the beginning is everything.

I need a goddess moment, she told me. How could you not be having one, I wondered. You’re pregnant, a natural walking work of art for all to see. Your beautiful belly is a caress-magnet, drawing soft looks and appreciative smiles wherever you go.  

“I feel so good,” she said, “but when I see photos of myself I look so fat! I look huge! I don’t look as good as I feel! I want to see what I really look like, through your eyes."

What she couldn’t possibly see was the happy dance my insides were doing. All she saw was a knowing look and a soft smile. I was already seeing the images in my mind, the soft light falling gently on the fullness of her body, her husband, a real sweetheart of guy, just loving her and holding her like the everything that she is.

I start to think about how so many people get the wrong idea about themselves. I know for most people, that process started a long time ago, and now all they can see are these misshapen, haphazard versions of themselves as if it was the truth. And for a pregnant woman, whose body is changing so quickly and dramatically, it can seem impossible to even recognize, let alone appreciate, what you look like.

Why is it so important to have photographs anyway, you might wonder. I mean, it’s all about the baby anyway, yes? You’re just a vessel, the changes are temporary, not so much worth memorializing, right? Pregnancy is the most natural thing, why make such a big deal out of it? Who cares?

Except that it’s magic.

It may be the first and only time you have a physical, visceral, undeniable experience of being a part of something exponentially larger than yourself. It may the first and only time you feel poignantly connected to every single woman who has come before you, joining the invisible yet almighty feminine line of motherhood.

Being pregnant connects you to your body in a way that is otherwise impossible. You may be the most physically active person in town, but even if you’re an Olympic contortionist there is nothing like carrying a life and feeling it move and kick inside of you. And then when you meet that person, that little being you knew so well but had yet to see, you’ll think to yourself, that was YOU in there! Hi!

When my son was 5, during a particularly sweet snuggle session, he said “I used to be in here,” patting my still ample belly. Smiling, I said yes, let me show you.  I pulled out the album of my pregnancy portraits, and we turned the pages together. That was you in there, I pointed, hugging him close.

Turning his sweet face up to mine, smiling the most beautiful smile, he said, “that’s when we were the same person.”

Yes, my sweet boy, that’s when we were the same person. One miraculous intertwining swirling walking work of art, that would one day birth a son and a mother at the same time.

When I had the photos taken, it was easy to think it was just about my body and what it looked like. But it’s only after the fact, after the possibility of photographs has ended, that you realize it’s indescribably bigger than that. As with all things life-changing, there is no way to fully understand the depth of your experience until afterwards, when the earth has shifted, your body has settled, and your eyes have adjusted to a new way of seeing. Before that happens, you need to trust that tender voice inside of you that already knows, the one that's saying "this matters."

Having pregnancy portraits created celebrates your own intimate experience, the person this little being will become, and the feeling they’ll be born into. It’s a most beautiful way to honor the beginning for both of you.

 

Artistic Pregnancy Photography, Northampton MA

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I love working with the specific requests of my clients. When I walked into Emmanuelle's home, the only images gracing her walls were antique images of her family that go back for generations. "I can't imagine what you would do, but I want my pregnancy portraits to look old... I want lace, and pearls, but nothing modern looking... I want them to fit in with everything I have. Plus, I have a really hard time in front of the camera, so good luck!"

After our meeting, images were already swirling in my head. The fabric choices would be key, and I let touch be my guide, running my hands over the hundreds of choices at my favorite fabric store. Nothing too stiff, nothing too ordinary, something just...right. I knew I had made the perfect choices when Emmanuelle arrived for her session, eyes lighting up as her hands caressed the fabric. "ohhhhh, I love this... I can't wait to see what we do!"

Since I knew she was enthusiastic but self-conscious, helping her enjoy herself and connect with her pregnancy was essential, and I was so glad to see her trust and let go.  I love the artwork we created together, her requests were such an inspiration to me. Thank you so much Emmanuelle!

 

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Fun outdoor family photography in Western MA

Sitting with these two feels like putting on your favorite sweater, the one that’s spacious but not baggy, worn yet always stylish, and a color that goes with just about anything.

As they talk, they have a comfort with each other, a gentle familiarity that’s somehow both soothing and moving.

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When they first met, it was straight out of a favorite movie line, with their eyes meeting across a room.  “I was there for a theater benefit, even though I don’t particularly like those kinds of things,” she said.  

What made the night interesting for her was him, and they found themselves talking for hours afterwards.

“He made me feel light and sunny, it was just so exciting and right,” she tells me. As the years have passed, their connection has only grown, deepening with each shared experience. “I can’t imagine life without him. I feel so held and full, like I can be my whole self…he’s my partner in the truest sense.”

 

The appreciation is mutual, of course.

“She’s just the complete package,” he tells me. “She’s fun and beautiful and smart and kind and just so good at every thing she does. And she does it all without looking like she’s trying too hard.” He says this easily, appreciation flowing from his gaze.

Clearly, she enjoys hearing this, and leans back in her chair to soak it in. Smiling, she looks over at me and says, “We just fit.”

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Two kids and 14 years after their first date, we find ourselves talking about life and marriage and kids and photographs. What would they most love to see, I ask?  What matters most to them? What do they most hope to give their children through their family photographs?

“What we want most is for them to see our love for them, and for each other, because what they have is special, and they made it,” she tells me. “And I want us to see us, the way we are, because it’s good. I want them to have it, and to know it always.”

She goes on to add, “I’ve been telling myself that I have plenty of photographs of my children,” she says, “but they’re on my phone and I’m not in them and I know that it’s ridiculous.”

They’ve built a life based on being genuine and real with each other, and have created a family centered around their children and the connection they share.

Genuine love and natural connection are the foundation of meaningful photographs, which I am so happy to say they now have.

Thank you Melissa and Oliver, for sharing the beauty you've created together, and for letting me give your children their story.

 

Natural outdoor family photography that tells your children's family story.

Natural outdoor family photography that tells your children's family story.

Maternity photography in Western Mass.

“Um, do I have to be naked? I love your pregnancy portraits, but everyone seems to be naked!” I told her of course not! But as we laughed about it I realized I have put so much attention on making sure women know they will be totally comfortable no matter what (or how little) they’re wearing that they might think that’s the only choice. I’m so happy to show these images as an example of intimacy that doesn’t require being nude.

As we got to know each other during our pre-session conversation, we talked about all the things that matter to her, what she loves, how her husband feels, what they like and don’t like. Their love story began on a blind date that lasted for 4 hours. Their connection was immediate, solid, their future a given, and 5 months later they were engaged. “I just love everything about her,” he says. “Who she is as a person, how she’s dealt with things in her life, she’s an inspiration to me. I just feel a completeness with her.” For her, “there’s just no one I’d rather be with than him. He’s so caring and honest and genuine, and he just makes me feel so comfortable.”

As we talked their session began to take shape in my mind, and we decided on the key elements that would suit them best: neutral soft light tones, quiet moments, a soft elegent beauty, and most importantly the focus on the connection they have between them. Their key words were closeness, equality, connected, comfortable, and relaxed. My most important role would be to ease their nervousness so that they could genuinely feel all those things that are so true for them.

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Thank you so much for sharing your amazing and beautiful selves with me, and each other. I can’t wait to meet your little guy next month!

custom newborn photography in western ma

“I'm so glad your work is so personal, and that I can ask you for something really specific. I don’t want any photos of my baby asleep,” she said. As we talked, I continued to gently ask her the kinds of personal questions that help me to know what matters most to the person I am photographing. What struck me the most about Cinzia was how she told her incredibly painful story with an exquisite combination of strength, vulnerability, and grace. She is open about her experience, and has done the hard work of healing, which makes it possible for her talk about it and get the specific kind of care she needs most.

“My first child was born still,” she explained. She told me of heading to the hospital as she went into labor, excited and nervous as all new moms are, of laboring and working and pushing, only to have her world fall apart. For her the ending would be so, so sad, the kind of pain no one ever truly gets over. She had the presence of mind to contact Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a volunteer organization that provides remembrance photography for parents suffering the loss of a baby. It is a gentle and beautiful way to honor the truth that your baby existed and was deeply loved. As she showed me her son’s remembrance book, I saw a still and beautiful baby, eyes closed, and the faces of Cinzia and her husband etched with pain. This is all they had of their first-born son. 

“But now it is two years later, and I have Gianluca, my beautiful boy. It is a different time for us. That is what we want captured, how blessed we are, how happy we are that he is here. I want him to be able to see that this is how we’ve felt about him from the very beginning, how he has been so loved since the moment he first existed.” When I asked her what was the one word that described how they felt now, she broke into a beauteous smile and said, “delight.”

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I knew then how to best care for this family, and I was so glad we had found each other. I knew that their experience would need to be filled with delight and love and closeness in order to best tell their story, and so that is what we did. They were encouraged to just delight in each other, in their baby, and in this new and beautiful chapter of their lives. I am truly honored and touched to have been a part of this experience, and it forever reinforces my deep respect for the power of meaningful photography.

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western mass pregnancy photography

“I trust him completely,” she said. “Our relationship feels really equal, and we respect each other. What I’d love to see in our images is the love and connection we have for each other, and how happy and healthy we are together…”

I knew then that what mattered most was guiding them towards each other, to forget about the camera, so that their pregnancy portrait would communicate their deep feelings for each other. This would be about more than what they look like, and everything about how they feel about each other.

Her: “He’s everything to me, I changed countries for him!”

Him: “She’s the person I always wanted to meet. I just love every single thing about her…”

“I just love every little kick… I’ve always dreamed of and wanted to be a mom…”

 

Pregnancy photography, Western MA

Every pregnancy session is different, for good reason: the women I photograph are unique, surprising, interesting, and inspired, and I love to hear about what particular kinds of images would thrill them.

For this session, I was asked to create abstract art full of all the curves, shapes, and shadows of her incredible pregnancy with twins. She wanted to make sure there was nothing contrived, “cheesy” or anything lame in general (no problem!), and most of all she wanted the images to be interesting.  I had such an incredible time photographing her this way, the session time just flew by, and I am totally in love with the images we created together. I hope you enjoy them!

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Family photography in Western MA

Your second pregnancy is often so different than the first. You're busier, and understandably not so surprised by it all. When I photographed this family, we talked a lot about how she would love (and needed) to feel more connected: to her body, her daughter in her belly, and her husband. Also, her husband was downright allergic to being photographed. Like run in the other direction, rather do anything but show up in front of a camera. And, her 4 year old son is shy around adults. She was pretty nervous about the whole thing working out, but when I invited them to just trust and come along for the experience, the experience unfolded magically.

They are such lovely, lovely people, and photographing them was such a gift. Dad was encouraged and invited to just be himself and focus on the ones he loves most, helping his discomfort melt away. Mom was invited to just let herself be loved, and her young son was able to play with the two people he loves most. Absolutely beauty-full.

The blossoms have been replaced by ripening apples, and the baby will come any day now. This lovely family will have this moment  of true connection and love in their lives to enjoy forever, the moment right before their family blossomed from 3 to 4. Thank you for letting me enjoy it with you.

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Pregnancy photography, Western MA

One of the most important elements in the way I work is to not only have the images be creative, but to reflect who my clients are and what matters most to them. Jill is an artist herself, and had wonderful collaborative ideas about what she was hoping for in her pregnancy portrait. The location might seem familiar, it’s where I photographed Daniel’s Senior Portrait. She has an architecture background as well as being an incredibly talented painter, and so structure and color were very important to her. And, both she and her husband really wanted the emotion to feel real, to feel nothing like a typical, canned dime-a-dozen portrait. I think we succeeded! Her husband is the most genuinely sweet, kind, loving man you could ever meet, and he participated so beautifully in the experience. I felt truly honored and grateful to be able to share in this incredibly touching and meaningful time in their lives, and their images truly reflect the love they share as well as the beauty of pregnancy. 


Newborn photography, Western MA

Certain things are a given for Stephanie. Her husband is away a lot for one, her baby girl is due any day now, and she knows first hand that the bond between father and daughter is a treasure all its own. But with the long absences already scheduled, she knows her daughter will need something special to have for the spaces in between.  “I just really want to have pictures of her in his hands,” she said. “I know how it’s going to be, that she’s going to be his princess, that he’ll be everything to her, and that she’s going to miss him more than any daughter should.”

With arms and hands sculpted by years of truck driving, Matt looks like he can handle anything. But having a little 6 pound newborn baby is making him wide-eyed and tentative, and he’s not quite sure how to be. All he needed was a little coaching, “here, try this, you can hold her just like that… that’s right, elbows together and let her just settle in…” As father and daughter relaxed into each other, Stephanie took a breath, relieved. "There it is," she said. 

Babies fall asleep more easily when their parents are relaxed, and their little daughter did just that. She gave him the ultimate proof that dad’s hands are the best seat in the house, and Mom got to see what she needed most: that he has been there from the beginning, and that no matter where he is, his love is wrapped around them, filling up the spaces in between.

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western mass Family Photography

I LOVED working with this family. They were wanting something special before the kids got older, and it had been a while since they’d had any kind of photography session. I love how natural they are with each other, I love the light, I love how it’s real. I hope you enjoy their images as much as I do.

Western Massachusetts Family Photography: Client Spotlight

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the past year, and one thing that has really caught my attention is how truly interesting and fabulous my clients are. I have so enjoyed meeting each one of them, and I found myself wishing they could all meet each other somehow… 

And so, I’ve decided to post regular “client spotlights” to highlight all the interesting and varied things they do! There will be links, photos, writing, videos, all kinds of yummy tid-bits.

