PhoArtgraphy: Blog en-us (C) PhoArtgraphy-2015-2018 (PhoArtgraphy) Wed, 15 Aug 2018 02:47:00 GMT Wed, 15 Aug 2018 02:47:00 GMT PhoArtgraphy: Blog 114 120 My annual, obligatory anniversary post | atlanta portrait photographer So, yesterday (August 14th) marked my 19th wedding anniversary. Wow, 19 years. The only thing I've done longer than that is breathe. To be honest, I'm quite impressed myself. I've gone all this time married to my husband and have not once tried to kill him. Actually, that's more of a testament to him than it is to me. Not only have I been married to him, but I have actually procreated with him and we've been parenting together for 13 years. We've actually been together for a total of 24 years, which is almost half my life. Now that is really staggering when I put it that way. 

Anyway, some people may say that being married that long is an accomplishment. I guess in a way it is. To be able to cohabitate with someone for that long and build a productive life takes some work. The really hard part has been raising a child together because there is no instruction manual for that. In fact, when I was pregnant I remember Steve saying, "You know, you can really mess up a kid." Yeah, that revelation was a bit worrisome. Luckily, we have a very good support system around us and that has helped a great deal. Also, being in a large family has allowed me to be privy to many life lessons. Since my parents divorced when I was very young I didn't get to see a whole lot of how a relationship should work. Now that I think about it, that may have been a good and bad thing. I love my parents but they are two people who I constantly wonder how they ever hooked up. I understand that opposites attract but they didn't seem like magnets. They seemed more like oil and vinegar who were put together in order to make a salad but then the mixture was left out too long. Know what I mean?

I think that everything I ever learned about relationships I learned through trial and error. Sometimes I think about my dating days and just cringe at what I accepted and what I allowed. Once I got tired of accepting those negative things and realized that I loved myself more than I loved them, is when I would end it. Me keeping them in my life was not worth losing my happiness over. As I got better at spotting what I didn't want/need in my life I didn't waste as much time saying, "Kick rocks, dude." 

All of those experiences weren't bad but they were educational. I think that's what helped me meet my husband. The funny thing is that when I met him I wasn't thinking about dating and definitely not marriage. Besides, I didn't believe in dating people I worked with and yes, I met him at work. It was actually a fluke because the department he worked in would have never interacted with my department. He was just cross-training to earn a little extra money every now and again. When I saw him I was immediately attracted to him. It was kind of weird too. It wasn't just his physical appearance (although I think he has very sexy eyes) it was something deeper. It actually shocked me. From what I gathered he felt the same way. We ended up going out to lunch and just talking. Never once did he say anything inappropriate and he kept it friendly. That is until he left to find a new job. 

Fast forward to now. I find it incredibly ironic as to how different we really are. There are some differences that are great and others that aren't so great but we make it work. We've gotten to the point where we can laugh about our foibles and keep it moving. There are just so many things that aren't worth arguing about. Sure we discuss things that involve our son, the house, our funds and whatnot but it's never an argument. Do we have disagreements? Absolutely. There are days that I think he has lost his mind and tell him so. And in case you're wondering, those feelings sometimes get reciprocated. It all works out in the end.

I believe I figured out why opposites attract. Because no one is perfect and we don't have all of the attributes that we want or need. Our partners fill in the gaps of what we're missing and you both enhance each other. You know, like Yin and Yang. There are many cases though where someone's Yin is way too much for the other person's Yang and they've gotta let it go. As long as you know these three things, you should be good: 1) Know who you are; 2) Know what you are willing to accept; 3) Know what you are willing to give. Notice that I didn't say know what you want. The reason I didn't list that is because oftentimes you think you know what you want. But is it really what you want or need? What additional baggage comes with that? I think all three of the things I mentioned will get you where you need to be. For example, when I was in my teens and before I ever even had a boyfriend, I thought I wanted him to spend a lot of time with him and that he be observant to my wants and needs. Well, that's what I got and it was the most excruciating few years of my life. He was like a bad rash in an embarrassing place. Nothing I did could get rid of him. From that point on, I decided to concentrate on what I didn't want.

As for what makes a successful marriage...that's a good one. It definitely takes two people working toward the same goal. In order for you both to agree on that goal you need to talk about it. You need to figure out how you're going to achieve it and perhaps what are the rules around it. To me, a marriage is a partnership. I do not see it as two people becoming one. When two people become one, they are absorbed by the each other; thereby losing themselves to create a new entity. In a partnership, you have two individuals that come together and work together for the greater good of each other and/or their offspring. Being partners allows each person to be themselves and contribute what they have. Many problems can arise when one or both persons lose themselves in their marriage. What I mean is they don't know how to function without their spouse. They push their interests to the side to cater to the other person. They always put themselves in the back to make sure everyone is happy. Everyone but themselves, that is. So be sure not to lose yourself in your marriage or your spouse. You can love your spouse a great deal but never more than you love yourself. When you love yourself, you are sharing a great benefit with your spouse and your children. 

Lastly, make sure that you not only love your spouse but that you like your spouse. It may sound stupid but it's very important. Sometimes it's easier to love and harder to like. Loving someone involves you being there when they need you and want you there. Liking someone involves you actually wanting to be there because you want to be there. 

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you about our night out. Since my husband had to work on our anniversary, we decided to go out to dinner the night before. Because my husband is from Boston, he wanted to go to Legal Seafood for dinner. We had a great dinner, even though we had issues paying for parking. I  mean, who makes it difficult for you to pay to park? If I hadn't asked a random security guard where to pay, we could have ended up paying at the wrong kiosk and having my car towed. That would not have been a fun anniversary. And since we are rather low maintenance kinds of people, we don't buy each other gifts. Besides, the gift for 19th wedding anniversaries is bronze.  We generally buy heartfelt cards and exchange those. By the way, my husband selects the best cards! Funny thing is as we were driving to the restaurant I kept hearing this plastic bag rattling around in the back seat from the wind. I finally grabbed it and realized it was the card he wanted to give me. So, of course, I stuck it in the side of the door for later. Oh well, I am no longer surprised. 

Anyway, we got home and exchanged cards. Another funny thing is that when I selected his card I noticed that it said all of the wonderful things that I wanted to say and in a way that I would say them. They were in a metaphor. What I didn't notice is that at the end of the card it said "Happy Birthday." Really? Yes, really. All I could do was write that even though it said happy birthday (which I scratched out) the other words were how I felt. Yes, he gave me the side-eye on that one but it was the truth. After that we relaxed, made sure our son was in the bed and then got in the bed 10:30. What? We were tired. All in all, it was a wonderful evening. 

Thank you to all of you who actually stuck around until the end. I hope you enjoyed reading this week's blog and I also hope that some of my pointers help. What I shared is not guaranteed to work for you but it works for us. That's how we do it. You have your own path to forge but if anything I said resonates and works for you, that's awesome! Thanks for reading and hopefully you'll be back next week. If so, bring a friend! 


(PhoArtgraphy) 19 years anniversary marriage married nineteen years photographer wedding anniversary Wed, 15 Aug 2018 14:00:00 GMT
The first day of school | child photographer Monday was the first day of school for all DeKalb County schools which includes my son's school. I don't know about you but for the most part, it was just another day. Well, there was one thing that was different. I had to get up at 6:30 in the morning which I certainly did not miss doing. I've read so many Facebook posts, blogs and Instagram posts where parents would show pictures of their children along with their feelings on their child's first day. That has always been something that has amazed me. Before I had my son I would be like, "Why are you all crying? You'll see them at the end of the day!" After I had my son and watched him grow rather quickly, that's when I finally understood what those mothers were feeling. Their babies are no longer babies.

You might be wondering if I ever cried on my child's first day of school. That would be a no. I've never been an overly emotional person so getting me to cry about anything that wasn't "worthy" of my tears wasn't happening. I'm not saying that I didn't feel sad when Bambi's mother was killed but I didn't cry. When I got married or even when I was proposed to, I didn't cry. That just wasn't something that I did. Things are just a little different now.

After I had my son I realized that it became a bit easier for me to cry about things that I wouldn't normally cry about. For one, when my son was a few months old I remember some show I was watching went off and that SVU show came on. The show started out with a room/house filled with the bodies of dead children. Before I knew it, I started crying after seeing this. I was like, "What the heck is going on? It's a tv show!" Another time my mother was upset because she had to put her very old dog down. She was crying and I couldn't believe it, but I was fighting hard not to cry with her.

