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lifestyle

Kalamazoo Michigan Family Photographer | The Combs Family

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Kalamazoo Michigan Family Photographer | The Combs Family

Blogging is one of those things I rarely find time to fit in, but I knew this session needed to be shared. The Combs family is one of the sweetest you'll meet and since they knew they'd be putting their house on the market soon, they wanted to document life as they know it in their current home. These sessions are bittersweet... filled with your typical, beautiful everyday moments, but of course in the back of their mind knowing they'll soon be moving on to a new chapter. Their kiddos will continue to grow and change. But these photos will be around forever, and I hope they'll help this amazing family to look back on the memories they created there. It's all about leaving a tangible legacy (which is why I always tell my clients to PRINT their images! No grandchild of yours will know the password to your Flickr account 30 years from now...).

Combs family: wishing you all the best & I can't wait to see your new home when you move! I LOVED spending the morning with you and feel absolutely blessed to call you friends.

Enjoy.

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Kalamazoo MI Newborn Photographer | The Sandovals

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Kalamazoo MI Newborn Photographer | The Sandovals

Perfectly round baby cheeks, a sweet 'big brother' (aka: the cutest little pup named Frank), and loads of kisses & snuggles all over the house. I could've photographed this stunning little family all. day. long. They're so filled with love and joy after the birth of their newborn baby girl, and I was honored to be the one to capture some of her earliest days at home. 

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." -Psalm 139:13-14

Enjoy. 

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Kalamazoo MI Newborn Photographer | The Orr Family

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Kalamazoo MI Newborn Photographer | The Orr Family

A beautiful farmhouse, the cutest baby boy taking his first sink bath, and plenty of cuddles from his loving mom & dad. This session took place last winter, and I can't believe I'm just now sharing it! 

Thanks, Orr Family, for letting me capture these beautiful moments for you.

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Kalamazoo MI Family and Children Photographer | Andrews Family

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Kalamazoo MI Family and Children Photographer | Andrews Family

Sweet little Lane is one, and he is on the move! Literally - it was hard to catch up to him at times! I love this family, not only because Brandy is one of the sweetest friends in the world & a natural when it comes to being a mommy, or because I graduated with Jordan & know what a great father and husband he is, but because the two of them have the kind of relationship that makes you swoon. They whole-heartedly pursue eachother & it shows. It's really beautiful.

Thank you Brandy and Jordan for a great session! You sure did make a cute little farmer boy with a contagious smile!

Enjoy.

 

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Kalamazoo MI Newborn Photographer | The Aulbach Family

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Kalamazoo MI Newborn Photographer | The Aulbach Family

Though Katie wasn't due for another couple of weeks (or was it 3?), sweet little William decided he was ready to make his way into the world. I'm so happy I was available when they called and was able to head to the hospital shortly after he was born. During the time I was there, we chatted about how surreal it is that just the day before he was snug as could be in the womb, and now here he was, snuggled in their arms. Completely surreal. And a huge part of the reason why I love this job... getting to see these kinds of moments & offering permanent proof of the joy. 

Thank you Aulbach family for allowing me to be a part of such a special day!  I cannot wait to see how much your boys have grown at your fall session. 

Enjoy!

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kalamazoo mi newborn photographer | moore family

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kalamazoo mi newborn photographer | moore family

The sweetest family of four invited me back to their home for a lifestyle newborn session earlier this summer. I'm finally getting a chance to blog this post, and it's such a joy to look back at these images. Moore family, thank you for being such amazing repeat clients and for always welcoming me in with open arms! I just love your boys and think the four of you make the perfect family unit. 

Enjoy!

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Kalamazoo MI Newborn Photographer | Quigno Family

A lovely baby girl was welcomed into the world on May 26th, and I was lucky enough to photograph all her newness. Miss Hollis LaRae. How gorgeous is that name?! I especially enjoyed seeing big sister Harper hug and love on her - their bond was instant, as I had no doubt it would be. Lindsay, Joe & Harper - thank you so much for inviting me in to photograph one day old Hollis! She is such a beauty and you make an amazing family unit! Very lucky to call you not only clients but also friends. (To others that are reading this - go check out Lindsay's photography - it's beautiful! Also, to see Lindsay, Joe & Harper's incredible maternity session, click here.)

Enjoy!

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Kalamazoo MI Commercial Photographer | The Garden Griddle

Adding commercial photography to my repetoire was a no-brainer for me when two Kalamazoo businesses inquired in the past year - especially when Sarah, owner of The Garden Griddle, contacted me. I had already worked with Sarah when I photographed her family on a local beach, as well as doing some interior photography of The Olde Mill where one of her restaurants is located, and knew how easy she was to work with. Not to mention the fact that she completely trusts my eye and artistic vision (and that is huge in a photographer's eyes!) I really love that The Garden Griddle is farm-to-table. They worked so hard prepping and planting on this specific day, and soon I'll be headed back to the farm to capture them harvesting. I'm so excited to see the results!

