Our Photoshoot with Sarah Sloboda in Cleveland

During quarantine, I decided to make some updates to the house. In doing so I realized our family needed some new portraits. Not only to hang on the walls in our home, but as we prepare to launch our new project “The Ottrix Family” it’s important everyone have headshots and that we have a variety of family images for content. Funny enough around the same time that I’m having these thoughts, I receive a Direct Message on Instagram from a lady by the name of Sarah Sloboda, a Cleveland native. 

Sarah sent me a quick message letting me know she had recently moved back to Cleveland and that she saw my feed listed on a few different places and decided to follow me. So honored and excited to be followed, I replied welcome to Cleveland, if there’s anything you need or if can make a recommendation please let me know. She shared so much had changed in Cleveland in the last five years and I couldn’t agree more. I love to hear people speaking so positively about all the great things happening in Cleveland. We randomly shared messages a few days and then I made a post asking about local events to promote on the blog… and well Sarah had an event! 

It turns out Sarah was very talented photographer who worked in New York and California for years before returning to her favorite place – Ohio. She is known for her children’s photography work, with publications spanning online and print, notably in Nat Geo Kids’ This Book is Cute. Sarah was hosting mini photoshoots in Lakewood and used some of her images on the flier and website to promote her work. I was intrigued and blown away by the images- they truly captured the beauty of families in normal settings. They were beautiful, super clear (like HD) and full of personality. Not to mention she was donating a portion of the ticket sales to Karamu House. I loved this artistic lady without even meeting her…. then well.. I met her!

Needless to say, Sarah and I quickly became partners and we set a date for her to shoot my family. 

My experience with Sarah from start to finish was absolutely amazing. From setting a date, to determining the right location the process was easy! Oh… and she even gave me insight on picking the right outfits. My first thought was to coordinate, but then I went with a color palette so everyone could wear something fitting to their personality. Our outfits didn’t turn out as planned (Codi’s dress didn’t arrive, I had to find something new the night before for both of us and Bryon Jr. woke up with no blue jeans or blue pants) but, despite those issues Sarah and I decided we would still meet even with rain in the forecast lol. My makeup was done and we were prepared to push out shoot back an hour or so if need be. I loved that she was willing to adjust and that she remained calm. It really helped me stay positive because I was close to losing it lol!

Sarah stayed optimistic through the downpour that it would soon pass, even sending the times for when it was said to end. As we drove to meet her at the Lagoon, it was pouring down. By the time we parked it started to clear up. Sarah approached us with the biggest smile on her face and assured us not to fret. She even said the gloomy weather would photograph much better than a shining sun. I was skeptical but boy oh boy was she soooo right!

My pictures as you can see turned out better than I could’ve imaged. She captured everyone’s personality so well. Even more important, my kids warmed up to her to fast! They were able to follow her directions, interact with the camera and truly still be themselves. From our group pictures to their individual headshots and pictures- no-one had to do a lot of posing, because she captured us naturally! Walking, talking, holding hands- throwing rocks- you name it!  Their smiles, their grins, the moments mid conversation that turned to laughs— everything was REAL in the moment- and that made every picture, picture perfect. 

Sarah has a bubbly personality, is very professional, and a lot of fun. We talked the entire shoot, sharing ideas, and talking about the kids. Of course we also talked about our love for Cleveland. She told me “I’ve lived in a lot of places and know in my heart that Cleveland is home to me. There is no place else that has quite the same vibe. It has a mix of Midwest mellowness I find soothing and a powerful work ethic that always inspires me to strive for the best. Cleveland is steadfast and humble and lush. The clouds here make me feel connected to the sky, and curious about what each day will paint before my eyes.”

I felt this.

I agreed with this.

I loved this… and I was happy Sarah was now in Cleveland working with me and my family. Sarah is someone I would book with 1,000 times more!

If you’re looking for a photographer I encourage you to check her out. She’s amazing and you will not be disappointed.

For more information check out her website: https://sarahsloboda.com or follow her on Instagram @SarahSloboda 


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