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Hey y’all, happy New Year, and welcome to the January 5 on 5 post. In case anyone new is reading, 5 on 5 is a blog circle made up of like-minded photographers, and on the 5th of each month we aim to tell a story using 5 images.

So, I’m thankful that it’s January, and that things here will settle a bit. In the crazy of the last month, I’m guilty of not really getting my camera out much, mostly because I just didn’t want to. And as it seems to go, the 5th of the month sneaks up on me every.single.time, and today I found myself scrolling through my Lightroom catalog trying to find a story to tell. And what I found is these images from the last few weeks that are all imperfect in some way. Maybe I missed focus, or the light was bad, or the composition is wrong, or whatever. Yet, being imperfect doesn’t make me love them any less. So this month, you get a glimpse into my fabulous, messy, and often weird life. Also, I have terrible cold, and I’ve spent the day drinking bone broth and tea like it’s my job, and my brain is just not coming up with the wise things to say. I will leave you with this- don’t let anyone define *your* perfect, be vulnerable as you do the things, and use the cracks to build your story- because each piece matters. img_6978

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Now, please take a minute and go give Utah documentary photographer, Stephanie, some love, and click through and read the stories from all of the talented circle participants.

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Hey friends, October and November were so chaotic that I feel like I pretty much blinked and woke up in December. In case anyone noticed…you know, all five of you that read this blog…there was no November 5 on 5- oops. I’m not sure what happened, but I distinctly remember feeling like i.can’t.even.with.one.more.thing, and so I didn’t.

I have been regularly practicing yoga for a year now (disclaimer: I am not a yoga teacher, and I don’t know much about yoga except that I enjoy it…but if you’re local, I know where you can find a really fabulous yoga teacher). Anyhow, I’ve worked with various intentions over this year, and really, none of them have been that meaningful for me until I set the one I’m currently working with, ‘do you’. It is a happenstance sort of intention in that I gave it exactly zero thought, like it chose me, instead of the other way around. I didn’t expect much from it, because I felt like being authentic and ‘me’ was something that I was already doing well, and it is, except that something cool happens when you intentionally, repeatedly, and with full awareness bring certain words to mind.

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I’m sharing this now because I feel like it’s relevant to the holiday season most of us find ourselves in from November to January every year. It’s a season of goodness, and family, and gratefulness, and celebration…except when it isn’t. Maybe you have lost something or someone this year, and now you’re sorting through the newness of different. Maybe it’s less complicated than that, and it’s more about how the overwhelm of doing all.the.things has taken the joy away from this season. That’s sort of where I was at. November hit, and I could see the list of things I had to do and all of the places I would have to be, and before it all began I was wishing for January. But I didn’t really want it to be January, I just wanted some peace. And that’s where ‘do you’ comes in.

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For me there is a whole lot of freedom in ‘do you’. Freedom from perfection, and freedom to say no, freedom to do it different, and freedom to simply not care. And that not caring, it doesn’t come from a place of apathy, but from a place of contentment. A place of being so okay with who I am that I am freed of the need to care about those things that don’t truly matter.

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Let’s talk about perfection. The Christmas season is a fine time to get trapped on that roller coaster. We want to create these Dickens’ Village-esque traditions that our kids will cherish forever, and we want to select the most perfect present for someone, and we want all the magic and tinsel and twinkly lights. And none of these things are bad, except that sometimes if we take a break from that Pinterest fruit cake that no one is going to eat, and look at our hearts, we find that what started out as joy has now become obligation. With all of the various social media outlets that we plug ourselves into, it becomes even easier to think that we have to do and be more (I’m looking at you, Elf on a Shelf). So ask yourself why you are doing the things you do. Do you want to? Does it bring you joy? Or do you feel like you have to? Or because ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’? It’s okay if you need to take a step back and create some space in your heart and mind to ‘do you’.

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No one can deny that there is a satisfaction in perfection- but it’s a short-lived high, because as soon as we achieve it we seek it out again. And that can get really exhausting. There is an opportunity to be filled with openness and strength when you can truly rest in your imperfections. My space of ‘do you’ is imperfect, and I really love it. It’s a place where I don’t have to make apologies for not measuring up to someone else’s standard. It’s a place that sometimes gets ugly and messy (like my laundry room). It’s a place of authenticity and humility. It’s a place of connection where like-minded people can spend time together without assuming. And on the days I forget this, I am thankful for my imperfect friends that help bring me back to the place of ‘do you’.

So merry Christmas! Celebrate how you will, and while I hope that I write a January 5 on 5, I make no promises. Before you go, please take a minute to check out the other December 5 on 5 awesomeness. Go give some love to Jennifer Krafchik, Chestertown, Maryland family documentary photographer.

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As parents, and especially as moms, our hearts want to remember every stage that our children pass through. Many of us choose to record those stages through photographs, and schedule milestone sessions throughout the first year of life and early childhood. Often these sessions are of a more traditional portrait style. Tiny newborn toes, and toothy baby smiles, and silly expressions from the preschool crowd. But do you ever find yourself wanting more? This is the first post in a series that talks about documentary milestone sessions and why they are a great addition to traditional portrait sessions; today’s focus is newborns.

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So, you’ve just had a baby, which is an event unlike any other. It’s fair to guess that you are tired. Your mind might be reeling from the enormous amount of newness and adjustment that has happened in a short amount of time. The thought of gathering and packing all.the.things required to take a new baby out of the house can be overwhelming. Maybe your baby hates car rides (my first one did), and the idea of travelling to a photo session with a screaming newborn is daunting. All of these things can be put to rest with a session that takes place in your own home. Well, except for the tired part…I can’t fix tired, but your house probably has lots of coffee.

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Your home contains pieces of you and your story that can’t be replicated. Maybe there are items from your childhood that you have passed down to be enjoyed now with your own baby. Maybe someone made you a crib, or a quilt. Maybe it’s wanting to remember the nursery that you’ve carefully and lovingly put together. Our homes are crafted and filled with elements from the past, present, and future, and it just makes sense to document your happenings there. There is an authenticity that shines through when you are photographed in an environment that has meaning to you.

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If you are someone that appreciates the reality of life for all of its glory and trial, a newborn documentary session is for you. Even if it’s the most natural transition in the world, seasoned parents can agree that bringing home a baby changes things. Roles and relationships change and evolve. Our hearts get tugged in a million different directions. We watch sibling bonds develop, and in the early days those range from delicate to fierce and back again. This is life, and if you want to remember it for what it was, the amazing and the difficult, joy and the monotony, the tears and the smiles, then I encourage you to find a photographer and book a documentary session. There will still be baby toes and adorableness, but they will be mingled in with everything else that defines this time and creates your story.

 

Do any of these reasons resonate with you? If you’ve had a documentary style newborn session, what did that experience mean to you? Have questions? I’d love to talk with you.

 

 

 

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October? How is it October? I feel like I blinked and September disappeared. I wasn’t going to participate in the 5 on 5 this month because I’ve been “too busy.” But I joined this blog circle as a way to hold myself accountable, so slacking after two months just didn’t sit with me well as an option. When I get bored, overwhelmed, busy, or lose my focus, it can be easy for me to stop doing something (uh, ahem, like that 365 photo project I started this year…I think I made it maybe 40 days), but I am determined to finish this 5 on 5 project year out. September brought a lot of clients, and that left not a lot of time for personal projects. We also leave for a vacation in Hawaii in four days, and the packing frenzy is in full force, and that equates to me being a little on the crazy side. I’m finding myself needing a little reprieve from life lately, and while spending 10 hours on a plane with my 5 and 7 year old, and navigating a 5 hour time change may not exactly be the reprieve I’d envisioned, I’m really looking forward to our trip. I’m craving some time with my people to just be. And so, this post will be short, sweet, and lacking in my typical substance.

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Several months ago I bought a LensBaby , and I’m absolutely in love with it. Using this lens has been such a fun way to challenge my manual focusing skills, and to evolve the way I think about perspective and composition. There has definitely been a learning curve, but this lens is perfect for my documentary-minded heart, and is second only to my Sigma 35mm in my lens arsenal. img_1989

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I love that I can use this lens to have my subject stand out as the center of attention. It’s a great lens to use when there is a lot of background distraction, because of the control you have in being able to really isolate your focus. The lens is pretty versatile in terms of being able to handle a wide variety of lighting situations, and it produces an array of different looks depending on how you choose to use the light. The images I get with this lens have a rawness and emotion to them, and I feel like I can easily use a single image to tell a story. I’ve been using it mostly to shoot my own kids, but now that I’m more comfortable with it, I’m excited to start incorporating it into client sessions. Has anyone else bought any fun new gear recently? Tell me about it!

Next up in the October 5 on 5, go check out the great Melissa Kayser, St. Charles, MO documentary family photographer, and be sure to click through and read all the posts in this month’s circle.

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We all find ourselves in seasons of waiting. Being active is a huge part of my life. I swim, I run, I mountain bike, I yoga, I triathlon. Right now, I’m injured. A running injury has taken me out of the game for an ‘I don’t know how long’ period of time. And so I find myself in this space of waiting. Waiting for it not to hurt every time I walk…which, while not intolerable, is a constant reminder of the ‘thing’ I can’t currently do. Waiting to know if my body will allow me to accomplish a goal I’ve set for myself. Waiting to run again. Frankly, waiting is starting to mess with my head and drag me down a bit. It’s making me weary. I’m not someone that usually lets things get to me, but this is. I can often see the bigger picture, but right now I can’t. It’s 5:00 in the morning, I’m on my third cup of coffee, and I realized that I’m at this sort of crossroads- let the current of ‘wait’ take me under, or step up my game in the mental grit department.

To some this probably seems silly, to be upset because I can’t run. My wait isn’t any less or more than yours. I know people desperately trying to have a baby, people recovering from life-altering surgeries, people trying to find their way after the death of a parent or spouse, people dealing with job loss. I know parents hoping that today is the day their kid doesn’t get bullied at school, exhausted moms longing for just one night of uninterrupted sleep, new business owners wondering if they are crazy for pursuing a dream, and the list goes on. Don’t compare your ‘wait’, someone else’s will always seem greater. The ‘wait’ is not comparable. It is mine, and yours, to honor and figure out how to get through. I don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you what I’m going to do. I’ve acknowledged that the ‘wait’ simply sucks, so now what?

The first thing is to lean a little more on God. Now maybe God isn’t your thing, that’s okay, but He is mine. My friend Amy wrote a blog post that contained a scripture reference that seems very relevant to me right now. Psalms 3:3 says “But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” I need a “lifter of my head” because I’ve allowed myself to become discouraged. I need the mental peace that, for me, comes when I finally stop trying to do it myself, and instead drift a little closer to Him. I think that surviving the ‘wait’ requires some type of community. I don’t know what your community is, and maybe it is more than one thing or person. I do know that when you are tired of going it alone, you need to seek out your tribe. For me, this is not an easy thing to do. Vulnerability is not something that suits me, but we all reach a point where it becomes necessary.

Life is a series of events that don’t have to be classified as good or bad. When I re-frame my thinking and see my circumstances as simply ‘life’, things become easier to deal with. I have to get really comfortable with the unknown. To stop seeking the “why” and “when”, and rest instead in the now. I have to get to the place of acceptance where I understand that the end result of the ‘wait’ may not be what I want- I’m not there yet.

While I wait, I will try hard to focus more on the things that I can do, and less on the things that I can’t. The can’t gets really overwhelming if I let it take root in my life. Right now I can swim, and I can swim well, so I guess I do more of that. Choosing to spend your energy doing what you can also has the potential to give you new experiences. Yesterday I went to the pool to swim some laps and do some water jogging. I didn’t pay attention to the pool schedule, and ended up there right as they closed lap swimming for a water aerobics class. The instructor was standing there as I was talking to the lifeguard, and she said “well, why can’t you join us for class?” I had no reason, or at least not a good one, so I did. In a group of 30 people, I may have been the only one under 60, but my arms are still sore this morning. So, I guess be open to new things while you wait, and do more of what you can.

Also, someone please remind of these things, because in my humanness, I will not remember them on the days when the “wait’ is too much.

 

 

 

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