Sundays and other Days/Los Domingos y Otros Dias

Last spring, independent producer Sarah Reynolds was commissioned by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project to travel through the southeastern US to document stories of Latino immigrants. I was invited to be the photographer on the project. The report, โ€œUnder Siege: Life for Low-Income Latinos in the Southโ€ was a result of the research and was released by the Southern Poverty Law Center last week. These slide shows are the storytellers telling their own stories.

This slide show is one of five that were produced, some of which will be posted to the Southern Poverty Law Centerโ€™s website in the coming weeks.

We are thankful to the Southern Poverty Law Center for commissioning this project, and to the interviewees for their stories.

Little Monkeys at the Zoo

On Sunday we were at the National Zoo for mini sessions, what a great location. I will definitely be setting up more sessions there over the summer. If you’re interested in knowing when, let me know and I will add you to the list. I was actually amazed at how both convenient and versatile the location was. We had a blast playing and following the light to great areas. First, Laith, excuse me, Zoo Keeper (as he wanted to be called) …

Feeding hay to the imaginary animals…

Erin and Benjamin were INTO the bubbles. I learned a valuable lesson yesterday – only make the “I have bubbles” announcement when you’re ready to lose control of the session. You never get that kid back and into you when there are bubbles around. I bet I could make a million dollars if I invented a camera that shot bubbles out of the side. Like one of those straws that winds down from a hat carrying two cans of beer…seriously. I think Nikon would be into this.

Oh, correction. If you have bubbles, it can be trumped by a water fountain. Benjamin found the button on the side of the waterfountain as mom, Becky, and I were talking. We had “finished” the shoot (everyone knows by now that I’m never really finished with a shoot) and I turn around, and Bam! fantastic picture opportunity. Becky didn’t protest, so I shot them while they played in the water. Then, as we’re walking back to the car, Becky says, “alright, we’ve got to run to a birthday party!” oops.

And Tom’s great gift to his wife, Laura, and their newborn, Noah. A fun day at the zoo and first photos of the new baby and mom….

Little Maximo and mom and dad with the beautiful spring dandelions and the dogwood that has my eyes itching uncontrollably… looks so innocent.

And shy Gabby sharing a flower with her mom, Sandra…

And Cristiana and the very shy Lucas (he’ll warm up next time!)coming in the next post…photojournalism and a project very close to my heart, coming to life…

Buzzing Through the First Day of Summer!

What happened to spring? I’m boiling over here…it feels like August! But I’m not complaining, we had a great day over at the fantastic Buzz Bakery for our springtime mini session. These are some of my favs from the first few families:

Sam (he is such a good kid!)

And Molly…who is just precious…

And our great and spirited brothers, Graham and Kieren:

And the temptation of Buzz cookies and cupcakes calling after all that hard modeling work! I was right behind him…

more soon,

Buzz Bakery and National Zoo Mini Sessions!

This weekend, join us at Buzz Bakery (Saturday) or the National Zoo (Sunday) for a springtime mini session! Just a few slots remain, so if you’re still looking for a great mother’s day gift, this might just be for you…

The details:
Price: $35
Dates: Saturday, April 25th and Sunday, April 26th
7:30am โ€“ 10:30am
Rain Dates: Saturday, May 2nd and Sunday, May 3rd

Buzz (check out their new website! I do their photography but would buzz about their cupcakes regardless…they are amazing!) will provide outdoor tables and umbrellas for you to relax as you wait for your session, and at the Zoo we’ll have a blanket and some cookies, or just to hang out with other parents and children. Stacey will capture a portrait of your child that you can only get in the springtime, and only through Stacey Vaeth Photography.

For more info, shoot an e-mail to: info (at) staceyvaeth (dot) com

Cooper’s Rock, WV

For this year’s birthday celebration, I wanted to get out of the city and get into the woods. Juan, my husband, and I have always loved to rock climb – well, i love it, he’s obsessed with it – and hike. So we headed out to West Virginia with a friend to explore, shoot and hike around.

Although we were in the woods with some great natural light, I wanted to amplify what was available using off camera flash. Juan is lit here with a flash off camera left, and the ambient is lit with a second flash, gelled with 1/4 cut CTO. I wanted to work this shot a lot longer, but as soon as juan jumped on it…

a hold broke, and he fell pretty hard…

and tore up his hand…

I loved the potential of the i am embarrassed to say that I really wanted him to give it another go. An inspired photographer is not always the most sympathetic or realistic spouse…but compassion prevailed and we moved on and found a few other cool shots and climbs.

In this shot, my VALS (voice activated light stand) Erin is lighting Juan with a snooted SB800 –

And here all the ambient light is cancelled out, and the underside of the rock is lit with one gelled flash, which then bounces all around, filling in the shadows really nicely.

another climber giving the same route a try (he made it)…

that’s all for now, saludos from Coopers Rock, WV.

more to come…

Eddie and Tami and the last of those blossoms…

Eddie and Tami hired me to shoot their wedding next year …

– a cherry blossom themed affair that sounds like it’s going to be a blast.

We got to know each other better by doing an engagement shoot down at the Tidal Basin to get the tail end of the cherry tree spectacular. Socked by winds and rain a few days before our session, the blossoms had gotten knocked around a bit, but a few hung on and the others lined the pathways – enough to give us a really pretty view.

But of course, pretty blossoms can’t dissuade me from my firm belief that the best place for pictures on the Tidal Basin is actually under the 395 overpass…

And you don’t need a Park Service permit to shoot under there. Go figure.

After our fun shoot, I’m even more thrilled to work with Tami and Eddie next spring – they are super relaxed and so totally in love, I’m sure it’s going to be a perfect day.

more to come…

A Good Friday Indeed…

I keep thinking that I am going to tire of the cherry blossoms. Or take the same picture again and again. But these sweet little spirits that show up in front of the lens just give me inspiration, and create the family art that will be around for a long time.

This morning I was down in the tidal basin again, and this is what we got:

It was a blast to work once again with Laurel and little Adeline:

Angie and Lucas laughing it up:

Little Giselle, Amy and Jerry

And 2 year old Kye – the most excited kid of all week to get his picture taken!
Little Lelu

more to come…

The Sweetest Disaster

I’m behind on posting images from this weekends’ mini sessions, so I’m using this post to put up a few of my recent favorites from Saturday and Sunday.

Yesterday, the entirety of parking anywhere within a mile of the Tidal Basin was shut down. Really. During the peak weekend of the blossoms, when DC has more tourists than locals. No access to the main attraction. In fact, at 6:30am, the closest parking was in Baltimore. True story. Ten families were scheduled to join me for a quick and easy photo shoot. As in, quick and easy after you search for parking and your sense of direction for 45 minutes, then walk an hour in Sunday’s finest to find me somewhere on the bank of the tidal basin. Oh, and did i mention the 10-miler? Try to cross in front of 10,000 runners with a baby stroller…

I am not sure I have ever wanted to turn back the clock with more passion than I did yesterday morning.

But then I learned what I learn every time I work with a family…that it’s all unpredictable and it’s all an adventure. Julie calls me from the Inlet Bridge to let me know she’s close, after literally turning her baby stroller into a jogger, and running the mile from where her husband dropped to her to meet me (breathless, she says – “it’s great exercise!”). I start to apologize profusely to her over the phone, when she interrupts in the most cheerful voice “look for me coming over the bridge…i’m behind the lady with the purple jacket…but it’ll be easy to find me because I have the cutest baby on the bridge.”

And sure enough.

She was right.

So despite the hassle and the unpredictability, the families that could reach me did so because they wanted to capture, forever, where their kids are right now. They reinforced for me what my job is all about. It’s helping people capture the adventure of their lives. The good, and sometimes, the not-so-good. I, for one, will have the memory of yesterday and the families that I met with me, for a long time.

