2015 was an amazing year.
I had the honor and pleasure of capturing the first beautiful photographs of 43 sweet, squishy newborns born in 2015.
So many cuddles…so many coos…so many tiny fingers and toes.
I have the best job in the world.
Here’s a peek at the gorgeous babies I got to help welcome to the world:
Are you looking for a newborn baby photographer in Columbia Missouri or the mid-Missouri area? As the area’s premier newborn photographer, I would love to capture your baby’s first photographs. For your newborn baby photography session, I come to your home and bring everything we need to capture all of baby’s details, along with your entire, beautiful new family.
Newborn photo sessions are typically booked 2-6 months in advance of baby’s arrival.
I know many of you are on the edge of your seats, waiting for my final Elf on the Shelf blog post of 2015.
I’ll be honest, Christmas kicked my patootie (again) this year, and I was COMPLETELY OVER IT by noon on Christmas Eve. So, I’ve been dragging my feet on getting this post up because, well, I’m ready to move on from the holidays.
But, I made a commitment to blogging about this stupid elf, so I’m going to keep it, dang it.
Here we go…
On the Sunday before Christmas, Buddy delivered a gingerbread house kit!
Monday morning, we found Buddy doing his business in the bathroom. Incidentally, my husband and I thought this was hilarious…my kid was less than impressed.
He’s a weird kid.
On Monday, we took a trip to St. Louis to watch the new Star Wars movie in a super fun, fancy movie theater. We decided to spend the night there and meet up with a friend of Andrew’s the next morning to see the new Alvin & the Chipmunks movie.
I’ll let you guess which movie is better…
So, anyway, Buddy must have stowed away in my bag or something because we found him at the hotel the next morning! He even brought a cute little ornament for the tree (that was found at the Hallmark store on Monday night, I would guess). So that’s fun!
On Tuesday night, Buddy built a cup pyramid in the hallway doorway to my son’s room. Unfortunately, the pyramid fell before my son got up that morning, which was disappointing, but he thought it was still pretty funny.
Buddy took a flight back from the North Pole on Thursday morning. His bomber jacket is from Target last year.
Alright. Remember how I told you I was OVER IT by noon on Christmas Eve? I really wasn’t kidding.
I’m not proud to admit that mommy had to take a time out that afternoon (after a certain 8-year-old criticized the homemade chicken noodle soup I had cooked for 5 hours…I mean, really kid?).
So, after Christmas Eve church service, an annual Christmas party we attend each year, and then coming home at 11pm and doing all the Santa stuff, I was completely DONE.WITH.CHRISTMAS. by the time it came to send Buddy back to the North Pole.
In years past, Buddy has helped Santa decorate the hallway with Christmas lights and a crepe paper barrier that the kid could bust through Koolaid-man-style (after mommy had time to get coffee and set up the video camera and stuff). This amazing amount of decorating has seriously been done every year since my kid has been walking.
These photos are from last year:
This year, Buddy just ended up writing a goodbye note on the bathroom mirror with a green, wet-erase marker. And I didn’t even take a photo of it.
Because I was THAT done.
So, yeah, Santa & Buddy slacked off this Christmas Eve.
But perhaps a certain 8-year-old should have been a little more polite to his mommy then perhaps Santa would have spent more time at his house…
You know what the worst part was? My son didn’t even miss the usual fanfare…he did not even question stuff not being there, despite having the lights and the crepe paper bust-through thing for the last 6 years.
I don’t know why I even bother.
Hope you’ve enjoyed a look at our little elf’s antics over the last few weeks. Hopefully he’ll get a good break for the next 11 months and will come back next year.
We shall see…
Happy New Year, y’all!
I have a wrap-up Elf On the Shelf blog post planned, and high hopes of blogging my favorite images of 2015 sometime soon, but I had to do something today that was super hard for me, and I thought it would be fun to share with you.
I had to choose 10 images for critique.
OMG, that word strikes fear into my heart.
It’s even an offensive word to write, with its stupid, pretentious “que” at the end.
I hate being critiqued.
