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  • Best Places for a Portrait Photoshoot in Jacksonville, Florida | Jacksonville Photographer

    Jacksonville Portrait Photographer

    Have you decided that you want to book a photo session in Jacksonville, Florida or the surrounding areas, but you have no idea where the best locations are to take those photos? Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered! Whether you want romantic, dreamy beach photos, rustic photos in a woodsy setting, or anything in between, I am full of suggestions.

    For portrait photography rates, make sure to pay a visit to my Portrait Photography Pricing & Info page!

    • Your Own Home/ Neighborhood/Favorite Spot

    Yes, there are beautiful places in and around Jacksonville, Florida, for photos, but choosing a location that is important and unique to you will make your photos even more valuable in the years to come. If your home or neighborhood is a place that is special to you, why not preserve it in your photographs? Many families worry when I suggest this, because they don’t think that their home is photogenic enough, but every home has spots that are perfect for photos, and remember-- the focus is going to be you, not the dust bunnies under your couch. Engagement photos cooking with or drinking coffee with your significant other in your kitchen, family photos of your kids playing in your living room, maternity photos in your future baby’s nursery, and/or pet photos going on a walk through your neighborhood are so important to help to preserve your memories not just of how you looked at a given time, but how you interacted with the environment where you lived. I also love sessions in a favorite coffee shop, restaurant, bookstore, etc, so if you have a location in mind, just let me know, and I will do my best to work something out with the owner of the location so we can do your pictures there.

     

    • Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park | Mayport, Florida

    Hanna Park is a gorgeous mix of green, grassy fields, wooded areas, a lake, playgrounds, and beaches, so if you’re looking for a versatile outdoor location, this one is for you. This location is dog-friendly (as long as they are leashed), and there is access to bathrooms for changing and breaks. It’s $5 per car for admission, but this small fee is well worth it. For portrait photography sessions on the beach at Hanna Park, I would typically recommend a sunset session, but for any of the other spots here, any time of day is a-okay as far as lighting goes.

     

    • Big Talbot Island State Park | Jacksonville, Florida

    Big Talbot Island is such a unique location in Jacksonville, offering a beach filled with driftwood trees bordering steep sand dunes and a forest. For those who aren’t a fan of creepy crawlies, be aware that the forest paths are pretty similar to the area where the spiders lived in the Forbidden Forest from Harry Potter; there are lots of spider “friends” overhead in the trees. Additionally, bug spray becomes a necessity the closer it gets to sunset on this beach. However wild the location is, it is gorgeous for portrait sessions.

    • Alpine Groves Park | Fruit Cove, Florida

    Alpine Groves Park overlooks the St. John’s River, and is full of photogenic, rustic buildings and oak trees with sweeping strands of Spanish moss. This park is perfect for photos at any time of day, since the trees at this location offer plenty of shade for nice, even light in your portraits. There is an old, white farmhouse with a spacious front porch for portraits, a pretty dock on the river, and miscellaneous other farm buildings on the property that are open for the public to explore. The park is free, allows leashed dogs, and has restrooms, picnic tables, and a children’s play area with slides and swings. The location is wonderful for family, childrens’, maternity or engagement photography sessions, and much more.

     

    • Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens | Jacksonville, Florida

    The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is an unexpected but fantastic location for portraits! This spot may get pricey for large family portraits due to admission costs, but I would recommend it for engagement, children’s, and small family portraits. There is a bamboo forest, a Japanese-style zen garden, and a scenic dock on the river for more intimate pictures away from the crowds, and you have the opportunity for unique photos feeding the giraffes, riding the carousel, holding the lorikeets, hanging out in the butterfly house, etc. At the time of writing this blog, admission to the zoo is $17.95 for adults, and $12.95 for children between the ages of 3 and 12; children under 3 can get in free.

    • San Marco area | Jacksonville, Florida

    The San Marco area, particularly around San Marco square, can be a fun location for urban portraits. The location offers older brick buildings, cafes, and an old, art deco style theatre built in 1938. This location is best for those who are okay with a bit of a walk and a photo adventure. 

    • Treaty Oak Park | Downtown Jacksonville, Florida

    Treaty Oak Park features a massive, stately old oak that has been around for about 250 years, seated in the middle of a large, grassy field.  Sunset photos at this park are truly magical, with the sunlight streaming through the branches of the tree and offering gorgeous lighting for portraits. Parking at this location can be tricky, but the park is close to views of the St. John’s River, and is within walking distance from the Friendship Fountain for additional variety in your portraits.

     

    • St. Augustine Historic District | St. Augustine, Florida

    Gah! St. Augustine’s Historic District is just all-around gorgeous. If you’re in for a wander around the city, every side street offers photogenic locations for portrait sessions. St. George Street’s cobblestones and variety of shops make for a setting that is full of character; Flagler College and the exterior of the historic Memorial Presbyterian Church (built in 1889!) are also beautiful spots to take portraits. On top of that, St. Augustine features the Castillo de San Marcos, a Spanish fort along the Matanzas River-- the fort is surrounded by grassy fields and a riverside walking area bordering a street where horses and buggies are often parked. This location, like photos in the San Marco area, is best suited to those who are okay with a bit of a wander around the area to find the perfect spots for photos. It has so much to offer in terms of portrait opportunities.

