Member, Professional Photographers of America

Shout Out!

As a business owner I constantly rely on other businesses to help me provide the best service to my wonderful clients.  One such business owner that deserves a shout out is Angela Bailey.  She is the owner of Angela Bailey Photography in Waco, Texas.

Angela has been assisting me capture memories at weddings for the past year and I has agreed to continue to do so for 2018.  There are so many benefits to having two photographers at a wedding!  And I am reminded of that each and every time I upload her images after a wedding.  Her images add variety to mine in so many ways which enhances the collection that I give my clients.

Without further ado, meet Angela Bailey!

Hello! Nice to meet ya’ll! I’m Angela Bailey – lover of all things pretty, clearance shopping, and diet coke. I was born and raised in Waco, Texas. I moved away for a short time, but came back as fast as I could! I love (LOVE) Waco and living in Texas. I’m a wife and mom to our two sweet girls. They are my everything. I started taking photos to document the faces and events of those I love. That hobby turned into a business, and now I’m 110% hooked. Family photography is my passion – every family has a story to tell and my job is to help you tell that story. Nothing makes me happier than catching that perfect moment on camera. I love my clients and the trust they put in me. I take photos in Waco and all surrounding areas. I’m here to help with family photography, newborn sessions, headshots, weddings, and everything in-between. I look forward to working with you!

 Angela Bailey

Angela Bailey

I Loved Her First

I loved her first
I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she’d find you someday
But it’s still hard to give her away
I loved her first
— Heartland

February 10th was a HUGE day for our young daughter, Lily.  She was going on a date with her dad!  They were going to the Daddy Daughter Dance in Riesel, Texas.  

Lily was so excited when she heard about this date!  She had to go dress shopping, shoe shopping, and we couldn't forget the accessories!  Her older sister curled her hair before the big day and then we went to Groesbeck for a photoshoot.  It was truly a magical day for Lily!  And the best part was that she got to spend the entire night dancing with her dad, being treated just like a princess - just like we hope she's treated in the future.

Although the dance was a lot of fun, I feel that it taught Lily some important lessons about life and relationships.  


Fathers have a HUGE impact on the lives of their daughter.  The role of the father is one of the most important in a daughter's life.  A father can set the standard for how a girl should be treated - as someone special.  Little girls seek approval and attention a lot!  If she is getting that from her father, it satisfies her needs.  If she does not receive that attention, she might seek it elsewhere.  Fathers often have busy lives due to work demands.  When a father gets to spend quality time with his daughter she is being told she is important and that her dad is making time for her and only her.  She is special and should be treated as such.

I do understand that not every little girl has a father in her life.  But every little girl can have a positive role model in their life to show them that they are special.

Creating Unique Valentine Cards

Young kids LOVE Valentine's Day!  They LOVE giving their friends and teachers cards and candy!  They LOVE their classroom party!  

As a busy mom it's super easy to buy a box of cards from the store and call it good.  But it's just so...boring.  Those cards seriously just hold the candy and will find their way to the trash can by the end of the day.  Why not make some super cute cards for your kiddos to exchange - cards that are truly unique?

I am going to share four super simple personalized Valentine card ideas that your kids' friends and teachers will LOVE!  

1.  Cut out some pink and red hearts from construction paper and tie them to strings.  Then tie the strings of hearts to an umbrella.  Add as many hearts as you'd like!  Take a photo with your kid holding the umbrella.

vday idea 1.jpg

2.  Buy a pair of inexpensive heart shaped sunglasses and have your child be a sassy model wearing them!

vday idea 2.jpg

3.  Buy inexpensive paper hearts that look like a doilies.  Then write each friends or teachers name on a heart.  This Valentine takes a little more time to prepare since they are even more personalized for each individual.

vday idea 3.jpg

4.  Make a mustache out of brown or black construction paper and take it to a popsicle stick or straw.  Your child can hold the mustache up to their face as if they are in a photo booth.

vday idea 4.jpg

With each of the above ideas you can use a free photo editing software, such as BeFunky, to add text, frames, graphics, etc to your personalized Valentine cards.  

I'd love you to share any ideas you've tried for creating personalized Valentine Day cards!

These ideas were found at:

Love Bugs!

Who wants adorable photographs on their little ones on fun days, such as Valentine's, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, and Christmas?  Nearly all moms want these photographs, but they don't want to spend a lot of money on them since they are just for keepsakes.  Typically, these photographs are shared online rather than printed and placed on walls.  For this reason I am offering Themed Holiday Mini Sessions at a low price with digital images rather than prints.  

