photography

Little Carson man // 3 months // Oak Knoll Park // St. Louis, MO

It isn't very often that I get the opportunity to photograph a 3 month old. People tend to stick to the newborn/6mo/1yr sessions—thinking there are rules to the stages which you should  capture your child. Really, there is no standard! It was a blast capturing this little man at this age. What a riot. He reminded me of a little man (like most babies), and was such a trooper through it all. He is so laid back and easy going. A total Doppleganger of his Daddy. This guy was so wiped out that he took a nap after our park session—and you wouldn't have realized it during the session. He was wide eyed again and ready to give me a tour of his new digs when I arrived at his beautiful home. I just loved doing this session for yet another of my old neighbors. Only in St. Louis do you make deep, lasting friendships with your neighbors! Ok, that isn't true. But it sure is nice when you do, regardless of where you live! What a blast guys, thanks!

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Jessie & John + 1 // Maternity shoot // Los Angeles, CA

You know how there are certain people in your life that you feel like you've know before? As in, from another lifetime? Well, Jessie is one of those people. She is a kindred sister for sure. I feel like we're related, even though we obviously aren't. We can say whatever is on our mind and have no judgement, regardless of how crazy it sounds. So when I started having dreams that she was pregnant.. and I mean multiple dreams.. I knew it was going to happen soon. When Jessie told me that she was expecting a baby, I was not surprised one bit! Jessie is genuine, loving, artistic, driven and super-duper sweet. She giggles a lot. This baby has no idea how lucky s/he is to have her as a Mommy. It goes without being said that John will be an incredible Dad as well. I see the way Jessie gazes at him, clearly as madly in love with him now as she was years ago. With a love that strong, this child is bound to be surrounded with love. I am so, SO excited for these two!

So here is a little story that I want to share with you all…
Jessie and I had dinner with each other and our hubbies the night before the shoot. Jessie told me that she wanted to bring a watermelon to the shoot, and incorporate it somehow. Most women that have been pregnant know that you can go online and see what "fruit" size your baby is that month. It's actually a lot of fun– I got obsessed with it when I was pregnant with Finn. John teased her about it, and I scrambled to come up with poses in my head of a pregnant woman holding a huge watermelon (it turned out super cute!).

Jessie and I really wanted to get up early the next day and head to the beach in Santa Monica to catch the delicious, golden morning light (the Golden Hour that I recently posted about). Since I was visiting Los Angeles, and was still on East Coast time, waking up early was effortless. I woke up to the sunrise and checked my phone. No Jessie. So I got up and started packing up my gear, taking my time eating breakfast and hydrating. Jessie soon texted, "Sorry but I'm running late! I should be there in 15". I had this strong urge to keep her calm and not rush her. Who cares if we aren't in that Golden Light? I know from enough shoots, that going with the flow is the best method. So I said, "Take your time, there is NO rush! We have all morning". I then sent my hubby, Tom out to get me coffee. She arrived a bit later and said, "You'll never believe this accident that I saw on the 405! A car flipped over! I was one of the first cars to arrive. There was another car or two, but I must have just missed it. What is really crazy is that if I didn't stop to get this watermelon, who knows if I would have been in that accident". I got chills. "Geeze, Jessie, that is NUTS! And you were so set on using it in the shoot! I am so glad that you got that damn watermelon. Clearly it was meant to be in the shoot."

So the craziest part of this story is something that I never shared with Jessie. We got so caught up in the excitement of the shoot, that it didn't even enter my mind. I dear friend of mine lost someone who meant a great deal to her earlier this year in a car accident. And they had this inside joke about watermelons. She has been seeing watermelons and watermelon paraphernalia all over the place since he passed. You could say it gives her peace when she sees watermelons. The days leading up to–and while in LA, I had some odd watermelon sightings. Like driving past a pickup truck on the highway, with a guy in the back loading a bunch of watermelons that had fallen out. I didn't think to tell Jessie about all of these watermelons that were entering my life, hers included. 

