By happenstance, I was introduced to one of the most heartwarming stories I’ve heard in years.
Last week, my brother’s family was visiting from New York, and my photographer sister-in-law fell in love with this little wooden car I had among my props.
I explained how I had happened upon it at a church rummage sale, and there was a stamp on the bottom indicating it was made locally, just a few miles from us, if she wanted one.
We decided to try to track one down. We could make out the name on the stamp, John William Brown, along with a smudgy Allen TX address and phone number we could barely read.
With a little help from Google, we pieced together Mr. Brown’s phone number and gave him a ring to see if he was still in the toy car making business. However, the voice on the other end was his kind son Montie with a story I will never forget.
“My dad made those cars, and he passed away several years ago,” Montie told me. “The original plan was to make and sell the cars, but that didn’t exactly happen,” he said with a chuckle. “Dad just kept giving them away!”
After carefully crafting the cars, painting them, and testing the wheels, Mr. Brown had a stash of these darling treasures stamped, ready and waiting to light up kids’ faces.
Whenever Mr. Brown and his family would go out to a restaurant, if he spotted a child, he would surprise them with a little wooden car! In a time before smart phones were keeping kids entertained at every table, these gifts must have been a welcome treat for kids and parents alike.
We know that not all Santas wear suits, and John William Brown was no exception. It warmed his heart to spread joy to children everywhere he went. In fact, he not only gifted these toys but hand crafted them too, so I guess you could call him Santa and Elf in one!
Better yet, these free cars also came with a generous lifetime guarantee, Montie informed me. Even though Mr. Brown has passed, his family still honors the lifetime guarantee. Should the paint ever chip or a wheel break, he assured me they will fix it up good as new!
I can only imagine there are many families all around the area who were lucky enough to have been gifted one of these handmade wooden cars by the Mr. Santa Brown in Allen. Those original recipients I’m sure have a story to tell and might even have a few children of their own by now. I’m sure the next generation is enjoying these precious wooden treasures just as much!
Do you have one of these little wooden cars with John William Brown’s stamp? If you do, could you do me a favor? Send me a quick note here. I would love to hear your story! It would be awesome to have a collection of stories and photos to share with the Brown family to help them see how this sweet man’s legacy lives on.
Choosing a photographer is a very personal decision, and there are a number of factors that go into that decision. In the Dallas area alone, there are thousands of photographers, so how do you go about narrowing it down? Consider these main distinguishing factors in finding the right one for you…
Depending on what you’re seeking, choosing a photographer who specializes in your area of need is often your safest bet. Weddings. Families. Newborns. Pets. These professionals do this day in and day out, can anticipate the challenges and have the experience necessary to consistently achieve the best results every time.
Most families would agree that choosing a wedding photographer who has a solid reputation and wedding portfolio is of paramount importance. That moment in time is so special and will never happen again, so you want to be sure you have a skilled professional capturing your love and genuine connection.
But have you realized how fleeting these days with your children are? And how special? It’s so important to capture their true personalities and expressions, and a photographer who specializes in families knows how to relate to children of varying ages and how to get natural poses for families. The toddler and preschool ages in particular are often quite challenging for many photographers, but as a family photographer, I LOVE these ages!
Personally, I take the time to meet with families before their session so nobody shows up a stranger! I discover who they are as a family and learn their preferences and insecurities. This allows me to pose intentionally and capture the angles that help everyone look their best and focus on the moment captured.
Each photographer has their own signature style, whether it’s artsy, moody, clean, colorful, or otherwise. Browse through portfolios of possible photographers, and see which style appeals to you.
But what if you like a lot of different styles? Here’s a tip: If you think about the room where you would like to display the photographs, choosing a style that would coordinate well with the look and feel of that room is often your safest bet.
In addition to editing style, consider the way a photographer’s portfolio makes you feel. Are their images energetic and carefree? Are their images powerful and emotional? What resonates best with you when you think about what you’re wanting from a portrait session. Let your heart guide you.
