5 Things I learned from a photoshoot with my 2-year-old

5 Things I learned from a photoshoot with my 2-year-old

(Photo Credit: Lara Salvo with Vienna Hayden // @ViennaHayden)

I have been determined to get on my feet here in Arizona. In some ways, that’s meant setting up our home here, but in other ways, it’s been about getting our life going. Making friends is a process, much like reestablishing my blog here. It’s all about growing your tribe, finding people who are likeminded and slowly building a kinship. Which is why I was so excited to get accepted to the #CatchMeAtLuxe event which promised to bring bloggers and photographers together. But could I survive a photoshoot with my 2-year-old?

Harley is awesome and smart and hilarious, but she’s also still a toddler. I was terrified that she would be completely uncooperative and just say no the whole time. I was so worried that it would be more stress than it was worth. Then there was the thing where I was terrified that I’d look fat beyond belief. Oh, and do I even need to mention the fact that all the other moms attending the event had WAY bigger Instagram followings than me? Cue all the imposter syndrome as well. But actually, it was a wonderful experience, and I learned a lot!

Comparison is the death of joy

This was actually a lesson I learned on the drive to the event. I know, rather fortuitous, don’t you think? I have a few podcasts that I like to listen to, and the one I had going in the drive to the event was from Amy Porterfield called the 3 don’ts and 3 dos of entrepreneurs in-the-making. It was an interview with Rachel Hollis and really helped me to reframe my perspective on things.

So much of imposter syndrome comes from comparing with others. Whether you’re a blogger or even just a normal person, it feels like our “popularity” has become so easy to assess. So-and-so has more Instagram followers than me, or gets more likes on their Facebook photos, or has more work or more friends, etc etc. We compare ourselves to others, without knowing the context or appreciating differences.

No, I don’t have a huge Instagram following compared to many other influencers. But I have a fun community of awesome people on all my platforms. Whether you found me all those years ago when I wrote for Lazygamer, or you’re a relative newcomer, you are my tribe and I appreciate each every one of you who have found me and stuck by me. I can’t compare my social followings with anyone else’s, nor should I. My tribe is my own, and it is an awesome bunch of smart, funny, quirky people.

It was also a great reminder at the event. When I started this blog, I couldn’t find other geeky mom blogs out there. Maybe I didn’t know how to look properly, but it felt like a very specific thing I was looking for. There are tons of geeky moms out there, however you define your geekiness, and I wanted to connect with other ladies like me. Being at the event made me realize yet again that I am a very particular kind of person, and will connect with other particular kinds of people.

Trust the photographer’s eye

I had a few ideas of pictures that I wanted from the event. I knew some blogs that I’ve had on my to-be-written list for a while, so I figured it would be nice to get some great photographs that would work for those. But I didn’t really know what the venue would look like or how the event would be set up. I didn’t know how a lot of things would go, or if Harley would even cooperate. So, a big part of the event was trusting the photographers.

5 things I learned from a photoshoot with my toddler
Photo credit: LeeAnn Stromyer with LeeAnn K Photography // @Leeann_K_Photography

In the same way that I have learned to trust my ability with words, photographers see something so different when they look through their lenses. I simply adore the photos that were captured at this event. The way that they saw me and saw Harley was simply stunning. Instead of pure portraits, they managed to snap images of who we are, individually and together, which is just so special. You need to find a photographer whose vision you like, and then trust them to take photos that show an essence of truth that is truly beautiful.

Toddlers aren’t so bad…

I think Harley actually had a good time. Back when she was an infant, she used to refuse to smile when I’d take my phone out to snap a picture. But now, she wants to play, she wants to be silly, and she seems to like posing to an extent. It’s not that I think she knew what was going on, but more that she was able to pick up on the spirit of the event.

5 Things I learned from a photoshoot with my 2-year-old
Photo credit: Tavey Barrett with 1G3B Photography // @TaveyBarrett

Also, as above with finding the right photographer, the ladies who signed up to shoot at the #CatchMeAtLuxe Mamma Shootout knew that they were going to be working with kids under five. They knew what they were getting into, and they were remarkably well prepared. They played with Harley, had fun with her, and she responded with some truly expressive and amazing reactions that made for some absolutely incredible images.

…Until they are

The photoshoot worked with four rotations, so we got to try four different locations at the venue, each with different photographers. Each locale lasted for about 20 minutes. As an adult, this meant that the day felt very fast paced and exciting. However, for a toddler, it meant that she was expected to play and engage and look towards the light or towards the people or whatever else, for about an hour and a half.

She was a very good sport, but it was definitely very different working with her at the start of the event than at the end. By the time we were in our last two rotations, she was clearly over it and unwilling to go along with our grand plans. I had hoped to get awesome geeky pics of her in the amazing bibs they had there, or using the super cool Triforce plate. It was okay, though, thanks to some great creative approaches from the photographers who still managed to get some great images.

