It's Valentine's Day, no better time to share some of my favorite love sessions then today. And one of my top favorite sessions ever happened with this lovely couple, Mollie and Kent. Last fall we met at Brown County State Park for their engagement session. It happened to be raining and overcast, very similar to the weather we are having today in Bloomington. But, we all decided to stick with it. And I'm so very glad we did. It helped create such a moody, beautiful setting, especially with their vintage bikes they brought. Looking forward to their timeless, classy wedding they are having in June!
This past fall wrapped up three years of this photography business. And to be honest, it's one of the longest times I've kept with something. I hate to admit that, but I'm a girl that loves change and trying new things. I plan on continuing this passion of mine, which makes me really excited. That means growth and continuing working with the best families. There have been times I wanted to quit--hello photography burn-out, it's a thing when you are in your busiest season. But, being on this side of my busy-season, I realize I can create boundaries for myself so I continue to love what I do.
I know I'm doing what I'm suppose to be doing when the New Year came and one of the first things that came to mind were the families that I will be shooting this year welcoming newborns and those bride and grooms I'll capture on one of their most important days of their lives.
I was reminded of a favorite shoot of mine from last year when I got to capture a SURPRISE PREGNANCY REVEAL. Hannah and Rob had booked a photoshoot for their daughter, Audrey's first birthday, but Hannah also had the grand idea to surprise her husband that they are expecting again. She shared by wearing the cutest shirt, but in common male style, he didn't notice till a tiny bit later (check out the fourth image down, Hannah had the best reaction when she realized Rob hadn't noticed her shirt yet). Enjoy the play by play below!
I mean, is that not the most fun thing to get to capture?! I've had quite a few clients that share a little secret with me, it's just so special. I'm really grateful to capture these seasons of lives. In just a few short months I will be photographing Audrey and Austin's little sister, to Rob and Hannah. It's the best.
You know what is awesome about being a photographer at a wedding? You are like a fly on the wall to experience the best day of two people's lives. And I get to click, click, click capturing it.
I probably went overboard sharing here the number of pictures from Taylor and Drake's wedding. But when you think about the other 700 sitting in their gallery, this many doesn't seem like so much. I tend to overshoot. Some photographers believe less is more. And in most cases in my life, I believe that too. But when it comes to pictures, especially on your wedding day, I am going to get as much as I can...for a few reasons. For one, my own photographer at my wedding (12 years ago) missed a lot. I don't remember seeing the pictures from the details. I have very, very few with my mom, in which she passed just a year after we were married. So, I don't mind over clicking and giving my bride and groom all the pictures because it may have that special person in it that means more to them than I know.
Taylor and Drake made it super easy for me to do my job. They were so relaxed. Happy to get all the pictures and were seriously so fun. I mean, we ended up in a bar in downtown Bloomington!
My wedding season for the fall has wrapped up, but I'm looking forward to the many weddings I have coming up for 2018!
Confession: I have about 10 blog posts just sitting in my drafts. End of school year and summer came and I did everything I could to stay afloat being home with kids full time and working a ton. But alas, all my kids are in school full-time so the hope is I will begin blogging again. I mean who doesn't love to see sweet pictures of people?!
This mama and daughter duo is one of a kind. There wasn't a whole lot I needed to say to get them to interact. They just did. And it was absolutely beautiful. You see, the truth is, images don't reveal the whole story of someone. It stamps in time that particular little season. But I believe every picture does remind us of the preciousness of life. A reminder that there is good in the world and that a smile can light up someone's day.
Back in December I get an email asking if she could gift her sister a maternity session. She said my sister is expecting twins, and being a mom of twins myself, I know how much I wish I would have captured my pregnancy, that I want to make sure my sister does.
Is that not the most precious gift? Fast forward four months to April and we got to use that gift of a maternity session. I truly had a great time with the Stryker family. I mean just look at the joy from those kiddos?! And now the joy just continues on as they are both big brother and sisters to two little sisters who are thriving.
It is the best taking maternity pictures of a family and then getting to see that baby at just a few days old. I try not to have many regrets in life, but one thing I wished I did myself was capture my growing belly with my three kids with a professional and then had newborn pictures. I'm so glad I get to do this for others though.
Leslie and Jason have always been fabulous to work with. I get to visit them every three months and watch how much little Brenley has grown. But don't let me do the talking. When I share newborn pictures, I love for mom or dad to tell their story. Here is Leslie...
From the moment I held her I knew I was meant to be a mother. The love I feel is something so powerful, it’s indescribable. If you would have asked me if I wanted to have kids in my twenties and probably even at 30, you might be surprised to know I was rather ambivalent about it. Sure I loved kids, after all I'd been babysitting since I was 9 years old. I became a NICU nurse and babies were a part of my everyday life. I just wasn't convinced they were right for me.
