our Journal

The Invisible Mom | A year to put an end to that

Moms, you know what I am talking about. The invisible mom syndrome. We are often the caregivers, the nurturers, the ones behind the scenes, you know, driving kids to and from activities, school, play dates, day-time doctor appoints, and the like. We are often our family’s legacy keepers as well. The ones taking the pictures. As today is International Women’s Day, I am standing together with other women around the world to be seen, to lift each other up, encourage and be brave together! Check out the link at the bottom to others who blogged our journeys this year, too!

This past year, on Instagram, I was definitely held accountable with this project with the loop of fellow photographers using the #bothsideofthelens hashtag. This year, we are going on with this project using #bothsidesofthelens21 if you want to follow along, too. Plus, two other photographers blogged their year, so read all the way to the bottom to see their beautiful journey. <3

What does that mean for us though? Yep, we are invisible moms, as our kids look back on their family in photos. To stop that, I have definitely more actively made sure my story is part of our family story as well. That means handing over my camera. Setting up a phone with a self timer, it means teaching our kids about photography, too. They are pretty handy with manual settings now at age 12, on the cusp of 13.

Sure, I make sure to set up a yearly family photo, but what about the moments in between? Those long hours of making meals, helping with homework? The walks and bikerides? Those moments matter, too. So just over a year ago, I joined with fellow photographer friends from all over the globe on a mission to be seen. No more invisible mom. Here is a collection of the past year as seen through my lens and with me in the frame, too.

I can’t stress how important these memories will be to our kids. Selfishly, they matter to me just as much. I know the work I have put in raising these kids and I want them to see the beauty in the mundane. Not just the perfectly crafted moments of our family photo sessions. They are also a mix of digital and film photos. I loved how film allowed me to take a shot or two and put my camera away. it took away the need for “perfection” and creative over-doing it. The kids definitely appreciated less time being documented!

It was hard to pick favorites from each month and share these. Self portraits can seem a bit much, am I right? The creatives out there though, I think a lot of us have felt a lot of cooped up creativity this past year. So, here I am in all my self-loving glory sharing these. They are definitely a big part of my mental health process through Covid-19. No shame.

My photography tips for getting in the frame are to first just do it. Give the camera over and don’t ever be afraid to ask your partner to capture a few with their cell phone at the very least!

Below are a bunch of shots where my husband or the boys were the ones pressing the shutter. I had everything set and they just took the shot. I don’t regret a single shot. The top one of my bestie and me will forever be engrained as it was the last “normal” trip to Disney before Covid-19 took over. Currently, she is fighting breast cancer, this photo and the memory and moment is absolutely priceless.

  • forty year old best friends, two moms at disney
  • mom with older son, ner war photo
  • life in tennessee, chattanooga family photos
  • election 2020, extended family fun photos
  • mom with older twin sons, mother and son portrait
  • the invisible mom, getting moms in the pictur
  • film beach pictures, ft desoto beach

Secondly, sneak in subtle ways. A shadow, a mirror reflection are always ways I get in the shot. Especially when we are traveling. Lastly, use any surface as a good old fashioned tripod. Most cameras, dslr, mirrorless, even my old film camera, and certainly these smart cell phones all have a timer built in. Use it. Focus on your kids and set up the shot and just do it. You don’t need hair and make up, just you being there. Those moments are probaly my faves from this past year. I used pillows, couches, bookshelves, enterntainment centers, desks and pretty much any surface I could find to safely prop my camera. I often used my iPhone app as my remote.

  • mom in the shadow, creative self potrait
  • mom and sons, kids playing video games pictures
  • mom and sons on tv watching tv, self portraits
  • underwater photographer tampa, dji action photo in ocean
  • self portrait in home, in home storytelling photographer
This shot was a fave, set up on my ironing board in our guest room. So much fun and so true to what life is really like here.

However, by the end of the year, my intervolometer became my friend to just set the camera down and shoot anywhere from 20-60 frames and be done. This was a good way to get some self-portraits in the mix, too. I also finally invested in a new tripod, so I got a lot more options to set up and shoot, too.

self portrait with sons, the invisible mom
mom and sons decorate christmas cookies, the invisible mom
mother and sons among greenery, lifestyle pictures tampa
mom and sons in home pictures, black and white lifestyle pictures
slow shutter self portrait
double exposure self portrait,
Our family photos from fall 2020, with a tripod, and took all of 20 minutes. However, I am looking forward to giving all control over to another photographer this year!

A few recently favorites on film. Using a tripod and Raleigh, who has taken to shooting film and loves it almost as much as me.

  • woman in sunglasses on uban street, film photographer tampa
  • self portrait with twins, mom with twins in field
  • film self portrait, mom with older sons in field
  • film double exposure, self portrait on film

Lastly, if all else fails, get a selfie at least 🙂 This is one of those moments I wanted to freeze for always. Sitting under a powerful waterfall in Tennessee this past summer. The boys and I were brave enough to get out there and I was glad I had my tiny little DJI Action to freeze this time. They have already matured so much since this shot in July. I can’t wait to do this again soon! So moms, take my advice, take the photo. Get in the frame. Don’t be the invisible mom this year!

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Tampa Bay Family Photographer

Mother & Son Spring Photos

I love photographing mothers and sons so much. I mean, of course I do with my own two boys, how can I not? Being a Tampa Bay family photographer, I love seeing the same families year after year. Sometimes, it is many years in between, too. It is unbelievable to see how much they have grown up! These guys came to me a long time ago and I am so glad they came back for a spring session.

If you are like me and try to get family photos every fall, you get the same look all the time. Breaking the sessions up to a spring or fall or winter session here in Florida can look different for sure. I don’t know how many times I have had Tampa family’s looking for flower field sessions in November. It just isn’t likely as flowers are a sure sign spring is here. We are lucky our spring starts early. Usually February kicks off flowers around town. They can vary in color and type, but no matter that, spring session are always lovely.

This particular Tampa Bay family photo session was on a perfect night. Lots of sunshine, not too much humidity and a lovely family to photograph. One of these boys is in our boys class at school. Even though they are all at school virtually still, it was good to actually see another kid their age. Being in seventh grade, it is such a time of changes for these boys. I loved seeing older kids love on their mom as much as our boys do.

If you are like me, sometimes you worry about what you kids are going to do at a photo session. But, you don’t have to worry much how your kids act. I am a mom, too. Trust me, I have literally seen it all. Plus, I also have tips to help keep kids happy that I share before we meet. Then, I let the kids dictate most of the session, or at least let them feel like the do. I like to think that as a Tampa Bay family photographer, I am fun. Sometimes, I may laugh the loudest at my jokes, but I always keep things light. Seeing kids be kids and have fun and getting mamas to smile with their kids, real, authentic smiles. It doesn’t get better!

These kiddos were angels and so fun, so no worries at all. We got to talk Fortnight and they were such troopers with any idea I threw their way.

mother and sons in flower field, tampa bay family photographer
flower field pictures tampa, older boy poses
mommy and me pictures, tampa motherhood portraits
black and white motherhood pictures, fun family photos tampa
brothers in backlight, fun family photos tampa
motherhood pictures with older kids, tampa bay family photographer

If you are looking for a spring session, don’t delay. It gets hot soon enough! Let’s plan a fun session for your own family soon. Here is a throw back to another flower field session that took place a few years ago at another location, and these pop up in March/April each year – http://hamiltoncreekphotography.com/riverview-family-photographer-yellow-flower-field-session/!

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Spring Family Photos Riverview Florida

There is just something special about spring. These spring family photos in Riverview, Florida, capped off my seventh photo shoot with this mama. First we started with branding photos a long, long, long time ago. Okay, it wasn’t that long ago, but it definitely feels like half a lifetime ago. Then we did family photos with her and her sister and parents. Now, both of the sisters are married, and I photographed both of their weddings. Plus, their engagements. Then this family’s maternity and newborn milestone session, as well. I think that covers all of our photo sessions! Whew! This may be my favorite. But, I also am pretty sure I say that every time we get together.

This spring family photo session location is much like a fun spring engagement session we did many years ago. Although, a different set of flowers. It is just as magical and fun as that session. Here is a throwback to that magical session on the blog here.

I am in love with their color combo for spring. Soft peach with lace details and lovely blue tones were just perfect for this stunning sunset session. I love when families ask for my help because with almost eleven years of family photographer background, I have lots of tips that parents may not think of when picking outfits. I will always give my honest feedback and help you not only feel beautiful but also be comfortable, too!

family spring photos tampa, flower field pictures riverview florida
black and white family portraits, outdoor one year photos
backlit family photos, riverview florida family photographer
This little hand grabbing her dad’s beard pulls my heart strings. Same as the shot of the parents watching their baby girl with such joy!
fun family pictures tampa, riverview florida flield pictures
mother and toddler flower field picture, fine art black and white motherhood portrait
The little hand blowing kisses, and the other hand reaching for her mama’s hair, these are the little moments that you will want to remember, mamas! Trust me.
mommy and me pictures tampa, what to wear spring photo session
spring family photos, riverview florida family photographer

My whole week was spent at this same locations, so expect lots more gorgeous family photos shared here soon. If you missed out on family photos last year with Covid-19 at a much higher rate in our community, let’s talk about a spring session here this March. I do have a couple of weekday morning or week nights available for spring family photos in Riverview. These flowers won’t last long, though. So email me today Brooke@HamiltonCreekPhotography.com or use the “Contact” form on this page!

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Life During Covid-19: Riverview Florida Photographer

Life during Covid-19. I know I don’t have to tell anyone it has been almost a year of living through the hell of Covid-19. March 13th, I remember the date everything started shutting down locally because we were about to jump on an airplane to Scotland. That means I also knew my last Target run date. I was there getting hand sanitizer for the plane the day before we were supposed to leave I have now been back only twice and only because we refreshed our master bedroom. Funny how this year has taught me what is really important. Target and Starbucks were part of my old routine for sure. It seemingly happened over night.

One day on a Target run for more hand sanitizer for the airplane, the next, bam, no travel. Oh, and if you need a virtual getaway, how about purchasing a travel print from my shop – shameless plug to shop small 🙂 https://clients.hamiltoncreekphotography.com/gallery/artwork-for-sale/.

No restaurants. No going to school. It has been almost a year of no hugging friends and family. A year of not traveling anywhere beyond a one day road trip and taking all the crazy precautions you can think of along the way. Well over a year of seeing our Australian family as we were there the summer before we locked in. A year of school at home, no swimming or sports. Athough we tried swim team for a brief few weeks during the summer. the stress of sending two high risk kids to swim team without knowing where all the people they came into contact with had been. It just became too much. So, we are living the new normal. Taking care and holding our breaths until this is a thing of the past.

Now, here is a look back at a year of Covid-19. Here is a picture a month for the past long and strange year. Honestly, we are so lucky. We haven’t lost family. No, we haven’t lost friends. Now, we just have been out of contact and physical touch with them. They are still here. I am so sorry for all the families who have lost loved ones.

Oh, and if you want more inspiration of twin photos after this post, head over to my friend, Bex, at Bex Photo, to see more of our monthly twin loop she blogged over at https://www.bexphoto.com/post/twin-looping-for-a-year.

pre-teen pictures, black and white portraits
pre-covid- just before they turned 12 last year
twins in a blow up hot tub, covid-19 fun
My fave portrait of the boys just as Covid started.
mom and twin sons, self portrait
self portrait of the most real kind for Mother’s Day 2020
dad and twin sons, front porch session covid-10
one of my faves of my three boys
twins on film, ektar 100 film stock
the boys on FILM in Tennessee. A hobby I picked up during our time at home this past year <3
winthrop town center pictures, fun teenage pictures
Back to school 2020 style. Six feet from friends and wearing whatever we want!
boys on the beach, portra 400 film portraits
beach time and beach days are my absolute fave. Another favorite film shot <3
halloween pictures, carving pumpkins with dad
Carving pumpkins together. Thankful they were outgrowing trick-or-treating at this time.
voter pictures, american family
Election day 2020, what.a.year! Right?
waterfall, boys at dry creek waterfall north carolina
Trip to Dry Creel Falls, North Carolina. Icy and cold and soooooo beautiful!
twin portrait, tweenage portraits
The same spot the first photo was taken, and boy on the cusp of 13, looking so much more mature.
identical twin valentine picutres
My funny valentines.

Okay, enough of the grumblings that Covid-19 easily results in. Now, onto the good. Life during Covid-19 honestly, this year “at home” with our almost thirteen year old twins, has also been a blessing. If you know me, I don’t throw that word around. It just is something I can’t describe in any other way. A blessing. Our kids have shown us how resilient they really are. They have forged friendships with each other that they were forced into, but I think has helped them grow stronger. They have had to work on communicating in new ways, using technology, writing letters and emails that they never had time to do before.

Life during Covid-19 has meant walks upon walks upon walks where they talk and talk and talk. They love this time and often say how much they treasure the walks. We allow them to talk about whatever they want. That means I hear a lot about tanks, guns, WWII, and the occasionnal Fortnight strategy as well. We play games, Rummikub has been basically outlawed by our kids after we played so many games.

They occassionally get to see a friend from afar, staying that six feet distance of one alligator, or one cow’s length, or a pool noodle. Bike rides are a great way to social distance together. We are so thankful we can practice responsible recreation and get outside here in Florida. I think we have hit every trail possible around us and in our little Airbnb get aways to remote outdoor places like Signal Mountain in Tennessee, and Clayton, Georgia. These two little get aways have helped with our sanity for sure.

What have you done to keep sane and appreciate the good during this long year of life during Covid-19? Commend below with your favorite activities and idea.

Life During Covid-19

Let’s Talk Activities

For us here are a few of our favorites:

  • Bike rides
  • Cooking & baking, we are almost a year into “Meatless Mondays” and love trying new recipes
  • Board games, Rummikub, Scrabble, Clue, Chess
  • Online games the kids can play with friends & family – Fornight is still huge for them, and Among Us.
  • Reading – oh my gosh, so many books. The boys loved every single book by Alan Gratz. I have loved too many to name but recent faves are Oona Out of Order, and any historical fiction book I can get my hands on – faves include The Nightingale (which should be out in movie form later this year) and The Huntress and The Alice Network, both by Kate Quinn.
  • Hike – just get outside! Our local faves are Alderman Ford Park, Medard Park, Hillsborough River State Park and my personal fave is Fort DeSoto Park and Beach.
  • Clean and organize. Not so much fun doing it, but we feel so much less cluttered after this year. Plus, we were able to donate a bunch of stuff to those in need.
  • Chat via Zoom, Instagram Messenger, Clubhouse, Messenger Kids, Facetime,Houseparty, whatever works for you! Saving grace for staying in touch with friends near and far. Also, great for making new communities of friends. My photography friends around the world have been a life line for sanity this way!
  • Make lists of what to do “after” Covid. High on our kids’ list is go-karting and paint ball. Oh, and of course getting to see family in Australia. I have a feeling we will be staying a summer there when we next can!
  • Need more ideas – this web site has lots of little ideas for keeping busy – https://rochester.kidsoutandabout.com/content/250-creative-ways-keep-your-family-sane-during-covid-19-crisis.

Speaking of connections with friends any way you can, check out why you may want to join in on Instagram loops with This Detailed Life – https://www.thisdetailedlife.com/post/loopy-loops-what-are-instagram-loops-and-why-should-you-join-one. This has kept me on track for posting on Instagram when many days I don’t feel inspired or up to posting. Having an accountability and creative outlet has definitely helped me keep my sanity this year, too! Life during Covid-19 doesn’t have to be all bad, get out there and be the good!

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Tampa Mommy & Me Photo Session

tampa motherhood portrait

I loved seeing this sweet baby girl and her mama again. I did her family and Tampa outdoor newborn session a few months ago and she never opened her eyes the entire time. Click HERE for that flashback and to see how much she has grown. This time, she was an alert three month old amongst the flowerfield. I mean, how perfect was this Riverview mommy & me photo session? This location has my heart every year. The wildflowers, or weeds really, just make for a magical backdrop. It doesn’t take much to create magic, some simple neutral outfits and lots of loving on your kiddos or partner.

I just released my newsletter with details for petite sessions this spring at this location. If you want to receive a copy of the newsletter, sign up by emailing me or use the contact form on the landing page for my website. If you do that, and want details on this spring, make sure you email me to let me know! The spring session doesn’t only apply to mommy & me photo sessions, but family sessions work well here, too.

three month baby pictures
mother and child in flower field, motherhood pictures tampa
happy three month old baby and mama, motherhood portraits tampa
mother and baby, outdoor baby pictures
mother daughter pictures, riverview outdoor photo locations
mom and daughter pictures, three month milestone photos
mom holding baby in flower field, tampa motherhood pictures

Are you ready for a spring session for your family or with your kids? Contact me to set up your session before the humidity and rain showers of summer returns! I provide help for spring outfit ideas or you can contact a local stylist that I work with as well. The biggest thing you need to bring to a session with me though is your loved ones. We have a very relaxed time together. You will never regret getting these photos done, you will only regret not doing them when another year goes by and your kiddos have changed so much.

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