Christmas picture ideas for kids

Tips for Taking Family Christmas Pictures

Top 5 Tips for Photography with Christmas Trees

Christmas is nearly here!  Soon all of the decorations will be up. Christmas music will be played on every station, and the spirit of Christmas will be in the air!   Today I’ve put together my top tips for taking Christmas pictures in front of the tree.  I hope these will help you get some great pictures of your family this holiday season.

Plan to take your Christmas pictures in the late afternoon, but before dusk, so you get ambient light.  

By allowing natural light into the room your camera will be able to take pictures faster.  This will help you avoid blurry Christmas pictures!

Get down to your kids eye level for their Christmas pictures

If your children are sitting on the ground, get down to their level.  You may or may not get the whole Christmas tree in the shot.  That’s ok. By getting on the same plane as them, you will see them as they are at this stage in their life.

Place your kids 2-3 feet in front of the tree

By strategically placing your kids or family members out in front of the tree, you create a necessary separation of foreground and background.  This separation will allow your camera to give you the colorful light orbs in the background.

Have your children face in the direction the largest light source in the room.

By putting more light on their faces, you will be able to see more of the detail on their face without having to use your cameras flash.  Thereby allowing the picture to still have a moody Christmasy feel to it while not losing their face in shadows

Lastly, Do not wrap your babies up in Christmas lights.

This is more advice than a tip.  Please don’t do it. Over the years, I have seen so many pictures with babies putting these lights in their mouths.  It is so dangerous.  These are delicate glass bulbs that are connected with wires and plugged into a wall.  It’s an unnecessary risk to your child.

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family, child, bokeh, photographer, Hampton Roads, Chesapeake, Virginia, boy photography

Fall Glow

I'm Loving That Fall Glow!

There is Something So Magical About the Fall 🍂

The changes that Fall brings to the landscape is simply breathtaking. In the fall you get that ambient light that is so highly sought in quality photography.  Fall also brings overall cooler temperatures  so we can both be more comfortable during your session. These 90+ degree days are killing me!  Plus (and my personal favorite) – Fall fashion is so forgiving! No need for that summer body mindset. Fall is happy to remain comfortable while being fashionable! From buffalo plaid button downs to sweaters and scarves, layering reigns supreme. There’s also the additional benefit of creating beautiful textures and depth to your favorite outdoor spot.

Unlike Summer, Fall light also allows for earlier session times. This is a huge benefit for families with young children with early bedtimes. For photographers, with the sun lower in the sky, the light is not as harsh. This ensures that everyone’s skin tones will be highlighted to best effect without having to adjust the skin tone in editing. Similarly, Fall light eliminates many shadows under the eyes from the sun’s trajectory. The underlying warm sunny tones of Fall evoke feelings of pleasantness and this always shows in the final product. 

Fall has the added benefit of fun and interactive landscape features. Who doesn’t enjoy walking through rainbow leaves, posing among festive pumpkins and apple orchards?  Or, making s’mores over a roasting fire? I love just sitting out and enjoying the first crisp notes of colder weather with my family.

Have You Scheduled Your Fall Photos?

Fall is my favorite time of year to be behind the lens.  I get the privilege of not only experiencing, but capturing memories of everyday life as well. My heart giggles when I get those special moments on camera. Giving those to my clients to remember for years down the road is so special to me. So grab your favorite Fall accessory, maybe a PSL or two, and let’s enjoy the Fall Glow together

Wondering if we have a date available for you? Fall sessions are always the fastest to book, so get in touch soon! 

Have a Favorite Fall Glow Picture?

Share it on Instagram for a chance to win!

Post your picture with the hashtag #mhfallglow to enter 📸

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Family Photos London City Hazelnut Photography

Color Schemes

Taking your photos from Great to Spectacular through Color Schemes

Clients often seek advice on what to wear once they book their session.  I say, picking a color scheme is the best place to start when deciding what to wear for your family photos.  Keeping your family’s style in mind is key to choosing your wardrobe.  Personally, comfort is more important than style.  I’m going to shoot it to you  real straight here. Pick clothes that fit and aren’t too tight or too baggy.  Dress your figure and feel confident in how amazing you look!   You see, photos evoke emotions.  If all you remember looking at a photo is how you felt on the day, wouldn’t you rather feel confidence when you hang it in your home?

