Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mark & Temina | Country Romance

It is difficult to find words to say what an amazing adventure this session was. I mean, even the bugs sparkled like glitter! Down an old country road, traipsing through an overgrown meadow, climbing through woods abundant in poison ivy, trying not to fall into the lake, trying not to capsize the canoe, flicking wood ticks. This engagement session was probably the most unique and fun. Mark & Temina found a location that best suited who they were as a couple, and allowed us to capture them as they are--In love, and outdoorsy.

Two beautiful people, the setting sun, a canoe, a gorgeous view. It is a perfect recipe for a perfect engagement session. Mark & Temina are an amazing couple. They get that romance isn't just candles and dinner outings and fancy excursions; but simply being together, having fun, doing the things they love most, taking interest in each other's interests. I'm so thrilled for their wedding this Fall. It's going to be beautiful.

Also, if you can kiss in a canoe without plunging into the deep, you clearly have the rhythm to sail through life ever after. How's that for a good relationship exercise?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lincoln Arrow | Just a Little Boy with a Great Big God

Little Lincoln Arrow won this photo session for his mommy when I hosted a contest where my facebook fans got to be the photographer. 

"Send me your favorite picture of your child/ren and include a story or description that celebrates them. This is not about technique or art or perfection, this is all about those candid beautiful faces and antics that you call your kids. This is your opportunity to brag on them to the world. I will create an album of all the images I have received and you, your friends & family, and the general public will then have an opportunity to vote on your favorite pictures/stories. The photo with the most votes wins and THE WINNER WILL RECEIVE A FUN AND FREE PHOTO SHOOT FOR THEIR CHILD/REN and eternal bragging rights." 

And well, Lincoln won it, hands down. And definitely earned the whole thing. He even gave me eternal bragging rights because he had nothing but all the time in the world to be cheerfully serendipitous and explode his winning personality all over the place. 

It was a little over two years ago when I got to meet Lincoln's mama and daddy. I was hobbling my 37 week pregnant self around the coldest overcast park in the northern hemisphere photographing their excitement of blissful preparation for a life of wedded bliss. You knew they were in for the long haul just by the warmth of their love that day, not to mention their mutual enjoyment of warm caffeinated beverages. 

Not long into the beautiful thing they called life together they discovered Lincoln would be adding the touch of wonderful to their family. Shortly after his birth he scared his mama and daddy, and the medical staff, with terrifying breathing spells. This is the part of the story where my heart fell in love with Lincoln. We experienced something so similar when our Colton was born, where the doctor's clipboard and confused shrug was nothing short of terrifying. (If you care to read about it, Colton's Story--the Facebook Edition and Surrounded by Mercy, Protected by PrayerI remember sitting by myself in a Starbucks coffee shop last September, choking back emotion as I read Lincoln's scared mama's updates of her precious newborn. Heal that beautiful baby boy, Jesus! I remember praying, and hug his mama and daddy really tight right now. 

It was going to be okay.  

And it was. He got to go home the next day.

Look at him now though. Meeting this special little guy was one of the bigger highlights of my photography career to date, I just gotta admit. And he loved me. Ahh, I'm not even kidding, this photo shoot made me giddy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Wayne Family | Home is Where the Heart is

When setting up sessions, I'm often asked what my favorite location is. Honestly, it's unique to each session and quite frankly, my favorite spot is your favorite spot. Home is awesome, that's why I was thrilled when Mary asked if I would be willing to do their photo shoot on their property. Heck yes!

Home is where your heart is, and when you're home you will display the biggest expression of your true selves. You will be more comfortable, your children will feel more secure, your husband will be able to break away and go drive the tractor or something when he's not needed. And ultimately, you will be more relaxed. The pressure is hugely relieved for everyone. And when you combine all those things, your photographer will be so much more capable of capturing the essence of your own very special uniqueness.

This is the awesome Wayne family, in their own lovely backyard with their ridiculously cute girlies. Loving life.

Tyler & Mary know a thing or two about hard work and hard play, love and laughter, sickness and health, fresh air and wide open spaces... and apparently a lot about growing darling daughters because seriously, this was almost too much. While working on the post production of these images I got distracted and started doodling baby girl names. Seriously, how can that be healthy for me?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Of Sunshine, Gorgeous Creatures, And Our Favorite Uncle Zack

Big daddy had taken big brother fishing, so I had the day with just Colton. And since Mama is not as interesting as fishing or daddy or big brother, we went and hung out with this guy, the favorite Uncle  Zack.
Zack's such a great guy. To know him is to love him. To have him in your life is to have your life forever blessed. I'm so happy to be his sister, and my kids sure are lucky to have the best uncle ever!

 Sometimes you need days of just nothing but sunshine and beautiful creatures and special people. Don't forget to make time for that every once in awhile. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

How Photography Can Make You a Better Mom

I like to think about how Mary, the mother of Jesus, "Treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." (Luke 2:19) I don't know what she did to "treasure up" (Journal? Draw? Paint? Simply mentally remember?) all those amazing events that were happening in the first years of the life of her wonderful Child, but sometimes when I see how quickly my boys are determined to grow and change I feel that need to be able to keep this moment, an ache to be able to keep some of these things myself to treasure up in my heart. Thanks to technology the one way I know I can do it is with my camera. And you can too.

Photography is one of my favorite mom tools. It keeps me focused, no pun intended, on my kids and who they are. I can't tell you how many times I have run across a random shot I took and how it brought me right back to that day, and I got to live a moment in yesterday's shoes because I had a photo of it.

So here's what I want you to do today: Get your camera out. I don't care if you have the top of the line professional model or just a crappy pixelized phone camera, or maybe something nifty right in between. Whatever you have, get it out and use it to embrace the beautiful mess motherhood is.

Do it. Because Today is now, tomorrow it will be gone. Live today, cherish today, capture today, remember today. Take a moment and pull out the camera to snap a picture of what your kids are doing, of the mess they left, of the toys they love, of the laundry they make, of the way they like their favorite snack, of their dirty feet, of their smudged noses, what makes them laugh, and even what makes them cry, of the view outside the hand-print-smudged window. Anything, everything! Let them live, and notice them!

If you're not really a crazy camera lady, you don't have to take a hundred pictures, you don't even have to take five. Just take one. Right now. One image that sums up your life in this moment. And do it every day. One shot, three shots, dozens of shots... whatever catches your eye should be caught on camera.  Trust me, when you start thinking in terms of creating images, suddenly those normal mundane moments you don't normally stop to savor become alive! You can't keep your kids little, but you can freeze their little moments in time.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

An Open Letter to Moms

Dear Moms,

This is for you, because it's Mother's Day and maybe you get flowers and you will get hugs and you will be told you are loved. You also get up early and dress the kids and comb their hair and make the beds (maybe) and wish the house could clean itself and play mediator over who gets that one (out of like two hundred-thirteen thousand, nine hundred eighty-two) little set of hotwheels, and you will make sure lunch plans are underway (or fix it yourself, which wouldn't be unusual even if it is supposed to be your holiday).

Maybe you had a chance to step in the shower. The kids pound on the door every thirty eight seconds and tell you they really need crackers and raisins and drinks and big brother stole their car. And you come out to find the toddler got into the fridge and the big brother raided the game cabinet, the contents of all of the above being strewn... well, everywhere. And your husband wanted to leave in thirty minutes.

The littlest is teething and irritable and pitching fits and somehow that one little person can make the whole universe shatter. Right on top of your head. Which is easy enough to recover from, providing you get twenty-three seconds to catch your breath and pull yourself together. But who are we kidding? Mothers aren't always afforded the leisure of twenty-three spare demand-free seconds. So here you are, snapping at the people you love the most because you weren't born an octopus with enough limbs capable of getting the screaming child comforted, the older child more raisins, clean up the coffee you just spilled and recover from stepping on that lego all in one fluid motion, and you really just can't have that conversation about child training right now, honey.

You will worry, like you do every day, that maybe you're spending too much time at work, or on trying to keep the house relatively livable, or on that laundry--darn that laundry! Or finishing up that project that takes twenty seven thousand times longer simply because there are kids to keep alive. Therefore you are not spending enough time with the children. These cute little heathens you call your own are surely neglected and now they might grow up to be bank robbers.

So you remind yourself to speak gently, to give hugs, to tickle, to spend time, to make them feel loved. You pray for patience.

People close to you might like to point out how much more clingy and weepy your children are with you and only you... and they are never that way for them. Are you possibly permitting them to manipulate you?!?! You wish they could understand how that very uniquely created and precious child lived under your heart. From even before his very first heartbeat you were the sole nurturing source of nourishment. You filled each and every little need he had from moment one. He has been, by the very design of creation, conditioned to believe that you literally are his everything! Why do you think your kisses are so potent? Because you are his mom, and you are amazing that way.

Like every day, you are doing your darndest. You constantly try to convey to your children that they are loved, you work hard to teach your children about life, and keep them at least a little bit civilized. And maybe you were lucky enough to marry the best daddy in the universe yet there's really nothing that eases the load of responsibility you carry heavily on your heart. God gave you these button-nosed little individuals and He sent them to you with this deep undying maternal instinct that doesn't always satisfy status quo. In the public eye you will be scrutinized, criticized, offered unsolicited advice, and quite frankly you feel judged. Constantly. You don't know what people say behind your back and you're okay with that. But since you're following your gut and the unique individual needs of your children, your friends, your family, the strangers in your path, they all have opinions on how you're doing it wrong.

But let's face it, Moms, you are amazing. Your job is relatively thank-less. You fill a thousand roles just by being Mom. Every day you fall down, but you pick yourself back up, because you are courageous (and because it dawned on you that throwing in the towel just creates more laundry). You're strong, you're brave, you're beautiful. You're mom. To the world maybe you're just another person, but to the little persons in your life you are everything. And that is as it should be. You are mom. You are loved more than you know. You are doing a great job.

So take a moment and breathe in this amazing life you have. And by breathe in, I mean being strangled by smudge-nosed little monster hugs. And remember you are so blessed. No matter what, the hearts in your keeping are the best gifts you could possibly possess.

I want every mom who reads this to know that you've got this. Maybe your life doesn't feel as photogenic as pinterest, and maybe your children don't behave the way your friends' children do, and maybe you're just not feeling it today. That's okay. Give yourself the same grace and patience you strive so hard to give your children. Be thankful for today. Know this, you are doing a great job.

Happy Mother's Day!

With Love,
A Fellow Mom

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mielke's Fiber Arts

My photography travels took me down a long country road to a little fiber shop in Mauston, Wisconsin, owned by two fun creative sisters. Who also have darling children. It was such a fun experience! I was a yarn enthusiast as a kid, so coming here was fascinating for me. I really had no idea how much can be done with fiber and yarn, and the huge variety of ways you can spin and weave and create. Besides a huge assortment of quality products, Mielke's Fiber Arts also offers classes. If you love yarn, you can find these lovely ladies on their website.  

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