Dear Diary,


When I first became a mother, I planned elaborate photo shoots with my daughter.  I hoped to capture every moment, every memory on film.  I was absolutely amazed that I played a part in creating this lovely little person and wanted to document her journey here on earth.  I had a schedule.  She would get her pictures taken every three months–and that’s just counting professional photos.  I would spend hours selecting outfits, booking appointments and picking proofs.  I was disappointed when she refused to smile, fought me over wardrobe changes or didn’t be bothered.   I spent hundreds of dollars on photography sessions, and after exhausting my energy and money, I ended up placing the pictures in a drawer, forgetting to distribute them to all of our family members.  And as time went on, I didn’t stick to the schedule.  Sometimes we took photos back-to-back.  Other times we went months without posing for a picture.  And you know what?  My favorite photo is one that wasn’t planned!  I  hardly had on any  makeup, and it was late at night on her first birthday.  My talented cousin lit the picture beautifully.

Now, I don’t follow a calendar.  I schedule Christmas card shoots, but other than that, we live life, snapping shots when we feel like it.  This morning, a friend of mine, Joanne Wallington, who’s beautiful family is featured in this story, reminded me that you can’t control family photography.  Here’s a simple way to get a shot without getting stressed.


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(Photos Courtesy: Danae Hampton)


Hey DFTM family, how are you making your Christmas cards extra special?  Got any photography tips?



About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

8 Responses

  1. Janeane Davis

    I have found that the best photographs are candid shots of events that we want to remember rather than in a professional photographic environment.

  2. Sheri

    I LOVE candid shots. I find that they say more about the relationships of the subjects than the posed shots do.

  3. Tomika

    My family is overdue for a photo shoot. I was frantic about pics as the kids were growing up especially with my first child. At this point the kids only have school pics and the ones that I have taken with my camera. Adding it to the calendar now:)

    • newmom0608

      Me too! There’s always next year–or the host of holidays in between! I ran out of time and took my daughter to get a picture with Santa instead.

  4. MELISASource

    These photos are so cute! I have never ever done a family photo before for Christmas cards before. Every year I say I’m gonna do it but every time I don’t! LOL Maybe next year! 😀

    • newmom0608

      I had professional pictures of my daughter taken last year, but this year, we went and got a photo with Santa. I would like to have a photo shoot with her soon. This family encourages me to get family photos anytime of the year. The holidays get so hectic, and I always put it off. Perhaps I’ll get them down for Valentine’s Day.


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