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Immerse Yourself in Wonder: A Last Minute Invitation for Spring Blossom Mini Sessions
 Couple embraces in the golden evening light, apple blossom engagement session at Loose Park, Kansas City natural light photographer, Rebecca Clair Photography

The cascading blossoms of the apple trees in the spring always remind me of that scene in “Anne of Green Gables” where the usually-talkative Anne is suddenly struck silent by a row of blossoming apple trees as she rides towards her new home at Green Gables. She promptly dubs them “The White Way of Delight” and – in her own quirky way – describes the affect their beauty has on her:

Pretty? Oh, pretty doesn't seem the right word to use. Nor beautiful, either. They don't go far enough. Oh, it was wonderful--wonderful. It's the first thing I ever saw that couldn't be improved upon by imagination. It just satisfies me here"--she put one hand on her breast--"it made a queer funny ache and yet it was a pleasant ache.”  – Anne of Green Gables

I may not have Anne’s flair for the dramatic, but I can relate to her rapture over the beauty of those trees. Something about sitting beneath those branches, overflowing with blossoms, a sweet scent surrounding me as petals drift like snow, tugs me to breathe deep, to be still, to lose myself in wonder for a moment.

As the trees finally begin to blossom after a long winter, I want to issue a last-minute invitation to immerse yourself in the wonder of this season, too. Not just in the wonder of the blossoms but, even more so, in the wonder of this unique season with the ones you love. Let yourself be awed by the way your son’s hair curls at the base of his neck or the furrowed look of concentration your daughter wears as she peers close at some treasure in her hands. Run across the grass and listen to your children giggle. Delight yourself in the firm, safe pressure of your husband’s hand on yours or in the fluttering kicks of a little one growing inside you. Rest, for just a while, in that “queer funny ache” of deep beauty that goes beyond words.

Do you feel the tug of wonder in these moments? Click the link below to find out more about these limited edition spring mini sessions and see how you can sign up for yours today:

The Intimacy of Sunrise; The Gripka Family’s Sunrise Session at the Lake {Johnson County Family Photographer}
 Candid photo of a family cuddling in a blanket by a lake, Kansas City family photographer, autumn family session at Shawnee Mission Park, Rebecca Clair Photography

It might be the introvert in me, but I have a special fondness for sunrise. Whenever we’re on vacation, I try to set aside at least one morning where I set my alarm a little earlier than normal so I can creep out and appreciate the sunrise over whatever lovely place we’re visiting. And I am beyond excited whenever someone agrees to a sunrise photo session.

Because there is something uniquely intimate about sunrise sessions.

It starts with the early morning drive in the dark, with only a few other headlights piercing the dark streets around you and (if you’re like me) the scent of coffee still lingering in the car. Then there’s that faint whisper of light creeping across the landscape, the silvery blue of the not-yet dawn as the morning dew brushes against your feet. Then, as the bird songs rise around you, the gentle pinks and golds spread across the horizon and a blush of light wraps around your face. And then finally, that burst of golden sunlight crests the horizon and bathes everything in a warm light. There’s a breathtaking beauty in the whole process that invites you to hush your words, close your eyes, breathe deep, and draw close to the ones you love.

Of course, there is still the blare of your alarm breaking your early morning slumber, not to mention the daunting task of getting yourself (and potentially several small children) picture-ready before the sun is even up. But believe me, this magic is worth it (and getting your outfits – and coffee – ready and set out the night before can go a long way in making that morning scramble a little smoother).

So why should you consider scheduling a sunrise photo session?

1) Even the most popular locations are rarely crowded at sunrise, so you can enjoy the quiet intimacy of these moments together.

2) The softness of that dawn light allows you to use some wide open locations without any shade (like beaches and open fields) where the light quickly becomes too harsh later in the day.

3) Sometimes you even catch some fog or mist rising in those early morning hours (especially if you choose a location with water). The golden sun shining through morning mist is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my life.

4) Your portrait session starts and finishes early in the day before most people are up, so you have the rest of the day to relax and enjoy. You can even make a full outing out of it and treat yourself to breakfast out afterwards.

5) The light and colors in that sunrise progression, from the cool blues of dawn, to the soft pinks just before sunrise, to the rich golds as the sun crests the horizon, are really unparalleled. And that soft light is far more flattering than the light you’ll find even an hour or two later.

