Crackerjack Photography Studio: Blog en-us (C) Crackerjack Photography Studio (Crackerjack Photography Studio) Wed, 30 Jun 2021 19:31:00 GMT Wed, 30 Jun 2021 19:31:00 GMT Crackerjack Photography Studio: Blog 80 120 A Maternity Session at Brown Bridge Quiet Area 2G7A2099-2 hair edit2G7A2099-2 hair edit When we were planning for this session, Tayler and I were unsure of where to go. Early spring in northern Michigan isn’t the most beautiful time of year and we were afraid of too much brown and the possibility of snow. 

I’m persistently leaning into my belief that everything always works out and this session was a great example of that. It was the
most beautiful April day we could have asked for! And it’s my job to make beautiful
photographs any time of year. 
I met Tayler and Joe in 2020 when I hosted a family portrait contest on Facebook. I shared tips for photographing your own family and then challenged my followers to post photographs of their own family. Through voting by friends and family, Tayler won the contest! We planned their family session for the fall of 2020 at the Highrollways in Buckley, Michigan. If you haven’t been there in the fall, it’s a must see!


2G7A2218-2sky2G7A2218-2sky Tayler and Joe got engaged at the rollways so the location was sentimental for them. We even captured a family photograph in the exact spot where Joe proposed. 

This spring I had the honor of capturing the Harper Family in a maternity session as they were expecting their second babe and then again couple days after their second daughter Isla June was born for a Fresh 48 session. I absolutely love building relationships with my clients and it has been so fun to watch this family grow.

Freya, Joe and Tayler’s oldest daughter, was very shy in our first session with most photographs of her being sweet, yet serious. During our second session at Brown Bridge, she was more outgoing but very focused on getting to the river! When I visited them at home for their Fresh 48 session she was a ball of energy bouncing on the bed and sprinting across the room. It is a joy to get to know each family I work with and an even greater honor to continue building relationships while capturing significant life events like this. Thank you Tayler and Joe for letting me be a part of this precious season of your lives.  2G7A1689- light2G7A1689- light

2G7A1654-22G7A1654-2 2G7A2054-22G7A2054-2 2G7A2075-22G7A2075-2 2G7A2232-22G7A2232-2 2G7A1847-22G7A1847-2

(Crackerjack Photography Studio) Boardman River Brown Bridge Quiet Area children family family photo session kids maternity Michigan photography portrait Traverse City Wed, 26 May 2021 18:34:36 GMT
A Visit to Saugatuck, Michigan Moonlight Villa January 2021-0051Moonlight Villa January 2021-0051 A few months ago I connected with a lovely woman who owns an Airbnb in Douglas, Michigan. Douglas is a quaint little town just outside Saugatuck which was voted one of the “The 25 Coolest Town in America to Visit in 2021” by Matador Network.

It always amazes me how relationships can be formed via social media! Some days I want to swear off “the social” but I’ve been able to make some really great connections especially via Instagram! The conversation started around headshots when I was talking about that on my own account and turned into a discussion about photography to capture the Airbnb she owns and available activities in the area. 

Moonlight Villa January 2021--3Moonlight Villa January 2021--3 My husband, Josh, and I visited Saugatuck mid-January of this year and stayed at Moonlight Villa Airbnb. I think it’s only the second time we’ve visited the little tourist town and we constantly wondered why we had never spent more time there! We both went to school in southwest Michigan but didn’t venture to Saugatuck until after we had moved away to Oklahoma post-college. 

As parents of young children, we were just happy to get away for the weekend without kids! As part of my agreement with Louisiana to capture photographs of any activities we did while we were there, we had to make sure we left the house and explored the area. 

Moonlight Villa January 2021-9913Moonlight Villa January 2021-9913

When we arrived, Josh stated “Man, this makes me want to have a house like this!” I was a bit confused and maybe even a little offended! What do you mean? Tastefully decorated and free from clutter? He replied with “A vacation home that we just visit.” Nice save buddy!

