For My Friend

February 23, 2012

I met my friend Danielle when we were 5 years old and in ballet class together. She lived down the street from my cousin, and we would occasionally all play together. We became close in high school, spending early morning hanging out in the halls because her dad was a teacher there and my dad dropped me off on the way to his job as a teacher at another high school.

We went our separate ways after high school: she to college at NC State, me to college in Virginia. But we kept in touch by mail (remember the days when you actually had to write a letter by hand and put it in the mail? With a stamp?!). She met her husband at NC State and got married while still in college. I remember going to her baby shower a few years after we had both graduated. She was absolutely happy in the way only a soon-to-be mom can be.

We kept in touch primarily with Christmas cards for the next few years, complete with pictures of her precious son, Eric. We saw each other in 2002 at our 15 year high school reunion, soon after the birth of her daughter, McKenna. Time slipped past, as it has a way of doing while in the midst of raising young children and despite our intentions of trying to get the kids together when she visited her parents in Maryland, we never got our calendars to synch.

A few years later, I received her Christmas letter and it contained devastating news: her son, who had been having visual issues and some learning difficulties, had been diagnosed with Juvenile Batten Disease. Batten disease is a neuro-degenerative disorder that can occur in children of parents who both are carriers for the gene. It is very rare, affecting between 2 and 4 children in 100,000 live births.

Children with Batten disease will progressively lose their sight and their motor skills. They will have increasing mental impairments, seizures and will eventually become blind, bedridden, and unable to communicate. Right now, it is always fatal. A parent of a Batten child once described it like being blind, epileptic, and autistic as well as having ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Children with Juvenile Batten Disease will usually pass away in their late teens or early twenties.

Can you imagine? I have to be honest that I have no idea how she copes with this information on a daily basis and continues to remain a strong Christian with a keen (sometimes twisted!) sense of humor. How do you carry on with daily life, caring for yourself, your home, your child with the disease, your children who don’t have the disease?

We got together the spring of 2007, after I moved to North Carolina to scrapbook together and to participate in the Our Boys 5K, a local event sponsored by a family in Concord, NC with two sons who had been recently diagnosed with Batten. Can you imagine that? Two children with this cruel disease? It is hard enough to comprehend having one child affected by something like this, but two? How do you do that?

Danielle had recently had a third child, a daughter. She was tested while pregnant and they found that this child was a carrier, like Danielle and Chris, but would not have any symptoms. While we were scrapping, she mentioned that she had some concerns about her second child, but had not yet gotten her tested because she wanted a little more time of “normalcy” with her. I tried to reassure her that she was probably just fine.

The following year her worries were confirmed that McKenna also had Juvenile Batten Disease.

My heart broke for her family. I wanted to do something, but didn’t really know what I could do that would make any difference. I made donations to the Batten Disease Support and Research Association (BDSRA), and supported a friend who ran in the Our Boys 5K, and posted information about Batten on my personal blog and Facebook. Nothing seemed enough, though.

This year I’m stepping up my game and with the support of the Lowden and Hawkins families doing a fund raiser of my own: Family Photos for Batten Disease. I will be offering a day of mini-sessions on March 17, 2012 at the gorgeous Hunting Creek Farms in Hamptonville, NC (Thank you to Kisten Hunter and her family for allowing us to use their farm). The Farm has a huge, finished barn, a covered porch area with rockers and a stone fireplace, and positively oozes with atmosphere–seriously go check them out if you are looking for somewhere to have an event!  For $175 families will have a 30-minute mini session and will receive a DVD with 8-10 edited images for their personal use. In addition, all participants will be able to participate in my professional print lab program that allows them to obtain their prints at my direct cost from a professional-quality photo lab.

All proceeds from the day will be given to BDSRA, so your fee for the session is also tax-deductible.

Help me make a difference. Contact me as soon as possible to reserve your preferred time for this special day.

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One of my favorite spots to take photos on Lake Norman is at Stutts Marina. Not only is it close to home, it offers a lot of variety in locations for the pictures. And the sun sets in just the right place to give me some gorgeous light in the evenings! We decided to take advantage of this location for Brayden’s Little Sprouts 10 month session.

When we arrived, we were a little surprised to find some large construction vehicles there as the marina was doing some upgrades. I asked Amanda if she wanted to go to another nearby lake spot, but we decided that the big dump trucks actually would be an appropriate background for some of his pictures since he absolutely loves trucks!

His mom brought two outfits so that his pictures would show a little more of his personality. We started with his classic overalls, then stripped down to his diaper with the hat and socks, took a quick diaper change and snack break, and then put on his play clothes. He has grown so much since I saw him last! He is a crawling machine and he is on the verge of walking. It is so fun getting to see these babies grow!

His smile was absolutely contagious! But trying to keep the hat from his first outfit on his head was quite a challenge… taking it off was just too much fun. Playing with the classic Tonka dump truck that I brought to our session was fun too, but the best part was when we sat him in the soft dirt by the real dump truck. He could not stop picking it up by the handful, and squeezing it, and there was nothing that any of us could do to catch his attention to look up towards me–he was simply not going to be distracted!

10 month session baby boy brayden | 10 month session

10 month portraits baby boy brayden | 10 month session

10 month photos with trucks brayden | 10 month session

10 month photos with truck1 brayden | 10 month session

10 month photos playing in dirt brayden | 10 month session

 

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Have I ever mentioned that I absolutely love photographing newborns?

They are more challenging to photograph than a lot of my subjects:

  • they often need to eat,
  • or have their diaper changed,
  • the room needs to be kept so warm that I’m generally sweating,
  • I’ve been pooped and peed on so many times that I now pack at least 3 shirts to change into, just in case…
  • and they are tiny, little humans who you need to treat carefully and with respect for their needs and more importantly their safety.

But in spite of the challenges, they are truly my favorites. I am touched every single time by their newness, their innocence, and what an absolute miracle they are. I remember when my son was born, my OB (who was the oldest doctor in the practice and had delivered thousands of babies) remarked that he is amazed every single time and counted himself blessed to be in the presence of one of God’s miracles at each delivery. That’s pretty much how I feel about photographing these little ones!

Blog 1 nicholas | newborn session

Nicholas was a little older than most of my newborns, just a little over 2 weeks old, and he was a BIG little guy! Okay, that’s a little contradictory, but you know what I mean. He had also gotten used to s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out, so those curled up types of poses just weren’t working for him.

Can you believe all that hair?! His big sister and his momma have the same gorgeous, thick, dark hair.

blog 2 nicholas | newborn session

During our session, he was an absolute angel with only a few peeps when he woke up to be fed.

blog 3 nicholas | newborn session

During one of his awake times, we brought his enthusiastic big sister upstairs for a few pictures with her new little brother. Amanda is only 2 years old, and she was utterly fascinated by her new baby. Her parents were a bit nervous about trying to have her hold him, so when she flopped herself down next to him, I just went with that!

blog 6 nicholas | newborn session

While mom was taking care of feeding Nicholas and freshening up his diaper, I got to chat for a bit with Amanda. She is such a doll!

blog 8 nicholas | newborn session

Just a few more little bits of delicious newborness:

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I was so struck by his sweet little ears! Love that fine fuzz on his face…

blog 5 1024x682 nicholas | newborn session

I think this picture of Nicholas’ hand, nesting in his mom’s, nesting in his dad’s is one of my favorites from this session. I love seeing just how tiny these newborns are, and comparing them with their parents makes for a great contrast.

blog 4 1024x682 nicholas | newborn session

Thank you for the honor of documenting this time for the newest member of your family!

 

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I love getting to watch my Little Sprouts babies grow during their first year–it is amazing how quickly they change! I got together with the O family for our 3rd session just before Christmas. Catherine has become a little ham! She is curious, and smiley, and mobile.

