Birthday Portraits | Staunton Family Photographer

I have been neglecting my family portrait blog, but this session just had to be shared! These sweet girls attend the same school as my daughters and we have been friends over a year now. MT and C are celebrating their sixth birthday and they love to cook with their mom so she planned and styled this entire session! Not only do they love cooking, they also love all things Matilda Jane and American Girl!!

We started their birthday session with a more documentary style of photography. They pulled up a chair and decorated their favorite cake, just as they do when I'm not there taking their pictures, and had a great time! We then decided to do a few birthday portraits before eating the cake so they didn't get too messy. We went outside in their backyard for more traditional portraits with their American Girl dolls and twirly dresses! Their dog Jonsey even joined in a few photos. Next the girls had a tea party where they served their birthday cake.

I adore this session for so many reasons. The entire session is filled with things these girls love. They were able to have fun and play and just be themselves. I love capturing kids in their natural environment and seeing all their facial expressions and hand gestures come to life. I also love telling a story. I want parents to look back on your photos 10 or 20 years from now and not only remember how tiny your children were but how much they loved their dolls, twirling, giggling together, holding hands, making funny faces, and sneaking chocolate chips. I also love that their mom took a little time to really think about and plan her session. Coordinating outfits and incorporating their favorite things will help make these images and memories last forever.

A 6 month Family Session | Staunton Family Photographer

You might remember baby S from the amazing farmhouse newborn session! Well, she's now 6 months old!! To celebrate her half birthday we did a few 6 month portraits and a mini family session at their family farmhouse.  This family purchased a Watch me Grow package to include a newborn, 6 month, and first birthday session. This is a great package because baby's change so much during their first year. It's also nice because during the 6 month session you get the chance to capture a different season. For winter babies this is really nice because we can finally go outside for pictures.

We met outside at their family farm which is filled with trees, fields, flowers, and so many great details including the house itself. They even bought a matching bow for their dog which was a little difficult to keep on but still very cute. This happy baby was full of giggles and smiles as her family jumped, danced, and sang throughout the whole session. I think we all had a lot of fun!

Newborn Studio and Outdoor Portraits | Staunton Newborn Photographer

I love photographing babies, especially when they have siblings, and even more so when I photographed their older siblings as newborns!! It is so much fun watching families grow and watching toddlers navigate their new role as older sister or brother. It's also fun to see how the new parents have changed with their second baby.

Baby M came to my studio on a warm day so we took advantage of the weather for a few outdoor portraits. I love using natural elements whenever the weather allows. The rich color and texture of grass, rocks, trees, and flowers cannot be matched indoors. Newborn photography takes both time and patience. You have to work around the baby's needs first and they need to be comfortable and content before you take a single photo. Baby M was a very content baby. He was happiest being held as many babies are and that is perfectly acceptable.

Stuart Hall School Fundraiser, Family Session | Staunton Family Photographer

Every fall Stuart Hall School holds a fundraiser, Food for Thought. Part of the Food for Thought fundraiser is an auction and this year I donated a family session to be a part of this great event. The winner of the family session wanted to take family portraits at their property before their oldest son left for college. They also wanted to capture the beautiful sunset of the valley which is their favorite time to be on their land together as a family.

Choosing a location for family portraits that is meaningful to your family helps add to the memories of the images you'll receive. Consider what your favorite places are to spend time together as a family. Do you love being outside, or prefer to be indoors? What is your favorite time of year and does this change your location? Once you know what your favorite spot is watch the light. It will help to know if there is much shade and what time of day it starts to get too bright or too dark. Having trouble thinking of a location for your family session, just ask me to some suggestions and together we can find the perfect spot!

