Member, Professional Photographers of America

waco texas

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

This Is It

Keith and Karen said, "I do," on June 16th, 2018 at the First Baptist Church in West, Texas with a reception immediately following the ceremony at Cottonwood Hall, also in West, Texas.  The church was absolutely beautiful, complete with stained glass windows!  And Cottonwood Hall was the perfect venue for the reception with a large dance floor and bar.  

Keith and Karen met each other at the beach while they were both on vacation.  They were introduced by a mutual friend, Tina (also the matron of honor).  Neither one was looking for a relationship, but they were encouraged to meet on a friend level rather than a relationship level.  They ended up exchanging numbers and reluctantly arranged a first date hiking and searching for fossils in a creek bed.  It was such an adventure...literally!  They encountered a snake and a hornet's nest complete with four stings on that first date!  Keith asked Karen to go on a second date.  This time they would go...fishin'.  They've been seeking adventures, fishing, and just enjoying spending time with each other every since.  

Exactly one year later, Keith proposed while they were on a family vacation at the exact same beach where they first met each other.  They were surrounded by all of Keith's family.  Keith and Karen were officially ENGAGED!!

smith-family-photography-texas-sobota-gerik-engagement

Keith and Karen love spending time outdoors together, going on adventures and fishing.  Their honeymoon was actually a fishing trip to Rockport, Texas where they caught lots of trout and red fish.  That is a trip that definitely fits their personalities!  After all, Keith's ring is actually made with fishing line!

Keith's ring is actually made with fishing line!

Keith's ring is actually made with fishing line!

As we photographed the wedding and captured special moments between them we quickly noticed that they were always surrounded by family.  They have such an amazing support system with wonderful role models!  The way that Keith and Karen look at each other is something from a fairy tale.  It is difficult to describe, but can be felt by everyone around them.  They have so much love and respect for one another.  

Sobota Gerik Wedding - Reception (413).jpg

June 16th was not just Keith and Karen's wedding day.  June 16th was also Keith's parents wedding day 45 years earlier!  I was not aware of this until the ceremony when Tommy and Sara were asked to stand by Keith and Karen.  

Tommy and Sara being recognized for 45 years of marriage.

Tommy and Sara being recognized for 45 years of marriage.

Forty-five years!  That is such a commitment of love!  Tommy later told me that they have been through it all - richer and poorer, sickness and health, better and worse - and every single bit of it was (and continues to be) worth it.  Such an inspiration!  Keith and Karen even included them in the reception with a cake to celebrate their anniversary, the original cake topper from their wedding cake 45 years ago, a jar for anniversary wishes, and a special dance for them.  I have to admit, it made me tear up!  

Tommy and Sara celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary.

Tommy and Sara celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary.

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.
— Desmond Tutu
smith-family-photography-sobota-gerik-wedding

Keith and Karen, as I captured special memories of your beautiful wedding day I was deeply touched by the fact that you have an AMAZING family that surrounds you both and supports you both.  While this was beautifully amazing, what was even more amazing was that you both appreciated this rather than taking it for granted.  You truly do have something special.  

A special THANK YOU to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting me in capturing the beautiful memories from Keith and Karen's wedding day!  

Vendors

Ceremony Venue:  First Baptist Church, West

Reception Venue:  Cottonwood Hall, West

Coordinator:  Ann Marie Dennis

Florist:  Michele’s house of Flowers, West

Cake Artist: Jennifer Sulak Gerik, Hillsboro 

Band/DJ: DJ Michael G, West 

Make-Up Artist:  Brenna (personal friend), Houston 

Hair Artist:  Basy from Salon Posh, Waco

Bridesmaids Dresses:  David’s Bridals 

Bridal Gown:  JoAnns Bridals 

Tuxes:  Squires 

Officiant:  Shea Gutierrez, Elm Mott

Fishin'

Karen and Keith were now engaged with a wedding date set in June of 2018!  Such an exciting time in both of their lives!  There are TONS of details to attend to - venue, dress, bridal party, food, drinks, flowers, shoes, cake, photographer (that's where I come in) - the list goes on and on it seems.  

One day Karen was talking to a good friend of mine and she mentioned her need for a photographer for the upcoming wedding.  My friend referred her to me and gave her my contact information.  I LOVE referrals!!  She contacted me and soon after I was hired.  Yay!!

