Fluttering Shutter Photography: Blog http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog en-us (C) Fluttering Shutter Photography flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) Fri, 10 Nov 2017 17:40:00 GMT Fri, 10 Nov 2017 17:40:00 GMT http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/img/s/v-5/u993842183-o294293082-50.jpg Fluttering Shutter Photography: Blog http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog 96 120 Co-parenting + An Amazing Kid http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/11/co-parenting-plus-an-amazing-kid These two? They created an AMAZING kid together and wanted to have portraits done with their daughter because they know that it's important to have family pictures done. Co-parenting has allowed them to raise one of the kindest girls that I know. I love working with them every single time and can't wait for our next session!


flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) co-parenting family morven park portraits http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/11/co-parenting-plus-an-amazing-kid Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT
Twins At Morven Park http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/11/Twins-at-morven-park This session was a mini-session for one of my favorite sets of twins. I've been photographing these boys for a few years now and every session is a high energy adventure. Morven Park is, once again, a favorite location because it makes it so easy to keep the focus on my subjects, while allowing the background to be a beautiful addition to the image. These images are from the first part of our session, which was more formal portraits, but afterwards is where I let them just run and do their own thing.


The second part of our mini-session was allowing the boys to wear their superhero capes, but not before I spotted one climbing a low branch in the magnolia trees. After getting him out of the tree, I had them stand in front of the mansion and look out over Leesburg, while preparing to save the town! Then they ran down the hill to save the people! I love these images because I love the movement and pure joy that radiates from the boys. I can't wait to capture their portraits again next year!

flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) leesburg mini-session morven park photography portraits superheros twins http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/11/Twins-at-morven-park Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:15:00 GMT
Why You Should Get Professional Family Portraits http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/11/why-you-should-get-professional-family-portraits I recently posted in my favorite local Mom group to ask them if they got family portraits taken, and if not, why? The reasons why not were mostly expected, but there were a few that surprised me! So, here are the biggest reasons:

This is one that is the most common and the most understandable. Professional portraits are an investment, and not everyone can afford everything that they want. This is why it's so important to do your research. Find a photographer that you love and see what they cost. Contact them. Talk to them about their pricing. I know that for me, when I truly value something, I will save up for it because it's important to me. OR, I find something that is affordable to me and figure out if that will work. I've also been known to barter on occasion! With Fluttering Shutter Photography, I meet with all of my potential clients before you ever give me a dime so that I can go over all of the products that I offer and what everything costs. I also offer payment plans! :)


Getting everyone to look good

As a mom of 4, I totally get this one! Coordinating everyone can be a chore! BUT I looooove helping my clients choose outfits and I have pretty solid advice on how to choose outfits, as well. In fact, I've written entire blog posts about preparing for a family session! You can read two, here and here. This family coordinated so beautifully and was also able to make sure that they all still had their own style.


Getting kids to cooperate

This one is easy for me to answer, but hard for me to personally do. The easy answer is: Don't force your kids to cooperate. Trust that your photographer knows what they're doing and allow them to do what you've hired them to do. When parents are stressed, they make their kids stressed, which leads to a tricky portrait session for the photographer. Also, parents who hover to the sides of the photographer tend to get a lot of images that look like this: 

www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017 Not ONE single kid was looking at the camera. Smiling? Yes. Looking? No.  And yes, those are my kids because I was the Mom that I'm warning you not to be. But when I let go and let my awesome photographer (Second Ave Photography) work with my kids on her own, she got amazing images of them. It was only when I was trying to get them to cooperate that they couldn't focus on the photographer. 

www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017

That being said, kids don't have to cooperate for long and sometimes I just let the kids be themselves and we get some amazing portraits of them! Can you believe that I got these images (plus a ton more) in 15 minutes? 

Fear of not liking the images

This is always a fear for everyone. Photographers, non-photographers, moms, dads, teenagers, everyone! Here's what I say to this one: You might not love them, but what if you do? Besides, the point of having your portraits taken is to capture this time in your lives as it is. Personally? I hate how I look in photographs. I need to lose about 30 pounds, make sure my hair is appropriately covering the gray and that I have at least a little makeup on. HOWEVER, my kids? They don't care about anything that I just mentioned. They're going to love me if I go entirely gray, gain another 30 pounds and never put on another speck of makeup again. They just want to have fun with me and snuggle. And you know what? That's good because the portraits that I get taken aren't for me, they're for them. They're for my kids and my grandkids and my great grandkids. Also, a great way to make sure that you're going to like your images is to really research your photographer. Make sure that you hire someone whose work you l-o-v-e. Not everyone has the same style, so really try to find a photographer whose style fits you and your family. (This is another reason why although cost needs to be a consideration, sometimes it shouldn't be the number one reason to go with -or not go with- a certain photographer.)


Time/Availability of the Photographer

Finding the time to take family portraits is always a challenge, but with planning, it can be done. I always advise clients to start thinking about their fall family portraits in the summer. This is the best way to try to book with the photographer you want and get it on your calendar before the craziness of school and fall sports sets in. Planning far enough ahead also gives you plenty of time to plan your outfits and figure out payments. For more details on when to schedule sessions, check out this blog post.



This was the one that really surprised me! A few moms commented that they had been disappointed because their photographer shared too many images or shared images when they were specifically asked not to. First, I wouldn't be doing my job in this blog post if I didn't do a little bit of education in the beginning of my response. When you hire a photographer, there should be an understanding up front about what is involved. Occasionally, I will do a model call where I do a free session and my "model" will get a few free digital images in return. I do model calls for two reasons: 1) So, that I can practice something or 2) To get images for my portfolio that I want. I just recently posted a blog about a model session that I really wanted to do because the session that inspired me specifically requested that I not use their images online or in any part of my promotions. I always, always, always respect my clients privacy when they ask me to, so I did a model call and got some great portraits that I could use! Model calls can be great for both the client and the photographer, but it is SO important that both sides know what to expect going into it. 

Model calls aside, clients usually sign something called a model release (mine is in my contract) that states that a photographer can use their images for promotional purposes. We do this because it's the best way to show potential clients what our work looks like! If no one ever signed a model release, we would have a really difficult time selling ourselves as photographers. There are some photographers who charge clients that don't sign the model release. Please know that Fluttering Shutter will NEVER do this because I believe in your privacy. You hired me to do a job and I will do it regardless of whether or not I can share your images. Especially living in Northern Virginia, I know that there are a variety of reasons why people don't want their images online.

The other thing that came to mind when I read this comment is that the photographer who doesn't pay attention to things like model releases or a clients wishes is likely a new photographer....and one who won't have a ton of business unless they start to do those things. Again, this is why it's SO important to really research your photographer before you hire them.


We Don't Want To/We Do It Ourselves

My response to this one is super simple: Okay! If you're not hiring a professional, that's fine, I just want you to have family portraits! If you do it with a timer on your camera or use your cellphone? That's okay! Just be in pictures with your family!


The bottom line is this: BE IN PICTURES! We, as moms, tend to NOT be in pictures because we're the ones taking them and that is really, really sad to me! Your kids want to see you in pictures, and so will future generations! I would love to help you get family portraits done, but I know that professional pictures aren't for everyone and I know that I'M not for everyone, and that's okay! Find a photographer you love, gather the people you love and GET IN THE PICTURE!

flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) children cost family fluttering shutter photography newborn northern virginia photography portraits privacy http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/11/why-you-should-get-professional-family-portraits Fri, 10 Nov 2017 17:23:09 GMT
A Redhead During Golden Hour http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/11/a-redhead-during-golden-hour Next up in my favorite fall sessions is this awesome session!

