A Whole Different Kind of Remembering

A Whole Different Kind of Remembering

Last year, I spent a 1/2 day documenting a typical evening routine for Melissa Norton and her adorable family. Since then a lot has changed: Melissa and her family added a new family member and they moved into a new house. Recently, I asked past clients if they would be willing to write a blog post about their experiences for my site and Melissa was the first one to volunteer. Below is the post she wrote about her experience. Thank you, Melissa, for your kind words and I look forward to working with your family again in the future <3 

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Documentary Photography sounds like something National Geographic does to capture moments that reflect a topic they are covering. Never had I thought of Documentary Photography as pertaining to capturing MY moments, in MY everyday family life. Moments that happen every day, the ones we forget to remember how special they are, how special each moment is. Gabriella and her style of photography captured those moments for my family.

Having Gabriella come into our home, almost as a fly on the wall, was something we had never done before. Sure, we’ve had a photographer come to our house for newborn pictures and met another at a park for family pictures, but this was so much different; it had a deeper meaning. We love our newborn and family photos, but it is so unique to have candid shots of what seem like mindless, everyday tasks. The things we do every day without taking a step back to see how special those moments are and how one day we will think back to bath time, brushing teeth, and story time. Having Gabriella capture these kinds of moments means I don’t have to just think back—I can look back.

We were curious about having a photographer at our house for a few hours taking pictures as we did “us”. Was it going to be awkward? Would she be judging us? Is it okay to let Josie play on the tablet? (haha!) As usual, I was overthinking things! Gabriella was so wonderful to work with. She is so easy going, friendly, and laid back. She was able to still-frame moments of our life that we would never think to take a picture of. One of my favorite pictures is of me reading to my then 18-month-old as I was about 16 weeks pregnant. Since babe #2 was born, daddy has taken over bedtime with my oldest as I put the baby to bed. Looking back on this picture, I am able to go right back to those moments, when it was just me and Josie reading together. Just she and I. I can smell her “just washed” hair, feel her rest her little head against me, hear her little voice asking to sing a song after we finish a book— it seems like so long ago! Something that makes each picture captured special to us is that they are taken in our first home together. We have since moved, but we now have images of our everyday life in the little house we first became a family in.

For anyone considering doing this kind of session or anyone who thinks it’s a bit weird, JUST GO FOR IT! You will not be disappointed. You may think you will always remember the little things, each moment, but to be able to see that moment—your baby’s smirk, that messy playroom, your husband’s bushy beard. It’s a whole different kind of remembering.  –Melissa

My Very Own Day in the Life Session: A Day in the Life of the Hunts

My Very Own Day in the Life Session: A Day in the Life of the Hunts

I have been talking a lot lately about how I truly believe having a documentary session of your family is something everyone should have done, yet I had never had one done myself. Part of the reason was because there are very few documentary photographers in our area and the other half was probably the  same reason I am sure you have been hesitating as well: I kept waiting for the “right time’. Well I’m here to tell you a secret: there isn’t one. I was always too busy, I needed to lose at least 20lbs (I’m still hanging on to the lovely 40ish pounds I gained when I was pregnant with my son), or didn’t have time to make the house “presentable” (is there really such thing as presentable with two kids under four?). Basically, it was every excuse I tell all of you lovely parents to try to look past.

Before long, I was realizing time was flying by and soon, this stage of my life would be gone before I know it. My son is already almost two, my daughter is almost four, and our lives already look drastically different than what is was a year ago.  I’m going to keep it real with you all, I suffer from some insane body confidence issues and that was probably the biggest reason I kept putting it off, but a year later I was still 40lbs heavier and according to pictures of my kids’ lives, I barely existed. That is when I decided to push past my insecurities and practice what I preach: I embraced my imperfections and contacted my very talented friend, Shawna, of Shawna & Co to book a ½ Day in the Life (DITL) session for my family. After having the session and seeing the results, my only regret is that I didn’t book her sooner.

Want to know how hard I embraced imperfections? Well, we are starting to get our house ready to list and the day Shawna came, we had a huge 20-foot dumpster in our driveway. I embraced the heck out of that big maroon dumpster—this is real life after all.

Shawna came and documented our typical Saturday AM craziness. We made pancakes (my daughter dumped an entire container of blue sprinkles on her pancakes when I wasn’t looking and my son promptly finished where she left off), went to gymnastics (yep, she came to class with us), and went to lunch at the diner across the way.