    • Camp Milton Historic Preserve in the town of Baldwin | Jacksonville, Florida

    Are you looking for photos in fields of tall grass, or on a tree-shaded road? Camp Milton is the perfect spot for these kinds of rustic portraits. The area is more isolated, but is accessible through the Baldwin Rail Trail, an old railroad that was turned into a beautiful, rural bike path. Feel free to bring your bikes along for portraits of you bicyling the trail! There are restrooms along the trail, and Camp Milton has a few historic buildings scattered throughout the property, as well. 

    • Atlantic Beach/Neptune Beach and the Beaches Town Center | Atlantic Beach, Florida

    Jacksonville Beach is often overcrowded, so if you’re looking for a beach portrait photography session, I recommend Atlantic Beach or Neptune Beach, instead. Atlantic Beach allows leashed dogs at all times of day, if you’re planning a session that integrates your best buddy. I love to park along 11th Street in Atlantic Beach, because this patch of beach is close to a small pier that is beautiful for photos, and there are outdoor showers in this area to wash your feet after the shoot. When planning a photo session at the beach, light and tide are the biggest considerations; low tide and sunset are the best conditions for your portrait session, so we will need to plan accordingly. This patch of the beach is also very close to the Beaches Town Center in Atlantic Beach, which makes for a very scenic location for photos that have more of an urban feel.

    • Washington Oaks Gardens State Park | Palm Coast, Florida

    Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is a little more of a roadtrip, located about an hour out from Jacksonville, near Marineland. This location boasts 20 acres of formal gardens, and roughly 400 acres of oak trees, spanish moss, and beautiful, rocky beaches. This beach is one of the closest rocky beaches to Jacksonville, making it stand out from the rest. Admission to the park is $5 per vehicle, and dogs are permitted in specified areas of the park.

    • Cumberland Island | Camden County, Georgia

    For those who are feeling more adventurous, Cumberland Island is a whimsical, wild spot for gorgeous portrait photography. Accessible only by ferry at certain times of the day, the island is very isolated and beautiful for engagement photography. The island has a resident wild horse population, beautiful beaches, as well as Dungeness, the ruins of a mansion on the island. (If you’re up for an overnight stay after your shoot, the island does also offer camping.) 

    • Jekyll Island | Golden Isles of Georgia

    Jekyll Island is a sweet little Georgia island with a quaint downtown area, beautiful beaches, and a gorgeous property called the Jekyll Island Club hotel. This is another beautiful location for a portrait session adventure, or we can jump straight to the Jekyll Island Club property, featuring manicured gardens and a beautiful, grassy lawn, and do a full portrait session there. 

    • Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach/Fort Clinch State Park | Nassau County, Florida

    Another island experience, this sleepy beach town is full of character, antique shops, and cafes. Portrait sessions in this location can be a mix of urban, park, and beach photography; all of these locations are within walking distance in the historic district of Fernandina. Fort Clinch State Park is also a gorgeous spot for photos. Located in Fernandina, Fort Clinch offers so many intimate spots for portraits with beautiful light and gorgeous archways, as well as a view of the ocean. The park charges $6 admission per vehicle.   

    • Walt Disney World | Orlando, Florida

    Need I say more? Okay, so this location may not be directly around Jacksonville, Florida, but come on-- a portrait session at Walt Disney World? This photo session would be an extra-special opportunity for documenting your children’s first time visiting Disney, or for engagement or senior portrait photography. I can follow you around and document your day -- your ride to the park on the ferry, your time spent on each ride (the Mad Tea Party ride is particularly fun for portraits), your wanders down Magic Kingdom’s picturesque Main Street, and your joy as you watch the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular and fireworks display at the end of the night. Contact me for rates.

    Do you have any questions about anything in this blog post, or would you like to get in touch to talk more about booking a photo session in any of these locations? Please feel free to contact me at chelseawhitemanphotography@yahoo.com, or by heading on over to my Contact section. I would love to hear from you! 

  • Pet Portrait Photography Session by Chelsea Whiteman Photography | Jacksonville, Florida

    Jacksonville Family Photographer

    Goodness, reader, I have some catching-up to do on the blog front! 

    For now, I'll start by sharing one of my favorite sessions with you: Sam and Jay's, plus their dynamic puppy trio, Fiona, Sophia, and Chloe! This session started in Sam and Jay's neighborhood, moved to the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens, and then wrapped up at Atlantic Beach for sunset. 

    Meet Chloe:

    And Fiona:

    And Sophia:

    And their proud parents, Jay (left), and Sam (right):

    Gosh, pet portrait sessions are some of my favorites. Want photos like these of your special fur-children? Head on over to my Contact page on this website, and we can work out the details! :)

     

  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Loren and Marcus | A Couple's Series in Jacksonville, FL

    "Our love feels like the tides.
    It is ever in motion.
    From highs to lows, our lives are sculpted with its waves.
    Despite the change, we are constant."
    Loren (23 yrs) and Marcus (24 yrs): Together 6 years 9 months
    Married 4 years

    Loren and Marcus are high school sweethearts from my graduating class at Sandalwood High School, so it was a very cool throwback when they asked to be involved in my couple's series.

