Little Ones | Violet [Norton, NB Babies & Children Photographer]

Sometimes, when you’re a photographer, you can get a bit of ‘big camera fatigue’. While I LOVE my job and wouldn’t want to do anything else, I admit to relying on my iPhone for taking the majority of my at-home pics (especially now that I have the 4S, the camera is really decent on it!) And while I do take a lot of casual, candid shots of my kids with my ‘big camera’ for my Project Life albums (a scrapbooking system that I need to blog about!), I don’t do many ‘real’ sessions with them. Especially my son Victor, he hasn’t had a ‘formal’ session since before Violet was born! So anyway, one evening a couple of weeks ago I decided to take them out into the side field as the sun was going down and get a few ‘real’ shots with my big camera. Nothing fancy or too planned out, just some shots of my kids as they are, right now. First up I’m sharing Violet’s shots 🙂

If I have to describe Violet usually the first word that comes to mind is either ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’. She is such a little personality and completely different from my first born that we still wonder where she came from most days! At 19 months she is in full blown toddler mode, getting into everything and exploring as much as she can, making messes and throwing tantrums along the way. The thing with her is she is just so FUNNY. She’s a bit of a drama queen and make ‘drama eyes’ when things don’t go her way, and has a fake cry down to a science (she also likes to go sulk against the wall, peeking to see if anyone is looking of course). She pretends to sleep on the stairs when we catch her coming down after putting her to bed (as if we wouldn’t notice her there), she pats our back and squeezes our neck when she gives hugs, she pours entire glasses or even jugs of liquid onto the floor (or onto her father’s lap while he’s sleeping on the couch-really), she doesn’t say a word but still gets her point across easily, loves to wear her rubber boots everywhere and is a bit of a TV junkie, eats all her veggies before anything else at meal times, follows and mimics her brother, and does a dozen funny or odd things throughout the day that makes us laugh. Even her looks are kind of crazy, she her shaggy blonde mullet (that is getting so long!), and big front teeth (but still only 2 bottom teeth despite having molars), she’s her own little person and we love her for it. She’s ‘ma p’tite bine’ (little bean) and will always be my baby.

Enjoy a few of her shots below!

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.” -William Shakespeare

Back soon to share her brother’s images!

Erin McKenna - Sweet, sweet pictures of Violet!

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PERSONAL | A night out with the (photog) girls

When you work for yourself you don’t really have any ‘colleagues’; no one to chat with on a daily basis or go to coffee with, to help with the workload or just bounce ideas off of. That is probably one thing I miss about working in an office, the daily interaction with other adults (my kids are around but they don’t contribute much, haha). So when I started finding other photographers in my area who I admired, I went out on a limb and reached out to them just to say hi. This is HUGE for me since I’m not the most outgoing person in the world and I greatly fear rejection/confrontation (working on that as I get older though!) Anyway, a couple of years ago it was Faye (who is now a good friend) up in Miramichi, and last year I reached out to Shannon-May of Shannon-May Photography. I found her through a FB page of another FB page I was following and sent her an email. I was pleasantly surprised when she responded with equal enthusiasm and friendliness! We eventually met and I had her do our couples photos in the Fall, and ever since then we’ve been in contact, chatting and learning from each other. I also emailed with Christina of Christina Coffey Photography earlier this year and we met for coffee shortly after, and I now consider her another one of my ‘colleagues’ as well.

It’s so amazing to have people around you who get what you’re going through, both as a creative person and as a person trying to run their own business; someone who ‘gets’ how hard packaging and branding is, what it’s like dealing with different types of clients and who feel the struggle of staying creative and confident in your own work. I greatly value what these women contribute to me both professionally and personally. We are all on similar but different paths, at different stages of our businesses, and even though some might consider them ‘competition’, to me they are more an asset than anything, and I’m so glad that I now have a small but growing network of ‘co-workers’ 🙂

Back in February Shannon-May contacted a group of ladies for a ‘shoot and meet’ type get-together in early March, a chance during our slow periods to shoot just for fun and to socialize a bit. Unfortunately no one else was able to make it for various reasons so it was just Shannon-May and I. I contacted Christina a couple days before and she was able to make it last minute, so the three of us had our own fun evening. We met at Lily Lake for the photos first, and I must say that we definitely froze and laughed quite a bit being ‘models’ for each other, but luckily it was equal parts laughter to chills so it made it worth it 🙂 We all come from different backgrounds and have different ‘specialities’ (Shannon-May is pure weddings and all things love, Christina is the maternity/newborn expert and I’m a bit of a jack of all trades), so it was great to watch how each of them worked the camera and worked with each other. After our ‘session’ we went and had supper and drinks at Thandi’s in uptown SJ, a perfect night away for me, and I hope that we get to do it again soon, but maybe when it’s a bit warmer out!