Even though my hormones/feelings seem to have been altered after giving birth, I still don't find myself crying after sending my son off to school. Perhaps the fact that he is 13 now makes a difference. I don't know. Either way, I was never sad about him going to school. I felt it was a right of passage. It was just another stepping stone to him becoming a fully functioning adult.

What's funny is that last week my son and I visited the old preschool he attended when he was three. There were a few people still there that I knew. One thing I vividly remember when dropping him off for his first day was him looking up at me with those beautiful, innocent, brown eyes and chubby cheeks, asking me, "You will be back?" "Yes, I will be back", I replied. With that, he went off to play. We had the same conversation the second day I left him there. After that, he no longer asked me that question. He was never one of those children with separation anxiety. We would hug and kiss goodbye and he would go off and play because he had faith in me that I was telling the truth and that I was coming back. Nowadays, he barely says bye whenever I drop him off anywhere. I guess because he knows that I will always come back. To me, that is bittersweet. I'm glad that he's confident that I'm coming back but sad that he's so confident that it doesn't matter that I'm leaving. 



(PhoArtgraphy) child photography children children's photography first day of school getting older growing up photography photos portraits Wed, 08 Aug 2018 14:00:00 GMT
My latest epiphany | atlanta child photographer If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen this image on Monday.

atlanta child photographer

I don't know about you but I love the simplicity of this image. It seems that many of my followers and other IGers really like this image as well. I find that not only intriguing but timely. Here I was debating with myself about possibly changing up my style of photography to appeal to more people. Even though I love what I create I would like for other people to feel the same. As an artist, you must know that my creations/captures are my babies. I often thought about adding additional elements to my images but then I ask myself, why? I know so many wonderfully talented and creative photographers, as well as photographers whom I don't actually know but follow. Some of them are doing some extraordinary things with their setups for children. They might have elaborate sets or wild themes. It's truly magical. I, however, do not do those things. Not necessarily because I can't but because that's just not me. If you've seem my IG stories you can see I am a no-frills kind of person. 

When I photograph children, I like to show the various sides of their personality. I want the parents to see their children for who they are at that moment. For me to do this, I use simple backdrops or backgrounds. I concentrate on the child and what they are doing and who they are. There are times when I might add a little extra to tell a different story like I did here:

  atlanta baby photographerdixon-40

At this age, I don't believe their personality has formed yet, so I'm a bit more inclined to add additional elements. I played around a bit and this is what I came up with. It's still a simple image but reinforces the point of a baby peacefully sleeping.

My goal as a photographic artist is for parents to look back at these images and remember that time as vividly as if it were yesterday. Watching your child(ren)'s personality develop is a wondrous thing. You can probably see parts of you or their other parent, even a grandparent or an aunt/uncle. It really is amazing. I feel that my job is to help preserve that for them/you. One of the most recent comments I received on IG about the first image was, "Just plain awesome. You really captured this beautiful little girl's spirit in the photograph. Beautiful capture!" I love and appreciate that compliment because that is what I am going for each time I photograph a child. 

I take my tagline to heart, "Putting Art into photography". It's not just the specific art pieces that I'm talking about. It's the art that is life, love, and relationships. That's what I'm trying to preserve. Below are a few of my favorite images where I believe that I captured the art of life, love and relationships.

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(PhoArtgraphy) beautiful child photography children children's photography family Fun with Kids happiness happy love outdoors photography photos portraits Wed, 01 Aug 2018 14:00:00 GMT
Putting your best face forward| atlanta headshots You may or may not know that my business has branched out into branding photography. If you'd like to find out more about it, I wrote a blog about it here. If you want more information about my branding photography specifically, you can click here. I still photograph the babies and the mommies-to-be because that's my passion but I also wanted to do something different. With this type of photography, I can do full branding sessions or just headshots. It all depends on what you're looking for. Even though family-oriented portrait photography can be different than business portrait photography, there are some likenesses as well. In both types of work, I like to bring out the real you. I want you to look at your portraits and see who you really are and what you represent, whether that be in regards to your family or to your career.

I met Stacy through a fellow photog and friend. He was unable to photograph her because he was going to be out of town during her visit her. She had just moved to Texas from Georgia and was here just to handle some personal business. That's where I come in. He asked me to photograph her for him and I said, "Of course!" Stacy and her MUA/hair stylist Roz came over. I was a rather hot day so I had to crank up the AC and bring a fan into the dining room which was turned into a makeup studio. Because I don't have an actual studio and my husband reclaimed my part-time studio, we used my kitchen. Even though I have gone to many a clients' home this was the first time I have ever had to set up in the kitchen. Hey, there's a first time for everything.

While Roz did Stacy's makeup, she told some hilarious stories. She kept me thoroughly entertained. Stacy is an excellent storyteller! Once the makeup was done she got dressed and the session was on. She said she just needed a few images because she was going to have her picture printed in a publication back in Texas. That was her main use of the image but I'm sure other opportunities would come available to use them.

Now we were able to start. We moved into the kitchen and we brought the fan with us. When I first started to photograph her it was like a model session because the wind had her hair blowing like a lingerie commercial. This was not that type of session. Basically, I ended up repositioning the fan so that it would hit her from the waist down. That way she would remain cool and her hair wouldn't blow in the breeze. During the entire session, Roz would touch her up to make sure she was perfect. We also laughed and talked a lot as well. I simply cannot be quiet while I photograph. At any rate, here are some of the images from her session. I was trying to capture her soft friendly side, as well as her "I mean business" side. How'd I do?

branding headshots branding headshots branding headshots branding headshots

(PhoArtgraphy) business business headshots business portraits headshots photography portraits Wed, 25 Jul 2018 14:00:00 GMT
About last week |atlanta portrait photographer About a week ago or so, I met up with my fellow tribe members of the Queen Photographers of Georgia. I wrote about a previous meetup with them here, if you're interested. Well, this time we got together and instead of photographing each other, we photographed some models. They consisted of one of the cutest couples I have ever seen, a wonderful female model that was seriously giving us face and a handsome male model who was one of my fellow photogs' husband. Even though I specialize in babies and children, I still photograph couples. Usually the woman is pregnant but they are still couples. And since I've branched out into branding photography, I do individual adults as well. If you're interested in my branding photography, you can click here. I'm just trying to be helpful.

Anyway, one of the team leads of the Queen Photographers decided it was time for us to have another meetup to get together and shoot. Any time we can get out in new surroundings or familiar ones depending on the location is always a good thing. This time we met at the Cator Woolford Gardens in Atlanta. I had been there once for my ex-sister-in-law's wedding. It really is a beautiful place I arrived a little late because of a few issues that I had to deal with. I don't know about you but whenever I'm trying to leave my house some occupant of said house is always slowing me down. This time it happened to be my son. No worries. I got him squared away and off I went. After that the GPS had me go to an entrance that I couldn't enter. Luckily I found this really nice woman how was out with her daughter riding her bike. She was nice enough to give me proper directions to get me to where I needed to be. Let's just say I'm happy I made it safely and that when I parked I didn't slide down the steep ravine.

When I arrived all of my fellow photogs were in full swing. I basically jumped in the first group I saw. Since we had three models, we were split into three groups. The first person I photographed was Jason. I so want to call him David because he looks like a David to me but I don't think his wife Lauren or Jason would appreciate that. Jason is actually part of the photography husband and wife duo of Lillian Kirkland Photography. In a pinch, Jason makes for a great model. See for yourself.

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Next, I photographed the cutest couple. Joe and Dani. Sometimes when models are hired as a couple they don't really know each other. They are just there to play a part. Not Joe and Dani. When one of the photographers asked them to kiss for a shot. They kissed. No, I mean they KISSED! It was like watching a romantic movie. I was almost embarrassed because I felt like a voyeur. After that, I knew they were a genuine couple! During a break in the action, I asked them how long they had been together. Four months was the response. I was like, "Four months? That's all?" Evidently, there are people who just know they've found the one. What I thought was so cute was when we were walking from one location to the next and Joe was carrying Dani's heels. Maybe it's just me but I thought it was quite chivalrous. Here are a few of my favorite images from them.

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Lastly, I photographed Amina. I thought she was a professional model the way she was in front of the camera. She worked her angles and expressions like a real pro. She really didn't need much direction but when she was given some, she took it well. I just recently found out that she's in college. Perhaps she can make some coins on the side as a model because she was on it! Next, to children, I love photographing women. Why, you ask? Because women are fierce, beautiful, complicated. If you develop a rapport with them you can bring all of that out. Many times the women don't even realize what lies within them until they see it on the back of my camera. I just love that part. I distinctly remember a boudoir session I did some years ago. Yes, I photograph boudoir from time to time. She told me that I brought something out in her she didn't know she had and she was very grateful for that. In addition to being beautiful and confident, she was also very sweet and humble. It was a pleasure and a joy to photograph her. Here are just a few of my favorites. It was difficult deciding on which ones to share. I think I captured more images of her than the other models. 

