Mali’s 4th Birthday . Ft. Wayne IN Family Photographer, Sarasota FL Family Photographer, Warsaw IN Family Photographer

My Mali Lu turns 4 this week, and we partied last weekend like real fine ladies!

We invited Mali’s best girl friends, and had make-overs, tea time, and a glamor shoot!  These little princesses were all about it!  It was so cute!!

I want to give a special thanks to Maddie of MBO+D for helping me design and pull off this party for my girl.  If you want to check out her services, visit her website here.

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The party decor was a combination of items we pulled from my house, and items Maddie brought.  We also borrowed tea cups from Nana to make it super special and fine!!

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Local Artist: Carita Davoli . Ft. Wayne IN Photographer, Sarasota FL Photographer, Warsaw IN Photographer

I was so excited to photograph Carita Davoli in her element this week.  (Check out her website here)  I got to know her sweet personality, see her art in action, and even splatter some paint on her face for some fun headshots!

Carita is a portrait and abstract artist out of Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  What I love most about Carita (besides her amazing talent) is her desire to connect with people and be vulnerable.  I resonate with that greater purpose above the art we create.  We both love what we do, but we love the people around us even more.  😉

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“My Art has to do with people. Interacting with people is the most important thing to me, and one way I do this is through my art.  Getting to know someone takes vulnerability.  It is a humbling experience to exhibit something I have put my heart into, only to have someone glance at it for three seconds and move on to something else.” -Carita

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Jason & Jessica Engaged . Ft. Wayne IN Engagement Photographer, Sarasota FL Engagement Photographer, Warsaw IN Engagement Photographer

Jason & Jessica’s engagement session was full of whimsical & romantic winter fun!

A blanket of snow, with their pups frolicking around them.  A (failed) attempt at sledding.  😉  Then inside by the cozy fire.  I love all the sweet, candid moments from this session!!

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Thanks so much to the vendors that helped me bring this wintery dream to life!!

Rubies & Whimsy, in downtown Columbia City, loaned us several pieces for Jessica’s wardrobe & jewelry.  Click here to find them on facebook.fort wayne winter engagement photographer_0155fort wayne winter engagement photographer_0156


Hair and makeup by Megan Shively.   Click here to find her on facebook.  Available for weddings and special events.fort wayne winter engagement photographer_0158

before & after:fort wayne winter engagement photographer_0157

Hiring your Engagement Photographer . Ft. Wayne IN Wedding Photographer, Sarasota FL Wedding Photographer, Warsaw IN Wedding Photographer

If you’re in the midst of wedding planning, or looking forward to that exciting season in the future, here’s something to consider when choosing your Engagement & Wedding photographer….

There are several benefits to choosing the SAME photographer to shoot your engagement session and wedding day.  Some things to consider…  fort wayne engagement wedding photographer_0131

  1. Being in front of the camera is hard for most people.  It’s a little uncomfortable at first, and you’re not sure what to do with yourself.  But think of your engagement session as a practice run for your wedding day!  It’s a learning experience for couples AND photographers on how to get the best images together in this unique client/artist relationship.  Couples can learn posing techniques during their engagement session that will make portrait time on their wedding day much smoother!  Every photographer works a little differently, so learning your photographer’s specific instruction really helps you feel more confident in front of the camera.  Your photographer is also learning what poses YOU look best in, so on the wedding day they know exactly which ones to jump into.fort wayne engagement wedding photographer_0134
  2. In addition to learning posing techniques, you also get the chance to test your chemistry with your future wedding photographer.  If you enjoyed yourself during your engagement session, felt comfortable and encouraged, and are happy with the final images, then you should feel pretty confident working with them again for your big day!  (*AS LONG AS you’ve seen a solid portfolio of how they handle shooting a wedding day in all lighting situations.  Engagement Sessions are a lot more controlled than wedding days!  So, while figuring out how good your chemistry is, it’s also equally important that you feel confident in their technical ability to photograph in any situation. ie. dark church, bright sun, dark dance floor, etc. )fort wayne engagement wedding photographer_0133
  3. If you’re using the same photographer for your engagement session & wedding day, you’ll end up with consistent images.  The style of the final edited images will feel cohesive, which is nice when framing photos around your new home together.  Using two different photographers MAY mean that you get two different shooting/editing styles.  It’s not a right or wrong thing, just consider what you’d prefer before making the decision.fort wayne engagement wedding photographer_0135
  4. Your wedding photographer spends about as much time with you on your wedding day as your significant other!  Weird, but true.  They’re with you every step of the day; from getting dressed, to romantic portrait time, and touching base throughout the rest of the evening.  All of that to say, it’s so helpful to achieve a certain comfort level with that person; to have spent time getting to know each other over the months leading up to the wedding day.  And the engagement session is the perfect time to establish that relationship. fort wayne engagement wedding photographer_0132  (Just for the record, I don’t typically make people hold hands and skip. 😉  But these two are hilarious and their session was full of goofy poses.  So I love that black and white engagement image because it’s so specific to their quirky personalities.  Not everybody can pull that off.)

Family Portrait Sessions: What to wear?? . Ft. Wayne IN Family Photographer, Sarasota FL Family Photographer, Warsaw IN Family Photographer

This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get, so I thought it would be helpful to do a whole blog post on it!

“What should we wear for our Family Portrait Session??”

 I’ve been there.  We are a family of 6, and I pick out everyone’s outfit for our family portrait sessions.  It hurts my brain.  BUT it makes all the difference in the final images when you’ve made good choices.

Here are some tips + visual examples to help make the most of your portrait session!

