North Carolina Homestead Session – Family & Childhood Photography Session

Summer is quickly fading but I still have this family and their sweet homestead session on my mind as the leaves start to fade to Fall.

There is something to be said for finding the right artist that “gets you” to photograph you and your family. I find it so important that it’s one of my core values in business (written about in past blog posts), which I will also soon have outlined on my new website when it launches (that’s right — you heard it here first… new site coming, probably by the Spring because there is sooo much goodness we’re going to pack into it Quality takes time!). You can’t simply throw a dart and choose just anybody to document your life. You have to be the right fit. And this family, the Freulers, also from Pittsboro, were just that for me. They were kind and welcoming, had the most adorable home and property, and we had so much in common! When you find just the right people to work with, it makes shooting a breeze and the end result that much sweeter.

For this post I’m going to share my favorite digital images from the house portion of their session, where we started and ended our time together — last time I shared my favorite black and white film shots. For my third installment of this family session next time, I’ll share my shots from around their property which you won’t want to miss! Let’s just say it involves a tree house, flying chickens, a rope swing over a pond, and goats! Not all in tandem… 😉

Ready to Book? Here is my 2016 pricing info!
Or you can always email me at lea@lovemesimply.com.
Or, contact me on my website HERE!

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Want to do a similar session for your family? Have a house or homestead you’re smitten with and want your family to always remember? Let’s get together and start creating the family photo album of your dreams!

Ready to Book? Here is my 2016 pricing info!
Or you can always email me at lea@lovemesimply.com.
Or, contact me on my website HERE!

XOXO

Welcoming Roxy: 8.8.16

The two nights before Roxy was born, I had uncomfortable and inconsistent contractions all night long. By the time Monday morning, August 8th, rolled around, I was sure Roxy had settled in for a few more days even though just hours earlier I was convinced we would be at the hospital ready to welcome her at any moment.

I remembered a photo my mom had taken in a bubble bath with me in her belly the morning she went into labor, so I wanted a similar one. Jose took this for me the night before Roxy was born.

These were both taken by Jose, one after the other. Both with my Pentax 645nii – the first is Kodak Portra 400 and the second is Ilford HP5.

Photo by Jose Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Our boys took a bath soon after, and I wanted one last photo of them as just a pair of siblings before their sister arrived and made them a trio.

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

I drove Max to speech and occupational therapy that next morning, and the car ride increased the number and intensity of my contractions (as it usually does anyway), but I still mostly brushed them off. I used one of the giant exercise balls in the OT gym to sit on and ease my discomfort, at which point I decided I should probably call my midwife and get her opinion. They agreed I should come in for an exam to see if I was in early labor.

Jose left work and picked up Max from therapy while I drove over there, and met me at the office where my dad then drove our car home and my mom drove our kiddos home (so much to coordinate when this is your third baby!).

After an hour waiting to be seen at the midwife’s office, my contractions got more intense and closer together. Jose was timing them and his app hilariously finally said “you need to go to the hospital right away!” 😉 At which point we left the office without ever being seen for the exam.

Luckily, all of my bags were already in Jose’s car, and I had my parents bring my packed camera bag because I knew I wanted to photograph our experience as long as I could (using film!) while I was in labor. I may or may not have been inspired by meeting Sally Mann earlier in the summer. 😉 Documenting this process was an awesome distraction to have in between contractions and really helped take my mind off the pain. In case you’re curious, I also felt compelled to listen to Weezer while laboring in the car — specifically the song “Thank God for Girls.” 😉 The first shots below are from right after we left the midwife’s office. I had to labor from the backseat because both of our cars have recalls on the passenger side airbag that I didn’t want to chance.

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

We settled into our room around 12:30pm.

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

I loaded film and did some metering between contractions so I could hand the camera off to Jose from time to time. Of course he had to capture my love for all the ice I could get my hands on. 🙂

Photo by Jose Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Our incredible midwife, Cara, monitored me for about three hours before they decided to admit me, just to be sure things were progressing.

