Senior Session

The past few months have been that time of year again when all of the high school seniors are finishing up the last few months of high school and preparing to go to college. It the busy season for senior portraits and this year has been fun, photographing seniors in their element.

I met this high school senior through Young Life (an amazing organization that if you haven’t heard about…ask me!), back when she was finishing up her sophomore year. I have a special place in my heart for this young lady and I am excited for what the future holds for her.

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Life Should be Simple

There are so many days where these kiddos play together out in the fresh air, Florida winter weather and sunshine. Many days go by where I wish I had brought my camera and documented their fun (some of their daily chores too). Life is so beautiful and should be simple, yet it’s so complex. We live in a world where our attention is always pulled in one direction or another. Information overload! Whenever I can void out the technology and let my kids be little, I jump at the opportunity. These moments of climbing trees, playing with the cows, eating vegetables out of the garden, imaging they are on a pirate ship (thats really a trailer), playing with sticks, swinging from the trees and just being kids – these are the moments I love and I see their imaginations soar. And all with such treasured friends!

A Personal Lifestyle Session

Lifestyle sessions are my most favorite thing to shoot. They really tell a story of the family and show who they are more than just what they look like. Recently I wrote a post about “my why” and why I pick up my camera. You can see it here. I am always wanting to document my littles every day life and hold onto those memories forever. This season of life is so fleeting….so I am holding tight to it! Raise your hand if you don’t want your babies to grow up too quickly!

Recently, I took my camera with me out to a friend house where we told the kids to “go play”. The only thing we asked them to do was to play in the garden and to check the chicken coop for eggs. No posing, no telling them how to play; just a simple “go play”. I wanted raw, unposed moments that portrayed most of their time together and time outside. These are the images I left with.

Also – A big thank you to our treasured friends for always sharing their little slice of heaven with us 🙂

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Lifestyle on the Farm

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Lifestyle Photography

Lifestyle in the Garden

In the Beginning

Years ago when my husband purchased my first DSLR camera for my birthday, I shot for fun. As many do when starting out, I photographed my friends, family, kids and even animals. There was never an opportunity I didn’t jump at to practice composition, using natural light and posing my friends or family. I was always excited to learn to use my camera, use light in different ways and try various compositions.

Soon I started getting asked to photograph families and friends (and get paid). It was so flattering that someone would want me to document their families. Photography was exciting to me, but something was missing. I took a few classes here and there and learned all the rules. With each little step of learning I was excited, but I will was’t sold on becoming a photographer.  Every time I looked at my images, I would only see people posing. I saw what they looked like and I saw staged moments.

It All Changed from There…

What I didn’t see in my images were personalities and real moments. I wanted to see WHO people are, not just what they looked like and real life! Documented moments that make you look back and relive those emotions or moments all over again. So I changed my style of shooting -newborn sessions changed, family sessions changed, etc. Just about every session I have now is completely different than when I first began. My goal is to really capture who my clients are, not just what they look like. It takes some planning and direction, but these sessions are by far the most fun!

Where it Came From

Growing up my mom kept a plethora of photographs. There were photo albums galore and boxes upon boxes of old photographs. One of my favorite things to do is go back through those albums and photographs and reminisce of sweet childhood memories. My favorite images were the candid, emotion-ful images. Weather it was water shenanigans with my sisters, waterskiing, hanging on the dock or catching fish; those images were and still are my favorites. My least favorite? The posed family portrait. The one where we were all in the same clothes or dresses and all staring/smiling at the camera. Don’t get me wrong, a classical family portrait is great. However, the images that made me re-live childhood days all over again were my favorite. These are the kind of images I want to create. Ones that bring back memories, emotions and feelings. 

This! This was my why. This was the reason I pick up my camera.

Of course as a photographer I want all my photographs to be technically correct, the light to be gorgeous and the composition to be perfect. But focusing so much on the rules of the game, can make you miss out of so many great moments. Don’t get me wrong, we all need to learn the rules and learn them well. But letting go a little of that and focusing on real moments and raw emotions is where it’s at. This is what makes me love photography and love what I do. This is why I chose to pursue a career in photography and why I pick up my camera just about every day.

Lifestyle & Documentary Photography

Here is an image of a group of cousins that I photographed years ago together. We had shot an entire session on a gorgeous sailboat. Of course all of the images on the sailboat are great and we all love them…but this ended up being the favorite image of the day. An ice cream treat after our session – where all of the little personalities shined. If you know this family, you know each little personality is portrayed right here in one photo.

Lifestyle Family Photography

And this image…this was after a posed shot when the kids just thought it would be fun to tackle dad. I knew this might be coming and that this would be my favorite.

LifestylePHotography & My Why

This image means so much to me….this is our oldest and shows his love for music and for just being joyful. He’s ALWAYS singing, playing an instrument or dancing.


A boy and his daily encounter with his cow – giving him a taste of the garden while his sisters water the vegetables. (This was a fun afternoon which you can view right here)

Why I pick up my camera

Here is an image from another lifestyle session. Just a couple of simple, un-posed moments.

Stuart Lifestyle Photography

My own little ninja warrior…

Stuart Lifestyle Photographer - My Why

Newborn Fever

This season of family photography has been full of newborns. Talk about baby fever! There have been some really cute babies and sweet kiddos that I have worked with this year so far and this family is no exception. Newborn sessions have become one of my favorites, especially those with siblings. There is always giggling, wrestling and tons of jumping on beds. There’s also some really tender moments with their newest sibling. All of these moments are the ones I want to give my clients – they are the REAL life moments that are often so fleeting but you want to hold onto forever. Anyone know how to freeze time?!

I had to include a bit of lifestyle photos in this session. These kiddos are too fun to make them sit still and their spunky and super sweet personalities were so fun to work with. I always say this but the documentary and lifestyle shots are my absolute favorite. These are why I pick up my camera and why I continue to shoot on a daily basis.

So grateful for clients that are willing to have some fun with sessions and add some lifestyle to their gallery.

Adding to my Favorite Images

One of my favorite images from this newborn session is the one with two of the kids tackling dad. This is the type of moment that I look for in each and every session. Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. Tackling dad will take seconds, but documented, those memories of smiles, giggles and little arms around dad’s neck will last a lifetime.

Don’t wait! Book yourself a lifestyle session – you won’t regret it!

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A Sweet Newborn Session

One part of my job that I love so much is getting to witness each special milestone for my clients. This little family is no exception. From the beginning, I have been able to photograph family parties, an engagement, weddings, a maternity session, the birth of this little one at the hospital and then her newborn session and just a couple of weeks ago, her Baptism. What a privilege to be there for all of these special moments! I am so grateful to be able to document each big step of their lives for them. A shout out to this family for always allowing me to create art out of your milestones!

Documenting Your Milestones

If you are considering documenting certain events of your life but are not sure how you would set that up or make it happen – I can help! I spoke with this sweet momma right after they announced their pregnancy. They weren’t even sure how it would happen, but knew that all of these events were really important to them and wanted to have them documented. After we figured out a timeline and then photographed each one – now they have such sweet images on their walls and in albums that allow them to relive all of these seemingly fleeting moments over such a awesome but chaotic year.

Planning ahead is key! Figure out what you want documented and then make a timeline. While some of these sessions were directed and posed such as the one below, most were purely documentary style.