Fresh air, rich soil, sunshine, and some of the hardest workers I've ever met...Enjoy.   :)

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Mattawan MI Family Photographer | Chandler

When Sarah asked if I'd be willing to travel to their wooded home for their family session, I couldn't say yes fast enough. There's just something so special about doing a family session on your own piece of land. It holds memories and it's unique, and I love that. This family isn't just adorable - they're quite amazing. Mike works full time, plus runs his own very successful lawn business, and Sarah is the kind of mom every mom wants to be...she's patient, smart, and down to earth. Their two kiddos are as cute as they come, and you can easily see how much they adore their mom and dad.

I am so very thankful that you invited me to your home, Chandler family, and I hope you have the most wonderful summer on that gorgeous property of yours!

Enjoy.

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Scotts MI Maternity Photography | Moore Family

I've been lucky enough to meet some of the sweetest families since I started my business, and the Moore family is no exception. Ashley saw a session I did for a cousin of hers and hired me for a family shoot last fall. Then she booked this maternity session, which was incredibly fun to say the least, and at some point this month I'll be meeting up with them to photograph them with their new baby boy (*squeal!*). I just love this family. It always feels great to have a client re-book, but in addition, it gives me a chance to get to know the family on a more personal level. We're able to build a relationship. I get to know the kids, and the kids begin to trust me and know that I'm not just a big, scary camera in their face. :) I've also found with repeat clients that every session is better than the last, without fail. With relationships comes trust, and with trust comes a bit more artistic freedom. With that freedom, I'm able to give my clients an amazing experience. And really, that's what every session should be - a wonderful, effortless experience for the family. It should be more about enjoying yourself, and less about perfectionism, smiling at the camera, or worrying that you're not in the right pose.

The Moore family simply has it down. They take my direction and run with it, and I just follow their lead.

Thanks so much Bob, Ashley & Austin for being so easy going and fun to work with. I always look forward to seeing you, and I'm especially excited to meet baby boy #2!

Enjoy.

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Kalamazoo MI Family Photographer | Rypma

I met Sarah just over a year ago when a mutual friend of ours introduced us to eachother and several other photographers. Our little group of 5 now gets together every month or so to chat over coffee about life, kids, Jesus, photography, and just about anything else, along with keeping in touch almost daily on Facebook. We support eachother 110%, and see our differences as strengths. It's been one of the biggest blessings in my life - meeting these incredibly loving, supportive women, who are amazing at what they do and on top of it, they share the wealth of knowledge they've gained over the years. I just love them. (By the way - if you don't already follow Sarah Rypma Photography on Facebook, you should! Her page can be found here.) Sarah's one request for her session was some shots of her with her children since she's usually behind the lens. As photographers, we know how important these images are, so I was on a mission to not only give her those shots, but to deliver a well-rounded gallery full of images that tell a piece of their family story. It's not that we need to document what we looked like or the clothes we wore -- it's much more than that. The way your little boy's hand fits perfectly in his dads. Or how your little girl is just small enough to still be carried on your hip. The wind blowing through your hair as you hug your oldest tightly after a heart-to-heart talk about a rough day... or sitting on a sunlit hill next to the love of your life while your beautiful children run around you laughing and playing. These are the moments that our children will love looking back on as they reminisce about their childhood.

Something I've been thinking about lately is the investment that each of my clients is making when they book a family session with me. Photography is an investment in your family's memories. It makes your home feel like home. Your children, my children.... they'll thank us someday for taking the time out of our busy schedules and investing in photography. (In fact, I just booked my family session for this summer & already have a spot on the wall for a 30x40 canvas I plan to purchase!)

I am so grateful for the opportunity to photograph your lovely family, Sarah! I've learned so much from you over the past year, and I'm so happy to call you my friend. I cannot wait to see what the next year brings for us.

Enjoy.

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Thinking of booking your own family session? Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns by clicking the CONTACT tab at the top of the site, or clicking here.

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Kalamazoo MI Family Photographer | Parsons

I have something to admit... I'm a bit addicted to light.

And by 'a bit', I mean when I see this kind of light, no matter where I am or what I'm doing, it takes everything in me not to drop everything, run for my camera, grab a poor soul to photograph, and start shooting.

So when the Parsons family said "7:30 AM is fine! See you then!" I was ecstatic for a sunrise session. We had to move the session once due to inclement weather, and we ended up with the most perfect of perfect mornings. It was a bit chilly, and you can probably tell from one year old Weston's face that he was feeling the chill, but as soon as we got out in the sunshine on that boardwalk, he was all smiles!

