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Summer in Arlington, VA

It's no secret that I love photographing my kids on our summer adventures.  It's also no secret that the cost of living here is nuts, and finding free stuff to do is a priority for many of us!  My kids would gladly do two or three outings a day, so those $10/person activities add up fast!

This summer, I have a few goals.  I didn't pursue a 365 project (photo a day) this year, but I am working on one called 75 Summer Days - there are 75 days of summer vacation for elementary students in our district.  I also am working to get my kids out and about to soak up this summer, despite me working out of home a couple days each week.

And finding fun free places that are also fun to photograph?  WINNING.  My kids LOVE water play, so let's start there.

 Virginia Highlands is our favorite  Arlington Spray Park .  The parking isn't free but it's cheap.

Virginia Highlands is our favorite Arlington Spray Park.  The parking isn't free but it's cheap.

Did you know people with disabilities get a free lifetime National Parks Pass?  This activity isn't technically free unless you have a kid with a disability, but Great Falls isn't expensive and is worth it!  (Or hey, bring my kid!) While not really water play, it's great to be out by the water!

  Great Falls,  VA side.  There's a Maryland side, too!

Great Falls, VA side.  There's a Maryland side, too!

Two other places we love to splash around are Yards Park in DC and Our Special Harbor in Alexandria.  For Our Special Harbor, I recommend afternoons - mornings often have a long line! Our Special Harbor is fully accessible, but not a lot of shade.  Yards Park isn't super shady either, but the play area is one where kids are IN the water, not just a spray park, so it's cool on hot days!

 My kids splashing around at Yards Park.

My kids splashing around at Yards Park.

My final favorite water area is Potomac Yard Park.  There's almost NO SHADE, so go early!  The playgrounds are fully fenced in, although the fountain is not.  The fountain isn't as extensive as the others I've listed, but the playground is amazing.

For non-water activities, my kids LOVE the nature centers in Arlington.  At Long Branch, they got to feed turtles and at Gulf Branch, there's a big play area with American Indian displays and lots of learning opportunities.

 Caroline feeds a turtle at Long Branch.

Caroline feeds a turtle at Long Branch.

Don't forget the summer standbys of bikes and scooters and playgrounds.

 One of our favorite morning activities: Park at  Barcroft .  Bike or scooter to the big playground by the picnic shelter.  You might even see a turtle over by Four Mile Run!

One of our favorite morning activities: Park at Barcroft.  Bike or scooter to the big playground by the picnic shelter.  You might even see a turtle over by Four Mile Run!

Downtown, my kids love the Botanical Gardens and the American Indian Museum.  The latter has a great play area.  

Enjoy, and feel free to add your favorites in the comments!  Below, find some more of our 75 Summer Days!

Headshots: A "Sort of Professional" Session

Ms. Harvin (as the kids know her) recently got a new job as a Project Glad trainer.  She gives a lot of presentations to teachers, helping them teach kids for whom English is a second language.  Anna loves her work and is passionate about helping ALL kids succeed.  I would love to sit in on one of her lessons.

Since she's up front frequently, she often has to provide a headshot for conferences or Power Points at schools.  We wanted her headshot to send a message that she's a qualified professional, but also someone who is in touch with kids and teachers.  (And trust me, she can chat pedagogy with the best and then turn around and have a conversation with my kid completely on her level.)

The best of all worlds, right here.

Welcome, Baby Girl: A Fairlington In-Home Newborn Session

There's an industry standard that newborns should be photographed by 7-10 days old.  And while I get that they change so fast, that those tiny features grow before your eyes, sometimes that timeframe isn't feasible.  

Can I take a moment to share my own experience here?  My kids were both c-sections.  With my first, she was in the NICU until she was 21 days old, so of course 7-10 days didn't fly.  And with my second, I could hardly function at 7 days, or ten days, because caring for two kids after a c-section is hard!

The point being, I take older newborns and I love it.  They have a bit more personality and even if they're less sleepy, they do love to show off those eyes!

Sweet baby E is her parents' first baby, and her family recently moved to my old neighborhood!  We settled into a bedroom with lovely soft light and E showed off for the camera, acting like a doll baby!

The Kids Will Change the World: An Alexandria Portrait Session

Last month, I attended a non-partisan event to promote gun safety.  The speaker lineup included the Lieutenant Governor, but the highlight for the crowd was a seven year old.  Havana spoke with such poise about a cousin lost to gun violence and her experience working to prevent gun violence. 

She wore an astronaut suit to show that little Black girls can grow up to be strong and powerful.  Personally, she has my vote for president.  She couldn't really see over the podium, but she brought down the house.

And I didn't have my camera.

So I did what any good extrovert would do. I introduced myself, promised I wasn't crazy, and gave her dad my business card. And then I learned that her mom is a teacher, who runs Biracial Bookworms. And then I learned that Havana is raising money so that kids in Ghana can have books, and books that feature Black characters. (If you've never searched for books featuring non-white characters, it's harder than you might think!)

Friends, meet Havana. She wants to be an astronaut. And probably president.

I loved seeing that Havana is just a regular kid, who happens to have supportive parents and who is making a huge impact.  She has a huge personality, but what she is doing is something that can be done by any kid with some parental or teacher support.

Keep leading, Havana. I know your parents and sister will be so proud of whatever you do!

Newborn in Home Session: Fairfax, VA

Last year, one of my clients asked if we could take a few photos of her daughter in a "big sister" shirt to end her session.  Well, it's official, that little one is now a big sister and I had the joy of photographing baby brother with the family.  At 13 days new, baby P was a picture of sweetness!