love, however, with the price tag.  So I spent a shameful amount of time scouring the web, looking for the same fabrics. (I found all but one!  The pink we went with was different, although I like it even better.) My mom graciously offered (or did I beg?) to sew the skirt. She even made the bottom ruffle detachable with velcro, for when the mattress must be lowered (which is now).  How cool is that?  She’s got mad skills.

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I put considerable thought as to what should go over Audrey’s crib.  I didn’t want anything heavy that could fall on her, and I considered painting something, like her name, directly on the wall.  But when I saw these light-weight laser cut frames at Michael’s, I knew they were the answer!  The frames come unfinished.  I spray-painted them and taped/glued (the tape didn’t stick so well) the prints directly to the wood frame.  No glass.  They are held up with Command Strips.  Of course the newborn ones weren’t put up until after she was born!  🙂

I must make a confession….I probably could have hung heavy glass and pointy metal objects directly over the crib as she has slept in her crib twice.  Like twice ever. When the boys were babies, I did not sleep well with them in our bedroom.  They made weird little noises and I jumped up many times throughout the night to see what the problem was only to find they had fallen back to sleep.  But Audrey is a quiet sleeper and my last baby.  So the spoiled little thing sleeps in a Pack-n-Play (what used to be called a “port-a-crib”) right next to our bed.  However, we still get lots of use out of her room.  We play/read up there and just enjoy the serene surroundings.  Of course it’s not always tidy, as it tends to gather bins and stuff that needs to be packed away, but I still find it such a calming space.

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Audrey’s wallpaper is from Hygge & West and I just love it.  Here are my two main men, my husband and my dad, hanging the paper.  Our house – this room – has extra-special meaning to me.  It’s the house I grew up in, and this was my room.  It had navy and pink and white wallpaper and it was beautiful.  But I’ve removed enough wallpaper in my years and never, ever imagined I would be the one putting it up.  (And by “I” I mean my guys, of course.)  We went with just one wall as an accent wall. It keeps the wallpaper from becoming overwhelming, and keeps us from having to spend all of our retirement savings on it.  Wallpaper ain’t cheap, ya’ll.

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The zebra rug is from Rugs USA.  They have a ton of beautiful rugs and really good prices.  In fact right now they have an over 70% off sale going on.  Yes, I’m sure the standard prices are inflated, as they always seem to have some sort of deal going on, but you’ll do much better here than say, Pottery Barn.  We did find a caveat: make sure you will be keeping what you order.  I loved the zebra rug,  but I did not like it with the wall paper in the nursery.  It was too busy.  So we packaged it back up, only to find it would cost $100 to mail back.  Dude.  That was almost half the cost of the rug.  So it came back into our home and we now have a zebra rug in our living room. Finding a rug that went with the room, that wasn’t too matchy-matchy (like the same color as the walls) and that fit our budget was definitely the hardest part of the entire nursery.  We finally found the beige/gold rug at Lowes in the remnant area.  I think it was only $45!  And it’s huge, 8×12 or something.  It’s low-quality for sure, but we are happy with it.

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The white crib, dresser and changing table were all pieces that both of the boys used.  We bought the little white bookshelf from Target.  The dresser was originally from Target as well (circa 2003).  The little shelves on top are actually not part of the dresser.  I found it in the bathroom section (Target, again) and attached it to the dresser.  With both of the boys, it had silver knobs and the dresser had white knobs.  I was looking to unify the pieces a bit and to infuse some gold into Audrey’s room, so I ordered these sweet little knobs online.  The company’s name is eluding me, but if anyone really wants to know, I can do some digging.

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You may noticed the top looks different than it does in some of the other pictures.  I found this adorable flamingo (above), on sale for under $5 at, yes, you guessed it…Target!  And the wood paneled “A” was a recent Marshalls find.

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The sweet little owl though, had to be moved off the dresser to the changing table.

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One of my besties just happens to be an artist.  She painted the lovely flowers you see on the bottom shelf; I just love them!  And another friend’s sweet mom made the quilt (in the basket) and the yellow and pink blanket.  I know some talented people!

