Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy Birthday Maria!

This is Maria. She recently celebrated her first birthday, and came by for birthday portraits. I loved her little white dress, it was simple and had a vintage feel to it.

I like this image because it looks very similar to one that my parents had taken of me when I was little. The exact same position, the same simple outfit, the same simple background. Any one of those things alone wouldn't be particularly special, but put together they become a classic image. Twenty years from now, it won't be immediately obvious that this portrait was made in the early 2000's - and perhaps one day Maria will bring her own children for a simple, classic portrait that will become a cherished family heirloom.

Happy birthday Maria!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas! Wesolych Swiat!

Christmas is here and the kids are excited. Santa has visited our house and soon the kids will be tearing open presents. The dog already got her gift - a $6 box of chocolates from Poland that weren't meant for her. Luckily they weren't all chocolate, there was lots of non-chocolate filling so she isn't sick from it. Still, those chocolates were for Zbyszek, not Mocha!

I wish everyone a peaceful and Merry Christmas. This picture is a 7-week old baby I photographed recently. She'll be celebrating her first Christmas today, and I hope Santa is good to her. If cuteness = presents, she'll be unwrapping all day!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Get a head start on those New Year's Resolutions!

I recently photographed this little cutie who happens to be the cover baby for the January issue of a local magazine. Her parents run a local gym, which means that while my busy time of the year is winding up - theirs is going to start in a week or two! January is the time for resolutions, a time for fresh starts. It's the perfect time to begin working on new goals. But so many of those goals get set aside by...well, by January 15! It's hard to change who we are, especially when we don't yet know exactly who the new person is going to look like.

Here are some helpful hints to keeping those New Year's Resolutions and accomplishing those goals.
  1. Make your goal realistic and measurable. Don't just say "I'm going to become a size 0 supermodel." That's unrealistic (although measurable!). Start with a small goal - "I'm going to exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes each time." Or maybe "I'm going to lose 5 pounds by cutting back the sweets I eat." Both of those are doable, and certainly measurable.
  2. Give yourself something to look forward to - what will you do when you reach your goal? Make it something you really want! In the meantime, set mini-goals with smaller rewards along the way.
  3. Share your goal with someone else. This gives you accountability. It's harder to go back on a promise when someone else knows you made the promise! You don't have to tell everyone about your goal, but let one or two close friends or family members know. It's harder to look them in the eye if you've been slacking off! And sometimes they can encourage you.
  4. Look back and enjoy your successes. Maybe your goal is taking longer than you thought. Maybe it feels like you're spinning your wheels. But chances are, you have made progress. Before my youngest child was born, I lost 49 pounds over a period of two years. I would NEVER have guessed it would take that long. Sometimes it felt like I'd never get to the end of my quest to lose 50 pounds (and I didn't - thanks, Grace!). But I knew that even if I never got to 50 pounds, losing 10 - and then 20 - and 30 - and 40 - and 49 pounds - those were all accomplishments in their own right.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Have a merry, merry, merry Christmas!

Yesterday I got the chance to photograph triplets. I've got two surviving triplets of my own, and I've had the opportunity to do sessions with triplets and quadruplets before - so by now I feel like I'm a pro at dealing with three little ones! If nothing else, it does give me the chance to really relax at sessions with "only" one baby!

It seems that invariably when you work with multiples, there will be ONE baby that just doesn't want to cooperate. They fuss and cry - or they want to sleep when everyone else is awake. So it's really a nice surprise when all the multiples are content and willing to work with me!

These babies were little cuties, and I'm sure Santa will have to spend a little extra time at their house Christmas Eve. What a blessing for their parents, to have a house full of love and little feet this year.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

You know Dasher, and Dancer...

This is Matthew. Matthew and I go a long way back. When we first met, he did NOT want his picture taken - by me or anyone else. More than one session was spent waiting for him to sit still long enough to take even one shot. I'd usually end up with a couple of shots, but not very many smiles.

