Life Love Lens :: December {Metro Detroit Child Photographer}

Ten days til Christmas and another installment of Life Love Lens - A Blog Circle!!!  I'm sure we all have shopping to do, gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, elves to hide and lots of celebrating to do.  So I will try to keep this brief! The last couple years I have been putting together a photo book to gift to my parents (and myself) on Christmas.  It captures the events and milestones, as well as the "everyday" of our last year.  It's a pretty time consuming project (doesn't help that I don't begin working on it until December...I'm a major procrastinator!), but I look forward to it because it really forces me to go through my personal photos and get them somewhat organized.  It also gives me the opportunity to look back and enjoy the many, many, MANY photos I took over the course of the year (some of which I completely forgot about). The first couple years, my photo books were about 50 pages.  My 2014 book is...gulp...120 pages.  I guess I succeeded at my goal of shooting more personal work this year...yikes!  I am anxiously awaiting it's arrival in the mail!

As I was putting my 2014 book together, there were so many pictures that stood out to me.  Pictures that, at the time of shooting them, I didn't give them a second look.  But looking at them months later, they left an impression on me for some reason.  They may not be technically perfect images, but they tell a story.  A little piece of our story.  I suppose that is why I gravitated back to them.  Random sidenote... A lot of these images also happened to be in black & white.

You see where this is going, right?  For December's edition of Life Love Lens, I'm sharing these newly discovered favorites from my personal photo collection.  All in black & white.  When you're finished here, don't forget to visit all the other photographers in our blog circle, starting with the very talented Theresa Hermus!

This first photo is a favorite because it captures my Dad and Violet shopping in Puerto Vallarta (one of my favorite places to vacation).  My Dad just adores Violet beyond words.  Knowing he used to carry me like this long, long, ago...this shot just made my heart smile.  :)  I also love the hustle & bustle you can see in the background.


Another favorite from our vacation in Puerto Vallarta.  It was sunset and we were on a balcony overlooking the bay.  It was a beautiful night.  Violet is a social butterfly, so she is really in her element here, even though she is hanging with all adults.


This one is a fave because it captures a pre-bedtime moment where Violet is playing with her baby doll, Lefty Lucy.  We found this doll when out shopping a couple years ago, and she has been by Violet's side ever since.  She is pretty rough looking at this point (a definite sign of a toy being loved!), but she is still the favorite!  As for the name...Violet came up with Lucy.  I added Lefty, and it just stuck.


And another favorite with Lefty Lucy.  You can never have too many pictures of your baby sleeping, can you?  It is definitely a recurring theme in my personal photos!


Here's a portrait of my other baby.  Mr. Alex P. Keaton.  It's a favorite because...well...those EYES.  And the eyebrows.  And the whiskers.  I love this little man.  I love how chill he is here...he can be pretty high-strung and usually will jump to his feet when I go to grab the camera.  He must have been pretty comfy here!


I love this shot because we are at one of our favorite restaurants.  Violet and I go here A LOT after her dance or swim lessons on the weekend.  And this is the look I get frequently when she is sick of me taking pictures!  Ha!  We were both frustrated with each other at the time, but now when I look back at it, I crack up!  This one is definitely getting shown at her wedding some day.  ;)


My dad was always tinkering around on the piano when I was a kid.  My parents no longer own a piano, but my brother does (a pretty awesome one at that), and my dad can never resist the keys.  This was taken on Father's Day.


Here's a moment with me and my little girl.  We took a drive to Lake St.Clair one day in the summer.  I had taken a bunch of shots of her, when finally she asked, "Mama, can we take a selfie?"  Selfies are pretty difficult to take with a big DSLR and when you have short arms like me!  My face is completely out of focus, we both have windblown beach hair, and those sunglasses are WAY too big for my face.  HA!   But I love this shot anyway.  I especially love her sweet smile and how she has her arm around me and her head on my shoulder.  I will always remember this as the "mama can we take a selfie" moment.


I love this image because it was taken Up North...a great place to be.  It was a gloomy day, but we were out enjoying the beach.  This was her favorite dress of the moment.  I think she lived in it for a week straight... I could not get her to wear anything different!


Most people would probably look at this and think this is some forced "cheese" smile.  But no, this is how she looks when she laughs, and I love it...especially the scrunched nose.  I love pictures of her laughing because it is SO hard to get her to smile naturally for the camera.  She knows all my tricks, so I really have to pull out all the stops.  People in the vicinity must think I'm a total weirdo/obnoxious.  But I don't care.  When I get her to laugh AND look at the camera like this, I give myself a high-five.


And we go from scrunchy-nosed smiles to this next one.  A couple of sullen reindeer.  I was taking pictures for our 2014 Christmas cards when I captured this.  I could NOT. STOP. LAUGHING. when I was reviewing all the images and came across this shot.  It didn't make the Christmas card, but it might get printed on a big canvas that comes out at Christmastime every year.


And like that, 2014 is almost over.  Wow!  Thanks so much for stopping by to check out my photos.  Don't forget to click over to Theresa Hermus' blog to see what she is sharing today!

Wishing you and your families a wonderful holiday season!!  xo ~ denise


Life Love Lens - November {Metro Detroit Child Photographer}

It's that time again!  Time for another installment of Life Love Lens - A Blog Circle.  We have a smaller circle today...I think many of us photographers are still catching our breath from the month of October (I know I am...phew!).  Anyway, be sure to click through to each photographers blog to see what they are sharing this month.  Your eyes won't be disappointed.  The link will be at the end of this post! Today, I'm sharing some recent pictures I took of my nephew, Keiffer, who turned the big ONE-OH back in October.  Double digits...10!!  I adore this guy so much, even though he absolutely hates me sticking my camera in his face.  I try not to take it personally.  ;)

I've shot portraits for him a few times before, the latest of which was when he was eight, which you can see here.  I also did a shoot with him when he was 5 years old when I was just learning how to use my big girl camera.  I remember so vividly how he wore me out that day.  I get tired just thinking about it!  I've included a few flashback shots below.

We took his 10 year pictures back in September on the last day of summer.  We started out getting attacked by mosquitoes in the woods, and then some crazy weather rolled in, so we were battling wind and rain.  It was one of those shoots where mother nature just seemed to be working against us, but I feel like the conditions lent a certain mood to the photos.  At the end, we discovered an "awesome climbing tree" (Keiffer's words), so the shoot ended on a fun note...right before a monsoon blew in, and we had to dash to the car and call it a night.

Well, I'll stop talking and introduce you to my handsome, minecraft-loving, hockey-playing, 10-year old nephew.  Keiffer.

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This shot below goes way back.  This was taken back in '07 when Keiffer was just 3  years old.  I took this on my little Olympus point-n-shoot camera while on vacation in Mexico (this was before my photography obsession began and before I had ever picked up a DSLR).  I know the image is blurry and grainy, but I just love this picture.  It's one of my favorite images I've ever taken of Keiffer.  He's still a baby, but you can see that serious boy inside.  Also, chubby cheeks!



And then this shot was from my first "official" shoot with Keiffer, when we has 5.  So much cuteness and silliness.

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Fast forward a couple more years to when Keiffer was 8 and invoking smiles became exponentially more difficult...


...but not entirely impossible.


And here we are in 2014, getting attacked by mosquitoes and looking so grown up.

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Thank you Keiff, for enduring bugs, wind, rain, and my camera in your face.  Maybe we should go back to Mexico for our next shoot.  :)

Thanks everyone for stopping by!  Now go and visit Theresa Hermus over in Milwaukee and see the fabulous shots she is sharing this month.



Life Love Lens : October {Metro Detroit Child Photographer}

Welcome to the October edition of Life Love Lens.  I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my fellow photographers through this blog circle.  I know I’ve said this before, but I am honored to be part of this group…these ladies are all so talented!  Please be sure to click all the links and visit each photographer within the circle (link will be at the end of this post).  You’ll have the opportunity to see some amazing photography.  Leave them some love while you’re at it! Back in September, I promised myself I would post something "different" for October blog circle.  I realize 99% of my blog circle posts are all about Violet.  Not that there is anything wrong with that!!  Violet is my favorite subject to photograph after all, and the main reason I participate in this circle is to share personal work.  But lately, I have been feeling like I want to show a little variety.  I've been wanting to tackle some new things, like food photography or macro.  These were the ideas that I was toying with for October blog circle.  Well, those ideas are going to have to wait until next month.  Because I’ve had a rough week as a mom, and I need to post some beautiful and happy pictures of my baby today.

The other day, I experienced something at Violet’s preschool that crushed me.  I saw my baby get bullied.  I’m sure some people think I’m over-reacting by using the word “bully.”  That word hadn't actually entered my mind until I talked to a few people and they kept saying it.  I just knew some kids were being really  mean to my girl.  I thought, is there such a thing as a 4-year-old bully?  The answer is yes, unfortunately.  Now that I’ve done some research on the subject (here is a really good article on, I found that bullying can and does happen as early as pre-school.  It’s different from typical play-based “conflict” (fighting over a toy, etc... which is to be expected at this age).  It's intentionally mean behavior.  Intentionally hurting someone...just for the sake of hurting them.  It can be physical or this case it was the latter.

