Member, Professional Photographers of America

Don't Blink

Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think so don’t blink.
— Kenny Chesney

I absolutely LOVE this time of year - the kiddos goes back to school! While I joke about them being out of my hair for seven hours a day, five days a week, for nine months out of the year, I have another reason I love this time of year.

back to school.jpg

I love this time of year for “nerdy” reasons. I love new supplies, especially fun pens. I love cute notebooks so I can make daily lists. I just love the back to school aisles at stores! Shopping for supplies with kids is a chaotic nightmare, but yet at the same time it’s so awesome to see their little faces light up and get excited about school. I love this excitement!

At the same time, this time of year saddens me to a point. The first day of school slaps me in the face with the realization that my babies are quickly growing up as I snap that notorious “first day of school” photo. Then the Facebook Memory pops up showing me the previous “first day of school” photos over the years. THIS makes you realize just how fast they are growing up!

When my daughter, Lily, started preschool I decided to start a tradition in which I would use the same location each year to document the year to year changes. She looks forward to this almost as much as I do every August!

Lily - 3 years old.  First day of Pre-K 3

Lily - 3 years old. First day of Pre-K 3

Lily - 4 years old.  First day of Pre-K 4

Lily - 4 years old. First day of Pre-K 4

Lily - 6 years old.  First Day of Kindergarten

Lily - 6 years old. First Day of Kindergarten

Lily - 6 years old. First day of First Grade

Lily - 6 years old. First day of First Grade

Lily - 7 years old.  First day of 2nd Grade

Lily - 7 years old. First day of 2nd Grade

My little Lilybug has changed SO much over the years! Her face has changed every year. She’s obviously growing a lot from year to year. I hope to think that one day she will look back at these photos and be grateful that she has them to document her growth from year to year.

The days are long, but the years are short. Don’t blink.

Nine Softball Truths

Nine Truths About Girls That Play Softball

softball_princess_smith_family_photography

Truth #1

Nothing else compares to the smell of fresh dirt.

Truth #2

Sunscreen is pretty much all the perfume you need.

Truth #3

Eye black makes you play better. It’s a proven fact.

Truth #4

If you look good, you’ll play good.

Truth #5

“Rubbing dirt on it” is a valid form of first aid.

Truth #6

Don’t underestimate any girl. They’ll surprise you.

Truth #7

You’re tougher than you think.

Truth #8

Family goes beyond blood. Family includes your teammates.

Truth #9

If it looks good, swing.

And a huge thanks to all that made this creative session possible (and so much fun)!

Crystal, thank you for contacting me with your fun idea for your daughter’s session.

Carys, thank you for being such a cooperative (and entertaining) model.

Myriah, thank you for being a wonderful assistant whenever needed (and being a catcher with no gear).

Janet, thank you for being an awesome lighting assistant to make these dramatic images possible.

Three Easy Steps to Crappy Vacation Photos

I am a photographer and I almost always photograph people. I am a portrait photographer. I know all the settings on my DSLR camera and what settings to adjust in certain situations. But when I go on vacation, I look like a tourist with my cell phone in hand because it has a great camera - that I don’t know how to use! Things are so bad that sometimes (and by sometimes I mean about 99% of the time) I can’t figure out how to take a selfie, take a video, or how to take one photo instead of a burst of photos. It is THAT bad.

See, I can’t take a selfie with the family. This face is the face I have most of the time I try to take a photo with my phone.

See, I can’t take a selfie with the family. This face is the face I have most of the time I try to take a photo with my phone.

Now that you’ve seen my vacation photo skills, here are my tips for taking crappy vacation photos.

Three Easy Steps to Crappy Vacation Photos

1. Always Use a Flash

Some people are selective about when to use a flash, such as in low light situations. But you won’t get many crappy photos that way! If you really want crappy vacation photos you need to use that flash 100% of the time. You see, as a portrait photographer I use flash or natural light in nearly every photo I take because I want people to see the faces of those I’m photographing. It’s kind of important. When I am on vacation I take a lot of photos of places - landscapes.

On a recent trip to Mexico we went snorkeling in a cenote. It was dark with the exception of a few lights positioned throughout the cave. In true Anna fashion I made sure the flash was on, I mean it was dark and we use flash in low light situations. The photo was alright. Then our tour guide, Alfredo, told me to try one without the flash. I thought for sure I’d get some blurry, grainy image. But I did not! I took a photo that was much more colorful than the first!

tip 1.jpg

2. Copy Everyone Else

When I’m photographing a family we typically use a location that fits with what they’re looking for as far as a background goes and I use objects at that location to create unique images. These objects can be trees, rocks, buildings, etc. Just anything that will allow me capture a unique photo. Well, when you’re on vacation you generally don’t know locations and have to rely on others to show you places. When you get to these places they are usually packed with tourists. After all, why try to figure out a unique place when tons of other tourists obviously have the perfect spots already figured out. Just copy them. Why reinvent the wheel, right? As ridiculous as this sounds, I fall for it every single vacation! Luckily we had an awesome tour guide in Mexico, Alfredo, and he told us as we were snapping photos that he was going to take us to a place to get an phenomenal photo. He did not disappoint! He took us up a hillside, not on a path, and we had an incredible view of the entire grounds of Tulum. No other tourists were on the hillside. It was just us. And it was so worth it to get off the path of everyone else and find our own location.

Typical tourist photo. I had to wait in line to take this.

Typical tourist photo. I had to wait in line to take this.

A view of the Tulum ruins from the hillside away from the tourists.

A view of the Tulum ruins from the hillside away from the tourists.

Alfredo, our tour guide, even took a photo of us in this non-tourist location.

Alfredo, our tour guide, even took a photo of us in this non-tourist location.

3. Always Leave the Camera on Auto Mode

Cameras on our phones are so smart nowadays! There is a reason they are called smartphones after all. When I see AUTO on my DSLR, I know that rarely takes good photos and I need to use manual to adjust the settings so I can capture the image as I’d like. I need to be in control - unless I have my phone camera. If I have my phone camera, which I always do on vacation, auto is the best apparently. Just look at how crystal clear Elvis is. What a sweet photo!