I think I've photographed Matthew at least 5 times now, some times more successfully than other. But we finally made friends in October. Instead of coming to the studio, he came to a church Harvest Festival where I was taking pictures of kids in a wagon filled with pumpkins. Somehow, that got him interested. And - it got him smiling! For the first time ever, I didn't have to fight with him to take his picture.

Yesterday he came over for holiday photos. He was so handsome in his Christmas outfit! He showed his little sister how it's done. And not only did he sit still, he even smiled! I think the promise of a big candy cane did the trick...and even got him to sit still with silly reindeer ears on his head and a nice red nose.

I hope that Santa is good to Matthew this year. I don't know how good he's been at home, but he was a very good boy for me.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sharing a secret...

These two sisters I recently photographed. You can tell how much fun they have together just by the way they play and giggle with one another.

Sometimes photography isn't about capturing the "perfect" pose that will be a classic for all time. Sometimes, photography is about capturing two sisters being silly. While this photo may never become a classic for the world to admire, it will always be a reminder of the times when two little girls were able to just be silly. Those photographs can be just as important to a family as the perfectly posed classic photographs can be, but for different reasons. While a classic photo can show you how a person looked, they don't always show you who a person really is. For that, you need a little bit of silliness from time to time.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Welcome to the world, Iago!

I was lucky enough to photograph the recent baptism of Iago. What a wonderful name - the world needs more Iagos! And the perfect setting for a baptism - a gorgeous church, decorated for the holiday season.

I wish many blessings for Iago and his family, and congratulations on your entry into the church.

A little princess...

This little girl is such a sweetheart, and she looks like a little princess. Of course, every little girl is a princess. But some just show it more on the outside! I can imagine her with a little tiara, can't you? And yet behind the sweet smile, there is surely a little bit of mischief hiding.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Cobbler's Children have no Shoes...

I've been so busy taking holiday photos of other people's kids that I didn't get around to doing my own until this morning.

Of course, everyone wants to do their own thing and I never did get that perfect holiday shot. Gracie wasn't willing to cooperate at all, so that was the end of that.

At least Marie made me proud by losing the second of her front teeth in time for Christmas!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Naughty or Nice?

This little boy is going to be a big brother not too long after Christmas. He is the sweetest little thing, but can't you just see the mischief hiding behind those eyes? I'm sure he will be an excellent big brother, but he'll probably also be really good at getting the two of them into trouble. I can't wait to see if his brother is as cute as he is. What a heartbreaker he'll be in a few years!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy "Black Friday!"

So the turkey is gone, the pies have been eaten and now it's officially the Christmas season. No better time to get some family portraits than the holidays! This photo is a mother and daughter I photographed today in their home. While the studio is great for formal portraits, there is just something fun about shots taken on location. And with the background of the home, they can be more meaningful to the family. Too often families assume they don't have a suitable home for a session - but that often isn't the case! A photographer will look at your home and furnishings differently than you do, and will see the location with fresh eyes. Sometimes all it takes is a little imagination.

Of course today is known for its holiday shopping frenzy. I was able to make it to Target and back in one piece. Really, I didn't have a choice - I needed some new props for an upcoming session and they were the closest place to have them. I was happy to see that while the morning may be crazy, the afternoon isn't so bad.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What a couple of cuties!

Last year, I took a holiday shot of these two little guys - who really aren't so little any more! They had a newborn sister and the older brother was missing his two front teeth. Now the sister is a much-more mobile toddler, and the teeth have grown back. I love how close they are, it's so easy to get great portraits when the people in the portrait care about each other so much. I'm sure they fight and argue sometimes, but brotherly love really is a special thing.

I'd like to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. It's been a great year for me and my family, and we have many blessings to count. Take it easy today, let the holiday madness start tomorrow. Enjoy a day of good food and good company, and know that I am thankful for every one of the customers I have, and that some of those customers have become friends.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The holidays are finally here!

