Family is everything.
As a Family Portrait Photographer I am lucky enough to capture the love and joy of many Jacksonville and St Augustine, FL families. Maternity Portraits, sweet Newborn Portraits, and of course Family Portraits. My job is to capture love. And it's amazing.
Making the decision, to open your home. To love, take care of babies and children. To foster. This is a huge decision. A decision purely from the heart.
Two friends of mine a few years ago, made this decision. They loved and cared for many little lives during their time as Foster parents. Their boys treated each little life as a sibling.
But, over a year ago, they took on twins. A baby boy and baby girl. Who were barely thriving. Truthfully, the sweet little Baby J had been marked, failure to thrive. Dave and Liz took them in. Nursed them back to health. To happy, chunky, sweet little babies. Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? 100% yes.
As they took care of them, these little babies became family. And when it was possible, after 307 days in their home and their hearts, these baby B and baby J became family. Dave and Liz became parents of 5. Four boys, 1 girl. And I was lucky enough to be there to help capture this special moment. My first time capturing an adoption and their wasn't a dry eye as you could see the joy and love this family had.
So, on this Monday, see their joy. Their love. Their new complete family.
"Look how far you've come."
Looking back is a great way to remind yourself, even if you're not where you want to be, you're not where you were. I do this with Weight Watchers (yep, I'm trying to get healthy) and I often have to do this with my Photography journey.
It's hard not to fall into the comparison trap at times. No matter what area of your life (Mom life is hard, but no mom is perfect, but that's another blog for another time). So, I decided today is a great day to remind myself, that I have grown as I started this Photography Journey. I am still growing. Still learning. I still have workshops I want to attend, video workshops I need to watch, learning to do. But I am SO thankful for my amazing clients. Especially those who have stuck with me as I grow.
I am currently working on a 1st Birthday session (check out Facebook or Instagram for sneaks of this adorable cutie) and this amazing family has been with me many years. 6 and a half to be exact. And yes, God bless them for staying with me as I grew.
So, I decided, for those wishing they were farther along in their journey. I would share my growth. Go ahead and do a Flashback Friday of your own. See how far you've come. In whatever goal you are pursuing.
Want to know more about a Watch Me Grow plan for your little one? Click the button below!
Wanderlust Wednesday | Easy Family Trips from Jacksonville | Savannah, Ga | Traveling Family Portrait Photographer | Jacksonville Family Photographer
"Not all who wander are lost."
We've all seen that quote. We've all scrolled past gorgeous beaches, mountain hikes, clear blue waters and international travel photos and thought to ourselves, "I want to go there."
I don't know about you but travel is in my blood. If I could travel enough to make this a weekly post I would. No doubt. 100%.
And yes, my dream would be when my girls are older to travel more and photograph everything. Be a travel photographer. Combine my two loves. Granted, most of the time when I try to capture the world around me at some amazing location, I end up looking at my image and thinking, "You know, if I had a family standing right there this would be amazing."
Earlier this month, we took a mini vacay to Savannah, Ga. An easy drive from Jacksonville, this is pretty much a perfect place to getaway, but not too far. For me, the tree lined streets, beautiful historic buildings are a draw, but what about my girls? They have yet to look at an old house and say, "wow, that's gorgeous." (more often they say, "Mom, why do you like old things?")
When we decided on this location, I did my homework. I know my kids. I know what they like. And since we only had one afternoon and one full day there where we needed to entertain them, I didn't have to plan too much. So, here are the three places we went. Why my girls loved it, and a few more ideas in case your stay is just a little longer.
1. Savannah Children's Museum
Ok, so since I love old buildings, and my girls love children's museums (somehow they have been to quite a few in their short little lives. BTW,Orlando is their favorite) this place was a win-win.
Located inside an old train yard, the whole thing is outside right now. (BUT they have plans for what looks AH-MAZE-ING for an indoor space in the future). Slides, blocks of all shapes and sizes, a garden, a maze, my girls enjoyed it. Luckily, we went her when it first opened so it wasn't too hot yet and we had some shade to sit in while the girls ran and played. A perfect morning outing for kids of all ages.
