Jessica Risinger Photography...an incredible family session and an intimate interview

What do you get when you pair gorgeous Anne Hathaway looks with a professional camera?
Jessica Risinger, of course. Jessica Risinger's Blog bio picture
If you are in the Memphis area, please run to your phone or computer (well, you might actually be at either of those places if you are reading this, lol) and look this lady up. You can find her website here, her blog here, and her FB page here. She is incredible. She is the kind of person that you just feel cooler and calmer standing next to . She is truly lovely, inside and out, a woman of God, and incredibly talented at capturing life and family moments with that little black box of hers. :)

Recently, the Knight and I wanted an updated snapshot of our family for Christmas cards.  Some people might think it is a little ridiculous to put so much effort into such a small thing (a card), but for us, it is our "once a year" way to share a sweet sentiment with our friends and family, near and far.  Holiday cards mean a lot to me, and I treasure every one we get (I often find myself saving them until a couple of years later and then painfully throwing them away...I should invent something cool to do with all those old cards).  I also treasure each person or family that we send one too, often saying a little prayer for the receipient(s) and tucking little momentos inside.  It is a special time for me each year as I sit down to prepare them for mailing.

Anyway, we go to church with Jessica and her sweet family.  She has captured treasured memories of our family in the past at Caroline's baby dedication and other events, and I really appreciate her photography "style"... I would define it as natural, but still very pretty and dedicated to capturing the details.  I thought she would be perfect to hire for our Christmas card photo (and it didn't hurt that she was running an awesome special, to boot!).

She met us twice (the first time the lighting and the wind just weren't cooperating) and both times, she got our girls to laugh, grin, and bring out their little personalities.  She helped minimize my mommy gut and chin (what? you know that IS important!), and captured the Knight's eye crinkles when he smiles (my favorite).

In short, we are thrilled.  I would like to wallpaper my home with her work.  Would you like to see a sample or two?

Sick of us?  Well, then look at all these other pretties, then. :)


 Jessica was sweet enough to agree to a little nosy Q and A session by yours truly.  Read on for her delightful interview...

1) Tell me a little bit about Jessica Risinger Photography?  JRP formed out of a love I have always had for taking photos. It has turned into something I am truly grateful for...the chance to photograph people in ways that really shows off their personalities, what they enjoy, and who they love. I chose "All about who you are on the inside, where it really matters" as my sort of tag line, because it's really what I'm going for. In my photography I'm digging a little deeper than what you get at face value. I'm looking for the heart and soul that lies beneath those beautiful smiles.

2) Where is home?  Home is where the heart is. Ha, isn't that such a canned answer? But I think it might be true. I think if you choose so, you can be happy wherever you are, even if it's not "home." I still consider New Jersey to be my home, but have adopted the Memphis, TN area to be my home over the last 11 years. 

3) If you could live anywhere in this fantastic planet, where would you build your awesome dream home?  Oh my, what a huge question. I wish I had one answer. I love so many places across this globe, but I think as much as I love so many different landscapes, my heart is always drawn to the ocean, any ocean.

4) Did you go to school to study photography?   I went to school to study Business Management. During this time I fell even harder for photography while studying in Europe and ended up taking several photography courses when I got back. If you love photography and have ever had the chance to stand in a darkroom among equipment you have to literally feel your way around, to magically watch your photograph appear on a piece of paper, you know why I love this art form so much. Now in the digital age, I still find that "magic" when I get my photos up on my screen and see what I've captured.

5) How long have you been a photographer?   My very first job was about 12 years ago--a wedding of all things. (Wow, she really trusted me with capturing such a huge day when I had never done it before.) But I started pursuing it more aggressively in 2006.

6) What is your favorite part of being a photographer?  My favorite part about being a photographer is creating a piece of art, and at the same time an heirloom. Someday, families will look back at my photos and know a little bit more about their family history because of the people they see shining through in the photographs they have.

