• Welcome to my blog!

    Welcome and thank you for visiting my blog! I'm a mom of three and a portrait photographer in Fairfield County, CT specializing in families and head shots.

    I use my blog to share posts about my sessions, announce specials and to share a piece of myself!

    I love to help women feel beautiful from the inside out and to help families take a moment to be fully present and connect with each! I do that through my photography and also through sharing my own struggles here on my blog!

I was BULLIED in high school and…

I am soo thankful for the way my life turned out. I couldn’t ask for more (except maybe a smaller waistline) but I am worried about my kids. I want to protect them from the pain that I experienced. I want them to be confident and believe in themselves. I want them to be happy.:-)

It took me a long time to find the happiness I have now as an adult. I want them to have it much sooner than I did.

I was bullied in high school and I want to share my story in hopes to help other women or girls experiencing this type of bully.

Read my story carefully. It might not be what you expect.

My bully was a pretty girl with a ton of friends who was nice to everyone EXCEPT ME and very few people knew about it. She did it when they weren’t looking.

She called me FAT, UGLY, STUPID! She told me all my friends were prettier and smarter than me! She made me feel UNWORTHY of LOVE. She told me I would be an old cat lady one day and nobody would ever love me the way that I was.  She made me CRY almost EVERY DAY for a long time! I was in so much pain there was a time I would go home, eat until I couldn’t move and then cry myself to sleep.  I hated going to school. I wanted to hide away in my room. I dropped out of sports and I gained 50 lbs in like a year! It was TORTURE!

I’m 44 now and have grown stronger so her words don’t hurt me as much but I STILL SEE HER from time to time. She’s grown too so she’s not as mean as she used to be BUT she still does little things to try to bring me down.

I never understood how she could be SOOO NICE to EVERYONE ELSE but treat me like dirt. She has a heart of gold, is extremely sensitive, hates conflict, loves animals, works hard, is kind to everyone, sees the best in (most) people, is giving, loving and believes you should treat others as you wish to be treated.

My bully was ME! You see, while I would never purposely hurt another person or animal, I abused myself on a daily basis because I thought I deserved it.

I suffered with depression for most of my teen years and am much better now but from time to time, I feel the pain again. The weight is still with me. When I was depressed, as a teenager and young adult, I used to think that “If I lost all this weight I would be happy!”  In my mind, it was the key to happiness! I tried several times, failing again and again but one time in my early 20s I got down to my eighth grade weight! I was thin for the first time in my adult life but it didn’t last!

I remember the moment when I realized that as thin as I was, I STILL FELT FAT and was unhappy! I thought “Oh shit! It doesn’t matter what I weigh! I’m fat in my head and I can’t get away from it!  Man was that an “ah ha moment”. It’s been a struggle of 70 lbs up and down since then.

Right now I’m close to my heaviest and it sucks BUT I’m lucky to have a man that loves me and doesn’t mind the weight as long as I don’t complain about it. He’s perfect for me!

I KNOW I’m worthy and I have literally EVERYTHING I ever dreamed of having and more! Teenage me would NEVER believe the amazing life I have, so WHY do I still struggle with my weight? Not sure I will ever know!

I will tell you that as the mother of two daughters (and a son) I try VERY hard to not talk about my weight or looks in a negative way. I swore the day I found out that I was having a girl that I would not body shame myself or them for their appearance.

I worry that might not be enough. My mom always told me I was beautiful and perfect just the way that I was. She was kind, loving and supportive of everything I did but it didn’t matter. She NEVER body shamed me. I did that all on my own.

When she told me I was beautiful (or made another compliment), I would say “You’re just saying that because you’re my mother.” I knew it wasn’t true. I knew my fat made me ugly and unworthy despite all the building up she tried to do for me.

I want to go back to that girl and tell her It’s GOING TO BE OK! You ARE worthy! You WILL find love and success and everything you ever wanted! BELIEVE IN YOURSELF” I want to be her BEST FRIEND, NOT her BULLY! I want to lift her up, not tear her down.I want her to know SHE IS BEAUTIFUL just the way she is.

Problem is that at 44, my self worth is still tied up in the number on the scale! I still hesitate to go anywhere that I have to wear a bathing suit. I still get upset when I see pictures of myself when I’m heavy like this. I still don’t understand why I can’t lose the weight and keep it off.

I wish I had a “happy ending” to this story but the fact is that there is NO ending! Fighting the inner bully are a LIFE LONG BATTLE! I’m not depressed (love my life) but I still struggle with my body image.

I think that is why I use my photography to make other women feel beautiful! I’ve been doing it since I was that girl in high school!

I used to take my friends to a local park or even into the city and pretend they were models.

That is when I learned the power I had with my camera.

When I look through my lens I SEE YOU…REALLY SEE YOU and I capture a beauty that emanates from within. It’s truly magical!

It’s my gift. It’s the power to create images (and an experience) that can show someone their own beauty, something we often miss when we look in the mirror or get a snapshot of ourselves on an iphone.

I can’t tell you the joy I get when I turn the camera around and show a client how they look and they hear themselves say the words: “Wow, I look beautiful!”. It’s music to my ears. Knowing that I GAVE THEM THE GIFT of hearing those words come from their OWN MOUTH (not their mom’s or their friend’s) is an experience like no other. It’s why I do what I do!

I use my photography to help others defeat their own inner bully, to show them what others see. To show them they are beautiful, especially if they can’t see it for themselves.


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My morning walk in the Fall. Me, Chewy and Eckhart.- Wilton, CT Photographer

Every morning I go for a walk with my dog Chewy. We’re not alone on that walk. Sitting on my shoulder (under my strap) is Eckhart Tolle. Well, not literally. I have all of his books on itunes and I listen to them as we walk. Walking the dog and listening to Eckhart’s teachings is my church, my exercise of mind and body as well as my therapy all in one. A very productive morning I must say.

This Fall in particular I was struck by the beauty of the trees. The colors were magnificent and I know I was not the only one to marvel in their beauty. It was truly an amazing season for Fall foliage this year. I often felt as if I were walking in a painting, the colors were so bold and brilliant.

As I walked and appreciated the beauty and miracle of nature, Eckhart’s words made me particularly drawn the individual leaves as they fell. I watched them sitting up high in a tree and suddenly begin their decent to earth and take up their new position on the ground amongst the other various leaves and elements of nature.

Eckharts words about people and the way we think made me wonder about the leaves. At one point I looked a yellow leaf that sat on a grate (close to falling into a sewer) and wonder about it’s life. Did that leaf spend it’s life (Spring, Summer and early Fall) worrying about when it would die and fall of the tree? Was it scared it would blow off early in a storm? Was it afraid of what the future held for it? Did it complain about the weather or get annoyed by the other leaves and how they behaved or looked? Did it think about it’s early days and what happened to it that made it who it is today? Was it angry at the tree it was on because it was shorter than the other trees therefor not able to provide it with a higher position in the sky? Did it dwell on what other leaves or animals did to it? Did it look below at that grate and pray that it would not fall into it when its time came to die?  When it finally fell and landed safely on the grate but still in danger of falling in, did it look at where it fell and say “This isn’t fair! That leaf fell in a better spot! This is terrible. I hate my life. I don’t want to spend the rest of my days on a grate. I’m scared. What if I fall in!?”.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Why do humans do all of this? If only humans could be more like leaves.

Until I started to read Eckhart Tolle’s books I spent most of my time dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. Like most people on this earth, I was rarely present. I still drift off into those places but with the help of Eckhart’s words I’m able to be more present and joyful than ever before in my life. It’s a beautiful thing that I wish for everyone!

A few of my favorite Eckhart Quotes:

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

“Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment… Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life – and see how life starts suddenly to start working for you rather than against you.”
“Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. Since the present moment is life itself, it is an insane way to live.”
“Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.”
“To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.”
“Being at ease with not knowing is crucial for answers to come to you.”
“Many people identify their sense of self with the problems they have, or think they have.”
“People look to time in expectation that it will eventually make them happy, but you cannot find true happiness by looking toward the future.”
“If there are people you haven’t forgiven, you’re not going to really awaken. You have to let go.”
I could go on and on but all you have to do is search for Eckart Tolle quotes and you will get pages of them like this:
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4th Annual Halloween Portrait Fundraiser 2015- Wilton Community Assistance Fund, Wilton, CT

Thank you for helping us raise $2582 plus a $150 employee matching donation. This money will  help Wilton families struggling to pay their bills this year!! 

RAFFLE winners: See the list of winners below and contact andrea@momentsbyandrea.com to arrange to pick up your prize.

Halloween Portraits:

There is a link below to a Shutterfly Share Site where you can download your digital images or order products.I also have a 40% off code if you want any Shutterfly products from this event or any other images you own!

Instructions to get your FREE PICTURES:

Each family has a different number of images depending on poses, # of people in the group, etc.

* Click the Shutterfly link below and use PASSWORD: Wilton2015

You might have to create a Shutterfly account to view the images.

* Click on one of the 5 albums to locate your photo. (They are in time order from 11:30-2:30.)
* Scroll through to the album to locate your series of photos.
* Once you click on a photo, you can download it, print it, or share it.
* Downloaded images are sized for 5 x 7 and smaller prints and internet use but you can order larger prints from Shutterfly directly no problem. See below for a SPECIAL LINK and CODE for 40% OFF Shutterfly that is good til December 31, 2015! No waiting for specials or worried you won’t order before it expires!
* If you have any questions, contact Amanda at amandanmitchell@gmail.com

LINK to Shutterfly Share Site:



Click here first to be able to get a 40% discount on any Shutterfly til the end of 2015 on ALL YOUR ORDERS!

Discount code: 9S8W-9KGA-CXXS-14PY6K AND free shipping when available.

WINNERS: Please contact andrea@momentsbyandrea.com to claim your prize if you have not done so already!


Donating Companies and their winners:

Moments by Andrea Photography (Richelle Kaye)
Let’s Make Up by Janet Montalbano (Andrea Lanaro)
Southern Yankee, LLC (Alison Kline Smith)
Hello Yoga (Debbie O’Malley)
Comprehensive Nutrition (Michelle Tarantino)
Canine Company (Janell Stimac Buerge Federico)
Wilton Family YMCA (Brent Shaffer)
River Road Gallery (Kristen Stieber Schestag)
Steve DeMasco’s Shaolin Studios of Wilton
SS-1 -Birthday Party (Robin Law)
SS-2 – Summer Camp 1 week (Megan McWeeney Morris)
SS-3 – Two Weeks Martial Arts Lessons-New Client (Nicole Northway)
Signature Style (5 prizes)- Kristen Stieber Schestag, Carolyn Orbacz Baker, Sabeth Ryan Albert, Alison Kline Smith, Michelle Tarantino- Pick one of 5 bags. Free Personalization.
Happy Hands Art & Pottery – Nicole Northway
The Painted Cookie CT-Kristen Stieber Schestag (Avery)
Dermage Aesthetic Center & Spa- Jennie Wong
create learning center- Alison Smith
Four Seasons Racquet Club- Brent Shaffer

Here are a few sample images!

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Family Photo Day Mini Sessions

My 10th annual Fall Family Photo Day “mini sessions” in Wilton and New Canaan are well under way! I think mine are one of the longest running “mini session” events in Fairfield County ! Can’t believe it’s my 10th year!

It may only just new be turning into Fall officially this week but I’ve already got a few of my dates under my belt. The early September portraits might look a little more like Summer than Fall but the natural light in the park is beautiful and the warm weather is a bonus! I love the green background. It goes so nicely with so many colors!

I know some people sign up just to have a nice holiday card photo and I provide that for sure but my sessions really are about celebrating family! My sessions aren’t really “mini” because we got so much done! The variety and quantity of images I provide is much more in line with a typical full portrait session for many photographer than it is with what most would consider a “mini session”. I love that my new pricing allows my clients to keep all the digital images at a lower price than before and to have a quicker turn around than ever!

Here are a few images from my first few mini session dates.

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Tips on photographing your kids like a pro!

FALL is HERE and that means it’s HOLIDAY CARD TIME! I’m not sure about the rest of America or what happens in other countries but in Fairfield County Connecticut that means it’s time to get the BEST PICTURES OF OUR KIDS possible!

This was my first attempt at photographing more than one of my own kids for the holiday card. That as 2005. Let’s just say I have learned a lot since then!shutterfly christmas pic gallery




Many of you will invest in a professional photographer and I’m thankful when it is me as I know how many photographers there are now. It wasn’t like that when I started in 2006 but now there are a ton of options. There really is a photographer out there for every budget and style!

With that said, not not everyone can afford professional photography or wants it. Some prefer to take their own pictures and I’m happy to share some tips that I have learned in my 9+ years photographing about 1700 families!

TIPS on photographing your kids like a pro!

  • Use a good camera (NOT your iphone) if you have one! The camera and lens are the first step in having images that look professional. If you have an SLR, the first thing you should buy to go with it is a portrait lens. That is a 50mm or 85mm lens with a wide maximum aperture (1.8 or lower). This allows you to shoot in lower light without flash and also helps get you that soft focus background called  “bokeh“!


  • STEP AWAY! One more think about that pretty soft focus background that makes images look more professional! Find a background that is far away and it will be more soft focus. Don’t sit your kids up against a stone wall or it will be just as in focus as they are!
  • Plan your wardrobe well! Photography is art. You are painting with light and with the colors you select for your canvas. That includes the setting you choose and your wardrobe. Keep in mind the background colors (either the green of September or the yellows, golds and browns of October/November). Select simple clothing that coordinates with those colors. Muted colors work best so that the attention in the image goes to the faces! For more tips on wardrobe AND other tips on preparing for your portraits visit my blog www.blog.momentsbyandrea.com.
  • Find a fun location like a park with plenty of trees or a beach at sunset. Keep in mind the light has to be right if you don’t have any trees for shade. Home can be one of the best places if your child is shy. If you have more adventurous kids take your camera to the apple orchard or a new park and make it an adventure!
  • If you have small children work around their NAP TIME! I would not bring a baby to a 6pm session as we all know that would not go well. Think about what time of day they tend to be the happiest and plan for then!
  • Oct242015_1003Get the kids involved in wardrobe and location selection! Make it a fun family project so they are excited to participate instead of doing it because mommy said it’s time for pictures.
  • Look for the LIGHT! Ideal times of day are early morning or late afternoon before the sun goes down but if you have to shoot mid day then look for shade and position your children on the edge where it is still bright but there is no light overhead causing harsh shadows on their face. Try under a tree, on a covered porch or sitting in an open doorway.
  • If shooting INSIDE then position your kids in a chair or couch at a 45 degree toward a big window (that is not in direct sun). That will be the prettiest light. Do not put the window behind your subjects (such as sitting them with a picture window behind them) as they will be too dark and a flash will just reflect off the window. Try to use natural light and position them in a way that the light falls on them best. Use the angle I mentioned above or put them next to the window and then walk around them and watch how the light falls on them. This is a great way to find the magic light!Ettl Dec1 2014 collage fb
  • You can also shoot with the sun behind your subjects for a bright and airy look with a halo of light around them. If you know how to use your camera manually then expose for the skin which will be darker than the background. It will make the background overexposed but beautiful! If not, just put your flash on and it will fill in the light on their face. Whatever you do, avoid direct light on their face (causes squinting and is unpleasant) or directly overhead!
  • Get them CLOSE and CONNECTED! Get them to play games with each other, like “ring around the rosie” or pile up. We play games for most of my sessions and the kids love it.
  • Get DOWN on their level. Enter their world. We are always looking down at our children and while that can be good for close up shots of those big eyes looking up at you, the rest of the time images taken at their level will be more emotional and natural looking. For a more unique perspective, you could also try shooting up at them by placing them on a higher level or getting down below them. Try all different angles, it’s fun to see what you get!
  • May242014_1323If you want to get creative you can shoot through something like a tree, branches, doorway etc to create a natural frame for the image!
  • Get in CLOSE! Zoom in and capture the details of their expression and those cute little faces! This way you don’t have to worry about clutter in the background taking away from that face you adore!
  • If your children are very little find something for them to GET IN that is fun like a big basket, wagon or cozy arm chair. Just remember safety fist! Also consider giving them something to hold that you don’t mind having in the photo! A vintage toy or adorable stuffed animal or doll can be nice. Keep them distracted so they will sit still long enough to get a photo!
  • HAVE FUN! Be SILLY with your kid and go for those NATURAL smiles! Gone are the days of saying “cheese” and getting those overdone fake smiles! Tell them a joke or say something that you know will make them laugh.  For little ones, tell them something they know is wrong! Ex. “Tommy, want to hear me bark like a dog? OK! Here it goes… “meeoow!”  Have fun and you will get those natural smiles you adore so much!
  • Oct182014_1068Be PATIENT! Photographing your own children can be a challenge but we are blessed to be in the digital world! We aren’t limited to a roll of 24 or 36 images so just keep shooting until you get those expressions that make you say “that’s so him/her”. I love it!
  • And I personally think there is nothing wrong with a bribe! Ideally though it is more of a reward as if you make it fun  you won’t have to bribe them. They will want to do it again next year too!
  • Get a great shot but one kid looks better in another image? If you shoot a series of the same image you can do a head swap! Try the website www.retouchup.com for an inexpensive head swap!
  • Read up or take a lesson! Have you read your camera’s manual? You would be surprised at what your camera can do! Take an afternoon to read the manual and play around with the settings! Really love photography? Take a lesson online! There are countless resources for online photography classes. You can even get them for free on YouTube!
  • And don’t forget to keep the images safe! We don’t print as many pictures as we used to! Some of my clients admit to never printing any of their pics! Be sure to back them up on DVD and upload them to a lab that lets you store unlimited images!  I have been uploading my images to Shutterfly monthly since I was pregnant with my first born in 2003. At the end of each month I go and pick my favorites to print! At the end of the year I pick a handful from each month to create an annual calendar! The family looks forward to the calendar every year!
  • Whether our take the images yourself or hire a professional remember to BACK UP YOUR IMAGES and PRINT THEM at a reliable lab! Print quality varies greatly from lab to lab! I recommend www.mpix.com!

Here are some samples of sibling images from my Fall Family Photo Days last year! Maybe they will give you some ideas of what you can do with your kids! www.momentsbyandrea.com/mini-sessions







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