It’s kind of a love-hate relationship.  Love – that spandex stretchy waisted pants are perfectly acceptable for all necessary social appearances. Hate – that the only thing you can squeeze into anymore are spandex stretchy waisted pants.  Love – you have a perfectly legitimate reason to eat a second helping of your favorite creamy mac n’ cheese.  Hate – regretting that second helping after a sudden waive of “not-just-morning-sickness” hits.  Love – getting smiles and well wishes from perfect strangers at the grocery store.  Hate – having perfect strangers at the grocery store feel they have the right to touch your midriff, if you’ve never experienced this one, let me assure you it is quite disturbing.  Love – your skin is beautiful and glowing and your hair has never looked so shiny.  Hate – puffy feet, ’nuff said.  Yes, there are plenty of not so glamorous side effects that come with carrying that sweet lil’ one inside you….but any mother will tell you….

IT. IS. SO. WORTH IT!!!!!

Celebrate it!

Have you seen that E-Card “I grow humans, what’s your superpower?”  Mommas, for real your body is unbelievable.  Pregnancy should make you feel empowered! I hope you feel that way, because it is TRUTH.

I loved photographing and celebrating this beautiful momma’s growing baby bump, imagining what her little guy will look like (no doubt handsome like daddy), documenting her superhero body, and rejoicing in the life God is knitting together inside her womb. I like to imagine one day their little guy will be asking to see the picture of when he was inside momma’s tummy…that he will get to see how safe he was there, how happy and beautiful mommy was, and how daddy’s face beamed with pride at the sight of his gorgeous wife carrying their greatest blessing.

Ashley & Kevin – thank you for giving me the joy of documenting your happiness.  I’m excited beyond words for the joys ahead of you…so I’ll instead leave you with the words of one particularly dear little bear…

A grand adventure is about to begin… – Winnie the Pooh

Christmas was blissfully busy, New Years sentimental and celebratory, and then mid January creeps right with his “back to the real world” to-do lists and stacks of bills to pay kind of snarl.  That Mr. Mid January…who invited him back anyways?

But, with the progression of the days and weeks we’re beginning another year.  A fresh start.  New goals, deeper commitments, inspiring revelations.  This is the year, the year you will complete what needs to be done, but more than that, the year you will truly treasure what really matters.  The house might be a bit messy, the laundry might pile up some,  you might serve your family one too many microwave meals this week, or forget to brush your teeth one morning (uhg, that’s the worst feeling isn’t it!) but you know what you did right?  You hugged your kiddos tight before they left for school this morning, you kissed your husband on the mouth and told him you loved him, you started your day with a prayer in your heart and a smile on your face…and you know what else? That’s what matters.  So here’s to a fresh year; sure to come with it’s share of triumphs and mistakes, but also coming with an overflowing, dance in your kitchen, singing loud off key, laugh until you pee a little kind of LOVE for the life you have!  Let’s do this together!

And while you sit there reading this, hopefully recharging to go back at it with a little more gusto than you had before, I’ll leave you with some photos to remind you who you work so hard for…that precious family of yours!

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Doesn’t this last photo remind you of Narnia?  Though the cold of winter gets dreary, there is something about snow that just fills the world with wonder, and kind of brings a bit of dreaminess to everything you do.  Snow should be mandatory for cold winter shoots, but when snow is absent a little imagination never hurts…

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Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,

At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,

When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,

And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

– The Lion the Witch & The Wardrobe

 

Go cuddle that family of yours!

Until later,

Jo

 

 

Maybe it’s the quietness of the morning, or maybe just the fact that my body hasn’t yet felt the full impact of my blissfully busy days as a momma of two little warriors…but whatever the reason, mornings are becoming my favorite time of day.  And I was starting this day doing one of my favorite things in the world…the air was crisp and cool and the sun was beaming golden light through the trees as I hiked through pathways and fields scouting magical locations for this beautiful family’s photo session at Veterans Park in Lexington, KY.

