the stratfords


I photographed Dani, Tim, Theo and Vika in their Alexandria home early this summer. Dani reached out to me because they haven't had an official portrait session since her and Tim's wedding (7 years ago). She wanted memorialize this time as a family of three. They have moved four times in the last few years and are really excited to begin setting into a routine. Taking the time to have this session was an opportunity to preserve a few memories that they can look back on with their kids some day.

Can you tell they are a dream client? I mean I was reading her questionnaire answers thinking, "these people are my soul mates", ha!

The day of the session, I was welcomed loving by Vika...their Vizsla and Theo treated me like I was one of the family. He would often look back to make sure I was " Lisa was coming", which was the sweetest thing ever. I ate dinner with Dani and Tim and got to taste some of the family cornbread recipe along with a fresh pot of chilli. It was such a treat to be in their home!

Here is my storytelling session with the Stratford family. 


Going into this photo session, I was a bit nervous. Mostly because I’m usually the one behind the camera of my phone, snapping pictures of other people but rarely remembering to ask for pictures of myself. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to relax and just “be myself”. The first few minutes took some adjusting to, but after that it got easier and easier to just be myself. It really helped that Leslie was able to spend so much time with us—she got to see a lot of beautiful moments that would have been difficult if not impossible to get in a hour-long portrait session. 

The biggest thing I cherish is being able to tell a story and being able to remember that story from the images.  I know that in 5 years, when I wistfully look back at the time I had when it was just me, my husband, and our little toddler, I know I will be able to look at these pictures and remember how wonderful (and how wonderfully hard) these years of our lives were. Yes, I have 2983562394 iPhone photos and videos, and those are absolutely wonderful and have their place. But to be able to *be* in photos with my son and husband—that is the pure joy. I can look back on these not just as beautiful pictures, but of beautiful pictures with our entire family in it.

 What I loved about doing this storytelling session was that I felt that it would help me remember how my life was in that moment: the early mornings, the temper tantrums, the sweet little 2 word sentences, the “I wuf you, mama”, the way he loves his dad so much, the splashing baths and wrestling and nighttime books. It helped me immortalize those memories beyond just writing them down, and made them tangible in a way that only photography can. If you’re on the fence, just do it. You will never regret being able to look back on those memories and having that record of your family. - Danielle Stratford

childhood unplugged | last days of summer

Summer is over, the boys are two weeks into school and I only checked off one thing on my summer bucket list. 

The day before the boys went back to school, we made sure to have one last family outing. I took the time to revel over how big they had gotten in over the past few weeks, how independent they have become and how each of their individual personalities  seemed to shine a bit more.

Summer is magical because of the weather, the freedom and the possibility, but it's also a magical a time for growth and reflection; so while we may not have but a dent in any of things I wanted to do,  I don't regret it. Doing "nothing" meant that my children had the time to spend find themselves to dive deeply into their tiny head with out interference. They got creative, they played, stayed up late and were still happy to see one other the next morning. 

Next summer I"ll write another bucket list, but this time, we'll get two things cheeked off :)

Please join me in supporting the other artists by checking out Childhood Unplugged to see all our submissions. Also remember to follow us on instagram (@childhoodunplugged) and be sure to use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured.

childhood unplugged | cure for the homebody kid

Wanna know the cure for grumpy homebody kids? Popsicles, a soccer ball, plenty of open space  (and a pushy mom).  This summer it's been like pulling teeth to get my kids out of the house. They want nothing to do with my summer bucket list. The bucket list that was carefully crafted with their interests in mind **rolls eyes**

I try my best to listen to the reasons why they don't want to do something before I get all in my feelings. Tonight's reason: "I want to watch Pokemon," just wasn't going to cut it. Kids these days don't even know when they need fresh air and a little time with nature.  In the end, they ran, slurped up melting juice form their popsciples and slept well. 

This little excursion wasn't on my bucket list, but it's nice to know my mom instincts are worth something. 

Please join me in supporting the other artists by checking out Childhood Unplugged to see all our submissions. Also remember to follow us on instagram (@childhoodunplugged) and be sure to use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured.

the Sisul family | Washington, DC

I spent half the day with Kristina and her beautiful family. We both have three boys and I loved seeing the similarities of our families. But, we were also very different and that's the best part. I've never photographed a family who was exactly the same. I spend a great deal of time and attention to make sure that your individuality is reflected in your session and the final images. Each experience is completely unique which makes the photos so much more special.

This is my first fusion slideshow  and I loved being able to bring their photos to life with some video snippets from our time together. It was a pleasure to capture the essence of this wonderful family. 

I’m tearing up! I’ve now watched this a million times! You captured each one of us perfectly. I can’t thank you enough. These moments are priceless. 
— Kristina Sisul

dad time | documenting the joy of fatherhood

Photographing my husband with our kids has been my absolute favorite thing in my journey as a photographer. Documenting our lives and their bond has been extremely fulfilling for me. I love watching my husband parent, he can be strong and stern, but also heartfelt and gentle. 

In honor of father's day, I have compiled a few of my own personal  favorite fatherhood images of my husband and boys (and included a few of my clients as well).

I love the laid-back approach that comes with photographing fathers with their children especially during documentary/storytelling sessions. Often, they are so relived that they don't have to smile at the camera for an hour. Dads feel more comfortable in front of the camera when they are doing something( the whole “standing there” that is a bit unnerving and uncomfortable). 

This weekend document, the dads in you life as they are. Think of an activity dad can focus on versus the camera.  It can be something as simple as a conversation or a hug. You will not regret the results. 

childhood unplugged | brothers at home

I've been overthinking this project. For some reason it was in my head that that I needed to take my kids somewhere in order for us to be "unplugged." This of course couldn't be more far from the truth, but I think the comparison bug got to me. I love looking at the beautiful work that other photographers produce outdoors, but it just isn't me and it sometimes feels forced.

So, I gave myself a talking to and was reminded of what I often tell my clients about the importance of home and finding the magic in your everyday life. This month that's what I captured and it made me happy, the same happy I get from seeing the work of others and that's how I know I'm documenting my life as it is. 

Please join me in supporting the other artists by checking out Childhood Unplugged to see all our submissions. Also remember to follow us on instagram (@childhoodunplugged) and be sure to use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured.

the killians


I photographed Cari, Brett, Cora and Daisy in NOLA for the The Family Narrative. I was teaching a live session and there were 10 other photographers in their beautiful home (don't even get me started on NOLA homes, they are absolutely amazing and this one was no exception). Cari inquired about the session because she didn't have many photos that captured her family all together. She and Brett enjoy taking photos of both their girls, but they usually aren't in any of the photos. She was even more excited to get photos of their family's everyday activities.

When I asked her how her and Bret ended up in NOLA, she said they she moved there in 2005 right before Hurricane Katrina, and  Brett moved in 2007 for work. She credits New Orleans for being a major part of who they are and I can understand that completely. That city just has a way of making you feel at home. 

The day of the session happened to be Cora's birthday which made it really special. I was a bit concerned that she and her sister would be intimidated by so many photographers and not be herself, but they were both were perfectly fine and were very much themselves during the shoot. All the photographers in the group kept remarking on how perfect they were, especially with so many eyes staring at them. 

Here is my storytelling session with the Killian family. 


Going in the photo session Brett and I were excited and curious. We had researched documentary/storytelling style photography so we had an idea of what to expect, but weren’t sure how we would fill the time or if it would get awkward having photographers follow us around. We also wondered how our girls would act having guests in the house taking pictures of them.

The session flew bye and our worries about filling the time were a nonissue. We all actually had a great time talking with the photographers and doing our normal day to day “stuff”. The girls surprised us and acted completely normal, even with lots of guests in the house. Cora especially loved showing off and hamming it up for the photographers. 

The images are amazing, and I will never go back to having traditional portraits- seriously- ever. While the traditional portraits we had taken in the past captured what we looked like, they did not capture who we were at that time, or what is important to us. Storytelling images do exactly that, they capture a story so that it can be retold over and over, each time sparking memories that might have been forgotten. 

The images represent a specific time in our lives, and looking at them reminds me to appreciate the little things that are often taken for granted- playing with bubbles in the backyard, watching Daisy dump the sand out of the sandbox (even though I told her 100 times to keep it inside), Cora eating her favorite snack- a bagel with cream cheese, and all of us sitting on the front porch in our rocking chairs. Years from now, I know I will look back at these images and remember these moments passed too fast.

If you are on the fence, please jump over, and just do it. You will not regret having storytelling photos, you will only smile and cry at the beauty that is your everyday life.  -- Cari Killian

P.S. I know it's May and this is my first time blogging a client session. I promise to do better. :)

childhood unplugged

That one time we went for a walk before dinner and my kids were concerned that we wouldn't get dinner because the sun was setting and they really wanted to ensure that we ate. I kept telling them, we will get dinner guys. I'm the one cooking remember? They were skeptical and tried to have fun, but in the end nourishment won over. 

Please join me in supporting the other artists by checking out Childhood Unplugged to see all our submissions. Also remember to follow us on instagram (@childhoodunplugged) and be sure to use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured.

childhood unplugged

The past month has been a sea of unpredictable weather and illnesses. This is us just happy to not have to put on puffy coats and enjoy a little bit of sunshine. (Plus our car wouldn't start and we needed to kill some time while my Dad came over to give us a jump :).

Please join me in supporting the other artists by checking out Childhood Unplugged to see all our submissions. Also remember to follow us on instagram (@childhoodunplugged) and be sure to use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured.

how i rebuilt my confidence

Confidence is not 'They will like me'. Confidence is 'I'll be fine if they don't.'

When I became a mom, I didn't realize how much my confidence would take a hit. At 24, I was just starting to come into my own, but being in charge of another life is scary. I thew all of my time and energy into motherhood and I had to take a back seat to care for my children. Well...I didn't have to, but that's what I did. I put myself last. 

Anytime you put yourself last, you will feel less-worthy. But, that's not what being a mom is about. Our job is to teach our kids the value of self-expression and confidence which can't happen if we are down on ourselves. That being said, it takes practice to continue to have lift yourself up when you are stuck in sea of self-doubt. 

Here's what I what I did (and still do) to build confidence. 

  1. Reflected on how far I've come. I only compare my personal growth to where I was before. I found that comparing myself to others lead to doubt and a lack of confidence. Instead I had to start comparing myself to where I was last month or last week and focus on that. I made time to acknowledge how far I had come and gave myself props for getting things done.

  2. Leaned on my tribe. In my circle, I am often the person who is cheering people on and trying to motivate, but this can become draining. When I felt depleted, I needed people who would also give and not just take. I made sure to create my tribe accordingly. I have a group of friends that cheer me on and hold me accountable. I also gave myself permission to ask for help and not feel guilty about it.

  3. Focused on the process, not my failures. If I made a mistake, I tried my best to analyze the situation instead of giving up or blaming myself. I made it a point to learn how I could do better next time.

  4. Pushed through. I pushed through fear, embarrassment and failure. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone was scary, but it's in those situations that I felt my confidence grow the most. The more I did it, the easier it got.

  5. Gave myself compliments. I told myself that I was capable, worthy, smart, creative and loving. I still have a hard time accepting compliments...but I deserve it.

Confidence is a mindset, not a onetime goal. Mindsets have to be fed constantly. Don't feed the fears when you can create a healthy appetite for confidence instead. Make it a part of you. When you start to accept and celebrate the person you are, you will become more confident.

childhood unplugged

This year we want to do more exploring at home. I always feel so silly when I have friends and relatives who visit and they do all of the touristy things. Meanwhile, I live here, but never take advantage of all the great things home has to offer. I often complain about not being able to travel or have amazing weather like FL or CA, but I am living in a city rich in culture and history and don’t take advantage of it.

It doesn't help that we've been in a rut. Staying in has been our thing lately. Between Aaron’s back injury and surgery, cold weather and a lack of sheer energy to logistically plan an outing with three kids, our excursions have been non-existent.

When an unseasonably warm winter day hit our radar, we decided to head down to the National Mall and play tourist. 

We a great time and best of all we were only there for about 30 minutes and in a way it was better than vacation because we can come back and visit again whenever we like. 

Please join me in supporting the other artists by checking out Childhood Unplugged to see all our submissions. Also remember to follow us on instagram (@childhoodunplugged) and be sure to use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured.

childhood unplugged

That magical first snow of the season. This dusting was more than enough for my boys to get excited about. You would have thought there were several feet of snow from their eager pleas to go out.

I was so close to saying, no, but I caught myself being a boring adult. I told them to throw on their coats and boots over their pajamas and get ready. We ended up having a great time and they happily agreed to return inside after about 20 minutes of playing and the promise of hot chocolate. 

Lesson learned. Stop being boring.

Please join me in supporting the other artists by checking out Childhood Unplugged to see all our submissions. Also remember to follow us on instagram (@childhoodunplugged) and be sure to use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured.

This week with LK | January 5, 2017

A weekly roundup on mootherhood, photography and work-life balance.

I'm excited to unveil my new format to stay in touch. It felt like I was only reaching out to you when I wanted to tell you about a promotion or send you a random blog post and that isn't me. I want this to be a back and forth exchange between friends.

So, from now on, each week, I'll tell you what's going on with me and I hope you'll reply back and tell me how you are as well. 

I'm looking forward to sharing more documentary and personal work/projects with you. Last year, I had a hard time striking the balance between being a wife, motherhood, photography and personal growth/care. I know I'm not alone, so I've decided to use these emails to share more about what's going on with me personally as well as my photography business. 

A big goal of mine this year is blog consistently which is really hard for me b/c I have no idea what to write. I'm developing content for my blog this year and I'd love to know what you want to learn from me?

What are your goals for this year? Comment below and let me know. 

Talk soon.

childhood unplugged

happy new year!

string lights and bubble wrap made for very happy kids during winter break. i thought i would go crazy with my kids in the house for 13 days with no plan, but it was actually nice. we were free from the hustle and bustle of getting to school on time (we are always late), packing lunches and ironing uniforms. the boys had lax bedtimes and I got to sleep in until 10 am a few days! also got plenty of lots of snuggles time and countless snapchat vids. it was a very nice end to a crazy fast year. 


Please join me in supporting the other artists by checking out Childhood Unplugged to see all our submissions. Also remember to follow us on instagram (@childhoodunplugged) and be sure to use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured.

interview with batman

I love Zollie's obsession with Batman right now. It's so endearing and innocent. I thought it would be fun to ask him a few questions about his hero.  

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

How will become Batman?
Daddy will teach me.

Who trained Batman?

How old is Batman?

Why do you want to be Batman?
Because he's cool. He fights perfect, he has batarang, a batplane and a grappling gun.

Is Batman a good guy or a bad guy?
Good guy.

Why should you be good?
B/c they might put you in jail.

What would you do if someone tried to hurt your family?
I would cut them in half.

If you could ask Batman one thing, what would it be? 
To come to the Batcave.

childhood unplugged

What homebodies these boys have become, even when we aren't technically "at home." We spent Thanksgiving at Aaron's mom's house and I suggested we head to the local farm close by to explore. I thought it would be nice to take them out since the weather was still pretty warm despite it being late November.

Instead, I only got attitude (see 2nd photo as proof), objections, plus REAL tears guys. So we stayed 'in' and spent some time playing in Grannie's backyard with a few pouts from me b/c I wanted to get them out of the house. Eventually, I got myself together and my outlook changed when I thought about our path to homeownership in the next year. I'm really looking forward to finding and creating a space that will feel comforting and permanent b/c I don't always feel that way in our current space. Instead, it feels like something is missing. These days I'm really craving stability, a place to establish roots and memories. I need that just as much as my kids do. And now this month's' CU post has officially turned into motherhood  unplugged. Until next time...

Please join me in supporting the other artists by checking out Childhood Unplugged to see all our submissions. Also remember to follow us on instagram (@childhoodunplugged) and be sure to use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured.

childhood unplugged

Every once in a while we take Route 17 to DC from Virginia after visiting Aaron's mom. We mostly do it to avoid traffic, but we really should make it a regular occurrence. This city family doesn't get the taste of rural life often enough. Zollie enjoyed it the most. He said "I want to run," and ran all the way up the dirt road and back with a huge smile on his face. This made me happy, but also a tad bit guilty that we don't have more space for the boys to roam free and explore.  But then I remembered that guilt is a sentiment I try to stay away from, especially when it comes to parenting. So, I sat back, smelled the fresh air, admired the miles and miles of green space and then we got in the car and went home. My boys barely noticed or mentioned difference b/c children are like that; they adapt to their surroundings wherever they go.  I love that about childhood. 

So excited to be the newest contributor over at Childhood Unplugged (read my feature here). I've been a fan of this feed for several years and very honored they asked me to be part of such a wonderful movement to document the art of play. 

Please join me in supporting the other artists by checking out Childhood Unplugged to see all our submissions. Also remember to follow us on instagram (@childhoodunplugged) and be sure to use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured.

the sibling bond: document it so they remember

I believe giving my boys a sibling is one of the best gifts that we could have given them. Nothing makes me happier than watching them learn to love each other.

But, I find myself wondering about their relationship when they get older. Will they always protect one another? Will they have a blowout fight one day and dismiss how important having a brother is? Are they too close in age to understand the magnitude of this bond? Lol. You know all those crazy mom thoughts that I really shouldn't be worrying about now, but can't help but think about.

Like most moms,  I want so very badly for them to get along and like one another, not just when they are young , but when they get older as well. There will come a time when they will take each other for granted, which I can tell them not to do until I am blue in the face. However, I think it's even more valuable to show them. And that's why I do my part by documenting their time together: the silly, the affection, the laughter and even the fights because that's what brotherhood is all about. 

"Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk." - Susan Scarf
"There's no other love like the love for a brother. There's no other love like the love from a brother." - Terri Guillemets

mom, don't kick yourself out of the moment

I'm not that adult that lacks photos of her childhood. I have plenty of photos of my mom and I at birthday parties, family vacations and special gatherings. The problem is, I have very few photos that document our time together; the snuggles, the times she did my hair or comforted me when I got hurt or was having a bad day.  I can see these images in my head, but i have no photographic proof that they happened. 

If I ask any mom why they think photography is important, they will likely come up with some answers like: to freeze time, capture moments, life goes by so fast and you want to remember, ect. These are all true of course, but another answer is that photos are history. And moms are often the chief historian...which often leaves us out of the moment. Years later when we aren't around anymore, our children will want to see photos that trigger memories and remind them of their childhood....and, selfies or portraits in a field just aren't going to cut it.  I don't remember any of the studio family portraits we took over the years as child, but, I do remember how my mom and I used to race outside (she's really fast and would always win) and I would love to have a photo of that moment.

Don't think you are alone in remembering to get in the frame. I have to remind myself regularly not to get wrapped up in how I look or what I wish was different about my circumstances. But, I do it b/c at the end of the day, my kids aren't going to care about all the stuff I'm trying to control. They care about looking back at their childhood and their childhood includes me. I challenge you to do the same. Stop waiting for the perfect time, your perfect weight or the perfect house to get in a photos with your kids.

Hand the camera over to your significant other, an older sibling a stranger or hire a photographer. Just don't forget to document life with you in it. It's needed. It's history.