Moonlight Villa January 2021-9940Moonlight Villa January 2021-9940 The house was cozy and had plenty of space with two bedrooms upstairs and another one downstairs. The open concept living room, dining and kitchen would be great for larger groups or extended families. The two of us just enjoyed being able to sprawl out on the couch and relax! 

We arrived Friday evening and picked up takeout from Everyday People Cafe in downtown Douglas. Saturday morning we headed to the Blue Star Cafe and picked up biscuits and gravy and fried eggs. This was super exciting for us, because our son has an egg allergy and we never get to eat eggs! The biscuits were great too!

IMG_4263IMG_4263 After breakfast and a couple of hours photographing the interior of the house, we got ready and headed to Mount Baldhead Park to climb the famous stairway up to the top of the dune that looks over Saugatuck on one side and out to Lake Michigan on the other side.

It was surely the largest wooden staircase I have ever climbed. I was surprised at the number of people making the climb up the stairs in the middle of winter. We had to stop at each little rest bench to breathe! Being the dead of winter, I wasn’t quite in shape for that kind of climb. 



Moonlight Villa January 2021-0006Moonlight Villa January 2021-0006

Moonlight Villa January 2021-0020Moonlight Villa January 2021-0020
Following the hike around the dunes, we headed into Saugatuck. I photographed the downtown shops as we popped in and out of a few of them. Things were quiet with it being winter and with COVID keeping people from traveling as much as usual.

After a little exploring, we started to look for a place for lunch. Most places were only doing takeout, as restaurants were not able to be open with COVID restrictions. We decided to try Wicks Park Bar and Grille because they had a patio with heaters available for seating. They even supplied blankets to keep warm! It felt so good to be dining out as we hadn’t in a very long time. We had probably only visited one or two other restaurants in the past year due to the pandemic!

After lunch we headed to Saugatuck Dunes State park on Lake Michigan for a hike through the woods that leads out to the beach. I was surprised at how many people were out hiking in January but with the pandemic it’s one of the only things you could do! Plus, seeing the water is such great therapy during the winter and the sun was out! Moonlight Villa January 2021-0035Moonlight Villa January 2021-0035

We spent the late afternoon relaxing and decided to order pizza for dinner and stay in. We settled on Back Alley Pizza Joint after reading their reviews online and it did not disappoint. We ordered the Caprese Bread which was even better than the pizza - highly recommend - and the Goat Cheese and Spinach Pizza. The wait for that pizza was a little long but a testament to how good it was!

In the morning we packed up to go home! We are excited for an opportunity to visit Moonlight Villa in the Spring or Summer and explore the outdoor activities more and the shops and restaurants that were closed for the off-season. To learn more about Moonlight Villa click here. You can also follow them on Instagram @moonlightvillami.

Moonlight Villa January 2021-9966Moonlight Villa January 2021-9966
Moonlight Villa January 2021-9952Moonlight Villa January 2021-9952
Moonlight Villa January 2021-9901Moonlight Villa January 2021-9901


Moonlight Villa January 2021-0062Moonlight Villa January 2021-0062

(Crackerjack Photography Studio) Michigan Airbnb Douglas dunes Mount Baldhead photography Saugatuck travel vacation rental Sat, 20 Mar 2021 12:10:09 GMT
What is a Fresh 48 Session Gagnon Fresh 48 2020-7192Gagnon Fresh 48 2020-7192
What is a Fresh 48 Session?

Having a baby is a monumental event in your life, one that you will never forget. There are so many emotions and new experiences that happen in those first days. Time does not exist and nothing else in the world matters. It's just you and your new love. After that, time never stops. Baby continues to grow and you continue to create new memories with them. Soon, you may not be able to remember how tiny they really were at birth. A Fresh 48 Session is a lifestyle portrait session that takes place within the first 48 hours after your baby is born. We capture the wonder and awe of those first days with your new little one.

AmundsenFresh48-4686 This session is different than birth photography in that it does not capture the drama and anticipation of the birthing process, but rather the peace and love that is felt when everything is settled and you have your baby in your arms. Fresh 48 sessions are unique from other newborn sessions in that they may take place at the hospital or at your home and capture the whole family interacting with the new baby.

