family photographer

Believing Your Own Awesome

At what point do you let yourself believe your own Awesome? I had two clients pay me very big compliments over the course of the last 24 hours. And in both instances, my initial thought was “phew. Pulled that one off!” Really? What is that? Why not let myself believe I am exactly what I am to them and what I’ve been to countless clients over the last 7 years? I have two theories on that. The second is probably the most likely. So let’s start with the first. The first is if I let myself believe my own awesome, then I’ve got an ego. And having an ego means I’m a full of myself, class A jerk. It could also mean I stop working to learn and challenge myself. I lose my hunger and my edge. I also realize most of that is likely complete lies I tell myself. Like I said, it’s a theory.

So onto theory #2. If I believe it my own awesome, then it’s real. And that is scarier than any ego I’ve ever come up against. It means I am truly as good as they say I am. And that means I can go as big as I’ve ever wanted to go. I think that’s been true for a long time. But it’s easier to stay small. To quietly make enough money to contribute to my household, pay for the extras, take my family on vacation. But going bigger (which I really do want), means really going bigger. Saying out loud what my clients say to me. That I really am awesome at what I do and how I do it. That those ideal clients are truly attainable. On a consistent basis. I know that because they are happening.

I pour my true heart into my craft. I light up when I do it. If you’ve worked with me, you’ve seen the pure joy I do not hide when I glance at the back of my camera. Like a little girl.

So, there it is. Plain and simple. We are our own roadblock to believing our awesome. It’s easier to be “good.” Great is overwhelming. I’ve told many people in my life, I am painfully self-aware. I know my potential and I know what keeps me from achieving it. Stupid self-awareness.

And by the way, if you’re waiting for me to provide an all-encompassing answer to get past this, I don’t have it. But I’m certain I’m not the only person who feels this way, so I’m sharing. I will figure it out, in time, as I’m a constant work in progress. 

Holiday Card Crunch

Ok friends. It’s December and it’s crunch time. Yea, yea. I know you’ve got presents to buy and middle of the night elfin panic attacks to have, but I’m talking about your holiday card. It’s time. And for any number of reasons I completely understand, you did not get on the calendar of a professional photographer this year. Trip and fall, root canal, acne breakout. Or perhaps, it’s something simpler such as budget restrictions or schedules that include 17 sporting events every weekend. The struggle is real.

So now it’s on you. You, and you alone, are charged with capturing your own brood of lunatics. Or angels. I wasn’t in your house this morning, so it’s none of my business. But photography is my business. And to show you there’s no hard feelings for your obvious neglect for putting money in my pocket this holiday season, I’m going to share a few pro tips with you to ensure no one ends up with an injury. Oh, and that your hundreds of friends and family are putting your card front and center this year. 

 Disclaimer: You will not see any of my recent client work on my blog in November and December. I have an innate fear of positing their holiday card selections before they’ve been allowed to shock, awe and delight those closest to them.


Photography is all about the light. And certain times of day can usually guarantee certain types of light. The so-called Magic Hours are the hour or two after sunrise and the hour or two before sunset, most especially on a bright and sunny day. These hours are when the sun is low in the sky, providing softer, more forgiving light. When the sun is high at midday, the result can be squinty eyes and blown out highlights or very harsh, deep shadows.

Should you find yourself with no other good time to shoot than at high noon on a sunny day, find some open shade. That’s the shade right where the sun drops off. Closer to a structure or tree.

Disclaimer 2: There are certainly ways to work with this light and make it awesome. However, unless you’ve got lots of time to play, you’re best served leaving that time of day to a professional. If they’re worth their salt, they can shoot anytime. So don’t fret if you hire a good professional and they only time slot he or she has available is noon.

Another thing to keep in mind with time of day is your particular child or children’s “good times.” With babies, right after a nap is best. Or with toddlers, late in the day can be really rough as they are spent and can be very cranky.  Or so I’ve heard. My toddlers were perfect.