My uncertainty stemmed from fear. In the back of my mind, I wondered if the irregular cycles I’d dealt with all of my life would come back to haunt me. In addition, being a first hand witness to the many real issues in the NICU, was concerning and downright scary! Would MY baby need to be in the NICU? Would it be born too early? Would it have a congenital disorder? What if my delivery didn’t go as planned? These fears became even more palpable once we made the decision to have children.
Fortunately, just months after deciding to start a family we got that positive pregnancy test. I was so thankful to my OB who had truly listened to my fears of infertility and guided me through this process. I still had to overcome the anxiety of knowing not all deliveries go as planned. Being a NICU nurse you are conditioned to plan for the worst. Being pregnant didn't give me a free pass to avoid these situations. I was grateful for the support I received from my husband, co- workers, friends, family and OB group. Day by day, I became more at ease. Instead of fearing the experiences I had as a nurse, I found peace in all the wonderful outcomes I have been part of. I focused on the positives and on the families and babies who have truly touched my life. These families are strong, they are resilient, they love unconditionally, their faith leads them, and they have so much hope. NICU parents are the strongest I've ever met, experiencing the worst days of their lives, yet so thankful for each day with their little one. It really made me realize how privileged I am to have my amazing and humbling job. I often think of the babies who have lost their battle, and although I still mourn their loss, I think of them shining their bright, pure light upon my Brenley.
So although I didn't dream of being a mother for years, I can't imagine my life any other way. Being a mother is the most fulfilling experience I have had, and I frankly can’t imagine it will ever be rivaled. The frequent wake up calls, the "witching hours", the messy house, the inability to make plans, the constant attention, the long days, are all so worth it, when I see that little face smiling up at me every morning.
P.S. That second newborn picture, Brenley is wrapped in her wedding veil. So beautiful and simple.
One thing I love doing with my new families I meet is Facebook stalk them. Kidding.
But for real, I love becoming "friends" on Facebook with my clients because I get to know them, and I truly believe to bring out the best in people, you need to know who they are, their story.
The Randall family is one that I have had the opportunity to get to know over the last year since photographing them in the fall. And I have come to adore Lynsey, her passion for her family, community, and life.
On top of being an amazing full time working mom, recently Lynsey took a step of faith and started something needed in our town-- a mom blog. I know, I know what you are thinking. There are so many mom blogs. But this blog is specifically for Bloomington and to celebrate all the different moms doing life here. It isn't about her, it's about all of us. And I love that. You can find Bloomington Mom Blog on Facebook and soon the website will be launched!
P.S. How darling is her family? Loved the light, setting, and what they wore, but mostly their smiles for each other.
I know this session was back from the fall, but I had to share it because there is a story and depth to this family and it brings a reminder that life comes full circle.
Nearly four years ago my family was going through the scariest time of our lives when our middle child was diagnosed with cancer at two years old. But God brought me such a sense of peace during that time and our community blanketed it us with so.much.love. Including mama Venus, pictured here. Between our daughter coming home from the hospital after the diagnosis and prepping to go back a few days later for a major surgery, Venus offered our family a free photo session right then. We still have one of those images hanging in our bedroom as a reminder of God's goodness and the community that loved us well.
Flash forward to this past fall when I ran into Venus and she asked to get on my schedule for family pictures. I knew then, I wanted to be able to gift them one as a thank you for what she did for my family. I wanted her to know here act of kindness four years ago, still holds dear to my heart.
And to top it all off she just asked for a really low key session where they weren't overly posed and could just be them, which is always my favorite way to go.
I received a text at 8am the day before we were leaving for a big family vacation. I know this is last minute, but by chance can you come to the hospital today to take pictures of my cousin's new baby girl?
I said yes for two reasons. One, because hello I love newborn babies! And two, because this client [turned friend] is a dear one to me, she is a multiple repeat client and that makes my heart burst, so I don't mind going out of my way for awesome people I work with. And I'm so, so glad I was able to go because this session was full of love.
I have shot a home birth before, but I've never shot a newborn at the hospital. And let me tell you, now I am addicted. Photography goes beyond just trying to get a good picture. I want to capture your story. So to get the opportunity to capture a first time mom and dad's very first raw moments was truly magical. To watch how they already knew and responded to little Luciana Kate's cues was so beautiful.
These weren't your typical newborn hospital pictures. But I believe I don't capture typical families. I shoot families who want a story preserved. Moments. Love. Life.
Meet the super adorable Nicely family. One thing I love to do with my families is "befriend" them on Facebook. I mean partly to stalk and see what I'm getting myself into [kidding] and partly so I can get to know them and see who they are and bring out those personalities in pictures. One thing that sticks out to me with this cutest family is their killer home style as they invest time and energy into their fixer upper, but also Caitlin's positivity. She loves to take care of herself through exercise so she can be the best mom and wife, but she also likes to encourage other mamas to do the same. And that positivity, she brought to the shoot.
