Style

Fall Family Photos Season is in full swing {That’s a thing by the way}, and Moms everywhere are hitting the defcon-5 stress button for figuring out what to get everyone to wear for the Christmas card photo!

I get it that you want your family to look amazing, but I also don’t believe that it should be that stressful. Most families already have what they need. It just might take a second look as to how to put the whole look together….

Whether I am taking your family photos, or another talented photographer out there is, I have compiled a list of my top ten favorite tips here for every family to put their best foot forward;

  1. Comfort is key! It’s no good dressing little ones up in beautiful clothing if they are going to cry before they even leave the house. Pinched up faces and scratchy, itchy clothing is never worth it.
  2. No matchy-matchy. I can’t say this enough. Moving on…..
  3. Layering is important. Make sure to think about adding those extra details…belts, scarves, jewelry, accessories. The more layers, the more interesting the overall vibe.
  4. No logos or lettering…every once in awhile I relax on a funny message tee for a kiddo, but for the most part I am pretty firm on this one. Any lettering or words at all is an instant eye-grabber…and we want faces to steal the show!
  5. On that note…..no need to overthink it. Simple is great. Neutrals are beautiful. An overall soft look allows for expressions to be the focal point, not the outfits!
  6. No neons. I realize they are having a resurgence right now, but I am still traumatized by images of myself in neon from the 80’s and I simply will not allow the cycle of shame to continue.
  7. Watch overall bold patterns with deeply saturated colors. {See number 5}. Too many distractions in clothing can make an image too busy. If you do choose a rich or saturated color, use it sparingly for a “pop” of color with other neutrals. Also keep prints and patterns small.
  8. Moms: add a little extra makeup….I get it. I don’t wear much either. But the camera can wash us out, and hey-we are the ones rushing around getting everyone ready. No small feat, right? So put a little extra color on your cheeks and lips. Just a little. And rim your eyes a bit with an extra coat of liner or mascara. Whatever you would normally wear plus a click or two more.
  9. Get references! You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here! Ever heard of a little thing called Pinterest?! It’s brilliant for getting some inspiration and fresh ideas. My Pinterest page that I refer all of my clients to can be found here: lifelensandlove Pinterest page.
  10. Ask for help. Don’t ever be afraid to ask your photographer for feedback. I always encourage my clients to take photos of their outfit ideas laid out together and text me. From there, we can problem-solve if need be. And often it helps me to know ahead of time too in choosing a location if I know for sure what Mom has in mind!

Whether you are working with me this fall, or choosing to use another photographer, or even shooting your holiday card photo yourself, I hope these ideas help you with this fun part of the process! Just remember; keep it simple, keep it comfortable, and let the subjects themselves shine by having fun and being together.

 

family fall photography session, kids and parents, family,

For more info on booking a session with me, reach out, or visit me at lifelensandlove.com

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Stand

One of the surprising things I have learned in becoming a parent is just how hard it hurts your heart when your kids fall.

Over the summer I had the pleasure of capturing my cousin’s little boy at the time of his first birthday. Pulling up and cruising around on the furniture had become his new thing, but he was still not quite able to stand up on his own. Those first steps independently were still elusive, in spite of “walking” all around with Mom and Dad holding on tightly to his sweet little hands and helping him along. On the day I was shooting his first birthday photographs, our little guy was in the grass sitting down, and Mom and I were at a distance. With a determined little spirit, we could tell he was trying to get up on his own, but being that he was in the middle of the grass, there was nothing there to help him. He struggled, he grunted. He whimpered, he cried out a little.

Us Mama’s know that instinct. Your kiddo needs you and you want to rush in. Want to take away their pain, their frustration. Want to see them smile again….But on this day, my cousin held back. In her wisdom, she let him sit with his frustrations, just long enough to see him rise up, on his own two little chubby legs, and stand on his own. For the first time. And by the grace, I was there, camera ready, to document it.

