Difficult Days

Today was your birthday. You should’ve turned 67. We should’ve laughed with you at dinner and while you let the boys lick the icing off your candles. There should’ve been lots of hugs and lots of pictures. The boys should’ve gifted you some silly gifts that they picked out themselves and you would’ve cherished.

There are so many should haves, but they didn’t happen.

Instead, we laid a blanket in front of your headstone and squeaked out a tearful rendition of “Happy Birthday”. The boys blew out the candle for you and shared a few memories of you. We all missed you. We miss you every day, but today was particularly hard.

I hope you smiled when the boys were sharing their memories today. Maybe you even got a kick out of how much I cried today. You probably saw it as payback for all the times I gave you gifts that made you cry over the years.

I looked at lots of pictures today. I cried while looking at them, especially ones from your birthday last year. How much has changed in one year.

I am so grateful for the memories we have of you, especially on the difficult days. I am grateful that my hobby (now career) is one that helped me preserve those memories. I am sad, really sad, but I am still grateful, even on the difficult days.

I love getting to share pictures and videos of you with the boys. I’m grateful that, while most of my tears are sad, a few, just a few, are happy. When I see images of you laughing, I can still hear it. You were always so silly, especially with the boys, and being reminded of some of your shenanigans can make me laugh through my tears.

We missed you today. Even more than yesterday. We missed you, but you’re always with us. So when I get really sad, I look at your pictures and imagine how your smile must look as you look down on us from Heaven.

Today was a difficult day, but I see your smile and it makes me smile. Even through my tears.

Silver Linings

This past year was hard.

I know many of you can relate. Anyone who has cared for a loved one with a terminal illness will understand the difficulties we faced since learning my mother-in-law had ALS. It was already quite advanced, she was misdiagnosed for many years, and she didn’t have much time left. We knew how this was going to end.

We knew, but we weren’t prepared.

Even when you know it’s going to happen, you’re never really ready for it. Somehow, it’s still a shock. You can be grateful they aren’t suffering anymore. You can know they are in a better place. You can even feel blessed to have had the extra time you had, but it’s still a devastating blow to lose someone you love so much.

I was incredibly blessed! My children had the most amazing grandmother. In fact, when I was teaching, she was really their second mother. She woke them every morning, got them off the bus every afternoon, and made them dinner most nights while I was still at work. And when the time came where she couldn’t do it anymore and my father-in-law needed to take care of her full time, I was able to be here. When teaching couldn’t provide the flexible schedule I needed, I was fortunate enough to have another skill to turn to as a career. A skill that allowed me to work for myself and have the flexibility to put my family first.

So when my father-in-law needed help to care for her, I was able to help. When my children had questions, I was there to answer them. When the final weeks arrived, I was able to be here with my family. There really is no greater blessing!

And though the past few weeks have been terribly difficult, there is a silver lining.

I have thousands (literally thousands) of pictures of my mother-in-law! My children will always be able to look at images of her to remember what her eyes look liked when she laughed. They can see how she squinched up her face when she was being silly. They can look at pictures where she is embracing them and remember how they always felt so safe and loved in her arms!

“When you’re shivering with loss, let love keep you warm with memories.”  ~Terri Guillemets

Full disclosure: I didn’t want to leave teaching. I loved teaching and I always felt so proud to be a teacher. I felt like I was doing something that mattered. I didn’t recognize the same value in my new career.

Until now.

This experience has had a very unanticipated side effect. It has renewed my sense of purpose and deepened my passion for photography. I can honestly say that I am more driven than ever to capture memories and document life for others. I believe this pursuit is just as important as teaching.

Now, the purpose of a business blog is to show you what I can do for you and to get you to hire me, but I’m not so great at that part yet and I honestly think this is so much bigger than that. Of course you can hire me! And I would be honored to help your family create and document amazing memories that you can cherish forever! But right now, I just want you to understand how important it is. So whether you hire me, or another photographer, or feel capable of doing it yourself; the point is to do it and do it now!

Capture these memories; preserve everyday moments. Your children will never be as little as they are today, you will never be as young as you are today, and tomorrow will get here sooner than you expect.

Chapter Two

“I took one more glance over my past life, then turned to the future. I was eager to embrace the world.”

Wild Swans, Jung Chang

The end of my first chapter has arrived and chapter two has begun.

I walked away from my classroom yesterday and stepped into my role as a business owner and full-time photographer. I never thought my hobby and career would switch places, but I knew a whole lot before life taught me that I actually knew very little.

So here we are. The beginning of something new. A wonderful opportunity to provide more than just a salary, but also stability in a time of chaos and love in a time of sorrow. I am so grateful for this ability; even as my family and I struggle with the reality of what we face.

Life has provided me with a somber reminder of how fleeting it is. Because of this, I traded my passion for preparing the leaders of tomorrow for my passion to preserve our past. Each day I am considering and exploring new ways to freeze precious moments and respect the present. It is, after all, a gift!

