21 things the PHOTOGRAPHER in your life REALLY wants for Christmas!

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Okay, guys here is the deal. Any photographer out there can tell you that when the holiday season rolls around, they already know what is going to be under the tree with their name on it. I can tell you that there are TWO items I receive over and over again every year. And while it's truly the thought that counts and I am grateful no matter what, I need another camera coffee mug or a camera ornament like I need a higher tax bill. Not sure if I am even saying that correctly but, you get the idea! 

Whether the person you love is your wife, best friend, brother, etc, whether they are a hobbyist, momtographer or a professional, I tried to include a little something for everyone on this list! A few may be things that you have already thought of, but, I think you will find there are also a few unconventional ideas below to get you brainstorming. 

So, if YOU are the photographer, go ahead, share this with your significant other and family! If you are a photographer yourself, looking for a few extra tax write-offs before the end of the year, have at it! Go wild! Get yourself some write-offs! If you are a super grateful client looking to get your photographer a unique gift for all their hard work for your family this year, then look no further! Here are 21 gifts to get the photographer (or yourself!) in your life! 

*Some of the products/links below are affiliate links, but I promise, each product is something I do actually suggest! ;)

 

Hit the title of the product to be directed to the product link, and products are in order via the photo, top to bottom, left to right. 

1. SanDisk Extreme Pro Camera Card - The first few items are going to address the number one complaint/issue you have probably heard your photographer whine about: STORAGE. Oh, there is just never, ever enough space or storage for anything anywhere. Our scratch disks are always full, and we are always out of space. The ExtremePro SD cards are by far my favorite and the best, good for hobbyists or professionals. At 95 MB/S you won't have to worry so much about a slow, lagging card in between shots. 

2. SD Card Case - If your photographer is wandering around with their cards in a ziplock baggy THEY NEED ONE OF THESE ASAP! This nifty case is not only waterproof, but it keeps the cards arranged and safe in their own little spots. Broken cards happen in plastic baggies or in pockets of jackets and bags, they do not happen in kickass cases. (well they shouldn't happen as easily at least) Also - QUICK NOTE about the first two products here, make sure to check if your photog's camera takes SD or CF cards!!! Same idea, but one is bigger and cameras take one or the other. 

3. WD Portable External Hard Drive - I personally have this item and I am pretty happy with it so far. I've done some research on external hard drives and Western Digital has one of the lowest failure rates when it comes to external hard drives. I do suggest buying a little case for this as well to give it as much protection as possible, but it's always nice to have a few of these to use if you are an on the go photog who works off of a laptop a lot. 

4. Stila all day waterproof Liquid Eyeliner - Off to some of our more UNCONVENTIONAL picks! This one is a little random, I know, but when you are outside in the summer heat shooting and sweating, it's nice to have an eyeliner that isn't going to melt. I personally use this eyeliner and I am obsessed with it. Easy to apply and as waterproof as eyeliner gets in my opinion. 

5. Photo Mechanic - THIS PROGRAM HAS CHANGED MY LIFE. It has a $150 price tag for lifetime use and if you ask me, that is pretty underpriced. It may be a weird gift, but seriously, this program has helped me get my life back. What does it do? Simply put, it helps me cull through sessions faster. It loads my large RAW files at lightning speed and syncs with my Lightroom so I can quickly choose which photos I want to edit and then import them. Again, maybe this doesn't even belong on a gift list, but, I love it so much I just can't stop talking about it...hence...why it's here! 

6. Fingerless Goves - Doesn't necessarily have to be this pair, although this pair looks comfy cozy (and it's unisex!) fingerless gloves are a total must-have for a photographer. Especially if your photographer shoots year round, out in the cold, travels to peaks of mountains or anything that involves cold weather and shit. These also have those cool little flaps to keep those fingers warm when they aren't on the shutter button. 

7. Camera Backpack - I have this exact backpack, my husband actually bought it for me a few years ago for Christmas and I LOVE IT. I always take it with me when we travel, hike and it's the perfect carry on for any plane ride. I ditch the purse, and can easily stow and take all my gear that I need AND my laptop, as well as whatever personal items I need. It has about a bazillion pockets, and did I mention it fits both my camera gear and a laptop? And whatever oddities I need while hiking or on a plane ride? And it comes with a sleeve for rain? Just in case? Yeah. It's awesome. 

