Traxler | Birth

This family. They've stolen my heart. Getting to witness the birth of this sweet baby boy, WES, was one of the highlights of my Spring. It's been a rough year. I didn't get to blog this nearly as soon as I had wanted to. Many of you know that I spent the better half of the year taking care of my dad who was battling end-stage lung disease. It was an inexplicable time of my life and saying goodbye to him was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. 

I must say that in the journey of life there are many, many events and some bring us such anguish that it feels as though there will never be anything to soothe the pain. At the same time, it should be shared that there are just as many events that bring us much, much joy.

I have the blessing of a job that allows me to document weddings and births, regularly. These events are such epic signposts in our journeys, of the importance of the people who enter our lives. Unfortunately, a big part of life is also dealing with death. I'm still aching and processing the loss of a man who helped shape me. Who loved me and cared for me from the day, much like this one, when I was born.

One very special day, during the blur that was the last year, was this day. A day when a family welcomed a second child into their home. Already parents to a sweet little lady, they delivered this precious, young man into a home where people are treasured and all living beings matter. As I recall, around the time of their home-birth home visit, Zach's business, Traxler Tees, was receiving some public recognition for his decision to stand up for some marginalized youths, from the community, who were being cyber-bullied by some other students from their school for being part of the LGBT community. The fact that he used his money to be a voice against bullying; standing up to hate and standing up for treating everyone with respect and value regardless of your opinion on what they believe or how they live their lives is an important value that so many of us can lose sight of. We all matter. We all have value. We all deserve respect. That's something that my dad taught me. It's something that this family believes and is teaching their little ones by the example that they set.

It was a welcomed distraction to be invited to attend such a beautiful birth on a bright, warm and sunny day. I've said it before but I will never tire of the enjoyment I get from attending births. It fills my tank.

Some days I don't know how I will get through but other days it becomes quite plain to see that faith, hope, and love will get us through the gunk and carry us on to the next big adventure waiting for us in our own epic stories. 

Much love to the Traxler family on welcoming baby Wes. 

 

Enjoy. <3

Love-Mac | Birth

This sweet momma is one of my precious friends

We first met as client and photographer a couple of years ago and have photographed each other's families multiple times, over the last couple of years. During that time we have grown a friendship I simply adore her family. 

She has a heart of gold and such a kind and nurturing spirit. I love watching her mother and getting to be a part of her life. Hanging out or texting, getting each other's opinions on mothering, wifing, and anything to do with living is now commonplace. I was over-ecstatic to hear that she was interested in a home-birth, early on, with her pregnancy with miss Coco and even more ecstatic when I found out that she was going to use my midwife, Kathy. Gah, Kathy is amazing. She is the type of woman who you not only want to be your midwife, you really wish she would just adopt you and be a part of her family, forever. Ha!

Getting the opportunity to work with Kathy and her apprentice, Hannah (who, btw, just passed her CPM! Yay, Hannah!) is like getting an employee bonus.

I love it!

Anyhow, I could talk all day about how awesome Jess is and how much I love Kathy and Hannah but I'll just let you get to the photos.

 

Enjoy. <3 

(Home Visit at 37 Weeks; Labor commenced at 39 Weeks)

Invaluable Some Days | Personal

Some day I would like to travel around Europe with my husband, drive on the wrong side of the road and drink proper tea, again, with locals. Maybe even have some mushy peas. Some day I would like to learn a second language and speak it fluently. I used to know a lot of Spanish. The older I get the harder it seems to find time to learn things. The harder it is, also, to remember things. Though, the older I get, the more knowledge I crave. I care more about history as an adult than I ever did as a child. I care more about understanding the way the world works. I am a part of this world and I want to contribute. That's why I love creating. I love creating things that speak to the heart of those who come across it. Something that is meaningful. Some day I would love to be published, for either my words or my photos, or maybe even both. Who knows. Some day I would love to visit Napa Valley, drink wine, walk around or swing in a hammock, in the shade. Some day I would love to eat cheese and a hard baguette in France, ride a bike through the markets and find things to buy to carry around in my bicycle basket. Some day I would love to go with my girlfriends on a girls-only trip, to a secluded beach, pretend to be a little kid again and build a giant castle in the sand. Some day I would love to take each of my children on a special trip, just the two of us, wherever they want to go. (My son asked me just last week if I could take him to Paris and we could take photos, together. My heart nearly leapt out of my chest at the mere possibility.) Spend time getting to know them, letting them get to know me. The real me. Not just the mom, with the structure and the routine and the rules that keep them safe, blah, blah, blah. 