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And last but not least, here are a few behind-the-scenes of the shoot. I should have captured all of the other photographers who were out there that evening.  Actually, after reviewing my images, I realized that I capture one of the photogs. She and her client were trying to make the client's child/ren laugh/smile.

The weather was perfect and the light was gorgeous, so I don't blame anyone for being out there. At times we had to wait for a location to free up before we could use it or they had to wait for us. It was almost like playing golf and waiting for the people ahead of us to finish the hole. We really had a great time and I so look forward to the next one. 

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(PhoArtgraphy) beautiful fun happiness happy location photography outdoor outdoor photography photography photography collaboration portraits queen photographers Wed, 18 Jul 2018 14:00:00 GMT
A grand reunion Last week my blog talked about my brother and his family coming to visit. At the time of the posting, that particular event had not taken place yet. Basically, I was anticipating their arrival. If you actually read the blog last week, then you know that it was shorter than my average blog. What can I say? I happen to be rather verbose when I type. It's only because I have so much I want to share. Besides, I tend to type like I talk so in essence, my blogs are like me talking to you. Well, it's like talking to me without all of the hand gestures, facial expressions, and voice inflections. Those particular things tend to make the story much more interesting. Like the time my husband and I were in Belize on a boat and I had to pee really badly. That story can really only be told in person. Otherwise, the words just don't do it justice. But I digress...

I finally got to see my brother, his wife, stepdaughter and 3 young daughters. The last time I saw him, his two youngest girls weren't even born yet! So this was the first time any of us are seeing them, besides pictures on phones and other devices. Can you imagine being four, five and seven and meeting all of these new people all at once? They were a bit shy at first, which I certainly do not blame them for. Eventually, they came around and I actually got hugs. Being a child photographer, I have learned not to rush kids into being comfortable with me. They will come around when they are ready without any prodding. Like I've said before, I don't need them to be my best friend. I just need them to know that I won't hurt them and it's okay for me to take their picture. If they end up liking me and happen to give me a hug at the end, then all the better. 

As you may know, I have eight other siblings. Out of those eight, there are only two boys. Blake is the oldest. He's got me by three years and Drake has me by one. And no, they are not twins. From what I understand, my parents started naming their children alphabetically. My older sister is named Allison, then there's Blake and after him, I believe was a stillbirth. So I guess they just skipped over C and went to D for Drake. As for me and why my name isn't Esther, Elizabeth, Eva or the like, I think one of my aunts may have been to thank for that. There is more to this story and the naming of my other siblings but for now, I'll stop here. 

Anyway, it was so great to see all of them, especially my brother. We've had lots of good and bad times together. I was worried about him for a little while...well actually a long while but he's gotten himself together. I think his daughters have changed him for the better and I am extremely happy about that. I am sure many of you can relate to loved ones who don't always follow the path that you think they should have. But they have to find their own way in their own time and we can't help them with that. Below are a few images I snapped before both they and I had to leave. It was rather impromptu and I happened to have my camera with me because I was meeting some other photographers to go on a photo walk, which I will talk about for next week's blog. In case you're wondering why I haven't posted about my sister who is still visiting from Arizona, she won't let me take pictures of her. I can't force her. I still have another week or so to convince her, so we'll see. Until then, I hope you enjoy the images. 

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These are my adorable nieces Drakayla, Leander and A'miracle. Can you guess which one is the most rambunctious of the three?

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How about now? I'll just tell you. It's A'miracle! She was a preemie. When she was born she weighed all of 1 pound and some odd ounces. Her mother was diagnosed with preeclampsia and had to be hospitalized. We were very worried for the both of them but they successfully pulled through. Now trying to get her to sit still or be quiet is a chore within itself but you've just gotta love the spirit that she has. And of course, I had to take a picture of my brother and his wife by themselves. Funny thing after children is that it's not too often that parents get pictures of themselves without the kids crashing the picture. 

atlanta family photographer

I did actually capture a picture of my out-of-town sister with our brother but she decided she didn't want it posted. (sadness). At least she took the time to literally jump out of the car and give him a hug before she had to head off to the store and before he had to leave. Well, at least I can look at it. It was really sad to see my brother and his family leave. He and I were so close growing up and life just sent us down different paths. I'm glad to have him back in my life. Since he left I've already talked to him twice so that's a good thing. I look forward to even more conversations with him. 


(PhoArtgraphy) beautiful brothers children children's photography family family reunion fun happiness photography portraits reunion siblings sisters travel Wed, 11 Jul 2018 14:00:00 GMT
Holidays are meant for family First of all, happy fourth. I'm not sure if anyone will actually read this considering it is a holiday after all. But social media is pretty addictive so I figure someone will come across it. Anyhow, I just wanted to take a minute to express what holidays mean to me. As you know, there are a plethora of holidays that we celebrate here in the states. If you work for the government then you know that there are plenty of other holidays that many of us know nothing about. For me, no matter what we are supposed to be celebrating I celebrate being with my family.

Family is very important to me. As you may or may not know, I have 8 siblings, 4 parents (2 stepparents), 11 nephews, 8 nieces, 1 great nephew and 1 great niece. Four of my siblings live here in Georgia but the rest are out of state. It can be difficult getting together with our hectic schedules and our own family obligations. That's why holidays are so great. They are paid days off (for most people) so you can travel and be with your loved ones. Generally, the holidays that my siblings from out of town come to visit are New Year's Eve, Christmas and Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite because of all of the food! Plus, it really seems like a holiday that is truly geared towards family and isn't materialistic like Christmas.

This year the holiday that brought out-of-state siblings here was the fourth of July. It was just convenient and seemed to coincide with my sister taking her oldest son to basketball camp in Florida. No matter the reason, I'm glad they were able to come. It has been a few years since I've seen my sister and her family and it has been about six years since I've seen this particular brother. As of the writing of this blog, I still haven't seen him yet. My schedule has been busier than expected. Believe it or not, my husband was being semi-spontaneous. He decided that we would go see a movie since he took the day off.

Anyway, I am so looking forward to seeing my brother and his family. I've met one of his daughters but not the other two, so this should be a treat. And of course, I need to take some family pictures to capture the moment. Hopefully, I will be able to post about it in a future blog. This is probably the shortest blog I have ever written. It's late and I am a bit tired. Maybe that's why I'm so succinct. At any rate, I do hope you all enjoy your holiday and celebrate it however you see fit. The only reason I look forward to holidays is to share those days with family. Because I love what I do so much taking a holiday just to not work doesn't mean that much to me. But taking a day off to spend with family is definitely priceless.

(PhoArtgraphy) celebrate celebration fun happiness holiday photographer Wed, 04 Jul 2018 14:00:00 GMT
My lil' sis Just recently I had the pleasure of photographing a wonderful woman that I have known for years. Well, actually I am rephotographing her. You see, a few years ago I decided to write a book about the natural hair journies of black women. Chanel was one of the first women that I photographed. That's when we started to get to know each other. To be honest, I do not remember how we met but she does. On a side note, I really need to try to improve my memory because I can watch an entire movie that I've seen before as if I were seeing it for the first time. That can't be good.

Anyway, I may have mentioned my book in previous posts. The plan is for it to be published and ready for public consumption in November of this year. Getting back to the story...I had to rephotograph Chanel because two years ago my hard drive crashed. Even though I had my files backed up, for some reason her files didn't end up in the backup. Since that time she had moved out of state and figured that the files were at her parents' home. Each time she'd come back in town she would look for them but to no avail. So now that I'm actively working on the book again I figured the only way that I would be able to use pictures of her was to retake them.

This project has taken far longer than it should have. At times I was just too busy. Other times that little negative Nancy would show up and tell me that the book was a waste of time so I would just let it sit. Then there were times when I was just downright lazy. Those times are in the past, that's why I decided to shoot for November as the cutoff. I figured if I gave myself a deadline and told people about it that would help me stay accountable. Besides, November is also my birthday month so what better time than that? 

