When they walked out of their car, I was thinking to myself "yup, nailed it on the outfits, and totally beautiful family." We had the golden light too, so I was pumped for this session. But sometimes as much as you try and have everything in place, you have a child who just isn't feeling it. In this case, their little Rozelynn woke from her nap but wanted to keep sleeping. [I mean who can blame her?!] I pride myself in being able to work with kids, I mean I have three myself and I was a past teacher. But even after pulling out the gum [I am not afraid of bribery with parents permission] there was nothing we could do. So I kept shooting and these are the ones I got with a crying three year old. I think they are beautiful and reveal life. I share this because it's easy to think either a) sessions aren't that hard b) I have a strong-willed child, family pictures are just not an option. Most sessions come with some sort of challenge, whether weather, lighting, family dynamics, etc and most family sessions come with a child who doesn't love it. And that's okay! I believe family sessions are always important, no matter the season of life you are in and I'm willing to push through in our session for it. I always say, the pictures I take aren't just for today, but for the years to come, to look back on and let the images trigger memories from that season. The Ramos loved their gallery despite the challenges we had and they are excited for another session in the future!
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.
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!
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.
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.
I feel like her parents truly believe this quote about Emme. I adore watching them adore her. Nourishing her soul, spirit, and body so carefully with love. And let me just tell you, Emme is one the happiest babies I've worked with. I've been taking her pictures every three months since she was wee little and has always been so smiley. It's been a joy to be able to capture her first seasons of life.
This summer has been the season for birthday style shoots for me. And I kind of love it. Capturing the rubberband wrists that are too quickly disappearing. The curious faces. The wobbling legs learning to walk. And specifically with little Matty in the pictures, THE CURLS. I'm already feeling for his mama when she has to make the cut. I mean, if it one he already has that set of hair, I can only imagine what the future holds. I've determined I photographed a future hair model. That is what he will be when he grows up, there is no other way around it.
Every time I do a senior session it never fails me that I think about my own pictures way back when (how has it been 15 years, PEOPLE!?), and the words that come to mind are cheesy and like everyone else. I mean that's what happens with everything--weddings, baby gear, you think 'why didn't I have that type of thing when I went through it.' Or occasionally you may say 'I'm so glad that wasn't around during my time.' Am I right?
I'm just loving senior sessions nowadays. There is freedom to do them where you want and let your personality shine. I absolutely adored meeting Maddie and her family, who traveled from Ohio for their senior session. [They were visiting family too, but I like to think it was just for the session. Ha!] It is so fun when my style matches right up with the client. I basically wanted to take all of Maddie's clothes and be her. But being a few years older (ahem), I decided I couldn't' pull them off nearly as good. She is just darling and cute as a button. We had glorious weather and took full advantage of all that downtown Bloomington has to offer. Can't wait for next year for them to return to take her sister's senior pictures!
This post is so bitter-sweet to share. In June I took pictures of the Hoch family. But it was more than pictures. It was capturing a season of life that was coming to a close in many areas. Not only were they moving away from Bloomington, but Tim, after 24 years in the service, was retiring! It was a time to reflect on everything they had been through as a family--multiple moves, deployments, and such sacrifices to protect and honor our country. I'm so thankful to be able to work with men and women who serve in such a way. And for me, Holly was quickly becoming a friend of mine. In 9 short months, we did three photography sessions.
So we did one last session on the classic, IU Campus. It was hot. But the kids did so well adventuring through campus. Now I'm tempted to travel to North Carolina because losing a client turned friend is hard!
I was so excited to capture the Beane family basically because they have a little girl named Georgia with the best red, curly hair and her newborn sister named Maggie. I'm a sucker for classic names and sisters. [Ahem, my two girls are named Audrey and Naomi. I have always been tempted to have more kids just so I can name them. Then reality sits in quickly and I'm just thankful to be able to name my three.]
It was a beautiful evening to be able to photograph in their first home that they would soon be moving out of. Then we even got to sneak outside for the pretty golden light. This session will probably go down in my history books as the winner of baby potty accidents. It comes with the gig and definitely adds a side of humor to a session. I spare you pictures of those details. ;)
[This is my second in my series of "unveiling the mother." A hope to share storytelling not only in pictures but in words. To allow mothers a chance to share what's on their heart and how the imperfect road of motherhood and life is molding and shaping us into soaking in grace-filled days. To read other stories in this series click on the tag at the bottom of the page "unveiling the mother."]
I never met mama Brianne until our actual shoot. I knew of her. And how cute she was. And that she loved art. But I didn't know her story. When she walked up with her MOST ADORABLE daughter I knew it was going to be a good shoot. Paisley (YES HER DAUGHTER ALSO HAS THE BEST NAME), was just a peach. Giggled, twirled, explored and loved her mama well. What I didn't know was the importance of capturing them together that evening. What layers of story they share. What Brianne has endured, overcome, and grown stronger from.
Here are some powerful words from Brianne...