8. A seat to Business Basics & Beyond - I may have forgotten to mention above, but while there are both a few affiliate links in here, there are ALSO some gift ideas that are self-promotion. Hey, I put together the blog post, so I can toot my own horn as well..right? This one is promoting my online workshop for photographers looking to better their photography business and start off 2018 on the right foot! This class is all online, and is three weeks jam-packed with information and starts in January! Slow season is the perfect time for your loved one to invest in bettering and improving their business! 

9.  Autonomous Standing Desk - I do not personally have this one, BUT I have seen it in action and I can tell you that the second I am ready to get my first standing desk, this is it. Many photographers are jumping on the standing desk train, and for good reason. We spend more hours in front of a screen at a computer than I am sure is recommended. This awesome desk allows you to switch easily between sitting and standing. It has a hefty price tag, but health is worth it, right? 

10. Office Chair - For those not ready to jump on the standing desk bandwagon, OR maybe for those who are but want a nice new comfy place to sit that ass when they are in sit mode at their desk, this chair, so I have been told is pretty badass.

11. Sorel Lea Wedge Bootie - Another product I personally own. I love it for it's durability, it's ability to give me a teensy bit of height, but still allowing some of the best comfort my feet have ever known. Seriously. I wore these shoes hiking in Iceland for a week. They are THAT comfortable! And durable! Great for shooting in. 

12. Standing Mat - Back to the whole standing desk thing! If you are getting your loved one a standing desk, they are going to need a mat to help them during those long work hours they will be putting in! 

13. Women's Hunter Boots - My second favorite shoe to shoot in. Or maybe tied for first. This one, is a total go too when things are wet/rainy or muddy. I never know how deep into water and creeks I will have to go for the perfect shot. And those wedding photogs out there? They have to shoot in the weather no MATTER what. So these rain boots are pretty badass when you are roughing out there and trying to get the perfect shot. 

14. LUSH bath bombs - A photog friend said she got these as a gift from a wedding client after shooting their wedding, and she just loves them. Says they smell great and make her skin feel great. Wedding (and portrait!) photographers work long hard hours on their feet sometimes, so what better way to encourage them to take a load off and relax when they turn in for the night then some luxurious bath bombs? Wow, we are only on 14 and I feel like a walking advertisement for all things on the internet tonight. Stay with me, I am trying super hard to calm down the hype and corniness. 

15. Pendleton Blanket with Carrier - I bet you every husband out there can tell you what the number one thing his photographer wife collects (ESPECIALLY IF SHE SHOOTS FAMILIES!) and that would be ... BLANKETS! Oh, blankets. Quilts. Kaftans. I don't even know how many I have at this point, but we can't always shoot on the same thing, okay guys? We just can't. All of our photos can't look the same and seasons and outfits really determine what we can do here. If you can't snag a nice looking vintage quilt for your photographer, think about a Pendleton with a CARRIER. Oh yeah. The carrier makes it nice and easy for hiking to the perfect backlit sunny spot. And I personally am the proud owner of a Pendleton blanket and I love it. 

16. Hydroflask Water Bottle - My son actually uses these in his lunchbox, at school and for sports, BUT these are also amazing for photographers. Whether you are shooting an all day wedding or a day filled with mini sessions or just even one session in 95 degree weather, these water bottles are totally badass. One downfall, they can't be washed in the dishwasher, BUT, they seriously keep your ice and water cold for HOURS. And I don't know about you...but I hate warm water. So I don't leave home without a good water bottle. 

17. Fujifilm X100F - This one I don't want to be too camera specific (although the one I have listed here is an amazing choice!) but how many of you have noticed that your loved one no longer takes out their giant DSLR and lenses to shoot their own family anymore? This may apply less to the hobbyists and more to the pros, but I am totally guilty of dropping the ball with my own family and my camera. It's just hard to want to lug out all the gear at the zoo or pack it all for a plane ride and drag it on that family camping trip. Sometimes we don't want to feel like a slave to what also helps pay our bills. So, a nice killer point and shoot that is compact and easy to pull out and travel with is the perfect solution. 

