My friend and long-time client, Tara, writes ever so eloquently, ever so raw, and unabashedly about faith, hope and mommy hood on her blog of the same name. You’ve likely seen her in the opening slideshow on the homepage of my website and across many of my studio materials. She’s the stunning brunette with the gorgeous pregnant belly in the cream gown and blush flower crown standing against that wash of spring greenery. We photographed her maternity session just a few weeks before they found out what life may hold for their miracle baby, Piper. Piper’s story – and the resulting Grace Blanket Drive, the famous raspberry and pink Piper’s Pod t-shirts, and so much more – and Tara’s storytelling is the sort that sticks with you long after you’ve closed your browser.
I simply feel better about the world we live in because I know there are people like her in it.
Which brings me to her most recent post entitled “Own Your Warrior Status.” In it, she writes:
I’d love for other mommas to take a look in the mirror, and own your warrior status. Every family has their struggle, every marriage a hardship, every single person has gone through a personal hell in their life. There is no need to compare journeys with others, to determine who had it harder. We have walked a path that equips us to help someone, somewhere, somehow, someday. Own it. Embrace your warrior and hold your head up and know you can…because duh, you rock!
If you happen to follow Tara on Facebook or Instagram, then you know she’s the queen of simply being present and being IN the photos with her children. She’s the queen of owning her Warrior Status.
Good hair day. Bad hair day (we all have them!). Sadness. Happiness. Silliness. Joy. Grief. She shows up for all of it. And every time I see her posts, I feel inspired by her resolve. I feel empowered by her drive. And I feel humbled by her grace.
And that brings me to the session I’m blogging today.
When was the last time you stepped into an image with your children? Even if just a selfie with goofy grins?
I can’t stress enough the importance of allowing yourself to see yourself through the eyes of your children. Images accomplish that- preserve that feeling – in a way that looking in the mirror simply cannot. The tiny hands grasping your face. The sweet kisses. The laughter. You are every bit the Warrior to them. The healer. The fixer. The hugger. The holder. The chef. The storyteller. And, even on your worst days, you’re every bit as incredible as anything they’ve ever known.
This beautiful mama came to me with a vision of herself and her daughters in matching tulle gowns and a desire to fill her walls with professional portraits that freeze this moment in time. These were their first professional portraits together.
Working in tandem on the creative planning, we made that vision a reality both in the session itself and, upon viewing, in the wall displays we created for her home.
I squealed out loud when she sent me a quick snap of the final pieces now gracing her dining room wall. (See her quick phone snap of the finished display below).
When I say that I was excited to meet this little one, it’s an understatement.
Often, my moms- and dads-to-be contact me and schedule during the second and third trimesters. But this mama had every one of her “t”s crossed and her “i”s dotted when she contacted me to arrange a photo session to announce to friends and family they were pregnant. She knew exactly what she wanted by way of a mock movie poster, and the excitement began building from there as their “expecting session” took shape and that movie poster took the form of printed magnets* announcing their soon-to-be starlet:
*information intentionally blurred for privacy
We went on to do two maternity sessions: an outdoor, sun-filled country setting, and a separate, indoor studio session designed just for mom and that beautiful belly (see below for a special “before” and “after” image side-by-side from the studio maternity and the newborn sessions).
Over the course of the past 10 months, I’ve not only gotten to know and love them, but I’ve had somewhat of a front row seat watching them progress through the incredible journey to parenthood.
Approaching their February due date, they knew she was breech and a scheduled C-section was the most likely possibility. So I marked it down on the calendar, began her newborn photography session planning and kept a close watch on the days – eagerly awaiting news of baby girl’s arrival.
Little did I – or they – know she had very definite plans of her own … and those plans did not account for turning head-first or waiting for her scheduled birthdate. In lightning fashion four days before their original C-section, and mere hours after they arrived at the hospital early on February 14, baby girl made her grand entrance into the world – her own version of a Hollywood red carpet and the best Valentine’s gift they could ever receive.
As I was planning the various color themes for her session, perhaps I was channeling Valentine’s Day or the whole idea of Hollywood, but beautiful reds and florals kept coming to mind. That was the inspiration for the red poppies and digitally-created water ripples in the first image. That perfect stump is a real log taken from what was left of the tallest tree on my mom’s property back in my Kansas hometown.
So, now, without further ado, we can officially say, “And then comes Raigan Adele”:
When you’ve got this much curly, squishy, tiny cuteness going on, there’s no such thing as a bad hair day.
Quite the contrary.
On the morning of your newborn photography session, you enter the photographer’s studio and listen to her squeal just a bit (ok, maybe a LOT) over the undeniably fabulous nature of your new ‘do. The newest of all ‘dos because you’re but a mere 13 days old and it’s really the only ‘do you’ve ever done.
