Newborn Photos: Bringing out Beauty Even in the Difficult Things

Newborns!  How amazing and precious they are.  However, the first few weeks after bringing that precious bundle home can be a bitter sweet time for many parents.  You are exhausted, your focus is on feeding and diaper changes, and you are longing for more than a couple hours of sleep.  However, your baby is finally here! Their smell, their little fingers and toes, their fuzzy hair, and little squeaks and gurgles make your heart melt.  You are fervently trying to lock away these details in your memory so that you can remember them. That's when life takes over with its busyness, chaos, and complications  - all in an attempt to steal your peace and joy.  

Newborn photos are so important for so many reasons.  They not only preserve the precious details of your child during their first few weeks of life, but also of your family in general.  Such details often get shrouded by stress and complications.  However, there is so much beauty even during these chaotic times.  This is what I try to capture in my newborn family sessions.  I have tried to make these sessions unique in that they not only capture the precious details of baby, but of the beautiful details that are often missed during the first few weeks after bringing their newest family member home.  Moments such as mom and dad giving each other a gentle touch of encouragement when baby is inconsolably crying, of mom breathing in the fleeting smell of her baby's head which will soon become a bouncing toddler's curls, of dad holding his fragile bundle and being amazed at the size of her toes, or of big sister being proud to take on her role as the big kid in the house, yet still needing a reassuring cuddle from mom and dad.  These are the details that I try to preserve for families so that when they look back and think about the time when they first had a newborn, they will be able to see the beauty that was there instead of just a blur of exhaustion.  

These photos represent just that kind of situation.  Toby and Tyler had been through so much awaiting the birth of Lucille Rae.  Big sister Violet is a spunky 4 year old who has so much she wants to share with the world!  Her energy and joy, plus being a complete ham brought so much joy to this session.  However, it was also a stressful time for this family.  Lucille was having feeding problems and she had to be supplemented with a tiny tube frequently. Despite the stresses of regular doctor visits checking her weight, constant feedings, and little sleep, Toby and Tyler conveyed so much gratitude for their life.  It took several years to become pregnant with Violet, and after a painful struggle filled with heartbreak after two miscarriages beautiful Lucille came into the world.  Just knowing she was here filled their hearts with joy and gratitude.  No matter how many doctor visits there would be, no matter how tired they were, no matter how stressful her feedings were, she was here and she was a gift and an answered prayer.  

This gratitude and love for the journey before them is what I aimed to capture in these photos, so, that when they look back, instead of just remembering the frustration or exhaustion, they will see their incredible love.  

 

 

 

Senior Photos: A Reflection of Who You Are

The more I do Senior Photo sessions, the more I love them.  Graduating from high school is such a momentous time in an individual's life.  Kids today, more than ever before, face so many pressures to succeed, to do the right activities, to get into the right school, or to decide take a gap year and figure their lives out - today!  What if we just let them be who they are for just one moment?  Kids.  Kids with passions, interests, faith, families, friends, and maybe a pet!  When I do a Senior Session, I start out by discovering who these kids are - what makes them happy?  What makes them tick?  What passions make up who they are?  And in so doing, what do they want to share with others in their photos?  Ultimately, Senior Photos are meant to preserve the special details and interests of a teenager.  These things are precious.  They help to keep them grounded when feeling pushed and pulled by the demands they face each day.  These are the things which bring them joy and provide them with solace when facing an AP exam,  waiting for a college acceptance letter, or facing the pressure to complete as many college credits before graduating high school as possible.  

The photos of these two girls are very special to me.  I believe they capture what is incredibly valuable to them:  their cultural heritage, their love of music, and their playfulness while exuding with the beauty of their personalities.  Both of them have a servant's heart which seeks to show the love of God in all that they do.  They have both been student missionaries and serve others in their church and community continually.  What a blessing it is to preserve who they are during this time in their lives.  What an even greater blessing to see what they become.

Beautiful Summer Light in Portraits

I'm sure you have heard it before....photography is all about light.  Living in Minnesota where light can be scarce several months per year, you come to revel in it when it is present!  Light is powerful. It can create a magic that nothing else can.  It can add an ethereal mood to any photograph no matter where it is taken.   I think that photography is able to freeze the beauty of light in ways that our eyes just can't.  The amazing thing is that this light is present in our every day lives, in every day places, and we walk past it and probably miss its astounding beauty so often.  The majority of the photos below are taken in simple places in my home or in the park next to my house or at the lake down the road.  These are simple neighborhood paths in Plymouth, Minnesota that people use every single day.  What does this tell you?  You don't need to search out a location that is far from home in order to get photographs that are stunning and even magical...you just need the right kind of light.  The soft glow of light an hour before sunset is ideal.  It is warm, it glows and envelopes its subjects in amazing ways.  So, don't let location hold you back when thinking of scheduling your next family or individual photo session.  Look around your yard.  Walk over to your neighborhood park.  Look within home.  With the perfect type of light, something simple can become a piece of art!

Connection in Family Photography

Connection...that is my goal with family photography sessions.  I truly enjoyed a recent session because the connection among all of the family members was wonderful.  You can have perfect weather, perfect light, and poses that are just right, but if you can't find the connection among your clients, your photos will be lifeless. That is why I hate posing and love capturing how my clients interact with one another.  So, how does one do this?  You have to foster that environment for your clients, and, most importantly, connect with them as well!  I truly feel blessed getting to know my clients, hearing their stories, learning about their traditions, and discovering who they are.  The father and daughter of this family have an incredible tradition in which she gives him a rose every summer (usually around Father's Day) and they have captured this moment in photographs since she was little.  The mom's sister was leaving for India the day after this shoot ending what was a precious visit together.  Their conversations, their smiles, and their hugs spoke volumes of the time they had enjoyed with one another which was now coming to a close - until the next time.  I consider spending time with a family, capturing their love, and their joy a very sacred thing.  The next time you have your photos taken, think about these things.  Don't worry so much about the posing or coordinating your outfits, but rather, relax and enjoy the time you are about to share together and see what kind of beautiful images result.  What story do you want preserved about your family? Contact me and we will make it happen!  

Winter Family Phototgraphy

It is winter and many people haven't even begun to think about their family pictures.  However, I think this is the best time of the year for family pictures whether you are inside or out.  First of all, winter portraits create stunning images that are incredibly unique.  A stark landscape covered with snow allows for clients to pop in the scene.  I encourage clients to where beautiful shades of black or blues and then accent with a red scarf, mittens or hats.  The contrast in colors is beautiful.  Another benefit to these types of family photo shoots is that there is so much to do in the snow!  Family snowball fights, throwing snow into the sunlight, cups of hot cocoa steaming in the crips air, kids blowing snow from their mittens or huddling together to keep warm are all things that make these photo sessions special!  These scenes make for incredible shots that create a lot of joyful memories.  So, thinking of a family photo shoot soon?  Don't hold off until summer when everyone else is getting theirs - bundle up, get out, and capture unique images that you will enjoy for years to come!  

 

 

A Very Special Senior Session

I had the honor of photographing my friend Lisa’s eighteen-year-old daughter Carly this past week.  Carly is a remarkable young woman who struggles with Angelman Syndrome.  Individuals with Angelman Syndrome are missing a portion of their 15th maternal chromosome and face significant developmental and cognitive disabilities.    Carly faces a host of issues ranging rom being non-verbal, to a sleep disorder, seizures, and needing round the clock supervision.  Lisa and her husband Larry have had their lives radically changed in miraculous ways since Carly came into their lives.  From their struggles has risen a ministry that has touched the lives of thousands of families. Walk Right In Ministries is an organization that supports families who care for a loved one facing special needs or a chronic illness.  Their first book together, Finding Glory in the Thorns, “explores how God reveals Himself through crisis. It shares the heartwarming story of those early years parenting Carly in the midst of an unusual expression of a loving community.”

 

Reading their story has influenced my life and my faith in so many ways.   We live in a society that focuses so much on self-reliance and perfection that we are often left reeling whenever we face struggles. Carly’s story opened my eyes to the beauty of surrounding yourself with help from others who long to show you love and support, the value of shared stories, and the power that lies within all of that.  God uses our experiences to shape us while also empowering us to share those experiences with others.  As a result, we become a conduit of his grace and comfort. In short, we need each other!  We learn so much by simply listening, and teach each other so much by sharing our experiences and gifts.

 

Carly is a beautiful girl.  Her hugs make your heart melt!  She also has a mischievous spirit and an incredible sparkle in her eyes when she smiles.  She comes alive whenever music is playing and loves to dance to her favorite music.  She is also particular and stubborn!  All qualities of a typical teenager!  I wanted to portray all of these things in Carly.  It was important to do so.  This was her Senior photo session after all. My goal was to portray Carly as the beautiful teenager that she is while also showing her unique beauty and personality.

 

As a photographer, this photo session had its challenges.  I didn’t want you to see her as a young woman with a disability, but as the incredibly beautiful person that she is.  I couldn’t tell Carly how to pose like you would in a typical Senior photo shoot.  I couldn’t direct her to turn her face toward the light or ask her to give me that smile at just the right moment.  This session was more about interaction.  Getting to know her, to laugh with her, dance with her and, yes, receive her incredible hugs.  In the midst of all of that, I was able to pull out my camera and take some shots that captured a smile here, a mischievous grin there, or the contented feeling of being held by your mom.  This taught me a lot about my photography.  It’s not about the perfect poses or even the perfect light that you find, but rather it is about experiencing who your clients are.  It’s about seeing them in their true beauty and light and preserving those moments with your camera.