Baby primarily stays in your arms, but we may capture events like dad changing a diaper, breastfeeding, big sister adoring her new sibling and other firsts happening at this time. We won’t be dressing the baby up in cute outfits and posing them on bean bags! These images portray the family experience of welcoming a new life. 



What to expect:  AmundsenFresh48-4704AmundsenFresh48-4704

To plan for a Fresh 48 Session, we will schedule a consultation call where we discuss the details of your birth including location, due date, any specific photographs you’d like, who will be present, etc. From there we will make a plan for contact and how you will notify me of your new arrival. With effective communication, I will be able to arrange my schedule and come meet your baby! The session will be about one hour long. You just had a baby! You may be tired and overwhelmed and I am very cognizant of this. I work to be efficient in capturing the must have images of your new family while being respectful of your space and physical and mental state.


AmundsenFresh48-4673AmundsenFresh48-4673 How to prepare: 

I keep Fresh 48 Sessions very laid back. We capture genuine and authentic emotions and details of your new baby. You only have to get as ready as you want! If you want to stay in your robe or PJs then by all means, stay in your PJs! The whole point of this is to capture your first hours together in authenticity. No costumes or makeup needed. If you feel more comfortable putting on a nice outfit and a little foundation AND have the energy to do it, then go for it! 

The last thing you need to worry about after bringing a human into the world is how tidy your hospital room or home is. All we need is one area that is decently lit and picked up - like your bed or your couch. We will discuss this in the consultation so that you do not have to stress about it after baby arrives. Baby can just be in a diaper, maybe a plain onesie and swaddled in a blanket. A solid color t-shirt and jeans is just fine for dad and any other kiddos. 

Gagnon Fresh 48 2020-7222Gagnon Fresh 48 2020-7222 I am going to ask you to handle your baby. I know what it feels like to be a new parent and I had a hard time even letting grandma hold my precious baby in those first few days. I’m also very aware of keeping any germs I might be carrying away from your little one.

We are on baby’s timeline. If we need to change a diaper, feed, snuggle, bounce, change clothing or anything else we will do it. I will try to capture little snippets of these activities in a visually pleasing way. Remember, this session is to capture those first days as they truly are.


Where do we go from here?

If having photographs to remember the first blissful days of welcoming your new baby to the world sounds like something you’re interested in, please reach out! You can email (, message, text or call me (405-406-2734) with questions and we can set up time to chat more!                                            Gagnon Fresh 48 2020-7107Gagnon Fresh 48 2020-7107 Gagnon Fresh 48 2020-7158Gagnon Fresh 48 2020-7158
                                                      Gagnon Fresh 48 2020-7128Gagnon Fresh 48 2020-7128 Gagnon Fresh 48 2020-7322Gagnon Fresh 48 2020-7322  


(Crackerjack Photography Studio) 48 baby family fresh newborn photography Thu, 14 Jan 2021 16:49:51 GMT
The Top 5 Most Frequently Asked Family Photography Questions Buller 2018-4900Buller 2018-4900

  1. What should we wear?

    Building the family wardrobe for a portrait session can become stressful, especially if you are an overthinker like me. The bigger the family, the more complicated it gets. 

    Don’t worry though, this is one thing we always talk about in a consultation before the session. I make myself available via text and email to send images of your selections back and forth.  Together, we make small tweaks until we have a cohesive, yet varied set of clothing for everyone that is visually appealing. 

    The first piece of advice I give is to start with one item that you know you want someone to wear, whether it’s for yourself or someone else, then build from there. If it’s a dress with blue, yellow and green, try to find something in all of those colors for everyone else. My second piece of advice is to mix patterns and solids. Too much solid is boring, but too many different patterns can get a little crazy.

  2. How much does it cost? 

    Consider your photography an investment - an investment that brings you and your family joy for years to come. With that in mind, I will tell you it’s priceless! If you lost a family member today, how much would you pay for just one more photo of them or the two of you together? Bouwhuis2019-9709Bouwhuis2019-9709

    Now, more practically, you can find family photography for everywhere from $50 to $50,000. When you hire a family portrait photographer, you are hiring an artist to make a personalized piece of artwork of your family, just for you. You are paying for years of experience, education, equipment, time, shooting and editing skills, prints and products and the service that they provide. While my session fee is $100 to get started and you only purchase what you love, most of my clients spend $750 and up. 

