It's been way too long since I participated in our 10 on 10 lifestyle blog circle. The past couple months have been a little crazy around here with busy season and some traveling for our family. So I was determined to get in on things this month! I have been shooting lots of film for my personal work. Mostly because it's so beautiful and has really given me a creative push this year but also because NO EDITING. woohoo! So here's a little mix of some digital and some film favorites from the past month. Be sure to follow around the circle and visit my friend Colie's blog here.
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Yay! It's time for another 10 on 10! I missed last month so I included a few extra photos this month. Our summer has been busy like everyone's. Swimming and lots of play outside. We've taken a much needed break from homeschool for the past few weeks to recharge our batteries but we're ready to get back at it. Well I am anyway, haha! I hope you guys are having a great summer! Please continue on around the circle and visit my friend Kristi's post. Her use of color and thoughtful composition draw me in every time! Go see for yourself!
Hey Friends! Time for another month of photos from our family for this months 10 on 10(although I'm making it a habit of posting more than 10, woops!) This month has been filled with LOTS of time being outside, exploring and enjoying this beautiful spring we're having here in East Tennessee.
I hope you'll continue on around the circle and visit my friend Breanna's post. Her Alaskan adventures always give me a case of wanderlust! Enjoy ya'll!
I have come to look so forward to this post every month. I love getting to look back over our personal photos and carve out a little time to be creative just for myself and my family. This month has been filled with the usual slower rhythm of winter. A bit more time spent here at home focusing on school and being together before the business of Spring arrives. I always feel like these first couple of months of the year are spent with a lot of time reflecting on the past year and casting a vision for the current year. Aaron and I want to spend a bit less time looking at our phones and being more intentional with our time, reading and being more present with the children. A dear friend and client of mine passed away unexpectedly last week and her death has even solidified my desire for intentionality. She was a complete inspiration. She DID live intentionally. Her life was a testimony of God's love and faithfulness. She was an encouragement to all those who knew her and she left a legacy of love for her husband and children. Our hearts are broken for her husband and children, so would you please join me in praying for them and asking God to comfort their hearts?
This year, I've made a commitment to get in the frame once a week. After this past week's loss of my friend Lexi, I've never felt more the infinite value of a photograph. So I am so thankful to have this challenge to be in the frame with my children more. I hope you'll head on around the circle and check out the rest of the ladies in 10 on 10 group. You can head over to my friend Cris's blog and check out her gorgeous work.
Every month when I put this blog post together, I feel as though I just wrote the one for the previous month. But not this time. It seems like a very long time has passed since our last 10 on 10 and so many things have happened since then. Ellie turned 5 last month which for some reason feels like such a big deal to me. I felt the exact same way when Beck turned 5. I think it's because it's such a big year. They grow up so much in this year + there's Kindergarten in the fall, she'll probably lose her first tooth, the list goes on. We celebrated really simply this year just the 6 of us and it was exactly what we needed and honestly what I think made her feel most special. Then of course there was Christmas which was really wonderful. We tried to pack in all the traditions we could and fill their memories with celebrations of Jesus birth and lots of time with family.
Corinne seems to have grown so much this month. She's completely mobile, crawling everywhere, and even standing up. (tears) Then of course, this week, our first snow of winter. We don't get lots of snow here in TN so it is always magical when we do. <3 I know we're supposed to only share 10 each month but I just couldn't narrow it down more than this. I hope you guys are having a great start to 2017!
Please head on around the circle by heading to my friend Kristi's blog to see her beautiful photos from this past month.
Today our biggest girl turned 5. 4 to 5 is such a big change. I feel like at the start of this year, she was just beginning to leave toddlerhood behind and now she's a little girl. Oh my Ellie. She is so very full to the brim with life. She wakes up beaming and shines till bedtime. Her name means shining light and that is truly what she is.
She has always been the one that has challenged me most in parenting and although, I'll be totally honest, at times that has been really hard, the Lord has used her in my life so many times to show me His unending love and grace towards me.
Last night when I tucked her into bed, I told her about how at that time 5 years ago, I was in labor with her and how relieved I was to finally hold her in my arms and how I cried when I met her because I loved her so very much. How she smiled all the time as a baby and would squeal with joy in her crib when she woke up from naps. She just lit up as I told that little love story to her. We are so very thankful for you Ellie. Our shining light.
