Kai the "Cookie Monster" - Cake Smash!

It's not every day I get to photograph my own children.  As a mom of five, photographer, educator, athletic academic coach and doctoral student, I have a pretty hectic schedule.  My last baby of FIVE is turning one.  Wow.  Truly unbelievable.  Kai was our surprise baby.  The day we decided we were done having kids, which was also the day we made a decision to medically stop having kids, was the same exact day I threw up and found out I was pregnant about one-hour later.  We were driving from New Jersey and had made a stop in Virginia so I could go into a CVS to use the restroom.  The restroom break turned out into a pregnancy news.  Five kids.  How were we going to raise FIVE kids?  To make matters worse, we already had 3 boys.  What if this baby was another boy? How would our daughter take this news because she had a heart attack every time she found out we were expecting another "BOTHER" as she would call her siblings.  Flash forward to nine-months later, Josiah Ashton Kai was born on February 23 at 10:20 pm.  What was supposed to be an induced water birth, turned into a speed race down I-85s from our house.  I started feeling contractions around 8:00pm, decided to run to Ingles for some lunchables for the kids and to make a quick deposit at the ATM.  On our way back around 9:15pm, I said to my husband, "I think this may be the real thing".  About 2 minutes later, I realized my contractions were less than 2 minutes apart.  "Oh crap, it is the real thing" I screamed.  My bag wasn't packed yet, I did not have school lunch, school clothes, or agenda's signed for my other kids.  I have OCD.  I am an organized nut case.  What was I going to do?  After getting on my knee to scream to the top of lungs about five times, I realized it was time to head to the hospital whether or not I was ready.  I texted my birth photographer and dear friend, Julia Ketola from Julia Elle Photography, and told her to head to Greenville Memorial.  While driving to the hospital, my contractions were coming so quick, we weren't sure if we would make it.  We dialed 9-1-1 and they told us it was best to keep riding.  We made it to the hospital at 10:10pm (a 30-minute drive).  I walked into the room screaming that I was in pain.  The nurse took one look and replied, "his head is coming out".  "Huh? My water birth" was all I kept thinking,  "Is it too late to get an epidural?" I asked.  "Honey, we are going to lift you onto a bed, roll you into a birthing room, and you need to start pushing", my midwife replied.  All I kept thinking was "I was supposed to have a water birth".  By the time Julia came into the room, I was already pushing, screaming at my midwife, and telling my husband to "leave me alone".  Yeah, Julia caught it all on video.  After screaming that I was dying and there was no way I could get this baby out, Kai was here.  Perfect, handsome, and a true blessing from God.  One year later and I am still amazed at this priceless miracle.  To be quite honest, we cannot imagine life without Kia.  Kai is strong, he is smart, and he makes me laugh.  He has the same attitude as his big brother Micah, but he looks like his big brother Derwin.  Kai is the perfect medicine for his big brother Cameron.  He is the perfect baby bear to his sister Jada.  As a matter of fact, he loves to say "JJJJJAAAADDDAAA" instead of mama.  I asked my husband to describe Kai by using one word and he said his one word would be "fearless".  Kai is not afraid to try new things.  Kai is ambitious and perfect for our family.  We love you Josiah Ashton Kai Batichon.  Happy birthday.

New on the blog - Emory

I met this wonderful family for the first time last week.  Beth's husband noticed that they had something in common with me right away -- Beth is from Iowa and our family lived in Iowa for three years.  I laugh when I meet people from Iowa in South Carolina because we always wonder, "why did we move to Iowa?" No, seriously, Iowa is a pretty cool place to live despite the awful winters (-3 degrees).  Truth be told, we met one of close family friends in Iowa -- the Krabers.  Beth was bubbly and dressed for the part.  Her family came picture ready.  She reminded me of myself when made a comment about her nails.  LOL.  Her children were so fun and energetic.  When you look through her session, look for her beautiful daughter that will remind you of the 1991 movie--Curly Sue. I have never seen natural curls so beautiful in my life.  It was a pleasure being hired as their photographer and I truly had fun with them.

New on the blog - The Sinkler family meet autumn

The Sinkler family (or the Mackie's as I like to call them) are dear to my heart.  They are not only my clients, but they are my neighbors and one of our best friends.  We met them two and half years ago, right after we moved into our current neighborhood.  It was an instant hit.  Tosha, the beautiful stay-at-home mom that can cook up a storm.  She seasons her meat perfect and makes the best apple pie (I think she owes me one from Feb of this year when I gave birth to my 5th child).  Mackie, the cool dad that understand my husband's calm nature and love for sports.  Our girls are the same age and their son is in between our boys age.  I was very happy when Tosha hired me as her photographer for the second year in a row.  When you are friends with a client, you understand their likes and dislikes.  It also put a little extra pressure on you to make sure everything is perfect.  Well, they say God answer prayers.  Due to my prayer, their session was PERFECT!  We re-scheduled their session two times and almost had to reschedule the day of the shoot (50% chance of rain and 40 degrees outside).  What was supposed to be a rainy day turned out to be the most perfect and beautiful lighting for pictures.  Now may I remind you, I could barely feel my fingers while taking their pictures.  It was so cold outside that day.  When you love your friends, there isn't much that you wouldn't do for them.  So for the Mackie's, I will go outside in the cold to capture their beautiful family again :) :)

The outgoing princess

Yesterday evening, I had the pleasure of photographing a quirky, lovable, outgoing, and very photogenic little princess.  She was not shy in front of the camera.  In actuality, she is a pro and probably should be a part of the children's theatre.  This little princess is also a dear friend to my daughter and son.  Best of all, she is my neighbor.  I got to hear all sorts of stories about her life, school, her likes, and dislikes.  

Copyright: Simply Claudia Portraits

To contact simply Claudia Portraits, please go to our website or call 864-336-3574

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Johnson Family - New on the blog!

Lauren reminds me of a younger me.  She dressed up her baby in suspenders for family pictures (something I would totally do) and he did exactly what my five children would do -- he wanted his cup, he cried a little, he jumped, he played ... he acted like a toddler.  I absolutely LOVED every minute of it.  Getting toddlers to pose during a family session can be a hard task.  I believe in letting children play freely and capturing their true personality through my lens.  When a family look back at their session, I want them to remember the wrinkled skin of a baby, the laughter sound of their toddler, the innocence of their big kid, the smile and growing pains of their pre-teen.  The achievements of their teens.  I want to tell a story.  The story that was written for them.  I want them to remember one word -- LOVE.  If I had one advice for the Lauren, it would be "time spent playing with your child is never wasted".  Continue to play, throw your baby in the air, hug him, kiss him, cuddle with him, spin him, and love him.  This is the Johnson family.  This is us. 

Copyright: Simply Claudia Portraits

To contact simply Claudia Portraits, please go to our website or call 864-336-3574

If you like what you see, please feel free to share and like my page on Facebook.

Westbrook Family - New on the blog!

Meet the Westbrook family.  A young beautiful charming family of four who will make your heart melt.  Sarah is sooooo sweet and such a beautiful mom.  Her husband adores her.  By the way he holds her, kiss her, and hugs her, I can tell that he is deeply in love with her.  Her children are the cutest.  As you can tell by looking at these pictures, Sawyer stole the show.  As a photographer, getting families to relax for a lifestyle session can he a hard task.  However, as for the Westbrook family, if you told them to jump they jumped high.  If you told them to tickle, they became tickle monsters.  If you told them to run, they acted like they were running a marathon.  Were all singing, laughing, running, and jumping to keep the children in their comfort zone.  Photographing the Westbrook family was truly an honor.  Together, they are photographer's dream family.  If there is one advice I would like to remind the Westbrook family, it would be "family is like music, some high notes, some low notes, but always a beautiful song."  My hope is that they can cherish these pictures forever and it is a reminder of how little, charming, beautiful, and innocent her children were as they get older and blossom into young adults.