Okay, back to the story. Even though I already have six sisters I figured Chanel would fit right in. With her being a bit younger than me she would sometimes hit me up for advice or run things by me. The funny thing is that even though she is younger than me there is no communication barrier. She's a very confident woman who knows what she wants to do and if she doesn't quite know how she's going to do it, she'll figure it out. Take her Glow Photo Series which you can learn about here. She had an idea and she ran with it. In addition to her Glow Photo Series, she also sells items on Etsy that she crochets under the name FAMEousJ. There was this one time that she had a campaign for Questlove of The Roots to wear one of her crocheted bowties. I believe she had a serendipitous meeting with him at a venue he was playing at and she gave him one of her bowties. After some time he actually wore one on TV. It was glorious to see! To top it off, she has started Chanel Jaali Photography and also has her business teaching sex ed through Jaali Co. Oh, I almost forgot, she has a beautiful voice. I just love to hear her sing! 

Chanel is one of my absolute favorite people and is an inspiration to me. I love how she tackles everything in her path and keeps it moving. I love how she puts a plan together and works with what she has to get the job done. Chanel is a fearless, free spirit and a very determined woman who is filled with light and love. But don't get it twisted. She will let you know if and when you are out of bounds. You have been warned.

There is so much I want to tell you about her but it will take more than my blog to get it all down. I'll just say that she is truly a special human-being whom I'm blessed to have in my life. Even though we consider her my lil' sis, she has taught me quite a bit too. So you can put a face to all of these accolades and accomplishments, here are just some of the images I captured of her. I can't show them all because I have to save some for the book!

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(PhoArtgraphy) book friends fun hair hair book happiness happy photography portraits sister from another mister sisters Wed, 27 Jun 2018 14:00:00 GMT
Hurray for fathers! Another Father's Day has come and gone but that doesn't mean that fathers are no longer important. Fathers should always be celebrated. I figured it was a given that I was talking about good fathers. Fathers who are there for their children. Fathers who aren't perfect but who are trying. Fathers who make sure to let their children know that they love them. 

When I started dating my husband who is also my son's father, I wasn't thinking about children. In fact, I didn't want any children. Not because I don't like children (which should be obvious because of what I do for a living), but because I was afraid. I was afraid of being totally responsible for the care and well-being of another human. Responsible for growing a life and shaping them to be an independent, hard-working, positive addition to society. That's a whole lot of pressure. My husband once said, "You know, you (in the general sense of the word) can really mess up a child." Also, this world is a bit crazy and I wasn't sure that I wanted to bring a child into it. But my husband really, really wanted a child. Even though I knew he still would have loved me had I decided not to have a baby, I feel he would have resented it and me. I did not want to do that to him or us.

The funny thing is I never really saw my husband interact with children. In fact, prior to our son being born, he had never held a baby. I mean nevah, evah, held a baby. Is it me or is that strange? My husband was 36 when we got married. I figured he should have held somebody's baby by then. He's got a niece and nephew for goodness sake. To tell the truth, I was a little worried about what it would be like to have a child with him. Would he help out or just watch? Would I essentially be a married, single parent? If that was how it was going to be, it wasn't going to happen.

So, after I got pregnant we had a long discussion on who was doing what and what was expected. First and foremost, I had to make sure that he planned on actually holding his child. Then we discussed feeding and changing and the like. He seemed to understand and fully wanted to participate. With that settled, I felt pretty good about making a baby with him. However, I did find it odd when he asked me if he really needed to be in the delivery room. Yeah, I gave him a serious side-eye and told him, "Hell yeah." By the way, while he was in the delivery room with me he actually was quite annoying. He kept asking me questions before I received my epidural. When I started having to push the doctor asked him if he wanted a mirror angled so that he could see the birth. He said no. I wish I could show you the look on his face when the doctor asked. To make sure he didn't pass out I told him to just look at my face and hold my hand. I'm the one pushing but I had to give him encouragement. Once we found out we had a son he did that motion like a truck driver honking his horn and said, "Yessssss." I think he was happy about that! 

Turns out that my husband is a really good father. He can be a bit gruff and rough around the edges but perhaps my son needs that every now and then. He did feed our son and even changed diapers. Of course, he had to watch a few times before he would do it. At one point I had to tell him that it wasn't rocket science and that he could do it. That's also when I made him take over so that he could change him. He made such a fuss about it and it was hilarious. 

I'm extremely happy that I agreed to procreate with him. He did have me worried for a minute but he has stepped up. I've seen him be stern with our son, but I've also seen him praise him and be silly with him and just have fun with him. There are times when I know our son feels a little intimidated by him but deep down he knows his dad loves him. I feel I picked a wonderful partner to do parenting and life with. We're not perfect but what we have works for us. We even have different approaches to parenting but we cooperate together to make it work. Sometimes I think it's hard for my husband to show his emotions. It might be the Virgo in him. He's gotten better. I believe he's more cognizant about it so he works to make sure our son knows how he feels about him. Unfortunately, my husband didn't have the greatest relationship with his dad. I think that's what spurs him on to be a great dad. He wants to give his son what he didn't necessarily have. 

I pray that all of you wonderful fathers out there were thoroughly celebrated and appreciated. We're rather low key when it comes to celebrating holidays, real or faux. He grilled out and I baked him his favorite coffee cake. Well, we also celebrated in another way but this isn't that type of blog. If you have some Father's Day rituals or celebrations, I'd love to read about them! 

(PhoArtgraphy) celebration dads fathers happiness happy photography Wed, 20 Jun 2018 14:00:00 GMT
Critique vs. Criticism One of the most important tools for growing and becoming better as a photographer is a critique. As with anything, there must be an objective, knowledgeable voice that will let you know where you can improve. Critiques are not for showing you what you've done wrong. That is what criticism is. When you criticize or receive criticism, the only thing it does is show you where you've gone wrong. There is no direction leading you to how you can improve what you're working on and you generally (sometimes) didn't ask for it. The only thing criticism does is hurt (some) people's feelings or make them defensive.

Just recently I had a not-so-positive experience with a photographer. From what she stated, she has been shooting for about 3 years now. She posted an image she captured in one of the Facebook groups I'm a member of and asked, "What do you all think?" For those who know me, one of my life mottos is "If you don't want to know, don't ask." This was a perfect situation for that. She asked what we thought and I gave her an objective, emotionless, critique and explained to her what was causing her focusing issue and what could improve her image next time. I say emotionless because I don't know her nor do I have a grudge against her. I was merely trying to help her with her photography. Well, she took it as criticism. She private messaged me stating that I had made negative comments on all of her images. First off, I don't provide too many critiques in the first place because not everyone knows how to take a critique. Secondly, she must have only posted twice because I remember another critique I had given and the photographer was not ready to receive what I had to say then either. I'm guessing that was her.

So, anyway, she said quite a few things in her private message and stated that "People like you are the reason I am thinking of deleting myself from the group." Really? That's unfortunate. Normally I am Cheerleader Chastity, but not that day. I was more like Truthful Torrence. I apologized if I hurt her feelings because my intent was to help. Yes, I know it's not a "real" apology but that's because I don't feel I did anything wrong and I meant everything I said. Now, I didn't mean to hurt her feelings but that happens sometimes. I have had critiques done before. Shoot, I've even paid to have critiques done. Critiques are scary. Basically, you're being vulnerable by putting your precious baby out there to be judged. As Erica Badu said, "I'm an artist. So I'm sensitive about my sh*t." We all are. Nobody wants to hear/read that their baby is ugly. No one! But how are you going to grow if you don't know what you're doing wrong and how to make it right?

A lot of times people only want praise for their work and I totally understand that. Validation is a wonderful thing but not always an honest thing. Sometimes people think that being supportive, even on mediocre work is worthy of praise to make the person feel better and keep going. But what's the point of going on and not improving? I don't even give my son false praise. If he does something I let him know if it's really good or if I believe he could have done better and how. That's the most important thing about giving a critique. You have to tell them how to improve, not just that they need to improve. Otherwise, it's just criticism. 

Back to the photographer I had the interaction with...I hope she was able to take her emotions out of what I told her. I hope she found value in it and I hope that she is willing to learn and grow. In fact, I told her that if she couldn't take a critique that perhaps she should remove herself from the group until she was ready to grow. I know, that wasn't very nice but it's was very true. She can stay in the group and continue to see other photogs' images. She can even post images if she likes but she shouldn't ask for a critique if what she's really looking for is praise.

(stepping off my soapbox now). 


(PhoArtgraphy) critiques improvement learning photography portraits Wed, 13 Jun 2018 14:00:00 GMT
Strike a Pose | atlanta portrait photographer Happy June! I don' know about you but this year sure seems like it's flying by already. Before I know it the summer will be over and I'll be registering my son for school again. Let me just say that I do not look forward to that chore. Anywho, that is not what I'm here to talk about this week. In case you're wondering, this week's blog is not about Madonna and I will not be discussin voguing. But what I will be talking about is posing.

This information may be geared more towards photographers but mom's with a camera should be able to benefit as well. The ironic thing about this post is that I don't really like posing people. Of course the reason I do it is because i's part of my job. Plus, sometimes people have to be told what to do so they don't end up in an unflattering pose. Nobody wants to buy those images, except for awkward family  The really sad part is that many of those photos on that site were actually posed by someone! Yikes! You mean they did that on purpose? Yep!

Getting back to my I said before I'm not fond of posing people but I have to do it. When I actively pose people I like to make it look natural. You know, like I just saw them sitting or standing that way. Sometimes that's exactly how I get the pose I want, by letting my subjects do what feels comfortable to them. There may be some refinement of their initial pose but that's pretty much it. 

Depending on how young the child(ren) is/are will determine how I'm going to pose them. For instance, a one-year-old is not really going to pose for you. If they do, you are lucky and someone needs to get that child a modeling agent. Usually the hardest thing to get a mobile one-year-old to do is say still. At this age you just have to keep them entertained and possibly chase them when they scamper off. Your best bet is to capture candids. Here are some prime examples.

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The secret to good candids is to plan an activity to get the type of reaction you want out of your child. Next, you just need to time it right. It's best to line up your shot so you don't miss it. The first image was easy because he was distracted by cake. The second image, we were having fun at the park. He found a stick (boys and sticks!) and enjoyed that. I just called his name, he turned his head and I captured the shot. The third image, we were playing in the backyard with her sister and the family dog. She was having such a fun time on their little jungle gym. Something really tickled her and I was able to capture that image. In the last image I used two things to get the image I wanted. The first was mom. Having interaction between the child(ren) and their parents usually makes for beautiful images. Since this little man was so busy and didn't want to be held that day I had to do something extra. I put some scotch tape on his fingers to keep him in her lap. So as he's trying to get the tape off, I take he picture. 

As children get older they are easier, for the most part, to photograph. I may have told you this before, but my favorite age group to photograph are three-year-olds. Why you ask? Because they are (mostly) people pleasers and pretty good at following directions. If you make it into a game then you can get what you want from them in 8 out of 10 tries. Also, they are excellent at mirroring and playing games. Below is one of my most favorite images. She was actually mirroring me when I captured the image. I squatted down to capture her a her level and she decided to do the same.

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Here's another little girl whom I was playing peekaboo with.

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I thought her expression was priceless! The thing with young children is expression, so don't worry about the posing too much. Often times you can place them how you want them. They may or may not stay but it's worth a try. 

It does get easier when they get older. One thing you may have to deal with is when they get the "sillies".  This is when they are old enough to understand but want to be really silly and do their own thing. At time I may have to resort to bribery. Actually, the parents will bribe the children before I will. I like to try to coax them into doing one last thing through a game. One thing that is great is to play pretend if you're looking for a certain expression. With these three sisters I put them close together like that and told them to give me their serious faces. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

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With children, the important thing to remember is to make sure they are comfortable. If they are not comfortable they will tell you so. It may not always be verbal but they will let you know. There are standard posing guidelines like if it bends, bend it. Girls should be posed in a feminine "S" curve is another one. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps it's just me, but I just do what feels natural to the children when I have to photograph them. And natural is so much better than too posed. 

(PhoArtgraphy) baby beautiful child photography children children's photography family fun happiness happy love photography photos portraits Wed, 06 Jun 2018 14:00:00 GMT
13 already?| Atlanta child photographer For those of you who have been following me and my blog for some time now, you know that I have a son. I told my husband that I would do a "one and done" type of deal regarding children. I know that sounds odd coming from someone who has eight siblings and photographs children for a living but I realized that I could only handle one. I know how I am. If I had more than one child I would be spreading myself really thin and I didn't want that. Besides, taking care of children is hard work. When you think about it, you're actually building people from the ground up. If those little people become big adults with major issues, you do realize that it's probably your fault that they are that way? I wanted to make sure that my son would not need a therapist if I could help it.

Anyway, earlier this month he turned 13. Yes, I actually have a teenager. I'm not even sure how that happened. How did I go from this...

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to this?

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I'm not saying he went from a sweet baby to some random not-so-good stranger but time has just really flown. Well, he is a bit different now and I'm not just talking about the body hair, height difference, shoe size or deep voice. I sometimes feel him pulling away. Not necessarily physically but that does happen if I try to hug him in public. As he's gotten older he's more into himself and doesn't talk to me like he used to. I understand that he's figuring out who he is but that doesn't mean I can't still miss our closeness. As you can see, he also has his own sense of style. If I wasn't so short on time and it wasn't starting to rain outside, I most definitely would have had him remove the scarf that he's had since he was nine. That's something else I miss...dressing him! Do you ever cringe when you see what your child decides to wear? Sometimes I wonder if he dresses himself with his eyes closed. One thing he does like is being monochromatic. I think he gets it from his dad but I digress.

I truly am blessed to have such a good son. He is nowhere near perfect but neither is his father or me.  I want so much for him and want to spend so much time with him but I feel like I'm running out of time. He's already 13. In three more years he'll be driving then two years after that he'll be in college. I honestly don't know where all the time went. During this season in our lives, I'm still trying to get to know the person he is becoming. It's not always that easy. Some days he wants to let me in and other days not so much. All I can really do is let him know that I am here for him if and when he needs me. I'm also trying to teach him that sometimes he will have to deal with things himself. That one is hard on me especially when he struggles. 

For instance, the images of him in this post were taken the same day he received contacts for the first time. He begged me for months to get contacts and I told him he could have them when he turned 13. Well, that was this month. So we went to the eye doctor and they actually have a class to teach people how to put in and take out their contacts. I thought that was fantastic. When I got mine at the age of 15 the eye doctor put them in for me and sent me on my merry way. Now they have a class and you must successfully put in and take out your contacts before any will be ordered for you. was tough watching him struggle to put them in. I so wanted to help him and do it for him but I resisted the urge. The eye care worker could tell I wanted to do it. I am happy to say that he was successful at both tasks and we went home happy, somewhat. Evidently, his eyes were red and irritated from all the attempts and from having foreign objects in them. When we got hom he promptly took them out and said he'd try again tomorrow. Another incentive for him to wear them tomorrow is because he chose to get new lenses put into his old frames, therefore he won't have his glasses for 7 to 14 days. He does have a pair of old glasses that he'll have to work with. 

Want to know something funny? About two weeks ago I was picking him up from the bus stop. I wasn't smiling because I was just waiting in the car for him to get in. When he got in the first thing he wanted to know was was I all right. I told him I was fine and asked him if he thought I looked mean. He said yes. That's when I found out that I have RBF (Resting Bitch Face). I really didn't know because when I would be out in public (not smiling) people would always pick me to be the one to sit next to, talk to or ask for directions. So now it appears that my son has TBF (Teen Brooding Face). That, of course, isn't my favorite nor is it when he catches an attitude. I have to keep telling myself that it's his hormones but I do talk to him about it. 

I'm not ready for a serious teen but I guess I have to get ready. My sweet little boy is still in there though. He comes out every once in a while. He hugs me (at home) and lets me kiss him. He is still very silly with me and even asks for my opinion. I love how he is still very honest with me when I want his opinion. Like when I got my hair cut last week. He didn't mention it at all so I didn't ask him about it. This week he told me that he likes my hair now that it has grown out some. Initially, it was not a good look. LOL! Believe it or not, I appreciate that. In that respect, he definitely takes after his father. 

Below are a few more images I captured. He was trying not to laugh or smile but I still managed to get one out of him. This lets me know that the son I'm used to is still in there and I believe it will always be a part of him. I'll try not to lament my little baby being gone and just rejoice in the teen that he is and the adult he will become. 

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No matter how old he gets he will always be my baby though.



(PhoArtgraphy) child children happiness happy photography portraits teen teen portrait teenager Wed, 30 May 2018 14:00:00 GMT
Well, maybe it is you | atlanta child photographer Let me just say that I was going to blog about my son turning 13 last week but since I haven't had a chance to take any updated portraits of him I think I will hold off until next week. So instead of that blog, I will be blogging about taking pictures of your children. Before I go any further, I just want to say that I have never had an issue photographing my own son. He has always willingly posed for me. In fact, if he saw me editing images of another child he would ask me where are the pictures of him. So, no I do not normally suffer with not being able to get good shots of him. Now that he's 13 it may not be considered cool but I'll see later on this week.

