storytelling photography

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!

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.

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!

Plymouth + South Bend Family Photographer - The H Family

With documentary photography being a new style to the Michiana area, its always so amazing to meet a family that just "gets it." And that was the case with the H family! From our very first email, it was obvious that we were on the same page: we both value real, honest moments as a family. When we set up our session, I knew this would be a great one!

This family of three was so fun and light hearted and completely natural. We started the session with one of their favorite family activities which was a walk to the river from their home. During the walk, I was able to snag some fun moments and document some silly toddler habits. When we got to the water, they sat and played together in the grass and talked about the non-existent fish in the water.

When we got back to the house, the family decided to decorate pumpkins. They had everything from feathers to sequins to puff paint. It turned into one of those hilariously relatable endeavors where the toddler enjoys it but the parents REALLY enjoy it. After pumpkins came a quick snack before they headed out to a Halloween party. The sweet, quiet moments in the family room were a perfect representation of a normal day in their household. Hearing mom's rave reviews of her gallery and knowing that I was able to document her family just as it is in a way that will make her smile in the days and years to come is truly a joy. 

In-home First Birthday Milestone Session - Niles, Michigan

People don't alway associate lifestyle photography with milestone sessions but I'm SO glad that Momma K did! I had such a good time hanging out with this sweet little guy right before his first birthday to capture all of his fun milestones and silly habits. Baby S had a double ear infection but you'd never know it based on how happy and laid back he was the entire time I was there. I love capturing the simple things like his favorite toys, story time and bath time for his parents to look back on in the years to come so that they can remember everything about this fleeting moment in time. Happy Birthday big guy!

Notre Dame Family Photo Session - Go Irish!

While I have my documentary style, I never mind dabbling into lifestyle, especially when it's for an amazing family like this in a nearly equally amazing setting! This sweet family is here in the area for Dad's job and as he finishes up his Notre Dame project and they get ready to move out of state (sob), they wanted some commemorative photos of their time living on Eddy Street Commons and frequenting the amazing university. It was a super hot day and we were fighting the midday sun, but when your family is this fantastic, your photos demonstrate it...

Before and After - South Bend Michiana Family & Wedding Photographer

I have a confession: one of my guilty pleasures is before and after photos. It doesn't matter what of, I just love looking at them! I couldn't even begin to tell you why, but it's just satisfying. And I'm willing to bet that many folks out there feel the same way so I'm going to double dip here and give you the satisfaction of many before and afters as well as explaining why it is so important to hire a photographer who knows what they are doing beyond just pressing a shutter button...

Mixed Lighting. It happens.

One of the biggest challenges of being a photographer who shoots a good portion of their sessions indoors (no matter if it is a church, reception hall, hospital room or family room) is that you frequently have to deal with mixed lighting. This may not sound like a big deal; how hard is it to balance out warm lightbulb light and cool window light. Um, it's hard. Like super hard. Like lets-just-throw-everything-in-black-and-white-and-call-it-a-day hard. This is when having extensive knowledge in post processing becomes so immensely important! It can save an otherwise asethetically unappealing photo.

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Just look at the photo above. There is really soft, yellow light on the left and really hard, blue light on the right. There is no way I would provide a client with a photo that was so unbalanced as that left image! And so off to Lightroom and Photoshop we go and after some [really obsessive] editing, I felt comfortable and even pretty pleased with the outcome of this lovely family photo.

Its gives the photographer a voice and it lets you connect to specific style.

The fact of the matter is very simple: editing is a way for a photographer to stand out (or blend in) and give their work some personality. This also lets you as the consumer, find an editing style that you really connect with and then choose a photographer that most appeals to you.

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Some people like the matte and airy look and while I find those images truly beautiful and soft, I lean more towards the clear, vibrant and even sometimes moodier edits. It is just like a clothing style; what works for some doesn't work for others!

Sometimes, it changes just enough.

So many times, photographers take a photo that SOOC (straight out of camera) is barely sub par and it takes some post processing to give it that little bump into being interesting and artistic.

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Knowing how to manipulate a photo just enough that it still tells an honest story but looks even more powerful and beautiful is essential to great photos.

Sometimes, it changes everything.

And just like that, a lovely but very flat image suddenly jumps off the screen with it's breathtaking drama. The emotion is intensified with the colors and balance. The setting can truly be appreciated for its simplistic beauty. Everything suddenly comes together.

