Friday, February 6, 2015

So, You're Nine. A letter to my baby girl.

Dear Daughter,

Last night before bed you asked me if I would get up early to make your Birthday Pancakes.  I said I wasn't sure if I'd feel up to it because I've been so sick.  In my head though,  I was overjoyed that something I started just a couple of years ago is something you actually look forward to every birthday. One thing I've done right. :) I KNEW I was making them. I already had the sprinkles and frosting ready and waiting. I've done nothing but think about this day for weeks. Months really.

For months I've thought about your birthday, but for the past couple of weeks it has really dawned on me that you were going to be NINE. Nine years old.  I'll say it every year from now until eternity, but time seriously goes too fast. Nine is halfway to Eighteen.  Halfway to you being a legal adult venturing out into the world on your own. Excuse me, while I cry. Again.

Last night I cried myself to sleep. It was a weird cry. It was filled with a mix of joy, sadness, grief, excitement, and terror.

 I'm overjoyed to be your mother. How could I not be? You're beautiful, smart, funny, generous, thoughtful, strong willed,  determined and adventurous. You give me so much to be proud of. Watching you (and your brother) grow have been the most joyful moments of my life.

I was saddened because its all happening too fast. I only have nine years left before you're leaping from the 'nest' to go soaring off into your own life.  You say you're never leaving me, and I'll gladly hold on to that sweet delusion as long as humanly possible, but I know its coming. My heart is already anticipating the strange proud/empty feeling. I'm not ready. These past nine years have flown by and I know there is nothing I can do to slow down the next nine.  If you can help it, try to take your time.

The grief is just good old fashioned Mom guilt making an appearance. I'm grieving for all the days we've already wasted butting heads. You and I are more alike that I'd like to admit sometimes. You may get your inner clown from your dad, and even a good dose of that stubbornness. But so much of that is from me too. You're only nine and we've still got the teenage years ahead of us. I grieve for the time we've wasted being angry with one another. Yelling, fighting...  Lets try to do less of that, okay?  I'm sorry for any time I made you feel like you weren't absolute perfection to me. I know there are times when I have. I'll always regret those moments.  I know I was doing my best at the time, because hasn't always been easy (You are, after all, your Mother's strong willed daughter), but I want you to know that no matter what conflict arises between us in these next nine years, you are wonderful and perfect to me and I will ALWAYS love you.

I'm so excited to see you grow into the wonderful young woman you'll be. I'm excited to see what's in store for your future, all the things you'll want to try, to learn, to experience. I cannot wait to witness the milestones you'll reach in these next few years. It will be an honor to see you experience life and really enjoy all the wonderful things this world has to offer. It's all so exciting and I look forward to sharing every moment with you that you'll let me. I know I won't get to see them all. But I hope you'll let me try.  It thrills me to see you grow, learn, and figure out what makes you happy. I always want to be a witness to your journey.

The terror. There's no other word for it. I'm completely terrified. Those teenage years I mentioned earlier? Ugh.  There are so many things I'm scared of, so I'm going to ask some favors of you so that those years are less dreadful for me. It's the least you could do (I did, after all, give you life).   First thing I ask is that you always, always ALWAYS talk to me. Come to me when you're scared, angry, outraged, sad, excited, thrilled, nervous, happy, heartbroken. I want to be a part of it all.  I may not always seem happy about it, because there will be things that are hard to hear, but I will always come from a place of love. If you're in trouble, come to me. I will always be there to help you and be on your side. Even if you're totally wrong. I'll tell you you're wrong, but I'll still support you and love you and help you find your way again. I will always be your safe place no matter where I am.  If you're hurt, come to me. If you're excited, happy, proud,  I want to hear about it.  You get the idea. But trust me little one, no one loves you more than Mom does.

Dads love might come pretty close, so you talk to him too. Take advantage of your parents experiences in life. Take our advice when its really important, and at least consider it when it's something small. Dad and I always have your best interests at heart. You are a part of us, we love you more than we love ourselves. Don't ever forget that.

So, You're Nine. Halfway to adult.  It's kind of fitting that I'm wrapping up this letter right around the time you were born nine years ago today. One of the very best days of my life. I never knew my heart could double in an instant.  Happy Ninth Birthday "Monkey". I love you More than all these words can come close to expressing.