I’m really looking forward to seeing how they photographed each other (and me too, oh my!), but in the meantime, here are a few of my favourites that I captured of these 2 beautiful ladies!

(Can you tell how cold we are?? We were pretending the ice in the background was sand, ha!)

Hope you all have a great weekend, I have a few sessions from last month that I’m ready to share, so I’ll be back soon, sorry it’s been a bit quiet around here lately but it’ll be picking up soon, I promise!

Until then,

Linda Bettle - what beutiful pictures but then again every picture you take are beautiful!

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My Favourites of 2012 | Couples/Engagement

Have I mentioned how much I loooooove photographing couples? Have I? Oh, I have? Several times? Every time I post an engagement or couples session? Ok then.

2012 was a crazy year for wedding and engagement photography for me, with dozens of couples standing in front of my lens, all with different stories of how they met, how long they’ve been together, and what love means to them. Whether they were parents who snuck away for a few ‘alone’ pictures (something I always recommend during family sessions), or a couple who was newly engaged, I loved observing how each couple expressed their love and capturing it in a moment in time for them to see. I don’t think people realize sometimes how much their face changes, or their body relaxes when they are with someone they are truly comfortable with, and I love showing that to people (I know that was the case with me when I had my photos taken with Dan last fall). Some are more affectionate than others, some funny, some serious, some shy and some open, but that’s ok, it’s not about forcing anything unnatural, it’s simply about being together in a way that is authentic to you, and treasuring the time you have together.

I HIGHLY recommend that my wedding couples do an engagement session before the wedding, so most of the folks you’ll see here were either married last year or are getting married this year (yay!). You’ll be seeing some of them in my Favourite Wedding images of 2012 posts, but in the meantime, enjoy the love you see here, it’s truly a beautiful thing <3

I’m really looking forward to photographing more folks in love this year, I feel it’s as though that’s where the majority of my creative passion and fulfillment lies these days, which is awesome to know.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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My Favourites of 2012 | Bumps

2012 wasn’t a huge year for photographing maternity portraits; in fact, with the exception of my sister Daphné and my best friend Sara, who each did a Bump Watch throughout the year, I only photographed 2 expectant mommas. This makes me kind of sad since I LOVE photographing pregnant women. They are beautiful and it’s all so exciting and new, especially for the ‘first timers’. Maybe 2013 will be the ‘year of the bump’, but until then, enjoy a few of my favourite maternity shots from last year!

(Because I started photographing Sara and Daf at 12 weeks, they don’t necessarily look pregnant in every image, but that’s the fun part, watching the bellies grow! Plus it’s nice to get a few ‘skinny’ shots too) 🙂

(If you are interested in documenting your pregnancy from beginning to end with a Bump Watch, please get in touch with me, we can set up a custom plan for you based on your schedule and financial needs!)

Have a great day everyone!

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Plans, Goals (and a few Changes) for 2013

2012 was an amazing year for me and my little business. It was my 2nd year doing this wonderful thing called photography full time and my 3rd year shooting people who weren’t my friends or family (in 2010 I was on Maternity Leave and built most of my portfolio during that time.) Last year was also the first year where I felt like I got to feel out what I wanted from this career, what worked, what didn’t work and how much I could realistically do. I shot 13 weddings, which was amazing in itself, but I also kept up with my portrait sessions and did a few sides jobs as well…you can definitely say I was busy! Now, with a wee bit of hindsight I’ve been able to realize a few things, but looking back has also brought up some tough questions for me, mainly:

What do I want to focus my creative energies on?

I’ve come to realize that I cannot be everyone’s photographer and I cannot say yes to every request that comes along. I do not want to spend my time shooting subjects and events that do no interest me, plain and simple. I feel like what I’m most passionate about shows in my work and now that I have a few years under my belt, I can start being a bit choosier with what I do. This goes for both the types of weddings I do and the types of portrait sessions I want to do. I’ve debated whether I should become an exclusive wedding photographer, or whether I should continue doing both weddings and portraits. Right now the answer is to continue doing both but to scale way back on the amount of portrait sessions I plan to do, as well as what kind. I struggle with this decision though because I feel bad saying no! Especially to young families, as I know how hard it is to find someone reputable to photograph your family in this area. I don’t want to limit their options even more, but at the same time I simply cannot keep up with everything and still have a life with my own young family. Because of this, my non-wedding shooting schedule will be pretty limited in 2013, especially for child/family portraits.

My tentative plan is to host 2 mini sessions days, one in the summer and one in the Fall, and this will be when the bulk of my family portraits will be shot. I’m not sure of the dates or details but it will be similar to the mini sessions I did last year, with a ‘set up’ of sorts and an affordable, inclusive package. Full family/child sessions with probably be limited to only a 3-4 a month. I will continue doing senior, maternity, newborn and engagement/couple sessions as they come along, since I don’t receive quite as many requests for those, and also because those are types of sessions that I still find really enjoyable and creatively fulfilling. I’m also still open to doing my “Baby’s 1st Year” package, since I love seeing little ones grow up in front of my lens.