"You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him." 2 Samuel 22:29-31
It's time again for this months 10 on 10 lifestyle blog circle. I am so thankful for this circle of crazy talented women. Every month I am reminded to share some of my favorite image and here lately this has been the only way I've shared personal images on my blog so I'm so grateful to be a part of this circle. Plus these ladies are crazy talented. Follow your way around the circle after viewing my images by starting with my friend Charlotte's gorgeous Autumn post.
This month was busy for us because of my business ramping up for the fall season but we managed to steal away several times as a family and enjoy each other and friends and family. So thankful for these days with my family. Hope you guys are having a great Autumn and season of Thanksgiving!
Although the weather is still hot here in TN, this past month has certainly felt like the season is changing. We started our second year of homeschool with Beck starting 1st grade and Ellie in Pre-K. We are definitely getting into our grove as a family of 4. Bringing Corinne into our family has been for sure our smoothest transition. I think it's a combination of her being a very easy, laid back baby and our family embracing the craziness with a lot more grace than we used to. :) She is crazy, madly loved. Our three older children argue over who's going to hold her, cry when they think she's hurting, and rush into her room when it's time to get her up from naps. We are so thankful that God saw fit to give her to us and to shepherd all of these little hearts.
For this months 10 on 10, I decided to go monochrome. I've had a crush on black and white images lately so I thought I'd do a whole blogpost of them documenting some of my favorites from this past month. Be sure to make your way around this talented circle of ladies by heading over to my friend Kristi's blog, who has the most adorable little girl, and see how she documented her family this month.
This summer has been so much fun at our house. I have always wanted a pool. Our kids love to be in the water. It has taken me 3 years to convince my husband to let us get a little temporary, super classy ;) above ground pool for the kids, and this year I finally succeeded. Yes! This thing has brought our little family so much joy and good times together for the past month so I wanted to do this months 10 on 10 post of images in and around our pool. Make sure you make your way around the circle by heading over to my talented friend Allison of Poetry and Prose Photography's post. :)
I can't believe my Reidy is 2. Even though you aren't the baby of our family any more, for some reason you still feel so little to me. Maybe that's because you were created to need more snuggles than your siblings and we spent LOTS of time holding each other this past year. You light up our family with your sweet smile. You take being carried around and told what to do by your older siblings really well and now we are getting to see you grow into your newest role in our family....being a big brother. I've seen a new gentleness come over you as you spend time with Corinne. I am so thankful to be your mama and am so excited to see the little boy God grows you into.
Happy Birthday baby, Mama
I can't believe it's been month already since our first 10 on 10 project. This month has been super busy with us preparing for and having our 4th baby a week ago. I'm excited to share a few of my favorite lifestyle images with you from this past month including a few of our brand new little Corinne. I'm hoping to put together a post here in the next week or so of some of my favorite images of our family since she's arrived but ima need some sleep and a little editing time first. ;) I hope you'll make your way around the circle of these incredibly talented photographer mamas and see how they photograph their days. Continue on around the circle by heading over to my friend Sarah Garcia's blog to see her June installment of our 10 on 10 project. Enjoy!
2015 has been a really great year for me photographically. I started the year really wanting to see more growth in my work and also really wanting to keep the business side of my passion from taking over and destroying the reason I originally fell in love with photography, which is documenting the life of my family. If you aren't a photographer, that may sound odd to you but when your passion is also your business, it's easy for the lines to get blurred doing what I love, and before I realized it, I looked back on our images from 2014 and I just didn't see "us." Don't get me wrong, I had taken lots of photos but most of them were just at events, birthdays and holidays, or me trying to wrangle us all up for a posed shot when we were all decently dressed. Ha! But I didn't feel like, when I looked back over the year, that I could see our story, the real Sams fam. So, on New Years Day, January 1st 2015, I decided to do a project 365. I decided I would document my family every day and be committed to it. I have heard photographers over and over say that they think that's one of the main contributing factors to their growth and that was another one of my goals for the year so I figured why not! I won't lie though, I was super skeptical going into it. I had attempted a project 52 before, which is ONE photo per week, and I gave up after about 4 weeks. So, I gave myself a starting goal of 100 days. Once I made it there, I had fallen in love. Fallen in love with shooting for myself again, fallen in love with the images I had captured of my children and felt truly refreshed as a creative. I was beginning to study the light in my home, seeing things in a new way, and feeling energized to shoot client work again as a result. I have had such incredible feedback throughout the year that I wanted to share some of my tips to successfully complete your own project 365.