Anywho, I often hear parents lament, yes even parents who are photographers, that they can never get a good image of their children. Their children might run away and hide or they'll make faces and cry. Some will stand there and either hide their faces or make faces just so their parents won't get a good picture. You may begin to wonder, "Am I the problem?" Actually, you are. Okay, I know that was harsh but you are the problem. It's really not your fault though if that makes you feel better. The problem is that your child is too comfortable with you so they take certain liberties when you pull out your camera. Let's face it, your kids are really cute so you always have your camera out.

When I photograph my clients' children very rarely do I not get them to do what I want. For the most part, they are model children. Sure they wander off sometimes (usually the one and/or two-year-olds) or lose focus, they're children. I expect it. Sometimes they will tell me no or just not do something I ask. That's fine too. During my child session, I try not to say no. If they object to something then I move on to something new. I tell my moms and dads that it's okay for them to say no. If they aren't comfortable doing something then we won't do it. The object is to keep the children engaged and having fun so that I can capture all that I need. 

For whatever reason, I decided to challenge myself by photographing my four-year-old niece. I photographed her when she was younger and things went pretty smoothly. You can check out that session here. Two-year-olds are pretty amenable for the most part. We played music and danced, used props and she was all for it. In other sessions I've sung songs, danced, played peekaboo and made goofy faces and sounds. Basically, I do what it takes to get the shot. Getting back to this most recent session, she was not the same little girl I photographed two years ago. The first image I captured was basically a test shot but it came out well.

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After that, it started getting out of hand just a bit. The major sillies came out to play and the session went sliding down the proverbial hill, as seen below.

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I was able to capture one cute one from this series but she still wasn't quite how I wanted her to be. Ah well...

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My sister talked to her a bit because me talking to her didn't work. Remember, I have to play the good cop and this is because she's too comfortable with me. Had she not known me we wouldn't have had issues like we did. After the talking to and a little bit of wrestling, I was able to capture these two shots.

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That didn't last long. So I asked my sister to get in the pictures with her to help calm her down. That didn't work as well as I had hoped. At first, she got upset because she thought that I was going to photograph her mom instead of her so she walked off. We called her back and explained and below is how the sequence went. It started out okay but then she started putting her legs in the air. By the way, she is still super flexible and it shows. I think when she grows up she might become a contortionist for Cirque du Soleil but I digress.

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I asked her to give her mommy a kiss because those are always cute. Well, this one looks like the kiss between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.

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I apologize to anyone who is reading this and doesn't know who those two were or have never heard of the movie. Then she does other shenanigans like turning her back to me, walking around the backdrop and sticking her tongue out.

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So for all of you parents out there who are unsuccessful at taking images of your uncooperative children, I feel your pain. Like I said, I was challenging myself. Why? I guess I wanted to push my limits and push my limits I did! In case you're wondering, my sister and I cut the session short and she ended up going upstairs in tears loudly apologizing and saying she wanted to take pictures now. Ah well....she learned just a little too late about following directions. I've been photographing children for 15 years and have never (knock on wood) had a session like the one with my niece. As I stated earlier, your children aren't cooperative because you're the one taking their pictures. It really isn't your fault. What I would suggest though is hiring someone to take your children's pictures. It will relieve your stress, you'll get beautiful images and you'll actually get to be in the pictures with your children.  I'd say that was a win-win. By the way, when I say, someone, I really mean me. 

(PhoArtgraphy) atlanta child photographer challenging child photographer children's photography family fun photography portraits stone mountain photographer Wed, 23 May 2018 14:00:00 GMT
What do you value? | portrait photographer Okay, I know I've spoken about value before but something I saw the other day got me thinking about it again. If you're on Facebook you may have seen it. It's an ad that says that diamonds are literally worthless. They didn't have value until De Beers gave them value. My first thought was, "What? They have bamboozled us again!" But then, I really thought about it. Nothing really has value until we give it value.

Think about it. Let's say you're having a garage sale. There is an item you have that you feel it is worthless so that's why you're getting rid of it. Someone comes along and they see value in it so they will more than likely pay your (albeit discounted) price and go on their merry way with their new find. What's that saying? "One man's trash is another man's treasure"? How about the department store? Perhaps you're looking for a pair of jeans. One pair costs $121, another pair costs $50 and the last pair costs $19.99. Which pair would you buy? It comes down to how much you value jeans or brand names. 

One of the most precious things I value is spending time with my son. Things are a bit different now than they were when he was little. Much of the time we spent together isn't even something he remembers but I do. He doesn't necessarily remember all of the times I read to him or took him to the zoo or The Children's Museum. He was just too young. But I remember them. I cherish those times together. Now that he's almost 13, we can make memories that he does remember. I can have meaningful conversations with him that will hopefully last him a lifetime. Not that we didn't have meaningful conversations when he was younger, it's just different now.

I say all of this to say if there is something that you value and someone else doesn't feel the same way about it, that's fine. They simply don't value it the way that you do. That doesn't mean that you're wrong and what you value is worthless. It just means your value systems are different. The premise goes with anything that can be considered to have value. If I had a choice to spend $5,000.00 on a piece of jewelry or a vacation to some exotic land I would choose the vacation. That's because I value the experience and the memories over this jewelry that really won't do anything for me. 

I'm sure you know that I value photography as well. If I didn't value it or believe in its value, I definitely wouldn't be a photographer. There are plenty of people who feel that photography is a need but it's not. It is definitely a want. I consider it a luxury. That's what's so great about photography. You can find a photographer who provides what you're looking for and how much you are willing to pay for it. I know that my photography will not be everyone's cup of tea and I'm okay with that. I'm okay with that because I know those who choose me and my photography will value what I can produce for them. I mean, who doesn't want to be valued? Tell me what you value. I really want to know.

(PhoArtgraphy) atlanta experiences fun memories photography portrait photography value Wed, 16 May 2018 14:00:00 GMT
It's hard out here for a mother | portrait photographer Being a mom can be one of the most difficult jobs. In fact, it's multiple jobs rolled up into one. As a mom you can be a wife (which has its own challenges) but not always, a caretaker, maid, cook, chauffeur, teacher, laundromat, nurse, accountant, tutor, disciplinarian, cheerleader, counselor, confidant, scheduler, party planner, the purchaser of all things necessary, solver of problems and rememberer of all important dates. And since we have a dog, I just gained the additional title of vet. I'm sure I left something off. If you have any you would like to add, please leave them in the comments. Basically, we do a whole lot and it often gets overlooked...well that is until it isn't being done. Then all of a sudden people have questions. 


Lately, I've been a bit frustrated with my son. He's a really good kid but he'll be 13 this month and he's definitely got this "teen vibe" going. I've been warned that once children start middle school the sweet child we knew will no longer be there. I can't say that's entirely true because the sweet boy I knew does show up from time to time, just not often enough. He's still in that phase of wanting to be independent and dependent at the same time. It's exhausting. Even though I am pushing him to be more independent it's difficult to fully let go. I really think it's subconscious and a whole lot of muscle memory. For example, I find myself cutting up his waffles or his meat. Why? I don't know. 

Lately, my frustration has really come from him not doing what he's supposed to do. It's not like he is unable to because I know that's not the case. He's in the gifted/magnet program at school and has shown me he can do it but sometimes it feels like he just doesn't want to. Like he has no drive. That drives me bonkers! It would be one thing if I knew he didn't have it in him but he does! So, being a mom I had to make a tough decision. Every year the 7th grade goes on a trip. This year their trip is to Universal Studios Orlando. They will be attending STEM classes in the morning and then fun at the park for the rest of the day over a span of three days. Initially, I was going to let him go but after I saw his lack of performance I made the decision to not let him go. My thing is if you don't put in the work you don't get to play. 

Before I could break the news to him he found out at school. He was very hurt. I felt just a tad badly for him but that didn't last long. I, just like you, want the very best for my child but if you don't put in the work why should you reap any rewards? I explained this to him and told him if he wants to go on the 8th-grade trip then he knows what he needs to do. I am hoping that this little episode has quelled his laziness and non-compliance but we'll see. 

That was a hard lesson for him but I know he'll have even harder lessons as he gets older. I don't like having to dole out lessons or disciplinary actions but it's necessary. He needs to learn that for every decision there is either a benefit or a consequence. I just want him to choose the best option. I also want him to understand that not all choices are good choices but there are always choices. If I have to let him fail to learn a lesson then that's what I'll have to do. I can only do so much. After all of my options have been used to help him and he doesn't accept them or implement them, then there's nothing else for me to do. Believe me, I do not want him to fail but failure can also lead to success, that is if you keep trying. 

