Each January I “claim” a word for the new year: a word that is focused around having a single simple word or theme to guide me in what I want to embrace more of in the coming year.
This year I claim LOVE as my word because the world needs more LOVE, I need more LOVE, my family needs more LOVE and my business needs more LOVE!
LOVE is all around us in all of our relationships. We forget sometimes to focus on the love and instead focus on the bickering, the rushing to get to work or practices, the financial issues, the chores, the disappointments, etc. We get so busy in the day to day of life that we forget to actually see the love right in front of us. This year my goal is to give and share more love and in business to work hard to create opportunities for more people to capture their love in print.
I want to do better at encouraging people to capture the LOVE in their relationships. I want to photograph the beauty and love between a mother and baby, the time tested love of a couple married 40 years, the love for oneself in boudoir, the love between siblings who fight like cats and dogs but also have grown up as each others playmates. I want to photograph LOVE in all the relationships of life.
For families, I want to focus on encouraging families to CAPTURE the love they share. Too many times I have heard “It’s been 10 years since we took family portraits” or “I can’t do family portraits until I lose the weight.” Yet I have also heard after deaths in families “I don’t have any recent picture of my dad with is grandchildren, now it is too late” “I wish I had recent pictures of my parents together that weren’t taken on a cell phone.” Too often we want to wait for the right moment and forget to recognize that the right moment is RIGHT NOW!
One area I am especially going to focus on this year is capturing LOVE in marriage. I am not going to say that there are no perfect, never argue, he/she is exactly what I need and want them to be all the time, marriages out there, but in my experience almost ALL marriages have times of extreme struggle. Look at the divorce rate that keeps climbing- marriage is HARD work.
I have been married for 18 years, together for 22. We fought tooth and nail for each other even when we didn’t like each other. But the LOVE was there, just hidden beneath the hurt, pain and trauma. The photographs we have during the good times, smiling and loving each other and our children are reminders that LOVE overcomes. Our children remember the good times because those are the memories we have on our wall and in our albums. They see and remember the LOVE their parents have always had for each other.
I photograph families all the time and often take time to get portraits of mom and dad together as well. But it’s not often I get a full session dedicated to the love between a husband and wife. That will change this year as I bring back my “Renew” sessions and introduce my “Romance in the Simple Moments” session. I cannot wait to photograph love that has been TESTED. Marriages of 5, 10, 15, 30, 50 years. Marriages that, like mine, have gone through the storms and come out battered but stronger than before.
I also need to claim LOVE for myself more this year. Last year was a very trying year for me and I let self love fall away as I worked so hard to support my husband, kids, family and business. All of their busyness kept me so overwhelmed that taking care of me took a back seat. I gained weight and spending time with friends rarely happened. This year I claim SELF- LOVE for myself. I am determined to loose 40 pounds by eating better and getting back in the gym. I have already been away on a fabulous girls weekend in NYC with two of my besties. I can’t be the best Devon I need to be if I am not loving myself enough to take care of my mental and physical health. So this year, I will embrace loving myself better.
I am claiming LOVE this year for my business and for myself. My marriage still has rough patches and places where we can improve the ways we love each other. Like many of you, we get caught up in the kids and their busy lives and schedules and realize we are more roommates than anything else. We need to focus of US because without a strong US our family is not as strong as it should be.
Do you have a word for 2019 that you are claiming? Share it with me, I’d love to stand in agreement with you!
Cynthia was the first client to have a Cultural celebration portrait session. She chose to not only embrace her own African culture but also showcased her love for Hawaiian culture. Cynthia is a local actress and a wonderful friend that has helped me decorate my new studio and office space with wonderful plants and trees. I just hope I get a green thumb really soon! I had so much fun photographing Cynthia and I know the future holds great things ahead for her.
Thank you Cynthia for being a wonderful friend and a beautiful person inside and out.
