When planning with this mom and discussing the details, I was so excited to hear her honesty and desire to capture the real beauty behind the day. She knew her 3 year old son would be so infatuated with his new sister when they met, and wanted her daughter to see what life looked like on the day she was born. Audrey came a few days early, but on a lovely summer evening at just 6 hours old, I met their little miracle and captured their love for her unfolding. And she really is a miracle -Audrey was born with her umbilical cord tied in a knot, so doctor's weren't quiet sure how she was able to get the nutrients she needed throughout the pregnancy, but she was surely created for great things.
You may remember Alex and Steve from their maternity session - well now their officially parents and soaking in the world with fresh eyes as a family of three... or five, if you count their adorable furry friends.
Before Connor was born, his dad worked tirelessly to renovate their home and redo the entire upstairs to add his nursery. Unfortunately, they fell subject to the hurry up and wait syndrome, as Connor didn't make his appearance till about 2 weeks after his due date. But once he did, this couple embraced being his parents with such love; it was a joy to watch them make that transition from excitedly throwing around names to rocking their sweet boy to sleep.
Documentary sessions have quickly become the beat of my photographer's heart. There's something so incredibly powerful about seeing the truth in a season of life that just speaks to the power and purpose of what photography is all about -- documentary the people and things in life we want to hold onto most.
In our initial planning for a documentary session, we dove into the things they love to do as a family, including any traditions or activities that were common in their house during this stage of life. She described a typical weekend morning that includes cooking Saturday morning pancakes from scratch with dad, doing art in the dining room, and playing outside in the yard. From the inside, these things probably seem typical or uninteresting, but looking back, they are a timestamp of simple spring days, filled with details that will fade but when capture, will melt the heart.
About one month ago, I made the trek up to the little town of Martinsburg, WV to capture these two lovebirds committing their lives to one another. (You can read a little more about their back story and how we came to know one another in this post of their engagement session.) This wedding may look a little different than all the big, fancy, dreamy days we see flooding the internet, and that's exactly why I wanted to feature it: Niki and Thom chose to focus on their marriage. They pulled together their wedding in months and focussed on creating a day full of love that honored their families, each other, and God. The kept things simple, leaned on the talents of their friends, and made their own rules. It was perfect.
With a 1 year old boy and a girl on the way, along with preparing to move and start a new job, the season of right now is so unique for them. They cherish their quiet Saturdays, going on walks in their neighborhood, playing in the backyard, and especially reading books together in the nursery so we decided to capture just that! How cool will it be for their little girl to see her mom feeling great at 7.5 months pregnant, right down in the sandpit with her older brother -- to get to peek into the home her parents first made their own and how life looked before she arrived?!
I'm flipping through my daughter's 1 year photo album- filled to bursting with images from our first days together, monthly milestone images from the same angle of her laying on the same white bed to show her growth, stats of her height and weight and favorite foods, mini sessions I've set up to show off her adorable little outfits or a specific holiday. I fall in love over and over again with every page.
But it's the picture of her napping on my husband's chest that makes my fingers pause. It's her tiny feet flung high in the air from the slots of a swing that I want to pull and frame because there's something about it that instantly makes me feel nostalgic, to recall the peace at the empty neighborhood park and the sound of her wild giggle filling the warm, spring air.
When asked the thing she loves most about her future husband, Niki paused for a moment... as if thinking through all the possibilities and choosing her words so carefully. She responded with a careful sureness, 'he's my safe place.'
And when we finally met for their engagement session in February, it couldn't have been clearer. The way the meshed seemed as natural as breathing.
Since Niki and Thom live in Winchester and I'm located in Charlottesville, we decided to meet halfway in Harrisonburg, VA for their engagement shoot. They were so incredibly laid back, communicating that their style was simple and fun, so we met at a park and explored the surroundings together while laughing and chatting about their relationship. And I mention laughing, but really, we were laughing the whole time. Their easy sense of humor with one another was the first thing I noticed about them, so I really wanted to capture how playful and goofy the are! Those qualities go a long way in a marriage! Having fun in front of a camera isn't always easy, but I was so glad they trusted me to relax and be themselves.
After hanging up from our planning call several months ago, I thought to myself - "oh, they're going to be fun."
Alex's personality is so down to earth and her openness and excitement for our shoot was so energizing! Like most couples, Alex and Steve hadn't had photos together since their wedding, which left a sour taste in their mouth (that inside joke is for them ;-) ). I was anxious to give them an experience that suited their style, was comfortable and enjoyable, and created images that they could hold dear as the beginning of their next adventure.
This family is near and dear to my heart in many ways, but foremost, because they are the first clients I had the privilege to photograph through an entire journey of maternity through their daughter's first year milestone. After moving and restarting my business in 3 different locations, when we finally made Charlottesville home, I was eager to start truly building relationships with my clients. I got to stick with this couple as they navigated the excitement of awaiting their baby girl and then the awe and struggle that comes with new parenthood. I was able to watch little Felicity grow and develop her sparkle, then capture the birthday that celebrates just how amazing and hard that first year was and how many more joys they have to look forward to.
Months after purchasing my first DSLR during a women's group one day at church, a friend shared the story about friends of theirs whose 8 year old daughter, Haley, was battling a very rare form of brain cancer called Medulloblastoma. They were in the midst of planning her birthday party, a big celebration at a beach park in Waikiki with family and friends coming in from all parts of the world -- she was so loved and they knew it was probably her last birthday. It dug up some new emotion in me, this desire to know them and their struggle, to help in some way. I wasn't a doctor, I didn't have money, I had no resources to offer... but I had my camera. I asked my friend to introduce us and I ended up photographing Haley's princess party, one of the most eye opening opportunities I've had to date.