This blog hasn't received any new posts from me in quite some time --this year has been a difficult one for me, but I'll post more about that later.
What better reason to break my silence than I shot my first birth story! I've been wanting to get into birth photography for awhile now, but with shooting weddings and having my own babies I just never got the chance to get started. Finally, I offered it to one of my favorite couples and since we've done engagement photos, as well as wedding AND maternity!
(Don't worry, I'll be updating you on his cuteness via a newborn session in the next week or so too!)
Being present while someone gives birth is such an honor. What an amazing feat to witness -- especially now that I've done it twice myself! Honestly, I think that if I weren't into photography there are some high chances that I would train as a doula (someone who assists mothers during birth.) Maybe I still can someday, if this becomes a "thing" for me. Which I really hope it does. What amazing moments to capture. It's like capturing wedding emotions on steroids. They cried. I cried. We all cried.
The way Will would look at Erica, you could see how worried and concerned he was -- as well as how helpless he felt. Will's mother was pacing around, hiding in corners, making phone calls, looking like the epitome of anxiety. Finally, we called in Aunt Lisa. The moment she arrived, Erica released a bundle of emotions. She had been so strong and absolutely silent since I had first arrived, because her epidural was not working. Aunt Lisa's mere presence seemed to trigger all that she needed to feel safe enough to crumble. Like a child, she fell into her arms and cried. It was almost like when I watch my sons fall and scrape a knee. They stand up, holding it all inside. Looking around silently with no emotion. Then we lock eyes and BOOM. They instantly fall apart, knowing that their "person" is there to catch all of those feelings. They can finally be vulnerable.
She had forgotten to call me when she went into labor -- so it was perfect timing that I text her the link to her maternity photos! She replied that she was at the hospital, 3cm dilated, and had just gotten her epidural. (Insert PANIC here.) Luckily I had nothing planned that day other than editing, so I was able to scoot right up to the hospital with no problems thanks to an ultra-supportive husband who will man the ship at the drop of a hat!!!
(I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story, since a picture speaks a thousand words.)
Welcome to the world, Shea Jennings Hazard -- You're mama has been waiting to meet you since she was 12 years old
Date of arrival: 11/11/16 7:06pm 7lbs 13oz 20.5in
Truth be told, I have been lucky enough to watch these two fall in love and become parents to this adorable tiny human being -- Richard has been one of my husband's oldest friends, so I've had the privilege of seeing him grow up right before my eyes.
From his days as the "life of the party" to creating a life of his own, it has definitely been a transformation to behold.
His fiancee Tara was introduced to me during Halloween at the local bar and I did my best to make a good impression while wearing leather leggings, a corset, and giant false eyelashes. We were all pretty intoxicated so I'm not sure if I succeeded, but we had a great time and I remember thinking that she and Richard seemed to have quite the connection -- plus at that time my husband and I had been amongst the first of his friends to have children, so we had sort of fallen off the map only to reappear during special occasions worthy of a babysitter.
Kids can be all-consuming and it's difficult to keep your social life in tact when no one else in the group understands your new responsibilities. So it's safe to say we were rather ecstatic when we find out they were pregnant with Brayden! FINALLY! Friends with KIDS!!!
Daydreams of family BBQ's danced through our heads as we congratulated the couple on their news!
It was only fitting that we return to Beak & Skiff for their engagement session since this was where we did their maternity session while Tara was pregnant with Brayden -- little "Baby Beak's" newborn session was done in-home but we wanted to return to the orchard where he had his first ever professional photo taken (inside his mama's belly.) Yes, that's right. Brayden is "Baby Beak," the latest member of the Beak Family, sprouting off Richard's branch on the family tree. His family partly owns and operates Beak & Skiff 1911 in Lafayette, NY. The only distillery in the nation to make their spirits from apples. Yum!
It's sort of symbolic, I suppose.
When we chose this location for their maternity session, the ground was covered in ripe juicy apples.
Tara and Richard sat mesmerized by the fruit of her womb while amongst the trees that were all bearing delicious fruit just like the beautiful mama.
For this session, we returned to those same branches bearing blossoms symbolizing the beginning of a new season.
“And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:
Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.”
"The days are long and the years are short."
Any parent with small children knows exactly what this means.
The cartoons, craziness, and chaos make for a very long day. The seconds can feel like hours as bedtime or naptime lurks in the distance and you feel like you're stuck in a twilight zone of cleaning the same messes over and over and over and over and over again.
They call this "chronos."
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
You wait for your spouse to get home from work to help shoulder the beautiful burden that is the tiny human that you created. They are so loved, these little miracles. But let's be real. They're exhausting. Tick. Tock.
Then there are these magical moments -- although brief, they're pure magic.
Time just stops.
The sunlight illuminates the iris of your child's eye in just a way that you can see galaxies and starbursts inside it. Their eyelashes close in slow motion over the perfection that is the window to their soul and you hold your breath. You can't breathe as you connect the constellations of freckles that dapple their cheeks and you lean over and kiss them. Smell them. In those moments you exist only to wonder at your creation.
I learned awhile back that these magical moments that I live for can be referred to as "kairos."
The Greek's referred to this as "God's time."
There is no tick tock. Time is suspended. You are fully present.
It's during those still moments that you realize how much that little face has changed.
Where is time going?
When did you get so big?
You realize that time has been passing rather quickly outside of the blur that is parenthood. You become so absorbed with the day-to-day that you miss the transformation because your too close to see it. The years are short and they just keep coming.
