Monday, November 29, 2010

{A Piece of Home} | Virginia Beach Life Art Photographer

For me, the holidays always elicit fond memories spent with family. I remember one Thanksgiving in particular, the last with my grandma and grandpa before they both passed away the following year. It was the one time we were all together, knowing that grandma would soon be taken by lung cancer. It's funny to think about what makes a memory. Her gravy and green peas are at the top of my list. Mom never could quite make them the same. This past Thanksgiving we spent the day just with our little family. As a military family, we sacrifice the closeness we would like to have with parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers... The convenience of dropping the kids off with grandma and grandpa for a date night, driving over to my sister's for a play date with the cousins, or even just a Sunday get together. So I surround myself with pictures to feel closer to them.

This year I knew I wanted to incorporate family into our Thanksgiving tradition. And what better way than with photographs. I had a wallet size picture printed in black and white for each extended family that we were missing and hung them ornament style on a simple arrangement of flowers. Since they were tall, and because I had a lot of pictures to hang, I flanked the table with two of these arrangements. As we sat down to a candlelit dinner, I loved being surrounded with the visual reminders of the memories we made during special holiday's. The arrangements are still on our table, serving as a subtle reminder to me to look for those small actions in my life this holiday season that will create the lifelong memories for my own boys.

Hopefully this inspires you to incorporate your photographic memories into your holiday décor and I would love to see or hear what you come up with!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

{Warmth} | Virginia Beach Children and Family Photographer

It was a cold day at the beach this afternoon. When I first saw these kids slink out of the car, they seemed less than thrilled to be hiking across the cold sand, runny noses and all, for some strange lady to sit them up proper and take their picture. But, I watched as this family truly came alive with each other.

"M" was in need of a recharge and curled up with a blanket on the sand. I ran over and snapped this and I adore the mess of curls hiding her eyes.

"M" idolizes her Daddy. She loves playing baseball with him and I wanted to showcase that connection. I feel like she can't take her eyes off him in this picture.

Both kids were about done by this point in the shoot, so we left them wrapped in the blanket. "M" was in charge of keeping her little brother warm which she was happy to be tasked with. She also loves making him laugh. :)

And one of my favorites from the shoot is subtle in it's own way. For me, I love the soft smile peeking out of "M"'s curls. Like her Momma just whispered something in her ear and she smiled enough to know that she is so completely loved. Contented happiness is what I see.

Thank you to the E Family for spending your afternoon with me. I hope you enjoy your sneak peek! If you would like more information on scheduling your family session, please visit or email me at for more information.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Lottery Ticket | Virginia Beach Photographer

I'm a reader. I absolutely adore a good book. I just wish I had more hours in the day for it. Once in a while I read something that inspires me to take some aspect of my life and flip it in a new direction. I read this joke somewhere that has always stuck with me. The joke talks about this homeless man and how he prays to God every night to win the lottery. Night after night he prays for the same thing. Finally God speaks to him and tells him to buy a ticket.

Oftentimes as women, as military wives, as mothers... we are lost in the lives of those around us. As a military wife especially, we gain this extra dependent appendage when we marry into it. The excuses start coming on why we shouldn't or can't. Relocation, kids, deployment, detachments, lack of nearby family, lack of sitter, and the list (for me anyways) goes on and on and on. Sometimes though, the faith in ourselves needs to be held above all others. Ideas need to be nurtured, and opportunity needs a place to come knocking.

This year, I bought my lottery ticket. C.S. Photography became C.S. Photography, Inc. and when I incorporated, I also went through the tedious steps to create my business plan. As a sneak peak of things to come in 2011, here is the mission statement I developed for C.S. Photography, Inc.:

To capture LIFE ART and inspire creative design through HOME décor.

I am so excited to finally share with you all the months of behind the scenes work to develop a business concept and vision that I have had for my photography and where I want to take this business. This concept represents so many nights spent awake with ideas swirling around in my head wondering if I can make a market for it. It's time to take my leap and get things rollin'! So, if YOU are listening, I have my lottery ticket in hand! And to the rest of you reading, it's time to go out and buy yours!

Stay tuned for so much to come in 2011!

