Leo’s are drama, and our family is made up of A LOT of them. August is a busy month of birthdays, five in total in our immediate family alone. By mid-month we are officially ice-cream caked out. August also means it is time for my epic joint birthday photoshoots of my favourite Leo sisters, Mila and Marlowe. Hey, since Leo’s are such drama, their birthday photos need to be dramatic. My goals for the photoshoots are to capture the girls’ sense of fun, their close bond as sisters, as well as their distinctly different personalities.The birthday photoshoots started two years ago when Mila was three and Marlowe was one. I made a sign, used some metal letters as props and got them both balloons to represent the ages they were turning. Little did I know then that these things would all become tradition for us. Last year Mila turned four and Marlowe turned two. Similarly, I made another sign:I got them some party hats with their ages on them.
I also gave them balloons and took some photos against my favourite Feature Wall.
This year Mila turned five and going full circle, Marlowe turned three, the age Mila was when I first began these epic photoshoots. So, I made a new sign… this one is a little bigger than the others since I always feel the need to outdo even myself. I gave them balloons to represent their ages and since they are quite a bit older, there are a lot more balloons now.
Since all the balloons didn’t fit in the frame, we went outside resulting in some of my favourite photos of the year:
These photos signify an end of another year for us, and the beginning of even bigger adventures. I use them primarily for their birthday invites and photo-books (check out Card-Making with Mila & Marlowe and Celebrating Mila and Marlowe).
The coolest thing that has come out of my birthday photoshoots is my friend Christy’s ability to use the photos as inspiration for her amazing cookie designs. Every year I send Christy from Dolce Custom Cookies some of my photos and she makes me the most beautiful, elegant and tasty coordinating cookies for the girls’ birthday parties (cookie photos below are courtesy of Christy).
Proof that great things happen when creative mommas collaborate.
So here is my secret for capturing these photos: be prepared. Well in advance, I make and put up the sign, I buy the balloons, I lay out the clothes and arrange the props. Only when I am totally prepared do I bring in my models, who are well rested and fed and if I am lucky they will give me about 30 minutes of their somewhat undivided attention and most importantly their cooperation.As I look back at the last three years of photos, starting with my oldest at age three and now my youngest at the same age, I see that I have a developed a clear aesthetic and vision as a stylist and photographer. Every year, I challenge myself to do something a little different, while still honouring the traditions that I started that first year. Although I think next year I will just get two “number” balloons since I don’t think I have the room in my car for all those individual ones.