“The Photographer Mom” 19 birthday parties and counting…

• April 20th, 2015 •

My daughter’s birthday party was just this Saturday, and I started thinking about how many birthday parties we have thrown in the past 9 years.  It’s 19!!  Wow!  I couldn’t believe it.  It sounds like a lot to me.  It’s always so much fun to think about and plan.  I love planning them because I ask the kids what theme they would like the most, and always try to come up with something creative and fun to do around the theme. We have had 3 out of the 19 parties at different locations (restaurant, skating rink, and Chuck-E Cheese).  Some years it’s just more convenient to do it that way, and we may have a little extra in the budget that year, but for the most part, they love the at home party!  It really gives you a chance to have fun planning with your child, and you can be as creative as you want to.  It’s also like one big play date, which I think is just what the kids really want to do.  Just hang out and have fun with their friends!  I know friends and family who celebrate their children’s birthday by going away on a trip to their favorite place or somewhere they’ve never been before, and that’s a wonderful idea as well.  There are so many different creative ways to celebrate your child growing up.  For us, one of the most important things is that it’s about them.  We always ask them what they’d like to do and if it’s within reason, we are happy to do it.

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I always had at home parties growing up.  I was lucky to have parents who were both creative and entertaining!  My dad was always the funny one who would participate in games and be silly with us, and my mom was very creative with the cake and decorations.  They were very involved and loved having fun with us at our parties and I’ll never forget that.  I want to give the same to my kids, even though, for those two hours, it’s a bit crazy!  We had 12 or 13 girls this weekend and when you get that many 6/7 year olds together, add fun games and lots of sugar, it’s going to be loud!  We were so thankful for the beautiful warm day!  Let’s just say my husband and I enjoyed an adult beverage when the last guest left! But, at the end of the day, my daughter was so happy and I hope that she is left with the memory of her mom working on her cupcakes and crafts and her dad setting up a picnic and games outside.   That’s the important part for me.  Whether it’s at home or at a location, the special memories are what I want them to take away from it.

I love photographing parties as well.  If you enjoy planning and being the host of your child’s party, but feel like you miss a lot of the fun photo ops while you are hosting, give me a call.  302-300-7569.  Together we can create some amazing memories for your kids to show their children some day!

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“The Photographer Mom” Capturing the Innocence of a Three Year Old

• April 13th, 2015 •

Recently my friends and I were sitting and chatting about the lost innocence of our 6 and 9 year old kids.  One of them said “Why do they HAVE to grow up so fast?  Innocence isn’t such a bad thing.”   Why do they have to watch PG movies so soon and ask about how babies come out at such an early age?  Do we have to let them in on everything just because they ask?  Do they need to know about boyfriends and what sexy means?  They hear songs on the bus on the way to school or hear their older friends talking about inappropriate things, and boom!  It’s gone in an instant.  I don’t really know the answers.  In some cases, you should let them in and give them the information they need before they get it from the kids on the bus but it’s hard to believe we’re there already.  It seems early.

With all of this going on in our lives, I’m thankful that I also have an innocent three year old to hold onto for a little while longer.  He still has that magic in his expression on Christmas Eve and when he finds his Easter basket.  My others do too, but I know it’s a matter of months before that’s gone.  People in the grocery store or at the park used to tell me, when they would see me frustrated with one of my kids, to enjoy and cherish these years because they are the best.  I really didn’t like it when they would say that.  I’m standing there with a screaming, misbehaving three year old, and they are telling me that this is the best?   It never made sense to me and it always made me upset to hear people say that in the moment, but it happened where ever we would go.   Three year olds can be  stubborn, they throw fits, they are very irrational, but they are also innocent and sweet people who only know a little bit about the world, and that’s ok.  I didn’t realize what it would be like when the innocence started to go away.  I finally know what they were talking about and understand better where the strangers were coming from.  The most common thing to hear is “they grow up so fast” and it’s such an overused phrase, but for good reason.  It’s so true!

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This must be one the reasons that I can’t put down my camera once I start photographing a child this age.  They are so fun, so sweet, so cranky, frustrating and amazing all at the same time.  They are truly a wonder to see, and to photograph.  The moods change from one second to the next, and I don’t ever want to miss one thing.  I want to remember every bit of it myself, and capture different moods and moments for families and parents because those moments are here now, but some day soon it will be time for bigger and “better” things.  Time for driving, dances, cell phones, curfews and all of that stuff that comes with growing up so fast.