I was born an artsy little soul. There was nothing better than a fresh box of markers and a crisp clean sketch pad. I needed to create, and had huge ideas. I had that wonderful all American upbringing. Somewhere along the way, life seemed to pull me away from my artist endeavors. I got married, had a child, and the paints and canvases were quickly packed away. I had turned into an adult, and a mother. I always hoped that one day I could find time again to be a "real artist."
Then on August 5th 2011, I had a regular check up with my doctor. It was intended to be one of my many tasks I was checking off my "to-do" list for the day. Except that's when my entire life changed. Every feeling of what I knew about expectations, comfort, trust, justice, and safety, were gone with three words. "You have cancer." I was a new mom, lived a clean life, and was an ambassador for all things organic. I never ever thought it was a possibility for this to happen to me. As my doctor cried in front of me delivering these words, I was pretty convinced I was going to die.
Surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation commenced. It was pure hell. My entire body was barely alive, but my spirit was strong. I thought I was done with treatment, and only rainbows were ahead. Not too much time passed before I was delivered my second round of bad news. "The cancer is back". More surgeries and treatment began, and again ended. Another six months of life returning to normal happened, and then again.... "Something showed up on your scans". So, for the third time surgeries and treatment began all over again. All the while I was also sorting through a difficult divorce, and managing a vivacious toddler as a single parent. Some days seemed like I was being punished and mocked. I couldn't understand "why"? All along the way, I prayed for peace and grace, and healing. All along the way I tried to figure out what God was trying to tell me. Now I know that God was making me strong, brave, fearless, and preparing me to do his work. I needed to figure out how to utilize the talents he gave me to bless others.
So I fearlessly started an art business, operating purely on faith. I'm living my childhood dream of being a "real artist". I have been blessed with the opportunity to teach others how to create, and to see the world in vivid colors. Bloomington has been nothing short of a miracle for me. I have now owned my business, be.CAUSE Gallery and Studio, for over 2 years. Every new follower, customer, and contact completely blows my mind. The support is humbling and SO appreciated. Most importantly, I am currently 2.5 years cancer free. The longest I've ever gone. I have an incredible feisty daughter that serves as ongoing motivation every single day. I am so grateful for this life, my story, and my journey.
Although this wasn't the life I predicted, it IS the one I was gifted. And, I wouldn't change a single thing.
Want to encourage Brianne? Follow her work? Join an art class? Find her here:
On Saturday evening after the rain finally decided to end, the skies opened and the sun came out for some Mother's Day Mini Sessions. It truly is an honor to be behind the camera to capture mothers and grandmothers in their element, doing what they love---being with their children.
Today, when I was about to post some pictures from my sessions, I decided to take it a bit further. I wanted to add words directly from these mothers that I captured. To unveil the essence of who they are and how this journey of motherhood has shaped them. I'm guilty at looking at a picture and being in awe of the beauty of someone or how cute their children are or thinking that mama has all her stuff together and I'm struggling over here, but the thing is, when we stop comparing and start celebrating each other, we learn that we each have a story that deserves to be heard. That there is a real person behind the image. With a story. With perhaps triumph or heartache or bravery or in the trenches at this very moment.
When I asked Angie to share a bit of her motherhood journey, she willingly shared deep into her soul and her journey. A journey I had no idea about, but I'm so thankful for her to share how she experienced grace stepping into motherhood. Here are the words straight from Angie's heart...
Motherhood is nothing short of a miracle for me. Even as a child, all I really wanted was to be a mom. At 17 I was diagnosed with AML Leukemia and underwent very intense treatments of chemotherapy. Before my treatment, I was given the deprovera shot as means to try to prevent the chemo from damaging the reproductive organs, but was warned that my years of fertility would certainly be decreased and that it was not uncommon for women to struggle with pregnancy after these specific treatments. A year after I went in remission, I went off to college and there I met my husband. He is incredible and desired to be as dad as much as I wanted to be a mom. We knew we would attempt to have kids early because of the concern of my ability and time line. Almost exactly five years after my pronounced remission date(5 years of remission is when they consider you cancer-free), I gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby boy. I was awed by God's timing! Not only had he spared my life, but he allowed me to carry new life. What an amazing, undeserved gift! I was instantly in love with motherhood, and 22 months later we had our second handsome boy. He is a firecracker and always keeps me on my toes. Soon after he turned one, I found out I was pregnant again, and we were once again filled with joy. Four days later, however, I found a lump in my neck and the joy quickly turned to fear. My greatest concern since knowing I could have children was that I would relapse while carrying a child, so this was literally like my greatest nightmare coming to life. I was too afraid to tell anyone about my pregnancy because I wanted it to be something joyful, but due to the circumstances (several people already knew about the lump), I knew that would not always be the case. So my husband and I battled our fears in silence. I have never prayed so much in life. After months of biopsies, MRIs, ultrasounds, etc., they resolved that it was benign, and they would remove it after she was born. On March 10, 2015 I gave birth to our healthy, gorgeous baby girl, and 4 weeks later we were back in the hospital to have the tumor removed. At my follow-up appointment later that week the doctor caught us off guard when he informed us that the tumor was in fact cancerous. The treatment plan is simply to remove it though and that had already been done. These tumors are frequently misdiagnosed with lymphoma and cannot fully be determined without a complete biopsy. I will never know what the doctors would have advised or what actions they would have asked us to take had they known it was cancerous. I am confident though that God was protecting my baby with every false negative biopsy. Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of God's merciful healing power. I look at them and hear God whispering, "This is grace." Some days it feels like endless nights, overflowing amounts of dishes, ridiculous amounts of dirty diapers and runny noses. Other days it looks like dance parties, laughing till we cry, and throwing rocks in the creek. Most days are a little of both, but every day is a gift and an invitation to enter into the miracle that is their little lives.