Last year, I did a family session at this location and fell in love with it. The family did not want me to share their images online and because I always respect that request for privacy, I wanted to re-create the session using a model. This cutie is a friend of my daughters from preschool and I knew that I HAD to photograph her. With her AMAZING red hair and the addition of that gorgeous golden hour light at Claude Moore Park, it was sure to be fantastic! Her little brother jumped in for a few shots and I was so pleased to be able to deliver this gallery to their parents! 


flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) claude moore park fall family fluttering shutter photography golden hour red hair http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/11/a-redhead-during-golden-hour Fri, 10 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT
Fall http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/11/fall Every year, fall is the busiest season for me (and all photographers). I always explain it like this: Fall for photographers is like spring to accountants. Busy, busy, busy!! 

We are all trying to serve as many clients as possible, which can be a daunting but really fulfilling task! I'm so grateful to live in Loudoun County, where we have some amazing portrait locations. This fall, I think I have captured some of my best work to date and I wanted to share some of those with you, so I'll be sharing a little at a time because some haven't seen their portraits yet and I don't want to spoil the surprise!

First up is my own crew. Being a photographer, I regularly take pictures of them because they're usually willing subjects. Peanut needed updated portraits because I'm determined that she's the most photographed baby ever. For these, she was just starting to sit a little and I found this adorable prop at At Home. I knew that I had to get it because it's just perfect for the sitter crew! Of course, we went to my favorite spot: Morven Park. My oldest was there to spot her the whole time, so that I knew that she was safe while I was shooting. She's pretty adorable, if I do say so myself.

Next up is when my 3rd child decided to chop off her long, beautiful hair. People would literally stop us in the street to compliment her hair, but that doesn't matter to a 4 (almost 5) year old! These were taken right after her trip to the salon to try to salvage as much as we could! She likes her short hair, but recently confessed that she misses her long hair. (I'm not-so-secretly grateful that she wants to grow it back out!)

Here's Peanut again with some 5 month pictures. I can't get enough of her serious face! She loves being in front of the camera and I can always capture at least a few smiles.

I took a trip to Morven with the amazing Blaire from Second Ave Photography to get some shots of the kids. I know that I've mentioned it before but there is a thing called Photographers Child Syndrome and my kids will often have it. I did get ONE shot of them all looking and smiling (except Peanut). I think that I got better shots of the turkeys that live there than of my kids!

That's it for THIS blog, but I'll be posting more blogs over the next 2 weeks, so keep an eye out!

Tell me, do your kids have Photographers Child Syndrome, too?

flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) children fluttering shutter photography loudoun county morven park portraits http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/11/fall Tue, 07 Nov 2017 00:15:00 GMT
5 More Tips for Fall Family Portraits http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/9/fall-family-portraits-101 It's that time of year again! Fall is the busiest time of year for photographers, especially in Northern Virginia. Why? Because it's family portrait time! Everyone wants to get those family pictures done for their Christmas cards, so I've prepared some tips for you. I have a separate blog post with more tips about family portraits and another post about choosing a newborn photographer, but this one is specifically geared towards those of you who are planning on doing portraits of their family this fall.

1)  Decide the look that you want. Do you want candid moments? Do you want more posed family portraits? Or do you want a mixture of both? This is important because it will help you make your next big decision....

Mom and SonFluttering Shutter Photography 2017

A more candid moment vs. a posed moment.

Girl WalkingFluttering Shutter photography 2017

2) Choose Your Photographer. If you ask around to 10 different people, you'll likely get 10 different photographers recommended but before you feel overwhelmed, there are a few things to help you decide:

- Do they fit your style? Do you love candid moments or posed portraits? Is their work something that you are dying to have up on your walls? If not, you can take them off of your list.

- Are they experienced? To find this out, you need to look through their work. Are the images in focus? Do they have good lighting? Are the portraits consistent? Do the people in the portraits look well-posed? All of these things add up to a photographer with experience.

- Are they in your budget? This is definitely something to take into consideration, but keep in mind that *sometimes* cheap equals poor quality. This is why it's important to look through their portfolio and get a feel of their experience.

- One of the best ways to choose your photographer is to actually talk to them. Call them! See if you click! Discuss your expectations and let them explain what they do. This is a great time to ask questions, too!  

** One more note: If you post online for recommendations for a photographer, please be specific in your post. If you're not specific, you're going to get 90+ responses from photographers who are at a variety of skill levels, business models and price ranges. SO, in your post, include the following: 

- Size of your family. There is more planning that has to go into a large family session than a small family one. There is also sometimes an extra fee for families over a certain size.

- What kind of portraits you want to have done. (Lifestyle vs. posed)

- Your budget. And no, "doesn't cost an arm and a leg" doesn't count as specific. What is expensive to you may not be expensive to someone else. 

- When/where you want to do the session. If you're flexible, say that. But, if you want to do the session at your amazing property, say that! We love new locations!


2) Choose a location look. Do you want the leaves at their peak change? Do you want greenery? Flowers? Snow? (Although, that last one can be tricky around Northern Virginia, you just might be able to get it done if you're flexible and work with your photographer.) This leads into location ideas. If you have an immaculate backyard, take a look at the light and take a snapshot with your phone about an hour or so before sunset. Share that shot with your photographer and suggest a session in your backyard. If you're like most of us, who have given up on the weeds we used to call flower beds, a professional photographer should have a few locations to suggest for your session. Loudoun County has so many gorgeous locations, but please keep in mind that certain places require a fee and/or a permit to shoot there. Your photographer should know which locations have requirements and which don't. In an upcoming blog post, I'll be listing a few of my favorite spots for sessions, so keep an eye out!

Do you want this kind of look?

Or maybe this?


3) Decide what to wear. This is usually the hardest part, but over the years I've been able to narrow it down to a few simple tips:

-The 4 C's: Complimentary, Clean, Complementary, Comfortable. The clothing should compliment you and your figure. Make sure that the outfits for everyone in the family is complementary. Each outfit should "flow" with the others. They don't have to be (and shouldn't) be too matchy-matchy, but they should all look good together as a group. It should go without saying that clothing should be clean. With children this is sometimes hard to do, especially when you're trying to get a snack into them before the session so that they'll cooperate. So, if you know that you need to feed Billy/Jane/your husband/yourself a snack before the session, try to wear something to cover your clothing or eat before you get dressed. Each person should be comfortable in what they are wearing. If someone is wearing an outfit that they hate or that is itchy or too small, they're going to be unhappy and that is going to show in your portraits. They will also have a hard time relaxing and cooperating. Put them in something that they like wearing and is comfortable and things will go much smoother! This is a good lead in to my next tip...

- Figure out who the most difficult person to dress is in your family. Does that particular person immediately pop into your head? Great! Figure out what THEY are going to wear first. Once you have their outfit figured out, you build off of that in order to be able to follow the 4 C's. For example, if they'll only be comfortable in jeans and a blue button down, find the next pickiest dresser and put them in a gray dress with a mustard yellow bow in her hair, then the next person can wear a mustard yellow skirt and white top and the next person can wear a gray button down and jeans. Pick 3-4 colors and go from there. BUT, be careful about patterns and please, pretty please don't wear neon colors (they reflect off of your skin and you end up with neon yellow/pink/orange skin).

- Once you have picked out outfits, lay them out on the bed next to each other to see how they look all together. You can even take it one step further and snap a picture on your phone and send it to your photographer! Personally, I l-o-v-e being a part of this process with my clients, so feel free to send me those previews!

- Lastly, if your three year old absolutely INSISTS on wearing her pink Peppa Pig rain boots to the session, that's okay. Bring the shoes that you want her to wear and we'll try to get a few with the "right" shoes on, but honestly? You will always remember her obsession with her Peppa Pig rain boots, so why not document it?


4) Read one of my other blog posts. It has some handy tips for your family session that I didn't include in this post. I hope that it's helpful to you!


5) R-E-L-A-X. This is one of the tips that I put into every single blog post about preparing for a session. Crabby, anxious parents make for crabby, anxious kids, so it's a cycle that's hard to break. Plus, sometimes parents get so wrapped up in telling their kids to behave that when the kids DO look at the camera, the parents often aren't. Photographers that work with children will know what to do. Just relax and have fun!


I hope that this blog has helped you feel a bit more prepared and that you all get amazing fall family portraits! Do you have any other tips that you'd like to share?

flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) blog children family fluttering shutter photography leesburg location loudoun county morven park northern virginia photography portraits virginia wear http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/9/fall-family-portraits-101 Thu, 14 Sep 2017 00:15:00 GMT
A Pregnant Newborn Photographer's Journey- Part 6- Lifestyle Session http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/7/a-pregnant-newborn-photographers-journey--part-6--lifestyle-session Hello!

Welcome back to my blog about being a pregnant newborn photographer! I hope that you've been enjoying the posts so far but if you're just joining me, feel free to go back to the earlier posts to catch up!

Blaire, of Second Ave Photography, is a phenomenal documentary style photographer. She has an amazing ability to capture moments and, as you know, here at Fluttering Shutter Photography, that's what I'm all about! Blaire came over to my house and photographed these beautiful images:

www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017 www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017 www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017 www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017 www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017 www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017 www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017 www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017

Aren't they gorgeous?! Maybe it's because it's my family, but I think that they're perfection!

I am not a lifestyle photographer, because I just have a hard time "seeing" the moments, but Blaire? She's a rockstar lifestyle photographer! I'm so, so grateful for these portraits of our family. <3

flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) children family lifestyle moments newborn photography http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/7/a-pregnant-newborn-photographers-journey--part-6--lifestyle-session Tue, 18 Jul 2017 01:30:00 GMT
A Pregnant Newborn Photographer's Journey- Part 5- Newborn Sessions http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/7/a-pregnant-newborn-photographers-journey--part-5--newborn-sessions Welcome back to the blog following my journey as a pregnant newborn photographer! If you're just joining us, you can go back to the beginning (the pregnancy announcement), or jump to the maternity session, birth or NICU posts! This blog series is alllllllmost over, but I hope that you all have been enjoying it!

As a newborn photographer myself, my intention the entire time that I was pregnant was to do my own newborn sessions with her. I wanted to play with her everyday! But when she was born so early, she had to spend her first few days in the NICU and by the time we got home, I began to realize the reality of it all: I was TIRED and truthfully, snuggling my little girl was the only thing that I wanted to do. However, having a preemie does have an advantage when it comes to posed newborn sessions! We had a longer period of time to get them done because she was still small and squishy!

I did four official posed newborn sessions with her. Two with Jamie (of Jamie Romaezi Photography), one alone and one with Lindsay Kleopping (of Kleopping Photography).  Each one was beautiful and meaningful, so I'll share a little about each session before sharing the images. This is probably the most portrait heavy blog of the series, but I just couldn't narrow it down anymore, so I hope that you enjoy them all!

First up was one that I did myself when she was about 4 weeks old, so she shouldn't have even been born yet. This was the trickiest for a variety of reasons, but mainly because I was exhausted and my other children were running around asking me to do a million things other than taking portraits of their newest sibling. I took these in my kitchen using all natural light. When you get to the last image, you'll see why the session ended. (If you are easily offended, I apologize, but I felt like it was too funny not to share.)

Next was a posed session with Jamie outside and in her home studio. This session was done when she was 5 weeks old. I looooove these images because Jamie's work is always beautiful and I also loved being a part of the session. I've never done a newborn session outdoors, but I'm so glad that Jamie wanted to. Ashley was a trooper and slept the whole time, plus we got to use my garden wagon prop that I've had forever and just never used. The first session was just with Ashley, but our second session was the family session when Ashley was 6 weeks old, and I am totally in love with this session. My kids did such a great job with Jamie and we ended up with some gorgeous shots.

Next was a session with Lindsay of Kleopping Photography. We were using a light in her dining room (though she does have a studio, it was just easier to set up there). The purpose of this session was to get images of a new romper that she had gotten from Peeka's Boo-tique and I wanted to use new props that I had gotten from Hey Good Lookin' Props. Ashley was already 8 weeks old during this session (around 2 weeks adjusted), but she made us WORK to get her to sleep. Once we got her asleep, she was a trooper! Here are some of my shots from the session:

Here are some of Lindsay's shots from the session:

Overall, I think Ashley is one of the most photographed babies ever. My littlest peanut is growing so quickly and I am SO happy that I got newborn portraits of her because I know that she will never be that small again. Looking back on her pictures from the hospital, I am amazed at how much she has grown and yet she is still so small. 

Next week on the blog: Blaire from Second Ave Photography did some amazing lifestyle newborn images!

flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) Fluttering Shutter Photography family newborn peanut photography portraits posed pregnant http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/7/a-pregnant-newborn-photographers-journey--part-5--newborn-sessions Wed, 12 Jul 2017 00:30:00 GMT
A Pregnant Newborn Photographer's Journey- Part 4- NICU/Fresh 48 http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/5/a-pregnant-newborn-photographers-journey--part-4--nicu/fresh-48 Hello! Welcome back to my blog series about my 4th and final pregnancy as a newborn photographer! I hope that you've been enjoying the story so far, but if you're just joining the series, check out the announcement, maternity and birth posts, too! Ok, with that taken care of, I'll continue the story where I left off:

Ashley was all settled into the NICU and I had been moved upstairs to the maternity floor at Reston Hospital Center, and it began to hit me that she wasn't with me. I knew that she was in the NICU, but it didn't really hit me until it was just Seth and I in the room. When I was still in labor, one of the neonatologists came and talked to us about what the NICU would be like, what she was likely to need and about how long she would be there. In my head, I understood everything that she was saying. Of course Ashley would need help maintaining body temperature! She was going to be small! A 34 weeker isn't terribly early but it's not ideal, either. I intellectually understood why she should be brought into the NICU, I just didn't understand what it would mean emotionally. 

I wasn't emotionally prepared for the sense that something was wrong. It felt that way because something WAS wrong: I had just had a baby and I wasn't with her. I wasn't waking up every few hours to nurse her; I was waking up to attach myself to a machine to provide breastmilk for her. This pump and I were best friends. 

Pump- Fluttering Shutter Photography- Reston, VA

I wasn't snuggling her to make sure that she was warm; she was in an incubator for warmth.

I didn't have to document her feedings/diapers; the INCREDIBLE NICU nurses were keeping close track of what she was doing, but it should have been me.

I couldn't kiss her anytime I wanted because I needed to rest and recover myself. (As I write this, she's snuggled on my lap and I'm kissing her over and over again.)

One of my nurses made me promise to sleep because she saw how often I was awake, either pumping or down in the NICU with Ashley. While I was there, Seth had gone home to take care of the older three and I was alone in the hospital. There was a code pink (where not all babies were accounted for) and a nurse came into my room and said "We're just counting all of the babies. Is your baby here with you?" And I had to respond "No, she's in the NICU." That was a hard moment for me because she SHOULD have been in the room with me. (Side note: The "missing" baby was never actually missing and there was just a miscommunication.)

When I was sitting in the NICU, I became very grateful, very quickly. Other babies were brought into the NICU that had trouble breathing or weren't moving well or had consistently low sugar or had a myriad of other medical issues. Not all of Ashley's neighbors were sick, but most of them were. That's why it became my mantra to say "She's not sick, she's just small." And she was! A teeny tiny peanut that was perfect in every other way besides being born almost 6 weeks early. While being in the NICU, I became accustomed to the beeping (especially the really sensitive pulse ox that would alarm whenever she moved in a way that it didn't like). 

