Visiting Daddy’s Alma Mater: Saint Vincent College

Hey guys! I am so excited to share this particular Portait Session with you all because I have waited far too long to photograph this adorable family! These sweet babes, Jake & Elliana, were one of the first sessions that I ever did. Elliana wasn’t more than a month old the last time I had these 2 in front of the lens and I am so pumped to see how my work has evolved since then.

If you don’t know them, it is past time you met the Greece Family! Tony, his wife, Emily and their two adorable kiddos are my first cousins. Tony is a local school teacher and Emily is the girl you go to when it’s past due for a new hair “do”. Just this past year, they moved into a new home in Latrobe, PA and I wanted to help them decorate their house with new family photos.

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We chose to set up the shoot at the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve at Saint Vincent College mainly because Tony graduated with his masters here not too long ago but also  because the scenery here would make the perfect backdrop for their shoot! Located just off of Route 30 in Latrobe, this place around sunset is a gorgeous stroll.

I wanted to get the “Family of 4” shots done first simply because kids have no patience and I wasn’t about to test the patience of two small Greece children. We set up the first image along the driveway into the Reserve. The flowers are in full bloom this year and the image would look perfect with the Cathedral in the background.

After running around in the flowers for a bit, we managed to make our way down to the big red barn located near the entrance. Since the little ones have the shortest attention spans, I figured I would start shooting the individual portraits of Elliana first and boy, is she a ham! This girl was sniffing all the pretty flowers and showing me all the pretty bracelets she had worn for her shoot. Though chalk full of giggles at first, this Mama’s girl made sure we knew who runs the show!

After snapping a few photos of Emily and Elliana in the gardens, we headed to the back of the barn to snap a few of Tony and his little guy, Jake. I was thinking of different Father-Son poses when my little buddy suggested that he sit on Daddy’s shoulders. With the barn in the background and my little buddy squealing “Angaweena!!!” to get my attention, the moment was picture perfect.

Like most Family Sessions, my sweet cousins wanted to focus on the kiddos but I always make an effort to get a few good pics of Mom and Dad together. It’s almost like after kids come into the fold, couples forget that their love story should be documented too! But, I wasn’t about to let them get off scot-free. I made sure to get a few photos of Tony & Emily posing “prom-style”.

We made our way down to the historic Lochry Block House and snapped a few more of the whole family together in the adjacent garden before we decided to head for a walk around the paths in the park. We passed a small pond and marched our way towards the Observation Deck all the while catching up on life and what we’ve missed since my last visit home.

It was so nice to catch up with them. But, even better spending time with the little ones. I feel so lucky that after all these years, Tony and I have remained close. Like most cousins, we have this shared history of family dysfunction but beneath the surafce of forced family interaction, Tony, Emily, Russ and I have formed this genuine friendship. When they got engaged, we got the call. When we got engaged, they got the call. When they found out that their family would be expanding, we heard the news of Jake’s arrival first. Through a flood of Facetime tears, I met Jake just hours after he came into this world and when I found out they were expecting their 2nd baby, I immediatey bought my plane ticket to be there when Ellie was born.

During that visit back home, I had the great pleasure of photographing my new baby cousin for the first time. She was so perfectly pink, just the prettiest baby I ever saw. She had big blue eyes and the tiniest little toes. I couldn’t of imagined then but later that day, Tony and Emily would honor me by asking me to take on the role of being Elliana’s Godmother. Cue the ugly tears guys.

We ended this shoot by wrapping up quickly and heading to the Red Brick for pizza with our friends and family! I am so thankful for any time that I get to share with these guys especially because our time together is few and far between since I am in Texas. Tony, thank you, for being such a great role model and constantly encouraging me to chase my dreams. I’ve always looked up to you and I am so happy to see all your dreams coming true. Emily, thank you, for being the best addition to the Greece Family. You are kind and God-fearing, ambitious and graceful. I could not imagine a better match for my big cousin! Jake, thank you, for dubbing me “Angaweena” and for just being the smartest cookie in our family. You are one crazy little guy who always knows how to put a smile on my face. And, Elliana, thank you, for reminding me that life comes full circle. You remind me so much of another sassy little girl we all used to know. Though we miss her everyday, you help keep her memory shining bright. You are a light in the world little girl and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you.

For more information on how to book your Family Portrait Session, please contact me through email at therustienailhead@gmail.com and I will provide you with our Pricing and Packages! If you would like to book a session or to inquire about our Fall Mini Sessions in the Laurel Highlands and our Travel Dates, just give me a ring at 724-216-8185 and we can get you all in the books!

Harper’s 2nd Birthday Shoot

This sweet boy is 2 and I cannot believe it. It feels like just yesterday that his Momma was breaking the baby news and now, he is a walking, talking Energizer Bunny! What an amazing adventure it has been watching this crazy little guy grow up. His momma and I are quite the comrades so I have had the pleasure of witnessing Harper in all his stages. As a baby, Tiff & I would have our girl’s nights while Harp Dog would crawl around on my kitchen floor with his cow printed blanket and my sweet puppy dog, Reyna. And when he started walking, we would head to the park and practice his milk drunken stumble. Now, he just runs circles around me all the while yelling, “Nina, come on.”

Harper is no stranger to having me shove the camera in his face. I have shot his First Birthday, Halloween, Easter & Christmas photos and now his 2nd Birthday. He’s getting quite good at being the ham, a quality I am sure that he gets from his Momma. This go around would be no different. We headed to downtown Keller to check out a Dr Pepper mural and decided it was the perfect backdrop for this little dude’s shoot. Tiff, bring the  supergenius that she is, made sure to bring a bribe. We had a plan. For every giggle, Harp Dog gets an M&M. Once we got him all hopped up on sugar, the smiles came pouring out. He was singing and dancing in front of the wall. Twirling and laughing at the “big trucks” that kept flying by. He was having a ball, to say the least.

We wrapped up at the wall and headed towards a huge open field so we could play a little tag and watch the sunset. When we let him run wild, boy did he. This guy was posing behind trees playing peek a boo and waving a stick around like he was Harry Potter. It was hilarious listening to him try and yell “expelliarmus”. This boy has a way of keeping me in stitches. As the sun went down, Tiff softly sang a few lullabies in his ear to calm him down for the ride home. It worked like a charm. Shortly after dark, we made our way back to the car and called it a night. Sometimes, this job doesn’t even feel like work. Shoots like this are a grateful reminder of how joyful work can be.

For information on how to book your Holiday Mini Session in Dallas Fort Worth or the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, shoot me an email at therustienailhead@gmail.com or get all the details from our DFW Holiday Mini Session Blog or the Laurel Highlands Holiday Mini Session Blog! I would love to meet you and help make your vision come to life this Holiday Season!