My Top 3 Tips for Traveling Abroad with a Toddler

It's already June, which means summertime travel is here, and that can be complicated when you have a toddler!  Last year, when our little guy was still under two (he was 21 months old), we went on a trip to France.  We had so many questions about the logistics of it all (air travel, lodging, which activities to attempt or skip, sleeping and nap routines, etc), and if you're about to take a little one on a faraway trip, you may be asking yourself many of the same questions.  

After two weeks abroad, we made it home safely, with bellies full of bread and cheese, stories of great adventures, lots of photos, and wonderful memories.  If it sounds like the trip was a breeze, well let me assure you, traveling with a toddler is hard, particularly if your little one is spirited (and aren't they all at one time or another?).  It's for this reason that I've narrowed it down to my top 3 tips for traveling abroad with a toddler.

Tip 1 - Rent an apartment (or house) vs. a hotel room

 Our little guy going to town with a bucket and gravel at our vacation rental home.

Our little guy going to town with a bucket and gravel at our vacation rental home.

Airbnb and VRBO saved us.  While the hotels we stayed in were wonderful, with helpful staff and often delicious breakfasts, having the space to let our toddler run around was key.  When we were in Paris, we spent so much time and effort keeping our little guy contained ("Stay out of the street! Hold my hand! Don't touch that!"), that being able to come back to a place that was more spacious than a hotel room (especially a tiny Parisian hotel room) made a huge difference.  Even indoors, toddlers need to run around in an open (safe) environment, and being on vacation is no exception!  The more you have to keep them contained and on lock down, the more tantrums you'll run into and tears you'll both shed.  

Pro tip: If it's possible on your budget and locale, rent a house!  This may not be possible when visiting a large, bustling, metropolitan city, but if you're out in the country or traveling with a large group, it's so worth it!  At one point in our trip, we stayed in a small town in the South of France with a large group (there were 8 of us total), and we stayed in an entire house that had a completely enclosed perimeter.  That meant our little guy was free to actually run around, get dirty playing in the yard, and enjoy some freedom outdoors.  This made for an easier transition to nap and bedtimes, and a happier overall environment. 

Tip 2 - Choose street food over restaurants. 

Depending what country you're visiting, you'll find variations in the "street food" culture.  While France doesn't have as much of the classic "street food" as say, Thailand, (besides of course the little stands serving delicious crêpes), the French have the most wonderful specialty food shops and open markets!  Whether you like fresh bread, pungent cheese, cured meats, fresh fruit and veggies, or artisan-made anything, really, get some "street food" and bring it back to your lodging.  It's so much less stressful than eating at a restaurant with a toddler, and it still tastes incredible - plus, the price tag will be far less and you can save your leftovers if you have a little fridge.  

 Fresh tomatoes in regional olive oil with fleur du sel, a sliced baguette, and the most pungent camembert you could ever imagine.

Fresh tomatoes in regional olive oil with fleur du sel, a sliced baguette, and the most pungent camembert you could ever imagine.

 Our little one devouring apricots at a fruit stand in Montmartre.

Our little one devouring apricots at a fruit stand in Montmartre.

 Olives upon olives at a mid-week open market.

Olives upon olives at a mid-week open market.

 The most delicious quiches I've ever had from your average boulangerie.

The most delicious quiches I've ever had from your average boulangerie.

Tip 3 - Ask for a crib.

The sleeping arrangements for both naps and overnight sleep was honestly one of our biggest concerns, and I wasted so much time researching how to rent a pack n' play, where to buy them, or whether or not to bring one.  While I'm not sure how it works in other countries, it was so easy in France to attain a crib at all forms of lodging.  Sometimes they referred to it as a "cot" (which was usually a pack n' play), and other times they had full on cribs, but just asking for what we needed made it all so easy.  As for getting our little one to nap, once we got over the initial jet lag, he slipped back into the regular routine we had at home and thankfully slept very well, all things considering!  That being said, it never hurts to bring a baby-carrier pack just incase!

 Day 1 in Paris, and our little guy was passed out hard from the time change on daddy's back.

