August 18, 2015

Making dinner time simple: part 1


keeping it simple

I know dinner time can be complicated enough.

As our kids have gotten older and had more and more things they are involved in and school gets later and later into the afternoon, dinner time has become harder to keep up with.

when we had a younger family

When everyone was younger and at home most of the day, we hardly ever thought of going out to eat.  We were already home so we just made dinner.  Now, many times a week we find ourselves running someone to the next activity and realize that we’ve not eaten dinner which would lead to grabbing Taco Bell or something else equally unhealthy or unappetizing.

the reality of our dinner time

Having dinner together the majority of nights has become something that we have to be very aware of and intentional about doing. Otherwise, we easily slip into the downward spiral of eating out at fast food that no one loves and doesn’t really nourish us.



Off the rails

By summer’s end we have seriously gone off the rails with routines, eating at a decent hour, and even regular showering.  And by decent hour, with teenagers, I mean eating breakfast at the crack of 11:50am and dinner at the early hour of 11:30 at night has become our usual eating times together.  Even though our dinner schedule is so crazy we still make it a point to gather around the table together.

Even on days when we would end up at the fast food drive up window would often bring it home and eat together around the table.  That gathering together, instead of eating in the car, can make even fast food feel special in the way it brings us to a place where we get to see each other and talk and laugh (if you’ve not downloaded my dinner time/back-to-school questions you can do it HERE).

I’m looking forward to school though, if only for the chance to eat dinner before before bedtime!



Here are a couple of things we do to keep it easy and simple:

*eat at the same time every night, even if everyone isn’t here

*set the table

*eat at the table, even if it’s fast food

*make a plan for what to eat, each night of the week, on Sunday

*create a very simple menu with super simple ingredients

*start making dinner together at the same time every night

Ideally, we would like to eat at the same time every night.  I give this idea as an ideal.  What we have started doing is establishing on Sunday what time we need to eat dinner each night and who needs to start it.  With older kids, this works for our family.

While photographing the Jones family, I got to eat a delicious dinner with them.  I loved how simple Alexas kept dinner.  To help you get started with your own super simple recipe that involves very few ingredients and takes only about 20 minutes to make, Alexas sent me her mom’s recipe for Salmon Patties that she made during her family’s documentary photo session.


jonesfamily_summer2015_davinafear_0268Meet Alexas

Alexas (instagram: @itsalexas ) is amazing…she is an advocate for natural child birth, raising her children trusting God, and she lives in a 100+ year old house that she and Bobby have filled with charm, love, warmth, and a sincere welcome to people who visit.

While photographing the Jones family, I got to eat a delicious dinner with them. I loved how simple Alexas kept dinner. To help you get started with your own super simple recipe that involves very few ingredients and takes only about 20 minutes to make, Alexas sent me her mom’s recipe for Salmon Patties that she made during her family’s documentary photo session.


Here it is:

Salmon Patties


photo by: alexas jones

1-14oz. can of Salmon drained

1/3 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

3 Tbls. milk

1 egg

1 cup cracker crumbs

Mix all ingredients and fry in oil.  Turn after 2-3 minutes on each side.

*Alexas said she serves these topped with her homemade honey butter.



Robyn Holland of sweet.ish gave me some great tips for keeping dinner time simple.  (If you’ve not checked out her site, when you go there you’ll immediately feel wrapped up in warm words and delicious food that all feel like love and understanding from a long lost awesome sister/friend who you regularly sit with at her kitchen table while she listens to you and dispenses the most thoughtful and kind wisdom.)

My note from Robyn about simple and delicious food:

Here’s the big secret to making amazing food: salt, sugar and acid.

Amazing food always has these three things.

Robyn’s 10 tips for a simply flavorful dinner time:


photo by: robyn holland

1. One of my favorite examples is my favorite salad:
Fresh heirlooms, a touch reduced balsamic with a splash of maple syrup, drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt. Pure gold.

2. I would get yourself some acid (vinegar, lemons juice, lime juice, etc), salt (I love mortons kosher salt) and olive oil or a little butter.