    They've been together just a little longer than Dylan and I, and their comfort, confidence, and trust in each other was clear throughout the photo session. I may have made them look romantic and majestic in some of these photos, but these two were a couple of goofballs just like Dylan and I, and I loved it! (Keep on sifting through the photos in this blog post to see what I mean about their sense of humor-- you'll see it.) 

    The pier at Atlantic Beach was the perfect location; it took a little bit of research on my part to pick a day where it was high tide and sunset at the same time, but we got it, and the weather cooperated beautifully! On top of that, none of us ended up soaked, which was quite the achievement considering that I had this couple doing a balancing act in the waves, and sitting just a little bit too close to the ocean at times. These two were a couple of modeling pros: well done, Marcus and Loren! Photographing the two of them was a blast. :)

    I am incredibly excited about this whole project so far, and I plan to continue to gain a large scope of couples who participate. Love crosses all boundaries, so I hope to photograph couples of all ages, races, sexualities, and so on and so forth. Variety in the participants will show how unique love can be, and yet similar in its beauty across the board. 

    If you would like to get involved in this whole series, please feel free to email me at chelseawhitemanphotography@yahoo.com for more information! 

  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Jen and Brandon | A Couple's Series in Jacksonville, FL



    "Our love is like a pillow.
    It's something safe to rest our heads on, and it's very comfortable."

    Jen (24 yrs) and Brandon (25 yrs): Together 1.5 years




    We live in a small world, Reader!

    It turns out, this couple and I are basically neighbors, and we didn't even know it! Our local community center ended up being the perfect location for the shoot, and it was just a short walk down the road from all of us.

    I have to give Jen and Brandon a pat on the back for being so trusting with this session. It's not every day that you have a photographer hanging over you on a stepladder as you lay in the middle of a field on some strange pillows and bedding with traffic wizzing by on Atlantic Boulevard, but I'd say it was well worth it! 

    On top of that, Brandon was ready to admit that he's far from being a morning person, but with our pillowy, fluffy set-up, he was perfectly situated to steal a few Z's between snaps.

    All joking aside, Jen and Brandon are a lovely, smiley, sweet couple, and I was lucky to have the two of them in front of my camera on a Saturday morning. I'm so fortunate to be able to meet all of the wonderful couples that I do as I continue on with this series; I've had had the privilege of diving into my imagination to create whimsical photo sets and ideas in the company of people who are in love with each other and with my photos. Dream job? I'd say so!


    I am incredibly excited about this whole project so far, and I plan to continue to gain a large scope of couples who participate. Love crosses all boundaries, so I hope to photograph couples of all ages, races, sexualities, and so on and so forth. Variety in the participants will show how unique love can be, and yet similar in its beauty across the board. 

    If you would like to get involved in this whole series, please feel free to email me at chelseawhitemanphotography@yahoo.com for more information! 

  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Alexis and Caleb | A Couple's Series in Jacksonville, FL

    "Our love is like a tree.
    It started as a small seed, and over time sprouted and grew into something bigger and more beautiful than either of us could have ever imagined.
    Like a tree, our love weathers the storms; it may bend, but it does not break.
    Our love is patient and giving; it takes time for trees to bear the sweetest fruit but they always do so in abundance.
    Our love is persistent and endless.
    The seasons change, but our love for one another always stands tall. Our love is like a tree; forever growing and branching to new heights."

    Alexis (21 yrs) and Caleb (22 yrs): Together 3.5 years


    This photo session has been a long time coming; Caleb and Alexis are busy bees between school and work. Even so, when they were finally able to come out for a shoot, everything else fell into place-- the weather was gorgeous, the sun was out and shining, and we nearly had Treaty Oak Park to ourselves! 

  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Alison and JD | A Couple's Series in Jacksonville, FL

    "Our love is like a good cup of coffee.
    It's welcoming. 
    It is sweet and strong. 
    It's smooth and warm.
    It wakes us up in the morning and it helps us get through our days.
    We were both lucky enough to find flavors we don't mind drinking everyday."

    Alison (24 yrs) and JD (27 yrs):Together 4.5 years

    Married 3.5 years



    I'm not a coffee drinker, myself, but Alison and JD have me thinking that maybe I should be. 


    For their couple's photo shoot, we paid a visit to Sippers Coffee House in Jacksonville, Florida.

    The staff was kind enough to welcome us in to their coffee shop and let us play musical chairs as we worked our way to every table, couch, and antique church pew to take our pictures. (For the record, if you haven't been to Sippers, I recommend that you pay it a visit-- it's cute, cozy, and offers hot chocolate and fresh-baked goodies for my fellow non-coffee-drinkers.) 

    Alison and JD were complete naturals in front of the camera; they made my job easy! Plus, while it can be tricky to get some people to crack a smile on demand, all I had to do was look at Alison and she'd start laughing. I was only with these two for about an hour, but it was obvious from the start that they're are very much in love, and very much cut out for each other--right down to a mutual love of Friends, coffee, and each others' company.




















    I am incredibly excited about this whole project so far, and I plan to continue to gain a large scope of couples who participate. Love crosses all boundaries, so I hope to photograph couples of all ages, races, sexualities, and so on and so forth. Variety in the participants will show how unique love can be, and yet similar in its beauty across the board. 

