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  • Welcome to Our Journal

    Keith is a photographer who believes that kids are nearly perfect and that great images capture a bit of that perfection for all eternity. He loves that children don’t filter their emotions. Living loud is their power. And his job is to capture a moment of their uncontained imaginations: your children, unscripted.

    Melissa is the studio manager, adoring wife, busy mom and occasional writer that believes she is living the most beautiful life in the whole world.

    Keith and Melissa have two amazing daughters, Isabella and Gabriella and a little Jack Russell named Pooch.

    This journal is our personal blog about our family, photography, travel and how we are inspired by children in all their authenticity, one beautiful photograph at a time.

the best flea market in paris | marche aux puces – saint ouen paris

"march aux puces de saint ouen"

No trip to Paris is complete without spending a day at one of the many flea markets around town. At first, I debated whether or not I thought the kids would enjoy walking around all day looking at antiques and cool stuff. But what better spot to take kids? Lots of interesting stuff to look, a sure crowd pleaser. So off we went to Marche aux Puces – Saint Ouen – the largest flea market in the world.

We took Metro Line #4 to Porte de Clignancourt (last stop on the line). When you exit the Metro – there is a sign that points in the direction of LES PUCES. Don’t be fooled by the throngs of people trying to sell you knock off designer watches and sunglasses right as you step off the train. This is not the beginning of the flea market. You might think so, because you actually pass through a block of what is a not so nice version of a flea market, but not the one you came for. You have to walk about 3 blocks before you will get to Rue des Rossiers and see the entrance to the different markets that comprise this Paris flea market.

There are several markets within the market. Check out the official website above if you are looking for something particular – the guide can help. But if you are like us, with two small kids in tow, we had no real objective except to look at cool stuff. And that’s what we found. Gabby loved looking at the animals in every stall – from a taxidermist specials of deer heads, stuffed rabbits, dogs to little porcelain figurines, if it was in animal form it was capturing her eye. She loved the place. Isabella was looking at the china (especially the tea cups) and the little details like jewelry, beads, buttons. There were some amazing antique kids toys, dolls and clothing – dating back nearly 200 years in some cases. Just beautiful.

The sights and sounds of the market from Chez Lousette with live singing (accordion player singing French songs) to the shop keepers haggling with clients to viewing history right before our eyes with fabric, clothing and furniture which could be in museums. A true feast for the senses.

We only strolled through a section of the market, it would take days to get through the whole place. But if you love antiques and enjoy a good stroll – this is a great way to spend a leisurely day in Paris. And don’t forget the kids – they will LOVE it!

The flea market is only open Saturday, Sunday and Monday – I’ve seen mentioned that upwards of 200,000 people visit each weekend, we went on Monday – it was nice and quiet!

{We ate lunch at a little spot called Au Petit Pierrot, 142 Rue des Rosiers – a delicious 3 Fromage Panini – Delicious!}

Best Ice Cream in Paris | Our family’s adventure in Paris

Our Bateaux Mouches boat tour on the Seine had just finished. We were heading from Pont D’alma to Invalides to see Napoleon’s tomb and visit The French Army Museum. But the kids decided to run, not walk from Pont D’Alma to Pont Alexandre III. Typical of their method of sightseeing, they go with full enthusiasm in between stops. Rather than conserve energy they opt to run, skip, hop and play hide and seek at every opportunity. So their eyes were wide open when we approached The Cours la Reine – a beautiful stretch of grass along the Seine between the Pont Invalides and Pont Alexandre III. The statue of Lafayette (Keith’s new hero – separate blog post due on this subject) served as base for their impromptu hide and go seek game. They ran back and forth, back and forth – hid behind tall trees that lined The Cours and hid behind a statue at the beginning of the grass. They were adorable.

But of course we had run out of water. So when we were finally able to encourage the kids to keep moving towards our destination they were parched. I think I even heard Isabella say in French “J’ai soif”. Wow, she must have been thirsty. But there was nothing around. And then as we kept walking, almost like a dream come true – this adorable little Glaces truck appeared right at the entrance to cross the Pont Alexandre III bridge.

This truck was just so picture perfect and served great homemade ice cream and sorbet (and sold water!). The owner of the truck was so sweet – happily telling us the story of his family’s business. Happy to own a successful small business and proud to share with us a French magazine that recently featured his ice cream truck in a food article about Paris.

Maison Berthillon might be famous for having the best ice cream in Paris – but in our book the little Glace truck on the bridge is our favorite!

14 juillet 2012 | celebrating bastille day in paris

How exciting to be in Paris on July 14th – for La Fete Nationale, Le quartorze juillet (July 14th) or better known to Americans as the Fete de la Bastille (Bastille Day)!

{What is Bastille Day? A day to remember the storming of The Bastille prison on July 14, 1789, which helped spark The French Revolution. A very important day in French history that helped form modern day France – much like our American Revolution}

All around France and especially in Paris there are grand quatorze juillet celebrations which we were so excited to be part of. The week leading up to today, we witnessed fly overs, the Eiffel Tower getting a huge silver disco ball installed in preparation of this year’s theme, partitions being put up around the city and supersonic jets practicing for their big day. But since this was our first time in Paris for Le quatorze juillet we had no idea what to expect.

The day started with a military parade attended by President Francois Hollande which included troops marching down the Champs Elysees, flyovers by military aircraft, paratroopers and lots and lots of people cheering everybody on. The crowd was like 7 or 8 people deep on the Champs Elysees so we couldn’t see very well but we somehow managed to find a street from where all the military vehicles were exiting.

Since it does not get dark in this part of the world until about 10 at night – the Bastille Day fireworks celebration at The Eiffel Tower does not start until 10:45 pm. We made sure the kids had a nap so that they could make it. Lots of walking and lots of people but well worth it. We chose to not go all the way to the Eiffel Tower since we worried about the kids walking home that far being tired. Instead we chose a spot right where the military parade ended earlier today – at the Place de la Concorde. We lined up right along the Seine and had a perfect view of two thirds of the tower and all of the fireworks.

It is just overwhelming how much history this very special city shares. We feel so fortunate to have participated in the Bastille Day celebrations.

Caroline Barkley - July 15, 2012 - 5:24 pm

What an exciting place for the family to be this summer. I am so happy to see the pictures. Please give the girls my love.

what to pack for a month in paris | children’s photography paris

The preparations had been made over the last few months: airline tickets purchased, an apartment rented for the month (so much fun searching on VRBO.com and Homeaway.com), kids passports renewed (in time!), jobs booked in Paris, planning our workshop. The calendar flew by, July 2nd came fast.

Our big adventure to Paris began with an over night flight to Boston to visit with relatives for a few days. The kids had a great time being spoiled by both their great grandmothers. Our Boston pit stop was over in the blink of an eye. Before we knew it, we were saying Au Revoir to loved ones and sitting at Logan Airport ready to board our flight to Paris.

Keith and I are not big on over planning – in fact we are very fastidious about our work and being where we need to be when we need to be there but everything else we let fall into place. Our kids love to travel and are very adaptable so as long as the basics are planned, we are good.

That being said, traveling with two small children (especially internationally) does require some planning. Being away from home and office for nearly 5 weeks requires some organization. After all, this trip is part work and part vacation so we need to have a mobile office as well as all the necessities for the family.

What to pack?
* Stuff to do on the long plane ride. (and of course, expect the kids to use almost nothing that you brought, but be prepared anyway!) This includes card games, snacks, books, neck rests, paper + markers, Iphone (or the equivalent) for movies and games. I always like to include a wrapped “present” for them. Something for them to look forward to that also entertains them. The inexpensive present is usually a bit hit (dry erase board w markers, small Polly Pocket set, you get the idea). Nothing expensive, just something that will keep them busy.

*Paris has very unpredictable weather – so we needed a little of everything. Don’t overpack, but make sure all scenarios are covered. During our stay we need to be prepared for hot, cold, rain, sun and everything in between. That means light rain jacket, umbrella, layers including light sweaters, pants, shorts, tshirts, comfortable walking shoes.

*To take our photography business on the road, we need basics like Keith’s full camera bag – including digital and film cameras, lots of film, memory cards, batteries, chargers and adapters. A laptop (preloaded with all of our business correspondence), Ipad, Skype# and cell phones.

*Some local currency. When you get off the plane, your kids might be thirsty or want something substantial to eat. Having a few euros on you could save the day.

We are almost a week into our trip and we haven’t skipped a beat since we left. Looking forward to sharing all of our adventures!

Summer 2012 Travel Dates | destination children’s portrait photographer: san francisco, san diego, california, new york city, paris, france

So it’s over 100 degrees in the shade here in Arizona all summer. The temperatures and blazing hot sun do not make the best conditions for a children’s portrait session. There are not too many moms out there who want to see their children melt while it feels like they are standing directly on the sun. Summer is a great opportunity for families to have a portrait session while they are on the road – a family portrait within a vacation. A California beach, a national park, a cool forest, a landmark – anywhere but the Sonoran Desert in the summer.

With that in mind, we pack up the kids when school ends and we take our show on the road every year. Each summer, we have four stops that we never miss: San Francisco (early June), Laguna Beach, CA (late June), Boston (very early July), San Diego (mid August) and New York City (September).

This year, we are launching a new family tradition, we have decided that we are going to spend the month of July in a new location – away from home. This is a great opportunity for the kids to learn a new culture and begin seeing the world while spending quality time together as a family.

This year, we have decided on Paris.

Stay tuned for our family’s summer adventures.

{Please send us an email or give us a call if you would like your children (or family) photographed in one of these amazing spots. This summer, Keith will be photographing children from coast to coast and beyond. Don’t forget to ask about this year’s SUMMER SPECIAL}

Shondra - July 2, 2012 - 7:09 pm

Wow…what a vacation! I’d love to feature this on our San Diego-based site in case anyone is looking for a photographer. Email me for details.

shondra (at) dwellable (dot) com

Thanks!
Shondra