Cynthia Viola Photography

Spring Portraits

Arianna - Senior at Heritage High

Senior PortraitsCynthia Viola2 Comments
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world
— Harriet Tubman
Heritage High Senior Portraits

Arianna is the type of person you like right away. She's easy going and friendly, she takes interest in your life and always has a smile on her face. (She also brought her three super sweet pups on the shoot, so you know she's awesome) :) She's had a lot of great memories over the past few years and is excited to make some new lasting one in this final senior year at Heritage High. She loves the idea of traveling and is looking forward to the possibility of Appalachian State in her future. We had a blast today!

What she didn't know what that her parents had me show up secretly to one of her lacrosse games (as disguised as I could be with purple hair and tattoo sleeves) to catch her in action. The cover was blown half way through the game when she recognized me (I shot her sister Haylee's wedding) BUT she still didn't know WHY I was there until today. So Arianna, I hope you enjoy a few of these favs from your portraits and your big game. You're so very talented, I know you're going to accomplish great things! 

Heritage High Senior Portraits
Heritage High Senior Portraits
Women's Lacrosse Heritage High
Heritage High Senior Portraits
Heritage High Senior Portraits
Heritage High Senior Portraits
Heritage High Senior Portraits

6 Tips for Rocking your First Couple’s Photoshoot

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.
— Robert Fulghum

I lit up like a summer lightening bug when I saw that Safy had made a blog post about our photo session together! They were simply one of the best couples I've ever worked with and quickly became friends I know we'll hang out with again soon. We all have similar adventuring passions and love to try new things. We've even been texting back and forth ever since checking to see if the other has tried each new place we love (Like Sir Walter Coffee!) 

When I saw that she had posted the blog to help other couples know how to prep for their own sessions I immediately asked if I could use it as a guest blog post, she has such great advice! So without further ado, here's Burly and Puff's 6 tips for Rocking Your First Couple's Photoshoot

 

Burly and Puff

You and bae have signed up for a couple’s photoshoot. Now what? You’ve got the outfit and the posing to worry about. Need some help? Look no further! Here are 6 tips to help you rock your first couple’s photoshoot.

Burly and Puff

In the month of March, I had this crazy streak of luck. I won $2 in the North Carolina Lottery. Chickfila gave me three extra nuggets during lunch one time. I also won a free couple’s photoshoot through an Instagram giveaway for a local photographer!

This was a huge deal for Randy and me. When we got engaged, no photoshoot. We didn’t have a wedding so we didn’t think a wedding photoshoot was necessary. Winning this photoshoot was amazing! We were so happy to have our own set of super cute photos. With this being our very first photoshoot as a couple (and Randy’s first photoshoot ever) we were a little nervous about the process. What do we wear? Will we be hella awkward? You know… normal fears.

The day came and we ended up rocking our shoot! The weather was beautiful. Our photographer was the bomb. Our outfits photographed well. Everything just seemed to fall into place. After going through this experience, I want to share 6 tips for rocking your first couple’s photoshoot.

Burly and Puff

1. Build a Relationship with your Photographer

This is really key in shaking away the jitters of your first couple’s photoshoot. Our photographer was Cynthia Viola and she was AH-MAY-ZING. After we won our photoshoot she reached out to us, gave us her contact information, her helpful tips, etc. Leading up to our shoot she sent us friendly reminders and was always there if we had questions. When we met her on the day of our photoshoot, it felt like we already knew her and that she knew us. That in itself made us feel more comfortable.

Burly and Puff

2. Research Couple’s Photoshoot Poses, Don’t Practice

Google and Instagram are great resources! The key to looking natural is to let the poses flow. If you practice the poses before your couple’s photoshoot, you may just go through the poses and your photos will look too posed and stiff. By researching your poses you can at least get some ideas of what to do. A lot of my favorite photos were captured in between the poses we tried out.

Burly and Puff

3. Mind the Weather

This goes for those of you doing outside shoots. When we scheduled our shoot it was supposed to be a warm and sunny Saturday morning. When we checked the forecast a day or two before, turns out the weather changed drastically. FREEZING AND FOGGY. That was where #1 came in. Cynthia messaged me and asked if we wanted to reschedule. If your photographer doesn’t ask you, don’t hesitate to ask them. Being too cold or too hot will show on your face and in your body language.

There is nothing cute about chapped lips, chattering teeth, watery eyes, and red noses in cold weather. Same thing goes for melting makeup and sweating through a shirt in extremely hot conditions. Hey, you’re paying for these bad boys! It’s all about your comfort.

Burly and Puff

4. Avoid Coffee

You’ll want your smile to shine in your photos. Avoid coffee and foods/drinks with a lot of dyes. Drinking coffee right before your shoot could leave you with coffee teeth. Coffee breath could also make the kissing shots a little less enjoyable. Just saying… However, we did shoot a few snaps at a coffeeshop. If you’re doing any food or coffee scenes, save them for last.

Burly and Puff

5. Wear Outfits you LOVE

Just because a photoshoot seems fancy, you don’t have to go out and buy a new wardrobe. The outfits we’re wearing came out of our closet. If you do opt for a new outfit, wear it before the shoot. Make sure you love the color and the fit. You’ll want to be comfortable. There’s nothing worse than putting on a new top the day of your shoot and it’s itchy, ill-fitting, or too sheer. Your photoshoot is the perfect time to show off YOUR style.

Burly and Puff

6. Be Yourselves and Have Fun

Seriously. If you’re not enjoying yourself IT WILL SHOW IN YOUR PHOTOS! Whether you’re a quirky couple or a reserved one, do what makes you feel comfortable. This photoshoot is all about showcasing you two as a couple. Enjoy your little moments together and pretend the camera isn’t even there.

Somehow Cynthia was able to edit out most of the awkwardness, (but she couldn’t get it all). 

Somehow Cynthia was able to edit out most of the awkwardness, (but she couldn’t get it all). 

Burly and Puff

Motherhood

Maternity Portraits, Family PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Happiness, not in another place, but this place. Not for another hour, but this hour
— Walt Whitman

She said, "I think it's important to communicate beauty as well as honesty here. I spent my entire first trimester in bed. Most people don't see that side of pregnancy." 

Maternity Portraits

When Caroline first contacted me about telling her story she wasn't sure exactly what she was looking for, she just just knew it needed to be told. She and Chris have five beautiful, healthy children and she's never had problems with pregnancy before, but this round included prenatal depression causing endless bouts of silence and tears, loneliness and doubt. She explained that between 14-23% of women struggle with symptoms of depression during their pregnancy and it goes highly overlooked and misunderstood. This is an opportunity to begin the conversation. 

What do you do when you come home from a normal healthy doctor appointment and just weep uncontrollably? How do you answer your sweet children's ernest questions of what's wrong when you don't know yourself? What do you do when you don't seem to know yourself anymore?

When you know you're "supposed" to be ecstatic about a new life, but you only sink deeper into the fear and insecurities it represents; your mind can become enemy number one. There is nothing. Nothing anyone can say or do to get you out of your own head and into the light where there is joy abundant.  Caroline has been battling this for months by herself, afraid of any number of things on different days, but she finally reached out for help from a few close friends, embracing her vulnerability and now has a tiny bit of hope peaking it's head. She has not loved her body through this season but didn't want her children to see her the way she saw herself, so she decided for the first time to document with photos what this journey has looked like.

She is one of the bravest women I've ever known. 

I'm hoping she can begin to see herself the way her children and husband already see her. Strong, resilient, determined; a source of life both physically and emotionally. Camden said he can talk to her when he can't talk to others and they all chimed in about how much and how well she loves them. Even the littlest ones who didn't know how to voice exactly what they felt talked about the various actions she lives out daily that embody a loving mother. 

Raleigh Maternity Photography

With five little lives to keep up with and another one on the way, a husband to love and a self to keep healthy it's no wonder her body shrank inward to protect itself, and no one is left unaffected. It's very difficult for anyone to watch someone they love suffer. Even when he hasn't known how to help, Chris has taken on many additional roles in the home (5 children, real estate and a small business do not take care of themselves). Through this, he has shown the kids what a lifetime of commitment really means. They are a beautiful intertwining of souls. Like the magnet on their refrigerator says, "life does not have to be perfect to be beautiful."

Raleigh Maternity Photography

Despite it all though, I actually think they're all doing a great job of embracing the crazy. As I was setting them up for this shot, they told little Cappy to throw his toy off to the side...he missed a little...and hit me right in forehead, but I didn't see it coming because I was looking through the lens! We all died laughing. 

Clark amused us with his jokes and balancing acts and Chloe Cate was the first to grab my hand and welcome me into the family, begging me to stay after. When Cohen ran off into the forest yelling follow me, we didn't hesitate. He took his shoes off right away and jumped into the creek and mom, dad, all the siblings and I followed.

Raleigh Family photography
Maternity photography home session

There is so much joy to be found in life's little moments. I love that Caroline and Chris are embracing this tough season together and finding time to welcome meaning, depth and growth. I loved your whole family instantly Caroline. You and Chris are a testament to the richness big love and commitment can provide to the wellbeing of kids. They know more than anything that they are loved unconditionally and that is simply the greatest gift you could ever give them. It was an honor to participate for a moment in your story, thank you for the invitation. 

 

Caroline wanted to offer her psychiatrist as a great resource in case anyone else is living a similar battle. Ria practices holistic psychiatry and integrative medicine allowing Caroline to honor her body and mind together simultaneously. You can find her information here.  

She also wants to stress the importance of being honest and open with your midwife or OB/GYN. She has received much support from her midwife at Reply Obgyn in Cary.

For spouses and partners of women suffering from perinatal mood disorders, you are needed. Here are a few online resources for you: 

Postpartum Support International

Postpartum Progress

For more resources on Prenatal Depression, it's warning signs, and steps to recovery you can also check out UNC's School of Medicine. 

Burly and Puff in Downtown Raleigh

Family PortraitsCynthia Viola2 Comments
Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.
— Ernest Hemingway
Burly and Puff Photo Shoot

I fell in love with Safy and Randy the moment I started following them on Instagram. They are exactly what I look for in couples (and people in general). Full of life, willing to play, big adventurers; they don't take themselves too seriously and they adore each other! What more could you ask for?

These two have a genuine love of trying new things and traveling to new places, something I found out actually erupted out of their relationship; they brought it out of each other. After Randy gave her an adorable pet name of Puff, she wanted one for him as well, dubbing him Burly and the hashtag that followed sort of caught them by surprise. Everyone loved it (how could you not, omg, it's the more adorable description ever), and a blog was born. They both love their day jobs but spend all their extra time exploring the world, falling more deeply in love and living life to the fullest. You're just gonna love them. Here's a few of my favorite images from our adventures downtown!

Burly and Puff Photo Shoot
Burly and Puff Photo Shoot
Burly and Puff Photo Shoot
Burly and Puff Photo Shoot
Burly and Puff Photo Shoot
Burly and Puff Photo Shoot

Six Month Old Hazel Grace at Pullen Park

Family PortraitsCynthia Viola2 Comments
Just in case you ever foolishly forget; I’m never not thinking of you
— Virginia Woolf
Family Photos at Pullen Park Raleigh

Oh my goodness! I can't believe little Hazel is already six months old! Just last week I was capturing her momma's beautiful belly and yesterday her hospital session! What happened? She is SO beautiful and her little smile just lights up her daddy and momma's faces. I love it. 

Eric and Amber moved to the top of my favorites list when they pulled into our first session driving my dream car.  Yesterday was equally amazing. We talked stats and and painted a very exciting race car driver future (or mechanical engineer of course) for little Hazel. She even already loves her little Minnie Mouse Race Car. SO fun. 

Amber is of course vibrant as ever, they both can't seem to get over the grandness of being parents and said they couldn't really put it into words but it's been the best adventure yet. 

Pullen Park was perfect of course. Cherry blossoms over the lake never disappoint, I'm just blown away that less than 24 hours later they're now all covered in snow! Gotta love North Carolina! Hope you enjoy a few of these favorites!

Family Photos at Pullen Park Raleigh

Kate and Chris at Sunset Lake

Family PortraitsCynthia Viola2 Comments
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
— Howard Thurman

You guys! I'm SO excited! We just finished filming our first video of one of our couple sessions! And by "we," I mean the incredible Damien Maass did the hard part (filming) and A.J. and I got to do what we love... play around by a waterfall making memories with our friends. It makes me so happy to be working with A.J. again!

Kate and Chris were perfect for this because I like a little adventure on my sessions and they trusted us enough to climb some rocks and risk the cold water to make sure we could get the best images. I may or may not have been in a tree at one point ;) 

The Reads have been married for five years and are just as much in love as they day they met; their genuine and carefree spirits make everyone just adore them.  I asked them to share what the love most about each other and I loved watching Chris beam when Kate whispered her affections and how Kate got all bashful when Chris whispered his, they are just the sweetest. 

We went to their house for dinner after and got to play this amazing marble game Kate's dad had as a child, their daughter Raeleigh was, of course, more than happy to show us the ropes. You just never know what you're going to learn on a Sunday evening in March. So grateful for new friendships, things to celebrate and a life filled with learning and adventure. Hope you guys enjoy some of these favorites from the day!

portraits at sunset lake
portraits at sunset lake
portraits at sunset lake
portraits at sunset lake
portraits at sunset lake

Again, thank you so much Damien! Always love working with you!! 

If you guys need a videographer, you can find his info here