Make this the year you are in your family photos

mewill-3Do you hate being in front of the camera because you haven’t lost the baby weight? Perhaps you’ve always felt that you aren’t photogenic or maybe you feel awkward posing and smiling for the camera. Whatever your excuse may be, drop it. I say that with lots of love. There are a lot of things we sacrifice for our children, and your camera-anxiety should be one of them. Why? Because children deserve to have childhood memories with parents in them. It’s time to get in your family photos!

Make this the year you are in your family photos–because you were there too!

I love this photo of my dad. Seeing him young and excited to show me the world really brings us closer. Now that I'm a mother, I get just how amazing it is to expose your children to the beauty of life.

I love this photo of my dad. Seeing him young and excited to show me the world really brings us closer. Now that I’m a mother, I totally know that amazing feeling showing your children the beauty of life.

You want to capture these moments while they’re still small and squishy and generally happy all the time. So you take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures! But wait. You’re always behind the camera! Sure you’ll have these pictures to look back on and enjoy. But when they look at these pictures down the road, they’ll only see themselves or themselves with the other parent!

My father was usually the one taking photos when I was little. Since I’m the first-born, I also had the most photos taken of me in my first 4 years of life than all my siblings combined! I’ve seen the cases of old-school projector slides filled with pictures of just me! I love looking at them, seeing how my mom dressed, where we lived, the outfits I wore, the toys I played with, what my first home looked like–but my most cherished photos are the ones with my parents holding/playing with/cuddling/kissing me.

In my portrait sessions, I often encounter parents that shy away from the camera and prefer me to focus on the kids. When I notice this happening, I encourage them to get back in the frame by keeping the session vibe relaxed and fun. My sessions don’t involve a lot of posing since my aim is to capture real moments between the family members. I gently push them to play, tickle, chase, and do anything that they know makes the kids laugh and have fun. The great thing about this is that laughter is contagious. There is no way a parent can resist laughing when they are seeing and hearing their children laugh. It works the other way around too! Plus, I let parents know that I take LOTS of photos, which means I’ll have plenty to choose from, and of course will keep only the flattering ones.

I love this photo because I now fully understand this tender glance from my mother. I look at my son with this same glance now and it’s really a treasure to see how the love is passed on from generation to generation, mother to child, family to family.

I’m always the one taking photos of my son, or husband and son together. Consequently, I’m rarely in them (unless I break out my tripod). My resolution this year is to be in the photos with my son more often. Even if it means having to sit my camera down somewhere and use the timer or remote. Even if it means investing in professional family photos. Even if it means taking those extra two minutes to take out my tripod and set it up. Even if it means handing my camera to my husband and hoping he gets a shot I look good in. Hey, at least it shows I was there too.



Smartphone Photos: Tips and Printing!


A photography instructor of mine asked his class “What is the BEST camera you can have?” The class grew quiet as we all thought carefully, weighing the pros and cons of different brands and models of high-end cameras. After about a minute the instructor looked around the room and said slowly, “it’s the one you have with you”.

That has stuck with me ever since. It reminds me that whether you have a big expensive camera or your smartphone or an old-school disposable camera, doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you manage to capture those special everyday moments that you want to keep!

Here are a few tips I found to help my phone images look better and to get them off my phone but keep them accessible:

As the the mother of a toddler, I know those moments come and go at lightning speed so I’d better be ready. My big fancy camera is handy and ready to go, but sometimes it’s much faster to just reach for my phone.

Quick tips for taking better smartphone photos:

  • Find good, natural light. If possible, have your subject face the direction of the light source (window/door when inside). If outside, have your subjects face away from the sun to avoid squinting and harsh light on the face.
  • Turn off your flash. Flash creates harsh, unnatural-looking light.
  • Turn off the lights when inside to avoid a yellow tint to your photos.

IMG_5413I always use the native camera on my phone to take my photos but I don’t edit them there. I recently started using PicTapGo for editing and I love it! It’s very simple to use. It links to your camera roll so you can easily choose which photo to edit. Then it gives you many filters to choose from, which you can layer and control the intensity of using a slider. I like to use Lighten Up + Contrast. You can save your filter “recipe” so you can edit future photos with the exact settings you like. After you are done editing, you have the option to post to Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter, save the edited version to your camera roll, email, text, and more.

I ended up with hundreds of storage hogging photos on my phone that I didn’t need but I also didn’t want to get rid of. There are many ways to manage the storage of your phone photos, but this one was the most convenient and simple way for me. Since I use Gmail, it only made sense to look into the Google Photos App. The app backs up my photos to my Google account and deletes them off my phone. I know “delete” sounds scary, but you will have access to them through the Google Photos App on your phone so it’s like they’re still there! Now I have storage space again!

The other way I keep my phone photos without having them sitting on my phone is by printing them into books. Chatbooks are little coffee table books filled with your phone photos! They’re affordable to print, great quality and very sturdy. You can download their app and print right from your Instagram account, or go to their site and upload your phone images to make your custom books. I had so many pictures of my sons first year of life that I had to make one for every three months. Now I have a nice set for us all to enjoy as he grows older.Wilmington-newborn-family-photographer-86
Smartphones are awesome. I really can’t imagine how I’d manage my life without one now! I’m especially excited that the cameras on the phones today are becoming more advanced and producing really sharp images. There really is no excuse for not capturing all those special moments as they happen. With these tips, I hope you can now get better photos with your phone and then turn them into a tangible piece of family memories.

Baby A | Sneads Ferry Newborn Photographer

This little family is immersed in those exciting (and exhausting) times of first baby parenthood. I remember those days (not long ago) were a total blur so it’s especially nice for me to document those moments for families. Baby A was 8 weeks at the time of the photo session and wasn’t wanting to sleep except in her mothers arms. So we improvised and had a lot of fun being awake! As mom and dad looked on, little A flashed me some sweet smiles and shot me some very curious looks when she heard my camera shutter click.


N Family Session | Topsail Island Family Photographer

It’s mid November and it’s STILL beautiful at the beach! We had to reschedule this shoot a few times but it was worth it for this beautiful sunset we got! The light was perfect and the kids were in great moods. Perfect combination! Mom and dad even got some romantic pictures in, too. Who says fall has to be all about leaves?Wilmington-family-photographer-36Wilmington-newborn-family-photographer-37Wilmington-newborn-family-photographer-35Wilmington-newborn-family-photographer-36Wilmington-family-photographer-42Wilmington-family-photographer-43Wilmington-family-photographer-44Wilmington-family-photographer-41Wilmington-family-photographer-39Wilmington-family-photographer-37Wilmington-family-photographer-38Wilmington-family-photographer-40Wilmington-newborn-family-photographer-34Wilmington-newborn-family-photographer-33————

D Family Session | Wilmington Family Photographer

We really wanted to use these local trails as a background for our shoot but the weather being so warm kept all the mosquitos out so we had to reschedule. Finally,  it was cool enough to where they didn’t bother us. Thank goodnes! These sweet boys had a blast running around in the woods. We took a nice walk and ended up walking across a pretty bridge. The pond reflected all the fall colors and made the wait for this location all worthwhile.




I'm Erika and I am a maternity, newborn, and family photographer based near Wilmington, NC. I'm also a mom to two cutie boys, wife to a handsome captain, lover of backyard gardening, wine and Amazon Prime.

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