Personal: A Mermaid Dreams Jewel Toned Fantasy Styled Shoot

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And here she is, my favorite personal project of 2018, Mermaid Dreams. This creative jewel toned mermaid fantasy shoot has been brewing in my mind for quite a while. Seeing it all come together despite the odds is more than a dream come true for me. It is one thing to have an idea in your mind and it is a whole other thing to execute and bring to life, especially when it involves water and a handmade wooden strip canoe that has to be transported from point A to point B, a mermaid, candles and smoke bombs.

Those who know me well would say that I am a mermaid at heart. I have always loved the water and Disney’s The Little Mermaid was my top favorite movie as a second grader when it came out in theaters. I was on the swim team in high school, water played a role in both of my children’s birth stories, and for my 35th birthday this year I bought myself a swimmable mermaid tail from Fin Fun Mermaid which we used for this photo shoot.

The collaboration with our amazing florist Kate of Glory Flower Co. and my fellow photog boss lady partner in crime Emily Wilcox of Emily Grace Photography was so much fun. And this shoot of course would not have been possible without our incredible models and creative duo Sirena and Chris of Monsters and Lace.

I have never done a styled shoot like this before, and so it took quite a bit of organizing and Pinterest boards to bring it all together. I LOVE jewel tones and so I knew I wanted the colors to be rich and saturated in shades of turquoise, magenta, gold and cobalt blue. In hindsight we may have gone a little overboard with trying to do both a land scene and a water scene on the same day but it all worked out despite being a bit rushed at the end when it was getting dark (however it was perfect for our candles and lantern in the water). We originally planned to do the shoot on the Susquehanna River, but due to rains and flooding in the days before the shoot, the water was too high and fast for that. We ended up putting the boat in the tree line where it had flooded which worked perfectly to add a swampy, misty effect to the mermaid scene.

Speaking of the boat, I am forever grateful to Lakefield Weddings for allowing us to borrow their wooden strip canoe at the last minute. It took some effort to transport (especially since I could not lift anything due to throwing out my back the week prior) but with some help we were able to load it on top of Emily’s dad’s car and get it to the river.

And of course all of this would not have been possible without these amazing creatives and vendors who were willing to donate their time and let us borrow their stuff:

Other Photographer | Emily Wilcox of Emily Grace Photography
Models | Sirena Domino Hildebrand and Chris Juergen of Monsters and Lace
Florist | Kate Knapp of Glory Flower Co.
Jewelry | Realm and Reason
Canoe Rental | Lakefield Weddings
Geodes & Placemat Rentals | Keiser Rental Co.
Invites & Geode Calligraphy | Haldeman Haus
Mermaid Tail | Fin Fun Mermaid
Green Vintage Dress | The Scarlet Willow
Vintage Trunk | This is Dannis


Lancaster Portrait Photography: Christmas Mini Sessions for a Cause at Frey's Greenhouse

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A big part of the Christmas season for me is about giving (after all gifts are my top love language) and I have always wanted my business to give back in some way. A few years back, during the Syrian refugee crisis, a friend had the idea of getting photographers to offer their services while donating the proceeds to non profit organizations that were helping refugees. It was wildly successful and people not only got great family photos for their Christmas cards, they also felt good knowing their money was going to a good cause.

This is the third year in a row that I have offered Christmas mini sessions for a cause and this year was the biggest year yet! I had so much demand for my first round of mini sessions that I decided to offer a second round. This year I chose a local cause, The Lancaster Neighbor Fund, which supports immigrants and their families who are vulnerable to deportation in the Lancaster area. I chose this cause because of my passion and concern for immigrant and refugee issues and because I know people and families who have been detained by ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement). I have also worked in the immigration program at non profit organization CWS Lancaster and understand the difficulties that many of these families face. I am happy to say that we raised $685 for the Lancaster Neighbor Fund through our mini sessions this year!

The photos below are some of my favorites from our second round of mini sessions at Frey’s Greenhouse. It is impossible to leave Frey’s without feeling the Christmas spirit. Not only are their displays fantastic and festive, they have a fire pit outside where you can roast your own s’mores and free hot chocolate inside. They even had some vintage riding toys in the greenhouse that the kids loved.

Thank you to all the families who came out for Christmas mini sessions! You can bet I’ll be doing it again next year.

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!


Lancaster Family Photography: A Fall Family Session at Long's Park

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I’ve been photographing the Franz family for a few years now and this fall session at Long’s Park is probably my favorite session with them so far. In all my years of doing portrait photography, I have rarely used Long’s Park as a location. I’m not sure why that is because it’s a beautiful spot and there is quite the variety with the pond, foot bridges, trees and forest. This park has become my go to with my daughter, ever since she was a baby. In fact her first word was “duck” because she loved to see the ducks at Long’s Park.

Fall came a little bit late this year and on this day the leaves were finally starting to show their true colors. There were countless other photo shoots going on at the same time and I was not surprised. The light was golden, the kids were happy, it was everything a photographer could want.

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!

Lancaster Maternity Photography: Sam & Taylor's Fall Maternity Session at Historic Rock Ford Plantation

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If you know me, you know that I love hearing birth stories as well as sharing my own. Becoming a mom and growing a human is one of the most incredible journeys I have ever been on. Of course it would make sense that I love doing maternity and newborn photography for families. I get to play a small part in telling the story of growing families as they welcome their precious new babies into their hearts and their homes.

This fall maternity session at the Historic Rock Ford Plantation in Lancaster is full of joy and smiles (other than the vicious mosquitos attacking us near the end). The light was golden, Sam was glowing, and I think the images speak for themselves. Baby Eck is supposed to make his/her appearance right around Thanksgiving and I am so looking forward to meeting (and photographing) their new little one.

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!

Lancaster Senior Photography: Ava's Fall Senior Session in the Pine Forest at Overlook Park

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There are some photo shoots where I feel like I could continue taking photos forever and not run out of ideas and different angles. This fall senior session at Overlook Park in Lancaster was one of those. Ava was a natural for her session. I could definitely imagine her in the pages of some fall clothing magazine. The funny thing is, we rescheduled this shoot at least two times due to rain and our original plan was to do more of a summer look at the Conestoga House and Gardens, but by the time the session actually happened, the chilly fall weather had set in.

Ava showed up with this beautiful striped blanket wrapped around her and I knew I had to incorporate it into the photos. Ask her how many times I made her swirl it around her shoulders so I could capture the movement of the swishing blanket and she will tell you; it was a lot!

This was my first time doing a fall senior session at Overlook Park, and the first time that I really explored the path between the skinny pine trees. At first glance, one might mistake the location for somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. I will definitely be going back to this location! As we were leaving I knew I had to take some photos in the field. I am such a sucker for that untamed look in the tall grasses. The colors and textures of Ava’s clothing brought the perfect fall vibe combined with the golden field and the pine forest in the distance.

I will be the first to say that I still can’t quite figure out why it is that I often see photo sessions of senior girls laughing and twirling or playing with their hair. Do they walk around doing that in everyday life? So I made Ava do it, just for fun (and kind of making fun of the idea) and ironically some of those images ended up being among my favorites because her laugh was so genuine. As a whole, this is probably my favorite fall senior session to date!

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!

Personal: Freelensing with Cora in the Lititz Wildflower Field

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If I'm being honest, most days motherhood does not leave me with much energy to be creative. With the heat we've been having this summer and the demands of an infant and a toddler, I feel pretty drained most days. Sometimes it takes a lot of motivation to even climb up a set of stairs to get my camera when there's something I want to photograph of my kids. Yet at the same time I have found that motherhood has deepened my desire to express my artistic side even more and compelled me to document life for my children through photography. In a way, I would say that taking beautiful photos of my daughter running through wildflower fields allows me to not only process my reality but to escape for a moment. I look through the viewfinder and see all the colors that make my heart soar and watch my carefree daughter twirling around and for a second I forget that I am majorly sleep deprived and in need of quality adult interaction. 

I've been a stay-at-home mom for three years now, and in that time I have come to realize that I NEED to take time to create, even when I don't have the energy.  Getting the creative juices flowing refuels me. So, I decided to do some experimenting with freelensing, a technique where you remove the lens from your camera and hold it over the shutter. It creates a really shallow depth of field and allows most of the image to blur with just a tiny portion in focus. I think it creates a really dreamy effect, though I will say it's best to practice on non-moving objects first to get comfortable with how it works. I used a 50 mm and a 35 mm lens for these freelensing shots in the Lititz wildflower field. Also FYI, not all of them are freelensed, as you can probably tell.

The large vertical image of Cora lying down in the wildflower field encircled by black eyed susans is probably one of the favorites I've taken of her so far this year. As summer comes to an end and we enter into the busy season of fall, I hope I can continue to find ways to fuel my creative spirit in the every day rhythms and routines of life.

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!

Lancaster Wedding Photography: Lindsay and John at Lauxmont Farms Rotunda

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Lindsay and John were married at the rotunda site of Lauxmont Farms in May. This location will always hold a special place in my heart because my husband and I were also married there in May of 2012. Their original plan was to be married at the sunken garden; however the forecast called for rain all day so they moved the ceremony to the rotunda. Lindsay and John were so relaxed and calm despite the last minute changes. They decided to do a first touch, which is one way to have a private moment before the ceremony without seeing one another. All of the creamy tones of the flowers, the lace of Lindsay's dress with her golden ringlets blowing in the wind and the beautiful venue overlooking the Susquehanna River complete with frolicking horses reminds me of something out of romance novel. But most importantly, I think you can tell by the looks on their faces that this day was full of joy and love. This was my first wedding of 2018 and the perfect start to wedding season.

Vendors:

DJ: DJ Liam Productions (https://liamdj.com/ ), Owen & Liam Blevins

Florist: Laura of Lauxmont (http://www.lauraoflauxmont.com/), Laura Kohr

Cake: Bella Manse (http://www.bellamanse.com/), Renee Hackman Hunter

Hair: The Mansion on Main (https://themansiononmain.us/)

Makeup: Blush Beautiful (https://www.blushbeautiful.com/), Amanda Clark

Dress: Blush Bridal (https://www.blushbridalpa.com/)

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!

Hummelstown Family Photography: Sullivan's One Year Session Among the Peonies

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This little blue eyed beauty turned one in May. I loved capturing Sullivan with her mom and dad (and dog) at their home, especially with my all time favorite flower, the peony. She held onto a small pink bud for most of the photo session. Sullivan will no doubt be walking completely on her own soon. I am always honored to capture these moments for families, because I know how fleeting they are. Just a year ago, I photographed Sullivan as a newborn, less than 48 hours after she was born. My how the time flies!