3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Images | Photography Education for Moms

I love that photography is a continual journey. One where you're constantly learning something new and asking more questions. Pushing yourself as an artist is one of the best ways to improve your skills!

Unless you do something beyond what you’ve already mastered, you will never grow.
— Ronald E. Osborne

Here are 3 easy ways you can improve your images today! Can't wait to see what you create. :)

1. Skip the center framed pictures. When you begin paying attention to image composition and framing - you start to notice it everywhere! Consider famous paintings or photographs - they are rarely with the subject in the very center of the image, looking at the viewer. Sometimes this can be really soulful and powerful. But, I would encourage you to think outside of the box with this. Not sure where to start? Open up Google and search: Rule of Thirds. This popular photography 'rule' helps you understand composition a bit more. 

This image from The Office (who's binging episodes on Netflix with me?!) is a great example of the Rule of Thirds! #lovehim

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

2. Look for even light. Shadows are fun and dramatic light can be amazing to experiment with! But, when first starting out, look for even, flat light to photograph your subjects in. I will sometimes use the back of my hand when finding light. I move it around to observe where the light is falling and if it's uneven. This will help with proper exposure in camera. Too many variations of light can be frustrating when learning manual mode - your meter will be hopping around like crazy!

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3. Get eye level. I love exploring angles, it's a powerful tool to use when photographing families. But, my favorite way to capture the portrait of a child - is on their level! I am pretty tall (like Amazon 6'1 status lol) so I always drop a knee when photographing little ones. Next time, get low when capturing your kiddo and see what a difference it can make!

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That's it! Now, get out there with your camera and start clicking, friends. :)

Want more tips? The EAP Education Newsletter is hitting inboxes this week! Sign up below for more updates, inspiration and photography support. Chat soon! xoxo

2018 Reading Goals! | #MomLife | Hampton Roads Family Photographer

If you've known or followed me for any extent of time - you may know about my love for reading. It brings me so much joy and honestly, I think it makes me a better person. I read for entertainment, education and inspiration. I love reading books that feed my soul! 

In 2016, I set the lofty goal to read 50 books. This was a HUGE leap for me. At the time, I was working from home and had a preschooler and Kindergartner. My free time was seriously limited and I made a real conscious effort to prioritize reading over television or mindless internet scrolling. You can read more about my books and experience HERE!

Last year, I decided to pull back some and read 25 books. I cut that previous goal in half, and it really let me enjoy and linger over certain books. I even surpassed my goal, devouring several books right towards the end of the year. 

I haven't blogged about reading since last Summer (oops!) but you can read it HERE if you're interested in my 2017 reads!

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This year, I'm going to stay pretty similar to 2017's goals. I have the goal to read 30 books in 2018! I am giving myself permission to tweak this number up or down, depending on how my schedule changes. These are the first reads of the year pictured above - and with all this snowy weather I've actually gotten off to a great start!

Reading forces you to be quiet in a world that no longer makes place for that.
— John Green
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I will continue to use my hashtag on Instagram, #EAPreads - so follow along to keep up with the latest! If you are on GoodReads, come find me. I love using that app as a way to track what I've read and what I want to read. Their reading challenge is so motivating! I love to see that progress bar bump up with every book I finish. :) #nerd

I'd love to know what you're reading. Are you strictly non-fiction or do you love a good drama?

Happy Reading, friends! 

xoxo

Erin

New Baby, New Year! | Virginia Beach Newborn Photographer

This sweet girl was born just ONE day after Christmas. I mean - how lucky can you get?! I kept laughing with new parents, Dustin and Liz, about how Zoie is going to always have an epic birthday week.

Starting off with Christmas morning, then her birthday and New Year's! Gifts and family time and a full week of celebrating. It made me smile to think about what a blessing she already is and how every year will be even more sparkly and magical.  Christmas and Birthday magic combined to make a pretty epic week! 

As I waited to hear the word about her birth, I remembered VA weather can be pretty unpredictable. I am so glad I was able to meet her family before this epic snowstorm arrived! Her puppy sister greeted me at the door and was ready to cuddle and show off the new baby. :) I love me some fur siblings!! 

Sharing a few favorites of our morning together. Welcome to the world, Zoie! 