Equally important though is the style of your home.  Does your home look like it walked out of a Pottery Barn catalogue?  Do you have a beach theme?  Different color schemes in different rooms?  Where in your home will you put these pictures?  Believe it or not, these things play right into your wardrobe choices!

For the purpose of family photography, there are a few specific color schemes you will want to explore when choosing outfits for your family photos: 

Let's have a look below

High-Contrast Colors

A high contrast color scheme would be one with bold colors or patterns.  Some good examples would be black on white, and vice versa, yellow on black, or greens and reds. The blues against the orange top I wore is a perfect example of a high contrast color scheme.

apple orchard chesapeake family photography
Family Photos London City Hazelnut Photography

Low-Contrast Colors

A low contrast color scheme would be colors that are closely related.  This is a great look for the beach, fields of flowers and multi-generational photos.  When you look at a color wheel, low contrast colors are three colors side by side.

Monochromatic

This works especially well with shades and hues of blue.  The way these kids popped off the red barn made the blues a perfect color scheme for their family session!

Neutral Colors

Neutral color schemes work great in any circumstance.  They are easy to coordinate as well as accessorize. Neutrals blend well with skin tones and background colors making a timeless looking portrait for your family.  However, accessories are a key component of making this style successful.  You want the style to look effortless, but don’t want blend into the background! Here are some good neutral palettes to point you in the right direction.

Once You've Chosen Your Color Scheme

It's Time to Decide What to Wear!

Choosing What to Wear

Need More Inspiration?

Head on over to my Pinterest page to see some of my favorite color schemes!

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A very special thank you to my friend Rachel Tennant at Hazelnut Photography for taking my family photos over the last several years.  If you are in London and need your photos done, I highly recommend her!


what to wear for family portraits

What to Wear

Are You Lost When it Comes to Picking out What to Wear for your Family Pictures?


Congratulations!  You've found your perfect photographer, and are ready to start planning your photo session!

Now you can begin to search for the perfect outfit for you and your family.  Pinterest is calling out to give you inspiration. No sweat, right? If you’re like most planners I know, choosing the right outfit can be intimidating. Most of us aren’t fashionistas to begin with. Frequently, we are behind the camera recording the memories of our lives instead of in the pictures themselves. So when faced with the dreaded “What to wear”, we usually wait until the last minute to throw something together.  So, here are 3 easy steps for choosing the perfect look! 

Step One: Pick a Style

Do you live in jeans and a comfy t-shirt? Do you prefer to get dressed up? Are these pictures for a Christmas or Hanukkah card? Special occasion or multi-generational session? You want to make sure your style matches your purpose for the most successful photography session. 

You should also consider whether you prefer a posed or candid style. There are benefits to both styles, but posed sessions are usually more formal or very stylized.  If you’re thinking about going out and getting some new duds, you can find great things at places such as Stitch Fix or Trunk Club.  

*For family pictures you want to be comfortable in what you wear – any discomfort you feel will show in your pictures.  This also means wearing comfortable shoes! This is one of the most important pieces of advice I can give. If your shoes look pretty but make you shift your weight every 30 seconds for relief, it will affect the finished product. Comfortable shoes and clothes = comfort in your session. 

Simple accessories won’t overwhelm, and will tie the whole look together.

Step Two: Start with your own closet

Find a favorite piece (or two) that fits your objective for the session. Most people have certain colors or styles that make them feel especially happy and beautiful and these are a great place to begin. Moms – solid colors are always a great choice in a dress (after all, you are the anchor of your family), and are a easy to accessorize to coordinate with the rest of your family! If it’s warm outside, consider an outfit that does not show perspiration (sweat stains are extremely difficult to edit out, and sometimes not possible). If it’s cooler, layering adds dimension to your individual look.  This is also helpful for coordinating with your family!

fall family photos Chesapeake layered looks

Step Three: Location, Location, Location

Once you’ve chosen whether you are going to be beach chic or herd your family to a pumpkin patch, your decision becomes a lot easier. Location can also help you narrow down the style of photography you are interested in for your session. For example, many family sessions on the beach feature loose, comfortable clothing or romantic, flowing dresses and skirts. On the other hand, a garden, forest, or field will need an outfit that can stand out from the background. Trust me you do not want to look like your head is growing out of a bush because you match the background too well! 