These sessions are only $40 and include your choice of three digital images.  

We had a lot of fun at our Valentine's Day Mini Sessions and we're looking forward to our upcoming Easter Mini Sessions in March!  

 These two cousins had a great time at their Valentine Mini Session!

These two cousins had a great time at their Valentine Mini Session!

Easter sessions are next and will be held outdoors with a bunny!  Pre-booking will begin on February 13th for our newsletter subscribers (so watch your email) and booking for non-newsletter subscribers will begin on February 16th.

Themed Mini Sessions Are Here!

Every year I am asked if I am going to offer holiday themed mini sessions.  I have never offered them before because I always offered holiday themed photographs at My Little Play Place for their themed parties.  However, now that My Little Play Place has closed, I feel that themed mini sessions now have a place with Smith Family Photography.

As a mother, I want photographs of my children with the various holiday themes, but I don't want a full session with lots of prints.  I just want a few prints or digital images to share online.  So that is what I decided to offer.  These themed mini sessions will include three digital images for $40 with the option to purchase additional images or prints.  We will offer the following themed mini sessions:  Valentine's Day, Easter, 4th of July, and Christmas.  We will also be offering free Halloween photos to existing clients at our FIRST ever Client Appreciation Party!

Mini Session Schedule

  • Valentine's Day :  January 20 & 21
  • Easter:  March 17 & 18
  • Fourth of July:  June 23 & 24
  • Halloween:  October 20 (existing clients only)
  • Christmas:  December 1 & 2

Booking will begin approximately 30 days prior to the event, with a special pre-booking for newsletter subscribers followed by an invitation for non-newsletter subscribers to book.

If you'd like to sign up for our newsletter and be the first to hear about special events such as these, please send me your name and email address and ask to subscribe.  


On December 19th I took photographs of kiddos and their families with Santa at a Christmas event for the HOPES program.  The smiles were contagious to say the least!  What is HOPES you might ask?

 Kenda with the HOPES program taking time to visit with Santa at the HOPES Christmas Event.

Kenda with the HOPES program taking time to visit with Santa at the HOPES Christmas Event.

The HOPES program serves families in McLennan County that have kids ranging in ages from prenatal through Kindergarten. It is a free program where the parent educators come along and support the parents with their child/children. The visits usually consist of a parent child interaction that involves items that they most likely have at their home already, child development, and overall family well being.

Children that participate in the program are better prepared for kindergarten. Once a month HOPES hosts a group connection which allows the families to come together and participate in family activities or where the parents can learn from each other.

The December group connection was focused around Christmas. We were lucky enough to have volunteers to play Santa (Richard Aleman) and take pictures (Smith Family Photography). Kenda stated that she "felt that pictures with Santa were a big deal since the majority of our families do not have the opportunity to get them done." HOPES will be printing the pictures and giving them to the families. Each child was also able to receive a gift through generous donations. HOPES was able to serve 26 families that night (almost 90 kids)!

One huge component of the program is literacy and providing board books to the families, both English and Spanish. Many of the families now read books as a family, which is something that was not done before being a part of the HOPES Program.

The HOPES program is always accepting board book donations in both English and Spanish if you'd like to donate.  If you'd like to donate books, please call Kenda at 254-732-0482.


With You I Am

When I meet a couple at their engagement session I learn about them - and how they feel about each other - just by watching them interact with one another.  I absolutely LOVE this part of my job!  

When I met Tobie and Chad in November of 2017, I could instantly tell how they felt about one another.  They genuinely love each other on a deep level.  They have the type of love that is full of compassion, support, respect, and encouragement.  When I asked Tobie to tell me their "story," she explained this very type of love.


Tobie and Chad met unexpectedly in July of 2014.  Tobie was a single mother of eight month old twins, a full time college student, and she also worked part time.  One day her storage building was vandalized and had her belongings stolen.  

During this time, Chad was an investigator for the county.  Any guesses how Chad and Tobie met??  You're right!  He picked up Tobie's case!  He worked really hard to recover her belongings.  Even after most of her belongings were recovered and the case was closed, Chad continued to text Tobie.  She was focused on her twins and school at this time in her life so she had to blow Chad off several times.  However, Chad was not going to give up on Tobie.  He continued to reach out to Tobie and after a month, they finally decided to go on a date to the Prairie Hill Drag Races.  They had an amazing first date and were inseparable from that time forward.  Maybe it was love at first sight?  Fate?  Call it what you want, but they were meant to find each other.  