Here are a few of the portraits from Cynthia’s unique session. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
I feel so lucky that I had the privilege to photograph Grace for her Senior Portraits. Grace is a very unique and inspiring young woman. Grace graduated High School early to give her time to dive into her art and prepare for her college experience at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
For Grace’s portraits we traveled to downtown Norfolk and her fun and quirky personality gave life to the urban landscape around her. I was blown away by her unique look and how comfortable she was behind the camera. We got to explore her interests and her personality making this session one I will never forget. I found it extremely difficult to find only a few images from her session to share because they all embodied her fierce confidence and beauty.
It was a pleasure getting to know Grace. I know that she will lead a very creative and fulfilling life and that makes me so excited for her and her family. VCU will be lucky to have you. I look forward to seeing you succeed in the future. Good Luck Grace!
I adore photographing newborns! My youngest is 12 so, my littlest clients give me my baby fix! They are so tiny, new, squishy, and adorable!! I love molding them into little naked balls, swaddling them into little beans with my wraps, and perfectly inserting them into baskets and bowls. That said, a newborn shoot is not easy – with much of the work happening before I even book a client!
When I take your little one out of your hands to photograph them, I am accepting the greatest gift you have ever been given. I am taking the baby that just days ago you had only ever held in your womb. I have a HUGE responsibility to care for that baby and make sure he/she is safe and sound. I take that responsibility seriously and I have put in the work to make sure I am educated on how to photograph your baby safely. I have attended newborn workshops and classes to make sure I know how to mold, swaddle, and insert your perfect little bundles into the beautiful poses you often see in newborn portraits.
Often the pictures you see are not single images- but two or three images composited together where I am photoshopping out my assistants hands and fingers that are helping hold that perfect little baby in that pose. The beautiful pictures of babies hanging from tree limbs- often that baby is just two inches off the ground- not hanging freely as the photograph would like you believe. Expert and trained newborn photographers know these tricks and tools to keep your baby safe while still creating amazing art of your precious baby.
You are probably aware that newborn babies can’t support their own heads- so the famous pose with the little one holding their head on their tiny hands, is IMPOSSIBLE to do without doing a composite. I always tell a client I can’t promise that shot because unless the baby is relaxed and completely asleep- that shot isn’t going to happen. If your 6 day old baby doesn’t want to be in a certain position, I will not force them just for a picture. I still capture amazing images for my clients that express who their baby is and what they like even at such a young age.
The point of my post is to encourage people to research your photographers ESPECIALLY for newborn portraits. You only get one chance to do newborn portraits (they change immensely after the first 2 weeks) and you don’t want your first portraits of your little one and your first portraits as a family being done by someone without the experience your child deserves. While I understand cost becomes a big deciding factor for many people, for the safety of your newborn I beg you not to hire someone with price in mind. An amazing deal doesn’t equal proper training and education to provide you with a safe environment and portrait session for your newborn.
I continue to take classes and attend workshops on newborn photography. I want to stay up to date on all the information out there so that I can enhance my client’s portrait sessions. You and your little precious munchkin deserve experience, education and passion.
Look at examples of a photographer’s work and try to find the photographer with the style you are looking for. When looking into a photographer, make sure you ask many questions such as:
Get the information you need to make the very best choice for your little munchkin. You want your session to be something you remember with fondness and love, not fear and unease. Choose the photographer who will make your session easy for both you and baby, and will create amazing portraits you’ll cherish forever!
Here are a few composite images I have complete for my clients. Enjoy!
Devon Shanor Photography is evolving once again with the addition of my new Office Manager and Marketing Coordinator, Becca Kajouras. She is a wonderful asset to the team, adding creative and new ways to organize my business space and market my portrait sessions.
Becca recently worked for the local SPCA where she helped find animals their forever homes helping to make families feel complete with their four-legged friend. It was there that she became interested in Marketing after helping to photograph some of the animals for the SPCA’s website. She’s currently finishing up a Bachelors degree in Psychology at Norfolk State University with a plan to pursue a Masters program in the future. In addition to working for Devon Shanor Photography and finishing up her degree, Becca is a single mom to her son, Wesley. Together, they have three dogs (Dakota, Lucy, and Winter) and a large tank full of fish! In her spare time, Becca enjoys painting, reading with her son, spending time with her dogs, and cooking.