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Pink and gold-edged frames hold photos.  Let’s see those baby toes a little closer, shall we?

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The green bins in Audrey’s changing table came from the dollar spot at, um…this is getting embarrassing….Target.  The baskets below were in both boys’ nursery, but I made new liners for them.

I spent quite a bit of time coming up with the gallery wall.  I found items I liked online first and then did a digital mock-up of exactly how it would look.  The frames are things I had lying around that I sprayed gold and white.  I took the cloud picture, and most of the art prints are from Etsy.

Pretty much the only piece of furniture that didn’t come unassembled in a box is the armoire.  No….that arrived completely assembled in a giant box by a freight UPS driver that wanted to leave it at the end of our long driveway.  It weighs a ton.  But those issues aside, how cool is it that you can order something like this online?  I’m so glad we love it because there’s no way we could have shipped this baby back, logistically speaking!

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The wardrobe ended up being a bit more cream than I had expected, but so did the background of the wallpaper, so it all worked out.  But it did not look great right next to the rest of the bright white furniture, which fortunately is home to a different wall.

I was thrilled to find the gold tassels at Michaels in the dollar section.

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I just love opening up Audrey’s armoire and seeing all her sweet little outfits.

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That’s a lot of shoes for someone who still prefers to scoot around on her bottom.  We’ve been very blessed with lots of hand-me-downs and generous aunts and friends! (And Mommy might be enjoying a “bit” of shopping for her girl.)

Picking a comfortable glider was very important to me.  It was one purchase I did not want to make online.  I sat in a lot of gliders before choosing one from Babies R Us.  I love it!  It’s a very comfy place for my girl and me to hang out.  Beside the glider is a gold bin that holds extra blankets and a few toys, and sometimes, books.  It is from H&M online.

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To the left of the wardrobe, is a recent find from Marshalls – a magazine rack for easy book clean up.  I love the ethereal feel of the cloud art (also from Marshalls).

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The gold and wood table and the curtains were both bought online from Target.  (I really had no idea that her entire room was from there!)

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I did not intentionally set out to create a bird theme.  The bird fabric and wallpaper were coincidence.  But when I found this inexpensive (Marshalls) bird tray and $5 Walmart bird art (below), I thought they’d tie in perfectly.  I love that it says “dream” over her bed. The bed that she does not sleep in.

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This little shelf is at the foot of the crib.  The art on the left is from Land of Nod, which I put into a spray painted frame.

On the other side of the crib is the card stock mobile.  I was inspired by seeing those “paint-chip” mobiles online, but confiscating loads of paint chips seemed less practical than just using card stock.  I love the way it turned out, but sturdy, it is not.  I didn’t completely trust my crafting skills, so it’s not hung directly over the crib.  If it falls, it will go onto the floor.

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Sweet little friends inside the crib.  (Yes, they will go out of the crib when she sleeps here.)  🙂  Mr. Owl is from Pier One several years back and used to live in our play room.  And my mom made the precious doll with remnant fabrics from Audrey’s room.

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More toys can be found next to the crib.  (Bin and metal tag from Michaels)

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Well, hello, Cutie!!!

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All parents know just how ridiculously fast kids grow.  It seems like we always have a pile of things to pack/give away and we also usually have a pile of hand-me-downs to grow into from those aforementioned generous people in our lives.  AND…..my sister is expecting her first child, a girl!!!!  I love that our items will be lovingly passed on as well.  (SO, SO exited!)  You should see this bin now…it’s literally overflowing.  Looks like it’s time for a trip to the attic.  (Not the one in Audrey’s room, though.  Is it weird that we have 2 attics?)

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At the far end of the room is a window seat.  It was originally built by my dad over the radiator that stretches the width of the room.  I recovered the pillow and made the pillows.  I did not inherit the “sewing gene” from my mom, unfortunately.  The things I make are pretty much all square things, ha!  The white frames were clearance at Walmart.  Before Audrey was born (and before I’d taken newborn portraits), I stuck some pretty scrapbook paper in the frames.