I always love doing these sessions for families, but seeing our crazy life through Shawna’s eyes was nothing short of incredible. The pictures she took captured the essence of our family and the personalities and quirks I never want to forget and hope my kids never grow out of. She captured our everyday in the home I brought both my babies home to, the home we have outgrown and will be saying goodbye to soon—it’s a gift I will always be grateful for.

Because of these images, my kids will get to see what a typical morning looked like for our family at this point in their childhood. When my daughter thinks back to gymnastics class, she’ll be able to go back and look at the pictures of her time there, my son will be able to see how it took two adults to corral him in his gymnastics class and how much fun we had. I’ll remember how much my daughter loved the “cat” hat she is wearing in some of those pictures and how (outside of gymnastics class) once it was on, it rarely came off.

For half the day, our family embraced our vulnerable side by letting a stranger into our home to document our day—no staging, dressing up, forced smiles—just our everyday, crazy life in all it’s glory.

You can view a slideshow of our session below. To see more of Shawna’s work, you can visit her site here.

Now there are no excuses, if I can do it so can you <3 I promise you won’t regret it. Contact me for more information or to schedule your session.

Motherhood and the Moments that Matter

Motherhood and the Moments that Matter

With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, my Facebook feed has been inundated with promotions for mommy-and-me mini portrait sessions. The images are nothing short of stunning, with beautiful made-up moms and children who are seen snuggling, playing, and hugging for the camera. I love how they encourage moms to get in the frame with their children. It is something I believe every mom should make a point to do. We come up with so many reasons not to get into the frame that we forget the reason(s) WHY we should: our child(ren).

Then the question comes to mind: What do they/will they want to remember? Will they want the perfectly-pressed outfits and perfectly made-up mom pictures? Maybe. However, let’s stop to think about the fondest memories we have of our moms—do they look like those pictures? Again, they might, but they might not.

This photo of me and my daughter was taken by Shawna Stanley with Shawna & Co.

My fondest memories were always baking with my mom and it’s something I still love to do to this day. I bake with my daughter a lot now and am so glad to have started this tradition with her. While I don’t have images of me baking with my mom (and really wish I did), I have made it a point to make those images of my daughter’s and my baking tradition, not just for me, but for her. Those memories of me and my mom are still a big part of my adulthood—it created one of my most favorite hobbies (outside of photography) and I now get to share it with my children.

The other day while culling a family storytelling session, the photo below stopped me in my tracks. It seems like such a small moment—mom hugging her baby as tight as she possibly could before placing her in her crib for the night. This is when I had a revelation—it’s little moments like this, moments like my mom and I baking, bedtime lullabies, family game night, making “baby burritos” out of a towel when they get out of the bathtub, or living room dance parties—those are the moments our kids will want to bottle up and remember always.

Motherhood is not easy and like me, I am sure you often feel like you are just treading water some days. We struggle to be perfect, when as people we are anything but. I’m here to tell you that in all its chaos and messiness, there is so much perfect beauty is those small, imperfect moments. We can dress up and have portraits taken with our children and while they will love having a photo of themselves with their mom, it’s far more important we provide them with photos that have meaning.

We celebrate big moments (birthdays, Christmas, the first day of school, etc.) with photos and we take portraits to document the passage of time, but we often take the small, everyday moments for granted. It’s time we start photographing them and documenting our real, authentic relationships with our children because in the end, those are the moments we will miss the most and we often don’t realize it until they are gone.

That moment in the photo above—mom hugging her sweet babe before putting her in the crib—is something that happens every night. It’s such a simple, yet profound act of love and now this sweet girl in the picture will get to see it, even when she is a mom herself. That, my friend, is a mommy-and-me picture worth taking.

Let me help you celebrate the motherhood moments that matter with a storytelling session

 For $200.00, you’ll receive a 2-hour storytelling session to gift to your loved one (Hint, hint dad!) which can be claimed anytime between now and July 2018. In addition, you will also receive 5 digital downloads from our session time (artist’s choice). Afterwards, you’ll get the opportunity to purchase what you love from an a la carte menu of prints, products, and collections—a stunning way to celebrate the precious bond we have with our children.

*Fine Print: This story session voucher can be used to book a family session, an in-home newborn session, or a fresh 48 story. As well, the value can be applied toward a longer 4-hour Day in the Life storytelling session. The session can either be in your home or at a favorite location of your choice (or a combination of both).

All sessions are unposed and documentary in nature—they’re intended to capture real life. Check out my family gallery or blog if you aren’t currently familiar with my work. Sessions are for immediate family only, must be booked by May 1, 2018, and take place by the end of July 2018 to take advantage of this promotion.

 

Real, Everyday Love

Real, Everyday Love

As Valentine’s Day draws closer, I have been thinking a lot about love and how my definition of love has changed over time. In my younger days (the dating and young love era) love was something celebrated with a night out on the town, flowers, and maybe a gift or two; love looked like something straight out of a Nicholas Sparks movie. However, as I have grown I realize love doesn’t always look like that—it’s not always TV ready and it’s certainly not always attractive.

Yesterday, while we were giving our kids a bath, my son (bless his adorable little heart), decided to poop in the tub. While I was trying to get the kids out of the tub, rinsed off, and ready for bed, my husband sprung into action to clean up the poop mess left in our tub. That, my friends, is what love looks like nowadays. It’s a lot different from the chocolate and flowers I was used to receiving.

Love is cleaning up poop in the bathtub when you know your S.O. might throw up at the sight of it.

Love is getting your nails painted by a three-year-old who has no intention of keeping the paint on your toenails. Side note: Love is being a dad with pink toenails, forgetting to remove it, and only realizing this fact after taking your socks off for a parent-and-me gymnastics class (my husband can really rock pink toenails).

Love is tag teaming all-nighters with a newborn and having coffee ready for when it’s time to tackle the next day.

Love is wearing the same clothes you wore yesterday, being covered in toddler snot and baby spit up, and still being told you are the most beautiful person in the world.

Love is settling for date nights at home when the kids are asleep and just enjoying each other’s company. It’s stolen glances throughout the day and kisses in between diaper changes.

Love is encouraging creativity, potty training, accidents, kissing boo-boos, and reading the same book or watching the same movie for the bagillionth time. It’s relinquishing a little bit of control and letting your child make mistakes (and maybe letting them cook dinner knowing the mess that will soon follow).

Real Love is sharing life with someone. It’s not always perfect and it doesn’t always

involve perfectly pressed outfits, golden light, and perfectly brushed hair. It’s messy, chaotic, and full of surprises—it’s perfectly imperfect and so much

better than chocolate and flowers.

 

This Valentine’s Day let me help you celebrate your everyday love with a family storytelling session

For $200.00, you’ll receive a 2-hour storytelling session to gift to your loved one, which can be claimed anytime between now and June 2018.

In addition, you will also receive 5 digital downloads from our session time (artist’s choice).

Afterwards, you’ll get the opportunity to  purchase what you love from an a la carte menu of prints, products, and collections—a stunning way to celebrate your family’s love story, every day.

 

*Fine Print: This story session voucher can be used to book a family session, an in-home newborn session, or a fresh 48 story. As well, the value can be applied toward a longer 4-hour Day in the Life storytelling session. The session can either be in your home or at a favorite location of your choice (or a combination of both).
All sessions are unposed and documentary in nature—they’re intended to capture real life. Check out my family gallery or blog if you aren’t currently familiar with my work.
Sessions are for immediate family only, must be booked by February 28, 2018, and take place by the end of June 2018 to take advantage of this promotion.
Embrace Your Imperfections

