Member, Professional Photographers of America

The Perfect Blend

Marriage brought us together, but being a family is just what’s in our hearts.
— unknown

September 21st, 2019 was a beautiful Texas summer day that was absolutely perfect for a beautiful wedding at Tucker Hall in Waco, Texas! The venue was decorated with bright colors that included fuchsia, teal and coral. On this day Mackenzie and David became Mr. and Mrs. Carrizales.

The details of the wedding were absolutely stunning!

The details of the wedding were absolutely stunning!

Mackenzie and David grew up knowing each other as family friends. Years later they reconnected through social media and the rest is history. Their first date was filled with great conversation and laughter as the two caught up with one another at the winery. The two continued to get to know each other over time and soon David decided to get down on one knee and ask for Mackenzie’s hand in marriage after one of their many romantic nights.

Mackenzie and David both have children from previous relationships and now they are an official blended family. It was amazing to watch them interact with each other throughout the evening. They all got along extremely well shared many laughs between all six of them! When you watch them you can’t help but smile right along with them. They are all so carefree, loving and genuine.

A look at the bride and groom (and their children) getting ready for their big day!

A look at the bride and groom (and their children) getting ready for their big day!

Mackenzie and David are surrounded by LOTS of family and friends! In fact, Mackenzie couldn’t choose just one Matron of Honor! She had two plus one Maid of Honor. David has a large family and one challenge that they warned me about was getting all of them into one photograph. But we did it!

After the ceremony and the portraits it was time for the first dances. This included Mackenzie and David of course, as well as David with his mother. This also included Mackenzie and her son - which was full of surprises!

Mother and Son Dance. Their dance started off as an emotional dance, but then suddenly turned into them dancing to songs like “The Git Up,” “Superman” and everything in between!

Mother and Son Dance. Their dance started off as an emotional dance, but then suddenly turned into them dancing to songs like “The Git Up,” “Superman” and everything in between!

Mackenzie and David, I wish you and your family the very best - you all definitely deserve nothing but the best! “Love one another. Forgive each other. Pray together. Bear each others burdens. Count your blessings. Never give up.” - unknown

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VENDOR CREDITS

Venue: Tucker Hall, Waco, Texas

Coordinator: Mackenzie and Artesia Duncan

Florist: Rosetree Floral Design

Cake: HEB

Catering: Rump’s Catering

DJ: Justin Estrada

Makeup and Hair: D. Weathers, D’s Twisted Roots

Bridal Gown: custom made from Ebay and David’s Bridal

Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal

Tuxedos: purchased at various locations

Officiant: Chad Mcpherson

Invitations: Etsy

Special thanks to Kaitlyn Pagel with Kaitlyn Pagel Photography for assisting me in capturing the memories for Mackenzie and David!

Mom, What's for Dinner?

“Mom, what’s for dinner?”

The four little words that I despise! I won’t lie, I do not like to cook. I am not good at it, nor do I care to be good at it. But apparently it’s important for my family to eat. Eating out is very expensive, especially when you have a family of six kids! That means I must cook. Ugh.

Over the years (what honestly feels like a thousand years in cooking time) I have learned a few shortcuts. And I LOVE cooking shortcuts! If you’re like me and despise cooking, I hope these shortcuts help you as much as they have helped me.

Shortcut #1 - Plan a Menu

Planning a menu makes me only think about cooking dinner ONCE a week rather than seven days a week. This makes the other six days much more pleasurable! I actually bought a magnetic menu board that is on our refrigerator so every single person in the house can easily answer the dreaded mom question of “What’s for dinner?” And just like that, the kids stopped asking me this question at noon every single day of every single week of every single month of every single year.

Shortcut #2 - Online Grocery Shopping

Online grocery shopping is an absolute lifesaver! Seriously. If you haven’t tried it, you are missing out. I didn’t jump on this trend as soon as it emerged. I like being in control and felt like the shoppers wouldn’t select the correct items. One day I decided to try it and that is the day my grocery shopping habits changed forever! Not only am I saving lots of time, but I am saving lots of money since I’m no longer roaming around the store adding things to my cart that I don’t need, like cookies. I am also saving my sanity. With six kids, that means I never go to the grocery store alone. And when kids go to the grocery store, they always ask for a gazillion things they don’t need.

Shortcut #3 - Instapot

I purchased our Instapot earlier this year when I found a great sale that I couldn’t pass up. I have been hearing about how great these magical cookers are, but was honestly scared of it blowing up and burning my family with scalding food. A tad irrational I know, but those scary stories get posted on Facebook and they must be true, right? But the price was right, so why not give it a try! Let me tell you, that thing is one fantastic invention! It saves so much time with cooking and cleanup and everything we have made in it has been delicious. Just last night I made a tender roast in just 90 minutes with literally three minute of prep time which consisted of removing the packaging from the roast and opening a few cans. No other pots or pans were used either which made clean up a breeze!

