documentary photographer

HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY BABY K - South Bend Indiana + Michigan Family Photographer

Whenever I get an inquiry for a family documentary session, my heart does a happy dance! This one was no exception. This sweet family of three had such a fun story of their lives and they wanted to celebrate their normal through candid family photos.

When I asked Mom to tell me about her family, she responded, “P… and I have been together for almost 8 years, married for 3, and we welcomed our beautiful last November. P… is from Ohio and I am from Ireland, where K was born. We moved to South Bend … and P works at Notre Dame. I am at home with K full-time and also do some freelance writing. We are both historians, so there are a lot of books around the house and we read with K a lot. K is a confident, energetic, happy baby. He loves chatting, crawling around, going on the swing, standing up on anything that will hold his weight, and anything that won't. He likes to potter around in the kitchen when mummy is cooking or clearing up. He has his own kitchen which his grandma bought him for his birthday and which he really likes too (although not as much as the real thing...) His latest favorite activity is climbing the stairs, especially if mummy is chasing him, and he hates being prevented from doing so by the stair gate. He loves eating, pulling out all the kitchen implements and making a lot of noise, and "reading" his many books. His favourite teddy is Lion and he is very good at giving Lion hugs. He loves horsing around with his daddy which makes him laugh a lot, and he gets very animated when we play good music and he can dance along and clap his hands. He has also always had very good fine motor skills and he loves pressing buttons, playing with his ring stacker, etc.”

What I love about documentary family sessions is that they allow all of these sweet milestones, stories and moments to be captured in a beautiful way. Nearly everything mentioned above is showcased in this fun gallery and I hope this family enjoys looking at these as much as I enjoyed taking and editing them!

DEL POZO WEDDING - Indiana Wedding Photographer

Kati & Billy’s love story was the epitome of “meant to be.” As Katie sat in the makeup chair getting ready to marry the love of her life she shared their story…

Kati had moved to Chicago, Illinoise years before and her sister (who was also her Matron of Honor), immediately told her she had the perfect guy for her: Billy. However, fate intervened and ironically, Kati ended up dating his roommate and over the course of about ten years, other relationships and life in general kept them as friends with bad timing. But then, one day, Billy called up Kati and the stars all aligned and they ended up on their first official date. And from the sounds of it, neither had any doubt that this was how things were meant to be (and her sister was even kind enough not to rub in too many “I told you so’s").

Their wedding day ended up being absolutely perfect! Being a November wedding, you never know what you might get as far as weather but their day was cool but gorgeous. The sunset was epic as was the stunning venue at Oakwood Resort in Syracuse. It’s set on such a beautiful lake and foliage was at it’s peak.

I felt so privileged to capture their day for them and I hope that the joy and laughter that filled their wedding day resonates in every single day of their marriage!

Venue list at the bottom of this post.

WELCOME BABY DAWSYN - Indiana Newborn Photographer

south bend newborn photographer

This family. Where do I even start?

They were my VERY FIRST family documentary clients! They trusted me before anyone else to capture memories of their sweet daughter in the throws of their dream-house renovation project. They quickly grew to be more than just clients but friends! Fast forward a few years and a few more sessions down the road and I had the privilege of documenting their sweet second daughter, Dawsyn.

I was so excited when I got Mom’s initial message inquiring about newborn sessions and the chance to see their oldest girl become a big sister. After Dawsyn’s arrival, I anxiously awaited the call to come and meet her! And when I did and I walked into their farmhouse, the first thing I thought: “Holy moly, they’re identical!” Dawsyn looks JUST like her big sister! My heart melted immediately. Big sister was so excited to show me her new baby and it was obvious that while she still wanted (and needed) Mom and Dad’s attention, too, she was a huge helper in the family now.

Capturing these moments for this family of four was such a joy and I truly hope I get to continue on their journey with them. Thank you, F Family, for allowing me into your lives all this time.

MOM & MINIS FAMILY - Lifestyle & Documentary Family Photographer, South Bend, IN

Beginning this photography journey has brought me many blessings; some expected and some not so expected. Two of those blessings are the opportunity to volunteer for House of Hopes which is an AMAZING philanthropic photography group and the other is meeting new friends. One of those friends I happened to meet through my work with HoH. While it was a sad situation that brought us to the same spot, I am so grateful that after 12+ hours in a L&D lobby together resulted in a great friendship with another amazing photographer.

