New life restores my soul.
That is one of the many reasons why I love newborn lifestyle sessions. The miracle of life can be seen on the faces of everyone in the family. A beaming father. A glowing mother. An adoring sister. How lucky am I that my job consists of me stopping, observing, and capturing love?
Enjoy viewing this adorable family in their first days as a family of four.
We are in our final day of August so it only makes sense for me to share my pictures from July now, right? Oh good. Glad you agree.
July was full of some many great memories. We had visitors from California. Isla went to summer school to see if the school we picked out for the fall was a good fit (it was, shout out Wichita Montessori School). And obviously lots of water activities because, well, it’s summer!
What I want to remember about this month is that Poppy was our super water baby. She loved being in the pool and has no fear of the water (almost to a concerning level). She would happily put her face in the water, splash, be tossed in the air, and just chill at the pool. Plus, that little Poppy in her swimsuits. Heart melt. I’m always surprised by how quickly Isla picks up on things around her, and the things she latches on to. She started saying, “okie dokie alligator!” which I can only assume is a mash-up of “okie dokie artichokie” and “see ya later alligator.” Where ever she got it from, I love it and don’t want to forget it.
Durham, NC is simply one of my favorite places in this world. It has things to do, places to go eat, and better yet people to meet. I have many loved ones who live in Durham and this is truly why I love visiting this city. We left for our trip bright and early (early, early, early) on a Tuesday morning and thankfully the flights went smoothly even with a toddler and a baby in tow. We stayed at our friends Brendan and Alissa’s house, and they are among the best people in this world. It was particularly fun to stay with them because they also have two daughters. Both of which are about 3 months older than our own.
It was fun to see the girls whirl instantly into a friendship. The giddiness and girliness that exuded from our oldest girls would be hard to match. As our trip went on our girls would turn into what seemed more like sisters, loving each other perfectly one minute and absolute meltdowns the next. #toddlergirls #momlife. Our days were filled with donuts, PB&Js, museums, parks, gardens, and friends. At night we had quality time with old friends. We ate delicious food, drank perfectly concocted gin drinks, and laughed till our stomaches were sore. While not a restful vacation it was most definitely the perfect trip, and I am so grateful for all of the memories we had this July.
Before I end this recap of Durham I want to write about someone who has been beyond special to me the past 4 years. She will probably try to refute everything I’m about to write, but let me tell you now that it’s all true. My friend Alissa is a vision of what motherhood should be. She is fun, calm, present, wise, and almost unreasonably patience with her girls. She embodies love. And while her girls are adorable, lovely, kind, and smart, neither one of them have been easy. Actually, they have been pretty hard. I know because luckily she has been vulnerable enough to be real and raw with me, and when I was at my lowest of lows I hung onto words she gave me.
The older I get the more I view friendships as a gift from God. That sounds cheesy, and I hate that but I don’t know how else to phrase it. I did not deserve this friendship. I did not expect this friendship to what it has become. But lucky for me I received it, and it has done more good for my soul than I could have ever imagined. And for that I am extraordinarily grateful.
Fellow photographer and Wichita Mom’s Blog contributor, Erin Kata asked me if I would be willing to shoot a nursing session with her and her newest addition, Lincoln for her most recent post for WMB. I’ve never done a nursing shoot before and was excited to try my hand at it. Pure magic happened.
The sky was overcast with beautiful dramatic clouds which seemed fitting for a nursing shoot. Isn’t breastfeeding a beautiful yet stormy part of motherhood? And that hat. With that baby. And Erin, your lips! Holy cow, woman! Obviously, I enjoyed myself on this shoot.
An obnoxious amount of pictures from the month of June. Isla started dance class which we often use as our bargaining tool for good behavior (just being honest). Poppy enjoyed her first month of crawling and eating of all of the food. Looking back of the pictures I realize how much we did. Nothing ground breaking or unique but memories nonetheless. Enjoy.
I have never been particularly interested in birth photography, personally or professionally. I have seen amazing stories being told by some very talented photographers and lovely families, but I have also seen some very graphic and raw stories that aren’t personally my taste. Because of that I was always on the fence about it. Until now.
Being a part in Silas’s birth story is one of the most powerful experiences I have had as a photographer. No, as a human being. Witnessing the birth of this beautiful life into this powerhouse family transformed my heart, soul, and mind. It brought me down to earth and opened my eyes to the miracle that is life. I am so grateful for this experience. I believe a large part of why this meant so much to me is because of the family. Oh words, how I feel like you fail me sometimes. They are friends that have turned into family, but that doesn’t feel like a strong enough sentiment.
Abigail has the unique ability to encourage me and lift my spirit just by her existence in this world. She speaks hard truths in a way that doesn’t crush me but nudges me into thoughtful reflection. She laughs freely and smiles with her whole being. She is intentionally present in my life and the life of my family. She loves us well. Jake is just as amazing. When you speak, he listens completely. He hears your words and the meaning behind your words. His mind is brilliant and his soul is wise but in a way that doesn’t make others feel less than. His wit is sharp and he is a whiz with the Chemex. Judah reminds me of the wind. He blows through life taking it all in. Sometimes he is as soft and gentle as a breeze, and sometimes he is as wild as a storm. I love his curiosity; wanting to know how everything works mechanically. Rory though a mere 1.5 years old makes her place in this world known. Her mind is quick and so are her feet. You must stay on your toes to keep up with her and her independent spirit. She is strong and capable, and I’m excited to see her personality continue to grow. And the newest additions, Silas. I know he will be a great many things, but right now he’s a perfectly precious angel baby.