This beautiful family found me through a mutual friend and I'm so happy they booked with me! They are such lovely people, inside and out. They love hiking, Nascar, and anything having to do with the outdoors. This location was perfect for them. We hiked, explored and laughed.

Another amazing ERP family session. :)

By the way...I have just a few openings left for 2015 if you're thinking of booking. Feel free to contact me if you'd like more details.

family smiling family with tree boy walking with dad family walking mom and little boy family family walking p8 family on bridge parents smiling with little boy family kissing boy

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Scotts MI Maternity Photographer | Quigno

My view of maternity photos may be slightly skewed, but I see them as one of the most important sessions, especially if it's your second or third child and you'll be changing up the family dynamics. My super talented friend, Lindsay, of lindsaylaraephotography.com, has the sweetest little family of 3, and soon they'll be adding one more. Baby girl will be arriving at the end of May (she has the *best* name picked out, but I won't spoil the fun), and this amazing family asked me to also do a fresh baby newborn session for them in the hospital. I can't wait! This session was a blast. The joy on their faces says it all. And I clearly remember during the mom/daughter shots hearing Joe say "Look at those gorgeous blondies! My beautiful girls!" I loved that. I love hearing family members talk eachother up. And I love editing sessions where you can *see* the love. It makes for a one of a kind shoot. The kind of photos that you'll pass by on the wall and smile.

The best thing anyone can do during a photo session is to let down your guard, love on eachother, and soak up the moment. And I'll be there to capture it all.

Enjoy!

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Scotts MI Family Photography | DeGroff

Spring has finally arrived in all it's glory, and this family session was a fantastic way to ring in the warm weather shooting season. When I told the DeGroff family we were going to trek out into the middle of a giant field at 7:30 in the morning, they probably wondered what they were getting into. (Coffee, anyone?) In the end, though, the field images came out beautifully with that early morning sun coming up over the horizon. Every session is an adventure, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Some days when I'm driving to a session I imagine myself back in my cubicle at my previous job, and I feel so, so blessed to have a career where I spend atleast some of my time outside in God's creation.

Enjoy!

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7 Tips For Great Family Photos

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7 Tips For Great Family Photos

Over the past few years I've been both the photographer and also the client (during my own family's sessions), and I can tell you from experience that these 7 tips will help your next session go much more smoothly...

1. Choose the right photographer.

Let's just be honest. I'm not the right photographer for every family. Whenever I receive an e-mail from a potential client, I always ask if they've had a chance to look through my work. if they haven't, i encourage them to grab a cup of coffee & peruse my portfolio. They can do this on my website (in the galleries or blog posts), or they can check out my business Facebook page. I truly hope clients hire me because they love my work and trust me to creatively capture their family connection, and I believe most other photographer's feel the same way. 

2. If your session will be outdoors, plan for it to take place during the Golden Hour. 

Shooting in the first hour after sunrise or 1-2 hours prior to sunset will give your photos that warm, glowing feel. The photos below illustrate a lovely family photograph taken closer to mid-day in open shade, and then in contrast, two other family photos taken during the sunrise and sunset golden hours. It's easy to see that lighting plays a huge role in adding dimension and interest to your images.

Another note worth mentioning: certain locations work better during golden hour than others. As a photographer, I'm constantly scouting locations in the early morning and late evening so that I can offer the best possible spots to my clients.

Below are examples of different lighting, both good and bad....

HARSH, mid-day lighting. Taken around 1 pm in a sea of green. Notice the hot (light) spots on both the grooms head and shoulders, and the brides's face and shoulder. Contrasty shadows and bright/dark spots take away from this special moment.

HARSH, mid-day lighting. Taken around 1 pm in a sea of green. Notice the hot (light) spots on both the grooms head and shoulders, and the brides's face and shoulder. Contrasty shadows and bright/dark spots take away from this special moment.

Taken 2 hours prior to sunset in open shade, near a large forest. Beautiful, even light that helps highlight this sweet girl's stunning features. Notice the catchlights in her eyes.

Taken 2 hours prior to sunset in open shade, near a large forest. Beautiful, even light that helps highlight this sweet girl's stunning features. Notice the catchlights in her eyes.

One of my top 10 favorite personal images, taken about 30 minutes prior to sunset. Plenty of foliage in the background to help diffuse light. It's noteworthy that shadows can give depth and mood to an image if used properly.

One of my top 10 favorite personal images, taken about 30 minutes prior to sunset. Plenty of foliage in the background to help diffuse light. It's noteworthy that shadows can give depth and mood to an image if used properly.

This was taken right at sunset. This perfect, golden glow can only be achieved for a few minutes, so timing is everything. Rim-lighting (the highlights on the outer edge of their heads) highlights their features and the emotion in the image.