I was discharged after 48 hours, but Ashley had to stay in the hospital because she still wasn't regulating her temperature well and was also having difficulty with her billirubin levels. Thankfully my parents live in Reston, so I was able to stay at their house while Ashley was still in the NICU. But leaving that hospital without her was one of the hardest things that I've ever done. I was heartbroken to leave her there. At night, I would spend hours sitting in the chair, holding her close and attempting to nurse her (which was hard because she was so small and nursing is more of a workout for preemies than many of them can handle). I visited her twice a day, every day because the thought of her being in the hospital with no one other than nurses and doctors (as incredible and loving as they were), made me infinitely sad for her. I wanted to be with her and bond with her as much as I could.

As a photographer, I've seen hundreds of Fresh 48 sessions done beautifully. (Fresh 48 sessions are where a photographer comes to the hospital and takes documentary style images of everyone still in the hospital.) But I wasn't going to have that experience. Not exactly. 

Blaire came to see us in the hospital while Ashley was still in the NICU, so we did a preemie session. I am in love with these images because it's a reminder to me of how small she really was. Not everyone knows what a NICU looks like, but that 8x8 space was my whole world for 11 days. Here are some of my favorite images from that day. (All images credited to Second Ave Photography)

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 This space would be where my little girl would fight to get to where she needed to be. This space was where I bonded with her for the first time. And this space was the only place that I felt whole because I had her with me, quietly sleeping on my chest among the steady beeping of the NICU monitors.


I hope that you're enjoying the photographic journey of my last year! Stay tuned for the next part of my series: Posed Newborn Sessions

flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) 34 weeks Fluttering Shutter Photography Fresh 48 NICU Reston Hospital Center documentary newborn nurses photography preemie http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/5/a-pregnant-newborn-photographers-journey--part-4--nicu/fresh-48 Tue, 30 May 2017 23:24:22 GMT
A Pregnant Newborn Photographer's Journey- Part 3- Birth http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/5/a-pregnant-newborn-photographers-journey--part-3--birth Many of you already know the story of my sweet little girls birth, but if you don't, here is a shortened version:

On Friday, March 24th, I was sitting with some awesome friends (and clients) and showing them their beautiful portraits of their three kiddos. I mean, really, how cute are they?!

Siblings- Purcellville, Virginia- Fluttering Shutter Photography copyright 2017

As I'm sitting at their kitchen table, I felt a dribble but I ignored it. Now, if you're a mom, you know what I'm talking about. These things happen sometimes and this WAS my 4th pregnancy. So I continued on admiring these awesome kids and chatting with their equally awesome parents. But then it happened again about an hour later. And it kept happening overnight. I ended up going to Reston Hospital Center on Saturday evening with my sister-in-law and mother-in-law (I was with them when I was told to go to the hospital) to see if I was leaking amniotic fluid.....and I was. They told me that since I was over 34 weeks, they were going to admit me and induce me in order to try to avoid infection. As much as this WASN'T my plan, I knew that it was what was best for my baby and for me, so off to labor and delivery we went! 

Once I was all settled in, I sent a message to Blaire and Jamie which included a selfie of me in my hospital gown. They immediately began making plans to come and see me, with cameras in tow. This post is going to be more image heavy because they were shot over an entire day. Also, I can't narrow it down any more than this without losing parts of the story. 

Before I get into the images themselves, I wanted to say that I am eternally grateful to have these moments forever preserved in photographs. This is my last baby and I wanted to make sure to document as much as I could. Why? Because births are similar to weddings. They are highly emotionally charged and one of the biggest days of your life. The result? Tons of adrenaline (and in the case of birth, possibly drugs) and a hazy memory of the day as a whole. So, I wanted to document the birth just like I had my wedding documented- from beginning to end.

Again, I am so thankful that I had Blaire and Jamie there to help me achieve this goal! I'm going to start with Blaire's images:

(Photo credit to Second Ave Photography until otherwise noted.)

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My husband pushing Jamie around on the rolling stool. Birth doesn't always have to be serious business! We spent quite a bit of time sitting around chatting and waiting for the Pitocin to do its thing.



www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017

This is one of the many reasons why I married my husband. No matter what is going on, he can always make me laugh.



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Contractions are no joke.



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This is my AMAZING sister-in-law, who is also a L&D nurse. She was incredibly helpful throughout my entire stay at the hospital.



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Push time!!


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At 7:52pm, Miss. Ashley Grace was born at 4lbs 12oz and 18.5in long.



www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017 www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017 www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017 www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017 www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017 www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017

Mama snuggles are the best!



www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring ©2017

Seth walking with Ashley down to the NICU.


Now I'm going to share Jamie's images from the day: 

(Photo credit to Jamie Romaezi Photography)


The kids came to see me before Ashley arrived. Tyler was REALLY uncomfortable with me being attached to tubes.


Looking at the menu of all of the food that I couldn't eat. The circled part on the back is the liquid diet menu. It was pretty sparse, so I decided to daydream about what I would eat once I had given birth.



Blaire doing her thing.



What's funny about this picture is that Ashley still (8 weeks later) almost always has her hands by her face. It's funny the habits that form that early on in life.



After Ashley was settled into the NICU, my parents brought me a pizza. I was so happy!!



After Ashley was born, I knew that she would need to go to the NICU, but I had no idea what that would feel like. I'll talk more about that in the next part of my series. Stay tuned!

flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) Birth Fluttering Shutter Photography NICU Reston Hospital Center baby born contractions friends photography pictures pizza http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/5/a-pregnant-newborn-photographers-journey--part-3--birth Tue, 23 May 2017 23:53:31 GMT
A Pregnant Newborn Photographer's Journey- Part 2- Maternity http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/5/a-pregnant-newborn-photographers-journey--part-2-maternity Once the announcement was finished, we immediately began to talk about maternity portraits. This is my last baby and I had never done formal maternity portraits, so I wanted to make sure that I did them this time! Since I was due in May and we live in Northern Virginia, we discussed doing a maternity session that would be stunning local favorite: at the DC cherry blossoms! If you live in this area, you know how crazy the weather can be. So, the forecast was for a few more weeks of winter cold and then really warm, springlike weather in rapid succession. Our plan was to do some winter/snow maternity pictures and then do our spring/cherry blossoms. Because where else can you get both sets of images within a few weeks of each other, except Northern Virginia?! Of course, if you paid any attention to what happened in this area, you know that we had a massive cold front come through at just the wrong time and most of the blossoms died! We were so disappointed, but we WERE able to get our winter/snow maternity session in. I am so grateful to Kristen Abraham Photography for lending me one of her maternity dresses. None of the ones that I had available to me were what I was looking for because I really wanted something dark that would pop against the white snow. (Plus, having something with sleeves was helpful in the cold!!)

Throughout the blog, I wanted to talk a little bit about what it was like to be on the other side of the lens and what tips I would offer to women going to have their maternity portraits taken. 

First, I have to say that although I was self-conscious (there's a reason why I'm the one always behind the camera), it was SO helpful to have two people with me that I was comfortable with, and trusted to make me look as good as possible. Knowing their work and that they have the experience and knowledge to create beautiful portraits really made me much more comfortable.

So, tip #1: Find a photographer (or photographers) that you trust to make you comfortable and look good! And if nothing else, you guys will have fun!! 

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(Top image is Second Ave Photography; bottom image is Jamie Romaezi Photography)

Second, standing in the snow in a maternity dress was COLD after awhile! If I had to do it again, I would have an assistant close by to have my winter coat available when needed. 

Tip #2: Be aware of temperature and what your needs will be during the session. 

(Image above credited to Jamie Romaezi Photography.)

Third, I realized AFTER the session that I hadn't done anything with my fingernails. No polish, no filing, no even lengths, nothing. I also didn't touch up my roots! Ahhh! I didn't think anything of it at the time, but I definitely noticed in the final products! 

