Mid Autumn in Central Park

When it comes to photo-shoot there are so much you could do at the Central Park. The tip is to stick to one small area and try to make the most of it.

The family likes the scenery and the backdrop of the city from the park. Besides Central Park, they also considered the Battery Park, the Gantry Plaza State Park, and the Old Westbury Gardens. After pre-session consultation and understanding the their needs, we settled in with the mid section of Central Park (around 72nd street).

The route started at the Bethesda Fountain. We then walked along the west side to the Bow Bridge, and took quite some pictures by The Lake as well. We wrapped up the section at the Ramble.

The family wasn’t looking anything in particular. They just thought it would be nice to take some family photos. If anything they wanted a casual and easy going look and this was exactly what we did.

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Near the Bethesda Fountain

The couple’s son Connor was about 14 months old at the time. He is very spontaneous and curious. He loves to do things on his own and tries to help out on everything.

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On the way to the Bow Bridge (this picture is one of the most popular pictures on my Instagram account)
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By The Lake
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More by The Lake
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Bow Bridge in the background
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At the Ramble
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Connor’s clothes are from Janie and Jack and Gap.

Tips from the family: “Don’t think of it as picture day. Think of it as a regular day where you’re hanging out with your toddler and having fun. No stress! Just a fun outing day with the family.”

MuSen: A session involving toddler could be very exhausting for both the photographer and the parents. The outcome would be the best if not posed and just focus on candid captures. Always bring snack, drink, change of clothes, and comfort toys. Relax and enjoy the time together! This is a full family session with many beautiful scenery including Bethesda Fountain, backdrop of the city in the background, and more closeup view of the Bow Bridge. The family chooses not to release those images which I completely respect. Besides receiving all their pictures in a nicely crafted photobook, I also surprise the Mom with the following session gift from my OrigamiOwl collection.

Central Park Session Gift
Large Rose Gold Heart Living Locket with Crystals; 18-20″ Rose Gold Large Oval Chain; Assorted limited edition Charms and Swarovski Stardust Crystals.

Click here to learn more about my outdoor Oak pacakge.

 

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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Megan

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.

My Lucky Star!

Meet my nephew Ethan! He recently turned 2 and the two families planned a playdate at Princeton University. Ethan is one of my best friends’ son. Both me and my BFF are single child. We treat each other like siblings, and each other’s kids like nephew and nieces.

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Ethan is the lucky star of my photography business. Till today, I am still thankful for my BFF’s trust and confidence in me. She handed her first born to me for newborn pictures. They turned out terrible, very few good ones. I felt deeply embarrassed. Ethan’s newborn session helped me realize my weaknesses as a photographer. And that became the turning point of my business. After the session I put myself in a boot camp to beef up all the necessary skills as a photographer in general and as a newborn photographer in particular. My hard work gets paid off. It is not how long you are in, but how fast you can improve. Back in June this year, I was nominated as one of the 2017 National Association of Professional Child Photographers (NAPCP) Best New Emerging Child Photographer (BNECP).

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Ethan’s newborn picture at 6 weeks old

 

 

Ethan is one of my favorite portrait faces. I also did a lifestyle 100 Days and first birthday cake smash for him.

 

For Ethan’s 2nd birthday portrait, my BFF was looking for relaxed, outdoor, not formal but candid shots. “He likes to laugh and smile but camera shy, so works well when picture captures the moment.”

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A quick capture of Ethan having fun walking up and down the stairs

Ethan’s outfit is from Rags to Raches.   His Daddy picked out a pair of black shoes from Jordan so the outfit matches with the shoes, “plus it looks really good on him”.

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Ethan was a premie but his afterbirth weight has been in the 90 percentile for a long time. He learned to sing before he learned to talk. He is a split image of his dad.

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My BFF was concerned about Ethan not cooperating, not meeting the agreed upon time since they couldn’t predict his nap schedule. “The session turned out great, there were other kids (MuSen: my girls) so made this more like friend and family outing rather than a formal photo shoot. The location was perfect, weather and timing were perfect too.”

“Afternoon session worked out well for us, after nap, before dinner. Bring snacks just in case. Follow his lead, plan to visit a few different spots.”, more advice from my BFF.

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Prospect Garden, which lies behind Prospect House, was designed by Ellen Wilson, who lived there with her husband, Woodrow Wilson 1879, while he served as University president. (Source: Princeton University Campus Attractions)

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MuSen: My BFF told me she has noticed incredible improvement in my photography skills in such a short amount of time. Ethan’s session caught lots of social media attentions. The collage I made for him stayed as top posts of many popular hashtags on Instagram for days.

 

Model Citizen Media
It also help me to get identified by Model Citizen Media and I was invited to give their interview a try. I am deeply motivated by their quote:”You can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground”.
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Fun Fact: As I am drafting this blog I went check out Instagram hashtag #princetonuniversity out of curiosity and found out my random shot of my oldest that day at the arcade has become the #1 top post among 41,872 public posts. Wow!

Thank you Ethan for continuing inspiring me!! Auntie loves you very much!

To find out what my BFF thinks of me as a photographer? Click here.

To learn more about the Oak pacakge, click here.

The Family behind Crafts by Jackie

I release this blog on a Thursday because it is perfect for throwback.

My friendship with Jackie goes back to a long way. Her daughter Haylie and my daughter Sammi were at the same daycare. They were also in the same dance class. I remember those cute little bunny costumes. Years later, both families expand with more kids. I started my photography business around the same time Jackie started her crafting business, and we soon formed great collaborations. Haylie and her younger brother Charlie did a wonderful fantasy model call for me. This mermaid meets fisherman image attracted lots of new clients in the early stage of my business.

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Mermaid meets fisherman

Haylie also modeled a tutu outfit for me.

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I had the honor to be their family photographer two years in a row. The family loves outdoors. Last year’s session was at a local park and this year at the beautiful Lavallette Beach.  Wonder how much has changed in a year? Let us take a look:

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2016 at a local park
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2017 lavallette sunset

Their favorite family activity would probably be going crabbing together. It’s something outdoors that they all love to do. Funny enough, they barely even eat seafood- it’s just a fun way to get out and do something together. “In the sun and right by the beach!!!!”

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2017

Perhaps the biggest change I have noticed as a photographer would be how much Charlie, now 4, has grown. I remember it was quite some work trying to get his attention and stay focused during the family session last year. But this year, he poses for me, smiles for me, so great to work with!

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Charlie, 2016
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Charlie, 2017

This handsome little fellow recently started a karate/martial arts class and it is his favorite place to be. He’s already earned his orange belt!

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Charlie and Mommy, 2016
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Charlie and Mommy, 2017

Haylie LOVES gymnastics. The conditioning, the never ending practices, anything and everything leading up to the meets, she loves it all! Her team is more like her second family now.

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Haylie, 2016
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Haylie, 2017
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Haylie always wanted a sunset silhouette poster with her gymnastics moves and we did it!

Kaylee enjoys playing softball in the spring, and takes a gymnastics class as well.

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Kaylee, 2016
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Kaylee, 2017

 

 

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Jackie loves being a full-time mom and being able to work from home. Her craft business has come a lot further than she ever imagined! And in her spare time she enjoys couponing, and has a fabulous stockpile closet! Click here to visit Crafts by Jackie’s Facebook page.

 

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Chuck is a huge Green Bay Packers fan.. as well as a fan of his family.

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The couple, 2016
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The couple, 2017

When preparing for their photo sessions, Jackie always try to go with a color scheme. She wants them to match, but not too “matchy”. Once they pick their location, and date – she starts the search! With the pictures usually being done in spring/summer, it works out perfect that she can find some lightweight, fun colors. This year the family did a pretty teal/aqua color with white. – For the girls, they had clothing from Abercrombie Kids, with Charlie’s clothing from Target. The year before, they chose a dark blue, and did the same thing. They found a couple cute things that matched, and it all worked out! They typically stick to colors in the blue family. It matches their décor in the family room for when they get their pictures made!

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2016, dark blue theme
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2017, teal/aqua color with white

Here are some tips from Jackie when preparing a family session:

“Number one, with small children – ALWAYS have a back up outfit. As well as wipes, and maybe even a stain marker/ Not even having pulled out of the driveway on the way to our beach photo shoot, my son somehow ended up covered in chocolate. I still don’t even know where the chocolate came from!!! Also, bring some snacks/drinks (non messy ones) in case you have to encourage (bribe) your children to continue smiling for all the photos!!!

Also, don’t stress it. Don’t overthink it. Go into it having fun, and your photos will come out better than you would’ve thought possible!”

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“The only worry I ever had with Karen before our session, was the weather!! Last year’s photos, it was supposed to be a cloudy/miserable day and I remember worrying our photos wouldn’t come out great. After keeping in close contact with Karen monitoring the weather, we both wanted to continue with them anyway! And I am so happy we did! The photos were AMAZING. The weather wasn’t too hot and humid. It was the perfect weather for a photo shoot!!!”

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“Working with Karen, doesn’t even feel like a photo session! She goes above and beyond to check out locations, that will be great shots, as well as fun for the family. It’s hard to entertain a little kid (plus the older siblings), but I love that it’s always done at a place that brings them joy. Between a park setting, as well as an outdoor beach session- she found places that had jungle gyms, and let the kids run free to take breaks! While at the same time getting photos of the kids just being themselves!”

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From MuSen: I truly enjoy photographing Jackie’s family. This year’s beach sunset session was done in a playdate format. Both families had so much fun at the beach. What a wonderful memory!

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Charlie is the lucky only boy!

MuSen’s surprise for Jackie’s family: a moving portrait!

 

To find out what Jackie thinks about MuSen? Click here.

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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Piney Flower

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

No Fear to April Shower

April showers got us a bit worried. The night before we had quite some pouring and in the morning it was still drizzling. But we decided to wait it out. Around noon time the cloud started to break, the sun finally showed his face, and temperature rose up rapidly.

We started the session while the grass was still a bit damp. After a long period of showering the dandelions really bloomed. It was such a magical view.

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After a while the grass got drier and the boys started to warm up to me. Caught a nice image while the family were playing on the grass.

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Grandpa and Grandma joined the picture. Just love the vivid Spring colors.

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Several beautiful images by the woods.

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I bought a teepee over and the boys loved it.

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The younger brother is turning 2. I love how thoughtful the Mom is. She used assorted buttons to make the “2” sign on his T-shirt.

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I cannot tell you how much I am in love with the golden color of the foxtail field.

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Some candid shots as we move around the park.

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We wrapped up the session near the lake. By the time we wandered to the lakeside, the sun was setting and the view was just phenomenal!

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Davidson’s Mill Pond Park located in North Brunswick, NJ is a hidden gem ideal for family outdoor sessions. I even had my own maternity shoot taken there when I was pregnant with my 3rd daughter. The location of the lake as well as the foxtail field are perfect for evening golden hours. There are plenty open fields, rustic look structures, trees, benches, woods, rocks, fences, etc. to help adding interesting elements to your sessions. Unlike most parks in Monmouth County, no permit fees required for professional photography sessions here.

To book an outdoor session, visit Portrait package for more information.

Interested in finding out what the clients say about MuSen? Read their testimonial here.