Love Always,

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Senior Models | Hampton Roads Photographer

This Year I've Started my Senior Model Program.  I'm very new to  Hampton Roads. We are a Military Family and move more often than most. So, I wanted a way to get my name out there, get some upcoming seniors to know my name, and have some FUN in the process.  So,  I grabbed some gorgeous Junior Girls (and one Freshman), teamed up with BlueGreenAqua Boutique in Williamsburg for some amazing clothing and accessories, along with XOXO pet Rescue Inc. in Hayes VA , and got to Shooting. You can go to my FACEBOOK page to see the Album filled with Adult Dogs in need of adoption from XOXO : HERE
You won't be sorry you did. <3 Those Dogs are so precious and in need of Some Love.

I can't Tell you how excited I was to work with all these stunning girls. Each One of them has a fun and unique personality and I'm so grateful to have them on my Team! It was a Long Day of Prepping before Shooting, as with any Styled Session and they all handled it with grace. Then came the crazy Busy Beach on the LAST DAY of SPRING BREAK. It was 85 degrees so you can imagine the crowd. Add 8 dogs, their foster parents... It was Glorious Chaos. These girls? Rocked it. 
Check them Out!
I just <3  
just a little fun.
This Dog just happened by our Shoot. And of Course we needed to borrow her. HELLO! She's PINK.

Stunning Lundie
Besties! Justina and Hannah
Justina Striking a Pose. <3
I'm certain they all think I'm NUTS. They can't all be wrong. 

Add caption
Isn't Taylor Gorgeous?

Am I lucky or What?
Kayla is so Spunky and Sweet. <3 
Hannah... This girl is Gorgeous. <3

Another couple of Bests. <3 You can feel the Love. 
Jordan is such a Beauty, I'm such a Lucky Photog. 
These girls will be gracing my Blog and my Website quite a bit and I look Forward to getting to know each of them throughout the 2015 School Year!! Keep an Eye out for their upcoming Model sessions and Styled Shoots! I don't think I'll be able to get enough!  

Thank you to the Girls and Their amazing parents for letting them be a part of my Program and for their participation with the Shoot for XOXO Pet Rescue Inc. I hope all the Dogs find Homes! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Photoshop and Young Women's self image | Yorktown Senior Portrait Photographer

I'll start this off by saying, I'm not bashing Target. I love Target. Target loves me. Or they should, my debit card and Target's card machine have a very close relationship.  Like family.  Even after the security debacle and having to change my card info :( This post is less about Target itself, but about the role mainstream media plays in the self-image of young girls and Women. 

This is an image of a serious photoshop fail on the part of one of Target's employees. They got a little overzealous with trying to create the "thigh gap" on a teen model in one of their bikinis.   Pretty sure no woman is born this way.  Actually, it looks really painful.

below is a link to the article:

I believe photographing women, especially young women, is such a delicate business. I don't believe in making women look like some crazy ideal of what the mainstream media says is beauty. Making girls feel inadequate because they can't get that perfect "thigh gap" or waif like limbs is insanity. Those things are unattainable unless you were born that way. It's not REAL. I like to photograph them how they are, highlight their best features, show them how beautiful they ARE. Not how they "should be". 
Proper posing, can't stress that enough. Posing makes a huge difference and any photographer who is paying attention should adjust their client to a more flattering position if something is off. Sometimes thats more difficult, and isn't always easy or possible. We adjust and honestly, we toss the ones that are unflattering. You don't pay us to give you a gross photo of yourself. Trust me to know what looks good.  Know that if its not a good photo, you won't ever have to look at it. :) .  And please know, I LOVE photoshop. Photoshop is my Jam. For real. For some things.  Part of my editing process includes removal of blemishes and minor skin smoothing. Those are temporary things that are a part of life but aren't who we are. I don't edit out freckles or scars (scars only if specifically asked, like a new scar or something) because that's who you are. I generally DON'T Make people skinnier, make thighs smaller or waists tinier.... Love who you are and celebrate it. Admire it.  

And girls... No matter what you are critical about now, 15 years down the road, guaranteed you'll look back at the photographs of you now and be amazed at how awesome you look. I've uttered the words "UGH! I wish I still looked like that". And back then? I didn't think so highly of my teenage self.  I wish I had. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Turning 8 and The Green Room | Virginia Photographer

So, my baby just turned 8 last week. EIGHT!! I am emotional as it is, but having my tiny little baby turn a year older and no longer even resemble a baby? Total mix of emotions. Pride, amazement, wonder and dread all rolled into one ball of tears.  Her Birthday was on a week day, so we made some Birthday Cake Pancakes to start the day off right. I think its safe to say she liked them.

I snagged her for about 3 minutes of freezing cold around the corner before the bus came to whisk her off to school.  She suffers from PCS (Photographers Child Syndrome), so her time in front of the camera is always interesting.  I'll start off with her true colors...

People in our neighborhood have dogs. Lots of Dogs. And not all of them carry poo bags when they walk them. We call this poo avoidance or  an "interpretive dance" if you will: Dear People, Please Pick Up Your Dog's Poop. 

I did manage to get some of her pretty face. Even though it was windy :)


Isn't she gorgeous? I think so :)  

One of the lovely perks of "growing up" is changing your FAVORITE color. Her room was a ton of colors but super heavy on the pink. Who doesn't love pink? Well, now her favorite color is GREEN. The thing she wanted the most for her Birthday was to redecorate her room, with green being the focus. Here are a couple before photos from the iPhone. 

Kinda looks like Pink threw up. In a good way. 
Her boring Headboard before: ME
After lots of searching for elements, I finally got everything around to redecorate. Starting with the Headboard. I love it. I want it.
Headboard AFTER me. I really love the rose buttons :)

Theres still pink. But way less.

Her little art corner, with reupholstered chair :)
I didn't want to have to get rid of these, so we kept the pink and yellow accents

She LOVES her new GREEN ROOM!!! So do I. Makes me want to redecorate the other rooms of the house. :)

Not only did she get a green room, but she got a green Party too. Those photos later :) 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Looking for Fabulous 2015 Senior Representatives! | Yorktown Senior Photographer

Attention JUNIORS!!! I’m looking for Outgoing, Fabulous, and Ambitious Seniors from the Class of 2015 to represent Atlanta Hernandez Photography!

Applications Due No later than February 31st 2014! *

From a HS Junior | Young Love Sweetheart Session 

What do I have to DO?

1.     You must currently be a 2014 High School Junior, Graduating in 2015.
2.     You must live and attend school within 30 miles of 23692
3.     You and your parents must agree to only promote Atlanta Hernandez Photography for Senior Portraits from the time you accept, through the 2015 school year.
4.     You must participate in a FREE 45 minute mini-portrait session, booked at my discretion within the Months of April, May, June, or July 2014.  Session will include a maximum of two outfits.
5.      You must have a valid, active Facebook account for sharing and tagging images.
6.     You will receive 3-5 Facebook profile images with my logo-information, which you must tag my business page in, and use for 6 months. You may change between the provided images. You will also be provided with a FB timeline cover to use in lieu of the profile image, but one of the two must be utilized.
7.     You will be provided with Rep Cards with your images and my contact information to give to your friends.
8.     Your parents MUST sign a Model release allowing Atlanta Hernandez Photography to use your images for marketing and promotional materials.

What’s in it for ME?

1.     Did I mention FREE mini session?!  You will receive approximately 10 images from this session that will be used to market for Atlanta Hernandez Photography throughout the year.
2.     After 3 booked/paid referrals you will get a FREE Senior Portrait session lasting 1-2 hours and up to 3 outfits, that will provide even MORE images. Approximately 20.  This includes a digital proofing gallery and 50 % off of all prints and products including the purchase of High Resolution non-watermarked digitals with printing rights.
3.     Senior Spotlight Blog Post, featuring your fabulous self, and all of your interests and hobbies to share with family and friends.

What else? That can’t be it

*  After 5 Booked and paid referrals you will receive a $25 gift card to your location of choice.
*     After 10 Booked and paid referrals you will receive a $50 gift card.
*     Everyone you refer will receive 24 wallets, FREE with their session.

Head on over to my website to fill out the  Application!! 

* limited # of Juniors will be chosen from each school. Not all who apply will be accepted.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Young Love, a picnic basket, and sitting on handlebars- Yorktown VA Photographer

I snagged this sweet young couple for a Valentine's day Sweetheart session and I really just can't get enough of this.  I mean, seriously they are so freakin adorable I can't stand it.  :)  Wouldn't it be lovely to be young again, having picnics complete with lemonade in jars and riding on handlebars down by the beach? They had longboards too, but we tried to follow the rules that were posted. I'm kind of glad Brandon noticed.  Kind of. But, what kind of example would I be if I permitted breaking the posted rules?  Even for a photo op. Ohhhhh being a responsible adult really is no fun sometimes.

Even without the longboards we managed to get some great images and have fun while we did it! Thanks so much you two!

My FAVEorite

Or maybe this one... I love this one. 

I've been wanting to get my name out there for upcoming High School Seniors in Hampton Roads, and Offering these sessions for Valentine's day seemed like a really fun way to do it!  Keep a lookout for things to come because I'm cooking up some ideas for a Senior Rep Program and it should be pretty dang great. At least it is in my head. ;) Most things that are bouncing around in there are pretty awesome (If I do say so myself).