After six short months Chad decided to apply for the DPS Academy and Tobie applied for the OTA school.  They knew that realistically only one of them would be chosen to advance their careers at this time since only one thousand applicants are chosen for the DPS Academy and only two hundred applicants are chosen for OTA school.  Any guesses who was chosen?? 


Before Chad left to the academy, he purchased a home for them, even though he would not be living there while he was at the academy.  About one year later, Chad graduated the academy with Tobie in the audience supporting him.  Earlier that day she took her first final in the OTA program and drove straight to Austin to watch Chad graduate.  

After graduation from the academy, Chad was stationed in Corpus Christi for a year and a half.  Tobie and the kids saw him once a month.  Tobie says that their relationship had never been so strong.  They never doubted their future together even though it was difficult living apart.  

In April of 2017 Chad was stationed in Limestone County and Tobie graduated one month later in May.  They purchased their dream home soon after and have plenty of room for their cattle, which is a big part of Chad's family.  

Chad popped FINALLY popped the question in September of 2017 on a family outing.  They loaded up the truck and went to the river on Chad's grandparent's land.  Tobie and Chad sat on the tailgate as they watched the alligator gar with the noise of the kids playing in the background.  Tobie was taking photos of the kids as they were playing.  During this time Chad says, "Let daddy take picture with y'all," and told Tobie to turn around and count to three before she turned around to take his photo with the kids.  When she turned around, Chad was on one knee with the kids posing behind him.  Tobie caught the exact moment!  

 Chad's proposal to Tobie 

Chad's proposal to Tobie 

It was far from what most people would consider perfect, but it was better than Tobie could have ever imagined.  They were at their special spot with their three most prized possessions.  Tobie told me that they are "far from perfect, but God blessed the broken road."  She explained how they have had to endure several struggles to become what they are today.  They appreciate one another because they know what it's like to not be appreciated.  Together they make a family...a whole family.  They have kept the Lord their number one throughout all their trials and tribulations and thank him every single day for their life together.

 Chad and Tobie are engaged!

Chad and Tobie are engaged!

A Letter to All the Beautiful Mothers

I absolutely LOVE photographing people!  I love watching the way they interact with one another.  I love watching them be genuine with one another.  I love it when I can SEE how they FEEL about one another!  However, there is one thing that I do not like and that is when I hear beautiful mothers talking about how they don't like certain parts of their bodies.  You are BEAUTIFUL!

Women, sometimes men, but mainly women, put so much time and effort into planning their photo session.  They have to go shopping for the perfect outfits, bribing kiddos to cooperate (and husbands too), making sure everyone stays in a great mood, choosing a location that fits with what you have in mind for your wall art, etc.  I notice, believe me...I NOTICE.  I love that you put so much time and effort into your session before it even began!  I want nothing more than you to absolutely LOVE and CHERISH your photographs because they will last a lifetime and the generations to come will LOVE and CHERISH them as well.  

Photography is the memory of our lives.
— unknown

But... many BEAUTIFUL mothers ask me to...

  • "Can you make me look skinnier?"
  • "Please hide me somewhere behind my kids."
  • "I just want photographs of my kids.  I need to lose 10 pounds before I am in them."
  • "Can I see what the photo looks like on your camera?  I hate the way I look."
  • "Photoshop me as much as possible!"

...the list goes on and on.  And it makes me sad.  This makes me sad because you can't even recognize your own beauty.  I'm not talking about being the perfect size, with perfect makeup and hair, and gorgeous clothing.  I'm talking about YOU!  I'm talking about the way you LOVE your family.  I'm talking about the way your family LOVES you.  The way your family looks at you is breathtaking!  

Life is not perfect.  It isn't meant to be.  Life is messy, yet beautiful.  Life is meant to be enjoyed.  Life is meant to be lived in moments.  Moments are meant to be photographed and documented.  

I can promise you this, I was THAT mom.  I have TONS of photographs of my kids, but where am I in these photographs??  I was hiding.  Every single time the camera came out, I ran.  I needed to lose weight.  My hair wasn't fixed.  My outfit wasn't picture worthy.  But my kids...they were adorable!  And all I think when I look at those photographs is how I miss holding them in my arms, getting slobbery kisses, giggling with them as we played, and snuggling.  I can never get that time back.  I hold onto these memories, but at some point they will be lost in my mind.  Lost for no one else to SEE.  My own kids won't even SEE us interacting with one another. 

