A BOY AND HIS TOYS…..AJ TURNS FOUR!

So AJ turned 4 in August…we were coming off of our family cruise and his birthday was right around the corner. In the past – I’ve partnered with my fave photographer who has shot AJ since birth...and we’ll come up with great ideas and places to shoot their annual photo shoot. But this time – I was tired and out of ideas…and tired. So I called Erica and decided we would shoot AJ in his element….at home…in his playroom…and with his toys. He had 7-day old pool hair, but I didn’t care…I had a tradition of capturing my kids turning a year older – and this was as real as it was going to get. And I loved everything about this session. We pulled out his favorite car, grabbed his Lightning McQueen jacket and he went to work.

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Of course Bobbi would want in – so she went and dressed herself to get photos with her little brother in their favorite part of the house – their playroom.

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I loved that we used our home setting…there will be some point where there is no playroom because they will be all grown up. So capturing what their environment looks like at this age is just as important as capturing them. We used our garage for the shots of him and his dinosaurs….and the front of our home for his race car scene.

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AJ at 4 is your typical active little boy. His growth from toddler boy to big boy is pretty awesome to see. He loves all things Paw Patrol, obsessed with Hot Wheels…and loves animals. As someone who is fearful of dogs – it makes me happy to see how comfortable he is with animals. I did not want him to take that part of me! He’s in his last year of pre-school and although he’s the youngest in the class – he is holding his own. I love that he still shows that he needs me and wants hugs – just not kisses. When I kiss him on the lips – he wipes it off…and gives his head – not even his cheek. Who wants to kiss hair??

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My baby boy is no longer a baby….so I am soaking in EVERY minute. I’m enjoying this stage of growing pains, occasional temper tantrums, picky eating, and innocent fun. This is Amarii Joseph Metelus…my son!

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FIVE AND FIERCE: BOBBI ELLE’S BIRTHDAY PHOTO SHOOT

She’s FIVE…and FIERCE!!!!

Bobbi Elle turning the BIG 5 is bittersweet to me. I just pushed her out yesterday! Where did the time go???  It was not long ago when I shared on this blog my pregnancy announcement:  The Sperm Done Met The Egg.

Many of you have been on this journey with me and have seen her growth.  Doesn’t it make you feel old watching someone else’s child grow up?? Happens to me all the time!

Turning five is a major milestone. Definitely more for me than her.  I mean…she starts real school this year!  I no longer have a little girl. I can barely pick her up at this point – she dresses herself and there are major meltdowns if I attempt to choose anything for her. She’s super independent, knows what she wants and will verbalize it in detail for ALL to understand. If you follow her on any of my social media platforms, then you know that she is a spirited child with a huge personality. While she’s still into her Disney Princesses, she’s also now very much into ratchet music.  And while I’m sad to see her shed the baby girl vibe that I once knew…I’m so excited to see her coming into her own!

For her birthday photo shoot this year – we went with a big girl grown-ish vibe while still capturing the innocence and sweetness of a being a girl. The scene was Lincoln Road on Miami Beach. We used Laduree’s Bakery as our setting…they were sooo awesome to allow us to shoot her there. Plus – we racked up on macaroons (my fave) and espressos. It was a win-win!

Here are some of my favorite shots from our Breakfast At Tiffany’s inspired photoshoot – thanks to Erica Melissa.

We also did shots of her in a fun look – the halter top rose petal shirt that Bobbi was obsessed with!!  Listen…you couldn’t tell her that she wasn’t modeling for Vogue!

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Since her birthday falls a few days before Valentine’s Day – I always get my two loves in a few shots together…sharing a few of those here: Sibling Love: Valentines 2018. Also – check out her Mad Hatter Tea Party/Birthday Party!

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A PICTURE PERFECT LOVE: VALENTINE’S DAY PHOTO SHOOT

SIBLING LOVE!

To witness their love is truly a blessing. There is something about sibling love that is a beautiful mess. These two argue and fight like cats and dogs…but to see them show each other love and be affectionate with each other makes playing referee between the two – worth it.

There’s is no way I can do a photo shoot with one without the other wanting to get in on the fun. So a few years ago, I started the Valentine’s Day theme around Bobbi Elle’s birthday shoot to make it fun and have awesome photo keepsakes.  Last year we did a beach theme and one year we had a kissing booth.  I totally get into this and so do they – until one day, they won’t 🙁

Here are some of my faves from our Valentine’s Day 2018 photo shoot.

