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!

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.

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. 


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!

Michiana Family Photography - Finding the Beauty in the Ordinary

As I was writing my bi-monthly newsletter, I found myself typing out the phrase, "Find beauty in the ordinary." I closed my lap top and went about my evening but then the weight of that phrase really started to set in for me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it completely embodies what I do as a documentary photographer and what my clients do when they book sessions. 

In todays world, we are constantly bogged down with media: both large scale and small scale, like social media. We see everyone's extravagant vacations, their brand new cars, their perfectly choreographed parties and internally, we start to feel a little less good about our lives. But the thing is, your life is beautiful because its yours. Your daily happenings are beautiful! Whether that means a birth or a newborn or just a day in the life of your family, there is true and cherished beauty there that deserves to be preserved. 

Want proof? Here are some of my very favorite images that perfectly embody finding beauty in the ordinary...

south bend family photography

This image is so relatable to anyone with multiple kiddos. Its such a simple moment. A moment that probably happens a few dozen times a day. But when time is stopped and the moment is captured in a photograph, the beauty just jumps out at you and tells so much about this family.

If you follow my Facebook, you know how much I adore documentary style portraits! This picture was from a mini-milestone session. It took place at a park. Not the scenic, peaceful ponds type of park. The 101 kids climbing all over some crazy playground equipment (no, seriously, a bus showed up about five minutes into the session and dropped off no less than 40 kids). Yet the simple, beautiful portrait was still captured during all of this chaos and it means even more to mom because it is at a park that they frequent and that Sophie adores!

Coloring. I think its safe to say that most families do this on a daily basis. Its a great filler for those down times when we want our kiddos to be content yet intrigued. Rarely would you run for your camera to snap a picture, yet in this in-home family photography session, the vibrant crayon colors, the careful selection by Mr. Cain along with his concentrated face and little sis in the background observing while savoring a sucker all tell an adorable story in a beautiful way.

(I had to sneak a personal image in here). My own home is where I truly learned to see the beauty in the ordinary! I love capturing the fun quirks and habits of my girl as she grows. Since she was very, very young, she has loved to take my books and pretend to read them. Its a simple habit that, in words, doesn't sound like anything special. But in this picture, its truly gorgeous.

See? Its not just the big moments that need to be captured. It doesn't have to be a major milestone or epic event to deserve to be preserved. Our every day lives offer infinite opportunities to capture their beauty. Contact me to schedule your session and capture your family's beauty!

Granger Newborn Baby and Family Documentary Photographer - Why Storytelling and Documentary Photography?

HAPPY 2017 EVERYONE!!! I hope that you all had a safe and great end to 2016 and are looking forward to the new year as much as I am. So, lets start the year off right and answer the ever nagging question...

"Why documentary photography???"

This is a question that I am certain crosses just about everyone's mind. When we are surrounded by beautiful portraits and stylized lifestyle images, it is very hard, maybe even uncomfortable, to think about stepping away from this genre. Especially when most of it is so beautifully done! So let me share my own personal experience that flipped the switch for me:

When my daughter was about 7 months old, we decided to do a family shoot. The photographer picked a beautiful location at a state park and we headed out for our session. Right when we got there, while carrying Baby F to the woods, I tripped and we both fell. Thankfully, neither of us were hurt, but we were both REALLY shaken. My normally happy, never-cries baby would not stop crying and wanted nothing to do with anyone except me. I wanted to just reschedule and call it quits, but at the encouragement of our photographer, we pressed on. I was sure we wouldn't get any usable images through the sobs and tears!

But we did. The images turned out adorable. Because the photographer was just that good.

Not a single one of those photos hangs on my walls.

 Why? Because it was a horrible experience! It was unnatural. It was uncomfortable. It was, well, fake. None of those images represented what I wanted to remember about my daughter! Where was her sweet personality? Our REAL baby smiles? Where was OUR honest story?

I started to think back on previous sessions and while all of the images were great, they just weren't real. I mean, I don't know about you, but I rarely put my baby in a bucket with a bow as big as her head at home! I realized that what I loved about photography is the ability to freeze reality; in my mind, there was nothing more beautiful than our every day, messy hair, baby spit up, chaotic days. That is what I wanted on my walls. That is what I wanted on my social media. That is what I wanted for our albums. And THAT is why I decided to offer that to you. I want you to have the every day beauty at your fingertips, to look back on whenever your heart aches for those moments and milestones. Real is so much better than ideal.

Storytelling and documentary photography is so much more than just pictures. It is a direct representation of your story; of the steps you're taking to get where you're going. Whether that means a messy house, or a pony tail and no makeup, or a baby in a t-shirt and diaper, if that's your story then that is what I want to capture for you! 

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

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Granger Indiana Family Documentary Photographer - "Boy Mom" Sneak Peek

When people see the beauty and value in the everyday, it turns a session into a memory making experience. When this "boy mom" (who also happens to be a close friend and amazing person), invited me into her home to capture a typical day with her boys, I was thrilled. Not only are her boys absolutely adorable but her house is just saturated with rich colors and lots of natural light. Basically, this session made my job easy! Can't wait to share the full gallery...

Osceola Indiana Family Documentary Photographer - Reed Sister Session

Being a girl mom always seems so sweet to me; maybe it's because I have a little girl or maybe its just the cute factor but no matter the reason, this session totally won me over! Normally, sessions include mom and dad so when Momma Reed decided to have a session primarily focused on her two daughters and her fur baby, I was nervous to make it work but excited for the challenge.

From the moment I walked through the door, Miss P was SO excited to be in front of the camera. I'm convinced this girl is going to be a star. She's got the spunk, the sweetness, the looks; she's pretty much the whole package. Where most kiddos like to ignore me or feel intimidated by the camera, Miss P had to be reminded NOT to say cheese! 

Miss H might be one of the most laid back, go-with-the-flow three year olds I've yet to meet. She was up for whatever big sister wanted to do and could make each situation fun and happy. Her idolization of her sister and her love for her fur baby was so apparent and heart warming it made me think MY Baby F might need a sister...(just kidding). But sereously, these girls were a total blast and between the dressing up, tea party and playing with babies, there was almost too much cute for one session! Thank you Reed girls for letting me into your sparkly little world. 

Granger Indiana Family Documentary and Storytelling Photography - It's in the Details

Sometimes, we get so caught up in the "Hallmark moments" of life that we forget to appreciate the little things. It's the same case in photography! Sometimes when clients, and even I, go through a gallery, I get so swept up in the amazing interactions and big, honest emotions that the details get lost. So this week, I am challenging myself and YOU to stop and look at the little things. Notice the way your child sticks out their tongue while drawing, watches tv with their mouth hanging open obliviously, or plays with your hair whenever they need just a little extra comfort (my daughter does this). Go ahead and add those awesome little details to your list of reasons that a documentary family session is the right choice for you...

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at:

IG: bornebackphotography

South Bend Indiana Documentary Lifestyle Photographer - Cherished Moments

Going in a slightly different direction today and discussing my personal projects...

I think it's safe to say that nearly all photographers, especially documentary photographers, challenge themselves with personal photography projects. This year, I decided to take on a modified 365 project (modified in that rather than starting on January 1st, I started my year at my daughter's first birthday). So that means, Baby F's entire second year has one photo per day. At first, I took this on because I wanted to improve my photography skills but then, it turned into something entirely different - and so much more. 

I'm about to hit my 200 day mark and I took a minute (or hour) to go back through her daily photos. It was like reading your favorite, best written novel where you cry, laugh, smile, cringe. You get the full array of feels. Seeing how much she has changed in just 200 days and seeing all that she has experienced is humbling. Having made the transition to a stay-at-home-mom less than a year ago, I was fearful that our days would be mundane and repetitive but after looking through those images, it was stunningly clear how amazing her little life is and how blessed I am to be experiencing it alongside her. 

How does this apply to BBP? Well, it just emphasizes the importance of capturing your children while they are little and making sure that their little milestones don't go unnoticed. It reiterates how quickly our babies change and how valuable it is having images that show them as they are, in unique, beautiful, fun ways. 

So, in conclusion, here's a little taste of the our daily lives behind the lens (please forgive the inconsistent watermarks as I upgraded a couple of weeks ago):

Why don't I post my daily images publicly? While I don't mind sharing my daughter's images with the world, I also try and consider her future feelings as an adolescent and adult. Occasional image shares I think are fair game from ANY momma, but some of her life deserves to stay private. 


Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at:

IG: bornebackphotography

South Bend Newborn and Family Photography / Photographer - Tips for a Great In-Home Documentary Session

Never experienced an in-home documentary newborn or family photography session before? No problem! It's honestly probably the least stressful type of session you will ever experience. But even so, here are some tips for ensuring that your experience is a great one: 

  • Accept that this IS NOT a portrait session. From childhood, we are preconditioned to smile and say "cheese" when someone takes out a camera. (Seriously, its comical. Whip out a camera and if someone spots you taking a picture, I can almost guarantee they will stop what they're doing and smile awkwardly at you). It's not your fault! But seriously, folks, fight the urge. Go about your normal business of loving on your kids and family, pick up after them, parent them, play with them, tickle them. It won't feel like it during the session, but I promise you that when you open that gallery, you will love what you see. 

"Hands where I can see um, Mom!" Logan kept the ball rolling FOR us with all of his fun toddlerisms. 


  • Clear the clutter but don't stress over the mess. Cameras wont pick up the dust bunnies or dog hair (don't believe me? Check out our story and tell me if you see the massive amounts of dog hair that accumulate despite daily sweeping) and if something is too distracting, I will move it during the session. Moving major clutter is a good idea for clean cut, appealing images but the cheerios that end up on the counter and the four shirts that are tossed aside while attempting to dress you toddler aren't a distraction, they're an asset. They add to your story at the time. You wont have legos hidden in every corner forever and one day, when you're not stepping on them in the middle of the night, the site of them in your photos will make you smile.

Dirty coffee cup, paper plate, cluttered you didn't notice that stuff! Neither did I. What you DID see was the adorable breakfast date happening at the bartop. 


  • Have pre-planned activities. This is a wildly important part of a successful session. During pre-session communication, this will come up a lot but I want to stress it here as well (it's that important). Think about what your family likes to do together. Watch movies and eat popcorn? Cook breakfast on Saturday mornings? Play board games? Read books? As "simple" and "ordinary" as they might sound, these all make great stories to tell in pictures! Your daily routines and activities can be captured to look beautiful and frame worthy as long as you keep the activities rolling!

Painting is a great activity for toddlers and pre-schoolers alike!


  • Love each other. Being physically close to one another makes your photographer's job SO much easier and in turn, your images will be better. Every parent wants pictures of their family and children together so making sure that some of your activities include everyone is a key factor. Engage with your children all together and encourage them to play together during the session and you will end up with some heartwarming images. 

Being physically near one another wasn't hard for this loving family of three (family of 25 if you include all their dogs, cats, and chickens haha). 

In-Home Holiday Family Stories - Granger Family Lifestyle Documentary Photographer

It's crazy to me that the holidays are on my mind already! I've started making Christmas lists, discussing what family we will see on which days, planning new family traditions for our growing toddler to enjoy...

Traditions are something I've been looking forward to starting since we got married. While there were a few small ones we did as a couple, I don't think they became fully appreciated until we had a baby. Now, I can't wait to do things like bake holiday cookies and watch cheesy Christmas movies and wrap presents. Those are the memories that I want our daughter to cherish and I want to be able to smile whenever I think about them.

That's the beauty in documentary photography! It doesn't force your family into poses with props that don't have any real meaning to you. It takes something that is already special and meaningful and captures it in a creative, beautiful way. I think that's the best of both worlds! You get your gorgeous holiday photos perfect for the Christmas cards but you also get the chance to cherish your traditions for years to come. Holiday sessions are already booking fast and weekend slots are the first to go. Don't let your story go untold!