The Weavers are… | Family Session + more!!

Expecting! I’m so excited to share this wonderful news and on such a special day as Valentine’s Day!!
Back in November last year, I had the honor of photographing the Weaver family, Lucas, Autumn, and Alya. Toward the end of the session, they shared a secret with me. A HUGE secret. They were expecting!!! I was so excited for them and I love that they trusted me with this secret and that they wanted to include their wonderful news in their session. They hadn’t yet told their families and wanted to have photos to share their big announcement. So we quickly put some ideas together to announce their new baby!
Recently, Autumn announced her pregnancy on Facebook. Their little one is doing well and getting big. With their permission, I am sharing the photos that we took during their session back in November where they announced they would be going from a family of 3 to a family of 4! I just loved little Alya, she was so good and I am sure she will be a great big sister! Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Snow days | Personal

So as many of you know, we have gotten a lot of snow in the last two weeks. Thankfully, this Tuesday night as I sit her typing this, I am not preparing for snow! The first week we got about 2″. The next week, 6! This is pretty rare for our area, and although I like snow, I think we are all done for the season. We’ve had our fill.
Steven has seemed to really enjoy the snow, although we weren’t able to play in it for long periods. We woke up one morning the second week and the temperature was -4! That is crazy for this area. So we never stayed out more than 30 minutes at a time. He was pretty funny playing in the 6″ of snow. He had a hard time walking, as he is not even 3 feet tall! We tried to build a snowman, but the snow was really fluffy and not really snowman building snow. We painted the snow using water colored blue with food coloring and Steven and Mike played golf in the snow. The first week was good for sledding and Mike pulled Steven and I behind the mini bike. The second week, not so much. It was just too deep for that, so we just pulled him with our hands.
The dogs really loved the snow. Colt loved trying to eat it and Hurley loved running in it. Mike tried to play ball with Hurley in the deep snow, but the balls kept getting lost.
Steven and I spent a lot of time indoors over the last couple of weeks, which is tough, because we both love to be outside! Thankfully, I had bought a few things of play dough and that has provided a lot of entertainment. We had better luck building a snowman made out of play dough. I also converted a cardboard box into a mailbox. He likes it pretty good, but not quite as much as I anticipated. We have Lincoln logs and our train set and plenty of books.
Now the snow is gone and whenever we get ready to go somewhere and go to put our shoes on, Steven says “No bibs.”, referring to his snow bibs. I think he is over the snow too! We are both ready for warmer and drier weather. Bring on the Spring!

The first snow we got. Steven had a blast being pulled on the sled!
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The BIG snow we got!

Hurley loved trying the find the balls in the snow, but it was pretty difficult.

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Colt checking out the snow. He gave me some funny faces as he romped around!

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Mike and Steven playing golf with Hurley!

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Making our play dough snowman inside where we were warm and dry!!

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Cardboard mailbox.  I found the inspiration for this on Pinterest, though not very good directions.  I just winged it!

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I’ve got all my sisters with me | Business + Personal

