Welcome little man

 

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Its fall again and I love it. I had a wonderful afternoon working my way through this wonderful session. Although technically a newborn session, I love the way it tells the story of the whole family as they welcome this sweet boy into their fold. Welcome, Treten! Mr Boy FB-2Mr Boy FB-3Mr Boy FBMr Boy FB-4Mr Boy FB-6Mr Boy FB-7Mr Boy FB-8Mr Boy FB-9

Dancing in Light

 

Leaps and Bounds
Leaps and Bounds

Sweden has become a home away from home. The place I was married, where my children have celebrated every Christmas, and a home base of sorts while San Francisco remains so far away. This summer found us indulging in truly lazy days. Swimming, walking, eating and “chillaxing” as my little ones put it.

Sweden is also a place full of inspiration. We did several fun sessions but this one is my favorite. Water, wildflowers and golden light as the sun dipped down. I marveled to see how my little ones have grown. This session also felt bittersweet, missing a beloved family member, as we lost my father-in-law to cancer this summer. His absence explains the somewhat melancholy mood with my son summing it up perfectly, “I miss Farfar”.

So delight in the sun and seize each chance for love while we dance in the light.

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Happy man
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Circle of love
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The elder
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Golden Girl
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Holding things together
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Nevermind
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This is us now
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Reflection
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Viewfinder
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Missing you
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Do even ask!
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Bond
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Min man
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Circle
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Somber

 

Apple Harvest: Its that time again

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It has been a bittersweet year but beautiful summer. The little ones are growing and we spent the summer taking long walks, chilly swims and eating way too many cookies up in Sweden (pictures to come!).

As summer ripes, so do the Apples in my favorite orchard and I am so excited to return once more for the Apple Harvest session.

Date to be released shortly but think end of August, early September. Some gorgeous pictures from last year to get you excited. 🙂

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On the move
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Hello up there
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The fashion plate
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Darling
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Free
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Apple picking
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Smooches!
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For a ride
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Looking up

 

Sunset days: A love letter to summer light

 

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The man inside

Summer stretches into fall and even with the gorgeous weather and sunshine, it is clear that summer days are behind us. Its been a busy one but now a little break to go through these sweet images captures in yes, my favorite wheat field new our home. Enjoy!

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Love and Laughter
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Happy
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Sweet girl
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Glow
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So serious
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Lost in the sea
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Babies of family
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The most handsome
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Wild heart
Sunset
, ❤

Bear & Dragon Birthday Parties: Why didn’t I think of that?

 

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Party time!

When Inna contacted me to ask if I had ever considered being a part of birthday parties, I had a literal palm to forehead moment. Now I had documented birthdays before as more of an observer of the action but this was something entirely different. A one hour photo session which was the highlight and entertainment of the party. And with five nine year old girls, what could be more fun?!

They brought a ton of energy and a suitcase full of dresses. I provided loads of polka dot balloons and some really fun games and we had a beyond fabulous time. Ahh to be nine again!

This is a perfect idea for I would say 6 – 14 year olds and perhaps best suited to girls although I could be wrong and would love to try this with a group of boys.

Party on ladies!

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Celebrate us

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All together now
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Play
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Whispers
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Giggle
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Doudous!

How to prepare for a photo shoot: What should we wear?

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You have done the research and picked your location, date and photographer. Just a few weeks (hours or minutes :)) to go until your session and the question pops up, what do we wear? Now this question either fills you with dread or glee. For me, it is the latter. I love putting together a beautiful collection of clothes and accents that capture the feeling, season and our personalities all in one go. If this seems like too much to do, not to worry! I have broken down my thought process into some tips you may want to consider next time you want to maximize the fun and beauty of your photo session.

Color, color, color

When selecting outfits for a family session, the first step for me is to pick a color palette. A color palette is a range of 3 – 5 colors that you want to have represented in your pictures. You might want to start as simple as asking yourself a couple of questions.

  • Is there a special article of clothing I know I want to include? Sometimes you already have a special dress or other item in mind. Its color is a great starting place. 
  • Is there a primary color in the setting that want to resonate with? The yellows and oranges of fall, the soft lavender of a bluebell forest, deep greens of summer are all important elements of your color palette.
  • Is there a seasonal element to consider? Bright and cheerful during the holidays, muted and soft in late summer. What color first comes to mind when thinking about the season you are in?
  • What is the mood I am going for? I find it is a helpful exercise to come up with three words to describe the images you are after. For example: bright, fun, happy or romantic, rich, sweet. When you pick a color scheme, ask yourself if it evokes the words you had in mind. 

