As we recently launched Elizabeth as our family photographer, we wanted to take a moment and allow her share a little bit more about herself! We are also giving away a full-priced family session absolutely free, just in time for the holidays! So be sure to scroll down - details are at the bottom of the post.
We sat down and discussed some of the reasons Elizabeth loves family photography, and what her family life was like growing up...
Tell us about your family growing up.
I grew up with parents who showed me that, outside of a relationship with the Lord, family is the greatest gift. My parents were pros at taking ordinary things and making them into something exciting... in fact I feel like a huge part of my childhood was spent anticipating in excitement the simplest things - going on a "special" work trip with mom, our weekly trip to the dump with dad, or just our bedtime routine.
I remember lots of chaos, lots of laughter and – let's be real – lots of tears. My brothers were my best playmates and my worst enemies all at the same time, which is just baffling to me. We had so much fun together, but we fought ridiculously hard sometimes... ok, many times. My family was just very interactive: my parents were the kind of parents who built forts with us, coached our rec sports teams, and made sure that they spent significant time with us together and individually. All this just means that we invested time, effort, and energy into each other growing up, because that's what was important.
What is it about photographing families that you enjoy so much?
Each family has it's own personality, and I think that's so cool! I like the laid-back nature of family sessions, and that it's really just about getting to know the family and getting them comfortable in their own skin, so I can capture them as they are. In other words, my agenda for each session is to get families comfortable being themselves in front of me. Sometimes it's an instant thing; sometimes it takes a few minutes. It's always fun. The best feeling is walking away feeling like it wasn't a photo session as much as just an hour hanging out with some cool people and watching how they live life while I take some pictures.
What's your favorite picture of your family? How old was everyone, and where was it taken?
Ok. I have 3, which is actually really good considering I'm working with thousands of pictures here. I will tell you why each one is awesome.
1. The picture below is actually on Valentine's Day, not Halloween. It's my brothers and I (Parks- 6, Bryant- 2, me- 4) and my dad, dressed up like zombie-Frankenstein monsters. We had a baby sitter a few nights before this and she watched Night of the Living Dead with us (just like any good babysitter would). Naturally, my brothers and I didn't sleep after that. My parents decided that they would help us understand that it was all "pretend" by showing us how scary movies are made. They made an event of it, and we had fun dressing up, putting makeup on, and pretending to be scary in front of a video camera. When they played it back to us, it helped us to understand that we didn't need to be afraid.
2. When I think about my childhood, I remember our bedtime routine. Dinner, baths, books, bed. Something so simple that was so full of life because my parents cared to make it important. This is my mom and my brothers and I (Parks-5, me- 3, Bryant- 1), after baths, before bed, reading our books.
3. A lot of our time growing up was spent on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where the picture [at the top of the post] was taken. We spent several weeks a year (and most of the summer) there. When I think about about summertime during my childhood years, this picture comes to mind. Sandwiches and Sunkist on the beach, after a morning of clamming and swimming with my family (Parks 8, me 6, Bryant 4).
What were some of your favorite moments and/or traditions as you were growing up with your family?
Saturday trips to the dump:
My brothers and I always looked forward to our weekly trip to the dump with dad. Every Saturday morning we'd pile in dad's old pickup, stop at the store for Yoohoo's, and ride along with dad while he did his favorite weekly chore. We just saw it as our special time with dad. To this day he still talks about how he wishes he could have those mornings back, when he'd look over and see us piled in the truck beside him with chocolate milk dripping all down our chins and shirts.
Every Friday night, as a family, we would go to the movie store and pick a movie. Then we'd come home and help mom make homemade pizza for our movie night. All 5 of us would pile on the couch, eat our pizza, and watch our movie. This quickly became known as "Family night", and was something that my brothers and I tried never to miss.
Every single Christmas morning, without fail, Dad would make us wait at the top of the steps while he taunted us, saying things like, "Oh I don't think Santa came this year," and, "Your mom and I want to drink our coffee before you guys come down. Oh, and I'm going to go ahead and get a shower first." We all three sat on the top step, giddy and irritated at the same time, just laughing at dad and waiting for him to say, "OK guys come on down now!" Years later I don't really remember the toys I got but I can remember the anticipation in vivid detail.
Do you plan to continue those with your family? Will you start some new ones?
Absolutely! My husband Robert and I are really excited to implement some of the same traditions that we grew up with and definitely start our own. Even now, pre-kids, we both have fun with the little things and have our own traditions. For example, every third Saturday of the month, we wake up early, get bagels, and go to Cars n' Coffee, our favorite date morning. We collect coins in mason jars and every couple months we count and roll them in the floor of our living room and talk about how we'll spend them one day. We love playing cards, and we have a little notebook with our running "Pitch" score. When we get sick, we fix each other 7up and chicken and stars, and put Sgt. Bilko on, because these things fix everything. Whenever kids come along, there's no question that our lives will be filled with tradition.
Do you have a favorite memory of growing up with your family?
I think my favorite memories growing up are definitely from our times at our tiny cabin on the Eastern Shore. Days spent on the beach, flounder fishing in the bay, pulling crab pots up with dad, playing flashlight tag with my brothers and the other kids in our little beach community at night. We still have that little beach place, and we continue to make some pretty great memories there.
How would you define your style of family photography? What's your favorite setting to shoot in?
I have a very photojournalistic style. I want to capture things as they are, genuine and true to form. I don't like to manipulate or force things... I'd rather just get to know each family and let them sink into their rhythm of just being together in front of me. This happens easiest at home, I think, and that's my favorite place for sessions. Kids are comfortable and at ease with plenty of their favorite toys nearby; mom and dad are in their element.
- Family Session Giveaway -
It's the perfect time of year for a family session as you're getting ready to send out Christmas cards! What a great gift for your family, your parents, or your extended family to have updated pictures of everyone! See what it includes and how to enter below. Enter to win:
One Session of your choosing (family, extended family, newborn, maternity or a couple), a $500 value!
What's Included :
One hour session at the location of your choice
Digital Negatives USB with rights to print
Full Online Gallery for viewing, downloading, and ordering prints
How to Enter
(you must do all three!)
1) Follow Elizabeth Tate on Instagram
2) Instagram your favorite picture of your family, and use the hashtag #nrpsessiongiveaway
3) Comment on this post, telling us, what's your favorite family memory or tradition?
Winner will be announced on October 31st!
*Session must take place within 45 minutes of our North Raleigh Studio
*If you've already booked a mini-session, you are still eligible. If you win, we will refund your mini-session!