One of the main distinguishing factors between professional photographers is their product selection. Some offer digital files only, and you may handle printing yourself. Others offer an array of wall art options, from canvas to metal to acrylic to wood prints, framed prints and more, and they may or may not allow purchasing of digital files.
At Destiny Malone Photography, you can choose from a nice sampling of professional products and finishing options, carefully selected to match my style, and I include digital files with product purchases, so you have the security of owning both.
Price is another main difference when choosing between photographers. Of course, price will vary greatly, depending on the level of artistry, skill and service a photographer has to offer. You might be surprised to find that pricing ranges from $20 for the beginner photographer selling digitals, to $20,000 or more for highly skilled and esteemed professional photographers offering products.
Of course you need to determine your desired budget and shop accordingly. Often the very low-end photographers are still learning, or have not yet mastered the technical aspects of photography to be consistent and confident in their skills and charge more than hobby prices. Many are still saving up for professional grade equipment to offer better quality. Of course it feels great to get a deal, and if you just want something cute for Facebook sharing, these budget photographers can be a great bargain. If you hope to be able to print high quality photographic prints or canvases in large format for the wall, however, you will probably not want to go with the lowest bidder.
Even with the same photographer, pricing can vary greatly depending on your final choices. Clients who invest in photography with me usually spend a few hundred to a few thousand, depending on their needs.
Perhaps the most important factor in choosing a photographer is the connection you feel to him or her. Are they friendly? Do you like their personality? Do you get a good feeling talking to them? Do they ‘get’ you and understand your needs?
It is so important to have a photographer you feel comfortable with and that you trust completely with some of your most treasured moments.
I hope this has been a helpful guide in giving you a starting point to choosing the right photographer for you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any further questions, and let me know how I can help.
As I buckled and kissed my girls yesterday before heading off to the playground, Iris, my 21-month old cried out, “JACK!” because big brother’s carseat sat empty in the middle. Jack was sleepy and would be staying home to rest with Daddy instead of joining us.
Iris didn’t know why he wasn’t there, but she yelled his name several times to show her concern about his absence. And it made me take pause. It made me think of all the families who lose a child and have glaring reminders like that empty carseat, or a baby who calls their name, to compound the lasting hollowness of that loss.
How deep that grief must be, seeing your child’s sweet teddy bear or blankie and wishing them back. Seeing their favorite storybook and wishing for that wiggly, warm little body cuddled in your lap just one more time.
But that won’t happen in our family, just like it won’t happen in yours… right? Despite the deadly diseases, distracted drivers, sky-high human trafficking stats in Dallas, and any number of other dangers lurking, we stay happily oblivious to the idea that our beautiful family could be affected in this way. And in a way that’s a good thing. And in a way, it’s a bad thing.
We can never know what tomorrow brings, or even what today might bring, and although we shouldn’t dwell on that, we should be realistically aware of how precious every single moment is.
A few months back, Iris (rambunctious as she is), dropped a Barbie doll from our balcony and knocked a piece of decor off the shelf below. It was an oversized hourglass I had put on display to remind myself of how quickly time goes by and to cherish every age.
As it lay there shattered on the floor, I saw a metaphor. Sometimes the hourglass of life is suddenly shattered, and you are completely out of time when you thought you had more.
We like the predictability of the sand flowing through the hourglass on its happy journey, but we seldom stop to think about how our lives and the ones of those we love would be affected in the event of our death or another we hold dear who is gone too soon.
In that moment, suddenly it all made sense. I couldn’t bring myself to throw away this metaphor, which had transformed in meaning in the most unexpectedly significant manner. So I leave it there as a reminder of the time we think we have, however quickly it passes, but is sometimes abruptly gone.
The future is unforeseeable.
This is why we take pictures. This is why we record moments. This is why. Because we understand how important these memories are, and how much we will want to relive them when the memories themselves are all we have left.
If you are not in pictures with your children, with your loved ones, get in those pictures. Even if it’s just a selfie with your phone. Even if you don’t feel pretty or attractive. They will not care how your body looked, or whether your hair was fixed. They will see you, and they will see love.
Maybe you’re going to lose weight and then get a professional family portrait done; that would be awesome. I would love to help you with that. But today. Today jump in photos. You can always delete them later when you have those better ones, but you can never get a second chance at them if the hourglass breaks.
Child headshots are a wonderful subset of portraiture where you’re not just documenting what a child looks like, but you’re also capturing a sliver of their personality in a still photograph.
My goal is for your child’s images to stand out and be an accurate representation of how they look and who they are.
The Dallas area is well known for its wonderful talent agencies, and I have done headshots for many models and aspiring models, as well as pageant headshots and talent headshots for kids all over the Dallas / Fort Worth area.
It’s often said, the eyes are a window to the soul, and that is my approach to headshots for kids of all ages here in the Dallas area. The connection the eyes make with the camera tell a story of something deeper behind them, something intriguing, something you just have to keep staring at, and you don’t know why.
We dig deep and find that emotion (be it a smile or a more serious face) that grabs attention, spotlights your child’s best features, and captivates the viewer.
Pricing: Child Headshots at Destiny Malone Photography are $125 for a single digital headshot, or $300 for 3 digital headshots with 3 accompanying 8×10 standard prints.
Full retouch is included. Each image is professionally edited and retouched with advanced techniques to remove blemishes, whiten teeth and create flawless skin that still has all its natural texture. Slide below for Before/After:
The session can be done outdoors in the North Dallas area, in studio here in Prosper TX, or a combination of both. Studio backdrop options are white, black, or gray.
New baby on the way? It’s exciting to be adding a new member to your family. Your little one will have a new playmate, and you will get another breathing nose to check at night!
There is no doubt, you will love the new little bundle of joy, but don’t be surprised if your old little bundle of joy starts showing signs of sibling jealousy (before and/or after new baby’s arrival).
As you’re busy on Pinterest planning those newborn photo shoots and browsing baby name websites, don’t forget to plan and prep sibling for the new arrival. Here are some ideas to prevent sibling jealousy, which you can use either before or after baby arrives.
Talk To Them About Baby
Sometimes we tend to assume that kids just understand what it means to have a new baby in the house, but that is often not the case at all. Then we are surprised when children are too loud and noisy while baby sleeps. Remember, they need to be educated about everything baby. This isn’t common knowledge for kids like it is for adults. Go over how fragile they are, how cute they are, what their diaper cream is for, why you need burp cloths, how messy things might get, etc. It can help to go through everything in your new baby stockpile to explain what it is and why new baby might need it. Also, go over the intangible needs of baby (a baby needs lots of sleep at first, so we’ll need a quiet house while baby naps… a baby needs lots of mommy time because he can’t walk yet, etc.) Above all else, explain that you have plenty of love for both of them. You can use an analogy to help them understand, like how the sun shines just as brightly and warmly on everyone, and your love is a lot like the sunshine. There is enough love for everyone.
New Baby Books At The Library
Really do this one. Don’t just skip past it. It is free to go to the library, and if you don’t have a card already, either get one, or just stay for the afternoon and read new baby books to your little one without checking any out. There are so many children’s books with a new baby theme (some positive, some humorously negative), and some libraries have a whole section dedicated to the topic, so be sure to ask a librarian for guidance. This can help sibling understand that a new baby is a common thing and give them a window into how life might change. It also takes something familiar to them (books) to explain something unfamiliar, which can help them feel more comfortable welcoming the change.
An Important Job
For some reason, toddlers love having a job. It makes them feel important when they know someone is depending on them for something. Explain what their role as a big sister or brother is and what that means / why it is so important. They get to lead by example, teach new things to baby and protect the baby from harm (bugs, sun, cold, etc). It is fun to watch as they cover baby, keep strange pets at a distance and really take their job to heart. This helps them see baby as someone who needs them, rather than seeing baby as someone who replaces them.
Buy A Big Sister Camera
Of course, you knew this would be on my list, as a professional photographer, but hear me out. Our new baby was due Christmas Eve, so one of big sister’s Christmas gifts was a new camera to take pictures of baby brother when he arrived. We purchased a new camera, but you could even use an old smart phone or tablet. The idea here is to give them a way to celebrate, a challenge to learn and an art to master. It also gives them something that is okay to do while baby is napping. You can sit together and go through your favorite newborn photographer’s website (shoutout to Especially Newborn Photography), and talk about which ones they think are the cutest. Let them know how excited you are to see the amazing photos they will take of new baby. Every few days, browse through these photos together and talk about them, encourage them.
Mommy Date To Look Forward To
Explain how mommies and babies need a few weeks to rest and get stronger because having a baby is a lot of work, and then give them a special date to look forward to. “When baby is X days old, s/he can be left with a sitter, and you and I will have a special Mommy date.” Put it on the calendar so they can count down and see it getting closer. You could do dinner and a movie, Build-A-Bear, nail salon, or whatever sounds fun (and manageable). It doesn’t have to be especially glamorous to be special, though. It can be something as simple as going out for appetizers or dessert, or going to the store to get a helium balloon, or going to the market to pick a few treats. This way, they have something to look forward to, alone time with Mommy, and they still feel they are being made a priority.
Include Sibling in the Attention
As you’re giggling over baby and singing adoring songs, sibling can get jealous for your attention. It can help to share the attention by asking, “What do you think baby’s thinking right now?” In this way, you invite sibling to join in the fun. Maybe it’s a song and they have a special part. Maybe you lay them side by side to see who’s bigger, whose tummy is more ticklish, whose toes are longer. Maybe it’s a funny face baby is making that you don’t want them to miss so you call them in. Maybe it’s sweet snuggle time. Just being included is often just as good as having the attention all to themselves.
Develop a Motto
In our house it’s, “Show your brother love.” This works for all kinds of things when I am seeing her snatch toys away, bad attitude toward brother, not helping him, being rough with him, whatever! Feel free to use that or develop a motto of your own that fits a variety of circumstances. It is a great reminder of what a brother should mean and how they should be treated with kindness and love.
Say What Big Brother Is Doing, First
Ever have someone compliment the person standing next to you? And then they turn their gaze to you and chip in a compliment for you, too? You get that feeling like, yeah thanks, but no thanks. Well, even kids know when they’re being thrown in as an afterthought. As much as possible (aim for 50/50), try to talk about big brother / big sister and the new things they’re doing first before spilling over with joy about new baby’s milestones. Say what a big helper they’re being, what new vocabulary they’re learning, how fast they’re learning to be a good big brother, this, that or the other thing. Then chip in some raving adorations for new baby.
Tuesday Tea Time
Baby needs a lot of time. But big sister needs time, too! After baby arrives, carve out time once a week to have a special tradition with older brother or sister. For my daughter, it was Tuesday Tea Time. Every Tuesday (no set time), she and I would have a little tea party, just the two of us. We would both dress up a little fancy and accessorize with beads, crowns, and maybe a little lipstick. We’d have tea in our newly purchased, fancy teacups, a few snacks (like cookies or marshmallows) and just talk. One thing I would always ask, “Do you have any questions for me?” Open conversation, and you might be surprised how connecting this becomes! Feel free to steal this tradition, or arrange one of your own that fits with your child’s personality. Plan it during naptime, or arrange for Daddy, Grandma, Auntie or neighbor to come care for baby for that hour. This one-on-one time where you just talk, uninterrupted, is so precious and meaningful for both of you, especially in those early days when she may feel like she is losing touch with you. Over the years, we have continued our Tuesday Tea Time tradition, though not as frequently. Who knows, maybe she’ll be driving back home in her college days on Tuesdays for tea (a mom can dream, right?).
Just A Minute, Baby
In those early days, weeks and months, older sibling is asked to wait probably 90% more than they ever have before. They are not used to being put second. This is a surefire recipe for jealousy. Unless. Unless you show them that baby has to wait sometimes, too. And honestly, baby does wait for big sibling. A lot! You dont even have to plan this; you just need to express it aloud so they can see that baby has to wait for them at times, too. When you are almost done with those pretty pig tails and baby starts fussing, “Just a minute, baby. I’m with big sister now. You’ll have to wait.” Just those few simple words in a calm voice can make all the difference. They feel important, and they realize that there are times when they are being put first, too.
Instead of shushing big sister with my finger over my lips, we developed something a little more special. In advance, we planned out a secret gesture. Whenever she would approach the doorway and I was trying to get baby to fall sleep (or back to sleep), I would look up and blow her a kiss. Then she would blow a kiss back. This meant she understood it was time to be quiet. Instead of a shush that made her feel shunned away, we had this loving gesture that made her feel more like she was in on the secret that baby should be napping. You could also use a wink, thumbs up, make a silly face, whatever works for you and your child.
I’m sure there are probably countless other ways to prevent sibling jealousy when new baby arrives, but these are just some that we have used in our household with success. I hope you find some that work for you.
Don’t forget to have someone document those first few moments when siblings meet for the first time. This memory is beyond priceless to me.
Did you find this information encouraging and helpful? Please feel free to share and help other parents, too.
As a professional photographer, I prefer to coordinate dramatic bluebonnet photos at peak bloom every year in the Dallas TX area. There is a beautiful field in nearby Garland, which allows for some really amazing compositions with open sky, sunset and gorgeously lush patches of those beautiful bluebonnets.
2017 A Bad Year For Bluebonnets?
Is there such a thing as a “bad year” for bluebonnets? Last year at peak bloom, we got some bad weather and plenty of large hail that destroyed many of the bluebonnets. Unfortunately, without favorable conditions for pollination at peak season, it can negatively impact the crop for the following year (which is now the worry for this year, 2017).
While many are predicting a less than spectacular season for bluebonnets, I’m remaining hopeful and positive about our outlook and certainly only time will tell.
However, I’m confident that even without a screaming show of bluebonnets, there is always opportunity to capture the scene in the best way possible, making the most of whatever nature provides.
When last year’s hail storm in Rowlett/Garland/Wylie decapitated many flowers and left the fields more barren than we would have liked, we pressed on and captured this unforgettable image for a local family. It’s certainly more subtle than the lush spring fields of blue, but it’s every bit as beautiful.
Early Bluebonnets vs Peak Bloom
So when will bluebonnets begin to bloom here in Dallas TX, and when will they peak?
With a mild winter and plenty of rain to kick off 2017, all we need is a little sunshine, and we should start seeing some bluebonnets popping up along roadsides and beginning to form buds in the fields. South Texas bluebonnets bloom early and then spread north here to Dallas a few weeks later, so we always watch reports for Austin and then calculate accordingly.
Look for the earliest blooms lining the roadsides, which is where they blossom first and provide fair warning that bluebonnet season is arriving. This happens typically the first couple weeks in March in the Dallas TX area, possibly sooner this year.
The fields fill up and glow with neon blue mid-March through mid to late April and linger even into May (depending on weather).
Peak season for bluebonnets in the Dallas area for 2017, I am planning will probably be the first week in April.
**See below for update**
In my opinion, if you want to capture those glowing blue blossoms, it’s better to err on the side of being too early, rather than being too late. While bluebonnet season typically lasts for several weeks, the flowers are much more vibrant prior to and during peak.
Past-peak lingering blooms tend to be more of a subdued purple. This can also be very pretty if you know how to make the best of the scene because it creates a different feel to your images.
**UPDATE** I recently scoped out my locations and am now more enthusiastically estimating bluebonnet season peak for 2017 to be March 25 – April 5, 2017.
Do your walls show who you are? Many families have never had a portrait designed in such a way that it captures the true personalities and connection their family shares. Every family deserves this. I specialize in emotional outdoor portraits for children and families in the Dallas TX area. I capture memories and deliver artful portraits that you can hang on the wall. Learn more about why families choose me.
What could be more special for Valentine’s Day than having custom Valentine cards featuring your child’s beautiful face? 25 double-sided 5×5 cards showcase two sweet portraits on each side, plus a custom greeting, to give to friends and classmates. Let’s have some fun and float away with dozens of heart-shaped balloons!
“You Make My Heart Float” Valentine Sessions Sunday, January 29, 2016
Only 1 Spot Left!
Themed Outdoor Mini Session
25 Custom Valentine’s Day cards (5×5)
2 Full Size Digitals
Limited number of sessions available, so inquiries will be booked in the order they are received.
I captured some beautiful portraits of my son at the Blase Family Farm in Rockwall TX recently (with permission). It is so magical there in the fall.
I love this one with a butterfly on his hand. There were actually butterflies everywhere! But this was a composite photo, made with two separate images.
Boy holding butterfly on hand (composite image) | Fantasy Portraiture by Destiny Malone
The inspiration for this fantasy portrait was actually a Facebook post. In one of the groups I’m in, someone asked who did “magical pictures” and they posted some images with butterflies and sparkles added. Of course, someone tagged me, and it made me remember this image of my son where he was staring at a rock in his hand (typical boy), but you couldn’t see the rock. It was the perfect candidate for a “magical” portrait!
At another session I did recently, the parents had brought a step ladder, and I just had to try this fantasy portrait with their little girl. They were thrilled, and I have gotten SO many compliments since. These “magical” photos have a very wide appeal. This was actually three separate images: the original, the moon, and the stars, combined to make a single fantasy work of art.
Little girl hanging the moon, standing on a step ladder (composite image) | Fantasy Portraiture by Destiny Malone
If you love fantasy portraiture as much as I do and would like to dream up something magical for your child, please contact me with your idea!
SAVE THE DATE! Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 2pm, I will be hosting a workshop at the Rowlett Library with the theme:
5 Steps To Better Photos With Your DSLR – Just in time for the holidays!
Don’t be intimidated by your DSLR camera. Learn to use it. I mean really use it! As Rowlett’s award-winning Professional Photographer, I am happy to share a few simple tips to help you take better photos of your family this holiday season. You will wish you had known these tips sooner!
Whether you are trying to nail those Christmas card portraits or just capture candid memories, I’d love to help you get more comfortable using your DSLR and offer tips on camera settings, indoor and outdoor portraits, lighting and more.
Feel free to bring your camera and take notes! Library programs are always free, and no registration is required. Put it on your calendar now so you don’t miss it!
The excitement of the Christmas season is almost here. One of my favorite parts of this time of year is receiving Christmas cards from friends and family. My favorites are the ones with recent family pictures where I can see how everyone’s family has changed and how big those kids have gotten since I’ve seen them last.
In a world that is getting increasingly digital, it is rare to get something personal in the mail anymore, and the holidays are a welcome return to the days when mailboxes were an engine of surprise and excitement. I’m sure so many others feel the same way! It’s no wonder why I have gotten so many requests for Christmas themed photography minis this year.
I had to plan something special and unique for my 2016 Christmas Mini Sessions in Rowlett, TX, and I am so excited to share this fun theme with you! Special thanks to Blase Family Farm for allowing use of their property, which makes the PERFECT location.
Christmas Campout Themed Sessions Sunday, November 27, 2016
Themed Outdoor Mini Session
5 Digital Images
A portion of the proceeds for this year’s Christmas mini sessions will benefit Rowlett Needy Children’s Fund. They are on my heart this year, and they said monetary donations are much appreciated as they have to fill specific needs beyond the items that are donated. We are happy to help make that possible!
Isn’t this this theme so cute? Imagine what people will say when they receive your adorable Christmas cards!