What is an au pair?

Alright friends new this year I am going to be featuring some guest posters to talk about things you all may be curious about. First off we have Cultural Care Au Pair to tell about What an au pair is and what they do. I personally did not know all the details of an au pair. Of course I was curious to know more, so without further ado!

What is an au pair? 

An au pair is a young adult from overseas who lives with your family on a legal visa for up to two years.  This person is here to provide childcare in exchange for room and board. Plus an opportunity to become part of an American family. Au pairs can care for your children on a schedule that works for your family’s personal needs, making it a very flexible option. They can also help with household duties related to your children, including laundry, cooking and room pick-up. He or she can work up to 45 hours a week, no more than 10 hours per day. The extra set of hands they provide is often just what busy families need to make their lives more manageable and more fun!

What's an au pair infographic, learn more

Cultural Care

Our program works best for families who like the idea of welcoming someone who becomes an extended family member into their homes.  And for families who have a genuine interest in cultural exchange. Your au pair will share her own culture and language with your whole family. He or she will also want to learn more about America. Most host families and au pairs keep in touch beyond their au pair year and often visit each other again in the U.S. or overseas.

Au pair program is regulated by the Department of State and only few agencies can bring au pairs into the US. We handle all of the logistics and paperwork.  Many parents are surprised how affordable and flexible this type of childcare is. 

Learn More

Want to learn more about hosting? Please fill out this interest form www.culturalcare.com/mzacharova.

Thanks so much Marcela for sharing about au pairs and how they can help your family. I’m feel more informed. It sounds like a great service for busy moms. Marcela’s website link is here if you would like to learn more.


what's an au pair? learn more

Baby Girl Fort Mill, SC

Baby Girl photos Fort Mill, SC color neutrals warm living room set

Baby Girl Fort Mill, SC

Sweet Little Lillian came to see me in my studio recently. I met her parents and big brother at our Christmas Card Mini Session back in the fall. This baby girl has such a sweet family.

Look at those sweet baby cheeks and her perfect little nose. Baby Girl Lillian was so much fun to photograph because she was so laid back. Aww man what a treat she was to have in my home portrait studio. I can’t wait to watch her grow up. I’m looking forward to getting her and her big brother in my studio together. Congratulations again to her mom and dad!



Treasured Pregnancy Portraits Remind Children They Are Loved

treasured pregnancy portrait

Pregnancy portraits treasured keepsakes

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 anything 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 😉 Creating treasured portraits is one of my favorite reasons to keep photographing these moments. The intimate black and whites portraits that capture that connection between mom and son are just beautiful.

Treasured images that make your heart sing.

The portrait that shows the family waiting and preparing for a new addition are heartwarming.  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! Creating treasured memories for my clients is my favorite.



Newborn Sessions: Oliver 9 days old

Oliver 9 days old newborn sessions indoor baby portrait photo

Oliver 9 days old newborn sessions

Oh my sweet little Oliver. I remember this newborn session like it was yesterday. Nine days old is the perfect age for a newborn photography session because baby is getting real milk (if nursing) and not yet to the growth spurt day. Day ten is a growth spurt day and nursing moms may spend all day cluster feeding. (I probably blocked day ten from my memory on purpose) Oliver was nice and cozy this day.  Just look at those gorgeous rosy cheeks and full red lips. I took a ton of photographs at this session but these three images are my absolute favorites. I couldn’t decide if the last image was better in black and white or color. Comment below if you have a preference.

The why

The neutral tones and textures in this setup were just amazing. His dark hair was the perfect contrast to the light tones. Nine days postpartum was a good day for me. I had enough energy to actually set up a proper backdrop with beanbag for my sweet Oliver. My older son was away for the morning at summer camp and enjoying being with other kids his age. And my sweet baby slept peacefully for a good chunk of time. I love these images and I’m so glad I took the time to make them when my son was 9 days old. He has changed so much since those first few weeks and we can’t go back to that time but I can look at these photographs and remember when he was so tiny and new.



Ten tips to take better Halloween Photos of your kids – Charlotte, NC Kid Portraits

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 unfortunately 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, Charlotte, NC child photographer
Refused to wear his Spiderman costume but is still precious.

Ten tips to take better Halloween Photos

  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, Rock Hill, SC Spider-man, Kid portrait
    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, Spider-man, Ironman, Fort Mill Child Photographer
    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, Ironman, Ghoul lighting, Kid Portraits Rock Hill, SC
    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!!

Tell me what did you think of my ten tips to take better Halloween Photos? Let me know in the comments below

-Happy Halloween Alicia


Sweet Sibling Portraits Timeless in Fort Mill

Sweet siblings in Studio

These sweet siblings came to see me in my home studio forever ago and somehow I never got them on my blog. So sorry S & L. lets make up for that right now. This family was one of my first portrait clients back when I was just starting out. I believe the first portrait session we did together was a maternity session before S was born. Seems like yesterday I was a there home photographing his baby session. I still remember the Winnie the pooh nursery. I’m sure the kids don’t remember that but their parents always will. And I am so thankful that his parents gave me a chance as a photographer way back then. I know they have their own memories from the baby portraits but for me they are extra special. For S it was my chance to break out on my own and start Insley Photography. Then when L was first born she was one of my first newborn babies when I decided to specialize in newborns.

Now look at them both big kids in elementary school. These two sweet siblings are always full of smiles and laughter. They are also the best of friends. It is truly inspiring to watch these two interact. I predict these kids will be world leaders one day. I can’t wait to see you guys again soon. Sweet sibling portraits are some of moms favorites, just ask any mom with multiple children 😉 

Call me today to book your sibling portrait session 803-336-5125


Showing off their new sister

Showing off baby sister

Showing off their new sibling

These kiddos were so excited when they heard they were going to have a new baby sister. Then of course there was the waiting and the planning. Deciding how to decorate her nursery. Her big sister had a lot to say about the room decorations. And of course with older siblings there was the searching for all the baby stuff that had been put away. New baby girl clothes, toys, bottles, baby sounds and the inevitable questions.

A new sister, what’s that like?

What will she look like? What will she be like? Will she like us? How big will she be when she is born? Can we hold her right away? There is also some worrying. When will she arrive? Will she be healthy? Does she cry a lot? Will she play with my toys? That is the funny thing about new babies. All those questions and concerns seem to disappear once the little one arrives safe and sound. These big siblings were in awe of tiny little Nina. Here they are showing off their new baby sister. Congratulations to the whole family on the arrival of your newborn baby sister!

-alicia proud auntie 🙂