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michiana wedding photographer
south bend birth photographer

So there you have it! Hopefully, even if you didn't read the text, the before and afters told the story well enough to convince you that photography is more than just the good camera and artistic eye. Its all about balance and understanding and patience (oh, so much patience). I encourage every reader and viewer out there to find a photographer whose style speaks to you and let them tell your story! 

Lifestyle Family Photos in South Bend, IN - Why You Should Consider Lifestyle Images for Your Fall Photos

Its no secret that fall is a photographer's busiest season! And for good reason; the colors are gorgeous, the temperatures are cool and comfortable and the evening light is spectacular. Its the trifecta for a great family photo. But keep in mind that it takes more than a great environment to make an amazing photo, which is where you have to decide what style is most fitting of your family. I'd like to share my thoughts on why documentary and lifestyle photos might be a great fit for you and your family:

1). They're unique.

Every family is so different and so unique and your pictures should be, too. So often, you will see the traditional ad pop up for fall minis on a specific date in a specific location. These images are always gorgeous and well set-up...but they all look alike! Each family that comes through is getting the same setting and the same poses and while they are lovely outcomes, do they really tell your family's story? Your family is so beautiful and each person in it has their own personalities that deserve to shine through and make your images unique from the session before and after yours. This is where lifestyle family photos come in and ensure that no two sessions are alike. 

 I love this fall favorite! This little guy was a mover so having a photo like this allows you to capture him exactly as he was (a rambunctious two year old) in a beautiful way.

I love this fall favorite! This little guy was a mover so having a photo like this allows you to capture him exactly as he was (a rambunctious two year old) in a beautiful way.

 This beautiful family bought this farm house in order to totally renovate it and turn it into their forever home. This photo isn't just beautiful, it tells the story of their family's journey, too!

This beautiful family bought this farm house in order to totally renovate it and turn it into their forever home. This photo isn't just beautiful, it tells the story of their family's journey, too!

 Who knew cows could be so entertaining? Lifestyle images let us relax and enjoy ourselves but still result in breathtaking photos. 

Who knew cows could be so entertaining? Lifestyle images let us relax and enjoy ourselves but still result in breathtaking photos. 

2). They capture the truth.

When you hang a family photo on the wall or send out your holiday card, do the images capture the sassy attitude of your youngest daughter? Or your oldest son's silly side? Or your husband's amazing genuine smile? Do they showcase how you interact as a family? These are all things that should immediately come to the surface when you look at your family photos. Lifestyle images tell your family's honest, candid story in a beautiful way.

 This family was Silly with a capital "S" and it shows in this photo. Everyone's personality shined through and I don't doubt for a second that mom can't look at this image without smiling. 

This family was Silly with a capital "S" and it shows in this photo. Everyone's personality shined through and I don't doubt for a second that mom can't look at this image without smiling. 

 This little girl had so much joy in her heart that all of her older siblings were drawn to her.

This little girl had so much joy in her heart that all of her older siblings were drawn to her.

 In between the family photos, Baby G just couldn't resist her kitten and chickens. I loved that not only could we get some fabulous family portraits, but we could also capture this girl's amazing heart for animals and the obvious nurturing of that love from her momma. 

In between the family photos, Baby G just couldn't resist her kitten and chickens. I loved that not only could we get some fabulous family portraits, but we could also capture this girl's amazing heart for animals and the obvious nurturing of that love from her momma. 

3). They can be fun - and therefore, beautiful.

Lets face it, when the topic of family photos comes up, some of your family members might not jump for joy. Rarely do people feel entirely comfortable in front of a camera and unfortunately, that often shows through in the images via uncomfortable poses and forced smiles. Lifestyle photography simply captures your family as it is; interacting with one another in a much more natural way. When I plan a family session, I always suggest having a few fun family activities planned (bubbles, a book, apple picking, pumpkin decorating, etc) so that everyone has something else to focus on besides the camera clicking in the background. The results speak for themselves:

 For this session, we visited a local fall farm fair and it is safe to say that this may have been one of the most unforced, natural sessions I've had. Everyone had a great time! 

For this session, we visited a local fall farm fair and it is safe to say that this may have been one of the most unforced, natural sessions I've had. Everyone had a great time! 

 When no one is telling you to "look here and smile," you get some pretty amazing candid moments. Can't you just see every personality in this one image?