1. Don't follow rules
This may seem odd to a lot of people because I know following a themed 365 or even project 52 can really push you creatively, but ultimately, it's the reason I never completed my first project 52 years ago. I have 3 small children, run a small business and homeschool our oldest so my plate is pretty full. So for me, from the get go I knew I couldn't follow a theme or place too many rules on myself. I knew if I had to follow rules for each picture I would never get it done. When I started, I had no theme for my overall project. In the end, I do think it evolved into our beautiful everyday but sometimes I included a landscape or even client work. I do think weekly themes can be really beneficial for a project 52 but for a 365, I would leave it open to whatever comes your way so you don't feel overwhelmed daily with an extra task. Sometimes it's enough to just take one photo, much less follow a theme. So for me the only real rule I had was: take a picture every day. :)
2. Use your phone
I'll admit that my goal was definitely to complete this project with my DSLR but from the beginning I told myself it wasn't against my rules to use my phone. (Again with the "no rules") After all, it's almost always with me and editing is fast and easy. Plus it's so much easier than lugging around a huge camera with you. I know lots of people who complete their 365 completely on their mobile device and they are fabulous! So that's also a great idea as well especially if you don't own a DSLR.
3. If you miss a day, don't throw in the towel
Like I said before, I was really skeptical that I would even make it to 100 days in the beginning, so I told myself, I wouldn't give up if I missed a day. And I did. (hangs head in shame) I missed 3 days. I didn't miss my first day until about 6 months in and the other two were during my busy season when I was also in my first trimester and very sick. But! I didn't let that stop me. I kept going and even though I missed 3 days, I still consider this 365 day project a total success. I mean don't you remember ^^^ I have THREE small children with a 4th on the way. Sometimes life is just busy and if there is anything I have learned as a mother it is to have grace upon myself and others. So, if you do miss a day, don't give up!
4. Share your photos somewhere
I really think sharing my photos with others really encouraged me to continue the project. Now, I'm not saying I place value on an image based on the amount of likes or comments it gets, in fact probably most of my favorite images got very few likes or I may not have even shared them, because I know the story behind each one, so they all have their own personal significance to me. But, the words of encouragement I've received throughout the year have really helped me to press on when I didn't feel creative or even have the energy to continue. Things like (these are direct quotes) "your children will cherish these", "When she's fully grown you will still hear her sweet voice at this very moment in time. I love all your pictures BUT these dailies they're ordained by GOD.", "Bethany my work environment is, um, oppressive. Yes. Oppressive. You have no idea how much I look forward to your pictures. The innocence of their beautiful faces brightens my day. Really." I mean seriously. These words encouraged me SO MUCH. I heard over and over that my children and I will cherish these and nothing could be more true. When I started, I thought I would share every photo on my Facebook account and instagram but life got busy and although I was shooting, I didn't always have the time to edit every day and I fell behind on sharing so I just started sharing my favorites when I had time. So, again, I didn't place a big rule over my head that made me feel like a failure (and ultimately make me quit) if I didn't get a chance to edit and share every single day. There are lots of places to share...Facebook, IG, Flickr, even emailing a loved one privately. You choose and you can make it as public or private as you want. Just share with someone so you will receive encouragement along the way to continue and complete your project.
5. Know that every image you take will not be portfolio worthy and that's ok
Whether you are a professional photographer or not, when you take on the task of completing a project 365 every image is NOT going to be compelling, creative or even interesting. Ha! But just remember the ultimate goal here is to document your life and experience growth as a photographer. Well, those were my goals and if those aren't your goals just keep YOUR goals in mind and know that every day won't be perfect. In fact most days won't be. But remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. Growth takes time. But I promise that if you stick with it, you will see growth and you will be so grateful to come out on the other side and see where you came from and where you are at that point and ALL those beautiful memories you made a long the way.
So, in conclusion, I encourage you to start a project 365 this year. You won't regret it. If you do, and want some encouragement along the way use hashtag #BSP2016365 and I'll be looking for you and your images on IG. I'd love to even regram some images weekly on my account to help encourage one another. I hope this encourages you guys and you go for it this year! As a result of my 365 this year and the interest I've had from other mothers, I've also decided to teach some basic photography classes for moms who want to learn to better document their every day. The details are still in the works and I'm currently writing my teaching materials but the class will be one full day and will be focused on using a DSLR in manual mode, basic editing in Adobe Lightroom as well as lighting, composition and how to tell a story with your images. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter for details when they are available. I hope you guys have a great New Year in 2016!