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I would never want to shelter my three year old, but at the same time, I want to hold his cute little head down and say “that’s it, no more growing for today”, but I can’t.  I’ll enjoy the the hugs and piggy back rides, the hide and seek and Mickey Mouse story books, and try to soak it all up as much as I can.  I’ll try to get through the “mom, I don’t like this dinner” or, “oops, I spilled my drink, AGAIN”, with as much patience as I can knowing that the issues and problems will only get bigger as he does.  I’ll try to capture all of the innocence of my last three year old and look forward to the next phase, but I know I’ll miss this one terribly.

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“The Photographer Mom” My Happy Place

• April 6th, 2015 •

Someone asked me recently what makes me happy.  I pictured right away, my kids playing well together and laughing.  I always tell my kids that it makes me happy when they are happy, and that is 100% true.  Then I thought about my husband and I on a date, and the great conversations we always have when there are no kids at the table asking for more milk or standing up in their chairs reaching across the table for another roll.  These things definitely make me very happy, but when I really thought hard about this question, and was perfectly honest with myself, all I kept picturing was the beach, with no one on it but me.  When you really think about it, what would make you the most happy, as a busy working or stay at home mom?  Quiet, peace, and being alone, right?  I know you’re thinking it, too, even if you won’t admit it!

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Think about a day in the life of a mom.  If you’re like me, you sleep until the very last second that you can, and are awakened by the sound of your kids playing (or sometimes fighting), getting ready for school, or flushing the toilet and accidentally being too loud about shutting their door waking everyone else up, too!  You rush down stairs to make lunches, and breakfast for the kids at the same time, feed the cat, and maybe even make your husband’s lunch, too!  Make sure that they are out the door and ready for school with the necessary paperwork, permission slips, books…  Then, off to work, or if you are a stay at home mom, up to maybe catch a shower and try to think of something to do that day that will keep you and the kiddos occupied for the WHOLE day!  I love what I do, so for me, going off to work is a good thing!  It’s mostly fun, except once a year when I need to do taxes!  I consider myself so lucky that I love what I do, but it is still work.  I’m talking about a place that you could go that would make,YOU happy, just you.

Our days as moms are exhausting, and there really isn’t much alone time slotted out for just you.  If your a stay at home mom and your kids are potty trained, there’s the 2 minutes every few hours you get while they are in the bathroom, and if you are lucky enough that your kids still nap, there’s that too.  But what are you doing during the nap?  Not sitting eating bon bons, for sure!  It’s time for cleaning, laundry, baking, cooking, dishes…  If you work outside of the home, your alone time is rush hour in the car, or the few minutes you allow yourself to eat lunch.

Then, the afternoon hits, kids are back, or it’s time to make dinner, then homework, bath, bed.  Phew!  You are finished!

So, what about you?  When I was asked that question, what makes you happy, I really thought, me?  What would make just me happy?  Ok, here’s what I fantasize about.  Not George Clooney or being rich, or getting  a new car.  I think about being alone.  I think about how nice it would be to have an entire day where I just get up and go out and explore nature with my camera, or sit on the beach alone with just one bag to carry.  What would it be like to just have one day?  I think it would be pretty great.  It would rejuvinate me to be a better mom the other 364 days a year.  It would allow full complete thoughts to enter my head without interruption.  And it would be so quiet.  Oh, how I miss quiet.

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This morning I did things a little differently.  I woke up a half hour before everyone and sat on the couch with a cup of tea in a quiet house, alone.  I started my day off quietly instead of being woken up by someone and getting right into the action of the day.  I focused on me for a little while.  It was very nice.  It wasn’t the beaches of Bermuda, but it was nice.  I know I won’t be disciplined enough to do this every day because I do like my sleep, but to capture just a little bit of that feeling of getting away alone was nice.  I’m always trying to think of ways to be a better mom, and taking care of me and letting me have some quiet time is just what was needed!  It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.  And, maybe I’ll just plan that day this summer.  A day all to myself.  You should, too.  We deserve some peace, quiet, and a day that makes us happy, just us.

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“The Photographer Mom” Mud, Bugs, and Sunshine

• March 30th, 2015 •

Spring is finally here and I couldn’t be happier!  Another crazy cold and snowy winter is behind us and I can see the light!  Yesterday, I sat on my back deck on the couch  and let the sun shine on my face.  It was like heaven.  The kids were playing outside, happy and muddy, without a care (or any shoes on).  This is everyone’s favorite time of year.  I can remember when the days got longer and my siblings and friends would be outside until dark playing with ants, making mud pies, and grass soup, and just having some good old fashioned fun out in the yard.  I love that 30 years later, my kids are doing the same things that I was back then.  Of course, they have their fair share of TV time and video game time, but for the most part, it’s being outside in the yard that they seem to love the most.  It makes me smile to see them out there with their rain boots and muddy knees.

