Welcome to the brand spankin' new Worthington Photography Blog! We are Sam and Mel, a husband-wife photography team based in the "rivah city" of Richmond, Virginia. We hope you'll come on in, sit a spell, and browse through Mel's journal of our most recent shoots and adventures. If you wish to reminisce, you can still access posts from our old blog here. Enjoy!

Hello, Baby Carmen

February 25th, 2011

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I love the story the way my mother tells it:  I’m 4, a few months older than Camille is in this shoot and my baby sister is 4 or 5 months old, a few months older than Baby Carmen.  My mother is fixing dinner in the kitchen and listening to me as I push Katy in a swing and tell her all my secrets.  Like any good mother, she listens in and overhears, “You know, I didn’t like you very much at first.  But now I think you’re kind of OK.”

So naturally, this was my frame of reference when Camille didn’t really feel like taking pictures with her mom and baby sister, Carmen, who turned four weeks old the day of the shoot.  Hang on – unfair – let me give you the back story: Camille is truly one of the most kind, thoughtful, warm and well behaved toddlers I have had the pleasure of knowing in recent years and I say that with absolute honesty… she is a gleaming reflection of her parents.  And Camille has been so excited for the arrival of her sister and is being so helpful, this was just one of the, well, harder days.  And in my professional, Jr. Psychologist opinion, any newly crowned older sibling, no matter how sweet, who doesn’t have the occasional bad day once the two most important people in the world are dividing their attention with what must seem like a very loud and poopy sack of potatoes, is bound to become a sociopath.  So I’m not in any way picking Camille here, I think what I’m trying to say is that there’s a sweet reality in these photos that will become all the more endearing as these two girls grown into inseparable friends.  Trust me, I know… after spending this past weekend with my sister on her birthday, I would have loved to have gifted her with a pic like this in a frame with the caption, “but now I think you are even better than kind of OK”.

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Poor Tricia…Carmen was having a fussy day and was not so into photos herself.  I reminded Tricia that screaming baby photos are really cute because photos don’t have sound and it made her laugh.  Definitely one of the selling points for still photography, IMO.

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Luckily Carmen couldn’t fight the Sandman for long so we got beautiful, sleepy baby photos in Tricia’s arms. Carmen looks a lot like her sister did at her age except for this cute little sprig of hair that sticks up, that is uniquely hers!

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Carmen’s nursery is so beautiful, this is where we started taking pictures when I arrived.  I love the aqua blue walls with bright pink and brown accents, the birdie painting over the crib gives a hint of a tropical sanctuary.  Tricia and Patrick incorporated some of their own baby items into the decor of the room:  the shelf with Carmen’s name has Patrick’s baby cups and Tricia’s booties and one of Tricia’s diaper pins is framed for display too.

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Camille looked very regal with the couch throw wrapped around her as she ascended the stairs to check out what we were doing…

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But she was still feeling shy.

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Tricia’s mom was able to join us for photos so we decided to try taking a few cuddle pics with all the girls on the couch downstairs.  Again, not a super popular idea, but at least here on the couch there’s a television for comfort.

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Then we asked Camille if she wanted to hold her sister and she  just lit up.  She was just waiting to be asked I guess because she quickly folded her legs criss-cross applesauce and came alive.   What happened next is so sweet…

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Here’s the online gallery and a slideshow of the shoot, Tricia let me pick the song so I couldn’t help this one.  Congratulations, Tricia and Patrick on two crazy beautiful girls.  Carmen is the greatest gift Camille has ever received, trust me, I know…

And Camille, you are my little hero.  I know how close you are to your momma and how hard it is to share.  We could all learn a lesson or two from you…

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Posted by Mel @ 7:33 pm, in Newborns, Portraits, Wee Ones | 2 Comments | Permalink

Introducing Baby Reese

February 16th, 2011

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Well we knew it was coming but now its official… Brayden is a big brother!   I caught up with the family to meet their newest addition when Reese was just two weeks old.

We started out with some family cuddle time on the couch.  So who is cheesing harder here… Brayden or Sammy (dog in lower left)?

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You know you are an expert mommy when these photos don’t make you nervous in the least: seeing a two year old hold a newborn still makes my heart flutter but Brayden is so gentle and careful and sweet.  At one point Amy asked him to kiss the baby and he licked her head, maybe not what we had in mind, but very sweet all the same.  He was very surprised when she yawned!

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Then Brayden took us on a tour of her finished, rosey nursery.  He still likes to hang in her crib so I asked if he could show the baby how to sleep in a crib and this is what he did.

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Reese is so gorgeous with a full, silky head of dark hair… already so different from her brother when he was her same age.

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When I first saw this photo I thought to myself, “so this is what it looks like to have it all….”  I’m sure that there are moments with a newborn and toddler in tow where life feels more overwhelming than perfect but I was definitely getting the satisfied, very happy, very at peace, super grateful vibe from this newly expanded family.  If its true that the birth of a second child is where parenthood really begins, this family is off to a great start.

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Everything wonderful and magical about motherhood is in this photo for me…

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Here’s a slideshow from the session and the online gallery.  Amy and Jeff, congratulations on your beautiful daughter.  I’m so excited to watch her grow!