I so love photographing this family because while they like some posed-type pictures, their preference, like mine, is for what is described by some people as “lifestyle” photos, and by others as “camera unaware.” These are the types of photographs to which I refer when I say that “real life happens between the poses.” These are the pictures that capture your family interacting with each other in an authentic way. In my personal experience, these are the types of photos that when we look at them in the future bring back a true wealth of memories. And isn’t that why we take photographs?

Eight Month Old Photo Session 3 catherine | 8 month session

Eight Month Christmas Session 1 catherine | 8 month session

Eight Month Old Photo Session catherine | 8 month session

Eight Month Old Photo Session 2 catherine | 8 month session

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I have to say that I am a lucky girl in that I get to work with so many amazing people. But sometimes I get really lucky and meet someone who I just click with immediately. Lori was one of those people. Maybe it was because we are both moms to twins? Or share the same hair stylist? Or maybe it is that we seem to have a similar sense of humor. Regardless of the reason, from the first time I talked with her on the phone to the time that we actually met for her session, I felt like she was someone I could hang out with and share a glass of wine!

We decided to take pictures at Davis General Store between Huntersville and Charlotte because it had some interesting architecture and was located along some dead railroad tracks. Pictures along railroad tracks seem to be quite popular, but can  be dangerous (not to mention illegal), unless the tracks are no longer in use. Her kids had a great time coming up with places they wanted to pose, so I just went with the flow and snapped away.

Concord Child Photographer 1 the f family | concord NC family session

When we arrived, Lori asked me what I thought of having the kids tie her up on the railroad tracks for her Christmas card photo! How unique is that?!

Her card featured the following picture along with a note that read: “Dear Santa, We can explain!” Now do you see why I think this woman is fun?! I love that creativity and sense of humor.

Concord Family Photographer 1 the f family | concord NC family session

Lori’s daughter was the fashionista who coordinated the styles for our session. They started off in those gorgeous chocolatey browns, and then used my mobile dressing room (aka: my mini van, Bessie) for a quick change into some lovely charcoals. I think this 11-year-old has better fashion sense than I do! She definitely had an eye for color.

We finished up our time together with her friend, Gary (also known as the supplier of the rope for our railroad picture!).

Concord Family Photographer 2 the f family | concord NC family session

Thank you for such an enjoyable, relaxed morning! I can’t wait to get together again!

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Happy New Year!

January 6, 2012

Welcome to my new blog/website! I know that it doesn’t look much different from my other one, but the bells and whistles behind the scenes that make it easier for me to communicate are AWESOME! I’ve been working on migrating to this site for the past month or so (typical Anne move–pick the absolute busiest time of the year both for my job and my family to change platforms–what was I thinking?). But what better time to launch a new website presence than at the beginning of a brand new year?!

I have a bunch of sessions from November and December to share now that Holiday cards have been sent and gifts have been given and I don’t have to worry about spoiling any surprises. I’ll be working to get those on the blog over the next week while also preparing for a trip to Atlanta to test the waters as a corporate event photographer!

Also, be sure to check out the “How Much” page (under Details) to see some changes in pricing when you decide to purchase digital images (hint: you’ll get a great deal on all prints ordered through me!)

I’m looking forward to another fabulous year with all of my clients, and if I haven’t met you yet, I can’t wait to get to know you!

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2011 11 13 030C 300x200 the c family | family session @ jetton parkI don’t know about you, but I’m not really keen on getting my picture taken. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I ended up behind the lens: to decrease my chances of being in front of it!

I think a lot of people feel a little insecure about having family pictures made. There are always tons of excuses:
“I need to lose some weight first!”
“I don’t know what we’ll wear.”
“Let’s just do pictures of the kids.”
“I don’t really like those fake smiles.”
And those are just *MY* excuses!

Which is why I feel so honored when a family comes to me to have a full family session. I know just how hard it can be to take that step to even schedule the session, let alone pick out what to wear, and then convince everyone else in the family to cooperate!

When AnnMarie contacted me to schedule her family’s session, I knew it would be a special one. She has a great attention to detail, and her kids are a lot of fun. When we were chatting about what they should wear, I suggested she check out my Pinterest board with family photo color palette ideas and wardrobe suggestions. She decided to go with a classic gray, black and white palette with denim, and boy did she knock it out of the park! This family does not look “matchy,” but no one can deny they go together!

We decided to head down to Jetton Park on Lake Norman since it offers such a wide variety of environments to take pictures. We started off around this great climbing tree to try to take advantage of the little bit of fall foliage that was starting to show its colors. After a little bit of discussion between the kids over who would get to use my yellow chair, it was decided that E would get to stand on it for the group picture, but G would get to sit in it for pictures with his dad.

i gKHvtTS X3 the c family | family session @ jetton park
I love this picture! I took one where everyone was looking at the camera with great expressions, but this one? Where they’re all sort of joking with each other, and laughing, and being a family? This is the one that speaks to my heart.

There’s a gorgeous covered walkway at the park, complete with fabulous, aged sliding doors, not to mention a gorgeous, architecturally interesting opening. I couldn’t resist grouping the guys together for a little fun. G was such a ham! Things started off a little stiff, but then I asked him to show me his best “super model” pose. Oh man! He just RAN with that one! He started striking pose after pose, and cracking himself (and all of us!) up at the same time.

i tncDFKc X3 the c family | family session @ jetton park
For good measure, we popped over to the swing for a few small groupings. And yes, I got an amazing picture of E and J laughing into the camera, but this one? With her little impish smile directed up to his big brother, pre-teen face (he was trying SO hard to be serious here)? This is the one that gave me a glimpse into their relationship. She looks up to him and adores him, and even though he thinks he may be too cool to show blatant affection, he can’t resist her. Sigh.

We had some more fun with the swings, and then walked over to the “beach” where there used to be Lake (the water is so low right now) for a few more family group pictures.

Next, it was time for a “family line-up” along those amazing doors. Want to know which one has the stinkiest feet? Well, I’ll never tell!

And then, I decided to get artsy…

i xMTpjVR X3 the c family | family session @ jetton park
Be afraid. Be very afraid!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I explained what I was envisioning for these last few shots: C and AnnMarie having a sweet kiss while autumn leaves gently fell around them.

Sounds romantic, right?

So the kids gather up armfuls of leaves, mom and dad have a little kiss, and….

WHAP!

A huge clump of leaves and pine needles smacks them right in the face!

I swear I had asked the kids to throw the leaves UP into the air to fall OVER their parents, not to throw them AT their parents. But kids will be kids, eh?

Once again, we all dissolved in laughter as we tried again (and again, and again, and again…) to get the image I had envisioned.

i BBhvn2j X3 the c family | family session @ jetton park
And just look at those love birds! After over 16 years of marriage, they’ve still got it. icon wink the c family | family session @ jetton park

Thank you so much for letting me into your lives!

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Four of the photographs I cherish the most are the four-generation pictures I have for my children while their great-grandparents were still living. It is so important to take those pictures when you have the chance! I know that these pictures showing the links of our family will be treasured by my kids some day too.One of my baby plan families scheduled time for a four generation photo session before their daughter’s 4-month-old session. We got together at Allison’s mom’s gorgeous home on Lake Norman to take the photos.

i BH93n4B X3 the o family | four generation photo session
First, the girls. It is so cool how you can see the family resemblance in these beauties!
i tCmZC9H X3 the o family | four generation photo session
Then we let some of the guys join the fun…
i mv6Bh44 X3 the o family | four generation photo session
I think that Catherine has the same color of eyes as her great-grandma!
i JJ9pfRm X3 the o family | four generation photo session
Kim (Catherine’s grandma), saved this dress from her childhood. You just don’t see this dotted swiss fabric used anymore, which is such a shame! Catherine was way more interested in checking out her toes than looking at me though…
i DH2MFMw X3 the o family | four generation photo session
Allison’s dad had been painting when I arrived, so had to get cleaned up to be in the pictures. This is my favorite picture of all of the direct members of the four generations. I hope that they will cherish this picture some day as much as I do mine.
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My friend, Allyson, wanted a special gift to give to her brother and his wife for their new baby. She wanted something that would be memorable, and more enduring than just a new outfit, or a piece of baby equipment. So she purchased a newborn photo session!

