~ Luci's Big Week ~

Luci had a big week last week, not only did she turn 3 years old, have a fabulous mermaid birthday party, she was also in her first dance recital.

It was time for me to do her "3 year old" portraits. I toyed with the idea of doing a tea party shoot in a field, but... eh.... Luci is not a tea party girl. At all. I wanted to capture her in her natural environment. So I brought out her 2 favorite things in the whole world. Mama's high heels and her favorite song Beyonce "All the single ladies" I had this gorgeous vision of her dancing around in her high heels rocking out the Beyonce like the does at home....but not so much....don't let this cute photo fool you.
Because THIS is what she actually did the whole session. Wouldn't put on the headphones, wouldn't put on the shoes. Just stared at her Maw Maw off to side saying "I don't want to" but seriously, look at those puppy dog eyes? How could I be mad?
I don't mean to make her sound like a brat, she couldn't be further from a brat, or a diva. She is just very, independent and unique and has her own ideas of how things should go.
She did however want to make her "monster face" about 100 times.
We did get a few cute headshots because she was in a great mood, she just didn't feel like putting on show. I guess I forgot the golden rule when working with Luci, it's her world we just live in it.
So enough of that, we went onto location #2 and look #2 she did a little better, but still, it just reminded me why I hire others to take pictures of my kids :)
But I do really, really like this photo. It totally encompasses everything she is.
My sweet baby girl, who loves popcorn, has an "outie" belly button and walks on her toes when she is excited.
Who wants every single person who walks in our house to "play Barbies" with her, who sits on the bathroom counter every morning and decides if she wants a pony or piggys for her daily hairstyle.
Who doesn't have a mean bone in her body. Who loves everyone and everything. Who is sweet as sugar, all I have to do is say her name in a stern voice and she will dissolve into tears.
Who is 3 going on 16. Who's favorite saying is "Gosh Darn it", and who reminds me more and more every day of Punky Brewster.
Who loves the little Mermaid and got 9 Barbies at her birthday party.
Who makes my life a little more awesome just by being in it.
I mentioned earlier that Luci was in her first dance recital. She did so good, I was so proud. Her and another little girl stole the show with their shenanigans, but I have to say, my favorite part is when her and Rocky say hi to each other from the stage.
Lots of flowers for our favorite Ballerina, from Daddy, Uncle Chris, Maw Maw, Paw Paw, Mrs. Mary, and Rocky.
Without further ado, check out the cutest little mouse you've ever seen.


I field alot of e-mails every week with questions for me. Mostly from photographers with technical or business questions, some from Moms who want to know where I got one of the girls cute outfits, or what organization lets Rocky play ice hockey so little.

So if there is something you've been wanting to ask me here is your chance. "ASK KELLY ANYTHING" I will start doing this a couple times a year and use it as a reference when I get repeat questions through e-mail. You can ask your question in the comment section below or if you'd prefer to do it privately you can e-mail me at Kellymanno@yahoo.com

Because posts stink without a picture, I present to you the my secret weapon :)
I laughed when I saw my second shooter Steven had snapped this photo. This stool goes with me everywhere when I shoot. I am barely 5 feet tall, if I didn't bring it with me I would be shooting up peoples noses. It's a pain in the butt to lug this thing around but 100% worth it.

~ Congratulations Jenna and Bryan ~

This wedding took me out to the open fields of Breese Illinois. Which made me happy because I love country weddings, LOVE them. Open fields, a warm breeze, and fried chicken for dinner, now you're talking my language.
During the ceremony when they asked for the rings Bryan started patting his pockets and looking around from his bride to his best man, shrugging his shoulders saying "I don't have them" - I thought... "Here we go with the forgot the ring trick, seen this one about 40 times" except, he really didn't have the rings. Someone left them on the bus they had to stop the ceremony while they were retrieved. First time I have ever seen it really happen.
The bride and groom have a beautiful little boy named Karter. Between the heat and it being mid-afternoon I had about 5 minutes to grab some shots of this kiddo with mom and dad, we made quick work of it and got some great photos.

Look at those boutonnieres! The bride made them herself I thought they were unique and adorable.
Photographer Extraordinaire Jasmine Star says : "It's not about capturing the kiss, it's about the moments right before the kiss and right after the kiss, it's life in the in between that's what you want to capture"
I adore Linen colored tuxes in summer.
Country Weddings = Lots of Beer
Have I mentioned yet this was a country wedding? If you haven't picked up on that yet I'll let the next photos do the talking....
The couple on the bottom right of that photo were one of my very first ever birth story clients so it was fun catching up with them again.
Coolest Guest Book Ever! It was a Tree, and see those leaves? Those are fingerprints from the guests with their names written on them. The table on the right held the stamp pads and wet wipes and I thought it was such a creative idea and will look gorgeous on their wall for years to come.
I think the one area I've grown the most over the last few years is reception lighting. It took me years for it to "click" and do something other than bring one flash and bounce it off the ceiling. I have finally set up a simple effective system that works like a charm. I think I might make it class one day, or maybe a break out session at the next shot party. I'm going to call it "How to make the K.C. Hall look like the Taj-mahal" Cute huh?
Thank you Jenna and Bryan so much. I know the heat was SWELTERING - seriously...hottest wedding I have ever shot. So thank you for keeping a smile on your face and taking the heat for some awesome photos that you will treasure forever. Thank you Gail Flemming for hanging out with me all day and being my right hand gal taking some awesome shots herself.

~ Well.... It Happened ~

Well, it happened. I tried to pretend it wouldn't, dreaded this day for 5 years. Got a lump in my throat anytime someone said the nasty "K" word. But despite my attempts to stop it...
Rocky started Kindergarten.
So anytime I am scared of something I always like to think it through and dissect it and get to the root of my anxiety, and I realized it was this. From the day he was born I have been in complete control of his surroundings. He is influenced only by the things I allow him to be, what he watches on TV, what games he plays, who his friends are, etc..
...and now my little bird has wings. It is up to him to make good choices, pick nice friends, and be a reflection of the roots we have given him. Now I'm not going to be over dramatic here, I mean it IS only Kindergarten and I think his biggest decision yesterday was chocolate or white milk at lunch. But these ARE the kids he will spend the next 8 years with and the small decisions he makes now could be foreshadowing of what's to come.

And you know what? Dropping him off totally wasn't a big deal. I am so confident in the little person he has become, he is really, really a great kid. He is sweet, and kind and cares about people. Kids seem to really like him and flock to him, he hates to get into trouble and let people down and I know he is totally ready for this.
Bubba is gonna rock Kindergarten, I know it!
the only time I teared up a bit was when I came to pick him up. He was the very first one out of the whole school. He looked so big. He walked at me as fast as he could trying to hide his excitement. He bit his little lips trying to hide a smile.
But about one nano-second after I took this photo he couldn't hold it in any longer. His fast walk turned into a sprint, shirt un-tucked, back pack flailing side to side and a grin ear to ear.
There are 2 great gifts we can bequest upon our children. One is roots, the other is wings.

~ St Louis Shot Party 2010 ~

When I started a photography business 6 years ago, I wasn't exactly met with open arms. I wanted so desperately to make friends with others who shared my passion, but I was never quite "cool enough" for the cool crowd.

For one, I am not artsy fartsy, not even for a second. I have never owned a pair of birkenstocks, I don't drink coffee, and I don't have fancy "Gallery Openings".

I'm also not educated in photography, never taken a class, simply "self-taught" so since I haven't been dragging around a toy camera since I was a toddler I was shunned from the "educated" crowd as well.

And the big one, I'm a mom (Gasp!) For some reason there is this horrible stigma against moms who also have photography careers, they even have a name for us, it's called an "MWAC" (Mom with a Camera) I even got called one once in a nasty e-mail once.

When I first announced I was hosting the "St Louis Photographers Shot Party" I even had one photographer make fun of me publicly on facebook, Classy, huh? Seriously, I had junior high flashbacks.

But the haters? They are my fuel.

And last night? Well, I FINALLY fit in somewhere.... and I have 130 new friends to prove it.
I'm just a goofy girl from the armpit of the mid-west. I don't know why so many people care what I have to say. I don't think I'm any better at this job than anyone else, frankly I can name 10 photographers here in St Louis off the top of my head that blow me out of the water. All I wanted to do was bring everyone together for a night of fun, friendship, and photography.

I poured my heart, my guts, and my family's personal savings account into this project. It was the biggest risk I have ever taken in my life and it was worth all the blood sweat and tears. To see the ear to ear smiles I saw all night, the hugs I got from friends, the REAL ones, the tight hugs that say I love you and I am proud of you.
To my wonderful, wonderful team. Michelle, Tonya, Kelly, Jasmine, Clary, and Steve. You were the backbone of this whole operation you were the heart and the guts and the knowledge and openness you brought was felt like shock waves.

Jasmine, girl you brought the house down! What What? Whateeeeva!
To every single one of you who came - THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! With out you there I would have just been a dork hanging out with her Mom and Dad.Speaking of Mom and Dad, they were there too, with all my kids, and my husband. They are my "team" I don't do anything without my family because at the end of the day if I had fallen on my face and this whole thing been a flop they would have been the ones to pick me up.

I think I will be on cloud 9 for a few weeks at least. I am so blessed to do this for a living and I don't deserve all the love and admiration I've gotten lately, but honey I will take it! I will take it and hold it close to my heart and not take it for granted.
I will see you PARTY PEOPLE in 2011! Woot! Woot!

and I will end with my favorite quote from Jasmine...

Beyonce didn't need Destiny's Child. You don't need approval from your peers to validate your worth.

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