Your House Is On Fire…

And all of your family and pets are safe and you have 4 minutes to grab whatever you can, what do you get?

Most people I know would say photos.  And I used to think they were crazy for wanting photos.  Until last month when Portrait Photographer Amber Herlocker came and did a photo shoot with our family.  Now I know what it means to have photos as your most prized possessions.  Now I want to decorate my entire house with photos, photos and more photos!

Amber is a partner/sponsor/advertiser here at Nesting Place.  She contacted me a few months ago and offered to barter her talents for advertising here.  Let me tell you, everyone wants to barter for advertising and if I were rich and had a huge empty house, I would always barter.  But since I can’t pay my son’s school with cute things from etsy shops, I always have to NOT barter.  Always.  Until Amber, because one visit to her website told me that I needed her talents desperately.

Look, I look like I’m 18 years old.  That’s the power of a professional photographer people.  I might have put this photo in a thrift store frame but, I takes a lot for me to feel comfortable having a close up of my face blown up to an 11×14 photo.  I have one word.  Amber.

See what I mean? I am the world’s worst person to get their picture taken.  I become completely self conscious and have no idea how to hold my head still {why does my head keep involuntary shaking?!} or what to do with my thumbs or how to put my legs so they don’t look like two growths.  And Amber totally coached me through it.

Not to mention the fact that I sat the boys down before she ever came and had a long threat talk where I begged and pleaded with them to have a good attitude during the shoot and told them that this was my mother’s day gift and please try to have fun and not be in a bad mood.  There is so much that goes into capturing a moment.  And we all know how important it is for our children to not feel like this is the worst experience of their life–it would totally show in every photo. Which is bad, unless they want to look like they are cool and bad.

As soon as she got here, Amber made it a point to learn everyone’s names and find out what they liked to do.  The fellas were thrilled at the thought of being photographed doing things they love like skateboarding and scootering. At one point, I looked over and Amber was laying completely flat in the middle of the road and our 12 year old was skateboarding straight for her.  She is nothing if not thorough.

Never has a 12 year old boy enjoyed getting his picture taken more than this boy.  I’m a little worried.  But, as a mom, these action shots represent a huge part of our life.  Something about having all photos of our boys sitting still just doesn’t seem right, it would make me feel like a liar.  I’m glad that Amber suggested we do spend the time letting the boys do their thing. These are some of my favorite photos.

Once we were done, I figured I’d get an email from her so I could download photos for me to choose from and get printed up someplace.  Wrong. Amber worked twice as hard AFTER the photo session as she did during.  See that blue silhouette with our photos in it?  She had over 20 of those collage things for me to look at and get ideas from.   And once you find what layout you like, she’ll help you pick which photos would work best and then, if you want, you can order the frames and everything straight from her and have it delivered and all you ever have to do is sit and watch your husband hang them on the wall!  It’s pretty amazing, the world of photography and professional framing and such.

It was really hard to decide what to order.  I knew I wanted something for the wall over my sofa. So I taped off the measurements and asked Amber how she thought 3 close ups of the boys would look.

Amber sent me this picture, with 3 photos blown up to see if I liked them there.  It was so easy for me to see that I didn’t like that look. This information was priceless.

Finally, I decided on this gallery wrapped canvas of the boys on the tire swing. Amber has great connections to get all sorts of canvas options, and I needed it like within 3 days for my Blessings Gathering, I think it got here early.

It’s a nice addition to the wall of stuff I love.  All stuff I would grab if my house broke out in flames and my man, kids and dog were safe.

There was one other thing that I was sure of.  I wanted a big, black and white family photo over our fireplace.  Like super duper, oil leak in the Gulf big.  It’s 24 x 36 {remember, that’s still a standard size} so I used the other frame I found at Garden Ridge years ago.

See how it dwarfs my hand, that’s how big it is.  And it speaks to the kind of photographer Amber is for me to get this blown up so obscenely huge and it still be crystal clear.

I also mentioned my hate for glare and Amber had a solution for that as well.  See the difference in the big photo of the fellas and the small photo on the stand?  Moms Against Glare {M.A.G. I’m starting a new club}.

We had this photo backed so it stands on its own

Here’s what I learned so far about photos and framing stuff::

  • Dress in what you want to wear–heels and a dress? great, jeans? great–be you, I prefer focusing on layers and textures and accessories over matching all the colors.  We wore jeans, khakis, muted reds, blues and neutrals.
  • If you know all your photos will be black and white, don’t even worry about colors, just textures
  • Accessories!  I have heels, a belt, a chunky necklace and a flower headband–but I still wish I had some bangles on my nekkid arm. If you have girls, it seems like that would be a lot more fun to dress them for portraits
  • Don’t worry about having the perfect backdrop–a good, creative photographer can make anything look enchanting and interesting.  If our clover and mud filled backyard turned out looking great, then Amber could make a jail cell seem inviting.
  • Tell your photographer what kinds of shots you are looking for–I really wanted a family photo, everything else was icing on the cake.
  • On a budget?  Spend the money on the talents of the photographer and then get thrift store frames and have mats cut at Hobby Lobby
  • Hate Glare?  Have your photos coated so you don’t need to protect them with ugly glass {saves $$ when you need frames to since you don’t even need glass!}
  • I’d rather have 2 big photos displayed than 38 tiny photos.  Invest in at least one large photo.
  • Black and white looks good in any room.  Forever. No matter what your style.

It was so great to do all the photos in our back yard or in our case, in the middle of the road. Amber {It’s been so hard to fight the urge to call her Amba a la Boston Rob} prefers to capture people in their own habitat, which is something I appreciate.

Amber Herlocker is a creative portrait photographer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Specializing in photography of babies, children, pregnancy, family, seniors and fashion related projects. Available for travel.

I cannot urge you enough to have photos that you love out and about in your home.  And, I also think it’s worth the splurge to have a professional take photos of your family.  Good family photos are as important as well made mattresses and sofas.  If you live in the Charlotte area, Amber is currently booking clients and I highly recommend her.  Follow her on twitter, read her blog, friend her on facebook, sign up for her newsletter, get to know her and love her because it’s really important that you feel comfy with the person pointing a camera at you.

Need some extra incentive? Amber is offering a fantastic deal right now with limited spaces available, for her rare Mini Sessions in Charlotte and Georgia — the cost is only $100 and includes the digital files so you can print up whatever you want.  This is an AMAZING DEAL and always fills up lightening fast.  What a great gift for someone, or yourself!

Now, it’s your turn, your house is on fire and everyone is out and you have 4 minutes to grab something, what do you grab?


  1. OMG, those are awesome photographs. Such a beautiful family!!!
    Thanks for sharing. Marcy

  2. I’m beginning to realize that, beyond my family, there is nothing in my house I can’t live without and wouldn’t get over losing.

    (But then, if my family pictures ever turned out that good….)

  3. Great pictures! We just took some that turned out great too and I’m just waiting for my order to come in. A couple of my favorites she did were candid ones in between the poses. I have 4 boys and had that same talk w/ my 3 older ones…LOL!

  4. Yay for great timing! We just won a photo shoot with a great local photographer, so your tips are very appreciated and will be put to good use!! I’m so excited about this shoot…we’ve had professional photos done before, but we could never afford to get a large canvas. In fact, I always sent the biggest print we could afford to my grandma and only got 5x7s for us. Now that we’re leaving the region we’ve called home for the past six years, it was really important to me to get at least one picture of my whole family that also captures the feel of this unique region of the country. My husband thought having a friend take the picture would be good enough, but winning the shoot ended that discussion perfectly…lol.

  5. OMG, I love the pictures you chose. My favorites are the ones of the boys around the tire swing. And of course the family shot is just priceless. You shoud run a fire drill once a month to make sure you have it down pat. :)

  6. What a beautiful family you are! Such a great post. LOVE the pictures. LOVE what you had to say. I actually misted up at some of these shots…..beautifully captured.

    Getting a professional photographer has just earned an envelope in my Dave Ramsey system!!!!!

  7. oh my gosh, i couldn’t even read your whole post because i couldn’t get down here to comment fast enough. LOOOK AT YOUR GORGEOUS SELF!!! I mean, GIRL, you look amazing. And whatever, it’s not just Amber’s extraordinary talent, which I’m sure she is. Your family is absolutely beautiful, and I can’t even believe how grown up those boys are. xoxoxo see you soon, hopefully! (except, i’m scared i’ll be ugly that day, and you’ll look super gorgeous, and i’ll be all, “hold on, let me get my big fat sunglasses to cover my face.” lol)

  8. What a beautiful family! You are so pretty!!! Love your headband and necklace!!!

  9. this is a test.

