Young girl looking at the ground

I love following a couple’s story as they begin to form a family during their engagement and at their wedding. The chapters begin to unfold, and when their family grows through births and adoptions I love to continue to tell their stories and document these milestones. Seasons often change faster than we can contain their memories. I am so thankful for photographs to engage those memories and remind us of where we’ve been and spur us on to where we’re going.

Several years ago, while I was deep in the midst of our adoption and unsure with every commitment I made that I might have to break it for my own travel to be with our internationally-born kiddo spur of the moment, I had the privilege of photographing Andy and Allissa’s wedding. They recently had me photograph their growing family with two daughters. It was a joy to celebrate the birth of their youngest and watch them cherish their oldest.

A newborn baby looking up, held in her father's arms

As I looked through the lens of my camera there was an instant when I thought- I’ve been here before. And as so often we see in good story-telling, there are themes and strands woven throughout, perhaps not identical but similar enough to connect us to who we were before and who we still are, but yet somehow- different.

I had photographed Allissa in a mirror as she readied herself for the wedding ceremony. And here she was again, gazing not into her own eyes, but the eyes of her daughter.

Black and white photography of a bride looking into mirror while necklace is clasped

A mirror on a wall reflecting a mother holding her newborn

Also, just for fun, I was struck by how Allissa’s eyes also reminded me of one of my favorite childhood movies, Anastasia. Just look at those eyes.

Anastasia Movie Still
Copyright 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

Photo of a bride's eyes looking into a mirror while getting ready

I started this year by taking a trip to Nashville with Brian for a Professional Photographers of America conference. We took time, as we always do, at the turn of the year to plan for what was ahead. We are usually pretty specific with the goals and focus we want to have personally and as a business. This year felt different. We let things feel looser and less concrete. Little did we know how valuable that open-handed grip on plans for 2020 would be.

Our youngest son did not have a successful start to the school year in the school where we started him, though I think that trial run was valuable in more ways than I can count. We shifted gears at the semester mark, and he began homeschooling with me in January. That took a lot of time away from photography and writing, which we certainly did not anticipate in August. The transition home for him has been critical to his healing from trauma before he was in our family, but we have also learned that, at this stage, he requires a tremendous amount of time.

The first week of the pandemic, I fell ill, stayed couch bound for probably two months, and have never fully recovered. My kids all also started having peculiar medical issues during that time. We've spent most of this year having tests run on our bodies and our house, and tracking down what in the world is wrong with us. The best we can figure is that we are COVID long-haulers. We've remained at home for work and school (and everything else) since early March, and I've only been out of the house to photograph a small handful of times.

Over the previous summer, Brian and I felt like I would be doing more writing this year and sharing some of the resources building in our home about adoption, sensory integration issues, photography, and how these all interact in our lives. We weren't sure how that would all add up. And though we still aren't sure, I ended up having the perfect solution for this year and into next. I have been guest blogging for Found Families, an organization for which I volunteer as a photographer for fellow adoptive families celebrating the new additions to their families. I'll share links to what I've written at the end of this post.

A friend and Purple Lemon bride texts me occasionally and asks me questions that no one else does, but that I value tremendously. What am I doing to fuel my creativity? How am I expressing my creativity when I am not photographing? When even lifting my camera feels too exhausting and it stays tucked away, I am glad for reminders to use the gifts the Creator has given me. I have been coloring, watercolor painting, and planning out of the box homeschool lessons for my out of the box learner. I have been rearranging countertops, journaling, sketching, and learning how to style my kiddo's ever-lengthening hair in all kinds of ways he dreams up.

Watercolor illustration

I have also been dreaming about a way to record the way I feel every day through color and teamed up with my dad in his woodshop to make a special way for me to incorporate that into my daily life with watercolors. I might share more about that process as I test it out at the new year.

I'm not certain how I'll heal or what I'll be able to handle in the coming days. That makes it challenging as January is rolling around once again, to know how I can plan for photography, writing, and any other pursuits. For now, we'll keep aiming for recovery and doing what I can. For those who have inquired, thank you for your patience and support.

Blog Posts for Adoptive Families and Photographers