Meet Baby B

Life is raw, and for that there are no words. Rawness, realness, intensity, love, strength, pain, joy, and everything in between…they’re given breath. And when you get to witness that happening, and bottle it up to be saved forever? Just wow.

Now, factor in one of the sweetest families ever. They were so inviting, so easy to work with and quickly welcomed me into such a private, intimate time in their lives. It was like meeting old friends for the first time.

The honor of being allowed to document this crescendo of life, becoming a fly on the wall, it’s big. Let’s not dance around it here. I’ve cried. More than once. At the thought of capturing a journey’s end and beginning, the last and first images on either side. How humbling. Memories, preserved. Emotions. Anticipation. See how I’m not doing so great making full sentences? It’s hard to articulate.

Blessed. There, that covers it…

 

 

Fairytale Shmairytale

It’s true, if you think about it. Fairy tales are all the same. Happy endings and bubblegum and rainbows and the good guy wins and everyone sings Kumbaya and enjoys a real stiff drink.

Ok, that’s not exactly how it goes…but it sounds good.

Really though, we’re so accustomed to happy endings that even the original not-so-great version of Little Red Riding Hood was re-written (everyone knows the story, right? – grandma gets eaten by the wolf, blah, blah, blah, indigestion). We just couldn’t leave it alone though. Nope, we had to fix that unfortunate ending. Later versions added a clever wood cutter who sliced open the wolf so that both grandma and little Ms Hood could live happily ever after.

Happily ever after. What is that, anyway?

Pretty sure it’s right up there with free money, sugar free cookies and no-ride-up underwear. You know, things that sound great but are really just a joke or an unattainable magical mirage.

Welcome to the world of pretend…

Dwarves serenade you, you can grow your hair 57 feet long without ever touching up your roots, birds help you make a beautiful dress that fits like a dream without showing your back fat, a knight in shining armor saves the day, a maiden falls into a peaceful slumber and awakens with a kiss from prince charming after years of sleeping WITH HER MAKEUP ON…and she looks fantastic?

These are the things dreams are made of…and we tell these stories to our kids. C’mon, are we going to continue pretending to be confused about why vegetables, taxes and crowsfeet all amount to a crap version of adulting that is so much less glamorous than we expected?

It’s frustrating. And I guess in part it’s our own fault. When did we decide that it was best to raise our kids surrounded by fairy tales?

Hey, you know what? I bet the best way to teach someone that the world is a beautiful place that’s also full of really cruel, unfair life’s lessons along the way is to… Yep, fill their head full of make-believe stories about how everyone wins and life is perfect. Always a happy ending. That should do it.

Ummmm…how about no?

I say we go down the rabbit hole. I say we tell the truth.

Sometimes life is ugly and unfair and messy.

Sometimes our friends aren’t really our friends, we don’t always win, the ending isn’t always happy, we don’t always get rescued, it doesn’t always make sense, we don’t have to smile about it, the people we need aren’t always there, sometimes we don’t do the right thing, or people do wrong by us, the truth doesn’t always surface as quickly as we’d like, and sometimes…well, sometimes everything isn’t going to be okay.

And that’s perfectly okay.

When things get tough, sometimes we need to live in that for a while. And sometimes we have to fight. And I don’t mean fists. We have to fight with our hearts and our minds and every fiber of our being just to pull through to the other side. We have to dig down deep within, shake ourselves up a bit, pray, yell, pray some more, process our troubles, knock off the dust and keep going.

So what about this cloaked girl in the woods? I’d love nothing more than to rewrite her story.

Why can’t she embrace her own vulnerability and then be brave, and strong? Why can’t she be fierce? Maybe she was tricked and mistreated, but who said she has to lay down and take it? Wolf or not…Red can decide how to handle that beast.

Let’s imagine a girl who doesn’t need rescued. One who might not always have a plan, but knows what she wants and figures out how to get it. A girl who doesn’t startle at the sight of big teeth and big eyes, who won’t be played and who speaks out against those voices of darkness…

Let’s paint a picture of an ending to this story that reminds our own little girls just how badass and strong they are.

We all have wolves to overcome. And we can’t fight in glass slippers.

QN3A8449eWeb

QN3A9036eWeb

QN3A9191eWeb

Thank You, Phase 2 – A November Event

This month has been all about saying Thanks…

img_0838

Usually I like to say thanks with something edible. Like bacon, or cheese and wine, or bacon. But hey, people like photography and the masses have spoken.

This is PHASE 2. It’s about what the people want. I’m just here to say Thank You in a way all you fine humans will appreciate. After all, I couldn’t do what I do without your beautiful faces. And love getting to know you. All of you. I’ve made more friends through this business (like real, lasting friendships) than I could have ever imagined. That’s the good stuff.

Time to show thanks.

Here’s what’s up for grabs:

  • Free Full Standard Session 
  • 25-30 Digital Images
  • Web Files for online sharing
  • 5×5 Hardcover Book

To Enter:

  • Share this blog post with your friends
  • Like SVSiefkas on fb
  • Comment below that you’ve entered to win

I’ll be doing a live results video on Monday 11/21 at 8pm on the SVSiefkas fb page.

Now…what about booking one of these sessions? What about people that don’t want to wait for the giveaway results? Because guess what…you can.

Instead of a Black Friday Sale, this year I’m offering up this amazing deal for Spring sessions. As most of you know, a standard session is $500 to book, with a credit for printing (and NO DIGITALS). So, the average investment for a session is about $800.

How awesome would it be to get your session with digitals for half that? No brainer, right?

Well, what about ALSO getting an awesome custom product? I have to say, products are my absolute favorite. It wasn’t an even split, but there were TONS of requests for custom products, in addition to digital files. So, I decided to include both and design an awesome package for Spring. And cheap.

That’s what everyone wants this time of year, let’s be honest. So here’s the package:

  • Free Full Standard Session 
  • 25-30 Digital Images
  • Web Files for online sharing
  • 5×5 Hardcover Brag Book
  • Available for purchase thru 11/28 (Cyber Monday)
  • For use 3/31-5/31
  • $299 ($89 to book, balance due on session day)

These sessions are available for lifestyle (family, children), engagement, maternity.

The kicker? I’m also giving away a second session! Everyone who books the special will be entered into a drawing for a free session. The freebie sesh will come in boutique packaging, to be gifted to someone for the holidays! The. Perfect. Gift.

Only 10 sessions available for purchase. First come, first serve, previous clients first. To purchase, leave your email address in a comment, and I will contact you to set a date and collect your booking fee.

So, enter to win if you wish, purchase if you want…and do the quick math. If you’re grabbing up a Spring session for yourself, there’s a 1 in 10 chance you’ll win one for a friend.

Double SCORE!!

I’m so excited to share this awesome giveaway with all of you.

Much love,

Steph

 

 

 

Christmas Card Minis – A Giveaway Game

If you’re reading this post, it’s either because you’re playing the game in hopes of winning a Christmas Card Mini…OR, you’ve been lured here to cast a vote.

And, since I have a soft spot for friends who get suckered into playing along – you’re in for a treat.

These images were chosen by previous clients – I simply asked everyone to pick an image they love (it doesn’t matter how old or new).

Guess what – if you’re casting a vote, YOU might win a mini session yourself whether you have an image in the lineup or not. 🙂 How, you say? Here’s the scoop, deets and sundry info:

  • Pick 3 images and list the image numbers in a comment below this blog post
  • List your images in this order:
    • Most emotional
    • “It just plain speaks to me”
    • Overall fave
  • Do not repeat image numbers, do not pick more than one of your own images
  • Share this blog post on fb so your friends can play (make sure you click the blog title to see the full post and sharing buttons!)

 

On Monday morning, I’ll be sharing the results for the winner of each of the 3 categories. One of them will be a random winner.

Here’s the kicker – I’m giving away 2! Everyone who voted for the random winner will also be entered into a drawing for a second Christmas Card Mini giveaway. BAM. 🙂 Fun right?

