Smile For the Camera!

I joked when I was pregnant with Malachi that we were having a fourth child because of pinterest. I didn’t realize what an impression this comment left on Katie Donnelly until she brought it up laughing last weekend. We were finishing up a fun morning of coffee, photography and vintage treasure hunting in Paris.


I was 7 months pregnant when we moved from Oslo, Norway to Paris, France. Addison was 6, Bennett was 4 and Garrett was 2 1/2 and we were moving again after just 9 months of Oslo winter. I really really wanted to have maternity photos done for our fourth and final baby. I had never had maternity photos done, and I wanted to have pictures like those I kept seeing on Pinterest. When we landed in Paris we stayed in an apartment I found on AirBNB. I sat down one sweltering August day and googled ‘English Speaking Photographers in Paris”. A few names popped up and I scrolled through a few websites full of happy families. I found myself looking at a young smiling face and an enthusiastic website with gorgeous family photos.

I emailed Katie and we settled on a plan. A family maternity session at the base of the Eiffel Tower. I got a hair cut, procured outfits for the five of us, including a new shirt for my growing bump. We were mid move and working with limited wardrobe options, but I managed to find clothes and shoes that were photo shoot appropriate for all of us.


It was a gorgeous August day when we met Katie, a young New Yorker, and her boyfriend, a tall frenchman, just at the base of the Eiffel Tower. I don’t know if Katie was ready for all the energy and excitement that is the Hilton Family, but she was so gracious and professional and fun. My kids had a blast, which was a first at a family photo shoot.


As I got closer to delivering Malachi I again contacted Katie about a newborn photo shoot. I mean, if I was going Pinterest crazy I might as well go all out. Katie and I planned for her to come to our house just outside the Paris city limits about 10 days after Malachi was born. Malachi, my sweet baby number 4, was an exciting delivery, deciding to be my first that needed to be induced and weighing in at 9 lbs. 10 oz, more than 2 pounds bigger than any of my other children. He was such a chunk! Katie captured our sweet final baby in his earliest days and I am so thankful for her patience and talent in getting those photos.

A about a year later it was time for us to meet up with our favorite family photographer for a Parisian family photo shoot. The photo shoot was scheduled for early May and I anticipated a lovely early morning shoot.


I had the perfect dress I had been saving for Addison, a linen smocked dress from Janie and Jack that I had gotten on clearance before we left Texas. The boys were going to wear white shirts and khaki pants. I had a few accessories for the boys to differentiate their looks, suspenders, a news boy cap, a sweater vest. I wore a white dress that I only wear when I am not spending time with children or eating. Before we left for the photo shoot I realized it was a little bit colder than I had expected, but I already had coordinating outfits for 6 people. Do you know how hard it is to find coordinating outfits for 6 people? So we went with what we had. I had Addie put on a pair of leggings underneath her dress and we both grabbed cardigans. Out the door we went to the Jardin du Luxembourg.


Katie met us with a smile and a chuckle as everyone was shivering already. I swear I didn’t feel the cold, but that might have just been my stubborn streak and my desire for what I knew would be magical family photos if we could just endure the chill. We got whistled at a few times for walking on the grass, but we ended the whole ordeal with hot chocolate in one of the tres chic little cafes in the garden.


A year later we were starting to prepare for our move back to the US, repatriation. It was so difficult to think about leaving Paris, we had grown as a family (literally when we welcomed Malachi), we had traveled, we had fallen in love with our new home and leaving just seemed hard. A photo shoot seems like a small thing, but don’t under estimate the ability of a picture to bring back amazing feelings.

We decided on Montmartre, Sacre Coeur to be exact. We woke up early, got everyone ready and headed into the city. We found parking on the street, a miracle in itself, and met Katie at the bottom of the steps, near the carousel. You would probably see pictures of my kids on the carousel if it had been open. Thankfully there were not many people there yet. Katie was able to work her magic and we have some magical pictures of our kids, being kids in a place they loved that just happens to be pretty well known.


If you have ever come to see me at a show then you have probably seen one of Katie’s amazing photos. I keep a picture of the kids in my booth to remind me of our adventures and to convince people that I do have 4 children.


Katie and I have kept in touch over the last couple of years and when we ended up back on the proper side of the Atlantic I had an idea. How fun would it be to have a photo shoot done at my favorite market in Paris. I started planning a quick weekend get away. I am fortunate that my husband values my opportunities to get away by myself and have adventures. That is how I found myself in Paris on a frigid Saturday morning treasure hunting with my friend Katie. The Porte de Vanves is my favorite market in Paris and having that as the backdrop to my photos is even more special. Not only did Katie and I have so much fun, but now I have photos to remember this time. Some of the treasures in the photos I bought, some I didn’t, Katie even found a few treasures of her own.  The stories and the experiences will always be mine. I will be sharing more about my shopping trip, but here is a peek into some of our adventures.

I am already scheming about our next family photo shoot and how much fun it is going to be. I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane and I am thankful again for all of these memories that we have captured.

All images thanks to Katie Donnelly Photography.


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