3. You need salt or you’re going to hate your food.

4. I never cook with crockpots. I’m not against them but it’s just not my style.

5. Chicken is most often over done. I usually cook it until it slightly bounces back at the touch of my finger. It’s about 4 mins per inch of cooking time for the meat. 2 inches thick = 8 mins each side for the breast.

6. I don’t like baking chicken breasts. I seer each side after salting in a little olive oil mixed with butter.

7. All meat should rest 5 mins before cutting it to let the juices settle.

8. Always salt your meat and veggies before cooking them.

9. If you can get your hands on salt, do it. If it’s impossible. Find some lemons. But I am telling you, the balance of all three is what you need. You could use balsamic. Olive oil and salt on everything and you’d have magic.

10. Also, fresh garlic on everything too.

What do you do to keep dinner time simple and delicious?




This is the Jones Family

I’ve photographed the Jones family for years so I’m particularly in love with them.  They are such a down-to-earth group of people.  Bobby and Alexas manage to parent in such an effortless way that it almost feels like they were both born to parent with grace and kindness.  This was the first time I got to see them with all three of their kids.  Everyone says how difficult it is to go from 2 kids to three.  It’s more challenging to have three kids and only two parents, two arms…two of most things.  But Bobby and Alexas have created a home where their kids are so safe to be themselves and where they are nourished with love, understanding, and a knowledge that God loves them.  Being with them always makes my day.  To see their full slideshow, CLICK HERE or on the photo below)

What Alexas said:

I asked for an evening session specifically because it is such a busy and chaotic time in our day, and I know how easily I lose sight of the beauty in those little moments….when I am scrambling to get supper made, wrangle my kids who are going crazy waiting for their Daddy to get home, and just being a mama who has spent all day long at home with three wild kids! I got exactly what I had hoped for out of this session. Davina feels like family already, as she’s captured some amazing moments in our lives, but our evening was like any other…loud, crazy, fun, and I’m sure a little frustrating! Life with three kids never fails to be those things! Davina did such an amazing job capturing our real life!

We waited anxiously for our slideshow and images from the shoot, and I was so overcome with the beauty that she had captured in what felt like such a normal day at our house. I was brought to tears at how perfect everything was….even the song choice made me laugh (through tears) at how it seemed like it could have been written for us! When we were able to see our full gallery, I was just so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have had these memories preserved forever…the opportunity to capture the seemingly mundane and trivial parts of our day…not dressed up or perfect, the stuff that we will eventually forget with time. How Macie’s fingers looked on her piano keys, the way Virgil proudly stacked his blocks, and Emery’s fearlessness….little moments like that slip away unnoticed so easily! I am so grateful for these images, and for the pieces of my life during this season that they will forever help me and my family to cherish!




bedtime_davinafear_2Davina Fear is a Familyness Adventurer. She believes in bed time chats and bike rides down mountains and in families who see that real life doesn’t have to be polished up to be beautiful.

She blogs at, and creates photo documentaries for families who have days where they work from home, while they manage potty time and play time with sending emails to clients and projects across the globe. If you’re like the Jones Family, and don’t want to miss this moment…the real one…that’s happening right now, you’ll want to make your session happen. Get in touch by writing to

August 13, 2015

That one thing moms think they have to do


For you, and many moms, oftentimes the one thing you feel like you have to do is…


Not only do you feel like you have to do EVERYTHING, you also have to do it all well while you’re looking great and your house that you DIY’d looks like it could be in a design magazine and you’re creating beautiful pinterest worthy parties and also having a super successful business that looks amazing to everyone and…

The list goes on.

I hear you! I’ve been the mom in the kitchen doing the dishes thinking about how I need to get the laundry started and get client photos done and do that marketing idea. At the same time I would make another mental note: _I need to call the doctor and set up those appointments_ and my mind would make mental list after mental list while I rinsed dishes or sat at my computer.


How I’m living in those kind of moments

What I’ve found in those moments is that I’m living off a checklist. I’m ticking things off but I’m not really living.

At times like those I feel sometimes like a bit of a martyr and almost always the list is accompanied by guilt. The guilt that I’m not getting to spend more time with my kids or that I have clients waiting.

