Virginia Children Photographer, Virginia Family Photographer » Virginia Beach based children, tween and family photographer

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Calling all clients!

First bit of news is-  It’s spring and I am cleaning house! ALL DIGITAL IMAGES ON SALE NOW! What this means is that if you had a session anytime the past 6 years, and didn’t purchase your digital images from your session, or if you only purchased a few, you can now own ALL the images from your session. They will be sent to you via my awesome digital delivery system and you will be able to download them all, save them to your hard-drives, have them with you on all your devices. Print to your hearts content and you can even print professional quality canvas and prints right through the app, which offers amazing prices and exclusive access to an awesome PROFESSIONAL PRINTER! But do not wait- This sale is now through MAY 1st, and then the images will no longer be available.


Second bit of news is – Six years ago, I opened Sweet People Photography®. Back in 2009, it was known as Elyse Cardon Photography but it’s always been the same business – me photographing the life of children of all ages. I worked really hard to be able to achieve “the look” I wanted in a photograph. In a very short time, people were able to recognize my work, my “style” of photography… and when that happened  – well, it was the highest compliment I could’ve asked for.

It is with tremendous gratitude to all of my clients, my “wanna-be clients”, local businesses, my fellow photographers and mentors, and of course my dear friends, that I am announcing the end of an era – and the closing of Sweet People Photography®.

I have SO enjoyed your babies and your children, watching them grow and being a part of your families- even if I only get to see you once a year. Thank you for trusting me to capture some of the most precious and happiest moments in your lives.

I am moving on to my next adventure in life – and as I always recommend one do – I am following my heart. I will continue to write here on my blog from time to time. At least that is the plan at the moment.:)

SO, THANK YOU all of my SWEET PEOPLE and don’t forget to take advantage of THE FINAL SALE on your DIGITAL IMAGES!

SALE PRICE ONLY $350 (retail value=priceless) Then, professional prints and canvases can be easily ordered right through the app starting at ONLY $8.00! Professional prints and canvas, means the same quality, the same lab when I order for you – in this case, you get to do it yourself!!! (DON’T print at Walgreens PLEASE!!)

If you would like to purchase your digital images, they will be for sale through May 1st and prints would make great gifts for Mother’s Day, Father’s day! please click HERE.

Okay folks –

That’s a wrap.






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Kim - Congratulations on 6 amazing years! It takes a lot of courage to follow your heart. Many people want to but don’t take that important step to make it happen. You’re modeling WHOLEHEARTED living – thank you! Lots of love

Live Out Loud | Virginia Beach, Norfolk Tween Photographer

So, I am pretty embarrassed that I have let this blog go without writing or showing images since… well, I don’t really want to talk about it. It has been neglected and the more time went by, the more it made me cringe to think about writing something new and admitting to being delinquent. Not to mention, the last time I posted was when my grandmother was sick and sadly, she didn’t make it, so it was always hard to open this blog back up and see that.

So I apologize. Moving on…:)

The latter half of 2014, I started working on pushing a new age group @ Sweet People. The ages of approximately 9-14 give or take little- aka TWEENS. It wasn’t that I didn’t shoot tweens before, it was just that I didn’t go out of my way to and neither did the parents. Parents tend to get baby pictures, childhood up till around 8 or 9 years, sometimes a teen event, and then wait until they are Seniors! What a huge GAP!!!

It sort of makes sense though. When I was growing up, this was not considered the best time to get photographs by any stretch of the imagination. Of course, because it was considered the “awkward years”. Nowadays it seems like getting braces is a cool rite of passage. Back then, don’t even think about smiling big with those silver cubes and crooked teeth.

I have been watching tweens around here for years now, and I’ve been commenting with friends how adorable and gorgeous they seem. One friend always says, “I did NOT look like that when I was thirteen.”

I ususally moan in agreement, but then I wonder, “Or did we?”

It is very hard to figure out since the hair, 80/90’s fashion and over all non-digital world of our childhood probably renders the comparison of them to us more like apples to oranges or iCarly to Facts of Life (images from google images). lol:)

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Capturing your child at this age will be a HUGE self-esteem builder. I received an email from a mom that brought me to tears. It was in this moment that I realized how important it was to show (through my images) the person that I see.

tween photographer virginia beach

One other big reason I think this age group needs to be captured is that it’s the last time our children will still look and act like kids. They are changing so fast at this age, while going through puberty, and once that transformation is complete and you have a full fledged teenager in your midst- well, that’s it.

Tweens still feel like they can be silly, without carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. They want to be seen and heard and I encourage them to be themselves. I even named this tween division LIVE OUT LOUD.




You can find me on Instagram @liveoutloud_sweetppl

I now offer “BFF” sessions as well as individual and family sessions.  For more information please email

P.S. Thanks for your support all these years (since 2009!)

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Marcy Thomaswick - So inspirational. Thanks for being able to verbalize what is coming up with these tween years. It happens with boys too- differently… Again, so inspirational and real. Love you!

Back in Time | Virginia Beach, Norfolk Children’s photographer

Yesterday may be the last time I will see my last remaining grandmother alive. I decided rather spontaneously to go down to Florida and help my mother and aunt who are taking care of her. She has been “independent” up until very recently, even flying to Virginia in November on her own to celebrate her 90th Birthday and Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, she has had a rapid decline in her health.

My cousins, sister, mom and aunt all sat around her little condo in Delray and reminisced while looking through old-fashioned photo albums. Yes, you know- the ones that have loose photos and newspaper clippings that fall out when you open the cover. The kind that as you turn the page, the hole detaches from the metal ring, most likely never shutting properly since the day it was purchased.

We looked through page by page, showing them to Nana. Honestly, it could not have been a more appropriate and meaningful day. Nana barely can smile at this point, but I managed to snap an iPhone picture of her beaming while looking at an old photograph. Is there anything better than that?


I let out a yelp and burst into tears when one image of a very strong memory shot me straight in the gut. I do not recall ever seeing it before. I didn’t know it existed. (Usually it’s the other way around. We have a memory because we have a photograph and can then relive the moment.) The image is of me with my great-grandfather George. If you asked me to tell you a memory about him, it would be one simple thing. We would sit at the kitchen table and he would give me a little beaded change purse. We would empty it out and find the shiniest pennies. I don’t remember why or what we did specifically with them- but pennies and Grandpa Georgie made a big impact on me. I can’t even tell you how it felt to see this picture. It was such a gift- almost like going back in time.


That’s what a photograph did for me… well it did that and so much more.



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Lung Cancer Alliance – Race for Breath 2013

In 2011, I received this email from one of my dearest friends:

“As most of you know, my mom, a non-smoker, lost a 10 year battle to lung cancer a litte over 2 years ago.  During her fight, my mom never stopped “living”.  She continued to do the things she loved to do and take care of everyone around her.  You would have NEVER known she was sick!  She really beat the odds by surviving longer than 5 years after her initial diagnosis and she continued to fight strong near the end.  Even when she was told she would never get off a ventilator and breath on her own again… she did!!!  

My mom was the bravest, most loving and inspirational person I have ever known and I miss her terribly.

Please take a minute to read these facts about lung cancer:

Lung cancer kills more people each year than breast, prostate, colorectal, liver, kidney and melanoma cancers combined.

  • Nearly 80% of new lung cancer cases are either former smokers or NEVER smokers.
  • Lung cancer kills 85% of newly diagnosed patients within five years.
  • Congress earmarks funding within the CDC for specific cancers. The 2010 budget includes:  
    •  $215 million for breast cancer research,
    •  $45 million for colon cancer research
    •  $14 million for prostate cancer research
    • $0 for lung cancer research.  

On November 5, I will be participating in the  Lung Cancer Race for Breath to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  This will be my 4th year participating.  

My mom actually walked this 5K with me just a few months before her cancer recurred for the final time.

Please help me support the fight against this terrible disease by making a donation, every dollar will help.  If you would like to make a donation, please click on the link below  Thank you to all my amazing friends and family that have supported me over the past few years!


I admit, I didn’t know the information she sent to us in that email.  Once I learned it though, I wanted to yell it from the rooftops.  Jan did not ask us to walk with her, because it took everything in her just to send us that email.  To openly acknowledge her painful loss and the desire to repair the world – to personally fight against lung cancer- to ask us for donations… the whole thing made her incredibly uncomfortable.

We assured her that we welcomed “the ask” with great open arms… because we would do ANYTHING to wrap our arms in ANY way possible around our dear friend.
We bundled up and a group of us showed up to walk by her side.  As we walked, it happened that four of us formed a line across the boardwalk… four of us who all have each endured the loss of a parent WAY too early.  We shared some laughs and some tears and all the while, I noticed the sky.  Ever since my dad passed away (1997), my sister and I think of my dad when the sun hides behind clouds and then blasts bright sun rays through the cracks.  She and I shared this privately, but that day, on that walk, I shared it with these friends.
(iphone pics so excuse) :)

Jan says that she imagines my father and her mother hanging out “up there”… and I admit, I LOVE the idea.  It makes me laugh and cry all at once (and that aint a pretty sight).  It makes me FURIOUS that they are not here with us.

I am sharing this publicly because this, I have no doubt, has touched too many people we all know – and though Jan may actually kill me for posting, I want her to know how great the many arms are reaching around her … not only her BFF’s.

This year, please come out to the race and if you can’t do that – consider making a donation (no money is too little, of course!)

No one should make the choice not to smoke, and then get diagnosed with lung cancer.




In HONOR and in memory of my dear friend’s mother… Maxine, YOU ARE MISSED!!!!!

And to Jan …please don’t kill me.
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Living with Homework | Virginia Beach Photographer

Every day I have to say the words out loud, I drop my head in shame.  My kids are struggling.  They are struggling with their little world of elementary school.  Homework is just about the most evil thing ever invented, and if I feel that way, I know they do.

Every day that I  tell someone my kids don’t really do any one thing in particular after school right now, I drop my head in shame.  My kids like to come home and chill out.  They come home hungry and tired and for the few hours before bed, they just want to play for the most part.  They like doing an after school activity sometimes, but not any one thing all the time… yet.

The good news is, they are actually content with hanging out and playing or running around outside.  There is no TV on the weekdays and NO electronics either.  Now, if I am being honest, and I always am… there is also a fair share of fighting, yelling, screaming and my all time favorite one: whining.

I know that this is all just a chapter in our lives.  In just a few years, my eldest daughter will be a teenager, and “playing” will be a thing of the past.  It will be all about her friends 100% of the time and she will leave her siblings and me in the dust.  It is all just a matter of time.

I know I have been MIA lately on my blog and Facebook page, because while I have been working throughout, I have been working with a heavy dose of family… in sickness and in health… and for whatever reason this fall, we have had our share of sickness.

Today I read both of these articles as they were presented to me this morning, while two of my kids lie on the sofa not feeling well…  I highly recommend these quick reads, and while they inspired me to write about some recent thoughts that have been floating around my head, I will now return to my kids.  Maybe I will even do NOTHING  while I hug my little people.

Feel free to comment because there is nothing better than knowing we are NOT alone.





Until next time,

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Stephanie - Loved reading into your daily life! Enjoy the moments… I know you do most of the time :) as for the activities, all highly over rated in reality! It’s a great grown up race for the most part!! If and when they discover a passion, it will be theirs and they will own it ! Then it worth every moment of the carpool world! Hug the little people… They end up in college all too soon as I’m learning ! Miss you !

Watching them Grow! | Chesapeake Children Photographer

These twins brothers are growing so fast and they are two lucky little boys to have these amazing parents!  They are working hard to master their new-found skill of sitting up and they are very pleased with their achievement!  Great visit on a beautiful, hot summer day and I am looking SO forward to our autumn session!

Can’t really believe it’s only been a few months really since these boys were newborns! These babies were featured in a newborn blogpost which can be viewed here.  Favorites that were posted can be viewed here and here.

Until next time!


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Boris Pol - Wow. What a cute little family beautifully captured in photos.

video - beautifully family

Ottawa Photographer - What a cute little family beautifully captured in photos.

Sitting Pretty – Norfolk and Portsmouth Children Photographer

If you haven’t experienced a Sweet People Photography® session yet, this gallery is a recent example of a baby/family photography session.  I thoroughly enjoyed shooting in the most beautiful area in Portsmouth, Virginia.

To see more from this session as well as black and white click here.   And if you missed this post or this one, check them out now!

*****Autumn is going to be here before you know it, session dates are limited so please do not wait to book yours.  Also if you haven’t seen the Sweet People website in a while this little cutie pie is the current cover girl!  Hope you are enjoying your summer!!



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Boris pol - beautiful family photos

kaprize - cool photo

Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake Newborn Photographer

Welcome Audrey Grace!  Your girls are absolutely precious!

If you or someone you know is expecting, please share this post with them!  If you would like to see more from this session, check out the PASS gallery (the Sweet People digital delivery system) here.  For a couple more favorites, click here, and here.

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Life is but a dream come true! | Virginia Beach Photographer


This morning, around 8:15am, I had asked my three (out of four) children to rally for camp.  The usual, “Get dressed, brush teeth, and put your shoes on- and HURRY UP!” began.  They moaned and whined like I was asking them to eat mud and clean the basement. Little Flora was the only one excited to complete the task, and she spent five minutes working her shirt up and over her head all by herself, and demonstrated how she can take her diaper off in record time (and even throw it away!)  She was rather proud.

A red car drove down the street.  After a few minutes, I glanced outside to see the car had pulled into our driveway. A couple had gotten out and started walking around the side of the house to a door no one really uses.  I stared and studied them.  I suddenly realized that the man was a sweet family friend who lives nearby.  Cool.  The woman accompanying him however, was not his wife that I could tell.

I looked harder… and my eyes grew larger- and it hit me.

Evelynl!!!!!!  My BEST FRIEND FROM 3rd GRADE… who I keep in touch with via Facebook, and lives very FAR away!

She and her uncle were literally walking up the steps to my front door.

I ran to meet her, swung open the door and said, “S-H-U-U-U-T UP.”

It was all I could say.  I hugged her tight and just like in the movies, a slice of life passed before my eyes.  I think I began speaking, maybe a lot… but I have no idea what I said.

When you realize that you’ve lived a life and LOVED someone other than family… a mere friend at such a tender young age (8 or 9 years old)… Well, you cry.  You cry because you realize that your life back then, that which seemed so unbelievably dramatic, was simply said: “Growing-Up”.

This friendship I am talking about started in the early 80’s.  And all too soon, her family left Virginia Beach, and relocated overseas.  To this day, I’ve saved many of the letters she wrote.  I can still visualize sitting on my bed, slicing open her pastel rainbow lined stationery, reading her three page letters describing her new life in Israel, that always ended in some version of, “Yours till Niagra Falls”.


Back to today.

I just sat down and had a bite to eat with David, and he asked what we had talked about today… (We had the opportunity to visit this afternoon with both of our families at the neighborhood pool.)

“I don’t know,” I said with a reminscing smile, “Work… current life… her move to Denver… the kids.”

Today the old memories subtly played behind the scenes.  Her mannerisms and laugh are still exactly as they were… her energy- the same.

I looked at her wonderful husband, whom I just met today, and asked, “Do you just fall in love with her over and over again every day?!”

When she moved away from Virginia several decades ago, we walked “our” beach in Newport News one last time, crying and laughing and we carried a handwritten note.


We buried it in the sand, in true-young-dramatic-girl fashion… crying and day-dreaming of the day that we could see each other again.

I still have many of our letters.  I still have a plastic box with tiny perfect conch shells from our beach…

And today, in the midst of a slightly chaotic camp morning, with a naked 2 year old dancing around the yard, and piles of life everywhere…

A (very old) dream came true… and made me feel like that little girl all over again.

 “I look at my childhood friendships differently now.  Powerful stuff those first real connections.”— Evelyn Becker

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Jessica Carlson - Isn’t life AWESOME! Elyse you are a special person and a wonderful friend. You are the kind of person who defines Best friend and lives it for life. I am so so happy for you both to have had this sweet reunion -and to see you living such a rich full life! I hope I get to meet your awesome family one day! xo Jessica

Elyse - Thank you Shontel and Alene! I am still smiling 😉

Shontel Kellum - You’re such a great writer!! LOVE this!!!

Alene Jo Kaufman - I have no words… Just tears! Thinking of two special little girls and the dreams that they shared.

No words. | Virginia Beach Photographer

Today, I witnessed something remarkable.  There are not many things in life that are true surprises… Expectant parents say that all the time when choosing to wait the long 40 weeks until they find out if they have a girl or a boy.  I do feel that way… but occasionally I am surprised and rewarded with people who are remarkable and able to show it.

It is a truly a great sight to behold when people follow their passions and under no circumstances feel satisfied with the completion of their goals.  Rather, they choose the road that is less taken, and the one that will be an adventure at every turn.

Our five year old son, repeated the Pre-K class at our school (Strelitz Early Childhood Center), because his birthday happens to be right about at the cut-off, so we made the decision to have him begin Kindergarten next year (and never looked back!).  We also made the decision along with the head of our pre-school and his teachers, that it would be in his interest to actually repeat with the same teachers… and (after we screamed with glee!) …we never looked back.

These teachers know how to plug our children in, sync them, and charge their batteries for LIFE!  At a time that is just at the turning point where people seem to retain memories, I pray and hope that our little people will remember their Pre-K teachers and what they learned because if they learn nothing else a day in their lives, they will have been taught all they need to know.

We started the night in the “active lab” where one of those awesome smart-board/active-boards took center stage with a compilation slideshow of the years activities. (After four times with this teacher, I knew to expect that at the very least):) The lead teacher, always humble, was genuinely excited and READY for the sharing to begin.  After a brief overview of what was to come, she explained that the theme of the night was CHIHULY, the artist, and then she gave a little explanation on how they came around to learning about him.  She may start with an idea, but then as the school year begins, and the children open up, she insists they develop their love of learning by discussing, inquiring, researching and does everything and anything to guide and engage them in the discovery.

Tonight, we entered their classroom, AKA “The Museum” after each child got to cut their own ribbon blocking the doorway… The lights were off, we were able to tour around the exhibits which were just absolutely spectacular and frankly, I think Dale Chihuly himself would have been blown away.

What may seem like a far cry from traditional sit-at-a-desk-pre-K-education makes me feel like screaming from the rooftops- How much more information could one kid hold… all while racing to the top, to be our future leaders.  I am so pleased with the results of today, that I decided to share the excitement here… and while these are iPhone snapshots (oh gosh they are horrible), the immense amount of work that went into this presentation cannot even be described using pictures (good, bad or otherwise) or words… if you could only have seen it first hand.

My only sadness comes from knowing that my children will be hard-pressed to label a more brilliant team of teachers and year of education and lord knows, they have a whole lot of years ahead of them.

Thank you from our WHOLE CLASS and from our WHOLE HEART.  Elyssa and Jacquie – thank you for charging our children with creativity, individuality, camaraderie, reading, writing, math, unbreakable souls and all the incredible values that you exemplify in being a friend, a leader and just being remarkable.  I wish we could clone you… all children should experience your gift.

ps. I REPEAT!!!! PLEASE FORGIVE THE HORRIBLE iphone photos! I ran out of the house without the real camera, and well, let’s just say we were glad to be there on time.

***Guess who went back into the classroom today with her real camera!! Feel free to check out a slightly better tour of the classroom here:

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Elyse - Agreed! We really cannot underestimate the power of self-esteem and love-of-learning!

Kim - So happy for Avi that he knows success and love of learning already! Way to go to great teachers – the most unsung heroes of our culture!

Calling all Beautiful Mothers. This means you. | Virginia Beach Family Photographer

I’ve said it before and I will say it again.

I see you.

The real you- The you with twinkles in your eyes and love in your heart.

I see your children too.

And guess what?

Your children see what I see… The rest of us see what they see.

The most beautiful woman in the world.

That alone should be reason enough to get in the picture with the family that YOU created.

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A photograph: A record of light | Virginia Beach, Norfolk Baby and Family Photographer

I am tuned in.

…to hearts & rhythms.

A perfect crescendo.

Patiently waiting, I know it is in that precise moment, where authenticity lives and breathes.

I have a visceral reaction.

Just then… A captured star sparkles.

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Words to Live By | Norfolk Family Photographer

It is a rainy day here in Virginia Beach.  I would like to share some personal thoughts here on the blog. Don’t be shy- I am feeling a little over-exposed here, so if you are so inclined to let me know you are reading this… please feel like you can.


On April 12, 1997, I was 25 years old when my father took his last breath.  I was angry. I was bewildered. I was speechless. I sit here with tears streaming down my cheek… the tears take the same path each time. If I had not been living prior to that moment, I had a crash course in it that tragic day.

They were 20 and 21 at their June wedding.

My professional dance career came to a screeching halt, daily crosswords became my vice. I sat depressed, scanning the Chesapeake bay for answers, awaiting my mother’s return from work.  I had left home my sophomore year of high school, been living on my own for ten years. Thought I had achieved my dreams… and I had.  But for what?  To see my family a handful of times a year?  To have my parents & sister patiently waiting backstage after a Saturday night show, so that we could grab a super late dinner, force them to replay every single step, as if that was even possible… only for them to drive the two hours home.  Instead of feeling like I had achieved something, I sat in his recliner, at a house I never really knew, feeling like I had missed everything.

Chronic pain developed over my breastbone… after a few days, it hurt to breathe. It seemed to come regularly, it was a lot of pressure.  I saw many doctors, had various adjustments, and after a few weeks it eased off.  After a few years, I noticed not how it would happen- but when.  It would quietly enter mid-March, get really horrible around March 31st (the same day he was rushed to the ER)… then begin to wane.

During those early years, the final two weeks of his life replayed constantly… a recurring nightmare… except I never woke up.  I’d go over the final days with a fine-tooth comb, knit-picking e-v-e-r-y little moment, wondering what if? If I’d been more aware, stronger, something… anything…just… I don’t know… just more. Those days still sound like heavy rain pounding on a tin roof in my brain.

I watched my mother, my sister.  I watched his father, his sister…many friends of the family…doctors.  He was my person, my family,  my people… As I watched each of them deal (or not exactly deal) with something SO not even close to being in any of our control, I realized that this one person was one step away from each of us.  Our  lives quite varied,  he was this groups common bond.  He was the center, he was our role model, we each needed him and we each stood an arms reach away… Had it been a dance, we would have made a star.

I am about 9 years old here, same age as my oldest daughter, Bella.

It is 2013, and the dreaded month is here.  The annual physical pain no longer forces the same pressures onto my heart… In some ways, its absence scares me altogether.  Perhaps because my life is now so full, in joining with my amazing husband and creating our four special people.  I try to look back and understand what they (my parents) went through raising us… how they taught me, and was it effective?  David and I do a decent job ad-libbing in our never-rehearsed show.  We periodically tell the kids that we really have no idea what we are doing.  (What I want to scream is, “How come no one can make ME a peanut butter and jelly!!!???? When did I become the parent???!!”) 

Then I think if “my people” each raised their arms, one step away from me… we would make a star.

I heard an inspiring talk the other night on the topic of being parents as role models.  One has the ability to make a change, to make a difference in a child’s life no matter how young or how old.  You are the parent until you are no longer the parent… and a child can always learn from the parent.  It doesn’t really matter if you can’t teach an old dog… because we are not dogs.  It is not too late! We are their whole world…

It is never too late… unless, of course, it is too late.

Here I am about 3, and my father must be about 29.

Ironically, my elderly dog, Sofi, just came up to me and gently nudged me with her nose… she hasn’t done that in a long time.


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jane - Love you

Alene - Oh Elyse – He would be sooo incredibly proud of you and all that you have accomplished. He has left his imprint on our world in so many ways. His memory is a blessing to all of us who knew and loved him and I love seeing his reflection in your wonderful children and in the values you have embraced.

Andi - No words spoken were ever more true, or more beautiful, Elyse!

Bec - totally moved!! I love your voice, gorgeous

Girls morning out | Virginia Beach children’s photographer

It’s not every day that you take three two year old girls to get their nails done… and lunch… and frozen yogurt.  My little munchkin was not sold on the whole sit with a stranger thing, and it was her first time stepping her little tootsies in a nail salon… that said, she hasn’t stopped talking about it since.  It was definitely a bonding experience for us all… And as if we BFF moms had nothing else to do in the world, wine was ordered… and yes, it was before noon… nuff said.

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Twins! | Newborn baby photographer Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton Roads

Welcome Liam & Lucus! It was sheer joy when I had the opportunity to meet these two brothers! What an incredible blessing for this beautiful family… Their love was palpable… and the babies were simply delicious!

When I shoot a newborn session, it is more than just a baby posed alone…  Can you remember the magical moments you felt in those beginning days of your most important chapter in your life since your wedding day?  They are fast, fleeting and so often a fog… I have a feeling this family (and all my Sweet People families) will be able to look through their images and feel like they can remember… documenting it *IS* the ONLY way.


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Brandi Thompson - What a beautiful family. Nice job!

Happy First Birthday! | Va Beach Baby and Children Photographer

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy FIRST Birthday SWEET SAVANNAH, Happy Birthday to you! (FYI- There is NO way to read those words without singing/humming them to yourself -ha!)   This next year for this family is my favorite toddler stage- the best is yet to come, if you can even believe that!

Don’t forget if you haven’t booked your session yet, take advantage of the special offer, or tell your BFF- after all, what are friends for?  Also, if you are an expectant mother, please remember that it is never too early to get your due date on my calendar! Don’t wait to book-2012 is almost FULL.

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First Time for Everything | Hampton Roads Norfolk Children Photographer

When baby #4 was born nearly two years ago, I knew it would be sooner than later that she would be sportin’ her new backpack and heading off to “school” (mom’s morning out program).  I couldn’t really picture it, but knew eventually she would be running down the hallway, trying to copy her older siblings, and do it all by herself.  And today was that day.  Summer went by just a bit too quickly this year.  That said, I actually had a few minutes to exercise today- and it got me thinking that with a few hours to myself a few days a week, I might actually come up for air.


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Jessica King - I love being able to come read every so often and check in on all of the great things happening with you guys. Your family is so wonderful and hope you’re all doing so well!

It’s not easy being this cute! | Virginia Beach and Norfolk Children’s Photographer

Thank you for gracing me with your amazing-ness – If a future in modeling is what you desire, I vote YES!  I just love that you wore this T-shirt- You know what they say, “If the shoe fits…”

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jules - these two are so darn cute! those curls are to die for. beautiful, fun session!

Laura - Love the bright colors and those kids, oh my adorableness!!!

Angela Benavides - WOW! Stunning. Gorgeous kids and gorgeous photos!!

Kelly Q - So stinkin’ cute! That hair kills me! Love the b&ws… so beautiful!

Kim Hill - Wowsers – the first child is a model in the making for sure!!! Both are adorable and I love the shots that are B&W.

cindy - LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! I’m never shocked at your talent……. but always amazed! You did this shoot in a snap and took a simple location, with simple bricks and even weeds and made it specatular! Of course you were shooting beautiful kids…. but that eye of yours captured them the way only a mother usually sees her babies!

Melissa - These are so beautiful – I absolutely love the black and whites but the pink and green looks great!!

Lindsay Koehler - They may be the cutest kids I have seen. How exciting to get to photograph them! These look great!

Virginia Beach and Norfolk newborn baby photography

I recently participated in a mentor-mentee leadership program to help the mentees (30’s/40’s year old) and the mentors (*older than us*) get to know each other a little better.  One of the questions during a speed-dating-style icebreaker was, “What do you do in your spare time?”  Each time, I answered confidently, “What spare time?”

Spare time… what is that?  I mean, personally, I get excited for Autumn because we “gain an hour” of time.  While on some days I feel like I am running in a rat’s wheel, most often I just feel like this is my exciting don’t-sit-down-until-8:00pm wonderful life.  I answered a text to a BFF the other day, that things had calmed back down to my “normal hurried pace”.

I don’t feel like I am missing anything- I DO stop and smell the roses…I am trying to take it ALL in every day.  I am grateful.

That said, I have no idea how I went from having our first baby like the family photographed with their new baby here, to where I am now.

I stared at my four children playing outdoors all day yesterday with friends in Richmond,  sticky and dirty, just enjoying their spare (summer) time,  and I wondered how it is already the last week in June. I thought we just popped the champagne and yelled Happy New Year 2012!

Does anyone else feel like this? Does anyone in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s with young children or babies have spare time?

Maybe I have a spare tire, (and I don’t really mean the one for the car), but that is the only spare around here.

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jules - I totally hear you on the no spare time!
this is such a beautiful session. I love each of them, but I really adore the framing of dad and baby in b&w.

Laura - Such wonderful lifestyle photography of a new baby, adorable!

Melissa VanLeeuwen - What a great session! Love the variety of images. Mom kissing babies toes, my fav:)

Melissa - Beautiful!! LOVE the black and white shot with their dog!! …it’s the perfect family photograph – love the lighting!!

Lindsay Koehler - what a great set of images! I love them all!

Kelly Q - What is spare time? I’m with you there! What a beautiful series of images. I love the b&w of momma kissing baby.. just pulls at the heart and makes me want another!

Military Family Life | {Virginia Beach | Norfolk children and family photographer}

Remember the baby sleeping on his dad’s officer’s hat?


He is already ONE…his brother is three, and I got word in December that their dad would be leaving in January for a year. My heart stood still.

Mom wrote back:

“I know… my heart stood still not so much when he told me (he was going), but later, when I had time to think of how much he will miss with the boys.”

What happens in a year?  Far more than I would like to think.  Mom asked me to create a photograph so they could remember and record their family life right NOW.  I want them to told hold onto these precious minutes together.  And so, I hope I froze time for you.  And boys, PLEASEEEEEEE don’t grow up too fast.



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Lauren - WOW!! Elyse, this brought tears to my eyes. As always, you captured memories that this family will treasure forever and the boys can look at these pictures and smile whenever they miss their Daddy!

My two American Girls {Virginia Professional Photographer}

One month ago today, my second daughter turned SIX and since her sister had just turned EIGHT four days prior, we thought it would be fun to do a girl’s weekend and take a trip to the Tyson’s Corner in Washington DC area to the American Girl Store.  Bella and Sylvie were extremely excited (duh!) and I wanted to photograph some of their priceless reactions during our special adventure.

Yes, we got there when it first opened… by the time we left, we could not even walk through those aisles… and not just because we had three HUGE shopping  bags

Bella really REALLY wanted the wheelchair and get-well-soon kit…

Here I thought the snuggling slumber party would include dear ole mom, but alas, the American Girl dolls and their pets were WAY too exciting.

Back at home, we had a proper cake celebration…and I want to know what she wished for.


’cause she blew those candles out with INTENT.

And this last one, on the left Sylvie (and her daddy) on her BIRTH day and on the right – 6 years later!  WOW!!




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Kim - What fun had by all! Great memories for their first girls weekend!

Alicia - What a wonderful bday blog – special and sweet, oh and did I mention the photography was a work of art. Happy Belated Bday girls. The friedmans miss you and hope to see you soon.

Speaking of letters… | {Virginia Beach baby photographer | Norfolk birth photographer}

Speaking of letters… (I posted a little something on Facebook today)… One of my dearest, oldest and closest friends surprised me in my hospital room after a traumatic, scary delivery of our first daughter.  She wrote this letter 8 years ago… and I cried again yesterday just as hard if not harder when I read it again.  This time though, I was able to read it with my daughter.

I want her to know what living honestly and being genuine is all about- (KEEP IT REAL!) and I want her to know the value of friendship… and that a true friend is an amazing find.  I want to share this amazing letter (tissues handy- consider yourself warned :))…Written by someone who has known and been friends with me since the summer of 1990, right after I graduated high school and moved to Richmond. She might kill me for posting this… but I want to share both the letter of friendship, but also the first thoughts on the miracle of giving birth.

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kit - ok…crying…
also because i remember being there that glorious day too and still remember this beautiful friend coming to surprise you! what a perfect memory!

Katherine Smothers - Please pass the tissues- She is lucky to have you! xoxo

Before & After Portraits | {Chesapeake Family Photographer}

Happy New Year and thank you for everything! Happy 2012!  Enjoy this little BEFORE and AFTER post – two of  my Sweet-EST People:)  You may remember little Chloe starred as my front of my website for a very long time!

Check this out below!~Two years later – some things never change!

Website Cover:

Happy Happy 2012! See you soon!


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Megan - OMG! LOVE!!!!! Gorgeous and I’m not biased at all – true photographic talents at work :)

Each Child is Unique | {Virginia Family photographer | Richmond Baby Photographer}

It’s common knowledge that every person is unique, but when it comes to our own children, it’s somehow hard to believe until they are here and growing into their independent selves right before our very eyes.  When I first laid eyes on these three (gorgeous!) sisters, my jaw dropped and I was simply in awe of their clear differences both in appearance, as well as personality.  It was love at first sight- See for yourselves!

AND Don’t forget this Thursday, December 15th, I will be at Chartreuse (1703 Mediterranean Avenue, VB) offering gift cards in a very special frame presentation (with a special ONE DAY ONLY sale!) and there will  be a ton of other amazing gifts and vendors!

Stop by and say hello!

**If this family gets 12 or more comments, they will receive a special gift!**


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My Vitamix Story | Virginia Baby, Children and Family Photographer

My husband, David, of 12 years + our four children under the age of 7.75, (so that’s not one but two middle children) + a dog who has some hearing loss, (probably from all the screaming) + volunteer work (committees are like rabbits) + my photography BUSINESS (yeah, really, it’s not an occasional hobby) + house + yard + laundry + sticky floors and an abundance of STUFF everywhere + holidays, birthdays + workouts + dinners + homework + coffee + wine + washing my hair and contemplation of 2012’s New Year’s resolutions.

I sat gazing out the window with the nine-mile stare.  Everything seemed to be moving right along, smooth sailing…but then it came. That day.  When the water comes up over my head, and I can’t breathe and I am drowning in a sea of 6 people’s clothes, diapers and one too many deadlines.  And then without fail, (remember-already not breathing), someone unwittingly asks me for ONE MORE (not so small) THING.  And just like that, just as sure as it is round… the ball starts rolling.

The last time it happened, I ranted to David how I was not super-human and wasn’t even trying to be… how I needed a magic wand to do all the things I needed to do in a day. While he is always my Prince Charming, he does not have a wand like the Fairy Godmother.  I wasn’t complaining because I knew I had made my own bed (NO! Of course not that bed-it’s a bloomin’ mess!) Most days, I am able to trudge forward with gusto and energy, but not that day.  The automatic overload protector had been tripped, and I completely shut down.

Does this happen to anyone else???

So as it turns out, I am just like a Vitamix blender. I get overheated and overloaded. There. I said it.

From the Vitamix guarantee, “Quite simply, there is nothing that compares to the power, performance and versatility of a Vitamix when it comes to blending…When you invest in a Vitamix, you are getting the highest-performing, longest-lasting blender available with a warranty to match.”

Luckily, there is a process to reset.

So at the risk of being alone in my piles, as well as sounding insane, I have written this post.

Quick summary:

What to do on “P-day” (Panic Day/that day):


Get some fresh air.

Review your processing techniques.

Gently push back into place.

Make sure recipe does not have too many ingredients.

In the spirit of breathing daily, blend and celebrate.


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Rodger Hopkins - Perhaps you should have been a writer Elyse. Very well written!

Michelle - I need to remember this. The semester is coming to an end in a few weeks & I feel like I’m being pulled in 9 gazillion different directions (as I am). Thanks for posting, Elyse!

There are no coincidences! | Virginia Lifestyle Portrait Photographer, Children Photographer

So! I’m sure it may seem from time to time that I drop off the face of the earth… but you can always count on the fact that I am not only here, but running in far too many directions (future blog post no doubt!)  When I come up for air, I get a chance to write on this blog, offering glimpses of my latest work and my latest thoughts.   If you haven’t heard, I spent the past month or so, working with the amazing cinematographer, Josh Gooden, on a promotional video for my website.

One of my favorite things that happened during the filming process, was meeting sweet, little Antonia!  She was a last minute stand-in, and you know what they say, “there are no coincidences!”  I want to thank everyone who participated in this process, allowing the film crew and me into their homes and here are some images of Antonia (the other children were featured on my Facebook wall), followed by the video itself!  Thank you!!

And without further ado- please sit back and enjoy the movie (sometimes it takes a moment to load, pause it and then play it if that happens and then it will run smoothly- you know the internet isn’t perfect :))


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Keep it Real | Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton Roads Baby and Children Photographer

Years ago, my cousin Shari sent me a picture of my father and me dancing at her 1995 wedding.  The thing about the picture is that I never knew it was taken.  Another thing about the picture is that it was the only time I had ever danced with my father… and until I laid eyes on the photograph, I could not recall the moment had even existed.  It was like I was staring at two strangers.