A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.
— anonymous

Talk about nursery goals! I could tell they enjoyed putting this room together - every detail was so personal and thought out. 

I secretly love a wakeful and alert newborn. They are so soulful and precious. 

Even when watching a ceiling fan, haha! ;)

Are you expecting in 2018? I would love to capture this time for your growing family! Drop me a note below with your due date and let's chat. :)

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My Word for 2018 | #MomLife | Hampton Roads Family Photographer

This will be my third year choosing a word for the year. Which is a reminder to me that focusing (and refocusing) on just one word is so empowering and helpful! 

In 2016, I chose Brave. For 2017,  I chose Intentional.

You can read more about them HERE

I'm seeing many of my goals from 2017 have shown up again for 2018. I think this is because many of them were big ideas, and ones that really need to be continually cultivated in my life. Like being present and intentional with my family time. That's something I will always put focus on - it's not something I can just put a pretty check mark beside. 

For 2018, I do have more specific goals. Ones that are measurable and trackable. I think that's where I've felt frustrated in the past. This year, I am jumping on the Powersheets bandwagon and I am SO excited! If you've never heard of Lara Casey, I would strongly suggest giving her a follow. I have been a fan since 2015, right after reading her book, Make It Happen. But for some reason or other, I hadn't jumped in with her goal setting program yet.

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Welp, after completing all my homework and getting my January tending list started - I am ready to rock my goals in 2018. I love the simplicity of the planner and how trackable and specific it allows you to get. AND the concept of slow progress - that we can change our goals with the seasons....gah, that is soooo me. I believe her one-year planners are sold out - but there are 6 month options still available.  I'm not getting paid for this, haha - I just really love it! :)

SO, now for my word...

For 2018, my word is Patient.

Patient: (adjective) able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.

Patient with myself and my slow progress.

Patient with other people. Especially those who might not think like me.

Patient with my family. They deserve my best and not the leftovers.

Patient with my health and self-care goals. Just keep doing the next right thing.

Patient in growing and managing this business of mine.

Patient in listening for God's voice amongst all the noise.

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Have you chosen a word for 2018? I'd love to hear it! Come find me on Instagram or Facebook and share. Putting it out into the universe is a powerful step. :)

 

 

Wrapping up 2017! | Hampton Roads Family Photographer

For the last family session of 2017, I can't think of a more fitting family to capture! Dad just returned from deployment and this family of six is finally reunited. I couldn't be happier for them!

It had been two years since our last session and they have traveled the globe together and welcomed another baby. Blessings and sacrifices, but made stronger together. I'm so inspired by their connection and grace for one another. Here's to giving the people we love the very best of ourselves! They deserve it. :) 

Saying goodbye to 2017 and looking ahead to a joyful 2018...

Love is the answer. At least for most of the questions in my heart. Like: “Why are we here?”, “And where do we go?”, and “How come it’s so hard?”. It’s not easy, and sometimes life can be deceiving - I’ll tell you thing: It’s always better when we’re together.”
— Jack Johnson

As I reflect back on all the fabulous families I've had the honor of photographing this year - I am so overwhelmed with gratitude. I'm already at work planning for an incredible 2018! Please remember, it's never too early to book a session.

Expecting a baby in 2018? Planning a family Summer vacation to Virginia Beach? I am currently booking sessions into August. I can't wait to see you next year! 

Happy New Year! xoxo

~Erin

5 Tips for Christmas Morning Picture Prep! | Hampton Roads Photography Education

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1. Charge Batteries. This may seem obvious, but with the chaos of Christmas Eve - it can easily be one more thing that slips your mind. Prepare now! Charge and have back up memory cards and batteries ready to go. Set your camera in an ideal spot so that you can capture your kid's reaction as soon as they see the tree! Lay this all out well in advance so you're not scrambling last minute.

