I know, we are still pretty far from spring, but a girl can dream, right? During these cold and rainy months I like to look back at some of my favorite photos in beautiful places from the past year. It makes me look forward to what lays ahead this year!
Spring is a beautiful time to take pictures at Glencairn Garden in Rock Hill, SC. The flowers are blooming, the weather is warm, and the natural beauty of the garden provides the perfect backdrop for any kind of photography, but especially for families!
One of the key elements of successful family photography is to capture the personalities and relationships of the children. To do this, it's important to engage with the kids and encourage them to have fun and be themselves. Candid moments are some of my favorites! This can be as simple as playing games or having a picnic in the park.
Spring is also a great time to experiment with color. The garden is filled with vibrant flowers and greenery, which can add a pop of color to the images. Don't be afraid to incorporate these bright hues into the background or foreground of the shots.
Overall, Glencairn Garden is a fantastic location for family photography in the spring. With its stunning natural beauty and endless photo opportunities, it's the perfect place to capture memories that will last a lifetime.
As a photographer, visiting the charming coastal town of Beaufort, North Carolina can be a truly magical and inspiring experience. Located on the Crystal Coast, Beaufort is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, and rich history, making it the perfect place for photography enthusiasts to capture some truly stunning shots.
One of the most popular photography locations in Beaufort is the charming downtown area, with its quaint streets lined with charming boutiques, antique stores, and seafood restaurants. The historic waterfront district is also a must-see, with its picturesque marinas, fishing boats, and colorful houses.
Another great spot for photographers is the Beaufort Historic Site, a collection of 18th and 19th century buildings that have been beautifully preserved. The site offers guided tours, as well as special events and reenactments throughout the year, giving photographers the opportunity to capture some truly unique and historical shots.
For those who love nature photography, Beaufort has plenty to offer as well. The town is surrounded by beautiful waterways and marshes, making it the perfect place to capture some breathtaking shots of local wildlife, including birds, dolphins, and even the occasional alligator.
Finally, no trip to Beaufort would be complete without a visit to the beach. Whether you're looking to capture the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean at sunrise or the stunning colors of a sunset, the beaches in Beaufort offer endless opportunities for photographers of all levels.
Overall, Beaufort is a truly special place for photographers, offering a wide range of subjects and locations to capture some truly stunning shots. So pack your camera and head to Beaufort for an unforgettable photography adventure.
Boneyard Beach on Hunting Island State Park in South Carolina is a photographer's dream location. Nestled on the eastern coast of the state, this serene beach is home to a unique landscape that is both beautiful and eerily captivating.
The highlight of Boneyard Beach is the vast expanse of bleached tree trunks and branches that stretch as far as the eye can see. These "bones" have been stripped of their bark by years of saltwater erosion, giving them a ghostly white appearance. The trees were once part of a dense forest that lined the coastline, but over time, they were felled by storms and high winds, and now they lay scattered along the beach like a giant natural graveyard.
As a photographer, Boneyard Beach presents endless opportunities for creativity and artistic expression. The stark white tree trunks stand out against the soft, sandy beach and the brilliant blue sky, making for some truly stunning photographs. The beach also offers a variety of compositions and angles to choose from, whether you prefer to focus on the grand scale of the trees or hone in on the intricate details of their gnarled branches.
In addition to the tree trunks, Boneyard Beach is home to a wealth of other photographic subjects. The beach is a popular spot for birdwatching, and you may spot a variety of species such as pelicans, seagulls, and ospreys. The surrounding marshlands and tidal creeks are also home to alligators, crabs, and other wildlife that can make for some memorable shots.
One thing to keep in mind as a photographer at Boneyard Beach is the changing tides. The beach is subject to strong tidal fluctuations, and the tree trunks can be completely covered at high tide. It's best to plan your visit around the tides and arrive at low tide for the best photo opportunities.
Overall, Boneyard Beach on Hunting Island State Park is a must-visit destination for any photographer. The unique landscape and diverse array of subjects make it a one-of-a-kind location that is sure to inspire and delight.
Photographer, Mom, and Teacher
Being a photographer, mom, and teacher is a challenging, but rewarding role. As a photographer, I have the opportunity to capture and preserve memories through my art. Whether I'm working on a personal project or taking photos for a client, the ability to freeze a moment in time and share it with others is a unique and special gift I love to share.
Being a mom is one of the most demanding and rewarding roles a person can have. It requires a lot of love, patience, and dedication to raise and care for your children. As a mom and photographer, I have the opportunity to capture and document my own children's lives, which can be a beautiful and meaningful way to remember and celebrate their childhood. I hope they will look fondly at all the images I created when they are older.