Had I known this picture was being taken, I probably would have *tried* to fix my hair,  and no doubt, my mind would have wandered to what the the picture would end up looking like… All instead of giving my father my undivided attention, adoration and affection… Instead of allowing myself to be real.

This photograph represents a once-in-a-lifetime moment.  Every moment is, isn’t it? This particular moment presses hard on my chest, and brings a lump to my throat because not only is it one of the few photographs I have of the two of us as adults, it is the only time I danced with my father in our 24 years together.

I received this image from my sweet cousin soon after he passed away in April 1997. Is how my hair looked significant? I think not.

Do whatever it takes to convince yourself… To BELIEVE… To understand that the camera is not an evil monster spotlighting your flaws, but instead the angel highlighting your life.

If you got this far, thank you… Keep it real.

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Michelle - Some of the BEST photos are the most candid ones. There is so much emotion in this pic, Elyse!

I agree…keep it real. :)

Well we sure have been Busy Bees in Virginia Beach | Virginia newborn, baby and children photographer

Well with earthquakes and hurricanes, pools and popsicles a thing of the past, it is with great pleasure that I introduce the next fabulous giveaway!  Several weeks ago, I decided to start featuring special local boutiques and stores.  Some of the stores are clearly related to children and some are related with a TWIST! The first store I featured, was a home store… so definitely one of the stores not so clearly related.  Chartreuse was that store, in case you missed that post.  Cindy offers all sorts of goodies for a the home, but also for a child’s room- hand-painted custom signs to dressers, desks, beds, and everything in between.

Today, I am so excited to feature a store that is clearly all about babies and children!  Drum roll please… it is located in Hilltop Shopping Center in Virginia Beach…… drum roll please…… Busy Bees Children’s Boutique!

Here is a little bit of history about the Busy Bees store and the beautiful owner, Stephanie Fisher:

How long have you been open?

Busy Bees opened its doors in May 2007.  Thanks to our awesome customers, we have been voted Best of the Beach for the past 4 years!

Where are you from and how did you end up in this business?
I am originally from the Northern Neck of Virginia.  I moved to Virginia Beach to attend Virginia Wesleyan College, where I met my wonderful husband, Josh Fisher.  We fell in love with Virginia Beach and decided to call it home.  We have now been in the area for twelve years!  Growing up, I always dreamed I would run my own business.  When the time was right, I did my research and learned that Virginia Beach lacked a children’s store, and I decided it was time to fill that void.  It was really important to me to offer a one-stop-shop for parents, grandparents, and kids alike. I also wanted to offer the very latest in children’s clothing as well as accessories.  Busy Bees is always growing and evolving partly because  I LOVE listening to my customers and making sure we constantly meet their needs and exceed their expectations.  One of my favorite parts about owning a children’s boutique is meeting my customers and actually watching their family’s grow.

What services do you offer?
Busy Bees offers a variety of services including an awesome baby registry for expecting parents.  We also have a Birthday Club! Of course don’t forget  online shopping, shipping, and complementary gift wrapping… (*Which I personally LOVE LOVE LOVE!)
What sizes do you sell- is it just babies and children?
We actually go all the way from NEWBORN up to TWEEN!
What are some of the gorgeous lines you carry?
Bumbleride Strollers
Nest Diaper Bags
Aden and Anais
Serena and Lily
Tea Collection
Kissy Kissy
Kate Mack
Anita G.
Bailey Boys
Little English
Dante Beatrix
Vineyard Vines
Melissa and Doug
Oh my goodness, these are some of my all time absolute favorite lines… Kissy Kissy probably wins for newborns and babies for me! I just had to have all of my babies in that crazy soft cotton- I want Kissy Kissy grown up pajamas!  When Aden and Anais first came out with their swaddling blankets, I purchased them for an expecting friend, and she confided in me later, that they were her favorite gift from her baby shower and then she started giving them as gifts too!

Here is what some people are saying:
“Busy Bees is the perfect local children’s boutique to find unique and fun clothing that my children love. The quality of the merchandise is unmatched in this area.  It’s great to be able to find everything from school clothes to special occasion to smaller birthday gifts all in one place.  I come almost weekly to check out the great, new things!”   – Jennifer G.

“We love Busy Bees because they offer the newest youth fashion trends while keeping school dress codes in mind. Their convenient Hilltop location is also a bonus for last minute hard to find wardrobe items.”  – Angie C.
This GIVEAWAY IS SO AWESOME!  The winner (chosen by, will receive a 4 pack of swaddlers, 3 pack of bibs and a 2 pack of burpies… value around $100! (These sets can be selected and customized for either a boy or girl)
Here is HOW to ENTER the giveaway (IT’S SO EASY!):
1. Leave a comment below (on this blog post), about what Busy Bees means to you- either what you think about the name Busy Bees or just about the store itself!  Just leave Stephanie some “love”.
2. Go to Busy Bees Facebook page and click “LIKE”, leave a comment HERE on this blog post (now you have two entries).  Feel free to leave (an optional message on Stephanie’s wall… everyone loves messages!)  It is okay if you are already a Facebook fan of Busy Bees, just leave a comment here saying so:)
3. Go to Sweet People Photography/Elyse Cardon Photography Facebook page and click “like”.  If you are already a fan (I LOVE YOU TOO), feel free to leave (an optional) message on my wall. BUT TO ENTER, leave a comment here on this blog that you are a FB fan already.
To be clear, there are three quick steps to enter, leave three separate comments on the blog and that’s it!
For additional entries:
1. Follow me on Twitter.
2. Subscribe to this Blog (enter your email on the sliding side bar to the left, then verify your email, when it comes to your inbox).
**Leave a comment for each additional entry.
ONE Winner will be chosen on October 5th at 9am EST.
Busy Bees Children’s Boutique
1544 Laskin Road #216
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
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lucy - I love busy bees. Everyone is so friendly and helpful and all the merchandise is beautiful!

Meg - I liked your facebook page!

Kelly - I liked busy bees facebook page!

Kelly - I haven’t been to busy bees yet – but the facebook page shows that it has the quality products I am going to want to buy from there once I know what I am having!

Emily - I subscribe to the SPP blog

Emily - I am a new fan of SPP photography on Facebook!

Emily - I am a fan of Busy Bees on Facebook

Emily - Busy Bees is, by far, the best children’s store in the area! The store is as beautiful as their wonderful merchandise. I re-discovered the store when I had my daughter and REALLY enjoy shopping for her there!

Rachel - i subscribe to the SPP blog

Rachel - i am SPP’s biggest fan!

Rachel - i’m a new fan on the BB facebook page!

Rachel - busy bees is one of the best stores in town for unique clothing and gifts for children!

karen - I subscribe to your blog.

karen - i am a fan of spp on facebook

karen - i am a fan of busy bees on facebook

karen - really like the aden and anais products…cannot wait to see the whole store

Katherine Smothers - I am a HUGE fan of SPP!

Katherine Smothers - I am now a fan on FB of Busy Bees!

Katherine Smothers - I love the name Busy Bees!! As the mom of 4 year old twins, it perfectly describes the fun youthful energy of children! Even though I live in Richmond, I am dying to get down there and check out the store!

Valerie - Subscribed via email! :)

Valerie - Followed @ecphotography09 on Twitter

Valerie - Liked Elyse Cardon Photography on Facebook.

Valerie - I liked Busy Bees on Facebook

Valerie - Busy Bees has CUTE stuff!!!

tamsen - looks like a really fun store! i could spend HOURS in stores like that :)

Ashley Chin - It looks like a neat store! I have friends that are getting ready to have babies and I will definitely be stopping in for some gift ideas!!!

Denise - Subscribed! : )

Denise - Visited SPP’s Facebook page and left a comment (again under Jason’s name! LOL)

Denise - “Liked” Busy Bees on Facebook & left a comment (although under my hubby’s name by accident! Oops!)

Denise - I love the name Busy Bees! It’s something any mom can relate too and suites the little ones to a tee : )

Denise - I love the name Busy Bees and think everyone can relate to it. It describes the little one’s to a tee : )

Laura - What an adorable store!! It sure looks like they offer a ton of cute clothes and decor. The name busy bees is so cute, to me it reminds me of little kiddos busy playing on a playground :)

Jenny - What a cute cute store!!!

Jill Dalton - We LOVE Busy Bees! The Tea Collection is our favorite for my daughter and we always love Vineyard Vines for my young son! Thank you for offering great items in such a cool store!

Tammy Wyland - Love your store :)

Rebecca Silverstein - Will have to check it out!

Laura - I am a facebook fan of both Busy Bees and Sweet People, two wonderful local businesses that cater to families and go out of their way to provide quality service and products.

Laura - Entering Busy Bees Boutique makes me want to have another child! *ALMOST* :)

Laura - This store is PERFECT for finding unique clothes and toys for your unique children and friends!

rachel - i subscribe to your blog.

rachel - i follow you on twitter

rachel - i am already a fan of SPP on facebook

rachel - i am already a fan of busy bees. Love the store.

rachel - I love a&a products. The store has a great selection is really unique items. I have already purchased a few items for my little one who is not due until December. I am sure that I will become a regular one he arrives.

Where the Sidewalk Ends | Virginia Beach Norfolk Chesapeake Children Photographer

I think Shel Silverstein summed it up best with this little poem:


My skin is kind of sort of brownish

Pinkish yellowish white

My eyes are greyish blueish green,

But I’m told they look orange in the night.

My hair is reddish blondish brown,

But it’s silver when it’s wet.

And all the colors I am inside

Have not been invented yet.


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Megan Zuckerman - wow! gorgeous!

stephanie - Absolutely beautiful!!!!

willette - elyse….dang….these are breathtaking!!!!!!! LOVE everything about them!

Jan - These are works of art I could stare at for hours, forever actually!! :))). breathtaking!!

Lauren Barkan - your girls are BEAUTIFUL!!!!! so are your pictures…amazing, all of them!

susan - my dollbabies! love them all!

Michelle Chissler - Stunning. Simply stunning.

Chartreuse – VB House of Style | {Virginia Newborn Photographer}

Meet Cindy Pennybacker.  Artist extraordinaire and owner of Virginia Beach’s fabulous new home store, CHARTREUSE.  Cindy has an absolutely amazing eye for all things beautiful.  She sees an old sideboard, vanity, bed frame, chandelier, armoire… you name it, she transforms them into one-of-a-kind pieces for the home and garden.  I absolutely love using her pieces for kids’ rooms and nurseries, never mind the more obvious locations. I also happen to adore her amazing wood signs and frames.

I commissioned Cindy to put together a sign for my husband’s 40th birthday gift.  She made the piece out of reclaimed wood, hand painted, distressed, and added my words (my take on a traditional blessing for the home) all by hand….

Now I have the most unique piece of personal art displayed in the foyer of our home.

CHARTREUSE, located at 1703 Mediterranean Ave. in Virginia Beach, offers a large showroom floor where Cindy’s pieces and objets d’art take center stage.  She has turned the backstage into a dreamy studio and storage space and in true Cindy-style, she has named  it “The Vault”.  She gets a twinkle in her eye when she talks about it, “Everyone is so curious about what’s behind the french doors… There is something about it that is quite alluring for my clients and customers.  They love to shop in the main store no doubt, but when they look inside ‘the vault’, something magical happens.  They feel they’ve discovered uncharted territory and there’s valuable treasure to be found.” The trick is being in the right place at the right time, because the items in both the front and the back seem to fly right out the door.

When I met Cindy, I was immediately struck by her energy (I finally met my match! :)).  She was refreshingly genuine, extremely passionate, and gifted in so many ways.  I told her she was living a life that so many people wish they could, in that she followed her dream and is making a living doing it.  I’ve nicknamed her “Triple Threat”.  Why? Certainly not because she is threatening in any way.  This is why: There are stores with antiques.  There are stores with distressed furniture, art and interesting finds.  But how about a store where the antiques, art, and interesting finds were found, redesigned and reinvented 100% by the artist who also just so happens to run and own the beautiful store.

Here is my interview with Cindy:


My style is easy with a hint of refinement.  It’s whimsical with a dash of tradition.  It’s whatever I happen to be in the mood for.  It changes but it is always comfortable.


I was named “Beach Chick Art” by the locals.  It stuck, it worked and I liked it.  However, when looking to open my storefront, I realized that there are so many facets to my work that cannot be defined under the name Beach Chick Art.  I love so many different kinds of art, so many styles.  I love antiques, photography, interior design, home decor, and of course other artist’s work.  I love shabby chic, French, beach-y, mod, vintage, Moroccan,  Asian… I feel a lot of symbolic meaning in the name CHARTREUSE.  Some of it perhaps obvious, some perhaps not. I think it is the perfect name for my store, but at the core, I am really a ‘beach chick’ doing art.


It’s true and I have scars to prove it! LOL!  I would paint madly for days and then have a tag sale.  I just posted the sale on my Facebook page, and then between the random passerby, my regular clients, and the boutique owners, I would sell it ALL.   The cycle would begin again: find more furniture, build more, paint more and sell it all.


Most of the time I immediately know what I want to do to a piece.  Sometimes I think of multiple ideas and then I let them simmer and I sit back and wait.  I’ve held onto special pieces for 6+years just waiting for the right pairing or opportunity. And when the magic happens it’s so beautiful. For instance I had this beautiful Gothic piece that came out of a Victorian home.  I loved it.  I didn’t touch it though, because I just knew it needed something beyond paint.  Six years later, I found an alter that came out of a Williamsburg church and I noticed they were similar.  I joined the two pieces together and everyone thought they had always been together as one piece.  It sold in less than 24 hours!


I think bedrooms are so special.  The bedroom is where you start and end the day.  We sleep in them. We read stories to our children in them.  We escape to them.  But most importantly WE WAKE UP in them!  Our surroundings have the power to start the day in an immediate way.  When you open your eyes and greet the sun you should feel happy, refreshed, privileged… and of course thankful.


My time away from work is spent with family and friends at either church or the beach.  If I am lucky, I get to eat food…. sitting down…while drinking a glass of wine!


I’m a dork who loves me some Martha Stewart!  She was my original inspiration for turning what I do into a business.  She’s brilliant and creative.  She has taken everyday common sense ideas and turned them into a fortune.  I’ve actually had people tell me there is no way that I can make a living doing what I (love to) do… I say don’t be ridiculous.  Ppppfffttttt!  (that’s me laughing)!


My favorite piece in my home, right now (because it is always changing), is a small cabinet from Turkey.  It’s an antique with simple details and a black & white marble top… and, of course, I painted the wood… white.   It makes a quiet statement and it’s functional.


Fabric!  I am such a brat when it comes to sheets and mattresses!  I’m not going to tell you my thread-count requirements… but I have them… and they are high.:)


I would be a professional surfer… ha- I wish!


It is part of a larger program called Wave City Care through the WAVE church.  I had an idea to give underprivileged kids the opportunity to take art classes.  The program is called City Color. They will actually bring the children to CHARTREUSE, where I have a special studio space designated for art classes.  I will have all of the art supplies and a spread of food for them to enjoy while they explore the magical world of art.  I want it to be an extremely happy experience.


Of course!

Cindy has been generous enough donate this sign (normally sells for $275) to this Sweet People Photography® Giveaway!

Check out this sign she has put together from reclaimed wood.  She hand painted and distressed it and it is a gorgeous work of art (measures 16.5″ x 31.5″) for a baby or child’s room.  (The “LOVE” color can be changed if needed.) THANK YOU CINDY for the piece and also your time!


Leave a comment answering the following question: WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORD “CHARTREUSE”?

For additional chances to win (WHY  NOT??), leave a SEPARATE comment for each additional step taken below.  There are 7 opportunities for each person to win.  ENTRIES MUST BE ENTERED HERE, NOT ON FACEBOOK. This giveaway is not affiliated AT ALL in ANY WAY affiliated with Facebook.

1. Go to Chartreuse’s Facebook page and become a fan – click “like”.

2. Click “like” and become a fan of Elyse Cardon Photography/Sweet People Photography®. (It is still known as Elyse Cardon Photography on Facebook cause you know Facebook has some silly rules:))

3. After you are a fan of Elyse, leave a comment on Chartreuse’s Facebook wall by actually typing (not copy and pasting) the following:  Newest fan from @Elyse Cardon Photography (click on the FB link that will pop up while you are typing, and then it will be highlighted) …and feel free to tell Cindy how much you love CHARTREUSE!

4. If  you have a twitter account, please tweet @ecphotography09 and @VB_House of Style have an awesome giveaway! Have you entered yet?

5. Subscribe to receive email updates, news and sales from Sweet People Photography® blog. (tab is right over there on the pink LEFT-HAND sliding sidebar)

6. Subscribe to receive email updates, news and sales from Chartreuse’s blog.



THIS CONTEST ENDED JULY 31, 2011.  YOU ARE WELCOME TO LEAVE A COMMENT (WE LOVE IT! BUT IT WILL NOT BE ENTERED INTO A CONTEST/GIVEAWAY) I will be highlighting other local stores in the next few weeks that have something relating to children, babies, maternity and family… so if you know any stores that might like to participate in this giveaway, please email me:

Also, we are coming into the busiest season for Sweet People Photography®. If you are thinking about a session for your children, please don’t wait to schedule at the last minute. (*Exceptions will always try to be made for newborns!!)  I am booking NOW for the Autumn and Winter.  Thank you!

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Lauren - it makes me think of a praying mantis..a sense of calm

Lauren - It makes me think of a praying mantis…a sense of calm.

Debbie - I think of an accordion pleat tent dress I wore to an 8th grade graduation in the late 60’s! I felt beautiful and so grown up!

Danielle - How do I get the love wood sign!!! I want it for my little girls room!

It’s Giveaway time with Sweet People Photography® | Chartreuse – Virginia Beach Home Furniture, Antiques and Vintage Finds « I LOVE CHARTREUSE - […] was so much fun answering her questions for the interview Q&A portion of the post. Click here to check it out, to learn even more about how CHARTREUSE began and about little ‘ole me […]

Stephanie E. - Chartruse makes me think of peacock feathers.
Liked you on FB, liked Elyse Cardon Photography.

