The little girl who lives down the hall is delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for a toddler. Her voice is faint and sweet. Her laughter tinkles about her like music through an open window. She is enchanting, ethereal.

At least that’s the will-o’-the-wisp I know by day. Bedtime, apparently, is her witching hour. Sleep is her nemesis which she fights with otherworldly powers. Some nights she sobs, inconsolable, for hours on end before finally giving in to sleep.

This charming being is my daughter’s best friend. Exactly one week apart in age, two greater opposites do not exist. By day my daughter is a tempest. By night, an angel. She goes to bed blowing kisses and babbling softly to herself before drifting off to a peaceful, untroubled slumber.

In one way, and one way only, the two are perfectly alike. Awake, they are unceasing motion. That makes it all the more satisfying when I’m able to capture those fleeting expressions and details of playthings and outfits that might otherwise be forgotten. The “now of toddlerhood,” a friend described it.

Since these photos were meant as a Valentine surprise from the will-o’-the-wisp’s mama to her papa I didn’t want to post them before their own celebration, which was last night. Her mother hoped she would hold up a simple card. Te quiero Papa. I love you Papa. And she did. Out of the mouth of babes.

Gaby Griffith - February 17, 2012 - 5:41 pm

Your description of Sophie is perfect, I agree she is the most delicate and feminine little girl, and oh so lovable! The pictures are perfect, they must have been such a wonderful surprise to her loving daddy, especially the shot of her smiling face, she has such resemblance of both her parents on it! What a wonderful gift idea 🙂

Jill Cordes - February 18, 2012 - 2:44 am

beautifully written!!!! Seriously. Made me weep. Of course.

Got Luv?

Here’s a quirky Valentine’s Day fact: There are more of those little candy Conversation Hearts in the world than people.

The New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) produces eight billion Conversation Hearts for every Valentine’s Day. Brach’s makes about another billion. That’s nine billion candy hearts, each year.

Conversation Hearts outnumber the world’s population, which, incidentally, is projected to reach seven billion in 2012. In just six weeks all those candies sell out and once again the scales are tipped in favor of people (some of whom eat more hearts than others).

What I want to know is who is eating all those candies? They taste awful, which is no surprise seeing as how the ingredients are chalk, some sugar and more chalk held together with gelatin and mixed with a little artificial color and flavoring.

Still, on Valentine’s Day nothing says “I love you” like a Conversation Heart. Should you find yourself at a loss for words you can always try out one of the 100-plus sayings printed on the hearts.

Earlier versions, which must have been quite a bit bigger than today’s, had longer messages such as “Please send a lock of your hair by return mail,” and “How long shall I have to wait? Pray be considerate.” Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I’m partial to some of the newer sayings like “You Rock,” “Sup Babe?” and “Got Luv?” Not feeling the romance? How about “No Way,” “Get Real” or “LOL.” Ouch.

I realize this has absolutely nothing to do with photography, I just got curious when taking these photos and did some digging. I find it interesting that these little treats have been around since the early 1900s (which might explain the chalky taste and pasty texture), and that those timeless, sugary messages have been printed on candy hearts since 1866.

“Too Cool.”

Birthday Ball of Fire

Today is my husband’s birthday. We’ve been together 20 years now (gasp!) yet I still never know what to get him. I’d say he’s hard to shop for but that’s not exactly true. He’s not particular in the least, he just doesn’t want anything. If I ask him what he wants he tells me nothing. Unlike me when I say nothing, which really means surprise me with something spectacular, he really means nothing. It’s true. He’s fully content with what he has. Or maybe that’s what I tell myself because I hate to shop. No really, electronics or gadgets of any kind, clothes, material stuff in general—not his thing.

If his birthday falls during the week I would normally cook him his favorite meal or dessert, maybe both if he’s lucky. If, like this year, his birthday falls on a weekend we might go out to dinner at our favorite restaurant. This year though we’ll be on the road so I’m SOL. Or he is. One of the two.

When I couldn’t come up with anything I decided what he would really enjoy is pictures of our daughter. She’s 18-months-old and a ball of fire so it’s not all that often I chase her down with the camera these days.

It’s true I’d rather take photos than shop but I think he’s really going to like these.

jill - February 11, 2012 - 1:14 am

I love these! And not only are we kindred spirits in the cleaning dept, but also in the shopping dept. I hate shopping too! Zappos has saved us both. And Phil never says what he wants either. So I feel your pain on all levels.

Tricia - February 13, 2012 - 3:13 pm

Cynthia, charming pictures of GiGi! I especially like those where she’s reading her fairy tales. Here’s hoping that Paul’s birthday was special. Look forward to seeing you three sometime soon!

michela - March 24, 2012 - 9:43 am


Zoned Out » Cynthia Roelle Photography - January 12, 2013 - 11:46 pm

[…] out. As sweet as I think she looks, I’d much rather see her running around the house like the ball of fire she […]

Let Innocence Shine

There’s not much more maddening than trying to get a kid who doesn’t want his picture taken to smile. Except maybe trying to get a kid who can’t get enough cheese! to lay off it for a minute. Or trying to get a baby who doesn’t know what a camera is to look anywhere in your general direction. You get the idea.

Photographing kids can be challenging but, truth be told, it’s the parents who make it really tricky. They hover and coax, beg and plead, clap and coo, anything to get their child to smile for the camera. I confess that I, too, have some experience in this area. But whether you’re a parent or a photographer you know these antics rarely work. What you may not realize is how unnecessary they are.

My friend Jill Cordes blogs for parents.com and earlier this week she blogged about trying to get her two-year-old daughter to pose for pictures. Her post, Milestone Monday: (Not) Posing for Pictures, got me thinking about what makes a great portrait.

To me, a truly beautiful portrait is not one that merely captures a child’s smile, but one that radiates the child’s uniqueness and conveys all the excitement, mischief, wonder and joy of being a child. Every moment is photo-worthy—nap time or play time, ball games or parties, rehearsals or holidays—and anything goes, missing teeth and cheesy smiles included.

The day will come when your child is ready to turn her eyes to the camera. When it does my job will get a little easier. But as Jill realized, until that day it’s okay to simply let their innocence shine.

I’ve included a few photos here which I think do just that, not one in which the child looking at or smiling for the camera. You can see more examples of my kids’ portraits here.

Linda - January 14, 2012 - 6:11 pm

I’m so guilty of trying hard to get them to look and smile. With my slow digital camera it was next to impossible to catch those fleeting baby smiles! When Claire got older I resorted to bribes. I remember trying to get a Christmas card picture and bribing her with cookies. Finally she got so frustrated with me, she yelled out, “Don’t want ‘ny cookies!” 🙂

When a Photographer Needs a Photographer

Photos by Heidi Lynne Photography

The day I found out I was pregnant my husband learned he would deploy to Afghanistan for a year. How’s that for timing? I should also mention it was the day before Thanksgiving. My husband left for training the beginning of April, deployed mid-May and our daughter was born in July. She was nearly six months old when he came home for R&R and met her for the first time. That was a year ago today.

If there was a silver lining in his deployment it was that I didn’t have anyone with me in the hospital taking those awful delivery room photos. Call me vain but I’m not one to trot out a bunch of photos of myself looking like a train wreck, so I was perfectly happy not to have any.

Ah, but the day my husband came home to meet our daughter was different. I wanted photos to cherish, photos to one day give our daughter. As an added bonus I looked good, or at least not like a train wreck.

I also know my limits as a photographer and had more sense than to try to take the photos myself. Holding a baby and a heavy camera is unwieldy. Throw in hugs and tears and, well, forget about it. So, I hired a photographer. It was one of my best ideas, ever.

Heidi Lynne Lewis of Heidi Lynne Photography is a gifted photographer based in my hometown of State College, Pennsylvania. She captured the day beautifully, exactly as I remember it. I’ve posted some of her photos here. You can see more of Heidi’s work on her website www.heidilynnephotography.com.

Photos by Heidi Lynne Photography

Amy Crownover - January 4, 2012 - 4:34 am

So glad you shared these and it brought tears to my eyes. Glad you are finally enjoying together family time. Hope all is well!

Jill Cordes - January 4, 2012 - 4:49 am

Love this blog. I swear, every time I see the pics, I start to cry! So sweet!

Linda Ashcraft - January 4, 2012 - 4:12 pm

Cynthia, these photos are so precious! I hope you’re doing okay!

lynne mowris - January 4, 2012 - 8:47 pm

these photos are so beautiful…what a lovely family!!!

Lynn - January 4, 2012 - 10:52 pm

I just adore these pictures. I’m so happy you’re all home together (and living near us!)

Christina Richards - January 16, 2012 - 3:02 pm

These are wonderful!

Eat Me » Cynthia Roelle Photography - March 26, 2012 - 1:17 am

[…] her husband left for a one-year deployment to Afghanistan. Yuck. And she is pregnant. Déjà vu. My husband also deployed to Afghanistan for a year when I was […]

cindy holman - March 26, 2012 - 8:35 pm

These required two Kleenex! So wonderful.

Bill - April 26, 2012 - 6:17 pm

Beautiful, beautiful pictures.

I remember the first time I met y’all, in the subway in DC last year when Paul was back for his R&R. Then I had the pleasure of working for him downrange for a month. I was amazed at this story and how y’all persevered.

Honestly, the images bring water to the eyes. I’m glad you all are together full time now.

[…] husband was deployed when our daughter was born and didn’t come home until she was nearly 10 months old. I hated that […]