Short n sweet...with the Cross family

Central Coast Family Photography

It was a blustery winter’s day when I went to the Cross family home for their family photography session. We had planned on being outdoors so their preschooler could be running around, the dog could roam free and we would have lots of options for different backdrops. As it turned out the weather was foul. It was freezing, the wind was howling and the rain kept coming and going. Taryn was a little worried about holding the session in her home - they had renovated part of the house (but not all of it) and weren’t sure if there would be enough variety for photos. I reassured her, even if all they did was snuggle on the couch, we would be able to capture a beautiful gallery of images. Of course with a preschooler in the home, there’s not much chance they’ll sit still for an hour. Taryn made the decision to hold the session in her home - best decision ever!!

Their home was so warm and cosy when I walked in, they were gathered in the living room by the warm fireplace. Her preschooler, Olivia, was happily playing with her favourite toys, so my arrival didn’t disrupt from her game. Baby Lucy was happy on the rug with dad. Everyone was relaxed and warm, doing their own thing.

As was expected, it wasn’t long before Olivia wanted to show me around her home. I got to meet her favourite soft toys, see her Elsa bed, check out the pink bathroom (very 80’s and so cool!) and look at the special corner her mum had arranged so the girls could sit quietly together and read. The girls had a snuggle in the cot together and then a rumble on mum and dad’s bed. Who said there wasn’t much to do during an in-home family photography session?!

cuddles with mum narara photographer
holding hands with daddy
baby photos central coast nsw
baby photos central coast nsw
cuddling mum on the couch

Short n sweet...with Marissa and Bear

I was greeted enthusiastically at this families front door by a very happy Bear. This gorgeous Rottweiler stands guard at the front window of their house, keeping a keen eye on the comings and goings of everything that happens on their street. Nothing goes by without him noticing - a few barks and a wag of his tail lets everyone know there is something going down.

For all his size and guarding bluster, Bear is a big ol’ softy. This lovely dog is so well behaved and just the perfect family pet. He adores three year old Marissa. These two buddies move en masse throughout their day. They cuddle up on the couch for tv watching, snuggle on Bear’s bed when they need down time and wander around the backyard happily together. When Marissa organised a tea party in her bedroom, Bear was right by her side and part of the party.

Sweet Marissa went into super host over drive when I arrived. This beautiful little soul was that keen to show me all the amazing things in her home - the nursery for her new baby brother or sister, the Christmas presents for her cousins, her lovely bedroom, Bear’s bed. Marissa was chatting nineteen to the dozen - she was so enthusiastic and keen to share her world with me. I feel it is such a privilege to be able to share time with our little people during this wonder filled phase.

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Short n sweet... with Fletcher and Julian

Central Coast Family Photographer

These busy boys kept me on my toes and laughing the whole session. They bounced excitedly from one activity to another and even though it was rainy, it did not slow them down one little bit. There was bike riding on the back deck, scooter riding down the hallway, lego building, racetracks for cars, book reading, jumping on beds and a disco in the lounge room. As a mum whose kids skateboard down the hallway, hanging with this busy family made me feel right at home. Little boys need the chance to be active and burn energy.

In saying that, Fletcher still made time to go and sit quietly with his special friend Anouschka. Along with two busy little boys, this family is home to three beautiful Hungarian Vizsla fur babies, Anouschka, Laurent, and their newest addition, Specter. These good looking dogs were part of the fun throughout the day, playing happily along side the boys with cheeky Specter constantly stealing toys from the boys. But it was the regal old lady Anouschka who holds a special place in Fletcher’s heart.

The boys went to get a treat for the dogs and when they came back with carrots I thought they were playing a trick on me. Not at all. These fur babies love nothing better than to gnaw on a nice cold carrot as treat. You learn something new every day!

As our session drew to a close Fletcher started to get a bit teary, so I though it was time to beat a hasty exit as he must have had enough. Turns out this sweet little man hates goodbyes and didn’t want me to leave. Of course I stayed for one more dance off - who doesn’t love a boogie in the lounge room on a rainy day?!

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Short n sweet with... Harrison and Baxter

Pet photography Central Coast

I was greeted at the door by this big, boofy, uber happy dog by the name of Baxter. Baxter is a six month old English Spaniel Springer and is still such a baby. He just loved to be loved. Harrison, the little man of the house, was soon there, keen to show me around his home and introduce me to all his treasures. Of course his favourite thing to do was play in the backyard with his best mate Baxter. Baxter is a little like my hound, loves to play fetch, but he does not like to return to stick to you. This resulted in Harrison spending a lot of time chasing Baxter around the yard, trying to get the toy back. Both of them adored this game.

Harrison showed me all his favourite toys and a very impressive lego collection, with some of the star designs made by his very own mum and dad. Every time Harrison showed me a different room in his home, his shadow Baxter was there beside him. Harrison and Baxter had a very brief snuggle on the bed, before it was time to race outside again and play under the sprinkler. Baxter absolutely LOVED playing under the hose. This funny dog ran, jumped and splashed non stop. Harrison laughed the whole time. These two were a blast to hang out with on a warm spring afternoon.

