Each week on the San Antonio Mom Blogs Facebook page a Fan of the Week is selected based upon their amount of interaction on the page. This week’s featured fan and San Antonio Mom Blogger is Amanda Raba Gentis. Want to be selected as a Fan of the Week? Like San Antonio Mom Blogs on Facebook and participate!

Amanda Raba Gentis blogs at ARG Photographs and Petit LapinAmanda Raba Gentis’ favorite color is sparkle, which is apparent from the first moment you meet her. She’s greets you warmly as if you’re old friends, and has a sparkly smile that lights up the room. No wonder she’s a sought-after family photographer who gently puts all of her subjects immediately at ease (my family included!). Amanda blogs about travel, food, DIY projects, motherhood, design and more at Petit Lapin. She shares her photos and blogs about tips for what to wear for a great photography session at Amanda Raba Gentis Photography.

You’ve been blogging since 2010. What was the inspiration for starting your blog?

I actually started my first blog in 2006 right after FMG and I got married. I got bored after about a year and DELETED the whole thing. Who does that? Then I realized I missed the creativity and connection I got from sharing my silly DIYs and stories. To satisfy the story telling, I started my class blog – The Adventures of Dewey and Emerson – and let me tell you, those fifth graders took it over and I missed having my own project. So the history on Petit Lapin is coming back to the satisfaction I get from (over)sharing to my five readers and occasional visitors from Pinterest or random Google searches.

You recently hosted a “Favorite Things Party,” where guests bring five of one of their favorite things to exchange, and wrote about it on your blog. If I invite you to a “Favorite Things Party” at my house, what favorite thing will you bring to exchange with the other guests?

Do we have a spending limit? For my $10 party, a cake plate was my favorite thing. I LOVE cake plates and some day I hope I can figure out a way to have a functional display area so I can continue to collect them. If I didn’t have a budget I’d bring a bottle of Piper-Heidsieck and four crystal champagne flutes to exchange. I love a cold glass of champagne and think that it makes even a pizza-Tuesday a reason to celebrate. And everyday is worth celebrating.

As a photographer what is your best advice for families planning a photography session?

Whew. That’s almost a loaded question. Beyond the What to Wear, here are my top five things I want all families to know about custom photography:

First, really get to know your photographer and their style. You are trusting them with an event that is a marker in your family’s life. Think the session through and communicate to your photographer what your expectations are for the final result. It’s OK to shop around and find someone who meets your expectations and fits with your family’s personality. Do you want classic, whimsical, stylized or lifestyle? How much experience does your photographer have? What do the images on his or her website look like: a) be sure the person you’re hiring shot those images and b) know that is the quality of work you should expect to receive. Do your research!

Second, I KNOW custom photography is expensive, but so are a lot of other things we spend our money on. It’s original, one of a kind art, created just for you. Not just with the click of a button but from years of practice and from thousands of clicks of the shutter, practicing, understanding light, people, angles, interaction. I would ask each family to consider how much they would spend if they went to a chain studio that didn’t offer half the experience or quality of work. On that note, please start thinking of digital images as original works of art and not just files you can email and post to Facebook! You’d pay more for an original Monet than a poster print at the museum gift shop, right?

Third, sessions should be fun. I absolutely wouldn’t hesitate to stop in the middle of a session if I felt it wasn’t going well – surly husbands excluded. Don’t build it up as something that just has to be muddled through. It shouldn’t be a miserable experience – for you, for your kiddos, for anyone! Threats, impending punishment, demanding mommas – not so conducive to a successful session. By all means, do what you need to do, but starting off in that frame of mind never results in fabulous pictures! Rewards and positive reinforcement can work wonders with cameraphobes of all ages.

Fourth, think through your wardrobe choices carefully. What image/message/feel are you going for? Where will the pictures hang or be displayed? Think about colors, textures, patterns and layers when making your wardrobe choices. Find a picture that inspires you and ask your photographer to help you discern what pieces of the wardrobe you can extract for your own session. Also, along that thought – I can’t tell you how amazing you’ll feel if you get your hair done. Do your own makeup, do your own styling, DIallY, but please consider a blow out! If I could offer that service to every single client I would – how amazing do you feel walking out of a really great haircut? Exactly.

Blogger, photographer, DIY’er, mama, wife…elementary school teacher? You’re taking a break from teaching. What do you miss most about it?

I miss being in charge all day. Just kidding. I didn’t realize how much I thrived on the routine and organization of my day. I find myself making arbitrary schedules at home to find a little bit of the structure. Really though, my passion with my fifth graders was not only to help them grow academically but to mature and start that giant step towards adulthood with life skills like personal responsibility, resourcefulness, self control, and accountability. I firmly believe that we are “who” we’re going to be by fifth grade and I miss the immense satisfaction of nurturing that journey. A funny side note about taking a break – I can’t help but “teacher” my friends about their kids. So, if you have any education questions, throw them my way. I’m happy to share my (obviously humble) opinion.

What are your favorite DIY/craft blogs?

OHmygosh. There are so many… here are a handful I’ve had a major crush on lately:

Oh Happy Day! They lived in Paris. She is amazingly creative. Enough said. Also the first place I read about Pop-Up-Dinner-Parties. I want to have/go to one SO bad.

The Lovely Cupboard Major party and home décor inspiration. Major.

Enjoying the Small Things (Kelle Hampton) Straight up good for the soul. Not so much crafty, per se, but I find deep inspiration in her writing and photography.

JinkyArt I want to be her when I grow up. Seriously. Her images are so inspiring to me – not just photographic inspiration but taking elements from her shoots and applying them to my home and whatever project I’ve got going on.

Find Amanda: Blog | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest