What to wear

Choreographing outfits for an entire family can be such a headache! Here's a few tips that will hopefully guide you in the process. 

Before you start shopping let's go over the typical photography no-no's for outfits.

Keep it simple. I generally discourage busy outfits that will distract from cute little faces or accidentally date your images. Avoid animal prints, paisleys, and fads if possible. Remember a few years ago when we every member of the family wore white and khakis for family pictures? Those pictures were lovely but they are clearly from a certain time frame. I'm much more interested in a more authentic portrayal of your family. Try to keep all clothing from the same era. If the baby has on leather suspenders and older brother is in a graphic tee it's not going to look right. Stripes can be tricky as well. Sometimes they work sometimes they just don't. If you're worried about how the outfits all work together have a dress rehearsal at home where everyone trys on their outfits together to see if someone stands out like a sore thumb. I have seen all of these rules broken and sometimes it happens to be delightfully refreshing and interesting. Other times not. If you're a fashionista then trust your gut on a tricky pattern. If not stick to simplicity.

Consider comfort. I've seen a baby scowl for an hour because he hated his shoes. At the end of the shoot we took them off and he was all smiles! If an item is scratchy or uncomfortable in some way it can derail a shoot. Kids just don't have the capacity to tune something like that out. Give everything a once over to check for itchy spots or plastic tags. You know your child best. If you're worried that they won't wear something have a back up! Most importantly, don't forget to consider YOUR comfort. Can you breathe in that dress sitting down? Can you carry a toddler in those shoes? If you're uncomfortable its much harder to smile through it when the kids don't do exactly what I ask them to do. (Don't worry. I'm expecting that at some point. Kids will be kids!)

Consider the location. Will we be outdoors? Will it be hot or cold? Make sure all your items are temperature appropriate. With the unpredictable Houston weather I've even had smart moms have two separate outfits ready in case of the sudden heat wave or cold front. Also try to keep the location in mind when choosing your colors. If you're going somewhere green, maybe leave that cute black and green dress behind or you may disappear into the foliage! 

Consider personality. We all want to look amazing and glamorous in our photos. But if your daughter just hates dresses then she will hate that picture and you'll hate the drama it creates. There are plenty of ways to upscale an outfit without pretending to be someone else. I love to capture personalities and I want them to be accurate and timeless. 

Accessorize. If you kept it nice and boring when choosing your outfits now is the time to go a little crazy. Add a bright pop of color with a necklace or a scarf. Throw on the crazy tassel shoes. Work that belt. These are all easy things that can really help tie baby's outfit to mom's dress and sister's sweater to dad's shirt. Best of all you can always take them off if something isn't working. (Babies love necklaces. Yum!) 

Consider fit and function. Baggy clothes just don't look right in photos. If something is too lose it can cause all sorts of trouble. Shoulder straps that slide off every 3 seconds. Collars that keep popping up. Pants sliding down little bottoms. It's hard to know what size a kid will be when you book a shoot 6 months in advance. But if something needs constant tending to stay in place it's going to ruin some shots. If it can be pinned safely or fabric taped then definitely do it. If not ditch it. 

Where to start. There are a few ways you can build a family portrait outfit. You can start with one outfit and find others to match. Or you can choose a color scheme or theme and shop for cute things in those colors. As a mom I find that kid's outfits are the hardest to find when color matching. I usually start with the kid's outfits and then get mine. Dads are relatively easy to shop for since they tend to have fewer options. A nice collared shirt with a sweater is always flattering and undershirts can be used as an accent color. Keep Dad's outfit as simple as possible since Mom's outfit will usually have more detail and frills. And if Dad tends to sweat pack him a back up shirt. If you have bright colors in your scheme kids pull those off well without dominating the picture. I love this website because you can choose the color you're hunting for and see real life color combinations that are always lovely. Personally, I LOVE bright colors. Give me a kiddo with some yellow rain boots and a bright green umbrella on a cloudy day and I'm in heaven! I'm not going to tell you that you have to wear a certain style or color palette. I want you to bring your family the way they are most comfortable and natural. And don't forget that when it comes to the photos the outfits are secondary to the real stars of the show, the little people inside them! 

Christa and Chase

My favorite part of Christa and Chase's wedding was during the reception when Christa ran by in a blur and yelled to me "My wedding is so FUN!" Hahaha! And it really was a fun day. When I went back to work on Christa's photos I couldn't help but sit there and smile like an idiot the whole time. She was so filled with joy all day she was positively giddy! I caught Chase cracking a giant smile a time or two also! Weddings have a way of taking on the couple's personalities. The whole event was effortless and genuine and I think that describes the couple quite well. I'm so honored to have been a part of it! 

