New Hampshire Family Portraits

Each year this family braves the freezing January New Hampshire temperatures to do a family shoot with me while I'm in town. I love the unique look the winter backdrops give to the images -- I certainly don't get the chance to shoot in the snow very often! They are really good sports because it's seriously cold.

Shooting family portraits is always a challenge. There are just SO MANY things to juggle. Trying to keep young ones happy and parents calm while also being creative is tough for me at times. This is when a solid background in the technical aspects of photography really comes into play. I don't remember consciously thinking about my camera settings once. There were just too many other things going on. I generally feel like I'm not sure how the shoot went at the end but I'm always pleasantly surprised later when I look at the images. If I get photos that capture each person looking natural and that show the connections between them I feel like a success.

This family has a wealth of cuteness going on. Madeline is 11, Marshall is 4 and Grace is 6:

Shannon and Maddie have such a special mother/daughter relationship going on and I love these:


It makes me happy when parents love on their kids during the shoot:

And yay! One photo from my entire trip with me in it just to prove I was here. Thanks Andy!

I'm heading home today and I can't believe how fast the time flew while I was here! Wish I could pack everybody up and take them home with me. Such great memories!

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Ski Day!

Sunday I got to go skiing with this super-cute clan. I grew up skiing in Minnesota from the time I was 3 so I love that Shannon & Andy are getting their little ones on the slopes at such an early age. It was an absolutely gorgeous day in New Hampshire for skiing:

And yes, I did bring my Canon 5D Mark II up on the slopes with me. The mission: not to fall down. Proud to say: mission accomplished.

I thought it would be fun to try out the video function on my camera a bit. I put together a little video but before you view it -- HUGE DISCLAIMER -- I am NOT a videographer. I definitely plan to stick with photography. And I'm sure you will fully support my decision after viewing this. Still, it was fun to play with. Most of the video was taken with the camera hanging around my neck and it was harder than it looks -- I had to juggle poles, gloves and the whole bit. Check it out:

Skiing in NH from Melissa Jill on Vimeo.

So we started out spending some quality time on the green slopes but I ended up getting talked into going down a double black diamond. I'm really just an intermediate skier and usually steer clear of anything above a blue (it helps in keeping with above mentioned mission) but this double black seriously seemed more like a hard blue. The park we were at (Pat's Peak) was a bit whacked with their difficulty gauging. But I figure I can still SAY I did a double black diamond, right? :) I left my camera taping the whole way down but it ended up just being very bumpy snow with my ski in the frame every once in awhile so I thought I'd save you the 2 minutes :).

Here's a few more shots from our fun day:

All three of us were crammed on the chair lift in this one:

SO FUN. I was definitely sore the next day. But this was one of my favorite experiences skiing! Totally worth it.

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Winter Wonderland

On Saturday we did one of my favorite things to do when in New Hampshire in the winter -- jumped in the car with camera in tow to drive around and see what we could find. No definite plan. Just driving, seeing and shooting. And I'm so glad we took the chance to do it then because today it poured rain and half the snow is gone! :(

The above photo was shot through the windshield of the van. SO PRETTY. I just love all the back roads in this state. We went through a little town called Amherst and I had to stop to capture this gem:

HOW FUN IS THAT!? I grew up ice skating on the lakes in Minnesota and this brought back so many fun memories.

This is the front door of a nearby house:

Another front yard in Amherst:

We drove for a bit further and pulled over to look at a ski park when my friend Shannon noticed some movement off to the side. It was four otters running up this slope and repeatedly tobogganing down on their bellies!!! What an unbelievable find. I only wish I had my 70-200mm and had video taped it. Their movement through the snow was just so stinking cute! But I only had my 50mm so I shot and then cropped in. We stayed and watched them for awhile. They made all the little trails you see in this shot. They would just follow the leader up and then slide down one right behind the other!

Amazingly fun times!

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visiting cherished friends

This week I'm in New Hampshire visiting some cherished friends. This is the fourth year in a row that I've made the trip out to spend a week with them in January. People always say it's a horrible time to visit New Hampshire but I look at it as my opportunity to play in the snow and experience winter for a week. This is the view from my window on the third floor. It's a good change of scene from the one out my window in Arizona.

I just think it's absolutely beautiful here. I could ride around in the car for hours looking at all the gorgeous colorful homes with snow-covered roofs. I wish I could transport a historical colonial mustard colored house to Arizona. And I'd like to have a red barn out back. But alas, we have nothing of the sort. So I just drool over them here and wonder what life is like for the people who live in them.

I absolutely adore this family. I have been friends with Shannon & Andy for 15 years and we have the type of friendship were we can just instantly reconnect on a deep level even though we live across the country from each other and don't keep up with each other on a regular basis as much as I'd like. We've just lived through a lot of the good and tough of life together and we connect in our souls.

Each time I come out I of course bring my camera along and I love what Shannon has done with the photos in their home. Rarely do I get to see how people live with the photos I take so whenever I do, it's a huge treat. There are SO many great memories on the wall in the top photo of this post and on this one:

I also love that I can see my progression as a photographer in the images. I cringe at a few of them from my early years. But I guess that's a good thing. Growth is always good.

So many people pick only the smiling-and-looking-right-at-the-camera photos for their walls but I love that Shannon including images like this one:

And this one...

They really show the personalities of her kids at different ages.

It's so good to be here. I'll be blogging about my trip throughout the week so I hope you'll check back!

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Featured on Pictage Podcast!

Today you can find me on Pictage's Blog talking with Sara France about all sorts of fun stuff: my trip to Africa & upcoming team platform presentation at WPPI, my experience developing my new website (choosing a designer, navigation & the look of the site), ways of approaching a promo video, my experience speaking and learning at PartnerCon, and our album pre-design & sales process and how it's evolving. I absolutely LOVE that Pictage puts out these podcasts regularly that are so full of great information for photographers and I feel honored to be featured!

Click here to listen!

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