When T reached out during one of our many photography and parenting centered conversations and asked if I would be interested in doing a documentary lifestyle session for her and her girls, I was beyond excited for so many reasons. First, her girls are awesome. Like they are legitimately cool kids! Second, I love having the opportunity to document families of all ages. Sessions tend to revolve around little kids and then taper off as they grow up and that’s so unfortunate. So to have the chance to capture some memories of school age kids was awesome! Third, I could totally relate to her reasoning.

She expressed how she was suddenly seeing all of these leaps and bound in growth and maturity in her girls and she recognized that they would soon be entering new phases and she wanted to commemorate the everyday innocence and routine that has been theres for a while now. Watching my own daughter grow at light speed makes me completely sympathetic to this situation and I was more than happy to capture their “normal.”

And so, with all of that being said, I just want to thank T for letting me into her home and her life and capture these moments of homeschool and girl bonding for her! I hope they bring a smile to all of your faces for years to come.

TIMMONS WEDDING - Valporaiso Indiana Wedding Photographer

This beautiful Valparaiso, Indiana wedding was one I had been looking forward to since doing this sweet couple’s engagement session. After what turned out to be a VERY long 48 hours (think 11 hours at an overnight birth followed immediately by leaving for a 10 hour wedding and hour away), I was so happy that these two got the most amazing weather and had an otherwise smooth sailing day, even if their photographer was running on caffeine and fumes!

To say that this bride and groom were surrounded by love would be an understatement. From the minute they arrived at the church, which was large, grande and gorgeous, there was no shortage of laughter. The girls spent the afternoon getting ready and swooning over Sharon’s amazing dress (definitely one of my favorites of the season) followed by the exchanging of gifts and letters which didn’t leave a dry eye. Sharon walked away with an amazingly beautiful diamond necklace and right hand ring that completed her bridal look for the day in a totally dazzling way.

Nate and his friends were relaxed and full of jokes, too. They all stayed cool, calm and collected all the way through the entire experience. The ceremony was sweet and sentimental with an abundance of beauty and the reception was also on parr. From the elegant decor to the gorgeous fall colors and gazebo, the property was perfect for photos and a party! The night was filled with dancing and celebration and I feel so lucky to have been included in this fun packed wedding! Thanks Sharon and Nate for trusting me with the memories of your wedding day.

Vendor list found at the bottom of this post.

VENDOR LIST

WHICH TO CHOOSE: FRESH 48 OR NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY? - South Bend, Indiana Newborn Baby Photographer

Ah, the tricky question: do you choose a Fresh 48 or Newborn session? Which one is right for you? It's a great question and I hope that this post might lend some thought points that may help you make the best decision for your baby! Here are some questions to ponder:

1. DO PHOTOS OF YOUR NEW FAMILY DYNAMIC MATTER MORE THAN PHOTOS IN YOUR OWN ENVIRONMENT?

When you think about what you want documented, one of the main things to consider is whether you want to remember those very first moments with your baby and as a parent to this tiny human or if you want to remember those first days in your home with the newest addition. It's a tough choice but one that is usually pretty clear in our minds when we stop to think about it.

2. WILL FRESH 48 "IMPERFECTIONS" BOTHER YOU?

As much as it pains me to put this one out here, it is worth considering. Some people prefer to give baby a few days to move beyond the brand-new-baby blemishes, head molding and their own appearance after having just brought a new life into the world. At the same time, many people love these factors and find them honest and endearing (this is me, just FYI). So stop and consider whether you find all of the tiny "imperfections," a beautiful and priceless thing to be remembered or something you'd prefer to skip and have the time to refresh and recover. 

3. DOES YOUR HOME AND BABY'S NURSERY HOLD SPECIAL MEANING TO YOU?

If you are one of those people who painstakingly choose every detail of their child's nursery (cough cough, me again) and strive to make it a place that they will immediately feel loved, cherished and calm, then a newborn session may be the best option for you. Hospitals and birth centers offer little to no control over your environment so you may end up with a bright orange wall in the background of your photos whether you like it or not. If this is something that gives you the shudders just thinking about that lack of control, a newborn session may be more fitting since you can document your own home and preferences that more accurately reflect you.

4. ARE THERE FIRST MEETINGS YOU WANT DOCUMENTED?

Often, there are specific family members or siblings who you can't wait to introduce to your new baby. If this is the case, a Fresh 48 session is the way to go. These are moments that you cannot recreate and are often so beautiful and priceless. Not to mention, documenting your own reactions as a parent seeing your other babies meeting their new sibling or to your parents holding their newest grandchild is a truly momentous moment that make a wonderful keepsake.

