Ivy.

(I’m departing from my normally cheerful blog posts to talk about a subject that is often not discussed but is in my heart. Shared with permission from the family.  This blog post is about term stillbirth.)

When I first met Sharon it was where we meet so many people these days…on social media.  I had listed some artwork that I was selling and she responded about purchasing it.  She saw that I was a photographer and mentioned that she was expecting soon and might want to get some newborn photos done as this was going to be their last baby.IMG_0149We discussed the process, I sent photo samples, we made plans.  I was excited to capture their newest family member.IMG_0201I thought we would meet prior to the session as she was going to be picking up the artwork but, as things would have it, a fender bender and life in general got in the way until the weekend that we finally had a firm time.  She never showed up.IMG_0005By Monday I was thinking about her so I dropped her a note to see if she didn’t come because the baby had arrived.  I had no idea that my jovial little reminder might be anything but that.  Until I received her reply…

“You have been on my mind to contact! Unfortunately she was born still yesterday morning. 😢

My heart sunk….my eyes welled with tears…I didn’t even really know this woman but, I immediately felt her pain.  There were no words….I wasn’t sure how to respond.  I hope that I said the right thing.  As a mother myself who had worried about this same thing many times, I couldn’t even imagine how she found the strength to write back to me.  IMG_0048Growing up I never knew anything about stillbirth.  No one every talked about it.  In fact, I distinctly remember a day in my teens when I was talking to my Dad and he casually mentioned that he had had a brother. What?!?!  How did I not know this?  Apparently his brother Charlie had died as a baby.  I don’t know if he was stillborn or not (because no one ever talked about it) but I knew that he had been born and died and there was no record of it.  My Dad didn’t even know what happened to him.  When I mentioned this to my Mom, she told me that she had also had a brother (eerily also named Charlie) who had died as an infant.  Again….no idea how it was that I never knew this.  Somehow the idea that these two babies had been born and died and no one ever talked about it seemed unbelievable to young me.  I asked a thousand questions and got no answers.  Both of my parents told me that their Moms didn’t discuss it because you just didn’t back then…end of story.  IMG_0064Fast forward to my adult years….I now have several friends who have lived through similar losses and I have seen the difference in their experience.  They have openly discussed it, joined support groups, comforted each other and, most of all, celebrated the children that they have lost.  What a difference from my Grandparent’s generation! IMG_0240 Sometimes they would post articles about how this topic is still so taboo in our society and I would read them to learn more.  According to the March of Dimes, stillbirth is the death of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy or during birth and around 23,600 baby are born still in our country every year.  Sometimes the reasons are obvious and sometimes they are considered unexplained.  These parents are left with the difficult task of telling everyone that their happy day has turned suddenly sad, and forevermore figuring out how to answer the common question “How many children do you have?” without feeling a sense of panic.IMG_0140So…what have I learned…unlike other deaths where there are shared memories, stillbirth is different. When a child is stillborn, those shared memories don’t exist, so they are robbed of the opportunity to talk about and remember their child with others.  Death is hard to discuss – particularly the death of a baby before it is even born.  I feel strongly we need to challenge ourselves and be more comfortable talking about stillbirth.  As one mother said…”I found people not mentioning her the hardest thing of all.”IMG_0116Sharon bravely shares her story on her personal blog, where she explores her feelings as she has been moving through the grieving process.  You can read her story here… Ivy IMG_0131 After I expressed my condolences and we talked a bit about how she was doing, our lives went on.  Me, dealing with my own busy family and her learning to cope with her new normal.  But my mind kept going back to her…wondering how she was doing, thinking about baby Ivy.  I wanted so badly to be able to offer comfort, support, anything to this woman that I had never met but felt such a connection to.  And finally, it hit me, I could offer something.  I sent Sharon a note checking in and letting her know that I would love to offer a special photo session for her sweet family.  Something to make them smile, to capture them together, to offer hope.  And she responded with a big YES!  IMG_0241Not only was she excited to do the photos but she also wanted to include Ivy.  I was thrilled.  The hospital had taken photos of the baby while they were able to spend time together and she had hoped to include one in our session.  IMG_0237When the day of our session arrived, I was excited to finally meet in person.  Happy to meet her husband and her cute, feisty children.  To see the love that they had for baby Ivy and each other.  I have to admit to tearing up a bit when posing them with Ivy’s photo.  IMG_0247I hope that my photos will bring Sharon and her family joy.  I hope that writing this article and sharing her story will help others in similar situations and will dispel the taboo that surrounds this topic to this day.IMG_0125I know that I will never forget baby Ivy.

