Celebrating Adoption with Photography.

Delighted to receive a call from Together We Rise a foster care support group that a localDSC_5251 family was completing their adoption. Gifting a family session to mark the occasion, I was excited to get these charmers in front of my camera. Then delighted to find them in walking distance to my home!

Other than how we met it was a typical family photo session.

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These sisters have been together almost their whole lives while mom and dad worked through the process, so they were very easy with each other.

A sweltering day in August, we met at their house and though they have a picture perfect yard, the heat won. So we got a few indoor and outdoor shots. DSC_5305

DSC_5300The kids wandered into the air conditioning after a few captures in the gazebo. Per usual, kids are encouraged to play, the bubbles come out, books are read, running, jumping, craziness ensues, then a change of scenery. We headed back outside to gather some shots with the adorable boards that mom created in her own handwriting!

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There was some insistence from the littles over who held each letter, but no matter how you spell it, they are still family.

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DSC_5262With over 100,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted, happily there are now two less.

A California based non-profit, Together We Rise peaked my interest when I saw an image of a small child with a garbage bag and learned that’s typically how kids travel from house to house. Their goal is to change the way kids experience the foster care system.

Consider donating your skills or funds because 1,200 kids are effected each day. togetherwerise.org/helplocally

 

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South Windsor Food Alliance Farmers’ Market

Every Saturday between 10 – 1 something special is happening rainDSC_6670 or shine on the lawn of the recreation center in South Windsor, Connecticut.

As a favor, I typically capture images to share on their social media. Made sense to share here too particularly because the season is in full swing and rumor has it last year’s pie contest will be on repeat.

Run by the South Windsor FOOD Alliance a sub-committee of the South Windsor Park & Recreation Commission. It’s amazing what is Connecticut Grown!DSC_6681 The SW FOOD Alliance’s purpose is to increase awareness regarding the health benefits of eating locally grown foods and to make the connection between where our food comes from and the local farms that have been an important link in the history of the town.

Even in the rain, late June to mid October, you can just drive up to the free parking manned by volunteers to direct you. DSC_4966
Bring your own bag, more cash then you’d think (some merchants take credit cards) and an appetite. We go almost ever week for fresh Thai Food from Ban Chaing, Chet’s Italian Ice, Granny’s Pie Factory, fresh produce, Root beer floats from Burke Ridge Farm and pastry. Oh, and there are things other than food like jewelry, handmade soaps, plants, flowers and services.

You can get your knives sharpened or visit with the animals. You are welcome toDSC_4781 bring kids of all ages and fur babies too.

We have seen all sizes of dogs on leashes.

During the winter months, the market moves indoors. Last year it was at St. Margaret Mary Church at 80 Haynes Road. Most of the vendors made the move with food being cooked outside. Check the site to confirm where the Winter Market can be found for the 2016-27 winter.

If you don’t come to buy, come for entertainment. Each week there are new offerings such as pony rides, musicians, a drum circle, bike safety checks… Check the market on FB at  www.facebook.com/SouthWindsorFarmersMarket

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Atmosphere is fun and conversational. Tents are set with chairs and tables for relaxing. With the playground a few feet away, it’s a wonderful place for families. The people watching is fantastic and conversation with strangers encouraged. You will be surprised who you see at the South Windsor Farmers Market.

We tend to swing through before the beach in the summer or after soccer practice in the fall. Its a fun place to run into friends, neighbors and sometimes teachers (yup they don’t live at the school!).  I did mention the food right?

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Check out this Connecticut Grown pepper from River View Farm

When you are there tag yourself on Instagram too.  SouthWindsorFood@gmail.com 860-FRESH-03

 

Summer Family Reunion Photos

After the water balloons have been tossed and corn-on-the-cob has been eaten, photos remain to document growth and change. A Family Reunion is a summer staple for many families, a great chance to see relatives and reconnect. Not to mention how happy Grandma becomes.DSC_3222

The fleeting nature of a family reunion gives just one chance to capture these important moments; then they are gone, perhaps forever. After I’ve entered the scene that’s changed because you now have an online gallery to share and reconnect over before a single thing is printed.