Spring Mini Sessions

When we did these minis the first time it was an unseasonably cold day. Everyone was freezing all day! But this time it was on the perfect day. I love the way these turned out! It's like the camera somehow captured the 75 degree weather and cool breeze. I might be biased though. My husband brought the kiddos up to the park that day and we had lunch and played on the playground sooooo it was pretty much the perfect day! 

Bluebonnet Mini Sessions

I don't know what has been in the air these past few weeks (Spring probably!) but all the kiddos I've seen have been extra silly! You have to see some of the hilarious sneak peeks from the all bluebonnet minis! 

 

2017

The older I get the slower my brain gets. I no longer jump out of bed thinking 'This year I'm going to do blahblahblah!' Instead my head slowly unpacks things a little bit at a time. Which is why it has taken me 16 days, one photography conference and a ton of family time to really suss out my goals for 2017. All these things have been building slowly overtime and I feel like this year they are all coming crashing through. Like a football team out of the banner onto the field. But probably without the cheering. 

I'm going to do something now that terrifies me. I'm going to make them public so you can all shake your heads at me when they aren't done yet. This year we are opening up a studio location (scary thing number one), buying a house (scary thing number two), and I am going to study to become a certified pro from the PPofA (scary thing number 3. Those tests are hard). There. I said it. It's out there and now I've got to do them. Now I know what you're thinking. Brandy, you really need to figure out how to answer your damn emails faster (excuse to get an apple watch?) I know I know. Trust me that's on the long list along with exercise and meditation and cleaning my house more. But I won't bore you with all the little things on that list. Instead let me bore you with this:

Self improvement is the worst. Can I just say this whole not eating cheese and only having one glass of wine a night so I will live long enough to see my kids graduate high school thing blows. I can promise you the long list of things I've badly attempted to do these last two weeks isn't going to last through the month. Eat healthier? I had birthday cake for lunch. Oh wow I had that for lunch yesterday too. (Damn you weekend events that involve cake!) Ok but the sleep more thing. I'm definitely going to do that. I mean tomorrow obviously. Ok ok but cleaning the house more often! That one is absolute! (actually that one is going really well. Apparently the 3 year old loves to clean? He may have been swapped at birth). 

I'm sure those things are on everyone's list. And the second our lives get busy again I know it will all be out the window. But the struggle is the important part right? It's the quiet burning to be better than we are that keeps polishing us into worthwhile souls. So struggle with me this year while I fail miserably to be the very best version of myself. While I start each day (some. maybe. probably at least a few.) with naive optimism that I will cram these 3 massive things into a year already jammed packed with mountains of other personal goals, tiny needy humans and running a small business. 

“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.” - Albert Einstein

Black Tie Mini Sessions

I just love the way these turned out! A huge thanks to my designer Lindsey Cano whom I could NOT have done it without and Decor and More for the cute little chair! It was so fun to see everyone in their formal wear. Now I have to start brain storming about how to top them next year! 

Little Lumberjack

This little guy is painfully adorable in his woodsman set up! I shot this couple's wedding and I was SO thrilled when they had a kiddo so I get to see them all the time again! Their little baby is just a sweetheart and mom keeps it real on Instagram which I love! 

Halloween and Bedtime: A Reflection

As I angrily paced outside my oldest son's bedroom and waited for the tantrum to subside, I sniffed my shirt to see if the smell from the excorist style vomit that the little one threw up on me earlier was somehow on the new clothes or if I just smelled that way forever now. I found myself wondering if everyone's Halloween ended this way. Apparently my kids can NOT handle being up past their bedtime. I have always insisted that the kids have consistent and early bedtimes. It's my ONE cause as a parent. TV? Sure! Watch as much as you want. Fruit loops for breakfast? Yeah, why not. Don't want to do your hair this morning? Sure, go to school looking crazy. See if I care. We will match! But you will go to bed at 7:30 or Mommy will lose her shit. So naturally they turned into angry screaming devil children by the end of it all. There are those times when your toddler is screaming 'I want, I want, I want' over and over again and you're telling yourself 'Don't say you don't care. Don't say it. Don't say it. Say something else. Anything else.' Because you know the next time the kid gets upset he's going to say that to you and he's going to get in trouble and its would be your fault and you could just avoid the whole thing by not saying it right now. And then you say it anyway and feel horrible afterwards. Sigh.