Because….I am my own worst critic. And the thought of someone else pointing out all of my flaws in an image makes me want to cringe. Hard.
But, it’s a really, really, REALLY good way to learn how to improve, so here I am…
I am scheduled to attend a workshop in Philadelphia with one of my very favorite photographers very soon.
I. Literally. Cannot. Wait.
One of their workshop requirements is to submit a full wedding for critique (eek!), as well as 10 specific images for full critique.
The only criteria I was given for choosing these 10 images was that it’s usually most beneficial to send 10 images that I’d most like feedback on.
So I can’t even send in my very, very favorite images that show my style because many of those don’t overlap this requirement.
(hahahahaha…like I could narrow it down to my 10 most favorite images)
Tonight, I set aside all of my emotional baggage, and went through my archives for these 10 images.
Because the deadline is tomorrow.
This. Was. Excruciating.
I gave myself two boundaries to make it only slightly easier…the photos had to be from 2015 and they were to be either weddings or engagements.
Although we were given the opportunity to submit anything we wanted, this particular photographer specializes in weddings and engagement photography and I thought it would be most beneficial for me to focus on that genre for this workshop.
Wanna see which images I chose to submit?
Here they are, in no particular order, with my commentary:
First up is a favorite from one of my fall engagements. The sun was absolutely perfect this day, and the couple trusted me to make a detour to a beautiful field. I simply adore this image…the composition…the light…the expressions. The highlights in the sky are blown out a bit, but, other than that, I feel like it’s just about perfect. But I’m not a master photographer and I want to know what’s wrong with it out of morbid curiosity. Because a shot like this is something I’m striving for in every session…
The next one is from another engagement session. Here I was trying to use the fence to make some leading lines to the couple and create some fun foreground. The sun got in my image and made the flare. I seriously struggle to make the flare circles and I want to know why it worked in this image…and how to control where the circles go because I don’t like that it’s on his foot. Love their expressions and I love the shadows in this image. It makes me smile.
Ahhhhh…this next engagement session was insanely good. The couple wanted somewhere different and they trusted me to find a good location that incorporated a bunch of things, including a field. We hopped in the car and started driving, and I’m super lucky that we found this field right next to a church, just down the road. I love this image and I love this pose, even though it feels super awkward in the moment. There’s something I just can’t quite put my finger on that bothers me with the composition of this image. I like them off-center, but maybe it’s giving a little bit more tension in the photo than it should? Or maybe I should have darkened the left edge a bit to draw in your eye to the couple? I don’t know. I love this shot, but I’d like to know what would make it better.
If you’ve seen my Facebook page lately, you know I love this image. LOVE it. I slightly wish he wasn’t looking at the camera—maybe at her? And/or a slightly more smiley expression? But this groom was an absolute hoot to work with and I think it shows his personality well. I’m curious if I should have zoomed out just a bit to give a bit more visual space to the background.
This next image was from a gorgeous engagement session on her family’s property, which was beautiful. We had this lake to work with. And that dock. And they were super okay with ditching the mud boots for bare feet. Sigh. Love their expressions. I love the composition. The only thing I don’t love is the color of the lake. It was cloudy that day, so the water was reflecting the grey clouds. I’m curious what I could have done to improve this shot.
Same wedding as above. But not on purpose…I just liked how this shot came out and wanted some feedback on the lighting, as I do this shot frequently if we have a pretty sunset to work with. I’m curious if I should put a different colored gel on my light. Or if the light is too harsh. Or if the background is too dark. Or if I should have put the light on the other side. But I love how this one turned out.
This next one was my first attempt at a backlit rain shot. And, oddly enough, I didn’t have any other opportunities to try this shot at other weddings this year. I love this photo, but, again, just wanted to know what I should do to make it better. The raindrops seem really out of focus, so I’m curious if I should have narrowed my aperture to make them more in focus? I like that we can see the couple’s faces, but perhaps I shouldn’t have lit the couple? This shot reminds me of a movie poster. I love it so.
Cathedral. Length. Veils. Are. My. Favorite.