Photographing a visit and meeting of new family members adds value to the memory. It brings alive the story of your family and extends the memory as an extended family session comes with an online gallery to share with each other.

Plus it gives something for the cousins to bond over. Who does this lady think she is making us run, blow bubbles, play,  jump and climb trees?DSC_3190

How does it all work?

Typically, there is one family organizer who coordinates a meet time and location. A family member’s home or local park works just great. I’ll send suggestions for clothing and images so everyone is on the same page. Typically, the family contact makes sure I have all the email addresses.

On picture day, they a cooler of drinks or popsicles is suggested because getting your photos done can be sweaty, especially in the summer. Water is best!

I take images of the family all together, cousins, siblings, then the individual families. If someone isn’t into it, we go to another family and come back. I’ll take couples alone if they like and insist on one of the grandparents. This all happens in about an hour. I’m wedding trained. Posing and playing happens fast. DSC_3178Typically within a week, I’ll have a link ready to share the gallery of images online for those who have traveled. If you are local, I swing by as my time is included. From there DSC_3108depending on package there is a discussion about
favorites. Each family can pick their own images and products. I have helped a family create a matching wall gallery for each of their house.

We can than coordinate how the images will be used. Some people would like to see a beautiful image of their family on the wall, others prefer the privacy of an album. It’s also possible to have digital negatives so you canDSC_3038 post your extended family to your social media. Or make a mug for Grandma. 

What if you had images of your extended family that were done in the most beautiful way?

 

 

 

Summery Snapshot – Family Photos Connecticut

Photography is famous for freezing time. A snapshot suggests a tiny slip of recorded time and it is for posterity. It’s also a reflection of where your family is right now. DSC_6592-Edit

Had the pleasure of making an image of these 3.

They are moving up to different schools, but the love between this crew is constant. Graduation maybe more memorable an occasion, but a simple summer evening maybe a better reflection of who they are as pre-teens. I adore capturing kids at any age but think the playful 3 yr old is my favorite until you see the curtain drop and a preteen reveals vulnerability with a real smile that lights up the view. DSC_6533

Mid Summer’s Dream Connecticut Family Photographer

DSC_5884 (2)Can’t rest. Used to juggling events on a calendar and hustling to sports dates.
Summer is here to slows us all down. Listening to the hum of an air conditioner can lull you into a daze. Not me.

All spring I have been shooting, scooting around town, managing dates. Intention was to share some of last summers’ lazy days and now there’s a backlog of images.

So I’m pressing pause. Then rewind.

I plucked some images from a sweet spring session to showcase how setting really does add magic.

Her giggle is timeless and this babyface is just as adorable a year later. Maybe more so because she’s grown.

Let’s meet up and freeze some time. Feel for a sec the world isn’t spinning so fast.

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Punch your brother – memories for a lifetime.

So we get the shots of everyone looking at the camera. But then I’m directing their play. I WANT the kids to interact and act up. For these too, I know the boundary is a little more aggressive, because we’re related. SO I may have encouraged a bit of a smack down. Photos remind us of whDSC_2342o we are to each other and what our family history is.  My style is about capturing the little, natural moments that document each person’s personality in the truest way possible. To me, the experience of having a fun, relaxed photo shoot (especially with kids!) is just as important as the resulting photographs.  But the point is that I’m not looking for perfect. And that’s not how you will remember your life either. If we can play we can get to the REAL yummy and before you know it, the shoot is done. These two were set in under 15 minutes. Being a mom is what made me a photographer. Kids are why I love it so much. So don’t hesitate because you’re worried about ‘behaviors’ or judgement from me on you’re kids mood. There is nothing your troops can throw at me I can’t work with.

Let’s make a playdate. Delight in your family. Be photographed in a fun & charming way.

