Monday, August 25, 2014

Gracie Turned Five

Our friend Gracie turned five, recently, and her birthday was very happy...but a little sad, too, because MeMe (her maternal grandmother) had flown to heaven earlier in the summer and couldn't attend the party in the traditional sense.

Gracie drew MeMe a picture, and the first order of business for Gracie's photo session was to affix that picture to Gracie's five, birthday balloons and send it up, up to MeMe.

We trust that MeMe has already seen the picture. Gracie relaxed noticeably after sending it; her tender heart had been waiting for that moment.

And praise be for sensitive parents: for parents who care about their children's lightness of being and teach them to let go...but just for a little while, because heaven.

My deepest thanks to Gracie's parents for tasking me with capturing Gracie's spirit at five and for trusting me with this moment in her life. It was a gorgeous one.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Shrinking Nathan

I owed my friend Margie cookies, and she asked me to deliver them to a bake sale to benefit Nathan Martin. I didn't meet Nathan or his family the day of that delivery, but some time later, my friend Anjie ordered one of my cookie cakes and asked me to deliver it to Nathan at his house.

I knew Nathan loved baseball and decorated the cake to look like one. When I lifted the lid of the pizza box to show him the cake, he beamed and, without hesitation, dragged his finger right through the white icing in the center of the cake and licked it off. That's when I fell in love.

To meet Nathan and his family is to love them, and it seems like our entire community feels the same way. Thank goodness, because--having really been through it--Nathan and his family have needed love and support these past few years.

Nathan bumped his head while engaging in normal child's play and suffers from TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), with symptoms to include seizures, memory loss, and headaches. He has an excellent team of doctors and was admitted to the hospital Friday, in fact, for monitoring. You can read more about his story here and follow his progress on facebook here. Please pray for his complete recovery.

I visited Nathan at his house for the second time in November, this time taking my shrink machine. I just wanted to make him smile. Trust me: that smile is captivating and contagious. The following are great examples of my shrinks, and Nathan's mom encouraged me to share them, here.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lifestyle Session with Rachel & Zach

This post was published originally at Smooth Stones in May. (Ignore the watermarks.) I'm sharing it here because I think it's an excellent example of a lifestyle session. These are the sorts of photos I've always longed to have of my own family because they capture not only the way people look (as in a studio session) but also what people do. One of the most meaningful family sessions I've ever experienced, personally, occurred the year I hired a photographer to accompany us to the pumpkin patch.

I learned to use a camera primarily in order to document adventures and regular life with my children, and at this point, lifestyle sessions are a comfort zone for me. I would love to capture special moments for your family as I have for my own. If you're interested in photos of your family's participation in a meaningful activity or tradition, please let me know.

You can see many, many more examples of lifestyle sessions at Smooth Stones, which is where I document my family's activities and traditions.
Our local berry farm decided not to open for pick-your-own strawberries, this year, because--after our cold winter and a harsh, spring storm--the crop isn't what it should be. I read about a couple other farms in the Greater Richmond Area but decided to take the little kids to Crozet for "Come Grow with Us," the children's program at Chiles Peach Orchard. Then it became a matter of convincing Rachel and Zach to go with us. That was much easier than I'd expected given the fact that Rachel's baby is already working his way "toward the light"; I just had to promise to drive her into Charlottesville at lightning speed if she went into labor :)

"Come Grow with Us" costs $7 per participating child and includes a craft, a story, a container for pick-your-own, and a snack. The craft, yesterday, was a strawberry. Each child painted and dusted it with jello (to make it smell good); glued some seeds on it; and traced one of his or her hands to become the top of the berry. Clementine's Strawberry Shortcake dress was mine and has its own, special story

I can't tell you much about story time, yesterday, because I was busy supervising Chip as he climbed into and out of a little wagon.

Chip's outfit was Cade's: just one of the few outfits I kept.

Charleigh was kind of funny in the strawberry patch. She was slowed by her concern that her fruit was ripe enough; over and over, she held up a berry and asked: "Is this red enough, Mama?"

Clementine and Zach filled their containers in no time, and Zach seemed to have a knack for finding that rare, large berry.

Chip didn't have a container, but he didn't mind; he was happy to try and fill his belly with berries (and, later, with ice cream).

All in all, it was a perfect celebration of what bursts warm and ripened into the world.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Osborne Family

I taught Nikki composition at ITT, and she just has a bright flame of a spirit. I have to say: this is one of my very favorite family sessions, to date, because the afternoon/evening light accentuates the uninhibited energy in this family. All of Nikki's boys took to me right away, and we just played...and played...and played. I lost track of time as the sun put itself to bed. The last capture in this post is straight out of my camera: no editing at all. I can't wait for the session Nikki and I are already planning for this fall!

Jessica & Cristian

I taught Jessica more than one class at ITT, back in the day. It's been more than six years since I left the school, and I'm touched that some of my students have kept in touch...not only with me, but with one another. The day of this session, my student Marjorie accompanied Jessica and Cristian, and I could tell: they've become family.

Jessica is centered beyond her years and radiates love, in general, but she glows especially bright when she's with Cristian. It was a privilege to capture their sweet relationship with my camera.

As you scroll down, you'll see a "shrink" of Cristian. I don't employ this editing technique often because it's time-consuming to do it well, but I do seem to have an aptitude for it. I wrote a story for my daughter Charleigh's third birthday and illustrated it entirely with her shrinks. I mention this because maybe someone would like to hire me to create a personalized book of words and photos for a child?

Stewart Family

This family is one of the first I met upon moving here over twelve years ago. I want to cry thinking about it but can honestly say: no matter what I was facing in my life, no matter how I was struggling spiritually, Ron and Tammy have always looked happy to see me. What an important gift we give someone just by smiling when (s)he walks in the room; I hope to never forget.

Tammy is one of the most effective women's leaders I've ever known, and my life has been impacted profoundly by the Bible studies she's taught.

This session has been one of my easiest, to date. I mean, these people are all gorgeous...and grown (which makes a difference)! I remember when Elizabeth was young enough to come over and bake cookies with me.

Huff Family

These folks are my neighbors, and Rachel is one of my very closest friends. My five-year-old daughter Clementine intends to marry little Zach. He has no fewer than sixteen girls after him, already, so we'll see.

Rachel and Scott waited a very long time for Zach, and the love in this family is precious, and pure. The family grew by another little boy, this summer, and I hope to take new family photos in the near future.