I always tell my clients to put their children in clothing in which they’ll be comfortable. If they are not comfortable, they will look exactly as such in the photos. Uncomfortable. And in all honesty, you’ll want to look at the photos one, five and ten years from now and be able to say “that was so them,” even if you hated the superhero shirt she insisted on wearing everyday (sorry, Mom).  My point is, if your 8 year old is in a leisure suit when he much prefers jeans and tees, he’s going to act like he’s in a leisure suit. Not good.


And I don’t mean the kids. When I am shooting families, more often than not, I will have to tell Mom or Dad to go away. In the nicest way possible, of course. If your child is acting up or not cooperating during our shoot, you, as parents, get agitated. Rightfully so. But the kids know it, and we all know what happens from there. So it's best you let me handle it. But, if you have to be the one taking their photo, be patient. Slap on a smile and bring out the playfulness, even when you’re ready to lose your marbles and start handing down beat downs.  

Finally, let them have fun, but work efficiently. Kids, especially the young ones, only have so much in the tank. Remember, you don’t need 25 perfect pictures. You really only need one or two for the card.

I hope this helps. And remember, should all else fail, you know where to find me.

Happy Holidays, friends!

Getting Personal

It was a really great summer. Professionally, but mostly, personally. Lots of great family and friend time. Laughs, vacations and visits. And lots of time to reflect on the amazing people in my life. My daughter has been on my mind a lot this summer and, per usual, I’ve written it down.

You see, we have this son. His name is Ryan. And I’ll make no apologies for saying that he’s cute. Straight up adorable. People stop me on the street to let me know.  It’s always been that way. He’s funny, kind and a great conversationalist at the ripe old age of 6. He’s infectious. If you’ve met him, you know what I mean.

AND we also have this amazing daughter. Her name is Casey and she’s a few weeks shy of 9. For as long as she’s been aware, she’s seen everyone she knows fawn over how cute her brother is. How you could “just eat him up.” From teachers and adult friends of ours to teenagers and even her own peer group.

Henny and I are not at all oblivious to the fact that although extremely beautiful and wonderful in every way possible, she’s older and people are likely going to be making a fuss over him for a long time. This is not to say people don’t ever fuss over her. They do. But Ryan tends to garner a little more attention. It is what it is. And one of the things that make her so unbelievably amazing is that she seems to have accepted it for what it is. She’s poised, elegant, funny, happy and possesses a level of grace probably rather rare for her age.

I’ve seen all of this for a while now but was never quite sure when she would truly understand what I felt I needed to say to her. That time just came. She and I walked hand in hand to the store to get some things while on our beach vacation in August. I told her that I was very aware of what a big deal people make about Ryan. She nodded in understanding.  I then proceeded to tell her about all of the wonderful things people say directly to Henny and I about what a lovely young lady she is becoming. And although she did love hearing that, I most wanted her to know what I, personally, felt and what I see everyday.

Casey has experienced a lot over the last few years. Unfortunately girl “BS” starts at a very young age and continues. For. A. Long. Time. We’ve had a lot of tough conversations about what she is experiencing, what she can expect and how she ought to handle herself in certain situations. She listens and truly makes an effort to see these situations with empathy and a clear understanding that very rarely, if at all, are they about her. She tries very hard, even when it hurts, to follow the Golden Rule.

And then this summer we made the move from one swim club to another. Both kids loved the previous pool but were excited to join the new one and to be on a new swim team with so many people they already knew. But it was still a change and she had to navigate relationships that had existed long before she came along. Not always easy but most certainly worth it. And they both had a great summer.

That day when we walked together at the shore, I made it very clear that her father and I, and so many others, are in awe of the manner in which she conducts herself. I told her she’s genuine, elegant, intelligent and an absolute joy to be around. She beamed with such pride and I knew it had been the perfect time for this mother/daughter chat.