Tip #3: Take the time to pamper yourself before your session. Get your hair done, get a mani/pedi, have your jewelry cleaned, do what you need to do to present your best self.

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(Top images credited to Second Ave Photography, bottom images credited to Jamie Romaezi Photography.)

Fourth, I wore the wrong bra! 

Tip #4: Maternity dresses are form fitting for a reason, but you want to make sure that you're not going to have lines under your dress. This is important not only for your final product, but also so that your photographer doesn't have to spend time trying to get rid of those lines while they are editing!

(Image above credited to Jamie Romaezi Photography)

Finally, doing a maternity session was empowering! At the end, I felt beautiful and was really proud of my body for carrying this little life around! 

Tip #5: Just do it! You won't regret it!

(Top image: Jamie Romaezi Photography, Bottom image: Second Ave Photography)

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flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) DC Fluttering Shutter Photography Northern Virginia cherry blossoms maternity photographer photography snow tips http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/5/a-pregnant-newborn-photographers-journey--part-2-maternity Tue, 16 May 2017 13:17:01 GMT
A Pregnant Newborn Photographer's Journey- Part 1- Announcement http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/5/a-pregnant-newborn-photographers-journey--part-1 Welcome!

This blog series is about the journey that I have had as a pregnant photographer with two of my favorite people (and fellow photographers) helping me to document every step of the way. I hope you enjoy the story and the photography!

When I discovered I was pregnant this past fall, I felt quite a wide range of emotions. I was excited about having a new baby, but I was also a bit nervous. With 3 older children and being over 35, I knew that challenges were ahead. I was also in the midst of preparing to attend my very first work trip to a newborn photography conference in Atlanta, Georgia. I was planning this work trip with two women that I knew who are also local photographers, Blaire and Jamie. I wasn't particularly close with either one of them, but we seemed to get along pretty well. Because we were going to be traveling together, I wanted to make sure that they knew that I was pregnant. I didn't want an emergency to come up and them to NOT know, so I told them before I told most of the people in my life. I was 9 weeks pregnant and went to The Baby Summit with two women who (starting with that trip) would become two of my closest friends.

The Baby Summit

So proud to be at The Baby Summit with some of the best photographers in the world!!


The Baby Summit With my girls Jamie (left) and Blaire (right) posing at the photobooth.

In addition to the three of us attending The Baby Summit together, we are also a part of a community called The Rising Tide Society that believes in community over competition. The photography community can be pretty unforgiving when it comes to trying to befriend your peers, but it doesn't have to be that way. We are all able to offer our own style and twist on things so that we can all find the clients that are great fits for us. One of the benefits of having two of your favorite local photographers also become two of your best friends is that you KNOW that you have plenty of photographs coming your way when you have a big life event, like pregnancy, happen.

SO, I knew that I wanted to do something fun to announce our last and final baby. As a photographer, I have seen an endless amount of pregnancy announcements. There are some that are SUPER creative and others that are very simple. We wanted to include our older children and didn't want to do anything too crazy. Blaire (of Second Ave Photography) did a great job giving us a simple, yet perfect pregnancy announcement session. This was a super fast session that got everything we wanted. Kudos to Blaire for being an amazing (and efficient) photographer! Here's one of my personal favorites, but you can also check out the official slideshow announcement that I made below:

www.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring © 2016 secwww.secondavephotography.com | blaire elizabeth ring © 2016 secPregnancy Announcement

Pregnancy Announcement

After making that announcement on social media, I knew that we were going to be sending out holiday cards. I send holiday cards to my clients every year, so I try to also send them to our friends and family. As photographers, we will sometimes trade photography sessions with each other, especially around the fall. I took family portraits for Jamie and she took some for us! (Photo credit goes to Jamie Romaezi Photography.) Here are a few of my favorites from that session.

Family Session Family Session Family Session Family Session Family Session

All of the images captured by Blaire and Jamie are gorgeous, but I'm only showing you a few from each session. Throughout this blog series, I'll talk a little bit about what it's like to have three different photographers all collaborating about the same sessions, but with different styles and approaches. I hope that you'll come back and enjoy the rest of the series!

flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) Fluttering Shutter Photography The Baby Summit The Rising Tide Society announcement family journey newborn photography pregnancy http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/5/a-pregnant-newborn-photographers-journey--part-1 Wed, 10 May 2017 01:08:46 GMT
Shoot & Share Contest Results! http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/3/shoot-share-contest-results As many of you know, in January of this year I entered a photography contest via Shoot & Share. Last year, I only entered a few images because I was nervous about how I would do. Out of 8 images that I entered last year, this one got top 30% in its category. It made it 4 rounds out of 10 and placed 3,872nd out of 17,751 images entered into the Families category. I felt so honored that one of my images placed at all, considering the competition!

To give you some background on this shot, this is one of my best friends since college, her husband and their daughter. We had just wrapped up their family session at Morven Park and I turned around to see this happening. I immediately snapped away and caught this beautiful moment. I love the way that my eye goes from their daughter to their moment together as a couple. It's still one of my favorite images to this day! 

For this years contest, I decided to go for it! You're allowed to enter up to 50 images, so that's what I did. I selected images that meant something to me or that I thought showcased my best work. The thing about this contest is that there are truly some amazingly talented photographers who enter. Their work is exquisite, so to be put into a contest side by side with them is both amazing and humbling. Here are all of my images that placed in the top 30% or better, with some background about each image. I hope you enjoy them! 


This shot was a part of my magical mini-sessions back in March of 2016. I've photographed this little girl for a long time and she just keeps getting more and more beautiful! It made it to round 6 of 12 and ranked 5,578th out of 23,969 images entered into the Children: Kids/Teens category.


Many of you probably remember this shot that I captured back in October of 2016. This beautiful girl was so sleepy and happy throughout our entire session, and for about 2 minutes she woke up in this setup and shot me this look. She happily went back to sleep afterwards, but this face is priceless and I will always adore this portrait of her. It ranked 4,574th out of 18, 536 images entered into the Newborn category and made it to round 6 of 12.


Black&White-Portrait-Purcellville-Virginia This is a familiar face (and will continue to be in this blog post). As most of you know, it's my (current) youngest child. I photograph her quite a bit because I'm almost always with her, so she gets to be my subject more often than my other children. This is one of the images that inspired me to do an entire mini-session day around this type of shot. It's simple and really focuses on the child themselves, instead of everything else around them. It helps that she's pretty beautiful all on her own.....not that I'm biased or anything ;) This image made it to round 7 out of 12 and placed 4,491st out of 23,969 images entered into the Children: Kids/Teens category.


Baby-Gangster-Purcellville-Virginia-Fluttering-Shutter-Photography This is my nephew during his 6 month session with me. (No, he wasn't actually standing on his own at 6 months, this is the power of Photoshop!) I love this image because I feel like he looks like a little New York mobster, when in reality, he is the sweetest, most smiley baby that I know. This image made it to round 7 of 12 and placed 3,943rd out of 22,953 images entered into the Children: Babies/Toddlers category.



Here she is again! This shot was actually taken while I was location scouting in October of 2016. I was checking out Claude Moore Park in Sterling, Virginia and fell in love with this little path because the colors were gorgeous. Whenever I look at this image, I think about how glad I am that you can't see that her shoes are on the wrong feet! She isn't always in the mood to model, but when she wants to, the camera loves her! Out of 23,969 images in the Children: Kids/Teens category, this image placed 3,368th.



This shot of my son jumping into a lake at his grandparents house in Minnesota always makes me smile. He can swim, but not for long periods of time, and a lake versus a clear pool made this mama nervous. Because of that, he was in "floaties" the whole time he was in the water, but it made both of us feel confident about him being in the water because we knew he was safe. Watching him jump into the lake over and over and over and OVER again was such a joy and I am so glad that he loves the water! This image was entered into the Children: Kids/Teens category and made it to round 7 out of 12. It placed 2,980th out of 23,969 images.



This shot was taken about a year ago during one of our last snowfalls. I had received this coat as a hand-me-down and immediately thought of how pretty it would look against a snowy background. I cut off the image towards the bottom of the coat so that you couldn't see her jeans and her pink princess snow boots! Out of 17,751 images entered into the People Portraits category, this image placed 2,909th and made it to round 7 out of 12.



This was another location scouting shot with one of my dear friends Blaire at Second Ave Photography. We went to Rust Sanctuary in Leesburg because, as most photographers are, I'm obsessed with finding tall grass and my favorite locations had mowed all of theirs down! It was FREEZING the day that we went, so underneath that blanket, she was wearing lined pants, snow boots, a shirt, a sweater and a coat! Needless to say, it was a short trip! This image made it to round 8 in the Children: Kids/Teens category and out of 23,969 images, it placed 1,820th.



Who can resist toddlers in tap shoes?! My youngest is also in this shot (she's in the polka dotted, ill-fitting tights), but I wanted this image to just capture their tiny little shoes and the adorable barre that they got to use at Bella Ballerina in Leesburg. This image was entered into the Personal Work category and made it to round 9, placing 872nd out of 11,400 images!


This image was my best placed image for the entire contest. It ranked 740th out of 8,304 images entered. It's amazing to me because, as you all know, I am not an engagement/wedding photographer. I shot this image for one of my other best friends' engagements, also at Morven Park. The flowers are always immaculate there, but I loved this particular one because of its gorgeous colors.

Next year, my goal is to again enter 50 images and to have even more images place in the top 10% and/or be in the Finalist category. Make sure that you check out the contest next year because the images are truly works of art! Also, be sure to keep an eye on my page and let me know when you think my shot should be included in next years contest!



flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) Bella Ballerina Claude Moore Park Fluttering Shutter Photography Leesburg Loudoun County Minnesota Morven Park Photoshop Purcellville Rust Sanctuary Shoot and Share Sterling Virginia contest family kids newborn photography ring teens http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/3/shoot-share-contest-results Fri, 24 Mar 2017 02:12:28 GMT
Time Goes By http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/3/time-goes-by Hello all!

As most of you know, I'm currently pregnant with my 4th baby (3rd girl). I will hit 32 weeks on Wednesday and, I have to say, this pregnancy feels like it has FLOWN by. Pregnancy is funny that way though, because in the first trimester and even the beginning of the second, time seems to drag on forever. You wait nervously through until the first 12 weeks are over so that you feel "safe" in your pregnancy. Then you wait until you "pop" and actually look pregnant. Then you wait until you feel those first little movements. Then you wait to find out the sex of your little one. Then you wait until you get to hold them in your arms. Pregnancy is a LOT of waiting, but as you get closer to the end, it seems that time is flying so fast that it's hard to keep up!

Now, this is a blog for my photography and not pregnancy, but all of this contemplation of time really had me thinking about the importance of capturing moments as they come along. While I'm waiting for this baby to be born, my other three children are continuing to grow and thrive and I don't want to forget how fast they're doing it. I don't want to miss a single moment. However, being heavily pregnant can make it hard to chase them around and take more candid shots of them, so I decided to do a really simple setup and photograph them as they are. 

The thing I love about these portraits is that it shows multiple sides of their personalities. For example, here's Lily. She's the oldest and most reserved of the three. She loves to read and is a gamer. She also has this silly side that peeks out to say hello. 


Then we have Tyler. He is my full of life child, who can barely sit still long enough for me to get some good portraits of him, but sometimes he REALLY wants to be in my photographs. He is always a ham and his personality shines through into every image I can capture of him. Tyler is truly one of the kindest children that I have ever known.

Finally, we have Elena. She has days where she ROCKS being in front of the camera and other days, she's just not interested. Such is the life of trying to photograph a 4 year old, I guess. Elena is definitely a child of her own mind. She has her own opinions and is not afraid to share them. On the other hand, she is almost always a people pleaser and KNOWS how cute she is.


All of my children are unique and amazing (not that I'm biased or anything), and I am so happy that I caught each side of their personalities in a super simple setup in my house. But then the question became, what am I going to DO with these images? That's when I decided that I wanted to do a wall collage in our home. I think that I am going to do the collage on one of the larger wall spaces that we have at the top of our stairs and not in our bedroom, but here is the layout.

Bedroom interior.Bedroom interior.Modern bedroom interior. Frontal view. 3d render. (Disclaimer- This is NOT my bedroom. I am heavily pregnant and have three other children. There is nowhere in my house that is this clean and empty.)


I know that I will have to add more images of our littlest, once she is older and can show off her personality a little more besides all of the kicking and punching, but I'm okay with waiting to add her to the group. This wall grouping will not be a cheap update, but I think that it's an important investment. I truly feel that children benefit from seeing pictures of themselves up on the walls of their home. I am willing to save up to buy all of these in heirloom quality canvas, so that they will last for years to come and someday, I can give them to my children or my grandchildren to hang up on the walls of their home. 

After I had this all planned out I wanted to offer YOU something like this, too. That being said, Fluttering Shutter Photography is introducing Luxe Mini-Sessions: Simple and Stunning Portraits. They will take place on March 18th starting at 10am at my home in Purcellville. Each session will cost $50 and be 10 minutes long. After our session we'll set up a date and time to look over all of your portraits so that we can design a personalized display of your stunning child.

Here is what we can do for YOUR home!


There are only 5 spots available, so book soon!


Have any questions? You can post them here or contact me directly. Let's chat about capturing the beauty of your children!



flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) Fluttering Shutter Photography Purcellville canvas children family photography portraits pregnant http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/3/time-goes-by Wed, 08 Mar 2017 22:45:00 GMT
Momtographer Monday- One more thing about gear http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/2/momtographer-monday--one-more-thing-about-gear I had a thought this past week that continues the idea of it not being about your gear, so I wanted to make sure to share it with you all:

When you're a broke college student, sometimes all you have is a microwave or an iron and ironing board or even a hotplate. You usually can't afford to buy the "fancy" groceries and end up buying Ramen, bread, cheese, milk, etc. Just the basics to ensure that you have food in your stomach. But you know what's amazing about that time? You become really creative in using what you have. Would it be nice to go to Harris Teeter and spend $200 on groceries? Yes, but as a poor student, that's just not in your budget. So sometimes you take that bread and cheese and make grilled cheese sandwiches using your iron/ironing board (if you have NOT done this, you are missing out). If you had some extra money that week and got yourself some lettuce and tomatoes, you get to add those onto your sandwich! 

So, what does this have to do with photography?

It just goes to show you that you don't need the best gear to take great shots and sometimes you just have to be creative with what you have! How is that homework coming? Do you guys have any questions?

flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) Camera analogy creative gear photography shots http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/2/momtographer-monday--one-more-thing-about-gear Tue, 07 Feb 2017 00:45:00 GMT
Momtographer Monday: Homework http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/1/momtographer-monday-homework No, this isn't a blog about doing homework with your kids. This is homework for YOU! 

I assume that you are reading this blog because you want to become a better photographer, so today's Momtographer Monday post is about how you can do that. I've spent the past few weeks talking about how to take better photographs and what to think about when you're taking pictures, but this week I want to take a step back. 

For your homework, I want you take at least one picture of your favorite subject. It can be your kids, your pets, your plants, your shoes, whatever you want it to be! Then I want you to look at it and answer the following questions:

1) What do you like about your image?

2) What do you dislike about your image?

