Discovering History in an 80 Year Old Camera

My own personal photographic treasure hunt

In my mom's home office, there has been a really old camera sitting on her bookshelf since I can remember. No one ever touched it. I don't remember a time where it has ever moved. When we moved back to the states this past summer, we stayed with my parents for a week or so. I have no idea what i was doing but one morning it caught my eye. When I ask my mom if I could have it (cheeky, I know) and she told me it was dad's. So, off to look for dad I go!

Now he's in his usual spot and when I asked him he immediately said no. My balloon may have been a little deflated but it really wasn't a huge let down. Especially when my mother told me that it belonged to my dad's father. It made a lot more sense. We don't have a lot of pictures of him hanging around the house. He passed away when my father was really young, so it's not someone we really heard much about growing up. But I found it cool that for all these years we had kept a little piece of him, in the form of a camera sitting on the shelf. My dad gave me that camera right before we left for our new home.

Fast forward a few months and I was skyping with my fabulous friend Andy, who owns Andy Dane Photography, back in England. We were chatting about old cameras and I pulled my little Kodak off the shelf to show him. I want to treat the leather and fix the bellows on it so it will close again. As I was turning it for the camera, I said to him "I don't even know how to open this thing", and right then, found the slide release and the back popped open and oh my WHAT!? There's film in there!!! and immediately close it back as fast as I could. Right then and there I started my hunt for a studio with a darkroom in it.

It didn't take me too much time to discover a photography studio that had a darkroom. It is a bit of a drive from me, but I figure this is well worth it! I went to PRINT Wednesday and met with owners John and Kyoto. It's a charming shop in a part of Newport News called Hilton Village, a historic village modeled after a British village (so right up my aisle). John and I spent the better part of 4 hours in the darkroom with the film that has been in my Kodak SIX-16 camera for who knows how long.
We spent some time trying to get the film out of the camera, in the pitch black, as some how part of it got caught up in the bellows (the accordion). Then trying to find a spool that the film would fit on, trying to figure out the appropriate developing time and so on and so forth and we came out with this.

Are you freaking out right now? Because I sure am! Very clearly plain as day you can make out a shirt and bowtie. and there is a man. We have a man! Looking a little more closer there looks to be a set of stairs or a building! I am completely nerding out. Could this be a picture of my grandfather that my family has never seen?? Looking closer at the film, we can see on a separate shot there is another face, and a hand on another, and where the film is a bit torn, we make out a picket fence, a building and what looks to be a nun! (Who may just be my 82 year old cousin!)

Now admittedly I get easily excited. So when John and I put the negatives under the light to expose the film onto paper my little excite-o-meter skyrocketed! The fact that this film - this picture - is possibly 50, 60 maybe even 70 years old is incredible. Add on that I ACTUALLY OPENED the back of the camera with the film still in it blows my mind.

We focus of the picture of the young boy. When we develop the first shot, I was moved, almost to a point of tears when the picture appears on the paper. We tried a few more times to get a better shot. We did a little split toning with high and low contrast lenses, and we adjusted our exposure time a bit. In the end, we came out with a beautiful image of a young man who bears a similar resemblance to a young Elvis. It could be my grandfather - or maybe one of his brothers, but I really don't know. I could have spent several more hours just playing around with the images, but the day is getting long and I need to get back to my home. I thank John and get my things together to make the trip back across the tunnel. Before I pull out of the lot, I send I picture to my dad to ask him about it!

I can't contain my excitement. So I call right away and Dad gets the picture while Im on the phone with him, and I ask him - who is that? Is that your dad? Or his brothers? *Remember, I don't have a lot of visual images of my grandfather so I don't have the best visual of what he looks like. Dad laughs and says you know what that is??? Thats not my dad, that Jackie Garry - he lived above us. Enter confusion..."Why would you have a picture of the boy who lived above you - in a tux?" To which he replied - "He took Ann to her prom!" Ann is his sister, my aunt.

So now I know who this mystery man is. It's not my grandfather, which is somewhat disappointing...but he is somebody's grandfather, and maybe with some help we unite this picture with his family. I'm sure that will be a long road, but it will be worth having a go at it!

This week I plan to go to Norfolk to a studio that scans negatives from film and is able to get more detail of the images from the scan. I am hoping to see if I can get a picture of the woman, as well as the nun! I will post an update as soon as it happens!

I couldn't be more grateful to John and Kyoto at Print for allowing me to intrude on their shop and spend their afternoon on this little adventure with me. Did I tell you that he has film that works with my camera! I have to seal a light leak, but I'm excited to use it and see if and how well it works! I am excited to visit Print again in the future! If you are into film photography - they have workshops fairly often and are so helpful!

If you didn't see my original posting about my camera have a quick read here! Take a quick second to like my page to follow along on the adventure! https://www.facebook.com/meredithhodgephotography/photos/a.184472771947839/710798339315277/?type=3&theater)


Extended Family Portraits in Chesapeake - The Brown Family

Extended Family Portraits in Chesapeake

I feel so privileged in my line of work.  Every family i have to pleasure of meeting and working with is completely different.   I have to say that I love what I do.   A few weeks back I got to meet the Brown family.  This family is really special to me,  we have Amber, and Travis, their beautiful boys Grady and Garrett, and Bailey the superpup, we also had Travis’ parents Donna & Mike join in on the session. I had quite a bit of fun watching them interact.  It’s evident that Grady & Garrett are surrounded with a lot of love. Grady is so sweet…he even helped me take pictures of his mom & dad.  Garret is an angel and his eyes just melt your heart! However, I will say that the award has got to go that gorgeous pup Bailey.  I don’t know that I have seen such a well behaved dog.  He  was so patient throughout the morning,  especially when being ridden like a horse by both boys!  I think he even enjoyed it.

Extended family portraits with dogs chesapeake va
pictures of dads with kids

Planning a Session

I always talk with my clients about the purpose of a shoot — are these for holiday pictures or to celebrate a special moment (maternity, engagement, etc.)?   Or are you looking  just to capture the beauty of this stage of your children’s life before it passes?  Knowing that Amber & Travis were looking for family portraits with Travis’ parents that would double as holiday photos allowed me to be intentional in arranging groupings, choosing the specific backdrop, and composing the images.  I like to plan ahead – to understand what your needs are, and how you want your images to looks.  

The perfect location will make all the difference!

Amber and I decided on a morning shoot  out at Great Bridge Lock Park in Chesapeake. It’s always exciting to find a good location for outdoor portraits that’s right in everyone’s backyard! There is a footbridge that walks out to an overlook of the marsh that provided a unique backdrop, and we walked through the woods to add some variety. Both boys had tons of fun with sticks, rocks, and all the other good things that come with a fall photo shoot.  

Interestingly enough, having grandparents join in for an extended family portrait session is so enlightening to me.  It’s like looking through a window to see how parenting transcends from generation to generation. Now, I honestly believe that parenting is a learned experience. No one really knows how to parent when they have their first child. Everything you do as a parent comes naturally from what you experience in your own childhood. When I went through the images of their session it was clear that Mike and Donna are so proud of their family.

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Interested in booking an extended family session?  Or looking to send updated pictures to the Grandparents?

Have I mentioned how much I love fall shoots? I typically focus my sessions when the sun is low in the sky.  Whether that is early in the morning or later in the day,  fall gives us a lot of the benefits of natural lighting without needing to keep small kids awake until 9pm. We do still have a bit of autumn foliage around, but my slots are filling up quickly! Check out my availability here!

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Maternity Photos at First Landing State Park

Maternity Photos at First Landing State Park,  Virginia Beach

To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman expecting her first child.  Or even her second. Or third.  I love the glow of a pregnant woman, her skin, her smile, her eyes…You can see the life breathing into her by just thinking of the little one growing inside of her.

I met Tiana by complete chance.  We both use the remarkably talented Leslie Dina Hylton as our hair stylist.  Tiana and Leslie spoke of having maternity pictures done and looking into newborn photos.    I told her that I wasn’t a newborn photographer,  but I would give her few tips on what to look for for hiring one.

We chatted for a while, and I gave her my card.  I offered help in looking for one that would be suitable to handle her baby if she wanted or even some tips on flattering poses if she wanted.  A little time went by and she ended up calling on me to take her maternity photos.   As soon as we talked I was so excited to work with her.  I had a vision.