Many years ago I figured out that living like that wasn’t really living. I knew that I wanted to enjoy my days more, get the work done that I needed and wanted to get done, spend time with my family, and have fun.

Mom Guilt origins

Here’s the thing…mom guilt is new. Moms didn’t feel guilty about all of the things they weren’t doing 50 years ago. Or 70 years ago. Or 100 years ago.

Did you hear that? Mom guilt is new. It’s something we started buying into and we are now holding onto.

Moms have worked for always…it started on the farm where she made money by trading sugar for eggs, pies for dress fabric, etc.

It’s not something we are supposed to feel guilt over. Working to help our families has always been a way of life for women.

The reason I’m telling you this is because when I realized that mom guilt is a new thing and that moms have always worked it made me breathe a sigh of relief. It actually felt freeing. I’d like for you to feel free of that guilt, too. I hope it helps you.



The purpose of the task

Years ago I realized there was one little piece of key information that went missing along the way at some point. The little piece of the equation is that women used to see their work and tasks as a way to strengthen the relationships with their family. They knew that the purpose of the task was to strengthen the relationship.

Instead of doing all of their tasks alone, the whole family was involved. Instead of telling their kids to go fetch the water or harvest the garden, they worked side by side getting the work done.

The same can happen in our own families…no matter how old your children are.

The kitchen is not my work

I don’t see the work in the kitchen as a million things to add to my to do list every day. I see the work in the kitchen as everyone’s work. It’s not my work. It’s not Mike’s work. It’s work that we tasks we accomplish together. In the process of doing them we form deeper relationships. We talk about things that may not have been talked about.

Not everyday is rainbows and sweet moments happening while cheery music plays in the background but in the process of getting work done together we make space for those important conversations to happen and for those silly moments of fun…both of which are vital to strong bonds.



Meet Cassie

During one of my Day in the Life sessions with Cassie I noticed that she was good at inviting her daughter to work alongside her. I asked Cassie (she blogs at []( for her tips on how she makes her tasks not just a way to get the work done but also a way to strengthen her relationships.

Tips from Cassie:


I try to include Isla in my daily activities, but sometimes it’s a challenge when I find myself in a rush or I get too caught up in perfecting the task itself. The truth is life isn’t perfect. It’s messy and the mess is what makes it so beautiful. Messy kitchens after cooking with your little ones. Messy laundry after playing outside in the rain. Messy floors after dinner and the mess goes on and on.

letting go

I’ve had to learn to let go of a lot… deep down, I like for things to be perfect. Having children has been the biggest eye opener to the true definition of perfection though. Now I know, just because I have a messy house or nothing got marked off my “to-do” list, this doesn’t define a perfect day. A perfect day is spending quality, intentional time with my family and being truly engaged in the moment.
I used to rush through my tasks with the thought of…”once I mark these off my to-do list, then I can spend time with my family.” I had to get things done first.

Now, I have a different mind-set. There will always be things we have to-do as moms. We can’t change our long “to-do” list. Of course, lunches have to be made and floors have to be swept, but if I make it a family affair these “tasks” become less like a chore and more like fun time we spent together.





Here are a couple things I try to do to include the kids and also get things done.

Make a game out of it. When I need to fold laundry, I play matching games with Isla to match all the socks. Or find the squares (wash clothes). When it’s time to pick-up we count to twenty to see who can pick up the most in twenty seconds. Making up games as we go along is fun for everyone.
Slow down and start early at meal time. The kitchen is a beautiful place for mothers to make memories with their children… and kids love to be involved in the pouring, mixing and prepping of meals. If you start early enough and don’t rush through it, there will be plenty of time for your kids to be involved.

Make believe. Make up a story around your task. Isla loves Cinderella so if I need to scrub our floors or clean the bathroom, we make believe that we are princess Cinderella or some other fairytale and we share our stories with one another.
Reward them. For instance, we love to add on books for story time before bed. If Isla has good behavior and helps out with dishes, feeding Bella or cleaning up, we will add on another book at story time to her normal three books.


The most important thing is to get your children involved and make a connection with them. These little connections make sweet memories and bonds that last a lifetime.