Beautiful girl.

XO

Grayson is 2!

It is always an honor to be entrusted with taking special photos for someone that you have known for a long time.  We met Ashley when she was only 4 years old and we first moved into our current home.  Her Grandmother lives next door to us.  She was an important part of my children’s growing up and we have fond memories of many summers spent together.  She was a huge help to me with my children and now it’s hard to believe that she has two children of her very own.IMG_4690Meet Grayson.  Isn’t he so cute!!IMG_4707Grayson just turned 2.  We spent a little time capturing some sweet photos of him to commemorate this special birthday.IMG_4695IMG_4750As with most 2 year olds, he was not thrilled about our ideas.  There was no posing going on so we had to capture our photos on the run…IMG_4820He was interested in playing with the balloons and then with the cars.IMG_4916IMG_4920That gave us some time to snap away.

IMG_4893And, of course, he loved my puppies!IMG_5053When our studio time was over, we went outside to play and that’s when the real smiles came out.  Even though the background wasn’t so wonderful, I kept snapping to capture some of those happy times.IMG_5086IMG_5092That face!!  I could not get enough…IMG_5094IMG_5140IMG_5193IMG_5199This boy loves his Mama.  And, we do too!  Thank you for letting me be a part of this special photo session.

Happy 2nd Birthday Grayson!

XO

Carli

When I got the call that this Mom hoped to include a live bunny in her daughter’s Easter/6 month photo session…I panicked a little.  Where would I get a nice, friendly bunny to spend a couple of hours in the studio?IMG_2946  I asked on my Mom’s group and got such a negative response that I was forced to take my post down. Seriously?!?  I have rescued and released 12 abandoned baby squirrels, adopted pets from rescues, and generally am the most animal friendly person ever.  I wasn’t going to buy a bunny and then abandon it at the end of my session!  I just wanted to borrow a friendly family bunny for a couple of hours.IMG_2961Just as I had given up on finding a bunny to borrow, my daughter overheard us discussing the situation and told me that her friend happened to have a pet bunny.  What?!?!  I have no idea why I didn’t just ask her to begin with .  So I called his Mom and she said “Yes” and our bunny session was on!IMG_2985Sassy was the happiest, softest, and sweetest bunny ever!!  Seriously…I could not have asked for a better bunny to pose with this little cutie.IMG_3415IMG_3414IMG_3440We had so much fun watching her reaction to the bunny.  She made the best faces!IMG_3009Once the bunny photos were over…we moved on to the other Easter setups in my new studio.  I am pleased to say that it went really well and it was exciting to know that I could photograph an older baby in studio.IMG_2793IMG_3002IMG_2905We also did a few shots with different looks and with the bunny ears.IMG_3217IMG_3101IMG_3084IMG_3088And, finally, we took some more traditional 6 month photos without all of the Easter trappings.IMG_3049I just love her with the hot pink!IMG_3676IMG_3595I had so much fun with Miss Carli. She is a doll with smile that lights up a room.  I love that I photographed her Bump session, newborn photos and now 6 months!

I look forward to our next session today….cake smash!!

XO

Meet Abby…

Back in January I sponsored a little give-a-away in a Facebook group that I am a member of.  It was my way of saying ‘Thank You’ to this group of women who supported and encouraged my business over the past year.  This Mom was one of the winners of a complimentary newborn photo session.

Meet Abigail…IMG_2008 copy 2She is a sweet, yummy, little gal that gave me lots of opportunity for baby snuggles!IMG_2014IMG_2012IMG_2123IMG_2126IMG_2129I love the simplicity of neutral colors but I am also a fan of pops of color…IMG_2039IMG_2054IMG_2082IMG_2105And she is the first baby to take a photo in my new ‘nest’ prop.  IMG_2068IMG_2077And, of course, I love black and white newborn photos…IMG_2002IMG_2029Abby brought along her cute brother who was a natural model…IMG_2192IMG_2209IMG_2255IMG_2217And her parents of course…IMG_2279IMG_2295IMG_2167IMG_2324IMG_2312And, because I am making up samples of some of my new photo line that includes wording added to the photo….great for birth announcements, photo books and framing, I did a little bit of practicing on some of their photos.  Bonus!!IMG_2118 2Look for a blog post devoted to this new line….coming soon!

Booking for Spring now…

XO

A Family Session….

Time to catch up on my blog.  Good intensions.  It’s been such an uncharacteristically busy Spring….in a good way of course.  I am going to play a little bit of catch up and post some of my sessions from a few weeks ago.IMG_9551This little family is about to grow!  While they are excited to welcome their newest member, they also wanted to celebrate while they are still a family of three.  We snuck in a quick family session on one of our wonderfully warm days in the park.IMG_9583This sweet guy is a typical toddler….busy…busy…busy!IMG_9612  We decided that trying to keep him down was not in the cards so we did more of a lifestyle session embracing who he is at this moment.IMG_9750IMG_9628IMG_9747IMG_9811IMG_9843I love when people include their beloved pets in their photo sessions.  I always try to capture a few pet photos while we are shooting.IMG_9699And, since Mom never had a maternity session….I sent the boys away to play while I snapped up a few photos of this beautiful Mama.IMG_9725IMG_9710IMG_9733And back to the family for a few more shots before our toddler was done for the day!IMG_9686IMG_9843IMG_9857IMG_9853Now I’m anxiously awaiting their new arrival for our newborn session…coming soon!

XO

the Beutel family

With Thanksgiving break coming up…we are heading out of town, thus no photo editing will be going on.  This week I have been working night and day to finish up a few more sessions prior to our trip.  One of those sessions was for this family…img_4355We share a special bond with them as families because our sons both have the same rare neuro-immunological condition, Transverse Myelitis (TM). (you can find more info on that here…TMA)  We met years ago when our boys played wheelchair basketball on the same team and have kept in touch, sharing information along the way.  We also enjoy spending time together each year at TMA Family Camp at this amazing place (CCK).  I was thrilled when they reached out to me to capture fall family photos for them!img_4333As anyone who has a dealt with a chronic illness knows….it’s not easy.  It puts a strain on the family that is difficult to explain to someone who has never faced it. This is especially true when the sick person is your child.  They say that facing things like that will either tear you apart or draw you closer together…and if you spend any time with this family you will see that their bond is super strong, loving, and as close as any family could be!img_4138I had so much fun photographing these guys.  They are super silly siblings!  Equal parts of loving and wanting to poke each other every second.  Perfect!!img_4425img_4431img_4443Our day was beautiful…the fall colors were in full swing…and we took our time moving around to get the best shots.  img_4183img_4511img_4823Sometimes it takes a while for kids to loosen up and just be themselves.  I always book extra time with kids to give them time to relax into the session.  I find that when you do that you get photos like this…img_4720And this…img_4699And especially this…img_4806img_4811I hope you guys had as much fun as I did that day!  And…thank you for choosing me to capture these sweet memories for your family!

XO

Family Fun!

I love taking photos!  I love retouching photos!  (seriously…I have a hard time tearing myself away once I start a session)  But…I especially love it when I get to take and retouch photos of people that I care about.  When your family trusts you to capture their very precious memories…well…that makes my job even better.img_9004Last month I met up with my nephew and his family to take some fall photos.  Unfortunately, it started to rain that day and the weather was just not pleasant.img_9096img_8954We snapped a few shots before the girls just were too cold and miserable to continue.  I promised him that we would revisit this as soon as the weather cleared up. A few weeks ago we met up to give it another shot.img_3094Luckily…our second day was beautiful!  The fall colors had finally blossomed and the weather was wonderful.  We captured so many gorgeous photos of the girls that it was hard to choose which ones were the absolute best!img_2509img_2545And the eyes on this girl…O.M.G.  No retouching necessary!img_2866img_2825img_2810Now that the photos have been delivered I wanted to share a few snaps from our session.  Working with people you love makes my job even more wonderful than it already is.img_3049These are some of my favorites….I love these silly girls!!img_2793img_2788img_2785img_2782Winter photo sessions coming soon…get some cute boots and a scarf and meet me in the woods when the first snowfall happens.  Let’s capture the magic together…

XO

Best photos of all…

I always show up to a photo session with a great plan.  I can see the photos that I would like to take in my head. I have a shot list that is filled with more great ideas to try.  They are beautiful and perfect like this family shot…

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But then real life intervenes…and there are kids involved…and suddenly my photo session turns into this…

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and this…

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and even this…

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It took me a while but now I realize that these are some of the best photos of all!  The unexpected ones…

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The silly ones…

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The happy ones…

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The moments that aren’t planned…with the funny faces…

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The photos that aren’t posed…but let the person’s personality show through…

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So I will keep posing and planning but I will also always be on the lookout for these genuine moments with my families.  The ones that will always make you smile…

Happy Fall Everyone!!

XO

Where are YOU?

Can we talk??  For a while now I have noticed a trend among other women…they don’t want to be in photos.  Yes, I’m talking to YOU, the Mom who ducks every time you see a camera.  You know what I’m talking about. You post hundreds of photos of your kids together, your kids with your husband, your kids with the dog, etc etc.  What’s missing….YOU!100_3236I read an interesting article when my kids were much younger about how so many Moms think that they look too fat, too ugly, too gross to ever be in front of the camera.  They skip out on every photo opportunity.  The article went on to say that, if one of these wonderful moms died tomorrow, there would be no actual evidence that she existed in the lives of her children.  (I wish I could find the original article as I would love to put a link but, so far, I have had no luck)100_3332The gist of the article was that our kids see us every day…for better or for worse…and they don’t care what we look like. They only care that we were there. And how will they know we were there if they can’t look back and see us? There was an example of an adult daughter who had lost her mother and was trying to put together a nice photo collage for the service but literally could not find enough photos of her mother to fill up a corner of the board.  She was sad to know that she would not be able to share her mother’s life in photos with her own future children.  (which made me realize how very few photos there are of my own mom with us)IMG_4436I saw so much of myself in that article! I alway felt like I was too fat, didn’t have makeup on, wasn’t wearing a cute outfit etc, etc. I looked back over our family photos and realized that I, too, was missing. And I made a decision right then and there to not care what I looked like and to be present in the photographic lives of my family.IMG_7179It wasn’t easy at first. I was so used to being behind the camera or to ducking out of the shots, that I had to really think about getting in there. I had to hand the camera over to my husband or someone else and ask to be included at first, because no one even though to ask if I wanted to be in the photo. Gradually my family started to suggest that I get in the shot, that I be included. And you know what…the more I did it, the more fun it became!  IMG_6258I can’t tell you how many times recently that I have discussed a photo session for the holidays and was told “kids only”. But why? Let’s get the whole family in there. Start a new tradition! Be present in the photographic history of your family. Trust me…it will change your life!IMG_2447I am encouraging all of my upcoming family session clients to include the whole family.  Bring the dog even. Start a new tradition!!

Trust me…your family will be happy that you did.

XO

 

Baptism

Over the weekend I was fortunate to be the photographer for this handsome boy’s baptism. It was a beautiful day spent with a loving family and I was so happy that I got to be a part of it!  Here are some photos of this on location photo session…

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Thank you for letting me share in your day!

XO