And if you need any more convincing, check out some favorites from the Gripka family’s sweet sunrise session last October. I was so glad they braved the early morning drive, even with two littles, to spend some time cuddling (and dancing!) by the edge of the lake at Shawnee Mission Park.

Slow Down This Spring; Announcing Spring Mini Sessions {Kansas City Family Photographer}
 Mother and sons in the evening light, candid family portraits, Kansas City family photographer

This morning I managed to wash all the dishes and clean the kitchen counters. I immediately felt a surge of self-accomplishment….until I stepped into the bedroom and remembered the mountain of clean laundry waiting for me to fold. You guys, I’m not sure if I’m ever going to get caught up on all this. With a job and a toddler and a business to run, I feel pulled in so many directions at any given time and as soon as I finish one task, I discover another ten waiting for me still. Can anyone relate?

I think I’m realizing more and more lately, though, that as a mom (especially as a working mom) there will always be tasks left on that to-do list, no matter how hard I work. There will always be emails to write, goals to set and push towards, updates to make. And the housework….there will always, ALWAYS be dishes to wash, mountains of laundry tackle, bills to pay, and random chores that I keep pushing off until I find a free moment. There will always be something left on that list to do, and if I wait to rest until I’ve finished everything, I will never rest.

But there won’t always be time with family. Your kids won’t always be little. Your baby won’t always want to fall asleep curled up on your shoulder. Your son won’t always wrap his little hands around your legs and beg, “Up mommy?” Your daughter won’t always lean her head against your shoulder as you read her a story. These moments are so fleeting and if you wait to enjoy them until after you’ve finished all your work, you’ll miss it. There will always be more work to do, but there won’t always be this.

So if scheduling a photo session has been on your to-do list, pushed aside under all the other urgent day-to-day tasks, I want to help you make it happen this spring. I’m opening up one day of mini sessions at the end of the month, with just five openings (these will probably be the last mini sessions I offer until fall). And because I know how busy your life is, I’m including a complementary matted fine art print with each session, ready to put in your favorite frame (because chances are that printing and hanging your photos is also on that never-ending to-do list).

 Kansas City spring mini session dates, Kansas City family photographer, lifestyle mini sessions, spring mommy and me session

So take twenty minutes this spring to slow down and take in those fleeting moments. Close your eyes and let your infant nestle close. Pick your son up and swing him up in the air to hear his giggle erupt. Cuddle close with your daughter and read one more story. You will never regret spending these moments with them. And you will never regret capturing these moments in photographs that you can treasure. Do you want to know more? Click the button below to get all the practical details!

 Black and white candid portrait of father holding son in evening light, Kansas City family lifestyle photo session
 Family walks together in the spring evening, Kansas City spring family session
Time Together; The Bowers Extended Family Session Around a Campfire (Plus Some Tips for Organizing a Fun Extended Family Session) {Kansas City Family Photographer}
 Kansas City lifestyle photographer, Kansas City family photographer, extended family session, fall family photos around a fire, roating marshmallows over the fire

I can’t believe that it’s taken me so long to share this session on here, because it may be my favorite extended family session ever!

Extended family sessions are such a sweet way to gather everyone together in one place, to celebrate the generations that have shaped who we are and to draw close to the people who define family for us. But it’s often no small task to get everyone all together in one place and once you finally do, it can be tempting to default to a stiff everyone-looking-at-the-camera pose as you hope that no one blinks! So when Angela approached me with the idea of gathering her family around a campfire with s’mores for their session, I answered with a resounding, “YES!” because that sounded exactly like the kind of relaxed environment that can bring out those sweet, candid family moments.

And you guys, it was every bit as fun as it sounds! We gathered at the edge of the woods on one of those crisp November afternoons when the gray skies draw out all the richness of autumn’s yellows and browns. We walked together down a wooded path carpeted with leaves and I took some time to photograph each couple, as well as Angela and her dad and the two brothers with their father. And then everyone gathered around a fire to toast marshmallows, wrap their hands around mugs of coffee and hot cocoa, and laugh together. Having something fun to do together really helped everyone relax and have fun, even as they created photos they could treasure for years to come. And Angela did such a great job of coordinating everything and preparing a spread of tasty treats! 

I felt especially privileged to photograph Angela’s grandparents because they had never had professional photos taken together. As we walked in the woods, they shared that they’d met at a dance (many years ago, back when dances were more common!) and they happily obliged when I asked if they’d mind dancing a little as I snapped some pictures.

Have you considered setting up an extended family session but feel intimidated by the process of coordinating everyone? Here are some tips for creating an extended family session that is fun for everyone and captures the heart of your unique family:

1) Choose a location that feels meaningful to your family. Maybe it’s the house where your grandparents have lived for more than fifty years or the farm that has been in the family for generations. Maybe it’s a vacation place you visit every year that echoes with memories from your childhood. Or maybe it’s as simple as a favorite park where you like to picnic. But picking a familiar place that you love can go a long way in helping everyone relax and enjoy the moment together.

2) Bring treats to eat or drink. Seriously! I can’t recommend this enough! It helps kids relax and smile, but sometimes it helps adults have fun, too! You can choose something meaningful, like your grandma’s famous chocolate chip cookies or just pick something fun like popsicles or cotton candy.

3) Don’t worry about matching outfits. It can be stressful to think about coordinating outfits for 10-20 people (though did you know that I send my clients a little “What to Wear” guide to help take some of the stress out of that?) and it may be tempting to default to having everyone wear the same thing, but your photos will be so much more interesting (and authentic!) if you let everyone’s personality shine forth a little. Try choosing three or four coordinating colors and then let people personalize things with their accessories.

4) Do something fun together. A fire and s’mores are a great idea, but there are so many other options, too! Think about what your family loves to do together. Maybe you love to take long walks together or always bring out the same board game at family gatherings. Maybe your family gets fiercely competitive at badminton or has a unique family cheer. Maybe you love to pull out old family stories and listen to the family elders share stories from their younger years. Whatever it is that you love to do together, whatever reminds you that you are part of a larger family, find a way to incorporate that into your session!

5) Print those photos! In this digital age, it’s so easy to let photos sit forgotten on hard drives, but it is so valuable to hang these photos on your wall or print them in albums so you can enjoy them together now and treasure them even more later when those people are gone. Incorporating these photos into your home and daily lives serves as a reminder of who you are and the things that deeply matter in your life.

Are you dreaming of your own extended family session? Send me a message and we can chat about ways to authentically capture your family in this season!

Fall Traditions to Start (or Continue) This Year {Kansas City Lifestyle Photographer}
 Rebecca Clair Photography, Kansas City lifestyle photographer, apple picking photo session, apple orchard photos, Kansas City family photographer, apples on the ground

The cold yesterday caught me by surprise, but even as I pulled another jacket over my sweater and dug my hands deep into the warmth of my pockets, I couldn’t help smiling, because it finally felt a bit like fall! And I knew that the cool, wet weather meant that soon the trees will be kissed with the reds and yellows I’ve been waiting for.

I’ve been ready for fall since the day I flipped my calendar to September, but this cooler weather has really started me dreaming about all things fall and cozy. We’ve already gone apple picking and picked up some mini pumpkins to decorate our dining room table, but I’ve been dreaming about autumn picnics, hikes through paths of golden trees, and sweet, spicy pumpkin pie.

And so I thought it would be fun to compile a list of fun fall traditions to start or continue this year (there’s still time!):

Go Apple Picking

This is at the top of the list because it’s one of my favorite fall traditions! I love wandering the rows of trees, plucking the best apples to put in my basket (and usually munching on one as I go). And it’s even better if you can snag some fresh apple cider donuts to enjoy at the end of it! We started this tradition with friends years ago, but it was fun to bring Ethan for the first time this year and watch him experience the wonder of it. There are several great orchards in the Kansas City area, but Cider Hill Family Orchard and Alldredge Orchard are two that we’ve personally visited and loved.

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

We haven’t taken Ethan to a pumpkin patch yet, but maybe this will be the year that we start that tradition! I’ve heard that Kansas City has some great ones, many with fun family activities besides just the pumpkins (check out the handy guide that KC Parent put together, listing a lot of the popular patches in the Kansas City Area)

Take a Nature Walk

Every season has its own unique beauty and I’m a fan of getting outside all year round, but there’s still something especially inviting about driving out of the city in the fall, as the leaves start to change from green to gold and red and the fields soften to rich browns, to get just a bit closer to nature to witness its autumn transformation. The Kansas City area has a lot of great places to hike, including Weston Bend State Park and Shawnee Mission Park. Even if you don’t want to drive too far out of the city, Lakeside Nature Center and the Anita Gorman Conservation Center are both great places to explore nature right in the city.

