if you live in the twin cities, and spent anytime in st. paul as a teenager, you know where The Monument is.
Well, i knew about it because of my now husband who was a teenager who hung out in st. paul.
so i started hanging out there in my 20s once we both had moved back to the twin cities after being at school in madison, wi.
i even had a few photo shoots there - one time, we shimmied our way on down the side of the cliff so we could get near the water. our model, susie, was a friggin sport in her lil sandals which provided zero protection from the woods we had to traverse to get there.
well, this time, i opted to stay atop the cliff, as the individuals being photographed were a family of three including a one-year-old... oh and my postpartum body just isn't likely to take her clients down a cliff! those days are over. for now.
these clients were just ANY OLD clients.
no sirree. this client is a dear friend of mine from many many years past. we have reconnected since my family moved back to the midwest from seattle last spring.
and this is his completely sweet little family.
i just love love when i can get families on the ground for some cuddly shots like this one, taken at the very end of the session.
colleen and max are the sweetest parents. their attentiveness to milo shines through in every moment of our time together.
these moments just get me. babe reaching for their parents' hand - not even needing to look up. knowing that dada's got him.
oh the many beautiful ways we get entangled in one another as a family - not always in perfect symmetry - but we fit and mold together, adjusting and readjusting over and over again, so as to create space for our ever growing bodies and spirits.
coexisting - cohealing - colearning
for this session i decided to be playful.
for me, this. means styling some of the images by creating a sort of backdrop.
if you know me, you know i'm a very - shall we say - naturally inclined individual. i like shooting in natural light. and in natural settings. or, if indoors, ideally there are natural accents (like florals/wood...or human touches like art, candles, books)
all in all if i'm going to create some sort of backdrop or photo set, it's going to have some natural inclinations.
in this case, i opted for bringing some cute pom pom and paper garlands and hanging them on a pair of trees that i thought particularly gorgeous in color.
it turned out - if i do say so myself - just beautifully.
i loveee the natural and airy vibes.
the pink/orange tones of the leaves paired with the pink tones in the garland and the lime greens coming through on the left.
it's immensely satisfying to find you can create something really exciting, with a small number of items.
in this, i am referring specifically to photography and the benefits of adding some kind of accessories, styling or decor to bring a vibe/setting/environment to life.
PRO-TIP: the orange on the bottom left is one of the orange balloons. i like to obscure my images sometimes with an object in order to bring in more framing/color/lines.
these tones were really something. and i feel it all turned out looking so lovely with the green/blue tones in c, m & m's wardrobe choices. not to mention the pink/salmony tones of sweet milo's pants tying it all together. ah! the balance!
the light was really a friend to me this day. it was kind fking around with me, but also being super playful. which made for some fun imagery. also made it a challenge for this gal! but worth it when i come out the other end feeling like my vision was a success - despite the challenges. or, most likely, because of the challenges (ie, the playful light!)
i focus so much on things that many photographers miss.
i focus on feeling. i focus on body shapes. i focus on creating something with nostalgia - over creating something perfect.
even though i'm a daily user of instagram, and i enjoy pinterest to a certain point, i am typically saying things like this -
i don't create images that are popular on these [social media] apps.
i don't seek to make something "insta-worthy" - i seek to photograph what it is i witness in your family. the photographs are the testaments to what i witness.
it's really really hard to go against the grain in this regard (to not make social media worthy imagery) - and it's hard to ever feel like i'm "getting it just right" when i comes to my family photography.
because there are always other photographers out there that are pushing the boundaries.
let's go on a mountaintop!...at sunrise...!!...with a gourmet picnic setup...!!! and end the session with a paraglide down the mountain!!!
dramatic - but also, not. have you been on instagram?? people be crazy.
the photography industry is insane. the limits are... well, there are no limits these days. so everyone keeps trying to top the rest.
i see this kind of extravagance go the other direction too - i see photographers sharing images of families running naked on the beach or lounging naked in their homes while feeding their chickens... or something of the like.
and i have zero qualms with nakedness - quite the opposite in the fact - but i do have qualms with the fact that once again family photography - this niche industry - has created a trend out of something.
when in truth - what i've witnessed in my clients are families that vary so widely in shape + color + sound + feeling. these families come from different places, they have different energies, they mold and fit together in so many ways.
and there's no way i ever want to confine my clients and their stories within this tiny narrative of "family photography trends".
how limiting to give every family similar "poses"! how limiting to tell myself i need to make an image that looks like "x, y, or z".
instead, let me make an image like this!
tenderness in the form of a family - with the strong afternoon light piercing through like rays of golden love!!! so cheesy, but am i wrong?!? look at those three! engulfed in golden love and light.
these are images we can't just orchestrate.
tenderness isn't something to be designed or posed by the photographer. tenderness is drawn out over the period of the session after giving families prompts facilitating close moments together.
you just can't orchestrate this kind of moment!
i can't photoshop this look on colleen's face. i can't illustrate this kind of familiarity between human bodies. it's impossible. it's something that can only be authentically made.
do you have any blurry images from your childhood that you just love? something that gives you a feeling - which emits a memory? isn't a memory just a feeling, most of the time, after all? haven't we learned that memory is so unreliable - that facts are hazy. but feeling, tuning into our bodies, the environment of the day, the smells, the feelings, the sounds of the crunching leaves...
when we make a blurry image (like i often intentionally do) - we create a feeling image.
colleen max and milo were true champs. playing in the leaves.
hopping to three different spots. and managing to make it through a late afternoon session with a 1-year-old! (babe's get tired in the afternoon! i know, i have one!)
we even made time for couples photos of just max and colleen! it was so much fun. soo dreamy am i right??
even though this was an autumn session - i was hard core feeling these cool tones. colleen and i both spotted this willow tree and were drawn to its windy and wiley ways.
see how colleen's shadow is imprinting on max? i just love that. and colleens "i take no shit" straight stare at the camera. what a beauty.
this moment. ah. <3
can we please fall in love with moments again? not images? not picture perfect ideas? truthful moments > inauthentic perfection
may our photographs - like our memories - be plentiful and wide and varying in feeling and color and texture.
may our photographs - like our memories - carry the weight of authenticity to them, not the weight of what "ought to have been" or what "someone else wants it to be". letting go of what we think we ought to be or look like or feel like is the first step to seeing the true beauty of what is, right now.
colleen was sharing with me her gleanings on parenthood from a recent podcast episode from Glennon Doyle. she was sharing on how a guest, Dr. Becky Kennedy, was making waves with an approach to raising children. this approach seeks to validate little ones and the big feelings they have. it validates what they feel and why they are feeling it. collen expressed how one way of doing this as a parent is by voicing to their kiddo "i believe you."
how truly beautiful.
i believe you, little one. i believe you and your feelings. i believe you and your desires. i believe you and your experience of reality.
i believe you when it's hard and scary. i believe you when it's joyful and radiant.
my desire - my hope - is that the images we create together will help you feel belief. belief in the truth behind our stories - the feelings that validate our existence here on this wildly beautiful and complex earth.
may the balance of truth be our shining light as we create together!!!
contact me for autumn/winter sessions! let's cozy up in your home! let's explore your favorite conservatory! let's check out a historic site!