Finally the Christmas season has started! The weather here is so nice that nobody thinks of holiday portraits until it's nearly Thanksgiving. Somehow it's just too hard to dress warmly and think of hot cocoa and Christmas trees when the temperatures lend themselves more to shorts and tee-shirts!

Anyway, I got to photograph these two cuties this week. I've known Conner since he was a newborn, and Jack since he was two. Jack has sure grown up to be a handsome little guy, hasn't he? And Conner...he has gotten MUCH more opinionated and forceful since he was a newborn!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A recent wedding

This past weekend I helped out a fellow photographer with a wedding. It was quite enjoyable, as the church was beautifully decorated and the bride was gorgeous as well! After the ceremony we went to the reception and got some shots on the golf course. I love how the green of the grass sets off the bride and makes her "pop" out of the photo.

Congratulations to Andrew and Melissa - I wish you many years of happiness!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My most recent session - Rachel

I recently did a maternity session for Rachel. She is due in December with a little boy. Here is my favorite shot from her session, you can see the love and anticipation in both of their faces! I love doing maternity sessions and then the newborn session - every little baby is a blessing and a gift, and being able to share the joy of a birth is one of the perks of being a photographer!

Holiday photo sessions

It's official: the holiday season is here! There are Christmas trees in all the stores and the music is playing. I still have a few openings available for holiday portraits, please check my calendar to see when those dates are.

And don't forget to vote in the cutest baby contest. Voting continues through November 30.

Finally, a very happy Veteran's Day to all those who served. My husband and my father both served in the US military. I am grateful to all those who are serving or have served our great nation.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

This is our very first photo contest. Vote for the cutest baby photo throughout the month of November. The winner of the contest will win a $100 print credit from Lovebugs Photography.

Vote for the cutest children's photo!
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The Blue Angels!

We recently took the kids to see the Blue Angels perform in Goodyear. Adam has fallen in love with airplanes and loves to play Flight Simulator on the computer. So he was very excited when we told him we would go to the airshow!

It didn't start off well. The parking situation was terrible. I have no idea who planned the whole thing - but it was a fiasco. It took us 90 minutes to travel about 3 miles to get to a dirty, dusty parking lot. Then we had to find a bus to get to the airshow. By the time we got in the gates, it was time for the Blue Angels to perform.

The kids were cranky and tired. But as soon as the jets fired up, all the bad things were forgotten. We watched the sky for the next 40 minutes in awe of the precision and accuracy that these pilots dispalyed. You can see a slideshow of the photos taken during the airshow. It's not quite the same thing as watching it live, but it's still a pretty neat sight.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

New coffee shop to open in Surprise

We are finally joining the Java age in Surprise - no, we're not getting a Starbucks. We've had one of those for a while now. But there will soon be an independent coffee house opening at the loop 303 and Greenway.

I've been speaking with one of the owners about putting some art on their walls, available for sale. Obviously, family portraits aren't going to be big sellers! So I've been making up some very artistic collages from my recent trip to France.

If they sell well, I guess I'll have to travel more. Hey, it's all tax deductible since it's part of the business! Too bad I don't have any truly great shots from my honeymoon in Poland 13 years ago. I guess we'll just have to go back...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Good-bye Steve Irwin

Although I'm sure we all dreaded it happening, we really didn't think it would actually happen. But it has. Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, has died at the age of 44. He was stung directly in the heart by a stingray, while filming a special on the world's deadliest animals.

My kids love Steve Irwin. They love watching him get close to dangerous animals, and they love learning new things about animals they never knew existed. The episode that made the biggest impact on them was the one where Steve is crying because one of his crocodiles has died. They were sad becaue he was sad. And now they'll be sad becaue Steve is gone.

