GUEST BLOGGER : My Valor & Vine Experience

 Part II  :  Picture Day

 

Our session took place on a beautiful.. 

…. hot   

…..humid  

…sticky day. 

 

We excitedly got up that morning and I did my best to get the three of us ready for our session! It seemed like a good idea not to put my babies in their planned outfits just yet. Somehow I knew there would be a diaper blow out, a potty accident, or the snacks I used to bribe my toddler into being excited would be all over his clothes. 

 

We arrived at the studio and Jess thoughtfully had some kid toys around so my 2 year old was happy & occupied as we waited for our session time. 

 

Meanwhile, I was able to try on the dress I had picked out of the Client Closet. I brought the appropriate under garments which is crucial if you don’t want to worry about hiding straps or keeping dress options open. After trying on the dress I realized it wasn't exactly looking the way I wanted it to but there were plenty other options so I grabbed the first dress that caught my eye and it was a perfect fit! I got the kids dressed and we were all set to head up to the studio!

 

Being a brand new mom of two, it was quite intimidating to be outnumbered by my own children and trying to wrangle everyone into the photos. Jessica, like the pro mom she is, knew just the right things to get my 2 year old to smile and interact with the camera. Inside I felt a little frantic and felt there is no possible way we could get a good shot with the baby squirming, toddler being…a toddler and me trying to hold it all together. As Jessica was snapping away she was continually reassuring we were getting great shots and passed her enthusiasm along to me. 

 

As someone who is used to being in front of the camera I know how truly important it is to feel comfortable and relaxed. If not, it will show through in your photos! Jessica was amazing at putting me at ease. As time passed, we got closer to nap time, the baby needed to feed, my curls were giving into the humidity, Jess was along for all of it. Despite everything I was up against we were left with beautiful photographs that I will treasure forever. 

 

In my experience with Valor & Vine I learned that Jessica is not only an amazing artist when it comes to her photography but has the amazing art of drawing people out, putting them at ease and capturing all the perfect moments amongst the chaos. 

31957676_790901467769550_1960275914877042688_o.jpg

 

After photo day, what comes next? 

 

Stay tuned for my experience in making these memories part of our home!

 

GUEST BLOGGER : My Valor & Vine Experience + BONUS diy

The preparation that goes into a family photo session can be overwhelming. We try to be as helpful as possible at Valor & Vine photography to guide you through this process so you will love your photos and cherish them for a lifetime! 

I’m going to share my experience doing a Beloved Session with Valor & Vine. 

Once we selected a date, it was time to begin thinking about the basic style or vibe I wanted for our photos. I looked through Valor & Vine photos and Pinterest for inspiration. Jessica does the candid, emotive, natural vibe so well - so I wanted to really embrace that. 

Anyone who has photographed with Valor & Vine knows about the AMAZING Client Closet, which is always expanding. This was a perfect place to start. The long flowy dresses will make you feel beautiful and carefree. I selected a dress that I had my eye on for a while, and a few backup options in case that dress didn't work out. 

My next step was to choose outfits for my two little ones, a 2 year old little boy and a newborn girl. I wanted their outfits to reflect that same natural and relaxed feel. It was important for the colors to coordinate but not be overly matchy. To create this look I knew I would need natural fabrics that weren't stiff or rigid. I was able to complete his whole look for less than $20 from H&M, score! Lastly to choose an outfit for Baby Isla I ordered a little lace bodysuit that is now available in the Newborn Closet for your future sessions!

Everything was all set and shipped in time for our session. I planned to make matching flower crowns for me and my daughter. Once I had our outfits in place I could see we really needed a pop of color! I looked around for some flower crown inspiration and decided to do a deep magenta crown to pop in our photos. I will share my DIY experience below! 

Did everything go exactly to plan? Stay tuned for my ‘Day of Session Experience’ post to find out! 

Its hard to believe I’ve been working with Jessica for 6 months already! I’ve had the privilege to help so many of you and I look forward to working with more of you in the days to come! Family photos don’t have to be stressful, I am just an email away to help you with all of your styling questions. 


BONUS Flower Crown DIY Tutorial

  For the basic structure of the crown you need only two items. Floral wire and floral tape. I chose to get “stem wire’ but you could use basic floral wire as well! This cost less than $5 from a local craft store

 For the basic structure of the crown you need only two items. Floral wire and floral tape. I chose to get “stem wire’ but you could use basic floral wire as well! This cost less than $5 from a local craft store

 Next I needed some flowers! You will need some greenery, along with flowers of your choosing! I wanted the main focus to be these deep magenta flowers with the ivory flowers to accent them. Helpful tip: buy more flowers than you need!

Next I needed some flowers! You will need some greenery, along with flowers of your choosing! I wanted the main focus to be these deep magenta flowers with the ivory flowers to accent them. Helpful tip: buy more flowers than you need!

 Fit the wire to your head size. I   recommend leaving a little space to allow for the tape and stems that will be on your crown.   My crown went fully around my head. If you're doing a crown for a baby you’ll want to make a partial crown so you can lay them down or rest your hand behind their head. I bent my wire to create loops which I later tied a ribbon  through.

