When a Portrait is More Than A Bunch of Photographs – My Commitment

family photographer austin, texas My commitment is to make all of my portrait sessions about more than just the tangible photographs. Yes, my intention is to ultimately provide each of my clients with a variety of unique images from their session. However, I also want the images I provide to artistically convey multiple aspects of each family -- whether that family is a couple with a dog, an individual with a cat, or a family comprised of humans and fur children.

My portraits are more than simply a bunch of photographs.

The experience of creating the images is almost as important to me as an artist than the final artwork. I see tremendous value for my clients in the memories created during the session. When they enjoy the artwork years from now, I want them to remember how they felt that day as they held their loved ones close to them in front of my lens. Photography is powerful in that way. I’ve always loved the magic of photography and its ability to emotionally transport us to moments we cherish. Because experience is such an important part for me as an artist, I don’t rush my clients. I take my time and make sure they are comfortable and enjoying themselves during the process.

During this time of hyper technology, we take hundreds of photographs with our phones a week. It’s such an incredible tool. I’ll admit that I'm a little biased, but I am confident in the fact that the experience of being photographed by a professional and being included in the photographs is an entirely different experience than taking selfies or never being in your own family portraits.

Part of my commitment as I continue to grow as an artist is to further tap into the portrait experience for my clients. In the coming months, you’ll see some shifts in how I approach my work. My audio portraits are becoming a vital part of my portrait experiences for my clients, too, further adding to their experience. I am looking forward to sharing more of these with you very soon. I am so grateful for the clients who continue to value the experience of my portrait sessions and final artwork they receive as a result.

Why You Should Choose A Lifestyle Shoot

This family!

I had the chance to photograph this family a couple years ago when they only had one little boy. Now they are a family of four and are cuter than ever.

This foursome had moved out of town but were back in Austin for a long weekend and asked if I could capture their expanded family with a lifestyle approach. Normally I photograph in and around my clients’ homes, but this adorable rental home made for a sweet background and comfortable environment. I loved photographing them in this space during a holiday weekend where they were enjoying themselves and taking advantage of all that Austin offers. This weekend getaway was a fun part of their lives, and I loved capturing these moments for them. The little girl was so energetic that morning. Sometimes this can be a big challenge during portrait sessions, but I’ll tell you what – I’d much rather have a child full of excited energy than unhappy and fussy. The energy, the movement, the moments – they're all part of lifestyle photography. I much prefer a little “joyful chaos” to static, tense, perfect posing.

Lifestyle is different for everyone, and that’s one thing I love about it. I love capturing people in their spaces, in their moments. It is more natural than posed photos at the park and lends itself to a more authentic connection. Even though this wasn’t my client’s home, it was a space and time wherein they were comfortable and relaxed, which is the first step to a successful portrait session.

Why might you choose a lifestyle session? Consider that we are all unique. Each of our families are different from one another, and that is something that I think should be celebrated.  I believe photographs of our family are all about honoring relationships and our lives as they are right here, right now. It’s not about perfect or about making our lives look like anyone else’s. That’s why I use the phrase, “capturing the colors in your life.” It’s about you, your lifestyle, your family and your relationships.

Tips for Flying with Kids This Holiday Season

tips for traveling with kids Jessica Rockowitz

Thanksgiving and the holiday season is a time for us to gather with family and friends, eat delicious food, and celebrate all that we’re thankful for. Though the traditions and meaning behind holidays are important, there is no doubt that they can still be considered a stressful time of year. Traveling with kids requires a lot of headspace and patience, especially when you have younger kids who require tons of equipment like strollers and diapers. As a mom of three who has traveled across the country for family gatherings many times with kids in tow, here are some of my best tips for flying with kids:

Choose your plane times strategically. Do your kids still nap? Are they happiest in the morning? It might be worth the extra splurge, if applicable, to decrease your stress level and choose flights that work best for your family’s schedule. That way everyone is stress-free and well-rested during travel time.

Dress appropriately. Have you ever seen how tiny those plane bathrooms are? Now is not the time for elaborate buttons or zippers. Dress your kids in comfortable clothing that can be easily removed or swapped. Choose shoes that are easy to slip on and off, and make sure that you have some socks for chilly feet -- not to mention that planes aren't the cleanest of spaces.

