I ran in the house screaming | Cincinnati + Dayton family photographer

It was just another rainy summer morning here at the Traster abode. I poured myself a coffee, put on my mud boots and went out to pay the animals a visit. I went to the chicken coop and opened the door to say hello to whomever of my friends might be hanging out in there. I saw Luna and picked her up, and 2 baby chicks ran out from under her wing. 2 BABY CHICKS, I TELL YOU! I ran in the house screaming. The kids probably thought I was out of my mind.

She was broody, my friend Luna, and we knew that it was possible that she would hatch chicks. But we didn’t think it was likely.

So, what is a broody hen, you ask? Well, there is no exact science to exactly what makes a hen go broody. It can be a combination of her hormones, instinct and maturity. I’m learning as I go, and what I’ve learned about broody hens is this: When a hen’s prolactin level goes up, her body knows she’s ready to lay an egg. She lays the egg and her prolactin level returns to normal. For some reason, if a prolactin levels gets “stuck” on high, the hen will become what’s known as broody.

A broody hen can get straight up CRAZY. She will sit on top of her eggs (and others that she’s stolen) all day long in attempt to hatch them. If there’s no rooster on your farm, the eggs won’t be fertile. That little lady can sit on top of those eggs for the rest of her life, but they will never hatch. Poor thing. She has no idea. Anyway.

It seems we always have a broody hen or two around here. Every day, I go out to the coop, pick up the broody babe, set her down on the ground and scoot her along. I gather the eggs and take them inside, so there’s no chance of cracking open an egg at some point and seeing a developing embryo. Ew. I know. I don’t even want to talk about it.

This time we decided to do an experiment. We thought we would let Luna sit on her eggs for a few weeks and see what happens. Every day I checked. And then today?? 2 BABY CHICKS RAN OUT. Pinch me. They’re so stinking cute.

Can you even?! We’ve had day old chicks that we’ve gotten from the hatchery many times. But having for real chicks that hatched naturally at your house? I’M GIDDY.

Just look at Luna and her 2 little chicks.

I’m so in love with this farm life. It’s a lot of work and it’s messy at times (actually, a lot of the time). But to experience this? It makes it all worth it.

Until next time, friends! I’m off to swoon over the new babies.

How to choose the best family photographer (*sidenote: it might not be me) | Cincinnati + Dayton family photographer

You’ve searched google, you’ve asked friends, you’ve looked on Facebook. You’ve gotten lost in the rabbit hole of choices and web sites and somebody save me from this madness.

After all your searching, you came up with at least 782 photographers in your area that “specialize” in what you are looking for (am I right?). How do you figure out who’s the best one for you?

Here are a few tips that will help you narrow down what you are looking for, even if you think you might already know. 😉

  • The best place to start is with referrals from friends.

Referrals are great when searching for a photographer because your friend will already have gone through the entire process. You can ask your friend these questions:

Were you happy with the way the photographer interacted with your family?

Did he/she make the process easy for you?

Did you get your products when promised?

How was the quality of your photos/products?

And the most important question: Would you use the photographer again? This is huge, friends. Someone who has gone through the entire process with a photographer will be able to gauge the experience from start to finish. If your friend wouldn’t use the photographer again, then that’s a red flag. Move on.

That being said, don’t use a photographer just because your friend did. Your needs could be different. Which leads me to my next point.

  • Not all photographers are created equal. 

Think about what you are looking for – your specific needs. Look at the photographer’s portfolio and see if their style matches what you have in mind.

Do you want a big, extended family, posed portrait? Don’t pick a photographer whose specialty is candid images if you want mostly posed images. Pick a photographer who specializes in what YOU want done. If you don’t, you could be disappointed with your images.

When I’m choosing  a photographer for my own family, I want somebody who’s excited to give me what I’m looking for. I want their style to mesh with what I’m after.

Make sense? Okay. My next point.

  • Ask to see an entire gallery (don’t just depend on what you see on their web site).

Most photographers can come up with a handful of great images from a session to post on social media or their website. To get a better sense of a photographer’s style and ability, ask to see an entire gallery from a recent session. And then ask yourself these questions:

Are the images sharp and in focus?

Do I like the edits to the photos?

Are there any distracting elements in the backgrounds of the images?

Do I like the poses?

Can they use light well?

Do the photos tell a story?

  • Posed or lifestyle?

You will need to decide if you’d like to have more of a posed session or a lifestyle session.

In a posed session, the photographer may place you in different poses and positions, and you are often all looking at the camera and smiling. These sessions are typically done at a park or some agreed upon outdoor location. They can also be done in-studio, with artificial lighting.

In a lifestyle session, the focus of the session is on capturing the family in natural interactions, with maybe a little bit of casual posing thrown in here and there. These kinds of sessions are best done at home, in the child/family’s natural environment. They can be indoor or outdoor, but they focus more on the interactions and the photos typically invoke stronger emotions when you look at them. 

  • $$$ (sing it with me – moneymoneymoneymoooooney. MONEY.).

Cost can be a big factor. Sometimes it can be THE deciding factor. We all have budgets to stick to and priorities, can I get an amen?

The most important thing to figure out is exactly what is included in the cost of the session. Are any digital negatives or prints included in the session price? If so, are they high resolution photos? Is a print credit included? If not, what are the print prices?

If a photographer is very inexpensive you may want to ask yourself WHY they’re so inexpensive. Are they investing in professional equipment that will result in great images? Do they have the proper licenses? Are they paying taxes? Do they have insurance? Are they booking several sessions a week and won’t have the time to give your session the attention it deserves?

You need to factor in a photographer’s time invested in your session, their expertise, as well as their costs when taking into account their pricing. Just like your mama always told you: If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

Bottom line: Get to know the photographer, and you’ll know if she/he is a good fit.

A great place to start is on their About Page on their website. You can usually get a feel for their personality there. Check their blog and social media pages. Do you like her/him? Do you have things in common? Do you feel like you could be friends in real life? If the answer is yes, you’re usually on the right track. Often when I meet a client for the first time, they’ll tell me, “I feel like I already knew you before we even met!” And we usually end up being friends in real life. That’s my favorite.

If you’re still unsure, schedule a phone call to chat. A photographer should ALWAYS be willing to chat before your session. If you don’t feel a connection, move on to another photographer.

In the end, your photographer should be someone you trust. Note: if you feel like you need to send your photographer a Pinterest board of ideas for your photo shoot, you probably don’t trust them. Your photographer should have a vision for your family. And if you’ve picked the right photographer, you will trust them and their vision.

Until next time, darlings!

P.S. Wanna know 3 easy ways to take better photos today? READ THIS!



Hi, I’m a grump. How are you?

Sometimes I’m a grump. I mean, a huge grump.

Nothing feels like it’s going my way. I just feel OFF.

I haven’t washed my hair in 5 days.

The trampoline that we ordered 2 months ago was just delivered for the 3rd time, and it’s still not right.

The scowling faced customer in front of me at the coffee shop is taking for holy ever. And ijustwantcaffeine.

I’ve heard some little person say mommy 482 times today, and it’s only noon. And. I haven’t brushed my teeth.

The garage freezer was left open all night and I’m staring a huge puddle of water on the floor.

Like don’t talk to me, don’t look at me, and surely don’t try to speak to me.

And then, I think of love. I stop. I breathe. And I think of love.

Only love today, mama. Love for your babes when they push allllll your buttons all the day long.

Love for the customer service rep when you’ve already explained the problem 10x and they still aren’t hearing you.

Love for the person who isn’t so nice in the Starbucks line.

Love for YOURSELF when you make mistakes and mom guilt creeps in. Love is the remedy. It just is. #preachingtomyself

What if I don’t like pictures of myself? | Cincinnati + Dayton Documentary Style Family Photographer

If you haven’t had family pictures taken in the past year, promise me that you’ll find someone to take them for you.

It doesn’t matter who takes them or how or where.

Whether you ask a friend, whether you use the timer on your phone’s camera, whether you hire a professional, you need to do it. And you need to do it now.

We have no guarantees in life, but you know what having family photos proves? That you were here, you were together, and you were happy.

I can already hear you, friend.

“But, but, Christi, I need to lose 20 pounds first.”

NO, YOU DON’T. Do your kids care about your extra weight? No. I promise you, they don’t.

They care about the way you hold them on your lap, the way you smile at them, the way you show them every day how much you love them. Take my word for it. Don’t wait.

(I get you, though. I would rather stab my eyeballs than be in front of the camera.)

We’ll call this another installment of #preachingtomyself. 😉

P.S. Want to know more about what a photo session with me is like? My documentary-style way of capturing your family makes it easy. All you have to do is be yourself and carry on as you typically would with your family. And I’ll take care of the rest.

But don’t take my word for it. TAKE THEIRS.

How Do I Explain This? | Cincinnati Family Photographer

As the inauguration aired on Friday, I stood and watched in disbelief that Donald Trump is now our President.

While we’ve taught our kids to respect the process and the Office, all I kept thinking was, how do I best explain to my kids that the leader of our country is this man that we disagree with on so many levels?

And then I remembered this quote by author L.R. Knost: “It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”

President Trump doesn’t decide what kind of adults our sweet babes become. 

We do.

For our family, we will raise our kids to love Jesus, to love ALL people, to be kind, to be open-minded, to choose to always see the good, and to serve others with love.

In the end, all we can do is LOVE. And love well.

To my sweet friends of color, to my girlfriends who have felt degraded and belittled, to any of my friends who have felt like you’re less-than because of our President’s words and actions,

I see you. And I hope our love for you is louder than any other noise you hear.