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Sweet little rabbit from Land of Nod.  Below is the other end of the window seat and home to a newborn portrait canvas of my girl at just 5 days old.  I’m so glad I have pictures of her so young!

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On the other side of the room, when you first walk in, we have these funny vanity lights.  My dad installed them when I was a teenager in effort to stop the bickering between my brother and I over bathroom time in the morning.  A vanity table and stool used to sit below it.  I can still remember poofing my bangs, curling my hair and using far too much hairspray.  Dating myself, am I?  We keep thinking we will take the lights down, because..well…they’re weird.  But I really appreciate the light they produce, so here they remain for now.  Plus there is always something better to do than take down vanity lights.  Gold canvas is from Marshalls and I believe the footprint set is too.  TJ Maxx and Marshalls have so many pretty art pieces, but I’m all out of walls!  (And money.)

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On my original design board, I had this gorgeous Amy Bulter fabric (peacock).  I was hoping to incorporate it into her room, somehow, but in the end, it didn’t work.  So I made it into a blanket that became our go-to stroller/carseat blankie all fall and winter.

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This was a small piece (fat quarter) that also didn’t get used, so it’s now a “lovey” blankie.  (See…I told you I sew square things!)

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Here we are in action.  Audrey loves her room and so do I!

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And I’ll end with a gratuitous shot of baby toes, just because!  I hope you enjoyed the nursery tour!

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Sweet Summer Fun

Happy summer!!!  I got to spend a beautiful summer evening with this sweet fun-loving family.  Aren’t they the cutest?  I hope everyone has a great weekend and has a chance to spend some fun time with your families as well.  🙂

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Welcome Audrey Catherine

WELCOME AUDREY

We welcomed our little Audrey Catherine into this world on April 1, 2015!  I managed to carry her for 37 weeks/3 days, before my water broke late March 31st and I knew I would be having a baby on April Fools Day.  Having a history of preterm babies, this was a huge blessing!

She will be a month old tomorrow.  I can’t tell if it feels like time is flying or not.  It seems like we just got home from the hospital…yet a full night’s sleep is barely in my memory!  I’m 38; I have an 11 year old and a 6 year old.  I feel I have some perspective on just how fast children grow.  Yet I completely forgot just how intense these first few weeks are!  My girl wants to be held all the time and I am embarrassed to admit how long I’ve been wearing the same pair of yoga pants.

I’m so glad I made an effort to get newborn portraits of her.  This one below, was taken when she was only 5 days old.  To get newborn portraits of your baby curled up, the earlier they are taken the better.  A few short weeks later, I doubt our Audrey would put up with being folded up and expected to sleep through a photo session.  HJ7A5971HJ7A6102HJ7A6126I’m kind of loving the hand-knit bonnet.

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Love catching a newborn smile!!!

HJ7A5952 5x7I prefer to think of her as an Easter baby, rather than an April fool’s baby.  🙂  Easter was just 4 days later, and happened to fall on my birthday this year.  What a gift!

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Perhaps you’ve seen baby portraits that feature infants with remarkable head strength for a newborn.  Let me let you in on a little trademark secret….most of them are composites, or a blend of 2 or more images.  (And they should be composites, for the safety of the baby.)  A little Photoshop magic….and tada!  It’s important to keep the angles the same and the camera as still as possible in order to seamlessly blend the images.

show composite3Proud big brothers, Austin and Micah.  I’m amazed at how they’ve taken to her.  They are so patient with her crying and offer endless kisses and sweet words to her.  I am looking forward to the day she rewards them with dazzling smiles and laughs.

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Here she is at 8 days old looking all alert at her grandmother.  I love the picture below, because it is truly a candid.  Nothing about it was posed; just my boys and my mother adoring our newborn.  🙂

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HJ7A6365 bwMy photo assistant – unshowered, unslept, and yet still so handsome!

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HJ7A6237HJ7A6323 bwSpring is my favorite season (minus allergies, ugh!).  I just love that the cherry trees were blooming when she was born. HJ7A6053My husband took a few pictures, below, of my daughter and me.  She is wrapped in a blanket that both my mother and I were brought home from the hospital in.  I will have to see if I can find the picture of me, as a newborn wrapped up in it.  I don’t have a photo of my mother, in 1947, in the blanket, but how cool that it has carried 3 generations of baby girls home!

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Little baby details.

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I will be on maternity leave through May, and will be open for business starting June 1st.  (T.B. – I have you down for the end of May!) I am scheduling sessions now, so feel free to  contact me via email at catherineamiss@verizon.net or through my website at http://www.catherineamissphotography.com at any time.

I thank all of you all again, for your kindness and flexibility you have shown me during a difficult pregnancy.  I’m a bit partial, but isn’t the result fabulous?!  🙂

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A Personal Note

A family photographer’s busiest season is the fall.  It’s an exciting time and a tiring time all at once, as people seek to have the perfect portraits in hand in time for the holidays.  And….you may have noticed it’s been a bit quiet around here for the last few months.  Like {chirp – chirp} cricket quiet.

I have some news!  I’m 25 weeks pregnant, expecting a little girl in mid-April.  Our family is thrilled.  However, it has not been an easy past few months for us.  I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, basically an extreme form of morning sickness.  You may have heard about it recently, as Princess Kate has made the issue newsworthy.  As a result, I had to cancel my entire fall photography schedule.  A BIG thanks to my clients for being so kind and understanding.  You guys are awesome!

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I am feeling much better (though not completely) but due to the fact that I have a history of preterm labor, I will not be working until after our girl makes her debut.  I will resume a normal schedule as of June 1st, 2015.  I am taking bookings now, so feel free to email/fb or call before then.

Thanks again for your kind words, prayers and well-wishes.  I very much look forward to being back behind the camera and seeing your lovely families!

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Beautiful Summer Session

I hope everyone is enjoying the last bits of their summer.  My kids start back to school super early this year (and will get out late next spring).  It’s kind of funny looking at the Pottery Barn type Back-To-School catalogs with the kids in autumn-toned sweaters, knowing that in 2 weeks we will be at the hottest part of the year here as they make their way into the school halls.

I’ve got a number of summertime completed sessions that still need to be blogged, so be sure to check back over the next few weeks.  And of course, if you haven’t “liked” me on Facebook,  doing so will provide some more frequent updates of things going on around here!

We headed to Virginia Western’s arboretum for this summertime Children’s Session.  Such a great couple of kids!

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HJ7A0369Big brother is so handsome with those gorgeous blue eyes.

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And Miss S. is truly a ball of sunshine!

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HJ7A0343Thanks for stopping by!  Hope your week is off to a great start.

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Amazing Beach Portraits! (A Tutorial)

A and M(My prize, above.  A favorite beach portrait still makes an appearance on our mantel this time every year.)

One of the earliest business lessons I learned was to show the type of work you want to produce.  You may be surprised to know that I do occasional bridal portraits and pet photo sessions, and although I enjoy them, it is not where my passion lies.  So I don’t highlight them on the website.  And while I wouldn’t likely turn down a plane ticket to Maui, getting a Roanoke photographer to the coast is not something that makes a lot of sense.

Having said that, the word among my mommy-friends is that a spectacular beach portrait of the kiddos is the ultimate vacation souvenir.  And I know first hand they can be hard to get!  So I’ve put together some tips on how you can rock your next DIY beach family photo session and have a beautiful memento to display in your home.

