Durham Family Session | The Whole McMinds Family

They are the kind of family that makes everyone feel welcome. The family who makes you feel like you're one of them, and invites you to "Family Game Night" and "Homemade Pizza Night" just because they can. It's been three years since they've had their photos taken, all of them, together. That was why her daughter in law nominated them for our giveaway a few weeks back. Because this family deserved it. You would never know the kind of sadness, pain, and difficulty this family has been through the past few years. All you can see is happy. Simply because, together, that's what they are. Happy.

Thank you so much for letting me be a little part of your family for this day. All of you are absolutely amazing and I can't wait until Family Game Night!!! :)

With Love,

Ariana & Brian

 The McMinds Family pose at Eno Park.

Husband and wife kiss at Eno Park.

Gorgeous Katie smiles for the camera!

The beautiful couple hug by Burlington Wedding Photographer.

The girls in the family by Burlington Photographer.

The boys by Burlington Family Photographer.

Lovely lens flare of the Speckled Kat.

Beautiful smile from Briana at Eno Park.

The foot shot of the family!

Sweet shot of the two cousins.

Silly faces from the kids!

The sisters and sister in laws by Burlington Wedding Photographer.

The McMinds Family - Burlington Wedding Photographer.

Duke Park Family Session | The McMinds

A little while ago, I offered an opportunity to win a free Mini-Session for you and a friend (on THIS post). I was thrilled with our entries and had NO idea who to pick. So when a randomly chosen winner turned out to be the fantastic Katie McMinds and her family, I couldn't have been happier! She's an avid blog reader and commenter (which i L.O.V.E.), their family is absolutely gorgeous and I couldn't wait for the opportunity to photograph them all. Did I mention they all love candy almost as much as i do? So how excited was I to get a beautiful card and a bag filled with Sour Patch Kids and other candy?! And I'm talking FIVE different types of Sour Patch Kids - it was like happiness in a bag, I tell ya!

Our mini session lasted 30 minutes, but I was so excited with the photos we got! This family has photogenic down to a science. Thank you Katie and Brandon for the opportunity and for the candy - I'm still on a sugar high! :)

Durham, NC Wedding & Engagement Photography

North Carolina Wedding & Engagement Photography

Family photos at Duke Park by Durham, NC Wedding & Engagement Photographer

I make it a definite goal to take romantic shots of mommy and daddy at every family session. When there are kids involved, you can pretty much guarantee that they haven't had shots like these since probably their wedding! These always turn out to be some fo my favorites.

Durham, NC Wedding & Engagement Photography

Wedding Photography & Videography in Durham North Carolina

North Carolina Wedding & Engagement Photography

Greensboro, NC Wedding & Engagement Photography

Family group shot by Wedding & Engagement Photographer

Durham, NC Wedding & Engagement Photography

Duke Park Family photos by Durham Wedding Photographer

May-jah props to Brian for this incredible photo. I love his use of light with this, and so proud of the photographer he is becoming!

The McMinds Family photos by Durham Wedding Photographer

Speckled Kat Family photos by Durham Wedding Photographer

Durham, NC Wedding & Engagement Photography

Thanks for reading!


Mini-Session Giveaway! (CLOSED)

It's November!! The leaves are falling, we can start to see our breath in the cold morning and the Holidays are approaching. It's just that time of year.

So I thought it was an appropriate time to hold a giveaway! Yay! Here's the 411...


Think of one person you know who needs or deserves a photography session, and tell me why. It could be for any reason, but I want to know why YOU think they deserve it. Did they just have a baby? Has Grandma never had a photograph taken with all of her grandchildren? Did your fabulous mother just beat the odds and is still here today to celebrate and keep your lives filled with love? Tell me their story.


The winner will receive a Mini Session with Faces in Focus Photography, to be silly, laugh, cuddle, and play with their favorite people in the whole wide world. AND, so will their friend. That special person who so deserves a session, gets the exact same thing. Both of you will walk away with 30 minutes of fun, an online gallery of 15 images, and a free 8x10!


There are three steps to enter the contest.

1. Post your response on our blog using the Add Comment link below.

2. Post your response on Facebook.

3. The winner is going to be chosen and announced on our Newsletter, so in order to find out if you won, you’ll have to sign up for the newsletter too, using the box below.