My bff and I were talking the other day about whether or not losing your temper and yelling at your kids is as terrible as it makes us feel afterwards. We decided that the answer is no. Probably not. Eventually we have to send them into the real world and they have to know that people have limits. They have to know that outbursts happen and yes we can all forgive each other and move on afterwards. The thing that probably does them a bigger disservice is the parenting inconsistencies that lead up to the yelling to begin with. I read a a very revealing article (I will link to it if I can find it again) that described what happens to me perfectly. I get tired or lazy or lenient and I let things go that I probably shouldn't. And I just keep letting it go until that one day where I'm frustrated or extra tired or stressed and I'm fed up with it and that's when I yell about it. And that's not fair to him. But learning to pick your battles as a parent is important and I'm still learning which ones to pick. 

My husband and I both work with kids so we have a ton of tricks up our sleeves when it comes to winning compliance. We don't often have to put our foot down because usually we can just ask for what we want out of our toddler and 95% of the time he listens. And I have to give my kiddo some credit here. He is an easy and good kid who just wants to be in our good graces. But every now and then, usually when he's growing or working through some psychological milestone that will show up the week after, he will spend about a week testing every boundary and just generally being a threenager. Whatever he's working on this week I hope he finds it soon because he's not himself and lordy I have been spoiled rotten by him so far when it comes to good behavior. 

I have to admit that I don't really know how to do Halloween. Growing up we didn't participate in any holidays or birthdays. As a kid I felt so left out. I remember hiding in the front room watching the kids in their costumes go down the street and not really getting why we couldn't play too. But now as an adult I'm both confused by them and touched by how wonderful everyone is to each other during the holidays. I don't really understand why we aren't always like that or why it's so important that these things happen on certain days and we can't just do them any old time. But I am happy that my kids get to do them and that I get live vicariously through them. I lean pretty hard on my husband during the holidays because I'm feel like I'm just along for the ride. I still have to ask him a bunch of stupid questions every year like "is it too early to start trick or treating now?" "How about now?" "Now?" "Is he supposed to say thank you or is just Happy Halloween ok?" "When do we stop trick or treating? When the bucket is full?" He's very patient with me! In my head Halloween was going to end with us all snuggling and watching The Great Pumpkin. But instead it ended with two over-tired tantrums, baby vomit, the big one sleeping in his school clothes with a pocket full of acorns and candy still on his face. Please tell me I'm not the only one because I have nothing to compare it too!

I think I should note though that the actual evening of Halloween was wonderful. The big one was adorable and sweet. He smiled and said Happy Halloween to everyone. The little one only made it two houses before he went back to Nana's house but in spite of his tiredness (he goes to bed at 5:30pm. His idea actually. Not mine.) he played sweetly until we got back. The weather was great and the kiddo didn't notice the candy we pilfered and snuck into the kitchen to eat. Nana and Papa ordered fajitas and we all had a really wonderful time. It could not have been more perfect. Sometimes when I'm with the kids I feel like I learn more from them than they do from me. Yesterday was one of those days. 

Gold and Pink

I was really worried about this shoot. My model had entered the the stranger danger/separation anxiety stage since our last shoot. I saw her the day before at a friend's birthday party and she wanted nothing to do with me. Two year olds are a lot like teenagers though. Maybe it's just lame to smile for the photographer in front of your friends when you're two. I tried to ask my three year old about this but he ignored the bulk of the question and insisted that 'smile' starts with the letter S like 'mommy' does (the alphabet is tricky). So um we may never know! But it turns out my fears were unfounded. She wasn't the least bit nervous. She jumped right in and started playing. She was hilarious! 

Amanda and Chris' Wedding

This wedding was so flawless! Amanda had such a wonderful bridal party and Mom/day of planner. I was really struck (and a little jealous!) by how close Amanda and her Mom were. They all really made my job so easy and kept Amanda stress free. Not that she really needed it. 

Some couples are just ready to walk down the aisle and confident in their relationship. Amanda and Chris just kind of folded into being married like they always had been. Their ceremony included a foot washing ceremony which makes me cry every. damn. time. There's just something so raw and vulnerable about washing your fiancee's feet in front of your whole family and Chris did it without batting an eye. I was in the bushes blubbering for that part. I hope those are in focus because I couldn't see through the tears!

The reception was great fun which I can always tell by how often Q breaks into spontaneous dance or when I see one of the groomsmen with Q's camera taking pictures! Hahahaha! And the sweet bonus of Chelsea's surprise engagement during the reception was so exciting. I loved how excited Amanda was for her surprise engagement to be at her reception! I'm really hoping they get married again next year! 