(**Cassie, you’re amazing! Thank you for these insightful ideas!**)

If you’ve been feeling some of that mom guilt that seems to plague us as women, let it go! Embrace the idea that mom guilt is something we made up in our recent history and that women, moms, have worked to make ends meet, shore up the family economy….whatever you call it in your home…for more decades than they haven’t. You can be a mom and a business woman if that’s what you know you want and/or what you know will serve your family well.


This is the Bradbury Family

During the very early morning hours I arrived to the entire Bradbury clan just beginning to wake up on a Friday morning. I loved getting to see the sweet ways they interacted just as they began their day and to see the happy, determined energy of Isla from the moment I arrived. Cassie and Joel have a second nature rhythm to their days, passing of little ones and moving through activities, as they manage their daily work life from home. I love this little family! To see their slideshow, CLICK HERE (formatted for best viewing on a laptop or desktop) or on the photo below.

What Cassie said:


“Davina, Oh my goodness, this made me cry – a good cry – this morning. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for capturing these true sweet moments. That song selection was perfect for us too! So sweet and true. :)
We loved having you with us for the day and look forward to continuing to stay connected to you. Thank you!”
“Davina gave us a gift so priceless. She was able to capture real memories. A true day in our lives. Thirty years from now, when our children are grown, we will be able to look back at this season of our life and revisit an entire day with our babies. Just basking in the little things like coloring, cooking, potty training and nursing. Things that often get blurry when you’re in the trenches with two little ones. It was a different experience than any photo session we’ve ever done. It is real life being captured. No stress, no staging, just our true togetherness. She documented our day through her art and there aren’t enough thank you cards in the world to show our gratitude.”



**PS I will be in Utah super soon!! If you’d like to book your session during my visit there, get in touch right away. I have very limited open dates during the week of August 24th! Just respond to this email for more details.**

2012-09-05_1346872111Davina Fear is a Familyness Adventurer. She believes it adds magic to dinner time to drink chilled water out of a vintage lemonade bottle she and Mike received during their adventure in England. She also thinks that mistakes are inevitable (and helpful) and she’s getting pretty used to being ok with them.

She blogs at and creates photo documentaries for families who have days where they work from home, while they manage potty time and play time with sending emails to clients and projects across the globe. If you’re like the Bradbury’s, and don’t want to miss this moment…the real one…that’s happening right now, you’ll want to make your session happen. Get in touch by writing to

August 4, 2015

How to be more present with your kids


it’s so simple

I don’t see a phone anywhere.  In fact, there’s really nowhere for her to even keep a phone.  No pocket or purse.

Pepper is so present when she’s with Zen.  It kind of blew my mind.

I am so connected to my phone, in large part because it serves as my camera at all times.  I have to admit though that I’m pretty prone to doing a quick check of Facebook and Instagram and my email when I have it in hand.


Most parents don’t have their phone more than a couple of feet away from them in order to check it quickly and often (or take a photo).

The entire time Pepper was with Zen though she didn’t check her phone.  I’m not even sure where it was. I asked her about it and she said that she was way too easily distracted by it so she does two things.

Two tips for unplugging

*she doesn’t carry her phone around with her

*she goes outside with Zen





When she first told me these two things I was thinking, please tell me there’s more!  I wanted some formula for resisting the urge to check my phone for updates (not have the umbilical cord cut completely by having to leave my phone inside the house and miss a picture or an update! ).

The thing is, it works!  Not every single moment of life needs to be photographed (heresy spoken by a photographer, I know).  Many moments just need a present parent…someone who is giving their undivided attention to the person they are with.




Life is much simpler than we make it.

Being here in the mountains has made me realize how little there is to miss in the social media world.  I’m about to go back to life at home and I don’t want to go back to being so plugged in.  I’m signing up for Brooke Snow’s Digital Detox course.  I’d love for you to join me! (let me know if you sign up, too, and we could share what we discover, use the code WELOVEYOU for $30–I’m not getting a kick back for saying that 😉 I just know Brooke creates amazing and insightful courses that you don’t want to miss! ).

Thank you, Pepper, for the awesome reminder that life can be as simple as leaving my phone in the house and going outside!