2. Set the Scene. Christmas decorations are so festive and happy, but can easily become cluttered. Take a moment to tidy up the space/background where your family will spend most of Christmas morning. Toss any newspapers, paper clutter or stray items. That way, the focus of your pictures will be on the memories and not last week's laundry piles! ;) 

3. Consider Camera Settings. - With all the paper flying and excited kiddos, make sure your shutter speed is high enough to freeze the action. I would suggest not shooting under a 1/200 shutter speed. Don't be afraid to increase your ISO, because most likely - it will still be dark out. You'll be relying on artificial light unless your kids are angelic wonders who actually sleep past dawn on Christmas Day. If that's your situation, I would keep that information to yourself, hahaha! Yes, a higher ISO may add more grain to your images, but they should print just fine. Consider how you want to use these images and if they are just for your family - then remember, it doesn't have to be perfect! 

4. Make A Mess! Resist the urge to pose your kids. Let them enjoy and try to capture the big moments. Not everything needs to be documented, but maybe there is that one special gift from Dad that you would love to see your daughter's reaction. Pick and choose what matters and then put the camera down in between. You can always stage images after or try again. No stress!

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5. Grab Those Details. I love capturing the sweet, messy bedhead of my girls. Their fuzzy slippers and chipped nail polish. These are things that pull at my Momma heart. I always take a few of these on Christmas morning to tuck into a family album.

Bonus Tip: Get in the Frame and Enjoy! If you have a tripod and remote, try to capture the whole family after the present opening is done. If not, prop your camera up on the couch and set the self-timer. Or, even better, pass the camera to someone else and have them capture you opening a gift or snuggling your kids. Mothers disappear from memories because we are often the ones behind the camera. Let's change that! Then, sit back and enjoy yourself. Your family deserves your attention, so try not to focus too much on capturing every shot. 

I hope these tips encouraged you! If you're looking for a photography community, come just us in the 'Stay Little' Lounge over on Facebook. We'll be sharing our messy memories and cheering one another on. See you there!

 

Merry Christmas, friends!

xoxo

Erin

'Only Little Once' Workshop | Hampton Roads Photography Education

Oh, Facebook Memories. Gets me EVERY time. I open up my FB app and am suddenly inundated with adorable images of my babies. WHY must they grow so fast!? I'm proud and broken-hearted all at the same time. Word on the street? This doesn't end. 

Ain't no 'hood like Motherhood. 

It's been amazing to watch my girls grow and change - but these snapshots are also a great reminder of how MY photography has grown! I was that Mom with the new DSLR taking ALL the pictures in Auto mode with no idea how to manipulate natural light or what all the buttons meant on my fancy camera.

Can you relate? While reading this if you find yourself nodding in agreement, then I have a photography workshop just for you! In the years I've been offering "Only Little Once" it has grown to share the love of photography with dozens of local Moms and hobbyists.

I'm gonna have to take a moment to humble brag on a few ladies. Here are their amazing before and afters! You guys - this is better than those weight loss side-by-side comparisons, LOL!

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MomTog Kristen has grown SO much in a short time. From auto mode with on-camera flash to manual mode with natural light. Check out her photography journey over on her Facebook page:

Little Moments Photography by Kristen Stewart

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MomTog Abigail has grown leaps and bounds! Although she had dabbled with manual mode before the workshop, she struggled with nailing focus and accurate white balance. She now captures beautiful and timeless images of her kiddos straight out of camera. No editing necessary! ;)

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MomTog Emily loved taking pictures of her littles, but was still frustrated with settings. She's now confident in her skills and is dabbling with editing! Love this before and after of her oldest girl. :)

The Facebook group is so motivational and positive!
— Kristen

After the workshop, all attendees are added to our VIP Grad Facebook group. It's a thriving community of supportive Moms and hobbyists just like you. No big, scary page with thousands of other strangers. Just a tight-knit group of ladies who love taking pictures of their littles, pets, and the world around them. It's a safe place to grow, ask questions and find inspiration. You'll also be able to join in our PhotoWalks we have 1-2 times a year. Check them out here:

Neon District PhotoWalk

Brock Environmental Center PhotoWalk

We can't wait for you to join us! :)

Still not sure if this is for you? Want to start learning now?! Join our FREE group, the "Stay Little Lounge" over on Facebook! Scroll through the posts and videos for inspiration, education and community. See you there!

