Strong Woman in Training

WE made our voices heard at the Women’s March on Washington January 21, 2017.

I could go on about the meaning of why we marched, something I forced myself to do as my personality isn’t for placing my family into masses of people. But, I think the statement our daughter made in front of the White House says it all, “Turn me to face the President so he can read my sign!”.
{My husband carried our Little Lady on his shoulders for 4+ hours so she could hold her sign high.}

Being a part of history matters.  I hope these images help you see the reasons we marched.


Looking for Firsts

EVERY year for school pictures we purchase a class picture and an individual picture then tuck said pictures inside a folder to smile at years from now.

The picture that goes on our wall is the school picture I take of our little lady. She gets to pick her outfit and “theme” of the session. She decides her hair style, whether she wants her dog in the picture and whatever other items she would like to include. I want the school picture to reflect our daughter in every way at that point in time. Our little lady wears a uniform to school {that’s what her school pictures were taken in on picture day}, but she wanted to wear a school-colored dress for her pictures. You might be asking what are the items she chose? Well, the books in the basket are some of her all-time favorites, the glasses are an old pair of mine she’s wanted to play with, I found the old school desk in the Midwest that’s identical to one at her namesake’s house & the high heels are shoes of mine she likes wearing.

schoolpictures_11-2016_2_wm_1The meaning behind why she chose such items made me SO PROUD. However, I seldom share the stories behind my family pictures. The stories are what make each picture so meaningful. They are beautiful images, but the meaning makes such images shine in our home. The items pictured truly reflect our little lady, BUT the biggest meaning behind these pictures is she wanted to be a ‘lady president’. Our little lady has repeatedly told me she wants to be president – a lady president. She wants to be MY lady president when she grows up. No matter your political views, you have to appreciate the hope a female candidate has given so many girls. I never thought about being president; never was encouraged to even dream such. To hear my daughter – my pre schooler – dream of a ‘could be’ because she’s seen a woman get SO close to the White House makes my heart smile. To watch my daughter  “vote” on Election Day for Hillary Clinton because she wanted a lady in the White House is a memory I will not forget. She wanted someone like her – a LADY president. After this week in our nation’s politics, sharing the “theme” our little lady chose for her school pictures seems appropriate. The last few days I’ve heard so many moms share how their girls had the same hope; their girls wanted to see a lady president. My wish is you can appreciate the HOPE in these pictures.
{One of these pictures will always be on my desk. }
– Megan –


They’re Officially Outnumbered

THIS session was one of my favorites, EVER! It’s fitting as any day spent with the Flees family is a good day.

Lanora and Kaedence had me laughing so hard my cheeks hurt by the time the session was complete. Both girls took tying up their parents VERY serious. Kaedence thought keeping mom & dad in the loop with commentary was appropriate. However, Lanora could NOT get them tied tight enough, fast enough! Tripping over the long ropes didn’t slow the girls down either. Those little ladies were on a mission and LOVING life!

As I work my way through the many beautiful images, I couldn’t wait to share a few of the early favorites Ben & Lisa used to announce their newest addition.

When You Don’t Push the Camera

THE fact our daughter thinks what I do is an adventure rather than mom having a camera in front of her face is a mom WIN. I worked hard to teach her a camera isn’t always needed and when it’s out we’re a team {using an old point and shoot camera for her to play and learn on was a wise sacrifice}.
I’ve tried teaching my little lady the camera isn’t always something that has to be part of every adventure & she doesn’t have to be in every picture. All while teaching her how the camera works and why it’s used are the little things that make my husband sign with frustration, BUT it’s working!
She now helps me plan the pictures I take of her every few months and get’s super excited about her role – the fun outfit, accessories, including a doll {or her dog or the sheep or her garden shovel or, or, or…}. She gets to help decide a location along with looking at the weather to see if the pictures are realistic. These are all aspects I work and plan with clients whether it’s for family sessions or, in a similar way, food photography. So, she’s basically getting to be part of my everyday. And, I LOVE it. The things stated and the creativity she puts into helping is truly mind-blowing!
The images below aren’t an example of planning, BUT an example of when I was leaving my camera behind to enjoy the day at the aquarium. As we were walking away from the parking lot, my little lady asked why I didn’t have my camera. I stated how I wanted to spend the day running around and playing; a response I thought she’d get excited about. But, instead she asked I bring my camera to document our excursion. MY HEART SMILED. Most of the pictures I took were of her back as I wanted to remember what I saw. I didn’t want to ask a lot of her – as at 4 the best pictures are always kid-driven not mom-driven.
I hope you enjoy a peek of my view. The princess dress {she calls herself a queen when wearing this dress} is a common occurance on family outings and I’m THRILLED I was able to take pictures of our little lady’s everyday. A sight I see often; the fact it was at the aquarium was even better!

What’s a Sick Day?

WHEN you’re a mom, taking time off to take care of yourself is work! It’s impossible to find the time, you don’t ‘feel’ like it when you do have time, you’re always caring for someone else or doing something else to help your family. This is amplified when you’re a mom with your own business. chickennoodlesoup_wm
The past three {plus} weeks the Wilson household has passed around a super virus my husband brought back from a business trip in the Midwest. Doctor appointments have proven numerous as antibiotics started tackling one infection the virus produced to only have another pop up. We’ve diligently shared our germs as many times as possible. My house is the sweet, fall scent of Pumpkin Spice slightly subdued by bleach and vinegar. I seemed to have caught the perfect combination of what my husband & daughter had to {as always} make mom the most sick. Now, I’m a competitive person and realize the gene has been passed to my child, BUT this is not when I want to win!
I wish the descriptions above were overstated, but I’m simply leaving out the details. The last two weekends, I’ve been lucky with perfectly timed weather delays for photo shoots as I’ve been trying to rest {while my husband has been traveling}. The weather was convenient {for the first time}, but the understanding and support my clients have given has been a TRUE comfort. I worry when the perfect pregnancy announcement is a week late because I literally couldn’t see my computer screen to edit. Or, the recipe and images for publication might not make {on a healthy week} a tight deadline. As a whole, taking longer on images & over booking the next few weekends to make up for lost time isn’t worth the worry I put on myself. I have AMAZING clients and work hard to build a relationship with each family & each mom for  my family photography, each magazine or website for my food photography.
Today I can SEE to work. I made the BEST {from scratch & locally sourced} chicken noodle soup. My BEST, 4-year-old that asked I call her princess, helper plated the soup and enjoyed a homemade Watermelon Key Lime Popsicle for dessert. What a fantastic way to get feeling better!

Vihaan {4 Months} | Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC Photographer

HE’S adorable! Vihaan is a giggly, expressive little guy. Just as his brother was at 4 this age.
These boys make me laugh so hard! They’re playful and put up with my crazy ideas – even at such a young age. I picture their thinking to go like this:
Vihaan – Why not sit in a suitcase with a hat on? Smile and look handsome? Sure!
Aaryan – Why not run around until I need to sit down? Are you hiding a snack behind that camera? I’ll smile and you give me the snack, right? Okay!
Saumil and Dipesha have a wonderful family! Enjoy a peek at some of the images from Vihaan’s 4 month photo shoot.

You might also enjoy: Vihaan’s {Newborn}, Aaryan {Newborn} Aaryan {3 Months}

Thank You, Granny | Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC Photographer

THIS morning we woke excited to pick blueberries early, before the heat set in. Even though it was in the 80s before 7am, and felt like Florida humidity, my little family was laughing and eating as many blueberries as we put in our bucket.
We were celebrating. My great grandmother, my granny, was expected to go on to Heaven at any moment. My grandmother, granny’s daughter and my daughter’s namesake, was whispering my goodbyes and giving granny my ‘see you again’ kiss at the family homestead in Florida. This was not my ideal goodbye, but my little family laughed and cried at one of our favorite places here in the Washington DC area, a secluded, family run blueberry patch tucked in the mountains close to Harper’s Ferry. It’s what granny would want.
A celebration of the goodness God has blessed us with while passing the wonderful love she instilled on to our 4-year-old daughter, Granny’s oldest great great grandchild; her only great great granddaughter. I selfishly get, and have gotten, to celebrate my granny through the memories my daughter has built and the stories she now knows.

Currently, there are tears mixed with laughter. But, the understanding, and love, of a true southern woman has been passed from Granny down 4 generations as she played a role in raising strong, southern women. We are a close family. Something my grandmother made sure was a trait she passed from Granny’s example down from my mom, to my sister and me and to my daughter. Her namesake understands the togetherness of family, even at such a young age. Granny was present at Sunday dinners, Christmas morning breakfasts, every birthday celebration, peanut boil or Easter egg dying session until I moved away. Four generations gathered for everything. In 2012, I then watched my 98-year-old granny play peek-a-boo with her first great great grandchild. Then, granny, at 99-years-old, and my Little Lady would be forehead-to-forehead while smiling and looking at each other, no matter what was going on around them. DawnMcKinstryPhotography_SaulsWilsonFamily-57We all knew it was a moment to cherish. Five generations at the dining room table; my mom, grandmother and myself silently crying tears of joy as the first and fifth generation played and talked like they had known each other forever. As Little Miss grew, I would mail the drawings and letters she wrote to granny, or to grandmother to give to granny. Sometimes, talking my Little Lady out of sending freshly picked vegetables, flowers with the roots and dirt attached or toys she knew Granny would enjoy as much as she did. Even as my great grandmother started to focus on getting to Heaven, the woman in my family shared granny’s stories and memories with my Little Lady to help keep the generations close.
Watching my preschooler understand that granny was about to go to heaven has been watching the importance of family shine through. Little Miss has made it her task to show the laughter and the importance of celebrations. She understands her granny, her friend, is going to Heaven; has gone to Heaven. She is excited granny gets to be with her mom and dad and Gaggy, my great grandfather; Little Miss sees the happiness granny has been longing for. She wants to make us feel better, just like granny would do.

Granny_7.23.16_wmOur Little Lady can see and hear the sadness at times, even when we say it’s a good thing. So, she makes up songs on the piano to cheer her namesake up, writing notes – even learning how to spell ‘Love’ – so her nonnie, my mom, and grandmother know ‘what love looks like’.

I am fortunate to see what a celebration of such an impactful woman looks like through the eyes of a 4-year-old. A blessing you should experience, too! A 4-year-old telling her 101-year-old great great grandmother goodbye. Telling granny she will see her soon. Telling her to have fun. Writing her one last note to go on her grave. That is understanding the strength of family and the ability to pass down the importance of family in 5 generations.

DawnMcKinstryPhotography_SaulsWilsonFamily-20This week we will use the fresh blueberries picked this morning to make Blueberry Surprise and gather around the dining room table to celebrate a woman who mastered keeping a family together around the dinner table. I will keep laughing and crying. But, I will keep reminding myself how fortunate I am to watch my daughter write the last letter to her great great grandmother, her granny.

The last three years:
Granny turns 99Granny turns 100 & Granny turns 101

(5th Generation Pictures ©Dawn McKinstry Photography)

New Additions to the Farm |Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC Photographer

TWIN lambs were recently born to our sheep Baby & Mr. Our daughter was able to see and help with the lambs just moments after they were born. Something so important to us as parents.
We work hard to give our little lady an agriculturally-based childhood. She runs around with a chicken in her arms while helping us move chickens, telling Baby the sheep she’s “milking a LOT” every morning or relocating worms in our garden as we plant seeds. Where we currently live in the Washington DC/Virginia area sheep, chickens and gardening are the best we can do with the area we have. I have a cattle background from Florida; growing up on a commercial dairy farm with a large beef herd to raise show steers and heifers. After college, I moved to Missouri to continue promoting the agriculture industry by taking my family’s natural Angus beef to restaurants, chefs, grocery stores and consumers throughout the midwest – within 6 months we were getting recognized in national publications for our marketing and photography.
So, even if we cannot have cattle at the moment, we can still show our little lady the importance of agriculture with our {pretty cool} sheep, chickens and MAD gardening skills.
These animals have the coolest personalities! They are constantly keeping us fresh with funny farm stories. Like the day the sheep met the mail lady on our front porch! Ha!
You see the images I take of families and the few images I am able to share of the food photography that gets published. However, I often have my agricultural images published. Below enjoy some pictures from the last week! {Check out the cream line on Baby’s milk!}

Nia {Newborn} | Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC Photographer

THE Patel family welcomed me into their home and made me feel like family. They had fresh donuts for my for breakfast, an amazing homemade meal for lunch, plenty of snacks…. yes, good food I ALWAYS appreciate! Especially when Richa and Nikesh just welcomed Nia into their lives two weeks before. I was SO appreciative at the hospitality, for sure.
When planning Nia’s session, Richa took my suggestions to heart. The preparation and attention to detail, prior to the day of the photo shoot, shows in the diverse image gallery I was able to create. Nia was a wonderful newborn to photograph! Allowing me to get a beautiful set of stylized and lifestyle images that show the devotion and love of parents and baby.
Enjoy a sampling of Miss Nia’s final image set!