Babywear over dragging the stroller. Save yourself the hassle of going through security and having yet another item to drag to the gate. Check your stroller or even better, borrow one from a friend or family member while you’re visiting your destination. Wear your baby instead! You’ll be hands-free, and with less items to keep track of.

Bring the sanitizer. Airplanes are notoriously filled with germs. Make sure you travel with hand sanitizer so you can wipe down little hands during the flight.

Pack a Busy Bag with new toys. My daughter and I used to fly at least four times a year from coast to coast. I always ran to Target the week of a flight and bought her a bunch of new, low cost toys and other items to keep her busy. Our lineup for each flight included: a new coloring book, play-doh or clay, magnetic dolls, sticker books, a few new books that fit in her backpack, and one new movie. This was back in the era of portable DVD players! Now that we have iPads, you can just download a new movie or show series for the plane ride. You do not have to spend a lot of money to keep your kids entertained. Scope out the Dollar Spot at Target, rent movies on Amazon or iTunes to keep costs lower, and borrow books from the library!

If you can, get the baby a seat. I know that kids under two are free, and it’s amazing to save the money – but if you can swing it, having that extra seat is priceless. Having a space to keep my kids in their carseats helped make the flight much smoother, not to mention that it’s much safer. However, I have had to travel without an extra seat plenty of times, too, and we survived!

Prepare for any discomfort. Do you have a child who is prone to nausea? Consider chatting with your pediatrician about remedies you can turn to before and during the flight. Do your child’s ears pop? Make sure you’re stocked up on chewing gum, and request bottled water during take off and landing to swallow. Prepare for the discomforts of flight, because you never know which ones your child will be susceptible to.

Pack extra diapers, and don’t forget the trash bag. You just never know how many diapers you’ll truly need, and having a few plastic grocery bags and ziplock bags – just in case – might end up being the best decision you’ve ever made.

Stock up on snacks. Everyone has different philosophies on this. I used to treat any plane ride like a vacation, which meant letting my kids choose some fun junk food that I wouldn’t normally allow them to have. I found that this kept them quieter and well behaved, but some people find the opposite to be true. Do what works best for your family, but do anticipate that your kids are going to need a lot of snacks! It’s better to overpack and be safe on this one.

Remember that this too shall pass. Sometimes we do everything that we possibly can, and flights still go terribly. Maybe it’s a screaming baby or an overtired, whiny kid, but inevitably, some flights just won’t go your way. Give yourself grace and know that not only will you likely never see any of these people again, but you and your kids are human! Now go pour yourself a glass of wine and hand them off to the in-laws.

What do you think, Austin parents? Are you traveling with your kids this holiday season?


About the Author:

Jessica Rockowitz

Jessica is an East Coast girl originally from Boston, MA but recently transplated to Austin, TX. She is a Content Manager and Brand Strategist, helping businesses with their social media presence, SEO, and brand strategy. When she’s not busy blogging or strategizing, you can catch her chasing around her three busy kids and rescue fur baby. You can also follow her antics on her personal blog or Instagram.

Audio Portraits -- A Unique Offering from Norah Levine Photography

austin texas family photographer Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m big on communication. Apparently, I began talking on the phone when I was a toddler and never stopped. I love connecting with others and much prefer one-on-one conversation to group interactions. I have been told by others that communication is one of my strengths, and feel that it has helped me both personally and professionally to connect with others and to allow people to feel comfortable speaking with me. As I continue to expand my photographic work and my experience as a creative, I am looking for ways that help me bring more of what I love into my work. For the Lifelines project I worked on a few years ago, I included audio vignettes to accompany the still images of the homeless people and their pets. The results were powerful. The audio set to stills made the viewers slow down and truly listen and look. This experience inspired me to explore the idea with my portrait business. I have already applied the Audio Portrait concept to my Petribute Package, for elderly pets and those diagnosed with illness.

I am calling them Audio Portraits. Audio Portraits are all about communication and connection.  They combine still photography with the sounds of those in front of my camera. The final slideshow is a combination of interviews, discussions, voices, and sounds with still images from the session. The result is a custom keepsake unique to each family.

Seeing in still frames has been a practice of mine for over 20 years. I love the opportunity to make decisions about what stays in or out of the frame and when to press the shutter. Still photography allows me to connect with the subject in front of me to evoke authentic moments and expressions. With these Audio Portraits, I am enjoying the process of finding an even deeper connection through their voices and sounds. The slideshows I create in the process are making my heart sing, and (hopefully) my clients’ as well.

I’ll continue to create and share this work with you in the coming months. I am looking forward to applying the Audio Portraits to any portrait session I already offer, because it is a beautiful way to communicate the emotional story of each of my clients. Ultimately, that’s what I am here for as a photographer.

Feel free to inquire about how to include an Audio Portrait as part of your next portrait session. I look forward to it!




Fall Fun: The Best Pumpkin Patches in Austin, Texas

Jessica Rockowitz

Fall is a favorite season for many. When we think of fall, we often visualize scented candles, pumpkin everything, boots, and sweaters. Though Austin hasn't quite gotten the memo yet that it's no longer summer, there are still pieces of fall here that we can partake in with our kids. One of my personal favorites is visiting a pumpkin patch! Who doesn't love a good Instagram worthy fall themed photo, even if everyone is still in shorts? If you're looking for some fun pumpkin patches around Austin, Texas, here are a few of my favorites:

Sweet Berry Farm: Located in Marble Falls, Sweet Berry Farm is a great place to snap some fall pumpkin pictures. Admission to the pumpkin patch is free, but note that it is closed on Wednesdays. There are also other fun activities such as hayrides, a maze, horse rides, a scarecrow, and homemade ice cream.

Robinson Family Farm: This family owned farm located in Temple, TX has a pumpkin patch open on weekends. You and your family will be able to enjoy activities like a corn maze, animals, and arts and crafts. There is no admission fee, but you must purchase tickets or a wristband to partake in activities.

Barton Hill Farms: Located in Bastrop, TX, this little farm is open on weekends and boasts a 5-acre corn maze, as well as a giant sandbox. There's also farm animals and of course, pumpkins!

Elgin Christmas Tree Farm: Beginning on October 6th, this adorable farm hosts October Fall Fun. This includes a hayride, animals, playground, pumpkin decorating, and more.

Evergreen Farm: This farm has the total scoop on all things pumpkin. On weekends during the month of October, enjoy a pumpkin maze, pumpkin slide, pumpkin launcher, pumpkin golf, and other fun activities like a bounce house and a train ride.

Be sure to check each farm's website for hours of operation and admission prices, as well as for any details about events happening. Even though the temperatures are still higher here in Austin, we can still have a little piece of the season by visiting these adorable farms. Start a new tradition with your family and make the trip!

What do you think, Austin parents? Is one of your favorite pumpkin patches on the list?


About the Author:

Jessica Rockowitz

Jessica is an East Coast girl originally from Boston, MA but recently transplated to Austin, TX. She is a former OB Nurse Educator turned Content Manager and Brand Strategist. She helps businesses with their social media presence, SEO, and brand strategy. She recently founded Every Mama Birth Education, where she creates customized childbirth education courses for busy moms, in the comfort of their own homes. When she’s not busy blogging or being a pregnancy and birth nerd, you can catch her chasing around her three busy kids and rescue fur baby. You can also follow her antics on her personal blog or Instagram.

10 Things to Do in Bee Cave and Lakeway, Texas with Kids

  things to do in bee cave lakeway texas with kids

Jessica Rockowitz

I love living in Bee Cave, Texas. The schools are great, the views are beautiful, and there are some great activities to do with kids. It's also close enough to Austin and the outskirts to go downtown whenever we need a change of scenery. Having a middle schooler, a four-year-old, and a toddler, I'm always on the hunt for fun, family friendly activities to do with the kids. Here are 10 of my favorite activities for kids here in Bee Cave and Lakeway, Texas:

Rolly Pollies. We are a huge fan of Rolly Pollies, a children's gym and gymnastics center here in Bee Cave that offers birthday parties, classes, and open gym hours. You can even drop off your kids if they're over three and potty trained! Kids can swing, climb, jump, and expend some energy in this safe, comfortable space. It's one of our go-to activities!

