This family, the Ellis family, is at the heart of why people live in the northland. I could watch this video over and over, because it makes me smile-and takes me back to an age gone by. A time where people sat on the porch and talked, drank lemonade, and just spent time together. A time where little boys ran around in overalls and came in muddy, when boys worked on the tractor with daddy and the big boy tools.
A time where life slowed down and we stopped to smell the flowers.
This is, at its core, my goal in family sessions-not to just get posed family shots, but to capture families TOGETHER. Because when we blink, our kids will be grown and gone-and I want to give the gift of freezing this moment in time for families to cherish for years to come.
Thank you, Ellis family-you've welcomed me into your family since little Mason was in your tummy, and it has been a joy to get to know you!
On a blustery, frigid -30 below Saturday just after Christmas, Rachel and JP enjoyed a day filled with family, friends, love, tears, and laughter. Every part of their day took place at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, MN, from getting ready, their first look, the ceremony, and dance. We took 45 seconds, however, and braved that cold to get a few shots on the ice of Lake Bemidji! The entire bridal party were fantastic, and endured the blast of freezing temps to get photos that would remind them 20 years later just how COLD that day was! Years tend to fade our memories, but photos can capture it for a lifetime. The warm atmosphere inside the Sanford Center could make them forget just how brutal this winter had been. As a photographer, having only one location and everything indoors always presents a challenge, but when you know how to "find the light", you can still make images happen. It is having a day filled with emotion and love, though, that make those images great. I was moved to tears during the father-daughter first look, and when I was working on their photos, they moved me to tears once again as the emotion was captured. I also had a moment of confusion mixed with mild panic when I looked at the bridesmaids standing up for Rachel during the ceremony. I kept looking at one girl, and was SO confused, because she just wasn't the same girl I swear I'd been photographing beforehand! But same dress, and here she was standing up while they exchanged vows. After the ceremony, still bewildered, I asked Julie, the bride's mom, if I was losing my mind. It turns out that one of her bridesmaids, one of Rachel's closest friends, was sick all day with the flu. She sure fooled me, she looked great! But she hid it and held on as long as she could, but just couldn't make it to the 6:00pm call to walk down the aisle. Fortunately, one of the personal attendants and friend wore the same size dress, and stepped in minutes before.
What a privilege to be a part of Rachel and JP's special day, and to work with their bridal party, family and friends. Julie Bell, mother of the bride, wore a brilliant smile all day. She told me after that she enjoyed every moment of that day. A day that her daughter married her best friend, a day that they gained a son, a day that the warmth of love left no chill to be found. Congrats Mr. & Mrs. Cartier!
Little babes. Everything is new, fresh, interesting, exciting. They look at their reflections, and see themselves just as God made them. And they are content.
Fast forward these babes to teenagers. Looking in the mirrors, they see that they don't look like people in magazines, on TV. And they ache for the perfection that they see on those covers, those screens. They scrunch up their nose, wishing it was smaller. They look at their bodies, and forgo their slice of birth...day cake. And they are the opposite of content.
Their contentment has been stolen by an industry that trades the beauty that God created us to be by setting standards that are not only impossible to achieve, they are fake.
And I think it is time for it to stop.
Working with many high school senior girls, I see beautiful young women that have hearts of gold, their sweet faces radiantly reflecting their hearts, and precious bodies that hold those hearts safe. My mission has always been to look through my camera lens and see people as God sees them, and show them that.
Photoshop is not God's lens.
So, a note to past and future people who may find themselves on the other side of my lens:
You are YOU. I photograph you, and when you see yourself, it will not be someone unrecognizable because I've changed you so drastically in Photoshop. It will be the person of intrinsic value that was there in front of my lens. YOU.
It is time to give back to young girls and women the contentment they deserve. They are beautiful, because they are created in God's image. Period. End of Photoshop brush stroke.
This video shows you just how much can and is changed in Photoshop. It is quite disturbing to me as a photographer, and as a mother of an almost 11 year old girl.
Congratulations to....Becca Sundvall!!!
You are the winner of our Mother's Day Giveaway! Winner chosen by random from qualifying entries that had more than 5 votes, with each vote getting you an entry. Here is her entry:
I haven't had a professional picture taken of my whole family since my husband and I were married in '06. We got married and took full custody of our niece who was 2. When my daughter was born in '09 I had every intention of getting pictures taken but never did. Summer of 2011 I started nursing school and within weeks I had to move my mom into an assisted living. In January 2012 my mom became very sick with a infection and I almost lost her but because of her strength to keep fighting she beat it. My mom had end stage COPD. In February of 2012 I lost my job and decided that it was in God's will that this happened. It gave me time to be with mom, focus on my family, focus on school, and meet people that I wouldn't have met. I have found my way to a wonderful life. I have found faith which I knew was there but I didn't see it. Jesus walks beside me. This March my mother again became very sick and she no longer had the strength to fight. When she got admitted to the hospital on March 4th, something told me that she wouldn't be coming home. My sister Sherry by Gods will was able to be here the whole time. God played a part in everything that transpired through the 16 days. I was off for spring break,Dustin was able to take care of the kids because she had the week off. Sherry had 3 weeks saved time off. The day before she was suppose to leave my mother took a turn for the worse. God knew that i needed her here. He was there the whole time. My sister was suppose to leave the next morning. Mom was at peace and asked to be kept comfortable. I knew where she was going and so did she. She passed away March 20th just 36 hours after we had stopped treatment. Most daughters never get the chance to have the relationship with their mom the way i did. I was my moms caregiver since i was 19 I am now 28. I would love to have a photo with my family and a picture of my mom with all of us holding it. I miss her so very much and I want to be able to honor her this way.
But wait....there's more!! Because I love to bless moms, the top voted entry will also receive a FREE 1 hour family session as well!!
And that winner is....Becky Fellows!!! Here is her entry:
We have a beautiful girl that will be six May 2nd. My hubby & I knew we wanted more than 1 child, & close in age. After months of relying on Nature and still no baby, we decided to see a fertility doc. We began the process of tests & procedures. After every one the results would always come back normal. We were frustrated! Every month when "that time of the month" rolled around it was like going through the grieving process over & over again. This went on for 3 years. The first week in August of 2012 my doc prescribed Clomid, a fertility pill. After much discussion we decided to wait till September because if it worked right away our due date would be in the same month as our daughter’s birthday. We dropped the prescription off at the pharmacy & told them we would be back in September to get it filled. For the first time in a long time I felt this huge weight was lifted! I finally breathed! September came & I was feeling a little under the weather, after a few days of not feeling right my hubby said “I wonder if you're pregnant?” I laughed, really? Pregnant after so many years. I thought he was crazy! The next day I took 3 pregnancy tests, all positive! My hubby simply smiled & said "I told you so!" We joke that it simply took the threat of fertility drugs to get us pregnant. Our doctor now uses our story “Clomid works so could you just need to drop it off at the pharmacy and never pick it up!" Now at 35 weeks pregnant, due only 11 days after our daughter’s birthday, I have been in the hospital 3 times for preterm labor & now on bed rest to keep him “cooking” so our struggles continue for a little longer. I would like to win the photo session with Misty because it took so many tears, heartaches & prayers to get where we are now. My husband, daughter and I have never had family portraits done. I would love to be able to have our first family portrait done once our son is born as a way of celebrating everything we have gone through as a family this past 4 years.
Thanks to all who participated-and thanks to all MOMS!!!
*Winner chosen by random picker of Facebook authorized third-party app Short Stack. Official winner screenshot available upon request by email*