"My" Day in the Life Experience

As a matter of principle, I believe it is essential to practice what you preach. For two years now, I have been promoting and selling our day-in-the-life sessions.  The interesting thing however, is that I never actually took the time to do one myself. So, to solve that, I decided that it was time for me and my family to do one as well. There is no need in selling a product that I myself have not invested in.  With that said, here is my day in the life session.

I reached out to a photographer friend of mine, Eva from Dulles Photography,  For our session, my family and I were going to decorate our Christmas tree and later, have some close friends over to decorate gingerbread houses. I have to tell you, it was completely different on the other side of the camera. I was a lot of fun, but there are some things that I learned as a client that has definitely helped shaped how I approach sessions from now on.

The first thing is comfortability. During the session, I was reminded of the anxiety one feels when pretending that the camera isn’t there, while the camera is steady snapping away and making sure you are staging yourself for great photos. This is particularly challenging when you have 2 suspicious children. My 8-month old handled it beautifully, given that she smiles at everything, but every so often, my oldest daughter would be distracted by the photographer. “Mommy, who is that?” “Mommy, what is she doing” “Mommy, she has your camera.” Or, if it wasn’t her curiosity, it was her charisma. This part was hilarious. While my husband and I were trying to act as candidly as possible, my daughter who is supposed to be helping to hang ornaments, would see the camera and immediately strike a pose.  Us: “Natalie, hang the ornament baby”…Her: “Cheeeeesssseee” (blindly reaching the ornament out to the tree but missing it altogether). She was adorably frustrating.

Second, I learned that it imperative that everyone relaxes. Life is tough enough, but photo sessions should be easy. Once we relaxed, we were able to forget that the photographer was even there and had the best time. Day-in-the-life sessions are by far, the best thing a photographer can offer. After a quick break, and a nap for the babies, my friends had come over. Chaos ensued.  We had all types of candy. We had Kit Kats, M&Ms, Sour Patch Candies, Sweedish Fish, Peppermints, Christmas-colored Nerds, Dots, Frosting to tie it all together, and of course the gingerbread houses. Once we were all gathered together, to get everyone involved, we had a gingerbread decorating contest.  There chocolate doors, licorice walkways, Sweedish Fish window shutters, and more. Unfortunately for me however, I quickly learned that a fun time decorating gingerbread houses meant sugar highs for the children. I don’t think they calmed down for the next hour and a half, but I’ll tell you this; we had some amazing shots. Even now as I look at them, I know I will treasure them for a long time.

That is what I want for you. As you look at my pictures from my day-in-the-life session, think about what experience you would like to remember. Think through the quality of the photos. Imagine how awesome it would be if someone else was capturing your entire day. Afterwards, give us a call and let us help you finalize your vision and capture your experience in a professional way. Days may come and go, but experiences can last a lifetime through professional imagery. We at Dee Jestene Photography would love to help you do that. Take care.

Nursery Dream: Teal and Fuschia

Decorating my daughter's nursery was one of the most fun things that I did in preparation for her arrival.  What made this time fun for me was that I could make her nursery into whatever I wanted it to be; I had complete carte blanche. So when the the time came, I took full and advantage. I was both creative and girly at the same time. In addition to all of this, my husband didn't really have a preference of what I did in there just as long as it was pretty.  

For her nursery, I choose a teal and raspberry (fuchsia) pallet.  Since I didn't want the whole room to be pink, I chose to do all the walls in a fresh teal blue color and I painted her closet a darker fuchsia color.  Okay okay, my husband painted it, but it came out better than I expected!!! 

Next, I lucked up and found some floral sheers at a closing discount store.  They were perfect because they were a shade of pink and yet not pink.  Later that same day when I was in Bed, Bath and Beyond, I found some awesome fuchsia curtains during the back to school season sale.  As we added the sheers and the curtains and a few other touches, we really began to see that the nursery (and our family) was really starting to come together.  



The next thing that we purchased for the nursery was a dresser for the baby's clothes. Instead of purchasing a $400 dresser from a baby store, I found a much more affordable and practical 8-drawer piece at IKEA.  In addition to it being less expensive, I found that it served all of my family's needs and more. We used the dresser for clothes, quick access to pampers, hair accessories and even a changing table space. It had a huge surface and deep drawer space.  This was definitely a good purchase.  

Concerning the crib, I ordered it from Wayfair.com.  It was one of those convertible cribs that could start as a crib and later convert into a toddler bed...Bonus! The design was simple and did not overpower the room. In an effort to not color bomb the room, I thought a nice white would balance everything out.

Finally, there was the rocking chair. We had spent quite a bit of time and a few trips to Baby's R Us looking at rocking chairs. I have to say that this was my husbands favorite part of this whole experience. We tried all types of chairs. We tried big bulky chairs that didn't move; we tried rocking chairs that came with ottoman attachments, and we even tried the big bulky rocking chairs with ottoman attachments. In the end, we lucked out and found our chair on the Close5 - one of those online selling apps.  It was in great condition and the right price.  We got a GREAT deal.

All in all, I want you to know that you don't have to spend a lot of money to create your dream nursery. Second, as a mom, I encourage all expecting parents to have fun creating a fun and interactive space for your children. I am so proud of the way Natalie's nursery came out. Please share pictures of your nurseries; I would love to see them!  Take Care.

How to Choose the Best Family Photographer

Looking for your photographer can be a daunting process. While there are many capable photographers, there is no real certainty that they can provide you the tailored service that you need. So, in a bottomless ocean of talent, how do you find YOUR photographer? I think these five steps are the best way to go.

First: Check out there work. As you may have guessed, you really do want examine your potential photographer's work to make sure that it is what you are looking for. If you don't like their work, ten times out of ten, you won't like your pictures. 

Second: Choose your style. When looking for a photographer, you want to choose someone that specializes in the style you are looking for. You may like a photographer's portrait work, but this does not mean that they will do well documenting your wedding or vice versa. 

Third: Appropriate pricing. The old saying is true. You really will get what you pay for! This means, you have to decide that your memories are an investment. How much that is up to you. I am not saying you need to take out a second mortgage or anything, but you want to get bang for your buck. It is better to pay for quality service, than to get a discounted mess. Do your research on what the going rate is for quality photography and go from there. As a photographer, I will tell you; it isn't cheap, but for good reason. A quality photographer (such as the ones at Dee Jestene Photography...plug) are appropriately priced for quality. 

Fourth: Look for someone who will meet your needs and at the same time demonstrate their skill by leading the shoot..  Do you want one photographer or two? Do you want a particular photographer? What do you want to wear? Where do you want your session? How many pictures are you looking for? How long do you want your session to be? In the end, knowing what you want from a photographer, helps you narrow down who you select. If your potential photographer is unwilling to compromise to ensure you both get what you want, then they are not for you. In my experience, when a photographer doesn't have a plan, they lack inspiration which will impact their work. 

Lastly: In the end, go with your gut.! You are the only one who will have to live with whom you choose. For us at Dee Jestene Photography, we want you to know that whether it is us or someone else, what we care about is you finding exactly who you need to tell your photo story. Take care.

Beauty and Hard Work: The Gilberts

No experience in my estimation is as beautiful and as death-defying as carrying and delivering a baby. As women, we are miraculously able to carry and house another developing human for 9 months and then ensure its birth. Even now as I think about it, only God knows how such an feat is possible. In our human limitations, all we can do is enjoy it. That is why I love taking pictures of soon-to-be moms. With my camera, I am able to capture their hidden strengths and enduring perseverance as they make what is unimaginably difficult look sooo easy. Such was the case with my session with the Gilberts.

Tiffany Gilbert (8 1/2 months pregnant) her husband Stephen, and the son Stephen III met me at the beautiful Allen Pond Park in Bowie, MD. It was hot that day and if you know anything about sessions in the sun during the summer, it is wise to be prepared for fussiness and a short gas tank of patience. However I was touched because Tiffany and her husband got through the session as easy as I have ever seen it. It was really one of those moments where you could tell just how much they love each other. 

As we made our way throughout the grounds, I was glad to see just how attentive and patient Stephen was as Tiffany took picture after picture. In the end, it was all worth it. We really got some great shots. One particular moment of note was when little Stephen put a stethoscope to his mother's belly to see if he could hear his little sister to be, Savannah. This was so precious.

I must say that I enjoyed my time with the Gilberts. I left their session with two valuable lessons. First, as a photographer and customer servant, I will always be sure to carry water and a snack for outdoor maternity sessions and second, beauty is hard work. The Gilbert's were a beautiful family and I realize that that doesn't come easy. They had to work! Work to love each other, work to help each other, and work to put each other in a great light for great photos. Because of all the work that went into this, I know they will love the final results.

Documentary Family Photography

Document YOUR Family's Life

When I meet new people and I tell them that I am a documentary photographer whose passion is "Day in the Life" photography, I am often met with puzzled looks, as if to say "What is that?". I usually sum it up as photography that captures real people, real moments, real life, and real emotions. But as a photographer, what better way can I tell you about a "Day in the Life" session than to show you a story in pictures. I am proud to share this video on "Day in the Life". This is Dee Jestene Photography. Enjoy!

This is a quick video to show the experience of having a photographer in your home to document your family life. Dee Jestene Photography is available for you to be in your photos. Contact us today.