The contest ends at 9:00 AM on Friday November 4th. The winner will be chosen by Sunday, November 6th. So what are you waiting for? On your marks.... Hehe just kidding!
I can't wait to hear all of your amazing stories! I know choosing a winner for this is NOT going to be easy!
Happy Sharing!! :)



Myrtle Beach Portrait Photographer | Sarah


She's gorgeous - inside and out. She really is. I tell her all the time. Not because she's my sister-in-law, not because I love her to death, and not because both of our dogs came from the same litter. It's simply because she is.


I was thrilled when Sarah asked me to do new headshots for her website. Especially in that gorgeous morning glow. On the beach. I mean, goodness, it's the trifecta for an awesome session! And since we so happened to be in Myrtle Beach last week - well it was a no-brainer!


And Sarah - save some gorgeousness for the hubby okay? Geez!!!







Burlington, NC Wedding Photographer


Sarah looks great in the morning sun at Myrtle Beach


The stunning beach and golden sun


Sarah smiles in the golden sand


Sarah of Sarah Michelle photography


Beautiful brunette at Myrtle Beach


South Carolina photographer, Myrtle Beach


Myrtle Beach South Carolina photographer


Beautiful Sarah of Sarah Michelle Photography


Hello Again! and a Sneak Peek | Sarah

I went to the beach! Just in time, apparently, because the moment I returned the weather changed. I mean not that I dislike cold weather entirely. Who doesn't love boots and leggings in the fall? It's like the best thing ever. BUT I am happy to not have missed out on getting some gorgeous sun on the beach. With hot weather every day and an amazing view of the sunrise every morning (which I managed to get to see a whole TWO times...yeah I'm not a morning person...) it was a very relaxing trip. Now that I've got a tan and am all chill (like the other side of the pillow ya'll), I'm so ready to take on the cool weather and changing leaves.

Of course while I was there, I had to take full advantage of that breathtaking sunrise over the water. So not only did I get up one morning with the hubby for our very own Anniversary Session (which I can't wait to see!), I also had a chance to take some new headshots of my beautiful sister-in-law/BFF/sista from another mista/etc. - you get my drift.

Here's just one itsy bitsy teeny weeny sneak peek. Hop back in for the full post on Wednesday. And check in tomorrow for a Tuesday Shoesday post - my most recent bride's stunning blue shoes that i had way too much fun posing for pics.

Thanks for reading!


Myrtle Beach South Carolina Portrait Photographer

Franklin Street Portrait Session | Mixed Rhythm | Austin

Austin loves to dance. You can tell. She'd dance anywhere. And now she loves to teach others how to not only dance, but exercise too! She's currently teaching Zumba classes in Durham & Chapel Hill and is building her business - Mixed Rhythm.

In her words...

Mixed Rhythm is about enjoying movement in life.  Anyone that knows me, can tell you I love to dance and will do so at the drop of a hat.  Since my passion is so strong, it moved me to teach others.  Presently, I teach Zumba, private sessions and choreograph wedding dances.  Visit my Facebook Page or email me (MixedRhythm@gmail.com) if you have a little Mixed Rhythm in you.

We walked the streets of Franklin Street, danced in studios, and found awesome parking decks lit up by the sun. I love the urban feeling of the photographs we took together - I think they most definitely say Mixed Rhythm.

Austin - I hope you love them!


New Gardens Clubhouse Graduation Party | Sasha

Sasha. That's a happy girl. Now that she's graduated, and made major changes in her life, she's totally ready to take on the world. Her mother couldn't be any prouder of her beautiful girl. And it shows. It was a blast photographing this celebration. These folks are dancing machines!


So...this is Sasha. And yes, she's absolutely gorgeous!


The candy obsessed part of me wants to know why she never thought of Sour Punch in a cup. I mean whoa. Best. Idea. Ever.



Some folks just don't know how to smile... :)



No matter how cool your parents are... it's always awkward when they sing to you... no, no, wait that's just me and MY dad. :) Actually mama here had a pretty great voice!


But yeah like i said... still awkward. See?!








It's official - sunglasses are the best favor of all. Because don't all these folks look good with their sunglasses on inside? At night? Yes, yes they do.



Just a glimpse

Here's a small glimpse on what I got to do this past weekend and what I'll be working on this week!

Sasha's Graduation Party will be on the blog tomorrow.

Austin's Portrait Session for her dance business, Mixed Rhythm, will be on the blog early next week!

Keep your eyes peeled for all the photo goodness! :)

Also i may have something new premiering this week too... more details to come soon!