 

 TEN TIPS FOR AN AMAZING BEACH PORTRAIT OF YOUR KIDS

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1.)  Bring help.  Check out the amazing help, above.  If photo assisting was a sport, my husband would be pulling 10s.   This picture deserves it’s own spot on our wall!  You will need an extra pair of hands – while you’re army-crawling through the sand wielding your camera – to help reposition the crawling baby, to make the kids laugh, and to chain-feed chocolate chips as incentive for compliance.  Make sure the funny faces are being made directly behind you (your help needs to be “all up in your space”) so that the kids are looking at the camera.  Also, be wary of too much “help.”  When Dad, Grandma and 4 cousins are all yelling, “Look!  Look here!  I’m doing the chicken dance!” you will get children looking in 6 different directions.

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2.) Bribe.  As alluded to in Tip #1, we do in fact keep little treats on hand during our family photo sessions.  At the beach, gummy fruit snacks would be a better bet than chocolate.  Just whatever it is, make it small, so the child won’t be chewing in the pictures and please, choose something that won’t leave Junior’s tongue green.  I feel compelled to tell you that I actually think bribery is a terrible parental practice.  But, um…turns out I’m not perfect. By the end of any given Amiss family photo session, our kids have been promised ice cream, extra TV, a treasure-box trinket and a new pony.

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3.)  Take your pictures in the evening.  There is a magical time of day, when the light is golden and flattering and every thing just looks better.  It happens an hour or 2 before sunset.  Plan your session for this time.  Leave enough time in your schedule to have fun and not be in a hurry.  Make sure your kids know what you will be doing, and refer back to my #2 tip.   Don’t be tempted, on the fly, when everyone is headed out to the Crab Shack, and you suddenly notice how cute your kids look in their sundress and polo and how Uncle Bob is actually wearing a shirt to say, “Let’s do a few quick pictures first!”  You will not be well-received.

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 4.)  Get down on their level.  Mentally, this may bode well for you too, but I’m talking physically.  Sit, kneel or lie in the sand and your pictures will be better.  Shots from directly over-head, with your child looking up at you are nice, as well.

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5.)  Not every shot requires a super-smile and direct eye contact.  In fact, when doing a grouping or collage of pictures on the wall, it’s more flattering to have different angles from your subjects.  Having 6 images of people all from the same angle cheesing at you looks a bit off.

IMG_9246Above: (Wonky ocean!)

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6.) Watch your horizon.  Normally, I wouldn’t include this in a tutorial, but if you have the ocean in the background, an uneven horizon can make the whole image seem particularly wonky.  Just be aware of that and you can always use photo-editing software to fix it, like I did above.

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7.)  Be Prepared.  You’ll want to have some wet wipes, a snack, and some water.  And maybe something for the kids, too.  Ha!  But really, you may want your “help” to schlep a water bottle for you as well.  Bring something for young hands to fidget with.  But, um, not small enough for the baby to eat, please.  (Another reason why you need to bring help!) And don’t break out some new, cool toy that will absorb all of your kids attention and will be an eyesore in the picture.  So, like, no Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Although…that is kind of beachy…. Oh, and it goes without saying, have the kids use the potty before heading out.

8.) Be Prepared (Part 2).  The kids have been fed.  Their faces have been wiped. The ocean looks sparkly and the light is golden. And miracle of all miracles…your Wild Child has his sister’s hand in his. (The one he usually pushes her down with.)  You whip out your camera only to find the battery dead.  Or the SD card full.  Or gone.  Argggggggggh!  That, my friend, is the stuff nightmares are made from.  Take care of all of that long before you hit the sand for picture time.  Remember to bring something to set your camera on/in to keep sand out of it.

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9.) Don’t quit too easily (but know when you’re done).  Bring your patience, allow for breaks (sometimes those afford the best photo ops!) and refer over and over to Tip #2.  It can take time.  Moms, you’ll likely know when you’re done and hopefully, you’ll have some beautiful photo treasures as your prize!

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10.)  Hire a pro.  Don’t worry, you are not cheating on me.  If you feel exhausted reading this tutorial, do yourself a favor and hire a beach photographer.  Be sure to look at portfolios online so you will be happy with the results.  Ask your friends for referrals and book in advance.  And you still may have to refer to Tip #2!  😉

Good luck!

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