Day 1 in Paris, and our little guy was passed out hard from the time change on daddy's back.

BONUS Tip - Learn at least a few words of the host county's language and teach your little one to say them. 

I truly believe that even a little effort goes a long way, and if your child can say hello, please, and thank you in the host country's language, you will win a million brownie points and people will go out of their way to help you!

A new addition to our family!

Well friends, the year has just begun, and so much has already happened!  The most exciting thing for me personally has been the arrival of our newest family member: Lucio - our new baby boy!  Below is a rare photo where his eyes are open (he's a marathon sleeper)!  Having an active, wiggly toddler who's always on the move, it's just the best feeling ever to have a new little snuggle bug who sleeps in my lap and wants to cuddle 100% of the time.  

After our little boy was born, I kept meaning to put an out-of-office notice on my email, but I'm glad I didn't, because my inbox has been flooded lately with wedding and family inquiries for this year.  Client calls have all started out with "just letting you know, I have a newborn baby, so there may be some crying out of nowhere in the middle or our conversation," which usually gets a laugh or an "awwwe!"  I had forgotten about the baby grunts and snorting noises that only seem to amplify when I'm on the phone with a new client (#momlife).   :)

2018 has already brought so much joy to our family, and I'm really looking forward to meeting and working with the wonderful new families and couples that have come my way so far.  

With gratitude,

Alice

Olympia Family Photographer Newborn Baby

Christmas Tree Hunting!

Ok, so, I'm not going to downplay this: I'm one of those people who loves the holidays.  I'm all about the Christmas music from the classics through the current recordings - my all time favorite Christmas albums being those by Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, and I'll admit it... N*Sync and Christina Aguilera (definite favorites when they came out).  I love eggnog.  I love Christmas lights.  I'm one of those people who has a box full of decorations, and as soon as Thanksgiving is over, I'm ready to start putting together a wreath of fresh cedar clippings and to go out Christmas tree hunting!

This year we actually went to a Christmas tree farm about 4o minutes west of Olympia!  Our little guy was so excited to see the gigantic blow up snowman amidst the plethora of trees (I just wanted to use the word "plethora"), and thus began our search.  We looked at so many trees, and finally, my hubby found a perfect one (pictured below).  By the time he went to get the guys with the chainsaw however, I found yet another one for him to look at and we just decided to take the plunge and go for that one.  Well... once we got it in the stand at home, we realized that it was crooked!  Of course!  In the end, I've come to appreciate my slightly bendy tree though, because to me that highlights the fact that our tree is unique!  

So that's my story about tree hunting this year.  At least it's more exciting than previous years, when I slightly unsuccessfully used my fiddle leaf fig tree instead of a proper Christmas tree (it still did the job though)!  Now it's time to find and wrap some presents!

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October means pumpkin time!

Every year our family goes with friends to a pumpkin patch.  Last year, our little guy was unimpressed, but this year he had the time of his life saying "pumpkin! pumpkin!" and playing them like bongos.  He charged through the patch, tripping over vines, getting his hands (and clothes) nice and dirty.  We picked up three orange beauties and still have yet to carve them.  

This time of year, I love to bake pumpkin goodies!  My favorite is a stuffed sugar-pie pumpkin with lots of cheese, herbs, some day old sourdough, mushrooms, and anything else that finds its way into the gourd before going into the oven.  Oh yea, did I mention heavy cream?  (Definitely not gluten or dairy free).  Maybe I'll bake one of these and take some photos so that I can post a recipe.  Would anyone be interested in that?  

From where I'm sitting in Olympia, fall is officially here, including the dramatic weather changes from bright and sunny one moment, to blustery winds and rain.  Here in the PNW it has definitely cooled off, and we have been getting out our coats and vests.  I'm still learning how to convince a toddler to put on his coat and to keep a hat on... but I'm sure my negotiation skills will improve with time.

With the pumpkins and change in weather have come the gorgeous fall colors!  I still have a few spots open for family photography sessions outdoors (the rain doesn't scare me!), so if you'd like to schedule a family session before the leaves are gone, send me an email at alice@alicemaliaphotography.com.  