Ashley Adams - I left a comment when becoming the newest fan of Elyse Cardon photography!

Ashley Adams - I subscribed to receive emails from Sweet People Photography blog!

Ashley Adams - I LIKED you on facebook.

Ashley Adams - I subscribed to recieve emails.

Ashley Adams - When I say Chartreuse three words come to mind which are french, couture, and chic .

Stacey Mills - subscribed to her blog

Stacey Mills - subscribed to your blog-thought I was already…

Stacey Mills - fan of your FB page

Stacey Mills - left the newest fan comment on her FB page

Stacey Mills - Became a fan of Chartreuse’s fb page

Stacey Mills - Chartreuse makes me think of a rich green color! I am a fan of her FB page now too! Thanks!!

aarynn mcmahon - i subscribed to receive e-mails too:)

Darcy Kaushagen - i signed up for chartreuse’s updates on email!

Darcy Kaushagen - i like you on fb!

Darcy Kaushagen - i ‘like’ chartreuse on fb!

Darcy Kaushagen - When I hear the word ‘chartreuse’ I think of a vintage green color. it reminds me of my very stylish grandmother and her decor at our old lake cabin we visited with my cousins every summer. She had THE COOLEST pieces of lime colored furniture there :-)

Jessica - I subscribed to Chartreuse’s email updates.

Jessica - I subscribed to receive updates from you.

Jessica - I tweeted about the giveaway.

Jessica - I left a comment on Chartreuse’s facebook page with you tagged.

Jessica - I liked you on facebook.

Jessica - I liked CHARTREUSE on facebook.

Jessica - When I hear the word CHARTREUSE I think of bold green color & not being afraid to be unique.

Dana - Chartreuse makes me think of…french style, appletinis, and lovely reused things

rhys - liked you on facebook…

rhys - my daughter – she is learning her colors – we haven’t quite made it to chartreuse – but it’s on the list! :)

Laurie McClure - I’m a fan of a fan of Elyse Cardon Photography/Sweet People Photography® on facebook

Laurie McClure - I posted that you sent me on Chartreuse’s facebook page.

Laurie McClure - I’m a fan of Chartreuse’s on facebook

Jennifer M. - I tweeted about the giveaway!

Jennifer M. - I’m a fan of Sweet People Photography on Facebook!

Jennifer M. - I let Chartreuse know how much I like her and that you referred me to her!

Jennifer M. - I’m a fan of Chartreuse on Facebook!

Jennifer M. - When I hear the word “Chartreuse” I think of being bold. You have to be bold to use the color, which I love. It’s also a color which will not be ignored.

Rachel - i subscribed to receive chartreuse’s email updates!

Rachel - i receive SPP email updates!

Rachel - i am DEFINITELY a fan of sweet people photography!!

Rachel - i left cindy a message on the chartreuse facebook page

Rachel - since i have met cindy and know how creative she is, chartreuse makes me think of “art” and “reuse”. it perfectly reflects what’s in her store!

Rachel - already a fan of chartreuse!

suzie - when I hear the word chartreuse, I think of the the color green

Tessa Duquette - What if I’m already a fan of Sweet People Photography & Chartreause on Facebook?? I tweeted and asked to receive emails from Chartreause’s blog :)

Rachel - i tweeted

Rachel - i subscribe to SPP emails updates

Rachel - left a message on Chartreuse’s Facebook page.

Rachel - already a fan of sweet people photogrpahy on facebook

Rachel - Chartreuse was the color dress i wore the last time i saw my grandfahter before he passed away. 14 years later I still smile everytime i see the dress hanging in my closet

Rachel - I subscribed to Chartreuse’s website sire updates

Emily - The movie Monsters Inc…whenever we watch it my husband says “what’s puse?” :)

Nate - I think of green apple jolly ranchers.

Mona - Chartreuse reminds me of crushed velvet. SPP email list.

Mona - Chartreuse reminds me of crushed velvet. Chartreuse blog email list.

Mona - Chartreuse reminds me of crushed velvet. Comment on chartreuse fb page.

Mona - Chartreuse reminds me of crushed velvet. Chartreuse fb fan.

Julie M. - The word Chartreuse reminds me of girl scount camp and the fun we had singing songs on the porch when I was a counselor. There was a song called Chartreuse Buzzards, an odd reference, but it makes me think of happy times :)

Mona - Chartreuse reminds me of crushed velvet. ECP fb fan.

Mona - Chartreuse reminds me of crushed velvet.

aarynn mcmahon - I am also a huge fan of Elyse Cardon and Sweet People Photography! Beautiful work!!

aarynn mcmahon - I left a comment on Chartreuse’s wall.

aarynn mcmahon - I am a fan of Chartreuse! A HUGE fan! :)

aarynn mcmahon - When I hear the word Chartreuse I think of sea glass. My mom and I used to hunt for it at the beach and found several beautiful pieces. The glass we found were in shades of blue, green, and CHARTREUSE. To me this word is synonymous with the sea, sun, and sand.

Rachel - I am a fan of Chartreuse on Facebook.

Michelle Chissler - I’m also a fan of Elyse Cardon Photography/Sweet People on FB…this is a no brainer! 😉

Michelle Chissler - Of course I’m a fan of ECP/Sweet People on Facebook…that’s a no brainer!! 😉

Michelle Chissler - I left a comment on Chartreuse’s Facebook wall.

Michelle Chissler - I am a fan of Chartreuse on Facebook.

Michelle Chissler - When I hear Chartreuse, my mind immediately goes to a small tube of acrylic paint that I had growing up. It was such a lush, springy green with just a bit of a pearl finish that gave it a wonderful glow.

I also just love saying chartreuse…so grown up & chic as it rolls off the tongue. 😉

kelly - oh…i didn’t read the directions (imagine that)….my uncle and aunt wrote a song in the late 1980s (they are song writers/musicians) called “chartreuse”…it was awesome….it was never “cut” or recorded professionally, but i will never forget that song (and this is how i will always remember the name of this awesome store)

kelly - ohhh…..i would even drive to VB to check out this store (and of course to see you elyse!). thanks for highlighting this awesome store…i. “liked” their page….loving all of her stuff!

Rachel - OMG Elyse. This is the place i have been looking for. I have started working on the nursey but have not found a dresser/ changing table that I love. Can’t wait to go down and check out her store. I liked her facebook page.

I am in love with Baby Logan | Virginia Baby Photographer

Baby Logan had so many expressions, I have had the best time editing all of them!


p.s. If this family receives 15 comments on this blog, they will get a special gift!

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Kelly Q - He is adorable! Love them all!

Laura - Such a little cutie pie! These are so sweet <3

lindsay koehler - Beautiful eyes and face! these are so sweet and I love his eyes open!

Cynthia Craine - So sweet !!!

veronica starr - love the conversion! what a sweet little guy!!!

Natasha - I think I’m in love with him, too! So very precious! I love the eye contact you got with him in #4. :)

Heather - aww he is sweet, love that hat!

Kim Hill - Awwww, so cute and very alert. Such a precious little one.

Jenn - These are beautiful! I love the conversions!

Cheryl Patrick - Beautiful baby and beautiful photos!!

Rachel - what a sweet face! beautiful pictures!

tamsen - awww, what utter sweetness!!!

Elyse - oh my goodness- thank you everyone for your amazing words!

Nancy Cook Tabor - Cindy, these pictures are wonderful, you have a beautiful grandson.

Melissa Williams - Amazingly beautiful photos. He is so very precious and was captured perfectly in each picture.

Marie Gunderman - What beautiful photography. It is fantastic that so many fabulous expressions were captured. These will be cherished for many years to come. Beautiful baby boy!

Melinda - What lucky parents to have such amazing portraits of their newborn! The ethereal quality makes it seem like he is truly an angel here on earth.

robin - Precious photos! These are priceless!

carol - What fantastic photos of an adorable baby boy!

On Being the Client…a study in TRUST | Virginia Lifestyle Photographer

If doctors make the worst patients, then photographers might make the worst clients.  At least that was me a few weeks ago…

A little over a month ago, for my husband’s 40th birthday, I gave him our FIRST professional family portrait session as a gift.  I suppose we waited to finish having kids before doing “family portraits”, and so it seemed like the perfect gift.  Little did I realize until the session was over and I sat down to a quiet cup of coffee, that I had been thinking about it subconsciously ever since I had booked it.  What a lot of stress for the non-stressed gal that I normally am!! Perhaps I had more to obsess about than the normal client, but then again – perhaps not.

I had been thinking about my house… everything “wrong” with my house.  I was worried.  My house had a pile in every single corner.  My piles gave birth to multiple piles on a daily basis, and at that rate I would probably need a week without my kids, dog and husband to get it under control.  AND for what? Just in time so they could come home?  Even with my recently done Martha-Stewart-organized pantry I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago, I’ve already had to go and put it back in order.  A clean house is over-rated right? Maybe so, but it is a contributing factor to whether I am a sane or insane person.  The bottom line is that I strive to find balance (don’t we all?) between my home, husband, children and work.  It is an unspoken agreement I have with the universe, to please help me turn a blind-eye, so that I can enjoy my life with my children, husband, dog and friends, and to help feel the joy so great that I will not find myself at fault for every single item being in the wrong place.

I tried to think about the good, wonderful things about my home.  Great light, great windows, great old-house-charm.  Ever since we did our renovation, I’ve commented that the house is now a natural light photographer’s dream.  So, I knew the piles would be blurred out in the background and would not be the main focus at all…Of course we could move anything on the actual day of the session, depending on where she wanted to actually shoot… Certainly my amazing photographer didn’t care if there was a pile (or two, or three)… but for whatever reason, I was still nervous about the outcome.  What? Why???  Funny now that it was my home being photographed, it suddenly seemed to matter! If I had a nickel for how many times I told myself that I knew better- that the light in my home was especially dreamy, that it was all about the kids and our dynamic as a family.  It didn’t really make it go away… There were still piles and there was still an underlying STRESS.

Next, would you believe that I worried about what not to wear.  Again, I chuckle because I love to help my clients with styling and feel very comfortable in this department.  I always work to tie it all together in subtle ways, and I am not afraid of prints, colors and textures, (because I happen to love photographing them.)  Yeah, um… ahem… so picture me, the night before our session, at 6:30pm on a Saturday night, with David, on a mission for style at the mall… We end up at Gap for Kids.  There we were piecing new outfits together for the kids as if we were literally in a Tim Gunn reality TV show.  I haven’t had that much fun in… gulp… well let’s just say I haven’t been shopping much lately (and I love me some shopping!)  We had such a blast choosing their outfits- styled to represent each of our kids as individuals but also tie us together as a family.  So after that I should have been relaxed right??

Of course not.  I was totally procrastinating on figuring out myself.  How many pounds could I lose in four weeks?  Maybe we should have waited until the baby weight would *hopefully* come off in another couple of months??  Of course not.  No one should wait.  Don’t wait.  Truly no one will look at these images and see anything but the precious moments from a time long passed.  I knew that.  So, I should be relaxed right?

I wish. The list was endless…  I had just gotten my hair trimmed/highlighted.  So which was best? Up or down? Half back or down? Big earrings or small? Necklace or earrings? Black top or white or both? Glasses or contacts? Red Lipstick or light lip gloss?

Four weeks to exercise everyday, to put away the piles, to put together an outfit (or two). Four weeks to get a pedicure.  Four weeks to plant some flowers and clean off the porches.  Four weeks until we document permanently and forever our life as we knew it on June 26th, 2011.  Our happy, crazy life.  Our happy, crazy, messy, life just exactly as it really was… Yes, that was my goal for the session- that LAUGH OUT LOUD true-life photography starring The Cardon Family.  I actually heard the light bulb CLICK.  Incidentally, we have those old light bulbs in our old closets- the pull-the-string kind… so my “a-ha moment” had an audible CLICK:)  True-life-lifestyle photography.  That was the focus.

During the actual session, I found myself listening to my three and a half year old misbehaving a bit (just not really listening to the photographer), and let me tell you, I wanted nothing more than to go and ask him to listen.  To bribe him with something later… Um, H-E-L-L-O ?? I always ask my clients to trust that I want to handle their children and their behavior, whatever it may bring, as it is all perfectly expected and normal.  In fact, every child you’ve ever seen on my website was just being a kid, being themselves.  I always ask to be given ‘temporary custody’ in order to gain trust and develop a connection with the child(ren).  Not only do they establish a relationship with me but inevitably with my actual camera as well.  That is why you can see their true spirit in my work… I always expect the unexpected, as children always do their own thing, and that is usually when I catch the moments and expressions that I am looking to capture.  OH YEAH! MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE I AM A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER?   I realized during my own session, that the real reason I wanted to intervene was to make sure my child was not doing something embarrassing or disrespectful.  I knew NOT to interrupt her.  My brain YELLED AT ME: “He is a good kid… he is only three. He is doing just fine… She knows I am a good mom, and his behavior is in no way a reflection of me today during this photo session… she is working it out with him, and this is not about me! CHILL OUT ELYSE!”

TRUST the professional photographer, that she would be able to determine the most flattering light, which would smooth out imperfections… not to mention her awesome editing.  TRUST my professional photographer to capture the specialness of each of my children and their varying personalities, as well as all of us together.  Total TRUST. I got it.  CLICK.  It is easy for me to invite my clients to TRUST me,  but so incredibly hard to actually let go and TRUST, even when I know I love the photographer’s work.  CLICK-CLICK-CLICK… I got it.  And of course, she, my photographer clicked too and GOT IT.

And this is TRULY how I feel when I am in your home… the kids can really do no wrong.  The individual spirit mixed with the family dynamic is what I need.  The genuine belly laughing, downright honest emotion is what I need.  That is what fills me up as a professional photographer.  TRUST me…That is what you will want to remember in ten years when your little princess is a a grown teenager.  Memories are memories because of these very images.  Most of our memories stem from photographs.  Own them. Be them.  Do not stress over them like I did for four weeks.  RIDICULOUSNESS!  Do your research.  Examine portfolios.  Do you like their style? Is there consistency?  Can you imagine your family in a similar photograph?  Take the time to find the photographer that you know will capture the spirit of your family for you and then you will easily make the investment. TRUST in your decision.  And do it again…and again.

I truly enjoyed being on the other side of the camera.  I was able to be a part of a process that will become a treasured piece of art in my family forever.

And for my future clients, on being the client- I know for sure I will be an absolute pro in explaining to you how to relax about all the details.  I will capture YOUR inner beauty, YOUR best angles, YOUR beautiful home and YOUR unique family dynamic and always, of course, ALWAYS in the very best light.



Below are the items we picked from the GAP for our two older girls. They wore them for some of the shoot, and then we changed it up a bit to be more casual on the bed for our family shot.

P.S. If you would like to share this link ( your page or blog, you are welcome to do so, of course, keeping the information in tact.  If you thought this was a good read or helpful, please leave a comment below! Until next time…

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Susan Bore - What a great picture of your family–and a great blog to keep to go with it down the generations.

Deanna - I think it’s good for all of us to get inthe otherside once in a while to remind us of what our clients go through! Excellent writing!

Kim Hill - I can relate to soooo much about what you wrote. The trust factor, the piles that breed more piles, the wanting to turn a blind eye just so you can enjoy your life…I get it. In the end, it seems to all have worked out well. Your family is adorable and I really love the way you all look so happy on the family bed. This is a memory that you will have with you the rest of your lives. Enjoy it! :)

tamsen - wow! great article- it definitely helps to be on the other side of the camera to help us understand a client’s perspective :)
cute outfits too, love it!

Michelle Chissler - Such a great family photo! I love that it just captures every single one of you perfectly. It’s not stiff. It’s not posed. It’s you. And, look at those smiles!! Love, love, love it!! :-)

Stacey S - Love your post and portrait!!

Laura - Very well written! A clean house is over-rated indeed, spending quality time with our family should be a much higher priority than the laundry pile :) Beautiful family photo and love the wardrobe recommendations!

veronica starr - love love love family in the bed shots!!! beautiful image and all the colors are so crisp and clean :)

Happy Summer! | Virginia Beach, Norfolk children and baby photographer

I had originally intended this to be an awesome fireworks post- but alas, Virginia Beach was WASHED OUT! And don’t you love that if it rains on the 4th of July, you just have to wait another whole YEAR to see the fireworks… who decided that rule anyway!???

And so, I have heard from some friends recently that they haven’t seen me post many pictures of my newest baby Flora (who is about to be 9 months!!!)  I have just been soooooo slammed (not complaining), that I haven’t even thought to post about her or our life right now.

So here is a bit of a personal post:

I was with my family on the 4th of July, looking out onto the Chesapeake Bay from my mother’s 4th floor balcony. I had a new borrowed lens on my camera to play with (105mm 2.8).  I must say, when a photographer gets used to a favorite lens, which us portrait photographers tend to do, it is a little tricky.  It is kind of like wearing a ring on a finger that you don’t usually wear one on.  Or try putting your watch on the other arm… eeeeeek!!  But I enjoyed playing with it, it was not L-O-V-E but it was L-I-K-E and I had some fun… I have compiled some recent pics from the 4th of July of Baby Flora, (check out the future Nikon advertisement!) as well as some other interesting little things we have seen or done the past few days.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer! I just overheard my 7 year old ask why this summer it is raining all the time, and last summer it wasn’t and we got to go out and play so much more… Ah, the woes of a child.:)

Personally, I really dig a summer rain… A glass of wine in the afternoons on my covered porch, my own private little thunderstorm.  I can hear the rain, smell the rain, sometimes feel the rain … I love it actually.  My garden is happy too… for me, these are some of my VERY favorite moments of summer.

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Jenn - Your daughter is adorable! I love, love, love the 3rd shot!

Natalie D. - These are fabulous! You Have such an extrordinary gift!

Beth Miller - oh my goodness is she ever cute! And that beach shot! Oh what a beautiful beach!

Sylvia - Hi Elyse! These pictures are great, and Flora looks just like you! Happy summer to you too. Sylvia

Claire Hunter - OMG! She is so adorable! Your macro images are gorgeous!

Deanna - What a cutie your daughter is!! And I love all the other photos too!

Baby Photographer of Virginia Beach

What a beautiful family! I feel like saying, “Come to Virginia Beach…where the beautiful people are!”  Baby Jack was a mere 9 days and was such a love.  I especially LOVVVVVVEEE the “lifestyle” shots with the parents enjoying the baby.

Have a safe and happy FOURTH OF JULY!!! Until next time…
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Rebecca - BABY JACK!!!!!!!!! Seriously gorgeous!!!!

Beth Miller - what sweet baby pictures! Makes me want a new little one of my own!

Britt Anderson - Oh, these are JUST my style!!! Love them all, and the footsie one is fantastic!

Jodi - Every one of the is precious!! What an amazing gift for this family…both the baby and the amazing photos!! Great job Elyse!!

Jenny - Elyse, you are truly gifted! These pictures of our family are just beautiful! Not only are you talented, but you are also so warm and easy-going that you made the whole experience so enjoyable and memorable for us. Words cannot express my gratitude adequately. Please know how much we appreciate you!

dalia - these are wonderful!! the last one is gorgeous!! beautiful family for sure!

Family of the Week- Part One | Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake Child Photographer

Last week, my five year old daughter, Sylvie, had her family of the week in her Pre-K class.  What that means is that she has the opportunity to share things that we do at home, or what we do for a living, etc.  We did several things.  First we started with a painting project, where each child painted three clothespins… that was the first step for a little idea I had for a wall hanging piece of art (more on this for Family of the Week – Part Two).  Their teacher proudly informed us that they are learning all about what a “process” is and this was part of a “process”- brilliant (who knew?)! The next day, we brought flowers with little vases (plastic cups), and scissors out to the picnic tables, as it was the perfect breezy spring day! I showed the kids how to trim the flower stems and condition them so that the leaves would not ruin the water.  I do this at home all the time because I love and almost always have fresh flowers around.   Recently, I discovered what a fun little project it is for the kids to help (with kid scissors of course- and if the stems are thin enough).

The other thing we did that day was an outdoor mini photo shoot.  Because Sylvie’s mommy is a _________???? (no, they did not answer- CRAZY LADY!!!!) They answered most unanimously, “a FUR-TOG-AH-FUR!!!!”


The children were asked to come to school in something special or something that would make them feel special.  It could be a costume, or a dress, or a hat, or just a favorite shirt.  So, for fun, I have to share some of the kids from that day: 







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susan - wow!!!!! how fabulous!

Natalie - These pictures a fantastic, you have such a gift!! Love it!!

Daily living | Virginia Beach Norfolk Photographer

So, I hope you all had a fabulous Mother’s Day! I hope your kids made you something ridiculously cute and maybe your husband gave you something special as a little token or gift. My day was a lovely day… except… I did attend a funeral.  The great thing about it was the person who passed away, (my good friend’s grandfather), was 90 years old.  There is always something that strikes my husband and me when we are listening to family/friends speak of the life of someone no longer here. At that is, why can’t we make a point to talk about that person like that when they are here??  We loved listening to the stories about “Pop”.  He was married for 70 (that’s right-s-e-v-e-n-t-y!!!) years!!!!!! I will tell you that the thought of that brought an overwhelming reminder to make sure to honor my husband every day… how else can we grow old together?  I will say, that this particular family DOES talk to each other and about each other in the way I am about to describe- so they are the exception to the norm.

Is it so hard to really tell someone how we feel about them, to really say that they have taught us even the smallest, littlest thing?  Why should we wait for a eulogy? I, actually try to live by this code.  When I think of something about someone, I try to let them know… why  not?  It might be an email, a text, a phone call, a gift for nothing… just thank you for being part of my life and contributing to my world.

I know years ago, when I owned Axiom, The Pilates Center of VA®, I experienced a similar situation to a funeral when I sold the studio.  The new owner made huge changes, the most obvious one being that my studio looked like it had been Photoshopped from a color portrait to a black and white. It had looked like a shop straight out of Soho, with bright fun colors, industrial equipment and funky reception decor.  She came in and chose all monochromatic black and grey everything.  My clients suddenly were mourning the loss of Axiom and all that went with it.  If I had a nickel for every time someone told me that they so missed the colors, they felt so happy and energized before, they loved the old name, the old logo, my instruction, etc… and were so sad to see them go.  OY! Had ANY of them told me any of that when I was the owner?  Maybe occasionally, but not so much.  It was like Axiom’s little funeral…the saddest thing was to hear the amazing compliments only after the decision (which would never have been changed) had been long made.   Only then, did anyone even think to say what they loved about me and my business… Unfortunately, it was bittersweet.

LESSON for this Monday… if I may.  The next time you are with a friend, or family member, or even a perfect stranger,  and that someone brings something to your conscious that is positive and enables you to grow… please, consider thanking them right then and there.  If the Target® check-out lady is extraordinarily nice and helpful, maybe let her know how amazingly unusual she is and what a pleasure it was to shop there that day.  Maybe get her name and tell the manager.  If your friend picks up your kids from school and the kids come home raving about the special snack that she prepared, maybe let her know what a thoughtful person and mom she is, and how you just are going to HAVE to copy her in the future.

This is an easy thing to do.  Life is so short… except in someone like Pop’s case.:)Not only did he get to live to 90, to see his children have grandchildren and great grandchildren.  He actually LIVED his life and VOICED his opinions, and let his loved ones know what was what.  THAT is what they shared with us at his funeral… THAT was my take away.  Don’t wait till someone is long gone, or until the one day a year that says on the calendar “FATHER’S DAY”, for example… Let’s open our eyes each day, and see something special about it.  It is a daily gift that deserves to be re-gifted… I know as odd as it may seem, seeing as I did attend a funeral on Mother’s Day, honoring, remembering and celebrating Pop’s life was a tremendous (Mother’s day) gift.  So today, no photographs (yet) :),  just a little something I wanted to gift to you.


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One year later | Virginia Beach Norfolk Newborn, Baby, child photography

One year ago, I photographed my first newborn… Miss Macie.  We bonded instantly and became fast friends.  One year later, she is running (wobble walking) after big brother, and she is so completely different, it is hard for me to believe it is the same little baby.  I want to wish my very dear friend, her mother, a VERY happy Mother’s Day.  Even though you don’t have your mother here on earth to celebrate, I know she is shining her beautiful smile down on you.  In case you weren’t sure, look into the sparkling eyes of your beautiful children. 

Oh and just for fun… this next one is Macie a little over one year ago… see what I mean?

Happy Mother’s Day everyone.  I urge you to take a sweet moment all alone, and really think about each of your children.  What they once looked like, felt like, smelled like… remember how, as newborns they looked into your eyes and no matter what you looked like, they smiled with all of their heart and soul.  That look… you know, the one where you are the only thing that matters.  Regardless of how old they are today, remember that you created them, and helped shape them, guide them… That special look…just for you.  The twinkles in their little baby eyes were just reflections of yours… Even if they cannot actually express it to you, hold onto that sensation… and have a wonderful day!

ps. If this family receives 15 comments on the blog, they will get a very special little gift…

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dana - amazing pictures! i love, love, love the picture of ethan kissing his beautiful mama and the one of macie leaning on the wall, looking up with her big magical eyes!

debi - So beautiful!

stefany goldberg - OH my gosh, the most amazing picture ever~ does she come to rockville, MD?

Lindi - Just when I thought my best friend in the entire world and her kids couldn’t look more beautiful…I love you guys!!!

carrie - Absolutely adorable! These pictures capture the joy of children and the love between siblings. Can’t help but smile at each one.

Ann konikoff - These pictures are absolutely beautiful!

Megan Zuckerman - LOVE them all! gorgeous!

Rachel - It’s such a special gift to have these photos. The black and white is stunning!

David - I love them all – but the white flower picture with flowers that match her dress is my favorite!

Carin - Beautiful photographs! Love the way you captured the close relationships!

elyse - thank you everyone, and to Jan- truly glad I could possibly contribute to a smile today :)

Jan - truly the most magical mother’s day gift ever!!! THANK YOU ELYSE for giving this to me to have forever:) and… miss macie does look like a totally different child. crazy…

andi - What beautiful photos, with beautiful sentiments!

Kim - What a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day!

Grandpa Bill - Thanks for the beautiful pictures of my beautiful grandchildren.

Red - Happy Mother’s Day!

Laura - what gorgeous siblings! the piano one is perfect!!

Rachel - Beautiful children. Looking forward to the day I have babies for you to photograph

The Royal Wedding | Virginia Beach Professional Photographer

I always say we should make sure to celebrate the happy moments.  This morning I am sitting watching the Royal Wedding.  Not only is it some of the most spectacular visual eye-candy I have seen in a long time (between the architecture, her dress and tiara, the uniforms, the hats and some unique looking people), but in my heart, I feel genuine excitement for the royal couple.  The singing by the children is angelic, and I hope the royal couple will need a newborn photographer and look me up!

As thrilled as I am to be able to watch the wedding on TV, and to know millions of other people across the world are doing the same… I feel absolute sorrow that the one person who would have loved more than anything to be a living eye-witness, is not here today.

We should all throw such an event when something is to be celebrated… there are all too many gatherings of sadness, mourning, and loss…yet we often take the happy events and minimize them in some way.  May the Royal Wedding stand as a symbol to us all across the world, to embrace one-another and to truly celebrate the magical moments in our lives. We only live once… and I think if we live in the present and celebrate the magnificent glory of the moment, then we just might live happily ever after.



p.s. I feel like I should include a photograph (or two). These are not “professional portraits” as you will see. But, in fact, taken with my iphone at 11p.m. last night.  My oldest daughter (pictured second), recently bought her own shoes with her own money. I don’t know if the incentive to sleep in them had anything to do with the Royal wedding at all… or maybe they just wanted to wake up ready for school. Either way- a true-life Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) lives here (two of them, actually) :).

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Babies, Twins and Red-heads-Oh My! | Va. Beach, Norfolk Infant photographer | Newborn models

Words cannot even begin to express how much I enjoy photographing babies, infants and children.  But to have TWIN baby girls (who look NOTHING alike!):)and a red-headed baby girl in my presence has thrown me over the edge! If you or someone you know is getting ready to have a baby, please contact me so we can get your due-date on the calendar.  When the baby comes, we try to photograph in the first two weeks if possible.  The images below are why… this stage of peaceful, relaxed curly bodies – with that fine baby hair and fresh sugar all over their little wee bodies is one of the sweetest fleeting moments of all time… Didn’t get to do it for your first baby? I hear it all the time- SO?? Why not embrace their differences already?  Usually it is the first born that gets “everything”- let their siblings get a first!

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kit - I LOVE These shots!
And think everyone should have newborn photos – what precious and oh so fleeting moments.
Beautiful work!!

Family Photography on Virginia Beach boardwalk | Children and Family Photography Virginia Beach

No doubt you will notice that these “children” are quite a bit older than those I normally shoot… Yes, I am still a baby photographer!

Last year, I donated a photography package to the Crystal Ball for a Cure. The Crystal Ball is the premier fundraising event in the Tidewater/Hampton Roads area where we are raising funds 100% for Muscular Dystrophy and ALS Research.  Today I am featuring the family that chose to bid and won my package, and while I don’t typically shoot the “big kids”… I thoroughly enjoyed meeting these sisters and their mom… and I think you will agree that the three together look more like sisters than mother and daughters. We had a wonderful visit at the Va. Beach Oceanfront and took a nice stroll on the boardwalk.

I would like to mention that Mother’s Day is coming up, and there is nothing more precious than capturing mom with the kids (small ones please**):)Sometimes the dads need hints, so leave my website up for them to see!

Also, if this family gets 15 comments on this blog post, they will get a special gift!  Happy Easter!

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patti ruby - Gorgeous work as usual Elyse!

Glen Wheless - These pictures are really excellent!

Baby Aviator Fletcher | Virginia Beach Newborn, Infant and Baby Photographer

Oh my word, I thought I was going to pass out when I heard this baby boy’s name- Fletcher! It was love at first sight… and big brother, all of two years, is adorable too! Here are just a few favorites… and my goodness, if this shouldn’t make dad’s fellow Naval pilots swoon:)

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Stacey S - Super sweet photos – and I love his name!!

sherral - Love it!

Theresa - Absolutely darling! Love the smiles and sleeping on dad’s cap.

tamsen - super cute little people :)

Kim Hill - Oh my word – so so so precious! That first one just makes my heart sing. :)

AmandaB - love the little smile in the first one. these are sweet.

Deanna - OMG what a cutie!!! Love these!

Maternity + Labor= BIRTH! | Virginia Baby and Newborn Photographer

I am so sorry for the delay in posts.  I am going to have to write a separate post just to share my personal story over the past few months. In the meantime, I have, in fact, been wonderfully busy and will (hopefully) be sharing all that I have been shooting with you over the next few weeks…

Last month, I had the honor and pleasure of being invited to attend the birth of Baby Madeline.  “True-life” photo-journalistic photography at its finest.  There are no words to express the natural labor process, and in the whirlwind of the moment, it was hard for even me to fully be present and take in the life-changing moment when she was finally born.  Thankfully, I was able to capture it on ‘film’, and can rewind as many times as I like.  It just proved to me, once again, how photography is one of the only ways for us to truly R-E-M-E-M-B-E-R what we so much cannot afford to forget.

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Kim Hill - Wow – these are amazing! Feels like we’re all right there with them.

sherral - What a beautiful series of of photos! Love it!

Stacey S - I really love this series of photos – love the progression of the events. Sweet, sweet, sweet!

Kelly Q - Love seeing the whole progression- maternity-birth-newborn! Beautiful work!

Deanna - Great job on these! I love the moms tshirt!!

marinda - These are absolutely gorgeous! Love seeing the belly to birth to baby. :-)

Tiffaney - Such a adorable baby… wonderful job

AmandaB - these are great. so special that you were able to capture the whole process.

tamsen - wow-gorgeous! it brought tears to my eyes as i remember this with my babies! love that last image!

Theresa Martell - So many lovely images. The birth shots are amazing! Excellent emotion captured.

Never Forget… the good stuff | Virginia Beach Children Photography

What a year it has been! I always like to reflect at this time of year to think about the things that have come and gone- and what do I have to show for it? I can hardly remember what happened yesterday (and if you know me well, you know that is SO true as I stare blankly to the question, “how was last night?” etc…)  Well we had a lot of adventures this year, but none more important and wonderful than the birth of our baby girl, Flora Brielle.  Life is so crazy right now, but I know someday, I will look back at this image and hear the giggles and belly laughs… feel the soft baby skin… smell the fresh shampooed hair.  May I be so lucky to never forget. period.  Oh! And just because I show a “good one”, doesn’t mean there weren’t a dozen crazy ones first… so for fun, I have included some of the funny outtakes, when there was always someone “messing up” the shot… although, I sort of like ’em too:)  Happy happy from my family to yours!

told ya!

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Lindsay - What amazing and sweet pictures to have of your kids!

tamsen - haha, the last one is a classic! what beautiful children you have!

Lauren Barkan - that is so funny! I love the last one:)

bonni - Beautiful

It’s Christmas Baby! | Newborn Photographer Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk

Oh how I just LOVE newborns!  I had the pleasure of finally meeting this baby girl… and she is SO adorable and I so enjoyed being with her.  I did a maternity photo session for mom and dad a few months ago… If you follow this blog, you may remember the “babies” at the time were their dogs :).  This family is very blessed, and I am honored to present you with these images.  Congratulations and Happy Holidays!

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elyse - Thanks everyone! I have to say, while I brought a ton of stuff for the session, the mom had the awesome santa hat and the big pink flower, and the hot pink tutu situation :) lovvvved them all!

Kelsey Anderson - What a little sweetie. I adore the flower ottoman.

Kelly Q - She is so precious! Love the santa hat ones!!

Laura - Adorable! Your props add just a little extra to each, LOVE the santa hat, that is too cute :)

Jolie - Oh how sweet! These are perfect!

jules - what a sweet lil babe! you have the best props … love them all. she looks precious in this last one.

Lindsay Koehler - Such cute newborn pictures. The family will LOVE LOVE these!

Botanical Garden’s Last Leaves | Norfolk Children’s Photographer

I think we may have hit the last weekend that leaves were still on the trees… and some were just dangling at that.  The leaves had great competition with the beauty of these two children.  I really enjoyed the little “give me five” game that little guy showed me… I don’t know who laughed harder at the “pass gas” punchline… so if some of these are fuzzy, it is because I was laughing too hard- just kidding… I like mine crisp (and colorful) as the autumn day!

And these are just some of the last leaves… I had to capture the moment on the way home:)

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Happy Birthday! | Virginia Beach Children and Family Photographer

These children were so awesome! These are just a few from the super fun session… I had a blast! Evidently, the kids did too as they have asked when I can come and play again:).  I think my favorite moment was when I asked the adorable and sassy 4 year old girl, “Who is your FAVORITE princess?” She didn’t skip a beat and happily replied, “I AM!”

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Kristie Hopkins - Elyse, these are absolutely beautiful! I have never seen anything like this before – I am so pleased!!!! It’s going to be very hard to choose – can’t wait to see them all!
Thank you so much – you made my day.

Sister Act | Norfolk, Virginia Beach Children’s Photographer

What an incredible joy it was to take a walk last weekend with the B. Family! These sisters are soooooo loving- I had to ask if they ever fight??? (Duh-of course they do, so they said). I know there will be a lot of activity in the coming weeks, as big sister looks forward to her Bat Mitzvah!  I hope these images capture her innocence, fun-loving nature not to mention she’s an absolute beauty!

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I LOVE Thanksgiving and Autumn! | Virginia Family, Children, Baby Photographer

I am just so thankful! I love love love this time of year.  Autumn is absolutely my favorite season.  I love the colors, the temperature, the breeze, the scents, the food, the energy.  I know what is coming (shopping, snow, the end of the year, frigid air…) But there is something about those little orange leaves gracefully floating through the air, that tells me it’s time to just say thank you.  I do thank G-d every day for my life and these beautiful things, but perhaps I don’t say thank you to my fellow earthlings as often :). So, thank you to my amazing family, incredible friends and of course, my Sweet People Photography™ fans!! I am seriously one lucky gal.