All of these questions are designed to help you pick just 1 – 2 colors that you would like to include. Next stop is one of the many online resources to help you round out your palette. I always recommend using Design Seeds because they let you browse through image based palettes based on one color you choose. Do NOT skip this step!  I often find color combinations that work beautifully but I would have never thought of by my own. Don’t have a color in mind yet? I suggest browsing in season. You are sure to find something you will fall in love with.

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fall

Balance light and dark

Whether using a palette or not, be sure to balance light and dark. Even the gorgeous, rich palette needs some pops of light! Remember the eye goes to the lightest part of an image so balance your highlighting color across the group to make sure the eye travels to each person.

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A splendid harvest
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Rich and balanced

Be bold and have fun

The number one piece of advice I give to families preparing for a session is to wear something you are comfortable in that represents your style. This is key to having fun and also getting timeless images that you love. That being said, I think there is also some space to make some bold choices your might not usually consider. That sparkly skirt that catches your eye that you might not wear to drop the kids off at school could be just the thing to bring fun to your session. A so-soft knit sweater, a new piece of jewelry, your son’s favorite impish hat.

If you have an idea you like but are not 100% confident about, bring it along to the session and ask your photographer what they think. They should be able to give you some good advice. I have had client’s come with whole suitcases of clothes and we always work together to create a great look. Just make sure this process does not cut too much into your photo time.

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Apple Blossoms
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Fresh and bright

Lay it all out

An absolutely critical step is to lay everything out together! Literally lay your outfits on the floor and you will quickly see if you are on the right track. Do the colors and fabrics work together? Is there one outfit that brings it all to together (see middle below)?  Is there a balance of light and dark? If you are debating on a few items, just switch them out here. Don’t forget to test out accessories in this way as well.

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Some mistakes to avoid

As in all endeavors, there are some mistakes to avoid…

  • Are we going to the same party? You plan a casual look and Dad shows up from work in a suit. Oops! A quick check should tell you if everyone is going to the same place. 
  • And for our next look: I think it is great to have 1 – 2 looks for a session. After all, you might not take pictures together very often so nice to have a more casual and a more dressy set! However, more than two changes can eat into your time more than you might expect and can quickly burn out the kids. 
  • Picking things out the night before: To be avoided if possible. You are making an investment in your images. Take some time to feel your best. 
  • Logos, characters and brand names: I try to avoid logoed and branded clothes as the images can end up looking like advertisements. 
  • The big negotiation: Our little angels are often quite set on their favorite fashion choices that may not be the same as yours. That’s fine! I often suggest letting your little ones each pick one special item that they can bring for a last picture. Yes, even that Elsa dress. 

Why not pamper yourself?

If you have the time and desire, a little pampering can give you extra confidence in your photos.  If you feel like you look great then you it will absolutely come across in your pictures! So go for a manicure, massage, beard trim or facial if you can possibility squeeze it in. You deserve it.

Moving on

Going all out on a coordinated look is fun but not necessary! Your photo session should capture life as it is and sometimes it is enough of an accomplishment just to book and get everyone to a photo session! Indulge, if you please but always have fun. 🙂

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Things to do with a baby or kid in Brussels: Brunch, play and much more at La Tricoterie

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Les oeufs

Its no secret that Brunch is a cultural phenomenon close to my heart. Lazy Sunday mornings, yummy eats and if you throw in kid’s activities as well, I am sold. So its been pretty much ages that I have been meaning to get to La Tricoterie. Many a trusted source has touted this blend of local and fresh breakfast, event space and fun stuff explosion.

So finally last week we managed to get dressed and get into town lured by the additional sweetener of a Maker’s Market. La Tricoterie is located in the St Gilles neighborhood sandwiched between the questionable Gare Midi zone and the lovely Parc de Forest. Choose your parking wisely!

Upon entering, you discover a warm and open space with some intriguing remnants of its former industrial factory life. There are several seating spaces but we chose to sit in the Arches room which is where the kids play area is. Long tables line the open space and seating is open so no need to worry if you have a group coming.

The menu consists of several formula (Classic, Vegetarian, Children’s) and also an a la carte section. We chose the classic menu and children’s which for us meant a plate with several cheeses, bread, a small salad, soup and a seasonal crumble. Decidedly non-traditional brunch and it felt a bit expensive at 16 EUR.   The kid’s food was more of a hit with a soft boiled egg, bread and chocolate dipping sauce for 7 EUR (if memory serves!). In retrospect I wish I had chose the Eggs and Toast from the a la carte menu or even the intriguing “Croissant Perdu” as for me there is a strong emphasis on the “Br” aspect of Brunch foods.

While we chatted with friends in the surprisingly (welcomely) quiet space, the littles played in the kid’s zone which was fenced off and filled with fun activities of the creative sort. Blocks, drawing supplies, books, toy animals and a tunnel. Just a heads up, its also 3 EUR per child to join in on the fun.

Though we came for the brunch, I think the real Tricoterie magic comes from the many and varied activities they put on. As seen below, in addition to the Creator’s Market, also massage, painting, language conversation tables, etc. I would love to spend some time exploring these options.

I know I write many a gushing review but for La Tricoterie I say intriguing space for activities. Excellent to have a space for the kids to play while you chat but perhaps stick to the a la carte menu for a better value. Worth checking out to see if its your cup of tea. Brunch on.

 

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Things to do
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Service
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All things fresh and yummy
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Arch
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Build
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Use your imagination
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Hearts and hearts
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Overhead

A playful Valentine to you!

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Let your love rain down

Hearts, candy, flowers, love. We love St Valentines Day! This year we decided to do it up with a modish flair. Set in the classic but quiet Gallerie Bortier, I even made a thorough search for sweet and fun props to add a little sparkle.

Special thanks to my stepmom Cindi for coming out and keeping me sane during a long away trip for the Bear. Without her this session would have been completely impossible!

Today do something playful and loving for yourself and those you hold dear for time passes too fast.

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These two
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Where it all began
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The sweetest girl in the whole world
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Gotcha
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Heartbreaker
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Imp
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Stroll
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Who wrote the book of love?

Things to do with kids outside of Brussels: Walk through time at the ruins at Villers la Ville

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Idol

I looooove history. The feeling of walking in a place where so many have walked before. Touching stone, cold now but one warmed by fires, conversation, conflict and an unknowable life. Impossibly remote and yet just at hand. Belgium is brimming with historical treasures from the well known to the nearly forgotten. Luckily the ruins at Villers la ville are enjoying a second lease on life due to a recent investment and creation of a world class visitor center.

Tipped off by an article, I was amazed to find that the gorgeous ruins of this 12th century abbey are just 40 minutes outside of Brussels, just past Waterloo. Without delay, I bundled up my little man, grabbed my camera and away we went. After an easy drive, we turned the corner and my jaw dropped. This place is huge! It covers a sprawling 36 hectares with many buildings including the cathedral, abbot’s palace, a dungeon (!) and the many buildings and rooms in which the monks went about their daily life, largely in silent reflection.

The old mill building has been converted to a modern and beautiful visitor center which gives information about the abbey and monks who lived there. There is even a room sized model of the grounds so you can see what it once looked like. The visitor center is connected to the abbey via a bridge and once you step onto the grounds, the adventure begins.

Left to decay after the French revolution and subsequent capture of Belgian territory, it is hard to imagine that such a busy and epic place was left to the elements but so it was. Walls and fixtures but no roofs. Crumpling brick and stone. Complete and yet broken. It is a hair raising experience to walk through. And the cathedral will take your breath away and bring a tear to your eye. It is magical.

We have definitely added this to our official visitors tour. And you KNOW this is the site of a future Bear & Dragon Adventure. Go check out it!

Where: Rue de l’Abbaye, 55, 1495 Villers-la-Ville

When: 1st November – 31st March: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (open everyday)
1st April – 31st October: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (open everyday)

Annual closing: December 24, December 25, December 31 and January 1

How much:

  • Adults: € 8
  • Children (aged 6 to 12):  € 3
  • Children (<6 years), disabled persons**, teachers, friends of the Abbey: Free
  • Audioguide: € 1,50
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Layers
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Peekaboo!
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Cracks in the face of time
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Mythical creatures
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Tangled
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Holy
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Framed
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Bones
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A walk through time
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En guard!