Now when I look at a picture of Angie, I don't just see a beautiful mama. I see a strong, brave woman who has endured pain and fear but has continued to keep her eyes on Jesus.
You know what I love about this family? How many mama Amber wanted to make sure personality shined through for each of them. She almost put both girls in fancy dresses but realized that wasn't them, so she picked something else. She also wanted the location to be at their new home to make it even more personal. Of course, who wouldn't want pictures in their backyard when it is so gorgeous? I love that I was able to basically just play and take pictures. They picked flowers, raced, twirled, climbed fallen limbs, and played ring around the rosey.
However, what theses pictures don't show are their loving hearts. This family? Hearts of gold that want to help change the world and love the person God places in front of them. They are pretty awesome and I'm thankful to call them friends.
Those who are friends with me know my passion for orphan care. This includes orphan prevention through equipping and empowering families to keep their biological children in their homes and ethical adoption when it is necessary. Because ya'll, children belong in families. It is with great joy and delight that I was able to photograph a family that has doubled in kids in the last few months by giving birth to a son and adopting a son! How awesome is that?! Now they are a family of six and about as cute as ever. Take a peek at the Long family. Beth and Andy were so calm and relaxed at the session with four little ones. I completely loved it and now totally crush on their family.
February was kind of weird, wasn't it? I mean, it always is. There is snow. Then 70 degrees. Then snow again. But I'm pretty thankful for the bits of sunshine that did come so I could sneak in some outdoor sessions. The Smock family joined me for a mini session with their fun, busy, adventurous 18 month old, Jaxon. Sarah wasn't sure how many great pictures would come out with such a busy boy, but those are usually the best kind--getting kids in action being who they are! And I'd say Jaxon rocked how his session.
It was so fun being sneaky. Standing there pretending to take pictures of another client while the cute couple walks up. And then bam, my camera turns to them and history is made. She said yes.
The details were all worked out before. He let me know what they would be wearing. He sent me a photo of the area it would take place at just so we could get exact location of where I would be standing and where he would get down on one knee. We considered lighting. Time of day. I had my staged client ready to follow the couple so she would have no idea I was actually there to take her pictures as this big event took place.
You guys, it couldn't have gone better. The weather. The timing (they were even a tad late, but it worked for the better because it was way less busy). The lighting. HER REACTION.
Joe and Lindsay were every bit adorable as they look in the pictures. And I was so thankful to be apart of such a special day. And their hearts of gratefulness just made them that much more awesome. Here is a little bit about what they had to say after I delivered the gallery to them:
These are AMAZING!! We can't thank you enough for capturing all of these moments on our special day! You are one of the sweetest people we've ever met and couldn't have asked for a better photographer.
Those words, they took the time to write, mean the world to me. It is such a blessing to be a part of preserving people's stories. To make time standstill in an image of where their season of life is taking them. To treasure and look back on.
And now I just want to do all the proposals. Anyone else ready to say "will you marry me?"
P.S. I totally asked Lindsay mascara she wore, because hello, gorgeous!
I'm not going to lie. I was nervous about this winter after a year away in beautiful South Florida. But so far, it has been doable. Between the mild December and then a little bit of snow and some amazing sunshine and warmer temperatures at the end of January and into February. I feel like I am going to survive. [Yes, I can get a bit dramatic about the winter.] I was so so thankful when Patz family was game for taking picture outside in January! I can't tell you how energizing it was for me to be chasing that golden light. But my very favorite part of doing the shoot was talking with their sweet, two year old, Caroline. Oh my goodness. Kids are just the best. Especially when your name is Abra and they call you Zebra. It was awesome.
About a week ago, I ran into Holly, the beautiful mama in these pictures. She told me her girls still talk about the photographer that took their pictures. From two months ago. You guys, I just adore that. I love it when I can make a connection with the kiddos I photograph. As a mama and a former teacher, I like to think I have a little way with kids. They can be unpredictable, shy, crazy, fussy, attached to their parents, fun, and as precious as can be as I capture them and I wouldn't want it any other way. I love seeing kids personalities come to life, getting them kissed by their mama or twirled by their dad. Children don't keep, but I can capture them in their walk of life right now and for that I am grateful.
A few things I must point out with the adorable Black Family. Their eyes. Hello, ocean blue eyes on all three. Secondly, I love that they weren't afraid to mix patterns. Lastly, Emma is that age where basically she doesn't want to sit still so why would pictures be a good idea? Because pictures don't have to be a sit still thing, I had so much fun following Emma around, capturing her exploring, and having her parents just play with her.