There a TON of pictures on this post. Why? Because I had to. I. HAD. TO. I had a hard enough time cutting it down to the pictures you see below. Enjoy!
Buh-BYE 31! Helloooo 32.
In past years, it felt somewhat vain and self-absorbed to get overly excited for my birthday. Like it was inappropriate to think of my life as something worth celebrating. Isn’t that sad? WHY WOULDN’T I BE SOMEONE WORTH CELEBRATING?! Geez, younger Jill… you could be a bit of a jerk. But today is a new day. Today I choose to celebrate my life, because now I realize that I am so glad for this day and to get to live it with those I love.
I am so incredibly grateful to all of you who reached out and sent all the good vibes my way after my most recent personal blog post. As a follower of Jesus, I felt like this was a moving of the Holy Spirit to share my struggle. God was asking me to be vulnerable to possibly reach those who may have needed to hear my story. I am thankful that I listened to that whisper. And I thankful for all of your kind words. More than you’ll ever know.
This birthday feels different to me. It feels like hope. Like a big breath of fresh air. Sunshine, donuts, friends, and free moving dance parties all day… and it’s only 3:00 (as I write this). Today I choose to be excited for my existence in this world, because, you know what, I have things to offer. I am a good friend. I am a good wife, daughter, and sister. I try my absolute hardest to be a good mom. I am a good artist and photographer. I am a good singer. I am not the best dancer, but I love to dance anyway. I stop to watch the world around me. I smell the flowers. All of those flowers. I make a mean gluten free cake. And so on and so forth.
I am excited to love who I am so that I can turn that around and love on you. Amen and amen.
Photography is definitely my most tapped into artistic expression. There are so many variables to work with, some within your control and some outside of it. For some people that may sound daunting, but I find the times that there are areas I cannot control or mold are the times I get the most creative.
Case in point: Lifestyle shoots. I simply love them. No sit here and smile at the camera (not that there is anything wrong with that). No. It’s interactive, meaningful, and engaging. It reminds me of when I used to shoot weddings. The best parts were when I was capturing the essence of the day. Now I get to do that with families. Capture their essence. Their vibe. Their emotions. It’s energizing.
Shooting with the Paulys was an absolute delight. They are a straight forward family who are who they are. Laid back, blunt, warm, and tender. I love that. And I LOVED this shoot. Enjoy.
I want to start by thanking all of you for the outpouring of support and encouragement since my last blog post that explained my absence from this blog (and so much more). I discovered that this human condition is far more common than not, unfortunately for those who have to go through it and fortunately for those of us who feel so isolated in it. Writing that letter proved to be cathartic and empowering, and I hope it is for those who read it as well.
All of that to say, my Project 365 has evolved a bit. Originally, my goal was to pick up my camera everyday. Now my goal is to pick up my camera everyday if it is life-giving for me and my family. Seems like a silly thing to have to name, right? But sometimes my brain is a little too black and white so this clarification is actually necessary.
Because I haven’t blogged any of my Project 365 pictures for quite awhile, I need to play catch up. Enjoy the onslaught of pictures headed your way 😉
There’s a part of life that people don’t often talk about. Maybe out of shame. Maybe to stay positive. Whatever the reason may be, Depression is often a hush hush topic. My lovely girls, Mommy slipped into a deep depression this last year. It was sneaky and mysterious. The lines between typical daily struggle and something darker blurred together to the point where there were no distinguishing differences.
I was 100% my worst self. I did not recognize the person talking to her children, and I did not like her. The scariest part was that I did not recognize that person as someone who was struggling. I thought that was me. The new me. And that’s when things took a turn for the worst. I knew that I wanted more for you then what I had become, and I was certain life would be better without me in it. I hate saying that. I hate admitting that it took me getting to the lowest of lows to realize that maybe this wasn’t me. That I needed help. And fortunately that’s exactly what I received. From your dad, family, friends, my doctor, and one really great counselor. All of these amazing people would help me realize that maybe I wasn’t helpless and such a failure, and that it is 100% OK to take an antidepressant.
As I write this, it has only been 3 months since my “Dark Day” so all of this still feels very fresh. I want you to know that this was not you, nor was it me. It just was. And if someday you find yourself not recognizing your own behavior, I want you to reach out to tell me or someone who knows you well that you trust. Tell them. Tell them the behavior that doesn’t feel like you. Tell them to watch out for you and to make sure you don’t slip deeper. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be ashamed. People love you and believe in you.
I hope that whenever you (or anyone else) read this that you find strength. Strength to admit and face your struggles. Strength to be vulnerable. Strength to hope for your future.
My darling girls, I am so sorry for who I was to you during that period of life. With time, I hope to fade those memories by replacing them with ones full of joy.