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we are so delighted that you are here. The National Association of Professional Child Photographers is an association whose mission is to promote
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  • Apr 15, 2015

    Session Share: A Photographer’s Own, with Heather Stockett

     

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    Inspiration: I love to watch my children play and interact. My twins have their own little language, as most twins do, and they still speak to each other that way from time to time. Their world is unlike our grown up world and is full of endless possibilities. Their imagination is ever expanding and magical!

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    Favorite Element: Spring time is one of my favorite seasons at our farm. I adore dressing our little ones in classic suspenders and white sleeveless tees. It’s timeless and does not take away from the most important element of the photograph: my boys. Such a perfect combo!

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    Biggest Challenge: Have I mentioned that the twins are 3? Two three-year olds. They definitely have their “I don’t like my brother” moments. One twin gets a little too lovey, one shoves, one is super sensitive … the list goes on for days. But, that’s a toddler for you. When they do start with the typical brother stuff, I usually remind them that there is a reward at the end of the shoot (yes, I bribe). The boys love, and I mean LOVE, to throw rocks into the creek at the farm. That’s how I usually rein them in. Boys and rocks.

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    Final Thoughts: Even though these are photos of my children, these are the types of images I aim to give clients. I love dreamy, emotive art work and want that to be the canvas for your wall. Childhood is such an amazing time … their wonder, their imagination, bonds between parents, and other family moments. As I watch my boys grow, I realize how important it is to capture those moments and to preserve the essence of childhood.

     

    Thank you, Heather, for sharing an inside look at how you photograph your own children. To use your word, these photos are simply dreamy!

    To see more images of Heather’s boys, as well as her other work, Like her Facebook page, visit her website, and follow her on Instagram and 500px.

    About the Contributor: I'm an artist who loves photography and children. I adore capturing their innocence and happiness, especially in their natural element. I'm lucky enough to be married to my best friend since 2004. We also have 3 beautiful boys.

  • Apr 13, 2015

    5 Tips for Taking Meaningful Photos on Family Vacation, with Jaye McLaughlin

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    I love traveling with my family. Putting aside the fun, relaxation and adventure family travel involves, I believe that there’s no greater gift we can give our kids than allowing them to experience a culture different from their own. The world can seem very small to them – to all of us, really – if we don’t occasionally step outside what we know and experience something completely different.

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    With this in mind, our family travel goals are always to allow plenty of time to simply wander and explore the places we visit. Daily itineraries dense with ‘must see’ tourist attractions and forced family fun are a recipe for stress and can really suck the joy out of the day.

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    This desire to prioritize experiences over attractions also dictates the way I take photos during vacation. It’s not so different from what motivates me to photograph the moments of my everyday life – it’s not something I think about, but rather is driven by how I experience the trip myself. When I notice the wonder in my little guy’s eyes as he stares up at a magnificent cathedral ceiling or watch my husband lean down to teach them all some historical tidbit about what they’re looking at, I’m compelled to capture it. When we all sit back to take in a traditional music saisun or when I notice an arm draped over a shoulder during an afternoon stroll through a colorful neighborhood, I’m so filled with appreciation for the beauty in that moment, I have to bottle it up – to freeze it and keep it for later. And my camera is always at the ready to do just that.

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    When I get home, I always make a book of the photos of our trip right away, while the memories of those moments are fresh. We revisit those books again and again through the years. They’re great for sharing with friends and family, and the photos immortalize those moments and serve as memory triggers for rehashing all the funny stories and mishaps that we have to tell from the trip.

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    It gives me chills to think about my kids going through those books years from now – decades from now, really — and remembering the fun we had together. Telling these same stories to their own kids and grandkids. It makes the value of the trip last well beyond our return home.

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    You’ve heard my “why” – now, the “how”. Here are some tips for taking meaningful photos on family vacations.

    1. Think ahead of time about what’s important to you about the trip and keep your focus there. For me, this is much more about the fun we have and our relationships with each other than about any specific sights we see. You’ll rarely see me photographing landscapes or lining the kids up in front of a famous landmark. The souvenir shops are filled with pretty pictures of all these things, and picture postcards are a fun and inexpensive token of our trip that the kids can buy themselves.

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    2. Prioritize what you want to capture and don’t over-do it. This is one I’m constantly working on. As always, balance is key. On the one hand, my family has come to terms with the fact holding the camera up to my face and taking photos is my personal way of fully experiencing the trip. On the other hand, I know it’s important that they are allowed to remember what my face looks like without the big black box in front of it. So I try not to always have it out. This sometimes means letting myself off the hook when it comes to my normal drive to achieve technical perfection in my images. Again, my goal is not to see these photos hanging in art galleries some day, but to bookmark my favorite memories from a special time in my family’s life. For this, perfection isn’t necessary.

