What I Learned at Kindergarten Orientation

What I Learned at Kindergarten Orientation

My oldest baby is in Kindergarten this year. With that comes a lot of firsts (first teacher, first time on the school bus, etc). A few weeks ago, we had our first open house. 
For the days leading up to the Open House, my daughter went on about how she was going to “teach” and “school” me on that day. As she spoke, I imagined her teaching me all the new things she’s been learning these past few months: sight words, numbers, rhyming, etc.—the typical Kindergarten curriculum. Finally after much anticipation, the day came. During our time there, she read me the story displayed in the front of her classroom about a toy store, proudly showed me the binders full of art work her class created, and eagerly pulled me by the arm throughout the room to give me a tour of the most important places within her classroom: her desk, the puppet theater, the math corner, the bathroom (the girl has her priorities). We learned a lot about her Kindergarten experiences and what she had been taught
The most profound lesson I left with was from the binder full of artwork her and her classmates created. The artwork in the binder had a theme: Things I like to think about. As I sifted through the binder, I noticed they all had one thing in common: connection. Each piece highlighted special moments with the important people in their lives. 
My daughter’s paper said “sledding with my dad”. Others I saw ranged from “watching TV with my sister” to “playing in the backyard with mom”. Not one of the papers mentioned anything material. 

What made the most impact on this group of 4-6 year olds weren’t ‘things’. They were everyday experiences they had with the people they love. 
I know the day-to-day moments with our kids are invaluable, but it’s easy to forget due to the chaos of the everyday. As a working mom who spends many hours in an office away from my family, it’s something I am guilty of. It’s easy to get caught up trying to plan the “perfect” meal, gift, party, outing, activity, etc. and forget the value of the “boring” moments. This was a good reminder of how significant ANY moment is and how special they are to our kids. 
With the New Year here, social media is riddled with posts of 2019 successes and 2020 resolutions. When life doesn’t seem to match what we see online, it’s easy to feel like we are falling short. Please let this story remind you your kids will not walk away from the year remembering the ways you fell short. They will remember all the incredible memories you created with them.
My Very Own Day in the Life Session: A Day in the Life of the Hunts

My Very Own Day in the Life Session: A Day in the Life of the Hunts

I have been talking a lot lately about how I truly believe having a documentary session of your family is something everyone should have done, yet I had never had one done myself. Part of the reason was because there are very few documentary photographers in our area and the other half was probably the  same reason I am sure you have been hesitating as well: I kept waiting for the “right time’. Well I’m here to tell you a secret: there isn’t one. I was always too busy, I needed to lose at least 20lbs (I’m still hanging on to the lovely 40ish pounds I gained when I was pregnant with my son), or didn’t have time to make the house “presentable” (is there really such thing as presentable with two kids under four?). Basically, it was every excuse I tell all of you lovely parents to try to look past.

Before long, I was realizing time was flying by and soon, this stage of my life would be gone before I know it. My son is already almost two, my daughter is almost four, and our lives already look drastically different than what is was a year ago.  I’m going to keep it real with you all, I suffer from some insane body confidence issues and that was probably the biggest reason I kept putting it off, but a year later I was still 40lbs heavier and according to pictures of my kids’ lives, I barely existed. That is when I decided to push past my insecurities and practice what I preach: I embraced my imperfections and contacted my very talented friend, Shawna, of Shawna & Co to book a ½ Day in the Life (DITL) session for my family. After having the session and seeing the results, my only regret is that I didn’t book her sooner.

Want to know how hard I embraced imperfections? Well, we are starting to get our house ready to list and the day Shawna came, we had a huge 20-foot dumpster in our driveway. I embraced the heck out of that big maroon dumpster—this is real life after all.

Shawna came and documented our typical Saturday AM craziness. We made pancakes (my daughter dumped an entire container of blue sprinkles on her pancakes when I wasn’t looking and my son promptly finished where she left off), went to gymnastics (yep, she came to class with us), and went to lunch at the diner across the way.