Happy fall everyone!

Alice  

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Thurston County Family Photographer
Olympia Family Photographer

Summer Moments

The summer comes and goes so fast, but before every session, I try to take a moment to enjoy the location and find pockets of beauty.  The Ballard Locks in Seattle are a fantastic place to find hidden gems, like the rose garden I stumbled upon before a recent session.  Here are some bright, colorful shots that I took in the early evening light (around 5:45pm).  

seattle family summer photography session

Summer has been so full, so busy, so wonderful.  This weekend will be no exception!  For those of you in the PNW, enjoy it while we we have it!  I know I will.

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olympia family summer photo session

What is the best light for a family photography session?

Hi friends!

Happy 4th of July from Olympia!  It has been a busy spring and early summer so far.  Between the start of wedding season in Washington and the nice weather bringing families outdoors, I have had a full calendar for weeks.  I still have a few spots open for family photography sessions in both Olympia and Seattle, so let me know soon if you're looking to capture your little ones in the summer light!

Now I'd like to review a question that clients ask me all the time:

"What is the best light for a family photography session?  I want to schedule a photo session, but I don't know when to do it.  Is the morning better?  Or the afternoon?  Is it still bright enough in the early evening?"

This is how I explain it to my clients:  First of all, I am a photographer based in Olympia, WA, so I am used to photographing in all situations - rain, clouds, sun, etc.  While a beautiful sunny day can be fantastic, I am no stranger to the overcast skies of Washington State.  So no matter what... I got you!  Rain or shine, clouds or blue skies, your photos will turn out awesome, because my focus is to capture the love between you and your family.  

Take a look at the two photos below.  These examples show the same mom and her son in two different lighting and weather scenarios, but the love, snuggles, and total adoration between them is truly the highlight in both photos.

 A bright and sunny morning in June.

A bright and sunny morning in June.

 An overcast and chilly day in November.

An overcast and chilly day in November.

All that being said, here is how I break it down as things to consider for choosing when to set up your family photography session:

1. What is the best timing for your family?  Do you have a toddler that needs to nap at noon?  Do your kids eat dinner at 6pm?  Will disrupting a meal and/or bedtime schedule cause meltdown mayhem for the littles (or the adults for that matter)?  It doesn't matter what anyone else says, because you know your family best, and scheduling according to your family's needs is the best way to get the happiest subjects in the final photos.

2. Photography aside, what weather do you prefer?  Do you thrive in bright sunshiny days, or are you all about the cool, overcast, PNW mornings?  No matter what, we can't predict the weather with total accuracy, and while you may wake up for a week straight to gray skies and get sunshine in the afternoon, you might end up with the reverse scenario on our scheduled photoshoot day.  However, knowing what weather you prefer can help us to get closer to your desired end result.  

3. Do you have a specific shot in mind?  If you know you want to be in the middle of an open field that doesn't have any trees, well, maybe an overcast morning would be better, or an evening session during the "magic hour."  If you want to do the photos at your home in a room that has one small window, a sunny day might be just what we need to make the shots illuminated just enough.  No matter what, we will make the photos work!  

4. Most importantly, the subject is more important than the scene.  When it comes to photographing families, I believe that it is way more important to focus on the interplay between mom, dad, and kid(s) than to overdo it on the background.  It may be a great touch to see the Seattle Space Needle in the background of a shot, or maybe an iconic ferry in the distance, but I would rather have you focusing on being present with your family than worrying about the lighting or landscape.  A park may be picturesque, but your baby's leg rolls, chubby cheeks, or little feet are way more memorable.

Is there such thing as magic light?  Sure.  Are certain lighting conditions better than others? Totally.  But we can't always predict when exactly they will be, so I say, focus on the people in the photos and your general hopes for the session, and then let it all go and just have fun.  Leave the lighting to me and we'll end up having a blast and getting a story of beautiful photos to show for it.

Questions or comments?  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.  

We moved!

Hey friends!  More big news for the beginning of the year... well, I guess it's already February, but it still feels like the beginning of the year...  WE MOVED!  We are now based out of Olympia, WA (Tumwater, to be extra specific), and we're so excited to be able to explore and embrace our new community!  If you know anyone who lives in the area, please connect us!  

Seattleites, never fear!  I will still be serving the Seattle area and all around the PNW.  I have so many amazing friends and clients in the greater Seattle area, and I will still gladly come up to photograph your family portraits and weddings!

That's the news for now!  Wishing you all the best!

 Thankfully we finished our move the evening before the snow came floating down and sticking all around us.  Here we are in the middle of our winter wonderland.  

Thankfully we finished our move the evening before the snow came floating down and sticking all around us.  Here we are in the middle of our winter wonderland.  

Heather & Jeremy's Wedding on Borrowed & Blue

Hello 2017!

It has been a whirlwind of a new year already.  One exciting piece of news is that another one of my weddings from last year was published on Borrowed & Blue late last month!  Click here to see the full post!  

Heather and Jeremy's sweet and intimate wedding took place at Seattle's downtown water front. The couple had a small wedding of only 18 guests, with the addition of their mutual friend who was their officiant. Heather wore a beautiful Monique L'huillier blush dress and Jeremy wore a Nordstrom suit.  All of the flowers came from Fiori Floral Design, the florist from Nordstrom's flagship store in Seattle.  

The couple chose to do a "first look" in front of their downtown hotel, and made their way to the pier and water front via a black, Lincoln town car uber ride (I rode in the front seat and photographed them from there, which was really fun)!  For the ceremony, they asked their guests to form a circle around them as they exchanged their vows through tears and smiles. After the ceremony, we took bride and groom portraits as we walked over to meet the rest of the guests at the Uptown Espresso coffee shop.  From there we took the Lincoln town car once more, this time to Elliot's Oyster House on the water (an iconic Seattle restaurant), where they celebrated with their family members at a private dinner reception.

As most of the wedding took place in the heart of downtown Seattle, the couple's style, decor, and inspiration featured their beloved city of Seattle itself!  One of my favorite shots from this wedding is the photo of the groom dipping the bride with the Seattle Space Needle in the background (see the screenshots below). In another shot you can see an iconic ferry in the background! 

Looking at the images of this wonderful fall wedding is getting me pumped for the wedding season again!  

Alice

Happy Holidays!

Hello friends!  

I hope you all have been celebrating with your loved ones this holiday season.  For me, this time of year is always filled with great food, fantastic company, trying to stay warm (!!!), enjoying the fireplace (finally we have a real one, instead of deferring to the Netflix fireplace), Christmas music (I'm totally that person who sings along to every song and I'm not embarrassed about it at all), drinking mulled apple cider, feeling grateful for my friends and family, and finding the perfect gifts for the people I love. 

On that note, I will leave you with the gift of these snapshot gems of a first encounter with Santa (hey, there's always next year), and wish you all the happiest of holidays!

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Emily & Mark's Wedding on Borrowed & Blue !

I'm super excited that my one of my beautiful summer weddings on Oahu was published on Borrowed & Blue Hawaii!  Emily & Mark were married at the Paliku Gardens at Kualoa Ranch this July, with a wedding full of unique features and DIY elements.  Besides the fact that Emily happens to be my BFF, all of the flowers were arranged (and most of them grown in the backyard of...) my mom!!  :)  The folks at B&B clearly love the flowers because the stunning bouquet was chosen as the opening image.  

To see the full feature, click on the screenshot below!  Mahalo!!

Photography Assistant

Hello friends!

I have been SO busy this summer... all good busy, of course!  My website has been going through major renovations (exciting!) and I have been meaning to post on the blog for a while now, so here's a quick look at what one of my favorite sessions looked like: Little E was my very "helpful" photo assistant, sitting on my reflector, destroying a stick.  

This summer has been full of weddings, individual portraits, and family sessions, both in Hawaii and here in Seattle.  The end of summer and entry into fall is bringing us more weddings, brand new babies, and families to photograph, and I'm so looking forward to it all!  Stay tuned for more posts and the official announcement of when my website is finally complete!  (Or at least ready to be released... is it ever truly complete?)

Sweet Baby Simone

Welcome baby Simone!  This sweetie was just three weeks old when we took these photos at her home in North Seattle this past May.  One of the things I love most about newborn babies are their tiny fingers and toes.  Sometimes they're all bundled up for weeks and weeks, until they finally allow their limbs to open and stretch.  Little Simone had her ups and downs during our photo session, but one thing was sure, snuggling with her gorgeous momma was the place to be.  I'm so excited to see this little beauty as she grows.  It's already certain that she'll have a luscious head of hair!  I can't wait to see what her personality shapes into as she opens up to the world.    

Sunny Day at the Beach

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we'll take a sunny day at the beach when we can get one!  This spring has had some truly gorgeous weather, with temperatures in the 80s, lots of sunshine, blue skies, a nice breeze - the works!  On one such summer-like weekend in April, we had a fun family photography session with the H family at the Juanita Beach Park in Kirkland, where we frolicked on the sand and boardwalk.  Here are some of the highlights of that bright afternoon.

Now on Facebook

Hi friends!

I'm now on Facebook!  It has been long overdue, but now you can find me there with all of the up-to-date information and goings-on at Alice Malia Photography.  I would be honored if you would "Like" my page.  Things are starting to ramp up and I would love your support to keep up the momentum!

Click here to open a new window to the new Facebook page, or type www.facebook.com/alicemaliaphotography into your favorite browser and spread the word!

Mahalo!

Alice

Booking Weddings for 2016-2017!

Hi friends!  Do you know someone who just got engaged over the holidays?  I'm currently booking weddings for 2016 and 2017 and I would love the opportunity to photograph your loved one's wedding (or your wedding for that matter)!  If you do, send them over to my website or pass along my email: alice@alicemaliaphotography.com so they can contact me about their special day.   

Thank you! xoxo

Happy Holidays!

Hello friends!

From our family to yours, we wish you the happiest of holidays! 

Love,

Alice, Brian, & Edwin

Welcome Baby Edwin!

Hello friends!

We are so incredibly happy to welcome home the newest member of our family: Edwin.  He is our first baby and these newborn photos were taken between 4 and 10 days of his life.  The fun part about newborn and baby photography is that they change so much within the first year of life, so tracking the changes through photography will be a real treat for our family this year!  I've already filled up my phone with photos of the little peanut, but hands down, the photos from my actual camera are the ones that we'll frame and cherish forever.  :)  


Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello friends! 

Happy Thanksgiving!  I have so much to be thankful for this year.  First of all, a big thanks to all of you who have looked at my blog and supported my business.  This year has been so wonderful because of all of you!  We've shot weddings, small businesses, schools, families, and celebrations, and it been such a joy all year long! 

The biggest thing I have to be thankful for this year is the recent birth of my son, Edwin.  He is the greatest gift in my life, and my hubby and I couldn't be happier.  Now, even more than before, I have a huge appreciation for the importance of family photos and celebrating every single moment, big or small.  I've even filled up my phone completely with photos, to the point that I now have to back them up and delete everything... so that I can start over and fill it up once again!  (Pics to come soon!)

Love and Gratitude,

Alice

Wedding Desserts

Hi friends!

I am a huge food lover, and one of the things I just adore about shooting weddings is the care and detail that goes into making all of the food look and taste so delicious, especially the sweet treats!  This summer I shot a wedding with some of the cutest wedding desserts ever.  Of course, there was a magnificent cake, and along side it sat cake-stand after cake-stand filled with tiny pies, mini-cupcakes, macaroons, cheesecake, and cookies.  The tables were adorned with flowers and lace, tiny potted succulent plants, and quirky vases and candles, all housed in a spruced-up former barn.  The two of us wedding photographers were kindly offered our pick of the desserts as well.  My favorite would have to be the chocolate raspberry mousse cup... Mmmm! 

Warning: the following photos may make you hungry!