7) How would you describe your style?  My style is natural and relaxed, and shows off the character of my subjects. I love working with each individual client and coming up with ways to make their photo shoot unique to them. It may be an old family quilt, or a collection of bright and funky shoes, but whatever those special items are that really make a photo "pop", it's going to be natural to my client. I don't try to create photos just for the sake of a "neat idea." I want every object we incorporate to mean something to my clients.

8) What tricks do you have up your sleeve to make babies and children smile?  Tricks to make babies and children smile? Ha...I bribe them with candy of course :) Ok, not really, not every time at least. It depends on the age. One interesting thing about being a photographer is you have to figure out what works for each of your clients. Everybody's "smile button" is different. It could be a simple fake sneeze for a 6 month old, or asking a 6-year-old boy to imagine daddy dancing around in little sister's pink tutu.

9) What kind of camera do you use?  I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with my clients. And on a daily basis with my family when I just can't put the photographer side of me away and HAVE to capture every second of my kids' lives, I use my iphone camera. I know they are so sick of it :)

10) Any tips for families planning their next photo shoot?  Tips? Yes! Be flexible, stay calm, and smile on. We can't control everything, so just go with the flow. Everyone will have more fun that way.

11) Any tips for budding photographers?  Budding photographers... Don't compare yourself to others (hmmm, a simple life lesson for us all.) But really, develop your style based on things you love. Don't go after the latest fad in photography because everyone else likes it. Do it because you like it. Your photos will be more meaningful that way.

12) Who would play you in a film?  I can't even tell you how many times over the last 10 years people have told me I look like Ann Hathaway. (Actually, she looks like me.) So I suppose if you're looking for a stunt double, it would be her

13) First thing you would do if you won the lottery?  Oh dear, if I won the lottery, I would have so much fun in the freedom of being able to give money to so many people that could really use it. None of what I have is mine anyway. Everything is a gift from God. And with a couple hundred of those dollars, I would really like to get the antique claw foot tub out of my back yard, refinished, and put into my bathroom

14) Five words your friends would use to describe you?  Ahh, what would my friends say? Maybe we should ask them. I have heard some of them say on many occasions that I am so calm, that things don't get me anxious or uptight. I'll have to take a poll and get back to you on the other 4 things

15) Something you have not achieved yet, but hope too. I'm about to put myself to the test with this one. My bucket list consists of running a Marathon. And depending on when this blog post appears, I may or may not have accomplished this goal. But for now, I am excited about putting something out there that takes hard work and dedication, and seeing each goal met even when it is hard.

16) What would you like to be doing 5 years from now? My dream is to someday have a cute little studio and work with friends and clients who value relationships, family, and community as much as I do. To continue to do what I love--take care of my family, and create photos for people that help them remember what's important in life. I don't know if that will be in 5 years, or 50, but either way, I think my current job titles of mommy and photographer are exactly the titles I want.


17) If someone said, "how can I be the next Jessica Risinger?" what would you tell them?  If someone wants to "be the next Jessica Risinger", they have a problem. It comes with a sink full of dirty dishes, All.The.Time! And it means cleaning up spots off the floor from the dog, and washing countless action figure undies because potty training lasts longer than it should. If however, someone wanted to follow their dream of pursuing something they love, they should figure out why they love it, and if they can find a way to do it that can somehow help others.

See!?! I told you she was amazing! I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I enjoyed preparing.  Many thanks to Jessica for her patience with me and my family (we are kind of crazy!) and for sharing such heartfelt, thoughtful responses.  I hope you will consider her for your next family photo session, especially if you are in the Memphis area.
treasured momentos and moments in time,
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Give a TREAT this Thanksgiving!

Would you like a TREAT?  You would?  Well  here ya go...right now, you can create and send a totally customized greeting card from Treat for FREE.

Greeting Cards at Treat
About Treat
Treat is Shutterfly’s exciting new greeting card brand that makes it easy for people to create and send one-of-a-kind greeting cards. Treat cards are perfect for holidays, birthdays, congrats, thank yous and every occasion in between. It’s crazy fun. It’s super easy. And it’s totally personal.

Whether you are letting a far away family friend know that you are thinking of them at Thanksgiving, wishing your best friend a holiday birthday, or simply spreading the holiday cheer with a "just because " card (my personal favorite kind), Treat lets you create a one-of-a-kind card that lets you put your own personal touch on each card.

I'm loving this one...perfect for C and V, no? :)

Go here: http://www.treat.com/  and use the code: TREATBLOGR for a totally free and easy custom card for a special person in your life. 

BUT HURRY!  The code is only good for today and tomorrow!  (one free Treat card good only on Monday 11/19 & Tuesday 11/20)

sweet messages and simple gestures,
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Belated (but Happy) Halloween (and Vivi is 10 months!)

In all the craziness of Halloween and this past weekend (Vivi with 104 fever, the Knight out of town for the Ragnar Relay, general AFS insanity), I forgot to do my monthly post on Vivi and Coco.  This may be yawn-inducing for some of you, but I know my mama and mama-in-law love it, and it is so fun for me to look back, so just roll with it, okay?

We have really been enjoying fall!  The Knight completed his second IronMan 70.3 in Miami (with a new PR of 5 hours and 25 minutes, woot woot). 

My mama (Mimi) came for that weekend to help while I took Caroline to a wedding in Nashville and we did our church's trunk or treat. 

My girls won cutest costumes at church.  It was a great night for my mom especially...she made C's dress for me when I was two, and won first place. 11 years later, my sister wore it and won first place.  And now C continues the tradition! 

We also to the girls to Cedar Hill Farm with a bunch of my friends and their kids...it was fantastic!

Okay, so here's the latest on C & V. :)

Vivi - you are a riot and turning out to be quite the tough little spitfire!  You have decided that no, you don't particularly care for your sister taking away ALL your toys, and you are starting to really let us know.  I have also caught you crying a couple of times even when she wasn't doing anything to you, so apparently you have figured out that mama comes running when you aren't happy. :)

You and your sister are really starting to play together.  My favorite is when we are driving down the road, and one of you starts laughing.  The other one joins in and pretty soon you two are just cracking each other up (and your daddy and me in the process).  Things that you have discovered make us laugh the most are blowing rasperries and bopping your mouth and humming, like a little Indian.  :)  You have also started waving bye-bye at everyone and everything.  Your "mama" and "dada" are getting better and better, and I expect you to start calling your sissy something soon, though I'm not sure if it will be her name, her nickname, or some other combo.  Like I said, you are a riot.

You are SO SO close to walking.  You push everything - the baby stroller, the shopping cart, even some of our furniture!  You stand by yourself all the time and get this little proud grin on your face.    We took you to get your own NEW pair of shoes (no hand me downs this time, since your feet are smaller than C's when she started walking), and you seem even more confident than ever!  Your daddy and I are projecting that you will walk on your own by next week, so we'll see!

You love puzzles and remotes.  You haven't quite figured out how to work your sister's puzzles, but are very good at dumping all the pieces on the floor!  We have started having the put the remote in a high place because you hone in on it every time you find it on the floor.  You are better at changing the channels than we are.  We tried to give you another old remote that we don't use, but somehow you can tell that it is not the "ONE."

You put yourself to sleep by humming and patting yourself on the head.  Thankfully, we still get to rock you, but I can tell that you are becoming more and more independent when it comes to sleeping.  I crave the end of the day, when I can rush home from work, feed you supper, and then rock you to sleep in your quiet, darkened room.  You are an excellent snug bug.  I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again...you are a wonderful blessing.

Coco - your sense of humor and dramatic flair is really starting to shine. You make us laugh a lot. I am having a hard time coming up with a particular example at the moment, but basically, your inqisitiveness, excitedment for life and all that is in our world, and happy go lucky attitude is the best. You love Barney, animals, airplanes, and candy! You don't like to have sticky "booguhs" and will clean the entire house with a baby wipe.  You are, undoubtedly, a serious shoe lover...just like mama.

Lately, you have been quite the show-off. "Watch this!" is your new favorite phrase. Usually, you like to show off your hopping or running skills. Your love for dancing is quite adorable too. After Vivi goes to bed, you stay up with me and daddy to watch the Voice. At every song you say "sit up, Mommy...dance!" And so, I begrudgingly get off of the couch, and start dancing. Usually, daddy joins in on the fun, and by the middle of the song, I am glad that you asked me to dance, and we laugh and swirl around the living room.
You are really becoming interested in taking care of your babydolls.  They sat unused for months, but in the past week or so, you have been putting Cheryl (the giant doll that my grandmother gave me when I was a little girl) to "bed" on your rug, and covering her up with your blankies.  You march around the house with your babydolls crammed in the babydoll stroller and take them for a "walk."  Although you still have a hard time sharing Mommy with Vivi, you are becoming so compassionate and caring toward your little sister.  This past weekend, Vivi was very sick and had a really bad fever.  Several times, I saw you place your sweet little hand on Vivi's head and say, "you okay, Vivi?  you warm?"  Melt momma's heart. 

On the way home from school, our favorite game has become pumpkin spotting. Each house gets your assessment...NOOOOOOOOOOO punkins! NOOOOOOOOOOO punkins! PUNKINS, MOMMY! PUNKINS! It is really fun. The "punkins" at our house are your favorite, and when I decorated for fall, you wandered around the house in amazement. So precious.

You also have started to voluntarily apologize when you get in trouble.  We've always asked you to say that you are sorry after hitting Vivi, but now you are doing it on your own...and it is heartfelt!  Last week, you were cranky and tired and you smacked mommy in the face when I told you it was time to go to bed.  We told you that hitting is not nice and you went to time out.  After you got out of time out, you went to your room on your own and I came in there to help you do some puzzles and read some books.  We were sitting beside each other, silently putting puzzles together, and you looked at me so apologetically and said, "I'm sorry, mama."  I said "why are you sorry?" You replied "Coco hit."  Of course, I just scooped you up and hugged you to pieces and told you everything was all better, but it really meant so to see your sweet little spirit shine through.  I it amazing how much that you are learning!  And we are teaching you!  Terrifying and gratifying all at the same time. 

Speaking of learning, here you are saying your ABCs and 123s for daddy while he was away this past weekend:

Loving fall and being a mama to these two delightful little squirts.  The Knight and I are so blessed.  When times get rough (believe me, it is really hard at times!), we just have to remember how fortunate we are and what little time we get with one another needs to be absolutely cherished.

Hope your fall is happy too!

crunchy leaves and cracklin' fires,
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So thankful for our troops...

Regardless of your political persuasion, no one can dispute that our country's troops make incredible sacrifices on America's behalf.  I get fussy when the Knight is away for 2 days.  I can't imagine what it would be like for him to be gone 1, 2, even three years...or more.

Their bravery, sacrifice, mental toughness, and dedication is awe-inspiring.  I hope you have a chance this weekend and Monday to take a moment and thank a soldier for his or her service to our great country.

Shutterfly is running a great program on their Facebook page called Thank the Troops. Once there, you can send a fast and free thank you card to a soldier...it is more than just a card, it’s thank you for our freedom.

Over 1.5 million troops serve our great nation. Many of them will be overseas, in harm’s way, and away from their families over this holiday season. Shutterfly is trying to send a thank you card to every American hero. To succeed they need our support. Just select a card from their 4 different designs, add a personal message (or photo) and click send.  Shutterfly will print and ship your card to the troops at no cost to you.

I encourage you to create a card for the troops, and if you can please share this with your Facebook family and friends (There is a share option when you complete your card). https://www.facebook.com/shutterfly/app_525739750774135

Here are a couple of pictures of my grandfather serving in the Korean War.  The handwritten message scrawled across the first one really gets to me.  

Flags and freedom,
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