Funny side story--when Caitlin booked their shoot, she said she would love for it to be snowing, I mean it was happening in February, the chances were good to see a blanket of white. But no, we got one of the warmest days ever. [Hey, not complaining. Making it through winter one sunny, hopeful day at a time.] While shooting them, I just couldn't help but think of my own little family and how it felt like yesterday I was just there--raising a just turned two year old and getting ready to welcome another one. It's crazy and hard, but oh so good. And in a flash that season of life is done.
Seasons of life. That's why I do what I do. It's like boxing up a period of time and preserving it with photos that evoke such emotion when revisited. They hang on our walls and in our hearts.
This was a last minute change of date session. I texted mama Erin that morning and said the weather is suppose to be gorgeous this afternoon, can you make it essentially 30 minutes after school gets out? And friends, they totally pulled it off and it was glorious golden light.
This family holds a special place in my heart. I can proudly call them dear, dear friends. I never expect my friends to hire me for photography. I am totally okay with them using someone else to capture their family. [They say don't go into business trying to make the money off friends and family, and I hold that true.] But when they do ask me to do it, it's such a privilege. They live intentionally and seek to love the Lord greatly by loving others well.
Normally, I'm an outdoors, natural light, simplistic setting type of photographer. I like room to be able to move and I love, love chasing the light. But I've been craving getting into more lifestyle type sessions in homes. I think it makes it personal, intimate, and captures a family in their element. So when I suggested to Kyle and Katie to do a maternity session in their home, I was so pumped when they were game for it.
When I walked into their quaint, little, carefully decorated home with items of meaning and handmade, I felt a sense of peace and love. I literally gasped when I saw the crib Kyle made in the nursery and in the dining room was a painting Katie has been working on for such time.
I can't wait to go back and take pictures when baby boy comes. And I'm looking forward to more shoots in homes, doing what families do. Playing together. Drinking a cup of coffee. Being who they are in their element.
When Amy contacted me for pictures and mentioned wanting them on the IU Baseball field because they have the hook up through her husband's job, I was super excited and basically felt like I was taking pictures on celebrity turf. I mean, imagine being a little boy like Nolan and always getting to spend a lot of time here, how cool would that be?! We had such a good time riding a golf cart around finding fun places to shoot. It's really too bad my job requires these things on occasion.
Also, this family wins for one of the easiest families to get to smile with a legit, happy, I love life, smile!
And the best hair award goes to...every single person in this session! For real, you can't help but notice the Luidhardt awesome hair all around. But I will tell you they are more than their hair. I have now done two sessions with them and both times they have been nothing but JOY and SMILES. And they make having five kids so easy like a skip into the lake.
I couldn't have asked for better weather or light at Lake Monroe. The trick is to do it right before sunset and sometimes that makes it tricky because of bedtime with little ones, but it is worth it for that gorgeous golden light!
You know what's my favorite? Returning clients. Families that email me up and say "it's the time of year for our annual pictures." Because that means a relationship is being built and that is ultimately one of my goals. I want to watch families grow and give high five to the kiddos till next time.
The Wasson family are one of those returning families. And I adore them. I know they are always going to be dressed so cute and be easy going and fun! It's now become a tradition for Dayne, the middle one, to bring a favorite toy and snap a picture of him playing with dad. It's pretty precious!
When Melissa booked a family session with me last fall, one of the first things she said was "we haven't had professional family pictures in a very, very long time." Right then, I knew it was such an honor that she had decided to set aside the time and investment to do it with me after all the years of waiting.
The cool thing is, I know Melissa and Ryan pretty well because our daughters are great friends at school. I also know Melissa as a killer business owner with LulaRoe. I know that she puts in 110% towards her dreams and her family. She's honest, vulnerable, and so funny. And that's just what I wanted to capture in these images. A love so deep for her family and a passion that comes from her eyes for life.
Thankfully, as worried as she was that the session may be a total disaster with having a toddler, it was actually a total hit. I'm so glad she took the risk and time to say yes to professional family pictures. And say yes to me being behind the lens to do it.
When the Wheeler family contacted me for a newborn session and I asked them to share a little bit about themselves, I was instantly intrigued. They are travelers and adventurers and lovers of life and Jesus. Read about how their hearts changed through their traveling days...
I want to start by saying that both my husband, Ryan, and I, Kira, are very selfish people. Bet you weren’t expecting for that to be the first line you read in a blog post about newborn pictures!
As of this past December, Ryan and I have been married for 4 wonderful years. We spent the first 3 years of our marriage living in the city of Chicago, taking in all the amazing restaurants and activities it offers. From late nights out with our best friends to impulse purchases of tickets to a local event mixed in with lots of last minute bookings for weekend getaways…we were living the carefree, jet setting life.
