Pologruto Family Holiday Minis

Hey guys! A few weeks ago, I headed back to Pennsylvania to do a plethora of holiday mini sessions. It was a whirlwind of spending time with family, eating everything my Mom put in front of me and photographing the most adorable families for their Christmas Cards! This trio reached out shortly after I announced my travel dates and I was pumped that they had thought of me to capture their photos. In the last year, Sara and Anthony welcomed the most adorable little lady, Maggie, and they wanted to capture their little girl just playing in her own backyard. I loved Sara’s vision and couldn’t wait to see the place that they are lucky enough to call home.

With my photography assistants, aka my little sisters, in tow, we made our way into the mountains. Before the shoot, Sara filled me in on the location. Anthony and Sara purchased a home in Rector, PA. Just to give you an idea, these guys live in the woods. Like, really, in the woods. So far in the woods that my GPS literally failed me. Thankfully, Anthony stood by the side of the road waiting for us to arrive to help with the directions. Once we made our way across a wooden bridge, we traveled down a dirt road into a small community of homes spread out though out the expansive acreage of Powder Mill Nature Reserve. These guys really do live in a magical corner of the world. Both Mom and Dad agreed that their backyard was the perfect place to capture these photos because this is where Maggie lives and breathes her playtime!

From her little old lady coat to her pigtails, this angel could not have been dressed more perfect! It was a cold and wet day but you couldn’t tell looking at her. She was playing in the leaves and taking off the minute that they set her down. She is an explorer for sure. I have a feeling Mom and Dad are gonna be chasing this girl down for years to come. We strolled around their neighborhood and looked for spots with good light. As we quickly approached the sun setting, Anthony and Sara led me back down to the wooden bridge and we set up shop.

After snagging a few photos of Maggie with Mom and Maggie with Dad, we focused on letting them play with their little girl. In the end, I’d have to say we did just that. I love that these photos are so bold and wintery. I love that Maggie has the prettiest blue eyes, especially when she is carrying around her favorite little toy, a stuffed piggy. And, I especially love the way that Sarah and Anthony look at their baby girl. You can see how smitten they are with her every move. From their gorgeous backyard in the forests of the Laurel Highlands to the rich red gingham blanket Sara brought along for the shoot, these guys have gotten a hang of how to put a smile on their baby’s face. I am so thankful for this opportunity and look forward to spending more time with this sweet family and their wild child of a baby girl! Merry Christmas Pologrutos!!

For Information on how to book your unique Portrait Session, shoot me an email at therustienailhead@gmail.com. Throughout the month of December 2016, I am offering $150 Mini Sessions in the Dallas Fort Worth area. These sessions include a 45 minute session within DFW, 15-20 Digital Images delivered in an Online Downloadable Gallery and Print Release. Perfect for Christmas Card Photos, Surprise Holiday Proposals and even Gifts. You can buy this deal for a limited time as a Gift Certificate in 2017!

Top 5 Parks in the Laurel Highlands for Photography

My last Top 5 was based on the Top 5 Parks in the DFW Metroplex for Photographers to set up a photo shoot. This week, I thought I would tackle my hometown and the surrounding area! After all, the Laurel Highlands is where my love for photography began. Even as a tyke, I always had a great appreciation for the area that I grew up in. I spent my childhood playing on farm land in good ole Crabtree, Pennsylvania. I learned to appreciate the natural beauty of a season’s harvest and the picturesque 100 year old farmhouses that grace the countryside of southwestern Pennsylvania. The best of all are the leaves in the fall. Something about all the color that comes to life before that first blanket of snow is just idyllic. I know, I seem a bit melancholy but I really do miss it most days, the changing of the seasons. The air is just different and that’s why I crave the opportunity to set up shoots when I am home. It’s my way of exploring my old stomping grounds.

Lucky for you, I’ve scoped out my favorite places to set up shop and am including a few of the tricks I’ve been stashing up my sleeve. To provide even more inspiration for exploration, a local photographer out of New Alexandria, Carolyn Anderson, has provided some pretty amazing shots of these places for you to really get the feel of how these spaces change annually! Carolyn is a southwestern Pennsylvania native with an active and ongoing love affair with landscape photography. She shares my passion for capturing the people and places that make this particular corner of the world extra special and we’ll definitely be sharing more on how to view her work here on the Blog in the future. Keep an eye out!

5. Keystone State Park (1150 Keystone Park Rd, Derry Township, PA 15627)

Located in Westmoreland County, this little slice of heaven can be found in the midst of the family-owned farms that make up the community of New Alexandria. With a swim beach and concession stand, this park makes for the perfect family day trip. If you want to make it a whole weekend, they offer campsites and RV hookups too! The boys can fish Keystone Lake while the ladies pick flowers from the adjacent fields. Lastly, photographers be on the lookout for a pretty awesome sunset. This place has been known to provide some really great backdrops! For more information on hours and camping availability, head here.

Photos courtesy of Carolyn Anderson, a photographer based out of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania.
|Keystone State Park| Photo: Carolyn Anderson
Photos courtesy of Carolyn Anderson, a photographer based out of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania.
|Keystone State Park| Photo: Carolyn Anderson
23Aug2015 041a copy copy
|Keystone State Park| Photo: Carolyn Anderson

 

4. Twin Lakes (216 Twin Lakes Road Greensburg, PA 15601)

Also located in Westmoreland County, this park just continues to grow. After deciding that an expansion would boost more community involvement, the park added the Franklin Dog Park, David R. Peach Dek Hockey Rink and the Peach Plaza Skate and Action Park. There is even a new Winter Sports Area for the kiddos to sled during those Snow Days! Use the park for fitness on it’s many trails or take the kids fishing on one of the paddleboats! The Boathouse is loaded with lots of goodies for the whole family. And don’t miss out on all the fun of the Arts and Heritage Festival that usually takes place the first weekend of July. The booths boost loads of artitistic crafts, winery tastings, the world’s best Fried Veggies. The Kids Corner is a must for those who wish to have their face painted as a butterfly or a fireman for the day! This place makes for a great day out of the house in any capacity. Let those munchkins run wild and then have a picnic. This place is sure to please. For more information, head to their website.

Photos courtesy of Carolyn Anderson, a photographer based out of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania.
|Twin Lakes Boathouse| Photo: Carolyn Anderson
Photos courtesy of Carolyn Anderson, a photographer based out of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania.
|Twin Lakes State Park| Photo: Carolyn Anderson

 

3. Mammoth Park  (Blacksmith Rd, Mt Pleasant, PA 15666)

This gorgeous park is located in Mount Pleasant. Within this massive piece of property lies a 24 acre fresh water lake that can be seen from the Observatory Deck. This park is ideal for family picnics in the summer and sled riding in the winter. A skate park, tennis courts, bocci and shuffleboard courts can all be found on this 408 acre piece of property. But my favorite part about this place is the insane 90 foot slide! As a kid, we brought our wax paper and shot our way to the bottom. For more information on how to find this hidden gem, head here.

 

Photos courtesy of Carolyn Anderson, a photographer based out of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania.
|Mammoth Park| Photo: Carolyn Anderson
|Mammoth Park| Photo: Carolyn Anderson

 

2. Linn Run State Park (Laughlintown, PA)

Linn Run State Park is hands down my favorite place to hang out in the Laurel Highlands. Bordering Forbes State Forest enables this park to boast 50,000 acres of land for outdoor recreation. As a kid, my family and I would hike our way to Adam’s Falls and Slippery Rock, an area of the park that hosts a natural water slide. Bring your inner tubes! I even had my Senior Portraits taken here way back when and I even spent most of my Senior Skip Days hiking the trails back to Beams Rock with a few of my favorite miscreants. This dog-friendly slice of heaven sits on the outskirts of a hippie town and  the best drive to see the colors change in the fall. Check it out. Don’t forget to stop by the Natural Spring and fill up on that fresh mountain spring water!

Photos courtesy of Carolyn Anderson, a photographer based out of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania.
|Linn Run State Park| Photo: Carolyn Anderson
Photos courtesy of Carolyn Anderson, a photographer based out of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania.
|Linn Run State Park| Photo: Carolyn Anderson
Photos courtesy of Carolyn Anderson, a photographer based out of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania.
|Linn Run State Park| Photo: Carolyn Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Ohiopyle (Fayette County, Pennsylvania)

This massive outdoor wonderland covers the expanse of 20,500 acres. There is literally an endless amount of things to see and do in this area. You can hike the various trails, take the kids fishing, head out on a whitewater adventure down the Youghiogheny River Gorge, backpack the 135 mile long Great  Allegheny Passage, brave the biking trails, try your hand at rock climbing or just have a picnic and camp out with the family. Make sure to check out Cucumber Run and bring your inner tubes for the natural water slides in Meadow Run. Whether you are in need of a location for your next Portrait Session or just want to take a few pictures of the kids in their element, this is the place to head to. For more information on how to get the most out of your stay in Ohiopyle, check out the state’s website!

Ohiopyle

 

Photos courtesy of Carolyn Anderson, a photographer based out of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania.
|Ohiopyle| Photo: Carolyn Anderson
Photos courtesy of Carolyn Anderson, a photographer based out of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania.
|Ohiopyle| Photo: Carolyn Anderson