If you had told me back in high school that I would one day be a “sorority girl”, I probably would have laughed in your face. I am by no means a girly girl and not one to hang with a bunch of girls and do group bathroom trips. I like hanging with the guys. I even had 5 guy roommates at one time in college. I would say they were less drama, but that wasn’t always true. For me, it was just easier with guys.
But as fate would have it, I did join a wonderful sorority. Actually, Pi Beta Phi is considered a women’s fraternity. Since it was the first of its kind, there was no such thing as a sorority then. I met my sorority “big sister” my freshman year and my second semester I went out for formal recruitment to see what it was all about. A friend I had danced with in high school was there and had joined just the semester before. I feel in love with some of the women and more importantly what Pi Phi believed in and represented. Their main philanthropy was literacy, something that I felt was important. They did a lot on campus and I enjoyed the involvement. It was definitely one of the best decisions I made in college (second only to deciding to go out with my future husband🙂 )!
I never would have imagined the benefits Pi Phi would be still giving me after college. Of course they tell you all the wonders of alumni networking and such when you are a collegiate, but you don’t really think that way when you are in college. You kind of think in the here and now.
Although, I’m not actively involved in my chapter or alumni club currently, I have a wonderful network and circle of sisters. We have been a part of each others’ weddings, either as guests or actually in the wedding. Every one of my attendants were Pi Phis. We have seen our families grow and been at birthday parties, showers and more! I love getting together with my sisters/friends for play dates. We have even seen each other become entrepreneurs in our own business ventures.
This has been one of my favorite parts of being a Pi Phi alumni. My Pi Phi sister Kristi and I have really built up a beautiful network. Last year after I started my photography business, Kristi contacted me to take photos of her beautiful hand-made jewelry (check out The Funky Tangerine). Even all of her models for the shoot were Pi Phis!! We have both supported each other and plugged each others businesses whenever possible. I have even put Kristi in contact with another photographer friend who was spotlighting Esty businesses. That is how supportive we are of each other (and also in my photographer network). Pay it forward!!
Just last week, I signed up for a styled shoot that will be hosted by Debbie Laughlin Photography and Jennifer Krieg Photography. I shared the link on my business Facebook page and Kristi saw it. She noticed they did not have a jewelry vendor and asked me if this might be something they would want/need. I put her in touch with Debbie and BAM! it was a done deal! I am so excited for Kristi and so excited for her to get this exposure. I can’t wait to see what she will come up with.
I just love our network. I have sisters who do advertising, jewelry, fitness, graphic design, teach and countless other jobs.  I have even had the pleasure of photographing several of my sisters and their families!!  My sorority little sister, Joanna, is getting married in November and I get to photograph her wedding! I am thrilled!!!! She is still one of my closest friends and my son’s godmother! He even gets to be in her wedding too!

I just never imagined I would still be benefitting from that one decision to join such an amazing organization. Some people say that a sorority is paying for you friends. Well, I feel like I got a great deal, because the ones I got are priceless!!!🙂

Some photos of me and my sisters at my wedding.

My bridesmaids!!

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Pi Phis at my wedding!

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The beautiful Pi Phi models at The Funky Tangerine jewelry shoot. All of them are modeling jewelry made by Kristi.

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My beautiful and talented friend Kristi at her jewelry shoot! She now has that sweet little girl that was in her belly then, in her arms.

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My sister Julie and her family. I got to photograph their family as they anticipated the arrival of their second baby and at Christmas when little Wyatt was just a few weeks old!

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My sorority sister Breauna (who I never met in college, but was thankful that Kristi recommended me to her)! I had the best time photographing her beautiful family this past fall!

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My sister Jenn and her beautiful family.  I am so thankful that we have been a part of each others weddings and kids’ lives!

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Steven and his Auntie Joanna. She is also his godmother. I cannot wait for us to both be a part of her big day!!!

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When your photo session doesn’t go as planned | Business + Personal

So I have been meaning to write this post for awhile. I first had the idea after working with several families and during their sessions, their kids just weren’t feeling like having their photos taken. The parents get stressed and apologize repeatedly, reassuring me their children are usually well-behaved and all smiles. I assure them that it is ok, that theirs are not the first kids I have worked with that have off days. They all do, mine included. I then gained this experience first hand and therein comes the personal side of this post.

I know I have written before about the wonderful network of photographers that I am a part of through Amanda Hedgepeth. I decided this past Fall that I wanted to take the plunge and have our family photos professionally done. I know, its what I do, so I should value it, and I do. I really do!! But, like many of you think, it is an expense and one that sadly doesn’t always make the priority list. Well, I decided we needed to make it happen.

So I started thinking of who I wanted to have take our pictures. My cousin had taken ours several times, and she did a fantastic job, but I wanted someone I knew in the profession. I contacted Debbie with Debbie Laughlin Photography.  I had talked with Debbie online through our network, and she was so kind and helpful.  Besides, I loved her work.  So I contacted her and we set a date.  I started dreaming of our perfect session. Laughing and smiling and all the beautiful photos we would have.