Photo by Jose Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Jose Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

I felt great between contractions and my amazing husband helped keep the mood light, as he always does. It really helped ease the pain quite a bit. And that lovely shower behind us in the photo below? Also one of my favorite pain relievers. That hot, running water felt so good on my low back during contractions.

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Jose found a decently comfy spot to relax in between my contractions as well. 🙂 My favorite place to work through them was on top of an exercise ball while holding onto Jose as he kneeled down in front of me. This man is by far the most amazing partner I could ever ask for, and laboring with him by my side was an absolute pleasure. Our whole labor was so quiet and intimate, with just him and I holding each other and working through every contraction that brought us one step closer to our baby girl.

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

By the time I got to about 6cm, I decided I wanted an epidural. My first birth experience involved a long labor that ended in a c-section. For my second birth I went all-natural in an effort to reduce as many interventions as possible that could increase my chances for a repeat c-section — and I got the all-natural VBAC that I worked so hard for! This time around I gave myself permission to get an epidural if I wanted one, and after a while, it was obvious to me that I could keep going all-natural if I wanted to, but I was ready for pain relief so I could continue to fully enjoy the experience and hopefully have a less intense birth.

And I’m so glad that is what I opted for. I was able to relax and take short naps. And soon after I got the relief, my water broke and I felt the heavy pressure and need to push.

For some reason the epidural took much better on my right side than my left, but I was grateful because it left me just enough sensation to know how and when to push. I also knew based on my last experience that I needed to breathe into my contractions and push more gently, to help me have a not-so-difficult recovery after. And that’s exactly what I got thanks to Jose’s coaching, our incredible midwife, and the epidural that brought me just the right amount of relief.

Cara eased me through every push and every contraction. Jose held my hand and helped me find just the right amount of strength I needed to make it through to the end. And before I knew it, Roxy was on her way out and I pulled her up onto my chest in the most gentle and peaceful entrance into the world. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Jose captured our first photo together below (not film on this one — I stopped photographing with my film camera after I got my epidural and wanted to focus my energy on resting and then pushing).

Photo by Jose Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

I captured the below photos in our recovery room the next morning.

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

The honesty of the next photo was really important to me, too. Just me and my girl after our first night together. Un-showered, same robe I labored in, belly still swollen, attached to an IV for extra fluids, film camera in hand, tired as can be, more in love than ever.

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Jose brought the boys up to meet her that day, too, and it was the sweetest moment ever.

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

And then, we brought her home.

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Jose Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

The next day, we took her to her first doctor appointment.

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

And every day since, we have continued to immensely love on her as we always will forever and ever and ever.

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

XOXO

What Do Photographs Mean to You?

Exist in photographs. For yourself. For your children. Love never fails, and must be preserved with photography.

www.LoveMeSimply.com | by Lea Ciceraro | NC Family Photographer

We have photographs on nearly every wall and surface in our home. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door. There are huge canvases, small prints, big prints. Framed prints on my childhood piano and our fireplace mantle. A photo of my parents on their wedding day. Simple frames, fancy-ish frames, and sometimes no frames at all. Albums upon albums from my childhood. Instant Polaroids taped to our refrigerator. Candid moments that I’ve snapped over the years. Tiny details like hands and feet and curly locks on new babies. Moments from when my husband and I were dating in the late 90’s, to our wedding and honeymoon in 2006, to each child and adopted animal we have made a part of our home and our hearts since then. [Below: Me as a kiddo in 1986 when we lived in Germany]

www.LoveMeSimply.com | by Lea Ciceraro | NC Family Photographer

Many of the photos were taken myself, of course, but there are also plenty that I have hired other photographers to take of me and my family (like the one below, shot by Alissa Saylor). Why? Because existing in photographs is important. I want to exist in photographs for my children and for myself so we have these amazing heirlooms that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.

www.LoveMeSimply.com | by Lea Ciceraro | NC Family Photographer

You know what I think about often? That one day my children will look for photographs of me and their dad, and us with them. What will they have? [See more photos below: on the left is me with Maximilian snapped by my hubs, and on the right is me with Oliver a few years later, snapped by Alissa Saylor] I understand the power of thinking I’m not good enough in any one point in my life to be in photos. It’s easy to get in a cycle of not wanting your photo taken. But what happens when you’re gone?

www.LoveMeSimply.com | by Lea Ciceraro | NC Family Photographer

I am good enough. Right now… today. My family loves me, they want these photos taken as much as I do, and they mean more to me than anything else in the world. I am good enough to be photographed with my kids. I want to celebrate this beautiful life I have been given. I want it to mean something and to tell our family history.

This is why I take photos constantly, and why I hire photographers I believe in to give me these photos that generations of our family will hold onto and cherish forever. Because a portrait is more than just a photograph. These photos are more meaningful than anything our family will ever own or vacation we will take or presents we will buy. These photos, these memories, are the only possible thing we could spend money on that will go up in value the way they do. It must be done right.

[Photo below of my parents on their wedding day in 1971, and to the right is me and Jose on June 3, 2006 – snapped by Bronson Pate]

www.LoveMeSimply.com | by Lea Ciceraro | NC Family Photographer

My husband can count on one hand how many photos from his childhood he has. And when we were dating, I don’t recall seeing any family photos on the walls of his house. It’s heartbreaking to both of us and our own kids to have that piece of history missing. Whatever the reason was, now the photos aren’t there and there’s nothing that can be done about that. It’s a legacy lost. Missing pieces of the puzzle he’ll never get back. So we’re making sure we preserve these memories for our kids.

What’s more important today, in this moment, than photographing your family and existing in photos with them?

www.LoveMeSimply.com | by Lea Ciceraro | NC Family Photographer

Embracing Your Roots While Developing Your Passion

Embracing Your Roots While Developing Your Passion - by Lea Ciceraro - www.LoveMeSimply.com

My Start with Photography

Childhood memories are fuzzy at best. But the really important moments leave an impression, even if the facts are a little skewed. What happens during your youth can forever shape your story and the person you become. One of my earliest, favorite memories was during a summer visit to my extended family in Southern California. It was the early 90’s, so I must have been 7 or 8 years old. I was staying at my Djedo’s (Serbian for grandpa) house, with its perfect orange trees perched out front that we always picked from to make fresh juice in the morning. I’ll never forget the sweet smell and taste.

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Film February: The Homeschooling / Unschooling Edition

The struggles of taking your children’s education into your own hands can be intimidating. And to loosely quote Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Larry’s son blew me away when he described his plans for his future: “I don’t know if it’s the thing, but it’s the next thing.” Epic… right!? Who says the next decision you make has to be the FINAL answer.

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How and Why to Support Independent Artists & Photographers

www.LoveMeSimply.com - Lea Ciceraro

Aside from your wedding day or the birth of a child, it’s that time of the year again when you may be the most likely to hire a photographer. Everyone loves updated family photos, because a lot changes year to year and life is fragile. It’s definitely becoming increasingly popular to share your photo sessions online and/or put them onto cards being mailed out for the holidays. As you venture into your photo session (or maybe you already have), pretty please keep these thoughts and kind requests in mind!

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Create, Be Brave, and Stay True to What Inspires You

My sweet friend from Rachel sent me this awesome gift from The Giving Keys​ a few weeks ago, and had this to say along with it:

I’ve loved watching your work this year, it just keeps getting better and better, your confidence is shining through more and more. Create and keep pushing. You’re a rock star and the greatest friend a girl could hope for. Lots of love for you, my friend.

Photo by Lea Ciceraro - www.lovemesimply.com

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Film Mama Top 7 Favorites for “Sunshine!”

Last week I was so excited to find that my image was the top pick for film mama‘s “Back to School” themed photo of the week!

Nikon F100 | Fuji 400h (B&W conversion) | The FIND Lab

Photography by Lea Ciceraro

And this week I had the honor of being the guest judge for the new theme: Sunshine! YAY!

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Friday Happiness: Encaustic & Wax-Infused Photography

It’s Friday and I’m feeling all the creative, happy feels this week. I received an incredibly special gift in the mail from my dear friend, Rachel Gomez, a couple of days ago. It was a Giving Key with the word “Create” on it. I’ll post more about it later, as I shot a few frames of film of this special gift earlier today. 😉 But in short, she had the nicest things to say about me and my journey as an artist that really helped add to my momentum when I needed to hear those words most. I’m so grateful.

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Black & White Film Photography and Reflection

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life —
and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.”
-Georgia O’Keeffe

Lea Ciceraro | www.LoveMeSimply.com

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Falling in Love with Pittsboro, NC: My Favorite Small Town Eatery on 35mm Film — Small B&B Cafe!

Moving to a new town, a new state, can be terrifying. Settling in, finding a new everything. It’s lonely, unknown, and overwhelming. Where is the nearest grocery store? How do I find a favorite new breakfast spot? But, if you take a minute to breath and seek out the beauty of the newness that surrounds you, magic happens.

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Experimenting with Various Film Stocks: Kodak Ektar 100!

Kodak Ektar 100

I’m going to start with Ektar in this series of posts, because it has definitely been a favorite of mine! The whole previous post I published last week about my time at the farmers’ market was shot with Ektar, so I won’t repeat those shots here, but please do check it out! One interesting thing I have learned while shooting Ektar is that your regional location has a white balance unique to that area and it greatly changes the results you get. I know, that sounds a little silly and like common sense. But when I shot Ektar on a winter day in North Carolina versus on a sunny March day in the desert of Joshua Tree, California, the results were different than expected! But I still loved each set of shots!

Why I love Ektar: (1) I can overexpose it by one or two stops and it looks gorgeous; (2) some people think it looks to red/pink for portraits but you’ll see below that that’s not always the case and I love it for portraits; (3) grain is minimal unless you’re shooting it in low light, which I also love (seriously, I’m a sucker for film grain!); (4) it gives you gorgeous, punchy colors so it’s awesome for produce, tropics, urban environments, etc! My favorite rule for shooting Ektar is that there are no rules. Seriously. Try it every which way in every type of environment in every type of weather situation and see what happens! You’ll see with all of my photos below that you can get such fun, different results shooting it every which way!

All of the following Ektar photos were scanned and developed by The FIND Lab, and shot with my NIkon F100. All are unedited by me so you can see what it looks like coming from the lab.

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Falling in Love with Pittsboro, North Carolina: The Local Farmers of the Chatham Mills Farmers’ Market… on 35mm Film!

Small towns are the soul of, well, everything. Go to any small town in any country, and you will immediately see the true heart of where you are. My family and I have lived in a lot of different places — thank you Air Force for taking my childhood around the world, and then I married a husband with a spirit as adventurous and wanderlusting as my own!). But two years ago fate brought us to Pittsboro, North Carolina. The sweetest small town that I have fallen head over heels in love with. The type of place where your fellow business owners know you by name, and everyone mutually supports each other’s endeavors. Local, indie businesses thrive on community support. Pittsboro has proven itself to be nothing short of incredible as I have set up shop here in town and began rebuilding my client base when I re-established my business here after our big move from Austin, Texas.

One of my favorite happy places to spend time with other awesome, like-minded locals is at the Saturday morning Chatham Mills Farmers’ Market! The farmers are all so sweet and fun and interesting to talk to. So two weeks ago I finally decided to load up my F100 with some film to document all of the beauty just bursting from the gorgeous produce and other handmade goods that the farmers brought out that weekend. The only part that bummed me out a little was that Fiddlehead Farm wasn’t there– they have the BEST bread, jams, and other treats!! I guess I’ll just have to go back with my film again and catch them another time. 😉

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Too uninspired to click the shutter? Here are some excellent pieces of advice straight from other artists (and some great eye candy along the way!)!

Yesterday I had one of those rare mama-solo-outing opportunities… you know, sans kids — nobody throwing shoes at you while you drive, or asking for food every 3.7 minutes, or insisting on turning up Starfox to 11 on his Nintendo DS from the seat behind you to drown out The Lumineers that you so carefully chose to play to suit your mood for the day. Hubby was home and refreshed from a weekend away at HeroesCon, so he sent me on my way for a break and to recharge my batteries! Wahooooo! So, naturally I grabbed my Nikkormat, my F100, and a few rolls of film and was completely determined to shoot ALL of it.

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Joshua Tree on Black and White Film: Desert Adventures and a Luz Studios / Leah MacDonald / Encaustic Photography Workshop!

In March, I had the pleasure of attending a Luz Studios Desert Revival Workshop, hosted by two stellar artists/photographers who joined forces with the always amazing Leah MacDonald, to teach us the art of encaustics + photography in the form of a crazy inspiring retreat in the desert! I don’t know the last time I felt so alive and fulfilled and inspired, totally in my element doing the things that make me oh-so-happy. This post is a collection of my favorite black & white film images from the trip, either shot on my Rolleicord (if it’s square format) or my 35mm Nikkormat (thank you Photovision for the awesome developing and scanning!). My friend and colleague Rachel even took it upon herself to setup a desert sunrise maternity shoot, one of the images from which you’ll see below. She also took some incredible images of me throughout the trip that I’ll share soon! And I’ll upload my color film shots in a later post (my computer died recently and is holding my work hostage for the time being!)!

Oh, and did I mention that in August I’m hopping on a plane across the entire country to Canada to do a part II to this amazing workshop with the same group of incredible artists and instructors!? Ahhhh SO giddy! You still have a few days to snag your seat at the early bird pricing (which is in Canadian dollars, by the way, so cheaper for us U.S. folks!!). It’ll be so worth it. I promise! Join me for an amazing few days in the Canadian PNW!

Lea Ciceraro - Love Me Simply Photography - www.LoveMeSimply.com

 

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A Beautiful Bridal Session at the Leslie-Alford-Mims House by Love Me Simply Photography | Holly Springs / Raleigh, NC

I have had the pleasure of photographing John & Kourtney’s journey from proposal to wedding day! A few weeks ago, Kourtney and I went to the new Leslie-Alford-Mims House in Holly Springs for her bridal portraits and it was just amazing! I also absolutely loved working with Priscilla and Brooke — such lovely ladies who did an incredible job with this venue! I had an amazing time photographing Kourtney’s bridal portraits, and I am so excited to finally be able to share them with you! I’m looking forward to shooting more portraits and events at this venue in the future.

Love Me Simply Photography Bridal Session

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Why the Daily Photo Challenge / 365 Project / Photo-a-Day Assignment Isn’t For Everyone (and my issues with oversharing in an oversaturated digital world)

I know there are a lot of people who are really into these “projects.” I have friends who are. This is not a diss on you! I love seeing all of your lovely photos and I love when you commit to something and follow through (if it actually is meaningful to you to do so). And if you’re doing something like photographing your child every single day, I do see a lot of value in that because our precious babes grow up so quickly (side note: I’m participating in a film challenge that involves using just one roll in one sitting to photograph your child once a month and I’m so excited about the group of photographers also involved in this community– a manageable and fun learning experience)!

This post, however, is all about what I personally learned after intentionally setting out to take at least one photo per day myself for the last month.

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Engagement Photography in North Carolina | Coffee Shops + Baseball & Softball + Outdoor Adventures = LOVE

Exactly three months from today, two of the most beautiful souls, both inside and out, get married. In three months, John and Kourtney become a family, officially, in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.

Photographing love, in every shape and form, is my absolute favorite. So much so, that I wrote my manifesto about what love means to me.

I met John and Kourtney in 2013, and shortly after, John asked me to secretly photograph his proposal to Kourtney at sunrise in December (BRRR!). It was such a special life moment to be a part of!!

Last Fall, I had the pleasure of shooting their engagement photos, and let me tell you, it was amazing!!! The three of us worked SO very hard to make sure it was so uniquely THEM, with a special meaning behind every bit of it. We spent three hours together and went to three different locations!

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