5. OR...JUST DO BOTH!

This is obviously my suggestion since I'm a crazy picture lady! It may not seem logical to have both Fresh 48 AND newborn photos taken because they usually take place within 10-14 days of each other. But hear me out first! If you have already had a baby, you know what I'm about to say is true and if you're a first time parent, take my word that this statement is accurate: your baby changes DAILY. In those first few months, you will wake up and smile down at your new baby and be amazed because somehow, they truly changed overnight. You blinked and they're a little bit bigger, a little bit more mature. It's uncanny (and slightly heartbreaking) but its true. Having both Fresh 48 and newborn photos allows you to see those changes and also lets you document those first sweet moments and also gives you the control of photographing your child in their own environment. It's a win win and totally worth it. 

 

BABY L'S NEWBORN SESSION - South Bend, Indiana Family and Newborn Photographer

Newborns are always born perfect. But holy cow, this little dude might just take the cake for most awake and absolutely adorable newborn ever! I was really excited when Mom contacted me about an in-home newborn session (and not just because I love shooting them). This family had only been in their new home for about two months and were still getting completely settled; we even had to reschedule the session once because their couch hadn’t arrived yet! I love getting to document families in the throws of a new chapter in their lives and two of the biggest changes you can go through as an adult is adding a new baby to the mix and moving.

As soon as I walked in the door, I knew this was a perfect fit. First, I was greeted by their sweet and adorable three-year-old daughter who immediately asked, “Do you want to see my baby brother?” Um, girl, try and stop me! So she lead me through their perfectly decorated home (seriously, I left this session wanting to go home and totally re-do my own decor) to her sweet, sleeping brother. He was the cutest little guy and she couldn’t cover him with enough kisses. Throughout the entire session, all she wanted to do was kiss and love on him!

Mom and Dad were equally as smitten with their new little guy. They took turns tending to him and snuggling him and it was pretty obvious he had been born into a family that had an abundance of love to give. I am so grateful to the O family for inviting me into their amazing home and family to document their newest arrival!

(Sorry, not sorry, for the overshare of this session but its a favorite!)

TELBY + TOM'S WEDDING - South Bend and Plymouth Indiana Wedding Photographer

indiana wedding photographer

I adore how every love story is so different. You can shoot 20 weddings in a year, and none of them are like the other. This sweet couple stood out from the very beginning and it was so fun hearing their modern day love story. 

When I first arrived at Swan Lake on the wedding day, everyone was calm, cool and collected. The girls were having a blast getting their makeup done and prepping the little details (like my favorite "Don't Ugly Cry" hankies). Each bridesmaid seemed to take on a different role that helped support the bride in exactly the way she needed. The bride also got a few minutes to herself while she transferred her vows onto paper and then started her own personal prep. The guys were all a riot and everyone was set on having a great time!

At the non-first-look, the groom was so sweet and emotional and it was clear that this quick moment together was just what both of them needed before they said, "I do." Not to mention the adorable reaction of Dad to seeing his daughter in her dress for the first time. All the feels, people! And even with a non-first-look, the groom still got a little choked up when his bride was walking towards him. After a beautiful ceremony and some fun, traditional portraits, we moved into a truly wonderful celebration at the reception. SO much smiling and dancing! To say that these two have the love and support of an abundance of people would be an understatement. 

Telby and Tom, thanks for including me in your day!

Vendor information found at the bottom of this post. 

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Swan Lake Resort

Hair & Makeup Artist: MadeYaBlush - Jessica Trost

Groom/Groomsmen attire is from: Men’s Warehouse

Nail Salon/Specialist: New Nails, South Bend

Videographer: Green Line Media, Carter Surach

DJ/Band: Bov Knows Music, Scott Bovenkirk

Jeweler:  Mark Fischer Jewelry Designs

Cake: Martin’s Bakery

South Bend Wedding Photographer / Michiana Wedding Photographer - What IS Documentary Wedding Photography

First, let me explain what documentary photography is in a broad sense: documentary photography tells an honest story through photos. It does not pose. It does not direct. It does not "say cheese." It simply documents the moments, the details, the emotions and the interactions. It tells the story as it happens with nothing posed or fake. One motto I regularly like to tell people is that it places the value in the real rather than the ideal. 

When we apply this concept to wedding photography, it manifests into a few key points:

- It tells YOUR love story.

