session spotlight: hampton park family downtown charleston pictures

I was so honored that the beautiful W family chose me to do their family photos! We spoke at length about location, and we decided that live oaks and parks would capture the timeless Southern feel that they wanted for their images. I chose Hampton Park in Downtown Charleston, SC, because I feel it incorporates both the quiet serenity they were looking for, and offered some lovely, quaint city streets for variety.

I cannot express how I absolutely fell in love with this sweet family! Their two year old son is the happiest child I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and our time together was mostly playing games, tickling and having fun! Towards the end, I posed the three of them in front of a lovely live oak, and created a Brenizer portrait, which managed to capture the immense beauty of these majestic trees in an almost painterly way while featuring this family of three in incredible detail. Their family pictures are among my favorites, and I hope they choose me again in the future! Here are some of my favorite images from their session - there are a few black and white pictures thrown in, which is rare for me. I typically only edit in black and white to convey and enhance emotion, and I love when certain shots move me to do just that. I hope you enjoy them!

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CONTACT ME to book your family photography session

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Jamie Stefanko Photography is located outside Charleston, SC in Summerville, SC. Jamie Stefanko is Charleston's premier family photographer specializing in artistic, contemporary family and child photography. As a professional photographer, Jamie captures children, maternity, newborn, high school senior, and family portraits in Charleston, South Carolina and Summerville-Daniel Island-Mount Pleasant-Goose Creek-West Ashley-Moncks Corner-Folly Beach-James Island, South Carolina.

session spotlight: folly beach family sunset pictures

Sunset beach photo sessions are amazing in the fall down south! No oppressive heat, fewer tourists - it reminds me of why so many people are moving to Charleston. I spoke recently with the mom from the J family about how I put off getting family pictures done, and she confessed that she was in the same situation, with no family pictures taken since her youngest was born, and we booked a session for her family of six! When we talked about locations, she loved the idea of beach photos in October - and then Hurricane Matthew paid us a visit. He left the beaches a mess, and only island residents were even allowed in the area. A few weeks went by, and it was worth the wait. I promised the J family a beautiful sunset, and it was delivered! The sky lit up with gold and pink, bringing a gorgeous warm tone to their images. The kids ranged in age from under two to almost ten, and they were the epitome of southern charm mixed with mischief. Their daughter treated me to the best shy smiles, their two younger boys reminded me of my own kids - constantly exploring and interacting with the environment - and their eldest son was a fantastic assistant who loved talking with me about things he built! His favorite spot was underneath the pier, and we agreed that a "cool" symmetrical picture had to be done. Here are a few sneak photos from our time together. Enjoy! <3

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Follow me

facebook.com/jamiestefankophotography

twitter.com/jamie_stefanko

instagram.com/jamiestefanko

www.jamiestefanko.com

___________________________________________

CONTACT ME to book your family photography session

___________________________________________

Jamie Stefanko Photography is located outside Charleston, SC in Summerville, SC. Jamie Stefanko is Charleston's premier family photographer specializing in artistic, contemporary family and child photography. As a professional photographer, Jamie captures children, maternity, newborn, high school senior, and family portraits in Charleston, South Carolina and Summerville-Daniel Island-Mount Pleasant-Goose Creek-West Ashley-Moncks Corner-Folly Beach-James Island, South Carolina.

 

Why You Need a Family Photo Right Now

Why You Need a Family Photo Right Now

Hi, my name is Jamie, and I’ve never taken a professional family picture of my own, complete family of five. *hangs head in shame*

Okay, this is only half true - I did manage to wrangle four of us together for a pregnancy announcement photo - but while that was cute and casual, and had the typical chalkboard with a “+1” stating the “Ah HA!” moment, I likely wouldn’t frame and hang it on the wall. It was good enough for Facebook, and I may print it to place into a scrapbook at some point, but in the meantime, my walls don’t have a single image of all five of us.

Fast forward to 2016, my pregnant belly is now a feisty three year old boy, and my daughter’s teacher is requesting (it may have been the second email with a gentle reminder) a recent family picture, so here we are. A bit embarrassing, yes. I mean, this is my THING. I do have an impressive number of individual and group shots of my kids, but myself and my husband are MIA.

It’s Sunday morning, and I am armed with my best tricks, my best tripod, and coordinating-but-not-matchy outfits for everyone. I am not one for props, so I only use a simple, unfinished apple box as a seat. I pose my family with my typical emphasis on connection and love, do my magical photographer routine for genuine expressions, throw myself in, and bam.

My favorite faces! <3

My favorite faces! <3

As soon as I uploaded these pictures to my computer, I immediately cheered, “Woohoo, only one head swap needed!” (my fellow photographers will appreciate that) - but really, I was about ready to KICK MYSELF for not doing this consistently over the past few years. My daughter is sitting on my lap, and while she does resemble my husband, I now see a bit of myself in her features. My oldest son is looking SO TALL when I see him in front of my husband, and where did his chubby baby cheeks go?? My youngest, with his huge eyes, is a preschooler now, and actually looks like one (I’m in denial, he’s still my baby, but look at him!).

