Friday Photo Adventures | Pensacola Photographer

I am constantly trying to be more intentional about taking photos of my own kids. You know, with the fancy camera I use to take everyone else's pictures as opposed to just my iPhone. It's a struggle. I'd love to take it everywhere, but it's heavy and expensive. When there are other goals for the day, like having fun or making sure kids don't get lost/hurt (I'm a total helicopter mom), the last thing I want to do is lug around a piece of equipment and worry about it getting lost, stolen or damaged. 

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I had this idea to start taking them on mini local adventures, with the singular goal of capturing them exploring and having fun. And keeping it short so I'm not committed to lugging a camera around for an extended period of time. 

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For this first one, we stuck close to home. Our neighborhood is a new development and there are large pieces of land on either side also awaiting development. Every time I drive by, the glorious afternoon light catches my eye. Checking out my sun positioning app, I noticed that one of these properties had what must have been a driveway that extended much farther than it seemed from the road. So I grabbed the kids one beautiful Friday and dragged them out for a little hike. 

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pensacola-photographer

Isla was actually pretty dang unhappy about the whole thing. She hates having her picture taken and is at that age where there is just attitude about everything. This day was no different and there was a lot of sulking (and me telling her to suck it up and act happy for 10 minutes). But once I got her running and twirling the blanket all around, she started to have a little bit of fun and give me the carefree expressions I was hoping for. Whew!

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Jack-Jack is always happy to ham it up for me though. He takes direction well and is never stingy with his smiles. He had such a great time chasing his sister around.

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Pensacola-photographer

We only spent about 20 minutes walking around and exploring this great little spot. The light and texture of the underbrush yielded some pretty awesome images. I'm already looking forward to our next photo adventure. 


 Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Sweet Caroline | Milton Newborn Photographer

When a family books me for a newborn session, or any in home session, I always ask about their style and decor. It helps me to begin to visualize the session in advance and coordinate any wraps or blankets I might want to bring, just in case the family doesn't have something they want to use. 

When I received April's questionnaire back, she told me that they don't really have a style. They just decorate to their tastes and interests. She also told me about her cat Tugg, who is a treasured family member. April was excited to be having a girl and decorating the nursery with a cat theme. HOWEVER, some of the decor was being hand made by a grandmother and April hadn't seen it, wasn't even sure if it would be done before the newborn session. 

I'm sure you're probably thinking the same thing I was...a handmade-by-grandma cat themed nursery has the potential to veer into the realm of 'yikes'. 

Well hop on over here and have a slice of humble pie with me, because it was the most wonderfully fun and adorable nursery, with such a genuine feeling of warmth and sentimentality. Like an heirloom quilt that you just want to wrap yourself up in on a cold day. The custom felted wool cat mobile was my absolute favorite. 

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April and Ray were just as genuine and warm as the nursery. April claimed they would probably be awkward in front of the camera, but NO. Everyone was perfectly natural and ultra snuggly, which is always the best. They were a complete joy to hang out with and photograph for the morning. 

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Big brother Charlie was a ridiculous ham. We bonded over our shared love of avocado toast. And naturally, baby Caroline was perfectly sweet in her ruffle butt bloomers. Check them all out and, if you would, take a moment to leave a quick comment at the end. You will help April & Ray earn a free mounted 8x10 print from Caroline's newborn session. Fifty commenters are needed.

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milton-family-photographer

 Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Aislinn's Hypnobabies Birth | Baptist Hospital Pensacola

After all of these births, telling all of these beautiful stories, it finally hit me that I shouldn't be telling these stories at all. I should be collecting birth stories from my mamas. You, the reader, should be hearing it all from the mother's perspective before you see it from mine. I so often say that the mother experiences birth so differently from everyone else in the room, and I am kind of obsessed with hearing how women experienced their own birth. Now I am excited to be able to celebrate and share some of those stories with you here. I hope they will become a source of inspiration, reference, and direction for my expecting readers.

Kathryn has been kind enough to share, in her own words, her experience bringing baby Aislinn into the world at Baptist Hospital Pensacola, using Hypnobabies and with the support of Pensacola doula Amber Roman of Belly to Cradle. I have seen a lot of labors, and this one struck me as particularly long and difficult. The energy in the room was very subdued, and even after delivery things were very quiet and calm. It was eye-opening to hear Kathryn's side of the story...