I am sitting here writing this post, with one hand as 4 week old baby Flora is having her breakfast (well, one of her many breakfasts).  My wonderful participatory husband got the kids breakfast, helped them get dressed, and drove them to school (and does almost every morning!)  There is super loud hammering on this side of my house as my kitchen is being completely renovated, added on to, and did I mention I get a new office out of it?:)My life is very, very full right now.  Am I crazy? Uh -YES!!! Perhaps- but it is all so wonderful.  And while my recovery from my (4th) C-section is taking a bit longer this time (gee, I wonder why?), I am beyond thankful that the baby and I are both doing okay and the other kids all adore her and aren’t asking to get rid of her (like I asked when my sister was born!)  This is the first year in the last four,  that I will not be hosting over 23 some family members here at our home, of course due mostly to the kitchen renovation.  We simply don’t have one, and everything that was in our kitchen, is piled high in every other room- looks like we literally just moved in.  I DO have an assistant that helps me clean, do laundry and keep things straight, not to mention my kids adore her- so I am VERY VERY THANKFUL for her!!

Every year for Thanksgiving, I look forward to not only seeing everyone, but also to figuring out how I’m going to decorate the table.  Soon, I will look forward to cooking in my brand new kitchen.  The past three years, my mother and step-father have cooked almost everything, re-heated it on TOP of my stove top because my kitchen of the past, had THE WORLD’S SMALLEST teeny tiny oven that literally fit a cookie sheet, and ONLY if turned it sideways!  It occurred to me today, that many of you may enjoy checking out my crazy centerpiece ideas and so I thought I would share.  These images were NOT taken with a professional eye, so please forgive the quality.

This idea came from an arrangement I saw once by a local floral designer team, The New Leaf. (Theirs was WAY bigger and more deluxe with spring flowers everywhere!) I just took this tall branch from right outside my porch.  The tricky thing is how to affix it to the centerpiece.  I got lucky, because I had something that worked, and the branch was not too heavy.

Next, I absolutely am obsessed with cranberries and bogs! SO, this was my idea of a mini one for my table.  I filled this planter with water and dropped the beautiful cranberries right in- and of course, they float.  I just think it is magical- maybe I’d add some floating candles next time!

And the last one, was actually my first one I did.  I saw fresh Brussels sprouts at the grocery store- and instantly envisioned  what I wanted to do! I am crazy about fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers- and have a passion for seeing them in abundance.  What better time to see it come to life, than Thanksgiving!

So, I hope you enjoyed the images and maybe they got your creative juices flowing… I can almost smell the turkey now :).  I am, of course, booking sessions now for December and January… LOVE hats and scarves in photos- so don’t wait for spring!!   If you have a newborn, we can always arrange for the session right away.  Thank you for your patience while I was not posting much.  I am getting back on my feet now, and will be posting more soon!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

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Summer Love | Virginia Children’s Photography

Family vacation can be the perfect time to get some fresh portraits.  We recently vacationed with our dear friends in the Outer Banks. It had been quite some time since we captured these two… You may remember them from a year or so ago.  Here are a couple of their recognizable images:

And here is a sneak peek of their new portraits.  I am SOOO glad that my clients and friends come back for more.  I am honored to be the chosen photographer, but mostly I am thrilled for them, that they will never regret their choice!  Ask anyone with older children, and they always say that they BLINKED and those early stages were over.  When I blink, I click for you and then your memories are saved forever. No regrets… Just dear images of missing teeth, attitudes, laughter and innocence.  Enjoy!

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First Baby Girl is on Her Way! | Maternity Photography Chesapeake, Virginia Beach

Over a year ago, this Chesapeake client contacted me regarding her engagement to her fiancee, and wanting an engagement session with me. As tempting as it was, I decided to really stick to my niche of maternity, newborn, babies, children and family photography. And it was my lucky day when they found out they were pregnant, and decided to book the  Maternity and Newborn package! For maternity, I recommend photographing between 30-34 weeks approximately, and for the newborn, you give me your due date, and we try to get those within the first two weeks after  birth.

Ironically, this was most likely my last session I will photograph before our own sweetie muffin comes into the world- I have no more than four weeks left (C-section), and this family will also probably be one of my first sessions after Baby Cardon arrives… so it is a very special time for both of us.  The K family currently has two gorgeous dogs, Lola and Mickey, and I made sure to explain to the future big brother and sister that they are in for a big surprise in a couple of months when their first baby girl shows up :).  And now, without further ado, please enjoy this sneak preview of their gorgeous session.  Mom has not been feeling very well throughout most of this pregnancy… I would NEVER EVER have known that had she not told me- she is simply GLOWING… and I love the way dad looks at “his girls”!

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Sweet Mother/Daughter vacation at the Beach | Virginia Beach Photography

I was so glad the weather cooperated so beautifully for this long awaited photo session.  I happen to have gone to high school for a few years with this beautiful mother, and it was such a blast from the past laying eyes on her (it had been um…ahem, um… over twenty years).  Her precious daughter is just so playful and has the best curly blond hair e-v-e-r…!! The funny thing was there was a beached whale that day in Virginia Beach… just kidding- it was me, 31 weeks pregnant… and after that session, I realized that I will have to wait to do any more 3 year old sessions until after I have recovered from delivering this baby!  My sessions offer me a great workout, as I squat for many minutes at a time, usually lie on my belly, and really just do whatever it takes to get the look and images I want… When I tell you that, even with a skipped nap, this sweetheart ran and climbed for over an hour straight, I am not kidding!! I really enjoyed catching up with my old Norfolk Academy classmate, and watching her play as a grown woman with her amazing daughter… I love my job. period.

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Elyse - Herbert, I am Larry’s daughter-in-law :) I married his wonderful son, David! I am so glad you like the photographs, and I enjoyed “playing” with Becky and Emma very much!

Herbert Levin - Are you related to Larry Cardon? Thanks for taking such wonderful pictures of my daughter and granddaughter. Becky and Emma look great.

It was a Win-Win for this Family Portrait Session! | Virginia Family, Children Photographer

It has been quite a few weeks since the final frenzy of Sweet People Photography’s™ contest.  I don’t know if you remember, but for the whole week of voting, it looked like a pretty likely win for one family.  Suddenly, during the last 24 hours, this winning family rallied, and I mean seriously utilized Facebook to get dozens and dozens of votes… up until midnight- when they won by only a handful of votes!!  A few weeks ago, I posted the second place winner, and tonight, it is my pleasure to post the (drum-roll-please) First Place Winner!  This weekend, I went to their home in Virginia Beach to shoot the session.  I knew little 8-month old “Buddha” or “Munchkin”, as they call him, (who up until now, has not had professional photos), would be a primary focus.  He is SOOO delicious, and squeezable!  Little did I know how much fun was in store for all of us.  Big Brother, aka “Buggy”, absolutely could not stop giggling for most of the session- I think we could have just hung out the whole day together!  I always say not to be afraid of wearing color… Check out this beautiful mom in the gorgeous purple!!  I am posting several tonight, because I can’t stop at just a few… I hope you will feel the love they have for each other… and I am not sure if they were laughing with me or at me… but it was just pure joy… Now, for you to enjoy.

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clique aqui - Simply want to say your article is as amazing. The clearness in your
post is just excellent and i could assume you are an expert on this subject.
Fine with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post.
Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable work.

Elyse - Thank you Stacie!! Nothing beats the look between a mom and baby :)

Stacie - Elyse all the photos are beautiful!!! The boys are adorable! I love the one of Spencer looking that Lauren, like she’s the only one in the world. You can just see all the love between them!

A Study of the First Years | Virginia Photographer

It is a well-known fact that a baby’s growth slows after the first year or two.  During the first year, when the sleepless nights and whirlwind of a new baby takes over, it is ever more important to invest in photography to forever preserve the memories… you know, the ones that you can barely remember the next day.  About two years ago,  I began a bit of what photographers call  “portfolio building” so I would be able to display my style of photography for my business.  As it turned out, I ended up doing several sessions of the same little girl during the first two years of her life.  When I received a wonderful testimonial from the mom (below),  I realized what an amazing study this was in how fast time flies, and how important it is to capture those first months especially.  We obviously cannot go back in time, but our photographs will play such a huge part in enabling us to conjure up the dear memories that would have been forever lost otherwise.

Here are her thoughts: “We had the privilege of being one of Elyse’s original families photographed and have been so beyond thrilled with all of our photos that over the last year, we have had the experience repeated several times.  When my son was born, I had him professionally photographed before he turned one and then not again till my daughter was born when he was two and a half.  In contrast, we’ve had Elyse photograph our son and particularly our daughter about every 4-6 months.  Getting to evidence their transformations through these priceless pieces of artwork has been an awesome experience and one I WISH I had done with my son in his first years of life.  Elyse’s portraits now cover the major walls of our house, and every glance at them brings instant smiles to us as well as all who view them.  We have loved every minute of our Sweet People Photography™ experience – from the fun and relaxed photo sessions to the very special final product.  Thank you, Elyse.”

newborn "snapshot" (just over for a visit- not a session...)

6 months

10 months (ONLY 4 MONTHS LATER!!)

15 months (ONLY 5 MONTHS LATER!!!)

22 months

A common thing I hear from friends now that I am doing professional photography, is that they never had maternity or newborn shots the first time around, so they probably won’t do them the second time (even thought they LOVE my work):)They feel funny since the first child didn’t have them.  I have to laugh because, as we are soon to welcome our fourth sweetie-muffin into the world, I am absolutely certain she will have the MOST photographs/portraits over the other three, and I am certain I will never EVER regret having them.

On that note, I photographed another family three different times for three very different sessions.  Here are the mother’s thoughts:


“It was my little boy’s 1st birthday when I had my first experience with Sweet People Photography™.  Elyse captured a moment when I was smiling ear-to-ear watching my 1st born son singing at his party and wearing his Elmo birthday hat!  Every time I pass the portrait hanging on my wall in the kitchen, I am brought back to a such a wonderful time in our lives! That’s the thing about Sweet People Photography™… moments so precious and pure are captured. Because of them I will never forget the actual feeling I had at my son’s 1st birthday party! Thank you!!”


“My husband would not leave me alone about having maternity photos taken! With my first pregnancy I never did them, so when I was pregnant with my second,  I had not planned to do them either. I didn’t feel particularly attractive and was just really not interested in being photographed at 7-8 months pregnant. That is, until I spoke with Elyse! She reminded me that this is a time in my life that’s very special and unique, and I will, one day, love looking back at my family of 3 before we became a family of 4.  On a beautiful spring day she came to our home and did a maternity session inside and out of my house… she even got great photos in the baby’s new nursery. I wore what I felt comfortable in and Elyse also helped me with what she knew would photograph well.  We did some shots alone, and then had some fun with my 2 year old son and husband.  When I look at these portraits around the house, and hold my new daughter in my arms… I can’t even explain how surreal it seems.  My husband and I are so thrilled that Elyse captured this beautiful and truly special time in our lives.  We cannot wait to show our little girl photos of her when she was ‘still inside mommy’s belly!'”


“I told Elyse I did not really have a need to capture my daughter within the first two weeks after giving birth… I had not done newborn portraits of my son, so I didn’t think it was really necessary.  I felt like the baby would be too little or too sleepy and I sort of had the thought that I wanted her to be smiling.  I WAS SO WRONG!!! When my little baby girl was just 10 days old,  Elyse came to our home, knew just what to do with the baby,  while capturing the most pure and precious newborn shots!  She brought an assortment of fluffy blankets, props, adorable hats, headbands, and tutus, just as I had asked for and was able to capture the baby both awake and asleep.  When I viewed the gallery online,  I was brought to tears… one photo was better than the next! Today I have a gorgeous 11×14 ‘chic & glassy’ piece of art hanging in my family room of my beautiful baby girl (to go with the one I already did of my son from the maternity session),  and needless to say, I am SO glad I did the newborn photos!”



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elyse - Thank you so much everyone! What beautiful feedback – I thank you truly!

Kim - How could anyone seriously think about having a child without having you photograph them? What a truly awesome article!

cindy pennybacker - I knew when I met you that I had found a truly beautiful person. I am so happy to know you and David and those gorgeous babies! I can’t wait the meet the next one! You’re work is a clear display of your talent and your heart. xoxo

Stacie - Can’t wait for many more photos with you!!!

Larry Cardon (Poppie) - The pictures are great. I enjoyed them. Keep up the good work. Love, Poppie

rebecca cardon - What a great article and AMAZING photos!!! When Im preggers….Im going to bug the S*** outta you to snap away!!!!

My turn to enter a contest! | Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake Children, Newborn, Maternity Professional Photography

So, I just decided to enter, at the very last minute, a little photography contest myself!  There is a really fun website called I Heart Faces.  The theme this week is “Over My Head”.  While, I actually have several cute images that could actually fit this theme, I am only allowed to enter ONE.  I just had to enter this one.   This is actually a photograph taken in Virginia Beach, of my darling daughter, Sylvie, and my husband.  He was tossing her in the air, playing around, and I decided to try to capture the moment.  My husband had the brilliant idea to quickly put his arms down so it looked like she was just flying.  It was all about timing, as of course, he only had them down for a blink of an eye… or shutter, as the case may be.  He could have never known what I was seeing through my lens… the pier in the background, and me sitting down, made it really look like she was super, super high in the sky.  This is NOT a Photoshop editing trick… this is the real deal!

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Lsquare - What a great eye you have—and incredible timing on your husband’s part for the toss and yours for getting the shot—WOW!!!

Michelle Hires - I LOVE it!! This is an absolutely wonderful shot. I keep looking at your little girl…she DOES look like she’s flying :)

25 Things You Don’t Know About Me |Virginia Beach Photographer

An amazing photographer, and “friend” (although we have never met in person) Brandy Anderson, who lives in Calgary, Canada, blogged about 25 things that we don’t know about her.  It was so much fun to read about her funny little quirks… So, here is a list about me- you may or may not know about them … Most likely, not so much.  Of course, I am feeling nice and vulnerable now…:)Please leave me a comment below, and let me know some of yours!

#1) My husband and I knew each other growing up, from at least third grade on… and I never in a MILLION years thought we would be where we are today… married 11 years next month!

#2) I don’t really like walking around barefoot… maybe it was always out of fear of hurting the bottoms of my feet back while I was dancing.  When I have stuff to do at home, I always wear my tennis shoes ’cause it makes me feel like I have the ability to run around and get my work done.  Flip-flops means a lazy day.

#3) I absolutely love buying office supplies.  Everything fresh and new… new pencils/pens, paper… the store itself is intoxicating and somehow therapeutic to me.

#4) I don’t like most music concerts… they are too loud for me.

#5) I taught Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, Pilates one time in her private hotel suite, while she was here in Norfolk, VA.  When her assistant called my Pilates studio (my business pre-photography), I wasn’t 100% sure who the Duchess of York was.

#6) I am a birdwatcher… I love them and can usually tell you what kind of bird it is. If I can’t, I actually take the time to look it up and learn about it.

#7) I have a need to have unusual things around me.  If someone is trying to sell me something and they use the sentence, “These are our most popular such-n-such’s”, they have unknowingly turned me immediately off, and I will never look twice at the item again.

#8) I have found that when shopping, I am drawn to certain colors on certain days. For example, I will walk into say TJMAXX, and notice a sunflower yellow purse that I like.  The next thing I know I am drawn to a yellowish sweater… then it would be yellowish mugs… etc.  But the next time I am out looking, it will be a totally different color… I have yet to figure out this phenomenon.

#9) I think that peanut butter would probably taste good on just about anything.

#10) I often pass up interesting items because I think to myself, “I could make that myself”… and of course, I never do.

#11) I seriously choke up and even sometimes cry a little when reading children’s stories to my kids… they always have such great messages!

#12) I have always liked the smell of mushrooms, but never been able to eat them… until recently.  I think my taste-buds might be changing.  This is absolutely shocking to my husband, who thought we would share our passionate dislike together forever.

#13) I wash my hands every single time I enter my house… and I secretly sort of wish everyone else did that too.

#14) I am a morning person.  The best time of day (which I rarely get out of my house to see) is just before dawn- it’s magical.

#15) I have yet to make any proper baby books, scrapbooks or photo albums, which I feel is a huge failure that I hope to correct very soon… seriously pathetic! Oh and yes, I actually purchased each album and tons of scrap-booking supplies to do it and yet, here they sit.  Ironically, another amazing photographer friend, Kelly Willette, just blogged about this very topic today- check it out!

#16) There were a couple of years, when we first had kids, that our beloved dog, Sofi, was literally the very last thing on the list… The dog, (what had been our first baby), became “the _____ dog”…and she knew it.

#17) I love getting mail.  Snail mail, email… any mail. On the days that there is very little, like the weekends… I feel a little empty.

#18) I love polishing sterling silver… I know it is crazy, but I do.

#19) I truly felt a personal loss with the death of Jacques Cousteau.

#20) I am a serious back-seat-driver.  If you don’t put your turn signal on AND turn your head to check your blind spot… Well, let’s just say, I will do it for you.

#21) When I meet someone who is in their early 20’s, I always think in the back of my head, “Cool, we are almost the same age…”

#22) I used to be a professional ballet dancer, but my children barely know that about me.

#23) I have given my husband a “push present” for every birth of our three children, even though he has never even come close to doing any “pushing”, and as it has turned out, neither have I.

#24) I don’t really think blondes have more fun.  But sometimes I wish I had me some shiny blonde locks… just for fun.

#25) I find it is rather rewarding to be the grown-up and use the phrase,  “Because I said so, that is why.”

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Debby - I’ve always known we had a lot of similarities and I loved reading your list. I most strongly relate to #3 and #21-which made me giggle because I didn’t know anyone else thought that way as well :)

Your photography work continues to impress me. You have such a good eye (realistically, it’s probably 2 good eyes:)

I don’t think I could make such a long list, but here’s a few.

1) I dislike that the stores put out the back to school stuff in early July, when we’ve only just started summer.
2) I love organizational supplies and when I need to organize a drawer or cabinet, if I purchase one tiny new organizational tool, I get the motivation to do that project.
3) I love art shows and being able to meet the artist and have a story behind the piece of art.
4) I love that when my children come home, they run inside the house as if they are on a mission to “grab that book, sort those silly bandz” or whatever.
5) I like cheerful and colorful things. Probably too much color for many. . .
6) When I was younger and taking dance classes, we needed to have 3 varieties. I was in ballet, gymnastics and needed a third. So naturally, I selected hula dancing.
7) On my honeymoon, my husband challenged another “cruise passenger” to arm wrestle me as a joke. I followed through and actually beat this 50 year old man (unless he let me win, which was probable)
8) I secretly love it when my daughter calls my husband to “take care” of a bug in our house, because she says it not my job.