A few families just couldn’t make it .. and I guarantee … I would have been in that group. I so look forward to meeting them under easier circumstances soon.

And a few from a weekend Batmitzvah….look at that light!

Lilly and her grandmother.

more to come…

The Windy Mini Session – April 4, Part 1

Wow! This morning we braved wind that actually made me wonder for a split moment if we were going to lose anyone into the Potomac. The coast guard were riding back and forth all morning long, I am sure for that reason. But the kids were fantastic, and they had a lot of fun despite the cold and wind. Thanks to all the parents for working with the weather, traffic and people. We got some fun stuff…a few of my favorites from two mini sessions below…more to come in the next post.

Annie and Mark


Joanna and Nick

Mini Sessions – Day 2, Part 2

One of the things that I have gotten away from on this blog is to talk about why I like the images that I post up here. This is the second post from day two of our Cherry Blossom Mini Sessions, which were held on Sunday down at the Tidal Basin. It rained/drizzled/ (in guatemala, they call drizzle chipi-chipi – which i think is a much better word, but i digress) misted and was plain old cloudy and cold all morning. I got to the basin around 7am, and home around 11am. After warming up and drying off, I went outside, and it was 60 degrees and brilliantly sunny. Go figure.

So back to the pictures. I love this picture because of the rain drops on the cherry blossoms, and the fading off Jefferson Memorial in the background. The light on the subjects faces is stronger than that of their bodies, so that draws my eye right to them, which is where I want it to be. And on a personal note, I love the way dad is holding son. There is a similar picture of my dad holding my sister that hangs on our wall, and I have always just felt a sense of safety seeing his big hand support her tiny little legs.

This next photo is a quiet moment. Kids have a stong response to the camera. They either ham it up, or quiet down. But it takes a long time for them to be themselves. In this shot, she doesn’t know I’m there, and is probably patiently waiting for me to get my act together and get this thing over with. Thankfully, in this shot my flash didn’t go off, so it’s just the soft light (very soft, with 17 miles of thick clouds above) reflecting off of the water that is lighting her. By the way, she was working here for a Cinderella pez dispenser. Clearly, she drives a hard bargain.

I just like this portrait. Here skin is soft and delicate, balanced by the shallow depth of field. And those pretty eyes just pop out.
On to the next family, Savanna and her big brother. This picture I love because it is an everyday moment at the Tidal Basin. Feeding the ducks. But the proportion of the large trees, framing dad and son gives it a sense of solitude and timelessness. I can hear it … in 15 years, as he is graduating high school…looking at this picture and saying “remember when we lived in DC? look how tiny I was?!” The other thing that makes this image successful, in my eyes, is the sharp texture of the blossoms. The detail in the natural elements is so prevalent because the day was so overcast.

Savanna and Mom engrossed with each other and surrounded with Cherry Blossoms. I love the soft rim light on Savanna’s forehead.

Sweetie Savanna – with a classic vignette. Not for everyone, but for an almost Victorian image as this one, I thought it was called for.

And this series was just so cute that I thought it needed something to contain it. So I built this template for the pictures. If any parents out there like it, let me know and we can customize something for your images. I didn’t think that any one of these images could stand on their own, but in a series, it seems to me to capture thier relationship. It is remarkable how different these images look with the bright red/orange hair, blue jackets and pink blossoms as the dominant colors. A totally different look then our linen-clad kiddos. Oh, and I know that these are Big Boys – but the pink border on this little frame was the only way to go ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m really looking forward to this weekend – I have two more mini-sessions, in which I’ll have the assistance of a great local shooter, Cory Brodinski. But before that I have a full family session at the Tidal Basin, and some pre-Batmitzva portraits. Sandwiched somewhere in between I am also shooting a Batmitzva party out in Bethesda. A full weekend for sure. So stay tuned.
more to come…