I actually met Karen and Keith in March at their engagement session that was included in their wedding package.  They were so much fun to be around!  You can see the genuine love they have for one another, which just makes you want to be around them.  She informed me that they had some ideas about certain poses, or themes if you will.  They are very active in the outdoors and LOVE fishing together so they did want to incorporate fishing into the session somehow.  

karen_and_keith_engagement_smith_family_photography

Keith and Karen met at the beach, where they were encouraged to meet and exchange numbers.  Reluctantly they did meet and arranged a first date hiking at Keith's cousin's house where they looked for fossils in the creek bed.  It was such an adventure...literally!  They encountered a snake and a hornet's nest complete with four stings on that first date!  Keith asked Karen to go on a second date.  This time they would go...fishin'.  They've been seeking adventures, fishing, and just enjoying spending time with each other every since.

Keith romantically proposed one year later at the same beach where they first met each other.  They will say, "I Do," in June and I am beyond excited for them!  

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
wedding_castle_heights_bijoux_event_center_smith_family_photography

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

The First Look

Love is when you look into someone’s eyes and see everything you need.
— unknown

A wedding day can be described as beautiful, timeless, romantic, fun, exciting, precious, emotional, traditional, and memorable.  Some might add that a wedding day can be chaotic, stressed, busy, frantic, and nerve-wracking.  And for that very reason, some couples choose to partake in a First Look Photograph Session either before their wedding day or on the day of their wedding.  

On October 1, 2016 I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding of Kenley Crowe and Joanna Richardson at Common Grounds in Waco, Texas.  They opted for the First Look Session before their wedding...and it was an amazing experience!  Seeing the look on both of their faces as the anticipation built as Joanna slowly walked to meet Kenley was priceless - almost as priceless as seeing the look on his face when he saw Joanna in her beautiful wedding dress for the very first time.  So much emotion.  It was just those two...at that moment...on a day when so many others would be around them on their special day.  

908A5442 edit.jpg

Some might say that a First Look Session ruins the anticipation of the groom seeing the bride for the first time as she's walking down the aisle.  However, I can attest that this is not the case.  Even if the groom sees the bride at a First Look Session, he is still overcome with emotions as he watches his bride walk down the aisle on her father's arm.

I decided to compile a list of the five reasons couples would choose a First Look Session.  Keep in mind, these are just a few of the reasons why some choose this type of session.  Ultimately, each couple knows what they want on their wedding day.

1.  Convenience and Time.  Traditional weddings usually do the bridal party photos, as well as bride and groom photos, right after the ceremony.  They are often rushed as they don't want to keep their guests waiting too long to begin the reception.  The First Look Session allows the bridal photos to be taken before the ceremony so guests do not have to wait for the bridal party to arrive at the reception.

2.  Alone Time.  Wedding days are filled with friends and family members surrounding the bride and groom.  The First Look Session gives the bride and groom a small amount of time to just be with each other before the ceremony begins. 

3.  Reception.  First Look Sessions allow the wedding to run smoothly from the ceremony to the reception.  There is not any downtime due to bridal photos.  This is more pleasant for guests.  Traditional weddings typically have guests waiting an hour or so while the bride and groom are having bridal portraits taken.  

4.  Better Photos.  As a photographer, I feel that First Look Sessions allow me to spend more time with the bridal party.  Therefore, the photos are not as rushed which in turn makes for better portraits.  

5.  Family and Friends.  The First Look Session allows the bridal party to spend more time with family and friends during the reception since they aren't missing out on this precious time after the ceremony taking bridal photos.  

I'd love to hear from you!  What are some other pros of having a First Look Session?

- Special thanks to Kaitlynn Phillips with Kaitlynn Phillips Photography for assisting with the Crowe-Richardson Wedding -

Big Families Are My THANG!

My family can be described in many ways, but the adjective that is most often used when describing my family is...BIG!  As I've mentioned before, my husband and I have a "his, hers, and mine" blended family that is sprinkled with a couple additional kids.  The grand total for kids that we have in our family is NINE!  Yes, you read that right....we have NINE kids between us.  

People ask me all the time if we are going to have any more children.  The answer is not as simple as a yes or no.  I can tell you that I will personally not give birth to any more children :)  But there is always the possibility of fostering children with the hopes of adopting them one day.  

Our family minus one :) 

Our family minus one :) 

While I love my big family, one thing about big families is a huge pet peeve of mine and that is that everywhere you go, people have their hand out for additional "fees."  After my husband and I married in June of 2011, we wanted to have family portraits taken.  We checked with a few photographers and they had very reasonable prices - until I mentioned the number of children we had.  At that time we only had six children and they were wanting to charge us for every child beyond two.  So...that meant we were going to pay FOUR additional "people fees!"  Suddenly their prices no longer seemed to be reasonable.  Luckily we have had some great friends that dabbled in photography and they were more than willing to take our family portraits without charging us extra for being a large family.

This is the very reason that our pricing structure is the way it is.  It allows for a family, large or small, to pay one set session fee.  This even applies to extended family.  I have several sessions each year which consist of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, etc. and they just pay one session fee.  Each family can then order the portraits they want directly from the gallery.  It is very affordable for all families and we have a great time making memories in front of the camera.  

If you are interested in a large family portrait session, give us a call or drop us a line and we would love to talk to you!

5 Tips for the Perfect Backyard Wedding

Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting times in a person's life.  You are planning the day that you commit to sharing your life with another person forever, as well as planning the day that your friends and family will be celebrating this momentous day with you.  Traditional weddings can be rather costly, which make a backyard wedding an ideal choice for those couples that are looking for a venue that is more intimate, unique, and memorable.  

I recently photographed a wedding, a backyard wedding, of Kia and Madison Deems.  Their wedding was absolutely beautiful!  And as I work through the photographs of their special day, I began thinking about five tips for the perfect backyard wedding.

1.  Location!  Let's face it, traditional venues can be very expensive!  Backyard weddings take this expense away since the bride and groom typically use a backyard that belongs to a family member or friend.  When choosing a backyard for your wedding, consider the location.  What type of location or setting are you going for?  Trees?  Rocks?  Flowers?  Waterfront?  

Kia and Madison chose a location on the banks of the Brazos River in Waco, Texas for their backyard wedding.  Photo credit:  Amber Payne for Smith Family Photography

Kia and Madison chose a location on the banks of the Brazos River in Waco, Texas for their backyard wedding.  Photo credit:  Amber Payne for Smith Family Photography

2.  Bugs!  If you are planning a backyard wedding, you must take bugs into consideration - especially in Texas!  You want your guests to be comfortable and enjoy themselves at your celebration, not spend the evening swatting at mosquitoes.  

Kia and Madison were extra prepared and offered their guests sunscreen as well as bug spray.  Photo credit:  Anna Johnson-Smith for Smith Family Photography

Kia and Madison were extra prepared and offered their guests sunscreen as well as bug spray.  Photo credit:  Anna Johnson-Smith for Smith Family Photography

3.  Space.  When planning your backyard wedding, you must consider the amount of space available for guests.  You don't want to invite so many people that you run out of room for your guests.  Obviously, the larger the backyard is, the more guests you can invite.  Often times, couples choose a backyard wedding to keep the special day small and intimate with those closest to them.  

This backyard is very large, which allowed Kia and Madison to designate areas for different parts of their big day.  There was a setup for the ceremony and after the ceremony, everyone gathered at the nearby tables, patio, and house for the reception.  Photo credit:  Anna Johnson-Smith for Smith Family Photography

This backyard is very large, which allowed Kia and Madison to designate areas for different parts of their big day.  There was a setup for the ceremony and after the ceremony, everyone gathered at the nearby tables, patio, and house for the reception.  Photo credit:  Anna Johnson-Smith for Smith Family Photography

backyard_wedding_setup_smith_family_photography_waco

4.  Lighting.  Backyard weddings can be very dark if the reception spills on over into the evening hours.  For that it is necessary to have adequate, yet romantic, lighting so the guests can mingle with the bride, groom, and other guests.  There are so many creative and unique lighting ideas for backyard weddings!

backyard_wedding_hanging_jar_lights_smith_family_photography_waco
backyard_wedding_candles_in_jars_smith_family_photoraphy_texas
backyard_wedding_candles_for_lights_smith_family_photography_waco
Kia and Madison used several different types of lights to create a romantic mood for their wedding reception.  My favorite was Madison carrying a lantern to the boat dock to light the path for him and his beautiful bride, Kia, so they could ride a boat down the Brazos River.  Photo credit:  Amber Payne for Smith Family Photography

Kia and Madison used several different types of lights to create a romantic mood for their wedding reception.  My favorite was Madison carrying a lantern to the boat dock to light the path for him and his beautiful bride, Kia, so they could ride a boat down the Brazos River.  Photo credit:  Amber Payne for Smith Family Photography

5.  Entertainment!  Every wedding, even backyard weddings, need some entertainment.  Some couples choose to have a dance floor under a tent, while others choose to have lawn games.  Kia and Madison chose to have a giant game of Jenga at their wedding!  

Photo credit:  Amber Payne for Smith Family Photography

Photo credit:  Amber Payne for Smith Family Photography

Backyard weddings are very unique and creative.  They create lifelong memories for the bride and groom, as well as the guests.  When planning a wedding, remember anything goes!  It's your day so make it exactly what you want!

Thank you Kia and Madison for giving me the opportunity to photograph your special day!  It was truly an honor.  

Special thanks to Amber Payne, my dependable other half at weddings.  Thank you for all that you do!

The Big Latch in Waco!

The Big Latch On will be held in Waco on Saturday, August 6, 2016 at the grassy area behind the Waco Downtown Farmers Market next to the Brazos River.  You don't have to be a breastfeeding mother to attend.  Feel free to come support breastfeeding! 

big_latch_on_waco_texas

We are currently seeking donations for the raffle.  Each participant will receive one raffle ticket at registration.  After the latch on at 10:30am, we will begin the raffle.  We have several items that have been donated so far, including a pair of earrings from Amy, a merchandiser for Chloe + Isabel, a free Kindermusik class at My Little Play Place, a 5 Play Pass for My Little Play Place, a Jamberry gift certificate for a free sheet of nail wraps from Kathryn, a Jamberry consultant, a tube of Boppy Bloom from Boppy,  a professional bra fitting and a $35 gift certificate from the Bra Lady, De, a free mini-session with Kat Burt Photography, and a free regular session with Smith Family Photography.  We are still seeking donations so if you know of a small business that would like to provide a raffle item for the event, please send them my way.  

Check out the Facebook Event Page for up to date information as the event nears!  We will have bubbles and a photo booth as well!  

A Day in the Life of Huckleberry Finn

On a fine Saturday evening, around seven o'clock, I spent time with a super adorable eight year old named "Huckleberry Finn."  We call him "Huck" for short.  He was wearing a pair of denim overalls that were rolled up to prevent them from getting wet while he was fishing. 

When I first encountered Huck, he was sitting on the ledge of the river fishing with his cane pole.  He was patiently waiting for a monster of a fish to take the bait so he could have a tasty dinner.

huckleberry_finn_fishing_photograph_smith_family_photography_waco

The young Huck sat there fishing very patiently for what seemed like hours!  As the sun continued to set in the distant sky, Huck decided he needed to find a place to sleep for the night so he packed up his pole and bait bucket.

huckleberry_finn_limited_edition_session_smith_family_photography_waco

Huck looked all around, but he could not find anywhere that was suitable for sleeping.  He was running out of daylight so in a last ditch effort, he hopped aboard his small boat and sailed down the river looking for the perfect place to pitch his tent for the night.

huckleberry_finn_session_rafting_river_smith_family_photography_waco

Just as the sun was setting and the fireflies were making their appearance for the night, Huck spotted the PERFECT place to sleep for the night! 

huckleberry_finn_tent_camping_smith_family_photography_waco

And there you have it...  A Day In the Life of Huckleberry Finn!

huckleberry_finn_session_collage_smith_family_photography_waco

Sweet Tooth Custom Baked Goods Cottage Bakery

Smith Family Photography recently partnered with Sweet Tooth Custom Baked Goods Cottage Bakery for a fun, themed cake smash session!  The model was adorable!  The cake was beautiful!  The photographs tell the story.  It is only fitting that this week's blog post is written by the owner of Sweet Tooth Custom Baked Goods Cottage Bakery, Rebecca Kolosci. 

Hello everyone.  My name is Rebecca Kolosci and I am the owner and operator of Sweet Tooth Custom Baked Goods Cottage Bakery.  I do all of my creations from home and have a blast making them.  I especially love making smash cakes for photography sessions because you get to see the pure fun and joy (usually) that kids have with smashing them.  The little rosette cake is one of the most popular designs requested for smash cakes and it isn't hard to see why!  I just love how these pictures turned out and hope you all do too.  If you need anything from smash cakes, cookies, or even wedding cakes please let me know.  You may contact me by clicking here.

The storyboard from the recent cake smash session.

The storyboard from the recent cake smash session.

Special thanks to Rebecca at Sweet Tooth Custom Baked Goods Cottage Bakery for providing the beautiful and delicious cake for this custom cake smash session!

More Than A Picture...It's Wall ART!

It's more than a picture, it's wall ART!  That sounds fascinating to me, but what does that actually mean?  This topic is going to be a five part series, with each part focusing on a certain product that we are offering our clients.  If you visit the "About Me" page of our website you will find a lot of information about us and our beliefs.  We believe that if you are putting in all this effort for photographs, you want products that are quality - you want products that will last a lifetime. 

We strive to provide you with the service that you and your loved ones deserve. With that being said, typically a great amount of planning and preparation goes into a photography session - everything from deciding on a photographer, choosing coordinating outfits, choosing a location, etc. All of those factors take a great deal of time and energy! We want that time, effort, and energy to shine in your portraits! For that reason we have a large selection of print products to offer you in your personal online gallery - everything from standard professional prints that will last a lifetime to beautiful canvas gallery wraps and vivid metals. The products that we offer are professional quality and will last a lifetime. They will become cherished memories for generations. They will be beautiful pieces of art that are displayed on your walls for years to come.
— Anna Johnson-Smith at Smith Family Photography

Part One - Collages

Collages are a popular item that we began offering last July.  I personally have always loved collages, however I wasn't sure that others shared this same love until one client received her online gallery and adored her family photographs, but asked if I could create a collage for her with certain images.  I told her that I'd love to put something like that together for her and she loved it!  After that I began contemplating the inclusion of collages in each online gallery.  I began planning and finally decided to include at least one pre-made collage in each and every online gallery and provide the option for building a personalized collage if the pre-made ones do not meet your needs and/or wants. 

Since the introduction of collages in the online galleries, nearly every client chooses at least one collage!  They have become THAT popular!  They are a great way to display your favorite photographs on one print.  This makes them a perfect addition to your wall of photographs, as well as a perfect gift for friends and family. 

An example of a customized collage that was ordered as an 11x14 print.

An example of a customized collage that was ordered as an 11x14 print.

Most collages are ordered in print form, however sometimes they are also ordered as a canvas gallery wrap.  I had a client show me a wall display of various canvas gallery wraps to make an art piece for a wall in their home.  She wanted a large canvas gallery wrap, 30x30.  I put together a customized collage that was very similar to what she was looking for with separate canvas gallery wraps. 

An example of a customized collage that was ordered as a 30x30 canvas gallery wrap.

An example of a customized collage that was ordered as a 30x30 canvas gallery wrap.

As you can see, collages are a creative way to display your favorite photographs from your session!  The sky is the limit and I love creating one of a kind pieces of art that are printed at professional printing labs so you know you are receiving a quality product that will last a lifetime plus some. 

In two weeks we will continue this topic with Part Two:  Prints. 

Love Is In the Air!

Valentine's Day is just a few days away!  I am reminded of this fact every single time I walk into a store and my three year old sees cute teddy bears, flowers, candy, and other novelty items.  Love is in the air!

Valentine's Day might not be as significant as a birthday, Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, but nonetheless Valentine's Day is a holiday - a fun holiday.  As with all holidays, there is a history behind the day.  I'll be the first to admit, I don't know much about its history.  To me, Valentine's Day has just been a day to exchange cute cards and fun candies!  If you're interested in learning more about the history, you can find an article here

This year I only have one child that is young enough to exchange Valentine's with her classmates.  This year I decided to make them really personalized! 

The finished Valentine.

The finished Valentine.

My daughter is super excited to hand out her Valentine's tomorrow at the party at school!  We just took a photograph of her sitting and holding her hand up like she was holding a big lollipop.  We then cut a slit at the top of her fist and the bottom of her fist so we could slide the lollipop through her hand to give it the appearance that she was holding the lollipop.

This is the Valentine before the lollipop was added.

This is the Valentine before the lollipop was added.

I have been asked numerous times if we are offering Valentine's Day Sessions this year.  We have decided not to offer them this year and instead offer a FREE Valentine's Day photograph for attendees of the My Little Play Place Valentine's Party on Friday, February 12th from 10am to 2pm.  Come join the fun!  There will be cookie decorating, crafts, coloring, photographs in the kissing booth and plenty of time to PLAY!  More information can be found here. 

Whatever you do to celebrate Valentine's Day, make memories! 