Songs 4 Seeds: I am always looking for fun classes to do with my kids, and I am so grateful to have found Songs 4 Seeds! This 45 minute interactive class is geared towards children under six features a live, three piece band. Your kids learn about language, shapes, colors, and more in a fun, hands-on manner AND they get to experiment with the instruments at the end! My boys are in love. Bonus: they offer a free demo class!

Sculpture Park: This hidden gem is surprisingly a great source of entertainment for my busy kids. The Bee Cave Sculpture Park boasts seven acres of natural setting as well as permanent and rotating sculptures. My kids loved seeing the different sculptures and climbing on them. We even brought a picnic lunch to eat together in the park, and it was the perfect morning.

Music Together, Music Forever: This amazing little class introduces children to basic musical skills that instill a lifelong love of music. There is dancing, singing, and a lot of hands on interaction with instruments and other fun tools. My kids adore this class, and the teacher -- Ms. Sage -- is fantastic.

Barnes & Noble: The Hill Country Galleria has an adorable Barnes & Noble that we love to visit on a rainy or hot day. Browse the children's section and read some books, play with their adorable wooden train set, or attend one of their story hours or events!

Public Library & Story Hours: We love the Bee Cave and Lake Travis public libraries. Head over with your kids and check out some books or attend one of their adorable story hours!

KK's Art Club: Ok, this is admittedly *not* in Bee Cave or Lakeway, but it's so close that I had to add it to the list because KK is one of our favorites! KK is a sweet mama with a background in preschool education. On Tuesdays and Fridays, she transforms her garage and driveway into a hands on, free range art class for kids! It is truly adorable and something we love to attend.

Local Parks: We are lucky to have some great parks here in Bee Cave and Lakeway! The City of Bee Cave Central Park contains two separate parts for older and younger children, and the Falconhead Park is shaded and peaceful. Pack a picnic lunch for a fun morning with your kids!

Hat Creek Burger in Lakeway: This newer spot is a blast, especially in the mornings before the heat creeps in. You can feed yourself and your kids a hearty breakfast for under $10, the coffee is delicious, and the playground is adorable. It's such a nice spot for a morning or lunchtime play date!

Color Me Mine: If your kids are a little older or are able to sit still (unlike my two youngest!), Color Me Mine is a great activity to do with your kids. They are able to be creative in this peaceful, air conditioned environment. They even offer birthday parties!

Hill Country Galleria: This great outdoor galleria is a fantastic way to kill some time. You can walk around and grab a treat at Amy's Ice Cream or The Candy Jar, play in the splash pad (when it's actually turned on!), browse Learning Express, or just run around the grassy common. There are stores both kids and adults will enjoy, and it's a great opportunity to get out of the house and into the sunshine.

What do you think, Bee Cave/Lakeway mamas? Which one is your favorite on the list?


About the Author:

Jessica Rockowitz

Jessica is an East Coast girl originally from Boston, MA but recently transplated to Austin, TX. She is a former OB Nurse Educator turned Content Manager and Brand Strategist. She helps businesses with their social media presence, SEO, and brand strategy. She recently founded Every Mama Birth Education, where she creates customized childbirth education courses for busy moms, in the comfort of their own homes. When she’s not busy blogging or being a pregnancy and birth nerd, you can catch her chasing around her three busy kids and rescue fur baby. You can also follow her antics on her personal blog or Instagram.


5 Tips for a Smooth Back to School Transition


Jessica Rockowitz

The start of a new school year is always exciting, but for many families, the thought of returning to the morning rush can also be daunting. Schedules become filled with homework and activities, and even simple things like eating a balanced breakfast can be impossible at best. How do you stay organized? As a parent of three kids ages 13, 4, and 18 months, here are five of my favorite back to school tips for ensuring a smooth transition:

1. Enlist your kids' help as much as possible. Parents, if your kids are at the age where they can help pack their own lunches, let them! Not only will it teach responsibility, but it will also lighten your load a bit. My daughter has been helping pack her lunch since first grade. I initially supervised her, but now as a 7th grader, she does a great job. It also helps our evenings and mornings run much smoother!

