“Every Now & Then…”

Every now and then, you are granted a gift.  Sometimes, when the stars align, the wind blows from the West or the cat didn’t wake you by licking your ear, you are granted several gifts all in the same day. Yesterday was one of those days in my business and I’ve decided to share it as a 3-part blog!

Gift #1… Lil’ Miss Harper

I met Harper when she was affectionately referred to as H3 by her parents, Heather and Duane.

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Still in the womb at the time, H3 was nicknamed after a chemical compound, as her father works in Bio-chemistry at Cornell and her initials break down to 3 H’s:  Harper Helen Hoch. At the very end of our portrait session at the Cornell Plantations, Duane scribbled H3 on Heather’s belly with a marker I had in my bag.

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Very sweet moment between the parents for me to capture and I drove away with warmth all around me.

The next time I truly met Harper, she was a few days old and I had experienced a crazy morning with my GPS trying to find Harper’s home. Without missing a beat, Heather invited me in and I quickly tried to make up for lost time. If you’re a baby photographer, you have to be very conscious of your energy and this day I was wound up… Guess, who didn’t sleep? Miss Harper!

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While Momma worked her magic, I had the most interesting conversation with Cindy, Harper’s grandmom, who happened to be more than a seasoned veteran in the field of mammography. Fascinating. Who knew that only a month later, I would call Cindy in New Jersey on my own behalf for valuable information concerning an alarming mammogram.

At 6 months, Harper visited me in my studio for a Crawling Like Crazy session. At this point, I had gotten close enough to the family that they brought their dogs to visit in the car and we spent a good amount of time visiting amidst catching Miss Busy Body on film.  It was now the “norm” to hug upon parting ways.The Cameras Eye007

Harper turns 1 this week and agreed to humor me with a Birthday Bash Session (thanks Heather & Duane!) including balloons, a boa, and the infamous extra icing Birthday Cake.

Happy Birthday Harper!

Happy Birthday Harper!

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So far, I was gifted a warm fuzzy, the wisdom of an experienced Grandmom, and friendship. NOT too shabby for simply showing up to work! But it’s the smile that I can’t wipe off my face, even as I work into the wee hours of the night with tiny slits for eyes, that I consider the gift that fills me for days. It’s the gift you’re granted when a family gives you the chance to document their lives over the course of time, as things change and as they grow. Come good times or bad, crazy sessions, balloons popping – whatever it might be – it’s the emotions they share with me as they interact amongst themselves that keep me shooting year after year!

Happy birthday Miss Harper, and congrats Heather and Duane!

Little Bambinos: Newborn Photography at The Camera’s Eye

In most of the newborn photography you’ll see, including at The Camera’s Eye, the baby is sleeping. This makes sense, since this is the majority of what they are doing anyway. (Ok, maybe it doesn’t feel that way during the night for the parents, but that’s another story!) So it stands to reason that a sleeping newborn would be a cinch to photograph. Right?

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Not entirely. If you are a parent (and/or a professional photographer), you know that you are totally beholden to the baby’s schedule. The baby might not want to actually be asleep during the time that you scheduled the photo session. And have you ever tried to explain to a five-day-old that there’s a schedule to keep?

I’ve been photographing newborns for 13 years, starting with a set of preemies as my first clients, and I love the possibilities that a newborn photo session holds! In general, it really helps me to work with moms who aren’t afraid to have me handling their brand new little one. Of course, I am super strict about washing props and washing hands before handling anyone’s baby. And I’m always amazed when brand new parents are willing to go with it when I say things that essentially add up to, “Oh, let me fold up your bambino like a tree frog and stuff him into this bowl. Sound good?”

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I truly admire and am inspired by newborn photography that is stylized and prepped, with perfectly placed accessories like headbands and themed props. My colleague Esther Fuller has some great examples, and I use Pinterest to keep track of other creative newborn images! In my own shooting, I gravitate towards the up-close details – the little toes, the warmth, and connection between the baby and the parents.

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Still, I am always developing my artistic vision when it comes to more precise newborn and baby photographs.

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I let moms handle their babies as much as possible during the photo shoot. It can be difficult for a mom to position their baby when they’ve never done it before, or for me to position a baby when he or she isn’t familiar with me. Plus, all you want to do is let the little angel sleep, but you’re probably going to rustle him awake with the many tiny adjustments you need to make.

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Keep in mind, even when your baby does sleep, they might not be making the most comfortable, relaxed expression. There is a natural “sleeping baby eyebrow scrunch” that can lead to a lot of post-newborn session Photoshopping! 

A client recently asked me: “You do so well with these shoots, and you don’t even have kids…so how do you have the patience to get peed on?” And, I know it sounds weird, but this is probably one of the greatest compliments I’ve received in my work as a professional photographer. At the end of the day, I’m truly enjoying myself – even in the line of fire. And don’t worry – at The Camera’s Eye studio, I always schedule time afterwards to take care of all the clean up that might will need to happen. It just comes with the trade of natural lifestyle photography – and what’s more natural than that?

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A Knight for a Princess at The Epiphany School

A few weeks ago, The Camera’s Eye photographed an event that is near and dear to my heart. Every spring, The Epiphany School in Sayre, PA, holds an event called “A Knight for a Princess.” And no, that’s not a misspelling – it does take place at night, but it is also an event full of royal luxury! Velvet ropes, a drawbridge, food almost too pretty to eat…I’ll let the pictures tell the tale:

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Girls in grades K-8 attend the event with their fathers, their effective knights for the evening – and beyond. More than just a night out, the event is devoted to the idea that your dad is the one who shows you how men should treat you right. These lovely ladies and their dads dressed to match the part – tiaras, corsages, the whole nine yards:

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Could these guys be any prouder of their girls? I’ve been photographing this event for all eight years of its existence, back when it started with first-graders. That makes this year especially poignant, since some of the beautiful young ladies graduating from eighth grade were also in attendance eight years ago – and arrived in high style this year!

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A few of them spoke about what the event means to them, and they were NOT shy about sharing what they learned. One explained that going to this dance every year with her dad definitely raised her standards. Another added that whoever it she ends up with, he “has to be able to dance.”  Good life lesson, don’t you think?

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A big thank you to Sister Anne Quigley and the rest of the organizers and participants for letting me share in this event year after year! I can’t get over how much everyone involved loves being there.
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It’s always fun to dress up for any reason but what I love about “A Knight for a Princess” is that these girls and their dads are spending time together, and everyone truly loves it!

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First Communion at The Church of the Epiphany

Springtime is here! The flowers are finally starting to bloom and we are packed with events to photograph – proms, senior sessions and, of course, The First Holy Communion at The Church of the Epiphany in Sayre, PA. On the first Saturday of each May, the children of Epiphany Parish receive the sacrament of First Communion, and I’ve had the honor of photographing candids and portraits for them for several years now.Card Front

This year, 18 children celebrated this sacrament, a mix of second graders from The Epiphany School and children from public school who are a part of the Sunday religious education program, taught by parent volunteers John and Cathy Moliski.

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Holy Communion is a huge milestone for families and kids alike. Dressed all in white, the children receive the Body of Christ for the first time, along with a special set of rosary beads, traditionally handed down from a relative.  At The Church of the Epiphany, this event is organized by Sister Anne Quigley, who has taught for over 25 years at The Epiphany School, and presided over by Reverend Andrew Hvozdovic, who celebrated his Silver Anniversary last year. Clearly, we are a set of seasoned veterans here. I still have my own set of rosary beads from my First Communion at this same church, along with a tiny crystal set given to me by my aunt!

The Camera's Eye Studio

The Camera's Eye Studio

The Camera's Eye Studio

The Camera's Eye Studio

The Camera's Eye Studio

In addition to portraits, The Camera’s Eye offers customized necklaces and personalized thank you cards to commemorate this special day.

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For even more photos, check out the candids courtesy of Dr. Rick Rilloraza, one of the proud parents!

The Camera’s Eye is looking forward to more events celebrating growth, change, and renewal as we dive into spring and summer!

Springtime Smiles at The Camera’s Eye

Sit and smile – it’s that easy, right? Not always! I had a recent spring-themed session with this little doll:

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Now, would you believe me if I told you that at first she was completely against having her photo taken? That she wouldn’t let go of her stuffed friend? Exhibit A:

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But with a little coaxing, I got to watch both her and her smile bloom.

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What you can’t see in the photo? The pile of stuffed animals that are around her feet. I keep them handy for just these kinds of situations. Once she had her support system in place, she added her own little stuffed friend to the rest.

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I have so, so, so much fun with shoots like this at The Camera’s Eye. And what’s funny is that there are parents out there who dread shoots like this! Not because of the outcome, of course, but because they’re afraid that their kid won’t behave “properly” or won’t let go of that favorite stuffed toy long enough to sit for a photo. Guess what? Sitting still is NOT required to get some memorable shots of your little one. Maybe your kid is too shy to even look at the camera or keeps hamming it up for the lens. That perfect smile can come out in a lot of ways, and I don’t have any rules about how to make that happen. The way that I see it, we’re too quick to call things “misbehaving,” when really kids are just “behaving” – behaving like themselves. And the point of any good portrait is to capture the subject just as he or she is, right?

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Think about this the next time you’re setting up a family photo or thinking about taking your little ones in to get some portraits done. If you work patiently with whatever the hang-ups are, you can get some honest, beautiful photos of your kids. In my opinion, that’s the best kind of photo to have – a snapshot of that moment in time when they were completely free, goofy, whimsical, whatever. Best of all, they can remind us of when we knew how to act the same way.

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Celebrating Women at The Camera’s Eye


The Camera’s Eye is always looking for an event in which to participate or a holiday to coordinate a fun, theme shoot.  This Mother’s Day is no different, except we’re planning to celebrate more than just the month of May.