Ladies…we need more of these. I even had one at my own wedding and I feel like I should maybe just bring it to any and all weddings for fun shots. This was one of my first super long veils in which I’ve had time during couple photos to play with, so I’m curious how I did. I really like how this photo turned out, but I’d also like to have some more ideas on how to utilize long veils during the wedding day for fun photos.
This next couple picked the very perfect fall day to have their engagement session done. Fall leaves were ON POINT! And their clothing choices were perfect. I love this image and I was very deliberate in how it was made…love the slight reflection in the water, though I wish it was more of a full reflection. Mostly curious about how I did, and what I could do to make photos like this better.
The last image I chose was one I really like to do if I have the opportunity with stained glass windows in churches. So for these, I’d like to know if I’m getting the exposure right, is the composition okay, is this the right lens to use, should I have straightened those lines better…basically what could turn this photo from “wow, that’s really pretty” into “OMG THAT’S THE MOST AMAZING PHOTO I’VE EVER SEEN.”
Selecting these photos and putting them out there was both cathartic and terrifying.
So, basically, how I feel on a daily basis with this business. =)
And we aren’t even to the critique part yet…
To the couples whose photos were chosen or not chosen…please don’t take anything I’ve said or not said the wrong way…this was a journey for me to go on, and I hesitated putting this out there because I don’t want anyone to think I didn’t like their images.
I am so proud of my work and I am so honored that YOU love my work. My job is to capture your memories in the most beautiful way possible. And I take that job very, very seriously.
Which is why I’m always trying to improve.
It’s nice having friends who will take that journey with me too.
Much love, friends. Happy new year!
Christmas Card Photo Credit: Julia Ross Photography
I am so fortunate to work with the kindest, sweetest, most adorable families and couples in Columbia. You guys make MY spirits bright every day, and I am truly honored to help capture the beauty of your family throughout the year.
It is my sincerest hope that the light of the season shines upon you and your whole family this beautiful Christmas Eve.
From my home to yours, wishing you the merriest of Christmases and the happiest New Year!
Speaking of my home, I thought it would be fun to share how my home is all decked out for the holidays this year.
Stay cozy, friends!
I posted this photo on my personal Facebook page the other day and lots of people were curious about our yearly ornament-making tradition.
Oh you guys…you have no idea how many traditions we have for the various holidays.
It’s probably to the point of compulsion.
My son is already conditioned to expect them, and if they don’t happen, I definitely hear about it.
However, this one is one he would happily skip. He’s a self-declared craft hater. But it’s probably one of my favorite traditions, so I thought I would share it with you.
We make several handmade ornaments each year!
There are two categories of ornaments we make: ones just for our tree and gift ones for close family. We always keep one of the gift ornaments too, so, as you can imagine, our tree is very full!
“Just For Us” Ornaments
First up: the ornaments we make just for our tree. There are three types that we do each year.
Ornament 1: Self Portrait
For these, I trace around the embroidery hoop onto a piece of paper and have my son draw a self-portrait.
That’s easier said than done because of his craft-hating tendancies. So there’s some threatening involved, but we eventually get something adorable.
After he draws the picture, I trace it onto white muslin fabric with an extra fine-tipped Sharpie.
Then, he uses a dry brush and acrylic paint to fill in the colors. I usually help with the eyes and smoothing everything out. Sometimes, I go over the black lines again so they stand out.
After it dries, we throw it into a small embroidery hoop and cut off the extra fabrib and add a ribbon.
We started this tradition three years ago when I found the idea on Pinterest, but I wish we would have started when he was old enough to draw. I love these drawings so much!
Ornament 2: Christmas List
Each year, I take my son’s list to Santa and transcribe it onto these little scroll ornaments.
I cannot describe how much I love these! We have a permanent record of his list, and it’s super fun to look over past lists as we decorate the tree each year.
The spools are from Michaels (Hobby Lobby has some too, but I like the style at Michaels better). I paint them with red acrylic paint.
