Golden hour light streaming through the trees. Strolling down brick sidewalks across the beautiful campus of Furman University. The sweetest baby, dressed in the most adorable ensemble complete with suspenders and overalls. A sweet, joyful mommy and daddy absolutely smitten with their little guy. I can’t think of too many better ways to spend such a gorgeous spring evening that truly felt like a taste of the summer days to come!
One of the things I love most about photographing sessions with young children is that you never know what’s going to happen. If you happen to catch me out at a session with little ones, you might hear me singing silly songs, telling cheesy jokes, playing games of peek-a-boo or Simon Says, or inviting some good-spirited tickling! I love the challenge of finding out what makes little people tick, discovering the things that make them light up with joy and excitement. The goal, of course, is always to get some sweet, traditional photos with everyone looking at the camera and smiling, but my favorites always tend to be the photos where they are “in their element” — the ones where I capture them running, exploring, climbing. I always love seeing the true essence of their little personalities shine through, as though I’m able to freeze these moments in time for their parents to look back on down the road and remember the way life was right now.
Twirly plaid dresses and shoes made for running. Hiding and seeking, exploring and sliding. Jumping and climbing and fun on the swings — these are a two-year-old’s favorite things! One of the most fun things about toddlers and young children is that they are innately curious little people, eager to experience and explore the world around them! I’m always amazed at what they notice, the way that simple things like sticks and rocks and bits of acorns can capture their imaginations and interest. When that’s the case, I can’t think of a better way to capture this stage of their childhood than a fun and playful “mommy and me” lifestyle session that embraces their curiosity and incorporates the joy of play!
Have you ever had a moment where you see another family and it shows you a flash forward to your future? I often reflect on how the hard moments of motherhood sometimes cause me to lose sight of the wonderful things about this season of life — the things I know will miss when time has softened and faded the memory of the challenging times. As I watched the O’Connell family laugh and joke with one another during our sunrise family session in downtown Park Circle, I had several moments where I caught a glimpse of what my life might look like ten years from now, and future-me felt a definite wave of nostalgia for the season I’m in now!
The longer I’m on this journey of motherhood, the more often I reflect on the fact that my expectations of how things are going to go with a toddler very seldom match the reality as it plays out in my day to day life. However, one of the most beautiful things has been, as I like to put it, “embracing the chaos.” Although it can definitely be frustrating when things don’t go the way I’ve envisioned or planned, I’m constantly reminding myself that everything in the world is new and different for my little guy, and he’s just so excited to learn and experience and discover it all. And witnessing that? It’s such a beautiful, wonderful privilege. So when I get the privilege of watching those moments and capturing them for another family, it just about makes my photographer heart explode with joy!
It was a perfect mid-November afternoon in South Carolina — sunny, but slightly overcast, temperatures in the upper 60s, a hint of autumn crispness in the air juxtaposed perfectly against the last breath of late summer. A family gathered together in the backyard of their home in Columbia, the home where both girls grew up, the place where everyone gathered now from far and wide across the country. The two daughters, now married, were there visiting with their husbands, and a new granddaughter stole the show with her delightful presence. As everyone gathered on the patio, enjoying the afternoon and swapping stories, you could almost hear the echo of voices and laughter from the decades of family memories that took place within those walls. As I took a look around before gathering everyone for photos, I took a moment to just drink in the family dynamic — the laughter, the glances passed, the bond between sisters, between spouses, between in-laws, between couples. I smiled to myself, and it hit me that that moment was such a beautiful reminder of just how precious family is.
It looked (and felt) like a scene straight out of a holiday catalog: The streets, quiet and empty in the early morning light, flanked by lamp posts wrapped in evergreen garlands. Wreaths hanging cheerfully from shop doors. Holiday tableaux adorning storefront windows, their lights and colors sparkling. A joyful family of four, perfectly coordinated in festive holiday colors, smiling, laughing, pulling each other close. You could feel the love radiating from them, and the warmth and ease of their smiles made their joy contagious and put everyone in their path in the holiday spirit!
There are just certain things for me that never fail to bring to mind a cozy autumn Saturday morning: crisp temperatures outside, bright, golden sunshine streaming in through the windows, being snuggled up with the ones you love as you ease into the weekend, music from the likes of Jack Johnson and Adele playing softly in the background. When I stepped through Amanda and Simms’ front door for a newborn session with their sweet baby boy, their warm, inviting home felt just like that kind of perfect Saturday morning! I knew immediately it was going to make the perfect setting for some sweet and snuggly first family photos!
On those chilly autumn mornings when I’m snuggled up all warm and toasty in bed, it takes a lot more than a cozy sweatshirt and hot cup of coffee to motivate me to get out from under the covers! However, when the promise of a gorgeous sunrise session with the sweetest family awaits me, I’m not just willing to get up early, I’m excited!!!
Our perfectly coordinated outfits — selected piece by piece over several months — were washed and pressed and hung neatly on their hangers. We had hired a photographer whose work we loved. Our family photo session was scheduled at a beautiful location during golden hour (aka, the most beautiful light of the day). Perhaps the most important piece of our preparation, though, was doing everything we could to make sure our toddler knew what to expect on the day of our session!
Hi! I'm nicole!
I love photographing families in every stage of life, creating warm, bright, and natural images that you will treasure for a lifetime. What I love most about being behind the camera is telling the story in front of me, highlighting the joy and relationships between loved ones and capturing each personality!