Being a teacher is a noble and important profession, which is why I have continued to teach for the past 15 years. Whether I was in a classroom or online, I am passionate about the opportunity to inspire and educate others. As a photographer and teacher, I use my photography skills to help illustrate and enhance lessons, which brings a new dimension to my teaching and engaging students in a unique way.
Balancing these three roles can be demanding, but it is also incredibly worthwhile. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to make a positive impact in three different areas: my art, my family, and my students. It may require some careful time management and organization, but the rewards of being a photographer, mom, and teacher are well worth it. So, these three roles have been a great combination for me because I am passionate about photography, I love my children, and I want to make a difference in the world through education.
Chester State Park
Chester State Park is has trails, a play ground, kayak rentals and rentable buildings for events. I visited by myself with camera in hand to get out into nature and find some peace. This is my version of meditation. Many call it "Forest Bathing" and it's been proven as a way to destress, especially for those of us who work in front of a computer all day. Read this article about how Forest Bathing can be a way to find peace. I hope just looking at these pictures inspires you to get outside and enjoy nature.
5 Ways to Photograph Halloween
1. Take pictures of each child individually in their costumes.
You know how kids love to show off their creations, so let them! They can be the "shining star" in each of these pictures. Make sure you have great lighting and a Halloween-esque background.
Note: Not every child will enjoy this part....especially if it's not moving quickly enough right before trick or treating.
2. Get the Groups!
If anyone matches then they need a group picture. Everyone who is dressed up should get in a group picture. Then I like to get each family, just the cousins, and just the siblings. Each grouping is important to represent!
3. Get the pull back images.
Show what some of the houses looked like and how the kids walked or skipped up to ask for treats. Group pictures in front of some fun and scary houses can be a favorite!
4. Get the details.
It's so easy to forget to get the details like candy, facial expressions, and silly moments. Sometimes getting down to their physical level makes it a little easier to remember to get the details and see things from their perspective.
5. Don't forget to get in the picture too.
Hand your camera over to someone...I know it's hard! You may not want to be in front of the camera, but your kids are going to want to see pictures of you in the future. Give them the gift of showing up in pictures so they have something to hold on to with you in it.
Worth the Drive.....Waxhaw!
I have lived in Rock Hill for the past 4 years, but I'm not sure why I have never made it to Waxhaw for a little day trip! I finally made the 40 minute drive because I was meeting another photographer there who is helping me with the transition from my Nikon DSLR to my Fujifilm mirrorless camera. More about that in another post. If you need a very talented photographer for a wedding or for engagement pictures I highly suggest hiring Alayna Waggoner because she is awesome in every single way!
We met at Provisions, which is a fresh local food market and restaurant, right in the downtown area. I had the crab cake sandwich and tomato basil soup. It was fantastic! If you want to eat fresh and healthy food this is the place to be.
After our lunch Alayna was nice enough to show me around the downtown area a little and we enjoyed some shooting time together. We reminisced about how we miss our friend and fellow photog Melissa Butler, who is another amazing photographer, who moved to Lafayette, Louisiana. I am very lucky to be surrounded by others in the same business who are great friends and choose to build each other up. The photography world can get very competitive, but we are all stronger when we band together.
I said goodbye to my new friend, Alayna, after our trip into the antique shop. She just recently purchased a home and had a long list of home improvement projects she needed to get back to. I loved hearing about all of the cool and fun projects and we made our way through Waxhaw. I decided since I was on spring break to make the most of my trip and continue on my journey discovering each store that ran parallel to the train track. (I will be bringing my kids to Waxhaw at some point since my son LOVES trains).
The next store I toured into was "Sassy n Classy" and the owner Pat Beatrice greeted me with a big smile. Pat was so welcoming and we got talking. I learned that she has been the store owner for 8 years and has been selling beads and making jewelry for over 18 years. She has 11 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. I could not believe what a hip and young-looking grandmother she was! Her positive energy and stories about her family made me feel like we were old friends. I enjoyed our lively conversation and she acquiesced to my request to take a few pictures of her and her store with my new camera, even though I'm not completely confident with it yet. It was such a fun experience trying on hats with Pat and I even got in some of the pictures because there was a fabulous mirror near the natural lighting in the front of the store! If you make it down to see Pat at "Sassy n Classy" please tell her I sent you there to get a hat for the derby. I bought a perfect hat for the beach since I was heading there this week too!
Photography tip: If you are taking pictures inside a location, try to find the light by getting next to windows that allow for diffused natural lighting.
My next stop was the Waxhaw Creamery, of course! My son has a peanut allergy, so since I didn't have him with me I went directly for the peanut butter chocolate icecream. It was soooooooo good!!!! I met another friendly soul who had her two children with her. We decided we would plan a play date at some point since we had so much in common (both Biology majors and teachers) and our children are close to the same ages. I'm excited to have my kids meet her kids soon!
After this I spotted a beautiful memorial and stopped to honor our veterans at the Military Wall of Honor. My husband serves for the Air National Guard, so this was important to me. A HUGE thank you to all those who have served!
I popped into a few more cute stores and enjoyed browsing all the unique gifts, furniture, and home decor items.
Photography tip: If you're shooting in manual mode make sure you have your light meter dialed to close to zero for good exposure. The easiest way to do this is by adjusting shutter speed.
What camera should I buy?
This is one of the toughest questions to answer because a lot of it depends on how you plan to use your camera. If you are like me, your main reason to pick up your camera is because you want beautiful pictures of your kids and/or pets, or you need solid images for your business/social media page/ blog, or to simply create art.
If you have no experience with a DSLR camera I would suggest starting with a Nikon D3000, D5000, or D7000 series camera or a Canon EOS Rebel series. The pricing is not going to hit your wallet too bad, yet you will get wonderful images if you learn how to take control of it. (This means you should learn how to use your camera in manual mode.) These are also very good cameras to learn on because you can "grow" into them. At a certain point you might end up needing the next step up, but you will know once you get to that point.
Below are a couple of great resources that will help make your best camera choice. I highly suggest always reading online reviews before purchasing a camera. I personally own a Nikon D5000 (I learned on this one) and a Nikon D5500. I like the D5500 because it is small and lightweight compared to other DSLRs and there is a WiFi option. I also like that I can easily capture my daughter flying through the air like a super hero with this camera as well....see picture above! ;)
A guide to DSLR cameras: https://www.reviews.com/digital-camera/dslr/
A guide to digital cameras: https://www.reviews.com/digital-camera/
My Heart is With You.....
No parent should ever have to go through the unbearable pain and suffering of stillbirth. But it happens. Every single day. Seven years ago today I found out that my first child, Aiden, no longer had a heart beat. I was 24 weeks along into a happy and healthy pregnancy. My husband and I were devastated when the doctor said he was sorry that there was no heartbeat. We went home and cried a bucketful of tears. I hoped and prayed that the machines were all wrong and I would miraculously give birth to a crying baby. My wishes did not come true. The next day was the longest in my life. We had to go to the hospital so I could be induced.
I will not go through the whole story, because honestly, it just takes too much out of me. However, I want every parent who is going through this right now, or who has gone through this to know something. You are not alone. You will survive. You will pick up the broken pieces of your heart and create a new one. One thing will stay the same from this point on though. Your heart will always hold a piece of your child or children that died. You will never be the same again, nor should you be. You will be more. More compassionate. More understanding. You will not be afraid to sit with another who has a bleeding heart full of grief. You will love more deeply and dance more freely. You will care less about materialistic things and more about time with loved ones. But all this will not come easily or quickly. You will have very difficult days. And many hours will be spent feeling a mess of emotions. Of course, we would all give anything to have our children back on Earth with us, no matter how "more" we become.
When I first lost Aiden I did not believe any of what is in the previous paragraph. I thought I was broken and could never be put back together. I felt an emptiness like nothing I imagined was possible. Others would look at me with pitiful eyes and not know what to say. I certainly did not know what to say either. There are no words during this time in your life....there are only tears.
I remember the months after we lost Aiden, I just wished I could transport myself to years from that time. I thought time alone would heal my wounds. I found out that it is not just time that helps. I needed to process my thoughts and feelings in order to heal. I am writing this blog in hopes it will help others in the same place I was 7 years ago today.
Below is a list of the tools I used to help me cope with my deep rooted grief. These are not in any particular order. You will want to use the healing tools that are right for you. Not all of these work for everyone.
1. Writing in a Journal
This included writing notes to my son Aiden. I would write down all my hopes for him. I would write how much I missed him and what we would be doing right now if he were here. I would write my feelings about the grief and trying to see the world as beautiful again and how tough that was in the permanence of his absence.
2. Yoga and Meditation
Focusing on my breathing helped decrease my anxiety. This especially helped when I was pregnant again and desperately overwhelmed about the thought of losing another baby. I listened to peaceful songs during this time that would help decrease the anxious thoughts.
3. Going to a Counselor
This helped me to process all that had happened. The counselor was not judgmental and would just let me talk about my feelings. I spoke about the good, bad and ugly parts of my life at that time.
4. Choosing an Artistic Outlet
This was photography for me. But it is different for everyone. Here are some other ideas: painting, dancing, singing, drawing, pottery, jewelry making, wood working, knitting, cooking, etc. Just do something that gives you peace, even if that peace only lasts for a few minutes.
Speaking to God can be healing. Every religion has some form of prayer because it is good for the soul. Even if you're not religious, you can use spiritual thoughts or just talk out loud.