Family Mini Sessions

It was just an amazing day all around! The weather was flawless, the babies were happy, the siblings were sweet and helpful and the apples were a big hit! I had such a lovely day in the park with Kira (seriously you were a life saver!) and all my wonderful families. I got to meet some new families as well. I can't wait for my fall minis in a few weeks so I can do it all again! I'll be doing anti-rain dances until then. 

Here's some sneak peeks!

On Photographering

Photography is my life. To be honest sometimes I wish it were a little less my life. I'm living the holes in the knees of all my pants, props falling out of my car when I open the door, rubber gripping falling off my lenses, chasing two year olds down a hill, fart jokes, acting like an idiot for a smile, someone find the bestman, praying for the sun to come out, drool wiping, baby shushing, carpel tunnel, 60 hours a week, editing so long your brain and your legs are asleep, driving all over this city, bug bites, sun burnt, heat stroked, dehydrated, can barely move my fingers by the end of the day but still on such a post shoot high that I can't sleep at night kinda life. And it's wonderful. I love it. I love to watch these tiny babies grow. I keep myself so busy that little to no time seems to pass between the time when they were squishy little balls of naps and milk, to wide-eyed giggle boxes, to plucky little one year olds who have important agendas, to furious Tasmanian devil toddlers, to these little people who have bloomed into this person that is somehow exactly who they've always been yet totally different. If you don't have kids you don't know that they just are who they are. You think you can mold this little hot mess of erratic emotions and poorly controlled bodily functions into an angel child who embodies all of your finest points and none of your less desirable qualities. Hahahahaha! Sorry. You get who you get and it's so fascinating to watch them unfurl into themselves. 

I started out as an artist. But eventually I realized I don't really like the art scene. I don't like highbrow conversations about perceptions. I don't like conceptualism. I don't like to see talent wasted because of politics and I don't like to see non talent touted simply because it's attached to a loud personality. Art is a very personal experience to me and the art world just seemed to taint it and make it obscene somehow. I'm not going to pretend that I spent much time in the art world or even saw that much of it. But what I did see made me walk away. That and I wasn't a very good artist! I worked at a portrait studio in the mall for a while and realized that my favorite thing to photograph was children. They have no sense of self consciousness. I love that. If they have a booger they just dig it right out then and there. If they hate your shoes they will tell you. If they feel an urge to dance, they dance. Its so refreshing. I wish we were all a little more childish. 

I have two small children of my own. I love being a mom. It's insanely hard, emotionally taxing, messy, stressful and Sisyphean. But its also so amazing. When both my boys are giggling together my heart is so full I worry it might burst. I am constantly torn between wanting to lie in the dirt and sort rocks at the park with them all day and getting out the camera, clearing my mind and photographing one of the families that graciously lets me in their lives for a few hours. I want to be with my kids always and I want to work always. But that's the conundrum every working parent faces isn't it?  I try to my best to ignore the myth of the happy work/family balance. Who is anyone kidding? There is no such thing. Parenting is a full time job and full time jobs are well, full time jobs! Even though I work from home my house is often messy. And that's ok. I still have things on my to do list at the end of the day and that's ok. I am glad my boys will grow up with a mom that is a small business owner. I'm glad that they see their mom set aside that role for a while to aim for personal and professional goals. I want them to grow up admiring women who work hard and hold their own. I just hope that eventually that is what they will see when I walk out the door to go to work. Even if they don't realize it until they are adults. I wish that I could be a stay at home mom and be with them all day. Especially while they are little and still need me and think I'm hilarious. But I just can't do it. It would drive me bonkers. If I have two days off in a row and I'm climbing up the walls! 

I'm really lucky to get to see so many families and to get to build such a wonderful bond with them. Some of the families I've photographed have been with me since their wedding day and now have kids that are growing up way too fast. And I LOVE these kids like they were my own. I am constantly flattered and awed that they keep coming back every year to let me photograph them. I'm so thankful that I get to do this job! All my amazing clients are the reason I am still doing this today. And it never fails, on the days when I want to throw my camera out the window and smash my computer to dust, some one will email me that they liked the pictures. Or someone will bring me a cup of coffee before an early shoot. Or someone will make one of my pictures their profile picture. Or someone will send me a message to tell me that the little one wanted to know why I wasn't on the family vacation to take their picture! And I'm just so glad all over again that I get to do this job.