To me, the hardest thing about being a mom is watching my child struggle, especially when the control of his destiny is in his hands. Don't worry, he's not failing in school but he's still not where he should be. I'm glad that I'm here for him but I sometimes wonder if it's really helping him or hindering him? I was a latchkey kid and that helped me be independent at an early age. I've been working for myself for most of his life. All he's ever known is mommy being at home or volunteering at his schools or picking him up from the bus stop. I'm always there. Maybe I need to not be there all the time. Maybe I need to give him some space so he can use his brain to figure things out before he comes to me. I don't know. The only thing I do know is that I will keep doing the best that I know how. 

Funny thing is when I started this post I believe my thoughts were headed in a different direction. I had to stop typing in order to cook dinner and while I cooked dinner other thoughts flooded my brain. All I know is the struggle is real! Regardless of the lessons, my child needs to learn he will always know that I love him and whatever I do is for his benefit. Even if "Mean Mommy" as he sometimes calls me, comes out it's only because she needed to. I only have a few more years with him so I really want to make them count. My husband and I are planning on taking him out of the country before he goes off to college. We've been out of the country but not him. At least he has been out of state and one of those times was without us. He thoroughly enjoyed that.

Well, this is where I try to wrap all of this up. There are so many mothers out there who are dealing with way more than I am. I am truly blessed and I know that. My son doesn't hang with a bad crowd, nor does he use drugs, he isn't a fighter and isn't into girls yet. All he and his friends want to do is play Fortnite online with each other. What I worry about most, apart from him doing ALL of his work in school is whether or not he puts on his deodorant every day. To all the moms out there, I know that raising children is not easy. Raising children can take so much out of you but it can also bring out parts of you that you didn't even know you had. Raising children allows you to build and shape your children into productive members of society who can help to improve it. There are so many possibilities out there for them to create and discover but it starts with us. We are the beginning. None of us are perfect so we should do the absolute best that we can for them. Remember, you are ENOUGH! No matter what, make sure your children know you love them. Even if they get punished, let them know why and that you love them. Happy Mother's Day to all the birth mothers, adopted mothers, stepmothers, and spiritual mothers! Since it will be a while before your children actually thank you for all you do/did, I will thank you. Thank you for being awesome mothers! MUAH!

(PhoArtgraphy) child children jobs mother mothers day Wed, 09 May 2018 14:00:00 GMT
Too saucy for you | portrait photographer Well, hey there! It has been a minute. Last week I had a guest blogger submit a helpful article for those of us with children. I hope you enjoyed it. It's not often or actually ever that I allow others to post to my site. I guess it's never too late to try new things. Anyway, I am back this week and for the coming weeks. Yay me! I hope I'm not the only one happy about that. (gives side-eye) Anyway, this week I decided to write about my sister Robin. She's number seven amongst my nine siblings. In case you're wondering where I fall, I'm number four. 

You might be wondering what's so great about my sister. Well, for one, she's my sister. I think that's great. Two, she's a great mom. And three, she's a wonderful chef. At this particular point, she has finished her training to be a chef and will graduate next Monday from Atlanta Technical College. About two weeks ago I attended her white coat ceremony at the school. I must say, that was one of the more entertaining ceremonies I've ever been to. Prior to this, she was inducted into the National Technical Honor Society for all of her hard work and excellence. How cool is that?

If you follow me on social media, I know you've seen pictures of my sister and her children. For the past two or three years, I have photographed her and her children for their Christmas cards. She always comes up with really great ideas and the cards come out so cute. Do either of these look familiar?

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Yep, she's the mastermind behind it all. She tells me what she wants and I capture it for her. I always look forward to these sessions. I think they do too.  So this time you may have noticed that it's not Christmas. In fact, it's graduation season and yes, she's graduating. She already has a job set up and everything! From the looks of things, she was born to be an entrepreneur. She used to own her own nail/beauty salon in Snellville. She did very well for herself and had clients clamoring for her services. At some point, her love of cooking turned into a passion. We always looked forward to Robin's dishes when we had a potluck during the holidays. Now that passion is going to be a career. She aspires to be a personal chef. She's worked in a restaurant and has come to realize that is not what she where she wants to be. She wants more freedom to let her creative juices flow and she feels that being a personal chef will allow her to do that. 

At any rate, I am proud of my sister. She may have taken many different paths to get here but I think it was all worth it. Below are a few of the graduation portraits I took of her. This time she just wanted a classic headshot, so that's what I gave her. Of course, there were a couple where she did add some sauce!

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I had to add the knife portraits because she has some serious knife skills. 

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And in case you can't tell, her shoes say Chef Rob! Now I bet you want some of your own, don't you? Thanks so much for reading and please help me congratulate my sister on a job well done!



(PhoArtgraphy) atlanta portrait photographer branding chef family fun graduation happiness happy photography portrait photographer portraits sibling sister Wed, 02 May 2018 14:00:00 GMT
6 Ways You Can Help Your Children Live Healthier, Happier Lives The following post was submitted by Amanda Henderson of Safe children

Helping kids make healthy choices can be tricky. But healthy habits learned in childhood tend to stick a little better as those kids become adults. What we eat, how we work out and the way we handle stress can make a difference in our health and happiness, so it’s crucial to help your children make better choices. Here are six solutions for helping your family live a little healthier each day. 


Go Grocery Shopping Together


Shopping for healthy foods can take some skill. Grocery stores tend to be set up to make you choose processed, unhealthy foods, so take your kids along and show them how to shop like a healthy pro. Stick to outer aisles, where produce, healthy proteins and fresh foods are typically kept. Look for coupons and specials to help you shop on a budget but know that healthy foods tend to cost a little less than processed options anyhow. When you hit the middle aisles, look for healthy grains and snacks. Teach your children how to read nutrition labels and be on the lookout for hidden sugars and fat. 


Prepare and Cook Meals With Your Family


One of the best ways to help your kids stick to healthy eating is to teach them to make meals at home. Cooking also can be a great stress reliever, so getting your family into the kitchen can have multiple benefits. Go over food and kitchen safety with your children before you begin to prevent cuts and burns. Watch little ones as they use appliances, cooking surfaces and knives, or find kid-friendly options to make cooking safer. 


Show Your Kids How to Stay Healthy While Eating Out


Eating at home may be the best way to stay healthy, but your family’s hectic schedule may make eating on the go necessary. You can curb eating out with some meal prep but when going to restaurant is more convenient, take some time to help your kids make smart choices. Try to stick with high protein, grilled options and watch out for hidden salt and sugar. Choose water over sugary sodas and don’t order more food than you need. 


Promote Exercise and Play 


Staying active is essential to maintaining good health, but that can be challenging with kids. Video games, phones and television make it all too easy for children to spend hours on the couch, which can be detrimental to their health. Turn off the electronics and encourage your kids to get outside and play. Get in the backyard for a healthy game of hide-and-seek or play tag together. Getting up and moving can help prevent obesity and disease in children and adults. 


Encourage Healthy Hobbies


Hobbies can be a healthy means of relieving stress and developing the mind. Start early and help your children find hobbies that are constructive and creative. Set up a space to let loose with art or invest in some lessons with an instrument. Studies show that playing music can have benefits for children, so getting your kids playing a piano or violin is a good investment. You can even help get your kids outside to explore with fun hobbies including bird watching, gardening or biking. 


Foster Good Sleep Hygiene 


Most kids hate bedtime and it can be tempting to let them stay up late. But getting a good night’s sleep can be more beneficial to your child’s health than diet, exercise or stress relief. Sleep is essential for brain development and the maintenance of our immune system, so letting your kids skip sleep could set them up for serious issues later in life. Stick to set wake up and bedtime schedules, even during school breaks and weekends and help them get into a good nighttime routine. 


Your kids’ happiness is important to you and good health can be the key to a happy life. Getting your kids to make healthy choices when they are young will make it more likely for them to sustain their health as they get older. As difficult as it may be now, your kids will be thankful for these lessons, and ultimately, helping them live longer lives.

(PhoArtgraphy) child children dun health safety Wed, 25 Apr 2018 14:00:00 GMT
The bees' knees I think I've mentioned before about the cool people or seemingly cool people that I follow or "meet" on Instagram. There have been a few that I have actually met out in the real world and they are as cool as they seem. Well, this week's blog is another account of someone I met on Instagram who is definitely as cool as she seemed. By the way, I hope this doesn't seem stalkerish. If I feel a synergy with people online I want to meet them in person. Can you tell I spend a lot of time by myself when I'm not photographing? 

When Bee's and Quotes first showed up on Instagram I thought it was a neat little business located in Johns Creek.


It is geared towards art, creativity, and children. How can you go wrong with that combination? So of course, I started following them.