I'll go ahead and warn you. This post is LONG. Last night I went through all my pictures of my Reid over this past year and I literally tried to narrow my favorites down and I'm sorry, but this is as good as I could do. :) I am sitting here with tears in my eyes and just in disbelief that this first year is already over. Its funny how with the first baby you are looking forward to seeing your child complete each milestone but with your second and even more so with your third, for me, all you want to do is for time to slow down. To keep them little. This first year with my little buddy has been great. It's been hard at times, overwhelming pretty much everyday, but through all that, I've been stretched in new ways, grown in my relationship with the Lord and refined as a mother. It is such a gift to see my older kids love him. Remember the way you felt when you fell in love with your first child when they were placed in your arms and you got to fall more and more in love with them with every passing day? Well, to me, seeing that same love from my older kids towards Reid is like that feeling times a billion. It is just the best. All throughout my pregnancy with Reid, I felt the Lord confirming this verse to me for Reid's verse "Blessed be the Lord because He has heard the voice of my supplication! The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices. And with my song, I will praise Him." Psalm 28:6-7 Happy Birthday Baby. ~ Mama
I have always loved photography, but after the birth of my first child, I became completely passionate about documenting his life. I wanted to remember everything about him. Not just the big firsts and milestones, but also the beauty in our mundane everyday moments. Even though I wish I was, I am just not a journaler. My photographs are my journal. Several years, 3 kids and thousands of photographs later, I have started my own business with the focus on family and the connections they share. As much as I love having a business and working with clients, I realized after going through my personal images from last year that I had begun to neglect that very reason that developed my love for family photography in the first place, documenting my own family. I had taken lots of photos of my kids but hadn’t really documented our story very well. When I looked through my images when putting together our family year books, I felt like so much of "us" was missing. So, at the start of this year, I decided to do a project 365, where I take at least one photo every day. After the first few weeks I noticed a theme emerging from my images. I started seeing beauty in our everyday moments. They weren’t beautifully posed portraits but rather things that were just happening in our lives. And I realized, these were the things I really wanted to remember. Don’t get me wrong, I think styled and posed portraits have their place. I AM a photographer after all. ;) You’ll even see some of those in my 365, but for the most part, I’m documenting our every day and in the past 3 months, I have taken some of my most treasured images of my family.
I’ve had such an amazing response to this from friends and clients alike and so many questions from moms that I wanted to share some tips with you on how to document your own family. The best part about these tips is that there is no fancy camera required. I am doing my 365 with my big camera but all of these tips can be applied to a DSLR, point and shoot or a phone camera. So, here are my tips for you on how to beautifully document the story of your family...
1. Keep your camera handy
This might seem like a no brainer but I feel like it is really essential to catching those really sweet moments. Most of us have our phone on or near us a lot so that's always a great option. But if you shoot with a point and shoot or a dslr keep it in a central place in your home so that you can grab it quickly. I keep mine on a high shelf in our living room. Safely out of the reach of little ones but I can grab it and be anywhere in our house in a few seconds. So when you see something like this happening you don't have to say "wait a minute! Mommy needs to get her camera!" Although I do say that a lot too. ;) This picture was taken as my husband was leaving for work. She had gotten up and dressed herself just like this and they were giving kisses goodbye. It was so incredibly adorable when I saw it happen, I just quickly grabbed my camera and asked her to give Daddy one more goodbye kiss.
2. Shoot wide and also go in for a closer look
What I mean by this is to take a step back and take in the whole scene. Usually doing this tells more of the story. When I do this I also like to get in close because it sort of gives you an up close and personal look at what they were doing.
Here are some examples of where I like to shoot wide. I love how it shows how little they are.
And here are some examples of how I like to get in really close to focus on the details of what they are doing or their little features, which we all know, change way too fast!
3. Get on their level.
Changing your perspective can really change the feel of an image and I love to get down on my children's level when photographing them. It kind of gives a more intimate feel and helps you see things from their perspective. Here are some examples of that...
4. Get High- Shoot from your perspective
Again, this is another perspective that really adds a different feel to your images. Of course here we can see more from our perspectives and how we view them. Here are some examples of this...
5. Don't ask them to look at you
We all know this look, am I right? You know, when you ask your child to look at the camera and smile. This is what they give you.