6. Grief Group Meetings
These can be found at local bereavement organizations, churches and sometimes hospitals. Search your area for these and ask around. Sometimes they can be difficult to find, but I assure you they exist. Our society is really good at covering up grief. Being in a bereavement group will make you feel less alone.
7. Honoring Your Child/ren
My family bought a brick with Aiden's name that was placed at a butterfly garden that we can visit. We celebrate his angelversary every year by bringing our loved ones together for a small ceremony and dinner. We have a shelf in our home that has important items that make us think of him. We light candles in his name. We donate gifts to the Children's hospital to honor his memory. We talk about him often so that our living children know about him and he is never forgotten.
Take time and let yourself cry. I could not believe the amount of tears a human could produce until I lost Aiden. Crying releases good chemicals in your brain and provides an outlet for your feelings.
9. Talk About It
Talking about your feelings to those who are supportive can be beneficial. Make sure you let them know that you are not looking for them to fix anything. You just need them to listen, hug you, and maybe even cry with you. There are some people who are not good listeners and just want to "fix" you. Try to avoid talking about your feelings to these people. They mean well, but you will feel worse after talking to them about your difficulties.
10. Don't be Afraid to Ask for Help
I went back to work fairly quickly after February 7, 2011. I didn't know what else to do. Luckily, I had a very supportive team at work that were great friends and took over when I needed a break. I asked for help when I needed it and everyone was more than happy to help. If you need to take more time off from work then do it. You are entitled to maternity/paternity leave (if your company offers maternity/paternity leave) and if your employer gives you a hard time then do your research about the Family Medical Leave Act.
There are many more ideas and tools you can use to help you through your grief. These are just a few things I did. My only other suggestion is to feel it. Do not hide from it. Do not distract yourself from it. Any time I did these things I did not heal. I felt worse once I came back to feeling the grief. think of it like going to the gym. If you don't go to the gym for a while you are very sore once you go back. Healing from your grief can be like lifting weights. You build a tolerance over time. If you stop working on it then it hurts more later.
Please do not get the impression that I am "over" my son's death. That is not possible and could not be further from the truth. It is a part of my life and I have made room for it. I still cry, I still need a creative outlet, and I still need to talk about him. However, I know that if I did not use these tools to help me deal with my overwhelming grief I would be in a different place in my life. I actually might not be here at all. Seek help when you need it. My heart is with you during this difficult time!
A Little Known Spot for Free Fun
My family and I have lived in Rock Hill for almost 4 years now. We love it here. From the Children's Museums, to the Museum of York County, to Glencairn Gardens, to Old Town (downtown Rock Hill), to all the random playgrounds spread throughout the area; we always have something to do with the kids. So we thought that we had found all the fun spots that are cheap or free because we like to save money and still be entertained. We had no idea there was a fantastic playground complete with walking trails, camping areas, and access to the river close to where we live!
I forget exactly how I came upon this gem, but Westminster Park is the little known park I am writing about. It is located at 3916 India Hook Rd, Rock Hill, SC 29732. If you already knew about this park then awesome, but I was clueless that it existed! It is basically at the end of India Hook road, so if you think you drove past it you probably did not. It will be on your right. Once you turn into the park you will be on a long dirt road that will take you to the playground, which is right next to the soccer fields. There are also walking trails, but I did not get any images of those today.
I took my Nikon D5500 camera and 35mm 1.8 lens with me on our little adventure. It is nice and light-weight compared to other DSLR cameras, so it's easy to carry when playing on the playground with my kids. I try not to ask them to smile at me or look at me. I always get fake smiles when that happens. The point of taking my camera with me is to capture these fleeting moments in the way they occurred. I played with them, told them jokes, made silly faces and engaged them all while trying not to hit my head on the playground equipment!
One little warning though. I always go to this park with either my husband or friends because it is desolate and nobody ever seems to be there. I don't think anything bad has ever happened there, but I am just extra cautious when it comes to my surroundings. It is open from dawn until dusk.
Photography Tip: Use shutter priority mode when on the playground. Your children will be moving fast so you want to capture that motion. You will want your shutter around 1/500 if they are moving fast (sliding, running, etc). You should have it at least at 1/125 if they are standing still, sitting in one spot, etc. I kept mine at 1/500 because my kids were moving A LOT. I had my ISO on 200 because it was very sunny so I could decrease it pretty low. Shutter priority allows your camera to choose the aperture depending on light. So each picture I took had a slightly different aperture.
If you want to learn more about how to use your camera to capture special moments of your family please check out the upcoming classes I have available in Rock Hill, SC. Click Here for more info.
Larisa is a natural light photographer and teacher in the Rock Hill, SC and Charlotte, NC area.