    If you would like to get involved in this whole series, please feel free to email me at chelseawhitemanphotography@yahoo.com for more information! 

  • Fishweir Park Portrait Session by Chelsea Whiteman Photography | Jacksonville, Florida

    This past weekend, a free-spirited, youthful woman with a quirky sense of humor and a great taste in books stepped in front of my camera for a few hours, and we made magic happen.

    This woman is my former boss and current friend, Michele Boyette!

    Michele and I are both of the opinion that a photo shoot should be a fun, enjoyable experience, rather than a torturous hour spent in a stuffy studio with a photographer who says "cheese." So, after some warm-up shots in and around Michele's home and a dig through her rather extensive and fabulous hat collection, we ventured out to Fishweir Park to take some beautiful portraits in some crisp, sunny, early-fall weather.

    I am so fortunate that this job allows me to spend time and catch up with some wonderful friends, in picturesque locations, all while doing what I love most: taking pictures.


    Does a day in the park chatting, making memories, and taking pictures sound appealing to you?

    If yes, then email me at chelseawhitemanphotography@yahoo.com or go to my "Contact" page and fill out the form to book your photo session!

    Remember, a photo session only takes an hour or two of your time, but the photos that we take will last you a lifetime; they're something that you and your friends, family, and loved ones will be able to look back on and cherish for years to come. 

  • 10 Easy Posing Tips to Look Better in Photos: Women's Edition

    Hey you! 

    Yes, you. 

    What do you do when someone pulls a camera on you? 

    Do you instantly clam up, become filled with self doubt, and begin to ponder how to stand like a normal human being or where on earth you should put your darn hands (I mean, you've had these things for forever, but where the heck should you put them?!)

    If yes, then good news! This post is for you.

    If no, then go on with your bad self, Reader! Or, stick around and laugh at me intentionally giving myself a double chin for "before" poses. It's up to you! 

    Disclaimer: This blog will be an overload of my goofy looking mug, so I apologize in advance for swamping you with it. Here's a photo of my face . . . and another photo of my face . . . and did you get to see my face yet? No? Well, here! Have another photo of my face!

    Tip 1: Shift your weight

    Would you like your legs to look longer and leaner in photos? I have a trick for you that has been put into practice for centuries: shift your weight to the leg that isn't facing the camera. 

    The greats employed this posing technique for things like paintings and sculptures: it's the good ol' contrapposto pose. Ever take a look at Michelangelo's "David"? He's definitely not standing there stiffly with his knees locked. Nope, he has one leg bent at the knee, and the other supporting his weight. 

    We can learn from David and his classical posing. Shifting your weight to your back foot has a magical slimming effect on your legs and torso. If you pop your hip out a little bit on that back leg, then even better; this will add curves to your body that wouldn't be accentuated if you kept your knees locked tight.

    On top of that, when you shift your weight to your back leg, it has the happy side effect of causing the leg facing the camera to bend at the knee. Voila! Now you've added one more curve to your body, making for a much more flattering pose. Bonus points if you point your toes; that will make your leg look even longer. 

    Tip 2: Tuck your hips back

    When we stand naturally, we tend to keep our hips directly in line with our torsos; this makes sense, considering that it keeps us balanced and comfortable. But for those of you out there who are a little self conscious about your tummy areas, this tip can help to make you look leaner.

    Rather than "sucking it in" and holding your breath for the duration of the photoshoot (resulting in some lovely, delicate blue skin tones and puffy cheeks), try shifting your hips backwards a little bit. This will straighten out your abdomen and pull your tummy taughter, while also highlighting your backside a bit more (no butt pads or implants needed). A little of this can go a long way, so no need to break your back in the process; just like in Tip 1, it's all about weight distribution! 

    Tip 3: "Float" your arms 

    This tip may feel a bit unnatural, but when taking photos, try to keep your arms slightly away from your sides, rather than keeping your arms pressed against you.

    The goal is to create a little bit of separation and space between your arms and your waist. When you keep your arms closer to your sides, visually, your body appears wider and bulkier because your arms blend in with your torso. Leaving a slight gap between your torso and arms highlights your waist, making you appear slimmer. Hurray for instant, diet and exercise-free slimming!

    Looking for a more comfortable solution than "floating" your arms that will achieve the same effect? Try slightly bending your elbows and resting your hands lightly on your hips. Better yet, if you're wearing clothes with pockets, tuck your hands in to allow some space between your arms and your body. 

    Tip 4: Loosen up those hands!

    When people are uncomfortable in front of the camera, they tend to show that tension by bringing their shoulders up and balling up or stiffening their hands. Don't let that be you!

    Instead, keep those shoulders low and relax your hands for a much more flattering pose.

    Tip 5: Keep your chin single

    It's the sad truth that our chins are constantly searching for companionship, usually in the form of other chins.

    To avoid creating a double chin that isn't there, or to minimize one and better define your jawline, bring your face (chin included) forward and towards the camera slightly. Or, if you don't want your chin to be lonely anymore, press that chin closer to your neck and watch the extra chins appear out of nowhere!