3) What do you think you can do differently next time? (And if you don't know the answer to this one, write it in the comments section and we can figure it out for next time!)

Feel free to post your images below along with your answers to the questions! :) Have a great week everyone!

flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/1/momtographer-monday-homework Tue, 31 Jan 2017 01:19:13 GMT
Momtographer Monday: Why Your Camera Is NOT All That Matters http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/1/momtographer-monday-why-your-camera-is-not-all-that-matters I want to talk to you all today about your camera. It doesn't have to be the best and most expensive equipment around, I promise. You can have the best camera and lenses on Earth and still take a crappy picture. Conversely, you can have a really simple point and shoot or your phone and take a great picture. It's truly about the knowledge BEHIND the lens that makes the image amazing. That's one of the reasons that I started this blog. I want people to understand what it takes to make a beautiful image, and also understand that the camera is not the primary cause of that beauty.

When I first started out, I was using a Canon Rebel t3i with a kit lens (18-55mm). All that means is that I got a basic DSLR camera and just used the lens that came with it. I left the camera on Auto and went to town! During that time, I got some really cute shots of my kids that were high quality images like this one: 


My husband still says that this is one of his favorite shots ever, but years on and quite a bit of education later, I find myself only seeing the fact that I used the on-camera flash, which gives it harsh shadows. 

As my love for photography progressed, I got new lenses and really dedicated time to learning about my camera and lighting. I worked to improve my photography and asked for feedback from photographers that I know and respect. Over time, I feel like my photography has improved significantly. Do I feel like I have work left to do? Absolutely. I will never stop learning about how to be a better photographer. I will continue to invest in professional grade equipment, but that's because this is my job. You can take fantastic pictures with any camera if you take the time to invest in learning HOW to take a great picture.

As a final thought, please bear this blog post in mind when you have a professional take your portraits. It's disheartening for a professional photographer to hear the words "Your camera takes great pictures!" Because the reality is, our camera does what we tell it to do and our extensive training and knowledge is what makes the images beautiful. Saying something like that to a professional is the equivalent of saying something like "Your kitchen makes great meals!" Just food for thought :)

Did you enjoy today's blog? What else do you want to learn about?

flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) Canon Fluttering Shutter Photography camera photography pictures http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/1/momtographer-monday-why-your-camera-is-not-all-that-matters Mon, 23 Jan 2017 14:30:00 GMT
You Are Beautiful http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/1/you-are-beautiful For those of you who are new to the blog, welcome to Fluttering Shutter Photography! I'm a maternity/newborn/children, family photographer in Loudoun County, Virginia. That being said, this is coming from a photographers perspective, but it is (more importantly) coming from the perspective of a mom. 

As many of you know, I'm currently in my second trimester of pregnancy with baby #4. Being someone who is on Facebook quite a bit, I'm in a mom group for women who are having babies in 2017 and another mama-to-be posted this morning asking if it was "terrible" if she didn't get maternity pictures done. I wrote out a response, but I wanted to share it wider because I think it's important for ALL mamas. But in order for me to be able to tell you what I think, it's important for you to know a little bit more about ME, personally. This is a more personal post than my usual blogs, so it's a little bit harder to write, but I really do feel passionately about the subject, so I'm willing to share. This is my husband and I pre-marriage and pre-babies. I was 5'4 and 125 pounds. Oh, to be that young (and skinny) again! 

In 2007, I got pregnant with our first child, Lily. I have about 5-7 pictures of me pregnant with her, but this one means the most because we're standing with my grandparents, who have both since passed. This is at about 7 months pregnant.

I remember being pregnant with her and thinking "Wow, this body is so amazing! Look at this cute belly that I have!" I remember feeling her move for the first time. I remember WATCHING her move in my belly for the first time. I remember being pregnant with her and being PROUD of what my body could do. When she was born, I felt amazing. But who wouldn't with a perfect little newborn like her??

Fast forward through some hard times getting pregnant (I'll save that for another day) and I got pregnant with our son, Tyler. While being pregnant with him, I STILL felt like I was in awe of what my body could do, but I also knew that I was overweight and wasn't entirely comfortable showing off my body. Even though I felt incredibly blessed to BE pregnant after trying for so long, I was still having a hard time with my self-esteem. This is one of the very few images I have of me pregnant with him. (This is at 35 weeks. Please excuse the bathroom selfie.)

At this point in my life, I had started to take an interest in photography and really began to see the value in having pictures taken. Why? Because when Tyler was just a few weeks old, my grandmother passed away. I have a single picture of his foot in her hand because she had had multiple strokes. I don't know if she even knew that it was the foot of her great-grandson that she was holding onto, but that picture means the world to me. I felt it was so important to start capturing moments that I had some not-quite newborn portraits for Tyler and Lily done. This one is one of my favorites and I am so grateful to Emily Law at Flom Designs and Photography for getting this shot (and all of the others)!!

When Tyler was about 8 months old, we found out that we were pregnant with our third child, Elena. I was still nursing, had just started to get back into working out and was really trying to lose some of the baby weight. Even though I was really excited, I was also really uncomfortable because I KNEW that it would be harder to achieve my weight goals while being pregnant. So, I just took care of myself and tried to enjoy my pregnancy. (Here I am at 9 months pregnant with her. Note the Canon Rebel t3i WITH the pop-up flash!)

Elena was born about 2 weeks after this picture was taken and I was so happy to have her, but I was still REALLY unhappy with my weight and I was really looking forward to getting back into shape. In the meantime, I practiced my photography on her because I wanted pictures, but I couldn't justify the cost.

Now 9 years later pregnant with #4, I was 160lbs pre-pregnancy. I don't have any maternity pictures....YET. I WILL do maternity pictures this time around because this is DEFINITELY our last baby and because I have an even greater appreciation for pictures now. (And I solemnly swear that I will post those maternity pictures and newborn pictures everywhere, even if I feel huge.) I've learned a few things in the 9+ years that I've been on this motherhood journey and I want to share them with you:

Far too often we, as mothers, don't get into pictures because we don't like the way that we look. But you know what? Our kids don't care about our gray hair, or our extra 15lbs (or if you're me, 35 extra.....), or our messy hair or no make-up. They care about seeing pictures of US with them. And even more importantly? They'll care about having those pictures when you're gone.

Remember when I said that the image that I have of my husband and I with my grandparents is so completely special to me? It's special to me because all that I have left of them are a few physical objects, memories and photographs. Those moments will never happen again. NONE of these moments will ever happen again. All of those bellies of mine? Each one was different. All of those newborn features? Gone. They're all big kids now:

Look, I totally get feeling like a land whale, especially when pregnant, because I feel that way too sometimes, but how often are you going to do this? I didn't do professional maternity/true newborn pictures with any of my other children and now, I regret it. Tyler was the only one that got professional images of him taken as an almost-newborn (he was about 6 weeks old).

I KNOW that professional photography isn't cheap. There are TONS of reasons for that, but one of the most important ones is that being a professional means having experience. That experience comes with knowing how to pose a woman who is self-conscious about her weight in such a way that it truly shows off her beauty and not her weight. It comes with knowing how to pose a newborn in such a way that they are 100% safe and comfortable. There are a variety of reasons to choose a professional photographer (you can read more about that here), but I understand that it isn't always a financial priority. If you can't afford a professional photographer, I'd be happy to talk to you about how to take better pictures at home. You can even follow my Momtographer Mondays blog posts, if you don't want to reach out directly to me. If you WANT a professional photographer, I'll gladly help you find someone who is a perfect fit for you, even if it's not me.

I wish that I could show each of my children every moment of their lives before they could remember, but I can't go back in time. With this pregnancy, I'm blessed to have wonderful photographer friends and to be able to have newborn images done by myself and others, but even if I wasn't a photographer, I'd urge every mama to get portraits done. BE IN YOUR PICTURES! Show your children that you were present with them during their childhood. We often have tons of photographs of our children and a bunch of them with one parent, but mamas are usually taking the picture because sometimes it's the easiest place to hide. Stop being afraid! You.Are.Beautiful!! Your children deserve to see your gorgeous face smiling next to theirs for years and years to come. You are only pregnant with them once and they are only teeny tiny for so long. Capture those moments! Show them how small they once were! They deserve it and so do you

flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) Fluttering Shutter Photography Loudoun County Virginia children mama maternity momtographer momtographer mondays newborn photography pregnancy pregnant weight http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/1/you-are-beautiful Tue, 17 Jan 2017 18:28:45 GMT
Momtographer Monday: How To Use Props http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/1/momtographer-monday-how-to-use-props Even if you're not photographing people professionally, you can still incorporate props. You don't even have to spend a bunch of money investing in them, because you likely have things that will be perfect for a "session" right in your own home! Today I want to talk about what you can use around your house that can act as props for a quick photoshoot with your kids.


Chairs/Swings: Child sized chairs are perfect for sessions for a few reasons- 1) It gives very specific direction to the child by saying "Okay, can you sit here for a minute?" Simple, direct, easy to follow direction. 2) It adds something to the image without overwhelming your subject. 3) It's something that you likely already have sitting around the house, but if you don't, a friend or a neighbor probably has one that you can borrow! Swings can be a bit trickier because kids tend to want to, well, swing. However, if you have an older toddler/preschooler who knows how to sit still (even for the 1-2 shots you want), they can work really well. PLUS, they can be rewarded by some playtime immediately after sitting for a portrait.


H Family-Sisters-Sterling

Blankets: Blankets are great because you can (again) give your child(ren) really simple direction to sit on the blanket or lay down on the blanket. When choosing a blanket, try to find one that isn't shiny or too busy. An exception to this rule are quilts. Quilts, especially ones that are heirlooms for your family, are perfect additions to your photos because they offer something personal and timeless to your images. Also, don't overlook your child's blanket. Their blankets are great for at least these two reasons: 1) Your child will feel more comfortable simply because their blanket is in their hands 2) Their blanket is something that you will forever associate with your child. Thirty years from now, you'll remember exactly what that blanket looks like. They are a part of their childhood and what better reason do you need to photograph it?


Toys: This is my oldest daughter when she was about 5 months old. She LOVED that exersaucer. On that day, when I tried to take her out of it and lay her down, she screamed because she didn't want to be out of it. Does  your child have a favorite toy or lovey? Again, this creates comfort for your child and gives them something to focus on. You want a toy that isn't going to be distracting in the image, but will ADD to it.


Christmas Tree: The Christmas tree is a favorite backdrop for pictures of your children. It marks another year of their life and it is always amazing to watch the progression of images from one Christmas to the next. When photographing your children in front of the tree, have them sit about 2-3 feet in front of it to try to make the lights pop a little bit more. You can also take pictures of them hanging ornaments or "finding" ornaments on the tree. Kids are almost always in awe of the Christmas season. If you're going to do holiday setups with your child, please read my blog about safety first.



Leaves: These images are from when I got my very first DSLR and was still very much a momtographer. The leaves always remind me of what time of year it was and it made the images so much more fun because the kids (and my husband) had something to play with. The only caveat that I have with using leaves (especially because I live in the Northern Virginia area) is that after doing any playing in leaves/tall grass/woods, please make sure to do tick checks!


I left the leaves picture for last because I wanted to say this: Your images don't have to be professional quality. They don't have to have tons of editing or perfect lighting or cropping. They need to be of things that you love in moments that make you happy. There are at least 5 things that I would point out as being technically wrong in the image above, but when I look at their smiling faces? My Mom-heart doesn't care a bit and I smile away.

flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) Blankets Chairs Christmas Leaves Mom Momtographer Northern Virginia Props Swings Virginia children http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/1/momtographer-monday-how-to-use-props Mon, 16 Jan 2017 23:45:00 GMT
Scheduling Your Portrait Session http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/1/scheduling-your-portrait-session Hello again! I wrote this blog a year ago, but I think that it's SO important that I decided to tweak it a little bit and repost it. Enjoy!


It's the very beginning of a brand new year, so I wanted to talk to all of you about when you should be scheduling your sessions. The answer varies depending on the type of sessions, so I've broken it down a bit according to which session you are booking.


D Family-Sterling

Holiday Cards:

If you are looking to have portraits done for your holiday cards, I recommend that you follow the "Early Booking Rule". What I mean by that is that you should book approximately 4-6 months prior to when you will need your portraits available to use. Fall (especially fall in the DC metro area) is an exceedingly popular time for family portraits. Find your photographer and book them early. If you can book them in February for an October session, do it. This ensures you a spot on the photographers calendar and makes it one less thing that you have to remember during the hustle and bustle of the beginning of the school year! Please keep in mind that because fall is the most popular time for sessions to occur, you may have a harder time booking with your favorite photographer if you procrastinate. Every year I see people posting on Facebook mid-November desperate to find a photographer for their holiday photos and by that time, most Loudoun County photographers are booked solid. So, do yourself a favor and book EARLY. If something comes up and you can't make that specific date, your photographer will likely be able to work with you a little bit, since you were already on the books. However, if you know that you can't do October 15th because it's your Great Aunt Tilly's 90th birthday party, don't book that date just to have a date booked. Pick a date that you're pretty sure will work and go from there.


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Maternity Sessions:

I prefer to have maternity sessions done around 28-32 weeks. Your belly is usually showing enough to photograph beautifully and you usually have enough energy to do an hour long session. Try to book these sessions when you're between 24 and 26 weeks. It will give your photographer time to plan your session and discuss the details with you. I've done sessions with women that were anywhere from 24 weeks to 39 weeks and 1 day. Baby bellies are beautiful, no matter how far along you are. 



Newborn Sessions:

Photographers vary on when people should book their sessions, but for me, I like to have your newborn session booked prior to delivery. This is the easiest way to definitely be on my schedule for our session. If you decide to do a newborn session after the birth of your little one, I recommend that sessions take place before they are two weeks old. Why is that? Newborns have just emerged from a very small, very secure space where they have been all curled up and warm. They are the most flexible and the most sleepy directly after their birth.

As a photographer, I am looking for them to be content, sleepy and flexible during our session. Can I photograph them without them being content, sleepy and flexible? Yes, but we may not be able to get the newborn images that you are looking for. Can babies still be content, sleepy and flexible outside of that two week age? Yes, but it's less likely. Will I still work with you if your baby is over two weeks old? YES! We will still be able to capture beautiful images, regardless of their age. If you're struggling with picking a newborn photographer, read this blog post, as it has some advice for how to choose. 

** For boys, specifically, if they are being circumcised, I prefer to do their sessions at least 3-5 days after this procedure. It is more comfortable for them to be on their bellies when they have had some time to heal. 



Children and Family Sessions:

Family sessions definitely follow along with the early booking rule. Children's sessions may require the early booking rule, but they may also be flexible. It depends on the purpose of the session. Do you need some tips for your family session? Read this blog post.


The bottom line is that you should always try to book your sessions early. By doing so, you are able to secure your spot in your photographer's schedule and you (and your photographer) are able to prepare for the session in terms of both planning and finances. 

I hope that this has given you some good guidelines for planning for your portraits this year and I'm looking forward to all of the beautiful moments that we are going to capture together! 



flutteringshutterphotography@gmail.com (Fluttering Shutter Photography) Leesburg Loudoun County Sterling birth booking children family holiday maternity newborn photography http://www.flutteringshutterphotography.com/blog/2017/1/scheduling-your-portrait-session Fri, 13 Jan 2017 00:45:00 GMT