Bake a Yummy Fall Treat

In the summer, I sometimes sweat when I just think about turning on the oven, but when the weather gets cooler, I suddenly feel the urge to mix up something sweet and spicy (preferably to enjoy with a hot mug of tea or coffee!) Sometimes I’ll bake during naptime or in the evenings, to surprise Ethan when he wakes up, but more often I’ll invite him to climb up on a chair to help me pour and mix. Apple crisp, pumpkin muffins, and gingersnaps are some of my favorite fall treats to bake!

Visit a New Coffee Shop

Starbucks may be the first thing you think about when you think of a fall cup of coffee, but while I appreciate pumpkin spice now and then, there are so many sweet local coffee shops to explore in our city! Thou Mayest and Crows Coffee are two of our favorites, but I also just had a delicious pumpkin pie latte at Parkville Coffee this weekend (and it’s just a short walk from there to English Landing Park for a autumn stroll along the river).

Rake Leaves and then Jump in the Pile

Sure, kids love this tradition, but don’t let that stop you from trying it, too! I don’t think there’s much that could bring out your inner child quite like jumping in a pile of leaves! And crisp fall leaves are the quintessential fall smell!

Make a Big Pot of Soup and Invite Some Friends Over To Share It

You may have noticed that a lot of my fall traditions revolve around food, but really, all around the world we use food to celebrate the significant seasons and moments in our lives (hello, birthday cake!) While I love the sweet fall treats, I think sitting down to savor something warm and comforting, like a good, hearty soup is such an appropriate way to celebrate this cooler season. And it’s even better when you gather around a table with some friends and loved ones to share it. You can make it homemade (I love to throw soup in my slow cooker!) but even soup from a can counts if your short on time!

Schedule a Fall Photo Session!

I know, I know….but I had to end with this one, because if you’re like me and you love to celebrate fall with all these traditions, don’t you want a tangible reminder of those sweet memories with your loved ones to look back on year after year? Maybe it’s your child’s first experience apple picking or that hike you took with your fiancé the fall you got engaged or that coffee date alone with your husband while your mother in law watched the kids for a morning. These traditions aren’t even as much about the fall season as they are about celebrating it with the ones you love. So while you can schedule a photo session all year round (and I hope you do!), fall is full of these sweet traditions and moments that are perfect for capturing in a photo session! Message me to chat more about how I can help capture those fall moments for you, whether it’s with your family, your spouse, or even just you and your dog!

(Are you hoping to catch one of my fall mini sessions? I still have a couple open! Click over here for more details!)

So how about you? What are your favorite fall traditions?
Comment below and share some of your favorite things to do in the fall!

Everyday Treasures: the Tarkowski Family’s Saturday Morning Session {Kansas City Family Photographer}
 Rebecca Clair Photography Kansas City MO lifestyle family photographer Line Creek Trail Family Session family together by a waterfall

I am so excited to finally share this sweet family session with you guys! I think it may have been one of my favorite sessions lately, not just because this family is gorgeous (though they are!), but because I so enjoyed witnessing how tender they were with one another and the sweet moments of connection they created during our time together.

This year I’ve started sending out a little questionnaire to my clients once they book a session with me, to help me get to know them a little more and plan a session that truly fits them in this season in their lives. I knew this family’s session was going to be good as soon as I read Natalie’s responses to her questionnaire. She shared candidly about some of the challenges and insecurities of life as the mom of two littles (I love it when clients are real and authentic with me!), but she also wrote so poignantly about the little everyday moments, in the midst of that real life, that make her feel loved: when her husband tells her that she’s beautiful every single day or calls in the middle of the day just to say hi. When her daughter comes in to snuggle in the morning or draws her special pictures or is so excited about something that she can’t wait to tell her. When her son cries for everyone else but stops immediately when he settles into her arms. She shared about the moments she loves with her family, snuggling up together to watch a movie together, about sharing a cup of green tea with her husband in the morning before the kids wake up, about taking walks together at the park as a family, about playing with the neighbors, and about watching her husband play pretend with her daughter.

When I read her responses, I couldn’t help thinking that these moments are the treasures of this season with littles, the gems in the midst of the chaos and mundane, the beauty that gets us through the challenges. Life with young kids can be so trying at times (as the mom of a toddler, I’m right in the thick of that season, too!), but I’ve found that stopping to really appreciate and enjoy these moments helps remind me of why it’s all worth it. I am so grateful that I got to capture a few of those treasure moments with the Tarkowski family that Saturday morning as they explored one of their favorite trails together.

How about you? What treasure moments get you through the unique challenges of your current season of life?