Andrews Elementary Family Session | The Traumullers

Last Saturday I drove to my old elementary school. It's been updated and changed by now, but I can still see remnants of the school I used to attend. Especially when, by the playground, waiting for me, is my 5th grade gym teacher and his gorgeous family!

Todd & Lindsay both teach at Andrews. It's where they met. And it's where they fell in love. They've been happily married for four years and have brought two absolutely beautiful girls into the world - Emma and Taylor. Both of them are absolutely in love with each other and their two girls.

Todd, Lindsay - It was a pleasure photographing you four! Your girls are so sweet and fun - they most DEFINITELY take after their parents! Thanks for the opportunity to photograph you all in all your adorableness!

With Love, Ariana

Traumuller family at Andrews Elementary

Burlington, NC session with Emma and Taylor

Yellow and pink hearts on baby Emma.

Daddy kisses Emma on Andrews Elementary School slide.

Family poses at Andrews Elementary School.

Lindsay & Taylor swing at the park in Burlington

Baby Emma smiles for the camera.

Traumuller family plays with bubbles in the field.

Taylor gives licky kiss to Mr. Traumuller.

Mr & Mrs Traumuller at Andrews Elementary School.

Emma plays with bubbles.

The Traumuller family kiss and cuddle at the playground.

Emma swings on the Andrews Elementary swingset.

Emma runs around the park at Andrews.

Mr & Mrs Traumuller with Taylor and Emma.

Andrews Elementary Family Session | Sneak Peek

I got the cutest message on my page from Lindsay, who's family I photographed last Saturday.

Sooo I am driving Todd crazy because I have already looked at your site several times. The last time his response was, "I believe she said Wednesday Lindsay!" I had a blast with you yesterday...thanks for shooting my family! Can't wait!'

So simply because she's adorable and because she made me laugh (and because I don't think she'll make it two more days... I kid I kid!!), I'm posting a sneak peek. Just for you Lindsay!

Duke Gardens Photographer | {Newlyweds} Ellisa & Anthony

Two months ago, they were married in a small and intimate wedding, with their closest friends and family there to celebrate with them. They contacted me a few weeks back to get official photos of them and I couldn't have been more thrilled. Two people madly in love are my favorite kind of sessions and these two did not disappoint. Amongst the giggles and the laughs that ensued the entire session, I couldn't help leaving with a feeling of happiness and contentment. I had most definitely caught their love on camera - mostly because you just couldn't miss it.

Ellisa and Anthony - thank you! Thank you for giving me this opportunity to know you a little better and to be the one to document your very sweet relationship for all your friends to see. You two are the kind of people that make a person feel happier inside just from being around you. I know that from experience. So thank you!

With Love,


We had the opportunity to photograph this session at the stunning Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, North Carolina.

Anthony & Elissa pose in front of willow tree at Duke Gardens in Durham.

Elissa & Anthony surrounded by magnolia tree and pond at Duke Gardens.

Couples pose at Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham.

Durham, NC - Bamboo trees surround Binky.

Durham - Trees surround couple at Duke Gardens.

Durham NC Engagement Photographer

Durham, NC - The sun sets behind the couple over a red bridge at Duke Gardens.

Duke Gardens - Two laughing people in love on Duke Gardens Bridge

The Newlyweds | Duke Gardens | Sneak Peek

If the session was any indication, these two Newlyweds have spent the last two months filled with family, giggles, inside jokes, and above all, love.

Here's a sneak peek of Ellisa & Anthony's {Just Married} Portrait Session at Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham North Carolina. More to come this week!

Newlyweds in Durham at Sarah P. Duke Gardens


Duke Gardens Family Photographer | The Gonzalez {Family}

On Monday I had another opportunity to photograph a beautiful couple in the gorgeous Duke Gardens. With an overcast sky, blooming flowers, and the cutest couple you'll ever meet... it was just perfect.

These two fell in love in Mexico and in the past few months have returned to be with her family here in North Carolina. In fact, this beautiful couple is actually related to my husband's family, so I was more than happy to have the privilege of photographing them.

Janiece & Ricardo - you guys are sooo adorable! I'm so glad to have met you both. And Ricardo - no more making fun of my Spanish! :)

Thanks you two!


Gonzalez family pose at Duke Gardens

Janiece smiles under the gazebo

Gonzalez couple hug on metal tulip bridge

Married couple laugh on metal bridge at Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Portrait shots of the Gonzalez couple.

Janiece and Ricardo pose by a tree in Duke Gardens.

Ricardo smiles at camera while leaning against tree.

janiece smiles over her husbands shoulder.