I heard once that if you are heading out the door, and something prevents you from trying to leave yet (like losing your keys, or stubbing your toe, or having to go change your baby's poopy diaper), that it is your guardian angel preventing anything bad from happening to you (like getting into an accident). So whenever I get pissed off and impatient because I have to run inside multiple times, or I'm waiting on my slow husband and child that poops every time we head out the door… I stop, smile, and think to myself that it is just a little help from a friend. 

I know Jessie has a lot of angels around her. And clearly so does her baby. And one of them really likes watermelon. 

welcome, sweet claire

I had the absolute pleasure of photographing one of the most ADORABLE little girls recently. Claire is not only an absolute beauty, but she is also incredibly calm. She might have let out a tiny "meep" during the entire 4 hour photoshoot! Mommy and Daddy–Stacie and Hardy are clearly smitten with this little pink bundle of joy. How couldn't they be? It is hard to take your eyes off of this little girl. 

I had an amazing helper with me too–Stacie's younger sister, Sarah. She also was at their other sister's daughter's shoot over a year ago (also an absolute adorable, sweetheart!). She played the part of the loving Auntie, set stylist and photo assistant. Between her, Stacie, Grandma (or was it Mimi?) and I, we had so much fun playing baby dress up! There is so much love for this little girl. What a fun, sweet, happy, loving, good-looking family. I am so, so happy for them all! 

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firecracker ford + bump

I am sooo excited to do this post. I was lucky enough to get out of town a couple weeks ago to attend my dear friend, Keri's baby shower in Atlanta. She is pregnant with her first baby (a boy!), and I couldn't be more excited! t hadn't seen her since MY baby shower nearly two years prior! She helped my sister and Mom do an AMAZING job decorating my shower. It seriously was out of a magazine. And these were the days before Pinterest! Anyways, it was my turn to help her Mom and sister with the shower. It was such a blast, and turned out as perfectly as we hoped. Keri's family took me in as one of their own that weekend, never making me feel out of place. I couldn't stop laughing all weekend with this high-energy New Jersey, super-Italian family. 

Keri is one of those people that lights up a room as soon as she walks in. I love that she was born with these amazingly bright, blue eyes.. but her parents both have brown eyes. Apparently they came from her Great Grandfather (I think?). It's as if her spirit was so bright– that when she was born, her eyes had no choice but to be sparkling blue. She came into my life like a beam of light, when I was surrounded by darkness. Isn't it funny how some people walk into your life when you need them most? We are two crazy wackadoos when we get together, talking a mile a minute and making the most ridiculous expressions to support our dramatic stories (usually about our husbands). We always felt like we knew each other from another lifetime. Kindred spirits you could say. 

Mrs. Keri Lynn Ford inspires me in so many ways, aside from her infectious energy. She has MADE things happen in her life through her determination, passion and hard work. She started her very own company, IgniteGirls® Fitness, which is a fitness program that offers KICKass workouts, nutrition plans and guided support towards your goals (and the support of a community of women in the same boat). Go see for yourself. She is SO INCREDIBLY photogenic. Did I tell you she also does fitness modeling? So getting in front of the camera was like 10 cups of coffee for her. And how ADORABLE is she?? She was doing planks and push-ups in no time– showing off her crazy-pregnant-strength. Keri is a prime example of a doer, a go-getter, a make-it-happen-because-there-is-no-plan b. She has always been one of my biggest supporters, and for that and a million other things, I am forever grateful. She is SO thoughtful, caring and hilarious. She is extremely nurturing to everyone. She is the Momma dukes of her company! She takes all of these women under her wing and guides them to a better lifestyle. But she also doesn't. take. shit. So, dear sweet little Peyton Michael Ford, look out. You have one tough Momma that won't let you get away with sh&t. She will however, make you giggle your socks off. 

She is going to be one. amazing. Momma. 

Keri's husband, Dave is the perfect man behind this incredible woman's story. He is her rock. A total goofball without trying. A true gentleman with a huge heart. And he is pretty obsessed with Jeeps. Peyton is going to have such a blast with these two!!! 