This group of three girls basically shunned Violet (“here comes Violet, we don’t want to play with HER!!!”), all the while smiling, giggling, repeating their mean words, and visibly enjoying every second.  I don't think I've ever actually used the word "shunned" in a sentence before...but I can't think of a better way to describe it!  For some reason, these three, adorable, little girls who were playing together on the rug decided to single my child out and hurt her.   Violet did nothing to provoke this rejection.  She had not asked to play with these girls.  She hadn’t even looked at them.  She had simply walked by.  These comments stopped my baby in her tracks, and I don't think I've ever seen her face so sad, confused, hurt.

I mean...who could be mean to this face?



Violet has mentioned these girls to me before….i.e., so-and-so “doesn’t want to be my friend” or “won’t play with me.”  I figured it was just a situation of “kids being kids” and was not overly concerned.  I always tell her not to waste time or energy on people who don’t want to be her friend.  You don't have to be best friends with everyone...there are other fish in the sea.  And if people are mean to you….just walk away.  But I had no idea how mean these girls could be, until I witnessed it with my own eyes and with my own heart.  I learned that day that mean girl cliques are not just for teens anymore.  It starts in pre-school.  Sigh.

On a positive note, I guess all my pep-talks with Violet had resonated.  I was so proud when she turned to face these girls with a scowl on her face and said strongly, “I don’t want to play with you ANYWAY” and walked away.  I wanted to follow up with “Yeah!!!  Take that you little $#%^&s!!” but I refrained.  I was actually on the verge of tears (which came later as I was leaving the school), but my baby handled the situation flawlessly.

"And though she be but little, she is FIERCE." - Shakespeare



I’m not claiming that my kid always behaves perfectly. She can be sassy and stubborn at times, and we deal with the typical toddler issues. I have seen her be mean, on occasion, but it did not seem calculated to me. It seemed more like an outburst when she didn’t know how to deal with her emotions (usually when she doesn’t get her way, or if she's woken up too soon from a poorly timed nap). Generally, she is super outgoing, sweet, loving and wants to be everyone’s friend. She’s the kid that introduces herself to any other kid within a 50 foot radius. She’s the kid that hugs other kids "just because" and openly tells them “I love you”… probably a little too soon.  A lot of kids her age are usually taken aback because, honestly, she comes on a little strong. As a parent, it’s bittersweet for me to watch because, while I love how openly affectionate and expressive she is, I fear the rejection and heartache that will inevitably come when others are not receptive to it. Maybe that’s why these girls decided they didn’t want to be her friend.




I guess the reason behind their behavior is irrelevant, and I should take the same advice I give to Violet, which is...don't worry about them.  I just have to keep building her up at home and continue to teach her to be the bigger person.   I’m now having a lot of conversations with Violet about bullying.  We've always had conversations about being kind and respectful, but I don't think I had uttered the word "bully" until this week (which I'm now learning is not even considered PC anymore...learning so much this week!).  We're not only talking about what to do when someone is mean to HER, but what to do when she see OTHERS being bullied.  Stand up for yourself when people are mean to you, but you also need to stand up for others who need a friend.

"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."  - Maya Angelou




"Choose people who lift you up." - Michelle Obama


 "Always laugh when you can.  It is cheap medicine." - Lord Byron



 Sweet, kind, beautiful, strong, creative, smart, funny, fearless.  Violet.

“You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.” - Mandy Hale



 "Don't be afraid of being different.  Be afraid of being the same as everyone else." - Unknown




 "Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible." - the Dalai Lama


I shot all of the above images just last weekend when I had a last-minute client cancellation....prior to the incident at school.   I feel like these images were meant to tell this story, although I didn't know it at the time.  I know this is kind of a downer topic for blog circle, but it's something I've been dealing with this week, and it was helpful to write about it.  I'm hopeful that the situation improves.  I know Violet's teacher has been working with the girls, and there has been progress in getting the girls to play nicely together, so hopefully we will nip this in the bud.  And on a positive note, I know my girl knows how to handle herself and isn't going to take crap from anyone!  I take great comfort in that.  And I might have taught her to say "talk to the hand cuz the wrist ain't listening."  She then started talking into my wrist.  I should probably let her come up with her own comebacks.

Well, thank you so much for visiting.  I am always very appreciative to have eyeballs looking at my blog.  :)  Now, please take your eyeballs over to the very talented Rachel Coney's blog to see the beautiful images she is sharing this month.  xo ~ denise