But I'm certain that IF I did allow myself to be photographed with my children, they wouldn't look at them and laugh at my hair or outfit.  I'd like to think they would cherish those photographs because they are documenting a moment in time between us...our beautiful family.

So to all the BEAUTIFUL mothers out there...BE PHOTOGRAPHED!!  As difficult as it may be, do it for your children and your grandchildren.  You won't be sorry...I promise.  

 I stepped out of my comfort zone and was photographed.  I'm not as thin as I used to be.  My hair was not perfect.  But our foreign exchange student said it best..."I will never forget that family picture."  I am glad I am in this photograph...for my memories and the memories of my family.

I stepped out of my comfort zone and was photographed.  I'm not as thin as I used to be.  My hair was not perfect.  But our foreign exchange student said it best..."I will never forget that family picture."  I am glad I am in this photograph...for my memories and the memories of my family.

Princess Storybook Sessions

Once upon a time... daughter Lily told Sadie that she was Elsa, the Ice Princess.  As I was cleaning the kitchen, listening to the girls play as they imagined they were different princesses, I suddenly had an idea!  Why not dress them up like princesses for photographs and make them a hard cover book with the images?  

I started to toss this idea around more and more throughout the summer.  I began looking at dresses.  I was convinced that the girls would love this project!  There was just one small problem.  Time.  There never seems to be enough of it when you have seven kids living in the house!  

One day, out of the blue, one of my lovely clients messaged me asking if I offered princess sessions.  Her daughter was turning four and wanted a Princess and the Frog themed birthday party so her mom thought it would be a great idea to have a special session just for the occasion.  

Immediately I said, "YES!"  This was so amazing!  I was trying to find the time to do this personal project and a client was asking me about the very same type of session!  I offered to do the session as a modeling session IF she would share the session time with Lily.  Being as sweet as she is, Tana agreed.

We met at Cameron Park with girls that looked like beautiful princesses and took lots of photographs!  They had a great time having their photographs taken like princesses, but they also enjoyed playing with each other.  

I have since decided to start offering Storybook Sessions.  These special sessions will include a Hard Cover Book of their images to cherish forever. 

...and they lived happily ever after.

Princess Storybook Session

Layla's Hard Cover Book

...and they lived HAPPILY ever after

I love weddings!  Each and every wedding I have photographed over the past three years has been completely different.  No two weddings have been the same.  The details are all different even though they might be the same in theme.  Each ceremony "feels" different.  I'm not sure how to explain this aspect of a wedding since it's just something one experiences.  Some feel more serious, while others feel more casual.  

I first met Brittany and Andrew in October of 2016 when we met in Hillsboro, Texas for their engagement session.  I knew their wedding was going to be very special based on their interactions with one another at this session.  I'll never look at a fire truck the same way again!

"Burning Love" by Elvis Presley

On October 7, 2017 I photographed the wedding of Brittany and Andrew at The Eagle Historic Warehouse in Hillsboro, Texas.  During the entire event, I couldn't help but smile.  There was so much happiness!  It just felt...different.  As the evening progressed, I had a conversation with the other photographer, Angela, and we actually discussed how HAPPY everyone was.  They smiled...a lot!  They laughed...a lot!  And they loved...a lot!  

The secret to a happy marriage is to choose LOVE everyday.
— unknown
 The bride and groom showing off their FUN personalities before their wedding!

The bride and groom showing off their FUN personalities before their wedding!

 More laughs by the happy couple!

More laughs by the happy couple!

 I absolutely LOVED the cake images!  These images sum up their relationship perfectly!  Always having fun and laughing.

I absolutely LOVED the cake images!  These images sum up their relationship perfectly!  Always having fun and laughing.

 It's official!  Game over.

It's official!  Game over.

Special thanks to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting in capturing the memories of the Raley Wedding.

Happily Every Masters


That was the catch phrase for a beautiful day in September.


On September 30, 2017 McKenzie and Harlie were married at the Thornton Rodeo Grounds in Thornton, Texas.  Everything about their wedding was GORGEOUS!  I heard SO many guests compliment her dress, which was absolutely BEAUTIFUL!   

 Harlie received so many compliments on her stunning wedding dress!

Harlie received so many compliments on her stunning wedding dress!

When I meet engaged couples I like to hear "THEIR" story - how did they meet, what was the first date, how did he propose, etc.  I first met Harlie and McKenzie at their engagement session in February of 2017.  At that moment I just knew their wedding was going to be spectacular!  They just had a chemistry together that others can see and feel.  It's difficult to explain, but can definitely be experienced.  

 Engagement Session - February 2017

Engagement Session - February 2017

At their engagement session I learned that they were high school sweethearts and both attended Groesbeck High School.  McKenzie was one grade above Harlie, but they were both in the same Spanish class while she was a freshman and he was a sophomore.  While they knew each other at this time, they weren't dating.  However, just as the summer began they did start dating.  One of their most memorable early dates was after Harlie's sister's softball game.  McKenzie picked Harlie up so they could hang out.  McKenzie was driving his 1992 Ford single cab pickup with a standard transmission.  While they were on the way back to Harlie's house, McKenzie said he wanted her to try to drive his truck.  Harlie, being the go-getter she is, jumped at the chance.  She stalled the truck about four times and blinded herself when she accidentally turned on the bright LED lights on the gear shifter!  She jumped out of the pickup and said she would never drive that truck again and they laughed the rest of the way to her house!  

Nearly six years later, McKenzie proposed to Harlie in their living room just a few days before Christmas in 2016.  It was a quiet proposal with just the two of them in the living room.  Harlie said is was sweet and romantic.  Just the two of them.  In their living room.  With their ugly oversized Christmas tree they chopped down a few days earlier.  It was definitely not the envisioned proposal (public with someone photographing the event), but it was definitely the perfect proposal!

 This Christmas tree was the perfect backdrop for the proposal!

This Christmas tree was the perfect backdrop for the proposal!

Harlie and McKenzie informed me that it was great being high school sweethearts for a lot of reasons, but mainly because they learned so much about each other through those high school years.  They never had to introduce those awkward puberty days to each other because they were experiencing them together!  They went on to say that it makes them feel accomplished in their relationship when they look back and see how far they've come in relation to all their friends' relationships that have ended.  They've made it this far because they communicate with each other.  COMMUNICATION IS KEY!  Harlie explained that McKenzie is terrible at communicating at times so she has to make sure she is asking questions and updating him throughout the day to keep the line of communication open.  

As I write this at the age of 39, Harlie's words are running through my mind, "Communication is key."  When McKenize is not communicating as well as she'd like, she picks up the slack and makes sure she takes the active role of initiating the conversation.  This is so important!  It's so easy to sit back when your partner is sitting back.  But we all know when both people in a relationship sit back and no one takes the wheel, a wreck is inevitable.  

So today I challenge you to take the active role in your relationship and COMMUNICATE!  

Special thanks to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting with capturing the memories from this special day.

We've Been Featured!


We received an awesome email a few weeks ago from, a custom card company. 

The email said, "I wanted to reach out to you because your photos are fantastic and we would love to do a post on our blog featuring you. is a custom card company that allows customers and photographers to instantly personalize everything from wedding invitations to holiday cards. We would be honored to be able to work with Smith Family Photography."

How exciting is that?!?  I replied and told them that I would love the opportunity to write a blog post for them.  It took me a few days to think about the topic.  I finally decided to write about our business and what we do to MAKE a session.  I used images from a session taken during this spring at Mother Neff State Park with an amazing family.  

I’m in love with your style, and all the moments you decided to share with us.
— Makenzie with

You can view the featured blog post on, which can be found here.  And while you're there, check out their awesome products!  You can save 20% by using the following code.


A 200 Year Old Portrait

We've all heard the saying, "A picture lasts a lifetime."  But do they really?

My grandmother's favorite hobby is genealogy.  She has binders full of family trees and old photographs.  I must admit, I find these binders fascinating!  I love looking at the old photographs.  Although they differ so much from our current photographic style, they are still full of emotion.  And I can't help but wonder if my own photographs will last that long.  

There is a lot that goes into producing a photograph that will last a lifetime, such as the quality of the paper, the ink, and the elements (humidity, sunlight, etc).  As you've heard me say before, professional labs are worth the extra cost - they are worth the investment.

One of our latest products is an Art Print.  These prints are printed on fine or linen paper.  The awesome quality of Art Prints is their longevity.  They are made to last.  They will last 200 plus years with less than 8% color fade during this time.  Ah-mazing!  

And now you can try one for FREE!  After you have booked five sessions, you will receive a coupon good for one complimentary 11x14 Art Print from your next session.  I can't wait for you to experience them for yourself!  They truly are an investment for your family's memories.

free art print postcard 4x6.jpg

why, Why, WHY?

Beware.  This post contains a rant.

Digitals versus Prints.  That is the debate among many photographers.  Each has their own business model and beliefs about what a photographer provides their clients.  I personally choose to offer both, prints and digital images, however I specialize in offering a selection of professionally printed wall art as opposed to a disc of images.

I have this belief for several reasons, which I have discussed in another blog.  You can read more about those beliefs here.  But this post is not about my beliefs regarding this matter.  

I know why some clients choose digital images.  They like having the ability to print the images as they wish.  Others like to have a hard copy for safe keeping.  I completely understand both of those reasons.  However, I hear stories from other photographers about clients completely editing the images they've received from a photographer and/or slapping Instagram filters on them.  I do not understand this at all.  Why hire a photographer if you're just going to edit the images yourself?  

We don't hire a dentist to clean our teeth to just go home and clean them ourselves.

We don't hire a hair stylist to cut our hair just to go home and cut our own hair.

We don't hire a mechanic to change our car oil just to go home and change the oil again.

The list goes on and on...

So why do some hire a photographer just to go home and edit their images after a photographer has already done this?  

Most of the time this is actually illegal per the copyright terms within a photographers contract.  A photographer also has a certain style with regards to their editing - they only produce a certain type of photograph.  They are typically hired for this particular style.  When someone alters this photograph, they are altering their style.  Therefore the photograph no longer accurately represents their work as an artist.  

That is all.  End of rant :)  

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this matter.


Crock Pot Salsa Chicken Saved My Day

We have six kiddos living in our house.  24 hours a day.  7 days a week.  365 days a year.  So many look at us like we are CRAZY!  But the crazy thing is that I love having a large family.  Not just love it, but LOVE it!  If I could make those capital letters in LOVE even larger, I totally would.  

When May 2017 rolled around I began to panic because two of my kids were seniors and would be graduating at the end of the month.  I flew into a bit of an "empty nest" fear.  I know this made no rational sense since I still had four kids at the house, but it is what it is.  I thought the oldest two would leave and never look back so what's a mom to do besides sign up to be a host mom for a foreign exchange student.  

Fast forward to today, mid-September, and we now have SEVEN kids living in our house.  My six children (because my graduating boys did not leave after all) plus an awesome foreign exchange student.  Needless to say, my fear of having an "empty nest" is gone.  

Even though the empty nest never came, I am still dealing with restructuring my days since they kids are in school and I'm working from home, without constant interruptions from the kids.  I've been reading a lot about how to be productive with my workday and I've learned a lot!  This week has been super productive and I am loving my workdays!

I began by breaking my days into 5 chunks of time.  First and foremost, I know I wanted to make sure I was not working when my family was home and interacting with one another.  So from 3 pm to 8 pm Monday through Friday I am completely present with them.  Driving them crazy I'm sure.  

Beyond that, I needed to break my work into chunks of time.  This is the schedule that I found that has worked well for me with my tasks:

  • 8 -10 am:  housework
  • 10 am to noon:  office work (emails, blogs, receipts, etc)
  • noon to 1/2 pm:  edit sessions
  • 3 to 8 pm:  family time
  • 8 - 11 pm:  edit sessions

If I finish a task early, I can go onto the next task or take a break.  But I can NOT go over the allotted time for a task!  My husband is having a difficult time with this schedule because he'll ask me to do something and I tell him that I will do it the next day during office hours.  I have to do this schedule to avoid burnout and to keep my stress to a minimum.  I've found that I am not productive when I bounce from task to task.  

I start each week with 5 post-it notes in my notebook.  Each one is labeled a day of the week.  I write office tasks on each one for the corresponding day.

Another lifesaver has been the CROCK POT!  Seriously.  It is AH-MAZING!  You just throw the ingredients in, turn it on, and it's ready to eat in 6-8 hours.  I made the BEST chicken tacos the other day (the kids ate it and didn't complain so it passed the test) and thought I'd share the recipe :)

Easy Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

Serves 10 (perfect for big families...or families with boys that eat a lot)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

32 ounces salsa

1 can corn, drained

1 can black beans, drained

flour tortillas

sour cream






1.  Put first four ingredients into a crock pot.

2.  Cook on low 6-8 hours.

3.  30-60 minutes prior to serving, remove chicken, shred and return to the crock pot.

4.  Add desired condiments.

This recipe was found at

If you try this recipe, I'd love to know what your family thought of it.  Just drop a comment below!

Jessica and Matt's Love Story

Jessica and Matt...soul mates.  

Some people believe in love at first sight.  Others believe in the idea of soul mates.  Jessica and Matt are soul mates.

 Jessica and Matt

Jessica and Matt

I've photographed their family on multiple occasions over the past few years and when they asked me to photograph their wedding on August 12, 2017 I was honored...and surprised!  Surprised because I honestly thought they were already married!  

Jessica and Matt's love story began with an online dating service, Christian Mingle.  Matt's profile said he lived in Waco, Texas and he caught Jessica's eye.  She's been hurt in the past so she was cautiously, yet optimistically, looking for her Prince Charming.  They began talking on the phone and she realized that he did not live in Waco after all, he was actually living in Wisconsin where he was born and raised.  Jessica admits that at that moment she thought to herself, "Great, I finally meet someone that seems nice and normal and I've actually been catfished."  But Matt was not being deceitful.  In fact, he said he lived in Waco because he was moving to Waco in the near future as he already put in a job transfer to the Waco area.  He originally wanted to move to Waco to be closer to his two daughters.  Meeting Jessica was just one more reason to make the move.

Before Matt was transferred to Waco, he spoke to Jessica daily for several months.  Both of them explain their relationship as a "good friendship."  

Matt eventually moved to Waco and Jessica helped him get situated into his new place.  She helped him unpack and get him settled into his duplex.  Jessica even showed Matt around Waco.  She took the time out of her day to make sure he knew how to get to his office, as well as other places he would have to go to.  Matt admits that he couldn't believe how thoughtful she was during this time.  He found himself not being able to take his eyes off of her.  She was absolutely beautiful and he was mesmerized by her gorgeous smile.  He knew he was starting to fall in love.

Over time, Matt earned Jessica's trust and friendship.  Eventually he also earned her heart.

As time went on, Matt knew he wanted to ask Jessica for her hand in marriage.  He asked her three children for their blessing and with their approval, he began planning.  During their family vacation in Wisconsin, Matt would put his plan into action.  He gathered all the children onto one side of his parents house and he got down on one knee.  They all called for Jessica and when she walked to the side of the house, she said, "YES!"  

Jessica and Matt decided to take the engagement slow.  Neither one saw a need to rush into marriage.  That is until Jessica became ill.  She was hospitalized and Matt was her angel through the entire ordeal.  She realized that Matt was her Prince Charming and she didn't want to wait any longer to become Mrs. Leonardelli.  They began planning their perfect wedding.

The details of the wedding were absolutely stunning!  Everything was so thought out.  Jessica planned out everything meticulously and credits Google and Pinterest for all the ideas.  Everything worked with the venue, Castle Heights Bijoux Events Center, perfectly!

Jessica's favorite part of their wedding day was having her dad there to walk her down the aisle and hearing the vows Matt wrote to her, as well as saying her vows to Matt.  Matt's favorite part of their wedding day was also the vows.  

Quotes From the Bride and Groom

Ladies, wear waterproof mascara! You WILL cry!
— Mrs. Jessica Leonardelli
There’s a belief that soul mates are tied together by a cosmic string. One way or another, they will always find each other. From Wisconsin to Texas, our string pulled us together.
— Mr. Matt Leonardelli

Special thanks to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting in capturing memories at Jessica and Matt's wedding on August 12, 2017.

Wedding Day Photography Timeline

We have several upcoming weddings and with that comes many questions from the bride concerning the timeline for certain photographs during the day.  So here it is....

How much time do we need for wedding day photographs?  Here is a rough guide to answer this question. 

  • Getting Ready:  30-45 minutes with both the guys and the girls.  I always stay with the bride and the second shooter always goes with the guys.  Some choose to skip photographing this time, but you can really get some great shots with lots of emotion!  
  • Bride and Bridesmainds/Groom and Groomsmen:  30 minutes, before the ceremony if possible.  Again, this is just one chunk of time since there are two photographers.  This time is great for getting many of the wedding party shots out of the way so guests don't have so long to wait for your arrival to the reception.  
  • First Look:  30 minutes with just the bride and groom, typically right before the ceremony begins.  The first look is completely optional.  Some couples like to keep things traditional and not see each other before the ceremony.  Either way is perfectly's YOUR day!  If you do decide on a first look, I highly recommend keeping this to just the couple.  Use this time to enjoy each other before the wedding ceremony.  The actual first look only takes about 10 minutes so you'll have plenty of time to have other photographs taken of you two as a couple.
  • Whole Wedding Party:  30 minutes if you've already taken the bride/bridesmaids and groom/groomsmen photographs earlier.  If not, you should plan for about 45 minutes here.  Again, this varies based on the number in the wedding party as well.
  • Immediate Family:  15 minutes, but this can vary based on how many groups you want to have photographed.  It typically takes one and a half minutes per small group and three minutes per large group.
  • Details:  Detail shots are taken throughout the day so we don't actually "plan" for those.  We just work those in as we can.  Often times we do these if we finish early with the getting ready photographs or even during the reception.