2. Complete everything the night before. We have a rule in our house where permission slips and homework have to be dealt with before bedtime -- no exceptions. Have all lunches packed and ready to be pulled out of the fridge, choose outfits the night before, and have car keys in visible spots. Better yet, consider putting a tile on your keychain so you'll never have to waste time looking for car keys again! This helps keep the peace in the morning and get you out the door faster.

3. Meal prep is your best friend. Balanced breakfasts can be tough! If you have older kids, consider choosing breakfasts that are portable and can be eaten on the way to school. If you have more time in the morning, consider making a batch of egg muffins or overnight oats for the week so you can easily pull them out each morning. Try to simplify your breakfast routine as much as possible to save time and stress.

4. Have a designated homework corner or portable homework station. When it comes to homework, does your child do best at the kitchen table? Or perhaps he or she needs their own quiet space? However your child learns best, have a designated corner of the house where they can successfully complete their homework. If the spot changes, consider creating a portable homework station so it can be taken wherever your child needs it. Have all supplies in one central spot so you aren't scrambling to find them when needed.

5. Give yourself grace. It's easy to get caught up in the crazy of the school year, but remember that you will find your new rhythm. If it takes a little while to get into a good routine, that's ok! Take it one step at a time and remember to do what's best for you and your family.

Do you have any back-to-school tips you'd like to share? We want to hear about them!


About the Author:

Jessica Rockowitz

Jessica is an East Coast girl originally from Boston, MA but recently transplated to Austin, TX. She is a former OB Nurse Educator turned Content Manager and Brand Strategist. She recently founded Every Mama Birth Education, where she creates customized childbirth education courses for busy moms, in the comfort of their own homes. When she’s not busy blogging or being a pregnancy and birth nerd, you can catch her chasing around her three busy kids and rescue fur baby. You can also follow her antics on Instagram.

Five Kid Friendly Public Pools in Austin


Jessica Rockowitz

It's no secret that our summers here in Austin are hot! If you're one of the lucky one with a neighborhood or backyard pool, they're a great way to cool off with your kids during these warmer months. If you're not, it's fun to seek out great public pools -- consider it a day trip adventure! There are some great pools to choose from around the city, and we've compiled a list of some of our five favorite public pools here in Austin. Bonus: they're all kid friendly!

1. Barton Springs Pool. If you haven't visited this gem yet, you need to add it to the top of your list. With cool features like a diving board, beach entry, and natural spring water at the perfect temperature, this pool is deeply loved by children and adults of all ages. Make sure to arrive early because the entry line can get long, especially on weekends.

Location: 2201 Barton Springs Rd., Austin, TX 78704

2. Veterans Memorial Pool. Complete with a water playscape, small slides, a diving platform, and a beach entrance, this pool is one of our favorites around Austin to keep kids of all ages entertained. It's basically a water park and a pool, and it's perfect for all the Northern Austin mamas.

Location: 1901 Sun Chase Blvd, Cedar Park, TX 78613

3. Lakeway Swim Center. The Lakeway Swim Center is perfect for kids of all ages because it boasts lily pads, slides, a shallow pool for young children, and a deeper pool for adults and older kids. There is also a fun oversized chess set, climbing wall, and even coin operated lockers.

Location: 3103 Lakeway Blvd. Lakeway, TX 78734

4. Scott Mentzer Pool. This quaint pool features a beach entry and the perfect area for young kids. It even has a small lazy river and is adorned with adorable slides, play, and spray structures.

Location: 901 Old Austin Hutto Road, Pflugerville, TX 78728

5. Bartholomew Pool: This great Austin pool features two large water slides for older kids, as well as a toddler slide for ages 2-4. There's also a shallow, shaded pool with a beach entrance for younger kids. The only drawback is that this pool can get crowded, and slides don't open until noon.

Location: 1800 E. 51st St., Austin


Are any of these pools on your Summer Bucket List? 


Best Public Pools in Austin

About the Author: Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile.