Cynthia Viola Photography

NC Museum of Art

To all the Mommas

Family PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Too much of a good thing can be wonderful
— Mae West
Mother with 3 month old

I cannot help but be excited every time my client's families grow. Watching two people commit their lives to each other at the altar, seeing their choice in new little puppies and kitties, homes and adventures and, if they choose, the sweet little ones they bring into the world, foster or adopt. All the new places life can take us is exciting and having the people we love around us while we do it makes it that much more so.

The past few weeks in North Carolina I had the pleasure of catching up with several of my favorite families and a few new ones. So I thought it'd be fun to blog them all at once to show how many different ways you can celebrate new life, growth and adventures. 

It started with Karla and sweet little Khloe. We met at Jetton Park in Cornelius, NC and had so much fun dolling her up in beautiful pink tulle and surrounding her in flowers and love. Karla's beautiful momma came along as well to help in all the ways mommas help...with all their love and support, no matter what we're doing. Little Khloe is going to be surrounded by love her whole life long. Can't wait to see her again in just a few more weeks!

Mother with 3 month old

Next up is technically a senior session for Joey. He had me stepping out of my comfort zone like crazy as he skated across the ice. I knew I'd be shooting him in the Factory Ice Rink in Wake Forest, NC, but it didn't occur to me until I walked into the building, in dress and heels, that I'd actually need to walk out onto the ice to get the shots. Oops! He was a rockstar though. (not to mention the soccer and golf shots we took later, he's and all round athlete and quite possibly the kindest and most sincere teenager I've ever met. 

By his side the entire shoot, was of course, his beautiful mother Lisa. She made sure he had all his equipment and got all the shots he was hoping for. (Certainly something she did tirelessly through the years as he grew up as well) The rest of the family joined at at Joyner Park afterward and we made sure to capture photos of everyone. It was also awesome to catch up with Amelia and her Furman adventures, it seems like her senior session was just yesterday, and now she's off to make her impact on the world.

Wake Field Senior Photos

Back in Charlotte, Brentlee and I were crossing our fingers hoping little Brayer would make his appearance  before I left and sure enough she and John welcomed little Brayer into the world just in time! The most anticipated part of the morning was introducing him to his new big sister Hamptyn. She was so excited to meet him...until he actually showed up. She became so shy we didn't know what else to do but just giggle. She eventually came around though and immediately started fulfilling her big sister responsibilities, helping to change his outfit and shower him with kisses. Little Brayer was actually hiding in momma's tummy just a few months ago as we took family portraits in the most magical forest I've ever laid eyes on, Hamptyn was excited even then, I know they are going to make a great team, I can't wait to see them again at the end of summer!

Charlotte Hospital photography Session

I technically already posted of blog of Connie's family here, but I couldn't resist mentioning the session again, as her entire family came together for the week at a lake house in Mooresville, NC to celebrate her birthday and all she'd done for them through the years. It was so special. 

60th birthday party

At Coker Arboretum in Chapel Hill, NC I got to catch up with the Jakub family. Anna had just turned 14 and it was time for new family portraits. Having just captured her incredible Bat Mitzvah celebration last year I couldn't wait to hear all the year had brought for her. And next up for them is a trip to Israel to explore and learn about their rich heritage. Beth's momma came along as well and we were able to capture a few generational portraits for them. I loved seeing the similarities in features in them all. 

generational photos

Last, but certainly not least, the Ross family met me at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh to capture Amber's sweet baby bump and play around with big sis Hazel Grace. I can't believe she's already running around so freely, it seems like just last week we were celebrating her first birthday with a cake smash! Cannot wait to meet little Hudson on my next visit!! 

Maternity photos with 2 year old

I'm so grateful to all these wonderful families for trusting me with their memories. This is such an incredible life, I love every single new story and every single bear hug. Can't wait to see you all again soon!

If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy this Maternity Session, or this story about Motherhood and it's many challenges.

Family Portraits at NCMA | The Grattons

Family PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
— William Arthur Ward
family photos nc art museum

I met these cuties what seems like a lifetime ago in another world, but we have remained great friends through both our family's various transitions. A favorite tradition they taught us years ago was to throw a groundhog day party in February because everyone will be able to come! The holidays are over and it's not quite time for spring picnics or Easter so it's a great excuse to host a party! And anyone who knows us, knows we love a good excuse to have friends over :) 

I had only had a chance to meet little Eli once or twice so it was incredible to see how big he'd gotten and how much like them he was. Already playing the harmonica, his musician parents have taught him well. Scott and Samantha create a few holiday music tracks every year to share with their friends and family and it's a huge hit!  Samantha was also an enormous help to me when I transitioned my company from a hobby to a full time career a few years ago; she is an excellent project manager if you need one :)

We weren't sure what the weather was going to do this weekend; the threat of rain had us dancing back and forth for days, and while we didn't get the gorgeous golden sunrise glow I'm used to, the fog rolled in and created an incredible backdrop no matter where we stood at the Art Museum. We were so excited to have something unique to work with. I hope you love these images as much as I do!

family photos at the art museum
family photos at the art museum
family photos at the art museum
family photos at the art museum
family photos at the art museum

If you enjoyed these, you might also enjoy this family session or this NCMA engagement

Amy and Owen Engaged at NCMA

Engagement PortraitsCynthia Viola2 Comments
We loved with a love that was more than love
— Edgar Allan Poe
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session

Amy and Owen were a dream to work with. Not every couple is excited about the idea of making out in the bushes of a public park; it can take some time to get warmed up to the idea even if you are madly in love, but these two were naturals right away. They were so in sync, most of the time I felt like I was working with just one person. From their excellent verbal communication to body language and subtle looks, they knew just how to blend right into each other. 

The NC Art Museum was a perfect backdrop not just for it's beauty but for it's connection to their story. Long walks here in their early days was a seed for their love to grow and I love that they included it in their engagement session. 

NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session

For their save the dates they used a selfie taken in front of the famous rings on the museum grounds; It was a special moment for them because it was the first time they declared their love for each other. They wanted to recreate the image on this session which I thought was super powerful, because an engagement is nothing if not a declaration to the world that you love this one the most. 

NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session

Toward the end of the session we were quite literally chasing daylight. The Art Museum's grounds are quite large and walking from one area to the next can take a surprising amount of time. We kept having so much fun in one spot we'd forget we needed to move on in order to fit it all in! Oops! No worries though, these two were beautiful in front of every backdrop, and I cannot wait to explore Downtown Raleigh with them on the big day! 

NC Museum of Art Engagement Session

I had so much fun you guys!! Thank you for everything!

NCMA Family Session with The Emel's

Family PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel
— Maya Angelou
NCMA Family Photos

I first met Pam and Lee dripping in sweat as we finished a workout that probably involved 100 burpees. I've had the pleasure of seeing each of them several times a week for the past few months and have only ever known them both to have a smile on their face and words filled with encouragement and cheer after every session.

When I met their kiddos at a party a few weeks ago it was no surprise to me that not one them "knew a stranger." I was able to talk to Riley instantly about camera gear and as Eloise crushed a ton of pull ups we became instant BFFs. Alice's relaxed and considerate nature makes her so easy to get along with. I feel like if we sat down for coffee (or hot chocolate rather) we could probably talk for hours.

Seeing them all together last night as one big happy family was such a joy. Lee and Pam are such incredible parents, all three kiddos had a blast, you can tell they're super close which always makes the session so much fun. When the threat of a dark storm rolled into NCMA, they took it in stride; we just played as long as we could til it started raining, hung out under cover for a bit, then played some more. Grateful for these guys. Hope you enjoy a few of these favorites!

NCMA Family Photos
NCMA Family Photos
NCMA Family Photos
Such troopers! Jumped in for the photo even though it had already started raining!

Such troopers! Jumped in for the photo even though it had already started raining!

Vendor Series - Hair and Makeup - WINK

Vendors, Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.
— Thich Nhat Hanh
WINK Hair and Makeup

I've been having so much fun highlighting the wedding vendors and members of the community that I love to work with and think will be helpful for our couples and families. When you work in an industry filled with artists, you tend to work with a lot of people who truly enjoy their careers who barely feel like they're working half the time. It's so fulfilling and I love seeing others love what they do.

The lovelies at WINK Hair and Makeup are no different. I worked with Kristi at Alaria and Drew's wedding this past October and loved Kristi right from the start. She was very easy to work with and more than willing to do the "dance" as I captured photos of Alaria getting ready. (Not all stylists and artists are willing to move around to make the shot better).