I was so honored that she chose me to be the photographer (she has several other talented photographers as friends). But even more, I was struck by what a meaningful gift she chose. Many new parents don’t realize how quickly their newborn changes, and scheduling a newborn photo session is the last thing they are thinking of while trying to navigate the challenges of bringing home a new baby. I know that I didn’t think of doing photos of my babies until they were closer to a month old because I was nervous about taking them out to a portrait studio when they were so young. The photos that are captured during a newborn session will be something that parents will be able to treasure for the rest of their lives.

i HwwDVnn X2 reese | newborn session

I got to meet Reese for his photo session when he was 12 days new. He was still such a sleepy little guy, but was already starting to want to stretch out a bit more!
i mqhgp5R X2 reese | newborn session

He did NOT want to keep his legs curled up in the little nest.
i rGJXnm3 X2 reese | newborn session

He was starting his 2-week-old growth spurt, so we had to take a little snack break, but it hardly took any time at all for him to slip back into that newborn milk coma!
i LHjHsXd X2 reese | newborn session

I am forever amazed at what a newborn will sleep through! I can remember tiptoeing around with my son for fear of waking him up. But once they are in that deep sleep, you can move them all over the place!
i JgDZFH7 X2 reese | newborn session

When I was visiting my parents the week before this session, I raided some of my mom’s antiques. With a house like theirs, there is no need to go to antique stores! I couldn’t wait to try putting a baby in this old wooden bucket. It was a looking a little rough when I first brought it home, but after three applications of orange oil, the rich wood is just gorgeous! And when you curl a bitty baby inside, it’s just too cute. icon smile reese | newborn session
i f9DZWDp X2 reese | newborn session

His momma says that he almost always had his one little arm up by his head when he was still in her belly. I love how he put it up there for her to remember that forever in this picture.
i DfHV7QW X2 reese | newborn session

There is something about a tiny baby in his daddy’s arms that always melts my heart. I don’t know if it’s because the dad’s just seem so tender with them, or if it’s because the baby just looks that much teensier…
i CcMq4ZT X2 reese | newborn session

Thank you for allowing me into your home, Candice and Eric! I can’t wait to see the pictures you ordered once you have them hanging in your gorgeous home!
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I was so glad to finally get to shoot this family’s session! We’ve been talking about it for almost a year, and trying to pin down a date for nearly six months! Let me tell ya, this is one busy family!

We met at 7 a.m. at Jetton Park in Huntersville since the sun rises so early during the summer. The morning was beautiful, but that lovely NC humidity was already pretty strong, even that early.

i zKPWVKk X3 the h family | family session

We got started with some gorgeous, glowy light on the beachy area. I love the way Marc is looking at Johane in this picture! You can just see that he is totally smitten.
i DZNH2xd X3 the h family | family session

Julia was playing at the edge of the lake while I was snapping the pictures of her parents, and I couldn’t resist catching her unawares.
i WPfBB56 X3 the h family | family session

I tend to prefer less “camera aware” pictures, but this one is still one of my favorites from the session. As Julia gets ready for middle school, and all that that entails, it is lovely to capture this mother/daughter connection as it stands at the end of elementary school.
i D4jP5Mb X3 the h family | family session

Marc was so affectionate with his wife and his daughter, and every time I turned around I’d catch little moments like these. Just makes me happy. icon smile the h family | family session
i Hq6c4PM X3 the h family | family session

This is another one of my favorites. Who can’t help but smile on a swing?
i ZBkZ4qb X3 the h family | family session

And here’s the winner for the family portrait! I can’t wait to see how it looks on the 16×20 canvas that they printed it on.
i Kddqq2c X3 the h family | family session

Oh, and Marc and Johane? You better hang on to your hats, because this girl is a stunner. Seriously, just beautiful. (And does anyone else see the resemblence with a certain Glee star?)
i k9MZ3n5 X3 the h family | family session

Thank you for the chance to spend a great morning with you all!

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