Fit the wire to your head size. I   recommend leaving a little space to allow for the tape and stems that will be on your crown. 

My crown went fully around my head. If you're doing a crown for a baby you’ll want to make a partial crown so you can lay them down or rest your hand behind their head. I bent my wire to create loops which I later tied a ribbon  through.

 Now for flower placement! I found it best to start from the middle and work toward the back, this way you are not weaving stems through the flowers.   As you go, add in large and small flowers.   I found it helpful to continually look in the mirror with the crown on to get a better idea for flower placement.   Here is my last work in progress photo. As you can see I’ve finished one side and am beginning to start the right side, directing all the flowers toward the main focal point  Check out our photos for the finished products!. 

Now for flower placement! I found it best to start from the middle and work toward the back, this way you are not weaving stems through the flowers. 

As you go, add in large and small flowers. 

I found it helpful to continually look in the mirror with the crown on to get a better idea for flower placement. 

Here is my last work in progress photo. As you can see I’ve finished one side and am beginning to start the right side, directing all the flowers toward the main focal point

Check out our photos for the finished products!. 

- Natasha Cartwright

Art & Soul.

When we arrived to yesterday's shoot location, it started raining. No rain had been on the forecast, and yet a dark and foreboding cloud hung directly over us the moment we pulled into the parking lot. Sitting in the car, waiting for the rain to pass, I had a moment where I thought...this is it. This is where you need to shine. In the unexpected and the less than perfect. Because you can plan and you can plot and you can have the best of intentions and it will STILL pour rain over your best laid plans, and you better be prepared to go with the flow regardless.

And you know what? As soon as that rain stopped, a perfect rainbow shot across the sky.

I want you to understand something...I love this job. I have since the beginning. But I have always sought after so much more than a perfectly posed portrait. I firmly believe in the power of emotion and connection to elevate photos from snapshots to works of art, and it's the art and the soul of the medium that has always attracted me.

 

But can I tell you something? Soul? It's a HARD thing to produce. It's not something that can be replicated, manufactured, or faked. I love each session I work on because I view our sessions like a dance, with us working in tandem to create something beautiful. But it requires a piece of me just as much as it requires a piece of you, and I want to make sure I give you my all. 

You know those old family photos your mom or grandmother has stashed in a box somewhere?  Do you remember the ones that stand out to you? I always love the ones that showed who we were, what we were like. I see the mischievous grin and know a rebel when I see one, or that shy smile and see a gentle, passive soul. Do I see a posed family portrait? Absolutely, and it's wonderful to see those sweet faces and features in beautiful detail. But the ones that make you stop and stare, and break into a smile, are the photos with that piece of soul. And that's what I want to provide you with.


So yesterday? I was completely hands off. I directed and prompted but I didn't interfere. I just watched each moment unfold naturally and I shot it the way I saw it happen. And you know what? The results blew me away. Because every expression was genuine. Every "pose" was heartfelt. And while I still steered the ship, these four stayed on course themselves, doing what they do best. Being together. Do you know how amazing it is to stand back and just be? To trust in the beauty of the moment? I want you to experience that for yourselves, because it is an amazingly freeing feeling.


This is what I want for you. I want authenticity. I want to see a picture I've taken of you to be hung up real big on your wall as ARTWORK. Not just a portrait. I want your children and your children's children to look back at what we've made and be able to tell without words that mom was a spitfire, or that grandpa loved to be rocked in his mama's arms. These are details that only photographs can bring us back to, and I find that to be such an amazing thought. Gives new meaning to the phrase "pictures worth a thousand words."

So what does this all mean? Well, to put it simply, I have a newfound awe and respect for this job of mine. And I'm going to bring that inspiration to every shoot moving forward. I'm going to give you an experience that truly defines "Valor & Vine" and that you won't be able to find just anywhere else. I can promise that there will be laughter, cuddles, joy, and tenderness. I will direct you but I will also trust you to show me exactly who you are, and I KNOW that it will be beautiful. That dance of ours will be more harmonious than ever before. And I can promise you that I will never ever stop seeing you as art.

Please watch and enjoy this wonderful family session that defines this family in it's purest form. And I hope you'll let that music play <3
 

Taylor Wedding : Lehigh Valley & Poconos Wedding Photographer

THIS wedding. This wedding. You can't possibly know how special it is to me.

Back in Dec 2015 (2015 y'all!) I met Shelbi and Kenny at Beltsville Lake to take their engagement pictures while Kenny was home on leave. We laughed, we froze, we made magic.

After delivering their gallery, I received an email from Shelbi asking if I'd be willing to shoot their wedding. I LOVE couples, I love weddings, but I didn't believe in myself enough to deliver on such an important day.

But Shelbi did.

She wrote back such  a kind, sweet message, telling me she had all the confidence in me that I didn't have, and from that moment on - I was a wedding photographer.

I trained, I prepped, I studied. I did everything I could to make sure that I captured their day in a way that did them justice. Shelbi and Kenny are such loving, easy going, genuinely GOOD people. And I think the details of their day show it. 

