Best of 2019 Engagement and Portrait Sessions
I had a terrible time this year with hard drives — I think I had three crash from January to December. Fortunately it was more of an expensive, annoying problem than a data loss problem.
That’s because part of my workflow is that I never delete images off of a memory card until the photos are delivered AND I backup the session or wedding to TWO desktop hard drives. One stays in a cabinet in my house except when it’s being used as a backup and the other lives offsite and is backed up about every two months.
But because I had several drives crash this year, my 2019 portrait sessions were not on my “working” drive (the one I travel with and edit current sessions off of) and pulling everything off of backups took a hot second!
Additionally, this blog post covers sessions from every month of the year — they are indoor and outdoor, in grey weather and sunshine, on mountain tops and in fall leaves, so building a cohesive post was really challenging. So I decided to do a mini-collage of some of my favorites from each session and display them one after the other.
That is all to say that I’ve actually had this blog post WRITTEN for about three weeks, but getting it online was a different story =). Good thing year in review posts only happen once a year!
Highlights of 2019 include personal trips to California and Montana, the birth of my daughter, and photographing some truly incredible portrait sessions.
I did a lot of hiking with my couples this year, exploring sections of Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. I also shot in downtown Staunton, Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, and Charleston, West Virginia, for more urban vibes, plus completed several in-home sessions.
Although most of my work continues to focus on couples, I also did some family and maternity sessions, which you’ll see examples of here.
A Note on Family Sessions
Shooting families takes flexibility and patience because, as anyone who’s ever been around kids knows, our little ones tend to do whatever they want while adults (generally) are better with taking directions.
Typically during family sessions I try and get ONE photograph where everyone is looking at the camera, but it doesn’t always happen. And that’s the reality (and beauty) of working with families — celebrating and capturing the beautiful mess just as it is. And being a parent myself now, I more than ever see those images as invaluable.
Currently, my family work is more in the “lifestyle” vein, which means typically clients dress up a little and I help prompt and direct them to interact. It can produce some truly lovely images. But I’m playing heavily with the idea of moving to strictly documentary work for my family sessions, which focus more on life as it is than life dressed up a bit.
Documentary Family Sessions
Documentary sessions are truly about capturing life as it is. It’s about capturing your morning routine, or being at the park after school or walking the dog or making dinner together in the evening. It’s about finding the beauty in the ordinary.
My friend Lauren with Lauren Webster Photography does some amazing documentary work. In fact, I hired her to come photograph my own labor and the moments our parents met their grandchild (my daughter) for the first time.
One of the things Lauren does really well is documents her family and kids growing up. Every year, she puts together a Year in the Life book of their little moments, their trips, their life. I’ve started working on a similar project for my family. And, honestly, it’s not been easy.
Mostly the challenge is just trying to find time in the day to be creative and to remember to pull out my camera equipment versus my phone to capture the little moments that make up our lives.
A couple of weeks ago Lauren shared her personal Year in the Life book on her Instagram stories, and the response was so good that she decided to offer a subscription service for 5-6 families where she comes once a month to capture different aspects of a family’s life for their own Year in a Life book that she compiles for them at the end of the year. The idea was BRILLIANT. If she lived closer, I would have hopped on that opportunity in a heartbeat.
This is something I’d like to offer for my own local clients in 2021. So if you’re intrigued and interested in this idea, let me know. I’d love to chat more! The reason I’m waiting until 2021 is 2020 is likely going to be a year of transition for us as my husband graduates from grad school and we seriously consider where we want to be for the next stage of our life. Likely that will mean moving back to Virginia where both sides of our families live.
Shenandoah National Park Adventure Sessions
Another appeal of moving back to Virginia full-time is being closer to Shenandoah National Park. Outside of my wedding work, upwards of 75 percent of my portrait sessions have happened here. In 2020, I have a half-dozen elopements scheduled in the park as well. I love this park.
I spent much of 2019 narrowing down my favorite spots to shoot engagement and adventure sessions in Shenandoah National Park. You can find a blog post about that here.
I still have some exploring to do, but in 2020, I’d also like to check out some of the areas outside of Shenandoah National Park that would likely make for awesome adventure session locations. A few places I’ve been trying to shoot at for the last few years and haven’t gotten to yet are:
Crabtree Falls in Nelson County, Virginia, which is about an hour south of Staunton
Spy Rock, just next door to Crabtree Falls
Grayson Highlands in soutwestern Virginia
Saint Mary’s Wilderness, also about an hour south of Staunton
Great Falls National Park in northern Virginia
Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia
Toward that end, I’m offering 20 percent off any 2020 two-hour couples adventure session or elopement booked at one of these new-to-me spots for couples who also sign a model release (which allows me to blog the session and share on social media).
If you follow me on social media, you might have noticed I don’t post pictures of my daughter. And I’m not planning to. And I give the same option of privacy to all of my clients. In your contract, there’s a “model release” section that allows you to opt in or out of how your photos are used by me.
I love sharing my work via social media and blog posts and almost everyone “opts in” to sharing their photos, but if for whatever reason you want to keep your images private, that’s totally ok too. Every year a few clients choose to opt out and keep their photos private — so this is a compilation of some of my favorite images, but is not a comprehensive for that reason =).
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