Looking back, I realized that I never made time for myself to do this. I LOVE helping my clients create their ideal family picture - whether it’s:

  • Help choosing coordinating clothing, and recommending vendors for certain styles;
  • Explaining “photo-ready makeup” - especially for moms and high school seniors - or arranging for a hair and makeup artist prior to the shoot;
  • Figuring out if urban downtown Charleston, small town Summerville, or rural sessions are the best setting (we can also meet at your home and come up with gorgeous pictures - check this blog post - or do lovely lifestyle shots!);
  • Taking pictures of the walls in their homes to help them decide on wall arrangements;
  • Framing and even hanging up the pictures in their homes, because I am all about perfectly placed family pictures;

But, I’m awful at doing it for myself, for the exact same reasons my clients don’t do it for themselves: I found myself too busy with my family and business obligations, and quickly became overwhelmed with the list above. Put it off long enough, and you may find yourself scrambling for a family picture and using a selfie stick to fit everyone in.

Just do it. Email me, call me, text me, send up a smoke signal - but get it done. I can always quote, “They won’t be little forever” but I don’t need to, because you already know that. Don’t miss out on the dimples, the little curls that you are certain will go straight after the first haircut, the little rings around chubby wrists, or the super long eyelashes that are practically exclusive to children:

Get ready to swoon, people <3

Get ready to swoon, people <3

Don’t be intimidated by the “little things” - let me handle those for you, from planning to finished artwork on your walls. I hope to hear from you soon!

In the meantime, you can find me here:

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Session spotlight: fort dorchester high school senior prom {charleston sc senior photographer}

Session spotlight: fort dorchester high school senior prom {charleston sc senior photographer}

A few weeks ago, a session I have been dreaming of for a long time (years, even!) FINALLY took place! One of my dearest friends (in fact, the first friend I made when I moved to Summerville, SC) and I have talked about her daughter’s senior pictures for years, and as her junior prom at the SC Aquarium (How cool is that??) approached, they did it up in true Southern elegance. Megan was pampered, attired in one of the most stunning prom gowns I have ever seen, and was ready to shine!

I absolutely LOVE Megan’s personality! She is genuine, natural and fun, and all of this came through in her images (I’m sure her mom, who came along for the full experience, would agree you can see a bit of her sass as well, haha!). It was a lovely, if windy, spring afternoon at Waterfront Park in Downtown Charleston, and even though we were closer to noon than sunset, her images are backlit and beautiful! Girl looked fierce!
 

High school juniors and seniors are some of my most favorite subjects to shoot, because they’re fun, fearless, and maybe it’s just me, but I love how they flow into posing while still looking natural and confident - Megan, her entourage and I had loads of fun, and I hope to meet with her again in the coming months for a bit of a styled session.... wait, what styled session?

I am currently in the process of designing a Senior Rep program for the Class of 2017, which will offer freebies and incentives to the girls who want to model and rep for me, and will involve a styled session photoshoot that will be AMAZING!  Please follow my page (opt to get notifications, I promise you won’t be spammed!) and stay connected if you (or a friend) might be interested as I work out the details and get everything set up! I'm also in the process of checking out hair and makeup artists, so hit me up if you are interested in a collaboration!

#noexcuses spring 2016 edition {summerville children's photographer}

Spring is here in the Lowcountry! Well, don't take this as breaking news, even though my northern readers might be getting excited. Spring has been here for... at least six weeks! My azaleas have bloomed, peaked, and only a few lazy stragglers remain. This year, I didn’t get to visit the plantations like I usually do, or even go to the Flowertown Festival, due to some family trips up north, and when I was at home, I ended up with a nasty cold (of course, ugh).

So, there I was one day, working on stuff for my business but also feeling kinda, well, crappy and down. My azaleas were on their last leg (I completely missed their peak), pollen and those little sticky-spiky-whatever tree balls were all over my driveway, with their BFFs - pollen strands. I think a lot of you can just guess how easy it was to choose *not* to go outside. My itchy nose put up a good argument against any thought of this, and since I hadn’t been around to upkeep my yard (outside of mowing, I wasn’t THAT bad), I was tempted to listen to it.

My heart though? I kept feeling regret about not taking many pictures to showcase Summerville’s spring, which is by far the prettiest time of year. We don’t have beautiful snow-covered forests in the winter, and we have quite the lackluster autumn - our trees go from green, to brown, and only fall off the branches when the spring buds literally shove them off. I just couldn’t do NOTHING, and hold onto that regret for another year. So I got up off my tuchus (Charlestonian readers: this is Yiddish for your backside, pronounced “took-us”, pardon my NYC coming out, haha), grabbed my camera and my 70-200mm, and bribed my two year old to “play outside with mom, I’ll give you an Oreo.” Gear: check, somewhat willing subject: check.

I felt a bit exasperated as I looked at my yard. My front yard looked, well, awful. Not for the first time, I mentally scolded myself on not hiring a landscaper. My azaleas mostly just looked sad.

Such sad azaleas. Also, hello - time to upgrade my cell phone, eesh.