It was so beautiful to watch the special bond between this little boy and his dog. In Baxter, Harrison has a playmate, a best friend – total and utter unconditional love.

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Short n sweet with... newborn baby Keelan

There is something about being greeted at the front door of a families home by two big boofy dogs that instantly puts me at ease. Having their woofers in the house and wandering around says so much to me about the family. The fact that they are relaxed animal lovers that include their pets in their day to day life builds lets me know I'm hanging with my kind of people. And boy have these dogs embraced the newest member of the family. 

Lauren noticed a change in her dogs as soon as she fell pregnant. The dogs used to sleep downstairs in the lounge room, but once she a had a baby on the way, Lauren had a furry shadow by her side throughout the night to keep an eye on her. Now that little baby Keelan has arrived the dogs have maintained their shadow status, happy to be close by him day or night. The dogs hung around during our session, keen to be with the newest member of the family. Their cat, however, was such a typical cat, totally uninterested in what we were doing and haughtily stalked away from the fuss.

Lauren and Bryce have done the most amazing renovations on their home. Their space was light, bright and airy - they've built their dream home up and around their old beach side fibro house. The gorgeous window light made for beautiful photos in every room of the house.

Keelan did the newborn baby thing - he fed, alot then he slept, alot. He was happiest in his mummy's arms, with his head nestled close to her heart. Lauren and Bryce were so relaxed in their status as new parents. They took everything in their stride, happy to follow Keelan's lead, just quietly and gently meeting his needs. 

I was grateful to spend time with this chilled out, loving little family. 

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Why I chose documentary photography

Central Coast Family Photographer

Here's my guest post I wrote for It's a cool site for local mums that features great local activities and businesses. Be sure to head over and check out the site.

I’ve never been keen on studio portraits.

Maybe one day, when I’m feeling brave I might even share a really bad nineties glamour shoot we did as a family. Think, southern belle curls, caked on make up and matching Supre tops (oh yes we did!!). But that’s a story for another day…

It’s only since having kids that my focus on capturing exactly who they are in an image has become an obsession.

Family beach photography central coast

I’ve always avoided the shopping centre pop-up photography shops with their generic props and black backgrounds.

Not that their photos aren’t cute. I can’t deny it. A chubby bubby wrapped up in a cosy blankie is adorable. But there just didn’t seem to be any connection between their one-size-fits-all approach and who we were as individuals.

That’s not say I haven’t been tempted. Once I won a free portrait session in a school raffle. I was heavily pregnant with our little guy and thought “Cool! I can go see what this is all about. And I won’t have to pay!”

Giant bubbles backyard photography central coast nsw

It was a shocker from the word go. I was sleep deprived, our little guy wasn’t feeding well and was fussy, and organising all of us out of the house at a silly time of day led to arguments.

We were in a bit of a state before it even started.

Finally we got to the studio and in a cold, cramped room there were several light boxes set up pointing to a white backdrop.

We were instructed to sit on the ground and hug each other. Laugh at each other. Move our baby this way. Move our toddler that way. It was so forced and awkward. There was no connection between us and the photographer. I can’t be sure she even used our names.

After a few minutes of this we were told to change into a different set of clothes, in that same room with the bright lights and cold floor. There was no change room. So we did it all over again.

And then when it came time for the newborn shots. Ugh. He wasn’t a ‘sleeper’ so no amount of wrapping or swaddling would get him into a posed position. He was super strong and the images of this tiny baby with a big head lifted up, looking around the room were just weird.

Then there was the wee on the pretty blanket. Followed by a poo-nami.

It was literally like a comedy of errors. It was so removed from who we were. It showed no context, no essence of us as a family.

Underwater photography central coast nsw

When we went back for the viewing session there was no doubt the images were technically sound, the lighting was good and the focus spot on. But the poses were so generic and the smiles so forced that I just couldn’t connect with the images, no matter how corny the music was that played in the background.

So I left there empty handed. Not even ordering my freebie. Because those images just weren’t ‘us’.

And so began my journey of capturing ‘us’. Mornings cuddled up in bed. Chasing the chickens in the backyard. Wandering around nanoo’s magic forest (others might know it as the lake). Playing in the rockpool.

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These little pieces add up to tell the story of who we are.

The kids love to pore over their photo books and relive their memories. They giggle over their funny expressions or strange outfits they had dressed themselves in. Most importantly they feel connected to each photograph.

Because each one is a genuine reflection of us in that moment.

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So this is us.

These photos, this is who we are as a family.

These images are true and accurate reflections of who we are and what we do.

Think it might be your turn to have quality photos that reflect who you really are as a family? Flick me an email and we can make it happen.

Want to see more great articles that are relevant to Central Coast Mummies? Head on over to Mums of the Central Coast....