Home | Virginia Beach Photographer

I'm a California girl at heart...though the state is in such disarray that I don't think I'll ever be back to live there full time. I know I'm young, but I guess I can say that California to me is what I imagine grandkids to be... fun to have visit but happy to send them home with the parents at the end of the day. :) And although my visit was way too short, here's a few images from my few days there. A little piece of home...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Fitting Tribute on Veteren's Day | Virginia Beach Family Photographer

We didn't plan it this way, but I thought it was fitting that this family had their portrait session on this Veteran's Day. Daddy is across the world serving and protecting us here at home. I hold a special place in my heart for military wives. I feel understood around them... like we aren't completely crazy for following our husbands around the country, becoming mother, father, housekeeper, nanny, renovator, landscaper, plumber, and keeper of smiles and tears while they are gone. A huge special thank you to the S Family for sacrificing so much for us. I hope you will join me in praying for Daddy's safety abroad and I pray he is home with his boys and wife soon!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails | Norfolk Family Photographer

B was such a trooper today as we braved the "arctic wind" in Norfolk. :) My hubby would laugh at that. He always says I have a 2 degree temperature range where I'm never cold or hot. This little guy is starting to come into his own boyish personality. Of course sticks were the coolest thing in his world and sitting still for pictures was torture in his mind. But he is so genuinely loved by his parents and his momma still beats out sticks any day. :)

Thank you to the C Family for letting me spend some time in your "backyard"! I hope you enjoy your sneak peek!

To book your family session, please contact me at or visit for more information.

A Classic | Virginia Beach Couple's Photographer

We've had this shoot planned for a while now but could never quite get our schedules to match up. Tiffany is a fantastic and talented Independent Writer. She has a new eBook out on How to Write a Christmas Letter. She cracks me up though because while most couples start off with a dog, or cat before jumping on the baby bandwagon, Tiffany and her husband started with this classic. I'm pretty sure she's named it, and I even caught her apologizing to "her" for getting her undercarriage (is that the right word? :) dirty.

And this is the picture that I had envisioned for the shoot. I always wonder what goes through my client's heads when I attempt the more artistic shots. I'm pretty sure Tiffany's husband thought I was completely crazy. :)

Thank you both for putting up with my creative vision and braving the field with your baby. I hope you enjoy your sneak peek!

Who needs an engagement to get couple's photo's done? To book your session, email me at or visit for more information.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Importance of White Balance | Virginia Beach Photographer

We all have that problem...or at least I'd like to think the rest of you are also juggling photo shoots, editing, marketing, sales, phone calls, and travel with LIFE! I am blessed with a wonderful husband who will be home for the next 3 years! (Hello shore tour!) And after two back to back deployments the last thing I want to do is busy myself with so much work that I can't enjoy creating those early memories for ourselves and OUR kids. I've come to find out that there is this "thing" called the "start-up suck". As in... suck you in to this computer abyss so life passes you by. Whether it's social media, editing, blogging, etc, I think a lot of photographers, me included get sucked into this vortex when trying to make it in this industry. So, one of my goals this past year has been to get it right in camera so I'm not spending hours and hours in front of the computer after a photo shoot. One tool that has helped me is the custom white balance. This is one of those things that once you start, you'll wonder why the heck you weren't doing it before. I use this handy tool called the ExpoDisc. Yes, it's expensive. You could go the old gray card route too or I'm sure there are other useful methods or tools out there that work just as well.

To set my custom white balance, I use my ExpoDisc as a filter to take a picture from where my subject is. This just involves me coming right beside them and taking a picture of something, anything with the ExpoDisc over the lens. A gray picture will come up on my LCD screen. Then I go to the menu on my camera. (I shoot with a Canon 50D). Under White balance, make sure Custom is selected. Then go to Custom WB and that gray picture I just took will come up and my camera will ask if I want to use it as my custom white balance setting. I hit yes, and voila! The whole process probably takes me about 20 seconds and I've saved myself the headache of color correction in Lightroom or Photoshop. If the lighting changes, I'll have to do a new white balance reading. I've found the custom white balance makes the biggest difference indoors where color casts are prominent. And there are times when I don't use the ExpoDisc, such as sunset when you want that golden sunset glow.

Here's an example for you to see what a lifesaver it has become for me! The picture on the left is what my camera originally gave me on Auto. I was taking some pictures of my beautiful niece in our hotel room and there was this lovely cast thrown on her to make you step back and say "Yuck!". The picture on the right is my results after I did a custom white balance reading. These were taken with natural window light. Nothing else changed and both images are straight out of the camera without any processing done to them except resizing. Her daddy is Guatemalan so she has this gorgeous creamy skin that wasn't being portrayed in the first picture. Did this help anyone? Or am I blogging to the internet abyss again? :)