A Year in My Life- July

Oops, I did it again. I forgot to share my “A Year in my Life Photos”. I was about to start writing Augusts post, when it dawned on me that I had completely skipped over July! I guess it will be July today and August tomorrow.

As can be expected the beginning of July was filled with parades and fireworks. We had a lot of fun going to a few different performances of the Army National guard that Cameron plays in. The kids always holler and scream when Daddy marches by. They’re his biggest fans.

A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
We were lucky to run into some friends at the local fireworks show.
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
I’d rather take pictures of these cuties than the fireworks
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
Army National Guard Band playing the National Anthem
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
Maddy loves her baby
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic | LuLaRoe Julia
Rocking my LuLaRoe Americana Julia as a long shirt
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
Daddy marching in the smallest parade we’ve ever seen.

July was also great because we had a visit from Cameron’s brother and his cute little family. My kids absolutely adore their little cousin. We got a bit of rain while at the park, but that didn’t slow anyone down!

Get out of the way!
Get out of the way!
You can definitely tell these two are related.
You can definitely tell these two are related.
"just singing in the rain!"
“just singing in the rain!”
ok, maybe they don't ALL like each other.
ok, maybe they don’t ALL like each other.
Cheese!
Cheese!

It was a pretty fun low key month. The most exciting thing happened on July 23rd when I submitted my application to become a LuLARoe Fashion Consultant! MY call to purchase my initial inventory should come any day now. I can’t wait to get started in this business. I love their clothes and I know I’m going to rock it! If you haven’t gotten in on my LuLaRoe presale yet check it out. Pre-sale deals end on the day my inventory ships, which will be in about 10-14 days. Also make sure to join me in my Facebook group to get in on some fun giveaways leading up to my big launch party in a few weeks.

Are you doing a photo challenge this year? I’d love to see your work. Drop a link in the comments so I can check it out. 

A Year in the Life June- Documentary Photography at the Pet Store

Once again I completely forgot to post my A Year in the Life pictures from last month. As usual the littlest ones were the stars of the show! I must admit right around 1.5 is my favorite age. Learning to walk and talk, but not quite into the temper tantrum stage yet. Even with a new baby around Wally once again was the main subject of my camera lens this month.  DSC06481   DSC06493 DSC06496

The best shot of the month is this one of Wally with Hannah. Wally is absolutely IN LOVE with his sock monkey. He is also over the moon for his new baby sister. When Grandma sent Hannah a sock monkey outfit I knew I needed a picture of him holding the both of them. As you can see Hannah wasn’t too fond of the idea. Wally was unperturbed. He just shoved that paci in her mouth, positive that losing it was the only reason she was sad. Poor girl didn’t stop crying till mommy rescued her, after getting the picture first of course lol. DSC06491

The older kids managed to sneak into a few pictures by holding the very photogenic new baby. Maddy especially loves to help take care of Hannah. I have  feeling these two are going to be best buds.

DSC06426

DSC06537

Ben likes to love on her too, but not quite as much as Maddy. He gets bored pretty fast adn is ready to pass her on.

One fun thing I did this month was take the camera with me when we went to the pet store. I’ve always been a little too self conscious to bust out the camera in an unusual spot like that before. This time I just went for it. I had a TON of fun. I love that I was able to capture so much of my kids personalities in an everyday situation. I even remembered to hand the camera off to the hubs and get in the pictures myself!

Would you like to preserve these types of memories as well? I can teach you how. Stay tuned for my workshop announcement, coming soon! If you’d like to hire me for a documentary session please contact me for more details and to schedule your date.

A Year in My Life- April- Meet My Mentors

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Well would you look at me. It’s the BEGINNING of the month and I remembered to post my “A Year in my Life” photos! The April weather has been gorgeous, and as you can see we’ve spent a LOT of time outside. I hope you enjoy this little behind the scenes peek into our life.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Our new lady goat, Alice. She’s now pregnant and we are expecting kid(s) late summer/early fall.

This month I’d like to talk about some of my mentors that have really encouraged me and taught me as I have worked on perfecting my documentary images. First up is Kirsten Lewis Bethmann. I first “met” her while watching her class on CreativeLive “Family Photography: Modern Storytelling”.  Kirsten specializes in Day in the Life Family Photography. Rather than posed images she captures the real everyday story of the families that she photographs. Her class walked through things like how to see the moments, how to use the available light, and included a behind the scenes of her shooting a session.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Making faces at his reflection while watching the rain through the window.

After watching Kirsten’s class I was inspired to take more documentary images of my own family, and also felt the desire to provide this for clients. I was already moving away from super posed images and into more lifestyle images, but Kirsten made me want to go even further! I purchased her first class so that I could re-watch it as often as I wanted to refresh my mind on things I had already learned as well as hopefully learn something new each time. When she did her second class, “Family Photography: Photojournalism in the Home” I watched as much as I could live, and learned even more.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Poor baby was NOT feeling well at all. He was sick for almost a week!

My next big mentor I also discovered thanks to CreativeLive. I first saw Julia Kelleher when she presented the class “Family Photography: Capturing Connection“. I absolutely loved her passion for what she was doing, photographing newborns and their families, as well as her open honesty about her experiences with postpartum depression. I could also tell that she had a true love for teaching and really wanted her students to succeed.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
We had a lot of fun watching these little birdies grow up. Their parents are beautiful red Cardinals and we love having them in our yard.

Then I saw a call for studio audience members for her second class, “The Creative Newborn Photography Studio“, and I decided to apply. Boy am I glad I did! I was accepted and given the opportunity to attend her three-day class live in the CreativeLive studio in San Francisco. It was an AMAZING experience! I not only got to spend three days learning from Julia, but I was able to build relationships with the other photographers that were in the studio audience. Julia really helped me build my own passion for exploring my why. Why am I a photographer? Why am I an artist? What message do I have to share with the world? She really launched me into me journey of digging deeper and rediscovering my own identity outside that of wife and mother.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Check out how this guy is holding the pencil! Only 1.5, but has to be like the big kids. Maddy, is the best big sister and always willing to help him out and cheer him on.

While those two instructors have influenced me the most, CreativeLive has been such a wealth of knowledge and motivation for me. I’ve watched classes on pricing, photography, Photoshop editing, marketing, branding, watercolors and so much more. I try to check out their offerings each morning and tune in to the live classes whenever I can.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Picnicking on the front porch after a morning of working hard in the yard.

Last, but certainly not least, this list would not be complete without the amazing Christine Tremoulet! I first met her in Jeff Jochum’s Team-X Facebook group. Jeff Jochum is an amazing coach, who I have also worked with, and you should definitely check out his book “Work Happily Ever After” if you are a photographer. Jeff really helped me start digging into who I am and why, but Christine is the one who really cracked the nut wide open for me and helped me become clearly focused in my business goals and direction.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Hard work, when done with the family, is fun. Stay tuned for a future blog post on how we use family work instead of chores to build relationship and teach good habits.

After talking with Christine on Facebook quite a bit I signed up for her email list “Blogging Brilliantly” which is now an amazing book. Blogging Brilliantly give daily actionable steps that you can take to improve your message, attract your target audience, and blog with more clarity. I have to admit, that while the advice was amazing, I failed to implement most of it. I think more than anything I was unclear in the direction I wanted my blog and business to go. I desperately want to be a full-time birth/newborn/family life photographer. Unfortunately with baby #8 due in just a few days it really isn’t a season of my life where I can focus as much time, energy, and money, into that business as I would like. I was pretty lost and floundering trying to figure out how to be true to myself and my needs while still honoring the responsibilities that come with being the mom of a large family.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
The kids all love working together to help Dad out. This time shoveling up wood chips to be placed under the fence where the neighbor’s dog keeps getting into our yard.

Christine then invited me to be a part of her first group coaching class “Business Brilliantly“, and I jumped at the opportunity. I knew I needed help and I knew that I trusted her knowledge and mentorship. I was not disappointed! Through her class I was able to really focus on what I wanted out of my life. I was able to weed out the distractions and create a clear message of who I am as a person and a business. I was able to create a sense of peace with the direction I am going with my businesses and excitement about where they will take me in the future.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Getting a ride in the wheelbarrow as a reward for hard work well done

Thanks to these three mentors I am in a really good place right now with my work life balance. I have given myself permission to step back from the photography and art without completely giving it up. I have come to a place where I truly enjoy and look forward to writing in my blog. I have a clear message of what I stand for, who I am talking to, and am able to focus more time on my children in the process. It’s been quite the journey, and taken several years, but I am eternally thankful to the mentors who have gotten me to where I am.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Hector really is a butthead, but Leah is the animal whisperer and can be buddies with even the most ornery of animals. I love how this image captures her sweet, sensitive personality juxtaposed with his look of devilishness.

I love sharing these everyday moments with my readers each month. I hope they not only give you a peek into my behind the scenes life, but somehow the experiences and knowledge I share in each post can also help you to find the same sense of purpose and clarity that I have been privileged to enjoy!

If you would like to have documentary images of your family I would love to help you out! While I am not full timing the photography business I am still taking on a few clients each month for birth, newborn, and family life sessions. If you are interested in scheduling a session within ~1 hour of Winder Georgia please contact me!

Who are your mentors either in personal life or business? What have they taught you?

Are you doing a 52/365 project this year? I’d love to see your images so please share your links in the comments and I’ll come visit.

A Year in My Life- March

I can’t believe I completely forgot to share my “A Year in My Life” pictures from March! I think I can just blame it on pregnancy brain. That’s a good excuse for anything! 😉 As I was uploading my favorite images from this month I realized that every single one of them includes the 1.5 year old. I have to say this is probably my favorite age. They toddle around like drunk old men, they are learning and exploring, and they say and do the silliest things. So this month enjoy your Wally overload and next month I’ll have to really think about getting lots of pictures of the other kids to make up for it!

A Year in My Life March| SmithSquad.com | Documenting every day life with photography | in home photographer
Getting Daddy hugs as soon as he comes home from work.

One thing I am pretty passionate about is getting your photos printed, yet it seems to be something I put off all the time! I always have the best of intentions, then I fail to follow through. Recently I have been researching different options for remedying this problem.

A Year in My Life March| SmithSquad.com | Documenting every day life with photography | in home photographer
I wasn’t playing in the cat food, in fact I’m not even here! I did not color on the cabinet door either.

I have decide that first of all I am going to create photo books for our family photos.  I didn’t take many pictures during the early years of our marriage, so I’ll probably put several years into one book. From the last few years on, however, I plan to do one book per year. For these books I’m going to use Blurb. I have heard great reviews of them from a few photographers that I really trust and can’t wait to try them out.

A Year in My Life March| SmithSquad.com | Documenting every day life with photography | in home photographer
Yoga is a little more difficult when the 1 year old is involved.

Blurb also has options to make books from your Facebook and Instagram feeds. I may do one for my Facebook as well. It sounds like a fun way to capture a lot of the great memories I’ve posted in my statuses over the years. I know I have a lot of great kid one liners buried in there somewhere! There are also several images on my Facebook that I’m not sure exist anywhere else.

A Year in My Life March| SmithSquad.com | Documenting every day life with photography | in home photographer
Just reading, nothing to see here.

Another thing I want to start doing is printing basic photo prints of my favorite images of each child. I want each kid to have a box of pictures of themselves that they can take with them when they leave the house. This is one thing my mother was excellent at. Each of us kids had a scrapbook as well as several prints that she sent with us when we left the nest. I love those pictures! There are TONS of options for getting prints of your images. I will be using my professional lab that is only available to photographers. One great option for people who are not professional photographers is MPix.

A Year in My Life March| SmithSquad.com | Documenting every day life with photography | in home photographer
Goodbye before Daddy heads out to work.
A Year in My Life March| SmithSquad.com | Documenting every day life with photography | in home photographer
Why did he leave me!?

Another thing I want to do more with my photos is get wall art. I love to go into other people’s homes and look at their family pictures on their walls. Also having family photos on display has been linked with higher self esteem and a sense of belonging in children. I want my kids to look around and say I’m here, I’m special, I’m important! Once again I will be using my pro lab for most of these displays/products. A great consumer purchase point is Tiny Prints. Just scroll down to “For the Wall” and “For the Home”. Another option is Cafepress.

A Year in My Life March| SmithSquad.com | Documenting every day life with photography | in home photographer
Look mom, I’m helping.

Another fun way to print your photos is on various gift items. One year I got an apron with a photo of my oldest on it for my mom. There are also all sorts of other fun things like mugs, phone cases, bags, jewelry, pillows, and more. Grandparents especially love to get photo gifts, and they are great for those people on your list who don’t really NEED anything. I would also suggest Tiny Prints for these types of things as well as Zazzle or Cafepress.

A Year in My Life March| SmithSquad.com | Documenting every day life with photography | in home photographer
I love my kitty

Hopefully next month I’ll be more on the ball with getting my April photos posted in a timely manner. I also will be sharing updates on how my printing is going.

What are you going to do to get your photos printed? Have you been documenting your life? I’d love to see your images and/or blog posts. Just share a link in the comments so I can check them out!

A Year in My Life |Project 366|February

I have loved the results that have come from being more conscious of documenting my every day life. So many great memories that would have gone forgotten if not captured. Even just a few weeks later while editing I was surprised by a few photos that I had forgotten I had taken!

mother daughter art|emilyjphoto.com|artist|Athens newborn photographer|atlanta birth photographer|documentary in home family photography sessions
I love this photo my husband grabbed of me and my oldest daughter working on our art together.

What has really made this project so possible for me is my camera. I am currently shooting with a Sony A6000. I switched to this mirrorless camera because of its compact size. I have all of the same control and image quality as a full size DSLR in a little package that fits in my purse. When you have 6 kids ages 7 and under and another on the way you don’t carry a bulky camera bag along with the diaper bag and purse. It just isn’t reasonable.

Using a hammer at the Home Depot kids workshop|emilyjphoto.com|artist|Athens newborn photographer|atlanta birth photographer|documentary in home family photography sessions
We love going to the monthly Home Depot Kids Workshop.

In addition to being a great purse camera its small size allows me to easily carry it around the house. Rather than packed up I try to keep it out on a shelf, on my bed, on the desk etc. That way when I see a great moment happening I can easily grab it and take a few pictures. With easy to use control dials for shutter, ISO, and Aperture on the exterior it is easy to quickly alter my settings and always shoot in my favorite full manual mode.

Baby doing yoga with daddy|emilyjphoto.com|artist|Athens newborn photographer|atlanta birth photographer|documentary in home family photography sessions
When I saw Wally join dad for yoga I was able to quickly grab the camera off the desk, change my settings to adjust for the drastic lighting difference, and capture this picture in just a few seconds.

When I have the 16-50 lens on this little camera isn’t any bigger than most of your point and shoot cameras! When I am at home or out with the hubs who can be my sherpa I have the option of bringing along the 55-210 lens, which is quite a bit larger, to get a greater variety in my shots. I call it my sniper lens. I love sitting far away and capturing the real true moments that happen when people don’t know that my camera is focusing on them.

a little boy with his dog|emilyjphoto.com|artist|Athens newborn photographer|atlanta birth photographer|documentary in home family photography sessions
Wally was desperately trying to get Boris to get up and play with him. This is when the long lens comes in handy, because anytime Wally notices I am photographing him he runs at me to try and get the camera!

I am looking forward to adding an A7ii to my bag, hopefully soon, as well as a few prime lenses. If you’re looking for a mirrorless camera of your own, and don’t quite need the full pro capabilities, I would highly recommend the Sony A5100 or Sony A3000. I have also heard great things about the Olympus and Fuji mirrorless cameras, though I do not have any personal experience with them.

reading in a hospital waiting room|emilyjphoto.com|artist|Athens newborn photographer|atlanta birth photographer|documentary in home family photography sessions
Ben is working on his reading while waiting with me for my Midwife appointment.

What camera do you shoot with and why do you love (or hate) it? Are you doing any photography projects this year? I would love to hear about them in the comments!