My primary client is under 24 inches tall most days and so I spend a lot of time with moms.  Working moms, single moms, moms with aspiring ambition, moms with 6 children (2 sets of twins plus 2 singles)… it never, ever ceases to amaze me.  Every time you leave the studio, I sit down and think… “How on Earth do they do that???  …and then I think, they deserve an award ….”  Thinking, thinking, thinking….

“What if I could just give them a half day of relaxation and pampering?  What if I carved a moment in time that was all about them?  WHAT if  The Camera’s Eye CELEBRATED WOMEN?!?!?”

And so;  I tried it with a woman I find to be amazing… School teacher, Mom, Volleyball Coach, Wife and HypnoBirthing Practitioner.  Yes, all of that!  Meet  Tiffany Glielmi,  HypnoBirthing Practitioner,“Taking the birthing world by calm.” And if you’re asking yourself, “what IS HypnoBirthing?” we can put you in contact with her so you can find out for yourself.  In my words… it’s simply incredible!

Her session included a stylist for hair and makeup, tea and scones from our fav, local sweetshop Fuddy Duddys,  a photo session just for her and one that emphasized her connection with her daughter!   We created a session that made her feel like Superwoman without lifting a finger… well, she did lift one, but it was so tiny and it was attached to the hand and arm that hugged her back!  We call it the Madonna Session.  🙂

We made it through Easter…

Two bunnies, two dozen eggs, and two weekends of portraits with Peter Cottontail… we made it through Easter with these fun-filled images!

Our first bunny, “Pip” affectionately named for his energy, did a wonderful job our first weekend, until he realized I had outdoor cats.  Standing in front of  the tall sliding glass doors in the atudio, I was holding him sharing what a great job he did that day… and then… he saw my cat, Sophia, sitting on the stairs outside and shot out of my arms like Dumbo the flying elephant!  Sooooo sad… we rescued “Pip” from under a stairwell, and that explained all the scratches he had endured on his journey to The Camera’s Eye.   Stray Haven Animal Shelter in Waverly, NY gladly took our furry friend and before we had him inside, Pip was taken by a gentleman who loved rabbits and had to have him.  That’s a happy ending for a rescue bunny!

Franceso, aka Antonio was given to us by a family who had a very ambitious bunny who broke through the divider in his cage to visit his female cage mates on the other side…lol  ; )  The second to last to be adopted away, I had to have him because he sports an adorable mustache.  The children who gave him to me said they had been calling him, Franceso… BUT, after my first shoot… I had to change that.  A little girl convinced me he should be named “Antonio… like Antonio Banderas!”  She said it with accent and all!  She’ll be in theatre by age 11, for sure.   =)  So know lil’ Antonio lives at The Camera’s Eye with 3 cats, all of which eat breakfast right beside him every morning – it’s hysterical.   I can contribute that oddity to the fact that a cat lived on top of his cage as he grew up…  Gotta love cats!

Photos, Chocolate, and Gifts for Spring

Life’s crazy isn’t it?   As a woman, it moves a mile a minute.  Monday hits and you’re getting the kids ready to jump on the school bus, you’re off to work and the day rushes into after school activities and dinner… REPEAT.   Most women can relate to that, right?  We look forward to the weekend and in an eye-wink it’s over.

The best part about being a woman with children though; when it comes to your kids, you’ll go above and beyond EVERY TIME and the excitement is endless!  You as clients taught me this!  You find ideas on Pinterest, You network in Mommy groups, You Facebook your children’s events in photos, videos, instagrams….  Oh and you love Holidays OR you fake that you do flawlessly!  =)

St. Patty’s Day is around the corner & you know somewhere in the midst of your life chaos you’ll bake cupcakes with green icing and shamrock-shaped sprinkles. Easter is right behind that with fun-filled baskets, chocolate, fancy clothing and the hint of spring!  A few places I recommend to go crazy this Easter…

Fuddy Duddy’s Fudge Factory  in Owego, NY  (607) 687-3834

They provide us with all our chocolate goodies for portraits with Peter Cottontail at The Camera’s Eye Studio and our exciting Easter Basket Giveaway.  One lucky child who smiles with Peter during Portraits with PeterCottontail, March 10th to the 18th, wins a basket filled with chocolatey delights from Fuddy Duddy’s.ImageImage

Also check out Simply Precious Boutique! This little business is comprised of moms and ambitious young women who fill a need for embroidered wedding and baby items, frilly hair pieces, and anything else they dream up!  I know them personally – they are great gals who celebrate life’s important moments!

Ready for furry & feathery Easter fun?

It’s that time of year when robins begin chirping, daffodils sprout from the Earth, and Peter Cottontail hops into The Camera’s Eye Studio, for portraits with young kids dreaming of chocolate-filled Easter baskets.

March 10th to the 18th… Book your Session today!   lisamcqueeney (at) gmail (dot) com / 607 426 6023ImageImage