Storytelling photographer

South Bend Indiana Birth, Newborn and Family Photography - The Image vs. the Pull Back

So many times in family documentary photography, I hear the common concern that the house just isn't a good setting. It's too "old," too cluttered, too small, too dark, {insert any common qualm we all have about our own homes}. Many people genuinely feel like this will inhibit their images but I am here to tell you: they're wrong. Maybe not wrong, but misinformed. 

Your house is part of your story.

Empty walls, couch clutter, bummy clothes. None of that matters when I see this photo. All I see is my awesome husband bonding with our adorable baby.

I like to start by pointing that out. So many times, we get caught up in the "ideal" and this includes our homes. I'm absolutely guilty of this; I love decorating my home and it drives me absolutely crazy when there is clutter. And all of those concerns I listed above about homes (old, small, dark) - my house could be put into all of those. But when I look at pictures of my family a year ago and see the pillows, blankets and unhung clocks laying around our then un-renovated living room, it brings a true and honest smile to my face. This was our story a year ago and the plain walls and clutter doesn't bother me in the slightest. I can promise that it will be the same for you when you look back at your images in years to come. You wont even notice the clutter and if you do, it will likely just bring back all the feels that come with reminiscing about your younger children. 

The image can be great because there's the composition of the photo vs. the "pullback."

The pullback is what photographers refer to when describing the full setting of an image or the "wide shot." Often, the pull back is shockingly different than the actual image. Part of what makes an in-home photographer "good" at their job is being able to find the best layout and composition for an image within the setting they are presented. Just take a look at these images and then their pullback counterparts:

Final Image.

Final Image.

Pullback 

Pullback 

Final Image

Final Image

Pullback

Pullback

Final Image

Final Image

Pullback

So if you have been holding back from booking a documentary in-home session because you felt like your house wasn't up to par for a photo shoot: DON'T! Just do it! Your future self will thank you as will your children when they get a glimpse into their everyday when they're older.

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

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.

Want to see more and stay up-to-date?

Facebook

Instagram

South Bend Indiana Family Photographer - Fischer Holiday Documentary Gallery

I have been so excited to reveal this gallery publicly! This family was my first official in-home session when I was first starting out and to say that I was grateful for them would be an understatement. When Momma Fischer contacted me to book a holiday session, I was SUPER excited! I mean, not only did this great family give me a chance when I was still building a portfolio, but they apparently liked me enough to come back. That's just flattering and humbling.

I loved their first session because it told the story of their new, still being renovated home. Where some people might be hesitant because all the trim wasn't up, or there was some clutter, Momma F saw the true value in all of that. It was all just part of their story along the way to a forever family home! 

This holiday session was no different. Baby G was all smiles and curiosity and just confirmed that I love sessions with toddlers. Momma Fischer had an old family cookie recipe that she wanted to bust out for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and Baby G and Daddy Fischer were very willing taste testers...even Puppy Ax got in on the taste testing! Throughout this session, the warmth and honest family interactions just radiated from all three of them and I know that years down the road, Momma, Daddy, and Baby G are going to love flipping through their holiday photo book and laugh together. 

South Bend Indiana Documentary Lifestyle Photographer - Reed Sisters Sneak Peek

When I booked this session and found out this was going to be a sisters only session, the "girl mom" in me swooned a little. There is nothing with a cute factor higher than sisters! I am so anxious to share this full gallery but until then, here's the sneak peek:

South Bend Indiana Family Documentary Photographer - Watts Holiday Gallery

This was the first holiday in-home session of the season and if this doesn't put you in the mood for some holiday cheer, I don't know what will! J and J and their sweet babes (2 years old and 11 months - no, they don't have their hands full at all) were so welcoming and comfortable, it was hard to remember that I was "at work." 

We started this session with a typical Saturday morning family breakfast (with matching pajamas for the Christmas feel) in their super adorably decorated kitchen and dining room. Baby I was super excited about helping Mom out as well as checking in on her [empty] fish bowl - don't worry, they were stocking it later that day for her birthday! All the while, Dad and Baby C were contentedly chilling, sharing some guy time and devouring some waffles.