Now knowing this, when should you ask us to arrive?  I suggest you figure out what time the ceremony will start and then work your way through the suggested timeline above to ensure you have enough time for us to capture all the moments you'd like photographed on your wedding day.  Most of our clients opt for a "fake send off."  They are able to have the send off photographed, but then come back into the reception to continue enjoying the company of their guests.  This saves them money by not having a photographer stay the entire length of the reception, but ensuring that they capture all the big events from the day.  

Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.
— John De Paola
Going To The Chapel Of Love By: The Dixie Cups



Let's Make a Deal!

Smith Family Photography values the feedback of their clients.  That is why we are asking for Google reviews.  Your reviews help potential clients find a photographer that meets their needs.  We've been thinking of ways to thank our clients for leaving feedback via Google and it suddenly hit me!  

After your session, you will be emailed asking you to consider leaving feedback.  In exchange for your feedback, we will make you a slideshow of your favorite images from your session (a $20 value), which can easily be shared via social media.  This is a great way to share your images with your family and friends!  

We also have a reward system for referrals.  You will earn a $10 credit for every referral that books a session with us and the person that you referred will save 10% off their session fee.  You can read more about our reward system here.  

What do you we have a deal?

Example of a slideshow you would receive after your session in exchange for your Google review.

Dear Senior, Be Photographed!

During my latest senior session I heard her tell her mother that she did not want to have senior photographs taken.  This immediately made me think about my senior year of high school and how I did not want senior photographs taken.  When I was a senior I just felt like the photographs were a waste of my time.  Just seemed pointless.  Until later in life that is!  Now I wish I had them taken!  And that is exactly what I told Becca at her session.  To those seniors that think they don't want to "waste their time" on senior photographs, I promise day you'll wish you had them.  And then it's too late.

1.  Celebrate!  Your senior year is BIG!  You are leaving childhood and entering adulthood.  You have worked your entire life for this moment.  You have slowly developed into your own self...a unique and amazing individual.  Celebrate this turning point in your life by having yourself photographed.

2.  Express Yourself!  By this point in your life you've found hobbies and other areas of interest that consume a great deal of your time.  Take advantage of senior photographs to showcase these interests by bringing uniforms or props to your session...or even using a location that is special to you.  Make the session all about you!

3.  Memories!  I'm sure you've heard it time and time again, but the years really do fly by.  Right now you're a senior in high school getting ready to graduate.  But before you know it, you're 28 attending your 10 year high school reunion and all you have are the goofy yearbook photos.  Your kids will want to see you...your personality...when you were their age.  I don't see many personalities in the staged senior portraits for the yearbook.

4.  Prime Time!  Everyone looks amazing when they're 18.  So young and full of energy!  You're also more than likely (not all the time) in the best shape of your life.  Document this!  

5.  Gifts!  Use your senior photographs as gifts for friends and family.  We offer albums, books, wall art, cards,  and prints just to name a few of the items.  When my own kids graduated high school last year, we sent everyone that gave them a gift a print for them to keep as a keepsake.  It is full of meaning...and memories.

BE PHOTOGRAPHED! It's better to be photographed than wishing you'd been photographed.


Simple Guide for No Regrets

If your walls could talk, what stories would they tell or would they be silent?

Over the past three years I have heard the same regrets over and over...  

  • "I have so many photographs of my oldest child, but I hardly have any of my younger children."
  • "I wish I would have taken more family photographs that included the parents and grandparents."
  • "I'll just wait until I lose some weight."

Procrastinating is easy.  The truth is that life doesn't pause for us to lose weight or give us extra time to take family portraits.  We are only given so much time.  

I've been thrilled with the recent increase of families that are including grandparents in their family sessions!  I hope this trend continues because I truly believe these photographs will be cherished for YEARS to come.

I've also made it a point to have parents get in a few of the poses with their children, as well as have parents take a few photographs with one another.  Many couples haven't had their photograph taken since their wedding!  

Below is a guide so that there are no regrets later.  It's not a program.  There's no contract to sign.  Just have your family photographed!

One day, you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.
— Paulo Coelho