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fluffy face

A year ago I experienced one of the greatest losses of my lifetime. My 12 year old "Fluffy Face" went to Kitty Heaven. Any other pet owner can sympathize with this loss. ANYone who has experienced a loss can of course sympathize. When anyone or anything passes away, it is incredibly difficult. Fortunately, I had only experienced such a great loss as my Grandfather and Grandmother passing away. The passing of my Grandpa was pretty hard at the age of 19. It was confusing and shocking. He was my idol. I still am overcome with emotion over him 13 years later. But to lose such a dear companion like a pet is heart wrenching in an entirely different way. And simply because, I miss her.

I miss the way she would jump up on my bed early in the morning and wake me up with her squirrel call (brrrrrrrrp!!!). I miss how she would snuggle inside my chest and arms, and wrap her paws around my arm. I miss her purr. I even miss when her bratty fuzzy butt would jump up on the dresser and start slowly pushing an object to the edge until…. CRASH! I miss how she would push the door of the bathroom open and barge in, as if she owned the house (and she did). I miss how she would jump up on the edge of the bathtub to get her "steam bath/meditation" session in while I showered. I oddly now miss how she demanded fresh water every morning and evening, but would still jump up on the bathroom sink to drink the water. I miss how she started snoring and getting a white patch on her chin in her later years. I miss that oh-so-fluffy fur that I could burrow my face into. I miss how she played hide-and-seek with my husband and I (no joke), and her tail would always give her away. She would get so worked up and hyper, zipping around the apartment, sliding on the floor. Lol. I miss how on beautiful days I'd find her asleep in a lush, green bush outside. I miss seeing her climb a tree like a monkey and anxiously make her way down backwards. I miss the days that we would sit peacefully together on the stoop watching the sunset. I just. Miss. Her.

How could I forget all of these things? I'm terrified that I will. But recalling them all is also painful. I was told it would get easier with time, and it has. But when I recall those feelings it is just as hard as the moment she left. Sometimes I feel like time crept into my world and stole my Fuzzy Butt like a thief in the night. She was my first child and forever companion. When something becomes your little trusted shadow, and loves you unconditionally, unequivocally–bearing that loss is more than words. Yes, she was old-ish. Yes she lived an amazing life. But she could have lived a few more years. She could have been Finn's buddy. They could have snuggled, and he could have pulled her tail. But what can I do now but cherish those years that I had with her.

I'm sorry if this is hard to read, but it has been cathartic for me. I have bottled up a lot of these feelings over the last year, and it was time to release them. It is time to release her. I want her to be as happy as can be in kitty heaven, and wait for me at "The Rainbow Bridge". What is this bridge of magical colors, you ask? It is one of the three main things that has given me comfort in this grieving process. Our animal hospital was so sweet and sent a card with this poem enclosed.

"Just this side of Heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together…."

-Author Unknown

The other thing that gave me peace was a dream I had about her. I've only had one, and it occurred fairly soon after she passed. She looked like her younger self, but she wasn't a kitten. She was sooo full of energy, you could even see it in her eyes. They were bright with life. Her tail was twitching with excitement. We were outdoors and she was running everywhere and zipped up a tree. I woke up KNOWING she was at peace, waiting for me in this crazy place with rainbows and bunny rabbits. She didn't get along too well with other cats though, so I hope there weren't too many in her little spread of grass. 

The third thing that has already given me peace is the process of letting go. Letting her go. Experiencing the emotion and grief. I came across this awesome blogger over at High On Health, and she went through this herself and suggests a few things. I haven't done them all, YET.. but I have started a few. 

Thank you for reading this, if you did. On with some photos! Here are some of my favorite Instagram photos of the Fuzzy Butt. Follow me! It's all about Finnstagram these days.

You are forever in my heart, Macy. I will never forget the first moment I saw your tiny, squished, grey, fluffy face...

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a brand new baby for christmas

I had the pleasure of photographing the sweetest little family, just before Christmas. The Momma had her third, beautiful baby (a boy) on December 6th, which is RIGHT in the middle of the holiday craziness. I can relate 100% (Finn was born on 12.10.12). SO, I re-assured dear Momma that people would understand if she didn't have holiday cards AND announcements sent before Christmas, in addition to taking care of all of the other typical holiday needs AND a new baby. She sounded just like me last year, trying to do it all. Such an angel! I told her, "I think people would be impressed and surprised if you got all of that done"! Last year I had to be easy on myself and settle on sending a combination birth announcement/new years card (skipping a Christmas card). It can be really difficult trying to get everything done, the way we are used to. But as a Mom you also have to force yourself to let that pile of laundry pile up sometimes (a few days too). It actually is liberating. Meanwhile... flash forward three days and you find me on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floors and cabinets like Cinderella. 

Sorry, tangent! The photoshoot was AMAZING! Not only did I photograph the oh-so-beautiful new baby boy, but I spent the morning photographing his older sister and brother, who built a gingerbread house in the process. It was so much fun! I will be sure to try to plan activities for kids next time I have an indoor shoot. It kept them focused and creative. They did a seriously good job on that house too! These kids were so sweet, silly and adorable. What more can a photographer ask for?

I was thrilled with the light that poured in through their windows... enjoy, enjoy.

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Nothing beats family time

Here are some more photos from my visit to my sister's place somewhere between here and the West Coast, right near Lake Erie to be more specific ;) There is nothing more important than family, so I soaked up every second I could. I took a lot of photos of my nephew Ross, aka "Rossy Boss". He just turned two a few days ago, happy birthday bud! The angel faced, deep thinker.. who has few things to say (but he seems to choose his words carefully, like his Daddy). He likes to call Finn by his middle name, Jude... which actually sounds like "Dude".

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A shoot on Lake Erie- behind the scenes

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! It snuck up on me fast, and flew right on by.

I was lucky enough to see all of my immediate family, near and afar. Over Thanksgiving we all headed to the Midwest to see my sister and her clan of boys. She has an awesome little family; three boys and a Rottie named Petunia. My sister is my other half. I would be lost without her. I wish we lived closer, but I'll take what I can get.

Here are some behind the scene photos, in addition to the actual photos of me shooting my sister's family photos on Lake Erie, (my husband took iPhone pics of me shooting them). You'll also see a photo of my hubby photographing my sister, brother and I in one. My Dad is the one that took the holiday photo of my little fam (see previous post). Any photo of me in it was taken by either my hubby or Dad. So yea, I ask the family to step up if I need to be in the photo. I just adjust the settings and hand the camera over... and pray they get me in focus!

I have some more awesome shots from the visit, which I'll post soon. Here is the bunch from the Lake. And to any of you who think you can't have a photoshoot in the winter, you are wrong (have you seen my shoot of Finn in the highchair while it is snowing- which the Grandparents thought was cruel, but he loved it, I swear). My sister's boys LOVED being outside, regardless of the chill in the air. Natural light is best, and my absolute standard for shooting. 

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ho ho ho

Who takes the holiday photo for a photographer? Usually another photographer (like my dear friend Kelci who took my headshots), or your Dad (when you are in Ohio on Lake Eerie). I set the camera up, gave some direction and handed my Dad the camera. My Mom actually takes a ton of photographs (and is great) but my Dad is the artist. He's an amazing chef, his sister (my God Mother) is a professional photographer, and their Grandfather was also an amazing photographer. I was pretty happy with the shots Pops took ;)

I don't know about you, but I'm going to RELAX (when I'm not chasing Finn around) for a hot minute or 200 in the next week. I have a TON of photos to post though, so check back soon! 

Much love, happiness and peace to you all this Holiday Season!

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a day in the life of finn

I know, I know, I'm obsessed with my child. I'm sure you are too, or will be with your future child. So here is the third post of the birthday boy. I tried to capture a normal day with the Bubba, which I am blessed enough to enjoy 4 times a week. It could be better, but hey it could be worse. I treasure every single moment with him. I don't take my time for granted. I try so so hard not to do too many dishes or scrub the floor while he is awake. I've learned to be present SO very often when I am with him. Nothing else matters. I get down on my hands and knees and crawl around with him. We both have bruised knees.

It is amazing how full of love and light children are. I wish we as adults could maintain that open-hearted nature. Do you see how bright and happy he is when he first wakes up? Do you also notice he went through 4 outfits that day? LOL. You could wake up at 7am every day if he was your alarm clock too... "Baaaaaa Maaaaaaa Gaaaaa Dadadada"!

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