Using the AUTO setting on my phone camera sure did a crappy job at capturing this awesome Elvis!

Using the AUTO setting on my phone camera sure did a crappy job at capturing this awesome Elvis!

If you follow these three tips I will guarantee that you take some crappy vacation photos that your friends and family will ooo and ahhh over just to be nice. Maybe they’ll even like them on social media. But why put your family and friends in that awkward position of feeling like they need to praise your photos that are…well, just crappy.


Over the Years: The Spence - Waldrop Family

The other day I was talking to my favorite person (my grandma Jo) on the phone and we ended up talking about the career paths we chose.  She was a nurse for most of her adult working years and I was an elementary school teacher for five years until I decided to resign and begin my photography business.  She told me there have been times when she thought about doing something besides nursing, but looking back now she couldn't imagine doing anything else.  She LOVED nursing!  Then she asked me what I career I would have chosen if I could start all over again.  As I thought, I honestly couldn't think of any other career choices I would have made.  

I loved teaching, but I didn't love the confines of teaching.  I loved that no two days were ever the same.  I loved having to adapt and be flexible throughout the day as different situations arose.  I loved the students and coworkers.  But I did not love the schedule.  I felt very confined.  When I decided to resign I immediately felt a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could now breathe freely.  

I absolutely LOVE being a photographer!  I love nearly everything about it - besides paying taxes.  I love making my own schedule.  I love creating wall art for families that will be treasured for years to come.  I love it when clients tell me that my work captures so many emotions.  But most of all I love meeting new people and connecting with them!  I love to capture them year after year and create beautiful wall art that showcases their family!  For this reason I have decided to begin a series which focuses on my loyal clients over the years titled, "Over the Years."

THE SPENCE - WALDROP FAMILY

I first met the Ceanne and Ben in June of 2017 when they were searching for a photographer to take maternity portraits. I remember that she posted an “in search of” post on Facebook in a group and someone mentioned Smith Family Photography. She ended up hiring me to capture this beautiful time in her family’s life and it was amazing! That particular day was not raining, however it rained for a few days before the session. The ground was still holding water and there were puddles everywhere. I asked her if she’d like to reschedule, but she wanted to just go with it. As we carefully walked on the property (I was so nervous she would slip and fall) I distinctly remember telling me that she was not photogenic. Seriously! Look at her! I then photographed Peyton as a newborn and several sessions throughout his first year at many holidays - Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July. When he turned one we had a great time making a HUGE mess with cake for his One Year Cake Smash Session. He had a trail of cake following him everywhere he crawled! Since that time I have captured Ceanne’s senior portraits, designed several collages for their family using their own photographs, and earlier this month I was lucky enough to capture the wedding of Ceanne and Ben. The Spence Family is now the Waldrop Family.

June 2017 - Ceanne’s maternity session

June 2017 - Ceanne’s maternity session

Two short months later I had the honor of meeting, and photographing, their adorable baby boy named Peyton! I still remember this session because Peyton surprised his daddy with a homemade gift…oops!

August 2017 - Peyton’s newborn session

August 2017 - Peyton’s newborn session

Throughout the next four months Peyton was growing and becoming stronger each and every day. I was lucky enough to capture his first Christimas portraits, along with some really fun family portraits! In fact, one of their family portraits from this time is one of my favorite of all time.

December 2017 - Family/Christmas session

December 2017 - Family/Christmas session

Throughout Peyton’s first year they continued to document his growth through portraits at many of the holidays such as Easter and the Fourth of July.

2018 - Peyton’s Easter session

2018 - Peyton’s Easter session

June 2018 - Fourth of July session

June 2018 - Fourth of July session

A few months later, Peyton would turn one. Every one year old needs a One Year Cake Smash Session!

July 2018 - One Year Cake Smash session

July 2018 - One Year Cake Smash session

The very next year in June, Ceanne and Ben would be married on the shores of Lake Limestone. It was an extremely hot summer day for their beautiful outdoor wedding! Sunflowers were everywhere with the scenic lake behind them as they said exchanged vows under the blue Texas sky. The reception continued as the sun set of the lake creating gorgeous colors in the sky.

June 2019 - Spence Waldrop Wedding

June 2019 - Spence Waldrop Wedding

For two years now I have been capturing the memories for not only Ben, Ceanne and Peyton, but also for many of their family members. I absolutely LOVE being their family photographer and I’m looking forward to many more sessions in the years to come!

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.
— Dorothea Lange

THIS IS THE EIGTH FEATURED FAMILY IN THE "OVER THE YEARS" SERIES.  CHECK OUT OUR OTHER FEATURED FAMILIES!

  1. The Wier Family

  2. The Lopez Family

  3. Tana and Layla

  4. The Dale Family

  5. The Craven Family

  6. The Carpenter Family

  7. The Leonardelli Family

Play Ball!

Softball and baseball season in Central Texas is a BIG deal. Heck, softball and baseball season in our household is a BIG deal!

Softball and baseball season is literally the beginning of our family! In 2010 my oldest three children were playing baseball and softball in Riesel since Marlin did not have a league. At the end of the season one of my boys was picked up to play on a baseball team in Mart to help them advance through the playoffs and hopefully make it to the state tournament. The coach that picked him up would later steal my heart as the season continued.

Fast forward to the following year, we exchanged vows on the shores of Lake Waco during the day and that evening we had a baseball game in Axtell. After the game we stopped by the Prairie Hill Store for ice cream. That was our eventful honeymoon! Every year on our anniversary we make it a point to go to the Prairie Hill Store for ice cream whether or not we are heading home from a baseball or softball game.

We both LOVE this season! Texas summer nights are amazing - with the exception of June bugs and mosquitos! It is very chaotic with all the practice and game schedules for each child. But you just roll with it and figure out each day as it comes. Next week is the week of the softball playoffs which will determine which two teams will advance to the state tournament. Lily and Sadie will be playing in Groesbeck while Gracie will be playing in Valley Mills. We are very excited for all the girls, but honestly we are all slightly bummed that everyone will be split up rather than cheering on each other at the game.

