The Photographer Becomes the Subject

Time to update my professional portraits

Portrait SelfieA few weeks ago it was my turn to have my professional portrait updated. This is something I like to do once a year and had skipped the last two years because of being pregnant and then having James. Luckily for me I have amazing friends in the photography industry and gave my good friend Andi Diamond a call! She loves to bring her kids for my duck and Santa portrait sessions and I love to bring myself to her! In addition to updating my professional portrait I begged her for a few images of me and James. As a photographer it is so hard to actually get in the images with your kids. I am always the one taking them!

I decided it was time to practice what I preach … you have heard me say “Mom’s you MUST have portraits made with your children” many, many times. As the historians in our homes I know it is hard. We are always the one with camera in hand. However when our children grow up, they will want to have memories of us holding them, kissing them and snuggling with them. We may never feel skinny enough or pretty enough to get in front of the camera, but trust me … our kids DO NOT CARE! They love us because we are Mom and I promise you this … they think we are very pretty.

Getting Myself Ready

It is easy to sit at my desk and talk to mom’s on the phone about how to prepare for sessions with their children. Having photographed thousands of children’s portrait sessions in the past 10 years I have seen everything and I know how to help a client get ready for their session.


You would think that when it comes time for me to be on the other side of the camera I could pick outfits and have everything figured out easy-peasy.


I should have taken a photo of what my bed looked like the day before my portrait session with Andi. Outfits, shoes, bras … EVERYWHERE! My husband walked in and turned around very quickly not wanting to be sucked into my little tornado. After much debate I packed my bags (yes I said bags) and was ready to head to Andi’s the next day.

Behind the Scenes

Once I had my hair and makeup done and we were ready to start shooting it was quite the adventure keeping James occupied  … he was tugging at my feet, trying to climb up my legs, and pull down the reflector. Typical 1 year old! He just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t holding him.

Behind the Scenes Photo Shoot

Hi mommy! I see you up there!
Behind the Scenes Photo Shoot
I bet you can’t lunge over that ottoman and catch me before I knock over this giant shiny reflector.

Behind the Scenes Photo Shoot

PICK ME UP! (Can you see me trying to hold my smile!) HAHA
Behind the Scenes Photo Shoot
Ms. Andi, take my picture!
Behind the Scenes Photo Shoot
And my personal favorite …. “I am outta here ladies!”

Of course the behind the scenes silly images are just as fun to me as the finished portraits themselves. These tell the story of what that day was like! However I know you would kill me if I didn’t share some of these adorable finished portraits.

mom and baby portrait

Behind the Scenes Photo Shoot
Behind the Scenes Photo Shoot
Behind the Scenes Photo Shoot
Behind the Scenes Photo Shoot

I knew I would love my portraits with James, but I am not sure I can really describe in words how these images make me feel (this is why I am a photographer and not a writer). I love my baby boy so much and seeing these images make my heart swell up even more. All I can say is THANK YOU to Andi for spending that afternoon with me to create these portraits. I will treasure them forever and can not wait to print them and hang them up in my home!

And now my new headshots!

Jeanine McLeod Craftsman Photographer

Jeanine McLeod Craftsman Photographer


Jeanine McLeod Craftsman Photographer

Considering I haven’t slept more than 4 hours straight in over a year … I think these look amazing!! Love you Andi Diamond 🙂 You are my soul sister!

If you are reading this blog and are getting married in Tampa give Andi a call or check out her website! In addition to creating beautiful professional portraits, she is an incredible wedding photographer.

As I wrap up my blog post I will say again how happy I am to have taken James with me for these portraits. Instead of just updating a few images for my website and social media I now have these incredible images of me with my little man. He will never be this small again and the days and years go by so fast.

Hugs to all,

Wizarding School Exclusively at Cloud 9 Studios July 2017

Does your child secretly believe they will receive a letter from Hogwarts when they turn 11? Have they read every word of the Harry Potter series and seen every movie multiple times? Do they beg you to fight the crowds at Universal Studios so they can pretend to be in Harry Potter’s World?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then earn your Parent of the Year status by signing them up for our Wizarding School Dreamscape Session at the studio. We won’t be simply taking photos at this session, we will be treating your child to a truly magical portrait experience.

The experience will start with your confirmation packet that we will mail home to your child. It will include many items such as a letter of acceptance to our wizarding school, a luggage tag for their journey and a few other magical surprises.

When they arrive at the studio they will be greeted by a team of wizards ready to make the next hour of their life one to remember for a lifetime. From the moment they slip on their magical robes and choose their wands (or will the wand choose them?) to playing with the potions in our on set potions lab, your little wizard will role play what they have dreamed about while reading books and watching movies.

wizarding world portraits

The dates have just been released on our calendar and I know these sessions will completely book out. We are currently only accepting 14 young wizards to our school this summer.

Wizarding School Portraits

To RESERVE your Wizarding School portrait experience at the studio please call 813-994-4552 and talk with our Headmaster, Professor Jeanine. The session fee is $75; this will include your session, wand, use of our costumes and of course the entire wizarding experience. This amount is due at the time of reserving your session.

Wizarding School Portraits

Once we finish your child’s portrait experience our team of artwork wizards will edit and design for you an ordering appointment to select your favorite images for your home. We will be offering a variety of unique pieces of art for your wall as well as custom album designs to tell the complete story of attending Wizarding School. Each art piece will include the addition of our magical elements to complete the fantastical look.

Magical Prints will start at $75
Finished framed artwork for your home will start at $400
Storybook Albums will start at $750
Digital Collections will start at $395

Wizarding School Portraits

Fine Magical Print …
There will be glass and magical elements, such as dry ice, used in the creation of these images, therefore only wizards 5 and older can attend Wizarding School. Up to 2 little wizards can be on set at any given time. If you have more than 2 children that you wish to have photographed, we can let them take turns acting out their magical dreams.

In case you missed this little detail … Call the studio at 813-994-4552 to get signed up for Wizarding School!


James Turns One | Smash Cake | First Birthday

My oh my how the time does fly. In fact I have said this so much during James’s first year that “Time Flies” is the theme of his First Birthday Party!

I can not believe I am sitting here tonight blogging about my baby boy’s first birthday smash cake session. Although James is my second child, this year being his mommy has taught me so much. I thought it would be fun as I share with you his first birthday smash cake portraits to tell you a few of the things I learned.

  1. Boys are very different from girls. – I am not talking the biology differences I am talking about EVERYTHING! From the way he snuggles with me to the mischief he is already getting in to … James is an entirely different baby then Eryn. We have already had to lock things up high because he is a CLIMBER!

First Birthday Boy Portrait

2. Breastfeeding has been one of my greatest joys – I didn’t breastfeed Eryn because of some issues we had and was determined that things would be different with James. Although we started off rough (like minutes from throwing in the towel) I am so happy I stuck with it and found the perfect doula and support friends to help me on this journey. I have treasured every moment (except the time he bit me) and so happy I made this choice. If you are a new mom and need someone to chat with about the ups and downs of breastfeeding, drop me an email … I will be real with you!

First Birthday Boy Portrait

3. No matter how much I plan, I am never prepared  – James has taught me to let go of my Type A scheduling personality. This must be God’s way of getting me to relax. I am such a scheduler and James … well he has other ideas. No sooner am I sure I have his nap schedule figured out and make plans for 11am, he decides … guess what .. I am going to nap until Noon!

First Birthday Boy Portrait

4. His big sister LOVES him, and I mean LOVES him – While pregnant, Eryn and I would dream together about what having a baby boy would be like. Me as a mommy and her as a big sister. I knew she was going to love having him around, but I didn’t realize just HOW MUCH her love would be. I also didn’t realize how much he would love her. When she walks in the room or goes to play with him his eyes light up and he smiles from ear to ear. I love watching them together. When James was born they became instant best friends.

First Birthday Boy Portrait

5. Silly songs are the best! – All my life I have been known to randomly come up with silly songs. My friends and family love to make fun of me. Now having a baby boy my silly song lyrics are on hyper drive. I have songs for everything … bath time, diaper changing, putting on lotion, getting in the car, and other random songs that just come to me when the mood strikes. James likes them … they always make him smile. So everyone else can laugh … I don’t care 🙂

First Birthday Boy Smash Cake

6. I got over the “journey of the germ” – It wasn’t too far in to James’s life and I had to get past the germ thing. Although I am still very careful about what he puts in his mouth, he doesn’t seem to care about germs and all things gross and disgusting. If he sees it and finds it before I do, it is going in his mouth. No joke, being this boy’s mom is a constant battle of making sure he doesn’t choke on the Lego that his big sister left on the floor or eating the love bug that up and died in our entry way. Every time I see his dirty hands going in his mouth I keep telling myself “he is going too have a strong immunity system”!

First Birthday Boy Smash Cake

7. Sleep is for another time – I haven’t had more than 4-5 hours sleep in a row since James was born. I am amazed at how I am able to fully function with so little sleep! I mean I know my husband makes the worlds best coffee but lets be real here …. sleep would be nice. I have read every book, tried every method … bottom line my little man just doesn’t like to sleep for long stretches of time. Maybe one day again I will have the luxury of 8 hours of straight sleep!

First Birthday Boy Smash Cake

8. Back up to the back up outfits – One extra outfit in the diaper bag is just never enough. I am amazed at how quickly a little boy can pee on more than one outfit for the day or spit up when he hasn’t spit up for months, or turn his food pouch completely upside down and giggle as it drizzles out all over his pants. Yes … he is a messy boy and I do a lot of laundry.

First Birthday Boy Smash Cake

9. Baby laughs never get old – I mean never! I know all of James’s tickle spots and the games that make him belt out a true belly laugh. I have recorded his laugh so that I will never forget what it sounds like and to cheer me up when I am having one of those days. If you haven’t recorded your baby’s laugh … do it now!

First Birthday Boy Smash Cake

10. Nobody will ever love me more – This year has had its shares of ups and downs. Through all of it, my favorite lesson has been learning my baby’s overwhelming and unconditional love for me. I can see it in his eyes, in his smile and feel it in the way he holds on to me. Parenting is hard. Nobody gives you an instruction manual on what to do. However, even on the most sleepless of nights, feeling his love makes every moment of being his mom worth it. For all you parents out there, embrace your child’s love for nobody will ever love you more.

I hope you enjoyed my sweet boy’s first birthday balloon portraits and of course his smash cake, while reading just a few of my thoughts from the year. If you are a mom I am sure you have also learned a few things or two from your baby, if you are pregnant … oh my your journey in true love is about to begin!

If you have a baby about ready to turn ONE … check out my Baby’s First Birthday Portrait Gallery and give me a call to chat at 813-994-4552! I’d love to hear from you.



Dog Days of Summer | Pet Portraits for your 4-legged Child

I may be known for photographing the children and babies in your family, but you and I both know that these babies don’t always have 2 legs! This summer we are hosting our Dog Days of Summer promotion to help you celebrate the life of your 4-legged fur babies. That is right … we want to photograph your family pet!

Dog Portrait

It won’t get any easier to bring your pets in to the studio. In June, July and August we will have weekday appointments available just for pet portraits. The 30 minute portrait session will come packaged with a 10×10 Signature Collage for you to have in your home along with 3 high resolution digital files to share with friends and family.

To make this promotion even sweeter (or cleaner) we have partnered with the Red Hydrant to offer as part of your package a $25 gift certificate. This certificate can be used towards one of the following:

  • bath
  • nails and bath
  • brush out
  • towards a new collar

The Red Hydrant

If you haven’t visited the Red Hydrant before check out their website .

We can’t wait to meet your furry babies this summer. Give us a call at 813-994-4552 to get on our calendar today!