18. Young Living Essential Oils Premium Starter Kit - Okay, shameless self-promotional suggestion #2 for the list! While Essential Oils are really more of a personal choice that I do really enjoy in my home and for my family, they do crossover into my work life. I love the Thieves cleaning products for the studio, I know it's safe for all the little fingers that come through. I LOVE some of the oils that I can diffuse in the studio, in my home, at my desk or in the car to help with stress and anxiety. They also keep the studio smelling fresh and keep my parents relaxed. And, things like the Deep Relief roll-on is amazing after a long day of shooting. It's basically like Tiger Balm in a roller bottle, without the icky shit. If you want to get started and haven't jumped on the crazy oil train, get a premium starter kit to get started. If you sign up as a member, you are not obligated to ever by anything, there is no minimum per month or year, you don't have to sell it and you do NOT have to do anything you don't want to do. You just get a nice little discount on anything you order (the wholesale price is worth it!) and order whatever you want whenever you want. My member #/Enroller ID is 2630034 which you'll need to sign up under someone. After you do, shoot me an email at lauren@laurengrayson.com or find me over on Facebook so I can hook you up with a ton of information on lots of goodies! 

19. Aspen Willow Camera Strap - Hands down, best freaking camera straps I've ever had. These things are not only adorable, but they are STURDY and they fit perfectly. I am pretty short, 5'2' and I hate when straps are too long on me and my camera hangs basically between my crotch. That isn't cute, on anyone. These are not only super affordable but again, I've had one of these for YEARS and while it looks a little rough because it's seen it's fair share of shoots, it's held up amazing! Only camera straps I buy. 

20. Letterfolk Board - Oh the letter boards. If your photographer doesn't have one of these in their studio or home yet, they probably want one. So many things you can do with these! They really don't require a ton of explaining, they kind of speak for themselves. 

21. Dark Earth Lightroom Presets - And we are going to wrap up with my self promotion #3! What photographer doesn't want MORE PRESETS for their lightroom arsenal? Go snag my Dark Earth Lightroom presets, and just for making it all the way to item number 21 on my list, I am going to give you a coupon code for 25% off my Dark Earth presets! Which are basically all I've used on any of my outdoor work this past summer and fall! Use the code HOLIDAYBLOG until midnight on December 24, 2017 to get 25% off the presets! Enjoy! 

A Personal Post, Miscarriage & Perspective

A Personal Post, Miscarriage & Perspective

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Everything is different, and nothing is the same. 

I can tell you that in the beginning, the very beginning. There was denial. This stage was short lived, as I grasped at straws, made calls demanding more testing be done. I Googled everything under the sun and found every case I could of when the ‘doctor is wrong’. 

It honestly didn’t take more than a few days to realize it was real. To know it. I felt it. Which is so funny, honestly, because I never felt the loss. But I just knew. I was still sick, my levels were high and my body wasn’t processing the loss, but I knew. I felt it with everything in me…that he was gone. 

By the time they wheeled me into surgery, I was vomiting nearly every 30 minutes around the clock and I was wrecked with intense, nonstop nausea. Add this on top of a deep depression, shock and a heavy, heavy fog. I was completely disconnected with reality. 

I can tell you that in the first week, I took only one shower (because I was told I had too before surgery) and went into the hospital on a Saturday morning for my outpatient surgery. I had multiple breakdowns, that resulted in a little extra dose of something to help me ‘relax’. The remainder of that week I spent in my bedroom. Laying on my bed, only to get up to use the restroom. Sleeping. Laying. Waiting. Wishing it all away and praying for it to stop. I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed by an unknown loss and total devastation. I wondered if this were something I could honestly ever come back from, or if this was it. This was how I would break. 

I can tell you that in that first week, each and every single time I woke up, I forgot for just a moment what was happening. Then it would hit me. Those first few seconds awake all was okay, and then it would resurface. I would remember. It would all come flooding back and I would remember. It was like each time I woke up, I had to learn the news all over again for the first time. Hitting me like a tidal wave right in the face. A punch in the gut. Every. Single. Time. 

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I can tell you that the first week was the absolute worst Hell on Earth I have ever experienced. And, I have experienced. But there is no loss in the world that could have prepared me for this. Nothing. When they say ‘the fog hasn’t lifted’ they really aren’t joking. I felt like I had been plucked from my reality and placed into the Stephen King movie, The Mist. Where there is a thick, heavy fog…and just monsters. Everywhere. 

