She’s SIX! Now Watch Her Share Her Hopes and Dreams


I’ve now been a mom for six years. My little girl is SIX!

Lil’ J’s 6th birthday snuck up on us– well, as much as it could with her reminding us every other minute. She was involved in the planning of her birthday party, from the theme to the venue, the guest list and goodie bag contents.

6 year old finding Dory birthday party

I felt as if I was just there to facilitate as I watched my little girl give her input, write lists and draw blueprints.

Since her birthday is the day before Independence Day we scheduled her party to be a few days before. If you asked her what kind of party she was having she would give you a hearty reply: “I’m having an art party because I’m passionate about art!”

If you’ve ever been to one of those sip and paint classes, this party was a lot like that. But instead of ladies sipping on wine it was little kids sipping on juice boxes.


I of course was mamarazzi capturing all of the fun with not one, but two cameras. I had my EOS 80D rolling for the video and my Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L lens on my EOS 5D Mark II to capture the entire scene in wide-angle beauty.

When it comes to parties, I’m all about outsourcing the venue and not having the party at my house, but it can feel rushed sometimes when you have a limited amount of time. I loved that we had a full two hours plus set up for her party. It was more than enough time for everyone to paint their masterpieces and enjoy themselves.


Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re capturing your little one’s birthday party:

  • Open that aperture up in low light situations for a better shot (f/2.8 or lower).
  • A low f-stop will also keep the focus on your happy birthday girl or boy and blur out more of the background.
  • Use a wide-angle lens to capture an entire room and all of your party guests.
  • Raise the ISO in rooms with less light to avoid dark images.
  • For those cute candle photos you’ll want to make sure your flash is off, have a wide open aperture, crank up your ISO and lower your shutter speed as much as you can while still staying steady. Set the exposure to your little one’s face and fire away!
  • Be ready for the birthday song. Have your settings set, lens cap off and finger at the ready to hit record before it starts so you can capture the grin at the first “happy birthday” down to the cheers after the candles are blown out.
  • Enjoy the moment. Don’t be afraid to hand your camera off so you can enjoy the moment too, and even be in a few photos yourself. Setting your camera to AV mode and choosing your aperture is a great auto-mode to set and forget about the rest if you want to let someone who’s unfamiliar with your camera help.




You can find more birthday party photography tips on Canon’s website, and for even more photography tips, check out my Canon course for photographing children where I share tips on photographing siblings so and much more.

The one picture I forget to get almost every year and I always say I won’t the next year is a photo of both my husband and I with the birthday child. So don’t be like me and make sure you get in that photo. If I miss it I’m always happy to make up for it later. I can never have enough photos of us together.

Lil’ J was also so excited to do her birthday interview this year and I was pretty pumped to work on it with her. I set up my Canon EOS 80D on a tripod with my EF 24-70mm 2.8/fL lens and asked her a series of questions then hilarity ensued. She’s really growing into her own personality and I love it. Watch for yourself:

What better way to bottle a child’s personality than to do a birthday video time capsule? Check out my blog post on birthday interviews to see my full list of questions to ask for older and younger kids each year.

I love that she loves doing photo shoots with me and that she even mentioned that as something she loves about me. We started when she was a tiny little thing giggling and laughing in every photo and she has just as much fun with it today.

For her 6-year-old photos I focused on photographing her doing things she loves or is currently “passionate” about. This week I think I’ve officially decided that my Canon EF 100mm 2.8/fL lens is my favorite–at least for dreamy portraits. I keep my f-stop open to 2.8, bump up the shutter speed to at least a quick 1/800 then let her jump around and do her thing and freeze the emotion. You’ll see more of what we got below.


6 year old finding Dory birthday party. Art Creative Escapes, Painting with a Twist.

And carrying in our tradition I owe her a birthday letter. These aren’t getting any easier to write because it’s so bittersweet watching her turn from my tiny baby into a walking, talking opinionated little person of her own. But I’ll give it a shot!

Happy Birthday My Sweet Daughter,

You’re six! I still can’t believe it. You sometimes half-jokingly say you wish you were a baby again so I could carry you around and cuddle with you all day. You love to cuddle, snuggle, and be close to people in general. You’ve pretty much always been that way and I’m beginning to think that’s just your nature.

Sometimes I miss the days you were a tiny baby too. But since there’s no turning back, every time I feel that way I remind myself that a few years from now I’m going to look back at these moments with you now and wish we could do this all over again too.

6 year old birthday photoshoot

You are so funny. Not in an intentional way, but you make me laugh with your questions. I’ll be reading a story and you’ll look as though you aren’t paying attention but then you’ll jump in and ask a question or explain what’s going on in detail.

The level of compassion you feel for others is admirable. Even for your little brother, who I know can be hard to get along with sometimes. It’s just one of the many qualities I love about you. I also love how big of a dreamer you are. You often catch people off guard when you talk about your passions. It sounds like it’s deep talk for a 6-year-old but you’re all about it. Your passions right now range from singing and dancing, to art, swimming, planets and space.



We got you a telescope for your birthday and you’ve been having so much fun aiming it at the moon and hunting for stars. The look on your face when you finally captured the moon in your sights was priceless.

Your smile, your joy, and your bouncing curls keep drawing people in. I hope as you continue to grow, you’ll keep enjoying life and grow into the woman you’re meant to be.


This last year of life was full of new adventures. From vacations to Disney, learning to swim and read, starting kindergarten, dancing on stage and making new friends, you accomplished a lot. I feel so lucky to be your mom and learn more about the world right along with you.

I’m always here for you. When you want to talk, debate or snuggle, I’m here with open arms and a lap to sit on no matter how big you get.

Happy birthday sweet girl! May this year be your best year so far!




From birthdays to family vacations, to holidays and more, I’m teaming up with Canon every month to share how we capture our special milestones. I’ll also dish out tips to help you better capture your special moments with your family. Shout out to my favorite camera brand for sponsoring this series.

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  1. Woah! She’s 6!She’s grown up so fast. Next thing you’ll know she’ll be driving her own car. Is Lil J afraid of spiders too?

  2. Oh gosh! This gives me such great ideas for my daughter’s 5th next year! So so awesome! That video of your daughter is PRICELESS! She is so cute! Love her personality. She will do great things in the world.
    I love her hair! How do you keep it from getting tangled over time and from getting caught in things? My daughter’s hair seems to “catch” everything if I let her hair loose so I keep it braided. Oh and her baby sister seems to think she is Rapunzel and often wants to use her hair for climbing up her sister’s back. OUCH! Tips on how you keep her hair from getting tangled will help. Thank you!

    1. Awww, I appreciate that so much JJ. I’m glad it gave you some ideas! I love doing the video. The Q&A is always fun but I think hearing and seeing her expressions is something else entirely you know?

      As for her hair, I braid it up at night, then take it out the next day. I’ll wet it down a little and ass some leave-in moisturizer the next day. It’s bound to get tangled, but when I re-moisturize and braid it up each night it helps a lot!

  3. I’ve been following you since before you were pregnant with her! Can’t believe she’s six! Where did you get the Finding Dory treat bags??

  4. wow, such a big change from the last time she was in a video. she is like a little big girl. she has so much personality and definitly girly-girl with all that hair flipping and shoulder movements, lol. I loved her answers especially the Jesus answer and can really see her making it big with all her goals and dreams. happy birthday girl….you are a star in the making! thanks for making that awesome video 🙂
    ps where did you get that cool dress or did you make it??

    1. Thank you so much Christina! I’ll definitely let her know you said that, I can already see her giggling. As for the dress I didn’t make this one. A super cute shop sent it to her for her birthday they’re called. Princess Awesome ( and they have tons of fun dresses with robots and monsters/dinosaurs and rocket ships etc on them. So fun!

  5. Oh my goodness. She is so spunky. I love it! You can tell she had as much fun with this project as you did. Your sweet letter just about had me in tears. Being a mom is a struggle, but it is the best job ever!

  6. Can’t believe she’s 6 already! And she got so tall! That means I’ve been reading your blog for 6 years. Thanks for sharing your life with us. Happy Birthday Little J!

    1. Wow!! Thanks for sticking around Miri! Yes, my little thing is getting quite tall, and funny. haha. Thanks so much for the birthday wishes. I’ll be reading all of them to her!

  7. Gorgeous pictures! I love taking pictures of my girls. Can you make a recommendation for a lens for a beginner? I’m not quite to ready to spend as much as the one you linked. I have the kit lens and a 50mm 1.8/f lens. Thanks!

  8. Gorgeous pictures! I love taking pictures of my girls. Can you make a recommev hindation for a lens for a beginner? I’m not quite to ready to spend as much as the one you linked. I have the kit lens and a 50mm 1.8/f lens. Thanks!

  9. Sixty-two-year-old Kathleen Marie Steele was arrested Thursday on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child and neglect after her six-year-old son beat her 13-day-old daughter to death while she left them in a hot car for almost 40 minutes.

  10. aww she’ so lovely and thanks for your taking photos tips. Your photos look so great. Stop by and can’t stop looking at them. Thanks for sharing and happy birthday to your adorable girl.

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