We have both been blessed with amazing jobs that have given us a very healthy work life balance through the years allowing us to really be as selfish as we want; especially with our time. All that being said, it was extremely difficult for us to ever discuss and think about when we wanted to “throw in the towel” on the whole no responsibilities lifestyle we were living. We have both always had the desire to be parents and have known that was the “next step” but were never really sure on when to take it.
It wasn’t until we decided to travel around the world for 6 months (we both work remotely) that we started having deeper discussions about starting to “try” for a baby. I was the one pushing most of these conversations to happen as I was starting to harbor a lot of feelings towards starting our family. The main reasons being that Ryan and I are were rapidly approaching our 30th birthdays as well as knowing both sets of our parents weren’t getting any younger (I want our children to be able to truly know, enjoy and grow relationships with their grandparents). Ryan however, wanted to wait a couple more years before entering that phase of our life and so it turned into the first time in our marriage where we were really at odds with each other. What was supposed to be an exciting and joyful decision turned into something that was pulling us apart…But the Lord really does hear and give guidance to those who seek Him and after many long solo walks, a few fights, and lots and lots of prayer, we ended coming to the same decision in feeling that it was the right time for us to expand our family. We were both all in and ready for whatever the Lord had in store for us!
So off we went -beginning our trip in Costa Rica, then on to the Virgin Islands, which is the location where we found out we were pregnant! There really are no words to describe all the feelings and thoughts that flood one’s mind upon seeing that little + sign on that stick. It was in those first moments after finding out we (I) were pregnant that being selfish was no longer an option nor a desire. Our hearts were completely overtaken with the joy, anticipation, fear, and excitement of knowing we had just grown from a happy couple, just the two of us, into a family of three☺
Naturally, we continued our trip on to Prague, Germany, Austria and Italy. Taking in these countries sites, cultures and cuisines, we tried to get our baby to love traveling as much as we do while still in utero. And to love pizza as much as we do…I think 7 weeks in Italy sealed that deal ;) Our 6 month journey ended with us coming back to the states and deciding to settle here in Bloomington (Ryan’s hometown).
On November 1, we welcomed our beautiful baby boy, Bennett Daniel Wheeler, into the world. We both feel so blessed that the Lord has allowed us to experience the miracle of bringing new life into the world and has entrusted us to be this little guys parents. Bennett has changed our lives in the best way possible and absolutely stolen our hearts (and just a little bit of our sleep). From here on out he will be our permanent “thirdwheeler” ☺
Every family has their own unique story of how they came to be… It’s crazy to think that Ryan and I’s started with us having different thoughts and desires for our immediate future and ended with us being closer than we ever thought possible. God is so good!
James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Ok, here are the things you need to know about this truly amazing family. [And you can trust me on all of it, because these guys are some of my dearest friends.] They love really well. Their family. Their community. Life. God. All of it. They are easy going! Imagine being a mom with a 14 month old girl and newborn twin girls...super blessings, right? Also, really hard. But for mama Kim, all I remember her is going with it with a smile and ease like no other. Now look at her babies all growing up and with a little boy in there too! They aren't afraid to adventure, even when they were all very little. Adventuring hearts are my favorite. And so is this family.
If you can't tell, I'm super grateful for my friendship with the Arnolds. I believe God calls us into community to walk the ups and downs of life. And I'm over the moon thankful for the community that walks with me and my family.
Did you do it too? Fall in love with the adorable DeVallance family and little Will's glowing blue eyes. It's easy to do, don't feel bad. This session was so special to me. They aren't Bloomington residents anymore, but they were in town visiting family and booked a session for them and their extended loved ones (not pictured). They have a story of endurance and hope as they navigate waters of life and I just love so much how they cherish family pictures together.
We just so happen to have had the best weather mid-November during the session as well. The glowing light. The sunset setting over Lake Monroe. The love. It all just fit so nicely together like a puzzle piece that brought a sense of joy when completed.
When asked about style advice for family pictures. One of the most things I share: do not be afraid to mix and match patterns and don't be over the top matchy. [You guys, I cannot do the khaki pants and white shirts. I'm sorry. I just can't. Also, my own personal extended family did that years ago, so no judgement.] Well, the Bunger family without my style advice NAILED IT. When mama Leah texted me about her hesitation in wearing this absolutely fabulous dress, I was like you must. All their pattern mixing and her in the beautiful dress just highlights their family's personality, I love it so much. Also, if mama wears such a dress, I'm probably going to ask her to get twirled by dad. I'm secretly hoping they blew up one of the dance pictures and hung it right above their bed.
Three small children and family pictures can be overwhelming and questioning if it's worth it. It is totally worth it. And the Bunger family happened to have one of the most smooth sessions ever.