(I want to stress that none of this means that I did not enjoy photographing the families and kids that I did last year…quite the opposite! I enjoyed it so much that I took on too many and in the end felt stressed and like I wasn’t delivering the best service that I could to my clients, which is what led me to my decision.)

With the idea of providing better customer service and a customer experience in mind, I will also be making a few small changes to how I do things:

  • Questionnaires: I want to start having my clients fill out a small questionnaire before their session, tailored to find out exactly what they are looking for in their portraits, as well as find out a bit more about their story as a couple, family, mama-to be, etc. I want to start getting deeper with my clients, and knowing a bit more about them will help me provide the types of images that I’m striving for this year. This will be especially true with my wedding couples, and will be a requirement before booking with me.
  • Deposits: I currently have a deposit policy but have never been very good about reinforcing it. This year I will have to be more diligent since I am limiting the amount of sessions that I am doing and therefore cannot afford to have anyone cancel at the last minute. This will be especially true for the mini session dates and wedding bookings. I currently take cash, cheques and email money transfers, and may look into accepting credit cards if it seems like something many people are interested in.
  • Products: I will be making a few changes to my packages this year, but nothing too drastic. Mainly I will be switching up sizes to some of my new favourites (hello 12X18!), and will also be focusing on providing quality items like canvases versus standout prints. Packaging/branding is also something I want to refine this year.
  • Sneak Peeks/Blogging: Another thing that I’ve (slowly) learned is that less is more. I should only be presenting my very best work here on the blog, so my sneak peeks and client sessions will be smaller from now on. This is really hard for me because I’m usually a ‘more is more’ type person, so I love showing lots of images, but I know that in the end it’s diminishing my work so I will be more selective from now on. I will also only be blogging sessions that I feel market my style; again, this is not to say that I am not proud of each one of my sessions, but as I said before, it all comes down to choosing what I want to focus my energies on. Same with Facebook, I will most likely only be showing one image as a sneak peek from now on. It pains me to say it but it has to be done! I’m also hoping to bring back my “Everyday Photographer” series this winter and share a bit more than sessions here on the blog, including some personal blogging, which I’ve missed doing the past few years.

I also have some exciting new things happening this year, including investing in a bit of studio equipment! Studio work is another thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately; I know that as a natural light photographer I am limited in my shooting season, so having the option of doing indoor portraits during the winter months is an important step for my business financially. It is also important if I want to take my newborn photography to the next level; however, I know that I do not want to become a ‘studio portrait photographer’; it is simply not a style that I am in love with. I much prefer being outdoors with natural backdrops and lighting (it’s hard not to look ‘posed’ in front of a white wall). Still, I am very excited to use these new tools to expand my skills and options for my clients.

This month I hope to give my blog and website a little makeover (as you can see I’ve adopted a new logo, though I’m sure it will change a bit in the coming weeks…choosing a font is hard you guys!), update my portfolios, oder new business cards and printed materials, and generally get myself back into ‘business’ mode after a crazy Fall/holiday season.

On a personal note, I’m sure that most people reading this realize that I work from home and that I have 2 small children (a 3 year old and a 17 month old). Right now they are in daycare three days a week, so those are the only days where I am able to focus completely on work such as editing, replying to email, blogging, etc. That is only about 24 hours a week, or the equivalent of a part time job. The rest of the time I’m sneaking off to the computer during naps or screen time, or replying to messages on my phone, so if it is taking a bit of time for me to get back to you or to get your photos/products, this would be the main reason. This job requires that I work all sorts of hours and that is fine, but it has definitely cut into my family time and my home has suffered because of it. I am really going to try and set stricter business hours for myself this year (and cut out distractions like social media, housework, etc) so that I am able to be more focused on my kids and the house when I’m not working. I hope that you all understand and continue to show the enormous patience you have shown me in the past 🙂

My current ‘official’ business hours are:

Tuesday-9:00am-4:30pm

Wednesday-9:00am-4:30pm 

Fridays-9:00am-4:30pm

(This may change shortly if we decide to pull the kids from daycare for the winter to save a bit of money, but for the past little while this has been my schedule.)

Well, if you got through this post congrats, I know it was a bit long and dry, but it’s been something I’ve been thinking about for awhile now so I wanted to get it all out there while the thoughts and the year were fresh!

Again, I want to thank everyone for their support over the past few years; it’s because of all of you that I have been able to live my dream and work for myself while raising my family, and I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

Until next time,

Erin McKenna - Continued success in your business! You are a very talented photographer.

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