So often, we see wedding images that are stunning. Beautiful. Breathtaking. And uniform. I hate to say it, but go look at Pinterest's wedding photos and they all kind of blend in together; they are so, so similar! You and your partner's love story is unique and your photos should reflect that. Maybe you are a country couple who loves the outdoors and who wears cowboy boots on a daily basis who show their love for each other subtly and softly. That is what your images should showcase. Or maybe, you're a super quirky couple who loves all things original who demonstrate your love for each other loudly and unashamedly. That is what you want to see in your photos. Documentary wedding photography doesn't pose or modify your love story; it simply captures it in its purest form.

- It shows REAL emotion.

Ironically, seeing as I'm a photographer, I hate being in photos. When someone points a camera at me and says "stop what you're doing and now do this!" I not only feel wildly uncomfortable but kind of annoyed. Now, not everyone has that feeling, but some do. Documentary photography takes most of that away. Rather than trying to force love into an image through traditional wedding poses, documentary wedding photographers simply wait for the love to be shown naturally and then capture it. I know my favorite pictures of my husband and I are the ones where we are laughing and being natural, totally unaware that our picture was even being taken. This is the same experience that documentary photography offers to you. 

- You get the BEAUTY without the effort. 

One of the main concerns from people interested in documentary wedding photography is that they won't get those stunning images. I beg to differ. In fact, I will just let these completely candid images above speak for themselves. 

- It preserves the DETAILS.

michiana wedding photographer

When planning a wedding, you harp on even the smallest of details. Why let those details get lost? You put all of this time and effort into perfecting everything, it deserves to be preserved. Whether it is the groom's grandfather's watch or the bride's "something blue" or even a fun detail like goofy glasses or pre-wedding festivities, these are all HUGE points in your story and need to be shared and remembered. Documentary photography not only captures these details, but makes them a priority.

While documentary wedding photography may not be for everyone, it is definitely something to consider. If you value candor; if you know your love story is worth telling; if you want more time to focus on your wedding day and your new spouse rather than spending hours in front of a camera, then documentary photography is worth pondering. 

South Bend + Michiana Family Photographer - Gushing Over Documentary Family Photography

As 2018 hit and I got to organizing my catalogs and organizing last year's client work, I started oggling all of the family documentary and lifestyle sessions I got to do this year. Documentary family photography is still something that is widely unappreciated in this region, but I see it slowly creeping its way onto people's radars. And for that, I am thrilled. I genuinely can't begin to try and explain with words the true level of pricelessness these types of photos provide. But, I'm going to try anyway:

- We live in a world of ideal but we need to start embracing the real.

Every day, we go on our social media accounts and we see the best of everyone. Because lets face it, no one posts the bad parts, the hard parts or the less-than-pretty parts. And we start to think that this is their reality and somehow, ours is less-than. I think we need to change that mentality...and fast! Documentary family photography places the emphasis on the real moments. Our kids change and grow so, so fast and when we look at the posed, "ideal" kids in the photos that traditionally grace our walls, are we really remembering them as they were? Is this an accurate representation of who they are in the here and now? 

I think that photos should capture the essence of it's subject. I want to look at a photo of my daughter and not remember how adorable she was (how could I ever forget?) but I want to remember how, at one year old, she was obsessed with books and at two, she loved animals more than anything and at three, she had the sass and intelligence of a teenager. I want to remember how my guys-guy husband would paint nails, play baker and pretend to be a unicorn just to make her smile. These are the moments that our kids will want to remember. Which brings me to the next point...

- Our kids won't look back at the baby in a bucket pictures or posed portraits and gain anything.

Sorry. I do believe there is a place for portrait work and I completely respect the beauty of it and the skill it takes to create it. However, lets think into the future. Lets pretend our children are now grown adults (sob). When you sit down with them one day and start going through those old photos, which do you think will make them stop and smile? The photo of them wearing their best outfit in a studio chair or the one with their sibling tickling them to tears or when they baked cookies with Grandma? 

Documentary photography captures real moments that tell real stories about your family's life. They document real moments and real relationships. They're a gift that your child doesn't know they want but will be so incredibly grateful for in the future.

- They show our real relationships with those who matter the most.

Some of the people who are currently a big part of our children's lives may not be here to reminisce with them when they're older. People move, relationships shift, life happens. But none of this changes the fact that these relationships and memories existed at one point in time. Having real, raw photos that show what a big part these people play and how much love was shared are truly invaluable. There are few things that mean more to us than the people in our lives and having photos of them will never be out of style. Its a ceaseless gift we can give to our children...and ourselves. 