Some day, I might get to do all of those things.

But for now, some day is today. When I look back on my life, and the days that I spent doing whatever it is I was doing, I know I'll feel nostalgic about it all. I'll be old and wrinkly, and I'll look at photos and tell the same stories over and over, forgetting that you've heard it a hundred times, you'll tell me you have heard it but somehow I'll further delude myself into thinking you really want to hear it, one more time. I'll remember the wildly attractive things, that were on my list to do, if I did them. I'll feel warm and fuzzy about them. I'm sure I'll document them and take plenty of photos to tell my stories. I'll also look back and remember the terribly mundane and painfully boring or just plain painful days. The times that felt like they would never end. When I'm old, it'll feel like "it was just yesterday that it happened" and I'll miss it all.

The bulk of my life is not so fun. It's not glamorous. It's mundane and can some days feel like pure drudgery. I juggle a lot, physically, mentally, emotionally. With 3 children, all with some wonderfully, unique and special needs, and myself, balancing work and parenting while living with an autoimmune disorder, often, the world feels like one giant elephant, waiting. Staring me down. That damn elephant just sits and looks at me. It's waiting to be eaten. Almost daring me to try. Except I'm not hungry. I'm rarely hungry. Why is it so big? Who ordered this elephant?! 

Some days, I just want to send it back. But there is no kitchen to return it to. No manager to call and complain. It's just here.

Waiting.

 I don't feel prepared. I don't feel capable. Little by little. I nibble. Some days, few and far between, I feel a tenacious hunger well up inside of me and I tear through a portion. I devour it. I feel accomplished. I feel tired. But I feel good about it. I should earn a reward for that, right?! I tell myself as I pat myself on the back. There's no reward, however. No prize. It's just a regular day, like any other to everyone else. A day when I did what I was supposed to do and I felt capable. My work feels insignificant. I had a small victory but no one knows. We all deal with something, so, I don't really want people to notice, I just don't want to feel alone. I love when I have these productive days, I no longer feel isolated. I feel useful. I feel capable. I feel joy in my accomplishments and happy to share my good news with whoever wants to hear it. My excitement is short lived. My accomplishment has carried me through a few days and bolstered me to last a while. Though, soon, my glory fades. I return to my normal days when I'm not so capable. On those days, I can't get the food down. So, I nibble. Is there another way to survive?

I keep going.

I look forward to the exciting things that life has to offer and I continue to document the mundane, in the meantime. You know why? Because when I look back at my photos of either, they're all the same. They all make me feel something. That's really all that I want out of photography. To look at photos and feel something.

Why do I feel the same, whether I am out of the country or in my backyard, in my photos? Emotionally, it's all connected. Our emotional wires all plug into the same circuit.

I remember how much fun I had when I was in Puerto Rico, shooting on the beach with my friend or when I was shooting in the Snowy Mountain Range of Wyoming with my husband and then visiting family with our kids. I look at photos and I remember all of the fun we had. I feel good about my memories. Nevermind that in Puerto Rico I had strep throat and between my fever and the 95% humidity I couldn't stay hydrated or energized. Or that in Wyoming, my back went out, and we had to find a chiropractor before I could fly home. Somehow, the negative memories fade out to the background. Photos don't show those parts our trips. Similarly, I look back at photos of when we were in our living room or at the park down the street. I forget that it was the day I was running on 2 hours of sleep because my daughter has a mysterious stomach illness that comes and goes whenever it pleases, and keeps us awake throughout the night while she cries in pain and we try to bathe her, massage her, do anything we can to comfort her back to sleep. I forget that it was the evening that I had a panic attack just an hour before when my son followed his bouncy ball into the road and was almost hit by a car, because he often becomes so engrossed in what he is doing to the point that he doesn't hear you when you're screaming his name and you can't get to him fast enough to save his life. How scary it is that he forgets to be cautious of dangerous things the way that it comes so naturally to the rest of us. When I look back, at photos of my youngest, I'm not thinking about the fact that I constantly have to keep my eyes on her and know where she is because she will put almost anything on her face, in her mouth, nose, or ear, just because. She doesn't know or care that she can choke or damage her ear drum or seem to be able to remember that she hates having permanent marker rubbed off of her cheeks and forehead. She just wants to see how these things feel.

