If you've been thinking about doing a Winter Lifestyle Session, but you're worried your house isn't "good enough" for photos or think your family will be awkward, this post is for you!
Here are my top five pieces of advice for making it fun, stress-free and — most important — a reflection of you.
1. Know that your home is perfect just the way it is. I mean this in the nicest way possible: I don't care what your house looks like. I know how easy it is to enter into deep-clean mode when someone's coming over, but this session is not the time for that. I'm there to tell your story through my camera lens — and the best stories are found in the flaws and chaos. (If you can't resist the urge to clean, though, I recommend tidying just one or two rooms you think we'll spend the most time in, like the living room, playroom or a bedroom.)
2. Don't dress up. Unless you normally wear new, perfectly coordinated outfits around your home, please don't stress about your family's clothing. Keep things simple with jeans and your favorite t-shirt or cozy sweater (or even your pajamas). And if your kids want to wear mismatched clothes or a princess costume, don't fight them!
3. Have an activity in mind. What does your family love doing together? Making pancakes for breakfast? Playing board games? Building forts in the playroom? Taking part in an activity will help everyone relax, live in the moment and forget I'm there. After all, these sessions are about being present, not posing.
4. Look at the light. I'll need you to help me a little when it comes to determining the best time to do your session. Notice when the natural light in your home is brightest. For instance, at my house, our living room and bedroom are brightest in the morning because of our east-facing windows.
5. Be yourself (and let your kids be themselves, too). Lifestyle sessions are about documenting your family exactly as they are. This might include a fussy moment or a pout — these are part of your story, too! There's no need to stress about any of it.
This year has been good to us. It made us a family. It made us more thankful for the small things. It made us older and way more tired.
In April, we finally met our baby boy Tucker. Born four days past his due date, we were starting to think he was never coming out. (Walking laps at the mall didn't work. Eating spicy Indian food didn't work. Eating an entire pineapple didn't work, either.) But after 20-some hours of labor, there he was, handsome, perfect and all ours.
Now 8 months old, he is one of the coolest and funniest people we’ve ever met. He smiles constantly and makes friends wherever we go. He loves speed-crawling to mischievous places (like behind the Christmas tree) and inspecting common household objects (like spatulas and remotes).
Where April gave life, May took it away; I lost both of my grandmothers in the same week. The lives they lived couldn’t have been more different, but they were both strong, funny, independent women and mothers who saw more than 90 years of life.
This summer, we enjoyed two trips to the Outer Banks. On our first trip — when Tucker was just 3 weeks old — we learned a very important lesson in midnight newborn poops: They can and will project onto the wall. On our second trip a month later, we learned that your ears won't totally explode when exposed to eight hours of baby screaming.
In August, Tyler started back to school full-time to earn a degree in graphic design. He also began a part-time job in October. With his first semester in the books, we’re excited to slow down a bit and catch up on lots of family time.
The photography business has been amazing this year, thanks to so many sweet clients. If you’re one reading this, know I am extremely grateful for you. The time I've spent talking with you and hanging out with your family is the most joyful part of this job. I hope to see you in 2018 as well!
But in the meantime, I'm trying to capture every moment of Tucker's first Christmas. I'm trying to bake all cookies and see all the lights. I'm trying to savor every day left of 2017.
Because this year has been good to us.
Kristie Lea Photography
'Twas the night before Thanksgiving, when all through the field, the wind was stirring and little Jack hadn't napped all day! But that didn't stop the Keens from spending some quality family time in beautiful Troutville, Virginia.
I had such a fun time documenting these guys play, snuggle and give lots of kisses (and Jack, I'm totally with you on needing a gummy and Goldfish pick-me-up sometimes). I knew our session would be easy-going when I sat down with Hannah a couple of weeks beforehand — she was so down-to-earth and fun to talk to! I loved learning about Jack's obsession with "Cars," Virginia Tech and being outside.
The love she and her husband Justin have for their little boy is so evident in their photos. Watching parents love on their kids never gets old — it's one of the best parts of my job!
Laura Richards is a natural family portrait photographer in Roanoke, Virginia. If I'm the right photographer for your next session, let's talk!
Welcome to the blog! I'm Laura, and I specialize in authentic, natural-light photography and heirloom print art. I'm currently based in Roanoke, Virginia, but soon Charlottesville! Hope you'll explore my little online home and reach out if you have any questions!