  1. Think of a place where all of you will be comfortable. Is your child or fur baby a runner? Is your spouse allergic to pollen? Are you okay with your outfit getting mud, dirt, sand, or leaves on it? Is there an additional fee to take pictures at the location? 
  1. Is this a place where you can spend 30 minutes or more taking pictures in one location? Will you need a fan, umbrella, or ice water to avoid overheating? Do you need to avoid certain times of the day because of the tide or overly direct sunlight? 
  1. If you are using props, are you comfortable with them being handled by the photographer or your family members? 
  1. Would you like suggestions from your photographer? If you already know the style you want in your session, recommendations for location are much easier! 

My Top Tips for Choosing Outfits For Your Photography Session

Avoid small patterns, horizontal stripes, and clothes with logos on them (these do not translate well in photography).

Pull in accessories (headbands, scarves, jewelry) to help give your outfit depth.

If choosing a trendy pattern, for one outfit, the others should be a bit more subdued.

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Sleeveless, off the shoulder, and strappy tops and dresses can highlight unusual tan lines.

If wearing a bold print, family members should wear more basic and complimentary colors.

Pick a color scheme for coordinating your family (See my tips on color coordination here).

Coming Soon

How to Make Your Session All About Your Family!

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What’s in my camera bag?

Meredith Hodge Photography Chesapeake Family Photographer, Chesapeake Maternity Photographer

As a photographer, I often have clients or other photographers ask what kind of kit do I keep in my camera bag.  I’ve finally decided to open up the bag and give you a look inside!

What You Will Find In My Camera Bag


There Are Usually Two Cameras

I’ve owned several DSLR cameras between brands and recently I’ve fallen in love with older antique cameras when my dad gifted my his fathers camera (see the story here, it’s such a good one!!!).  Currently, I use a Nikon D750.  It’s a full frame body.  For those of you that don’t know what the difference is between a full frame and a crop sensor, basically speaking it is the size of the cameras sensor.  One utilizes the full sensor and the crop only uses 2/3 of it. The D750 has served me so well since I bought it. However –  it will soon become the backup body.

Right now, I am looking to upgrade to a mirrorless body. I currently own a D7200 that is in need of an upgrade 😉.  I’m still deciding what I want to get. Many people in my industry and jumping from Nikon and Canon to the Sony family.  I’m still deciding on which way I want to go. Maybe when I finally pull the trigger and purchase it, I’ll write on all of the decision points when it came to picking it out! (Or maybe I will procrastinate and put it at the bottom of my list of things to do)

The Lenses in My Camera bag 

I have tried many different lenses over the years.  When I started to learn photography, I had was a Nikon D3200, with the 18-55mm kit lens.  The first lens I invested in was what we call the nifty 50mm.  I still use today from time to time.  From there I was so caught up in thinking I needed a different lens to get better shots.  I bought a 70-300 f4, which at the time I LOVED! That is, until a taxi driver in Paris broke it.  Now it’s just a paper weight.

I eventually bought a 35mm because I heard it was better than a 50mm for portraits.  Over the next few years, I researched everything I could about lenses to find what’s best for me.  I was convinced that a prime lens is better than zoom.   I’m not 100% sure they are these days provided you invest in quality glass. (a prime lens has only one focal length. It doesn’t zoom in or out.  You have to move to get the shot you want).   I bought a 105mm, and a 135mm f2DC.  After using them for a while, I knew they weren’t exactly what I wanted.

When I Came To My Senses

I was truly excited when I ordered the 105mm.  Same with the 135mm.  I couldn’t wait to go out and shoot with them.  For a while they were ok, decent and fast lenses, I shouldn’t have had a complaint.  But there were some things about them I wasn’t thrilled about.  I won’t go into specifics as I know plenty of people that use and love them.  They just weren’t right for me.  It would have been smarter to rent them first before spending money on them. So, right then and there I decided to make these work. I wouldn’t allow myself  to buy a new lens, unless I would use for years to come.

Enter My Dream Team

Eventually,  I found my dream team and I sold the prime 105mm and 135mm.  Months were spent agonizing over it.   I was like Wayne drooling over the Fender Stratocastor in Wayne’s World.  The Tamron 24-70mm G2 and as well as the Tamron 70-200mm G2. I finally decided to live in the now.  I still have and use the 35 and the 50, but I now have a full range of focal lengths to go with.  

 

Out of the two, my hands down favorite is the 70-200.  She’s a workhorse.

 

And I can’t live without it.  

To Recap the Lenses I Use:

  • Nikon 35mm fx 1.8 prime lens
  • Nikon 50mm dx 1.4 prime
  • Tamron  24-70mm g2
  • Tamron 70-200mm g2

Flash

While I carry flashes with me, I schedule my clients so I don’t have to use it unless I want or need to.  I own two Godox V860II Speedlights.  They are an optical flash system meaning they don’t need additional triggers.  I have a multitude of flash stands and several soft boxes and light reflectors as well.

Other Gear In My Camera Bag

Along with the standard kit, I carry lots of other things in my camera bag.  A grey card to ensure proper white balance. Extra batteries for both my cameras and flashes is a must. I also carry extra SD cards as well. You can also find lens cleaners and cloths, a blower for sand, and anything else I think I may need for the day. I carry alongside it a mefoto bluetooth tripod.  Top it all off with my favorite thing ever – my spider holster.  Carrying around that much weight is terrible for your neck.  A few years ago for Christmas, my husband surprised me with one, and I now carry my camera on my hip.

What You Should Know When Looking to Upgrade

“Wow, your camera takes great pictures!” and “You have a really nice camera. No wonder your pictures look so  good!” are two phrases I commonly hear, whether it’s from clients or newer photographers. I usually laugh a little and agree, because I do love my camera. It IS really is a nice one.  In addition to my camera, it comes down to all the learning I’ve done in my career.  I can confidently tell you a few things if you are thinking about upgrading your gear.

My Most Commonly Used Phrase With New Photographers:

Don't Spend Money if You Don't Have To!

Learn What You Have

When you’re starting out, you’re going to think you will NEED to get a better lens or you need to get a better camera to take better pictures.  I’m going to tell you now, your mind is playing tricks on you.  Look in your camera bag.  What is most important is learning how to use what you have now properly.  Learn how to get your pictures right in the camera before upgrading to a new piece of equipment.

Do Your Research

Do your research and find what your dream camera/lens combo will be.  Then rent it to get a good feel before actually buying. Most importantly if you can’t afford to buy your dream lens now, don’t go out and buy something cheaper just because.  Save up a few months first.  Live your photography journey buy the phrase “buy cheap, buy twice”.   It will save you so much money  in the future when it comes to other business/hobby expenses.

Learn Your Craft

Lastly, it’s not the camera that makes a good photographer.  It’s the amount of learning and training and understanding of what it takes to get and compose the types of pictures I want to deliver to my clients. Yes, I have invested in quality equipment for my business. I’ve also invested in training my eyes for the right shot.  A good photographer will be able to get beautiful pictures in any type of location. 


Canfield Family - Chesapeake Arboretum

The Canfield Family at the Chesapeake Arboretum, May 2019

I met The Canfield Family at the Chesapeake Arboretum back in May.  I’ll preface this by saying I’ve known Wei for a while.  We run in the same circles and have a lot of mutual friends.  We worked on a charity event together and we attend many of the same functions.  So when she asked me to do family portraits for her I was really happy to do so. I really enjoyed meeting Burt and the kids, and LOVED taking their pictures!

If you follow me at all, you know I love working at the Chesapeake Arboretum.  It is such a diverse location to work in.  On the lot of the arboretum, there’s a barn and a gazebo along with open land, and lots of colorful flowers to work with.  If you add in all of the long trails back in the woods with arching tree coverage, bridges, and a lake you can have so many different backgrounds to your family pictures. Visit their Facebook page here! 

About Our Session

When I start my sessions, I like to work with the kids while their parents look on.  It gives me a chance to get them to open up to me a bit.  I will do some light posing and just get some test shots in.  While I’m doing that I’ll start asking about their interests, and what they do for fun. We tell jokes and I ask them to tell me silly stories, and they jump at the chance to tell me something embarrassing the other one has done. When one tells a story, the other is happy to return the favor!  It lightens the mood up a lot.  By the time I ask if they want to do some running around so I can take more pictures of them playing, they feel pretty comfortable in front of the camera.

The Canfield kids were so well behaved for me!  They loved dancing around and chasing each other, all the while letting me stop and direct them a bit!  They loved searching for the little salamanders and skinks underneath rocks and around the barns!  When I pulled Wei and Burt in for some pictures of their own, I found out they are celebrating 20 years of marriage! Such a big milestone for any couple.  They still look at each other madly in love! Congratulations friends <3 Here’s to the next 20!

Chesapeake Arboretum provides a vast array of scenery for family portraits.

The trees and the plants help create gorgeous layering effects. Coupled with the light of the late afternoon, we are able to capture priceless moments like this one.

The big red barn at the Chesapeake Arboretum

Among the flowers and the greenery at the arboretum, the barn is my favorite for family images.  Its bold red color along with the grain in the wood provide a lovely contrast to your images!

What to wear for your pictures

When it comes to choosing your outfits for the day of your session, simplicity is the word to remember.  Start with a base color, as you work in one or two accent colors to complement.  The guys opted for the simple white button down and jeans, and the ladies wore dusty pink and white to tie in together with the men.  By keeping clothing options simple, your attention is drawn more to people in the picture.  Wei did perfectly when she put her family together!

Are you looking for the perfect location for your family portraits?

Send me a message and we can discuss different options for your family session. You can view more work from the Chesapeake Arboretum here.  While it is a picturesque location, there are endless options in this area for your family!

Let's get planning!

Ordering Experience

New for Summer 2019 - The Client Ordering Experience!

Providing an ordering experience for my clients has been something I have wanted to do for a long time. I have been searching far and wide to give to you a way to visualize the images from your session. It’s important to me that my clients are able to see what pictures will look like in their homes.  I am thrilled to be writing this post right now. This is going to be so cool.

What is the Ordering Experience?

The Ordering Experience is not your average online photo ordering service.  Sure, you can download the images and then re-load them to your chosen online lab to order.  Launching our Online Ordering Experience is going to be your one stop shop for your prints after your session.

Why should I use the Ordering Experience?

Let’s face it.  If you purchase downloadable digital files from your family session, you have to go and upload those files to an online lab.  Which is just making more work for you! Not to mention, if you’re anything like me, you get overwhelmed the amount of choices you have.  How do I pick between different sizes if I don’t know what I’m going to do with it? Here’s an embarrassing confession for you.  For me, using an online ordering service is completely head spinning. I typically end up walking away and then I never get around to printing the pictures.  As a family photographer, there is nothing more mortifying then admitting that I have a hard time ordering pictures of my family.

How Does it Work?

Once you select images from your portrait session, engagement photos, or maternity images – you then drop your images to view them on a wall.  You have the ability to resize your images to your liking and choose how you want to order it and add it to the cart.  My favorite part of this is that you can use a picture of  rooms in your home to see what your images will look like in person!

That’s it!  It has been a long time in the making, but I’m super excited to be able to add this to your client experience!  To check availability for your next session, click here and get in touch! 


Chesapeake Arboretum gazebo family photography

Sturgeon Family - Chesapeake Arboretum

How the Sturgeon Family Rocked their Family Photography Session at the Chesapeake Arboretum!

What a great time of year to explore the beauty of the Chesapeake Arboretum!  If you’re looking for the best place to go for your family photography session in Chesapeake, look no further!  I couldn’t get enough of those sun flares, radiant flowers and all the shades of green a photographer (and a gardener) could ask for! I definitely do not have a green thumb at home, which is one of the reasons why I love working at the arboretum! There is a lot of versatility on the grounds for different backgrounds,  making sessions we have here all the more enjoyable. 🌱

I was just born this cute!” - Ellie Sturgeon 🌸 This girl seriously knows what she is doing when the camera is turned her way.  She loves posing and it shows!

Let me just tell you: the Sturgeons showed up knowing exactly how to not only make me smile, but everyone around them too! Between Ellie declaring confidently she has always been the cutest, to the boys showing off their theatrical skills and then the whole family joining in to sing ‘So long, Farewell,’ from The Sound of Music, I was in photography heaven! The kids got along so well and clearly have so much love for one another, and it shows in every photo I took.

The giggles, the jokes, the silliness, including the “Sturgeon scatter” all lead up to fun, natural moments I could freeze in time for this family. Moments that they can cherish forever.

 

Oh my gosh, would you just look at these two!  Thirteen years of marriage and still in love. 💑 The way the Sturgeons gaze into each other’s eyes or whisper sweet nothings to one another… it’s priceless! These light-hearted moments, walking through the Chesapeake Arboretum, and learning more about this Navy family is one of the reasons I love what I do! Some families are just intuitive in front of the lens of a camera, and this family is one of them!  📷

I want you to enjoy your time with me; I want to help capture moments and memories, not just faces in time. It’s important for me to help you relax and feel as natural as possible, because those make the best results.

The Arboretum was an amazing setting for the children to explore. Grant and Nolan climbed trees, while Ellie came across a small garden snake! 🐍 These sessions should be fun, and I, as your photographer, value the time we have together, making a split-second of joy a piece of art you can cherish forever.

Learn more about the Chesapeake Arboretum by visiting their Facebook Page here! 

I encourage my clients to come dressed in what shows their personalities, as individuals or as a family, but at the same time it’s essential to be comfortable! Cathy Sturgeon did a idealistic job of dressing to impress for this day outdoors! The colors were simple and contrasting with the greenery, the clothes were seasonally appropriate (super important that no one was sweating through their shirts!) but there is one thing I would like to note as we move into the hotter days.

If you read nothing else in this post, read this!

There is one last thing I want to touch on as spring is quickly turning into summer, and it’s super important.   Keep in mind the mosquitoes and the gnats are coming out in full force towards the end of each day.  When the sun is setting and its radiance is at its peak, so are those pesky bugs.  As you plan and prepare for your session, I highly suggest bringing 🦟 Bug spray as well as sunscreen and water for those hotter evenings! 🌞

Our spring/summer calendar is filling up really quickly!  If you're interested in booking a family photography session in Chesapeake or the surrounding areas,  visit the contact page by clicking here and let's get started! 


Mothers Day

Mother's Day Gift Ideas 2019

Hampton Roads, Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach, Mothers Day 2019 Photography

10 Unique Mother's Day Gift Ideas for Moms in the Hampton Roads Area

Mother’s Day is right around the corner!  I have put together some fantastic Mother’s Day gift ideas for those last minute shoppers.  We’ve polled a lot of mom’s about what they think would be their idea of the perfect gift, taking the hard work out of it for you! Here are the top ten things that Moms in Chesapeake have requested as Mother’s Day Gifts in 2019.

#10  Time with My Kids

I work evenings and weekends, and I just want some quality one on one time with my kids. I want a day where I can spend with each one doing their favorite thing. It’s hard to feel involved in their lives as a mom working the hours I do.  With my work schedule, I miss them, and they miss me!

Time with kids, Norfolk, Chesapeake, va beach, photographer, mothers day,

#9 An Instapot and a Case of Wine 😂

Insta-pots are all the rage now.  I love a good kitchen gadget, but I am admittedly always behind the curve when it comes to the new “it” thing. However, I have bought into the hype and have gotten an Instapot for my family.  Uhhh, can I say that this gadget has CHANGED THE WAY I DO DINNER!  If your family doesn’t have one, it would be a great gift.  Especially if the mom in your life wants to cut back on all of the residual tasks that come from making dinners! (Like the dishes…)

Now for the wine, that should be self-explanatory!