I was further blown away when I got to meet (almost) all the girls when we shot team portraits. They are all SO friendly and knowledgable. I was asking all the questions especially to Janna and Jeanette who happened to arrive first. They are both makeup artists for WINK and lash extension techs so I had a ton of mascara questions lol. Afterwards they all took me out for a drink and we had the BEST time. You will seriously love working with any of them whether for your big day or your engagements or family portraits. Below are a few of the questions we discussed. :)

Krystal with WINK Hair and Makeup
Jeanette at WINK Hair and Makeup

Why is it important for a bride to hire a professional for her hair and makeup the day of the wedding? What are common regrets when they don't? Hiring a professional to do you and your bridal party's hair and makeup for your wedding is definitely a luxury purchase, but when hiring a professional hair and makeup team, you ensure that you will have years of training and expertise. We know what products photograph well and stay on the best. We use high-quality products and know how to tame the most unruly of hair. We create timelines that keep everyone on track and on time and we are well equipped to solve any problem thrown our way. When hiring experienced and educated beauty professionals, you get the peace of mind that Aunt Gertrude won't be wearing that hideous fuchsia eyeshadow with her spider lash mascara and cousin Tina's contour will be more natural rather than drag queen.

The biggest regret we have come across from women that decide to either do their own hair and makeup or have a friend do it is that hair and makeup didn't look as they imagined it should be and that it added more stress to their day.

Are there any skin conditioning regimens you suggest in the weeks leading up to the big day? If you have any concerns when if comes to your skin, take the time to visit a dermatologist. Otherwise, skin regimens are going to be based on your skin type and it is extremely important to have a routine for day and night.  Making sure that you are consistent with your skincare regimen months before the wedding will only help to ensure that your makeup goes on smoother and looks its best.  Exfoliate 1-2 times a week and get an amazing moisturizer for your face, neck, and lips. We love Sonia Roselli skincare and keep it in our kits! Get plenty of rest and water. Drink lots and lots of water. 

Do not get waxed the week of your wedding (makeup won't adhere to the areas that you got waxed the same as the rest of your face), also, do not get spray tanned less than 2 days before the wedding day.

Do you suggest anything specific with makeup knowing that they will be having multiple photos taken? Make sure that there is no more than an SPF 15 in your makeup or moisturizers, use primers and setting sprays, don't use too much shimmer. Faux lashes always photograph beautifully. They just add a little more polish to your look and you can get them as natural or as dramatic as you are comfortable with. If you aren't planning on hiring your artist to stay for touch-ups after the ceremony and before pictures are taken, we would suggest putting together a little touch-up kit that includes a pressed blotting powder, lipstick (ALWAYS make sure your lipstick looks good before photos!), blotting papers, a moisturizing and setting spray and a little lash glue. Also, remember to cry pretty and try to catch your tears (pat dry don't rub/wipe away tears).

With an updo, what precautions do you take to make sure it hasn't fallen by the time of the ceremony? For updos, we ensure that it is secured by using a ton of bobby pins and crisscrossing them if hair is thick. Finish with firm hold hair spray and wiggling or lightly shaking the client's head to make sure everything feels secure. We also always do touch ups before we leave to make sure nothing has fallen. 

WINK Hair and Makeup

Is a trial session really needed or is the day of enough? Our contract actually requires a hair and makeup trial before the wedding day. The trial is our chance to get to know each other, play with different looks to discover your wedding day style. We always suggest scheduling your trial on a day that you will be taking pictures (i.e. engagement pictures or bridal portraits) so you can see how beautifully the hair and makeup look with your wedding dress, how well it photographs, and how well your hair and makeup last throughout humidity or smooches ;)

Why do you love doing hair and makeup, what brings you back to it week after week? As far as bridal hair and makeup go, we absolutely love bringing out a woman's beauty and seeing her face when everything is put together. You can see a woman's demeanor change immediately when she feels beautiful. She poses in the mirror, she smiles bigger and laughs louder. We adore being a part of that. 

Kristi and Krystal WINK Hair and Makeup

Krystal and Kristi are incredible business owners who love what they do, love their team and love making women of all shapes and sizes feel and look their best. Their passion is refreshing and will ensure that you are in the very best hands. I recommend them to all by brides and families! 