You see, the wonderful disadvantage of photographs is that you don't see the negatives (no pun intended). Photographs are like icebergs. You only see a fragment of the story in one photograph. There is a whole lot more under the surface. The truth is somewhere in the back. Hidden away, covered with cobwebs, in places you don't often go. With things you don't like to feel or often remember. You can't get rid of them so you just store them away for when you can handle thinking about them, again. 

I know I can't be the only one who feels this way. Especially on the bad days. I crave relation. I want someone, somewhere, to be able to relate to me. (Misery loves company, right?) But seriously, don't we all love a little solidarity in our struggles? Doesn't it make us feel normal? Someone who can say, "Man, I feel for you. I know what that feels like. I have been there." 

When I take photos, I look for those things which are real. Anything emotional that is tangible. Moments that make you feel something.  

 You see, in that place, somewhere in the back, hidden away, covered with cobwebs, the place where you keep the hurts, the anxieties, the griefs, the fears, the traumas, you keep all of your memories there. The memories of those you care about most and any memories of that which has affected you deeply. It's the emotional circuit box. We keep the real emotions there. That means it also stores memories of times when we felt or shared our love, our compassion, our empathy, our relat-ability, our vulnerability, it's all there. That's where our story is. Where the truth rests. But it's guarded. Under lock and key. You don't let just anyone go in. It's too raw. Too honest. It's messy. It's not always beautiful. Some of it might be downright ugly. But it's real. It's true. 

I know what's in mine. I don't know what is in yours but when I am photographing, it's what I am thinking about. That place is what inspires me to create the kind of images I love.

My heart longs for authenticity. Genuine truth, told the way it is, transparency without worry of judgement or appearance.

Just being who we were made to be. Sharing our struggles, sharing our small victories. Encouraging one another so we don't have to feel alone. Life is about more than photos but photos are how I find that I can most easily relate to people and communicate my emotions with them.

So, I share my heart and I share my some days. Because all of our some days are worth something. The good, the bad, the wildly attractive and the terribly mundane. 

(If this sounds like a bunch of ramblings with too many metaphors, just scroll past the words and enjoy the pictures. It's cool. ;)

 

Enjoy. <3

Ewart | Birth

I only get to document a handful of births each year due to our wedding season and conflicting schedules. For that reason, each birth that I do get the opportunity to be present for photographing is a special treat for me.

Lauren and I met back in the fall to talk about whether or not I was available to photograph the birth of their firstborn. She was due on 12/22/14 and while normally that time of year is considered our off-season, we did happen to have a wedding booked for 1/3/15. We talked about what happens if I miss a birth and/or if I have a wedding on the day that one of my clients goes into labor (though, knock-on-wood, that hasn't happened yet), she and her husband Andy decided to go ahead and book me for their birth.

Fortunately for everyone, Lauren's labor started on New Year's Eve and I was called to head to the hospital on the morning of New Year's Day 2015! Ten days overdue is no picnic for any momma but Lauren hung in there and made it before the date that she would've been scheduled for induction. She actually talked to doctor into waiting until the 4th, since we had a wedding on the 3rd. I was so tickled when she told me that. Thankfully for her, she didn't have to wait that long for mister Finn to give up his lease on her uterus. Ha!

Labor was long. Long labors are so common, for first time moms especially. I can't even begin to tell you how tired Lauren and Andy were by the time she was ready to push. I have been to a lot of births and if there was ever a momma who had a reason to give up, it was this one. She worked so very hard. The doctor looked at Andy right after Lauren gave birth to a, basically, 9lb baby and said, "You know, a lot of moms cannot go this long without an epidural. (Mostly from sheer exhaustion) We are amazed by her stamina. You've got an awesome wife."

More than whether or not a family wants a natural or medically assisted labor and delivery, a scheduled c-section or whether they end up with any of the above without choosing it, more impressive to me than their choices are the interactions between couples during labor; Their abilities and desires to work together, trust each other, get really honest and vulnerable and then work hard, persevering to bring a baby into the room, the world. There are a lot of women out there who don't have a partner to support them during the birth of their child. So, I just want to recognize that it is a big deal to have someone with you who will be your person. Someone who will be present with words and hands to support whatever your birth choices are. As women we are wired to be strong but when we are not, and in our weakest moments, that is when we need that support. That support is what gives us our best chances of having the birth that we want.

Healthy babies are born in innumerable ways, on a daily basis throughout the world. Thank you to all the husbands, wives, partners, loved ones, doulas, nurses, midwives, doctors and birth support persons who encourage and educate families, every day, making it possible to have the births that we desire.

And to Lauren and Andy, congratulations on a beautiful, healthy family.

You make a great team.

 

Enjoy. <3

(Ely Asylum in) Florida | Personal

 

Every year we take our family vacation in October.

This was our 3rd annual family trip to southern Florida. It's hard to believe that Rilo was only 6 months old on our first trip down, as a family of 5. And it has become the highlight of the year for all of us. My sister travels with us, (so that we can have at least one date sans kids while vacationing) and this year, Levi's mom had the opportunity to travel with us, as well. Double bonus!

Every year we have something crazy that happens from flat tires, to misplaced baggage, viruses and this year, Levi's back went out for a good portion of the trip. Though, we found a chiropractor in the area and an adjustment did the trick for him. We still managed to enjoy ourselves and had the most fun, yet, for one of our family trips.

Every day we got to enjoy a mostly deserted beach and the kids will never forget how many different kinds of wildlife that we encountered on the island.

It was incredible. 

I am so far behind blogging. Between work and all of the responsibilities of raising 3 kiddos, this post has been back burnered for months. Not to mention, I had over 4,000 photos to sift through and it was really difficult for me to narrow them down, as it always is. A lot of people think that shooting on vacation, when photography is my full-time job would not be actually enjoying my vacation. Trust me, I put the camera down at times and definitely relax and even take turns, sharing the camera with Levi.

Though, truly, it never feels like work to shoot on our vacations, especially when I'm taking photos of my kids. They have always been my primary inspiration for my work and probably always will be. I love them to death. The way they play, explore, interact with us and with each other. Their little, ever-growing, ever-developing bodies are so precious and they literally are changing every day. Documenting these special and rare trips that we get to take as a family is part of my inheritance for them.

My kids are bold, daring, quirky, curious, adventurous, passionate, full of wonder and zest, not only for life's mysteries and but also for it's blatant existence. That which is there but maybe has not been questioned. They see the world differently. They challenge it. They challenge me. I am so thankful for each one of them and the blessing of being they are to our family. 

Document your kids, guys. On vacation. At the park. Hell, document them tinkering around with crap they aren't supposed to touch in the garage, in the basement, in the kitchen. They are going to do it anyway. Embrace their desire to learn and to be who they are, and use your camera all the time. You won't regret it. I promise.

One day, I know my little amigos will look back at the many treasures I have created for them and they will cherish being able to relive it with each other. They will appreciate it as much as I do. At least, that's always my hope.

Florida, we miss you so much. Don't ever change. We'll see you soon. ;)

 

Enjoy. <3

 

Part II

 

Chelse & The Boys | Family

This session has my heart. 

I have 3 children of my own, so in some ways I can relate to this momma who happens to also be a dear friend of mine. There are other ways that I cannot relate. Raising 3 boys, I'm certain, requires so many things, not the least of which being strength.

Chelsea is one of the most gracious and honest friends that I have. She is strong in ways I do not think she even knows. Though, she is also so vulnerable. When you speak to her, you know she is honest, thoughtful and purposeful with her words. She is smart and kind. I imagine that teaching and raising children (she homeschools) requires so much thoughtfulness, not to mention, so much talking, that I am sure it has to be so exhausting.

I'm learning a lot from her. I love having a friend who is just a few years ahead of me in the parenting game, which allows me to relate to her. I value her opinions and perspective, as a mother, and also, in general, as a person who shares a similar belief and parenting mindset.

Most of us don't know what we are doing. We usually have an idea of what outcome we want for our children but we often don't know all the ways that will be required for us to achieve those, or rather to help them to achieve those outcomes, themselves. And so, we band together, those mothers who know that it's gonna take more than just the one of us to accomplish the unsmall feat of raising our children. It takes a village, as they say. I say, it takes a community. 

Community: People with a common agenda, cause or interest, who collaborate by sharing ideas, information and other resources.

Community is how we make it in life. Look around you and think about the people who have survived crazy things. Lived through some really difficult heartache, tragedies and crisis. Those who have, most likely have had some really awesome folks that they can call their community, in their corner.

If I can urge you in any way, in this life, find a community, dig in, open up and be loved. It'll be worth it.

 

Enjoy. <3

Nighttime Session | Family

This sweet family found me this fall, and really wanted to schedule a family session during the holidays. I didn't have any availability, at the time, but the stars aligned and a cancellation in my schedule made it possible for an in-home session, at the end of November. 