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Posted by Mel @ 8:19 pm, in Newborns, Portraits, Uncategorized, Wee Ones | No comments | Permalink

Baby Preston and Family

February 8th, 2011

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It wasn’t long ago, just before Christmas in fact, that I took these photos of sweet baby Preston and his father’s side of the family.  Natalie’s father was overseas at that time and Natalie wanted to do another shoot once he came home while Preston was still a wee tyke.  So this time, instead of congregating at the Toalson home, we switched it up a bit and met around the corner at Natalie’s parents house for the shoot.

Family portraits, the conventional way, haven’t been my cup of tea since my mother dressed my sister and I up in matching blue flowered dresses and dragged us to Olan Mills.   Can’t say as I blamed her, it was way too hard to get both of us to pose for a photo together and I admit that I rather adore that picture now: my sister looking so angelic behind her baby tooth grin and my tom boy self with straight cut bangs and a gap between my front teeth, looking a little itchy from the lace, both of our bodies turned away from each other ever so slightly as if to whisper, “she’s touching me”.  So I do value the everybody-look-at-the-camera-and-say-cheese stuff, these photos take prominent places in our homes and remind us of the people we love who are growing up too fast or can’t be around to make us laugh every single day.  Even if its not “my thing”, its good to share here.  And maybe its just me, but I think there were some very genuine moments despite the lights, camera and action.  Maybe you’ll agree…

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My favs were in the nursery Natalie’s mom has set up in her house for when Preston comes to visit, equipped with the very same Jenny Lind crib Natalie slept in as a baby.  I love these sweet, shared momma moments:

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If there’s one mistake I made, its forgetting that babies are ticking time bombs when it comes to posed portraiture and saving the immediate family until the end.  Preston was truly a champ, dishing out smiles left and right, right on command and then suddenly, he was over it… and ready to play.  So I was a little bummed with our capture of just Natalie and Craig but we can save that for another day.  Preston will be so glad someday to have photos with all of his family, its a beautiful gift that Natalie and Craig gave.  Its making me think that we need to get more photos of Fiver with his grandfolk as soon as we can, its too easy to take these relationships for granted!

Here’s a slideshow and the online gallery to share….

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Posted by Mel @ 6:21 pm, in Portraits, Wee Ones | No comments | Permalink

Beautiful Erin… and Beautiful Charlie

February 4th, 2011

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As I walked to my chair to sit down and write this post, I felt the familiar crush of a Cheerio beneath my shoe, called the dog to come clean it up and wondered how on earth we got our closest friends to follow us into this beautiful mess.  We haven’t exactly made it look easy, our entry into parenthood was less than graceful and its the people closest to us that have born the brunt of our complaints about lack of sleep, freedom and privacy in the bathroom.   They have ignored moody outbursts while stepping over mine fields of toys to access a fridge with sticky handles, turning a blind eye to the dirty diaper sitting on a piece of furniture that somehow never made it to the pail.  But I guess they have also watched us glow, laugh, cuddle, sing, smile, rock and coo while getting stupidly excited about the small things in life, like the way my son says, “belly button”.  I guess that these are the impressions that stuck since one by one, ready or not, our favorite DINKs (dual income, no kids) are dropping like flies.

Enter Dan and Erin who rented an apartment from us while relocating from New Orleans to Richmond after Katrina.  They were the Ricardos (young, riotous and shenanigan prone) and we were the Mertzs (a little older, a little grumpier, equally shenanigan prone) and life as we knew it in Richmond hasn’t been the same since they came.  Many years, travels, life changes and shenanigans later, we are family.  We were so happy when they announced that they would be joining us in the beautiful mess.

If you read my post on Olivia’s belly portraits this past summer, you already know that I arrived at their house with my equipment, some excitement and quite a bit of dread.  Taking pictures of people I love is always infinitely harder than photographing people I have just met for reasons I haven’t entirely figured out.  The sun was not cooperating as the sky continued to darken and threaten rain… so much for good light.  Poor Dan had been up all night working and fell asleep in the nursery during a costume change!   Erin was every bit as nervous as I was and its probably good that photos can’t reveal the occasional irreverent conversation amidst our chatter.  Mostly we talked momma stuff and despite the awkwardness, it was nice to get Erin to myself for a little while without the men folk or the ankle biter.  The house was quiet and dark and warm like a favorite cup of tea.  She and I weren’t nearly as quiet as the photos look but if they feel pensive, that was real.

If there’s something I really like about belly portraits and first time mommas, its the quiet before the storm.  Pregnant women in their final trimester, if left to their devices, are a flurry of nesting activity, whirling dervishes of laundry and preparation.  So its nice to press the pause button and allow the calm, confidence and readiness to rise to the surface: which is exactly what I see in these photos of Erin.

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Even Sienna Brulee is ready.  Reluctant maybe, but ready…

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Erin and Dan welcomed Charleton Fisher O’Regan to the world a week ago yesterday and are doing fantastic together.  Dan is already a master swaddler, as we got to see during a brief hospital visit the day after Charlie was born.  Welcome to the world, sweet Charlie.  D&E, welcome to the Beautiful Mess.  And to all three of you, welcome home.

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Posted by Mel @ 6:29 pm, in Bellies, Personal, Portraits, Wee Ones | No comments | Permalink