Kaiden’s 2-Yr Cake Smash | Chesapeake, VA, Children’s Photographer

Kaiden is one of three little boys, all born within a few months of each other, that I fondly refer to as my favorite little monsters. Watching him grow into the little man that he is has been such a joy! He has turned into the busiest, happiest, funniest little boy who definitely keeps his momma and daddy on their toes! He’s turning out to be quite the entertainer and was hamming it up for me the whole time I was photographing this cake smash.

Be sure to check back later this week!! There were so many great images from this session that I decided to save part of them for a second blog post!

I love the "are you sure I'm supposed to have this?" look on his face!!

I love the “are you sure I’m supposed to have this?” look on his face!!

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Oh hey, this is fun!!

Oh hey, this is fun!!

Yummy!!

Yummy!!

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Hey Kaiden, let's see your blue tongue!

Hey Kaiden, let’s see your blue tongue!

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I have to give all the credit for the bubbles to Kaiden’s momma. Tell me this wasn’t the best idea ever??! AND we did this session in their kitchen!! What little boy doesn’t want a momma who thinks bubble makers in her kitchen are an awesome idea??!

What could be better than a cake smash AND bubbles??!

What could be better than a cake smash AND bubbles??!

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Thank you so much Kaiden for an awesome session – you rocked it!! And thank you to his momma and daddy for the work that went into planning and for letting us blow bubbles all over your kitchen!

Happy Spring!! | Personal

The calendar says it’s spring. I know it does. Even though they’re predicting snow showers here this evening! I know everyone is saying it, and while I’ve been working hard not to add to all the complaining, I’m hoping it is the very last of the winter weather we see until much, much later this year. I moved south for a reason ya’ll!!

Here are a few images I captured of the pussywillows I bought last weekend. I’ve always wanted to buy some of these for the house and yet for some reason every spring, I just never seem to get around to doing it. Well, this year, I finally bought a little “spring” for our dining room table!

Rex was just so fascinated by these pussywillows!!

Rex was just so fascinated by these pussywillows!!

I also bought a bright, cheery, bouquet for the kitchen. (This is what happens when the hubs heads out off-shore fishing for the day… at least this time there wasn’t glitter involved!!)

Adding some bright, cheery colors to our house!

Adding some bright, cheery colors to our house!

Here’s a little note for all you allergy sufferers: If you buy pussywillows rooted in water, they will produce pollen. However, if you buy them unrooted, you won’t have to put them in water and you won’t have to worry about sneezing or itchy, watery eyes!

Kayleigh is One Year Old!! | Noland Trail, Mariner’s Museum, Newport News, VA

Oh this family! And this sweet, sweet, darling, little girl!! They rock my world!!!!!
This is now the… FOURTH time I’ve had the pleasure of capturing Kayleigh’s milestones and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to see them again last week!
(Check out our previous sessions here, here, and here)

We kept our fingers crossed for sunshine and warmer temperatures and decided to meet again at Noland Trail, part of the Mariner’s Museum Park, in Newport News for our session. This park is a particular favorite for this family – mom’s an avid runner and has spent many hours and many miles enjoying the beautiful landscape of the trails around the museum. Thankfully, we were in luck, the weather cooperated, and we were able to capture some gorgeous images of this sweet little 1-year-old and her wonderful family. AND Miss Kayleigh’s momma even brought along a cake for a little cake smash!!

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I happened to remember Mis Kayleigh’s momma having an affinity for purple, so I put together this penant banner for our session. It worked perfectly with the little red wagon Miss Kayleigh had received as a birthday gift, just the day before!!

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How much fun is this wagon??

How much fun is this wagon??

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What little girl doesn’t love a string of pearls??!!

One very happy family!

One very happy family!

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Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!!

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!!

Thank you, Smith Family, for inviting me to capture so many milestones for your family!! Every session has been such a joy and Miss Kayleigh could not be any sweeter!

Chelsea & Matt | Engagements – The Signature at West Neck, Virginia Beach, VA

After rainy weather caused us to have to reschedule this session, we were all keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for a little sunshine for Chelsea and Matt’s engagement session. And it worked!! The sun finally peeked through the clouds last Saturday right in time for these two to get a little cuddly in front of my camera.