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    3. Plan your gear. For my back’s sake, I try to pack light for family trips. One camera body, one versatile zoom and one fairly wide angle prime lens for low light are generally all I bring on most trips. My older primes are smaller and lighter than the L-series ones I use for sessions now, so I bring one of those along and leave the heavy pro glass at home. If the resulting photos aren’t as tack sharp as what I’m used to, I remind myself that I won’t be worrying about counting eyelashes when I browse through these photos in twenty years, and I hope that my back will continue to thank me. I also always bring a lighter/smaller alternative to my DSLR to use during parts of the trip. Last year, I invested in a Fuji mirrorless camera for our Ireland trip, but on past trips a small Canon point and shoot and even my iPhone have given me some of my favorite memory place holders.

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    4. Print the photos as soon as you get home. As I mentioned, I always make nice album of photos from each family trip – the sooner the better, before the memories start to dissipate. Designing books can be a huge time commitment, and knowing this can make it really hard to start, but I’ve got strategies to prevent procrastination from getting the best of me. For example, I used to include captions and text descriptions in every photo book. I realized, though, that coming up with the right words was a huge barrier to me getting the book done quickly, so I finally started printing books without any text at all. After the books have arrived, we all sit down together and decide what little captions and text descriptions to add to the book, and I add them in my own handwriting with a sharpie. The book gets done faster, and I feel like the handwritten words add a personal touch. If designing the layouts is what holds you up, most book companies now have software with autofill options – you just load up the photos in chronological order and with a few clicks of the mouse, you’re done.

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    5. Include extra digital copies of the book photos inside the book cover. I recently came up with a new practice that I think is pretty genius. I noticed that my daughter was taking iPhone photos of the pages of my books to post on Instagram. While I’m sure these iPhone snaps are fine for her purposes, it occurred to me that I wanted to make the full res copies of each photo more easily accessible for future enjoyment. I keep copies of ALL my photos in multiple places on external hard drives, on CDs in storage, and online. There are a LOT of pictures, though, and as intuitive as my filing system seems to me, I’m sure it would seem completely overwhelming to anyone else. Now, when I finish a book, I burn a CD of the images in the book and slide it into a CD sleeve I’ve taped to the inside of the back cover. Keeping an extra copy right there puts the photos at the fingertips of my kids, grandkids and beyond. How’s that for getting value out of a trip?

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    Last summer, we took an amazing two week trip to Ireland with our four kids. Dingle, Doolin, Ballymahon and Dublin, with lots of little drives and towns and excursions (and family BBQs and visits to ancestral homes, and even an amazing wedding!) in between. The book from this trip is one of my favorites yet.

     

    Thank you, Jaye, for this positively stunning post – and for the wonderfully thoughtful tips.

    To see more through Jaye’s lens, visit her website, Like her Facebook page, and follow her on Instagram and Pinterest.

    About the Contributor: The fun and the love shine through The Life in Your Years Photography’s photos, because that's what a session with LYYP is all about. Jaye McLaughlin is a mother of four and a family lifestyle photographer in Westchester NY, NYC and Connecticut.

  • Apr 10, 2015

    Session Share: A Girl Joins the Family: A Newborn Session from Elizabeth Seliga

     

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    Inspiration: Kathy is one of my dearest friends, and after two little boys, she welcomed a beautiful little girl into the family. The weather was a bit to cold to venture outdoors, so we brought the outdoors inside for her. We incorporated sentimental items into her session. The blanket was created by a long time friend,and the dress was Kathy’s when she was a baby.

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    Favorite Element: By far, my favorite element was the vintage dress and bonnet that Kathy wore when she was a baby. I love when we can include multi-generational elements into a session.

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    Biggest Challenge: We knocked this session out in just under an hour and a half because she had to get home to her other little loves.

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    Final Thoughts: Moments like these remind me that what we create is amazing and dear to those that we create for. So much effort goes into running our businesses, and at the end of the day, it usually just boils down to documenting love.

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    Doesn’t this session, and the story behind it, make your heart pitter-patter? Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing with the NAPCP community of readers.

    For more inspiration from Beth, or to contact her, Like her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter, and find her on Instagram.

    About the Contributor: For almost a decade, I had a fantastic adventure traveling the world as an internationally published sports portrait artist & action photographer. Through it, I discovered my true passion---capturing the energy and joy within children and families.