Mini Session Dates: 11/13, 11/19-20 (so you can mark your calendars)

On Monday, I will also release the full pricing and structure. This event will be BEYOND gorgeous, will take place in Pike County AND Columbia, and it will be under 75 bucks – just like back in the day. Because this is a throwback event, and a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has been so supportive of the journey.

Have fun!

Cheers,

Steph

What’s Aunt Tilda Know Anyway?

That’s when I told her my ideas.

It was right after she said, “I’m interested in something different, funny, creative…is that something you could do?”

Mini sessions are a chance to get really creative in a small amount of time. She didn’t want typical family portraits. And let’s be honest. Neither did I. Typical is not what I prefer. Just ask my closet or one of my closest friends.

So, the planning began with some suggestions. A few ideas. And this is where I’ll trust that Amber won’t blab my unused selection of off-the-wall session venues. Because there were some doozies.

Finally we narrowed it down and chose the chocolatier. I mean, there’s gelato, so how could we not? The only thing better would have been a baconier (is that a thing? Please tell me that’s a thing).

The beauty in this simple-yet-strange plan was this: let the family be a family. Let them laugh, let them tease, let them have fun and be comfortable and enjoy each other. Basically, just take them out for gelato and be a creeper with a camera.

We’re not always buttoned up and straight laced and on good behavior. Ummm, not even on our best days most of the time. Life is stressful. It’s messy and it flies by right before our eyes. The days are long, the years are short. And let’s agree on one thing – we have enough to worry about without losing sleep over how to get the entire family to pull it together for 45 minutes on a Thursday afternoon.

So, what if we create images that are undone? The way we really are, the fun we have…actually DOING things. Not just smiling for the weird photographer who always thinks your hand is too high on your hip or insists that you lift your chin up and to the right 15 times. Are those the images we really want? The ones that remind us how we really were?

Let’s capture family, and make it an action word. And maybe, when we’re done, we’ll throw in a few quick traditional shots to keep Aunt Tilda happy. 😉

qn3a2419eblog

qn3a2405eblog

qn3a2431eblog

qn3a2534eblog

Making A Summer Session Shine…It’s All About Family

Sometimes searching for a session location can be like hunting a unicorn.

You know it’s out there. You believe in it with your whole heart. But no matter where you look you can’t see it.

Sometimes we forget that beautiful images can be taken almost anywhere.

Back alleys. Back yards. Once, I did a session in some tall grass next to a McDonald’s. I kid not. And it was beautiful. 

So, there was this revelation where I reminded myself that finding beautiful light is the most important thing next to focusing on the family in front of my lens. After a ten minute walk thru the park, I was falling in love with rays of golden sunlight pouring through the trees. From now, to forever. That kind of love. The sunlight was my unicorn.

The best part, after finding the light you love is that look in the family’s eyes when you explain that “this session will be different.” No more of the posey-posey Uncle John sessions – you know, the ones where every single shot is of someone staring down the barrel of the lens. Smiling. Sometimes uncomfortably.

Lifestyle sessions are meant to be just that – a time to capture a family together, being a family. The whole ball of wax.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself revisiting some of the most overused places. Places that I had warded off, because everyone and their dog were taking portraits there. Then I realized that portraits were the problem.

Portraits. The same backgrounds. Images that feature a PLACE. Instead of the people.

Boom, just like that I forced myself to take on a new perspective and create family sessions that look the way I think they should look. Like a family being a family. Together. Not pictures of a place, with people, who just happen to be smiling for the camera.

Summer sun offers us a different kind of warmth, no pun intended. I love seeking out a location that offers some break through where the sun light can be another feature. And don’t forget to keep it short – no one likes a sweaty session in the dog days of summer.

Warm, yummy, summer light. A beautiful family, being a family. These things are my heart.

When you capture moments that happen between family, time flies and you find yourself with frames that will be valued far more than Uncle John. Everyone loves a quick and easy session…and this one topped out at a whopping 45 minutes.

QN3A3088eblog