Well, fast-forward and our session date, the day after Steven’s birthday, the weather was 34 degrees and windy.  I was still set on us doing our session though.  So I dragged my husband and our son out to Fort Story and the Cape Henry Lighthouse.  We were sitting in the car letting Steven eat his snack before the session and Mike asked me “Do you hear that sound?”.  I listened and asked if it was a jet?  He said “No, it is the wind!”.  Yikes!   I should have called it off.  But, I had my heart set that we were going to have our photos taken and we had no other time available for the rest of the year! So Debbie and her sweet husband showed up all bundled up ready to brave the cold and wind.
It was a disaster. Not on Debbie’s part by any means. She was awesome!  We were just so cold and the wind was blowing and making it worse.  I wanted us to look nice, so in a complete moment of mommy failure, I didn’t put a jacket on Steven.  He was freezing.  He got so upset and cold that he couldn’t recover.  He was crying and tears were streaming down his face.  We tried everything to get him to smile.  We even all bundled up, but it wasn’t happening.  Debbie was so patient and kind to us.  She reassured us that it was ok and that she didn’t mind.  She hung in there with us and tried her best, but Steven just wasn’t having it.  So she kindly told us that she would give us what she had and that we could reschedule to finish out the session.  We didn’t even last 30 minutes out there!

So, this is a lot longer than I anticipated it being, but what I want to get at is that it is ok if your kids are having an off day. Like Debbie, I love what I do and I love working with families and kids. It isn’t for everyone. Not every photographer does family and children sessions. I do and I love it. I love capturing the special moments and meeting all the little people. If I didn’t like working with families and children, I wouldn’t do it.

So parents, it is ok if your kiddos are off. I will do my best to work with them and try to get them to relax and be their usual charming selves.  I am patient and understanding.  I won’t get upset and its ok.  WE all have our off days.  But, if they get to the point where they just aren’t having it, that is ok to. We can always reschedule. Your session is supposed to be fun and enjoyable and a great memory. Besides that is what we are doing. Creating and capturing memories. They should be pleasant and happy ones.  Being a parent comes first and your children’s well-being comes first.  We can always reschedule for another day!🙂

I want to give a big thank you to Debbie for being such a patient and kind person and photographer. She is definitely a role model for me as a family and children’s photographer. I am so grateful for the beautiful photos she did capture for us. And, we will always be able to look back at our session as a learning lesson in parenting. Sometimes you really do have to put your kids above your wants and dreams.

View More: http://debbielaughlinphotography.pass.us/zebrowski-session

This is probably one of my favorite photos of us ever!  I love that you can tell he is smiling at Mike!

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All photos taken by Debbie Laughlin Photography.

My word for 2014: Mike | Personal

So I hadn’t ever dedicated a year to one word before or even heard of this concept. I saw it floating around Facebook (of course) with people using lots of inspirational words they were going to live their lives for in 2014. I tossed around a few in my head, but couldn’t seem to find one that resonated with me.
Then my husband’s cousin wrote a blog post about how she was going to dedicate her year to her husband. Mike’s cousin, Sarah Mae, is a beautiful writer and an inspiration to me as a mother. After reading her blog post about her dedicating her year to her husband I knew what my word was.

Mike.

It has been on my heart for awhile that I don’t make him enough of a priority in my life. I am a passionate person and don’t do much less than 100%. I am dedicated to being a stay-at-home mom, a Christian, a photographer and dance instructor. I try to keep our house clean, bills paid and supper on the table every night. There is no doubt that my love language is service!
But, what about Mike??
I know he knows I love him. He knows I do what I do for him and Steven. But what about his love language? His, like many men probably, is physical touch, something I am horrible at. I always have been. My mom said it was like trying to hold on to a slippery squid trying to hold me or hug me as a little kid. I just had to go and do and be busy. I still do. I feel like I am slacking off if I am just sitting still. There is something I should be probably doing other than just sitting here.