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#1. I always tell clients to wear something that they feel GREAT in!  (This doesn’t mean you get to wear your pajamas though, sorry.)  What I mean is, something that fits your style; an outfit you feel attractive and confident in.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should make you feel good about yourself!

(If you don’t already have something you LOVE in your closet, this is a great excuse to go shopping!  Consider it an investment. 😉

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#2. It’s fairly easy to pick out one outfit.  But it gets difficult when you’re coordinating multiple people.  One simple and trendy option is going ALL neutral!  The neutral palette gives a soft feel to your images, allows the eye to focus on the person instead of the clothing, has a classic feel, and works with ANY location/backdrop.

Neutrals include: White, Brown, Denim, Khaki, Grey, Black, Navy, Beige

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#3. Your wardrobe may dictate whether or not you can pull off certain poses.  So if you want to be able to try some playful, active poses, you don’t want to wear a short dress or pants that are too tight. So think about how you envision your session going and then dress accordingly.

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If you love color too much to go completely neutral, I’ve got a few simple formulas to guide you…

#4. Pop of Color Method: Wear mostly neutrals with 2-3 pops of color mixed into the group’s outfits.

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#5. Inspiration Piece method:

Pick an inspiration outfit, or piece of an outfit; then pull colors from that inspiration for everyone else’s wardrobe.  One family member may wear a pattern, and everyone else wears a color from that pattern.

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#6. Try to keep patterns to a minimum.  If too many people are wearing too many patterns, instead of complimenting you, it will be a distraction.  The following two families did a great job at pairing a little bit of pattern with solid layers on top, to achieve a nice visual balance.

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#7.  If your outfits are feeling bland, think: Layers & Texture!  These two elements provide nice visual interest.  Keep these two words in mind when planning your outfits and scatter them into the group wardrobe to spice it up a little.

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#8. Consider your portrait session location.  If you know your setting will be a colorful one, then you’ll want to either pick colors that coordinate with the setting, or go with neutrals.  Clashing with your backdrop could really spoil the image.

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If your location will be a neutral one, then any colors will do!

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If you’re still feeling overwhelmed,

*You can find more examples of ideal wardrobe choices on my Valerie Joy Photography Pinterest page, here.

*And my clients are always welcome to text me phone pics of their wardrobe choices in preparation for their session, for my two cents.



Baby Daxton . Ft. Wayne IN Newborn Photographer, Columbia City IN Newborn Photographer, Warsaw IN Newborn Photographer

You may remember a maternity session that I posted about a month ago…

Eryn & Brett, in the snowy evergreens…

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Well, sweet baby Daxton has arrived and was an awesome model for me this week at his newborn session!  I was worried he’d be chilly with it being 12 degrees out that morning.  But we had lots of space heater going to keep him cozy.  Check out this precious little guy!

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this Elvis snarl…fort wayne newborn photographer minimalist_0113

Payne Family . Ft. Wayne IN Family Photographer, Sarasota FL Family Photographer, Warsaw IN Family Photographer

Meet the Payne FAMILY!   Tanner (my cousin), Elisabeth and baby Jude.

I got to photograph Tanner & Liz’s engagement session & wedding a few years back, but this was the first time I photographed them as a family of 3!  We were together in Florida last week and squeezed in a little portrait session in my parents backyard.  They live in California now, so I only get to see them about once a year.  It was so nice to catch up with them and see them in this new role as parents!

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Wytch & Alli’s Wedding . Ft. Wayne IN Wedding Photographer, Sarasota FL Wedding Photographer, Warsaw IN Wedding Photographer

I’m so thankful that my talented friend, Alisia Thompson, still asks me to second shoot with her once in a while when I’m back home in Sarasota, FL!  This wedding on Sietsa Key, from early November was GORGEOUS!

Wytch and Alli were so kind and laid back, it was so easy working with them.  Their special day was complete with friends and family flown in for this destination event, a live band (who KILLED IT, despite several power outages), an adorable ice-cream cart, epic florals everywhere, and a view of the intercostal.  I mean, what more could you ask for?!

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I got some shots of the guys getting ready while Alisia went with the ladies…sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0101sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0102sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0103sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0104

Wytch had his brother, Ben, as his best man. sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0105sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0106sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0107sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0108

As the second shooter, I have the opportunity to capture some really precious moments in between poses, when clients think no one’s looking.  ;). I LOVED these mama faces, as she teared up over her boy getting married.sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0109sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0110sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0111sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0112sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0113sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0114sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0115sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0116sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0117sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0118sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0119sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0120sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0121sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0122sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0123sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0124sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0125sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0126sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0127sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0128sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0129sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0130sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0131sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0132sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0133sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0134sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0135sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0136sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0137sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0138sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0139sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0140sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0141sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0142sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0143sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0144sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0145sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0146sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0147sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0148sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0149sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0150sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0151sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0152sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0153sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0154sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0155sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0156sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0157sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0158sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0159sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0160sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0161sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0162sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0163sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0164sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0165sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0166sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0167sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0168sarasota siesta wedding photographer_0169

Lowenberg Family . Ft. Wayne IN Family Photographer, Sarasota FL Family Photographer, Warsaw IN Family Photographer

This is my sweet cousin, Ashley’s, family!  When I go home to Sarasota for a visit, they almost ALWAYS drive the 3 hours to visit me while I’m there.

We grew up together, she was like a big sister to me.  And I sooooo wish we could see each other more often.  But now we’re in different states with a bunch of kids, and thats life.  I’m so thankful for them and their little tribe of hoodlums.  They make me laugh, and they love us well!

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