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By the way, I nor the owner, Angela, are grammar deficient. She chose to use an apostrophe S to show that everything doesn't have to be perfect. She said she's already been harangued by some teachers regarding this very matter and I don't want you telling me something I already know.  

At any rate, Angela is a really sweet, hardworking woman with a dream. A dream that allows children to let out their inner artists. For them to be as creative as they want to be without adult interference. To have fun and create all in the same space. Sometimes you just have to let children be children.

I remember when I purchased some unpainted, wooden letters that represented my son's initials. We had decided it would be cool to hang them on his wall. I had just painted his room orange. Yes, that's the color he chose. Since I painted the room, he wanted to paint the individual letters. In case you don't already know, I am a bit of a control freak. Not the kind that tries to control everybody and everything because I have a full understanding of what I can and can't control. I'm more of the kind that prefers things to be the way that I think they should be. Anyway, he decided that he didn't want to paint the letters a single color. He painted one letter orange, green and black. I just about lost my mind. I so wanted to "fix" it and show him the "right" way to paint the letters but I refrained. I realized that this was his room, his letters, and his creative expression and I didn't want to interfere with that. Man, was that hard!

Getting back to Angela...she is truly a delight. I had been telling her through DMs (for those social media challenged, that means Direct Message) that I was planning on coming to meet her and see her studio. Finally, one Saturday I was able to follow through on my promise. As I arrived she was cleaning up from the last event. In fact, there was still a family lingering around because their children weren't quite ready to go. You know it's a good sign when the children aren't ready to leave when it's over. The little boy was running around with a dinosaur hand puppet attacking his sister and parents. It was adorable. One of the things that caught my eye was a small pool filled with confetti. How much fun would that be to play in?

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After they left, I got a chance to really talk to Angela and find out more about her and her business. At the time of our meeting, she wasn't full-time with her business but she was working on it. She has a plan in place to take Bee's and Quotes to the next level. If you are interested in what Bee's and Quotes has to offer, please click here. She has some fantastic offerings during the week, as well as in the Summer. If my son was younger I would definitely take him to see Ms. Angela. He would have loved it. She really has a special way with kids and they just love her. Just talking to her I could tell she has a love for children and a love for creating. I wish I had a picture of her but she is a bit camera shy, plus she wasn't ready for me to photograph her. We, women, need to be ready before we have our pictures taken. Don't just show up with a camera and expect to snap way! With that said, check out some images of the studio. Don't they make you want to create something or at the very least want to visit?

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If you know of parents with little ones in the Johns Creek area, this would be the perfect place for them to let their little ones create! Pass this blog onto them. I think they'll thank you for it! As we all know, sharing is caring...unless it's pink eye. And in that case, you can keep that!


(PhoArtgraphy) art art studio artists child artist children drawing fun painting Wed, 18 Apr 2018 14:00:00 GMT
Wise beyond her years Just recently I had the pleasure of photographing one of my sister Robin's closest friends. She is helping me with a project of mine and gladly accepted my invitation to participate. Ok, she's helping me with my book about natural hair journeys if you really want to know. My goal is to have it published by November. Why November? Well, it is my birthday month after all, so I thought it was fitting. 

I've been wanting to photograph Kyla for years but we could never find the time. Or if we had the time she didn't feel she looked right. I always thought Kyla was beautiful on the outside as well as on the inside no matter how she felt about her physical self. My sister has many wonderful friends but Kyla is my favorite. 


What I like about Kyla is how she can be strong and vulnerable at the same time. She is what you would call a straight-shooter. She's not ambiguous. She says what she means and means what she says. She's very honest and sometimes bluntly so but it's all out of love. I appreciate all of that about her. She's even very honest about herself. It's very difficult for some people to be honest about themselves. Sure the good parts about us are always easy to discover and share. But what about the not-so-good parts? To me, Kyla seems to acknowledge all parts of her self... good, bad, indifferent and has made peace with all of them. I truly believe she is trying to be the best person she can be.

She is incredibly wise, intelligent and level-headed. She is quite humorous as well. Even though her brother is a photographer she told me that she feels uncomfortable in front of the camera. Does this look like she's uncomfortable? Well, she also said that being silly helped to ease that discomfort. 


I think when I captured this image she was in the middle of talking about something that someone did or said that made absolutely no sense.


Even though I don't see Kyla often, I always enjoy my time with her. Kyla's one of those people you can tell anything to and she will thoroughly listen without judgment. Plus she understands and can commiserate. I think everyone needs a Kyla.

Below are a few more images from our session. I probably don't have to tell you that we had a great time during the session. We even went out and got some tea at the coffee house across the street from her home. It was freezing and windy that day too. The shots that I captured outside were done quickly and with haste because I hate being cold. I don't think she liked it much either but she was definitely game for whatever I wanted to do. I liked this image I captured of her scratching her cat, Mick Jagger. Yes, that's the cat's name. What? My older sister has a dog named Will Robinson. If you don't know who that is Google it or Lost in Space.

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(PhoArtgraphy) atlanta portrait photographer beautiful happy location photography outdoor photography photography portraits Wed, 11 Apr 2018 14:00:00 GMT
Making new friends How many of you have come to the conclusion that it's difficult to make friends once you become an adult? And what makes it extra difficult is when you are an entrepreneur with no employees. If you don't get out of your office you will never meet anyone! Well, that's me. The times I have gotten out it was because I had to take my son somewhere. While waiting for him to finish his activity I would invariably meet another parent and we would start chatting. Usually, we would get along famously and exchange contact information. That's when I would realize we had a problem. They usually lived way on the other side of town. How can I hang out with you when we have to drive 40 or 50 minutes just to meet? It was such a bummer for me. I sometimes feel like a recluse, but I continue to try to get out when I don't have any clients or client work.

Since I've been on Instagram, I have made many new friends. There are some of the most fantastic people on Instagram! And because it's my nature, I have to meet said fantastic people in person. Is that weird? Do you have the urge to meet people in person that you meet on social media? Gee, maybe I am lonely. My husband works from home too, but he usually stays on his side of the basement so we don't really interact. He actually deals with the public over the phone, so I can't just go start talking to him when I need to expend some verbal energy. Some of the fantastic people I have met live out of town/state, so that's usually a no-go depending on where they live. Then there are those who live here in Atlanta and actually have the time to meet me. The fact that they want to meet me as well is truly a comfort. I'd hate to feel like a stalker. 

So, the latest person I met via IG is Daphne of DRG Business Consulting. She is in a Facebook group with me and many other women. That's initially how I met her. It was all online. We would comment on each other's IG posts and have DM conversations. Then one day I suggested we meet for coffee, tea, whatever. I just felt like she was "my people." She accepted my offer and we began planning. I ended up having the same issue with her that I have with everyone else...she and I lived at opposite ends of the city. But we didn't let that stop us. To make it fair, we decided to meet in the middle so we met at the Grant Park Coffee House. It was a really quaint little coffee house across the street from Zoo Atlanta. I had a wonderful time just chatting it up with her and I would imagine she felt the same as well. We learned so much about each other and our prospective businesses.

During our conversation, I asked her if she would like to participate in my book about natural hair journeys and she said yes. At that point, we scheduled a time to discuss what to wear, where we were going to shoot and when. A few weeks later it was time to meet up again for the session. Guess where we met. You guessed it! The Grant Park Coffee House. We figured, why not? It had some really great scenery and the day was a great day for photographing outside. The only thing that was stopping us was a woman with three little girls who were playing wildly with a ball around the outdoor seating. Once they cleared out we had free reign of the patio. I photographed her in front of the shop, on the sidewalk, inside the shop. I wanted to make sure we used as much of the scenery as we could. 

One thing that happened while we were there is that a man came by and unlocked this gate behind Daphne in this image. atlanta portrait photographer_MG_7327-Edit

I thought the gate was there for decoration, but it turns out that this man has renovated two units upstairs and rents them out. We both wanted to see what they looked like and the man obliged. They were really nice units and I could see them being used for a girls weekend or something. Anyway, after our curiosity was satisfied, I captured a few more images of Daphne and then we had to part ways. I'm so excited that she is participating in my book project and I can't wait to share it with all of you! Here are just a few more images that I want to share. I'm not going to show you my favorites because those are going in the book.

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One last thing. Daphne and two other business coaches held the Fly CEO Challenge, which I participated in. It did  help me to form better morning and evening routines. I just have to make sure I stick to them. That's the really hard part. But during all of this I have determined that Daphne is definitely one of my people.


(PhoArtgraphy) branding branding photography business business portraits fun headshots photography portraits Wed, 28 Mar 2018 14:00:00 GMT