I know my list isn’t that great, but I wanted to share back because I liked reading yours :)

julie - Turns out these lists are sort of fun hey? I love your logo- so cute. Here is my list :)

Brandy - Hahahaha, these are awesome! What’s so weird, is that I used to hate mushrooms too! I once cried when my husband brought home a pepperoni and mushroom pizza. I love them now though, esp. fried with butter and garlic.

Elyse - Thanks Jessica and Amanda- and Bonni, you just made my morning! LOVE!!

Tasha - I loved reading this post!

I took ballet classes for six years as a child. I loved it, but I never got the hang of toe shoes. I still love any kind of dance.

Roses are my favorite flowers, but I only like the ones that have a fragrance. The scentless ones make me sad. I love to take my daughters to the rose garden at the botanical gardens. We walk through and compare the scent of different blooms.

I love walking in the woods in winter. When I was in high school, I would get up at dawn on the weekends and go walking in the woods with my dad’s dogs. We never got lost.

Bonni - I totally get the attraction to a certain color at certain times thing! I find myself drawn to colors a year or two before they become the IT color. By the time it’s in…I’m over it.

I’m terrified of running out of toilet paper. I rarely have less than 50 rolls in my house at any given time

Bar soap creeps me out unless I’m the only one using it.

I sleep on average 6 hours a night.

I never lived anywhere longer than 8 months until I was 21 years old.

My first crush was Dean Martin.

At age 9, I was looking for an apartment of my own.

My husband can’t figure out why I notice the subtle differences when comparing several pairs of black pumps…but not black cars.

My Grandfather taught me to: Live within my means, love Johnny Carson, the importance of critical thinking.

I cry every time I see the troops come home on the news.

Sewing machines baffle me.

I love the stories that old houses,old furniture and old people tell.

I’ve been kicked out of Catholic school, Baptist Bible Study, AWANAS, and once caused a boy I dated to be excommunicated from the Church of LDS because I asked too many questions.

I love to travel alone.

I’m a little neurotic when it comes to laundry.

While walking the aisles of a grocery store, all things are possible.

Tim Russert and the Crocodile Hunter…I miss them both.

Amanda - I LOVE this list…and the idea behind it!!! :)

Jessica - I personally quite love #21. It quite made me giggle. Mostly becasue I’ll meet people in their 30’s and think the same thing.. STRANGE.

Second Place Contest Winner meets for a Mini | Virginia Beach, Norfolk Children and Family Photography

It seems like just yesterday that the SweetPeople Facebook “From Generation to Generation” contest was going strong.  It was, without a doubt, one of the most exciting contests I have been a part of in a long time.  Note to self: next contest ends at a reasonable hour and not MIDNIGHT!  My apologies guys…we all felt hungover a bit the next day, I think.  Thank you again to all who voted and participated in the contest.  There will be future contests, surely… but in the meantime, here is a sneak peek at our Second place winner… Mom was super serious about winning and only missed first place by a few votes!   I enjoyed meeting this hilarious family down in Norfolk… and as hot as it was, no one seemed to mind!

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It was a Win-Win for this Family Portrait Session! | Virginia Family, Children Photographer » Elyse Cardon Photography-newborn, children, baby, maternity photographer virginia beach norfolk virginia - […] up until midnight- when they won by only a handful of votes!!  A few weeks ago, I posted the second place winner, and tonight, it is my pleasure to post the (drum-roll-please) First Place Winner!  This weekend, […]

Family Vacation | Virginia Beach Family Photography

Hello there! These have been some of the busiest, craziest couple of weeks e-v-e-r!  For starters, I am nearly 25 weeks pregnant and definitely in the honeymoon phase.  I am way passed the yukky nausea and not terribly uncomfortable yet.  That said, I spent the beginning of the summer with barely any A/C in my home, and watched my body swell like nobody’s business.  I felt like the challah bread dough I am currently making in the kitchen… you could poke me and it would show your finger print for quite some time.  The blog and many other things were somewhat on hold, as I could not sit in my home for any length of time in a chair at the computer.  Thank you for your patience.  The good news is that we have completed a huge project of putting in an amazing new A/C system, and I have welcomed the few times my toes were just a bit chilly.

We also took a family jaunt up to New Jersey to visit my relatives.  Six + hours in the car with our three cuties was actually wonderful!  We took the Cape May/Lewes Ferry from Delaware to New Jersey and ate lunch on board.  I packed the best sandwiches and fresh food, if I do say so myself.

Then we went to a favorite spot for little ones, Storybook Land.  Great for kids up to about 8 years old, there are rides for them, and nursery rhymes, fairytale stories and it is inexpensive and shady! We love it! 

We also stopped by one of New Jersey’s best- a real, true diner! Best food and felt like we stepped back in time for sure…

On Saturday morning we went to the Six Flags Great Adventure Safari.  It is the largest driving safari outside of Africa and a ton of fun for any animal enthusiast!

It was a great couple of days.  When we drove home to Virginia Beach on the 4th of July, we picked up some small fireworks on the Eastern Shore (dad was SUPER excited!) for the kids to see at home.  They were a hit- and I think all in all it was a great family vacation!

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Family Fun | Virginia Family, Children Photography

Meet the K. Family.  Absolutely precious little ones… and mom and dad are simply some of the “beautiful people”.  This session was in the hopes to get some great shots of their baby girl, and then whatever else happened, happened.  I am happy to say, that a lot happened in this Virginia Beach home and am very pleased to share this sneak peek with you. 

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Father’s Day was a real treat this year! | Virginia Children and Family Photographer

We had a couple of Virginia Beach moms really think ahead this year and realize that an awesome Father’s Day gift would be a surprise portrait or two in hand for their office and home.  These moms took advantage of the mini-session I offered just for that purpose, and delivered to their husbands and fathers a set of matted gift-prints… they popped them right into the frames and voila!  The gallery slide show that clients see after the session tells a little story, and since the dads had not had a chance to see it, I re-posted for their viewing pleasure … Here is a post-peek at a few of their portraits:

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Wonder Twin Power…Activate! | Virginia Beach, Norfolk Family and Children Photography

Once upon a time in a town called Norfolk, (natives pronounce it “Naw-phuck”) two beautiful twin girls were born.  Their parents are the first to admit that having the two of them, and prematurely at that, was the hardest thing they had ever done.  Now they are ten years old, and have developed into sweet, curious, excited and vibrant souls… and while there is no question they are twin sisters, they also have extremely different personalities and expressions…From behind my lens, was the first time I could really see their subtle and not-so-subtle differences that make them their unique individual selves.  The most exciting thing about this shoot was that it was one of the secret Father’s Day surprises I have been mentioning.  Dad got to see the slide show gallery made just for him on the Father’s Day, order his portraits, and they are on the way!  Here is a post-peek at some of their session! 

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Welcome Newborn Baby Girl | Virginia Newborn Photographer

If she only knew.  If she only knew how much her mommy wanted her… Well, I have no doubt she will know.  The first thing mom said to me, hours after delivery was , “How is it that I can love her this much and she just got here?  It is amazing how much I love her already!”  I photographed mom and big brother a few months ago… if you missed it, you can see them on my blog here.  I remember a dear friend telling me that it is simply amazing that the love for another child is just as strong and amazing when doing it a second (or third… or fourth :)) time.  So true, isn’t it?  I really fell in love with this one week old.  When I first told mom that newborn photos are best in the first two weeks, she was shocked!  The babies change so much so quickly, that to capture those moments, and to have a relatively cooperative baby, it is best during that time.  When I arrived in the home, mom told me how much she has changed ALREADY and it had only been a week!  Please enjoy this sneak peek into the wonderful world of newborns. 

If you are pregnant or know someone who is, and are interested in scheduling a newborn session, please email me (, give me your due date and we can pencil it in the books!  I can also do custom announcements…Here is just one sample:

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Sneak Preview: He’s all Boy! | Virginia Children’s Photographer

That is all I hear when people look at my two girls and then they see my son.  They always comment, “He’s all boy!”  And having the privilege of having both sexes, I have the amazing opportunity to see how in fact, he is just that… all boy… and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.  I also had the honor of doing a session for this ALL BOY second grader!  His mother filled out my form before the session and wrote for his favorite things:

Animals, animal planet, discovery channel
Animals, animal planet, discovery channel
Animals, animal planet, discovery channel
Animals, animal planet, discovery channel
Animals, animal planet, discovery channel
Animals, animal planet, discovery channel
Animals, animal planet, discovery channel

If there had been more space, I could see this would have gone on.  Needless to say, mom has a great sense of humor.  And this list is so incredibly true… Folks, I think we are looking at the next Jacques Cousteau – He is living right here in Virginia Beach!  We had to enter his playroom from the alternate door, as to not disturb all of the fish that were (stuffed animals) and doing their thing up against the back of their other door.  We had a great time together, and thank you for the science lesson big guy!

Pin It - You made me cry!!!
Your photos are fabulous!!!!!
I can’t wait to see the rest.


Contest Winners Announced! | Va Beach Family Photography

WOW! What a crazy week it has been indeed! For a contest that had barely any steam, there sure was some SERIOUS excitement once it got under way! A sincere thank you to all 14 final entries for taking the time to find an image that moves you and is a forever memory for you.  A genuine thank you for putting yourself out there, and sharing it with the world.  Thank you for allowing all of us to sit for a moment, ponder your private moment, and no doubt reminisce about our own.  That is what photography is all about.  Don’t wait to lose those five lbs.  You never know what tomorrow may bring.  Snap those photos or schedule a custom portrait session.   If you know anything about my style of photography at all, it is VERY relaxed, stress free, and usually quite a bit of fun for all included.  It is not an Elyse Cardon photograph unless it looks like that is what occurred during our time together.  Do you really think the “imperfections” you see in the mirror will be what your children and children’s children see when they get to hold that image in years to come?  After this contest, I hope you will turn towards the camera every single time someone pulls one out to capture the moment.  I know I am more than guilty of being concerned of the outcome.  BUT it is far more important that I actually am in photographs with my family than if my hair needed brushing or my angle is unflattering.   Allow the moment to be captured.  Your baby you are holding, whether 10 months or 10 years old,  will not care that you had an extra ten pounds on (in YOUR opinion) ever since you birthed them.

There are a lot of questions about what the winners received for their prize… I have pasted this from the previous contest rules post:


1. One full (1-2 hour) on-location session with Elyse (children or immediate family only)… free.

2. One 8×10… free.

3. One 5×7… free.

4. 8 wallets…free.

5. 50% off a la carte rates!


1. One mini (30 minute) on-location session with Elyse (children or up to four immediate family only)…free.

2. One 5×7… free.

3. 8 wallets… free.

4. 20% off a la carte rates!

{**Prize sessions must be completed (used) by September 1st, 2010.  In other words, they expire after the first of September.}

Congratulations to our first place winner, Lauren Goldman Barkan.  Lauren’s image of her as a little girl with her grandmother, Esther Goldman,  is a shining example of one of those moments I described above.  Not only is Lauren’s grandmother, Esther, her personal private hero… but as one of our local Holocaust survivors, she is one of our community’s heroes.  This is such a shining tribute to a woman who, may she rest in peace, made an impact on everyone who knew her, and will NEVER be forgotten.   Our second place winner goes to Rashi Brashevitzky.   Rashi’s entry of her husband and two children, lighting the Chanukah candles brings warmth to all of our hearts.  Whether you celebrate Chanukah or something else, the light of those children’s eyes makes us feel the excitement of the winter holiday season and of being TOGETHER as a family.  Congratulations to you both and thank you for sharing your beautiful families with all of us.

If you were inspired to think about a portrait session and to capture those “sweet people”  in your lives, there are still some openings in the next few months.  I will be off for a bit starting in the month of October as we are expecting our FOURTH baby and we just found out yesterday… IT’s a GIRL!!!!!  As always, I am scheduling weeks in advance, so check your calendars and email me with your requests!

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Voting Officially Begins | Virginia Beach Family, Baby, Children, Newborn, Maternity Photographer

The moment you have all been waiting for! The entries are in and voting will officially begin. Thank you to everyone who took the time to send me their special and very meaningful photos.  Remember, I am not judging these at all.  They do not need to be the most artistic or have a great composition.  All they need to do is move  you.  Make you feel something… think about something.  They have all been so wonderful- they have made me laugh out loud, cry, and pause for a memory that I surely own myself… I truly thank you all.

Here are the photographs for your viewing pleasure.  They are on the Elyse Cardon Photography (a.k.a. Sweet People) Facebook fan page, which is where you need to vote.  Feel free to make comments here and on Facebook too.  For this particular contest, only the “likes” on the Facebook page will be counted as votes, and of course, you have to be a fan too.  Each of the photographs has the explanation of what it is and what it means to the person who entered right on the Facebook page… Enjoy these.  As you will see, a picture is worth at least thousand words.

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Very Important Photo Contest! | Virginia Beach Family Photography

So, you have been anxiously awaiting this and on the edge of your seat…

First, I need to say thank you and a Happy Mother’s Day to you all.  I have received such wonderful feedback about Mother’s Day and capturing moments that don’t always seem like much at the time … and so, it is time.  Time to upload the shots you took, pull out your favorite of you and Nana… and show them to… me!  I am presenting the first Very Important Photo Contest for Sweet People Photography!

The contest theme is called: “Family: From Generation to Generation.”

If it is of you and your children- great. If it is of you and a parent- great.  If it is of you and a grandparent… great! Siblings- great!! If it is a combination of all of the above… or a mixture within- great!!! You get the picture? (no pun intended:)) It can be old or new- but it needs to be important and meaningful to you. Something  you have always cherished, or one that you recently took, that you know will help you relive that moment forever.

Very Important Rules:

1. Email the photograph to  Please include your name and a description of the photograph.

2. Please write a sentence or two about what this image has meant to you.

3. You must be a ‘fan’ on my Facebook page.  This means, in new Facebook terminology that you “like” me… and you do, don’t you?:)

4. You must be a subscriber to my blog. This is done by inserting your email, and clicking “get the scoop” to enter it.  There are a couple of prompts to follow at that time, so that we may all avoid spam and keep security high.  Entering your email simply means that when I post something new to my blog, that you will receive ONE email from me at that time…That is it.  Nothing more and no one else will ever get your email through me.

5. You must live within 30 miles of Virginia Beach area.  If you would like to enter the contest so badly, and you live outside of my 30 miles, which is rather generous already, please email me and tell me that you are willing to abide by a slightly different set of rules- including a travel fee and minimum order.  Can’t travel to D.C. without some help, is all:)

Next, I will go through and choose the ones that will become part of the Finalists.  You and all of your friends will then have the ability to vote for your favorite one!  Easy- good, clean fun!!   I will not, I repeat, NOT, be judging the photography on technique or composition.  Instead it will be all about the content and how it makes me feel… Did I laugh, did I cry?  No matter- just that it left me with something…. a sigh, a moment.  Absolutely no clue about portrait photography or your fancy camera is necessary… Just submit it. Go do it!  It is a no brainer because check out what you win:


1. One full (1-2 hour) on-location session with Elyse (children or immediate family only)… free.

2. One 8×10… free.

3. One 5×7… free.

4. 8 wallets…free.

5. 50% off a la carte rates!


1. One mini (30 minute) on-location session with Elyse (children or up to four immediate family only)…free.

2. One 5×7… free.

3. 8 wallets… free.

4. 20% off a la carte rates!

{**Prize sessions must be completed (used) by September 1st, 2010.  In other words, they expire after the first of September.}

I have extended the deadline so please enter NOW!  Don’t forget to email me with the image, and double check the few rules outlined above to be sure to enter properly.  Be sure to tell your friends… the more the merrier!  If you have any questions, please just ask!!

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Just a quick idea for Mother’s Day | Virginia Beach Children, Babies, Newborn, Maternity photography

Looking toward the weekend, I wanted to mention to all my people, that a couple of very important holidays are around the corner… Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  For those of you who still have your parents here with you, please take a moment out of your busy lives, consider what would bring them the greatest smiles, and then – deliver!! At the end of the day, I think that they would like to ‘hear’ from you- be it in a note, or a phone call… or even in person… Tell them.  Make their day!  Surely something is so memorable that you can express it to them in words.

It is so interesting being a mother now, because suddenly the holiday has shifted.  It is no longer only about my feelings towards my mother, grandmother and anyone else I want to bow down to, it is about little ‘ole me.  And, what do I want?  Well, I want no screaming, a day of “thank you’s”, a clean home, and a thriving kitchen garden. Too much?  Okay, how about 24 hours away from my family?  Just kidding…! Hmmmm.  Okay… the truth is, I love to take my family strawberry picking, which we do try to do every year, and I would love love love a wonderful photograph of my kids, and one with me in it.  That is something I know I will cherish absolutely forever.  I think I can make all of this happen… My wonderful husband knows these things bring me the greatest smiles.  And of course, giving my own mother a big hug and thoughtful note, is on the list too.  I asked my mother to pull out any old photos of the two of us… I have vowed after seeing the small handful of them that we need to take photographs together much more often.  She also brought over a note that I wrote to her on her birthday several years back, while I was away on a cruise vacation…  I guess if she chose to save it, it really made an impact. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you fellow mom’s.  Do yourself one favor- and take out your cameras- I look forward to seeing what you come up with while your family surrounds you this Sunday!!

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Cardon Boot Camp | Va Beach Children’s Photographer

It seems every four months or so, my three sweet children (6,4,2) need Cardon Boot Camp. If I had an image of an actual boot kicking them in the rear, I would post it here instead-lol.  It seems no matter how smoothly things can be going, every few months, suddenly they gang up and toss away all rules and respectful behavior and just push every single ‘RED-DON’T TOUCH’ button they can find.   During this transition from smooth to crunchy,  an overwhelming sense of laziness strikes and I feel like I am suddenly in the “reactive” seat rather than the “proactive” seat.  By then I am drained and drowning in Virginia Beach Crazy Children Land (I could charge admission!) Then we hit the tipping point.  This is when I hear my insides scream (okay, I admit, sometimes it is out loud), “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!”  And then my survival instincts kick in, I start to reach for sanity, and yearn for smooth and not crunchy.  What ends up happening, without fail, every single time is the following:

1) I think ahead.  I am not reactive. I anticipate what they will do, what they need and am on top of it.  The faces on them when I choose to present a snack to them, rather than them begging and whining for one is enough that I really should be able to handle that on a daily or at least very regular basis.

2) I am on the floor.  On the floor, we get to see life from their perspective.  Life becomes a little less serious, and a little more kid-friendly.  Tickling, laughing, puzzles, board games and generally exciting things happen when getting eye-level with the wee ones.

