My Photography Journey

January 12, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Before I get into the beginning of my particular journey with photography, I want to re-introduce myself.

Hi! I'm Justine and I'm the owner of Fluttering Shutter Photography. I'm located in Purcellville, Virginia but I service all over the DC Metro area including (but not limited to) Loudoun, Fairfax, Clarke and Prince William Counties. I've written a little bit before about why photography is so important to me, which you can read here, but I've never written about where my passion for portrait photography really started. 

I started my business in 2014 and have watched it grow so much since then, but every once in awhile I like to look back to see the progress and remind myself of how far I've come. This time, I decided to take you all along for the reflection!

I know that it is common for photographers to find their passion for photography when they become parents, and I am no different. Did I love playing with the Nikon that my Dad had when I was younger? Yes! Did I enjoy documenting moments of my friends as I grew up? Absolutely! Do I have TONS of loose prints sitting around that span my entire lifetime? Naturally! But what pushed me towards the goal of taking portraits professionally?

I am lucky enough to know that it happened when my third child (Elena) was born. I had just gotten a DSLR from my husband and wanted to try my hand at a "professional" photography session. I remember thinking "Newborn photography doesn't look that hard! All you have to do is lay the baby down on something cute and they do the rest!" To set up my "professional" session, I laid a white sheet down over our couch, grabbed some of her cuter outfits, plopped her down, pulled out my camera, set it on auto and away we went! I changed her outfits multiple times, took a ton of pictures and then put them into Lightroom, where I thought that the rest of the magic would happen. After editing, I thought that I had done an amazing job. I was ecstatic about these portraits and showed them to everyone that would look at them!

Three images of a 3 month old girl wearing an outfit that has shamrocks on it, laying on a sheet that was placed over the couch.Momtographer BeginningsThe Beginning of My Photography Journey

Well, I'm here to tell you that I was very quickly humbled (kindly) by some actual professional photographers that I knew, but I felt that push to want to learn more/practice/do better. And as much as it makes me cringe to think that I had done such an amazing job at the time, I learned three large, valuable lessons doing these pictures:

- A sheet over a couch is not what professionals pose babies on.

- On-camera flash (with no diffuser or way to bounce the light) is not my friend.

- Photographing babies and children is MUCH more involved than I thought it was.


So, I decided to learn and push and grow.


Over the next 10 years, I worked hard to learn as much as I could about how beautiful portraits are created. Elena now often volunteers or even requests to model for me and I think it's safe to say that my work has grown up alongside her:

EyesA young girl with sectoral heterochromia in her right eye, on a snowy day wearing a coat with a furry hood looking into the camera.

Needless to say, when I had my fourth child (Ashley), she turned out to be one of the most photographed babies ever! She had multiple newborn sessions (with multiple photographers) and has been pretty regularly photographed her entire life (though cooperation levels and need for bribery varies). This is just a SMALL sample of the sessions that she had in her first few months:

A 16 image collage with a variety of images. Maternity, family, newborn, newborn with a camera, hospital at birth, NICU, sonogram, newborn with a small pink felted elephant, baby on a sled, baby in front of doors on a checkered floor.AshleyThe beginning of Ashley's life

(Photographers besides myself who took some of these are Second Ave Photography, Jamie Romaezi Photography and Kleopping Photography)

Watching her grow up in front of the camera has been pretty amazing, and I am so grateful that I can document her life this way. I am also amazed at how many photographer playdates I got to have because of her! I'm a believer in community over competition, so it was so nice to be able to get closer to some local photographers that I didn't know very well. Below you can see images of her in a pretty dress and wearing a flower bonnet (that she did NOT enjoy), but it was still a fun day at Sandy Williams' studio!

A 35 image collage with a girl from when she was 6 months old to 1 year old. Images include her in a fancy dress, a flower bonnet, in a bowl; a cake smash session with a pink tutu; in front of a backdrop with hearts; her in a St. Patrick's Day shirt with her blanket; another cake smash in her high chair with cake all over her face; playing in Savannah, Georgia,; pigtails and family portraits.First Year of AshleyPhotographing Ashley Growing Up A 17 image collage with close ups of a two year old girls face smiling, pouting, biting her finger, smelling a bottle, playing with rocks and waving. There is also an close up image of her shoes with cute characters on them and her feet crossed at the ankle.Ashley's Second YearAshley's Second Year in Portraits A collage of 38 portraits of a 3 year old girl. Images include her sitting in front of heart balloons; playing on a light table; playing with a water table; with a pink 3 balloon and an Olaf balloon; posing with a picture of herself from the NICU; posing with her blanket, playing on a trampoline that is being sprayed with water; close up portraits of her face and curly hair; posing on the beach and sitting on a chair with golden light behind her.Ashley- Year 3Ashley's 3rd Year in Portraits Collage of 15 images of a 4 year old girl with curly blond hair. Two images of her in a purple tutu dress, one with a small diamond-like tiara; three of her outside in the snow wearing a red coat with black trim and black buttons; five of her with pigtails, wearing a green outfit with shamrocks on it on a green backdrop and five of her with pigtails, a unicorn tutu dress and a "Happy Birthday" tiara on a gray background.4th Year of Ashley4th Year Portraits of Ashley

Ashley is now almost 6, and although she doesn't always love following directions when in front of the camera, we can usually get some pretty awesome shots in anyway: 

A girl with curly blond hair in a black and silver dress with her arms raised as gold, silver and black glitter falls on her, in front of a gray backdrop with a black, silver, white and gold balloon garland and 2023 in silver balloons in front of it.Happy New YearAshley is 5 at the end of 2022

My photography journey started as a child, but my passion for portrait photography really began in 2011. Now that it's 2023,I am always in awe when I look back at the work that I've done over the years and seeing how much my work has grown up right along side of them. So when I tell you that my passion for portraiture started with my kids, I truly mean it. But I think that the reason why parenthood pushes us towards photography is because we are so in awe of this tiny human that we have in our lives and want to remember as much as we can, however we can. Portraits can remind us of times that we may not always remember clearly, and that can be such an amazing gift to ourselves and to those that we love.



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