As a Mom, I’m working on it. Trying to give a little more rope. It’s hard to know how to strike that just-right balance. But it’s important for kids to ultimately learn not to need us so much, as hard as that is for us parents to accept. Whether it’s learning to self-soothe, those first steps, that first trip to the Emergency Room, that first heartache, that first F, there are countless ways our kids will struggle. But it is in the struggle that they learn. It is in the frustration and discomfort that they figure out how to rise up. To stand on their own two feet.

baby boy standing in the grass, baby boy first birthday portraits

 

I’m Gina Graham of lifelensandlove photography, and nothing melts my heart more than documenting family’s memories. Milestones and capturing kiddos as they grow are near and dear to my heart. For more info on booking a milestone or portrait session for your little (or not so little), visit me at www.lifelensandlove.com for more info. And while you’re here, sign up for the blog to come directly to your inbox each week so you can stay tuned for special offers and what I am up to!

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I Get It….

I get it. I really do. Getting pictures of your family can be so stressful.

Being a family photographer means that October is the busiest month in the entire year, so our personal family photos need to happen by the end of September if I still want beautiful light and to not have to worry about cold weather. Even photographing my own family is a careful dance of schedules, times for best lighting, and dealing with potentially cranky subjects.

Two weeks ago on a Wednesday night, no less, I attempted to get our family photos in the can to tuck away for the end of the year holiday cards and for frames in my home. We were juggling dinner and after school and needed to get out the door to pick up my husband at the train, all to make it to the spot I had picked out in just the right time and just the right lighting. The kids were not in their playclothes, and the inevitable bargaining about what they wanted to wear versus what I wanted them to wear had already begun….oh. And did I mention we wanted our new dog in the shot this year?!

Needless to say, it was a challenge. The dog wouldn’t cooperate. It was buggy and super hot. My remote trigger didn’t work so I had to literally run into each shot with the timer on, which resulted in multiple tripping incidences, as I don’t ever wear a heel much less run in them!

So when I say that I get it that family photos are so, so hard sometimes, I really do get it.  That being said, I believe there is a better way…..

Booking a photography session with me is not about perfection. If the dog is in the shot but won’t cooperate, so be it. If the kids end up jazzing up their outfits in an offbeat way, all the more to remember about that stage in life. If someones’ hair is out of place? Oh well. That’s life.

The most important thing on the day of family pictures is to show up. To try to make it lighthearted and fun. To not worry too much about how it’s all going. I can take it from there. I don’t believe that family photos should feel forced. I don’t believe that it should cost a small fortune. And I don’t believe that parents need one more thing on their plate to think about, such as what package to choose or how to deal with the whole process. I’m a “keep it simple” kind of gal. You get the images. You can do what you want with them. Not sure what to print and from where? I’m happy to help with a complimentary print consultation after your session…. From A to Z I will walk you through it one step at a time, so that the day of the shoot isn’t any more stressful than it needs to be. And hey, maybe it will even be fun?! {“Surprisingly fun and easy” is what most of my clients say!}.

Because I’m a Mom who wants images of her family to capture a moment in time too….I get it.

 

kids and dog, cuddle, sweet moment, family photography, candid portrait of boys and dog

For more on booking a session, reach out. I would love to hear from you. And stay tuned on Facebook and Instagram for tons of fall sneak peeks coming from fun fall sessions. While you’re here? Sign up for the weekly Daily Bread blog postings to go straight to your email inbox!

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Fail

“Your boy, Lester, will never learn music”. This was a note sent to Lester Polsfuss’ mother from his music teacher in the 1920’s.

Upon hearing such a statement, you could see why Lester and his mother would pack it in. Save the time and money and give up music. But that’s not what happened. Lester, or now more commonly known as Les, went on to be one of the most prolific musicians of his age, creating Gibson’s best selling electric guitar of all time. But first, even Gibson rejected Les’ work, waiting almost a decade to produce the first Gibson Les Paul in 1951, which was the beloved instrument of choice for George Harrison, Bob Marley, Jimmy Page, and countless others.