Each year, I take a slip of stiff watercolor paper and use an extra fine Sharpie to write out the list. This then gets hot glued to spool with a little overhanging to make it look like a scroll.
I take some green florist wire and thread it through the spool hole to make a hanger, and add a cute ribbon and a little cardstock flag with his name and the year.
And yes, he did ask Santa for socks this year.
Ornament 3: Vacation maps
We usually go on vacation to fairly nearby places and, for some reason, I can never find a Christmas ornament to commemorate the trip.
So, we make one.
Using a map, or a printout from Google maps, or a theme park map, I glue it to one side of a flat wooden heart (again, Michaels).
On the other side, I put a label with the name of the trip and the dates.
These labels were from the Martha Stewart collection at Staples. I stocked up on them a few years back, so I don’t know if they still carry them.
The next batch of ornaments are the ones we gift to close family each year.
I’ve done my best to try to incorporate a photo or a handprint each year, but sometimes, I’m lucky if they get the year on them.
Full disclosure, it is entirely likely that I missed a couple and/or I show more than 8 ornaments (this is my son’s 8th Christmas)…some years, we’ve done more than one.
Also, half of these don’t have the years on them because I forgot half the time.
Maybe I’ll work on that backdating project when I take down the tree.
The first one here is my favorite. We rolled out a thin layer of air dry clay and cut out his handprint. I think I painted it (wow, my strength does not lie in the painting arts).
My next favorite was another handprint-related one. This time, I painted his hand with white acrylic pain and had him wrap his hand around a bulb. I added the accents later.
This one was a kit and we added a photo. It’s super fragile because basically nothing sticks to those foam sheets. Not recommended.
The next one is from a foam sheet too and part of another kit. This was one of the early ones, so I’m pretty sure the only thing my son had to do with this was sitting still for a handprint. I did the rest.
The next one is definitely one of my favorites too. We made this one from scratch.
I used a flat, wooden oval (Michaels) and added scrapbook paper, then cut a silhouette of my son out of silver scrapbook paper.
The other side has a picture. And I glued cording around the edge to finish it off.
Look at how tiny he looks!
The next one was probably legitimately my son’s handiwork. Popsicle sticks, acrylic paint, and sequins. You can’t go wrong.
By the way, I recommend using Elmer’s Glue All or tacky glue, rather than the school glue for these projects. Both are more permanent than the crappy school glue.
Did I mention I’m an adhesive snob?
There are two in this next photo. The star is just painted Popsicle sticks and glitter.
The candy cane is one of those using beads and a pipe cleaner. I’m pretty sure this was a kit, but you can easily find these beads in any craft store.
Judging from the details on this next ornament, I’m pretty sure I played a big role in making this nativity scene happen. But I include it here because it’s cute and we definitely passed it off as Andrew-created a couple years back.
This next one was one from Andrew’s early years and it’s super fun and easy for them to do.
Have them string pony beads onto a pipe cleaner. Twist to make a wreath, add a bow.
This one uses the same concept, but uses different type of beads (and straws!).
Not gonna lie, this looks like I may have micro-managed the bead stringing process.
Here’s another easy one for little fingers. Wreath is foamcore, dot tacky glue all around, then they can add buttons.
Now, this last one looks like the most easy one ever, but I’m pretty sure this was our ornament from last year. I think I gave up most of the control and just let my son do his thing here. And this is what his 7-year-old mind came up with:
I’m purposely not sharing this year’s gift ornament because my mom definitely reads my blog and I don’t want to spoil the surprise. But they are super cute and I let Andrew just do his thing.
I’ll share it on Facebook after Christmas.
Hope this gives you some ideas if you’d like to incorporate yearly oraments into your Christmas too!
As I mentioned yesterday, I love to keep all of the beautiful cards I receive from family & friends each year.
They way I store them all is super easy to put together and they look super cute sitting out for all to enjoy.
I don’t have how-to photos, but you guys can figure this out super easily. I’ll walk you through the process.
First, use a standard hole punch to make a hole in the upper left corner of each of your cards.
When they’re all together, I like them all to line up on the left edge and the top edge, so I use one card as the template for the other cards. But there’s really no need to do that because they all sit a little wonky in the display box.
After all the cards are punched, thread them through a binder ring. You can find these at Staples or Office Depot and they come in various sizes. I think I use the 2″ version. They come in a box of about 6 or so and are located near the paper clips.
After that, tie on cute ribbons to the binder ring to make it look a little dressier. I also add a little round tag with the year on it.
Display in a cute box!
You can add a cover if you’d like, but that’s too many steps for me. Sometimes I’ll add our Christmas card from that year on top.
By the way, the cards we received from our wedding and the birth of our son are stored in similar ways. So easy!
One of my favorite traditions is to send Christmas cards each year.
Back before I had my son, our cards were beautiful, elaborate works of handcrafted art, complete with a newsletter filled with wonderful highlight stories of year.
And, of course, they were sent right after Thanksgiving Day.
I clearly had too much time on my hands.
In recent years, I’m doing good to upload a photo and address book database to TinyPrints.com and have them mail them in time.
But this year, for some reason, I was on the ball. And I got my cards out in plenty of time.
In addition to sending cards, I adore receiving cards from family and friends, and I thought it might be fun to show you how I display them and keep them for years to come.
Because, yes, I definitely have every.single.card. we’ve received since we were married. And it’s super fun to flip through them each year to see how everyone has changed.
More on the archival process tomorrow.
Today I’m going to show you how I display Christmas cards in my house:
We’ve hung them this way for years and I’ve never had a problem with paint chipping. And it’s strong enough to hold them up for a month or so.
Which is great, because I keep the cards up throughout January so that we can enjoy them even after the Christmas decorations come down.
Tomorrow on the blog, I’ll show you what I do with the cards after they come down.
Hey clients…if you have an extra Christmas card with your photos from this year, I would LOVE to see how it turned out! Mail me one at:
2000 E Broadway PMB 216
Columbia MO 65201
And I’ll make sure to add you to my Christmas card list too!
We’re coming into the home stretch for the adventures of Buddy The Elf, and all of those adorable, mischievous little elves that terrorize our homes each Christmas.
Hang in there, people!
Their time here is almost done.
Here’s what Buddy the Elf has done this week:
On Sunday, my son received a snow globe party favor. Buddy decided to join Mr. Snowman in his OWN snow globe!
He somehow found a plastic fishbowl toy my son had downstairs, glued himself to a cardstock circle with some double-stick tape, and added some fake snow.
My son was not impressed with this adorable feat, though. Evidently, Buddy forgot to add water.
On Tuesday, Buddy reminded Andrew to brush his teeth.
Pro tip: if your elf writes on your bathroom vanity with toothpaste, don’t wait 5 days to clean it up.
Trust me on this one, you guys.
Wednesday was pajama day at Adventure Club, my son’s after school program. So that morning, Buddy delivered some adorable jammies, along with a themed sign.
Incidentally, Buddy also delivered ME some matching jammies too, but he put them in my closet, rather than setting them out on Wednesday morning.
He also couldn’t find matching jammies for dad, so poor dad gets left out of the “Oh What Fun” pajama party.
So now I have to figure out how to explain how that happened.
On Thursday morning, we awoke to find a sledding hill built in our living room.
Buddy had on a super cute sweater and hat set!
I saw similar ones at Michaels in their Christmas tree ornaments last year, if your elf is looking for some elf attire.
My son also presented the argument that for sure Buddy is real because there’s no way mommy could have built that sled.
You can’t argue with that logic.
(But, seriously, Michaels is like the elf superstore.)
(Cue Imperial March)
We awoke Friday to Buddy celebrating the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
By Friday night, I was exhausted and went to bed early, putting dad in charge of supervising Buddy’s actions and making sure he didn’t get into too much trouble.
This is how we found Buddy on Saturday morning:
Too. Many. Oreos.
But really, dad win.
Because that’s hilarious.
Just 5 more days! I’ll be back next weekend for the wrap-up.