Short n sweet with... the Brennan family

Central Coast Maternity Photographer

I'm a little excited to share this maternity session as this is my little sister Lexi and her beautiful family. I'd caught up with Lexi a few days earlier and thought she looked very round and very low - it didn't look like bubs would stay in to full term. We were very fortunate to squeeze this maternity session in because a few short days later Kalan made his big appearance at just 36 weeks! So here's an extended family maternity photo session - complete with proud grandmother Nanoo and cousins too. We had a happy and hectic afternoon at home and at the waterfront. 

central coast maternity photographer daughter hiding behind mums legs
central coast family photographer cousins playing at ettalong
central coast maternity photographer family at ettalong
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central coast family photographer walking at ettalong

Short n sweet... with the Broadhurst family

Central Coast Family Photographer

Talk about making the most of a rough day. It had been raining all day, after it had already been raining all week. It was blowing a gale on the southern side of the headland where we were supposed to be meeting. Their toddler Hamilton hadn’t had his day time nap. It was obvious Kate and Travis were questioning the viability of this session being a success. Lucky for me, Kate and Travis trusted my decision to go ahead with the session and they came on out ready to give it a go. They were all rugged up in their winter woollies, the kids had their gumboots and beach toys ready. 

We took shelter on the beach on the northern side of the headland and the boys were allowed to go free range. Diggers, dumpers, sandcastles, kicking a ball, whatever took their fancy was fine. Greyson ran wild with mum, kicking the ball and rumbling together. Hamilton took it quietly with daddy and then did his best to keep up with his big brother.

I'm so glad Kate and Travis braved the foul weather because it made for a beautiful back drop for this lovely family's photos.

Holding hands going to the beach
Throwing ball at sandcastles
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Kisses for daddy
Tickles with mummy at the beach
Cuddles with mum watching the waves
Father and son holding hands watching the waves

A little bit longer.... with the Smith family

Central Coast Family Photographer

The house was very quiet when I arrived for an early morning session at the Smith household. Only mum was awake. Dad and the kids were still snuggled up in bed fast asleep. This was excellent as it allowed me to capture images of the kids as they gently woke up for the day. Ashton was all about cuddling with mum, staying in her arms as she prepared his bottle and not leaving her side for the first hour. 

Toddler snuggling with mum

Tahlia was very pleased with herself when she woke up. She had stayed in bed until her 'sun clock' let her know it was ok to get up, earning herself another sticker on her chart. 

Rewards stickers on star chart

Soon enough the kids were ready to venture outdoors to feed the chooks.

Family walking in back yard
Toddler laughing at rooster on henhouse

Followed by the obligatory picnic in the cubby house. 

Kids playing in cubbyhouse
father and son picnic in cubby house

A relaxed morning at home, going about their everyday routine, made for a very cruisy session with the Smith family.

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little girl laughing on swing

So what is documentary photography?

Central Coast Documentary Photographer

I'm all about keeping it real. Real people, real emotions, real interactions. That's why I LOVE documentary photography. Documentary photography is an accurate and straightforward representation of people, places and things. It is about honouring the simplicity of day to day routines, capturing the real you and your family. It is allows your family the freedom to be who you are. Grubby faces, wild hair and messy bedrooms are more than welcome in documentary sessions.

Kids sucking on lolly pops

Documentary photography is about being true to the moment. As the photographer I will not manipulate any scene, I’ll leave the lighting as is, leave the people as they are and simply capture what is unfolding before me. That's not to say I'll be a fly on the wall. I'll be chatting away, take a photo every now and then, chat some more. It's like hanging out with an old friend. Comfortable and effortless. I won’t be asking you move to here/move there/tilt your head/move your hand. I won't be airbrushing wrinkles in the edits, or photoshopping fly away hairs. There is no need for a false sense of perfection, you are enough just as you are.

Messy kids painting

Documentary photography is about your family feeling at home during the session, whether that is literally or figuratively.  Literally this may mean capturing the chaos of the morning rush to get out the door in time for school or work with piles of clean laundry scattered over the lounge waiting to be put away. Figuratively it may be your family's ‘happy place’ be that the beach, in the bush, rugby games or camping. Your session should happen wherever it is that everyone in the family feels relaxed and comfortable in their surroundings.

Kids running through lake with dog

The session should be allowed to evolve naturally. Whatever is your usual routine is perfect. There is no such thing as a boring family. Over scheduling a series of ‘fun’ activities to try to stimulate responses from the kids isn’t necessary. It is everyday activities, like eating brekkie or brushing their teeth, that illicit the most honest emotions.

father and son colouring in

Your home should reflect who you are. Some homes I walk into are beautifully maintained where everything has its place. Other homes are more like mine embracing the chaos of life with little ones with toys and clothes scattered everywhere. Some families move quietly about their day, others are loud and boisterous. It’s all ok. I'm not about judging people. I am honoured that you have allowed me to spend time with your family. I want to see the real you.

crazy toothbrushing with kids

When you look back on these albums in years to come they will evoke a strong sense of nostalgia "Oh remember how he always dragged that blankie around in the mornings?", “She was forever dressing up and putting on concerts”, "We used to love going down to Putty Beach for a BBQ". It will be these images that truthfully reflect your life in this moment. All because you have allowed me to authentically document your everyday. Because everyday is awesome.