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Forty weeks and three days. That’s how long I had grown my baby, how long I had carried my miracle, when I was awoken at 1:30am. I thought I just had to go to the bathroom for the 100th time that night, like every other night in my third trimester, but this time was a little different. I felt like I wasn’t quite going to make it and when I sat down…gush! Water poured. Half asleep, and half in shock, I sat there talking to myself like any normal person- “Is this my water breaking? No, that doesn’t happen. I think this is my waters. My water broke. No, no it didn’t. It’s still going. This is it.” They say to remember that birth is nothing like what you see in the movies. The whole water breaking out of nowhere, then contractions starting, and rushing to the hospital isn’t a common reality. They say only 10% of women have their water break before labor begins. I guess I made the 10%. I climbed back into bed, woke my husband Luke, and then texted my doula. She called me and talked through what was going on with me, how the coming hours may play out and when we will need to head to the hospital. All things we had talked through in our meetings, but just a little different since my water broke first. I sent my husband to the guest room to get some sleep while I laid down to try and get any rest I could between contractions.

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Let me pause to say, having a doula is the single best decision you can make for labor. Natural or medicated, vaginal or c-section, well trained doulas are life giving. My doula, Amber Roman of Belly to Cradle, is phenomenal. From birth education, to delivery, to postpartum, she was a rock for us and we are so grateful to her for her friendship and services. We decided that utilizing hypnobabies would be the best option for me and my personality when it came to labor techniques for birthing, especially considering my goal was to do this all natural. Hypnobabies trains the mind and body to remain extremely relaxed, yet allow the mind to also be highly aware and focused. The concept of self-hypnosis may sound super weird to you, but it was the best when it came to birth for me. I can’t talk about it highly enough.

Sometime mid morning, between 9 and 10 I think, Amber came over to help us get everything together and as always, present our options. Based on my contractions and the fact that my water broke, we went on to the hospital. This was it. We were going to meet our baby girl! From the second my water broke until the end of the transition phase, I was in my Hypnobabies zone. I was calm, using my breathing and mindset techniques during each contraction (or “birthing wave” if we use the lingo). I’m pretty sure my eyes were closed the entire birth and the concept of time was out the window. I labored in bed for while, with my husband and mom nearby providing great support. Amber helped me walk halls, massaged and applied counter pressure, cooled me with wet rags, let me smell peppermint oil for nausea, told me when I needed to change positions, reminded me of my options, made sure I was drinking water, let me know when I could get into the tub for pain relief, and prayed over me when it was the end and I was starting to lose my focus. I felt safe and secure. I was free to labor without worrying about anything else because I had my people.

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I labored for 19 hours. It didn’t seem anywhere near that long to me. I listened to my Hypnobabies tracks and stayed in my own world it seemed. Towards the end things were getting intense and my body started to push by itself so they asked me if I was ready to push her out. I pushed for an hour and a half. It was the toughest part for me, not because of pain but because of the effort pushing took. I’d say it was because of her position. Even though it was the hardest part to me it still only felt more like 30 minutes. With my eyes still closed, I remember feeling my husband lift my head up for each push, giving me a sip of water and then holding the oxygen mask over my face until it was time to do it all again. He was amazing. I remember my mother’s sweet and soft voice telling me she could see her head and that I was doing so good. I can still feel her calming touch. Amber held my leg and encouraged me all the way.

Born with arms crossed, hands on either side of her face, announcing to the world she had arrived, our sassy and beautiful baby girl arrived on January 8, 2018, at 8:25pm. Aislinn Rhys was placed on my chest and I was in love.

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I know that my birth team and place of birth makes all the difference. I called them the dream team and that they certainly were. Doula: Amber Roman. Photographer: Natalie Zepp Weber. Midwife: Jenny Allen. OB: Dr. Allison. Birth: at Baptist Hospital. Basically, I tell everyone they need these incredible women for their birth, without question.

