Let us make pregnancy an occasion when we appreciate our female bodies. ~Merete Leonhardt-Lupa

One of my favorite kind of sessions are my Belly to Baby Sessions.  Belly to Baby is exactly that…we take pictures of Mama, Baby and Family while he or she is still getting prepared to join us on the outside…while in the “belly.”  Then once baby is here usually around two weeks old we do a newborn session and bring it all together. Two weeks is really ideal for newborn shots…especially if you are the kind of mama that not only wants those beautiful little eyes photographed but you also want those peaceful slumber shots.

The session I am about to share with you is the “Belly” portion of my Belly to Baby…we are still waiting on the little one to arrive.  Which is amazing because two weeks ago we were worried he wouldn’t wait for us to do pictures at all…so please enjoy a few of my favorite shots of this beautiful family of four that is about to be a family of five in a matter of days.

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Couldn’t decide if I liked the color or the black and white better…so I just shared both!

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A baby is born with the need to be loved…

And loved is exactly what this new baby and her sister are.

Life has been hectic to say the least. I have been extremely busy between my professional life and my home life, and I truly would not have it any other way. With that being said, I should have had this blog post up a couple of weeks ago…but better late than never.

Ashley and Tyler have two little girls…both are absolutely gorgeous.  The eyes on the older one are a photographer’s dream.  I didn’t have to do the first edit to them. They are truly that blue and that crystal clear…although I had to bribe her to let me take her picture after the first couple of shots.  By the way, do NOT take her chap-stick and forget to give it right back. She will put a halt to the photo session immediately. LOL  In all seriousness though, she was an absolute sweetheart who definitely loved her mama.  That was absolutely evident.

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Look at those eyes!!

The baby, she looked like a little living baby doll.  She was so cute, with those cheeks and a head full of wild hair.

AshleyTyler-06These parents were completely smitten with both of their children and it showed throughout the whole session.  I can’t believe it has taken me this long to finally share their pictures with the world.  So without further ado, enjoy some of my favorites from their mini session.

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Pictures are worth a thousand words…right?

Okay, yes, this is a photography blog…no I do not have any of my work for this post.  I know, I know…kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?

Anyway, on to the reason for this post…

A few months ago, a friend and I were chatting online, and she told me about this group called the SCA.  “What is that?” I remember asking.  So she explained it to me very simply, “Medieval reenactments, camping, feasts…etc” (that was literally copied and pasted from our chat).  I didn’t need to hear anymore…she had me at “Medieval.”  Two days later I was riding with her and her family to a battle practice (yes I said battle) about to meet people I had never even spoken to before. This was a big deal for me, because when I am not behind the camera I can be extremely shy. So, yes I was very nervous. I am not sure what I expected…maybe I was going on the countless times I was the “new kid” in school and everyone looked at me like I had two heads. Maybe a small part of me thought that is what would happen when I showed up to the battle practice. I can honestly say that they did not look at me like I had two heads…we had not even fully got out of the van when a member was walking up to us welcoming us.

Immediately we were surrounded by the most helpful people…people who not only answered question after question, but welcomed us into their homes, took us by the hand and showed us how to make garb, told us countless stories, taught us new crafts…if we wanted to learn it, someone knew someone that could show us.

A few weeks later dressed in my first piece of garb, an Irish cotehardie my husband and I went to our first event. A birthday celebration of the Barony we were befriending.  I was like a kid in a candy store.  All my childhood fantasies of being a medieval princess were being played out before my eyes (ok, I was a commoner not the princess but still).  Men were dressed in heavy armour fighting for the favor of their Baron and Baroness, and children who looked as though they stepped through time were playing, and running with their friends no iPods, or Nintendo systems, not even many cell phones were in sight.

One of the highlights of that day for me was being able to shoot a bow. Something I have wanted to do ever since seeing robin hood for the first time as a child. There I was, bow in hand, arm drawn back, eye on the target, I take a deep breath let it out and with it I let the arrow fly.  No, I did not hit the center, but I did hit the target and for me that was absolutely amazing.  We ended that wonderful day with a feast, music and singing.  Yes, I had a wonderful time that day, however I was still wanting that moment where I felt truly transported in time (I’m an artist, my imagination usually gets the better of me). Even though I didn’t quite get my moment I couldn’t wait for the next event.

I wasn’t sure if we would be able to go to War of The Wings which was the next big event on the calendar, but we managed to pay for our registration.  I will be truthful I robbed Peter to pay Paul for that one, and it is a decision I will never regret.  It was there I really began to understand the SCA.

I think it is in our blood…our souls long for what our ancestors experienced.  I know for me I have always dreamed of what it would be like to living in the fourteenth or fifteenth century when Europe was ruled by Kings and Queens, and Princesses had their Ladies in Waiting. Or when we believed stories about the elves, fairies, Merlin, and King Arthur and The Knights of The Round Table. Fantasy Authors like Tolkien, and some science fiction authors like Terry Goodkind prove my theory. While yes they may write fantasy, our medieval or Western Civilization history has its fingerprints on every page of their books.

This weekend I had my moment…the one that I was longing for when I first started this adventure. Truth be told I had several moments, like when my husband and I were learning medieval dances in the “castle” by the light of torches.  However, my biggest moment…the one that had me feeling like I had truly been transported in time was during the processional. There I was, walking to “war” with my barony.  My husband to my left carrying a black and yellow banner.  My Baron and Baroness in front with our war banner as we marched to the battle field. We were joined there by all the baronies in our kingdom, all waiting to align themselves with one side or another.  Barony after Barony were called forth before the King and Queen, declaring which side they would fight for. The pageantry was far more than I had ever expected, I could hear the heavy footfalls of the “war horses” as they waited for their riders to bring them forward…and for a brief moment all of it was real.  I was not twenty first century Amanda simply standing in a dress I had sewn on my little sewing machine at home playing dress up on a piece of farmland…I was in another time. I could see it, and whats more I could feel it in my bones…I had been completely transported in time, and was completely lost to the game…to the dream.

Later as I sat in the grass on the rapier field with my Baroness, I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera.  What self respecting photographer doesn’t bring her camera to something of this magnitude hoping for the opportunity to capture memories that will last a life time…because as they say a picture is worth a thousand words.  However,  as I thought about this I realized something…had I brought my camera I would have been focused on what I could capture through my lens and while yes I would have looked back on my pictures fondly…I would not have been able to truly experience this weekend.  Somethings, you have to see to believe…and yes a picture is wonderful but in this case just can not do justice to what truly occurred.

Later that evening I met a woman from another camp, Molly was her name I believe. She asked me post on the Kingdom of Atlantia’s page about my experience at WOW.  She told me (jokingly) she hoped my only memory of WOW wouldn’t be how cold it was. I can honestly say that yes, we were cold…oh my goodness were we cold, however I walked with my husband through “town” with only starlight and torchlight to guide us, I danced, and laughed merrily surrounded by not only our friends and our barony but our kingdom. It was truly an amazing weekend.

Until next time!!!

Photo taken by my hubby of me on the battlefield.

Photo taken by my hubby of me on the battlefield.

My Family Is My Favorite Subject…

Something a little different tonight.

First, Tabitha…My Light…My World…

My goodness how time flies.  It’s hard to believe that fourteen years ago I was a scared teenager fresh out of high school taking the very first pregnancy test of my life.  Don’t worry, Tabitha knows the story.  That day was the scariest day of my life…but as soon as I saw the two lines on that test, I knew I could be a mom.

I don’t know how to quite explain it, other than a calm washed over me, and I just knew.  Yes, I was still scared…who isn’t when you find out your having a baby…but she was mine and in the moment I knew I would fight tooth and nail for her…I would protect her at all costs.

I still remember going to the doctor the first time, and seeing her little blip on the ultrasound…166 beats per minute. That little blip on the screen was and still is my world (along with her brother).

Don’t get me wrong there are days when I would love to ring her little blonde head…she talks back on a daily basis, and thinks she knows everything, (you know like all teenagers) but she is mine…and now she is 13.  I am proud and sad at the same time.  I am proud at how smart and talented and yes beautiful she is, but at the same moment I long for my little blonde headed baby girl that used to cling to mommy.  It’s bittersweet.