Recipe: Lazy Mom’s Roast

Buy a roast, any cut you’d like. Buy two or three cans of Campbell’s Beefy Mushroom Soup. Remove the packaging from the roast and put the roast into the Instapot. Open the cans of soup and pour them over the roast. Use either two or three cans, enough to cover most of the roast. You can add some water if you’d like, but I prefer it with just soup. Cook in the Instapot for 90 minutes. Let the steam release naturally. Enjoy with mashed potatoes and your favorite vegetables.

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Community Spotlight: Meet Kathy!

There are so many people that surround each of us every single day that give us 110%. Just think for a few minutes. Who do you interact with day after day and each time you are treated very well…consistently? Who do you see doing their job well day in and day out without expecting anything in return? These people often want no recognition and often times they don’t feel like they’re doing anything spectacular, they’re simply doing what they love doing without thinking about it. These genuine people within our communities need to be recognized. They can be recognized with a simple gesture, such as thank you or you’re appreciated.

I have decided to recognize these people within our communities by rewarding them with a free photo session documenting them doing what they do and a mini session for their family as well. I will need help finding these people within our communities and I hope people with nominate deserving community members using our nomination form. One awesome community member will be featured each quarter.

Meet Kathy!

I first met Kathy late last year when I was working with LARAS House Shelter in Mexia, Texas. I was asked to be the photographer for the calendar they were putting together as a fundraiser. During this time I realized that I really enjoyed working with the animals, as well as working with Kathy. She LOVES animals and it shows! She is one of the most genuine people that I have ever met. She is extremely kind and generous and very honest. She is not afraid to speak her mind. I have never met anyone quite like her and she definitely needs to be recognized for not only being a wonderful human being, but for all the hard work she puts into each and every dog at LARAS House. She does so much more than feed, water and clean. As she completes these tasks she is also socializing with the dogs and getting to know each of them.

Meet Kathy!

Meet Kathy!

An Interview with Kathy

What would you name the autobiography of your life? Shit Happens, Life Goes On

If you could learn anything, what would it be? dog grooming

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time? What’s free time??

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose? Dr. Dolittle

What was the last experience that made you a stronger person? working for the shelter

What is something you learned in the last week? not to be so trusting

What is your favorite activity? horseback riding

What chore do you absolutely hate doing? dishes

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet? the Dog Whisperer

What three traits define you? kind, helpful and giving

What is your favorite quote or saying? Everything happens for a reason.

What is your favorite part about working at your current place of employment? working with dogs

What is your biggest challenge at your current place of employment? people

What is your nickname? Red

What one thing do you cherish most? my critters

What’s your favorite TV show or movie? Vet Life

Thank you, Kathy, for all you do! You are truly one in a million and you are appreciated!

I Like Your Last Name

Dates got you to a place where you wanted to marry each other. If you want to stay married, then keep dating your spouse. ❤️
— Andy Traub

If you’ve had a family session with Smith Family Photography you know that I ALWAYS try to get a few shots in of mom and dad together, with no children. Why? Well, most couples don’t have their portraits taken. They have family portraits taken and generally they focus on the children. After all, the children are drastically changing year after year and parents want that documented that they often simply forget about THEIR portrait.

When I ask parents if they’d like a portrait together they usually look at each other with a, “What to you think?,” look and they both shrug their shoulders. So I make them pose together and try my best to keep the kids occupied for a few seconds to get a few poses in. Afterwards I ask them how long it’s been since they’ve had their photo taken together they almost always tell me that they haven’t had one professionally taken together since their wedding. SINCE THEIR WEDDING!! Definitely time to have that updated!

For this reason I decided to offer Date Night Sessions. We began offering these sessions in July of 2019 and quickly booked three of the four sessions for the year!

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The first couple that took advantage of this offer was the Schmedthorst Family. They were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary this past summer and really wanted portraits of just the two of them to showcases the love they have for one another. Twenty-five years…that is amazing!

I have had many sessions with the Schmedthorst Family over the years. They take advantage of our mini sessions throughout the year to document the growth and changes of their children so I was extremely happy when they decided to book a session just for the two of them to celebrate such an amazing day.


At this time there is still one remaining Date Night Session. If you’re interested in learning more, please send me a message and we’ll get your Date Night Session on the calendar.

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.

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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

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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!

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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 :)

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Groesbeck_15U_2019

Serendipity

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!