A final note, I’m so thankful we decided to spring for a birth photographer. Natalie was incredible and she captured moments I never would’ve seen or remembered. My eyes were closed, remember? Haha! These are images I will cherish for all my days. Thank you, Natalie

Are you considering Hypnobabies for your birth? Did you use it? We'd love to hear from you. Each person that comments helps Kathryn & Luke earn a free 8x10 mounted print from their birth session. They need 50 people, so leave a few words to get them there.


 Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Happy Birthday Isabella | Pensacola Birth Photographer

I am so excited to get to share the Isabella's birth at Pensacola's Baptist Hospital. I had 2 mamas due near the new year, and I just KNEW one of them would deliver on New Year's Day. The night before was a full moon and, as I have said many times before, full moons and bad weather always brings the babies.  

I got up early (per usual) and checked my phone...no texts. So maybe I was wrong. Normally I wouldn't be in any hurry to get out of my PJs on a school/work holiday, but something prompted me to go ahead and wash and blow dry my hair...before coffee. Well sure enough, at about 8:45 my phone dinged with a text from Alexis's sister Averee. Averee is a doula and soon-to-be certified midwife in Montana and I was thrilled when Alexis told me she would be here until the baby arrive and would provide me with progress updates during labor. Her text told me that Alexis had been in labor since about 2 am, but she thought it would be a while yet. (Side note...unless you have a trained professional with you to monitor your progress during labor, DO NOT wait 7 hours to tell me that you're in labor. Even if it's the middle of the night and you think you have a while and should give me the courtesy of a good night's rest. You shouldn't.)

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I set my gear by the door and laid out my scrubs, ready to jump up and go. Well 'go time' came just a few hours later after a sudden and rapid progression and an 11:24AM text that read "We're FLYING out the door!". A mere twenty minutes later as I approached the hospital, came another text saying that Lex had made quick progress. The rest of labor was just as rapid, but I still arrived in plenty of time to capture Luis and Averee helping Alexis thru her labor. It was so sweet to watch husband and sister work together to encourage and do what they could to ease mamas pain.  

Just as the nurses were getting worried that the midwife, Jenny Allen, might not make it in time, she flew thru the door...not even having stopped to stow her sweatshirt and car keys. After a few minutes in the tub, and a few minutes pushing, baby slid right out into daddy's waiting hands. Before I could even register that the baby was out, Luis was proclaiming "It's a GIRL!". 

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Introducing (again)...Isabella Grace.

Click play for the full story (Fair warning, there are freshly birthed baby and breastfeeding images in this slideshow.)

As hard as it is to wait until delivery to find out your baby's gender, the excitement and expressions always make for the most wonderful photographic moments. Especially when excited grandparents pour into the room, tears brimming the rims of their eyes and hands clapping together over the the big reveal. (How about those sweet elated grandma faces and grandpas snapping pictures with their cell phones? I DIED!) Moments like that make it 100% worth the wait.

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Did you wait to find out your baby's gender? Do you wish you had or will you next time? Let us know in the comments. You comments also count toward the 50 needed to earn Alexis & Luis a free 8x10 mounted print from their birth session. I'm sure they will appreciate your words.


 
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Natalie

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design.

Photo Credit: Natalie Franke Photography

 

The Wilson Family | Maynard's Donut Company Pensacola

I've been photographing the Wilson's for longer than I can even remember...without doing some math. But who wants to do math? So let's just say a long time. Melissa is a photographer too. One of the only photographers in Pensacola who I trust with my own family photos.   

(Melissa is also one of my back up birth photographers. So to all of my expectant mamas, if I absolutely have to send someone to your birth in my place, you might just get Melissa. I assure you, you will love her as much as I do.)

What I love most about our sessions is that Melissa and Ace are always up for anything. Always willing to indulge my ideas for lifestyle sessions. I think I'm really beginning to rub off on her, because this time Melissa came to me with a kick butt idea. A donut shop family session at their favorite place, Maynard's Donut Company. Having been secretly hoping that another client would ask for me to document their Saturday morning walks to Krispy Kreme (you know who you are), I jumped on it. 

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Melissa and Ace were perfect as always, but Juliet was the real star of the show. She was SERIOUS about her donuts. She took absolutely every single chance she possibly could to grab and stuff more donuts into her mouth. When mom and dad finally said 'no more', oh buddy there were tears. Big,  pitiful, make you want to give her all of the donuts in the case kind of tears. Click play to see it all.   

A HUGE thanks to Danny at Maynard's for letting us invade and distracting all of your other customers with our shenanigans.


 Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

The Wheelers | Pensacola Family Photographer

The Wheelers are a fantastic crew, so full of joy and life. How could you not be with 4 amazing kids? Nate is the pastor of our church and I've gotten to know Rachel pretty well serving on the MOPS steering team and for a brief period of time, running (read: dying) together after dropping kids off at school. 

When Rachel inquired about a family lifestyle photo session, I knew immediately how I wanted to approach the session. But I kept it to myself. I wanted to hear from Rachel first and see what she thought would be important to capture. So I sent her my usual questionnaire, designed to get clients to tell me all about those things that make their family interesting and unique. 

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Now I can't even count how many times I have heard about the 'garage band' that the Wheeler kids have started. For a while there, Nate used the Jesus Cruisers (as the oldest boys Britain & Noah dubbed the band) to illustrate his point in every other sermon or so. He's told so many stories of their musical escapades and 'concerts', that I really couldn't believe it when I got the questionnaire back and there was no mention of the band whatsoever. There is a question that asks if you would like my help figuring out what to do for your session...that box was checked 'yes'. 

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Are we as parents just so enmeshed in the day-to-day, that we can't recognize those magical little idiosyncrasies that make our family OUR FAMILY? Those things that our children do that we will forever recount the stories of? Those small traditions that will become defining aspects of 'childhood' for our kids? If I'm honest with myself, I think maybe we are. Or at least we have a hard time seeing any of those things as interesting enough to build a photoshoot around. 

I immediately replied to Rachel with the concept of an open air Jesus Cruisers concert with her and Nate as the audience. Sure, the kids usually do their concerts in their bedroom, likely NOT dressed in perfectly coordinating neutral toned outfits. But that isn't the point. The point is to celebrate the everyday moments in fun and beautiful ways.  

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With Rachel on board we set about planning, finding a location, and coordinating outfits. Because I am a sucker for detail shots to round out a story, I asked her to have the kids make a sign with their band name on it and tickets to the show. I couldn't be more excited about the end result. I feel like it really captures the imagination and childhood ability to dream boldly, without fear of failure. But most importantly, I know we've got a visual record to a story that these kids will certainly be telling their own children about 30 years from now. And who knows...maybe there's a future album cover shot in there somewhere. 

Click play to see the show!

If you're sitting there thinking my kids would never be so well behaved during a photoshoot, I will tell you a little secret. The actual shoot was total chaos. Naomi didn't want to be the lead singer and was prone to tears over it. Josiah was so enthusiastic about his role as keyboardist that he would periodically break from the 'stage' for a celebratory run thru the grass...usually right about the time all of the other kids were looking perfect. Noah (the drummer) and Britain (guitarist) only had about a song and a half in them before they became more interested in wrestling with each other and climbing trees. We also totally forgot about the tickets until we were packing up to leave. Once all the kids were buckled into the car, I snagged Nate and Rachel for one last detail shot. 

And you know what? That's all ok! No one is perfect and perfect is boring. I'll choose imperfections and misbehaving every single time. Because it's real (and because I love to leave a shoot tired and sweaty so I can count it as exercise). So if you're sitting there dreaming about your next family photos, but dreading the idea of trying to corral your kids into the perfect grouping and coaxing smiles out of them...just stop. Bring your bedlam to me and we'll make some magic!

Thanks so much for reading and watching! If you would be so kind as to leave a comment below, you will help to earn Nate and Rachel a FREE 8x10 mounted print from their session. They need 50 people to comment before they can claim their reward.


 Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Happy Birthday Corban | Pensacola Birth Photography

Rebekah is another one of those friends that I've had with me before we were even earthside. Our moms were pregnant with us together (are are still besties).

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We've been in and out of touch over the years (mostly because she is forever picking up and moving away), but the roots run deep despite the changing of the seasons. And we've always reconnected...most frequently over babies. A whole continent apart (Florida to Alaska), we've encouraged each other thru big life choices, miscarriages, those scary early days of pregnancy after a miscarriage...

Then there was that time she sent me a message (from Hawaii) to say she was 5 weeks pregnant with her second baby, to which I replied I was also 5 weeks pregnant with my second baby. Talk about history repeating! We had our boys just a couple of weeks apart and in the same hospital, with the same doctor no less. I went first though, so obviously I wasn't able to photograph her birth then...actually no one was able to, because he was nearly born in the parking lot. 

We didn't have super high hopes that I would make it in time for #3. Nonetheless Bekah, promised to call me and I promised to try and be there. When the call came, we ended up having plenty of time. Even Corban's exit from the womb was slow...almost languid. Which made for some pretty incredible pictures that I can't ever show you. What I can show you is still pretty amazing and beautiful. Everybody, meet Corban:

Shout out to midwife Jenny Allen, doula Amber Roman (Belly to Cradle), and the wonderful nurses at Baptist Hospital for making sure I had time, space, and light to capture all of the important moments. And of course, to dad Scott, who kept us all laughing...even when I caught him crying. 

Don't forget to leave a comment below to help earn Scott & Rebekah a free 8x10 mounted print from this session. 


 Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Glamping with the Carlsons | Milton Family Photographer

Jimmy and Tavia are lovers of travel, adventure, hiking, and camping. You might think having kids would change that, but expanding their family by two hasn't slowed them down one bit. They even run a blog, Big Brave Nomad, recounting their wanderings and providing tips on traveling with little ones in tow. 

When baby Latham turned one last month, Tavia asked how we might incorporate something travel related into his cake smash session. I mean, if you're going to shell out the dollars for a first birthday/family session, you might as well get something you can also use for your biz too, right? Right! 

Knowing their love of camping and exploring the outdoors, I suggested a lifestyle session built around a camping trip. Nature walks, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over a blazing fire...that kind of thing. 

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I won't lie and say I haven't been dreaming up a family camping lifestyle session for a while now. I'm so freaking lucky to have clients like the Carlsons, who totally trust my vision and are 100% on board when I pitch an idea like booking a glamping tent at Coldwater Gardens in Milton for their session. I also won't lie and say that I am not completely obsessed with this little oasis in the middle of nowhere. OBSESSED. 

In addition to the glamping tents, the accommodations include beach camping on the river, eco-cabins, an incredible modern tree house. Everything is so stylish and well maintained. We had such a great time glamping, hiking the nature trails, playing on the playground, and exploring the gardens and green houses. 

Click play below to check out the full story of our outdoor adventure.

The cake smash was also pretty epic. Those shots didn't exactly fit into the story for the video slideshow, so here they are on their own. The smash cake is a simple chantilly cake from Publix. As a bonus, it came free with a giant full sized cake. Which was great, because Latham crawled over, sat in, and smashed rocks into his cake. 

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Apparently, one year old boys get mad when you won't let them eat their cake covered rocks. To cheer him up, leave a comment below. Once 50 people have commented I will send the Calrsons a FREE 8X10 mounted print of one of my favorite images from their session.

If you haven't already, make sure you hop on over here to watch Latham's birth story and here for his newborn session. I can't believe it's been a whole year! Happy Birthday little man!


 Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Colegrove Family Vacation | Pensacola Beach Photographer

The Colegrove crew came all the way from South Carolina this summer to spend a week on Pensacola Beach. With six kids ranging in ages from 8 to 23 years old, they have reached that point in a family's existence where it is difficult to get everyone together at the same time. 

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Mama Tanya was smart to capitalize on a family beach vacation and snag some photos of them on the beach, having fun before they headed back to the real world.

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We had one of those ethereal sunsets on the cusp of a storm. Beautifully soft and glowy, with interesting clouds. 

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There were seagulls EVERYWHERE, flocking in and out of all of our pictures. I love how the birds echo the movements of the family.

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One of the middle brothers suggested we end out session with a race. The resulting images are joyous, carefree, and easily my most favorite of the entire session.

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Leave a comment for the Colegroves. Once 50 people have commented, I will send them a FREE 8X12 print of my favorite image from their session. 


 Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography