Park Tour Post Heron Harbor Playground

Park Tour Post Heron Harbor Playground Tega Cay, SC

Park Tour Post Heron Harbor Playground Tega Cay, SC

This little jewel has a special place in my mind since my husband and I joined our community in helping put this park together. If you live in Tega Cay you may or may not know that the city asks the neighbors to help whenever possible. And I know what some of you are thinking, “they let random people build the playground equipment?” Yes, they do but don’t worry we had supervision I promise. The city had 2 employees on hand at all times plus on the day of the build the mayor and the head of Tega Cay parks and recreation came out to help as well. While I know it’s a little thing but it was so much fun to help with the build for the Heron Harbor Playground.

As you might expect the men and women decided it best to divide and conquer by handling different jobs to get the playground all ready. This playground build was unique because there was an existing playground in this spot that greatly needed updating. The city came by before the build and took out the old play equipment so they had a blank slate inside the fence to work with. I’m not mechanically inclined so I helped with the grounds work. We spent almost all day trimming the surrounding bushes, shrubs and trees as well as cleaning up the surrounding space. It was great to see so many neighbors out helming the community.

This little neighborhood playground has two slides, a unique climbing feature between the two platforms, a bench for the parents and is fenced in. Heron Harbor Playground also has a small gravel parking lot.

 

Park Tour Post TrailHead Park #1 Tega Cay, SC

Park Tour Post TrailHead Park Tega Cay, SC

Park Tour Post TrailHead Park Tega Cay, SC

We have big, big plans for late 2017 including adding more content here for Moms like regular park tour posts. We are also working on a whole new website for local area Moms. The new website is still under construction but we promise to give you more information about that really soon. Right now we want to talk about the Park Tours and why we want to add them here. We moved to the Fort Mill area just about a year and a half ago with our two boys, who are now three and six. So of course the first thing we did was check out the parks close by. It took quite a little internet surfing to find the best options for my aged children at the time. So while we work on the new webpage (hint we will be making your internet surfing much easier). Lets start our first ever Park Tour Post.

Trailhead Park, Tega Cay, SC

Oh Trailhead Park, how we love you. This is the park everyone sees going into Tega Cay and the first park we took the kids to when we made an offer on our house. Trailhead Park is one of the biggest playgrounds in the area. Lets talk about all the pros/cons this playground has to offer. First pros, it has a real bathroom and water fountain! For all my moms to be and, moms of potty training toddlers, this is a bonus. Trailhead Park has a sandbox. Usually a few random toys are in the box, still we would suggest bringing sand toys (just in case) and the baby powder too. Speaking of, baby powder and sand, does everyone know about the baby powder trick? If not follow this link. Trailhead has swings, two for babies and two for big kid, slides, monkey bars and several other fun climbing features. For the older kids there is a basketball court behind the playground equipment. There are benches for parents to sit on. Picnic tables are available for an outdoor lunch. Trailhead Park is a good starting or ending point for a walk on the town trails. This playground is across the street from the Living Memorial Garden in Tega Cay. If your kids like flowers and short walks it’s worth the trip.

A few Cons there is no fence. If you have a runner or worse, multiple runners, this may not be the spot for you. Second parts of this playground are not an ideal for just learned to walk little ones especially the daredevils.

The Pros definitely out weight the Cons at this local park. If you haven’t been to Trailhead with the kids, you should drive, bike, skateboard or even walk on over.

Pregnancy portraits to Treasure

Pregnancy portraits to Treasure

How have I not blogged this session already. Man I am behind, but today the boys are at summer camp and I’m playing catch up. This beautiful family came to see me while they were waiting for their darling baby girl to arrive. Mom had a few ideas for the baby announcement and dear son had a few ideas of his own so we went with it. What you cannot see in these images are the basketballs and fire trucks he wanted in every photograph. Sweet toddlers are very determined when it comes to sports they love and super heroes they idealize.

Back to the portraits

This sweet family came prepared for an outdoor and indoor sessions the studio and even brought the awesome fire truck. The fire truck was so cool with a working bell and everything. I will not lie I kind of wanted to keep it ;) But my favorite images are the ones I think they will forever treasure. The intimate black and whites portraits that capture that connection between mom and son are just beautiful. The portrait that shows the family waiting and preparing for a new addition are heartwarming. Those are the images that make my heart sing. These pregnancy portraits are the ones that the kids will look at as teenagers and think my mom and dad wanted me so badly you can see it here. My parents love me more than life itself. The beauty of a family waiting for baby gosh I tell you I love this job!

-alicia

 

Fall Family Portraits at the Lake

Fall Family Portraits at the Lake

I met the sweet G family after they entered and won our silent auction raffle for a family session from their son’s school fundraiser. I love to do school fundraisers for two reasons. The number one reason I love school fundraisers is education, education, and of course education. Growing up in North Carolina I know how hard our teachers worked to stretch every penny. Our hard working teachers always appreciate any extra income for our public schools. The second reason I love school fundraisers is because it gives me the chance to meet new families I might not ordinarily meet. I love to meet new people and hear their stories.

Turns out both the G family and our family are fairly new to the Fort Mill, SC area. We also both have boys in kindergarten. It was great connecting with another family going through similar experiences as we are now.

The G family tries to have fall family portraits taken every year. I was really excited to show them all South Carolina has to offer in outdoor fall backdrops. We chose to meet at Windjammer Park in Tega Cay, SC for our fall family portrait session. This location gives the opportunity to use the lake, the sandy beach, the wooded areas with gorgeous fall leaves and beautiful rolling grassy hills. Windjammer was the perfect location to show off South Carolina to the G family. Here are just a few of my favorite images from this session. We got some great fall family portraits for their walls don’t you think? I can’t wait to work with the sweet G family again next fall.

-alicia

 

 

Nina 3 months

Nina 3 months

Sweet Little Nina seems like you were born just yesterday. You are still a tiny little thing at 3 months old. Your older siblings and cousins will always be there too take care of you and they will teach you to be a strong little bird. You are now smiling and laughing and watching your big sister like she is the most amazing thing in the world. I look forward to watching you grow and mature in front of my very eyes. Being your aunt is a privilege I hold most dear. Next time we meet in the studio you will be sitting up and taking in the world from a whole new perspective. The world is your oyster sweet miss Nina and I cannot wait to see what new tricks you have in store for our next milestone portrait session.

-alicia

Ten tips to take better Halloween Photos of your kids

ten tips to better halloween photos of your kids

Everyone wants cute Halloween photos of their children. But lets be real, parents are busy and on Halloween kids are even busier. If they aren’t running away from the costume they picked out and insisted you buy, Or bouncing off the walls with anticipation Or crying because the dress is itchy Or the dragon costume is too hot – I unfortunatly can’t do anything about the costume debacle and in truth my toddler will probably go as himself this year (he refused to be spiderman for our first photo shoot attempt.) But what I can do is offer you a few quick tips to take better Halloween photos of your kids this year.

ten tips for better halloween photos of your kids
Refused to wear his spiderman costume but is still precious.
  1. Camera setting tips: raise your ISO in low light, settings between 400-1600 are your best bet. Above 1600 you are going to get a lot of noise in your images. Some cameras are better than others at higher ISO’s but to be very safe stay at or below 1600. Shutter speed is a big one with kids. The rule of thumb is to never photograph anything without a tripod below 1/60 of a second. For me, in practice, if you are photographing a toddler don’t go below 1/125 of a second. Two year olds are fast and they are never still. Quick side lesson: the smaller the number, 1/125 in this case, the faster the shutter opens and closes and the more it freezes the action.
  2. The easiest way to get great Halloween costume photos of your kids is to take them before dark. I know that probably won’t work for a lot of parents or kids. But like @it’s always autumn suggests. Do a dry run before Halloween. This even gives you a chance to make sure everything fits and works for the door-to-door trick or treating. Plus it is a great way to get awesome Halloween photos without competing with trick or treating.
  3. Take a lot of close ups. Find your focus. By that I mean find the subject of your images and cut out the clutter. Grab those cute expressions all in furry cat ears or vampire makeup and crop out the background noise.
  4. Don’t forget to take some images without the mask on. There is nothing worse than looking back at family photos and thinking I’m not really sure who this little spiderman is.