So, just don’t tell them to look at the camera. In fact, tell them not to look at you. Just let them keep on doing whatever activity they’re involved in. Let them be lost in play. Some of my favorite pictures of my kids are ones that they aren’t looking at the camera. It's just so much more special than those fake smiles or crazy faces they make because these photographs are so much more real and genuine.
6. Document the mundane
These things we do everyday as parents are what this life is really made of. And when we look back at our images in the years to come, these photos will be the ones you treasure so much because they are your memories preserved. Home haircuts, an afternoon bath after a blow out poopy diaper (ha!), checking the mail, riding on scooters in the driveway, jumping off the couch in this swimsuits in the dead of winter, nursing your baby, your sad attempt at braiding your daughters hair. This is life, and it's beautiful!
7. Make it fun
I can't tell you how many of my clients leave their sessions and text me later that night and say how much fun they had. That is always my goal and the best way to get real authentic expressions and smiles so why wouldn't I want that same thing with my own children. This is a win-win because when they are having fun, they don't mind you taking pictures. Let them jump in the leaves, dance in circles, do flips, run around, whatever they enjoy doing and you want to remember how cute they were when they did it.
8. Get in the frame
This is something I have become much more passionate about this year. Every year, I put together family photo albums and I began to realize I was missing. Like completely. Obviously, I am the one taking all the photos so I'm just always behind the camera. But, I really want my kids to have some photos of us together. Don't you cherish old photos of you with your parents? Your kids will too. So, I've tried to make it a goal to get in the frame with my kids at least once a month. You can set your camera up on a piece of furniture and set the timer or get a tripod with a remote. If you're using your phone, I use the gorilla cam app that has a self timer on it so I can even set up my phone to take pictures and not just holding it out for selfies. I always try to spend lots of time at my sessions focusing on mothers, especially because I know they are usually the one's taking the pictures and are rarely in them with their little ones but you should also make a point to get in pictures with your kids every once in a while whether that be while you’re cooking dinner or snuggling in bed. You’ll always love these in the years to come.
I hope you've enjoyed reading these tips and find them useful in documenting your everyday with your little ones. I wanted to be sure these tips would work for you no matter what kind of camera you use. And just to demonstrate that I wanted to include some iPhone snaps of mine below that demonstrate most of these tips. And finally, if you are interested in scheduling a session with me I specialize in custom photography including in home lifestyle sessions to document these beautiful days for you. You can contact me here if you're interested. Have a great weekend everyone!
iPhone Snaps of our everyday...
"From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Psalm 61.2 This is totally my verse right now. I feel like I cry out this verse to God all day long. Motherhood is beautiful and it's wonderful but it is also tiring and overwhelming. I feel overwhelmed on a daily basis but I am reminded through God's word that He is so much more than I am and can carry this heavy load for me. "Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved." Psalm 55:22. Today as I was snuggling my littlest one before his nap, my heart felt overwhelmed but in the best way possible. Not in the 50,000-disasters-happening-all-at-once kind of way but in the I-can't-believe-I-get-to-be-your-mom-I-love-you-more-than-anything-ever kind of way. And in that moment, my mind when right to that verse that I cry out all the day long and I said "Lord, My heart is overwhelmed right now, with your goodness." and I praised the Rock who is higher than I. I am so thankful for this gift of motherhood. And thankfully God gives us these little moments to realize what a blessing it truly is. Now to some photos that really have nothing to do with what I was talking about before. Ha! I just had that on my heart and wanted to share with the mamas. :) Yesterday we went on a little day trip to Cades Cove and had the best time as a family. My kids LOVE to be outside and enjoying God's creation so this really hit the spot for us. It was so nice to leave the to-do list at home and just unplug for the day together wandering, exploring and getting our feet wet. I hope you have a great weekend with your family!
My daughter has this stuffed dog that she absolutely loves named Leah. During her rest time almost everyday she dresses Leah up in her (or her brother's!) clothes. It's cute. It's really cute. When I say she dresses her, I mean in undies and all. Well after weeks of this, I decided I wanted to remember how completely adorable this was. So, I decided for the month of March, I would photograph Leah every time I saw her clothes change. I only missed one or two changes but I absolutely love that I have these photographs to remember this sweet little stage in the life of my baby girl. Enjoy!
Yesterday when Reid woke up from his nap and the bigs rushed into his room as usual and started piling into his crib, I grabbed my camera and let them do what they do while I snapped away. Just wanted to share. :) Have a great weekend!