Madison and her family have moved quite a few times, around the country, for her husband's job. They really love Columbus and not knowing, of course, if they will have to move again and/or when that may or may not happen, they were so excited to have a session documented of their home and their neighborhood, doing some of the things that they love. Going to see the lights around downtown, family walks, and not least of all, getting hot chocolate!

I have never done a night-time session. Most of you are fully aware that I only shoot with natural light, so I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant and a little worried that I may not get the quality of images that I am used to capturing at my family sessions, with so little light.

While these may look a bit different than my usual, I adore these images and really love the variety of what I was able to capture. I loved the interactions and I really appreciate the challenge of using the very small amount available light that we had that night, to journal their family walk.

How precious and sweet is their love for their son, Owen. Getting to walk around for a bit, I was able to get a glimpse into their world. Their humor, their silliness, their kindness, and their very chill, laid-back style. 

I really appreciate Madison's creativity and loved the opportunity to document such a unique style of in-home sessions to add to my portfolio.

D'Amarios, you're a beautiful family, inside and out. I look forward to, hopefully, seeing you again, in the future.

 

Enjoy. <3

Hagey | Newborn

I can't even say enough about these people. 

Nat & Beth invited me into their beautiful home, just days after their firstborn, Maren, was born. It was a peaceful and remarkably sweet newborn session. One for the record books. (Partially because this was my first one where baby had a blow out and a huge puke that I got to photograph. Score!) 

I digress. Nat & Beth are kind and gentle, lovingly considerate and just, really, so patient with this little girl. A radiant example of the joy a mother and father feel for their baby, as they're falling deeply in love with her. I would expect nothing less, yet, I am always newly inspired by the beautiful example I see before me.

I love witnessing how others welcome their children, in the first days and weeks of new life. The way they gush over them. The way every movement and sound is new, interesting, enthralling. I can't even begin to guess how many minutes and hours are spent by new parents, just staring at this tiny miracle in their arms. I could go on and on but really, just look at them...

 

Enjoy. <3

(Thanks, Nat & Beth! You guys are beautiful, inside and out; It was an honor.)

 

Beyer | Newborn

Oh, how I love newborn sessions.

These precious little ones bring so much new joy and hope into a family. That's one of the reasons why I love documenting newborns the way that I do. All little babies are adorable, wrapped in tight swaddles, or bare skinned, or decked out in clean, new tiniest of tiny articles of clothing, but what I really love is getting to capture the new interactions of a family who has just received this gift into their home.

These interactions teem with the awe and wonderment of a new baby, into their life. How amazing it is to share in the excitement and the surreal emotions experienced, alongside my families, as I capture those connections, just days after a baby is born.

Thank you, Beyer family for letting me come into your home and capture sweet Henry in a way that I love so dearly. What a sweet and kind, big brother he has, and of course, some of the most loving parents, he could have been born with. He is well loved and enjoyed.

 

Enjoy. <3

Fiona | 1 Year

I seem to get a lot of inquiries for 1 year birthday parties. Sometimes I get asked to do 2 or 3 year olds or even older birthdays but for the most part my record seems to be holding steady with 1 year olds.

Can you blame the parents, though? 1 year olds are so darn cute. While every birthday is an important milestone, there is something extra special about that first one. No other year does your appearance and size change as dramatically as your first. It's such an exciting, bittersweet year of life, for everyone involved. 

I think that it's such a special thing to document child's first birthday. There is so much to celebrate. I always say, 1 year old parties are really more for the parents than the kiddos. Of course, the kids enjoy it but most 1 year olds still need naps and care more about the ribbon and wrapping paper than the gifts. It can be a little tricky to find their daily sweet spot and hope like heck they stick to their norm so they're happy and cooperative for the day of celebrating. (Personally, I love rowdy, off-kilter displays of childlike behavior. It encourages me that everyone actually is normal in our own abnormal ways. Haha.)

But really, I think we all know why we love 1 year old parties. You get to watch your child eat their very own, personal size cake for the first time, they are so young still that you get to invite all of "your" friends instead of "theirs" to the party, and really let's be honest, we're celebrating the fact that we survived our first year with a child and hey, we may not have gotten much sleep, but we kept them alive and that's reason enough, alone, for me to throw a party!

John and Jayme have graced my blog many times, in the past. You may remember Fiona's birth from last fall; I seriously can not believe that the year has flown by so quickly. I love this family dearly and I can't wait to continue to watch as this amazingly happy, little girl grows and changes, ever-developing but remaining the sweet and precious gift that she is. 

I love you, Fiona-Bear. (You too, John and Jaymes)

 

Enjoy. <3