Embrace Your Imperfections

I am no stranger to self-confidence issues and self-defeating comments—and I know it’s a struggle far too many of us deal with on a regular basis. I know I am not the only one who is guilty of chasing the illusion that is “perfection”. For a long time I thought perfect families (and by extension “perfect parenting”) looked like a perfectly kept house, tangle-free hair, and an always clean shirt. I know it’s unreasonable to think all these things, but I couldn’t help think there was something wrong with me. Why didn’t my house look like the ones on Pinterest? Why weren’t my kids the perfect angels that put their toys away without a meltdown? Why did every other mom seem to have time to put makeup on, shower and get dressed, when I was able to shower every couple days (if I was lucky)? Why did my toddler want to dress in mismatched and fading clothes (because she only wanted to wear the same three shirt/pant combinations daily), so she more closely resembled a homeless person rather than the GAP models other parent’s children looked like?
It didn’t help that the photos online showcased these inaccurate depictions of what daily life is like. Every picture I saw from one of my many Facebook friends included immaculately clean houses, perfectly coordinated outfits with a perfectly coordinated background, and their kids were eating only the healthiest of foods—no mac and cheese or hot dogs for them (which by the way, seems to be the only thing my toddler will eat nowadays).  There were no meltdowns, no dirty faces—only picture-perfect families with well-behaved, angelic children.
Don’t get me wrong, I have my fair share of “traditional” portraits adorning my walls; sometimes it’s nice to have “nice” pictures. However, these “nice” pictures don’t accurately represent my family (and all of our quirks). These pictures are just a “polished” version of what my family really is like. Throughout our lives, we’re taught to “smile for the camera” and that the only images worth showing the world are the ones which depict us as close to “perfect” as possible.
I feel there is something fundamentally wrong with this method of thinking and way of sharing ourselves with others. The more we see this idealized version of reality, the more we lose sight of the beauty right in front of us; the more we miss out on the joy in everyday life. We start to believe we NEED to obtain perfection to achieve happiness. In my eyes, my family is perfect (perfectly flawed, as we all are) and I wouldn’t change anything about us. Which then had me asking myself the question: “if I believe my family is perfect the way we are, why am I so afraid to share images that show us in our truest forms?”
Thinking we can only share images that show perfectly polished versions of ourselves is not doing us any favors. We are selling ourselves (and our families) short. By trying to attain the unattainable, we are missing all the beauty, humor, and awkwardness that is a part of REAL family life. We need to show ourselves a little kindness and start embracing life (and all its imperfections) if not for us, then for our children. For this reason alone, images of real, everyday life deserve the same attention and consideration you would give “traditional” photos. Our children need to know it’s okay to not always have it together and that among the curve-balls life can throw at us it is still full of love, humor, and genuine happiness.

This is why I started photographing families the way I do—no posing, no forced smiles—just authentic, family life and all its perfect imperfections. Our children already believe we are pretty darn incredible, yet we are still trying to be who society tells us we should be. We tell our children they are perfect just the way they are, but the only way we can really convince them of this is by our actions. The next time your child tells you you’re beautiful or that you are the best mom ever, don’t think about all the ways you fall short. Take the time to try and see what your children see—and just believe it.

The thing I have learned most from my time documenting families is this: your children idolize you and you are perfect in their eyes. They don’t care about how clean your kitchen is, if your hair is perfect, or if your shirt is wrinkled—they just want to spend time being loved by you. It’s time we stop pretending to be perfect, be a little vulnerable by showcasing our flaws, and see ourselves through the eyes of our children. We need to be kinder to ourselves and start showing (and believing) that despite all its imperfections, real life is perfect.

You Never Realize How Much You Forget

You Never Realize How Much You Forget

I love Timehop. I am a sucker for nostalgia and Timehop provides me with daily doses of it. If you don’t know what it is, it is an app that gathers all your photos/social media statuses, etc. for that exact day, years in the past. Most of my updates and messages are from about 2-3 years ago (when my kids were born and I started photographing them incessantly), but I have had Timehop days have gone as far back as 10 years. It’s something I look forward to each day—its gives me the opportunity to reminisce on the past, see exactly how much my kids have grown, and how my life has changed over the years.

Today’s Timehop has also taught me a valuable lesson: as the years go on, you have no clue just how much you forget. 

For the last couple of weeks, I have noticed my son has started to hold his hands behind his back whenever he watches TV. It is so adorable and endearing—he looks like a very serious, little man watching the news. Up until today, I thought this was something unique to him—one of his own little quirks I love. Today Timehop showed me this was not the case. Exactly two years ago today, I took a picture of his big sister watching TVwith her hands in the exact same position. Apparently, it’s a family trait.

I CANNOT believe I forgot that, but I am so grateful to have this picture (even though it’s a just a quick cell pic) to remind me of this. Knowing this, makes it even more important for me to make sure I get a photograph of my son doing the exact same thing.

Timehop reinforced my belief of how important it is to document the little things no matter how insignificant you may think they are—even though you think there is no possible way you could forget something, the fact is that as time goes on memories fade. Having a tangible memory in the form of a photo ensures you won’t forget even the smallest of details in yours, or your children’s, lives.