I asked a friend during those first few weeks if it was possible to wish myself away. I said that all I wanted was to crawl out onto the grass outside and lay there and allow my body to just dissolve into the dirt and grass. A quick decomposition, where my body and all of these feelings would quickly be absorbed by the Earth. She kindly, told me that, no, she didn’t think this was a viable option for moving forward. 

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The only way I could describe that time was to ask someone if they could imagine what it would be like for all of the air to turn into water. And every waking moment you are just choking. Just drowning on air and suffocating. It was constant. Breathing hurt. Moving hurt. Smiling and laughing hurt. So much guilt and so many questions as to why. 

The following month wasn’t great. Once I made it through the first week and the heaviest fog, I went on auto pilot. I have to be honest, I went back to work and everything was mechanical. I truly believe I was just on some kind of survival mode. At other times, I was absent. I was either feeling things intensely, complete despair and overwhelm, or I was disconnected. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t remember things. I was physically present, but mentally, I was somewhere else. I am still having trouble with this now. I can’t quite focus, and I am insanely forgetful. 

I got countless, countless messages. Emails, texts…messages of support and hope and understanding and sympathy. I didn’t respond to all of them, which added to my guilt. But I hope those who didn’t receive an answer from me know it wasn’t personal. There was so much I wanted to say, but I didn’t know how. I also got messages that were odd and confusing. That were frustrating, and while well intended, hurtful. 

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At times I wondered if I was over reacting. At times I have felt like a total asshole. Why am I making this such a big deal? Well, I’m not. It just is a big deal for me. It’s really, really hard. 

Over the past few months I have felt grief, depression, confusion, self loathing and hate, envy, anger and frustration. Among many other things, of course. 

Miscarriage is a bitch. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I thought I knew, I thought I got it, but when it happened to me…I realized there was so much I didn’t know. It’s honestly the most welcoming club I have ever been in…but it’s also one that no one wants you to ever have to be a part of. 

Moving forward, I have found that everything is different, and nothing is the same. 

Where I used to be frustrated with a new inquiry, a Mom expecting, due in just a few weeks, I now feel differently. I used to think “Geez, don’t people realize it’s so hard to book last minute? I wish people would book earlier in their pregnancy so we could plan and I had more available.” Now, I think, maybe she has lost. Maybe she was nervous or afraid, to say it out loud. To be too hopeful, too early. Or, maybe she is just a busy women and photography wasn’t first in line when it came time to plan for a baby! 

I have been an ambitious woman over the last several years. My nearly six years in business has taught me many things. I made it my goal to reach certain levels of income or ‘status’ or notoriety. I worked insane hours, nonstop and poured everything I could into a business. I put my personal life and my family on the back burner. Because, well, I am a workaholic of sorts and I love money. I mean, I am really not even ashamed to admit that. I don’t make nearly as much as people think (trust me, ha, taxes and the cost of doing business add up!) but I loved my job and I was never satisfied if I wasn’t looking at the next step. Nothing was ever enough or fulfilling to me. I always wanted more. An insatiable craving for more drove me to being a crappy Mom (sometimes) and an overworked entrepreneur. 

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Then this. This happened. This loss. And, while, I still have so much to work on within myself, everything suddenly was different and nothing was the same. 

Just like that, my priorities shifted. They changed. 

While I still love what I do more than anything in the world, and will continue to create the art that I love, it is no longer my top priority in life. I don’t think this ‘happened’ so that I can learn a lesson. I don’t believe everything ‘happens for a reason’. There was no reason, no need for this in my eyes. It just happened and I will most likely never know why. But, I will take from it what I can. And the lesson I feel I can take from this, is that life is too short. We still need to pay bills, so I still have to work, and I am okay with that! But, this whole experience has brought on a new focus in my life. My actual life, is a bit more clear now. I have made big changes to my business that I hope will still make my clients happy, but also accommodate a lifestyle that allows me to be present more. That allows me to be home more, to read more books. To live. 

The Traveling Dress Project Iceland

Akron Ohio photographer Lauren Grayson takes the traveling dress project to the black beach sands in Vik Iceland for some self portraits during her honeymoon. 

Grace Senior Portraits in downtown Akron

Grace Senior Portraits in downtown Akron

Downtown Akron senior portrait session by Lauren Grayson Photography. Modern and urban settings, on the parking deck, in the coffee shop and more. Modern senior portraiture that is unique in the Northeast Ohio area. 

The Borks Lifestyle Maternity Session

The Borks Lifestyle Maternity Session

A maternity session with Danielle and Joe in their Cleveland Ohio home. A baby bump, bay windows and their dog were all included in this natural, lifestyle shoot before their first baby arrived. 

Rehs Newborn Studio Session in Akron Ohio

Rehs Newborn Studio Session in Akron Ohio

A natural, neutral and simplistic newborn studio session. No props, just simple family and baby portraits in the Akron Ohio studio of Lauren Grayson Photography. 

Toth Family In Home Session

Toth Family In Home Session

The Toth family in their Cleveland Ohio home with their daughter. Quinn takes sink baths, plays with toys, shows off her pink nursery and reads books with Mom and Dad on their bed while they cuddle. A regular Saturday morning for this lifestyle documentary family in home portrait session. 

The Yurcho Family Summer Session

The Yurcho Family Summer Session

This session was short and sweet and just so much fun. At a random field in Akron (that is now gone and fenced off! So sad!) with some killer willow trees, we did a morning session with these three who make up the Yurcho family. I know everyone loves sun drenched photos, but it started to rain at the end, and while I was shooting I loved watching the storm clouds roll in. It was one of those summer mornings where it's kind of cool and breezy yet still so hot and muggy. The clouds, to me, always create a great diffuser, especially for a morning session, which I so rarely shoot! 

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Kaitlyn Nicole Akron Ohio Fresh 48

Kaitlyn Nicole Akron Ohio Fresh 48

Welcoming Kaitlyn Nicole. A Fresh 48 family baby newborn photo session at Akron General hospital in Akron Ohio of Kaitlyn and her twin brother and sister and Mom and Dad! 

Bugzavich Family Summer Session

Akron Ohio Photographer Lauren Grayson photographs the Bugzavich family. Mom, dad and their two wild girls played in a field during one of the hottest summer nights and took amazing, interactive and candid fun classic photos together as a family. 

Legacy Sessions 2017 What they are & Why you need one

Photo of my son Max and I via Paula Jackson Photography. 

Photo of my son Max and I via Paula Jackson Photography

2017 marks the year I realize I can no longer hold and/or pick up my own child. I mean, I can, if totally necessary (i.e. running from a psycho ax murderer or monsters) but for the most part, those dog days are over. You see, this almost 6 year old of mine is a tank. While I have expanded a bit since my younger days (mainly around and in the middle, you know, probably like you have also experienced) picking him up is really just not working. He's long and tall and I am pretty weak. Maybe if I did more Jillian Michaels arm work outs...maybe I could, but I suppose that is not the point here. 

It sounds silly. To say, I realize now looking back at this image of him and I above from last summer, that we were in the last days I would be able to pick him up like that and hold him. It sounds like such a small thing. It wasn't honestly even a thing I had considered would be a 'milestone' for me. You have a baby, they are teeny tiny and you strap them to you to survive. As they grow, they start attaching themselves to you and hanging off of your limbs like the orangutans at the zoo. You find yourself scooping them up when they are on the run (or about to get into something they shouldn't) and it's all just a part of the game. For five years, it never occurred to me that one day, the game would change. I mean, I knew it. You realize that babies are actually tiny humans and people and they grow and they age, but for me at least it's more of a passing fleeting realization in the subconscious area. The conscious area of my brain has always been a bit more focused on the constant alarms going off "Stop touching that Maxwell!", "UGH SERIOUSLY, can't you just go to sleep?, "Why are you crying, AGAIN!". Imagine the inside of the parent's brains from the movie Inside Out. Just all bells and whistles and blaring alarms and overwhelm and stress and frustration. But...here we are...and suddenly...

It took sending my child to kindergarten last year and now not being able to pick him to realize some really important shit. 

I'm getting older.

And so is he. 