After breakfast, the family moved on to some tree decorating! Baby I was all about it and Baby C was totally cool with just chewing/licking/throwing the bulbs. Disclaimer: shatter proof bulbs are NOT shatter proof; proven by Baby C's hulk-like grip. Even the family pup got in on some tree decorating. 

The best part about holiday in-homes with young kids is that this time of year is actual magic to them. It's miracles and music and lights and sparkle. There is absolutely nothing more special than watching kids experience the holidays and all of the feels that go with it.

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at:
Facebook 

Instagram

Osceola Indiana Family Photographer - The Watts Sneak Peek

Saturday was the first in-home holiday family session of the season and it was everything I had hoped! This sweet family welcomed me into their home and their traditions and made me feel like I belonged there. Between their perfectly decorated home (seriously, I might be asking Momma Watts to come and give my house a face lift), their two gorgeous babes, and their obvious love for each other, I couldn't have asked for a better session. Full gallery to come...

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at:
www.facebook.com/borneback

IG: bornebackphotography

Granger Indiana Family Documentary Storytelling Photography - Happy Halloween!

Halloween has always been a fun event but now that I have a toddler, it brings a whole new level of excitement to the table. Dressing her up and watching her face literally light up when she realized that people were putting CANDY in her bucket was such a great experience. In fact, it made me think that this would make for an awesome family photography session next year! What a fun story to capture: all of the costume prep and dress up, bustling out the door, kids hardly able to contain their excitement, the after trick-or-treating candy slam, sugar rushes followed by the sugar crashes...yup, sounds like a must do next year! 

Keeping the post short and sweet today. Everyone have a safe and fun Halloween! 

Love this little sequence! The candy hand-off, the investigation of the bucket, the "AHA!" moment. 

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at:
www.facebook.com/borneback

IG: bornebackphotography

Nappanee Indiana Family Documentary Photographer - Anderson Short Story

For this session, this family chose a location that had special meaning to them; the same location where they took their engagement photos. I was so excited and despite being directionally impaired AND being in Nappanee (aka the land of no road signs and farm land far as the eye can see), I made it thanks to Kim's tech savvy GPS tricks.

Not only was the location for this session gorgeous, but we had absolutely perfect conditions for an awesome outdoor fall short story family session. While toddlers tend to be the most challenging photo subjects, they're also the most fun and photogenic and this case was no different. Chasing this little guy around and watching him interact with his ridiculously adorable parents was a pleasure and getting to capture it on film was just the icing on the cake.

When locations like this one hold special meaning to mom and dad, it ads to the story of their family. While we may not have had a boat for this session like they did for their engagement pictures, we did have some pretty amazing fall colors and an intense game of hide and seek (aka "hide a boo" says Baby T). The connection between this family was obvious and the pure fun that radiated from them clearly showed up in their images. I'm so glad that the Anderson's allowed me to be a part of their story and capture some fall memories for their family. 

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 counters...bet 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!

Lakeville Indiana Storytelling and Documentary Family Photography - Balmer Short Story

This short story was REALLY short - thank you mosquito plague of 2016! Good thing everyone was still able to have a great time and I was able to grab some good shots. I had so much fun with this big group and it was so funny to see the totally different personalities from each kiddo. I think those individual personalities show through pretty well in these photos! However, these siblings all had one thing in common and that was an obvious love for fun and each other. Not to mention I got to photograph an old student! 

Why I Don't Mind Outdoor Sessions in the Fall - Michiana Storytelling and Family Documentary Lifestyle Photographer

As a documentary photographer, I'm one of those weird people who genuinely prefer shooting indoors for a lot of reasons. First, indoor light offers more unique lighting opportunities. Some of my favorite shots are a direct result of window light falling just right. I also love getting to capture someone's home because that is the setting to all of our stories; our homes are the heart of our lives. The place where we wake up each morning and fall asleep each night. To me, that is so important in producing great documentary images! 

 

Isn't this light fantastic?! (Swoon)

 

However, as much as I don't want to admit it, I really don't mind doing outdoor sessions in the fall. The warmth of the colors, the soft light at sunset, and the comfy fall clothes all make it totally worth it. Autumn is such a great time to take short story and full story sessions! Don't let your story go untold...

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at:
www.facebook.com/borneback

IG: bornebackphotography