I always love doing these sessions for families, but seeing our crazy life through Shawna’s eyes was nothing short of incredible. The pictures she took captured the essence of our family and the personalities and quirks I never want to forget and hope my kids never grow out of. She captured our everyday in the home I brought both my babies home to, the home we have outgrown and will be saying goodbye to soon—it’s a gift I will always be grateful for.

Because of these images, my kids will get to see what a typical morning looked like for our family at this point in their childhood. When my daughter thinks back to gymnastics class, she’ll be able to go back and look at the pictures of her time there, my son will be able to see how it took two adults to corral him in his gymnastics class and how much fun we had. I’ll remember how much my daughter loved the “cat” hat she is wearing in some of those pictures and how (outside of gymnastics class) once it was on, it rarely came off.

For half the day, our family embraced our vulnerable side by letting a stranger into our home to document our day—no staging, dressing up, forced smiles—just our everyday, crazy life in all it’s glory.

You can view a slideshow of our session below. To see more of Shawna’s work, you can visit her site here.

Now there are no excuses, if I can do it so can you <3 I promise you won’t regret it. Contact me for more information or to schedule your session.

Holiday Prep with the Family

Holiday Prep with the Family

These last two weekends for my family were all about gearing up for the holidays. Since my daughter is three and my son is one, the holidays are even more magical than ever. Here are a few pics from the last two weekends of Holiday prep: Christmas Tree decorating, playing in the leaves (are we sure it’s December?), and gingerbread house-decorating. ?
You Never Realize How Much You Forget

You Never Realize How Much You Forget

I love Timehop. I am a sucker for nostalgia and Timehop provides me with daily doses of it. If you don’t know what it is, it is an app that gathers all your photos/social media statuses, etc. for that exact day, years in the past. Most of my updates and messages are from about 2-3 years ago (when my kids were born and I started photographing them incessantly), but I have had Timehop days have gone as far back as 10 years. It’s something I look forward to each day—its gives me the opportunity to reminisce on the past, see exactly how much my kids have grown, and how my life has changed over the years.

Today’s Timehop has also taught me a valuable lesson: as the years go on, you have no clue just how much you forget. 

For the last couple of weeks, I have noticed my son has started to hold his hands behind his back whenever he watches TV. It is so adorable and endearing—he looks like a very serious, little man watching the news. Up until today, I thought this was something unique to him—one of his own little quirks I love. Today Timehop showed me this was not the case. Exactly two years ago today, I took a picture of his big sister watching TVwith her hands in the exact same position. Apparently, it’s a family trait.

I CANNOT believe I forgot that, but I am so grateful to have this picture (even though it’s a just a quick cell pic) to remind me of this. Knowing this, makes it even more important for me to make sure I get a photograph of my son doing the exact same thing.

Timehop reinforced my belief of how important it is to document the little things no matter how insignificant you may think they are—even though you think there is no possible way you could forget something, the fact is that as time goes on memories fade. Having a tangible memory in the form of a photo ensures you won’t forget even the smallest of details in yours, or your children’s, lives.

A Birthday, PSA, and a Contest

A Birthday, PSA, and a Contest

My son turned one today and I’m having a little bit of a hard time coping with it. 

While I am so excited and happy to celebrate his first birthday with him, I admit his first birthday also makes me a little sad. You see, he’s my last baby. So while I am looking forward to and absolutely LOVE this next phase we are now moving into, I am also mourning the loss of the chapter we are closing—his infancy. He’s a toddler now.

I knew this day was coming. I tried my hardest to soak in every baby moment I possibly could with him, but it wasn’t enough. I want more. I guess that’s a little selfish of me, but can you blame me? His firsts were, and always will be, bittersweet for me… joyous because he accomplished a new feat, but sad because it’s the last time I will ever experience a first.

I am always talking about how important it is to document your everyday, your routine, your life—not just the “pretty,” but also the mundane and in-between. I have talked about how it has been said we don’t truly appreciate the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. I will always believe this wholeheartedly, but today it is resonating with me even more.

The last year is now a memory and while I like to think I have done the best I can to document it, I am still missing it. However, I am so grateful that I did document it. I have pictures to remember his birth, his first day on this earth, the messy dinner times, sweet moments between him and his sister, tender moments with dad, the milestones met and the moments in between. I can look back at these images and remember our first year together. I get a glimpse of our beautiful, imperfect, messy, crazy life… and I can relive it through my images.

A Little PSA (Public Service Announcement)

I guess the point of this post is to remind you all the importance of documenting your everyday. To help me celebrate Nate’s First birthday, I want you all to think of the one detail or action your child does now, but might not do forever, and document it. Maybe it’s their wispy, curly baby hair or chubby little baby thighs? Photograph those tiny details and remember them forever. Did they just discover themselves in the mirror and think their reflection is the coolest thing ever? Take the picture. Is it the morning cuddles when they crawl into bed with you? Do they grab your finger, their foot, or curl your hair while they nurse or drink a bottle? Take the picture.

Photograph the little details, actions, and memories that mean something to you. Take the picture, remember it forever, and write down their story—it doesn’t have to be perfect. The best photograph isn’t always the most technically sound, it’s the photograph that makes you FEEL something. The best camera is the one you have on you.

So please take pictures and photograph your memories—even if you think it’s just the mundane part of your life. You will thank yourself for it when your everyday moment, becomes a memory.

The Contest: 

In celebration of Nate’s First Birthday (and for nostalgia’s sake) I am going to give away a Storytelling Session to one of my followers. Here’s how to enter:

1. Take the picture. I want you to photograph your everyday. The one thing you know you will miss once that moment becomes a memory.

2. Post the picture to my Facebook page wall.

3. Tell me why that moment means so much to you and what you will miss about it.

That’s it! 

BONUS: Earn an extra entry by sharing this post to your FB profile, just make sure you tag my page so I know you did it!

Deadline to enter is Saturday, August 26th at midnight. Winner will be drawn Sunday, August 27th at 8pm.

 Note: Winner will be responsible for any travel fees, if applicable.

A Love Rekindled

I am often asked how I found my love for photography and like many of my peers, it has been an innate love since the first time I picked up a camera. However, like many long-term relationships, my relationship with photography hasn’t always been easy.

My relationship with photography really started in high school, when I took my first photography course. It was there I learned about the technical side of photography and experimented with different styles (Thank you Mr. Martin!). By the end of my high school career, I knew I wanted to further pursue photography as a career in college. I applied to Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Photographic Arts & Sciences and, much to my delight, I was accepted.

It was when I started my training at RIT that my relationship with photography had hit a bit of a rough patch. I don’t know if it was the stress of classes or what, but photography slowly started to become something I dreaded—no longer was it something I did out of enjoyment for me. It was then I decided to switch majors to marketing (which is what I do full time) and keep photography as just a hobby, hoping to salvage whatever spark I had left. Honestly, after I made the decision to change majors, it was years before I ever picked up a camera; a thought that makes me sad even to this day.

As the old adage goes, “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be.” This is exactly what happened to me and how I now know, without a shadow of a doubt, that photography is a part of my being and is something I could never truly give up.

Photography slowly eeked its way back into my life slowly over the past 3 years, but it wasn’t until the birth of my daughter that I truly realized I had rekindled that love. I saved up enough money before my daughter was born to buy a high-end point and shoot camera with fully manual capabilities and that was it…once again I was hooked. Now to be clear, my appreciation for photography never wavered, I constantly viewed other photographers and their art, secretly longing to pick up a camera again. I booked photo session upon photo session for my daughter’s first year since I knew how fleeting these moments were and photography was my way of preserving them.

They say having children changes you and it does, but it can also help you find yourself again. This is what happened to me. I realized I had found the love I had let go of so long ago and it was so much sweeter the second time around. I love all the memories I get to preserve of my daughter and now my son. I love how slowly, I am finding my photographic voice again. I love the sense of community I am building through connecting with artists like myself.

I am slowly familiarizing myself with my camera, becoming more and more addicted to the craft. The pictures I produce not only bring me joy, but are filled with meaning.  It’s a piece of me I had long forgotten and am so glad I get to know again.