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Best Mother’s Day gift, Family Photography

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People with grownup kids love to to say that “it goes so fast.” And you know what? They’re right. In a flash, from infant to big kid, and there’s only one way to hold on to childhood: freeze it.dsc_6024

We use our phone cameras and take a slew of photos. Those snapshots are so important. You hold them as dear as the ultrasound image or adoption photo that told you Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 2.51.48 PMparenthood was around the corner.  

Once they are here, walking & talking being adorable, they get all the focus and are always featured. Except for that rare time you throw one of the parents in the shot.

On Mother’s or Father’s day we have a chance to recognize and concentrate on the effort that goes into raising them. You could do that with a snapshot from your phone.

But why not celebrate the relationship and gift a new memory that can be printed, framed and bring a smile not just on one day but every time they see it. One of the most priceless gifts you can give your mom  or spouse is a printed photo, particularly in this life where we live so digitally.

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Gift a session that will capture your growing family just as they are!

I have one priced right just for mom and her kids. The perfect opportunity to surprise that sweet woman in your life with a gift that is easy to present.

Too often the busy and selflessness of their lives take precedent over taking the time do what matters most : capturing this season before it passes them by.  Give the priceless gift of photographs this Mother’s Day!mom2.jpg

As a mom, there’s nothing better than my spouse and kids planning a surprise that I don’t have to manage but where I have a bit of control.

Purchase a presentation certificate which comes with a what to wear guide. Certificates can be presented to a mom or Grandma. If you really want to impress her, a family session with the whole family can be prearranged and scheduled later.

Simple text Sarah at 860.819.6001 or email cruzsarah@yahoo.com and a certificate will be on it’s way.

Lifestyle Family Photography – South Windsor CT

Real fun. Real people. Real love. Real life. 

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So glad you to hear the happy feedback on Active Lifestyle sessions. Want an image of everyone looking at the camera, no worries. But let’s also focus on documenting your family doing every day life your way.DSC_0727

DSC_0780So much love and beauty in those sometimes mundane activities. Highlighting the little in-between moments because 20 years from now, you might not remember all the cute and silly things your kids did. They’re all about fun, laughter, smiles, games, and fun – what it’s all about.

Family Lifestyle Photography sessions are about life, your life because no matter how messy, loud, and chaotic life gets, it’s still authentically beautiful. In all my sessions, we play. It’s the benefit to not being in a tight spaced studio. It’s my job to help get the kids involved and capture some gold.

DSC_0703Since home is probably where you spend most of you time as a family, you and your kids feel relaxed and comfortable. Play with toys or just roll on the floor. If you adore creating crafts or love baking as a family, these can be documented during your lifestyle session, memories that you will be able to hold on to even as your children grow up and your family expands and changes. Let’s be honest one of the coolest things about photos of our parents is looking at the backgrounds and seeing how they dressed and what the tv looked like. As a detail person, I’m happy to be aware of what’s displaying in the background and have been know to crop something distracting out.; )

While most Family Lifestyle Photography sessions take place in your home, they don’t have to! If you love to go bowling, eating at a special ice cream parlor or cafe? These are things we can document during your lifestyle session as well! Because of my wedding experience, I’m so comfortable shooting anywhere. Would love to brainstorm with you!

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Dzen Tree Farm – picking out a Christmas Tree, South Windsor CT Family Photographer

 

With a warmer than average day, we decided to trek up to Dzen Tree Farm in South Windsor to gather a tree and hike the hills a bit. With the addition of their resident baby reindeer, Dzen is the farm that has embraced the reindeer on all their signage. You really can’t miss it..

We drove up to the checkpoint and took the offer for a saw though we had brought our own. We were directed to the top of the farm for the vantage point and greenhouse which was bustling with holiday treat offerings like hot chocolate. There was also freshly popped corn from Podunk Popcorn which is also managed on property and grown in South Windsor, CT. Wreaths, cuttings and cut trees were available and the opportunity to snap images of the visiting reindeer. The two residents are below near the private section of the farm.

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All the trees are set at the same price, so you can really take some time to pick out your favorite.  There are people in vest available to help and they kindly pointed out to the area we should look to for our tree type.

Everyone had ideas on the best tree. We had decided on a blue spruce going in but couldn’t decide on the size. Flagging our favorites by putting a random stick at the top, the kids began to play.

Tip: The first trees to get picked over tend to be the ones near the parking lot, so the farther reaches of a farm might offer a better selection.

A few family shots were taken and not wanting to be left out, I handed over the camera too…My husband’s head was totally lobbed off but they got in the trees like I asked!!

Then it was time to get down to business. After all three boys practiced on a stump with both saws, they got to work on our tree. We had brought a set a work gloves which was very effective against the sharp spiky needles of the blue spruce.

As a last minute thought we had thrown a tarp into the minivan. When we had a tree down, we rolled it onto the tarp and dragged it to the parking area. The youngest’s face is my favorite.

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Once we brought it to the greenhouse the staff took over. They slid it through the hoop for netting. We then put the tarp on the car and tied the tree to the top.

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We exited down the hill, returned the saw and paid for our tree. At home we set up the stand, recut the bottom of our tree and removed the lowest branches. Once it was set inside and locked into place, we tasked the kids with watering.

A fun tradition and switch from a fake tree. The house smells lovely with the addition.

Think you’d like a tag along to gather your Christmas Tree? Let me know, I’m happy to venture with your family to this beautiful south windsor Ct family spot.

Reindeer at Dzen Tree Farm South Windsor Connecticut


Music plays, lights twinkle, smile and gear up its holiday time! Shopping for Christmas lights while your yard is decorated as a Halloween graveyard littered with chewed up pumpkins is stressful. Need a boost and thechildlike looking-forward feeling? Spring a surprise on your family, the anticipation of which can maybe encourage your heart to grow a size, give you happiness & energy and also – of course – result in something fun.

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Through special arrangements, extra magic can be captured with Sarah Cruz Photography this winter. An unique experience awaits to draw them from their devices and create a classic memory. South Windsor welcomes two new permanent residents at Dzen Tree Farm. Join me in an up-close visit with adorable Reindeer Max and Jack.

DzentreesWith a bit of Christmas magic and effort from owner John Dzen Jr, the 3 foot tall creatures which had been banned from Connecticut are now welcome only in our town! Adorable, docile and familiar with kids, the reindeer are “…like playing with a puppy. They are soft and have nice eyes” said my son Grant – age 6.

A Dad himself, Mr. Dzen carefully guides visitors into the fenced reindeer barn and yard. He coaches the kids to pet, feed, lead and play with the reindeer. “For us, it’s all about the experience.” he told me.  Focus on the moment, your loved ones reactions and let me capture it for you.

We caSzentrees3n do posed images where everyone is looking at the camera, but cannot guarantee the reindeers’ cooperation. Your final images will reflect the memory, however we are lucky that Jack and Max are pleased to be photographed and curious enough to give glances my way. Because of my wedding and toddler image expertise, you are sure to have great documentary highlights that you could not possibly manage from your cellphone. I would love to tell you that the value is the in the images, but truly, as Mr. Dzen said, it is the experience.

If this is something you would like to share with your family, please email me as it is by appointment only. $275 includes insurance, fee to the farm, Mr. Dzen’s visit management and a $30 print credit (covers print & mailing of an 8×10, 2 5×7’s or full resolution digital download image negative*).

Dzentree4Just like a typical family session, you will see your images online and can order prints or additional downloads directly from SarahCruzPhotography.com.

Of course you are welcome to drive over the hill and pick out a gorgeous tree after you’ve visited Max and Jack. (Perhaps I’ll tag along…)

Dzen Tree Farm is located at 215 Barber Hill Road in South Windsor. www.dzentreefarm.com. There is more than one Dzen Farm, but only one has reindeer. Email me at cruzsarah@yahoo.com to make your reindeer reservation. Special CT Family Photography adoring our CT Farms.

*Image share sent electronically within 2 days if not sooner of session. Unlike typical sessions, prepayment required. 6.35 sales tax additional