Early Fall Family Outdoor Session

Guest author: Amy

I always wanted to do an outdoor family portrait. We had one done in a studio over 5 years ago and it was very sterile. I thought if I won, there was no excuse but to get it done.

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Our favorite family activity is fishing. Every year we try to go on vacation to a lake. Fishing turns into a yearly competition to see who catches the most fish!

 

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I enjoyed the session because we were all together in our element. The park and lake were the perfect setting for us. Karen made it very casual and relaxed and that made the session even more enjoyable.

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My kids hate to dress up so I wanted to make very casual and comfortable for them. Megan decided she would like to wear her favorite blue dress from T.J. Maxx and we all followed her lead. Luckily, everyone already had blue shirts from various stores such as Old Navy and Kohl’s.

I was worried my older kids would not want to cooperate. They hate getting their pictures taken. I was told I was torturing them! But once we got there, they were troopers and did it for Mom!!

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Don’t stress about it. Your hair and clothes don’t need to be perfect! Be yourself and enjoy the time together!

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From MuSen: Amy’s family session was fun for me as well. The weather was just perfect. Many thought a sunny day is the best for outdoor portraits but in fact as a photographer I prefer a cloudy day. The clouds serve as a natural light diffuser and when taking views in a wide angle, can really gives you a dramatic look. I love how down-to-earth Amy’s family is. Their little teasing of one another made me laugh with them. I am all about my local community and truly enjoy the process of getting to know families around me through their photo sessions. I cannot be more thankful for the supports my community is giving me.

To find out what Amy thinks of MuSen, visit Raves.

From Strangers to Friends

Cameron’s first birthday session was a big hit. It is something very different. Instead of smashing a cake, he smashed spaghetti.

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Chef’s guide to perfect spaghetti recipe.
1. Make sure veggies are fresh and taste delicious. (They are from the photographer’s own garden, picked one hour prior to session!)
2. Stir well during cooking
3. Check tenderness
4. Enjoy!

Cameron’s Mom Lizzy and I have become friends through all these portrait sessions. This is the 3rd time they came to me for pictures. I feel so grateful that she always opens up to my ideas and willing to try new things with me.

They were the winner of my session donation in support of East Brunswick Youth Council on 2016 East Brunswick Day. Lizzy had always wanted to have professional pictures taken of her family and the children, but it just never happened. Coming across the donation I made at the silent auction made her think that this would be the best time to try to win something! And She did. “A fantastic photographer who is creative and listens to input and produces beautiful pictures!”, said Lizzy.

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Portrait was done on location in their house.
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Ron, the dad, football and sports nut who is also into memorabilia and collectibles.
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Liz, the mom, loves craft stuff and shopping!! “lol and spending time with the kids.”, according to Lizzy herself.
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The couple love taking the kids on outings… Central park, the beach, zoos, etc.
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Arianna, now the 14 year old, artistic and funny. Great at drawing cartoon and animation as well as more classical pieces. To visit blog on Arianna’s Bat Mitzvah, click here.
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Bryce, the 3 year old, silly kid that loves to make people laugh. “He is our little superhero.”

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Cameron, now the 1 year old, “our little butterball of happiness”. He has figured out how to get around, but he really loves his pacifier and his mommy. He celebrated his first Hanukkah last holiday season.

“I love how well Karen interact with the kids and family, its not a simple task to get so many people to focus and smile and get a great picture! I also love that she let me help get involved and pose and make suggestions during our session”, said Lizzy.

 

For Cameron’s first birthday session, we came up with the spaghetti smash idea. Lizzy had purchased a large pot for Cameron to fit into and I provided the fresh veggies from my own garden and chef’s hat that we used for the props. The other props Lizzy rummaged through her drawers for the rolling pin and spoons.

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Safety tip: always put heavy weight at the bottom of props like pot, bucket, etc for babies to prevent accidental flipping. A 10 lb weight plate from any sporting good store would do just fine.
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Lizzy was worried that Cameron would not co-operate at all for the pictures and the entire session would be wasted, but he did great!

 

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“Have fun with the entire experience, and don’t expect your 1 year old to do what you want them to do :)”, shared Lizzy. She loves this picture because it captured a real moment of a 1 year old.
2017 Silient Auction Ad
From MuSen: I am donating again at this year’s East Brunswick Day to support EBYC. Visit the FB event page for more details.

To learn more about the Sequoia package, click here.

To learn more about the First Birthday pacakge, click here.

 

Making Summer Family Memory

Analisa and her family had been wanting to have a family portrait done. When MuSen donated an Oak outdoor session to the Max Challenge of East Brunswick‘s 2017 Day of Giving program in support of March of Dimes, it just all made sense. Analisa put in the bid for the silent auction and won the outdoor portrait session.

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The family enjoys a variety of activities such as bowling, movies, mini-golf, etc.

To prepare for the session, Analisa looked to Pinterest to get ideas and decided she wanted the family to be in soft colors. She started with the girls outfits and found her dress in the perfect shade of pink at Macy’s. She searched for a vintage looking dress for her daughter and got hers from Amazon. Then she worked at finding complimenting outfits for the boys, which ultimately came from TjMaxx and Express.

Analisa got her and her daughter Liana’s hair done with Melissa Amorim Cancelinha. Her beautiful makeup was provided by Priscila Tuba.

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Analisa had two worries prior to the session: would they have good weather? Would the kids cooperate? Overall it went well with both. She liked that the session consisted of casually exploring the park and capturing pictures in multiple backgrounds.

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Liana loves to sing and perform.
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Mommy – Daughter floral crowns by Boho Halo Company

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Gabriel is a ball of energy.

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Analisa has an obsession with home decor and HGTV. Mark gets up early to play soccer ever Sunday morning.

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“Do your homework!”, advice from Analisa. “Look at example family pictures to get a sense of the style your want and ideas for outfits. And also communicate with your photographer because they can guide you in the right direction and even help with finalizing outfits. Karen was wonderful with suggestions.”

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Thanks to people with like-minds, together, the EB Max team raised over $10,500 for March of Dimes this year.

(MuSen: I have been so well known for my on-location all inclusive baby and small children portrait service people sometimes forget that I capture beautiful outdoor pictures and I love working with the entire family just as much. Donating outdoor family sessions to charity not only fulfills my mission of giving back to the community by supporting a good cause, it also gives me the opportunity to continue showcase my outdoor portrait works. Many families don’t realize they are in need of a family portrait done until they see my flyer. I enjoy working with Analisa and her family very much. I love the fact that Analisa took the time to communicate with me during the pre-session consultation. They came to the session well dressed, groomed, and also prepared with bug spray, water, and snack for the kids. I am so glad we did the family breakout and captured images of individual kid, siblings together, parent with kid, and the couple only. I am sure every single picture they picked from this session will be making life-long memory for the family. Click here to find out what Analisa thinks of the experience having a family session done with MuSen.)

To learn more about the Oak package, click here.

Meet Piney

(This article has been proof-read by Piney’s Mom.)

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. During this month, I gifted a birthday/family portrait session to a local warrior – 3 year old Piney who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) when she was 18 months old.

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(Image source from http://www.childrenscancer.org/. Spread the word on social media with #GoGold)

How I got to know Piney and her family is a good story to share of its own. Many of you might have already known that I am a Girl Scout co-leader for my older two daughters’ troops. It has been our troops’ tradition that each year, we will identify a cause and donate about 1/3 of our cookie money to that cause to help others. This year, we toured the Make-A-Wish® foundation castle located in Monroe, NJ. It is a beautiful place filled with touching stories that will make you tear, however none of us would ever wish any kid ever use the wishing place.

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Image source from http://nj.wish.org/about-us/our-chapter/samuel-and-josephine-plumeri-wishing-place

Shortly after the tour, the cookie Mom from one of the troops approached us and introduced Piney to us. At the time, Piney was about two-and-a-half years old, just reached the eligibility for the Make-A-Wish® program and the family was considering filing an application.

After several messages exchanges, we learned more about Piney and her battle against AML: the risky and extensive procedures that she had to go through in order to be able to accept multiple rounds of aggressive chemo treatments, the life threatening side-effects of the medication, how unfortunately a bone marrow transplant is not a very viable option for her since she has Down Syndrome, and how the entire family’s life has changed to accommodate such situation. The troops, along with several parents, decided to further contribute some gifts to show support of Piney and her family. In August, I together with the cookie Mom represented our troops to deliver the gifts, and that is when I met Piney’s Mom in person for the very first time.

She is a beautiful, confident, super intelligent and sensible lady. It was very comfortable and pleasant chatting with her. We went pretty deep on all sorts of topics including children’s education, the struggles trying to get balanced as a Mom, and just life philosophies in general. She is incredibly strong, but when she shared with us how she just had a major breakdown prior to coming to our meeting after learning one of Piney’s buddies at the cancer center lost his battle, she got quite emotional. I held her hands as I could sense her fear. It is hard to image how much she and the family needs to go through on a daily basis. I wonder what else I could do to help and I wish I could do more than just donating some gifts. What about a family portrait? I assume every family needs one at one point to preserve their memories. This is something I could do for them. So I offered Piney’s Mom an on-location family portrait session. I was so glad to hear that is exactly one task on their to-do-list.

August was a busy month for me (well, which month isn’t?). I exchanged emails with Piney’s Mom several times and we tentatively set a date in September for the portrait session pending how Piney feels. September came and I got the good news to go ahead.

On the date of the session I was super excited. I arrived their house, a very warm and cozy place with a golden ribbon sign standing for child cancer awareness on their front window.  On the wall of the entry way there is a very nice black and white portrait of the whole family. I later learned it was taken by a volunteer photographer from Flashes of Hope at the hospital when Piney was under treatment around her 2nd birthday. Piney was with very little hair in the picture and both parents look a bit tired.

Mom was nervous at first. She was concerned that Piney wouldn’t cooperate and I might end up wasting my time coming over. I eased her concerns and said “the most we can do is to give it a try and I think I am pretty good with kids.”

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Piney was sitting on the floor in her playroom playing with her big brother J. She is super adorable and looks quite different from the picture on the wall. I love her full, curly brown hair, which the family often jokes as the “hot mess”. She greeted me with a soft and polite voice, a bit shy. She got interested in watching me setting up the backdrop and strobe lights. While I was asking J to pose for me for a few test shots, she stepped in and before we all knew it, the session started with Piney and J comfortably posing for me like pros. Even Mom and Dad were surprised.

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The rest of the session went extremely smoothly and we had lots of fun. While Piney was getting changed for her next outfit I took some solo pictures of J and had a great conversation with him. He proudly showed me his music instruments and shared soccer stories. I told him how I chickened out of soccer completely at one point because I couldn’t take the pressure and responsibility of being a goalie. The guitar in the collage that I created for J is a birthday gift he received on his 10th birthday. J told me his only wish is for his baby sister to get well and be healthy.

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We also captured beautiful and loving family portraits, some are even for the holiday season. I would leave the family to enjoy those portraits at their own private setting.

While everyone changed, relaxed and set up for the next set, I kept on taking pictures. This is when I captured the lifestyle moments.

I came out of the session feeling extremely great. Almost a year into my business, I often ask myself why I would pick up more tasks and responsibilities, especially on a part time basis and not really a source of major income.  Like any business, mine should have a mission. But almost every photography business has a mission of “helping people to capture memories”. Can I do more than that? After this session I think I found my own mission. My mission is to help others with my skills. I have shared this vision with my VIP group members: “Professional Photography is a luxury good. Everyone deserves it but not everyone can afford it due to various reasons (time, energy, health, money…). Professional Photography is also an art – that can inspire and influence people.  I love children, I support youth education, I am an advocate for seeking a cure for cancer, I believe in empowering women and helping local small businesses to thrive. There are so many different ways I can help by contributing my skills. I don’t need to be big and famous. Instead I will do my best with my small platform and hope one day, like minds will work with me together to make it bigger.” Through Piney’s session I am making my first step toward accomplishing my mission.

Many awesome news followed Piney’s session. Her latest blood work came back good and she is now enrolled in a public school program. I wish more great news to come. And let us continue to bring awareness to childhood cancer and to support finding a cure for cancer.

To follow Piney visit her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pineysposse/

Piney and J