This is the Nix Family

I photographed Pepper and Zen last year and I can’t wait to photograph them again in just three weeks!  For their session I got to be with them during one of the summer evenings hanging out at home.  They played in Zen’s room, rode bikes through the sprinklers, ate popsicles, and ran/chased each other down the street a few times.  I was there for bath time, the nightly ritual of learning The Declaration of Independence, and watching their favorite show.  I love the wild, funny, and endearing relationship Pepper has with Zen.  To see their slideshow, CLICK HERE (formatted for best viewing on a laptop or desktop) or on the photo below.

What Pepper said:

“OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!  I am in LOVE!!!!!  I am beyond happy, you captured our relationship perfectly!!!!  When are you coming back?!  I want to set up the next session!!!” 



2012-09-05_1346872111Davina Fear is a Familyness Adventurer.  She believes it adds magic to dinner time to drink chilled water out of a vintage lemonade bottle she and Mike received during their adventure in England.  She also thinks that mistakes are inevitable (and helpful) and she’s getting pretty used to being ok with them.

She blogs at , and does photo documentaries of families who have awesome connections to each other, like Pepper and Zen, and don’t want to miss this moment…the real one…that’s happening right now.

July 28, 2015

What do you know about your kids?


it seems so obvious

Every person has their own personality and way to see the world.

I’m sure you’ve seen it. You’re probably saying, “Duh, Davina. I’ve got three kids and they have been different since the day they were born. It’s crazy town over here.”

Maybe you have a daughter that is mischievous and keeps everyone on their toes. Or a son who is intensely focused on creating things where only his best will be good enough.




different people, different answers

No matter what your family is like there are little details about each person in your family that connects you to each other. One of your your kids answers the question :what should we do today?” with: let’s stay home and play legos. And your other child wants to go swing at the playground, run up and down the field, and move until they wear you out. Another of your children may want to be silly, play silly games, do something fun…the funnier and sillier the better.

Over the past 2 years one of my favorite ways to get a deeper glimpse into each of my kids’ heart and mind is through questions.

the questions

We have a book that has a question for each day of the year and space to answer for three years! We’ve filled in the book for two full years now and are half way through the third year. Over the last 2 1/2 years we’ve gotten to see how much everyone stays the same and at the same time how much they’ve changed.



You can purchase [the book]( but you don’t have to. You can [make up your own questions]( and then plan to ask them every year.

Here are some questions to get you started:

1. What makes you laugh?

2. Who is your favorite person to talk to?

3. If you could be in charge of the world, what’s the 1st thing you would do?

4. What color do you feel like today?

5. What kind of home would you most like to live in?

6. If you could have a super power, what would it be?

7. Are you afraid of the dark? Explain.

8. Do you have a pet? Explain your pet. If you don’t have a pet, what do you wish you could have?

9. Who is the oldest person you know?

10. What does a best friend do?

Over 3 years, these answers change in subtle and sometimes dramatic ways. Some never change. Inside the answers are so many little visions into the heart and mind of my kids.

Recently, I’ve been thinking that Mike and I should have been answering these questions. You may want to try that, too…including not just the kids’ answers, but yours as well.


*This is the Dixon Family.

I’ve gotten to photograph this cute family several times now and I fall in love again every time. For this session we ate pizza in the backyard, roasted marshmallows, went for a walk, rode bikes, had baths, and my favorite—I got to be there when they told their kids they were having a baby. The Dixons are so good at letting their kids just be themselves.  They aren’t looking for a way they should act or be.  Spence and Joy honor each of their unique differences and look to their strengths to bring out the best in each other.  Even bedtime for each of the kids was tailored to what they each wanted.  They played the bedtime games and read the bedtime stories that mattered to them.  To see a slideshow from the session, click on the photo below.


**PS I’ll be in Utah a month from now.**  Kids grow up and the changes are sometimes so subtle for us that we don’t realize all the little nuances we love so much have disappeared until after they are gone.

I know you know what I mean.  I didn’t realize Grace had completely stopped wearing the exact same outfit everyday (when she was 5 years old) until one day when I was going through her clothes with her and saw that her skirt-and-pants-endearing-combo (yes skirt) was in the back of her drawer.  And my heart missed that little girl that loved that outfit everyday for over a year.  I know you want to capture things like that, too, and remember them years down the road.