About a month ago, I took my daughter and my baby sister (whom I will introduce in a little while) out for an impromptu photo shoot.  It really brought home the fact that my baby definitely is not a baby any longer.  Enjoy a few of my favorites from that day.

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DSC_0191Amanda's Photography-HT-01 DSC_0194 DSC_0305Harleigh…The Baby…

A little more about me…I have three siblings.  One is four years older than I am, I have one that is nine years younger than I am, and one that is sixteen years younger than I am.  Yes, our parents liked to space us out.  My baby sister is about to turn sixteen (so yes, if your doing the math that makes me 32)…I still remember the day she was born.

We got up early, because Mama had to be at the hospital by eight in the morning for a scheduled C-Section. Well, when we went to check her in they told us we were in the wrong section of the hospital. So, we went to the section they told us we were supposed to be in…then when we got there they said, “no, you should be where you were at.”  So, we walked back to where we originally were, then someone completely different told us we needed to be in an entirely different section than either of the previous two people had told us.  Long story short, we finally ended up in the right section of the hospital however all the walking had sent mama into active labor (she still opted for the C-Section).  A couple of hours later Harleigh was here.

You would think that with the age difference we would not have much in common, but the truth is, all of my sisters and I have a wonderful relationship.  We are best friends…including my baby sister and I.  She truly is like a little mini me…she likes a lot of the same things that I did..and still do today.  She has a lot of the same quirks I do…which should really spell disaster lol but its the opposite.  Again, time waits for no one…because what feels like yesterday when I met her for the first time was actually sixteen years ago in little under a month.

Here a few of my favorite pictures of Harleigh…Amanda's Photography-HT-03 Amanda's Photography-HT-06 DSC_0165 DSC_0182DSC_0223 DSC_0242DSC_0259 DSC_0254DSC_0246 DSC_0286And almost lastly…here is a photo of the my daughter and my baby sister (who have honestly grown up more like sisters than Aunt and Niece) together…

DSC_0127Ok…now lastly…I have to share a picture of the other man in my life (other than my hubby)…he kind of photo bombed my photo shoot…and even though the picture is not “posed” (half the time the best ones aren’t) it is just way too cute not to share. Enjoy this cute, cute, cute (no I am not biased) photo of my little boy!

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Brandon and Christy

Weddings are a lot of fun…they are also a lot of work.  They are unpredictable, you never really know whats going to happen, and unlike a regular photo shoot you can’t simply re-schedule.  You just kind of have to roll with whatever you are handed…

In Brandon and Christy’s case it was a thunder storm…a steamy thunderstorm.  Between my lens fogging up due to the constant atmosphere and temperature changes to the torrential rains we were dodging, this is one wedding I will remember.

I have to say, with all the challenges we were handed that day, we managed to get quite a few good pictures.  Enjoy a few of my favorites from that day!

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Family, fun, sun…oh and a photo shoot!

What is more fun than getting your family up bright and early, making them get all cleaned up and ready for their close ups?  Well if you are a teenager, pre-teen, and especially a small kid you can think of about a gazillion other things you would rather be doing!

One of the first questions I was asked by the kids in this family was “how long is this going to take?”  I just laughed it off, after all I understand…hey on top of me inconveniencing the budding youngsters the weather man had said it was going to be another scorcher not to mention the rain that was forecast for that day as well (which we missed thank goodness).

All fun set aside, this family was and is very special to me.  I had the privilege of working with Melissa (the mom) during my days at Greene County Health Care, Inc. (if you can imagine me chained to a desk).  I was actually the Human Resources Assistant for GCHC, and it was definitely an experience I will cherish. I will be honest and say that I am thankful life handed me other opportunities and I was able to eventually come back to not only my photography, but my artwork, and definitely my music.

With that being said, I do miss a lot of the people I once worked with.  Facebook is wonderful but it’s nothing compared to physically talking to those you grow to care about over time. Melissa was one of those people.  Melissa was only at the Administrative Office in Greene County once or twice a week, however those one or two days we talked quite a bit. In all honesty a lot of it was work stuff (I promise…I was HR remember), but during those conversations we also talked about our families. I also learned she hated cold weather which was obvious by the way she was bundled up and grumbling on days that I came strolling in with nothing but a sweater.

Before I left GCHC Melissa and I had talked about me doing some family portraits for her, but since the weather was being so unpredictable; cold one day, hot the next, rainy and windy the next (you know typical NC weather) we decided to wait until late spring early summer. That was back in October of 2014. Not long after that particular conversation I decided to take a job with a different company leaving GCHC. Then one day out of the blue a couple of months ago I got a text asking if I could still do her family portraits.  Of course I obliged!

So, on an early Saturday morning in June I drove out to her house, which sits right on the water. The clouds were gathering in the sky and it had not gotten severely hot yet. As a matter of fact towards the end of the shoot we were able to enjoy a little bit of a breeze from the cold front that was moving in…I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better day. And even though the kids grumbled a little they were beautiful!

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Melissa’s husband and children after hearing so much about them and to top it off she finally got to meet my son (I left shortly after he was born and she missed him the day I brought him to the office).

Please enjoy a few pictures from that day…this family was not only clients, they are friends and very dear to my heart!

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I couldn’t resist! I heard the kids making gagging noises while I was setting up a shot of Melissa and her husband. LOL I had to do this shot!

I love this one!  The tight group shots are always great but I love shots like this as well...

I love this one! The tight group shots are always great but I love shots like this as well…

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Beautiful! I had a hard time choosing whether I liked the black and white or the color for this one.  There is just something about the BW that draws me in...

Beautiful! I had a hard time choosing whether I liked the black and white or the color for this one. There is just something about the BW that draws me in…

I love how genuine and sweet this is...

I love how genuine and sweet this is…

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Finally! My absolute favorite!  I told Melissa to hug her husband and give me a sneaky look...she told me she didn't know how, I caught her in mid giggle, and it turned out perfect!

Finally! My absolute favorite! I told Melissa to hug her husband and give me a sneaky look…she told me she didn’t know how, I caught her in mid giggle, and it turned out perfect!

As always, feel free to leave comments! You can also see more of the pictures from this shoot on my website in the galleries section.

Until next time!

Independence Day!

Well, better late than never! Happy 4th of July…even though it’s July 8th.

My husband’s daddy passed away back in March, so we spent our Independence Day with my Mother In-Law. We had a wonderful time window shopping in Myrtle Beach, and then of course ended our night with fireworks at Barefoot Landing.  I did manage to get a few pictures taken to celebrate the day, even if they were taken a couple of days late.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July!! DSC_0146DSC_0123DSC_0145DSC_0118  Until next time!!!

Feeling a little nostalgic…

Cleaning up my hard-drive can be tedious…well…distracting is probably a better word.  I tend to develop an attention deficit problem when I charge myself with this task; especially when I see old photos that I have long forgotten about.

A few years ago we took a weekend trip to Washington D.C. and Gettysburg.  While we did not get to see nearly as much of D.C. as I would have liked (barely a glimpse really) I did get a chance to snap a couple of pictures. I had long ago forgotten about these pictures.

We have all been there, you come home remove the shots from your memory card, and format the card so it’s ready to be used again. All the while you have plans on getting to those shots you were so eager to take…then they sit in a folder on your hard-drive frozen…still in RAW format, you didn’t even bother with converting them…or looking through them for that matter.  LOL! Oh well…better late than never!

I took this first shot as we were walking back to the train station. Keep in mind I was with seven other people…so it wasn’t like I could take my dear sweet time setting up the shot that I wanted to get. I had to pretty much snap quickly or be left by the others. Never the less, I love what I ended up with! The Washington Monument lit up in all its glory and the capital building blazing like a star in the background.

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This next picture in all honesty as far as my photography skills is nothing compared to what the stars on this wall represent.  The Freedom Wall in Washington D.C. holds 4,048 gold stars.  Now here is the kicker…each star represents 100 American service personnel (yes I wrote that correctly, every 1 represents 100)  who have died or remain missing from WWII.  WWII was the second in the number of dead and missing next to the Civil War. To put that in a little better perspective, 405,399 were dead or missing from WWII…for the Civil War the numbers were more that 620,000 Americans lost. This picture is beautiful if for nothing more than what it represents…OUR freedom…YOUR freedom…MY freedom.

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The WWII Memorial had a gorgeous fountain that is lit up at night…and well you know me and lighting…had to take just a few minutes…plus mom needed to sit and rest a few minutes (even if she didn’t want to admit it) so why not use me wanting to get a picture as an excuse?!

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Now, back to that Civil War. We were all taught in school that the Civil War was the war with the most lives lost…and that the battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Well, for this family trip we spent most of our time in Gettysburg, visiting the battlefield.  While I personally would have loved to spend more time in D.C. I have to admit…there was definitely something hauntingly beautiful about being at the battlefield in Gettysburg.  Just to add the icing to the cake the morning that we visited the battlefield it was foggy… How spooky is that?

It is really hard to believe that the rolling acres of what was once farmland was the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.

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That darn ADD kicked in again…for this next one, I simply liked the way the staircase looked. LOL Told ya, I get distracted easily.

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Now these next photos are honestly my favorite.  I hate to admit I did not get the name of the cemetery we were visiting.  It was cold and raining, and at this point I think it was just my parents humoring me because I am the photo junky that I am…

It was right before Christmas when we took our trip, so they have adorned each headstone with a Christmas wreath.

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So there you have it…some of my favorite photos from our D.C. / Gettysburg trip (that was three years ago).  Yes, I know I am a little bit of a slacker when it comes to my personal photos. With that being said I should really stop editing old photographs and finish cleaning up my hard-drive…although now all I really want to do is go watch Sleepy Hollow (yes I know completely different war lol)…hmmm what should one do…

Until next time!

Operation Onslow’s Masquerade Ball – Charity Event

I have to be honest, before this event I had never heard of Operation Onslow.  Even after I was hired to photograph the event I was not entirely sure what the organization really was.  Towards the end of the night after I had loaded my camera back in its bag I had struck up a conversation with one of the original members. I asked her what exactly Operation Onslow was, and she explained that they were a Non-Profit organization that helps families in crisis.  She explained that whether it was an act of God, such as a hurricane or a tornado, or something like a fire Operation Onslow stepped in to help its residents.  The Masquerade Ball was an attempt to raise money for the organization so that they could continue helping families.  The Ball was a success and everyone had a blast.  Enjoy a few of my images from that night!

 

The cake was absolutely amazing!  I’m a sucker for masquerade masks anyway…I have collected them ever since I was a little girl, but this cake was beautiful!

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As for the decorations, they were done by a good friend of mine Hilary Kelly owner and operator of Behind the Scenes Event Design and Party Rentals.  She is a party decorator and volunteered her services for this event.  She held nothing back, she brought her usual dramatic style with her on this night.  I can tell you honestly she is the hardest working decorator I have ever met.  Even though she was doing this event at no charge she was still extremely meticulous about the placement of everything. Even switching out light bulbs for special effect bulbs to create even more dramatic lighting. If you are planning an event and need a decorator you should really check her out!

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Hilary also has an awesome selfie station. I have to admit I even had fun playing with this thing.  It is awesome! It works just like a photo booth, however not only can she print the pictures, she can text them to your mobile device and she can even create online albums and upload them directly to twitter of Facebook. Pretty Cool…and she is the only one on the East Coast with this machine!

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And, here she is folks!  She was presented an award for volunteering her services to Operation Onslow’s event.  I was so happy to see her acknowledged!

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I had a blast taking pictures for this event…and what a wonderful cause Operation Onslow stands for! Below are a few more images from the night!

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I had two overall favorite pictures from this event.  Whenever you photograph weddings or events like this you do not get to take a lot of “posed” pictures, but every now and then if your lucky a couple of good ones fall into your lap.  The first picture is of a couple that showed up wearing really pretty golds and blues…honestly it was like they stepped right out of an old photo or movie.  On top of that the bar was vintage looking as well, when I saw them standing at the bar I just had to snap a photo.  I have edited it in sepia tone…enjoy…

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My second favorite was of a Operation Onslow member who sang the National Anthem.  First of all she did an amazing job, I really feel that should be said, secondly the band enjoyed her singing so much that later in the evening they invited her up to sing with them.  I took a few moments to play with the band’s lighting and ended up with a dramatic picture. I love it!

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So that’s all for this post! I hope you have enjoyed my photographs, and please feel free to message me with any questions!