My Why | Charlotte Motherhood Photographer

When I picked this topic out of my blog jar, my initial reaction was, "Oy, what a way to start off my blogging mission!" But it is also a very apropos question at this point in my career -- while I’m in the middle of rebranding my business (more on that later!) and still trying to rebuild my client base after moving to a new market.

I've always loved taking pictures, but becoming a mother gave me this profound desire to document EVERYTHING. I know, so cliché, right? But it's true!! When my first daughter came into the world, every little face she made was camera-worthy to me. (And that's still true, six years later. <3) So I got out my nice camera (usually reserved for parties and travel) and started snapping.

But having this sweet child also gave me intense anxiety thinking about a future I eventually wouldn't be in. I distinctly remember driving down the highway after she was born and all of a sudden being very aware of my own mortality. What would she do if I was no longer around? Would she remember me? How would she remember this time? So, I started snapping even MORE pics.

And then I started thinking, "How am I going to remember all of this??" My memory is crap. I mean, it's BAD. Capturing these fleeting moments -- however big or small -- ensures that I'll always remember the details. They are snapshots frozen in time that, when woven together, will tell the story of our family.

I wanted to become a professional photographer because I knew I wasn’t the only mother to have these same thoughts, and I wanted other moms to have beautiful images to remind them of this special time in their own lives. I wanted to help them tell their family’s story. Life moves fast, and it seems to move at warp speed once you have children, so it's important to capture life’s little moments (with mom in them!) as they happen. And not just on a smart phone...but on a beautiful print that you can look at each day and remember just how blessed you are.

(The gallery below is ME, practicing what I preach, and getting in the picture with my family. :) Taken by my wonderfully talented friend @CottonCopperStudio.)

My Blog Jar! | Charlotte Motherhood Photographer

I think we can all agree that I need to blog more, right? You can literally see the cobwebs growing on my website and Facebook page. And why not try to blog more? The advantages are clear for a photographer -- I can showcase your work, potential clients can get to know a bit more about me personally, and SEO loves a good blog! But it can be difficult to consistently come up with new content -- especially for a perfectionist and procrastinator like myself. So I was recently researching topic ideas to get the creative juices flowing and I came across a great recommendation -- a blog jar! All it involves is writing topic ideas on individual pieces of paper and placing them into a jar. From there, you just pull a piece of paper out and start writing! I fell in love with this idea for several reasons:

No more excuses!
The blog jar is sitting on my desk right next to my computer. So as I work, there it is...a visible reminder of a task that needs to get done!

Consistency is key
I can't really say "I don't know what to write about" when I have a jar full of ideas, right? And if I have a jar full of ideas, my writing will be more consistent. And if I'm more consistent, then the visitors to my site will be more consistent too, as they'll know when to expect new content. And lastly, Google loves consistency!

Plan to be spontaneous tomorrow
What a wonderful oxymoron that perfectly explains this blog jar idea! In order to have a more succcessful blog...I need to prepare just a little bit! I also tend to overthink my writing and abandon it (it's that perfectionism poking through again!). Picking a topic out of a jar and writing it out immediately will allow me to write more freely and keep me inspired.

I can add to it!
I have post-it notes all over the house now, so that if I have an idea for a blog post I can jot it down quickly and add it to the jar. It will be a never-ending source of creativity and inspiration!

What kind of content would you like to see on my blog?

2018 in Review | Charlotte Motherhood Photographer

In a word, 2018 was a year of change. We moved from RI, away from most of our family and friends, and put down new roots in Charlotte. I also decided that this would be the perfect time to quit my job in Corporate America and pursue my dream of becoming a full-time photographer, because, why not have all the change happen at once?? Our girls started new schools. They made new friends. I made new mom friends (who have been such a blessing in helping us get acclimated and involved in our new community). I made new photographer friends (which has been so fun and helped me grow immensely as a photographer!). And...I made new clients! It was a slow roll at first...slower than I thought it would be...but eventually they came. One by one. Trusting me with their special moments. I am so honored that they chose me and thankful that they helped make my 2018 the success that it was. To my 2018 clients, THANK YOU! I hope to see you again in 2019! (And bring your friends!)

Oktavec Maternity & Graduation Sessions | Charlotte Photographer

I met Jessica and Erica when I was 6 years old. My dad was in the Coast Guard, and we had just moved from FL to VA. We moved to a neighborhood of townhouses and they lived next to some mutual friends. Jessica and I were close in age (we share the same birthday and are exactly a year apart), and Erica was close in age to my two younger sisters. We were all close for the 3 years we were in VA, but then we had to move again (such is life for a military family!). Oddly enough, my youngest sister--who was probably 5 when we left--and Erica remained the closest over the years. And their closeness allowed the rest of us to remain close as well. What I love about our friendship is that we're all just there for each other, especially for the big life events. We can go months without talking, but when something important comes up, we're there. We're family.

I was over-the-moon excited when Jessica told me she was pregnant. There is no one more deserving and I know that she will be an amazing mother. I wanted to make sure that she had pictures to remember this special time, so I scheduled a maternity session while I was in town to attend her baby shower. We went to Mason Neck park, which is a beautiful park right along the shores of the Potomac river. It was the perfect location with beautiful sunset!

Around that same time, I learned that Erica was graduating from college -- another big life event! Her mom asked if I'd take some pictures of Erica in her cap and gown, but I wanted to do something special. Because Erica is special! And I knew that the only way to capture Erica's fun and colorful spirit was to find an equally fun and colorful backdrop. So I did some research and found these amazing wall murals in Crystal City. I knew I had made the right decision when Erica showed me the dress she had in mind. Gorgeous!

2018 Shoot & Share Contest | Charlotte Family Photographer

For the past two years, I've entered a photo contest hosted by Shoot & Share. The Shoot & Share Photo Contest markets itself as the world’s only free and fair photo contest. Anyone can enter their photos into the contest (even you!), and anyone can vote on them (even you)! Each person can enter up to 50 photos, in 25 different categories. What I love about this competition is that it's completely anonymous, so you're voting solely on the merit of the photo itself and not who took it. No popularity contest here! When you go to vote, you are shown four random pictures, and you pick your favorite of the four. You can do this over and over again (and with 412,379 submissions this year, there was no shortage of photos to vote on). All in all, over 75 million votes were placed!

For me, the fun part was comparing my progress year over year: 

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Not bad, right!? And I was a finalist this year too! So let me show you some of my photos that placed this year in the top 20% or above: 

I love this mother/son moment between baby Magnus and his mama, Lisa

Same ridiculously attractive family, just pre-Magnus! This was an outdoor winter cake smash that was made all the more special because daddy had finally returned from Afghanistan after several months away. 

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This is my sweet niece, Avery. I was babysitting her one weekend so her mommies could have a date night, and I squeezed in a photoshoot...because what else would we do!?

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This one holds a special place in my heart because it's my daughter and my best friend's daughter. We've been besties for 25 years, and in this photo I see the start of the next generation of BFFs.

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I'll be honest-- I love me a good sunset shoot. But in New England, in the winter, the sun sets ridiculously early and things can get DREARY. So you have to get creative. So on one particularly dreary day, I did a cereal milk bath shoot with my girls. So fun!

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And as luck would have it, her sister was a finalist!!  Love my girls. 

Thank you to all my clients who allowed me to capture such beautiful moments. I can't wait to see what the rest of this year holds! Here's a video if you want to see all the photos I submitted: