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.
I absolutely love being a family photographer, but I have to admit that there is just something so special and magical about being able to photograph my newborn clients at home! The environment is always so relaxed and calm, and I love being able to meet a new little one in their own space — their first home, the place where they will spend their first months of life and experience all of those big first year milestones! During our newborn session, I always think about how I'm walking through the same front door where baby's parents first brought them home. I see the table where they will eat their first foods and think about all the meals the family will share together there over the years. I walk across the same floors where they will start to crawl and take their first steps, imagining all the memories that will happen inside these walls as they grow up. It’s a humbling experience, and it always fills me with so much warmth and gratitude for the privilege to be a part of capturing such a special time for a family!
I reached an important milestone last week: I got my first smartphone.
Yes, dear friends, before this, I was still toting around my trusty flip phone, texting with T9, scratching my head at emojis translated into rectangular boxes.
“How does it feel?” my friend Alissa asked when I sent her my first text from my new, shiny, fully-activated device.
“I feel like a real, grown-up lady!” was my reply, complete with the requisite slew of accompanying emojis.
When I made the decision to switch, I will admit that it felt like the end of an era. I was always the holdout. The girl with the flip phone. The millennial who didn’t need a smartphone, who didn’t even have texting until four years ago, who was just fine living the simple life without the added encumbrance of one more device, thankyouverymuch.
I realized that a lot of my hesitation wasn’t so much about making the change, but feeling like I was losing part of my identity.
Happy spring! Can we just pause for a moment and talk about the fact that it is almost April?! Which means we’re already 25% through 2019?!? How in the world did this happen???
While I love spring for so many reasons — the warmer temperatures, the buds and blooms, the longer daylight hours — I will also admit that I have sort of a love-hate relationship with the season. Okay, it’s not really the season so much as it is the onslaught of pollen that begins at the beginning of March and wreaks havoc on my respiratory system. I know it isn’t as bad for me as it is for many people, but basically, Flonase will be my favorite daily friend for the next few months!
Three little pigs, all grown up, are faced with the reality that it’s time to move out of their mother’s house and build their own homes. A house made of straw. A house made of sticks. A house made of bricks. A big, bad wolf. Huffing and puffing. Houses blown down. But there’s more than one way to tell this fable — and how comical this one was! Classic sibling antics — two jokester brothers pulling pranks on their bookworm sister. A big, bad wolf taunting two of the pigs as he pretends to be a statue. Pigs taking selfies. A dramatic final scene where the big, bad wolf meets his demise and the pigs learn the moral of the story: When you find a thing that’s scary, take your question to the library! What a pleasure it was to watch the Spartanburg Repertory Opera bring to life this “rib-tickling opera” as they performed The Three Little Pigs!
A sweet, spunky toddler walks hand-in-hand with her daddy, her snazzy new sneakers tap-tap-tapping as she makes her way down the brightly lit hospital corridor, her ponytail bobbing with each step. Her eyes shine with excitement, and she captures the attention of everyone she passes as she flashes her adorable grin at each one. As they turn the corner at the end of the hallway, her daddy points at the door ahead. “Are you ready to go see mommy?” Slowly, slowly, he pushes open the door and guides her through. She peeks around the curtain, and her gaze lands on the person she has been most eager to see. In a single moment, a dozen emotions flash across her face, all of them spilling out as she bursts into tears. “Oh, sweet girl, come here!” says her mommy in a soothing voice, and her daddy lifts her up to join her on the bed. The two sit cuddled together, her mommy snuggling her and showering her with reassuring kisses. After a few minutes, her mommy points to the bassinet at her bedside and says, “Are you ready to meet baby brother?” Her daddy lifts her up once again, and from her perch, she stares at the tiny bundle sleeping soundly below her. Her eyes shift back and forth as she sizes up this tiny person, wondering what to make of him. As I watch her take in all the details of this new baby, the magnitude of the moment hits me — after all the months of waiting, they are finally all together as a family of four: Mom. Dad. Daughter. Son.
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.
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!