Brittany and Chonly at the NC Museum of Art

Family PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Love isn’t losing yourself. Love is finding who you are in the arms of another person
— Marisa Donnelly
lesbian engagement photos

I have been blessed to work with so many of Brittany and Chonly's friends over the past couple years but I've not had the chance to work with them! They are quite the couple! They actually only met last year but have been head over heels for each other ever since and you can totally feel their excitement too. We had so much fun exploring the back side of the NC Museum of Art in the gorgeous, glowy sunset light. We *might* have been in a few places we weren't supposed to be, but it was totally worth it. :)

I found out early on that Chonly is studying psychology which, by the way, is my FAVORITE topic, I immediately went on a tangent about Myers Briggs and found out she and I are complete opposites, but that's actually really fun because two of my best friends are my opposite, which means we'll be bffs before you know it. Britt is working toward the healthcare field, focused on pediatrics and I know they'll both make such an impact on the world as they move toward their goals together. 

The NC Museum of Art is always one of my favorite places to shoot, and with last night's glow it was even more favorite :) I hope you enjoy these images from our adventure!

lesbian engagement photos
lesbian engagement photos

The Pace Family at the NC Museum of Art

Family PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Family Photos at NC Museum of Art

This morning's brisk session at the NC Museum of Art was so fun with this sweet family of adventurers. I love it when knowing one amazing family leads you to meeting another amazing family which leads you to another... This world is just so big, it's amazing how small it can feel. 

This bunch loves to be outdoors and often explores the grounds of NCMA (three times this weekend actually!) Little Ellie even loves rock climbing already and was all too willing to climb any tree or wall or big rock we came across. I love that they encourage that in her, she's going to be so strong when she gets older. 

I hope you guys enjoy a few of my favorites from the day! 

Family Photos at NC Museum of Art
Family Photos at NC Museum of Art

8 Tips on What to Wear for a Portrait Session

Family Portraits, Portraits, Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment

What do you wear when you want your engagement or family session to represent your personalities but also be beautiful but also comfortable but also.... 

It can be a little daunting trying to choose the outfits that will represent you in your home, on Facebook, in your grandma's living room for feasibly the rest of your life. Seriously my mom keeps these ridiculous 14x16inch glamor shots of me at EIGHT years old, front and center in the living room. Think 90s poof hair with 90s poof shoulder pads and MAGENTA. Omg. 

Nobody wants to end up on the cover of Awkward Family Photos. I am no fashionista, but I'm here to help. I have shot hundreds of family and engagement sessions and I've seen all the things.

1. First and foremost. Don't feel like you have to do any of these things or anything you've seen on Pinterest. I would rather you be YOU 100% of the time because you'll be more comfortable, and that will produce genuine smiles. 

2. Your colors don't have to match (everyone wearing the same thing) in order to look nice together. Variety actually brings out individual personalities and helps everyone feel more comfortable "in their own skin." 

3. I am personally a huge fan of solids because it distracts less from your pretty faces, that said, throwing in a pattern or two is nice to break it up. 

4. If you're going to wear two outfits, one dressy and one casual for example, it's nice to have both sets of outfits coordinate (as if all the outfits were in the same photo at the same time) so that when you make prints and hang them on your wall later they will match. 

5. I wouldn't argue too long with your child if they really want to wear something different or hold their favorite toy in every photo, happy smiles win out over matching outfits every time. 

6. Nothing looks better in a photograph than bold color. While you may want to use mostly neutrals like grey/tan/brown/white, throwing in a colorful accessory or shoes will add life to the image. 

7. Don't over think it! If you want to buy a new outfit for the occasion you are certainly more than welcome to, that can make the session fun. However, I've found simplicity to quite beautiful, relaxed and natural.

8. If you're willing, I may guide you into a seated or laying position on the ground. Depending on how the session is going and if your attire allows for it, so keep this in mind when choosing your outfits if this is a direction you would like for your session.  

Above all else, just plan to have fun. We will play around with different ideas and explore different areas. 98.5% of the people I work with are not professionally trained models with fashion stylists living in their closets, they're just everyday people with a wide range of personalities and stories to tell. Just bring yourself, prepared to live in the moment and I'll worry about the rest.