5 things I learned from a photoshoot with my 2-year-old
Photo credit: Malia B with Malia B Photography // @maliabphoto

I realized after the fact that I had told the earlier photographers that I was happy for the images to be really “real”, for them to continue shooting even if Harley looked a bit miserable. Of course, by the time I was on the third and fourth pairs of photographers, I don’t think I told them that as clearly. But also, I don’t think Harley looked particularly miserable at that point. She just wanted to do her thing and be left alone.

In the future, I think I’d go into things with a better understanding of what to expect. I might have more shots clearly defined in my head, but also chat to the photographers in advance so that we both knew the kinds of images we were looking for. Creative collaboration is such fun, and it was just so great to bounce ideas off each other and capture some truly striking moments.

5 things I learned from a photoshoot with my toddler
Photo credit: Kathleen White with Kathleen Elizabeth Photography // @_KathleenElizabeth_


You aren’t as fat as you think

I’ve written about how I’m finally back at the gym, how I’m trying to get back to looking how I feel I should look. That is going well, I think, and I’m living the process and all that great sounding stuff. But the reality was that in some ways, I felt like I was too fat to go to this event. That I would be the biggest woman there, that people would ask if I was pregnant, that I would just look awful in all the pictures.

5 things I learned from a photoshoot with my 2-year-old
Photo Credit: Becca Gutierrez with Rusty Metals Photography // @RustyMetalsPhotography

But I also keep saying that I want to set a positive example for Harley, and that includes having good self image, and knowing that I’m always worthy of a photoshoot, even if I feel enormous. But I did fix my hair and nails before the event. I still haven’t found my forever nail person – someone who can do funky nail art and unique designs. But I found a lady who painted my nails and toes for cheap, and Dean and I colored my hair so that I looked like myself again. And you know what, even without getting any closer to my goal weight, I felt more like myself.

And then the pictures came back. Sure, there are one or two where I go, “UGH, I’m HUGE!” but mostly, I’m so happy with the images. They capture me so well, and bring out the features I like about myself. Plus there are great moments with Harley, moments of pure joy and silliness. I just know that I will be filling my feed with these images for weeks and months to come, and I’m so excited to share all of them with you.

What I learned from a photoshoot with my toddler
Photo credit: Lauren Iwen with Lauren Iwen Photography // @LaurenIwen

So, if you’re planning to do a photoshoot, I suppose the moral of the story is to just get out there and do it. Trust the photographer. Trust your kid. And just have fun. You will be so pleased with the results. Have you done a photoshoot recently? What were your fav parts of it, and what would you do differently next time?

Behind The Scenes:

Event: #CatchMeAtLuxe

Founder & Coordination: Her Hashtag Life

Event Space: Mini Social

Brand Sponsor: Bumkins


Kathleen White with Kathleen Elizabeth Photography // @_KathleenElizabeth_

Becca Gutierrez with Rusty Metals Photography  // @RustyMetalsPhotography

Lara Salvo with Vienna Hayden // @ViennaHayden

Lauren Iwen with Lauren Iwen Photography // @LaurenIwen

LeeAnn Stromyer with LeeAnn K Photography // @Leeann_K_Photography

Sarah Hoag with Sarah Hoag Photography // @SarahHoagPhotography

Malia B with Malia B Photography // @maliabphoto

Tavey Barrett with 1G3B Photography // @TaveyBarrett



Camille Whiting with Friday We’re in Love // @FridayWereInLove

Zoe Hawkins with Born Geek // @Moonstormer

Jen Bosen with Real Life, on Purpose. // @JenBosen

Jenn Loyd with Jenn Loyd Life & Style // @JennLoydLifestyle

Ashley Sterusky with Sunshine & Lullabies // @SunshineAndLullabies

Tammy Gabel with Momma Tammy // @MommaTammyAZ

Jessica Dowd with Mom Life Exposed // @MomLifeExpo

Jessica Becker with Scottsdale Moms Blog // @ScottsdaleMoms


Swag Bag Sponsors:

“I am a Creative” Swag Bags: AdLipps

Journals: Adlipps

Bibs: Bumkins

Arizona Art Print: LahontanLetterworks

Kids Cups: Nuby

Chocolate Chip Cookies: Megs Cookie Crate

Workout DVD: Sara Haley Fit

“Have Fun Little One” Patches: Mila James

Calendars: Rifle Paper Co

Deodorant: Schmidts Naturals

Camera & Cactus Cookies: Sweet Frost Bakery

Hexagon Tiles: Pink by Peach

Confetti Bags, Dream Chaser Print, & Event Shirts: Her Hashtag Life


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