It Sure Is A Blessing to Give! Or, I’m as good as Jay Harris!

It was fall when I received a message from my friend Jen.  She was planning a human auction to raise money for the new building our church is renovating.  She was looking for talented people to volunteer their time and services.   I automatically assumed she was asking me to help her brainstorm a list of people who ask.  I think I read the message 4 times before I realized she was asking ME to donate my photography skills.  Wait me?  ME? I’m being included in a list of people skilled enough to donate something to auction?  It probably seems ridiculous to some but I couldn’t believe it!

Before you could say boo I started writing an email telling her how excited and honored I’d be to do it.  But then my fingers FROZE!  All the what ifs started flooding my mind.  What if my session went for some piddly amount?  Or worse!  What if no one bid on me?  I’d be hurt and embarrassed!  I had serious doubts about accepting.  But I did, thank goodness I did!

The night of the auction finally came.  I was NERVOUS!  I didn’t want to go.  I didn’t want to witness my own humiliation if I only brought in $10.  I mean, all of my friends were going to be there!  But at the same time, I couldn’t stay home either.  That auction began.  They started with some delicious pies and other baked goodies.  Someone donated dog training services and someone else donated some interior decorating services.  My husband bet on some help from a handyman to do some fix ups around our house.  One of the most exciting items of the evening was a golf game and tour of ESPN with Sports Center Anchor Jay Harris.  Some of the guys were furiously bidding and the excitement was high.  What fun!  Then came my part.  A Session with Crystal Starr Photography.  I told myself I’d be happy if I rounded out at around $75.  A $100 would be wonderful.  The bidding started.  First $25, then $50, and before I knew it we were at $75.  Phew!  I would be embarrassed after all!  But then it just kept going!  And going! And going!  My head was spinning!  How could this be?  People were excited!  A little war was going on between the Pastor of our church and a couple of others.  Can you believe my session went for just as much as the round of golf and a tour of ESPN with Jay Harris!?  I was beside myself!  Pastor Joe won.  He told me his daughter-in-law wanted it and he decided he was going to get it for her.  My heart sang!  Not only did I feel appreciated in my work, but I was able to do something I loved to bring a nice chunk of change to the church.

The session was fantastic.  Jay and Sheena had just had a little baby a few months back.  They wanted photos of her and their nearly two year old Rylin.  Baby Riese was so sweet and tolerated my fussing and my camera like a champ.  Rylin was a doll.  So full of energy and just as curious as any little girl should be.  She kept me on my toes but listened so very well.  Mom and Dad were super.  They kept a very positive attitude and gave me the space to help their children be successful.

I was so blessed with this session.  I hope to have the opportunity to donate my photography to another great cause some day.  I’m not sure I really want to do another auction!  As fun as it was, it was a bit much on my heart!  Thank you Jen for asking me.  Thank to all of those who bid on me.  And thank you to the Jakum family for such a wonderful session!

A Family Portrait Session at Hubbard Park

It was a wet fall day.  Silly me, you’d think I’d check the weather forecast when I have an outdoor shoot scheduled.  That was a bone headed move!  I had no idea it was going to rain.  Driving down the highway I eyed the ever graying clouds with a scornful eye.  And then the rain drops started to pelt the windshield.  Darn it!  I should have called this poor family ahead of time and rescheduled.

I called my husband and asked him to check the radar for me.  I love my husband.  He is always there for me at times like this.  My acting meteorologist informed me that there was a window in the rain headed straight for the park.  I had a chance to get it in.  Phew!

I climbed out of the car and was met with a warm welcome by my friend Caryn.  She and her husband Mike eyed the sky and asked me if I really thought this was going to work out.  “Well, we are here! Let’s see what we can get.  If we have to I’d be happy to reschedule.”  She agreed and opened her van doors to let her little crew scamper out.  To my delight, the children were thrilled and full of smiles.  They didn’t seem to notice the weather.  The air quickly filled with squeals and laughter.  I eased.  I knew we could make something out of this.

I suggested we take a walk down a nearby set of stairs into a lower part of the park where the light still seemed pretty well.  As we descended some I felt my head get pelted with little drops of rain.  The children didn’t seem to mind!  If anything, they seemed to enjoy it!.  My first mission was to try and get the ever elusive sibling shot.  You know, the one with all three, smiling, LOOKING AT THE CAMERA!  Sarah, Elizabeth, and Joshua range in age from not quite two all the way to 6.  What a challenge.  But they made it easy!  They were delightful and eager to do as I asked.  So mission 1, accomplished.


And then the rain began to really fall!  Oh dear! With squeals and laughter, we ran to take shelter under a nearby overhang.  I snapped a few more as we waited to see what the weather held for us next.  I am forever grateful to Caryn and Mike.  Their easy going, laid back attitude completely rubbed off on the children.  They decided to have fun with it and the children took that cue and they had fun too.  That attitude created an atmosphere of big grins and giggles that are a breeze to photograph.  All of this despite the rain.  And wouldn’t you know it?  The rain let up just enough for us to continue with our mission.

First up was funny man Joshua!  This little boy’s expressions were absolutely darling!  I wonder if he had half as much fun with me as I did with him.  A total doll.  A complete gentleman.



Then we had sweet Sarah.  Shy and giggling.  I could tell she was a bit nervous.  But she was a total shining star.  I was totally impressed with her through and through.



And finally, we cannot forget Elizabeth!  She is the big sister and she shines in her role.  On this day she was sporting a new gappy grin and a bit of concern about a little bandage on her finger.  I had so fun much chatting with her.  What a little lady.



Would you believe we completed this session in about 45 minutes?  That has to be a record!  3 small children in 45 minutes!  With more than a couple of breaks to dodge the rain drops to boot!  WOW!  That’s just a testament to what a family they are.


Thank you so much Elizabeth, Sarah, and Joshua!  You three make an awesome team! Thank you for making ME look so good!  I truly look forward to next time!



Time to Start Sharing! A Newborn Session

Ok Folks!

The holidays are over!  Many of my clients asked me not to share their photos until after the Christmas season as many of them wanted to gift their photos to friends and loved ones.  I didn’t want to spoil any surprises so I have not blogged many of my fall sessions.  Well it is time to start!

Today I bring to you the absolute sweetest family.  I was given the honor and privileged of being welcomed into their home when their newest arrival was just 5 days old!  What a doll!  And his big sister cracked me up the entire time.  Big sis is a typical spunky 2 year old with lots to say and lots of love for her baby brother.  We had a ball.

Adam and Lindsay thank you for a great session!

The Eyes Have It! A Family Session at Hubbard Park

Would you just look at these two adorable little boys?  Their eyes are just absolutely amazing!  They just sparkle and radiate!  What a fun session this was!  We arrived at Hubbard park on a clear crisp beautiful autumn day.  The trees were absolutely at their peak of color.  But these two little boys stole the show.  We ran and we laughed.  We climbed and yes, we even splashed in a few puddles.  All in the name of good fun!  It is sessions like these that make this job the best in world.  Thank you so much Kerri!  Your boys were just love and I was privileged to photograph them!

FAQ: What do your spiral bound photobooks look like?

In the past I offered something called a session album as part of a couple of my packages.  I found the description must not be very clear because most of my clients asked me what exactly that was.  So I’ve decided to rename the product. I think Spiral Bound Photobook is a bit more accurate.  It features front and back custom designed sturdy covers.  These books are absolutely adorable and perfect for toting around in your purse and sharing with others.  They make fantastic gifts as well! I feature the 5×7 version in my packages but they also come in 4×6, 5×5, and 8×10.

Since a picture is worth a 1,000 words I thought you’d appreciate a visual of exactly what I am talking about.  I created this album for one of my recent clients.  I was quite pleased with how it turned out.  Of course, I did have a gorgeous model gracing the pages.


My Baby Girl!

Oh my goodness is she ever full of so much personality!  My sweet baby girl Joyanna is just… well… she’s just…. I don’t even have the words to describe her!  In the last few weeks she has become so vocal, so animated, so a part of her world that I am just in awe!  I thought I’d share a little bath time fun.  Pictures fail to capture the true action as she just LOVES to splash and kick and splash some more.  All while squealing with utter delight.  She is the picture of happiness.  Her name suits her perfectly as there has been nothing but Joy in this household since the day she was born.  That’s a sentence I bet I’ll type many times over on this blog during the course of her life.

The Joy of a Family Session!

Family photo sessions are some of the craziest yet most fulfilling sessions I shoot.  Why do you ask?  Well, because children are involved of course!  Children are the funniest little beings.  They are God’s special gift from heaven to every person on earth.  They come to us in order to teach us right from wrong, patience, kindness, acceptance, and to remind us how really magnificent this world really is.  Some people claim they aren’t “kid people.”  Whatever that means.  I guess what they are trying to say is they don’t enjoy children.  Or some people tell me that they raised their kids and now their done and no longer have the tolerance for little ones.  I think that’s sad.  Children bring so much to the world that those who choose not to notice are really missing out on some greatness life has to offer.

When I sign on to shoot a family I know I’ve signed on for a great adventure and a challenge.  Little ones have their own agenda.  They have their own ideas.  They have their own attitudes (both positive and negative).  I promise you, at least ONCE during ANY shoot involving children that their agenda will be different from mine.  But it is in those moments, if I am calm and sit back, that I often find my best photos.  During shoots with children, the children are the true artists.  Not me.

I recently had the opportunity to shoot a very fun loving family.  These two little ones, N & G were so full of personality!  Each of them brought one of their personal loves into the shoot (Thomas and Pooh).  I LOVE that!  It adds so much to photo about who the children are!  These two little ones absolutely adore one another.  So much so in fact that they sometimes pretend that they don’t.  But in the end they both shined before the camera.  I do hope I get a chance to shoot them again sometime.  Thanks mom for the chance to do it!

Homeschool Day at the Museum!

Three weeks later and we’re still homeschooling! No I haven’t been driven crazy, nor have I run screaming from my home while pulling my hair out in chunks.  Oh I’m just kidding.  In all seriousness we’ve had a fantastic start to the new school year.  We all have our favorite parts of the day.  I enjoy snuggling on the couch with my crew while reading a classic children’s book.  So far we’ve done short studies on China and France.  Noah truly enjoys the art lessons.  He has learned new drawing techniques and explored new art mediums.  Ezra loves the computer most of all and asks for it immediately after breakfast every day.  I think everyone is thriving on the structure and routine.  They get pretty mad when I refuse to break out the books on Sundays.  Too much!

Tuesday was homeschool day at the Children’s Museum in West Hartford.  We are blessed to have a membership so we go fairly often.  It is a favorite hangout for my small crew.  Ezra enjoys the flight simulator, Noah enjoys… well… I’d say just about everything.  This week the museum hosted a day just for homeschoolers.  Families could register ahead of time for various classes that were offered by some very knowledgeable and skilled instructors.  It was a fantastic day of learning and mingling with other homeschool families.

The highlight of the day must have been the bobcat.  It is ALL Noah has talked about since.  Other than that the big deal was his class on bugs.  Mommy wasn’t aware that parents weren’t allowed to stay in the room during class.  This isn’t a common practice for homeschool classes.  After all, homeschool parents are homeschooling their children for a reason.   But apparently past parents made too much of a ruckus so they aren’t invited any more.  Noah is the kind of kid who likes to know what is going to happen and isn’t fond of surprises.  Well, Mommy leaving was a surprise.  I played it off as really cool and what a big boy and I hit the road… err… the hallway – where I waited for most of the 45 minutes.  He later told me that he was really sad I had to leave but he decided to be brave.  He had his friend Ella for company so I’m sure that helped.  In the end, he was totally proud of himself and so was I!

It really was a great day!  Next week we’ll be heading to an apple orchard!  I’m sure there will be plenty of photos to share!