When no one is telling you to "look here and smile," you get some pretty amazing candid moments. Can't you just see every personality in this one image?

 First time carving pumpkins? What a fantastic idea for a session!

First time carving pumpkins? What a fantastic idea for a session!

BONUS: The outtakes are epic. 

 I am TOO big enough to pick up this giant pumpkin!!!

I am TOO big enough to pick up this giant pumpkin!!!

 Ok, so maybe not everyone in this one is happy, but its still one of my favorite photos because it tells such an honest story!

Ok, so maybe not everyone in this one is happy, but its still one of my favorite photos because it tells such an honest story!

 That's a wrap, everyone!

That's a wrap, everyone!

So this fall, why don't you step outside the box and beyond the traditional. Let your family's candid beauty shine through. CONTACT BBP today to book your session. 

Fresh 48 Newborn Photography + South Bend and Michiana / Baby Lindsay Sneak Peek

This sweet, tiny little girl decided to join this world five weeks early! Prayers to this girl as she adjusts to life earthside. I can't wait to share Baby Lindsay's entire birth story and gallery, but until then, here are some sneak peeks to give everyone a quick adorable newborn fix in a tiny preemie package...

South Bend Family Photographer / South Bend Family Photography - A Personal Project: My Tiny Equestrian

In case you missed it on my Facebook page, we have added a new member to our family: Knox. Knox is a 24 year old Quarter Horse. 

Some back story: I grew up riding horses from around 8 years old into adulthood. It was one of those things where the first time I rode, it just clicked. It was natural, it was fun and I was really, really good at it. What started off as a hobby turned quickly into an obsession and I pretty much lived at the barn. Throughout junior high and high school, I owned three horses, trained others, showed all over the country at a National level and found peace and love at the barn.

Flash forward: My daughter is two. I haven't owned a horse in several years (sniff). For about six months, Miss F is just drawn to horses; she plays pretend horses, we have plastic horses everywhere, she begs to see her friend's pony. My husband says I'm nuts, she's just two, she loves everything. I reach out to an old horse show friend who is now a trainer and she mentions she has a client with a perfect old gelding who would love some extra affection and treats. Despite some dragging of the feet from my hubs, Knox was suddenly a part of our crazy family! 

I wasn't totally convinced myself, that I wasn't wishful thinking Miss F's love for horses. That is, until we started going to the barn and riding. Then it all became abundantly clear (even to my skeptical hubby). I will just let the pictures speak for themselves...

Clearly, this love is not imagined. The bond between these two is undeniable. This docile old giant perks right up when he sees her (and no, not just because she frequently comes baring treats). He snuffles her hair and teases her; he's infinitely patient and calm. She is enthusiastic and eager to learn and she adores her big gelding. I can't wait to continue the "My Tiny Equestrian" project and document the journey of Miss F and Knox!

Granger Newborn Photographer + Family Photographer: Family of Five

When a family grows and a new baby is brought into the equation, everything suddenly changes. Sometimes this looks like loving chaos. And sometimes, every now and then, it just look meant to be. That is how this newborn/family session with the N family went. Their family grew to a total of five, with the oldest sibling being only five. What should, in theory, be utter craziness was just so loving, comfortable and fun. 

From the minute I got there, the kids were excited to show what great big siblings they were to their new baby brother. Between helping mom feed baby to taking turns holding him, they were absolute naturals. Once Baby was settled and in full blown momma-milk coma, it was upstairs for story time with Dad. I loved how into the story both the older kiddos got; complete with singing and shaking their booties (and yes, I got that on video - which I can't wait to share down the road! Stay tuned.). 

After stories was crafts. Mom wanted to do a fun family canvas with little hand and feet prints to go underneath. This ended up as such a fun project for the kids, and even though Mr. Toddler decided to taste some paint and also decorate his jeans and feet, the final product was super cute. This was such a fun session and I feel so lucky to have been a part of their morning!

South Bend Family Photography - It's a Special Day

I wrote this last night, right after putting my not-so-baby baby to bed:

"Tonight I went to bed with stickers on my hands. She carefully placed them there and counted them happily only to announce I needed more and scampered off to retreive them. I could have taken them off. I could have put her straight to bed without rocking her. I could have. But the thing is, tomorrow she may not decorate me with stickers or even fit in my arms comfortably enough to fall asleep. So tonight, I sleep with stickers and tomorrow my baby turns two."