We truly cannot thank the hundreds of families who came and joined us today for our very first Sluss Realty Easter Bunny Money Hunt at Patriot Park! You showed up today like we never could have imagined and despite “hiding” thousands of eggs, we all left and said, “Quadruple the eggs next year!”

A very special thank you to It Takes Heart Ohio and the YWCA for the amazing activities and prizes you brought.

We truly appreciated seeing all of you today and hope you’ll join us on June 1 for our second annual Ontario Kids Festival! Stay tuned for a cool video from today as well! Happy early Easter!

Joel and Susanna Howard are the proud new owners of a beautiful new home on Ramsey Drive!

When Susanna saw Sandy Lawrence’s post on Facebook about the Welcome Home grant, which offered $20,000, for first-time homebuyers toward closing costs and down payment, she reached out right away. It was super exciting because as new parents, they thought renting was in their future for at least another year before they’d be able to buy a house! They started an application, were approved, and found a house almost immediately! There were several other offers, but theirs won out, and, in the end, they got their dream home!

“It was definitely a God thing,” said Susanna, when she was describing the whole experience. “All the pieces just fell into place and the transaction was as smooth as it could be.”

Call Sandy Lawrence at 419-989-9878 to turn your rent payments into home ownership! Amazing job, Sandy!!

Erica Finnan Photography

Erica said her interest in taking photos began in high school.

“At that time I was just using little point and shoot and disposable cameras,” she said. “My interest really grew when I had kids. I took so many photos, I ended up buying a camera from my sister after my second was born, and things really took off after that. When I become passionate about something, I go in deep and I want to learn everything I can.”

People were quickly becoming fans of Erica’s work and asking if she could shoot their families, and soon Erica realized she needed to properly start a business. A full-time registered nurse at the time, Erica said took a leap of faith to branch into a new career. It was 2011 and Erica’s third child had just been born.

“I got my business license and set myself up to have an actual business,” she said. “Up until that point, I had only ever done it for family and friends.”

Newborns and families are her specialty, and shooting 1 and 2 year olds are some of her favorites.

“They’re just so fun at that age. You can chase them around and play with them. Sometimes I think I connect better with them than the adults,” she said with a laugh.

When it comes to newborns, Erica is well known for her stunning posed sessions.

“I think what sets me apart is that I look at babies as little people,” she said. “They need the same respect that you’d give to an adult. I respect them as little people and I just have a complete joy and love for shooting newborns.”

Erica attributes a lot of her skill with children to her nursing background and, of course, from having kids of her own. While she considers herself a “Type A” person, who loves to have everything for her sessions organized ahead of time and ready to go, Erica knows she can’t plan for it all.

“I always have a general idea of what I want to do for each session, but you have to be ready to break away from that because every child is different,” she said. “I do a lot outside when the weather is cooperative. I always take into account every kids’ different personality. I want to know of any special concerns or disabilities, things that they like and don’t like. I try to get on their level so they don’t feel overwhelmed with me. I try to make it as fun as I can and get them warmed up to me if they’re feeling shy. Sometimes parents will have an idea of what they want things to be like and I just say, ‘Let your kids be kids.’ I want to capture them how they truly are at this point in time.”

Erica said she’s very aware of how to handle special circumstances – for example when little ones have “stranger danger.”

“In those situations, I’ll let them sit with the parents and do the family part of the session first,” she said. “I also act like a complete fool to get them to warm up to me. Once they’re warmed up, we try and break away so we can do individual photos with them. I always just go with the flow when it comes to kids. You have to be flexible.”

Erica has a beautiful studio that was built into the lower level of her home.

“I wanted to have a nice space where my clients could come and be in a relaxed, quiet environment,” she said. “I wanted a space for my newborns but I don’t do a ton of families in here. I have a great wood wall and a comfortable place for families if we want to be indoors, but I really love taking families outdoors. My property is great. We have nice light here, but I’ve also gone up to the lakes a couple times for sessions.”

Erica said she will travel wherever her clients need, but will charge a fee after 30 miles. She prefers natural light for families and typically only uses artificial lighting outdoors when working on senior photos and can have a little more control over the session.

“With families with kids, it’s hard to use a light with little ones because they’re constantly moving,” she said, noting that regardless of the circumstances, shoots are relaxed and comfortable. “I’ll chat with people and talk about anything and everything. I know people are sometimes nervous when they come in. I’m very laid back and don’t take offense to a lot. I want to have fun with people and just capture their lives. Nobody is perfect. I want to capture all those quirks and personalities.”

Booking with Erica depends on the season for scheduling.

“For the holidays for families, it’s best to start booking in August, but I’ll never turn down a newborn,” she said. “For everything else, I can do weekday shoots no problem, but weekend slots fill up fast.”

Erica’s turnaround time is around three days to a week.

“I pride myself on getting them turned quickly,” she said. “I don’t work another full-time job. I’m very dedicated to my photography and my clients.”

She added that she “gets very attached” to her photos and, even with mini sessions, often sends dozens of photos to the families.

“I don’t want them to miss out on something,” she said.

A Galion High School graduate, Erica said she loved living in a small community.

“I love the opportunity to really build relationships,” she said. “People really care about one another. I love working with my families and watching them grow. That’s really special for me.”