I’ve asked her to answer a few questions so everyone can get to know her. I know you’re going to love her as much as I do!
What is your favorite color ? I love the color Green.
What is your favorite food? Give me Tacos or Home-made Greek food any day.
What is something silly you’d like to share?
I love to laugh and I love to make the people around me laugh. At home it is never a dull moment, I am always trying to be silly to make my son laugh, smile, or just hang his head in embarrassment. I love to sing and to create made up songs. Recently, I created a breakfast song that we have gotten stuck in our heads. I also enjoy playing Just Dance with my son and I always end up laughing when I mess up on a dance move. I am a Nickname Creator Queen at my house, and everyone has a ton of silly nicknames that we use. The dogs have the most nicknames at this point.
Tell us about yourself:
I love helping others. Ever since I can remember I was that kid that gave away her toys to cheer someone up or did what I could to help another person. I love talking to new people and getting to know someone – it is the highlight of my day. I love spending time with my 8 year old son learning about what he’s into at the moment, right now it’s Dinosaurs, Minecraft, and Cooking. I have 3 crazy dogs; Dakota (my old lady) – she’s going to be 10 this year and has been with me through everything, Lucy (my little bug) – is a rescue I adopted in 2017 after I took her home to help her recover after an orthopedic surgery and fell in love, and Winter (the baby) – is also a rescue adopted in 2017, she’s very smart and sweet and loves to bring me shoes as her way of telling me she needs to go out. I recently got back into painting and feel so much happier that I’m being creative once again.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Northern Virginia and I honestly miss getting on the Metro and going down to visiting the museums – my friends and I used to do that often. We (my son and I) moved to Virginia Beach 5 years ago to be closer to the beach.
Why did you want to work for Devon Shanor Photography?
A few years ago, I asked Devon to do a portrait session of my family (Dakota, Wesley, and I) after I got my Associates Degree. If you know me, you know I am not a fan of being photographed but I loved how Devon made me feel throughout the whole process. Ever since then I’ve stayed in contact with Devon and when she had a position open for Marketing, I knew it was my chance to work for someone I admired and to work toward something I had fallen in love with. I feel that Marketing helps me bridge my love of communication with my creativity.
What will you be doing at Devon Shanor Photography?
I’ve only been with Devon for about a month now and I have done a variety of things including organizing her space, creating marketing material, and coming up with new ideas for the business. Everyday I get up excited because I know I’m going to learn something new and that I’m going to get a new idea. I know I will be doing a variety of things with Devon that goes way beyond Marketing and I am excited to meet all of her new clients and the clients she has had for years.
I am just like you. I have a job, a husband, kids, grocery shopping, a home to clean, bills to pay and a life to live! I budget and cut coupons and love groupon and discount sites! I hate spending more for something that I can get cheaper somewhere else. I only have so much money coming and and I really do need to make it stretch as far as possible. I get it! That said… you REALLY DO NEED A PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOT done by a professional photographer! A “picture of you” is not just a picture of you when you are trying to sell yourself. And we all need to sell ourselves at times!
I was just searching online for a therapist for someone I love. I found an incredibly helpful site that narrowed down therapists in my area to those that specialized in the the disorder I was looking for help in, where they were located, a short bio about them and their practice and a picture. I was completely turned off by MOST of the pictures! Only a handful had professional portraits and most were snapshots with distracting things in the background and were unflattering. A few looked to have been taken 30 years ago with outdated clothing or hair. They might be AMAZING therapists but I didn’t even click on their profile for more information.
We all love selfies but a selfie is NOT a professional portrait!!!! Yes, I am a photographer and of course I have a professional headshot… but be honest, if you were coming to do business with me about ANYTHING and I had this as my profile picture or on my website, does it look like I invest in my business? It’s a SELFIE with clutter all behind me!
These are the kinds of things I saw when looking for a therapist this morning. There was one where he was standing beside a horse and you could only see a portion of his face but ALL of the horse!
We shouldn’t make judgments on people by the way they look…. but we do have first impressions that are hard to get past. We often have a TON of options in front of us and we navigate ourselves to the ones that relate to us. Often, unless we are buying something and there will have NO interaction (like online), we want to feel connected to the people we will be working with, buying from, spending time with, etc. Some of the pictures I saw today, the therapists were almost scowling… and you want me to come and lay on your couch and tell you my problems??? No thanks, Mr. Grumpy. The outdated ones… um no thanks Mrs. Seventies show. The selfies… is this a legitimate business Ms. Smartphone?
The take-away from this is you NEED to have a professional portrait. It doesn’t need to be BORING but it does need to focus on you and how you are trying to sell yourself. Do you want to be inviting and warm? Powerful and important? Confident and trustworthy? Self controlled and competent? Amusing and charming? Selfless and calm? Different jobs call for different portraits!!
Here are a few of MY portraits. I usually try to go for inviting, warm, and friendly. Sometimes I include my camera, sometimes I don”t. I love to be outdoors and since many of my sessions are on location- I usually choose outdoor locations too.
This will include the session plus one digital image.
Please invest in yourself and in your business. Put your best foot (er… face) forward and see the difference it makes!
Another amazing year has passed. Last year at this exact time, I was just so thankful 2015 was almost OVER. It was a year filled with so much sadness and loss. I prayed for 2016 to be a BORING year at least! I just wanted to get past all the pain of 2015. God answers prayers and more. Like he states “There is a time and a season for everything.” The BORING year I was praying for didn’t happen, instead He gave me so much more.
Personal highlights of 2016… I started the year off on a cruise with my family. The first cruise we have done together and it was a beautiful welcome to the new year! In the spring, I visited NYC with my son and godson and got to see my childhood crush, Will Smith (aaaaahhhhhhh) film the movie Collateral Beauty. (Seriously, I was like a giddy child- and the coolest thing was it was an unexpected surprise to see him on set!! Thanks to an amazing friend who set it up!) In the summer, I visited Ethiopia again, with Habesha Momma, and got to start the process of opening a home for homeless and trafficked children. I also FINALLY got to take my husband to NYC. I love NYC and Brett has said for years ”NEVER” when I ask if he’d like to go with me. However, he finally agreed and we had a fabulous time together enjoying the big city!
One of the biggest personal and business highlights was I moved my business out of my house and into a true commercial space!! It was a HUGE leap of faith but I am so very thankful I took the risk. I LOVE having my own space. I’ve been a successful photographer for years BUT having my own name on the outside of a building makes me feel “I’ve made it!” It has been an amazing whirlwind of a year! I had a phenomenal Open House in my new space and felt so much love poured out. I have been blessed by the opportunity to photograph so many amazing people, families and projects. I truly love my job and don’t take for granted the fact that I am given the gift of creating moments in time for each of you.
This blog every year is one of my hardest… to go through the year and pick my favorite images to share. Each one of you are so special to me, all of our shoots hold special moments and laughs. In every single session- I am creating memories that I pray will be cherished for generations to come. Narrowing that down to 15-20 images to show my year in review… it is SO HARD! But here are some of the highlights I was able to narrow it down too… and once again thank you. Thank you for trusting me, thank you for supporting me, thank you for allowing me into your family.
Lauren is great friend of mine who is SUCH an inspiration. She is a wonderful mom and wife and loves all things natural and is a phenomenal business owner! In fact, she has so much talent, ideas, inspiration and passion, she has multiple businesses!
She has her own natural skincare line and I have been purchasing her homemade organic soaps and skincare for over a year now.
Then recently, she completed school and is now a Professional Esthetician! (I have gotten a facial from her and it’s heaven!!) You NEED to check out her spa services!
She contacted me recently to help her with pictures for her website and we had such a great time together! She truly does lead an inspiring life and you can find lots of great tips and ideas on living a budget friendly, natural life plus you can order products, schedule appointments and just find some daily inspiration!