  3. Where should we go?  A professional photographer can make exceptional photographs in almost any setting. However, I do have a few recommendations when choosing a location.  StephensFamily2019-1171StephensFamily2019-1171

    I love to chat with my clients about places that are meaningful to them. The photographs will tell a better story if the background is something you can recognize and tie meaning to. Oftentimes, your backyard is a wonderful place to make family photographs. A few other things to consider when choosing a location are the lighting in the location (i.e. shade vs direct sunlight), will there be other people there, are there multiple areas to serve as different backgrounds, is there water, playgrounds or other things to distract the kids? We will discuss all of this in the pre-session consultation.

  4. How long does it take? 

    My session fee covers “one hour of shooting”. However, once I get going, I get really excited and sometimes we go a little longer. If the kids get tired after 30 minutes, we might have to wrap it up at 45 minutes. 

    The most important thing to know is that it takes the first 10-15 minutes for everyone to warm up. It might feel a bit awkward at the beginning, but we will all settle in and the best shots will come in the middle of the session. Everyone will start to get tired and we might push for just a few more, but there is always a definite moment when the session feels complete. I am always sure to ask if there is anything else you would like to do before we call it quits.

  5. How do I get my images? 

    Each photographer is different in how they deliver final images. Some just send you a flash drive with all the digital files. At Crackerjack Photography Studio, we schedule an ordering session about two weeks after your shoot to r 63688675-A26C-403F-B214-6ABD28CB18FA63688675-A26C-403F-B214-6ABD28CB18FA eview all of the images and select your favorites for purchase. This is a service that I provide to my clients to see the project through to the end. Selecting your favorite images can be exhausting and overwhelming on your own, but I am here with my professional expertise to guide you through the process. Those images will not rot in digital purgatory! Prints and products will be delivered to your home and digital file products can be downloaded from my website.So tell me, what other questions do you have? I would love to hear them in the comments below or send me an email at


(Crackerjack Photography Studio) children family kids photography photography tips Portrait wardrobe what to wear Thu, 24 Sep 2020 17:33:43 GMT
Portrait Play Dates In August, my little assistant and I hosted "portrait play dates" in our home. These play dates are something I do for fun but also as a service to my clients and friends.  With a backdrop and lighting set up in our living room, we invite friends with little ones over to make a few portraits with us and then play.  I started this event last February after making a small setup for Valentine’s Day photos to photograph my daughter, Ellamae. When I realized how much work we had put into the setup for just a few photos, I invited friends over to make a portrait too.  I offer one free digital file for them to use however they want. At that time I suggested using the image to create personalized Valentine’s Day Cards. 


This August, with Ellamae home from Mother’s Day Out for the month, I struggled to balance time with her and time spent working on my photography business. To combine work and play I invited some friends with kiddos over to make photos again.  We had five photo sessions/play dates and they were a blast! We captured some fun images of the kids and then spent time playing and chatting.


The first date was with Micah. He is a busy little two year old, but we managed to catch a few good smiles. He really liked our tiny rocking chair! After photographing, we went outside and chased some bubbles. 

Micah Thomas-2Micah Thomas-2 Micah Thomas Final-4 editMicah Thomas Final-4 edit


Next we had the Castillo family over. It was the day of Jacob’s 8th birthday so we got to make fun birthday themed photos with him and his sister Jonah! Their mom took my suggestion to bring fun props along for the photos and had several different options to make fun and interesting portraits! They brought playdough and Ellamae got hers out. These two are a photographer’s dream and so great at making portraits! I would love to photograph them every day. Castillo Playdate-1Castillo Playdate-1 Castillo Playdate-2Castillo Playdate-2 Castillo Playdate-6Castillo Playdate-6 Castillo Playdate-13Castillo Playdate-13 Castillo Playdate-14Castillo Playdate-14 Castillo Playdate-18Castillo Playdate-18 Castillo Playdate-19Castillo Playdate-19 Castillo Playdate-24Castillo Playdate-24 Castillo Playdate-26Castillo Playdate-26


Miles and Levi are regular photography clients and a little older than our other play date guests but we had fun with them too! They brought Ellamae a fairy garden and after our photo session we went outside and planted flowers in it. I loved the way the boys showed Ellamae each step and helped her to complete the project.

Robinson Playdate-9Robinson Playdate-9 Robinson Playdate-5Robinson Playdate-5 Robinson Playdate-12Robinson Playdate-12 Robinson Playdate-15Robinson Playdate-15 Robinson Playdate-16Robinson Playdate-16


Edith brought her newborn, Julian, and seven year old, Nicole, over Thursday afternoon. Nicole immediately told me when she walked in the door that she did “not want to take pictures!” She had fallen asleep in the car on the way over and was less than happy when she arrived. However, after hanging out, chatting and seeing Ellamae for a bit she joined her mom and brother for a few sweet photos. I was honored to preserve a few precious moments during this delicate time that passes so quickly. Lonigro Playdate Final-5Lonigro Playdate Final-5 Lonigro Playdate Final-7Lonigro Playdate Final-7 Lonigro Playdate Final-11Lonigro Playdate Final-11 Lonigro Playdate Final-12Lonigro Playdate Final-12 Lonigro Playdate Final-15Lonigro Playdate Final-15


Last, we had Andrew come to visit. Andrew was nearing his first birthday so we tried out a few themed props that I had around the house. Then we got some shots with his favorite toys so his family could look back and remember this precious phase of his life. Always smiling, Andrew exudes joy and always keeps me grinning!

Andrew Playdate-1Andrew Playdate-1 Andrew Playdate-7Andrew Playdate-7 Andrew Playdate-4Andrew Playdate-4 Andrew Playdate-10Andrew Playdate-10


Portrait Play Dates allow me to practice my trade, see some of my adult friends, and our kiddos get to play together. I can’t think of a better way to spend a week!  

If this sounds like fun to you and you might want to host portrait play dates at your house, please let me know. As a play date host, you will receive 10 digital portraits for free. This is a good excuse for your friends to get photos made of their little ones in a laid back atmosphere, play with friends and have some adult bonding time too.


Oh yeah....and a few portraits of my own kiddo....


(Crackerjack Photography Studio) child portraits children kids oklahoma city photography play date portraits Thu, 21 Sep 2017 20:50:09 GMT
Balloons, Bubbles and Tea at Kite Park Symantha “dated” my brother at church camp, back when dating meant calling someone your boyfriend or girlfriend and sitting next to them at the campfire. Although we lived in towns almost three hours apart, somewhere in the next few years I discovered that she was the cousin of one of my closest high school friends. It always amazes me how people weave in and out of our lives, popping in and out with serendipitous timing. 

About a year ago, a Faceook message from my high school friend (and Symantha’s cousin) informed me that Symantha had moved to Edmond, OK and she suggested we meet up.  We both had little girls and might be able to reconnect. Knowing the isolation I felt as a newcomer to Oklahoma City, I was eager to reach out to Symantha. I also have a great appreciation for spending time with people who relate to my roots. There is an understanding between people from “home” that you can’t find in others. 

Symantha and I started meeting up for play dates and our daughters got along great. Even though Symantha’s daughter, Holly is almost two years younger than my daughter, Ellamae, they have a great time together.  We hold a lot of parallel views on parenting and I wholly enjoy our time together. Chats about Michigan and things only Northern Michiganders understand help ease the pain of living so far from our families.

After Symantha asked me to capture their family portraits, we got together to discuss ideas for their session. We met at Starbucks, but only after attending a pregnancy event together, because we both happen to be pregnant right now also!  I asked Symantha what she had in mind and what kinds of things Holly is into at this phase of toddlerhood.  What would she like to remember about this age and phase in the years to come?  Symantha mentioned baby dolls and a bubble machine! What fun! She also said that her husband Randy really likes willow trees. Pulling all of these things together, Symantha brought along the adorable tea set, blanket and bubble machine and we agreed on Kite Park in Nichols Hills. This park has a large, well kept willow tree and lush green landscaping, perfect for family portraits! AND….a wonderful playground for celebrating with family fun after the session, because FUN is always number one on my priority list for family photos!

Young 2017-4Young 2017-4 Young 2017-6Young 2017-6 Young 2017-5Young 2017-5 Young 2017-1Young 2017-1 Young 2017-2Young 2017-2 Young 2017-8Young 2017-8 Young 2017-9Young 2017-9 Young 2017-11Young 2017-11 Young 2017-14Young 2017-14 Young 2017-15Young 2017-15 Young 2017-16Young 2017-16 Young 2017-17Young 2017-17 Young 2017-19Young 2017-19 Young 2017-21Young 2017-21 Young 2017-23Young 2017-23 Young 2017-25Young 2017-25 Young 2017-27Young 2017-27 Young 2017-28Young 2017-28 Young 2017-32Young 2017-32 Young 2017-30Young 2017-30 Young 2017-34Young 2017-34 Young 2017-36Young 2017-36 Young 2017-38Young 2017-38 Young 2017-39Young 2017-39 Young 2017-42Young 2017-42 Young 2017-44Young 2017-44 Young 2017-48Young 2017-48 Young 2017-49Young 2017-49

(Crackerjack Photography Studio) 2 years old family of 3 family photography family portraits kite park maternity nichols hills oklahoma oklahoma city photography pregnancy tea party toddler Thu, 20 Jul 2017 04:09:57 GMT
A Super Family Session in Automobile Alley Moots Spring 2017-7Moots Spring 2017-7

I first photographed Jennifer and Charlie for an engagement session in 2010. Somehow I convinced them to let me photograph one of the most important days of their lives and captured their wedding day a month later.  They have made me a part of numerous important occasions in their lives over the last seven years.   We now schedule a date each spring to commemorate their son Kendall’s birthday.


This year, when I talked with Jennifer about current interests and loves, superheroes topped the list. Kendal’s mom tells me “Some days all he plays with are his superheroes!  Sometimes they even go into timeout for pushing and hitting their friends!” Moots Spring 2017-16Moots Spring 2017-16



I always say family photo sessions require planning, preparation and packing and this session involved all three.  Jennifer ordered some new superhero masks and capes and anxiously awaited their delivery – hoping they would arrive in time for the shoot.  On the session day we toted a bucket of superheroes and costumes around downtown Oklahoma City.  The extra luggage was totally worth it!  When we first arrived, a group of women making senior portraits expressed their jealousy of all our cool superhero gear.  They wanted to borrow it!


Even the best planning needs flexibility, so when I saw thunderstorms in the forecast for our scheduled session in Automobile Alley, I texted Jennifer asking if they wanted to try to head out earlier and avoid the storms. We were able to beat that weather without any worries, by just making a small change to our plan!


As Jennifer and I very carefully lined up Spiderman, Captain America and their buddies for one of the shots, Kendall shrieked, “Are they playing with my superheroes??” Of course we were! Everybody gets a chance to have fun making photographs with Crackerjack Photography!


A couple weeks after their session, Jennifer and I met up to review their final edited images and place a print order.  She stated that so many of the images showed Kendall’s personality and different parts of it.  This is one of the things I always strive for.  "I loved them! They brought tears to my eyes because you captured Kendall's personality perfectly," replied Jennifer in a follow up survey.


I can't wait to see how this family changes in the next year and I hope they continue to include me in capturing each new stage of their lives!

Moots Spring 2017-1Moots Spring 2017-1 Moots Spring 2017-4Moots Spring 2017-4 Moots Spring 2017-9Moots Spring 2017-9 Moots Spring 2017-10Moots Spring 2017-10 Moots Spring 2017-15Moots Spring 2017-15 Moots Spring 2017-23Moots Spring 2017-23 Moots Spring 2017-25Moots Spring 2017-25 Moots Spring 2017-29Moots Spring 2017-29 Moots Spring 2017-30Moots Spring 2017-30 Moots Spring 2017-31Moots Spring 2017-31 Moots Spring 2017-33Moots Spring 2017-33 Moots Spring 2017-38Moots Spring 2017-38 Moots Spring 2017-36Moots Spring 2017-36

(Crackerjack Photography Studio) Automobile Alley Family Oklahoma Oklahoma City photography portrait super hero Tue, 13 Jun 2017 01:22:05 GMT
One Night in Sulphur, Oklahoma  

One Night in Sulphur, Oklahoma - March 2, 2017


“This is kind of exciting, huh? A mini getaway!” said my husband (who plans trips all over the world including adventure activities like ocean fishing, rainforest tours, whale watching, etc.) as we were driving to Sulphur, Oklahoma! Sometimes I’m just not sure how his mind works. After a 90 minute drive to the hotel, filled with planning of other trips including Disneyland, Los Angeles, Montana, Michigan and Austin, Texas, he was excited to be staying one night, in a hotel, in Sulphur, Oklahoma!  Don’t be mistaken, I was excited too.

We were planning a long weekend trip to Lake Tenkiller, but then noticed the weather wasn’t looking quite so awesome all weekend. With Ellamae asking to go swimming for the past week and a coupon for a free night’s stay at the Artesian Hotel, we decided to make a quick one night getaway to Sulphur to get our swim on, a massage for mama and some fishing for daddy.  I got the car all packed up on Thursday, picked Josh up from work at 5:00 and we were checked in and swimming by 7:15 pm! 

As we approached the hotel entrance, Ellamae observed “It smells like a stinky pool out here!”  She was so excited to go swimming. We had a family swim for the evening and then Josh slipped down to the casino to play some Blackjack.  Ellamae and I got ready for bed so we could do more swimming in the morning.

The beautiful pool at the Artesian has an indoor and outdoor section.  It was a little cold for swimming outdoors, but still fun to look out there and dream of coming summer.  There were a group of teenagers in the pool who were in town for a competition.  Two girls watched and giggled at every move my daughter made, making her dad and I feel ever so grateful for each smile, giggle and thrill of excitement over something as simple as “kick, kick, kick”- ing her legs in some chlorinated water.

Friday morning Josh got up early to go fishing on the Blue River.  I received the infamous texted photo of a “huge” trout at 10:40 am so I knew he would be satisfied with the trip. 

Ellamae watched cartoons while I did a little writing (this blog post J) and checked my email.  Then we wandered downstairs for breakfast at the hotel restaurant, Springs at the Artesian.  The food always impresses us here and this time Ellamae gave the approval saying “XXXXX’s (my personal favorite breakfast venue) pancakes were not tasting as well as these pancakes!”  She said her bacon had “too loud crunch” so she “ordered” (ate) mine.  The one plate was plenty to share between the two of us.  As 80’s disco music played in the background, the new Snapchat filter was so fitting! 

After breakfast, we headed to the pool for round two of swimming.  We visited the “Bath House” this time and it was lovely!  The “Bath House” (hot tub) at the Artesian serves as “a nod to the past” as the City of Sulphur was historically known for the area’s natural springs. Its generous size prohibits the standard awkwardness of sitting in a circle with a bunch of strangers playing footsy and the kiddos can move around in it without disturbing anyone.  This hotel feels serene and elegant, but at the same time maintains a family friendly atmosphere! 

Josh returned from fishing in time for me to shower and pack up before heading down to the Sole’renity Spa for a massage.  My therapist, Rhonda was great and explained some things about massage therapy that no one has ever taken the time to talk to me about.  I’ve decided I might need to start getting regular massages so that I can be more comfortable!  Rhonda talked about visiting her son in Hawaii and I shared about the time we vacationed in Hawaii and there was a Tsunami (more on that later). 

Even though, on this day, they were running behind and my appointment started about 20-30 minutes late, the staff has been very professional in both my visits to this spa.  I wanted to use the Eucalyptus steam sauna after my massage, but Josh and Ellamae were finished with lunch and heading to “play the piano” in the hotel lobby.  I’m not sure if that is allowed.  I wanted to stay at the spa longer, Josh wanted more time to fish and Ellamae would have loved to swim more. The important thing is that we all got to do something we enjoy.  No one was forced into too much of anything not their style and we all went home before we were too tired.  We spent the drive home dreaming about more adventures together and what’s next in life… but not without a walk in the park and ice cream first!



(Crackerjack Photography Studio) Artesian Hotel Sulphur, Oklahoma family fishing travel trip Sun, 16 Apr 2017 15:47:31 GMT
Beginning of a Blog!  My daughter, Ellamae, is 3.4 years old (as described by my husband, the geologist).  At her ripe age, she has traveled more than most adults have in their lifetime.  Before birth, she toured at least 11 states and has currently traveled in as many countries as she has celebrated birthdays!

People ask me regularly about two topics: travel (with my family including a 3 year old and often an 80 lb. goldendoodle) and photography.

I hear “You travel so much!” or “You take really great photos.” For families, these activities both require lots of planning, preparation and WORK!  I ask myself “Is this really worth it?!?” every time I’m running around the house for an entire day (ok, maybe three days) packing before a trip (even if it’s just for the weekend).  But, you know what? It’s always worth it – for the experiences and memories made.  Family portraits involve planning, preparation, work and maybe even packing – snacks, props, outfit changes, etc., etc. - but in the end - the images and memories you cherish forever are worth it!  Nicholas Sparks said “Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy. Remember that.”

Today I’m committing to sharing my experience with the world through words and pictures.  I’m starting a blog!  I have so many unshared images overcrowding hard drives!  In an effort to liberate some of these images, you’ll be seeing some blog posts about past trips.  Hopefully, I can inspire you to pack a bag, plan a trip (or maybe a family photo session) and create some memories.  In the meantime, I hope to make connections for myself through sharing and reliving these experiences.  My husband is the planner, I am the historian.  Consequently, my apprehensions are always about the future and my partner always wants to talk about how we should have done things differently.  Today, I seek to live more in the present. Perhaps revisiting these experiences will encourage us to focus on the NOW in a spirit of gratitude. 

Ellamae's first trip to Charleston, SC in mommy's belly! June 2013

  Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, Charleston, SC, April 2014. Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, Charleston, SC, April 2014 Family road/camping trip to Colorado, August 2014. San Juan Mountains, CO, August 2014 Camping at Molas Lake, Silverton, CO, August 2014 Post attempted hike to Highland Mary Lakes near Silverton, CO, August 2014. We didn't quite make it there. September 2014

The road trip to Colorado in 2014 remains one of our favorite family trips. It is possible to enjoy long road trips with infants...and pets! National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, July 2015 Visiting Uncle Zach and the White House, Washington, DC, July 2015

Sanibel Island, FL, April 2015 Castaways Beach Bay Cottage, Sanibel Island, FL, April 2015

Touring Monte Verde Cloud Forest and checking out hummingbirds with our guide, Donald. Monte Verde, Costa Rica, May 2015 Embarking on the Don Juan Coffee & Chocolate Tour. Monte Verde, Costa Rica, May 2015 Exploring the grounds of Monte Verde Lodge & Gardens. Monte Verde, Costa Rica, May 2015 Balcony view at La Mariposa Hotel. Maunel Antonio, Costa Rica, May 2015 This pup, owned by the people where we stayed, La Posada Private Jungle Bungalows, followed us everywhere! Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, May 2015 Hanging Bridges at Selvatura Park. Monteverde, Costa Rica, May 2015 Chabil Mar Resort, Placencia, Belize, May 2016 Foot washing. Chabil Mar Resort, Placencia, Belize, May 2016 Playing and fishing. Chabil Mar Resort, Placencia, Belize, May 2016 Sunrise. Chabil Mar Resort, Placencia, Belize, May 2016

(Crackerjack Photography Studio) blog family portrait photography travel trip Sat, 25 Mar 2017 02:52:40 GMT