It’s easy to give up when we don’t instantly find success. Today’s social media obsession makes it even harder when people are seemingly killing it with their careers and living perfect lives. Parenting these days is so tough when kids are constantly exposed to the hype of prolific athletes and public figures…they only see the big wins and the celebrity, not all of the missed shots and decades of practice, work, dedication, and yes, failure, that went into it all.

A life without failure and doubt is not much of a life. Fear of failure and doubt can leave us all on the sidelines. No skin in the game. But not in the game. It’s a constant battle to determine one’s own measures of success and worth, and the risk involved is always there. Bur failure is a teacher, a motivator, and ultimately, a great gift. So I am going to go out this week and see where I fail. And then I am going to pick myself up and learn from it…..what are you afraid to go and do? Maybe you should just do it.

boy playing guitar, music

 

Gina Graham is a family, children, and senior portrait photographer in Downers Grove, IL. and the Chicagoland area. For more information, visit lifelensandlove.com. And be sure to sign up for the blog, so you can stay tuned for upcoming posts, special offers on photography, and whatever else Gina is up to!

 

 

 

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Garden

Every couple of years, my beautiful friend asks me to photograph her family in their amazing garden.

Each year when I go, I marvel at the way their approach to life is reflected in the magnificence of their bountiful back yard. There they grow fresh fruits and veggies, gorgeous flowers and raise chickens and bees, from which they get their eggs and honey. {This honey is even made into lip balm which I hope to acquire more of in the coming winter months….}

In this fast-paced world, hanging out with them in their garden, seeing how both their plants and their family has grown, is such a calming and enchanting breath of fresh air. Each time I go, the experience leaves me grounded in the elegant simplicity of natural, organic living rooted in health, family, and love. I always come home inspired, refreshed, full in heart and spirit….and with a bag of garden-grown veggies!

 

Have a place that is close to your heart where you want me to capture your family’s memories this fall? Reach out and get in touch. I would love to spend time with your family.

garden, family photography, mom and children in sun-lit garden

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Grounded

Anyone else feel like it’s gettin’ a little cray cray around here? Politics is wackier than ever, weather is more dangerous than ever, and in general, it just seems like a lot of us are on overload.

Staying grounded amidst the chaos is so important when life gets a little nuts. The paradox in this is the fact that the very things that can help center you are things that take time, which is so often in short supply in times of stress. Over time though, the body starts talking to us. Relationships start to strain, and in general, life and joy don’t flow the way that they can and should in spite of a full plate or a difficult time.

We are conditioned to think that taking care of ourselves is selfish. That it is indulgent. But I am here to tell you that I do not buy into that. That the more we feel connected to a source that nourishes us body and soul, the more we have to give back, to rise to the occasion, to make something of our time and energy. Fall is always such an unbelievably busy time for me professionally and personally. Hard as it can be, and imperfect as it often is, I still challenge myself to do those things that I know will ground me. Root me. Replenish me.

Yoga. A few quiet moments. Breathing. Healthy eating. Down time.

What keeps you grounded? Got It? Good. Now pick a spot in between work and kids’s activities, meal planning, and chores. Even just an hour. Ten Minutes.

 

Find that time. Put it in your calendar. Do it.

 

Feeling overwhelmed about booking a fall photo session? Time is running out. Don’t worry. That shouldn’t stress you out….I still have a few spots left in October. Once you book with me, I handle all of the details from there. Even picking out prints and putting them in albums. I’ve got you covered. Drop me a line and let’s put that in the calendar too!

lifelensandlove

 

redwoods, nature, grounded, tree,

 

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The boys had been asking for a dog for awhile. And while my youngest was very much on board with the plan, I knew we would have a bit of a transition…..

The dog we picked out was pretty big. Bigger than we expected we would get. And standing at 4’7″, to my youngest he was more like a small pony than a family pet. The dog has a good bit of energy, and this particular child came into the world with a sense of unease around dogs.  We knew we would have to work with him to make sure he was going to be comfortable with the new arrangement.

At one point, there was a serious discussion about whether or not it was going to work. But my son seemed determined to overcome his fears. As much as he was unsure around such an energetic and large animal, he had fallen in love with the dog like the rest of us, and knew that he would regret it if he let his fears dictate the decision.

Over time, it gradually worked itself out. Confidence came with training, and adjusting to a new normal. By the end of a few weeks, my son was including the dog in his nightly prayers, and thanking me out of the blue for getting the dog. It was in those moments of “thank you God for Cooper” that I realized what a powerful lesson my little guy had learned. Our fears are there to teach us. To stretch us and make sure that we keep growing. And sometimes, every once in a while, a fear can turn into a great blessing……

 

Does your kiddo have a special bond with their pet? I would love to capture it……more info on booking your special session can be found at lifelensandlove.

Want to receive the weekly blog for more on parenting, motherhood, family photography, and special deals or promotions? Be sure to sign up for the blog to come straight to your inbox!

 

dog and boy snuggling

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Senior Portrait Session

This is Simone. I had the honor and pleasure of working with Simone to capture her senior portraits last week. Simone loves acting and theater, and is obsessed with anything written or produced by Shonda Rhimes. Her favorite song is by Bruno Mars, and one of her favorite memories from the summer was going to Lollapalooza with her friends. According to her Mom, she is always on her phone. Simone has dreams of being a nurse and is working hard to try to get accepted at The University of Michigan. Her future is bright, and she is so soulful and sweet.

This is Simone’s story…what is your story?

 

Let me be the one to tell it.

For more about senior portraits or family photography, visit lifelensandlove.

Contact Me.

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Unique

We all have different gifts and energies. Some are comedians, the comic relief. Some are leaders, those that take charge and get things done. Some among us are caretakers, the listeners, and the nurturers. We all possess our own strengths, and the first place we get messages about who we are and what we can offer the world is in our homes as we grow.

As a parent, it can be frustrating when the dreamer doesn’t have their act completely together. When the leader gets bossy and overbearing. One of the hardest jobs as parents is to nurture and encourage, when on some days, you just don’t have it in you to know how to handle a particular moment in time.

As we gear up to get back to school, I know we have some bumps ahead. There will be the inevitable difficulties in getting back to a routine. Battles over homework, getting to sports on time, and in general switching gears from the long, lazy days of summer to the action-packed, sometimes stressful days of life with school-age kids. I know I will lose my temper. I know I will not be cool, calm and collected. But I do pray and hope for patience. For the ability to play to each of my kids’ strengths. For reminders that they are only kids, and that it is my job to teach them, sometimes with a gentle hand, lest they lose the ability to see the beautiful gift that each one has to offer in his own unique way.

 

 

 

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Memory

In my house, everything that is mounted on the wall or in a frame has meaning. This photograph, taken of my boys in an abandoned train station in Portugal in 2013 launched this concept for me. This image, not at all your typical “frame worthy” shot of your kids, was one from our trip that I just fell in love with. So I blew it up to a 36×24″ canvas and mounted it on the wall in our dining room, flanked on the other side by another image from that same set. Since then, our home has become a collection of my father-in-law’s art, my kids’ art, and the not-so-typical portraits of my kids, usually in black and white, and usually making a funny face or being truly themselves.

Every time I see this memory in my dining room, it sparks joy. It’s for this reason that I want to help clients get their photographs off of their hard drive and up and on the wall in their homes. Choosing a print company and deciding what images go where can be overwhelming. For that reason, with every photo session, I offer a complimentary in-home consultation for all printing and products using only my favorite companies and goodies. I only have a few dates left in September to capture your family’s memories. Book a September session now, and receive $20 off of a classic album. Because putting your memories in an album is just as important as getting them on the walls……

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