It's just unbelievable. One of the few celebrites people actually care about has died. So many of the celebrites we read about are famous for their appearance, or what they wear on the red carpet, or how many other celebrites they've slept with/married/had babies with. But Steve was different - he was real. And while he did something crazy that most of us would never dream of doing - is he crazy? - he always made it look like something we all could do, if we only had the time, money, and knowledge that he did.

Rest in Peace, Steve.

Thursday, August 31, 2006


It finally happened today. I got a call from a nurse at a nearby hospital. They had a 36-week baby that had died, and the parents wanted some photos to remember him/her by. I knew that the call would come someday, but really didn't want to get it at all.

About a month ago, I signed up to be a photographer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a national organization of professional photographers who donate sessions to bereaved families. Many families who lose a baby either before or shortly after birth don't have any photos to remember their child by, and NILMDTS is trying to fix that. The group was started by a mother and a photographer who lost her own child. She realized that it was quite comforting to have some nice photographs of her child, who entered and exited this world too quickly. Affiliated photographers offer a photo session, a slideshow and a set of prints - at no cost to the family.

I have lost two babies myself. One was the first-born of my triplets. Nicholas was born February 21, 1999 weighing only 1lb 7oz. He was 15 weeks early. He held on for 11 days, but never recovered from surgery to repair his digestive system. I have very few pictures of him - a couple of polaroids taken before he got sick, and a few shots taken by the nurses after he had passed. They did the best they could, but they aren't photographers. I find it very difficult to look at those photos. I know that if I had had someone there to capture our moments with him, I would cherish those photos.

The second baby was at 17 weeks gestation. We found out at a routine appointment that he had died at 14 weeks. I never got to see him or hold him, but I do know that he was a chromosonally normal little boy.

Sometimes it hits too close to home. The world of children's photographers is pretty tight-knit, and most of us know or know of one another. One photographer I have had the pleasure of "knowing" through an on-line photography community is Blair Blanks. She was expecting a son, after a 3-year ordeal with infertility treatment and pregnancy. She was so excited the morning of his planned c-section birth. Another one of the photographers was going to be there to capture the first moments of his life. They were so excited, discussing all the newborn shots they would get.

Sadly, Blair discovered when she got to the hospital that her baby, James, had died of an umbilical cord accident earlier that morning. Instead of capturing a joyful birth, there were instead photos of a devestating loss. I have seen the slideshow of the morning's events and it cuts so deeply - you can't help the tears, the profound feeling of sadness.

As photographers, we were only able to share our shock, our sadness, and our grief with Blair. Our on-line community was stunned. But we were also touched by the slideshow produced by one of our own. We saw firsthand how much the photographs meant, how much emotion they captured. And I think we all realized how important groups like NILMDTS are.

Many of us donated to help cover the funeral costs. And some of us signed up to be members of NILMDTS. None of us wants to get that call - but we all want to do what we can to help parents who are going through the unthinkable.

In the end, I didn't do the session today. By the time I was able to get back to the nurse who had called me, she had already arranged for another NILMDTS photographer to come by. I was relieved, but also saddened. There is a family out there tonight grieving their loss, a loss no parent should have to endure. I may not be able to help them in their grief, but I can pray for them and ask that they be given comfort and strength at this time. And I will pray as well for my fellow photographer, who has undoubtedly been touched by today's events as well.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Happy birthday Gracie-pie!

Has it really been 2 years already? Unbelievably, it has. We celebrated Grace's second birthday yesterday. It seems like only yesterday that we were going to the hospital, full of excitement and anticipation - and a little bit of fear. Would she be all right? Was it too early? How on earth would we adjst to having three kids? Two kids and two parents is fine, but three kids means you're outnumbered!

I remember every detail of that day. I remember getting to the hospital and it hitting me - I was going to be having surgery in a couple of hours. I would have a new daughter, and we would be starting over with the whole diaper and breastfeeding thing. But then once she arrived, the joy of having her here outshone all the possible sacrifices. Seeing her in her daddy's arms for the first time was such a beautiful sight!

She was 5 pounds 14 ounces when she was born. She was tiny compared to the other babies on the floor - but she was huge to me. Adam and Marie had been born at 26 weeks, and they were only 1 pound 9 ounces each. When they arrived, they were immediately taken down to the NICU and baptised, "just in case." We didn't get to enjoy those first weeks as new parents as it should be done, instead we got to go down to the hospital every day to see how they had done over the night. It was difficult at first, because we had lost our son Nicholas in that same NICU, just 11 days after his birth. They were triplets, and he was born five days before the other two. Those five days made all the difference in the world.

So it was such a different experience this time around. Grace went to the nursery for observation while I recovered and was taken up to my room. She came to the room around 8 PM and stayed with me the rest of my stay in the hospital. What a different experience it is to have a healthy baby than a premature one!

Gracie has grown up quite a bit since that day. She runs around and dances, talks a little bit and loves to cuddle. Her passion appears to be shoes, and it is one of the few words she can reliably say and be understood. Her favorite present has been six pairs of plastic dress-up shoes. Maybe one day she'll graduate to Nike's and Jimmy Choo, but for now Wal-Mart seems to be OK with her.

Happy birthday, Grace!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

We're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo...

Despite the heat, it wasn't so hot that we couldn't visit the Wildlife World Zoo yesterday. We had visitors from California (my mom, sister and nieces) here to celebrate Grace's second birthday. A couple of weeks early, but Grace didn't really mind!

I also got a chance to try out my newest lens - the Canon 70-200mmL f/2.8 lens. It's a pretty heavy lens, but the results are great. The color is perfect and the sharpness is unbelievable. And at the price I paid for it - it should be great! It's not something I'll be using in portrait sessions, but for events it will be perfect.

If you haven't ever visited the zoo in the far, far west valley - it's well worth the trip. The animals aren't very far away from you and sometimes they are even on top of you! They don't have elephants or bears, but they have just about everything else. The penguins and white alligator are gone until the weather cools down, but there is still plenty to do. There are also exhibits where you can feed the animals - a couple of different types of bird, as well as giraffes and the typical petting zoo.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Where did the time go?

So it's already August. For Arizona residents, this means back to school. It's hard to believe that the summer has passed so quickly. Of course, "summer" in Arizona has nothing to do with the weather. Summer weather lasts until at least October. While the rest of the country is celebrating fall with orange and brown leaves, we'll just be getting around to celebrating days under 100 degrees!

It seems like just yesterday I was attending the Class of 2006 graduation ceremony for marvel High School. And just the day before that, I was seeing these students as freshmen. Time just flies by so fast. I am sure that every parent out there can understand this sentiment. Doesn't it seem like just yesterday that your child was a newborn? Taking his/her first steps? Saying his/her first words? Children grow so quickly, and one of the perks of doing children's photography is that I get to help parents preserve memories of those quick-passing stages.

Where did the summer go? It feels like I did so little, and yet the reality is I did quite a bit. Every summer vacation starts with grand plans, the feeling that we are going to accomplish great things with the weeks ahead of us. What did I do this summer? I traveled - to France, California, Payson. I rode my bicycle, getting in exercise even though it meant getting up at 5:30 each morning to beat the heat. I spent time with my children, took them swimming and to the library. I read lots of books and did a lot of scrapbooking. I shot my first wedding, and did a lot of photo sessions. So much and yet it feels like so little now that it's over.

School will start for my entire family on Monday. The new year is filled with anticipation and excitement. I think "this is the year that my students will all learn to speak perfect French! I will be the best teacher ever and I will change their lives!" That lasts until about September, when I inevitably realize that some students just don't want to learn French, and they don't really want their lives changed. But I will continue to do my best, showing up every morning with a smile and making them all feel welcome. I hope that all of your children have teachers who care for them and will love them as much as you do, and I wish you all the best of luck in whatever post-summer endeavors you have before you.