Being a full time mom and having a part time photography business, I usually ask myself every spring, “How did I get through another winter?”  Between working less and being inside more, it’s a really hard time of year!  We love the times we do get out when it snows, but enough is enough and it’s time for mud, bugs and sunshine!!!  I love working outside, and I feel lucky that my “office” can be my yard one day, and Longwood Gardens or one of Delaware’s beautiful parks or nature centers the next!  What could be better?  Planning all of my spring and summer sessions and events has been a lot of fun, and has kept me busy and happy through these long winter months.

The kids are very happy that the winter is over, too.  My boys don’t mind getting dirty one bit, but what I love is that my daughter gets dirtier than anyone!  She also loves finding bugs.  This is a hobby that I don’t share with her, but I am glad that she does enjoy it.  They have spent hours finding slugs, crickets, frogs, salamanders, worms and other choice critters in our yard.    Yesterday, we discovered our first salamander of the season!  It was a very exciting moment for us!  Here are my two bug investigators geared up for finding crickets.  Why the goggles, I have no idea, but it was too funny not to capture!  And below is my girl with a huge, beautiful grass hopper!

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Getting muddy is another favorite past time of my kids.  Sometimes, in the middle of summer when there is absolutely nothing to do and it has just rained, I tell them to change into some old clothes and go find some mud to play in!  If it keeps them happy and busy, then it’s ok with me! It’s not all the time that I feel like cleaning them up after a mud bath, but every once in a while, I say go for it!

A few years ago, I was busy with my newborn baby and the kids were playing outside, and my son called me…”Mom, come and see what Claire did!”  Oh boy.  This is what I found.  Luckily for her, I was too  tired to get upset!  I got my camera and took some  quick snapshots instead!

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With all of this sunshine and spring time fun comes one of our other favorite things to do and that is gardening!  This year we are so excited to be building three new small plots, one for each of the kids.  We want them to learn how to take care of veggies and grow plants with success to build their confidence and also just to have fun!  Last year we had some award winning cucumbers!  Well, we didn’t really win anything, but they were awesome!

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We are really looking forward to warmer days, more bugs, more mud and lots of veggies!  What are you looking forward to this spring?

“The Photographer Mom” Queen of the Castle

• March 24th, 2015 •

It’s been my thought my whole life that it’s good to be Queen.  Growing up, my family called me Queen Ana because I was in charge.  I always held the remote, I named the pets, I was head of the play dates, deciding what to do and how to do it.  I actually remember playing with my sister and wearing a blanket over my shoulders like a Queen’s cape and making her follow me around.  (so sorry about that, sis!)  It was all innocent and fun, but I really felt that was my place in the world!  This is me (leading the neighborhood pack) on a rainy day about 30 years ago

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Motherhood is kind of like being the Queen of the Castle, too.  When I had my son 9 years ago, I decided that this was my job and I would treat it as such.  Seemed like I decided most everything because I was there most of the time as a stay at home mom, and that became the way of life.  I also have my business and no employees making me the boss of that as well.  This actually really helps me run my business.  So, in my two jobs, motherhood and photography, I was the boss, or as my family likes to say, the Queen!

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But the time has come for me to let go a little and relax about the King making some of his own choices.  This is much harder than I ever imagined and more necessary than I ever thought.

Moms usually have so many rolls in their job that it has been said if they got paid, they would earn at least $100,000 a year, if not more!  That’s a Queen’s salary for sure!  Moms usually do these jobs every week: personal shopper, chef, laundry service, taxi driver, cleaning service, and of course child care!  I’ve always considered motherhood the hardest job because of the amount of responsibility.  You are trying to raise respectful, happy, well adjusted adults.  It’s a big job.  Not to mention most mom’s today have a part or full time job as well.  So, why not let go a little, and trust in your King of the Castle!

I know so many moms who are just like me.  We think we need to do everything our way because that’s just the best way.  He might not hang up everyone’s coats right as you walk in the door, and he may not bring the kids in from outside at the exact moment that you want him to, and he may run bath time a little longer than you usually do.  What I’ve been trying so hard lately to tell myself is, let it go.  He’s a good guy, and that’s why you married him.  He’s a capable guy, and the kids will be fine if they are in bed 10 minutes later than usual.

