As professional photographers we recognize how important it is to capture the moment. Yet so many of us rarely step out from behind the camera and get in front of the lens WITH our own families. We owe it to our loved ones and ourselves to be photographed as well. The little snaps and selfies we take on our phones every day are nice, but they are NOTHING compared to the quality we get from a real photo session. You and your children will regularly look back at professional photos and cherish them for the rest of your life. The same cannot be said for the thousands of photos on your iPhone. So for my 10th wedding anniversary I asked my husband, Matt, for a very special photoshoot. I wanted to go back to where we got married, the magnificent Pleasantdale Chateau, wear my original wedding dress, bring our 2 children with us, and have one of the top wedding photographers in the world, Vanessa Joy, take our photos, on the day of our actual 10 year anniversary. I knew this was a pretty tall order. Amazingly, EVERY piece of my dream shoot came true! On the day of our actual wedding, it poured rain all day so all our shots were taken indoors. This time around the weather cooperated and Vanessa was able to use so much of the beautiful Pleasandale’s perfectly manicured grounds. It felt like a fairy tale getting to go there again and to have our photos taken without the stress of a wedding day’s hectic schedule. My husband was beaming with his real smile, not his camera smile, that day. He said it was so easy to smile during the shoot because he was having so much fun. He even pulled off the lift we learned for our first dance all those years ago. Vanessa had a way of really capturing the “true Vail and Matt.” I love that she recorded the little playful looks we always give each other. Matt and I are so incredibly grateful to the Pleasantdale Chateau for letting us go back there to have this wonderful experience we will never forget. And thanks to Vanessa Joy, we have spectacular pictures to remember it by. It was a real “Joy!” [pp_gallery id=”16207″] Having a professional shoot as a photographer wasn’t just beneficial to me personally, I found it could be very helpful for my business as well. Putting myself in my clients’ shoes was an eye opening experience. A photography subject can feel vulnerable. We as photographers need to be reminded of that and have to be there for our subjects and make them feel at ease. Seeing how other photographers approach the same type of genre you shoot from the other side of the lens can also be great. That day I wasn’t just the subject of Vanessa’s lighting setups, I was a student as well. I tried to observe all the off camera flash techniques she used (that are featured in her new book), the ways in which she had me and my family pose, and the way she takes the time to frame an image just right (see the one with the gold foliage that makes a circle around us). At the end of the session I felt like I had gotten a two-for-one special, a photo session with Vanessa Joy and a private lesson with her as well! As a last bonus, by including my children they got a better idea about what Mama does for work. I am pretty sure my daughter now thinks that just about everyone goes to work with a giant bag of camera equipment. Thank you again Vanessa for being so great with my kids as well!