So I’m here! I’m preserving as much of my family’s present as I can and I’m ready to help you cherish and preserve your family’s memories as well.

Here’s hoping you are as blessed as I have been! xo

“How” I do it

I have a blog about my “why” and your “what”, so “how” seemed like a natural next post. (Don’t worry, “when” and “who” aren’t far behind!)

So… people often talk to me about the how of photography. Sometimes people want to know how to get their cameras to work correctly, or how they can change their settings for better pictures, but most often, they want to know how they can get family images like the ones I post of my clients.

Here’s a list of the most frequent concerns and questions I get:

  1. I always feel so awkward and uncomfortable when I pose to get my picture taken, how could I ever get pictures like yours?
  2. My kids never sit still for pictures, how could I possibly get them to cooperate?
  3. My husband has no desire to get his picture taken, how can I ever convince him?
  4. We are already so busy with work, school, and activities; how will we ever find the time to get our picture taken?
  5. How do I know booking a portrait session will be worth it?

Want to know the answers? To answer these questions and more, I return to my reason for doing this in the first place. I want to help families create and capture memories. I don’t want you to awkwardly pose in front of my camera. I want you to spent time with your family and when the moment is right, then I’ll ask you to look at me quickly. You won’t be taking pictures, you’ll be laughing, playing, and talking – making memories! Leave the “picture taking” to me!

I’ll capture the “traditional” portrait you’re looking for, but not in the traditional, “sit here-turn slightly-chin up-eyes here” way. It will be natural and relaxed and beautiful. And furthermore, it won’t just be a picture, it will be a memory.

Your children don’t need to sit still! Don’t worry about asking them to be “good” or “smile,” in fact, please don’t do that! Let them be little. Enjoy their silliness and let me catch it! I LOVE kids! I have three of my own and I was a teacher for most of my life. When I’m ready for them to look me in the eye, let me take care of it. I am a master at staring contests and “don’t you smile at me” games. And if those don’t work, I have a few very silly jokes that even the toughest three-year-old can’t deny! So if you want to get them to “cooperate” the trick is that you don’t! That’s how! You follow their lead. You play with them and enjoy this time in their lives. You have fun, they have fun, and I capture it!

The kids are easy! Your husband, however, is a different story! Well, kind of. We want everyone in the family to be themselves, so I’ll lead the whole family. There’s still no need to push and prod. With that said, it can help to let dad know how much it means to you. This doesn’t always work with kids, but it can have a significant effect on your spouse. And I don’t intentionally single out the father’s here, but it is a question that I have only ever gotten from the moms. However, if you’re a dad who is always taking pictures of mom and the kids and you want all of you in the picture. Or, if your wife is usually taking pictures of you and the kids because she doesn’t want to be in them, this same advice applies. Let your significant other read this post and tell them how much it would mean to you. Let them know that the focus is on the children, but that you just want a few with the whole family. I promise to do everything to make it fun for everyone!

Now here comes the one that can be the biggest issue: time! In our house, there never seems to be any free time. If we aren’t at sports or school activities, we’re at birthdays or family events. Here’s the thing, though, that’s the very reason why it’s so important to find the time. Everything gets so busy, that months can pass in the blink of an eye. I can’t find the time for you, but I can tell you that I’m available any day of the week and any time of day, so we can work together to find the time you need. Plus, there are so many ways to combine your session with the daily activities that you need to do anyway. Give me a call and we can work together to find just the right sliver of time to preserve these memories.

Finally, how do you know it will be worth it? Because I guarantee it, that’s how! That’s right, money back and all that jazz, but mostly because memories are the most precious things we possess and I’ll work to preserve them for you. Many photographers refer to their prices as an investment because there’s an upfront cost, but you walk away with something priceless.


From my “why” to your “what”

For those of you who read my first post, you have already heard a bit about why photography is so important to me. In a nutshell, I am most grateful for the ability to create and record precious memories for my children and family members.

I have made photobooks and slideshows for over a decade and always love seeing the look on people’s faces as they relive some favorite memories. It has become a passion to develop and preserve memories for others. This includes you and this is how my “why” becomes your “what.”

What do you wish to hold on to? What is the essence of your family? What is the relationship like between you and your spouse or between your children and their grandparents? How have you preserved these memories for your children? For their children?

I love to design and develop experiences. I want you to walk away with beautiful images that are tied to equally beautiful memories. When you see the picture of grandpa laughing, I want your children to remember what it sounds like. I want to capture images that represent the feeling your children have when they give you the biggest squeeze they can, so when they see it, they feel it! It’s what I want for my children and it’s what I want for yours as well. If it’s what you want, let me help you kale it happen.

“The best thing about memories is making them.”

Song: “Tenerife Sea” is a song by English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. It was co- written by Snow Patrol member Johnny McDaid and Foy Vance, and features production from Rick Rubin. The song was released on 20 June 2014 as part of his second studio album, x.