2. Georgia State Railroad Museum
Website: Georgia State Railroad Museum
RIGHT next door to the Children's Museum (and actually you have to walk right past the trainhouse to get to the Children's Museum) in the same awesome historic structure is the Railroad Museum. Now, most boys I know about age 3 LOVE Trains. If that's your kid, then yes, this is awesome. My girls actually liked it too. Tour an old fancy rail car, see lots of old engines, there is an air-conditioned play space with toy railroad sets, and of course a ride on an old Steam engine. Complete with riding the turn table, which is somehow the best part. It's neat to watch them load her, here her whistle and even though the tour isn't long and has lots of facts and info for adults, its a train ride. So, my girls were still happy they went. (and yes, I do make my girls stand in random pockets of light if it makes a pretty photo)
**NOTE: We got a deal for three museums. I didn't get photos of the History Museum (which is all air conditioned if you visit during the summer) and there is a hands on-dress up area for little ones, which my girls would have liked a few years ago. But at 7 and 9. They were all about the Scavenger hunt. So adults got to learn more about Civil War times, history of Savannah and such, and the girls found all the items to earn a cheap toy, that they were happy about. So, well played History Museum peeps.
3. Fort Pulaski
Website: Fort Pulaski National Monument
This one is mainly for any kids who love exploring tunnels, old buildings, seeing cannons AND if you're like my kid (must get every Junior Ranger badge). Doing a Scavenger hunt for a badge. Fort Pulaski is an old Fort. Plain and simple. The tunnels are cool, large jail area to explore, lots of History, but really for the kids. Head to the gift shop and ask the Ranger for the Packet for their age. (NOTE: If your kid is age 9 and up, there's a question about the location of the TWO Pecan trees. Well, one got taken out in Hurrican Matthew. So there's only one. Don't spend more time searching for the tree like we did, lol) Then they tour the fort, answer the questions and get a lovely plastic badge after saying a pledge. Reward for learning history. Score!
And since this is my blog and I got up early one morning to capture sunrise in Savannah, here are a few images. Just of Savannah, mainly the Riverfront area as that's where our Hotel was.
Not perfect images, but I did enjoy doing this and may make it a habit everywhere we travel. That sunrise light in a city is BEAUTIFUL!
Lifestyle Newborn Photographer | Introducing: Baby Lucas | Welcome Little One | Newborn Photography | Jacksonville FL Newborn Photographer
"Your first breath took ours away"
A newborn is pure sweetness, pure joy, pure love. I am honored and blessed each and every time a family welcomes me into their home to capture their newest addition with a Lifestyle Newborn Portrait session. It is hard to believe that my job is photographing the tiniest of lives. The love and joy of their parents, the details of their nursery. Interaction with their siblings (human and furry), tiny smiles, sweet feet and all the details of a Newborn.
So, if seeing a beautiful newborn session filled with love, puppy kisses and an absolute adorable new little man will make your Monday better, then you're welcome. And scroll to the bottom to view the slideshow with some live video of this adorable little man and his family.
Thank you Anglemire family for allowing me to capture this amazing time in life.
Enjoy the Now | Summer Blog Post | Wanderlust Wednesday | Family Fun | Jacksonville FL Family Photographer
I realized yesterday, we have one month...
Actually, less than one month. On August 10th, it's back to school time here. Back to schedules, homework, after school activities and the busyness of the school year. Though, I realize in many ways my family does better with schedules, the idea of no more free time is hard.
Now, as a WAHM, I'm looking forward to hours to workout, edit, work on SEO, accounting, and all that encompasses running a business alone in solace. Having the house cleaned, photos edited quickly, all of it.
BUT, I also know, they aren't little long. Soon, summers will be filled with friends not family. Doing something with mom won't be interesting. Family time will come at a premium. So, I need to enjoy the now. (As hard as it is when they are fighting all day long).
I don't know what was on your kids' Summer Bucket List, but I know there are a few things we haven't done yet. (If you want a printable Summer Bucket List for you to fill out, check this one out from Thirty Handmade Days )
1. Glow Stick Pool Party (or kick it up a notch and throw in a movie)
Dollar store finds for night time fun. Throw some glow sticks, glow beach balls, and basically anything that glows into the pool to light the night for a night swim.
Want to kick it up a notch? Hang up a Sheet or drag out a TV for a movie in the pool! (we are actually checking this baby off our list tomorrow) Night time summer fun the kids will remember. And probably want to make a tradition.