So you and your ‘do just do what comes natural. And your photographer celebrates every.single.amazing.strand. Especially those gorgeous lashes.
And, while your photographer keeps pinching herself, and the only word that comes to mind is rockstar, another rockstar pops into her head: Steven Tyler to be exact. … Singing Aerosmith’s “I don’t wanna close my eyes. I don’t wanna fall asleep …. ’cause I don’t wanna miss a thing.”
Because you really didn’t wanna miss a thing. Which means we didn’t miss a thing, either.
Especially those big, beautiful eyes.
And that, I say, is truly rockstar.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
Every client, every session has a story … milestones worth memorizing, connections worth capturing … feelings frozen in time by the simple click of a shutter. So it seems quite fitting this session be set amongst an enormous backdrop of world famous authors and their beloved stories.
My own story photographing this family began a little over three years ago when they were just a family of three and big sister wasn’t even sitting up yet. She had me instantly with that full head of wild hair and those ice-blue eyes. It’s still one of my absolute favorite sessions:
(Mom is an amazing photographer in her own right – so, of course, there was no pressure!)
And we’ve continued our ritual of fall sessions ever since. Now, they are a family of four, and that blue-eyed baby above is a big sister to mom’s little “mini me.”
As their prior session was set against a garden environment, I wanted to swing back toward the urban side of life for this one. And I couldn’t have dreamed up a better backdrop to complement their chosen color scheme. With its super sized and incredibly life-like bookshelf facade, the parking garage at Kansas City’s Downtown Public Library is truly one of the most unique architectural treasures to be found in the Midwest, perhaps anywhere. As described on their website:
The Community Bookshelf is a striking feature of Kansas City’s downtown. It runs along the south wall of the Central Library’s parking garage on 10th Street between Wyandotte Street and Baltimore Avenue. The book spines, which measure approximately 25 feet by 9 feet, are made of signboard mylar. The shelf showcases 22 titles reflecting a wide variety of reading interests as suggested by Kansas City readers and then selected by The Kansas City Public Library Board of Trustees.
And, yes, I was (and still am!) swooning over mom’s fuchsia skirt. (Be still my fuchsia-loving heart). Seriously stunning! Below are some of my favorites of these two, little blue-eyed beauties and their most favorite people:
This tiny girl slept so soundly through her entire newborn session that, after two hours, I recall asking mom if she wanted us to try and wake her so she could get some relief by nursing. Despite our best efforts to do just that by un-swaddling, lightly tickling her feet, sitting her up and stroking her mouth, she was far too cozy here at my Pearland studio to stir even a tiny bit. So, with mom’s permission, we kept going and sweet Claire allowed us to achieve all of our session visions and then some, waking at the very end as if to say “my job here is done.” Ha!
In what I feel is the signature “styled image” of this session, the shabby green door made another appearance – this time mixed with soft pinks and fuchsias for a really feminine theme, complete with velvet pumpkin fit for a princess. I adore greens for girls!
More of my session favorites in a color palette that compliments their home, nursery ideas and maternity images:
If you’ve been following my blog, then you’ll know how excited big brother and sister were to meet her during their Signature Maternity Session in downtown Houston. And we captured that new excitement with their baby sister in the studio as well:
And – bonus – toward the end of our session, when our newborn session had wrapped, I had the honor of capturing the matriarch of their family in a few studio shots with all of her grand babies. Isn’t she stunning?
In our pre-session consults and also throughout the ordering and design process, I talk a lot with clients about the importance of showcasing their own family as the art in their home. Not only does it preserve these all-too-fleeting milestones for future generations ensuring priceless images aren’t lost on a disc in a drawer or inaccessible due to outdated technology (remember floppy disks and Betamax?), but it’s been proven to boost a child’s self-esteem when he sees his own happy face smiling back and displayed proudly.
So we set about designing a wall display that would showcase images from their maternity and newborn sessions. The first image below is what it looked like once the first set of gallery-wrapped canvases was hung with two little “helpers.”
And the second image below is what it will look like once the four newborn canvases are flanking the main display. I designed these using the Shoot and Sell app for iPad and the options are endless when you combine all of the varied framing choices with backgrounds that use the real walls in a client’s home or designer wall/furniture templates available for purchase featuring every room type you can imagine. It simplifies the design process by making it easy to swap images in and out of the layouts that are shown perfectly to scale, so it’s no longer a guessing game as to whether or not that 24×36 will be too big or too small behind the master bed or above the couch. The wall displays are a complementary design service available to all Kami Brady Photography clients.