- And the places that matter the most.

I think this one gets lost in the shuffle sometimes but lets not discount the place. The place we call home. The place we love to take our kids to. The place where you made your favorite memories. Whether you are living in your starter home, your dream home or you choose to do your photos at a spot that your family adores (like the beach, or your favorite park or bowling alley), these places all mean something to you. It doesn't matter if they are old, cluttered or messy because it's all part of your story. Even the stuff you can't stand now will bring a smile to your face later. Don't believe me? Just the other day, we were looking at photos from my childhood home complete with the lime green linoleum that graced our kitchen and my mom burst into laughter and commented how much she hated that floor. That ugly floor that bugged her so much at the time, made her laugh out loud and smile now. 

So you see, photos are so much more than pretty smiles and beautiful backdrops. They're a priceless peak into your past. They're a relationship you never want to forget. They're everything that makes your heart smile. Document your moments; you'll never regret it. 

  

Plymouth + South Bend Family and Newborn Photographer - A Glance at 2017

2017 was a great year. I mean really, truly great on both a professional and personal level and I think it can be summed up in one word: growth.

 I absolutely loved seeing my business grow, documenting my first births and meeting so many new amazing clients. I think that's my favorite part about photographing families and births: for some reason, documentary photography just seems to attract the most fantastic humans! Being invited into people's intimate, personal moments and asked to capture them in a beautiful way is nothing short of humbling. And that fact that it allows me to set my own schedule and also be the one there to raise my daughter...well that's just like the cherry on top. 

Not only have I gotten to watch my business grow, but I've also gotten to see my work grow. The wonderful thing about photography is it's not a "master-able" art form. It's something you continue to evolve and learn and expand upon forever. I love the challenge that this presents! Looking back at my photos from early 2017 and comparing them to my more recent work is so exciting because I see that I have found my editing style (something that, trust me, is not easy) and that I have grown in my confidence and started taking deliberate photos instead of safe photos. I can't wait to see how my work continues to change and evolve in 2018!

Finally, I've also had the opportunity to watch my daughter grow through my photos. When you're with a tiny human (or multiple tiny humans) every single day, it's easy to overlook all of the changes that happen in one short year. But by completing my second 365 project, I get an exclusive look at the huge changes that has happened and how much she has grown in her skills, personality and physical appearance. I absolutely love doing these 365 projects and plan to do another one in 2018. (Note: I don't do a calendar year 365 project but rather one by my Miss F's age...so I won't be sharing that project until it is completed in February!)

So in celebration of this amazing year, I wanted to take some time to share some of my very favorite client photos from this year. Some are favorites for obvious reasons (like they're just completely stunning and epic moments) and some are favorites for more personal or sentimental moments but no matter the reason, I hope that all of my clients love these shots as much as I do and that maybe in 2018, I can document some of your family's growth again! Happy end of 2017, everyone!

Mishawaka Birth and Family Photographer - Nursing Session

Awhile back, in support of National Breastfeeding Week, I ran a contest for a mini-nursing session for any currently breastfeeding mommas. I had an overwhelming response, which I was so excited about. It was great to see so many moms not only on the breastfeeding train in the local area, but to see so many of them who valued it and took pride in it as to want photos of it was incredibly exciting. I ended up working with a mom of two girls; a newborn and a toddler. Both girls were active nurslings. Mom was a doula. And the clouds parted and the birds sang. (Ok, I exaggerate for effect but seriously, this mom was such a dream). 

After discussing what we envisioned for this session, it was clear that this was going to be so far beyond a normal in-home nursing session. This mom was all about normalizing breastfeeding and shared her story with me. In an effort to balance mom life and doula life, she had started taking her daughters on "coffee dates" on a regular basis in order to create a fun routine for them and as an outlet to host meetings with her clients in a way that her girls were accustomed to and comfortable with. So naturally, this was how she wanted to document her breastfeeding journey. Um, yes please.

I also knew just the place to suggest (because as she specified and I cheered in support for, she didn't want somewhere cookie cutter or corporate), so we ended up at an amazing little not-for-profit coffee house in Mishawaka called The Well. The atmosphere was so unique and the staff was so welcoming and supportive! If all of that wasn't enough, mom also shared with me that the nursing of her toddler during the session would officially be the last time she would nurse her. To many that's not a big deal, but as a mom who also participated in extended breastfeeding, I can say with certainty that its a big moment! And I am so, so excited to share that moment with you. I hope she enjoys these images as much as I enjoyed telling her story...