Our family is close knit during this season, coming together to support one another. It’s not just our family, it’s bigger than that. It’s the entire ballpark community. The kids roam around the ballparks playing with the other children. They beg their parents for money to buy junk food at the concession stand so they can share it with their friends. The parents cheer on all the players, not just their own. Everyone genuinely wants every player to succeed and do their best. It’s difficult to explain unless you’ve experienced it for yourself.

Many lessons are learned on that field and ballpark. Teamwork. Attitude. Persistence. Passion. Leadership. Dedication. Faith. Mental toughness. Hard work. Inspiration. Encouragement. Support. Focus. Strength. Motivation. And all of these lessons help prepare you for different areas in your life off the field.

Remember...you’ve got what it takes so be willing to give it everything you’ve got.
— unknown

So as the playoff tournament is just around the corner, we would greatly appreciate good thoughts for all the teams - especially for the Mart 6U Smith team and the Groesbeck 15U Chiglo team :)

mart_6U_smith_softball_team_2019
Groesbeck_15U_2019

Serendipity

Serendipity (n.) finding something good without looking for it

justin_and_lauren_engagement_smith_family_photography_texas

Justin and Lauren were average children in average families. They both grew up spending lots of time at bowling alleys due to their parents being on leagues and hanging out with friends. Justin and Lauren were friends from the beginning. They each attended the other’s birthday parties until Justin turned six when his family stopped bowling.

Years later they met again in high school. This meeting was chance and brief.

Fast forward a few years when Justin and Lauren met for the third time. This time they met at their place of employment, On the Border in Waco, Texas. Justin worked as a busser and server while Lauren worked as a hostess and server. They continued developing their friendship and it didn’t take long for them to begin dating.

They went to Freddy’s in the Baylor area for their first date. Justin explains this date as the beginning of a great friendship.

Exactly one year after their first date Justin proposed to Lauren while they were on a cruise. He wanted it to be memorable so he chose that particular date, which also just happened to be elegant night on the cruise.

He asked. She said, “YES!”

He asked. She said, “YES!”

Justin says they were definitely meant to be be because they couldn’t be more of a match. They have most of the same attributes, and some differences. That mix of similarities and differences is what makes their bond even stronger.

Justin and Lauren will wed on December 14, 2019 in Mart, Texas.

The Power of Play

Time spent playing with children is never wasted.
— Dawn Lantero

As a former early childhood education instructor I have not only heard about the many benefits of playing with young children, but I have also witnessed it firsthand within the school setting as well as at home in a personal setting with my own children. In today’s society it is not unheard of for children to spend on average four to seven MINUTES per day in unstructured play compared to nearly seven or more HOURS per day in front of a screen. I’ll be the first to admit it, my kids LOVE the screen! And that is one of the biggest reasons why I actually make my kids go play and we sign them up to play in sports leagues and attend various camps. I am a firm believer in keeping kids active and playing! For this reason I have compiled a list of the top five reasons that kids should PLAY.

One. Health. Overall, kids that play outside are physically healthier kiddos. They are running, jumping, throwing, catching, lifting, carrying, etc. All of those activities require muscles and motor skills which help prevent obesity, as well as strengthen bones and muscles. Many children now have vitamin D deficiencies and playing in the sun is an easy way to naturally build up vitamin D.

Two. Social. Unstructured play teaches kids how to share and develop positive behavioral skills. Generally speaking, they are more likely to have a greater imagination as they are being inventive, exploring, and learning about the world around them by using their own abilities. Through playing with others they are learning how to communicate and cooperate in a way that is socially acceptable. And for the parents, outside play helps reduce stress levels!

Three. Senses. Kiddos learn new things by using their senses. Just think about it for a second. A child is playing in the park and sees a dog. The kiddo typically stops to watch the dog. Many want to touch the dog. Others listen to the dog bark. That one interaction with a dog has allowed that child to learn about the world using various senses. On the other hand, those children that stay inside and watch a screen are merely using a few senses for hours. This can negatively affect the development of their perception.

Four. Attention Span. Children that regularly play outdoors are more curious and self-directed. They can stay focused on a task longer than those who do not play outdoors regularly. Studies have even shown that children diagnosed with ADHD who spend significant time outdoors exhibit fewer symptoms than the children that do not spend time outdoors.

Five. Happiness. It is a proven fact that outdoor light stimulates the pineal gland and this part of the brain is vital to keeping our immune system strong and makes us feel happier. This can improve our mood and overall happiness. And as an added bonus, those that grow up experiencing nature and more likely to grow into adults that also appreciate nature and in turn protect the environment.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
— GB Shaw

Texas Bluebonnets!

You can tell it’s spring in Texas when you the bluebonnets are lining the highways and covering the fields. Each and every year I look forward to the colorful blooms, as so do many of my clients. A few years ago I began offering Limited Edition Bluebonnet Sessions. These are simply our regular sessions with an added complimentary item and they take place in the bluebonnets. They are extremely limited!

This year I had four wonderful families that booked these sessions! They each received a 5 x 7 gallery stand as their complimentary product with their session fee.

5 x 7 gallery stand

5 x 7 gallery stand

The Hammond’s

I met William and Victoria last year at their wedding in September. It was a gorgeous wedding! When I learned that they were expecting a little boy I was incredibly happy for them! And I was honored when they booked a Limited Edition Bluebonnet Session because they wanted maternity portraits in the bluebonnets. You can read more about their session on an earlier blog post, The Miracles Grow.

hammond-maternity-session-bluebonnets-smith-family-photography

The Thompson’s

Claudia really wanted beautiful family portraits in the bluebonnets. Fortunately, we were able to do just that after a few reschedules due to the rainy weather that seemed to ALWAYS fall on the weekends. I was honestly worried all those blooms would be gone by the time the rain stopped! Their session was windy, but not rainy!

thompson-bluebonnet-session-smith-family-photography

The Foley’s

This session was unique due to all the rainy weather we’ve had this spring. Carmen wanted two sessions for her and her favorite little guy. She wanted an Easter Mini Session and a Limited Edition Bluebonnet Session. Unfortunately, we had to reschedule the Easter Mini Session because the weather was very cold on the original date and the second time around there was actually severe weather that caused significant damage to her property and her community. At that time we decided to just do the Limited Edition Bluebonnet Session and add a few Easter images in since they wouldn’t be back to her in time for Easter. By this time there were hardly any bluebonnets remaining sadly.

foley-bluebonnet-session-smith-family-photography

The Lee’s

There was one more family that scheduled a Limited Edition Bluebonnet Session. They reside near Houston so rescheduling for another weekend was not an option. They instead asked if they could reschedule their session for a date in the summer. We’ve already been planning their session in a new location and I’m looking forward to working with them!

The Miracles Grow

September 1, 2018 William and Victoria said, “I Do,” in front of many family and friends at their wedding in Temple, Texas. You can read more about their love story and their wedding day here.

Fast forward to March 30, 2019, another special day involving their family and friends. This time they are gathering to celebrate William, Victoria and Baby Liam with a baby shower in Groesbeck, Texas. But first, they had their maternity portrait session scheduled for that morning. And the weather was calling for showers and strong winds as a cold front was projected to move into the area. But you wouldn’t know that based on the sky that particular morning.

As I was driving to the location for the session in Personville, Texas, I kept thinking to myself that the day was absolutely beautiful and William and Victoria would have a perfect conditions for their session. The sky was cloudy, but the clouds were just thin enough to filter the warm morning sunlight. No sweater or jacket was needed. The wind was not blowing. Simply put, it was a picture perfect spring day in Texas!

hammond-maternity-session-smith-family-photography

I believe all babies are miracles. William and Victoria’s life is a daily reminder of a miracle. When William was 22 years old he had a brain aneurysm. He was in a coma for two weeks. Slowly he began to heal and nearly one month later he spoke for the first time…on Victoria’s birthday. And one week later he was discharged to a rehabilitation center where he had to learn how to walk, talk, write and eat again after the aneurysm and strokes from the brain injury. William is now working on earning a degree through Texas State Technical College.

Nearly four years later, William and Victoria are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their baby boy. A miracle.

hammond-maternity-smith-family-photography-2

From looking at these maternity portraits you wouldn’t believe it, but that storm they were predicting rolled through about five minutes after their session ended. It began to rain and the cold wind blew in! Miraculously, we were able to finish their session before the storm hit!

Miracles. They surround us each and every day. When I’m around William and Victoria I am reminded of that. And for that, I am thankful.

If you don’t believe in miracles, perhaps you’ve forgotten you are one.
— unknown

Over the Years: The Leonardelli Family

The other day I was talking to my favorite person (my grandma Jo) on the phone and we ended up talking about the career paths we chose.  She was a nurse for most of her adult working years and I was an elementary school teacher for five years until I decided to resign and begin my photography business.  She told me there have been times when she thought about doing something besides nursing, but looking back now she couldn't imagine doing anything else.  She LOVED nursing!  Then she asked me what I career I would have chosen if I could start all over again.  As I thought, I honestly couldn't think of any other career choices I would have made.  

I loved teaching, but I didn't love the confines of teaching.  I loved that no two days were ever the same.  I loved having to adapt and be flexible throughout the day as different situations arose.  I loved the students and coworkers.  But I did not love the schedule.  I felt very confined.  When I decided to resign I immediately felt a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could now breathe freely.  

I absolutely LOVE being a photographer!  I love nearly everything about it - besides paying taxes.  I love making my own schedule.  I love creating wall art for families that will be treasured for years to come.  I love it when clients tell me that my work captures so many emotions.  But most of all I love meeting new people and connecting with them!  I love to capture them year after year and create beautiful wall art that showcases their family!  For this reason I have decided to begin a series which focuses on my loyal clients over the years titled, "Over the Years."

The Leondardelli Family

Meet the Leondardelli Family! I first met this amazing family in 2015 at a bluebonnet family session. As a matter of fact, one of my FAVORITE bluebonnet images was taken at this very session!

2015 - One of my favorite bluebonnet photos!

2015 - One of my favorite bluebonnet photos!

This particular session was important because some of their children were going to be moving away to live with their mother in another state. It was so wonderful spending time with all of them together!

In 2016 I was fortunate yet once again to spend time with them during another family session! I absolutely love Jessica’s vision that she brings to each of their sessions and I welcome the challenge of making those visions a reality for her images.

2016 - Family Session

2016 - Family Session

In 2017, Jessica and Matt asked me to photograph their upcoming wedding in August. I was honored, but shocked! I was shocked because I totally thought they were already married! I was so excited for the both of them, as well as their entire family. I just knew the wedding would be phenomenal and I was looking forward to it! You can read more about their stunning wedding on the blog.

2017 - Jessica’s Bridal Session

2017 - Jessica’s Bridal Session

2017 - Leonardelli Wedding Slideshow

In 2018, I was asked to photograph two of their children for very special events. Their daughter, Jordan, had an upcoming quincenara and their son, Jose, would be starting his senior year of high school. Two big milestones for the Leonardelli family! It was so much fun spending time with each of them on a more personal level.

2018 - Jordan’s Quincenara Session

2018 - Jordan’s Quincenara Session

2018 - Jose’s Senior Session

2018 - Jose’s Senior Session

Amazing at how much their family has changed over the past 3 years and I can’t wait to see what 2019 and beyond has in store for them!

The most precious moments of your life deserve to be captured.
— unknown

THIS IS THE SEVENTH FEATURED FAMILY IN THE "OVER THE YEARS" SERIES.  CHECK OUT OUR OTHER FEATURED FAMILIES!

  1. The Wier Family

  2. The Lopez Family

  3. Tana and Layla

  4. The Dale Family

  5. The Craven Family

  6. The Carpenter Family

Over the Years: The Carpenter Family

The other day I was talking to my favorite person (my grandma Jo) on the phone and we ended up talking about the career paths we chose.  She was a nurse for most of her adult working years and I was an elementary school teacher for five years until I decided to resign and begin my photography business.  She told me there have been times when she thought about doing something besides nursing, but looking back now she couldn't imagine doing anything else.  She LOVED nursing!  Then she asked me what I career I would have chosen if I could start all over again.  As I thought, I honestly couldn't think of any other career choices I would have made.  

I loved teaching, but I didn't love the confines of teaching.  I loved that no two days were ever the same.  I loved having to adapt and be flexible throughout the day as different situations arose.  I loved the students and coworkers.  But I did not love the schedule.  I felt very confined.  When I decided to resign I immediately felt a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could now breathe freely.  

I absolutely LOVE being a photographer!  I love nearly everything about it - besides paying taxes.  I love making my own schedule.  I love creating wall art for families that will be treasured for years to come.  I love it when clients tell me that my work captures so many emotions.  But most of all I love meeting new people and connecting with them!  I love to capture them year after year and create beautiful wall art that showcases their family!  For this reason I have decided to begin a series which focuses on my loyal clients over the years titled, "Over the Years."

THE CARPENTER FAMILY

Meet the Carpenter Family! I first met the Carpenter Family several years ago even before I began my photography business. Our kiddos went to the same school and played on some of the same sports teams. After a few years I opened Smith Family Photography and the Carpenter Family hired me to take newborn portraits for their first grandchild, Saira. I have taken many photos of Saira over the years, as well as family portraits for them last year…and just this week I was blessed to photograph the newest member of the Carpenter Family, Kelsie’s baby boy named David. The Carpenter Family is truly a blessing in my life! They are full of laughs and honestly genuine. I absolutely love capturing their changing family! As you can tell, families change - quickly! Children grow up way too fast and before you know it they are graduating and have kiddos of their own. The moments fly by and I am so incredibly happy that the Carpenter Family invests in family portraits and understands that they are priceless heirlooms for future generations. I am looking forward to many more sessions with this amazing family!

June 2015 - Saira is born!

June 2015 - Saira is born!

December 2015 - Saira is 6 months old!

December 2015 - Saira is 6 months old!

March 2016 - Spring Session!

March 2016 - Spring Session!

May 2016 - Kelsie is graduating!

May 2016 - Kelsie is graduating!

June 2016 - Saira is ONE!

June 2016 - Saira is ONE!

December 2016 - Christmas!

December 2016 - Christmas!

April 2018 - Family Session

April 2018 - Family Session

March 2019 - Meet David, Kelsie’s baby!

March 2019 - Meet David, Kelsie’s baby!

The days go by with so many little things that don’t seem to matter until they’re no longer there and suddenly, they’re all that ever mattered.
— Brian Andreas

THIS IS THE SIXTH FEATURED FAMILY IN THE "OVER THE YEARS" SERIES.  CHECK OUT OUR OTHER FEATURED FAMILIES!

  1. The Wier Family

  2. The Lopez Family

  3. Tana and Layla

  4. The Dale Family

  5. The Craven Family

Making a Difference, One Photo at a Time

You won’t change the world by saving an animal, but you will change that animal’s world.
— unknown

I spent the first couple of years in business trying to get up and running…just trying to survive! There’s always room for improvement and things constantly change, but as the business changed and things changed at home with two of my kiddos graduating with another graduating this year, I now had a tad more time on my hands. I felt compelled to volunteer my time to help those in need. I just wasn’t sure where to start. Then one day I was scrolling through Facebook and someone tagged me in a post. It was an post from LARAS House Shelter and they were looking for photographers to help them put a calendar together that would be used as a fundraiser for the shelter. I applied and they asked me to assist them with the calendar.

Pups used in the calendar shoot for LARAS House.

Pups used in the calendar shoot for LARAS House.

I had such a great time working with the pets and the staff at the shelter that we began going out there for fun as a family. My kids would interact and play with the cats and dogs and I would work with Kathy taking photographs of the pets. It was a great experience! Such a great experience in fact that my kids ended up falling absolutely head over heels in love with a cat named Mrs. Claus. We adopted her the day after Christmas and she has been a huge hit with our family.

Gracie with Mrs. Claus, the cat we adopted from LARAS House.

Gracie with Mrs. Claus, the cat we adopted from LARAS House.

About a month later I was contacted by the shelter and I was asked if I’d like to become a volunteer and continue taking photographs of the pets, as well as enter the cats onto sites such as Petfinder and Adopt A Pet so they’d be seen by potential adoptive families. Of course I said that I’d love to volunteer! It has been great for my kids to interact with the pets and how valuable it is to volunteer. It has been great to the pets to receive extra attention when we come and also to have photographs taken of them happy and playing. These photographs which show them happy do make a difference when potential owners see them.

Nettie was one of the first cats that I photographed. She was adopted a short time later.

Nettie was one of the first cats that I photographed. She was adopted a short time later.

If you’d like to get involved and help the pets at LARAS House, you can do so in many ways! You do not have to adopt to help the pets. You can foster or just volunteer. These pets need so much love and attention! You can also donate with monetary donations or by providing supplies. The easiest way that won’t cost you anything extra is by simply choosing LARAS House when you shop on AmazonSmile. They will donate up to 0.5% of your eligible purchases!

Meet Rosie

Check out these awesome pets I’ve worked with so far!

Cats

Dogs

Introducing *NEW* Mini Session Contests!

New for 2019…MINI SESSION CONTESTS!

I believe in offering low cost themed mini sessions for families. Most families don’t want to spend a lot of money on a full session for any holiday. They just want a few fun portraits of their kiddos to document the holiday. That’s it. Most of these portraits won’t even make it to the wall! They will be shared on social media and then placed in a file on the computer. Sad, but true.

With that being said, I LOVE these fun, quick sessions! Kids are excited and the parents are so relaxed just watching their kids have fun since it’s not a super formal session. Kids can be…KIDS!

This year I have decided to change some things up with regards to mini sessions. I want to foster a lasting relationship with the participating families and I feel like the old way of doing things was not matching my brand. Each mini session is just that, a super quick session, BUT there is a new twist! These are now mini session contests - which just means that one image from each mini session will be entered in our monthly contest. The family with the most “votes” will win a complimentary 8x10 print, as well as a complimentary mini session for the next theme.

Here is the schedule of the mini session contests for 2019:

  • February - Valentine’s Day

  • April - Easter

  • May - Seniors

  • June - Couples

  • July - 4th of July

  • August - Back to School

  • September - Pet

  • October - Halloween

  • December - Christmas

Each ten minute mini session will include your choice of two digital images and one photo from your session will be entered into the contest. The sessions are only $45 if you book during our special pre-booking events or $50 if you book during a regular booking event.

If you’d like to be added to our email list so you’ll be notified of our pre-booking events, just fill out the form below and I’ll get you added.

Name *
Name

S'mores

I still remember the day I met you and smile because it was the best day of my life.
— unknown

Brad and Oryenne…best friends throughout high school in Riesel, Texas. They were voted as the most musical guy and gal their senior year. They were also announced as the Band Beau and Sweetheart their senior year. When everyone looked at them they knew they’d be a couple. Someday. In fact, many believed they were actually a couple already!

2017 - Senior Session between best friends

2017 - Senior Session between best friends

During this best friend senior session of their senior year of high school, they found “their tree” on the banks of the Navasota River in Limestone County. You can read more about the “Friendship Tree” here. A year and a half later, they’d meet again at “their tree” on their way to another photo session together.

2018 - A quick stop to visit “their tree” on their way to their camping themed session

2018 - A quick stop to visit “their tree” on their way to their camping themed session

In late 2018, Brad and Oryenne are finally an “official” couple. They wanted a fun session together as a couple so I suggested a camping themed session centered around them making S’mores. They only had one request. They wanted to actually make REAL S’mores with a REAL fire. Easy enough!

Life is S’more fun with you!
— Anna Johnson Smith

Mike and Mysti: A Wedding Proposal

For years now I have wanted to photograph a wedding proposal! And I finally had the opportunity to do so on December 22, 2018 in Mexia, Texas.

Any day spent with you is my favorite day. So, today is my new favorite day.
— unknown

One day I decided to post a simple ad on Facebook that stated I was looking for someone that would be proposing to the love of their life within the coming weeks. Within a very short amount of time I was contacted by one of my favorite client’s that informed me that her daughter’s boyfriend was going to propose to her daughter on December 22nd and asked if she could pass my information along to him. Of course I said she could! A few minutes went by and my phone rang. It was Mike, the daughter’s boyfriend! He was very interested in working together to create a unforgettable proposal that would be recorded in still photographs, as well as captured on video. Through these still photographs and video clips a slideshow would be produced for them to keep forever.

Mike informed me that Mysti really wanted professional portraits taken of them with holiday decorations in the background. That is where I came into the plan! We had a beautiful location chosen by the river, however Mysti had to work late that day. In fact, she didn’t get off work until nearly 5:30! By the time she would be ready for a portrait session it would be pitch black outside. We decided the river would not work due to the absence of light and decided to find a location in downtown Mexia. As I drove around I discovered a street that was super cute and had holiday decorations, with one storefront (Sassy Sisters, a boutique store) particularly decorated AND they even had a porch light turned on! I snapped a few photos and sent them to Mike for his approval. He thought it was perfect and then brought the ring to me so I could put it in it’s secret place.

The secret place was on a Christmas tree in plain sight near a peppermint ornament that was hanging on the tree. I figured Mysti wouldn’t notice it since she would be facing my way for the portraits and she was a tad irritated having to work so late. I made sure to snap a photo with the ring behind them in plain sight and then it was time to put the plan into place. I looked at Mike and he slowly stepped away from Mysti and got down on one knee as she was turning around to look at the tree after I asked her, “What is that in the tree?” She didn’t notice the ring right away and needed a bit more pointing from me, but she still did not notice Mike on his knee either! Suddenly, she noticed the ring and was so elated!

This experience was so much fun! In fact, I think I’m addicted! I’m a sucker for a good love story and Mike and Mysti’s love story is definitely one of my all time favorites!

Special thanks to Sassy Sisters Boutique in downtown Mexia, Texas for the use of your front porch and holiday decorations!

Christmas Mini Session Recap

This past year we introduced holiday themed mini sessions. We offered Easter, Fourth of July and Christmas themed mini sessions and I met a lot of wonderful families at each one. In fact, we enjoyed ourselves so much that we plan on offering many more in 2019! We still plan on keeping them short and sweet, but the products offered for each theme will vary. And that excites me so much more than handing over digital images since I am a product based photography studio!

We are still in the planning stages, however I’m not only thinking themed holiday sessions, but what about a session for your favorite fur baby? The sky is the limit and I’m ready for an even better year in 2019!

We wrapped up 2018 with two days of Christmas Mini Sessions, one day took place in Waco and the other day took place in Groesbeck. Both were beautiful locations!

Here’s to an even bigger and better 2019!

We’d love to hear your ideas for 2019! Please feel free to drop us a comment and let us know what you’d love to see offered!

Over the Years: The Craven Family

The other day I was talking to my favorite person (my grandma Jo) on the phone and we ended up talking about the career paths we chose.  She was a nurse for most of her adult working years and I was an elementary school teacher for five years until I decided to resign and begin my photography business.  She told me there have been times when she thought about doing something besides nursing, but looking back now she couldn't imagine doing anything else.  She LOVED nursing!  Then she asked me what I career I would have chosen if I could start all over again.  As I thought, I honestly couldn't think of any other career choices I would have made.  

I loved teaching, but I didn't love the confines of teaching.  I loved that no two days were ever the same.  I loved having to adapt and be flexible throughout the day as different situations arose.  I loved the students and coworkers.  But I did not love the schedule.  I felt very confined.  When I decided to resign I immediately felt a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could now breathe freely.  

I absolutely LOVE being a photographer!  I love nearly everything about it - besides paying taxes.  I love making my own schedule.  I love creating wall art for families that will be treasured for years to come.  I love it when clients tell me that my work captures so many emotions.  But most of all I love meeting new people and connecting with them!  I love to capture them year after year and create beautiful wall art that showcases their family!  For this reason I have decided to begin a series which focuses on my loyal clients over the years titled, "Over the Years."

The Craven Family

Meet the Craven Family! I first met the Craven Family several years ago when I transferred two of my children to Hallsburg ISD. My son was in fifth grade with their son. Those two became friends and through that friendship our families became friends. We have LOTS in common since we both have large families! From the very first year of being in business, the Craven Family has been photographed by me. They have participated in several of our mini sessions as well as family sessions. Each session is full of laughs and no matter how long we go without seeing each other, the conversation will always pick up right where it left off. They have been there several times when I needed help and I am blessed to call them my friends. Through the years our kids have grown and although that makes me a little sad, I look forward to their future.

2014 - Fall Mini Session

2014 - Fall Mini Session

2014 - Halloween Mini Session (We STILL laugh about this photo!)

2014 - Halloween Mini Session (We STILL laugh about this photo!)

2014 - Candy Cane Mini Session

2014 - Candy Cane Mini Session

2014 - Family Session

2014 - Family Session

2015 - Senior Session

2015 - Senior Session

2015 - Valentine Mini Session

2015 - Valentine Mini Session

2015 - Easter Mini Session

2015 - Easter Mini Session

2015 - Fairy Imagination Session

2015 - Fairy Imagination Session

2015 - Fall Mini Session

2015 - Fall Mini Session

2016 - Family Session

2016 - Family Session

2017 - Senior Session

2017 - Senior Session

2018 - Family Session

2018 - Family Session

TWELVE sessions, y’all! The Craven Family has supported me from the very beginning and for that I am very grateful. Friends such as the Craven’s are a rare gift and I am blessed that I can honestly call them “my friends.”

Always take note of who supports you genuinely. Those are the people you should always keep around.
— unknown

THIS IS THE FIFTH FEATURED FAMILY IN THE "OVER THE YEARS" SERIES.  CHECK OUT OUR OTHER FEATURED FAMILIES!

  1. The Wier Family

  2. The Lopez Family

  3. Tana and Layla

  4. The Dale Family

Over the Years: The Dale Family

The other day I was talking to my favorite person (my grandma Jo) on the phone and we ended up talking about the career paths we chose.  She was a nurse for most of her adult working years and I was an elementary school teacher for five years until I decided to resign and begin my photography business.  She told me there have been times when she thought about doing something besides nursing, but looking back now she couldn't imagine doing anything else.  She LOVED nursing!  Then she asked me what I career I would have chosen if I could start all over again.  As I thought, I honestly couldn't think of any other career choices I would have made.  

I loved teaching, but I didn't love the confines of teaching.  I loved that no two days were ever the same.  I loved having to adapt and be flexible throughout the day as different situations arose.  I loved the students and coworkers.  But I did not love the schedule.  I felt very confined.  When I decided to resign I immediately felt a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could now breathe freely.  

I absolutely LOVE being a photographer!  I love nearly everything about it - besides paying taxes.  I love making my own schedule.  I love creating wall art for families that will be treasured for years to come.  I love it when clients tell me that my work captures so many emotions.  But most of all I love meeting new people and connecting with them!  I love to capture them year after year and create beautiful wall art that showcases their family!  For this reason I have decided to begin a series which focuses on my loyal clients over the years titled, "Over the Years."

The Dale Family

Meet the Dale Family! This family is filled with so much love…so much in fact that they have fostered several kiddos over the past few years. The Dale Family is truly generous and always willing to lend a helping hand whenever needed. In fact, several years ago my vehicle broke down on the way to drop my kids off at school. Michelle saw us and stopped to ask how she could help. She actually took our kids to school for us so we could figure out to do with our vehicle! I photographed their family for the first time in 2014 at Miss Nellie’s Pretty Place in Cameron Park, Waco, Texas. Since that time I have photographed members of their family four more times and I have photographed seven of their foster children as well. Looking back at the photographs from their sessions over the years it is hard to believe how much their children have grown! I absolutely love being their family photographer! I love meeting the little ones that they foster and treat as their own! I look forward to many more years of capturing the memories of their family, as well as the little ones that feel safe and secure during their time with the Dale Family!

2014 - Family Session at Miss Nellie’s Pretty Place. Look how little those two kiddos are!

2014 - Family Session at Miss Nellie’s Pretty Place. Look how little those two kiddos are!

2016 - Imagination Session. A young Ashley - she has always been super animated and creative!

2016 - Imagination Session. A young Ashley - she has always been super animated and creative!

2017 - Family Session. And just like that the Dale Family grew by one!

2017 - Family Session. And just like that the Dale Family grew by one!

2017 - One Year/Cake Smash Combo Session. Caleb is ONE!

2017 - One Year/Cake Smash Combo Session. Caleb is ONE!

2018 - Family Session. Look how much those adorable kids have grown! This session was bittersweet. It was the first “family session” they had in which they included their foster children (not pictured).

2018 - Family Session. Look how much those adorable kids have grown! This session was bittersweet. It was the first “family session” they had in which they included their foster children (not pictured).

The Dale Family are among my favorite clients! The are genuinely caring and absolutely selfless. Within a few months after their latest family session, the foster children they included in the session would leave their home. This was incredibly tough for the entire family, including the foster children. On the very day the foster children left, they were asked to take new foster children into their home. On this particular day Michelle wrote, “The need never stops. There's always another kid that needs you, that needs a safe place to land for a little while. Today my heart hurts for the ones that just left us, but I also wonder what happened to the ones that needed someone yesterday. We didn't have it to give and I pray that someone else was ready and willing.” And THAT is why they are among my favorite clients.

Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.
— unknown

THIS IS THE FOURTH FEATURED FAMILY IN THE "OVER THE YEARS" SERIES.  CHECK OUT OUR OTHER FEATURED FAMILIES!

  1. The Wier Family

  2. The Lopez Family

  3. Tana and Layla

Over the Years: Tana and Layla

The other day I was talking to my favorite person (my grandma Jo) on the phone and we ended up talking about the career paths we chose.  She was a nurse for most of her adult working years and I was an elementary school teacher for five years until I decided to resign and begin my photography business.  She told me there have been times when she thought about doing something besides nursing, but looking back now she couldn't imagine doing anything else.  She LOVED nursing!  Then she asked me what I career I would have chosen if I could start all over again.  As I thought, I honestly couldn't think of any other career choices I would have made.  

I loved teaching, but I didn't love the confines of teaching.  I loved that no two days were ever the same.  I loved having to adapt and be flexible throughout the day as different situations arose.  I loved the students and coworkers.  But I did not love the schedule.  I felt very confined.  When I decided to resign I immediately felt a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could now breathe freely.  

I absolutely LOVE being a photographer!  I love nearly everything about it - besides paying taxes.  I love making my own schedule.  I love creating wall art for families that will be treasured for years to come.  I love it when clients tell me that my work captures so many emotions.  But most of all I love meeting new people and connecting with them!  I love to capture them year after year and create beautiful wall art that showcases their family!  For this reason I have decided to begin a series which focuses on my loyal clients over the years titled, "Over the Years."

TANA AND LAYLA

Meet Tana and Layla, the gorgeous mother and daughter that I am lucky enough to photograph every year since 2015! At that time Layla was so little, just two years old! She was so full of energy and really made us work for each and every shot! Since that first session at Tonkawa Falls in 2015, I have captured their incredible bond in four other sessions. Layla is now five and has the same beautiful smile as she did when I first met her! This year’s session was a little different for them. And Layla was a little jealous. This year’s session included Tana’s fiance, Guthrie, in some of the poses. The two will soon be married and Layla is still trying to learn how to share her mommy. I absolutely love being their family photographer and I am looking forward to many more years of capturing their memories!

2015 - Family Session. An adorable two year old, Layla.

2015 - Family Session. An adorable two year old, Layla.

2016 - Family Session. This session was so sweet! Like momma, like daughter…absolutely stunning!

2016 - Family Session. This session was so sweet! Like momma, like daughter…absolutely stunning!

2017 - Fairytale Session. Layla had a birthday approaching and it was going to be Princess and the Frog (her favorite) themed so she had a session where she dressed up and posed like Tiana.

2017 - Fairytale Session. Layla had a birthday approaching and it was going to be Princess and the Frog (her favorite) themed so she had a session where she dressed up and posed like Tiana.

2017 - Family Session. For this session they ventured out to Limestone County for a rustic session at the family ranch.

2017 - Family Session. For this session they ventured out to Limestone County for a rustic session at the family ranch.

2018 - Family/Engagement Session. Layla is a little jealous about having to share her mom nowadays!

2018 - Family/Engagement Session. Layla is a little jealous about having to share her mom nowadays!

Tana and Layla (and Guthrie) are the PERFECT clients! They value photography and understand the importance of capturing the memories of their family over the years. We are comfortable around each other, which really shines in their images. Days after this session I saw a job posting Tana posted and at that time I had two kids (adult kids) looking for jobs. I sent them her way and she put them to work! I can’t thank her enough for that. Seriously!

Let what you love be what you do.
— Rumi

THIS IS THE THIRD FEATURED FAMILY IN THE "OVER THE YEARS" SERIES.  CHECK OUT OUR OTHER FEATURED FAMILIES!

  1. The Wier Family

  2. The Lopez Family

Over the Years: The Lopez Family

The other day I was talking to my favorite person (my grandma Jo) on the phone and we ended up talking about the career paths we chose.  She was a nurse for most of her adult working years and I was an elementary school teacher for five years until I decided to resign and begin my photography business.  She told me there have been times when she thought about doing something besides nursing, but looking back now she couldn't imagine doing anything else.  She LOVED nursing!  Then she asked me what I career I would have chosen if I could start all over again.  As I thought, I honestly couldn't think of any other career choices I would have made.  

I loved teaching, but I didn't love the confines of teaching.  I loved that no two days were ever the same.  I loved having to adapt and be flexible throughout the day as different situations arose.  I loved the students and coworkers.  But I did not love the schedule.  I felt very confined.  When I decided to resign I immediately felt a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could now breathe freely.  

I absolutely LOVE being a photographer!  I love nearly everything about it - besides paying taxes.  I love making my own schedule.  I love creating wall art for families that will be treasured for years to come.  I love it when clients tell me that my work captures so many emotions.  But most of all I love meeting new people and connecting with them!  I love to capture them year after year and create beautiful wall art that showcases their family!  For this reason I have decided to begin a series which focuses on my loyal clients over the years titled, "Over the Years."  

The Lopez Family

Meet the Lopez Family! I first met the Lopez family in 2016 when they booked a spring session when the bluebonnets were blooming close to the Easter holiday. Even though this session took place over two years ago, I remember it vividly. They are an incredibly beautiful family - inside and out! I learned an important lesson during this session. Be prepared for what could happen if you pose a family under a tree. One word. Birds! After that incident I thought for sure they’d never book another session with me again, but I’m grateful they did! In fact, they book at least one session each year! And I love each and every one of them! I love capturing these kids grow. I love capturing their changing personalities. I am beyond blessed that we crossed paths and I have been chosen to be their family photographer. Here’s to many more years of capturing memories!

2016 - Family Session. I learned two important things this session. Be mindful of birds in trees. And little Ricky LOVES his baby blanket!

2016 - Family Session. I learned two important things this session. Be mindful of birds in trees. And little Ricky LOVES his baby blanket!

2017 - Family Session. I learned that some days, two year old boys do NOT want anything to do with family portraits!

2017 - Family Session. I learned that some days, two year old boys do NOT want anything to do with family portraits!

2018 - Family Session. Seriously?!? Look at how gorgeous these kiddos are!

2018 - Family Session. Seriously?!? Look at how gorgeous these kiddos are!

And they already have another session booked for December! Can’t wait to see them again!

For the past few years now I have captured memories for the Lopez Family. And each session has been full of laughs. I love having such loyal clients that are comfortable with me and likewise I am comfortable with them. When we meet for our session we can pick up the conversation exactly where we left off the year before. We have built a relationship that is priceless.

The only way to do great work is to love what you do.
— Steve Jobs

This is the second featured family in the "Over the Years" series.  Check out our other featured families!

  1. The Wier Family