Keep on clickin'! :)

xoxo

Erin

Cozy Lifestyle Newborn Session | Virginia Beach Newborn Photographer

What is it about bringing home that first baby? I remember between the sleep deprivation and diapers, a feeling of togetherness with my husband we had never experienced before. It brought us closer in a way that's hard to express. When I meet couples, no matter how many children they have, I love seeing their connection. It can be easy to let this life adjustment rock your family, but clinging to one another through the chaos - that is an incredible blessing!

It was a rainy and overcast morning in Virginia Beach, but you would never guess from these cozy images! And this sweet baby boy was an absolute joy. He did nothing but smile and coo the ENTIRE time. Literally a dream come true for this photographer. And so alert, he tracked my every move. I know sleeping images are gorgeous as well - but I love awake babies. I mean, just check out this sweetness...

He grinned at his Dad like they were already in on a secret joke together, hahaha! 

Making the decision to have a baby is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
— Elizabeth Stone

The nursery was so lovingly styled and decorated. I love when parents are able to 'set the stage' for babies arrival. Looking back at these pictures, he will know how deeply he was loved before he even arrived!

I have a soft spot in my heart for these lifestyle newborn sessions. If you are expecting or know a soon-to-be-Momma - drop me a note! I'd love to capture this time for your growing family. 

Best,

Erin

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Dreamy Sunset Maternity Session | Hampton Roads Family and Newborn Photographer

It has been 5+ years since I carried my last baby. It feels like an eternity and also as if it just happened yesterday. Your body and your heart remembers. I remember the weight of my belly and the almost other-worldly experience of feeling my baby kick.

Despite the heartburn, swollen ankles and mood swings - I enjoyed both of my pregnancies. I don't take for granted my health and the uncomplicated births of my daughters. When I see a woman nearing the end of her pregnancy, I smile with the knowing. Mothers get it. We see all the beauty and sometimes discomfort of that life season - and sometimes we stare. Not in a creepy way, but just with a sigh of remembering. 

Getting a chance to photograph this gorgeous Momma and her beau just a couple of weeks before her due date was such a gift! She visited my sweet and talented pal, Meg with Blushtones and got seriously dolled up and pampered! Nothing better than getting spoiled with professional makeup right before baby arrives. :) 

We hopped around to two different locations until the sun was completely gone. I love that dreamy time right at dusk. Those images are so full of emotion! Sharing just a few favorites....

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.
— Osho

Are you expecting in 2018? Congratulations! I offer a maternity and newborn bundle for parents! Send me a note with your due date and let's start planning. :)

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3 Outfit Tips for Cooler Days | Hampton Roads Family Photographer

Don't worry, I haven't decided to become a fashion blogger, haha! BUT, I do know the temps are dropping and families (okay, mainly Moms because #realtalk) often ask me for advice on how to dress their families for a session.

Luckily, we still have mild and even some warm days ahead here in Hampton Roads. November and December outdoor sessions are certainly cooler, so be sure to plan accordingly! Because nobody likes to be cold - especially the kiddos. Here are some tips on how you can dress to keep everyone cozy and toasty! 

1. Layer it up. Dress littles in several, warm layers underneath their 'fancier' clothes. Thermal long johns, leggings and thick socks will keep the wind from cutting right through their top layers. Opt for a cute puffer vest, tailored jacket or fleece-lined pants. Remember, fit matters in photos so avoid anything too big or bulky. I usually buy winter coats a size larger so my girls will use them for two Winters, but they are not the best choice for pictures. Save your receipts and watch the forecast! Shop ahead and return anything you don't end up needing. #MomHack

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2. Accessorize smartly. Hats, beanies, mittens, gloves, scarves, earmuffs, capes - the options are endless for everyone in the family. In my experience, kids often complain of cold wind on their hands and ears. Keeping those two covered during a chilly session will be well worth it. Plus, there is SO much cute stuff out there! Hit up Target or Old Navy and grab some color coordinated options juuuust in case. 

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3. Include a cozy blanket and/or use your surroundings. Have a favorite family blanket or quilt? Bring it along! Some of my favorite images are ones where everyone is snuggled up together. :) Also, position yourself in a location with tall trees or buildings. This will cut down on the cold wind whipping through and leaving everyone exposed in the open. 

Try your best to keep everyone comfy and then get some hot cocoa/tea after! Starbucks stop on the way home? Totally been there :)

Stay cozy, friends! xoxo