  • Apr 07, 2015

    Stylized Sessions, with Julie McGann Fine Art Portraits

    Children’s Dream Pet Portraits
    Stepping Outside the Box to Bring Children’s Imaginations to Life

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    Inspiration: My signature, international award winning, unique style of Illustrative Portraiture is Children’s Dream Pet Portraits. Part painting, part photograph, my specially commissioned whimsical creations are custom made to the child’s imaginary vision. I am drawn to magical storybook and fairytale-like photography from reading many books to my children when they were little. I loved the stories portrayed and how my kids would want to be friends with the characters or have them as their pets. In each picture I create, I always include the child having fun with their dream pet, and usually doing something unusual based on the child’s imaginary idea. After identifying the child’s dream pet and what they would like to do with that pet, I deliver an idea sure to capture the essence of the child’s wonderfully vivid imagination. Using either personal photos from clients who live out of the area, or creative photos taken in my studio, the dream then becomes a reality in one fine art watercolor fantasy portrait, thanks to the magical powers of Photoshop. The possibilities are endless!

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    Favorite Elements: My favorite element of each portrait is definitely the dream pet! What exactly is a dream pet? A dream pet is something that the child really wants as a best friend and pet, that either does not exist in this world or is not possible to ever have in their everyday life. This pet could be a real or imaginary animal, a toy, something out of a storybook or even just something that they love that they wish was real. I strive to make every child’s dream come true no matter how unrealistic! I love to think like the child and imagine an animal doing silly things! One of my favorite images to date is Tyrannosaurus Rita’s New Purple Hair. It was the child’s dream to have a pet Tyrannosaurus Rex named Rita, so she could brush her purple sparkly hair! It was so fun to imagine how a pet dinosaur would react to a brand new purple sparkly wig!

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    Biggest Challenges: The biggest challenges I face are finding all the little details of the picture, because the entire picture is imaginary. I have a specific vision in mind, so I need to take stock pictures of every single item in the picture. Each flower, each bow, each bracelet is all added by hand with the magic of Photoshop to make the picture as close to the vision of the child as absolutely possible. Each picture takes many hours, many days to complete. The process is time consuming, but when the piece is done, it is pure magic … like the child jumped onto a whimsical watercolor page of a storybook.

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    Final Thoughts: Children have such vivid imaginations when they are little and I just wanted to find a way to capture their adorable thoughts at that moment. I like creating portraits that bring smiles to each child’s face when they see their impossible dream become reality! I strive to step outside the box and create something unique and magical! I find joy in being the one to document each child’s early fantasies as a keepsake for the entire family. My specially commissioned Custom Dream Pet Portraits are available worldwide through use of personal photos, or can be captured locally in my Rochester, NY studio. What is your child’s dream pet?

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    What an unexampled gift you have, Julie! Thank you for taking the time to share your inspiration, as well as a sample of your work, with us. Your images belong in storybooks!

    For more of Julie’s singular work, Like her Facebook page, and visit her website and blog.

    img Website: www.napcp.com Email: katie@napcp.com

    About the Contributor: Katie, our Editorial Assistant, is the newest member of the NAPCP team. After college and graduate school, she worked in the nonprofit world, and briefly in politics. She realized she'd be quickly burned out, and started writing for various lifestyle websites. Before landing at NAPCP, Katie shot product photography for Etsy shops and other small business owners. Katie also works with Pinterest, as a member of their Pinfluencer team. She is passionate about making the world a happier, more beautiful place! Katie lives for her husband and two children, updating their totally 90's home, and finding joy in the small things. Even washing dishes.

  • Apr 06, 2015

    Photographing Kids in Action, with Abbe McCracken

    Youth sports. To retire or not to retire? That was the pressing question at my house. My son is a character {this is an understatement}. At age 7 he is ready to retire from sports … baseball … coach pitch. Here’s how it went down. Spoiler Alert: His very own personalized baseball cards arrived a few days ago and he no longer wants to retire. He immediately fell in love with himself and asked for trading cards next season too. Score! We weren’t prepared for retirement negotiations anyway.
    Retirement: Act 1
    Scene: Final game of the season {they lost}. Mother and son walking to car.
    Jay: Wow that game was close! I played my best EVER.
    Me: You sure did buddy! Great momentum going into next season.
    Jay: Great way to end my career.
    Me: Huh?
    Jay: I’m going to retire, finish on a positive note. {Remember, they lost.}

    I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. I’m so glad my family will get more baseball, as long as it comes with season-by-season individual trading cards. For more pictures of children’s sports and other family events around the greater Charlotte area, please visit my Life Events gallery. Be sure to check out my cute little catcher on my blog too. Jay plays in the South Charlotte Recreation Association league.

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    Thank you for sharing this precious account with us, Abbe! What a perfect way to kick off baseball season.

    Interested in more from Abbe? Like her Facebook page, and follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. To book a session with Abbe, contact her here.

    About the Contributor: Abbe McCracken is a natural light, on-location portrait & lifestyle photographer serving Charlotte, NC and the surrounding areas. She specializes in newborn, baby, child and family photography.

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