Since Chelsea and Matt are getting married on a golf course this fall, we decided to head over to The Signature at West Neck for their engagements. This location is a particular favorite of mine – since it also happens to be where I married my prince charming – and I was thrilled to be headed back for a visit with these two lovebirds. They even brought their adorably frisky pup along with them!

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Love it when my couples bring their furbabies!!

Love it when my couples bring their furbabies!!

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Chelsea's gorgeous bling!

Chelsea’s gorgeous bling!

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Thanks for a wonderful session, you two! I can’t wait to see you and your sweet families again in October!!

March| Personal & Professional Goals

In like a lion...

In like a lion…

There’s no doubt that March certainly has lived up to it’s reputation. What is up with this weather??!

I think we’re all more than ready for a little spring weather after the crazy winter we’ve had. Each year, no matter the pep talks I give myself, I realize a little more just how much short days and cold weather really affect my productivity levels. It’s much more tempting to cuddle up and hibernate til spring!

Needless to say… I didn’t do so well with my February goals… Let’s recap:

– Keep up the workout efforts – if only a few crunches and a pushup here and there really counted…
Design personal photo albums and finally get those pictures somewhere other than hard drives!I’m going to cross this one off since I put a whole lot of work into our Bermuda album… three… seperate… times…
– File taxes – so close, just double checking the business stuff
– Install new carpet in my house – last step before it goes on the market!! – this one got delayed by the unwelcome news that we’re going to have to rent it again
– Organize my bedroom closet
Make a freezer mealtwice!!
No spending – except Valentine’s Daysuccess two months in a row!!
– One evening each week with my business (minimum) – probably came pretty close to this one, on average
Read for pleasurefinished three and a half books this month!
Read the Wordfinished Ezekiel and nearly half of Daniel
Something craftyCalligraphy!
Weekly date night with Chriswe’re pretty good about this anyway but after I spent most of January recovering from the flu, I wanted to make sure we got ‘caught up
– Blog twice a week – this will happen one of these days, I know it will! – but not in February…
– Drink more water and take my vitamins every day – didn’t quite get every day checked off but did much better, especially on the water intake

Okay, now here’s what I hope to accomplish in March:

– Get back on track with working out – we’ve got a little mini vacation planned for next month!!
– Sew something
– File those taxes!
– Get my house ready for renters
– Keep working on the super secret new project… 🙂
– Attend a church service – we’re still looking for a church to call home
– No spending! – except for gift giving, someone has a birthday coming up!
– Keep reading the Word
– Read a business building book
– Blog consistently – still aiming for that twice a week mark
– Practice calligraphy – I’m loving my progress already!
– Clean/organize something
– Throw away/donate something
– Drink more water
– No soda – I gave this up for lent!
– One night/week with my business

Nothing measured, nothing gained!! I’m hoping to see a lot more crossed off at the end of this month!

Christmas Snow | Photography Bucket List, Personal

I’ve had nighttime snow portraits on my photography bucket list for quite some time. Here in Virginia Beach, usually, snow is a little hard to come by, so I really had my fingers crossed that we’d get some snow while visiting my folks over the holidays. They hadn’t had a white Christmas in quite some time but… my chances were better for snow in Northern Pennsylvania than they were here at the beach. (However, I may have jinxed us on that one this year… )

Someone must have thought I’d been a good girl last year because it started snowing the day after we arrived on my parents’ farm. Daytime snow. Gorgeous, blanketing everything, and just in time for a white Christmas. But… by nightfall… the snow had stopped.

Thankfully, a day or two after Christmas, I got my wish. You should have seen the look Chris gave me when I asked him to come pose for pictures with me… yikes! We were all snuggled in and ready to start a movie so going out in the snow was not quite as exciting for him as it was for me. As you can see, the end result was well worth our efforts:

My Christmas wish: Nighttime snow pictures!!

My Christmas wish: Nighttime snow pictures!!

Here’s the trick to setting up this type of shot: one light behind your subject, low and pointed up toward your subject’s head, and one light infront of your subject, either bounced or diffused onto your subject. Here, I used one of my off-camera-flash setups with the stand as low as it would go and a white umbrella to really blow out the light and catch all the falling snow around us. Then, on my camera, I used a flash, synced with the OCF, with a diffuser since I didn’t have anything to bouce the light off. (We took this shot in my parents’ driveway next to the house which is situated in the middle of the woods and my parents’ house is stained a dark black walnut color.) I also had to turn on the front light on the house so that my camera could autofocus and we stood outside the glow from the light. There aren’t any streetlights where I grew up!!