This was taken right at sunset. This perfect, golden glow can only be achieved for a few minutes, so timing is everything. Rim-lighting (the highlights on the outer edge of their heads) highlights their features and the emotion in the image.

Taken about 20 minutes after the sun set behind the trees in December. Cool, moody, even light.

Taken about 20 minutes after the sun set behind the trees in December. Cool, moody, even light.

3. Start planning your wardrobe for the session about two months in advance.

My best advice to moms: start with your own clothing, and start early in case you need to order items online (praying that the last piece of your wardrobe makes it off the FedEx truck before you leave for your session is never a good plan;). So, find an outfit you feel incredible in. Then build the kids and your spouse around the colors you're wearing. 

Imagine this: it's a couple days prior to your session. You found a cute dress for your daughter, so then you found your son a coordinating button up shirt, and your husband already had a great textured sweater in his closet. Then when you get to your own outfit, you're not sure WHAT to put yourself in, so you grab a solid colored top and throw it on. It feels tight in all the wrong spots, and you hate it. Since you're not comfortable in it, you're (dare I say it?) a little grouchy, and it throws everything off at the session because you don't feel like yourself & know you'll hate what you look like in the photos.

Lesson learned. Start with your own clothing choices first! The build from there. Coordinate, don't match. Avoid being matchy-matchy in any way, shape, or form. The days of black or white tops with jeans are gone. It just doesn't photograph well. Think layers, texture, and accessories to make your photos pop. When you book with me, you'll receive a great little what-to-wear guide link that will assist you as you decide what will work best for your family, because every family has a different style. 

4. Have no expectations of your children at your session. Trust me when I say they're completely fine and normal and we *will* still get great images. After all, we're documenting REAL LIFE. And kids aren't perfect. 

This is the hardest one for parents (and by parents, I mean me, too, because this happens at my own family photo sessions). 

It never fails -- the day of the session your children suddenly become the grumpiest kids on earth. My best advice is to just go with it. I tell parents not to ask their children to smile or look at me. Instead I like to give them their space and get to know them by just following their lead. During your session, we'll play, tickle, laugh, run, jump, and make funny faces. I'll ask if they want to look at a few images on my camera or push a button or two. Usually by the middle of the session, they're in a much better mood, and, bonus for you, by the end they're worn out and ready for bed! :) 

5. Bring snacks & water. And don't forget some wipes! 

It's amazing what a snack and sip of water can do for a hungry, thirsty child. I always recommend something small and clean, such as a cheese stick, apple, or almonds so that they don't end up with a messy face. In the case that they do end up with food around their mouth, baby wipes will be your best friend.

Other things you might want to bring: a comb or brush, bobby pins for long hair on hot, sticky days, bug spray, sunscreen, extra diapers/pull-ups.

6. Snuggle (& decide that it's okay to push their bedtime a little bit this one time.... because it's worth it for awesome photos!)

Late evening sessions often run into bedtime for children. I realize most parents see this as an issue, but I actually see it as a positive since your children will likely be in the mood for snuggling, and snuggling = great images. Simple, right? 

Just do your best to give your child a good, solid naptime the day of your session, and if possible, maybe push it a bit later than normal if they're going to be up a bit later. 

7. PRINT your photos. 

When you receive your gallery from me, download the photos, & back them up to atleast two different spots. 

But then take it a step farther.

PRINT those babies! 

Put them on your walls.

Here's what happened at my house after I printed 6 of my favorite images on professional canvas:
"Mama, look! That's me! And Daddy! And baby! Wow, we had so much fun that night. Remember that animal we saw in the woods while we were getting our photos taken? And the pizza you let us have after the session? Can we do that again?"

And then on another day...
I caught my oldest just sitting on the couch staring at our giant family photo on canvas above the couch. He loves looking at it. I imagine that by printing my images, I'm showing how much my family means to me. That they're what matters most to me. And I love seeing the images admired. Because it's true, they ARE what matters most to me. 

 

So there you have it -- 7 tips for a smooth family session. Now you just need to book one, right? If (after sipping a cup of coffee and perusing my work) you decide I'm the photographer for you, head over to my Contact page and send me a note. I'd love to hear from you!

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Blake | Kalamazoo MI Maternity Photography

With the forecast showing highs in the 50s this weekend, it's hard to believe how cold it was the morning we met for Jennifer & Brian's mini maternity session a few weeks ago. When I checked the temperature the morning of their shoot, I believe it was -8. (Yes, you read that right... Negative.) And with maternity photos, you can't just bundle up and call it good... you have to show off your bump of course! Brian & Jennifer: thank you so much for braving the cold, trekking through the pines, and wading through a foot or more of snow to create the perfect atmosphere for your photos. In 15 minutes, we not only captured your gorgeous bump, but also the fun, loving relationship you two have. In my opinion, the bitter cold was totally worth it. :)

Enjoy!

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