Please take a moment to check out her website! http://www.thenaturallyinspiredlife.com/
Can this family GET any cuter?!?! I had so much photographing CJ’s first birthday portraits as well as their family portraits. They haven’t done family portraits yet AND mom and dad hadn’t done any portraits together ever, so this was an extra special shoot for them. And when I say they ROCKED this session, I meant it! Denise and Christopher are a stunning couple and made my job so easy! The light was perfect and CJ was such a little model and his adorable smile melted my heart! I would have shot for another hour if it hadn’t gotten dark and chilly.
The images that resulted from this shoot are STUNNING! Denise cried when she saw them and honestly, that is one of the favorite parts of my job. I know it sounds terrible, “I like making my clients cry” but when they are crying tears of joy because they have never had such beautiful images of themselves… well, I might have shed a tear or two myself!
Denise and Christopher, thank you so much for allowing me to capture your family. It truly was an honor and I can’t wait for our next session!
It is ALWAYS an honor to photograph the Myers family. Recently, I was honored to photograph the beautiful Morgan for her Junior Ring Dance, with her handsome date Brandon.
I have been photographing Morgan for years, I think she was in elementary school when we began, and this summer we will be scheduling her SENIOR PORTRAITS!
I have been so blessed by the Myers family and to see Morgan all grown up and so beautiful, well it’s like seeing my own daughter growing up. Once so insecure and camera shy, it is so nice to see her, not just comfortable in her own skin, but ROCKING who she is becoming!
SENIOR PICTURES are coming up for Morgan and I can’t believe its already time to plan for this moment! Wow, so thankful one more of my kids making moves towards her dreams.
With that said I need to brag about our family photographer Devon who owns Devon Shanor Photography.
She has been there for our family’s every move; family pictures when we started over from divorce, back to school pictures, becoming sessions, ring dance, Prom, Senior pictures, Santa pictures on the beach every year, and we are currently working a cake bash for my 40th birthday… you name it she can do it and make it happen. We would be lost without Devon.
She knows my kids inside and out when it comes to pictures, she know my divas, my shy kid, my I don’t want to do this kid and she works with them all and makes it fun every time.
If you have a senior coming up Devon should be your FIRST Choice. I get this question a lot “Is she expensive?” Well I’m gonna answer that “NO SHE ISNT!” Some may think so, BUT I will say this the people that do are used to places like Olan Mills, Walmart, Portrait Innovations, etc where you have to go to a studio, get a few pre-made backdrops, set poses and prices. With Devon we get to pick location (and even poses if we want to do something crazy!) we’ve had so many differnt nature locations; just when I think we’ve done them all we find somewhere new! We’ve done the beach, Norfolk Pagoda, fields, and state parks… the possibilities are endless.
My other reason for choosing Devon, and only her, is I’ve personally have two very bad experiences with going to another photographer. one of them being for senior pictures for my daughter Katie. We hired a cheaper person for her senior pictures, thinking maybe we would get some amazing portraits art a cheaper price. Well, let me just say um…. it was awful! The pictures were blurry, the poses were horrible, she was a mom with a camera nothing more! Needless to say, we begged Devon to fit Katie in and we had them done right. Devon was wonderful about the whole thing. She did an amazing job and while I spent more than I wanted, I learned that I will never again trust anyone with my families memories except Devon.
*Side note: We had a house fire in 2014, the year my daughter graduated and we lost all of our flash drives (digital images) from every one of our sessions. Yes all of them, including those senior pictures. When I called Devon Shanor Photography crying she reminded me all my images were safe she had them all. I lost nothing and wasn’t out all the money for pictures that I could never replace. Well, I was out all of the images I had taken BEFORE Devon, the ones from Walmart and Portrait innovations, they were burned up in the fire and I had no way to replace them. But I didn’t lose the last 10 years of my family growing.
ALL OF THIS TO SAY THANK YOU MY FRIEND WE LOVE YOU!!!!! SENIORS THIS IS THE LIFE PHOTOGRAPHER YOU WANT TO SAVE YOUR MEMORIES!