I’m really hoping we’ve seen the last of the snow for this year here at the beach but hopefully you can file these pointers away until next winter!

A & B Dance Company | Dress Rehearsal – Virginia Beach, VA

This one is a little bit of a stray for me from my typical portrait sessions but one that I absolutely loved and was so honored to be invited to capture.

I had the pleasure of photographing the gorgeous ladies of A & B Dance Company at the end of last summer, during one of their regular lessons, really just to see if I could do it. Low light and high speeds can be challenging for any photographer and when you add the element of timing, to capture full height and extension of every leap and turn, well, I just wasn’t sure what I’d be able to get. That day in the studio taught me so much and thanks to lots of practice since then, I was excited to see these ladies again and really see how much I had grown as a photographer.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and I was invited back to photograph the Company’s dress rehearsal. What a difference a few months can make! The routines they had only worked with a few days when I first met them had now been polished into awe-inspiring elegance and so many more had been added to their repertoire. Every piece was mesmerizing. And, what was even more remarkable and inspiring to see was the way that they all work together and encourage and support each other. This is an amazing group of girls!

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It was hard to choose just a few images to share with you, there were so many and these ladies have so much talent. They have great personalities, too, which you can see here in a few of the company portraits:

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Thank you so much, Ashleigh and the ladies of A & B Dance Company, for sharing your gifts and inviting me to capture them for you! I wish you all big, amazing successes and blessings in your lives – I know that each of you will go far and touch many!!

More Snow! | Virginia Beach, VA

I swear I moved south for a reason – to get away from the cold weather! Apparently I didn’t go quite far enough!! Here in Virginia Beach, we receivedfour inches of snow two weeks ago and then, last week, another eleven inches.

My poor Moai was burried nearly to his mouth!

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Since we don’t seem to own a snow shovel – a fact I intend to rectify shortly – Surfer Hubs had to clear a path through the back yard for the dogs with a hockey stick. Believe it or not, it worked pretty well! Once he had a path, Rex decided this snow stuff was pretty fun – and tasted good too!

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Here’s a shot of our street. Looks like a few brave souls were able to venture out. Not me, the Cav was going nowhere! I was pretty glad, too, since I can’t afford to wreck another car and these Virginia Beach drivers are a little crazy when it comes to precipitation of any sort…

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I secretly don’t mind a little snow because it doesn’t usually last very long; I just hope there won’t be any more this year. I’m ready for spring!

February | Goals and Making Lemonade

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Twelve lemons. 2013’s lemons. Finally ripe and ready to be made into something wonderful. Like lemonade. Or maybe a lemon chess pie…

When I picked these yesterday, I thought this was ironically fitting. And to add to the irony – there won’t be any lemons this year. All of the buds were frozen last fall when I didn’t get the trees in early enough one evening. One lemon for each month of a challenging year and now a year without lemons. And I’m perfectly okay with that. And I can’t wait to turn these lemons into something delicious – just like I’m working to turn last year’s challenges into this year’s victories!

January’s Goals:
(which didn’t get blogged in January, so you’re seeing them here for the first time)
Workout – gym, Jillian, something – woohoo!! I did great with this before coming down with the flu and will be getting back on that horse now that my cough is clearing up
clean out, clear out, put away everything Christmas
– tax docs done – I got a really good start on this, just a few deductions left to add in!
no spending – no clothes, shoes, or accessories purchased!! (I did have to buy a new printer… but this was a business purchase, not a personal one)
– learn more about SEO
have the trim painted at my house
– blog twice/week
– meal plan
read the Word
read for pleasure
take more non-client pictures – yay for beach snow!!
time for recharging – nothing like the flu to knock you on your behind and really make you sit back and take it easy
purge & organizethis is an ongoing effort, but we made great leaps in clearing clutter this month!