A Tale of Two Terrific Models

I LOVE FALL!  I LOVE HALLOWEEN!  As September and October inched closer and closer, I could not get those two things off my mind and I had a gazillion ideas running through my mind about a fall and/or Halloween photography mini-sessions!  I researched and I brainstormed for weeks.  Finally, it hit me like a ton of bricks - I should have a Fall/Halloween mini-session in three towns over a weekend in limited quantities. 

Now that I had a plan, I still had a lot of preparation in putting it all together.  I had to find a "set-up."  I envisioned hay bales, mums, pumpkins, possibly a scarecrow and maybe a few other items...and LEAVES!  Leaves are a must if you are going to have a fall mini-session, even if you live in Central Texas!  I climbed into the attic and scoured through the storage shed to see what decorations we had.  I made a list of items that I needed and went shopping.

The set-up was complete after a quick shopping trip.  I think it actually took me longer to dig through what I already had at the house!  Next, I needed to put together a flyer, but before I could do that I needed to find two models.  Typically I just use my own kids for these things, but they just don't give me the excitement anymore for some reason.  I thought and thought about who I could use and then I had another revelation!  I could do a model call to find some terrific models with fresh faces that would actually be excited to be in front of the camera! 

The ad I used to find my two terrific models.

The ad I used to find my two terrific models.

I posted this ad in two places.  I posted it on my business Facebook page and I also posted it in the Limestone County Sway N Shop Facebook page.  I received several inquiries and was only going to take the first two children that met the requirements.  The children had to be a certain age.  I wanted kids between the ages of 3 and 6, as they are generally able to concentrate for the amount of time I needed them to and they are just plain fun to work with.  Another requirement was that they had to be able to have a cute costume by mid-September for the modeling session.  The final requirement was a signed model contract and a $25 deposit to secure the modeling session that would be returned to the parents in the form as a credit to use towards prints from the session.

The first two models that met all three of these requirements were....Miss Dani and Miss Genesis! 

Meet Miss Dani

Meet Miss Dani

Meet MIss Genesis

Meet MIss Genesis

Miss Dani's modeling session was first!  She bounced out of the car and was so excited to have her picture taken (or at least I'd like to think that was why she was so excited).  She had the cutest curls in her hair with a gorgeous blue princess dress.  She was the blue Cinderella :)  She cooperated so well and did everything I asked.  You can tell that she felt so incredibly beautiful in that adorable dress.

Blue Cinderella

Blue Cinderella

Dani also brought a candy corn dress to wear for some of her photos.  This dress was way adorable!  It came with a necklace and head band that coordinated with the dress.  Again, you could tell that Dani felt so beautiful wearing that dress! 

Dani feeling pretty in her candy corn dress!

Dani feeling pretty in her candy corn dress!

The second model was MIss Genesis and she arrived just as excited as Dani.  She hopped out of the vehicle wearing an adorable cheetah costume complete with beautiful curls and whiskers painted on her face!  Genesis also cooperated so well and did everything that was asked of her.  She looked so stunning in her costume and again, you could tell that she felt like the cutest little cheetah EVER!

Genesis the cheetah

Genesis the cheetah

During the session with Genesis she posed a variety of ways and we were able to get some great shots.  When I began looking at the images on my computer one photo in particular caught my attention.  It was an ordinary image of a beautiful girl standing on a bale of hay in the park.  The more I looked at it, I realized that it would make a beautiful creative image for fall.  I decided to turn it into one of my Signature Edits. 

Fall Signature Edit

Fall Signature Edit

Photography is my passion...like cake :)  Signature Edits are like my cake with a TON of frosting!  I start with a beautiful image that for whatever reason makes me wonder, "I wonder what this would look like with..."  I start putting the vision together piece by piece.  Signature Edits take a great deal of patience and time to put together.  It is not uncommon to spend over two hours working on a Signature Edit.

With the help of these two terrific models and their parents, I was able to put together an ad that I love to advertise our upcoming Fall/Halloween mini-sessions.  I pre-released the details to my newsletter subscribers for early bookings.  I have limited sessions - 3 in Buffalo, 3 in Groesbeck, and 6 in Waco during the weekend of October 17th and 18th.  Due to the pre-release, 3 of the sessions are already booked so far!  The public release of the mini-session will be October 1st. 

Fall/Halloween mini-session ad

Fall/Halloween mini-session ad