    Tip 6: Keep your chin down

    If only I had been reminded of this simple tip when I had my senior pictures taken in high school, I wouldn't cringe so much when I see those pictures now: keep that chin lowered!

    Little kids are big culprits of this, but even as an adult, I find my chin floating upward when I get photos taken, creating an ultra-flattering up the nose shot with no jawline in sight. To avoid your nostrils stealing the show, keep your chin lowered and your head pointed ever so slightly downward; this will also draw focus to your eyes and minimize glare if you wear glasses.

    Tip 7: Angle your face

    Most people's standard reaction when someone breaks out a camera (besides the extremely camera shy, who will run in the opposite direction) is to look straight at the camera and smile. Turning your head and, coincidentally, your shoulders, slightly away from the camera at an angle can emphasize your jawline, minimize broad shoulders, and add some more variety to your photos. 

    Clients are always a little confused when I tell them to point their head away from the camera while keeping their eyes on me, but trust me! I'm not crazy (at least, not when it comes to posing); I'm just highlighting the pretty angles of your face.

    Tip 8: Lean in

    This pointer is in the same vein as Tip 5, but it also relies on a basic understanding of how a camera sees. 

    Cameras don't perceive depth the same way that the human eye sees it, which means that (hurray!) cameras can be tricked. The person, place, or thing that is closest to the camera will, unfailingly, appear to be larger than anything that is farther away. We can use this to our advantage to highlight the characteristics that we'd prefer to highlight and minimize the characteristics that we're less fond of.

    When we apply this to posing our faces, all it takes is leaning your head (and, if you want, shoulders) in towards the camera to make your face the star of the photo. The camera won't "see" that you're leaning in; all that it will see is that your face is closest, making your body less of a focal point.  

    Tip 9: Use perspective to your advantage

    Great news! We can apply your newfound understanding of depth and perspective to full and 3/4 length photos, too.

    Your body may be fabulous, but sometimes you don't want it to be the focus of the photo (or maybe you do- that's your prerogative.) Either way, to keep your face the focus, you can always have your photographer, photo-taker, or selfie stick positioned above you. This will automatically make your lower body look slimmer, since it is further from the camera lens than your face. 

    Tip 10: Smile and apply those tips!

    A final tip about posing: smile! It'll help you to avoid the "I'm getting a mugshot taken" look of utter misery in pictures. And if all else fails and you can't remember a single posing tip from this blog post, a genuine smile is always a beautiful thing to capture on camera. 

    Is your mind an utter whirlwind of posing tips that you'll never be able to remember or apply when the time comes? Then contact me at chelseawhitemanphotography@yahoo.com or fill out the short form on my Contact page! I would love to guide you through the process to help you to look your absolute best in a personal portrait session! 

    Do you have questions, comments, or posing tips and tricks of your own that you'd like to share? Please leave them below!

  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Jessica and Brandon | A Couple's Series



    INGREDIENTS FOR A BEAUTIFUL MOMENT:

    Adorable Couple: ✓

    Cozy Family Home: ✓

    Blanket Fort: ✓

    Lots of Love: ✓


    With an ingredients list like that, there's no way that you can possibly go wrong.
    Jessica and Brandon, the latest couple to participate in my series What Does Your Love Feel Like, are living proof of that.




    "Our love feels like home. Not a house, but a home.
    Just like home, our love feels like the one thing where we feel our safest, our most comfortable, and where we can be ourselves.
    It's where we want to be at the end of every day - with each other, in love with each other."
    Jessica (23 yrs) & Brandon (24 yrs): Together 4 years


    This description of love truly resonated with me, as when I first started this project, my personal response to my own question was the same: love feels like home. On top of that, I've recently been seeking to build up my portfolio of lifestyle and in-home photography, so Jessica and Brandon couldn't have been a better fit with the whole project. I came back to them with several options that we could go with to illustrate their love, and much to my excitement, they chose my personal favorite concept: building a blanket fort (home, comfort, safety, and acceptance, all in one perfect, cozy package.)

    As an added benefit, I quickly learned that Jessica is one of the most unbelievably sugar-sweet human beings you'll ever meet-- take gumdrops, sugarplums, and cotton candy, and throw in a dash of smart and pretty, and you'll make a Jessica. A Jessica who will treat you to a bouquet of flowers as soon as you walk in the door on the day of the photo shoot, and make you feel instantly welcome with her upbeat, bouncy personality. 

    Balancing this is Brandon, a stoic individual who is a little hesitant to smile for the camera, but more than willing to smile for Jessica (and to have mercy in a tickle fight).



    After a few warm-up shots, my lovely assistant Dylan and I spent some time getting the lay of the land and staking a claim on the best blanket-fort-building real estate. The dazzling duo was eager to jump right in and help with the building process, and with some innovation, Christmas lights, and balloons, the fort was complete. Not built to code for Brandon's over 6 foot frame, but hey, it was cozy.

    These two brought that pile of blankets to life, and made that fort into a home. That's the beauty of their relationship: they can light up a space and make it their own, just by being together and present. And that, Readers, is what love should feel like.










  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Amber & Brandon | A Couple's Series by Chelsea Whiteman Photography

    Hello again, Reader!

    After much preparation and planning, I am happy to finally be able to share the second installment in my series, What Does Your Love Feel Like? 

    Tomorrow, I will be heading off on a two-week vacation to my favorite place, Frenchville, Pennsylvania, to spend time with family and unwind in our family cabin in the middle of nowhere. (Stay tuned for pictures from the trip!)

    In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy this little piece of love, paint, and happiness:

    “Love is like laughter. You can't not smile.
    Laughter is the best feeling; you want it to last forever and when you're with the right person, it happens without warning.
    It doesn't have to have a reason or make sense to anyone but the people involved. Love and laughter make everything better, so it makes sense that they're one and the same.”

    Amber (23 yrs) & Brandon (22 yrs): Together 1 ½ years

    I have known Amber since high school, and her bone dry sense of humor and quick wit have always kept me laughing. I wanted to give her and Brandon an experience that would make them crack genuine smiles -- and what better way to do so than to have them splatter paint at each other?

    To make this shoot happen, Dylan (my boyfriend and unintentional part-time photo assistant, for any newcomers in here) and I concocted homemade paint out of equal parts flour, salt, and water, plus a load of food coloring. One white sheet, a clothesline, and a little accidental trespassing on church property later, we had the ingredients for this beautiful chaos of a photo shoot.

    It takes a special couple to get up early on a Sunday morning and frolick around in a field for a paint fight, and I am lucky to have had such good sports involved. There was plenty of laughter and plenty of mess, and, especially in the brief cease-fires to grab more paint, there were occassional quiet moments where Amber and Brandon's love showed through the most. 





    I am incredibly excited about this whole project so far, and I plan to continue to gain a large scope of couples who participate. Love crosses all boundaries, so I hope to photograph couples of all ages, races, sexualities, and so on and so forth. Variety in the participants will show how unique love can be, and yet similar in its beauty across the board. 

    If you would like to get involved in this whole series, please feel free to email me at chelseawhitemanphotography@yahoo.com for more information! 

    Each couple who participates in the project will receive a 30% discount off of a future photo shoot with me, as well as a free low-resolution copy of the photo that I take for the series that you can post on social media.

    If you would like prints of the photograph that I take for the series, then you can also email me for information about print prices for your photo. The photos that I am taking for this series are each an original work of art that I've put time and effort into creating as an illustration of each couple's love; I would love to have them grace the walls of people's homes. 

  • What Does Your Love Feel Like?: Tiffany & Jamison | A Couple's Series by Chelsea Whiteman Photography

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. 

    Showertime ideas are the best ideas.

    Showering gives our minds a prime opportunity to float, while our bodies are on autopilot, taking care of the lather, rinse, repeat.


    It was thanks to a showertime several weeks ago that I came up with the idea for a new series. My mind was drifting around, thinking about how I could best capture my relationship with my boyfriend of five years, Dylan, in a photo, and then landed on how great it would be for me to do the same for other couples: to genuinely illustrate exactly what they believe their love feels like. Couple's photograpy is so often a formula of "smile and look at the camera," "kiss each other," or "flash your engagement ring," but this doesn't say much about who each person in the relationship is as an individual or what they feel about each other as a united front. 

     With this in mind, I came up with the question:

    What Does Your Love Feel Like?

    I know that sounds strangely-phrased, but rather than asking couples how their love makes them feel emotionally (i.e. happy), I became curious about what different couples would compare their love to. There are so many cliches about love: "Love feels like flying." "Love is like a warm blanket." "Love is like being caught up in a storm." It's a topic that authors, poets, and songwriters have dedicated decades to describing in new ways.

    The wonderful thing is, since everybody feels love in a different way, every couple's response to the question will be unique.

    For this new photo series, I've already asked several interested couples to answer my big question, and I've gotten so many inspiring, "aww"-producing, and heartfelt results. The beauty in the whole project is that the question has been thought-provoking for the couples who have taken it on; it gives people a chance to stop for a moment, turn off Game of Thrones (or, in my case, Friends on Netflix) and have a meaningful conversation about what their significant other means to them. It's a personal question, but it's an important one.

    For each couple whose response I've received, and for those I continue to receive, I am creating one artistic photograph that interprets the couple's response into a picture. Each time, I get the pleasure of putting on my thinking cap and contemplating how to make these beautiful concepts into worthy pictures. So far, it has been a ridiculously enjoyable challenge. 

    With each photo that I create and post, I will be including the couple's answer to my question, as well as a little bit about their identity as a couple. 



    Now, Reader, the best way for me to really describe this project is to stop gushing about the series and start showing you some results, so, without further ado, here is the first photo that I have taken for the series!

    "Our answer may be cliche, but our love feels like sunshine.
    What we mean by that is: We see the light within each other; it's comfortable to know that our love will never die in our lifetime.
    It can be hot at times, 
    and we look forward to it every single day."

    Tiffany (24 yrs) & Jamison (23 yrs): Together 8 years

    High School Sweethearts


    Jamison and Tiffany were the first to volunteer for my series. When they gave me their response to my question, I came up with the idea of "liquid sunshine" and surrounding them with light and warmth.

    They were so natural at showing how much they love each other that it only took about fifteen minutes for me to get the shot I needed for this photo. They were absolutely wonderful to photograph, and I hope to take their pictures again soon!



    I am incredibly excited about this whole project so far, and I plan to continue to gain a large scope of couples who participate. Love crosses all boundaries, so I hope to photograph couples of all ages, races, sexualities, and so on and so forth. Variety in the participants will show how unique love can be, and yet similar in its beauty across the board. 

    If you would like to get involved in this whole series, please feel free to email me at chelseawhitemanphotography@yahoo.com for more information!

    Each couple who participates in the project will receive a 30% discount off of a future photo shoot with me, as well as a free low-resolution copy of the photo that I take for the series that you can post on social media.

    If you would like prints of the photograph that I take for the series, then you can also email me for information about print prices for your photo. The photos that I am taking for this series are each an original work of art that I've put time and effort into creating as an illustration of each couple's love; I would love to have them grace the walls of people's homes. 

  • Atlantic Beach Retro Portrait Session by Chelsea Whiteman Photography | Jacksonville, Florida

    Hey there Reader, 

    We've all had it.

    That one perfect, wonderful, super-fantastic idea for portraits that we said "Nah" to and buried away in the dusty upstairs attic of our mind to save for another day. Maybe it was a cute, imaginative photo that you wanted to capture of your kids, or that photo idea with your significant other that you pushed back, and back, and back . . .  

    Well, guys-- it's time to drag those fun photo shoot ideas out and brush them off, because those unrequieted bits of inspiration need to be brought to me ASAP. I want to make them happen. 

    My friend of over a decade now, Erica, had one of those ideas about a year ago, and knocked off the dust to swing it by me recently: a retro-inspired photoshoot. The results ended up being one of my favorite photo shoots so far! 

    Now, before we could really hop on the retro train, we had to pin down a destination: would it be 1930s inspired? '40s? '50s? How far back were we really going, here? We got together for a Google search-fest to get some inspiration, and after a couple of misses (who knew that Googling "pinup photography" would lead you to such a strange little corner of the Internet?), we decided on a classed-up, less cheesecakey version of the 1950s as our time travel destination. 

    I'm a classic overpreparer, so from here, I went ahead and put together some inspiration photo grids with 1950s poses I wanted to try out, gathered up some props, and went on a Walmart and Goodwill shopping spree with Erica to pull together the perfect wardrobe on a budget. 

    The weather for the weekend that we picked was a little iffy, but when the Doppler said there'd be a couple-hour clearance at the beach before the rains arrived, we snatched the opportunity and hit the beach with my lovely photo assistant and boyfriend, Dylan, in tow.

    He was a great sport. Shh, don't tell him I showed you these. ;)

    It took a few minutes of warming up for Erica to embrace her new "1950s bombshell" role, but all bloopers and goofing-off between friends aside, she ended up capturing the grace and beauty of a retro goddess, 110%. 

    (A little homage to Rosie, anyone?)

    Erica, I've never seen you look so gorgeous.

    You've been a joy to be around since I first met you in middle school, but now I know that you're also the perfect 1950s time-travel companion and model.

    Love you, DeMarco.



    So, what's the moral of the story here, Reader? 


    Don't let those awesome photo ideas of yours go into some tiny mental storage unit!

    Bring them to me, so we can have hours of fun bringing them to life and I can give you some souvenirs from our jaunt that will last you so long, they'll become genuine, retro pieces of art. 

    Email me here to book your photo adventure:

    chelseawhitemanphotography@yahoo.com

  • Graduation Session at Treaty Oak Park by Chelsea Whiteman Photography | Jacksonville, Florida

    It's been a month now since I photographed this beauty, and I just realized that I never gave her a space on my blog.

    Time to fix that!

    Dear reader, I would like you to meet Chakeiya Nixon-- but you can call her Keiya.


    I am incredibly proud of all that Keiya has accomplished in recent months. She has earned her GED (General Education Diploma), passed her ASVAB test, and moved on to enter the US military . . . all while taking care of three children and working a part time job. 


    With all that she has achieved, this was entirely a celebratory photoshoot. Set in downtown Jacksonville's Treaty Oak Park on a blue-skied, early spring morning, under the cover of a 200+ year old oak tree, Keiya and I clowned around for a couple of hours and captured some beautiful portraits.

    The outtakes. Forget the eyes; these outtakes are the real window to Keiya's spunky personality:

    Congratulations, Keiya! You have made me, and everyone else who has had the privilege of knowing you, very proud.


    To book your own portrait photoshoot, send an email on over to chelseawhitemanphotography@yahoo.com and we'll set the date. :)

  • Flashback Files: Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia

    Hello Reader!

    I have another confession for you today: I am a photo hoarder. 

    On my computer (and on an assortment of external hard drives), I have a grand total of

    . . . brace yourself . . . 

    27,623 photos

    Of all of these photos that I've amassed since I got my first camera in 2008, I've only shared about 300 or so with the Internet. This feels like a waste.

    Cue "Flashback Files."

    Starting today, I'm going to introduce an additional series to my blog, with entries that are pulled entirely from my archives.  I'll never get around to sharing all 27,000 photos with you, but at least this is a start. :)

    Now, where to begin? Well, I'm gearing up to go for my annual trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia, this Wednesday with my family (it's becoming a sort of Spring Break tradition) so to start, I'm going to share a few photos from my last trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains (or, more specifically, Clayton, Georgia) in March of 2014. I hope that you enjoy!


    To give you a little background on this cabin, here's a short excerpt from the owner's original rental posting (the link to their cabin is at the end of this post):

     "This property, high up on Tut's Mountain, used to be the petting zoo of Coca Cola heiress Frances Woodruff. Remnants of the bear den, eagles' lair and other artifacts still can be seen. Neighbors graze their horses and cows in our pastures."

    Bear den? Eagles' lair? Coca Cola heiress? Mountaintop cabin? Not to mention, 25 acres of land. This place was incredible to explore. 

    Our first few days at the cabin, we were greeted with some very foggy weather.

    This made our first encounter with the resident cows embarassingly intimidating.

    My boyfriend, brother, and I are a bunch of suburban Floridians, so during our first foray around the property, we ended up being herded by the resident cows into an empty barn. Stuck behind a gate with four cows impassively staring at us and blocking the way, we did what all good suburbanites would do in such a situation: We pulled out our cell phones and called my parents back up the hill at the cabin for help. 

    I wish I was kidding. 

    They could barely answer us through their laughter. 

    We mustered up some bravery and got out just fine.

    That evening, we went back out and did some light painting of the structures on the property. 
    (The cows left us alone.)

    The following morning, we were greeted with an extremely beautiful sunrise over the mountains.

    The Blue Ridge Mountains truly are a magical place.

    For what it's worth, Reader, I encourage you to consider this cabin if you ever find yourself in or around Clayton, Georgia; it was a photographer's dream to wander around the property and explore all of the old outbuildings. If you are interested, you can check it out here: http://www.vrbo.com/243959# 

    Now to continue the countdown to my next Blue Ridge Mountain trip (at a new cabin, this time).

    Only two more days!  

    Thank you again for reading. 


    Until next time,

    Chelsea

  • Before & After Series: I

    Hello Reader,

    When I first built this blog, I planned to get in the habit of posting a before-and-after series for my more complicated photos, to give you a behind the scenes look at how I get from point A to point B in the process.

    Here comes the first in the series!

    The Flight

    Step 1: Brainstorming

    However much I may wish that I was the type of person who had great photo ideas pop into her head at random throughout the day, I am not. Instead, the first step I take in creating a photo like the one above is to have a good, old-fashioned brainstorm.

    Where I am when I start brainstorming doesn't matter; many of the photo ideas I've come up with in the past had their start when I was showering, eating, or in the car. All that matters for a productive brainstorming session is my mindset. Once I am focused and put other distractions aside, I am able to come up with new ideas and make associations that I may not have arrived at, otherwise.

    When I do come up with a photo idea, I always think in images. The picture that I want to create is there in my brain-- all I have to do is make it a reality.

    Step 2: Sketching

    I don't know about you, Reader, but the pictures that pop into my imagination usually don't pay attention to the laws of physics. Sketching helps me to figure out the different photos that I will need to take in order to create my final image; it's my time to plan, take inventory, and work out how I will make my subject float or my lightbulb glow without being plugged in. 

    *Note: If you wonder why I stick to photography, my sketches may give you a clue.*

    Below is the sketch that I created for "The Flight": 

    Step 3: Shooting

    Once I've come up with a game plan, it's time for me to jump in with my camera and start taking the photos that I will need for my final image.

    The advantage to creating images this way is that I still have room for experimentation and error. There's no telling for sure whether Oliver, my fuzzy, orange hot air balloon pilot, will pose properly for the shot, or whether one shape of lightbulb will work better in the image than another until I load the images into Photoshop.

    For this reason, I always take far more pictures than I will need; I like to have options.

    Below are all of the photos that went into "The Flight":

    Step 4: Editing

    At this point, it's time to play.

    Editing is my favorite stage in the process of creating images like these. Up until this point, I'm still not certain whether the image will pan out the way I want it to. It's not until I get my photos into Photoshop and start putting the pieces of the puzzle together that I get to see the image I'd envisioned begin to emerge.

    It is also at this point that my photos start to take on a life of their own. I don't typically have a goal in sight for the exact color palette I'm going to use, or even the complete composition, until I start experimenting during the editing process and see what my eyes believe works. The product that I end up with can depend on my mood, the season, what music I'm listening to, or what art, movies, or books I've been interested in at the time.

    I also tend to go through phases where I stick to a certain editing style or color scheme. I can look back at my photos and see stages when I really loved the color blue in my images, for example, or when I gravitated towards an atmospheric, hazy look.

    Step 5: Sharing

    And that, Reader, is where you come in. 

    ---------------------------------------------------

    In the future, when I write these blogs, I won't include so much background about my process; instead, I'll just stick to sharing before and after images with you, and occassionally the sketches. My process with making these images is generally the same each time, so these blogs would get repetitive very quickly if I gave you a play-by-play for every single image.

    However, since this is the first blog in my Before & After series, I thought I'd throw in some more background this time around. 

    Thank you for stopping by, Reader, and as always, your feedback and comments are always appreciated!

      
    Until next time,

    Chelsea