It’s time for your documentary session.  Get on the list now!  I’ll be announcing dates in Utah shortly. CLICK HERE to let me know you want on the list. Just type: ‘documentary session please’ in the subject line.






May 11, 2015

Taylor and L-O-V-E


Stacks and stacks of books are laying around my house. We have to keep buying bookshelves to hold them all.

It started early with Hot Guy and me. When we first began dating we would read The Chronicles of Narnia to each other as we lay on the couch in my college apartment, when we studied on the lawn on campus, walking to class, sitting at the table while we ate, and everywhere we went.

I had always loved books. I couldn’t get enough of learning something new, expanding my mind with ideas, new concepts, bigger worlds, imaginary worlds.

About 10 years ago I was in Barnes and Noble on a date with Hot Guy.

I came across a book that pulled me in with it’s simple cover and the word Lovemarks. I had been struggling with the way I was photographing couples. I didn’t feel like the painted brick walls and murals and urban setting were the thing that told the real story of my clients. It was the trend of the moment but it didn’t feel authentic to me.

As I read Lovemarks I felt like it was reading my thoughts. I wanted to be deeply connected with my clients in a way that brought more meaning to their lives having worked with me.

I knew that painted murals were a thing of the past for me. If I was going to tell the real relationship of my couples murals weren’t the place to tell that story.

On the way home from Barnes and Noble in the darkness of our minivan, lit only by the overhead light I scribbled as fast as I could the questionnaire that would eventually, unbeknownst to me at the time, become a groundbreaking way to interact with clients within the wedding photography industry.

I scribbled out the way I wanted to interact with my clients, the way I wanted to create loyalty beyond reason, how I could surprise and delight them, and how I wanted my clients to feel when they worked with me. My entire business morphed into something that felt much more powerful and inspired to me.

Within a year of that day my business exploded.

I became so busy and booked with amazing clients that it made my head spin. In that process, I landed opportunities to speak and teach about this new way to experience business. Not long after that I began creating the Love Affair Workshop with Millie Holloman, Lauren Clark, and Kelly Moore Clark.

Those relationships and my approach to everything came from the Lovemarks principle that creating loyalty beyond reason comes from pouring your love into the people you serve. Letting them know, without them, you wouldn’t be where you are.

Finding simple and fun ways to say thank you for being you and following me. Being full of gratitude that they spend their life and time following what you and being your clients.

Why Taylor Swift is so loved

I adore Taylor Swift because she’s smart, talented, standing in her power and strengths and not apologizing for it, and she’s having all kinds of fun doing it!

Taylor Swift is an amazing example of being a Lovemark to her fans. She is love to them in the way she [gives beyond what’s expected]( She looks for ways to delight and surprise them, constantly [making them part of what she’s creating]( so that everything she does reaches into their lives and they know that she ‘gets’ them.

[She even brings her fans into the spotlight]( with her to celebrate that they are the reason for her success.

Taylor LOVES what she does! She shares that with all of the people, fans, friends…everyone around her in a way that is so completely contagious.

So what can you do today (or this week) to surprise your clients? Your fans? What can you do to let them know that you LOVE what you do and pour contagious love and awesomeness into their lives?

Here are a couple of ideas for you:

* Send a spontaneous thank you note or video
* Randomly select 10 of your clients. Give them a call and check in with them about how you could do better as a business person
* Email 5 of your clients with a Monday, pump, them up, get the energy going music video link from You Tube.
* Check the FB pages of three of your favorite clients and see how they are doing. Write them a private message, like one of there status updates, or notice something they said that you can pray for or reach out to them specifically about.

I’d love to hear your Lovemark ideas!

Please send them along to me, I’d love to hear about how you’re intentionally creating a business both you and your clients love beyond reason!



DAV_8730aDavina Fear loves long drives, talks on the couch with Hot Guy, Taylor Swift and dancing to “Shake it Off” in the grocery store even though it fully embarrasses children.  She is a Business Coach for Creative Women who want to be more fearless in their life and business.