What a funny concept.
The problem is, you think you have enough of it.
Working in the local NICU as a neonatal nurse; Lauren Ostrander sees it all. She sees babies fighting for their lives every single day and works hard to keep them breathing while assisting and educating those tiny patient's parents. In that same building, her coworkers treat the ill and work to save the lives of our mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers -- she leaves work every day knowing how lucky she is to get to go home to her thriving family but is also very aware that she is not and never will be promised tomorrow. Her husband Todd runs two businesses and is a self-proclaimed workaholic, something Lauren fears will eventually take its toll.
"I need to do a shoot," she told me.
"I want to remember my babies, while they're still babies... I want to capture everything. Chasing Todd, loving up on the kids, us together as a family. The tears, the smiles - whatever happens. We never get pics as a family and I certainly am never in them because I'm the mom and I take all the pictures."
We talked a bit more and decided to tell "the story of family pictures" -- I'd come to the house early and document them getting ready and then head to a nearby amusement park. Since there is a toddler involved, flexibility was key so the documentary session really worked best.
Because toddlers don't pose. Period.
As planned, I showed up at the house to document them getting ready.
Mickey Mouse echoed through the house as a small dance party ensued in the living room. The baby lay in her pack n play silently, watching her brother spin around and dance along with his favorite character. The cats lounged about and I took out my camera to begin.
“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.”
Awhile back, I was introduced to Mike + Ines through one of our very good friends -- since then I've been honored to photograph their engagement and their wedding and NOW I'm so excited to have had the privilege of documenting the newest addition to their little family, Baby Rosalie!
These two have been parents for awhile now (to their golden-doodle, Gio) and were ready to upgrade! They've got an adorable home which I had the pleasure of visiting for this session -- even though we never left Rosalie's nursery (Dad + Gio had to take some breaks because babies like it hot, hot, HOT and we had that space heater blaring at 80 degrees!) The little miss loved the warmth and was cozy as could be, letting me play around and get some GREAT shots!
We did a mix of some documentary + lifestyle shots as well as a posed segment -- and then at the END I asked mama if I could play around creatively and boy am I glad she said YES! We stripped her down for some skin to skin time with the beautiful babes and then I draped her in tulle (because everyone should carry tulle in their camera bags.) The results were breathtaking.
If I ever have another baby -- I'm totally hiring someone to take photos like this for me.
"Sitting silently beside a friend who is grieving may be the best gift we can give."
My father had been asking me to photograph his waterski club for quite some time.
(Mind you, I am no sports photographer.)
When the stars finally aligned for me to join them, there was something far more meaningful on the agenda. My father's good friend, Denis, was visiting from South Carolina and was planning on scattering some of his wife Maggie's ashes on the lake that night. She had recently passed away after a battle with cancer and he was on a journey. Traveling on his motorcycle, he was visiting all of their favorite places leaving her ashes behind as he went.
Sometimes you get asked to do these little things and they don't feel like your job.
It feels like a calling.
Everything inside of me knew that this man needed me to be there with my camera that evening.
So I went.
When we first arrived, it was just my father and one of his other friends. We shook hands and they seemed eager to hit the water. They suited up and started to take runs down the river and I grabbed what shots I could -- we met up with another boat that had Denis and two other friends on board. I switched boats and continued to shoot the guys waterskiing on the slalom course.
When everyone was finished skiing, Denis asked me if I knew what they were doing that night.
I said yes.
He smiled and nodded.
I expressed my sympathies and we talked a little bit about angels before he got out the velvet bag that was riding beside my feet. They posed with "Maggie" before he said some sweet goodbyes and scattered a few handfuls of her ashes on the river. They shared some stories and he played a beautiful song on his cell phone while the guys sat around sipping their beers, every once in awhile drying a tear or two that had fallen from their eyes. The sky was painted with fiery reds that only grew brighter as time went on. It was a beautiful evening. One that I will never forget.
Having only met Maggie through Denis's stories that evening; I looked her up on Facebook and then went on to read her obituary, which I've attached below. Based on that research alone, I could tell I would have liked her. I only wish we could have met, she seems like she was quite the groovy lady.
|KILLORAN, Margaret Anne (Maggie) — 1960 - 2015
Left us peacefully, albeit too soon, in the arms of her beloved husband Denis Le Sage. Maggie, just shy of 55, was the daughter of the late Leo J. Killoran and Lillian (Emery) and adored sister and sister-in-law of Pat (Lynne), John, Marian (Jon), Dan (Maria), Michael (Denese), Bernie (Lesley Anne), Peter (Donna), Brian (Diane), Joseph (Inga), Paul (Annie), Jim (Lee) and Terry (Jackie). She was a special and inspiring Aunt to her thirty nieces and nephews, their spouses and children. Maggie was a lover of knowledge and education and includes two Masters and a journey toward her PhD interrupted by her illness as her personal achievements. Music was her muse and her voice was angelic. Maggie was loved by all who knew her in both her personal and professional lives. She had a flair for speaking the truth, delivered with assertiveness and confidence. Her B.S. meter was easily tipped by those who could not be authentic, however her compassion for others outweighed all other values she held. Maggie will be sorely missed by family members, friends, colleagues and students from many parts of the globe. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to your favourite animal shelter or to a financially struggling student."
Godspeed, Maggie -- It was truly an honor to witness and capture these moments.
May you forever rest in peace.