2. Take a Mini Vacay
Whether you stay at a local hotel for a night or two to enjoy the pool and pretend to be travelers OR travel to a nearby destination for a short one or two night Vacation with your littles. ALL kids love hotels. The elevators, pools, even if they're sleeping on a pull out couch, they don't care, it's all fun.
We went to Savannah, Ga (an easy day trip from here). Saw the sights, had fun, and checked off the "stay at a hotel" part of my girl's bucket list. Done and done.
3. Go Bowling
Now, I get it. This doesn't really sound like a summer bucket list item. But, here in Florida on those rainy afternoons, this is a perfect fun field trip with the kiddos! Air conditioned fun too.
Want to save money? BowlAmerica has their Summer Blast Pass give kids grades 12 and under and their parents TWO free games, every day, every week. You just have to sign up!
To sign up, head to the BowlAmerica website.
4. Go Camping
Whether at many of the State Parks nearby within a short drive, on the beach at Anastasia Island or in your own backyard. Kids LOVE camping. Smores by the fire, sleeping in a tent, "ghost" stories (amount of scare depends on age of kids). I loved camping as a kid, and sadly, I haven't actually taken my girls yet. But we are making plans to change that. Sure, it may be in September and school may have started, but I can easily get them in the backyard one night for a practice round!
5. Get some Air.
We are FILLED with places around Jacksonville and St Augustine to let our little ones jump and play. If your little still naps, a morning of jumping is perfection! Older kids? Give them an afternoon to help tire them out. (follow it by camping in the yard or a glow stick swim to qualify as "best mom ever" having planned a fun filled day). I've been to many of these, but not all. And I know there are more than I have listed here. But check them out (click the name to head to the website) and let them play!
Rebounderz: Trampolines, American Ninja Warrior Course, Climbing Wall, Laser Tag, and more. You can easily spend a whole day here (but you pay by the hour).
JumpStreet: Live near the beaches? We got you covered. My girls enjoyed it, BUT if you have older more active kiddos, this may not be best. Still though, lots of places to jump and even some dodgeball fun!
JumpZone: Inflatable jumping fun, but with slides, bounce houses and more (all air conditioned) OP has some bouncing fun too.
Bounce A Roo: This is a must do for my girls. Basically, anywhere with a hug indoor play structure, my girls have to check it out.
Slinkees: We haven't been yet this summer, but we've been in the past. Lots of bounce houses, an arcade and even a play area for the little ones.
There are SO many more things to do. But really, just ask your little ones. It may be as easy as a scavenger hunt and indoor tent building, or a trip to Rita's. Make moments. Because those moments turn into memories.
Atlantic Beach Fl Maternity Portraits | Waiting on Blue | Maternity Photography | Jacksonville FL Maternity Portraits
"Preparing 9 months for a love that will last a lifetime."
Capturing the beauty in waiting for a new little life makes my heart sing. Capturing the love, connection and beauty during a gorgeous summer sunrise? Even better.
The night before I had closed out a Watch Me Grow baby asI captured his first birthday. Then I woke up, to begin a new Watch Me Grow plan. I met a new mom and dad to be as they wait to meet their little man. They will become a family of three. Sleepless nights, endless diapers will come, but with it baby coos, sleepy smiles, tiny hands clutching your finger and all the wonder that comes with a new little life. All that makes everything worth it. Something so small, that takes up so much room in your heart.
I can't wait to meet this little man when he makes his arrival and capture all his milestones as he grows and changes his first year. But till then, here are some of my favorites from the sunrise Maternity Session in Atlantic Beach, FL.
Baby's First Year...
It flies by. I realize when you're in the throw of sleepless nights, endless feedings, diaper changes and everything it may not seem that way. But just like that, they're one. They are walking, beginning to talk, developing their own little personalities and growing. Way too fast.
I am lucky enough to have been able to document Aaron's first year with my Watch Me Grow plan.
Capturing everything from waiting on his arrival, newborn all the way thru his first year. Watching him grow, change, smile, sit and scoot. Tears, giggles, kisses from big brother, tickles from mom. Chubby hands and chubby feet. I got it all.
So, enjoy Aaron's First Year Video, then keep scrolling for favorite images from his 12 Month Session. Oh, and there's a surprise at the end too. :-)
I wasn't just lucky enough to capture Aaron's first year, but also his big brother Isaac's first year as well. And then some.... So, sit back, watch my work change as the Pitchford family grows. Thank you so much Pitchford family for letting me capture all these memories.
How to Capture Amazing Fireworks | Tips and Tricks | Fireworks Photos | Jacksonville FL Family Photographer
Tomorrow's the day!
But let's be honest. Most people started enjoying fireworks and sparklers on Friday night. It's 4th of July weekend so why not? Of course, many are attending a BBQ today filled with family fun, food and all things summer.
Whether you are celebrating tonight, tomorrow or both, I wanted to be sure you know how to capture those awesome sparklers and fireworks shots. Whether your shooting with a DSLR or a Phone. It's all in the name of fun right?
I've had a crazy weekend capturing an amazingly gorgeous wedding (sneaks and more later), and I'm not a fin of reinventing the wheel. What did I do last year when I wanted to capture photos of my girls celebrating the 4th of July? I googled it of course.
So, here are two of the best blogs I found with tips and tricks for the beginner or a pro. So you can capture summer memories.
If you use your DSLR, have a tripod and consider yourself a pro or a pro hobbiest, then this blog post will be helpful for you by Digital Photography School.
Now, if you're just planning to use your phone to print later, turn into a Summer Memories book with Mosaic Photo Books by MixBook, share on Facebook or Instagram then check out this blog post by Techlicious.
Keep scrolling to check out what I captured last year with my camera (I'm still learning this, but hey it's for family memories). And PLEASE share your images with me on FB or you can tag @mcoarseyphotography and use #mcp_fireworks so I can check out all the awesomeness. And even share my favorites! I won't be able to capture any until tomorrow, but I can't wait to see what everyone gets!
Happy 4th of July (on the 3rd) and happy shooting!
Wedding Wednesday | Kenwood Inn Destination Wedding | Throwback Wedding | St Augustine FL Destination Wedding | St Augustine FL Wedding Photographer
A little throwback..on a Wednesday...
As I work to finish up a small wedding before shooting a large wedding this weekend, I have been in wedding frame of mind.
Most weddings I have been blessed to shoot have been for friends, or previous clients, or even family. I have been blessed by many amazing couples, venues, decor, all of it.
No, I am not a wedding photographer. I mean that in it's not what I do every weekend. But, shooting a gorgeous wedding makes my heart sing...even when editing it.
I LOVE the idea of destination weddings. St Augustine FL is PERFECT for destination weddings with the beach, gorgeous gardens and so many adorable Bed & Breakfasts.
I then remembered a wedding I was lucky enough to capture at a Bed & Breakfast in St Augustine, FL. The wedding was at The Kenwood Inn, which was perfect. Small and sweet, beautiful garden, light inside (and a pool for guests).
Truly a destination wedding as this amazing couple (then and still today), kept it small. Just their kids. I LOVED how it turned out then, and still do to this day. Kara was beautiful, Michael kept it fun, and their boys did wonderful.
So, a little throwback on a Wednesday. Especially for those considering a Destination wedding. St Augustine is perfect for it.
(though if your destination is mountains or somewhere tropical we can talk. I'm in.)
To learn more or see more of the weddings I have been lucky enough to capture, CLICK HERE.
Till next time, Happy Wedding Wednesday!
Blackrock Beach Family Portraits | Jacksonville Family Photographer | The Shaw Family | Melody Coarsey Photography
Lazy days, family fun, pool, beach, life and love.
I love summer. For all these reasons. We often take more time to make memories, take the vacation, go to the pool, soak in the giggles, cuddles and love that seem to pass us by during the school year.
I LOVE summer. But, I especially love summer as I get to work on the beach. How many jobs can say that? It may be sunrise or sunset, but I can soak in God's creation, hear the waves and capture the love and joy of a family with a beautiful background.
I had read about this beach often before this session was scheduled. I knew, without seeing it in person, it would make for an awesome portrait session. I just needed the right family. Who would make the drive north of Jacksonville to play, get wet and soak in all the awesomeness.
When Angel contacted me, I knew she would be in. As a fellow photographer grasping the awesomeness of a location for a session is pretty easy.
Sure the kids were soaked in the end, but they laughed, played, and enjoyed an amazing beach with their parents. And I got to capture it all.
Thank you Shaw family.
**P.S. For more information about Family Portrait sessions click here. OR to go ahead and book a session before summer leaves us, CLICK HERE.