My kids dutifully belted out “cheeeeese” as soon as they saw a camera lens pointed at them. “Guess what guys, with me you don’t have to say cheese,” the photographer told them. I knew then that this would be much different from the J.C. Penney’s portrait sessions of my childhood.

Until this month, we had no professional photos of either of my children. While I frequently see adorable newborn photos of friends’ children on social media, during my postpartum period I was more focused on remembering to brush my teeth than book a photographer. After that, it just never seemed like the right time or the right fit for us. Our family has a relaxed, casual spirit that doesn’t seem suited for color-coordinated matching outfits posed on the beach or in a wooded forest. As much as I love seeing these photos of friends’ families and think they are beautiful, it never seemed like us. Then, a friend posted in-home life story photos, which captured her kids doing everything from eating breakfast to reading bedtime stories. Finally, I saw professional photos that would capture my family in just the way I want to remember them.

Before I had a chance to schedule a life story photo shoot, a friend and photographer, Monica Ayers, advertised that she was doing a holiday mini shoot. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to capture a holiday-card-worthy photo of my active 2- and 4-year olds while trying out their easiness in front of the camera for a relatively low-cost. So on a warm November morning we met Monica at Rittenhouse Square and watched the kids climb and jump and play while she snapped away. There were some posed moments and specific instructions, but in general, she was looking for their personalities to come out in the urban environment that is their home. It seemed that there were but split seconds that they each looked at the camera and smiled, so I was doubtful that we would have anything usable, but Monica is amazing and sent us so many wonderful options. She also made sure to meet my special request for a full family shot and a new blog headshot despite only having 15-minutes to complete our mini shoot. For the sake of my kids’ privacy, I can only share one of our pictures here, but if you are on our holiday mailing list, you will certainly see more!


Whether you are a skeptic like me and want a mini shoot to try out photography or are looking for a portrait, wedding, or newborn photo shoot, Monica will put you at ease and help you tell your story in a natural and yet polished way. I am sorry we did not do this sooner, but I am already thinking about what we could do next.


[I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. I have no affiliation with Monica Ayers Photography.]

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