Strength Embraced: A Maternity Session with Deidre

Becoming a mother is one of the most awe-inspiring times that a woman can go through. All within the course of three trimesters, soon-to-be moms become increasingly aware of strengths they never knew existed and develop appreciations for themselves that they never would have imagined. Curves and shapes that would otherwise be overanalyzed and appropriately covered are now shown unabashedly. Emotions and thoughts that would otherwise be thought of as volcanic and far-reaching are now weighted and expected. Insecurities that were once deafening are now minimal (though still present). Such can be the journey to motherhood.

I was reminded of this during my session with Deidre. It was a great experience capturing her and hearing her story. Normally during a maternity shoot, I spend a great deal of time going over clothing choices and discussing the best poses as to not highlight any insecurities. However with Deidre, I was free to do almost anything. Not only was she proud of her pregnancy, she was proud of herself; and I thought that was amazing. I can honestly say that seeing that level of freedom and self-acceptance encouraged me as both a woman and a photographer.  For the first time in a while, I felt like I could just let the session be whatever it was going to be because there was nothing to be ashamed of on either side of the camera.

One picture in particular was my favorite. I captured her sitting in a field in a high-split purple gown with a toned down wooded background. This shot to me was so regal and beautiful. We had great sunlight and despite the time of year, the weather was awesome. In addition, her hair looked great and you can tell that she was really comfortable. Overall, there were a lot of great shots from this session, but this picture by far was the most literal translation of womanhood, motherhood, and power in the entire gallery.

And that is the message…

Women, we are strong! We are powerful.  God designed our bodies to help create, carry, and birth generations, and we should not be ashamed of them.  Nothing about you should be hidden. We at Dee Jestene Photography pride ourselves in not only capturing amazing pictures but encouraging you that no matter who you are, we accept all that you are. So, from this day forward, we encourage you to do the same. Be strong; be courageous; be yourself. 

For more information on our maternity shoots, contact me at deejestene.com or connect with me on social media.  Take care.

Why Albums?!?

As a professional photographer, I am well aware of all of the arguments that people tend to make concerning why people should not invest in albums, but respectfully, I believe they are doing you a great disservice when they say this.  Here are five reason why you should consider purchasing an album with us.

Technology is Volatile 

Let’s face it, technology fails and technology changes.  No matter who you are, in some shape, form, or fashion, you have learned this lesson.  Your computer or USB device had all of your information on it and for some unknown reason, what used to be there is no longer. Honestly, your family’s memories are way too important to gamble with that risk. What happens when your USB device of today becomes the floppy disk of tomorrow? Even if you have one of those online storage services, I guarantee you that you would save so much more money having a physical copy of your photographs than entrusting it to the web. Albums are a much safer way to go than only relying on technology.

Personal Connection 

Another reason to create albums is because unlike online experiences, looking at an album creates tailored personal connections. When you are flipping through your wedding album with friends, you can tell them the story of how you and your spouse met, or you can laugh about “that one time” when you were together. 

Comprehensible Quality

When you are flipping through an album, you are able to clearly see the quality that you have invested in.  As you may well know, it is immediately clear when someone has invested good money in good photography. The quality is just unmatched and here’s the thing: Albums do not depend on the quality of your computer. The quality speaks for itself.  Now when you order a digital copy, the only way you can get an accurate feel for the quality is to have a quality computer. One of the unfortunate realities of being a photographer is that my digital work may not be appreciated to the depths it deserves if it is seen though bad resolutions.  With albums, I do not have to worry about that. 

Backup to Technology  

Now with all that I have said thus far, I want to make it crystal clear that I am not against digital copies (which I sell).  I am just saying that there are pros and cons compared to albums.  One pro of an album is that in the event that you do have digital copies of your photos, albums provide a quality backup.  I often encourage my clients to purchase both digital and print copies of their sessions because of the necessity of having backups.

In sight, in mind.

Now I know what some of you are thinking…”I use digitals because it saves space.”  True. I cannot deny that, but let me ask you this: When was the last time you scrolled to the bottom of your social media feed to view your photos?  How often have you logged onto your Dropbox or another online account (if you have enough storage)?  For most of you, I would assume not so much.  You know why?  Because out of sight, out of mind. Most of the time, people rarely go past a year ago to look at photos because they don’t want to spend so much time searching through pictures while they load. Albums take up space in your home because they afford you a “bang for your buck” experience.  You are much more likely to look through an album from years ago than you are to scroll through pictures on your social media. Albums stay in sight so they are more likely to stay in mind.

Do you have gigabytes of pictures but no albums?  Contact us today and we will put some of your photos into quality album or better yet, create a new album for you that is sure to last a lifetime.