  10. GORGEOUS pictures.
    A few years ago, my husband got to experience this in real life when he woke up from a nap and realized our house was on fire. He was standing in the living room, and he told me later that the first two things that caught his eye were on opposite sides of the room: Our WEDDING ALBUM….and his PLAYSTATION. He said he actually started for the Playstation, before realizing that I would, in fact, murder him. So our wedding album escaped the flames (luckily we had no pets at the time)! Photos really are the most treasured possession :)

  11. Love the photos! Great looking family! I have big 16×20’s of our son & daughter’s Senior pictures…and a big framed family photo w/our horse. Okay, so now, our daughter just got married & oh my gosh! I do want to plaster the already covered walls with the amazing wedding photos of the bridals & bride & groom! I need professional help! Wish you could come to my house! Love your site!

  12. First of all I love this post, AND all the pictures! Just gorgeous! But man, the fire theme for it, I seriously just started a post about this subject this week because I almost had that experience last weekend while hosting a bookclub party.

    Little candle burner I had to burn scented oil caught fire because the oil dripped over. Luckily we got it out real quick but it was so close to my cabinets, that would have been it! I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind this entire week and have been going around the house looking at things in a different light. I realized everything, really everything in my house that I love could be replaced… except my photos! I’ve been working this week on getting all my digital pics on a disk or flash drive in a firesafe box, and old negatives from the children’s births in there as well.

    Anyway, long comment, I love this post and will be talking about the same subject on mine soon, so don’t think I’m copying you! I also just threw some white collectible plates up on the wall ‘a la’ the Nester, last week and love the look. Love all your great ideas, keep em’ coming!

  13. my camera :) awesome advice about choosing a photographer. as one myself, i wish everyone would heed this!

  14. Great pics, but I gotta say Nester, your hair looked retarded.

    • LavaidaVandelia says

      Please don’t use the word “retarded”; especially to refer to things that are (in your opinion) messed up, not good, or lacking.
      The actual meaning is “slow”; but we now know that limiting a person’s description to just one word isn’t truthful.
      Also, if you must describe someone with special needs, try to open your vocabulary box. Developmentally delayed or special needs both work well.
      And, please broaden your vocabulary for negative descriptors, if you must use them.
      Personally, I find Nester’s hair to be delightfully tousled, most appropriate for an intentional mom.

  15. Nester, this title litterally happened to me. yesterday at 130am, we had a fire. I had litterally 3 minutes to get all 6 of us out. we were lucky, and nothing was severly damaged. but as we were driving away, I thought about all the wonderful things that we had to leave behind, and my photos I had to leave. my recomendation to anyone making a plan is to have 3×5’s made and put in an album in a safe, or someplace you put your special papers….. then you have your memories no matter what happens…… thanks for the post and those pics are amazing!

  16. Colleen P. says

    Um…wow Susie…tell us how you really feel. Gotta say, those of us with special needs kids find flippant use of the word “retarded” somewhat offensive.

  17. Those are some amazing photos! Beautiful family.

  18. We had a house fire about 10 years ago…. what’s weird is it’s one of those things that I never thought would ever happen….I mean who does… Thank the Lord no one was hurt and our pics were fine. Thank the Lord my husband changed the batteries in the smoke alarms 1 week before and it happened at 1 in the morning. You know how the bible says all things work together for good… well even though it was difficult and we spent 6 months and 3 holidays at Residance Inn…we were blessed beyond words with all new pretty much everything… and you’ll appreciate this one…my first white slipcovered sofa that I had been wanting :) Our fire was caused by an old box fan. The fire chief said box fans and candles are the number 1 cause of house fires. So if anyone even reads this comment of mine please be sure your smoke detectors are working and you have newer box fans….the motors burn out and catch fire. ….sorry I hope I’m not a downer…
    BTW Your family pics are beautiful!!

    • Going to buy new box fans….. So very scary! I am crying writing this…. We had a fan in our daughters room, mid day it gets warm upstairs and my husband and I kept smelling something, but it smelled like some sort of rubbing ointment, like neosporen (ok no idea how to spell that) so we just brushed it off thinking our son got into it somewhere. Couple days passed and the smell was getting stronger, so my husband went around with his sniffer smelling everywhere and he came to the fan to smell around it and put his hand on the fan and it burned him!!! IT was SOOO hot!!! He ran downstairs with it, made me feel it, with tears in his eyes, he threw it in the yard so hard it smashed (I think it was his way of dealing with it) but that was so scary!! It was in our brand new babies room!! Needless to say I would rather her be a little hot now and neither of the kids have fans in their rooms.

      Thankfully we live in a new house and all of the smoke detectors are linked up to each other and run on electricity with battery backup. And the alarm system to the house helps out too..

      Thanks for the reminder.

  19. Great decorating with the pictures and framing. They really fit the wall so well.
    I enjoyed looking at it all.

    Have a good weekend.

    • I think I found the error. Above, the url has two a’s in the word lake and that is what might have cause the email to come back to me.
      Sorry to have caused this confusion.
      I hope this solves the problem.
      Let me know if you have time.

  20. Always the photos.

    I had asked about that beauty over your fireplace in your after party post. Love it! Thanks for taking the time to show us the photo shoot. I wish she lived near me.

  21. Wow — you and your family are beautiful! These pictures are amazing, and I love how you’ve displayed them.

  22. We went through a tornado in May of 2007. It destroyed our house and my hometown. I had just recently had professional pictures of my girls and I done. I was literally grabbing frames off the walls and shelves as I was headed to the basement to take shelter. Afterwards I was so thankful that I had their scrapbooks, pictures, and those framed prints. They were the first thing up in our new house. My girls realized at an early age how important those things can be.

  23. I don’t want this to be a “debbie downer” post but your post caught my eye on another bloggers site. My heart races even when I read the word “fire”. I have gone through 2 fires in my life and lost everything. Go figure. But! Lesson learned with the first fire when I was 8, to always keep all your pictures safe in case of a fire. So once I became a mom, I would take all the photo albums down to our safe and my girls would get SO irritated with me when they were looking for them. But as bad luck would have it, our house burned down in ’03. The only thing recovered were the pictures along with the important documents from the safe and an important lesson learned for my girls. Now they don’t think I am so paranoid LOL

    I just got professional pictures done recently too, but of our house. My way of keeping record in case something should happen again. Taking pictures of everything inside and outside of your house is just as important as taking the family photos. (they don’t have to be professional, I just chose that route because I love the way my house photographs better than my face LOL) You start forgetting what you had, where you got it and how much it costs. The pictures help jog your memory and are a great way to record your life.
    Love your blog, and your professional pictures and what you did with them. They look amazing!

  24. So sweet, I love all the pictures, we have 5 boys so I can totally relate to not knowing how to dress, pose..although my dad was a pro photographer when I was growing up. I just kind of lost the art when I was so busy making sure the kids didn’t have stains on their shirts and their fly wasn’t down before picture time! ; )
    We just watched Leap Year and they made the point of what would you take and in the movie one person is taking cell phones, laptops, etc.. I still haven’t decided what I would take because I have honestly learned that things are things and the things I would want the most I wouldn’t think of as I was running out the door more than likely. Other than my purse with all my info – debit card, etc.. Maybe try to get the car and van out of the garage is my next guess….

    You look beautiful in the pictures by the way. I have honestly picked up every headband with a flower on it and then proceeded to try it on, love it and put it back swearing I can’t wear it. Now seeing you do it, I know I can! Yay! :)

  25. Howdy Nester! =)

    You mentioned the big picture turned out crystal clear, due to a good photographer. So here is my question – my bestfriend is a professional photographer BUT when I want to make the pictures bigger all the sites I have tried said it would not be ok! What does that mean??? She does beautiful work (she took the pictures at the bottom of my blog) but I want them to be bigger than 4×6 or whatev! Help!

    • Holly-

      Make sure that the photo is a high resolution image. If so, it is a stinkin large file size. Your photographer should be able to provide you with the file. I recommend using to print your images. However, if you want to order larger than an 11×14, let your photographer order it for you. They may require a professional adjustment! :)

  26. Kim kamchan says

    Dear m Kristin showed me this site for the first time and I love it. So proud of you. Best to you and the family. Love, kim

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