This amazing wedding was set deep in a classic Georgia horse farm. It was a beautiful, muggy day, at the very beginning of summer, before the bugs were real, before the heat kept you from wanting to stand outside in the lush greenery. And these two love birds exchanged vows under a tent as it started to thunder and rain, and eventually rainbows streaked the evening sky.
I was absolutely blown away by this birth. At home, surrounded by her two children -- ages 3 and 5 -- her husband, aQui, her mom, and three amazing birth workers, Tali delivered her third boy. The two older boys were so deeply excited about getting to meet their new baby, and they repeated the fact many times through labor: Today the baby is coming out! The boys came in and out of the birthing space, going downstairs to play, outside to jump on the trampoline, to the kitchen for breakfast. But they wandered back in to see Tali and aQui often, sometimes holding Legos or juice, and always checking in. "I love you mama," came the frequent refrain. I'd never heard two young children say those words so many times in a short period.
Tali intended to have a water birth -- the tub was all but completely ready for her when she just couldn't wait anymore for the water to fill it, and ended up birthing their beautiful little guy at the bottom of the stairs. Maybe he's a land baby, the midwife said lovingly. The other two boys had been born in the birthing tub. Maybe he wanted to be different from his brothers, they mused.
From the moment I arrived in their home, I could tell that this birth would be different. And not just because land vs. water, but because of the gentle calm all around. When Tali had a particularly difficult contraction, she'd roar or breathe or call through it, but after each one subsided, she'd say to the baby, but a little bit to herself too, "It's ok little one, it's ok. Come out. We're so excited to meet you."
These birth workers were some of the most calming, loving, and light-hearted I've ever met. They brought an overall sense of steadiness and joy to the birth.
The boys and their grandmother set up to watch the birth directly. Best seats in the house.
The baby was still attached to his umbilical cord and his placenta, which had started to fall apart a bit, so the midwives put it in a bag to keep it safe.
The birthing pool hadn't been quite ready for the birth, but was the perfect temperature for the whole family to soak in after. As the family settled in the water, the midwife gently placed the bowl with the baby's placenta in the water to float nearby.
Incredibly, I managed to photograph this gorgeous family just hours, less than a full day, before Tali went into labor and delivered her third son. We had such a fun time playing around the house -- they danced, they kissed, they lingered in the joyous hours in being a family of four.
As the new year begins, so does a whole new chapter in my life.
My husband and the baby and I, and our dog and cat, are moving from our cozy, sweet home in Atlanta to a lovely home in Denver later this month. We're excited to start our life in Colorado, but also so sad to leave our wonderful and amazing family and friends in Atlanta. It's been such a rich and beautiful three years.
2018 alone has been an incredibly interesting and challenging year.
I have had the absolute honor of photographing so many heartful, amazing individuals. I've been brought in to witness sacred spaces, family milestones, and moments of personal growth.
Professionally, I've stretched my craft into areas I hadn't really considered before: the moments of bliss and pain and relief and joy of the families of brand new newborn babies. I've gotten to spend hours and hours in hospital rooms and birth centers and homes with the most honest, beautiful, loving parents and their children. Being with people during these first few hours after giving birth is one of the richest experiences of my life. It's seeing mothers and fathers at their most vulnerable and emotional. It's watching siblings meet for the first time. Witnessing grandparents cradle their first grandchildren. It's all been revelatory for me. This is what I want. This kind of humble, unselfconscious beauty. This rare look into the blossoming of new love.
I've also turned my camera to the emotionally difficult and joyful world of dog rescue. I've gotten inside looks into foster families and their rescue dogs, and shelters that want more than anything to spare the lives of the thousands of animals in their charge. What began for me as simple portraits of animals to help them become more attractive on the website has transformed into my documenting as many dogs as I can in a more complete way. I hope to be able to communicate the dogs' individuality, their spirit, and their capacity for connection and love. It's something I've been working toward with human subjects for a decade -- trying to capture something deeper, something richer. And now I'm using those skills with homeless dogs in order to find them truly loving companions and a forever home.
Over the course of 2018, I've also had the pleasure of photographing a gorgeous boudoir session with a young bride, a surprise engagement on an Atlanta rooftop, weddings and bar mitzvahs, dance parties, a traditional Vietnamese engagement ceremony, and beautiful, love-filled family portraits.
And, during this past year, I've had the joy of watching my little boy grow, ever more curious, joy-filled, empathetic and loving.
But 2018 has been a difficult year overall -- families separated at the border, refugees refused entry, war and famine, and a growing unease about violence and climate change and the future of, well, everything. The only thing I can say about it is that I'm working to not become complacent. Not to get lost in the sadness and the overwhelming nature of it all. That as a person, and as a photographer, I'll keep shining a light on inequality and keep working to make the world a better place.
It's been quite a year. 2019, come at me. I'm ready for you.
I'll be working full time as a photographer in Denver, and would love to photograph you and your loved ones! Send me an email to book a session, wedding, anything you like. I'll also be traveling to Atlanta at least twice a year, so if you're in Georgia, drop me a line, and we'll organize in advance.
Love to you all, and Happy New Year!
When I went out to visit this absolutely beautiful family, I worried the entire drive there that the weather was all wrong. It rained the whole 45 minute drive, and I thought about pulling over half a dozen times and calling the shoot off. How would we make the rain look happy, warm, and fun?
Linnea and her family were entirely relaxed about the situation. There was enough light, Linnea told me, and if there wasn't enough light inside, we'd go out. So I relaxed too. We chatted, we laughed, and eventually, I started taking photographs. We started inside, with family hugs in the kitchen, then story time in the living room. We ended up chasing puddles on the street, and wandering through the woods in the back yard of their home. Quintessential Georgia.
I want nothing more from a family photo session than to feel like I've somehow slipped into the fabric of their day. The play, the fun, the unbounded love. And the occasional splashing around in a muddy neighborhood puddle.
I barely remember the hours after I gave birth to our 18 month old. I remember being ecstatic, relieved, energized, dazed. I didn’t quite recognize our little boy, who’d been hiccuping in my uterus for months on end. He wasn’t extremely familiar, but he was precious and beautiful and present. I remember holding him and sobbing for the first few minutes after birth, but after that, it was a blur of hamburgers and breastfeeding and visiting family and nurses in and out of the room.
A few pictures exist of those first few hours, but not the kind I crave. I want to see the intimacy and exhaustion and bursts of emotion. I want to relive those first moments when we became a family.
It’s always been a dream of mine that my photography and my business be a mechanism for capturing authentic joy. Connection. Attachment. Love. And in service of that mission, I’m beginning to offer Fresh 48 sessions. Sessions that take place in the first 48 hours after birth, and ideally in the first 3 or 4.
And so it begins. Baby Harper was born at 1am Saturday morning, and I made it to the hospital in time for her older brother to meet her for the first time that afternoon. Needless to say, it was a perfect day.
When I asked Bethlehem if she was excited for her two older children, ages 3 and 6, to come in and meet her hours-old newborn, she said she was thrilled. Her children were getting ready to meet their new lifelong best friend, she said.
There was something so beautiful and simple about the way the children interacted with each other. They seemed completely relaxed, happy to be there, and happy to be near their new sister. They wanted to be near the baby, to touch her, to feel the texture of her hair, and softness of her arms and legs. They were gentle and cautious, but also confident. This new person is their person. To hold and love and adore.
It’s one of the mysteries and beauties of family. An additional person doesn’t subtract, only adds: love, affection, joy.