Goals for February:
– Keep up the workout efforts
– Design personal photo albums and finally get those pictures somewhere other than hard drives!
– File taxes
– Install new carpet in my house – last step before it goes on the market!!
– Organize my bedroom closet
– Make a freezer meal
– No spending – except Valentine’s Day
– One evening each week with my business (minimum)
– Read for pleasure
– Read the Word
– Something crafty
– Weekly date night with Chris
– Blog twice a week – this will happen one of these days, I know it will!
– Drink more water and take my vitamins every day

I’m excited to see how many of these get checked off! And… how many adventures we have in the process! Creating margin in my life means that while I have a list of things I’d like to accomplish, I can also be flexible enough to wonder off the beaten path and see what else is in store for this month. I’ll report back next month on my progress!

As a little reward for hanging in there and making it all the way to the bottom of today’s post, here’s Miss Molly, ready for me to stop photographing lemons and throw the ball already.

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2014 Goals | Life, Love, and Business!

Whew, the last week of January!! After spending the majority of this month under the weather and recovering from the flu, I know why it feels like I “lost” half the month. You don’t just hop right back up on your feet after that kind of bug.

Soooo… 2014 Goals are a little late in coming. I was actually hoping all of my “lists” would congeal into something more cohesive before I put them out there in blogland but… that just doesn’t seem to be happening. And, I really had intended to get to this post a little earlier in the month and include January goals as well… that didn’t happen either. Darn that flu!!

Let’s play a little catch-up before we get to BIG goals for this year.

December Goals: (from this post)
– Set foot in the gym – seriously, at this point, just once would be great
Prep for 2014 – goals, planner/calendar, tax documents – made a decent start, which counts!
– Finally get the Portraits by Anna website setup
Make a gingerbread house – it’s been such a long time since I’ve made one! – well, I made the pieces, then Rex ate the roof…
– Portraits by Anna systems & packages – set myself up for success in 2014!!
Continue to focus on wedding and bridal marketing – while keeping up the kiddo side of my business! (Don’t worry, I still love photographing little ones!!) – did a little work on this, still a little work to do
Photograph more of our personal life – Christmas on the farm helped with this!
– Blog twice a week at minimum – this is always a goal but for some reason, life seems to interfere. I’m hoping December is the month it finally happens! – yeah, I tried, maybe Febrary will be my month for this…

As you can see… I was kind of hit or miss with December’s goals. But, I was able to decorate my house, complete all my Christmas shopping and wrapping in a timely manner, and enjoy a stress-free Christmas on the Farm. That, my friends, means December was a success!!

There are still a few days left in January, so I’ll share those goals with you and how I did with them next week when I share February goals. And maybe I’ll get a few more checked off in the process 😉

Okay, now for those BIG, Scary, Year-long Goals for 2014:

You Should Do Them
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Before we get to the lists, my biggest hope for this year is that it will be a year of positive change. The last two years have been filled with an onslaught of challenges that just kept piling on top of each other and honestly, made life feel like trudging through sludge. I couldn’t seem to make any progress or dig my way out no matter how hard I tried. Thankfully, many of the events that made the last two years so rough have been wrapped up, and as for the rest, well, let’s just say boundaries are being established and margin is being created. 2014 already feels like a better year and we’re only a few weeks in!

Business Goals:
– Book three weddings – ten would be great!
– Blog twice/week and work up to every day
– Book a minimum of two non-wedding sessions every month
– Upgrade to L-series lenses – and pay cash for them!
– Upgrade to full-frame camera body – also paying cash!
– Develop a workflow

Life Goals:
– Sell my house!
– Debt repayment and financial freedom – this wedding debt needs to go!
– Read the entire Bible before my 30th birthday – I got a headstart on this one in 2013
– Organization!! – and a whole lot of purging, we combined two households into one when we got engaged and some days it feels like we’re drowning in stuff. We have two (or more…) of everything and so many things we don’t have and don’t have room for. Plus, my goal is not to take any unopened boxes to the next house.
– List the hub’s townhouse and start shopping for our home!
– Buy a new car – When my car was totalled back in October, we made a team decision to stick with our debt-reduction plan, rather than add to it. Sooo… I get the pleasure of driving Chris’ “A to B” car. Honestly, despite the rust, I’m so thankful we don’t have to squeeze our budget any more than we already do.
– Develop a workout habit
– Celebrate life and love and marriage – everyday!! It is a gift I never want to take for granted.

I needed to take a deep breath after all that… there’s a whole lot on that list!! But, I keep reminding myself that as humans we greatly over estimate what we can accomplish in a day and grossly underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. Baby steps in the right direction add up to a lot of progress if we are able to stay focused.

Go and Do
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