The sun was in and out, and the morning's rain brought the perfect cool temperature. There was genuine LOVE everywhere, in every tiny detail. Every guest on their feet, laughing, hugging, dancing. This is what weddings are all about. The people you love surrounding you and celebrating your new beginning. This was as heartfelt as it gets.

And then the quiet moments, where we steal the two of you of you away, and you get to hold each other close. You melt into each others arms because today, this day, is everything you've ever hoped it would be.

My heart rejoices for so many reasons, but most of all, because two people became one in one of the most genuinely HAPPY weddings I've ever been to. I wish you both nothing but the absolute best.

Please enjoy a small sampling of the Taylor's Wedding Day.
...and let their wedding song play while you view <3

Fuller Family : Lehigh Valley & Pocono Area Family Photographer

Ahhh families. You know they make my heart sing.

The sun was so warm and inviting on the day I met the Fuller's. It had been wet and rainy for FOREVER and a day in the days leading up to our session, so I was especially excited to finally feel that summer sun! These three had sunny dispositions to boot, totally relaxing and inviting spirits, and completely comfortable in each others arms. I had the pleasure of bringing my oldest son along with me to play assistant (he earns a little bit of summer cash by holding my bags and blankets for me during my shoots) and is also great at playing peekaboo with the little ones to bring out some extra sweet smiles!

So much warmth and happiness here! I hope you enjoy! (and let that happy music playyyy)
 

Grace: Fresh 48 // Lehigh Valley & Poconos area Newborn Photographer

I am SO behind on blogging. 

Time always gets away from me, but I'm making a mid year commitment to blogging at LEAST once a week. I got this.

In the meantime, what better way to start than right here, with this little chunk?!

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting this sweet baby girl just 48 hours after arrival, hanging with her incredible parents as they snuggled her close and enjoyed that fresh new baby scent. Not only did I have the pleasure of holding her little chubby baby body close to mine while mom and dad got some much needed R&R, she and I got to watch April the Giraffe give birth! I admit I was invested in this giraffe since the beginning, and knew she was in the early stages of labor when I left for the hospital. Lucky for me, Grace's mama was waiting for that sweet four legged baby to arrive just as eagerly as I was, and it was such a special moment to watch new life being born as new life laid before us <3 I love.this.job.

My favorite part of these sessions is always the ease of them. No stress or need for absolute perfection. This is real life, and it's my favorite thing to document.

S Family : A Family Session // Lehigh Valley & Poconos PA Family Photographer

It was cold. And windy. And the light left us so quickly. But there was love...oh was there love <3

Family sessions are among my absolute favorites to photograph. There is a genuine happiness and a realness that make each session such a joy. It's not always easy and circumstances are rarely perfect, but I love when families come to me and trust in my vision regardless. That's when the magic happens.

This session was done with my two favorite people in the industry, and it ended up as a mini of sorts...believe it or not little man was not feeling his best and the chill was making it difficult for everyone to feel comfortable. BUT in that thirty or so minutes that we got to shoot? Pure love, pure laughter. That's all that matters.

Friends, let go of any expectations. Let it be an experience. I think when you look back in 10, 20, 50 years you'll realize that photos were never about remembering what you looked like. It was always about remembering who you were.

Let the music play for extra goodness while you view!

M Family : A Family Session // Lehigh Valley & Poconos Family Photographer

All I can think about is summer sun.

Birds singing in the sky, the feel of the warm wind through your hair. The smell of that fresh summer grass and flowers basking in the glow of that beautiful golden sunset.

And in the midst of it all, I can't wait to capture families holding each other close, or racing together through the fields. I want to follow your explorers and your dancers, your little wild wanderers. I want to watch their faces light up when they find you a... flower, and see their hands reach for yours as they lead you on another adventure.

And then when the day is done, their energy spent, I want to watch the way they melt into your arms. You brush the hair from their faces and cup their chin in your hand, knowing this, and only this, is what makes life worth living.

Summer is so close, so close friends. I can feel it.

Will I be there to photograph your memories?

Let the music play...

W Family : A Fresh 48 // Lehigh Valley Family & Newborn Photographer

Is there anything that sets your heart on fire like a new baby? It's impossible to top that feeling. I know, I've felt all the feels myself 4 times!

I loved meeting this mama for her maternity session, and we instantly clicked. She knows that real is where it's at, and her vision and mine were a perfect match. I knew when I met this little one that I was going to document the day with them as though I were a fly on the wall, letting their love for one another and their pride over their brand new son take center stage. 

Do you remember how it felt to hold someone so small? Looking at these pictures brings it all back. The impossible smallness of their fingers and toes, the soft downy feel of their hair. I can't get over it. Fresh 48 sessions will always hold a special place in my heart.

B Family : A Documentary Session // Lehigh Valley, PA Family Photographer

Who needs a little Christmas in February? I know I certainly could use some!

I was invited into this wonderful family's home to document this sweet little love's first Christmas, and loved every minute we spent together. They had such a natural ease in being together, cuddling together, and loving on one another. That's why documentary sessions are among my favorites to photograph, because, as they say, "the proof is in the pudding." Being natural just comes naturally when you're at home!