Sunday, I was sick.  So, this was the perfect opportunity for the King to step up and show me he could rule!   He got the kids ready (by lunchtime).  This was a little later than I normally do it, but I was unable to put my two cents in and that was a good thing!  He gave them all lunch, and took them all out to the mall for some browsing and ice cream.  No one came home with any crazy toys, and everyone was very happy!  Then he came home, and made dinner, complete with a salad, chopped veggies and all!    The important and different thing was that there were no suggestions from me what so ever.  This is not out of the ordinary for him to take over when I’m sick or even have to work a lot, let me be clear.  It’s just that normally, I choose to make all decisions, and be in charge (hence the nickname) and the guy doesn’t have a fighting chance! So, I’ve decided to let go a lot.  There’s nothing wrong with being a leader, and a strong woman (or a Queen) but I’ve figured out that my way isn’t the only good way to do things.  This will help us rule the castle in peace together, as King and Queen!

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“The Photographer Mom” Motherhood and Photography

• March 16th, 2015 •

I have been a photographer for 15 years, and a mother for 9 and a half.  Before I had children, I would spend my days photographing clients, talking to adults, going out to lunch and maybe even happy hour!  Then, in 2006 I had a baby, about 10 months after I started my business, Expressions Photography.  Things changed a lot!  I went from working on my business all day to being a stay at home mom with a teeny tiny baby and a teeny tiny photography business!  My son became my whole world, and I wanted it that way.  Although I did still work once in a while, I called myself a stay at home mom.  It was a lot harder than I imagined it would be.  A lot harder than working outside the home, for me anyway.

While it was hard, it was also so rewarding and fun at times.  But, those fun times could change in a matter of seconds with small kids, as all moms know.  That’s why I love taking their photos all the time, I think.  The fun times could change in an instant to a screaming fit over who knows what, but at least I had documented that smile they were wearing two seconds ago!! Motherhood is a roller coaster ride!  We all have great times with our kids, and frustrating ones.  I like to chat with moms about motherhood because it makes me feel normal.  We all have challenges, hardships, things we are proud and excited about, things we want to hide and things we want to celebrate.  It’s comforting to surround yourself with other moms.

In this blog I decided to start today, I’d just like to connect with moms and chat about motherhood, and share a little bit of my story (and my photography, too).  Each week I hope to share a few stories, and some photographs, and just connect with moms who are in the same boat.  I’ve had both experiences of being a stay at home mom, and now a working mom.  Both are so different, and have their ups and downs.  I feel so lucky to have had the chance to stay home, and now have the chance to get back out there and work, too.  Both of my jobs, Motherhood and Photography, are fun and rewarding, but challenging at the same time.

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I have three great kids, and when my third was born, my daughter became the “Middle Child”!  She was everything I expected a middle child to be, and more!  She loved her brother more than anything in the whole world, but was pretty disgusted with me!  How dare I take any time and attention away from her?!  She was going to get my attention one way or another.  She would turn my bathroom into a water park, splashing water all over the walls and floor!  She would take our plants and dump the dirt everywhere, she would splat mud on the outside of the house after a rain storm, she would even eat books and magazines as if she were a new puppy!  It was something to see!  I love this photo because it just tells the truth.

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She is now a very smart, talented little first grader who loves her brother more than anything!  They are the best of friends and it makes me so happy.  She can still get disgusted with me from time to time, and she’s a challenge, for sure! Something that has helped me so much during my job as a mom is my other mom friends.  One friend has helped me through my crazy stages with my daughter because she has a daughter who acts exactly the same way!  It’s like we have identical twins, personality wise.  It’s really been a comfort having that, even thought we both wish they weren’t such a challenge, at least we aren’t alone!

This is a moment with her little brother that I wanted to remember for sure.  We were on vacation last summer and I took this while they weren’t paying attention.  Such a sweet moment to have forever.

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She surprises me almost every day, in a good way!  Just yesterday we had a blast planning her 7th birthday party.  We made favors, got party plates, planned all the crafts and activities, and had a great day bonding!  But, the evening came and she started giving us trouble.  I was so frustrated because we had such a great time earlier, and I didn’t want the day to end badly.  So, as I was saying goodnight, she actually apologized and said thank you for spending time working on her party!  Wow!  That truly made my day!  She’s really maturing and growing up so fast!  Ironic that it hit me the day we were planning her birthday party.

Good luck on the roller coaster ride of Motherhood this week to all those moms out there. Whether you are a stay at home mom, a full time working mom, or a part time working mom, we are all together in this big important job called Motherhood!