Spring flowers bloom behind the Gonzalez family.

Janiece and Ricarso hug by the pond.


Yellow flowers bloom in Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

This photo is one of my favorites!


Family cuddles on lush green lawn at Duke Gardens.

Janiece and Ricardo talk at hidden cafe table.

Gonzalez family photographed among the trees.


Ricardo admires his beautiful bride.I love a photo of a girl laughing!

Bride laughs as her groom hugs her on the red bridge.

Couple pose on zig zag bridge at Sarah P. Duke.


Husbands kisses beautiful wife on Zig Zag bridge at Duke Gardens.Thanks you two!

| Book Your Session! |

The Arrington {Family} | Burlington, NC Family Photographer

I knew I would like Eve from her very first email.

"Hi Ariana, I was just browsing the web looking for an awesome photographer to capture some pictures of me and my 3 beautiful daughters."

I knew I would really like Eve when I emailed her in my usually dorky self and got exclamation points, smiley faces, AND a made up word in response.

But the icing on the cake? The cheese on the macaroni? The coleslaw to the barbecue? It was when she said the names of her three beautiful girls - Akala, Ayana, and Alivia. And I thought.... How perfect! How sweet! How exciting! Because HELLO? My name is Ariana!! It's like we were meant to be!

So yes I knew I would love Eve and her girls. And I was right.

Thank you Eve, Akala, Ayana, and Alivia, for being such great models and being so darn cute! All four of you are gorgeous and I am so glad to have met you! I hope you enjoy the sneak peek!


Mommy & all her girls!

Love a girl who sticks her tongue out on cue!

Silly faces girls!!

You guys are all gorge! (That's gorgeous in Ariana-speak!)

Thanks you guys! :)

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FAQ : What Should I Wear?

I remember getting engaged and taking our engagement pics. This essentially involved ransacking my closet trying to find the "perfect outfit." Thankfully, I have a pretty style savvy mother who managed to dress both me and Brian in three adorable outfits. Crisis averted.

Unfortunately, I can't loan out my mom, but I can give some pointers I learned from both her and the world wide web.

1. Be comfortable so you can be confident.

I am by no means camera shy, but I am fully aware that many people are. While I will do my best to make you feel comfortable,I think it is essential that you wear something that you're comforable in. Why? Ever wear that strapless bra with that super cute dress but spent the entire night adjusting? What about those five inch killer stilettos that cut off the blood flow to your pinky toes? Were you feeling confident. Uh. No. 

Bottom line - wear that super cute outfit. But if you know you can't wear five inch heels without going bow-legged or breaking a heel, come up with a backup outfit. 

***Bonus Confidence Tip: Get your makeup/hair done. I know we can do it ourselves but it really goes a looooooong way to make you feel beautiful and confident.***

Dress your best! - Burlington NC Portrait Photographer

2. Complement, don't duplicate!

It's not a requirement to match but it does give a nice flow and feeling of unity to any session. However there are many ways to match. The four year old twin girls look... or the subtle way of complementing each other. I suggest the second one! That means if ladies are puting on that sexy LBD, guys should match the style and wear something dressy as well. Jeans and a t-shirt just don't work with red stilettos and a black dress. On the flip side, sneakers, and boy shorts don't go with that four-piece tux.

You catch my drift.

Color-wise, if you're going to wear the same colors, stick to neutrals. If not, remember to complement - brown and green, black & white, etc. There are a million color combinations. Just try to stick to similar tones.

Complement each other - Burlington NC Family Photographer

3. Know your body.

While I know guys have it easy (you lucky dogs!) we chicas, well, don't. We have to worry about the shoes, the hair, the jewelry AND the outfit. And that's okay because we've been doing it since forever. However, remember to do one thing - know your body.

No matter what you look like, you already know what looks good on you, what your flaws are, and your problem spots. We all have them and hate them. When you get your proofs, that's where you'll look first. So hide them. Avoid your trouble areas and wear clothes that complement your best features. 

Don't wear baggy clothes - they WILL make you look bigger. Black is slimming - so it's usually a good choice. play up your strong suits. Accentuate them and they'll look amazing on camera.

4. Bring extra clothes and accessorize.

An extra outfit or two can't hurt - trust me. You may want a second opinion or to change if we go to a different location. If we sit on the grass, you may get dirty, so an extra dress or pair of pants could really come in handy. I'm a heels girl so by all means wear them. Rock them. But be smart and bring a pair of flats for between locations, or for just walking around.

Also accessorize. Especially if they're great definitions of your love and your personality. I know it's all about the ring (for e-sessions) but scarves, earrings, hats - they make great pops of color and add personality to the picture. Ditto for the guys.

One of my favorite examples below - guess what her name is? And yes it has EVERYTHING to do with the necklace!

Accessorize! - Burlington NC Engagement Photographer

I'll probably do a follow up post for families and such, but this covers the basics. For a few more pointers, feel free to check out this article from Dallas photographer, Stacy Reeves. She knows how to tell it like it is. Or pop me an email below and just ask! I'll do the best I can to help!

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{Just-for-Fun} Sarah | Burlington, NC Portrait Photographer

Back in December, as Sarah and I were making plans for 2011, we both realized that we would need new profile photos for our respective websites. So on a freezing cold December afternoon we went out together and took a few snapshots of each other.

You can see Sarah's favorites on her website - www.sarahmichellephotography.us. Here are some of mine:

Sarah in field - Burlington NC Portrait Photographer

Isn't she gorgeous?!

Sarah with an umbrella - Burlington NC Wedding Photographer

I really like this photograph too. Something...innocent about it.

Sarah gazing into sky - Burlington NC Portrait Photographer

Sarah glancing over her shoulder - Burlington NC Wedding Photographer

And of course, we had to include the camera...She's a Canon girl but I love her still!

Sarah Michelle Photography - Burlington NC Portrait Photographer

Thanks for stopping by!


{Newborn} Baby Savannah | Burlington NC Family Photographer

Newborn sessions... scare me. Will the baby scream at the sight of me? Will the parents be overprotective and not let me try anything? Will it pee on me?!!

Scary stuff, I tell you. UNLESS you know that the mother has been jumping up and down for this session for weeks. That the baby is beautiful and sweet and cuddly. That the parents will be super helpful and will want to try new things. Then it's not so scary...

Donna & Stan were precisely that. Fun! Excited! And Savannah? She was, well, perfect. PER.fect. And by perfect I mean that her lips did that perfect little downward curl and when she fell asleep she didn't stir no matter how much we flipped, molded, and cuddled her! And did i mention how incredible her bedroom was? Lavender. Everywhere. And since that's my favorite color, I spent a good twenty minutes oohing and ahhing and looking at my husband asking him, "Isn't this perfect?! Look how cute?! Can I have one?!" His face after that last question was hilarious and therefore prompted that question several times during the session!

Donna, Stan, yeah you two - THANK. YOU. And Congratulations. She's beautiful, sweet, perfect, and quite the talker. She is definitely your child and I know you are so proud! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend time with you and your special little one and I look forward to watching Savannah grow up into an adorable curly haired girl - just like her mama!


Burlington NC Family Photographer

Burlington NC Family Photographer

Meet the Russo family!

Burlington NC Family Photographer

And here is Baby Savannah - She was wide awake in the beginning, which made for some funny photographs!

Burlington NC Family Photographer

Burlington NC Family Photographer

Burlington NC Family Photographer

Burlington NC Family Photographer

Burlington NC Family Photographer

Burlington NC Family Photographer

Burlington NC Family Photographer

Burlington NC Family Photographer

This photo was a challenge to take (I wasn't quite sure how to pose to get the effect I wanted) but it turned out perfect and has turned out to be my favorite from the entire session.

Burlington NC Family Photographer

Thanks Donna & Stan!

{New Arrivals} Baby Savannah | Burlington Children's Photographer

Another new baby is here! My wonderful friends Donna & Stan just had a beautiful 10lb. 5oz. baby girl, and they named her Savannah Raine. I just think that's the coolest, prettiest name ever! I always loved the name Raine... or Rayne. Beautiful! 

And it's the perfect name for this beautiful girl! I stopped by the hospital to meet her and had to share a couple of pictures of this new life! 

Congratulations Donna & Stan! I am so happy for you! She.Is.Gorgeous.


New baby girl - Burlington NC Family Photographer

Father and daughter - Burlington NC Family Photographer

Now meet her from her head...

Full head of hair - Burlington NC Family Photographer

... to her fingers...

Baby hands - Burlington NC Family Photographer

...to her belly...

Baby belly- Burlington, NC Family Photographer

...to her feet!!! Perfect from head to toe!

Bunny booties - Burlington NC Family Photographer

Father and Daughter - Burlington NC Family PHotographer

Burlington NC Family Photographer

Can't wait until your newborn session next week!