Photography Isn't All Smiles - Getting Personal

Recently, I have had a lot of heart wrenching sessions. When you think of photography, you generally think of smiles and hugs and warm memories. And normally, you're right in thinking that. But its not always like that, not always. 

I generally don't like to get deep on the web, or even all that personal. I like to share pictures but I rarely step outside of my comfort zone and talk about how these pictures make me feel. But I feel like I need to right now.

First, I had a session for a sweet and beautiful family who would be going through something truly tragic. Something no parent should ever, ever have to go through. They would lose a child. Seeing a baby born so perfect and amazing and knowing that their journey earthside would be short lived was absolutely soul shattering. It's a reality that no one should have to face, but unfortunately, many do. I am so, so blessed to have been a part of this baby's first moments (which came in the form of a fast and furious birth, I might add). When I left, the family was not sure if they would get to take baby home.

They did.

I  even had the opportunity to visit this family again in their home to capture some of their love in the comfort of their own house. Editing these pictures was the biggest emotional rollercoaster I've been on, filled with my own tears and smiles. I truly hope that these images bring some comfort in difficult times and feel so honored that anyone would put their trust in me to tell this story.


Then, less than 24 hours later, I saw a message on House of Hope's board asking urgently for a photographer to capture a birth and possibly memorial photos of a baby who would be born at 22 weeks old. Viability at that point is not statistically high. The post was over three hours old when I saw it at 7pm and I looked at my husband, cuddling our own two year old and said, "I have to go." At first, he didn't really understand why I felt like I had to go...we don't get a lot of family time in the summer as it is. And to be honest, I wasn't sure why I felt I had to go either. But then, as I sat there for 16 hours, waiting for the most painful moment of these parents' lives to happen, I knew that God had guided me to that waiting room. And He also showed his amazing grace with this family. Mom had come into labor and delivery at 22 weeks, 8cm dilated and bulging waters...

Baby didn't come for another five days. 

Even the nurses said they had never seen anything like it. This mom's will and determination to keep her baby safe offered her baby the best chance at survival possible. God gave both of these families some extra time with their babes and for that, there are no words. Just praise.


Finally, I spent the weekend serving on our church's photography team. I love that our church is built on so much community and values the beauty of capturing honest moments. The newest chapter that is being covered is, ironically, all about relationships and the church asked for photos that reflected that. Seeing strangers interact joyously, family sharing their faith lovingly all in the name of the lord was humbling, as always. Ending this hard week of capturing truly beautiful relationships for the two families mentioned above by documenting a shared love of God was absolutely perfect and humbling. 


I didn't make a lot of money this week. I didn't get to rock my own babe to bed each night. I probably spent less time with my husband than I have since we've been married. But I can honestly say it was worth it because there is always a bigger picture. I am forever changed by photography in this moment because I, who can be rather self-centered and harsh at times (if I'm being entirely brutally honest), have an entirely new value for the greater good and a renewed sympathy for the situations of those around me. That is something priceless, and I am better for it. As the preacher said in this weekend's message, "God loves it when we sacrifice our time and resources for other people." How true this is.