First up is Emily Neuburger, you may have seen her on the cover of this month’s Pioneer Kids or been to her wonderful crafting blog Red Bird Crafts. She also has a storefront on Etsy where she sells bright unique artwork for either wearing or decorating your home. She uses vibrant colors, hand carved stamps, nature, thrifted finds, re-purposed materials, and modern materials to make original designs. It’s beautiful!

 One of her latest projects is Conversation Love Rocks , and it’s a totally fun project to do with your kids—enjoy!

 

Models Needed: Pregnancy, newborns (1-2 weeks) and babies up to 6 months

During the winter, I love to take time to create images for the art of it. Winter months tend to be be slower, and so now is the perfect time for a model call. If you are pregnant, have a newborn or baby up to 6 months, I’d love to hear from you. These sessions are very limited, and the style and content of the session is up to me—it’s a chance for me to play and try new things so that I can add them to future offerings.

As a thank you for participating you will receive:

—A free portrait session, style of my choosing, at my studio in Belchertown

—A $50 print credit

—Reduced pricing of 20% off normal catalog prices, including custom framing.

There is no pressure to purchase anything from the session, but your experience will have the same high level of customer service as full-paying clients, and the option is open to you.

If you’d like to have some fun, have some gorgeous artistic images created of you or your baby, and would appreciate a price break, now is the perfect time to come in for a session.

 

Northampton Couple's Portrait

If you’re in a relationship, do you have fabulous images of the two of you together? Or do you just have a hodge-podge of random snapshots that do the job but are nothing special? Having an on-location portrait session is not only a kick-in-the-pants good time, but also the perfect way to have gorgeous images you’re proud to show everyone! This couple and I had such a fun time, I’m so glad they were into doing an urban-themed shoot in Northampton, and I totally love their style. Thanks J. and Selena!

Now this is how to use color in your portrait session!

This is the fabulous Walterscheid family, they are moving to Oregon and wanted something really special of their family to capture where they lived. We had a blast, their daughter is a super-star cutie-pie and Devon was wonderful to collaborate with. I wanted to post these images as an example of how color can be a great addition, when the colors are chosen carefully and go well together. The pink and green they wore are the same color value, and their daughter’s dress is a perfect mix of the two. Here is how to not look too matchy-matchy and perfectly coordinated. Thanks  for a beautiful portrait session, I had so much fun and I know your wall portrait collections are going to look spectacular in your new home!

When they're about to leave the nest...

With the summer comes release. The last day of school, family vacations, relaxing in the bliss that is the warm weather. And then, the fall comes, kids become seniors in high school, and kids leave for college. I am posting some images from a portrait experience late last summer of a mom and her grown daughter who was about to leave for school. She knew it was the end of an era, and as proud as she was of her daughter, she really wanted something special of the two of them before she officially left the nest. We had such a wonderful time! If you have a child leaving for college in the fall, or even just leaving the teen years to enter the 20’s, consider having something special of yourself and your child. The summer is the perfect time, and you will cherish the images for many years to come.

 

Western Massachusetts Senior Portraits

It’s that time of year, when local kids leave their junior years behind and become high school seniors! I love to photograph high school senior portraits, because each one is so different and interesting. I don’t just shuttle people in and out of the same studio set-up, we talk about what each senior is about and then create a custom experience to express the awesomeness of who they are. I thought I’d show some examples of what we can do, because now is the time to start scheduling your appointments. Believe it or not school deadlines for photos are right around the corner!

Here is Allie from Longmeadow High School, she wanted something fun, fashionable, and different from any other location. I found a place that had old rusted trucks, gorgeous wildflowers, old wooden buildings. It was perfect, and we had such a great time!

 

 

 And here is another example of something totally different… Daniel is a ballet dancer, and wanted a specific location with beautiful architectural elements. He wanted portraits that could really show what he is capable of, but done in an interesting and artistic way. I was truly inspired by his talent.

Northampton Pregnancy Portraits

The lovely Abby from Northampton and I had SUCH a fabulous time with her pregnancy portrait! If you can believe it she is carrying twins, and had the babies a week after the session. The veil wrapped around her is from her wedding, and is over a hundred years old. The fan, jade jewelry, and red scarf were all gifts from her husband—I was so glad to have them included in the images. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be with you during such an amazing and beautiful time in your life!

 

Western Massachusetts Family Photography

I just came back from a fabulous trip to Tucson to photograph some of my favorite clients, and I wanted to share! I go to Tucson a couple times a year for portrait sessions, and it’s always so much fun. Most of the families I photograph I’ve been with since their first child was just a little dumpling, and now they’re all so big!

This is Aumi and Eric’s family, their boys were superstars and we had a great time.