Welcome to the world, Ms. Riley! We are so happy to have you, sweet girl.
What a better way to round out 2017 than with a surprise snow shower.
For my final shoot of the year, I got to photograph this beautiful family at Manassas Battlefield. When I heard the weather reports, my first instinct was “Oh no! We’ll probably have to reschedule!”
Then I realized that this may in fact be a Christmas card mini session blessing. We decided to go ahead and do the shoot in the snow. And it added just the level of Christmas cheer that brightens up the best Christmas cards.
It’s here! Time to break out the holly, deck the halls, bake the cookies, and stuff the stockings. And time for Christmas card photos.
Part of what makes this a magical time of the year is the excitement you get when you discover that snail mail isn’t just for electric bills and coupons you’ll never use. It’s also for Amazon packages filled with joy and Christmas cards filled with cheer.
Christmas cards are that perfect opportunity to literally send a smile (in the form of a happy family photo) to your friends and family.
The Coombs’ were the perfect way to start out Christmas card mini sessions. They brought their Christmas smile A-game. Even their pup showed off his Christmas grin.
“What’s your favorite part about Oscar?”
“His eyes. The way he looks up at me.”
That was Scarlett’s response during her pet session on Friday at Manassas Battlefield.
There’s something in a dog’s eyes (and I don’t mean dust). It’s complete, total, and utter faith in us. It’s 100%, pure, unfiltered love. It’s never giving up on us. It’s the loudest expression of friendship without saying a word.
Oscar and Scarlett are very best friends, and it definitely reflected during their shoot. He is her boy and she is his girl. Scarlett and Oscar have been through so much together – sickness, and a long journey (literally up a mountain) toward health. He was there for her, looking up at her with the knowing faith, endless love, and constant friendship that dogs give.
Earlier in the month, I donated a basket to the Loudoun County Humane Society’s Fall Fundraiser event. The basket would be given to a raffle winner at the event.
I had never put together a basket before – even for a holiday party gift – so I was a little daunted by the task. I couldn’t attend the event because of some prior appointments, but I wanted to make a killer basket. The goal was to promote my business, so I decided to set up the perfect fall puppy photoshoot. Treats – a must during any pet session. A squeaky toy – when you need to grab Fido’s attention. A 5×7 picture frame for your favorite photo from the shoot, and inside the frame, a certificate for a fall mini session at Manassas Battlefield.
I have to say – this was probably the most fun I’ve ever had donating. Goodwill runs have nothing on spending 30 minutes on a Saturday morning photographing three adorable dachshunds.
My face turned a nice shade of pomegranate red when Kim told me that she was so excited about this basket/session that she put all of her raffle tickets in for it. I couldn’t have been more flattered.
Kim and her husband and their three pups are such a cute fur-family. These dapper pups had on their best holiday outfits for their shoot, and you may well see them on a holiday card this season! Congrats, Kim!
When I was little, my older brother often had the unfortunate job of constantly watching his little sister. He’d let me tag along with him when he played with the neighborhood kids and make sure I came home in one piece. He would make Tombstone pizza when my parents worked late. He’d let me watch while he played Sega, and then Nintendo 64, and then Playstation. And I thought he was just the coolest older brother – I pretty much wanted to do anything he was doing. Honestly, he WAS a really cool older brother. Any coolness I have originated from my brother.
Now, he is going to be a really cool dad.
My brother was lucky enough to meet a girl with just as high a cool-level as he has. Christina completes him, in every single sappy, Jerry McGuire cliche kind of way.
For their photo shoot, Barry and Christina went out to Breaux Winery. This little winery was nestled right up next to the mountains and, just because Mother Nature knew this was a particularly special shoot, the fall colors were serious. Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Right out of a Hallmark Thanksgiving special.
Their little one, Riley, is so loved already. Christina is such a beautiful mama-to-be. Seeing my brother and sister-in-law love this child is even more beautiful, and I look forward to seeing just how cool she is going to be.
“Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal” -Meg Ryan, You’ve Got Mail
As we pulled into the driveway, I saw two beautiful country farmhouses. We would be going to the one on the left. In the yard of the house on the right laid a sleepy coonhound, who watched as we parked and I fiddled with my camera to get the right settings.
“You may hear a hound dog as you pull up, but he’s friendly,” I remember Em saying.
Beyond the driveway, a dirt road led out into acres of lush farmland with apple trees and another white farmhouse. Beyond that, the Blue Ridge Mountains framed this perfect picture.
This was a special place.
I had met Em back in college – we both went to JMU, and got reacquainted earlier this year when a friend connected us for some photos of her two adorable pups. I was more than happy to have a JMU pal as one of my first real clients. She, Hunter, and her dogs easily became one of my favorite families to shoot.
So when they came to me again in October for a couples session, I was thrilled. Like, really guys, happy dances were performed. Not only was I getting to shoot this gorgeous couple twice, but this time, we were going to do it at Hunter’s family farm.
As we drove to the various locations on the farm for photos, Em told me about how quiet it was here. How they would come out here to go hunting. They showed me where they had special picnics and where they would go for long walks.
These little details – markers in their relationship, memories they shared – are all what made this shoot special. I felt like I was on a movie set – swept away from the every day and capturing a beautiful story.
When Aaron and I first started dating, every now and then, he’d snap a “candid” photo of me. It was usually mid-chew while we were out at dinner or some intense photo of me studying for Media Law, and I thought, “that can’t possibly be attractive.” They weren’t always. But he’d keep them and look at them and it meant something special to him to have photos of me. Every couple of days, he’d snap another photo of me giving him looks or reading or doing whatever it is I was doing. It made me feel incredibly special.
Now that life is moving 1000x faster, he no longer takes candid photos, but he does keep a picture of me as his phone background. I usually take a selfie when I’m especially feelin’ myself, and I’ll send it to him, because I know he’ll keep it and look at it every day.
I can remember, when I was a little girl, my sister first started dating her husband. They met online, and pictures were important. She sent him a really fantastic photo of herself, and she had a photo of him in his Marines uniform. When they moved in together, these photos were both sitting on their nightstands – the first photo they’d see in the morning.
When I do sessions with couples, I always try to take that concept and snap some “nightstand photos.” I get one of each partner.
I’ll either tell the client to look into the camera like you’d look at their partner all done up for a date, or I’ll have the partner stand just over my shoulder and ask the client to focus on them, not me.
This always creates really special photos – something a selfie can’t always capture. This is how you look when you’re looking at your person. I love these photos because they capture that look. Photos of your partner exactly how they look at that special moment. I call them “nightstand photos,” because even if you use them as your phone background, they’re the first thing you see when you get up in the morning. Because everyone deserves to have a photo of their person to wake up to.
So there are two words that, no matter how bad the day has gone, make everyone in the Koepper household perk up.
I’m not sure who loves the park more – my husband and me, or Ranger. Either way, Vint Hill Dog Park has become a staple for our weekends.
This weekend, the park celebrated it’s Howl-O-Ween Party. Food, drinks, and pups in costume made for a super fun day.
There’s really nothing better than a Beagle taco, and spiders are much less terrifying when they come in the form of Great Dane puppies. The event was such a ball. Here are some shots of the pups.