Daughters are tough for their moms because we want to shield them from every difficult thing we went through and we want to scream at the top of our lungs when we cannot do that. But what we can do is provide them the tools to handle themselves with grace, build them up when their confidence needs a boost, and hold them when it hurts. Casey may not have the same type of fuss made about her as her cutie-pie little bro, but I feel confident she knows that she’s every bit as amazing. And we will do our best to make sure she’s reminded often.



Year in Review

I still look back at starting this journey more than 5 years ago and remember how afraid I was to start. What if I failed? Fell flat on my face? I had a hard time even saying I had started a business. I kinda felt like a fraud. That's a distant memory now. 2015 was a better year than I could have imagined. And rather than talk about it, I picked some of the many highlights from the year to share. Thank you to all who made it such an amazing year. From the cities and beaches of NJ and PA and all the way to Chicago. I'm beyond grateful.

Miracles Do Exist


Two out of the last three years, I’ve worked with the family of an honest to goodness miracle. Was to be three out of the last three, but Grayson fell ill on the day of our shoot last year and had to spend the day at CHOP. When I first met her, she was not yet 2 and was hooked up to oxygen. You could only tell if she was crying by her facial expressions. She did not make noise. But she’s long been off oxygen and she’s surpassed most predictions made about her to-date I just had the opportunity to photograph Grayson’s family again and I wanted share some images (from both 2013 and 2015) and information about this amazing girl. But the story is not mine. It’s Grayson, Stephanie and Tom’s story. So I’m letting Stephanie tell it. Thank you Stephanie and Tom for bringing me into your lives. Grayson is an inspiration. A miracle.  And you both are true examples of the strength of a parent's love for their child. Miracle. That is the word I use when I describe my special little girl.

On July 21, 2012 I was not feeling well and had pain in the back of my neck. I figured I slept on the pillow wrong and caused my neck to be stiff. I remember laying down on the couch and my husband and dog were sitting next to me. Next thing I know it was 4 days later and I was waking up in a hospital bed and was told I had my baby girl who was fighting for her life.

 I had sudden eclampsia with a seizure (and to think that I had a perfect exam the week before).  Over time I have had some brief memories come back, such as remembering it being dark out and hearing choppers from a helicopter and telling a dark haired man to not hurt my baby. This was me being airlifted to Jefferson University and talking to the doctor on flight. The doctors had informed my husband and parents that if they did not deliver the baby soon she and I could both die.

 Grayson was born at 26 weeks weighing 1lb 3oz and 11 inches. She fit in our hands. She was given a 10% chance of surviving the day and has a grade III brain bleed that never resolved.  She surpassed those odds and continues to defy so many, such as being told that she would never walk.  Today all she does is run!  We had to wait 34 days before we could even hold her. She was in the NICU for 236 days (a week shy of 8 LONG months). There were several times during those months where we didn't know if she would make it but whatever challenge was in her way, she pushed it aside and survived. It's an experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy but one I am thankful for because it taught me so much about myself and the meaning of strength and believing in miracles and the power of prayer. She was on oxygen until she was a few days over 2 and she is still gtube fed because she will not eat solid food.

 In March 2015, a few months before she turned 3, Grayson was diagnosed with Autism. We had a feeling for a while due to the "signs" (loss of speech, stimming behaviors, lack of engagement with others).  It's been hard to swallow her diagnosis some days (as a Mom I feel robbed at times, having a preemie and now a child with autism nothing has been "normal" but then again what is normal??). Grayson is nonverbal but has so much expression with her eyes!! I feel like we are on this journey and given the incredible blessing of our daughter for a reason. We do all that we can each and every day to help Grayson.  She is a very happy little girl who loves to run, swing, and give hugs and kisses.  She has taught us so much about life and we celebrate each and every milestone and we will continue to do so. I know I will be jumping from the rooftop whenever she says mommy again!!  She is proof that miracles do exist.

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