outdoor family photos

Boys on the Beach: A Lake Linganore Beachfront Family Photo Session

I love supporting my local community and one of the ways I do that is to offer a complimentary photo session a handful of times a year to important causes. This year, one of those events was a race at my kids’ elementary school. I loved supporting their silent auction and couldn’t wait to meet the winners -- an amazing neighborhood family who happens to have a son in my son’s grade! The two boys both knew of one another and yep, a playdate is already in the planning stages!

We met at a nearby beach for an evening session that offered us gentle breezes, gorgeous golden light and a lot of laughs as we explored and adventured both on the beach and on a nearby trail.

The boys are so adoring of one another and of their parents and it made the session a true joy. There were races, dancing, silly faces and a lot of beautiful posed photos in between, too.

I loved their coordinating and classy outfits that screamed summertime happiness and felt so lucky to capture these blonde-haired, blue-eyed boys and their parents.

Enjoy this peek into an incredible family and a heck of a lot of joy!

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Location, Location, Location: Choosing an Ideal Family Photo Session Spot

My repeat family photo clients may already have realized that I don’t always go back to the same spot for photo sessions, even for my regular neighborhood photo session days here in Lake Linganore.

Sometimes, even on back-to-back days, I don’t use the same location as the day before. And, ready for this? Sometimes, my morning sessions will be in a different place in our town than my afternoon and evening sessions.

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There are several things I consider when choosing the ideal photo session location for you and your family here in the Frederick County area. Here’s a few of the reasons:

1. Light!
In my opinion, lighting is one of the most important things I consider when photographing. You can be the most technically-capable photographer, but if you’re outside and aren’t reading your light, your photos won’t be as “wow”-worthy. I hardly ever photograph in midday because the sun and lighting are just way too harsh. Soft lighting, especially softly-diffused lighting through trees or clouds, is just perfection. So a spot that works great in the morning will likely have sunlight streaming through in the opposite direction later in the day and that’s not always as successful.

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2. Safety!
A session with an adult couple or a family with older teens will almost always feature a different locale than an adventure with babies or toddlers and a huge part of that comes down to safety. Some of my favorite lakefront spots for photos are so absolutely beautiful but I would never test fate or put a client’s child at danger for any shot - not even the most perfect one. Edges of cliffs or waterfalls, uneven terrains, walkways without handrails -- these things just aren’t ideal for children -- unless my clients specifically request such a spot and understand my concerns.

3. New vs. Old!
When I have a repeat client, I often times will ask them if they loved their first spot or most recent spot or want to try something new. If they are so sold on the field in my neighborhood or the beachside trails in another that we’ve used before, then that’s where we’ll stay, as long as it works for all the other concerns.

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4. Weather and Foliage!
If it’s recently rained or there’s a chance of precipitation, I try to stay away from places that could have muddy spots -- not many people want muddy shoes or pants in their family photos. Similarly, if we’re going for an authentic fall-foliage look, I am most definitely going to be driving by some of my favorite spots in the days before our session to see where the color is popping out best.

5. Versatility!
My favorite photo session locations are places that offer several different backdrops in a relatively-small area. I love when I can get waterfront images plus a forested path and an interesting building or colorful row of boats all in one photo spot. It’ll make your photos seem extra-interesting and you’ll probably have a lot more of them, too!

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There are a lot of things that go into planning a family photo session behind the scenes. At the end of the day, I want you and your family to be safe, feel comfortable and have a lot of fun.

I can’t wait to photograph you!

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An Extended Family Photo Session as a Gift for Mom and Dad

I’ll be the first one to tell you that I think memories and images are one of the most treasured and important gifts in this world. So, when I have a client reach out to me about gifting images or photo sessions to a parent or grandparent, my heart is so happy.

The session was a gift for a mom and dad, parents of five children and grandparents of two adorable little girls. Capturing all of them plus significant others made for a fun photo session with 11 people exploring a favorite local photo location.

Everyone had great outfits that worked with their individual personalities but complemented each other really well with hues of blues and greens and whites. And, each of them could easily have been a model -- easy and natural in front of the camera and so photogenic, too!

We started with the kiddos first -- two adorable sisters in matching outfits with a love for hamming it up in front of the camera. They made it so easy! We captured a variety of groupings -- the five siblings, the couples, the family of four and then a large photo of the whole group.

I’m so grateful for this opportunity to capture this group and these memories just in time for Mothers Day and Fathers Day this past year. I know the photos were treasured and I’m so happy my clients saw the value of images as gifts.

Enjoy these peeks!

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Bright and Vivid Outdoor Family Photo Session

My hour with the Tilbury family was laughter, love, joy, boldness and a great sense of ease. Their daughter is 4000% toddler, meaning it was one of my favorite type of sessions as we work to overcome stubbornness with persistence and just a smidge of bribery.

I know it always makes parents nervous when their kiddos “act out”, but really, it’s no big deal. Truly. As a momma myself, I’ve been down the road of temper tantrums and attitude and I welcome it in other families because it makes me feel less alone! I just take my time and let the kiddo run the show for a few minutes -- do they want to explore a path or climb a rock? Do they need cuddles (adorable photo opps!) or a walk alone? We just go with the flow and great photos are bound to happen.

I loved the bright colors the family was wearing and the way they contrasted so beautifully against the gorgeous greens of a spring day. Our photo session was at one of my favorite spots in Lake Linganore in Frederick County, Maryland -- it’s a spot with a ton of versatile backdrops in just a little bit of space which is ideal for little ones and avoiding long walks while still creating variety in the final images. We had forests and meadows and lakes, oh my!

In the end, we captured so many fun moments that were totally true to the personality of our littlest one and her doting parents -- you can see laughter and exploration and giddiness and adoration.

I hope you love this peek into this beautiful family!

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A family’s first photo shoot: Capturing a Frederick County family of three

When the H family first reached out to me, it was actually the dad who emailed first, which doesn’t happen nearly as often as the momma in the family contacting me to schedule a session does. Dad was excited to take part in the Wendy Zook Photography spring sessions I offered in Lake Linganore along with his wife and their 18-month-old daughter, E.

I was so honored and grateful when I learned that the H family had never actually had photos taken of them as a family of three. I couldn’t wait to explore our neighborhood together on a gorgeous Spring day, letting Miss E take the lead as she checked out forested paths, rocky trails and lakefront views. She was so adorable, really bright and just so much fun to capture.

We chased ducks and shared a lot of laughs and were able to capture some really adorable moments for them to enjoy long after these fun and funny toddler moments are over. This stage is one of my favorites -- slightly clumsy, super curious and really cute! -- and it goes by so quickly.

After I shared their final gallery with them, they were so appreciative of the images and these captured memories. Sessions like this one seriously make me feel like the luckiest photographer in the world because I get to do something I love, something that means so much to my clients and something that turns my clients into familiar faces and friends in the neighborhood.

Enjoy this peek into little Miss E and her parents!

Fall family photo sessions in Lake Linganore are taking place soon! You can grab a spot here.

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An Outdoor Extended Family Photo Session of Generations, Grandkids and Giggles

Some of my favorite photo sessions are the ones that go well beyond the families of four (although those are the ones I do most often!). I really love having even more people of all ages to combine in different groupings and capture in mini reunions that are so special to them and me.

This session took place in my favorite neighborhood location in Lake Linganore -- it’s a spot that offers a great variety of backdrops year-round -- forested paths, meadows, rocks along a small lake.

There were 11 people in three different generations all together. We were able to capture Grandma and Grandpa with their grandkids, the smaller individual families and all of the kiddos together and in solo portraits. Extended family photo sessions take a bit more organization and at the same time a bit more of a go-with-the-flow attitude and flexibility. I always wind up with a few photos that are so exciting and surprising that I can’t wait to share with my clients.

Enjoy this peek at this Lake Linganore extended family photo session. You can request your own extended family photo session here.

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Ben & Megan {Engagement} -- An outdoor engagement session in Central Pennsylvania with Wendy Zook Photography

A lot of things have to happen in order to create a flawless, magical engagement session. And boy did the stars align on Saturday!

Equipment. Check! It was my first opportunity to use only my three favorite prime lenses and no zooms and I was SO pleased with the results. Sharper, in-focus images with beautiful bokeh.

Location. Yup! We used Ben's family farm (Picture field of wildflowers and tall grass perched on top of a mountain overlooking rolling hills of green as far as the eye can see), and two waterways nearby that had particular importance to Ben and Megan's relationship (like near the place where he proposed!). OH, and my apologies to the owner of the field on the drive to the reservoir. See, we were driving by and almost all three of us yelled to stop at the same time. You know you have magic then!

Weather. Partly sunny skies leading into a golden sunset. No one had to squint and there was no harsh light to deal with! The temperature was rather comfortable, too!

A cooperative groom. Um, yep! Ben actually suggested the first spot as we walked towards the aforementioned field on a mountain. His idea of a large apple tree was the perfect place to start! He was such a good sport, though -- jumping in a creek with cowboy boots still on and driving his brand new (like hours old!) truck down dirt roads!

A beautiful bride-to-be. Whoa. Megan is stunning, but she's radiant inside and outside. Her eyes are so gorgeous, she greeted me with a giant hug and she thanked me at least a thousand times. I loved her outfit choices and she looked like a model!

Authentic love. This is the most important part. Couples can be stressed from a busy day or from planning, can be self-conscious or feel unphotogenic. But you know what? None of that matters if you keep them comfortable and just let their love shine through above everything else. There are some beautiful catchlights in their eyes and mouth-dropping vistas in so many photos, but my favorite ones are where love is in the foreground. The way she looks at him... the goosebumps from listening to him tell the story of how they met... the kindness to each other.

Ben and Megan are getting married in November and I can't wait to get more time with them and capture more of their love story.

Portage, PA -- May 9, 2015

Spring Sessions (remaining dates available)

It's going to be a busy year! I have a few dates to be solidified with engagements and family sessions, but despite the frigid cold going on everywhere right now, Spring really, truly is going to happen soon and my dates are very limited!

I am accepting engagement, family, headshots and boudoir sessions for the following dates (broken into a couple of central PA dates and the rest in NEPA):

Northeast PA:

April 11, 12, 18, 19

May 2, 3, 25, 30, 31

June 14

Central PA:

May 9, 10, 24

June 21

*These will be the last photo session dates in Blair/Bedford/Cambria counties until November!

If you and I have a tentative date or if you've been waiting for warmer temperatures and sunshine to book, please don't wait too long! I only have these dates listed above for photo sessions and only a limited amount each day!

I can't wait for sunrises and sunsets with all of your smiles!

E-mail Wendy at wendyzookphotography@gmail.com to book your preferred date!

Altman - Nov.2014-211 Ebersole - Nov2014-125 untitled shoot-118

Fall, Photos, Families... and what's coming up!

Last weekend, Wendy spent time on a beautiful Autumn afternoon photographing two special families. The "E" family -- two young girls, a teenage son and Mom and Dad, are the epitome of beautiful inside and out -- they are constantly giving back to their community and instantly create a positive, upbeat atmosphere. I so enjoyed my time at their property and appreciated their patience and hospitality. An excited pup followed us around (and joined in some pictures!); the youngest girl was a model in the making; the older girl was quiet with a gorgeous smile; son was so cooperative in what is clearly not a dream afternoon for a teenage boy; and mom and dad looked like they were newlyweds or even dating!

The "A" family met me at the public squares of a nearby downtown where Mr. R, almost two years old, let me play in the leaves with him and bask in some great late afternoon sunshine. Nothing puts a smile on a little boy's face quite like a goofy photographer with a dancing leaf on her head! I love it when parents put their trust in me even when I know they're worried we're not getting any shots because of a running and exploring toddler -- we wound up with some GREAT final shots of R's blue eyes.

I had rented a beautiful lens for these sessions and I'm so excited to share that Santa is bringing me not only me very own version of this lens, but also an INCREDIBLE new camera body! My future sessions will have not only my practice and trainings and experience, but now also some really amazing technology behind it!

I have several sessions in the rest of November and then December and am still booking weddings for Spring, Summer and Fall of 2015!

AND THAT'S NOT ALL! At the end of this month, I am doing an entire day of mentoring with a very talented, very stylish photographer named Hope Taylor. (You MUST check her out HERE!) We've got some models lined up and I have a list of questions for her. I'll have new head shots and most definitely, new enthusiasm, passion and ideas! I can't wait to start yet another exciting chapter with YOU! Let's get together in 2015 and capture some life moments!

Without further ado, some Fall Family photos to brighten your Monday!