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Amarii Joseph:  3 years old

Bobbi Elle:  5 years old

Photography by:  Erica Melissa

Styled by:  Toni Lowe

Scene:  Somewhere on Lincoln Road

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10 TIPS FOR NAILING AN EPIC TODDLER PHOTO SHOOT

Yes…I take a lot of photos of my kids!  I’m currently organizing my iphoto library that currently stands at 43,786...just me?

I also do a ton of photo shoots.  I’ve done one for each child’s birthday….hell – I even did a birth journey shoot for AJ…so he’s been captured since out the womb!  Maternity shoots, holiday photos, even Mother’s Day shoots.  It helps that I’m married to a photographer…actually – that has nothing to do with it.  He’s no help.

I just love the idea of seeing my kids’ personalities flourish and seeing their growth thru photos.  And until they tell me they’re over it…I plan to keep it going as long as possible.  So after taking part in so many of these sessions – I’m sharing my thoughts on what helps our sessions go smoothly – as much as possible.

Here are my 10 tips for nailing an epic toddler photo shoot:

1. FIND THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER:  Find a photographer that you AND your kids are comfortable with…and that may be hard if this is your first go around…but there’s a lot you can tell in a photographer just by having a simple conversation with them. I personally love going with a woman (no shade to my husband) but there is a particular sensibility they have with kids – especially if they have their own.  They know how to deal.

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2. PICK THE RIGHT TIME:  Find the right time to shoot.  Our go-to time has been around 4 PM. Especially in Miami when we shoot outside..we don’t want to be too hot..and the lighting is usually perfect at that time. Plus, it turns into an event because we always end up going to dinner together as a family afterward – which is a nice treat.  Hey – you have hair and makeup done anyway – might as well put the look to use.
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3. DON’T FORGET THE NECESSITIES: Comb, brush, hair clips, etc….there’s always a need to fix something up on set.

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4. BRING PROPS:  Use some of your kids’ favorite toys, books, blankets for the shoot. It makes them feel more comfortable, but it also allows you to capture that item for a lifetime….long after it hits the Goodwill pile.

Trunk-or-Treatl Halloween 2017; One Balanced Mama
Trunk-or-Treatl Halloween 2017; One Balanced Mama

5. SNACKS, SNACKS, AND MORE SNACKS:  Make sure you feed them right before the shoot – but bring plenty of snacks along the way. Food sometimes is the cure to fussiness so you want to have their favorites close by. Don’t be surprised if snacks become a prop in the photo…just roll with it. I did a shoot with Bobbi that featured goldfish cookies.

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6.  CHANGE OF CLOTHES:  Whatever your child shoots in – they probably won’t want to stay in.  So make sure you have comfortable clothing that they can switch into. Speaking of clothes…it’s always cool to shoot in two different looks…it allows for variation…so I usually will do a themed look or dressy look – followed by a casual look. More bang for your buck.

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7.  CURATE A PLAYLIST:  As in – their favorite Disney songs.  The same way music affects our moods as adults…same for kids…so download the latest Disney movie soundtrack – and watch your child light up for the shoot. The soundtrack for Sing, Beauty and the Beast and Trolls are my go to…but my daughter also loves Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas song – so I’ll throw that on to get her to perk up and flash that gorgeous smile of hers.  Even in February.

Trunk-or-Treatl Halloween 2017; One Balanced Mama

8.  CONTINGENCY PLAN:  If you plan to shoot outdoors, make sure you have a Plan B…as Andre 3 Stacks so eloquently sang – “but you can’t predict the weather.”
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9.  PACK YOUR PATIENCE:  Your little one will absolutely act like a nut.  Just roll with it.  Sometimes the best photos are the ones that capture real moments. So if you’re little one is acting up – let them be!  Capture the moment of your life, cause that’s what is real.  If you end up not getting that perfect shot…as long as you and your family are in it – then its picture perfect!
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10.  VIDEO:  I always like to whip out my iPhone to shoot behind the scenes of what’s happening.  Or I’ll ask one of my family members to come with us to do just that.  Photos are incredible – but there’s nothing like seeing footage from the shoot and to have it for your archives.

MOST IMPORTANT TIP:

ENJOY THE MOMENT:  Be goofy…be candid…be free…this is a moment in time and it should be fun for the whole family.  Don’t lose sight of that!

Trunk-or-Treatl Halloween 2017; One Balanced Mama

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