Copyright: Simply Claudia Portraits

To contact simply Claudia Portraits, please go to our website or call 864-336-3574

If you like what you see, please feel free to share and like my page on Facebook.

Lauren & De'Rail

My husband and I met Lauren and De'Rail at a wedding we went to in July 2017.   A month later, I received a telephone call from Lauren asking me to take her engagement pictures.  We planned the location and date weeks in advance.  However, similar to the wedding we went to in July, the chosen day was forecasted to be a rainy day.  The morning of her session, I called every indoor location in Spartanburg and Greenville asking if I could use them as a back up location.  Nonetheless, no one had any availability due to "wedding season."  October 7, 2017 was a very popular day to unite as one before God.  I prayed and prayed.  I got a clear umbrella in case it rained.  I said to myself, "they will dance in the rain" if it starts raining during their session.  Luckily, it was the perfect day for pictures.  Not a single rain drop.  Sometimes we assume the worse and panic, but Lord knows, if we do what we do without panicking, we can accomplish great things.  So if it rains on their wedding day, my advice to Lauren and De'Rail will be, "maybe in your mind, rain on your wedding day is the worst thing that can happen. A sign, if you will, that you have really bad luck.  But, says Samuels, in some cultures, rain on your wedding day is considered good luck, symbolizing fertility and cleansing. And maybe ... just maybe ... you will see a rainbow."  During our session, Lauren and De'Rail danced to Ed Shereen "Think Outloud".  Watching her smile as he held her, twirled her, kissed her was breathtaking.  As Ed says in the song:

So, honey, now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I'm thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are

I believe Lauren and De'rail found love.  Good luck Lauren & De'Rail on your lovely fairytale. 

Soon to be Mr. and Mrs. Sims. 

To contact simply Claudia Portraits, please go to our website or call 864-336-3574

Feel free to share.

Sadler Family

I have been meaning to post these for a while, but just have not had the chance. Although these are a little late, this was probably one of my favorite sessions.

A family
is made of love and tears
laughter and years
It grows stronger
with the passing of time
More precious
with the making of memories
sometimes a family is made of ones
you don't like for a while and fight with a lot
But you love them for a life time
Not in numbers but in its capacity to love
It's the place you find
someone to encourage you
believe in you
Celebrate with you and comfort you
A family is where your heart
feels most at home because you're
Always wanted always welcomed
Always needed
Always Loved
And always precious to everyone
So always love your family

Thank you for the opportunity to capture your beautiful family through this lifestyle session!

Willey Family

Yesterday was supposed to be a rainy day according to every weather app created.  However, I had the pleasure of meeting the Willey family in Greenville, SC.  A beautiful interracial couple with a beautiful baby girl.  Mom and dad were a pleasure to work with.  My hope is that this photo session reminds the Willey family that, "your photo session is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving.  What we caught on film is captured forever.  It remembers the little things, long after you have forgotten everything".  Enjoy Ramsey while she is young.  Take lots of pictures and make it a family goal to capture her growth and your love.

Samantha & Keith ~ High School Sweethearts

Samantha and Keith have been together since high school.  They remind me of my husband and I. High school sweethearts, who grew up in the same town, going through the college journey together.  Just like my husband and I, Keith is a college football player and Samantha the supportive girlfriend since high school.  Both of these amazing individuals are education majors.  Samantha has a sweet personality and Keith, unexpectedly, is very shy.  I asked my husband to describe Keith, who is one of his favorite people on earth (whom he also got to coach in high school), and he said these three things about Keith: 1) he values relationships, 2) he loves people, 3) he will one day be a great father, husband, and leader of men.  This session meant a lot to me because I got to see the growth between these two over the past two years.  If I had one advice for Samantha and Keith, it would be Corinthians 13:4 "love is patient, love is kind, it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves, love never fails". I am grateful for the opportunity to capture the love between Samantha and Keith and I ask God to continue leading them through this beautiful journey called life.