I need to slow down and take in the moments. I’m going to try to hug him and kiss him more and try to find myself attractive for him.  Try to look at him the way I did when we weren’t married and all I could think about was marrying him!
Mike is good at that. He is definitely the stop and smell the roses kind of guy.  He works so hard for us.  He is a firefighter and on his days off, he works for my parents.  He is hands down, an amazing father and husband! He definitely keeps me grounded and never complains about working so hard.  I know there are plenty of things he would like to do for himself, but he would rather spend his time with us.

That is why 2014 is going to be his year. I am going to rededicate myself to him as his wife. I will try to make him feel wanted and needed and loved without a doubt. Like Sarah Mae said in her blog, I will fail sometimes. There is no doubt. Not always, but it will happen! This is out of my comfort zone. Loving him isn’t of course, but slowing down is.
I need to step away from the computer and phone and even from Steven some. That will be the hardest. I am terrible about going out on date nights, although I’ve gotten better, because I hate spending time away from him. But I have to remind myself that I’m doing it also for him. Besides, if it wasn’t for the love between his mommy and daddy, he wouldn’t be here!! I have to remind myself that our healthy marriage is the best gift I can give him. That it will model for him the kind of husband he should be and the kind of wife he should look for.
So Mike, 2014 is your year. I can’t wait to see where we are this time next year. I know it won’t be all easy, but I know it will be amazing! I love you babe!

When we first started dating, over 10 years ago!!

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Our wedding

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Our 1 year anniversary (taken by Mike’s uncle Gary).

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Our first family photo!

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Photo from our first family photo session (taken by Candice Strickland).

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Our recent family photos (photo taken by Debbie Laughlin Photography).

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300 Likes + A “Sweet” Giveaway

Thank you, thank you, thank you all for your support! You all helped me reach a goal of 300 likes on my business Facebook page by the end of 2013.
As I promised, I am doing a “Sweet” giveaway. I love Sweet Frog’s frozen yogurt, so I am giving away a $20 gift card. All you have to do is enter below. Make sure you are a Dana Rae Photography fan on Facebook and you get 3 entries. If you want more entries, leave a comment about your positive Dana Rae Photography experience. If I haven’t had the pleasure of working with you yet, maybe you can leave a positive comment on the photos you have seen that I have taken.
I hope everyone has had a wonderful 2013! I know I have. I feel so incredibly blessed by all the support I have had for my new business. I cannot wait to see what 2014 holds!! Good luck and the giveaway will end at 9pm New Year’s Eve!!

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My favorites from 2013

This has truly been an amazing year! I started my photography business in 2013 and it has been a wonderfully, blessed journey. I am so grateful for everyone that supported my business this year. This year I had 32 different paying clients!! I know that may not sound like much, but I only started charging clients in May and only did sessions on the weekends. I worked with so many wonderful couples, families, and children. I cannot wait to see what 2014 brings!! Here are some of my favorites from 2013. Enjoy!

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DeJarnette Family | Airfield 4-H Center, Wakefield, VA

I have been wanting to do a session at the Airfield 4-H center ever since I started my photography business. I am so thankful that the DeJarnette family gave me that opportunity. Kristy contacted me about taking their family photos and I was again trilled and honored that someone would choose me to capture their memories! I went to high school with Kristy and I always enjoy working with people I know!
Kristy, Luke and their little girl Tenley are such a sweet family and so beautiful. I mean look at those curls on Tenley. And she isn’t just a girly girl! She loves to fish with her daddy. I love that they brought their fishing poles and tackle box to capture this special bond they share.
I love all the different settings this beautiful location offered. Tenley had the best time exploring everything. She is a quick little 2-year old, but thankfully she sat still for a moment here and there. I love working with families where you can see just how much the parents love their children! Thank you to the DeJarnettes and I hope you enjoy their beautiful Airfield session!

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