3) I spend the time.  After hours, days, or even weeks of a child acting out, there is not a doubt in my mind that I need to nurture and spend additional quality (key word: QUALITY) one-on-one time with that child.

This issue of spending quality time is actually one of the most recurring conversations I actually have with my husband. Maybe you know the one too?  Ours goes a little something like this:

7:30pm – kids are in bed (we plop down in the den):

me: ” so do you have some time we can talk?”

him (eyes on the computer):” of course… what do you want to talk about…?”

me: “well, we just have a lot going on… what are you doing on the computer?”

him: “nothing.”

me (immediately annoyed): “nothing is not an answer. can you close the laptop, so I can see your mouth move…?”

him (huge sigh): “FINE. It’s closed. What do you want to talk about?”

7:59pm. The remote control comes out and the TV goes on…

me: “uh. are you kidding me? I thought we were talking?…”

him: “I just want to press pause on my show…go ahead…”


me: “what was that noise?”

him: “my phone – a text… hang on a minute…”

Ever heard this one before?  Perhaps we don’t whine the same way as a three year old.  That red hot anger and frustration luckily dissipates and we get back on track.  We have a great marriage and we know how to roll with the tides. At the end of the day, we attempt to actually respect  and embrace that we each have different needs even if we don’t fully understand them.

How does all of this translate to our children?  It really is the same for them… In my dream world, my husband would occasionally come to me, not me to him, asking me the questions and initiating a time for us to talk because he genuinely wanted to spend some quality (DROID FREE) time.  You know, the same dream where he brings dinner home and sets up a nice quiet place to eat it.  Makes me feel SOOOO good to even think about… and those times are memorable and are a dream come true.  Same with the kiddos.  When they are begging, whining, screaming- maybe they are looking to me to put the computer down, the broom away, the laundry aside.  They cannot always voice that they want/need us without the acting out, whining, etc. I need to realize that when it comes to spending quality time with the people I love, whether we are seven or thirty-seven, it is a need that sometimes is hard to express, and the timing may not be ideal. In the end, we all just want the same thing.  If I could attempt to give that extra special dreamy attention, if I could give a little something unexpected just a little more often, I think our behavior problem every 4 months might just roll a little more smoothly.

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Tooth Fairy visits! | Children Photography Virginia Beach

A few weeks ago (seems like years!) my family took our spring break in the Outer Banks (OBX) North Carolina.  We love going down there, even though we live in Virginia Beach… it really feels like we have left and gone far away. The personality is different down there and while it is less than 2 hours away, it really gives us a nice vacation.

On the way, in the car, my 6 year old, Bella, lost her first tooth! She had been working on it for so long, while the new tooth grew right behind.  For weeks we talked about the tooth fairy and Bella constantly asked me if she was real?  I always answered, “Uh-Yeah! All fairies are real…duh…” I was SO patting my back, because while we had packed enough stuff in our minivan for a month, I had managed to think ahead and did bring the tooth fairy pillow that my mother needle pointed me thirty  years ago.  Meanwhile, Bella remembered to bring the note she had written the tooth fairy in preparation as well.  It was written on a fancy sticky note… (please note the logo-yes, we have big dreams around here!)  

So, the only glitch was that she had requested a new wand from the tooth fairy… and I did not have a new wand.  Luckily my sister was driving down to join us, stopped at Wal-Mart, and managed to buy a two-pack of new wands.  So, that night, I wrote Bella a note, and I only wish I could have seen her face in the morning when she woke up.  She came running up to our bedroom with the wands and note tucked behind her back. She and her sister, Sylvie, were super excited!

Meanwhile, the next tooth is loose and getting ready.  I asked Bella what she was going to ask for next time, and much to my surprise, she said, “A new wand.”  Now, I was very confused.  She then explained, “A real one, mom … one that works!”  So, I thought I got off easily… but now I have to actually find a “real one”. I did manage to find a super-cool wand and it is on it’s way… I did explain that you have to actually be a fairy to make it “work”.  The look she gave me was priceless… The problem is that I don’t know if she is pulling my leg, or I am pulling hers… Happy Friday!

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Beautiful brother and sister enjoy Spring | Chesapeake, Virginia Beach Children’s Photography

We have been postponing this session since the fall and I am thrilled that we finally got to do it, and on such a gorgeous day!  I drove out to Chesapeake, something I rarely do, I admit… but it was a beautiful journey and once I entered Great Bridge, it was like a wonderful quiet peace blanketed the neighborhood.  What a sweet family… Gabriela is four and enjoys art, flowers and taking photos with her fantastic vintage camera that mom and dad let her use (no film inside).  She wore it across, like a messenger bag, almost the entire time… I have to say, I loved it! Baby brother, Jacob, who is SO big, was sleeping for a while at first.  But once we got him going, we bonded and had a most wonderful time singing songs and chatting about preschool!  Oh! And one for the books: I was telling Gabriela about my six year old daughter, who recently lost her first tooth.  She was all ears listening to what Bella’s letter to the tooth fairy had said.  Bella had actually (still not sure why…) asked for a “new wand”.  Gabriela was surprised and interested to hear that she had asked for an item rather than the traditional money.  I could see her wheels spinning faster and faster, and suddenly Gabriela yelled out, “When I lose my tooth, I am asking for an iphone!!!”  I almost doubled over laughing when I saw mom’s expression, who had been in earshot.  Her four year old wants an iphone!  Mom explained how they love to play the little games on the iphone, and I can certainly relate as mine do too!  What a fun afternoon… It was well worth the drive to the next zip code!  Enjoy the preview and YES! Please post a comment- it is wonderful to hear from you!

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Professional Maternity Photographs are just what the doctor ordered! | Virginia Beach Children’s Photographer

Her husband thanked me like twenty times while I was there capturing these images! His wife never really wanted to do maternity shots.  The truth is that many women opt not to get them done.  I totally get that, sitting here three children later, with only a handful of not-so-flattering-snapshots to show for it.  To be perfectly honest, I never really thought about taking professional maternity/prenatal shots of myself… why would I want to remember myself looking like a beached whale?  Now I am laughing because that came out of the same mouth who says every pregnant woman looks amazingly gorgeous with her round bump.  There is nothing more beautiful than the miracle of conceiving and growing a baby, except actually birthing the baby and meeting her for the first time.  I have studied what I actually think would make a great pregnant image.  The more I do, I realize that I can capture that time in a woman’s life in my unique Elyse Cardon style.  Photo journalistic? maybe.  True-life? definitely, but I can edit out the stretch marks if you like-lol. Fresh, honest, vibrant and meaningful? – yes, yes, yes and YES! I feel strongly about showing a mom-to-be what we ALL see when we look at her.  I realize that it is important to me as a professional children and family photographer to capture maternity sessions… all the while, in my clothing-catalog, fun and simple sort of way.  So of course, I needed a model or two to show off the beautiful visions in my head.  My good friend thankfully, was able to make it happen for me.  She is so excited to be expecting a baby girl, after being slightly out-numbered in their home for two years now.  She also happens to loovvvvve the color pink.  This baby girl will be kickin’ it in the coolest room in Virginia Beach… with the best wallpaper (no it is not a fancy backdrop- i wish!)  I am so looking forward to meeting her.  I hope they don’t leave it totally up to big brother to pick out a name from the baby books.

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Deborah Branch with perfect gifts and necessities! | Virginia Beach Photographer

Okay – this vendor, Deborah Branch, is full of great gifts and must-haves for your home.  This stuff will just put a smile on your face! Check out the latest craze: Woozies! Wine Cozies… I don’t know about you, but I am forever slipping an ice cube or two into my nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc in the summer, and praying that it doesn’t water it down too much too soon. How perfect is this?!

She has tons of great options, including a wine bucket to go with it!  I am certain this would make a perfect gift if not for yourself, for a housewarming, wedding or  just anytime gift!  Check out more great options at  Better still, come meet Deborah Branch and touch the stuff in person at the Shopapalooza on Tuesday April 13th , 5pm-9pm at Coastal Catering Company.  You can take a woozie on a test drive!  More information on the various amazing vendors this week… stay tuned and be in the know!
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Footzyrolls® comes to Virginia Beach! | Virginia Beach Photographer

I have to say when I first heard about these shoes, I felt a twinge… that deep twinge that screamed, “And why didn’t you think of that- duh?!!!!!” But the truth is those are the best inventions- the ones that are simple, obvious, needed and give us some sort of convenience.  In this case, Footzyrolls® (even LOVE the name!) are the life-saver for women’s feet.  I bought them immediately because, of course, I just had to see for myself what small fortune I could have had- if only I had thought of it first!  They are absolutely adorable little rolled up ballet flats in their own carrying case and one for the shoes you take off … mine are textured and gold.  How many times have you gotten dressed to go out, squeezed your little tootsies into a pair of fantastic heels, KNOWING in five minutes, that your baby toes would no longer have feeling, and that you have about an hour before you are literally limping?  All in the name of fashion -eh?  Well, no more of that!! Just throw these puppies in your purse or car, and when you are gritting your teeth walking into the event, know that you can have relief in style when you unroll your alternate pair of the cutest ballet flats e-v-e-r!

Model Jessica Hart lovvvves her Footzyrolls® after her Victoria Secret shoots.

Celebrities are being sighted with them left and right, and Oprah listed them as one of her Favorite things 2009!  You can order Footzyrolls® online, or if you live in Tidewater, come and see them in person on Tuesday, April 13th.  Footzyrolls® will be part of a wonderful afternoon/evening of socializing and shopping (oh and sipping!) at Coastal Catering Company, conveniently located on Va. Beach Blvd. in the Wayside Village Shoppes from 5pm-9pm.  Elyse Cardon Photography will be there too (more on this soon!) I will do a few more posts sharing some of the other amazing vendors.  Those of us who live in Virginia Beach know that we really don’t have fabulously interesting unique boutiques stacked on every street corner. We have to seek out the good stuff in a different manner -put out our radars and be in the know. Come recharge your battery – have an early girl’s night out (men are welcome of course). A delectable delight in one hand and a unique, hard-to-find item in the other…grab just a little time away from the kiddos, bring your friends… I can think of nothing better to do on a Tuesday afternoon.

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It’s a baby GIRL! | Virginia Beach newborn photographer

Remember that gorgeous maternity shoot I posted a few weeks ago?  Believe it or not, she was one of the few people I know that could stand to wait to find out what she was having. She already has a 2.5 year old “all boy” boy… and much to her surprise, out came a beautiful baby girl!  Two weeks later, mom reports still being pretty much in shock that she is holding a little girl… and so far, much prefers diaper changes with a boy.  LOL.  I had two girls first myself, so I remember thinking that my baby boy was a strange and more difficult change at the time… We know what we know, right?  I am personally thrilled for my good friend, who for the record, already looks like nothing ever happened, IMO.  Having endured the tragic loss of her beloved mother this year, this beautiful baby girl encompasses all things good about life … and is the recipient of an extraordinary amount of love …from both friends (yes, I lovvvvvvve her!) and family alike.  Oh and I almost forgot… Big brother wondered where his gift was when I walked in… I guess baby sister isn’t quite cutting it in the gift department, lol…No worries bro, blue race car is on it’s way!

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quote of the day | virginia beach photographer

All too often, I hear the family stressing out (my own included), trying to make the children SMILE.  Hey- Seriously. Can we talk?  When you think of kids, don’t you kind-of, sort-of, think of laughter and games and generally happy feelings?  Now when you tell a child to do something… how often do they listen and do it well?  Well, maybe yours do, but they are not smiling while they do it, are they? Ha ha.  So let’s think truly… How can I capture the real personality of my children and family? Do you think it is to bark at them and ask them to sit still and look right at you and SMILE?  Will that technique really capture Stella’s take-your-breath-away twinkle in her eyes- or will she be pasting on her “please get this over with” gritted teeth look?  We both know the answer… don’t we?  So, do me a HUGE favor, the next time your mouth opens up to ask your child to say “cheese” or “smile” (because it always has for as long as you can remember- it will be a hard habit to break!)  Think about the result.  What do you want to look at in ten years? The innocent, genuine excitement of your child or a forced

, posed unrealistic one?  Here is an interesting quote from Annie Leibovitz:

“There are not many smiling people in my pictures. I’ve never asked anyone to smile. Almost never. Maybe a few times I felt I had to, when people looked really depressed, but I apologized for asking. You can almost hear the sigh of relief when you tell someone they don’t have to smile.

Where did “smile for the camera” come from? It’s a tic. A way of directing attention to the camera. “Look at the birdie.” The smile is a component of family pictures. Mother’s don’t want to see their children looking unhappy. My mother would hire a local photographer to make a family portrait and he would inevitably ask us all to smile. They were canned smiles. Forced. In the fifties, everything was supposed to be OK, although half the time it wasn’t OK. It took me years to understand that I equated asking someone to smile with asking them to do something false.

There are people who smile naturally. It’s their temperament. And you can catch a smile that is spontaneous, of the moment.”

-Annie Leibovitz-

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TGIF! | Virginia Beach’s Children’s Photographer

Wow! I am sitting here Friday morning, with oh-so-much to do. But, as I sipped my morning coffee, I just had to share.  I have been hanging out on Jasmine Star’s blog this morning.  Don’t know Jasmine?  She is one of the top wedding photographers in the world!  She is just incredible in so many ways- her photography rocks, of course, and her ability to bring herself to her art and her business, all the while being honest and true – is just unbelievably refreshing.  It occurred to me, “Do I do that? I would like to think I do that…do I do that?”

So, here is my A-ha! moment of the morning.  I scanned dozens and dozens of images of her work this morning. I absolutely think that her images are amazing- but for me, something fell short in my heart.  It took me a while – but then I realized what it was…  As a photographer and artist, I don’t want to shoot engagements or weddings… I want to shoot children and babies and new mothers and family interactions.  That is what I do, that is what I choose to solely focus on, and for that reason- YES! I am bringing myself to my art and my business (I think?) See, Jasmine is married and has no kids (I don’t think).  I see her able to focus all of her attention on her husband (yes, he is adorable!) and their love for each other comes through in her photographs of other couples… Well, guess what?!! I am married (oh yes, he is adorable-even 10 years later!) and our love for each other has brought about three children under the age of 6!! My life is mostly consumed with the joys, challenges and creativity of motherhood!!!!  I LOVE photographing and capturing the precious fast fleeting moments of children, of newborns, of family.  And did I say LOVE? I mean LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVE!  If Jasmine’s photographs were of children, I would have been drooling and swooning.  Please don’t take this the wrong way- they are AMAZING images… but as a photographer who was thinking of herself (whoops, did I say that?) while reading and viewing the gorgeous images – I was missing just a little something, that I could not quite put my finger on until right this minute!

My 6 year old Bella... you get the picture.

So, NO! I don’t do weddings.  No, I don’t foresee myself doing weddings… I am a life-style photographer. I love food and fashion. I love my husband…. I love a ton of the same things Jasmine loves. But for me – my passion of the day is: I love children. period. And I hope…HOPE… that I always bring myself into my art and my business and am true to who I am along the way.   Thank you for having coffee with me, Jasmine *Star- You rock and are an inspiration!  Check her out at and if you are ever getting married in California- she’s your girl, no doubt!

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Grateful for Chaos | Virginia Beach, Norfolk Photographer

After only going to school for two days out of two weeks due to snow and ice, my kids are starting back this week as if it is the hardest thing they have ever done. Yesterday and today feels like the second week of school. (Not the first week of school, because they are too excited the first week. You know, the day the second week, when they realize we aren’t going swimming in the afternoon like we did all summer-even though it is still hot and daylight until 9pm?)

Yeah, this week feels like that day.

I try to stay calm. I try to remind myself to be grateful.

I try to gently remind them that their little daily jobs in the morning only entail:

1. Get Dressed (“YES of course with socks and shoes!”)

2. Eat breakfast (“Now that you came down so late, there is only time for a bar in the car!”)

3. Brush Teeth (“Your toothbrush is still in the exact same place it was yesterday when you said you could not find it and now that you haven’t brushed for two mornings- your teeth WILL fall out!”

So, there’s that.

And then there’s this:

The time right when we need them to get into the car. No matter how much time we leave for the actual loading of the car… my kids act like the clock has stopped and they have ALL DAY LONG to do this task.

First the noise level increases. In fact noises are being made for no apparent reason- just everyone has this need to make their own very loud noise. Has anyone done studies on this??? It is a phenomenon.

Then there are all the things that suddenly are needed yet nowhere to be found. This issue (yes we have places for everything) is nothing short of extraordinary. Shoes, coats, homework, papers to sign, snacks, projects, whole backpacks — BIG HUGE BACKPACKS— gone! I mean, the list is endless.

So as the clock seems to speed up suddenly like the last bit of sand through the hour glass, everything goes haywire.

One of my kids is walking around in slow motion, making robot noises to accompany the movement. It’s as if he is just waiting for the rest of us to get our acts together. Problem is that the kid doing this does NOT have shoes on and has not eaten breakfast.

Other kids are screaming and running in circles because I am trying to brush three day old bed-head-hair (I know, I know- I have already been notified, I am the “worst mother e-v-e-r!”

The whole thing reminds me of little wind up toys all going at the same time, some running into each other, some spinning legs in the air when knocked over. Me running over and over over and over into the wall.

Am I alone here? Are your families sitting at the table eating that perfect continental breakfast they used to show on TV commercials -you know, with eggs, toast, milk, orange juice, cereal and then they kiss the parents calmly goodbye on the way out to school?

image from google

image from Google

Today sweet husband drove them to school. So after I close and lock the door quickly to not let anyone back in (believe me, you never know), I am FINALLY in complete silence.

I look around the kitchen and see the aftermath of lunches being made, breakfast being made, a few dishes from last night (because I actually cooked)… and before I tackle all the mess…I just have to take a moment to work the concept of being grateful into my day.

It’s pretty difficult to feel it in the midst of chaos- that is something I am striving for- and I am improving on.

I think about this because I don’t want to feel grateful only when we are past this stage of our life.


After mentally punching those people for saying such nonsense – I stop and ponder the statement, because hands down it is consistent.

The coveted quiet is only so wonderful if it is balanced with the chaos of our crazy kiddos.

I am trying.

I am grateful.

Just need to get more grateful during the chaos.

Anyone good at that? Please message me on best practices:)


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