They arrived with bright happy faces and bundled up in the most adorable jackets and boots, ready for an early morning photo shoot which proved to include irresistible little sister hugs, lots of energy and curiosity, exercise (see jumping photos below!) and most of all a beautiful glimpse into this sweet family’s love of togetherness.

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Powers family – thank you for inviting me along for a fun morning playtime!  It was truly a joy!  And to everyone else reading along – may these photos remind you of how special your own family is, and inspire you to go play with your babies…they grow up so fast!  (yes, nieces, nephews, and fur babies count too! 🙂 )

Now I’m off to cuddle my own little monkeys…

Until next time,

Jo

They peered out the window at me as I walked up the stairs, the door opened and I said hello, which was immediately followed by “I remember you!”  We were fast friends again.  I love that about little girls!  It was a tad cold, and a tad wet too, but these little ladies were all the warm sunshine we needed. Their giggles and snickers.  Their free spirited playfulness.  Their curly hair – my goodness!

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So many hugs and tickles, kisses and cuddles – these little ladies are SO loved!  Thank you Bennett family for inviting me to photograph your beautiful family!

 

Now all of you mamas and daddies out there, go hug on those babies – they grow up way too fast!

Until next time,

Jo

It’s that time of year…there’s a chill in the air, the colors of the leaves are beginning to change, we pull out our favorite sweaters and scarves, sip on cider, and families everywhere are scheduling photo sessions to get some new great images for their holiday cards and gifts! Have you had your family session yet?  If not, there’s a little bit of time left, and still a couple openings on my schedule – contact me to get your session booked!

I am a family girl, I love family! And it’s a good thing since I have a LOT of family.  Being the oldest of 6 came with it’s frustrations as a teenager, but as I’ve grown up and now have my own family I can’t tell you just how blessed I feel!  We have babies galore running around our family gatherings, with cousins playing and squealing and “learning to share” with each other…and it’s a beautiful thing!  So I’m extra proud to share these photos with you…since they capture the love of a family that is very dear to my heart…my brother, his beautiful wife and two of the coolest kids you’ll ever meet!

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Do you have toddlers are are thinking – there is NO way my kids would EVER let me get photos like these?  Guess what, no family is perfect.  Shocker, I know. 🙂  From looking at these photos you’d probably never know that we had plenty of (maybe even mostly) moments when the kids were not having it and did not want to “say cheese”, but you know what, we captured moments.  Beautiful memories of their family just as it is right now.  That’s all we really want isn’t it!?!  If you’re still not convinced your family could survive a family session, keep reading to see my post “5 Tips for Family Photos with TODDLERS”.  I promise your family can do it – and even ENJOY it! 🙂

Now go cuddle your babies – they’re growing up way to fast!

 

Until next time,

Jo

 

P.S. Are you in love with these photo session locations?  Good news!  These photos were taken on my family’s, and a friend’s, private property which I have been given permission to photograph on at any time.  Yes you can have photos taken in a canoe on a pond!  Just thoughts for you to ponder as you plan your family’s next session.

We began at the trailhead, Little Man being carried by daddy, as we walked up and down small hills on the muddy trail. He wanted down. He stood in the “woods” of his grandparent’s property, and gave me a look that said “I’m not scared of anything,” toddling down another muddy slope, over a widely slatted bridge by himself (Dad was at arms reach, but he didn’t notice), and soon plopping himself down on a big rock. He seems as comfortable outdoors as any child would in their own home. He’s an adventurer.

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He likes to reserve his smiles for really special people, really special moments, he doesn’t give them away to just anyone…but when he does, well, your heart just melts!

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His Daddy is an experienced mechaninc, so he’s no stranger to big machines. His little fingers whipped that steering wheel around, and he not only smiled for me, he giggled! We “vroomed” around a while, until it was time to go. Owen 18mon - 16.jpg

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This little nephew of mine is one special little boy, and his Aunt JoJo sure loves him so!

 

Cheerio for now,

Jo

 

For more images of children’s photo sessions, visit my Facebook Page (while my website portfolio is being updated…it’s coming soon…)

My sweet little family consists of me and my men.  My husband, my little man (who is almost 5) and my littlest baby man (who just turned 1.)  Yes, a baby-man, if you’ve held him you know…this little cutie is solid and tough as nails.

We recently did something we’ve never done before.  We had our family photos taken by a professional photographer!  Now we’ve had our photos taken before with my extended family for holidays and such, but this was the first time we did it for our own little Liston family. 🙂  We booked and paid for our session (we chose someone who was experienced and skilled, why?, because these documented moments are worth EVERY penny!), I planned our outfits, we attempted to plan out each hour on the day of the shoot (orchestrating nap times that would result in happy campers for photo time, altering meal times so bellies won’t be rumbling…you know…you KNOW!), and we  tried our very best to arrive at our shoot NOT stressed out and frazzled.  We succeeded in some of these areas, and failed in others, and this experience made me realize, this is what you go through too!  So I decided to put together a little list of my top 5 tips for insuring your photo session is an experience your family will enjoy, not dread!  These tips are mostly specific to families with toddlers, since this type of family session is especially challenging for all involved!  But hopefully all of you can glean a couple tidbits from this list, and apply them to your upcoming session.  These tips come from some things we did right, and some things we did wrong (avoid our mistakes!)

1.  Plan Your Outfits around 2 things – Mom’s Wardrobe & Your Home

This is an area we were ready for, since I do have experience in planning color and design themes.  I knew I wanted to use colors that would look great in our dining room, since this is where I plan to hang a large framed wall collage of images from our session (I’m hanging a collection out of the Frame Collections I offer, I’ll be sure to post a pic of this when it’s up!) I decided to go with green, denim and some black. When deciding on your colors aim for about three colors, with maybe one accent color.  Too many colors makes it hard to keep a cohesive look, but not enough colors gives too much of a matchy-matchy look.  Don’t be afraid to mix patterns and prints, as long as they have the overall appearance of the colors you’re using it will go great with your color scheme.  Use your accent color for hair bows, jewelry, hats, scarves, socks, shoes, etc.  Plan to begin thinking about your outfits a couple of weeks before your session.  You want time to consider options, comb through your current wardrobes to see what items your family may already own that will work, and time to shop for a couple specific items you might need to complete the look.

So, I started with my outfit.  Those of you who’ve met me know I’m not a tiny girl…I’ve got some curves (that I both battle and love depending on the day, that’s another post for another time :), so I knew I needed to feel comfortable and confident in what I wore.  Young children don’t sit still for long and I knew I’d be chasing them around, so I wanted to feel free to play and cuddle with my boys without tugging and pulling at my outfit for every shot.  I chose my black stretchy jeans (comfy & slimming!), a graphic printed black & white popover blouse (eye would be drawn upward toward my face), and denim jacket (to tie in with the denim the boys would be wearing.)  Since I knew what I was wearing, it made it easy to determine what other colors needed to be added to our pallet.  The boys then wore green shirts with denim (one with jeans, one with overalls), and I picked up a great plaid shirt at the Gap for my husband that had green, blue, and a bit of black in it too which helped to tie all the colors together.  A tip when using different colors and patterns is to have at least one clothing item on someone that contains all the colors used (or most of them.)  Here is a great example of a family session where mom’s dress contained all the main colors used, and everyone else had something a little different but that still went with the color scheme.  I love photographing this family – all that gorgeous curly hair!

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2.  Have a good idea of what images you primarily want – and communicate that to your photographer!

If you’re booking a full session (usually between 1-2 hrs, depending on your photographer) you will have a little more time for more images, but especially if you’re doing a mini session with someone (which is what we did) you need to have in mind your main goal for the session.  When working with toddlers you never know how long they’ll be interested in taking photos (squirmy and squealy can happen after 30 min or after 10 min!)  For us, I knew I wanted to focus on family shots.  Some of us posed, some of us playing together.  Then any extra time we had would go toward the boys’ individual shots or other ideas the photographer had.  While a great professional photographer is going to have the skills to capture a lot of looks and moments in a short amount of time, it is still a good idea to communicate with your photographer what your main goal is for your session.  Some of you may really want an awesome sibling shot, so letting the photographer know ahead of time what you’re hoping to capture will help them make that a priority during your shoot.  Then all those extra wonderful photos you never knew you’d love so much will be icing on the cake! 😉

3.  Be realistic with your expectations.

Now, I’m not saying to settle when choosing your photographer, by no mean!  Whether you work with me or someone else, you should search for a photographer with experience working with young children (that fabulous wedding photographer might not be the best choice if she doesn’t have experience with kids…working with kids is a whole different ballgame!), be sure your photographer is skilled with their gear (you want them to be snapping away at those sweet little moments that are happening at lightening-toddler-speed, not finicking with their camera settings and missing that one perfect shot. A seasoned photographer will know their gear), and remember you usually get what you pay for (typically a less expensive photographer is less experienced or uses lower grade equipment, is sometimes uninsured and without backup gear, and also may not offer the quality of products you’ll want.) 

What I mean by realistic is, remember who you’re working with here…your children! 🙂  In my case, my one year old and 4 year old aren’t likely to sit still in my lap for several posed photos in multiple locations.  You might have all these wonderful photos you want captured, but get to the session only to have your kiddos squealing and running off leaving you to chase them all around the lawn.  So if this happens to you – go with it!  Get whatever posed shots they let you get, then have fun with them!  Let them run, chase them, tickle them, toss them up in the air…play with them!  Those are the photos you will fall in love with, they are the real ones, and they are the perfect compliment to a couple great posed shots since they tell the real story of your family, what goes on behind the scenes.  If you arrive at your session and the kids are a little less than cooperative, take a deep breath, relax, and go with it.  If you’ve taken care of step #2, you know your photographer will get the couple of shots you just HAVE to HAVE, and if you’ve carefully selected a great photographer, their skill and artistic eye will be able to make those crazy silly tickle moments into works of art to hang in your home – giving you a visual memory of this special, fleeting time in your family’s early years.

4.  Keep your photo session day as low key as possible.

You might be surprised how much time it will take you to get the family ready for a short one hour timeframe!  Or maybe you’re well aware of this!  Either way, remember to keep your photo shoot day as low key as possible.  Don’t plan to go shopping, go to a playdate, get some huge project done at home…etc.  Instead make the day as restful as possible, allowing plenty of time for any toddler related accidents that may arise (cause you know they will!)  Kids are way more aware than we often give them credit for. They can tell when you’re frazzled and stressed out, so do your best to keep them excited about your photo session by being excited yourself!  Tell them you’re going to all go play together while someone takes pictures of you snuggling and tickling.

A little planning never hurt either, so consider bringing along things that will keep your kids excited and interested.  If they have a favorite toy or comfort item, bring it.  Consider bringing a non-messy snack, when the kids get squirmy mid-session take a mini snack break to let them refuel.

5.  Lastly, make it a fun family outing!

As mentioned in #4 tell your kids how much fun you will have at your session!  Allow yourself to relax and have fun too!  Depending on the time of day, plan to go out to a special dinner together afterwards.  Or if you have little ones that are tuckered out afterwards, head home for nap time and spend time relaxing with your husband, talking about how much you love the family you’re raising together.  Let your time in front of the camera remind you of what is really important – your family and your love for one another.  That is always my hope and prayer for all my clients, that they will leave a session feeling even more love for their family and reminded to just soak up all these wonderfully messy, cuddly, giggly toddler years.  These years will be gone before we know it, let’s love on our babies while they’ll still let us! 🙂

 

I snapped these couple shots of my boys as we were getting ready to load up after our photo session.  Baby-man was done by this point, and squirmy as ever. 🙂 But we had a great time together!  I’d love to hear how your experiences with family sessions have gone in the past?  What tips do you have to keep family sessions stress-free?  Leave a comment below and share the love!

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Interested in seeing more of my family and children photography?  My website family galleries are currently being updated, in the meantime, head over to my Facebook Page to see images from previous family/children sessions!

It was wonderful seeing and meeting so many brides to be at the August Bridal Bliss Classic, in downtown Lexington at the Hilton. With so many knowledgeable and skilled wedding vendors to meet, bridal shows are such a great resource for wedding planning, not to mention you often get great little perks such as delicious wedding cake samples (I happen to LOVE Tinker’s Cake Shop)! I hope many of you also enjoyed getting ideas for your perfect wedding gowns (The White Dress had a former Miss Kentucky modeling their gorgeous gowns, whom I met in the break room, she was stunning and so charming!), checking out fabulous design ideas for your perfect wedding atmosphere (did you stop by Sherwood Design & Events, just fantastic! P.S. thanks Sherwood for sending me home with a beautiful centerpiece), and hopefully you got to taste a little bit of what I consider some of the best BBQ in town (City BBQ – really everything on their menu is delicious.) What were some of your favorite booths?
For those of you who stopped by to see me, it was wonderful to meet you! Don’t forget my show specials are still running, and you have until the end of 2014 to take advantage of my special giveaway for a free Interactive Guest Book! Curious? Email me to get all the details! Now for those who weren’t able to make it, here’s a little peak into my booth…where it’s all about romantic images, boutique quality service, and stunning custom products! 🙂

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Thank you Pinterest for the inspiration on this little Email Sign Up gift. Really what would we all do with you?

And yes, here I am, for someone who is so experienced in posing others for photos I really have no idea what to do with myself when someone takes a picture of me. So it usually turns out cheesy and/or akward…move over Vannah White!
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And I guess it runs in the family! Haha! Here are my beautiful & super fun sisters who stuck it out with me the whole day. I owe you guys! 😉
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Cheerio for now,

Jo

This sweet Kentucky couple had the wedding of their dreams on the gorgeous white sand of Hilton Head Island, SC.  Their romantic, intimate wedding consisted of their closest family and friends, and much of the family and wedding party shared a beautiful beach side home for the week, or stayed at the nearby Hilton Head Beach & Tennis Resort, making it not only a wedding day but a week long wedding retreat!  What a wonderful idea!  Spending time, and making memories with the ones they love during the days leading up to this special time in their lives!  I actually used to babysit this pretty bride and her little brother…so crazy, am I really getting that old!?!  I was so honored to be asked along to document this breathtaking beach wedding, and I’m sure you will enjoy this little peek into their fabulous, swoon-worthy, wedding day!

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Aren’t the colors so fun!  I’ve seen the idea of bridesmaids wearing different, but coordinating, dresses…but I thought Jeslyn’s spin of putting the guys in different, but coordinating, colors was a great take on that look.  Their tie colors were inspired by the bride’s bouquet and the individually unique bouquet each bridesmaid carried, which you’ll soon see below.

 

 

 

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I love this movie-star moment – Jeslyn waving to her admiring fans on the neighboring deck.  They were captivated by her beauty, as we all were, and were playing paparazzi while we took some shots of the ladies.

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May 26, 2014

Thank you for your patience while my blog is being updated and filled with images from beautiful weddings & portrait sessions!

With a my new website came a complete blog overhaul as well!  I have added  a couple of old posts from my archives, and will be adding in recent sessions very soon!  Please continue to check back for more blog entries.  Scroll down to see what has been posted thus far…new posts will be added every couple of weeks.