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Realizing we aren't immortal, that time is precious and life is really just a bunch of moments stuck together haphazardly can be hard. Thinking about our own mortality and our aging children as we pluck out gray hairs (or possibly new hairs from totally new places on our face...is no one else getting whiskers, though? Seriously?!) is freaking hard. It sucks and it's scary and so we shove it all down or risk bursting into tears somewhere in the frozen aisle at the grocery store next to the Ore-Ida potatoes (again...is this just me?) while people, including your own child, stare at you like your one of those awful looking stuffed animal characters from that stupid Five Nights at Freddy's game. 

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But what I am realizing in all of my realizations is that I keep telling myself I will do this thing or that thing or whatever when I 'get there'. You know, when 'I get older' or when 'it's time'. It's been a bit of a slap in the face to realize, oh yeah. You are already there. 

I make excuses constantly about all of the things I am going to do when it's time, all of the life changes I am going to make and time I am going to spend and pictures I will take...

I have been planning for a life that is already well into its existence. And I'm missing it. 

Considering I am somewhat close to the age range of many of you (speaking directly to my clientele and families here now) I can only imagine some of you are experiencing very similar moments. 

Which brings me to how I always come back to this time of year and these sessions and why they mean so much to me. I have done Mother's Day sessions for a few years now, and more than ever, this year, I am realizing again why they mean so much to me. Why they are one of my favorite things I do in business each year and how meaningful they are to me. And, I hope to you...

Mom's rarely get in the frame. We take all (okay at least most, come on!) the photos. We do a lot of dirty work and most of us don't take care of ourselves the way we should. We don't enjoy a lot of moments because we can't live in the moment. We struggle to stay present because we are exhausted and either tearing our hair out due to stress or grays. And so this is your chance. To take a moment. To treat yourself and leave something behind. 

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As we have already addressed, we aren't going to be around forever. Which is why I am calling these Legacy Sessions this year. Because...it's not just about us. But about what we will leave behind for our children. 

Same goes for the Grandparents. When was the lat time you met a Grandma who wanted to be in a photo? What do you have with your own Mother and your children? What does she have? Hell do you have a nice photograph of your Mother alone or with you, her daughter? I never had the chance to get a photograph of my son with my Grandmother who passed while I was still pregnant. And to be honest, while we were not the closest, I don't have a lot of photographs of her and I either. I realize now, of course, how sad that really is.

And so this year I am going to do it a little different. I have tried it before but I think I have it down this year. I encourage my Mom's to bring their Mom's and Grandmas to their sessions. Also, there have been some requests for Father's day photos. Don't worry, I am giving Mom's a lot of credit, but the Dad's deserve some major credit out there too! So, this 'Legacy Event' will be open to Mother's Day or Father's Day photos, and Grandparents. Some rules and conditions apply though! 

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Yes, I realize I am still doing this for an income and as a job and this is still an advertisement of sorts, but I am also being 100% truthful when I say I feel this event is something special that I love to do every year. A way to give back to those clients I know and love and can't wait to see again.

I hope to see you there. 

-Lauren

 

Thuressa Akron Senior Session

Thuressa Akron Senior Session

One of my favorite senior sessions from 2016! This girl style is right up my alley. We started out in downtown Akron for a few unique looks, went up on top of a parking garage and ended with a more natural and soft look in the fields. The perfect blend and variety of any senior session! 

Maureen Lifestyle Family Maternity Session

Maureen Lifestyle Family Maternity Session

Maureen and family expecting a brand new baby boy. A pregnancy maternity shoot in fields in Akron Ohio with Maureen her baby bump, a red dress and her family by Lauren Grayson. 

Meaghan's Fashion Inspired Session Part 2

Part 2 of my awesome, midday full soon shoot out with Meaghan! 

If you missed part 1, go back and check them out on the blog to see some of the amazing floral spring bloom style photos we took! As I said in Part 1, the last blog post, I am not big into shooting during the day with harsh sun light. But it was fun to try something new and challenge myself. 

We wanted to do something fun, so we took to the fields and then found a random, rundown appliance shop and some cool colored walls in my neighborhood to create some artistic and neat portraits!  Inspired by Free People and a more film look, I am super happy with how this session came out for us! 

**wardrobe provided by the studio**

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Meaghan Free People Inspired Session Part 1

Meaghan Free People Inspired Session Part 1

A spring senior portrait inspired session with the blooming trees at The Nature Realm in Akron Ohio with Lauren Grayson Portrait Artist. A soft and beautiful photo shoot.