Such sad azaleas. Also, hello - time to upgrade my cell phone, eesh.

Now, I belong to a few online photography groups (I can almost justify being on Facebook - it's work-related! Right??), and a recent trend had been #noexcuses - photographers were challenged to use a fairly uninteresting location and completely rock the shot. Well. There’s nothing like a challenge to motivate me, so I got to work.

Well. WELL. #noexcuses indeed.

This is my driveway, you guys. Who knew?

This is my driveway, you guys. Who knew?

I parked my son in my driveway, where he happily played with one of his cars. I placed him such that I would have plenty of distance between him and the ready-to-fall-off-omg-so-done azaleas in the background, and got down to his level to ensure a lovely connection between us. I don’t think anyone would’ve guessed that this was my messy driveway if I didn’t admit to it (“Oh, NO, this is a not-well-known spot, pretty much exclusive to me! Hahahaha!”) so I gave it another try, this time moving him toward a bush that was just surrounded by green, and IMO fairly uninteresting. That gave me these photos.

Just a few steps away, I had one azalea bush that hasn’t given up on me yet. This time, instead of wanting to kinda hide wilting blooms, I wanted to show them off. Encouraging my son to stand on the same plane at the pink blooms (“Okay sweetie, I think I saw a caterpillar in this one, can you look for me?”), both he and my azaleas are stars of the show.

The last holdout, but such harsh lighting.

The last holdout, but such harsh lighting.

That one bush, plus an incredibly adorable, still-not-throwing-a-fit child gave me this.

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I enjoyed this so, so much. It brought me out of a funky mood, I’ll have no regrets about missing pictures of my kids during this season, and best of all, I took an ugly (yes, ugly, guess who is going to be powerwashing this weekend? I reeeeeally need that landscaper!) location and rocked it. I hope to do a few more of these in the future, and if anyone has any great ideas for a #noexcuses location, let me know!

In the meantime, here’s my boy upon hearing that it was Oreo time. :)

Could you deny this boy an Oreo? Not unless you were looking forward to an epic tantrum!

Could you deny this boy an Oreo? Not unless you were looking forward to an epic tantrum!

bland is beautiful (what??) {charleston children's photographer}

bland is beautiful (what??) {charleston children's photographer}

If I lived up north, I’d happily talk your ears off about how spring is coming, how I can’t wait to say goodbye to six months of winter - but I don’t. Summerville is named with good reason - it’s March, and I just jogged in 89 degree weather, yay! My eldest son is turning six tomorrow, and the azaleas are in full bloom today, but I say this with a bit of regret because I do so love the winter.

Well, you know - a Southern winter that rarely goes below 45 degrees at noon.

Cloudy, overcast, BLAND skies are one of my favorite things. Crazy, right? As a photographer, of course I love killer sunsets, especially the ones at Folly Beach and Waterfront Park in Charleston that just set the sky on fire. I have an entire library of sky images that I’ve captured, just because skies are my thing. But one thing that overcast skies do so, so well is make any light hitting you immediately become soft and diffused. Think of them like a set of sheer curtains on a bay window, like I used in this picture of my daughter.


That light, softly touching her face, is gorgeous. And this was taken in my office, which normally has a blast of harsh direct light in the afternoon on a sunny day. Light is EVERYTHING. No squinting, either - she may actually be squinching, and now I’ll have to see if she’s been watching posing tutorials on YouTube to know THAT trick.

Fast forward to a NYC trip I made a week ago. Up there, winter is still in full effect, and I had to break out an actual wool coat for her. It’s a lifestyle image, since I was pretty much hiding in a bush across the street like the paparazzi, so she wouldn’t start posing for me. I wanted THIS moment, where my little Southern Belle was genuinely expressing her opinion of actual northern winter temperatures. It was noon, which would normally have her squinting with a cheese smile, and hard shadows, and too much contrast - not what my artistic side really enjoys. Sunset photoshoots are ideal for a reason, and I will always encourage my clients to have their family sessions right before the golden hour. However, since I had this glorious-yet-bland slightly overcast sky, and happened to bring my daughter to this playground that sat right next to the Hudson River, I captured this. Because life can’t always wait for sunset to come around.

Bam. I’m normally not a fan of monochromatic winter colors unless we’re talking fresh snow with bright pops of color, so after a bit of digital painting with my drawing tablet when we got home, this winter sky is no longer “blah” and will likely be printed on my lab’s Hahnemuhle watercolor paper and up on my wall within the next few weeks. The sky became a canvas - goodbye gray, hello soft colors that complement the scenery!

So with spring arriving in a few more days, I say embrace the inevitable overcast days. We have them in the winter, and you know we’ll have them in the spring (yay, five minute thunderstorms and downpours!). Color can be found (and yes, enhanced) everywhere, and for me, those skies are perfection as a canvas.

Oh, and I forgot to mention - if we’re talking about posed portraiture, using off-camera lighting on overcast days will add that little extra bit of drama and pop. I plan on covering this in the upcoming weeks, so please check back, and also visit me elsewhere on:

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