Enchanted Fairy Fest

• August 20th, 2014 •

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If you love fairies and are looking for a fun event, you can’t miss the Enchanted Fairy Fest at Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin, on September 21st from 10-4 (rain date is the 28th).  Have your little girls dress up like fairies for this event!  There will be Fairy dwellings on display made by some very talented children over at the Center for the Creative Arts, you will be able to build your own mini garden, and I will be on site all day taking Fairy Portraits.  Surrounded by the beauty of the Garden Center, you are sure to have a “very fairy good time”!  Come dressed up as a fairy with your own dress, wings and wand, or use one of my wings, wands and headpieces to make yourself look and feel like a real fairy for the portrait.

You will be able to choose from a FREE short session (free with your purchase of $36 or more with Expressions Photography), or a $40 20 minute mini session that day.  Cash or check that day.  The free sessions are a few minutes long and I will capture a few shots until I have gotten that perfect one.  One portrait will be chosen and I will use it for all of your prints that you decide to purchase.  All purchases are made that day, and your satisfaction is guarunteed!  We can also do multiple images (2 max) within this free session if you just would love a close up and a full length shot, for instance.  As long as you purchase a package for one image, you can then choose al a carte for your other image.  There will be many samples to look at and you can let me know exactly what you want that day, or let me be as creative as I want with it!  Either way, you will go home happy!

The other option is to do a Mini Session.  They are 20 minutes long and I will follow your little fairy around the Garden Center capturing the magic as we go along.  Here you will have about 15-20 images to choose from and an at home ordering session is included.  At the ordering session (scheduled for another day) you will view all of your photos and be able to choose from a wide variety of products that I have to offer, such as Wall Portrait Collages (11×14 or 16×20), Accordian Minis, or even the digital images from the entire Mini Session (otherwise not available with the free session).

Appointments are not necessary but I do recommend them!  Call me at 302-239-4456, or e-mail me at ana@photosbyexpressios.com for an appointment to ensure your spot that day!

Packages are available and you SAVE 20% by purchasing a package!  Packages are only available for Fairy Portraits, so make sure to take advantage!  Below is the Package and ordering information.

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Here are some sample images taken at Gateway Garden Center where we will be that day.  I took these with my daughter and her friend, and it was a LOT of fun!  I hope to see you there!

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Taking Amazing Vacation Photos!

• July 31st, 2014 •

Hi there!  I’m going to try this whole blog thing again!  I’m new at this, so let me know how you like my page!  I recently went on vacation with my family to the Poconos and we had such a great week!  We went to the lake, swam, relaxed, went to the pool, played on the playground, and went to Bushkill Falls (a nearby waterfall attraction).  It was one of the best places I’ve visited in a while.  My kids really enjoyed hiking and experiencing all the amazing nature and waterfalls around us.  It was a real accomplishment for my 8, 6, and 2 year old to hike these trails!  I wanted to share some photos with you, and give you some quick tips about taking great photos while on vacation so you can have amazing memories like we do.  poconos-vacation_7-copy

My number one piece of advice is use a camera and save your phone for calls and internet searches this vacation!  You don’t have to spend thousands.  Just a simple point and shoot is enough for vacation.  Everyone on facebook can wait until you are home to see your amazing pictures.  Share your vacation with your family, and share your photos when you return.

The second thing to remember is to capture the moments that your kids naturally create.  You don’t always have to ask them to look at your and smile.  If they are doing something cute, like walking down these steps together in a sweet way, capture it!

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The second thing I would suggest is to pick a night to head to the beach or park after dinner and take your camera and plan on getting some fun shots of them at that time of night.  The light before sunset is the most beautiful for taking photos.  This shot of the kids at the beach would not have looked as nice in the bright harsh sunlight of the afternoon when we were there playing.  This is not a formal portrait or anything, but just a fun moment that any family could have during vacation.

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My last tip for taking great vacation photos is to just think about the background (and foreground) before you push the button!  If you want a nice shot of your kids looking at the camera and smiling, before you ask them to sit, take a look at what’s going to be behind them first.  Natural settings are so beautiful when they seem to go on and on forever.  Take a few steps back away from your kids, and zoom in on them.  This way, the background goes soft and out of focus so it creates this type of look.  I also shot in between some branches to make a soft look in the foreground, too.  This, again, is not a formal portrait, but just a moment I captured while the kids were playing in the backyard.

I hope you have fun on whatever adventures your family takes this summer, and I hope that these tips help you come away with amazing photos of your special trip!