    ten tips to better halloween photos of your kids
    finally got this kid in costume
  5. Avoid on camera flash if you can. If you are taking photos indoors or hanging out at a Halloween party this tip is especially for you. Yes I know your camera came with a flash, and you are asking yourself aren’t I suppose to use the tools I’m given. Yes and sometimes on camera flash is the only choice you have.
    ten tips to better halloween photos of your kids
    bounce flash at dust

    But for those of you inside turn off that flash or manipulate it. The easiest manipulation for on camera flash is to bounce it off of a white surface. The ceiling or a white 3×5 card and tape are both easy cheap options. In the cases where you are outside and the only way to get the image is with flash soften, diffuse, or scatter the light so you can avoid the red eyes, glasses glare and harsh shadows like in this photo above. Softening the light can be just as easy and cheap as using a Kleenex and a rubber band to soften the flash. Or you can get something more fancy like this on amazon for under $10.

  1. Use available light when ever possible. By this I mean move those kiddos under a streetlight, or a porch light, photograph them looking into candles or playing with glow sticks. This adds interest to your Halloween images and avoids the dreaded flash.
  2. On that same note don’t forget about your flashlights. 95% of the time ghoul lighting is not what you want in snapshots of your children. But at Halloween dressed as actual monsters ghoul lighting is fun and fitting.

    ten tips for better halloween photos of your kids
    Ghoul lighting with a flashlight on Ironman
  3. Carved pumpkin tip. If you are taking photos and want to see that light from inside your pumpkin shine through this tip is for you. First add more light. Most times for a carved Halloween pumpkin one candle is typical, but for photos add a couple more. Or consider a battery-operated light. I’m thinking led will be my best bet and I tried it here. ten tips for better halloween photos of your kidsUse backlighting when possible. For example a dim porch light or side window light will help if it is totally dark outside. An even better idea is to take them at dusk. If you can do this before or after the big night, that way you can get the good light without missing something else photo worthy. The idea behind photographing your pumpkins at dusk is that the outline and orange color will still show. And the beautiful light of dusk won’t over power the candlelight. (Which flash will do).
  1. More of a reminder than a tip but don’t forget to check your camera batteries. Nothing like grabbing your camera on the way out the door and realizing it won’t turn on or you don’t have the right size battery in the house.
  2. Last tip take tons of photographs. Don’t be afraid to try different angles, different perspectives even having the kids turn away from the camera can make for a fun and interesting image. It’s a holiday for kids so have fun with it. The beauty of digital is that we can delete all the bad frames. woohoo!!

-Happy Halloween Alicia



Beach Maternity Portraits

beach maternity portraits color environmental pregnant momma photos

Maternity portraits at the beach

So I had the idea for this environmental maternity portrait session at the beach before she was even expecting. I told my dear friend Jen that if she was to have another little one we needed to get an awesome dress and photograph her at the beach. She had just had a little miracle baby girl at the time and thought for sure her pregnancy days were behind her. When she called and told me she was expecting again I asked what color I should order the dress in. I was not going to wait too late or let her change her mind. It wasn’t until later we realized her perfect pregnancy portrait opportunity window fell in the dead of winter.  We planned this beach maternity portraits session for late February as late as we were comfortable waiting.

Baby it’s cold outside

I know she loves me because she was very pregnant and very very cold. I mean she was all in too and I love her for it. She had hair and makeup done that morning. I think it is important for all moms to be pampered and feeling their most beautiful before a maternity session. Doesn’t she look gorgeous? I think she always looks beautiful.  It was so amazing to hear how these images made her feel that beauty after she saw the proofs. I love being able to capture life’s miracles for my clients and friends. Showing them how beautiful they are during these life changing times makes my job even more fulfilling.

The painted look

Two of these images, one from the beach and one of the wood scene I had digitally painted. When they are printed on watercolor paper or onto canvas they look just like a painting. I planned this portrait session with this painting art piece theme in mind. This is a new option for Insley Photography clients. I wanted to create dramatic images like these that will hang on my clients’ wall for years to come. This enhancement of my photographs will add to the look and feel of the photographic statement art pieces in your home.

Thank you again Jennifer for helping me bring my vision to reality and being such a trooper in the freezing cold temperatures. Love you girl.

-alicia