Tips for Taking Better Family Photos | Staunton Portrait Photographer

How many parents have recently purchased a fancy new camera in hopes of taking better photos of your family? How many of you have been slightly disappointed by the way your photos with your new fancy camera have turned out? Digital cameras are easy to use on automatic, but this isn't the best way to use your camera. Cameras are smart, but not perfect. It's really important to learn how to use your camera to it's fullest so you can get the best images possible of those you love the most. Yes, you'll still want to hire your favorite photographer (hint, hint) for family photos, but it's still up to you to take the daily photos, vacation photos, birthday photos when that photographer isn't around.

There is so much involved in learning to use all the settings on a DSLR camera and in the summer I offer mini courses to learn them! However, I will offer some quick and easy tips here on the blog to help you make improvements your photos.

Tip #1, when you're outside on a sunny day in the middle of the afternoon, find some shade!! If you have your subjects face the sun they'll be squinting and have a lot of shadows on their face. If you put their backs toward the sun your camera will expose to the bright light behind them and their faces will be dark. If you learn to use the program or automatic setting on your camera you can adjust for this. If you're on automatic and don't know how to adjust for bright sun, then find the shade!

You'll want to be on the edge of the shade so you your subjects still get a little light on their face and aren't too dark. Have them stand in the shade facing the sun with the shade behind them, and the sun behind you. So go outside tomorrow and give it a try. Comment below with any questions or to let me know how it goes!!

The first two set of photos are pictures I took during the same session. You can see the difference of having the sun behind them versus being in the shade while still facing the sun. The last two photos are just really cute pictures of little ones in the shade, but still getting light on their face.


Family Farmhouse Newborn Session| Staunton Newborn Photographer

Built in 1850! This music loving couple recently moved into an 1850's farmhouse in the beautiful countryside of the valley. They have made some beautiful updates to their new home while maintaining many original details. They even had some furniture that was kept by the previous owners, which of coursed we used for the session!

We started the session in the nursery which was gender neutral since they were surprised by the gender of their first child.  The windows let in so much natural light and the sheer curtains and crocheted stars were a perfect touch to this beautiful room. The fireplace and hand stenciled floors were amazing too!

While I enjoy having a studio, newborn sessions done in your home add such a personal touch. The details add an irreplaceable feeling to your photographs and make the family feel so much more comfortable. I hope this session gives you some inspiration for how to take newborn photos in your home and some gorgeous nursery decor ideas as well!


Welcome to Little Eloise | Staunton Portrait Photographer

Hello and welcome to my new blog! A new website will be coming very soon, but stay tuned here until it's ready. There will be many exciting changes this year and the blog will be the biggest change of all! Christy McKee Photography is now dedicated to engagements and weddings, and I have created a separate business for my family and portrait photography, which is now Little Eloise Portrait Studio. Little Eloise will offer maternity and newborn sessions, family and senior portraits, as well as styled shoots for kids. I will also be offering limited lifestyle sessions for newborns and families. My studio, located in Staunton, VA, can accommodate newborns and young children. The studio is also a great place for cake smash sessions and styled shoots!

I have created a newsletter which all my clients will receive via email, and you can sign up HERE to receive it as well. The newsletter will link you to new blog posts, reveal special discounts, and advertise seasonal, limited edition session dates. On the blog you will find portrait sessions to help inspire you when planning your own session. I will also include helpful tips for preparing for your session. I know many of you take photos of your own family, so I will share tutorials with you to help you take better photos too. I've also decided to add a few party planning posts to the blog. I love to throw a good party, and we have three summer birthday parties every year so I thought I might as well share them!

Little Eloise has a distinct photographic style to share. My images have lots of rich colors, warmth and texture. I also love all things vintage and include vintage props often.  Most importantly, I want your session to be fun and meaningful. I don't want parents worrying about their kids sitting still and looking at the camera. Yes, I know you want a few of those shots but I want the focus to be on your family, or the event being photographed. I want to capture the real moments and the feelings that help create lasting memories. I want you to look at a photo five years from now and smile because of "that look" on your child's face. Parents know when their child's smile is not authentic, so let's have fun and create genuine smiles that will last a lifetime.

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