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First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach is such a unique location for your maternity photos. On the east coast, there are few places to enjoy the sunset dip into the waters along the horizon.  It’s a beautiful spot where you can just make out the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on the water.  It can be a very popular spot for families beaching as well as for photographers around sunset.

 

Tiana is such a beautiful woman to me, and a dream in a blue maternity gown.  I instantly knew what I wanted the end result of her session to look like!  Which, as a photographer is so key to working with a client.  I hope you love the photos from this session as much as I do.  I am so proud to say that one of the photos from our session together has been featured in Vogue Italia.  With such a beautiful location and a dazzling mother-to-be, it’s no wonder. More on that in a future post!

maternity sillouette taken at sunset in Virginia Beach

In order for your maternity session to be as successful as Tiana's, here are a few tips to keep in mind!

  • Talk to your photographer about what their vision for your images are. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you are looking for and see if their creative vision fits along yours.  These are pictures documenting your pregnancy and you want to be confident in how they turn out!
  • Ask your photographer if they provide dresses or if you need to yourself.  If you choose your own, go for solid colors and stay away from anything with stripes on it!
  • Schedule your session for sometime around 30-32 weeks.   After the 32-34 week mark, you really start to FEEL heavy and your baby starts doubling in size.  You want to feel beautiful, and I know it’s hard to feel so when you are carrying around a little person inside of you.  So by planning ahead you get images that show off that gorgeous round bump, and your beautiful figure, BEFORE baby starts doubling in size!
  • Drink lots of water the night before and of course during your session.  Especially if you are outdoors.  You should be doing this anyways, but hydrating the day before will help with your skin tone.
  • Wear a neutral strapless undergarments to prevent wardrobe malfunctions.  Nuff said.

Hope you found these to be useful to you.  If you want to know more about booking a maternity session fill out the form below and I would be glad to help you plan yours out!

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Family Photos in Suffolk

Family Photos in Suffolk, VA

I love my job.  Especially when it comes to all of the different people I get to meet and the new places I get to see.   I recently took Joanna’s family photos in Suffolk.  Joanna and I hit it off on the phone right away.  As soon as I heard her British accent, I have to admit, I got a bit homesick for England.  I may have only lived there for a few years, but it became home to us very quickly.  She and I talked for nearly an hour about where we lived, what we loved and missed, and living here.  Not to mention photography of course!  We straight away clicked on the importance of having pictures printed out and to be able to actually see them on the walls and in frames.  I could have chatted with her for hours!

Choosing A Location for your Family Photos

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When deciding on a location for your family portraits, take into consideration your own family style.  Does your family like the woods or the beach?  Would you prefer a field with blowing grasses, or perhaps the beautiful blue water of a nearby lake?  How would those locations fit into the style of how you decorate your home?  Joanna ended up choosing Sleepyhole Park for her family photos in Suffolk.  I had never been there before but it was an absolute stunning backdrop.  There was a long fishing pier overlooking the Nansemond River where I met them.  The sun was gorgeous as it came over the treeline and reflected down onto the water.  We were able to use the trees for some gorgeous dappled lighting as well. It is an ideal location for for family photos in Suffolk!

Digital Files are Great, But...

Why spend money on a photographer if all you will do is buy the digital files?  You see, a lot of people will post the pictures from their professional session on their social media accounts and never get around to printing them out! Then a month goes by, and they have since changed their profile picture a few times and those photos that they cherished for the week or two are starting to become just a memory.

They get that reminder, you know the one I’m talking about. The “On This Day” reminder.  They will put them as their profile picture for a few weeks only to change it again when the next thing comes along. We are all guilty of it!  Where would you be if you never printed out the pictures from your session?  Bigger picture, how would you know what your great grandparents looked like if all they owned were digital files?

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How do I choose the right photographer for my family photos?

Choosing a photographer for your family photos can be hard!  With all of the talented photographers out there to choose from, you also have to be sure that you don’t hire someone who claims to be a professional and turns out not to be.  Now a days when anyone and everyone has a camera, how are you to be sure you can trust who you are working with?

I advise anyone I talk to, whether or not I fit the description of the photographer they want to hire to ask if the company has a business license as well as how long they have been in business.  As a business owner, I frequently encounter people who have been burned by a so called photographer in the past.    I think my biggest piece of advise would be to look at their website, and have a phone conversation with anyone you are considering hiring.  Sometimes it’s easier to build trust in someone when you have an actual voice on the other end of the phone.     Don’t know what to ask about?  Well, don’t worry.  I’ll help you.

What kind of questions should I ask a photographer before hiring them?

I think it is really important to get to know a photographer before you hire one.  I want you to know what you are getting when you hire me.  The experience of hiring a family photographer should be one you enjoy.  I’ve put together a list of questions to help you narrow down your search when looking for someone to update your family photos.

  1.  How long have you been in business, and do you have a business license?
  2.  Do you treat your photography a business or is this something you do in your spare time?
  3. Do you have any testimonials from past clients?
  4. What is your process for a client?
  5. Is anything included in the session fee?
  6. What is the ordering session like?
  7. Do you offer digitals and prints?
  8. How long does it take to get my pictures back?
  9. What makes you different?

These are just generic questions, by no means do you have to stick to a script.  By the end of the phone call you should have a good feel of the way their business is run.

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Last but not least!

Beware the cheapie photographer.  The one that offers you 75 images for $50.  This should scream run to you.  You probably already know when someone is offering you a deal that’s too good to be true, it usually is.   I’ve written about this a time or two before.  You can read all about it here


The Anderson Family

Meet the Anderson Family

I met the Anderson family at Oak Grove Lake Park in the Greenbriar area of Chesapeake.  Oak Grove Lake is a gorgeous park around a lake with wooden decks placed around to look down into the water.  There are trails to bike, benches to relax, and a playground area for the littles to play on as well!  We got extremely lucky with a beautiful evening just before a storm started rolling in.   In the distance, the sun was setting behind the lake giving off a warm dappled lighting through the trees.   It is a perfect park for portraits, a morning run, or even just a evening stroll with the family.

Michael and Zoe are the parents to an adorable little one year old Hunter.  I cannot tell you how incredibly happy this little boy is.  Once you have met him, you are able to see that he has so much love surrounding him.  He has an adoring gaze when looking up at his parents.  He is attentive and curious about his surroundings as so many other one year olds are.  However, there is something extraordinarily special with him.  His smile is one that is completely infectious, bringing smiles to everyone that passed.   Hunter especially loved to see the turtles swimming in the lake and pointing out the dogs running along on the trails.   They’ve just moved here from Texas and love spending time outdoors making the Chesapeake area perfect for their family.

Interested in booking your family portraits at Oak Grove Lake Park?

Meredith Hodge Photography, LLC, is a natural light photography service in the Chesapeake area. I love using the bold and vibrant colors of nature as the backdrop for my family sessions.   Oak Grove Lake Park will make a fantastic location if you are interested in updating your family pictures.   However, if you have a favorite park or beach location you would like to use for your family session get in touch!  You can book your family’s session by clicking here!


apple orchard chesapeake family photography

Hello Chesapeake!

Hi there!  Thank you so much for your interest in my project!   My name is Meredith and I am a family photographer new to the Chesapeake area.  I love working outdoors and using the colors of nature as the setting for creating stunning natural light images.

We have just relocated from London but I am no stranger to Virginia.  I grew up in Northern Virginia, and spent the majority of my life here.  I am really looking forward to getting to know the Chesapeake area and all it has to offer.
This is where you come in! 

I am opening up 5 slots for a personal project I am calling “Getting to know Chesapeake”. Throughout the month of August I really want to dig in and get to know as much of the area as I can!  I am in search of 5 families that enjoy the outdoors as much as I do, that are willing to spend a little time to share their favorite family place with me.   As a thank you, I will give your family 5 digital images that you can use however you would like!

Now of course you have probably thought "what's the catch?"  Well, there are always terms and conditions but I promise, they are not completely outrageous.

  • Families will be chosen at photographers discretion.  A total of 5 families will be chosen for this personal project.
  • Families should live within a 5 mile radius of Chesapeake.  However, favorite locations are not subject to the radius.
  • A maximum of 5 digital images will be gifted to the chosen families.  If additional images are provided, they will be available for purchase.
  • Families must give their consent to have images posted on Meredith Hodge Photography, LLc. website and any/all social media accounts
  • Professional photographers or those desiring to become professional photographers in the Chesapeake area are not eligible.
  • Other terms and conditions provided here.

About Meredith Hodge

I’m a happily married Navy wife as well as the mother of 2 incredible boys.  I play tennis, sing karaoke and feel like I have been blessed with an amazing life.  Photography has always spoken to me, and I have always been one with a camera.  I got started in photography while I was in college, where I loved to develop my own film to see how an image would turn out.  While living in Florida my husband came home with a really nice camera.  I enjoyed tinkering around with it and figuring it out but put it in storage when we moved to London thinking we would only be there for a year.  Three months in and I couldn’t stand it! I needed to have my camera back in my hands and so I bought one, and I never looked back.

Recently I have been offering beginners courses teaching momtographers like me how to use their cameras.  I have been published in local magazines, and have been truly honored to have several of my landscape images in Vogue!  If you have more interest in my beginners course click here!

To nominate your family, fill out your information below! 

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We're Moving!

Chesapeake photographer, family photography Norfolk

In just a few short weeks, we will be moving from London all the way to Oahu, Hawaii!

It is with a bittersweet heart to have to say that in just over 3 weeks we are literally moving  to the opposite end of the world. Oahu, a small island that is a part of the larger Hawaiian Island chain in the Pacific, will be our next little piece of paradise.  The excitement of moving to the Hawaiian islands does not come without a bit of a heavy heart though.

We absolutely love living here in the UK. Our family has had so many experiences and made so many wonderful memories here. It will be a very sad day for us when the time comes to say goodbye to what has been such a welcoming home. While living here, we have had the privilege of meeting extraordinary people from countries all over the world. Our family has visited places that many will never get to see, and we have been truly humbled by it all. We are grateful for the lifelong friendships we have made and will consider ourselves beyond lucky to cross paths with some of these people again.

It’s not just our friends we are leaving behind.

Meredith Hodge Photography has come such a long way in the past few years.  I truly hope that it continues to grow into the creative brand that I dream for it to be.   It is a difficult task to have to pick up your business and move it to the other side of town.  Can you imagine moving to a different hemisphere?  As far as the business is concerned,  I will be shutting down the London operation on May 30 until we are settled again in paradise. We will have one further London family session on June 3rd.  You can get more information by getting in touch with us here.

Our growth and success would not be without the support from our clients, our vendors, and our partners.  A sincere thank you goes to each and everyone that we have worked with over the last three years. All that you have  done to help support the business has been instrumental in our past and future success.  People like Heidi Hayward, Rachel Tenant, Nina Mace, Gary Hill, Lisa McCormick, Alex Ingram, Claire Kempster, Andy Smith-Dane, and countless others.  I have been so fortunate to have been surrounded some of the the best in country and I will always be grateful for the relationships made with you all. If you are ever in Hawaii please look us up! We will always make time for our friends!  So it is with deep regret that we have to say goodbye, but hopefully, it is only just for now.

 

With lots of love,

Meredith

Do you live on Oahu? I would love your input!

We are a family that loves new adventures.  Of course we are looking forward to the obvious, visiting Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona.  Driving up to the north shore, to watch the surfers, as well as experiencing Honolulu for the first time and discovering the city.  We are super excited to learn about the culture and the history of the island.  If you live on the island of Oahu, leave a comment below.  I would love to hear from you.   What are some of your family’s favorite places to go.  What about the history of the island, are there certain customs that we should know before we get there?  Things we may not know about??   Things to see and do?  Do you have a favorite place to grab a bite to eat?  Or a great kids playgroup? I am a sponge looking to soak up all the information of the island that I can.   I am looking for anything, even if it’s not photography related!  Subscribe by clicking here for a special offer for those that help us get to know our new home!


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The Dalo Family

A Springtime Photography Session

As a family photographer, I consider it my job to get to know the families that I work with on a personal level.  I try to treat my clients as friends because it is important to have trust in any type of relationship, whether business or pleasure.  I felt so fortunate to meet the Dalo family, because  I absolutely LOVE them.  When I first talked to Meghan, I knew she was someone that I was going to love working with.  We met at one of my favorite locations to shoot family photos in Chorleywood.  While it was a little chilly out, we were so lucky to have the sun shining down on us.  As we initially had to postpone their session because the rain was just too much so we were very happy to see the sun that morning.

One of the things that I enjoy the most about being a family photographer is seeing how a family interacts with each other.  This is especially true with this family.  You can see how much love there is between all of them.  They all have individual and collective bonds with each other that made my heart swell to see.  You can see that Megan and Jimmy have the “fun factor” that Josh and I talk about so often.  They are a couple that really enjoy having a good time together!

I posted a video below of some of my favorite images from the session.  I am new to the whole  video creating thing, so I would really appreciate any feedback you have!

We are moving!

Meredith Hodge Photography is moving!  Sadly I will be packing up my family and my camera and moving to Kailua, Hawaii.  I am so excited about our new adventure.  At the same time,  I am so sad to be leaving such a wonderful place and even greater people behind!

I will be shutting the doors to the shop at the end of May, with the exception of a few preplanned sessions.  Click here to book your session before I leave!


Tower of London Family photography

The London Sessions

The London Sessions

London family photos phonebox photography

Last weekend I held the London Sessions.  It was one of those days where everything worked like clockwork.  We must have had the sunniest day London has seen all year. If you live in London, you never know when its going to rain but you can almost always count on rain in the forecast.  It had been raining all week leading up to Saturday, and I while I had planned for the possibility of rain, I was praying deeply for sun!  Saturday came and and the loud chirping of the birds were calling me to get up and look out the window.  It was a great start to the day seeing how bright and sunny it was. London was good to us that day.

Two heads are better than one.

I had arranged early on to have my assistant Liam to work with me.  Having him there to shoot with me was two fold. It’s good way for him to have some practice with a DSLR and I tend to operate better when shadowed.   He is great for when I am trying out a new idea.   He is always honest and always asks question that I hadn’t already thought of.    Together, we were was able to develop a plan for the day.  Doing this with him, really brought him into the fold.  He went into it with an idea of the shots to get and the time we had to get them in.  As well as being able to keep me focused. We were working with an extremely tight schedule that day.  I may or may not be one that can throw caution to the wind and go off into new ideas I want to try and angles I want to get.  Having him as a second shooter there kept my focus driven.

It always helps to have fun families to work with

I love the families that I get to work with.  I like to have an easy going – free spirited feel to my work.  Family portraits shouldn’t have to be stressful.  Now, I may have been a bit stressed – trying to make sure I got the shots I wanted. Today was different, having multiple families scheduled back to back.  Thankfully, the families we had today all have that “fun” factor about them, which made everything run so smoothly!  Happy families make me happy too!

Liam and I had a great day of shooting together.  I think we both had some really good learning experiences too! We are so thankful for everyone that has taken part and helped make the day such a memorable one for us. Below you will find just a few of our favorite shots from the day.  Hope you enjoy them!

 

We are moving soon!!! Last call for family sessions!

With such an overwhelming response to the London session, I have decided to open one more date before we move to Oahu, Hawaii! Keep an eye out on our facebook page for more info!   If you’re interested in booking a session before we leave, head over to the pricing and booking page to reserve your date now! Available dates are going fast!


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Liam

Liam2.jpg

My Little Liam is no Longer My Little Guy

Kids grow faster than we like to admit. Ive always said that parenting is reliving your childhood through your parents eyes. I have watched this boy discover the world around him in awe. He has done and experienced more cultures and countries than most will in a lifetime. He is gentle and kind, heartfelt and warm. He has always had an infectious personality with a loving heart. He looks out for the little guy and stands up for what he believes in. He has more courage than he knows. He has more courage than I think I have ever had. While he is becoming a young man more and more every day, I still look at him like he is my little best friend, flying kites, riding bikes and watching our favorite Disney movies all curled up on the couch.

Enjoy your children. Be grateful that you are the one that gets to watch them grow from little tiny babies to little people. Take pictures of them and get those pictures printed out. Hang them on your walls and stop to look at them once in a while. Your photographs are the window to your past.

I want you to have photos of your children hanging in your home. I want them to evoke the memories of their younger days. I want you to remember them as they were. So have a look at the website. If you like what you see, get in touch! Let’s make some beautiful images together! X

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