#8 A Gift Card to a DIY Workshop

A big hit these days is the do it yourself workshops.  We have several in the area that are so much fun to go to.  You can make homemade wooden signs, or trays, wreaths, bags, you name it!  We have one here in Chesapeake, and another in Norfolk that I highly recommend!  Plus gift cards are easy for those of you who seem to like to wait until the last minute to buy a gift!  😂😂😂

https://www.coastdiybar.com
https://www.arworkshop.com

#7 A Professional Organizer or a Deep House Clean

Firstly, I’m not saying you need to hire Marie Kondo to organize your entire life.  However, most mom’s will agree that when her house is a disaster she has less time to spend with her kids and her family because she feels like she has to get things cleaned up.  Mom’s are busy people!  We have jobs and chores, and the laundry needs to be done, as well as the dishes.  Oh, man! I forgot to take food out of the freezer for dinner tonight! (thankfully I have my new Instapot! 😉) That all being said, most mom’s constantly feel like they are running just to keep up with life.  Personally, it can be difficult for me to sit down to play a game with the kids when I know I have a list of things that need to get done.

Get mom the gift of a professional organizer to come help sort out your home, or buy her the gift of having someone come do a deep clean of the house ever other week.  It will be a GAME CHANGER for your home.

Less clutter = less chaos = less stress = more time with my family. 💙

 

#6 Memberships

Ok – I am NOT TELLING YOU to go and buy your wife a gym membership.  Whatever you do – DO NOT DO THAT unless specifically requested! 😂😂. Maybe she would like a membership to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, or a membership to a Wine/Coffee/Beer of the month club.  The possibilities are endless, and you will keep mom smiling all year long.

#5 ME!  (Just kidding...but seriously)

Now I am going to go right ahead with a shameless plug here. PHOTOGRAPHS PEOPLE!!! Hire me to take new family pictures to give to your mom!  Ten years from now she will look at them still hanging up on the walls and be grateful for the lining memories of her family as well as your lives together! I’m also giving a free print for those who book their session before Mother’s Day

Check Availability

Did I mention I also teach a Beginners Photography Course??

#4 Plants *(So much better than flowers)

Megan says  “I love working in my yard and receiving a variety of plants that my kids and spouse picked out is super sweet. Then as I plant and tend the plants for years to come I get to remember who picked it out for me and additionally my kids have the fun memory of watching something grow they gave to me. Bonus points for a cute handmade sign or stone to put by the plant commemorating the year it was given.”

#3 A Night Alone in a Hotel

Hey, I don’t judge.  In fact, I’m liking the way this mom thinks! Christy says hands down “Overnight at a hotel! No baby monitor, sleeping in, brunch, peeing in peace…..it’s nice to have 24 hours to recharge.” 

 

Can I add in a completely clean house when I get home too??

#2 Give the Gift of a Break!

My favorite thing would be a break from all of the unpleasant mom jobs…a day of no cleaning (but others clean so it’s not waiting for me the next day), no dealing with fighting kids or screaming babies, no cooking meals but having yummy, nutritious food made by someone else, etc

And the Number One Mother's Day Gift Idea is...(drumroll please!!)

The number one response from mom’s in the Hampton Roads area for Mother’s Day gift ideas would be a day at the spa.  Where I can leave all of my daily stresses behind me, relax  and be pampered.  There are so many great spas in the area, here are just a few!

In Norfolk:
http://eliteeuropeandayspa.com/https://www.floatnorfolk.com/

In VA Beach
http://greenleafandpebble.com/(This place is pretty amazing)
https://www.seahillspa.com/

In Chesapeake
https://natural-elementsspa.com/

https://www.vagaro.com/goldentouchmassageandspa


Discovering History in an 80 Year Old Camera

My own personal photographic treasure hunt

In my mom's home office, there has been a really old camera sitting on her bookshelf since I can remember. No one ever touched it. I don't remember a time where it has ever moved. When we moved back to the states this past summer, we stayed with my parents for a week or so. I have no idea what i was doing but one morning it caught my eye. When I ask my mom if I could have it (cheeky, I know) and she told me it was dad's. So, off to look for dad I go!

Now he's in his usual spot and when I asked him he immediately said no. My balloon may have been a little deflated but it really wasn't a huge let down. Especially when my mother told me that it belonged to my dad's father. It made a lot more sense. We don't have a lot of pictures of him hanging around the house. He passed away when my father was really young, so it's not someone we really heard much about growing up. But I found it cool that for all these years we had kept a little piece of him, in the form of a camera sitting on the shelf. My dad gave me that camera right before we left for our new home.

Fast forward a few months and I was skyping with my fabulous friend Andy, who owns Andy Dane Photography, back in England. We were chatting about old cameras and I pulled my little Kodak off the shelf to show him. I want to treat the leather and fix the bellows on it so it will close again. As I was turning it for the camera, I said to him "I don't even know how to open this thing", and right then, found the slide release and the back popped open and oh my WHAT!? There's film in there!!! and immediately close it back as fast as I could. Right then and there I started my hunt for a studio with a darkroom in it.

It didn't take me too much time to discover a photography studio that had a darkroom. It is a bit of a drive from me, but I figure this is well worth it! I went to PRINT Wednesday and met with owners John and Kyoto. It's a charming shop in a part of Newport News called Hilton Village, a historic village modeled after a British village (so right up my aisle). John and I spent the better part of 4 hours in the darkroom with the film that has been in my Kodak SIX-16 camera for who knows how long.
We spent some time trying to get the film out of the camera, in the pitch black, as some how part of it got caught up in the bellows (the accordion). Then trying to find a spool that the film would fit on, trying to figure out the appropriate developing time and so on and so forth and we came out with this.

Are you freaking out right now? Because I sure am! Very clearly plain as day you can make out a shirt and bowtie. and there is a man. We have a man! Looking a little more closer there looks to be a set of stairs or a building! I am completely nerding out. Could this be a picture of my grandfather that my family has never seen?? Looking closer at the film, we can see on a separate shot there is another face, and a hand on another, and where the film is a bit torn, we make out a picket fence, a building and what looks to be a nun! (Who may just be my 82 year old cousin!)

Now admittedly I get easily excited. So when John and I put the negatives under the light to expose the film onto paper my little excite-o-meter skyrocketed! The fact that this film - this picture - is possibly 50, 60 maybe even 70 years old is incredible. Add on that I ACTUALLY OPENED the back of the camera with the film still in it blows my mind.

We focus of the picture of the young boy. When we develop the first shot, I was moved, almost to a point of tears when the picture appears on the paper. We tried a few more times to get a better shot. We did a little split toning with high and low contrast lenses, and we adjusted our exposure time a bit. In the end, we came out with a beautiful image of a young man who bears a similar resemblance to a young Elvis. It could be my grandfather - or maybe one of his brothers, but I really don't know. I could have spent several more hours just playing around with the images, but the day is getting long and I need to get back to my home. I thank John and get my things together to make the trip back across the tunnel. Before I pull out of the lot, I send I picture to my dad to ask him about it!

I can't contain my excitement. So I call right away and Dad gets the picture while Im on the phone with him, and I ask him - who is that? Is that your dad? Or his brothers? *Remember, I don't have a lot of visual images of my grandfather so I don't have the best visual of what he looks like. Dad laughs and says you know what that is??? Thats not my dad, that Jackie Garry - he lived above us. Enter confusion..."Why would you have a picture of the boy who lived above you - in a tux?" To which he replied - "He took Ann to her prom!" Ann is his sister, my aunt.

So now I know who this mystery man is. It's not my grandfather, which is somewhat disappointing...but he is somebody's grandfather, and maybe with some help we unite this picture with his family. I'm sure that will be a long road, but it will be worth having a go at it!

This week I plan to go to Norfolk to a studio that scans negatives from film and is able to get more detail of the images from the scan. I am hoping to see if I can get a picture of the woman, as well as the nun! I will post an update as soon as it happens!

I couldn't be more grateful to John and Kyoto at Print for allowing me to intrude on their shop and spend their afternoon on this little adventure with me. Did I tell you that he has film that works with my camera! I have to seal a light leak, but I'm excited to use it and see if and how well it works! I am excited to visit Print again in the future! If you are into film photography - they have workshops fairly often and are so helpful!

If you didn't see my original posting about my camera have a quick read here! Take a quick second to like my page to follow along on the adventure! https://www.facebook.com/meredithhodgephotography/photos/a.184472771947839/710798339315277/?type=3&theater)