Storytelling photography

Goshen Birth, Newborn, and Fresh 48 Photographer - The How

This is the last installment of my WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW of the Fresh 48. Describing the how is a little different than the other blog posts because rather than it being centered on what you, the parent, will get or choose, and focuses more on what I, the photographer, will do. So here we go...

HOW I conduct Fresh 48's

I want to start by saying that Fresh 48's and births are really where my photographer's heart lies. I adore family sessions and will always keep them in my session offerings, but there is just something special about a new life being brought into the world and the impact that has on the new parents and their family and friends. That being said, this pricelessness is what I try to convey in your images. 

For Fresh 48 newborn sessions, I send a questionnaire a couple of weeks prior to your due date where we will discuss all of the important elements of your session like what you want captured, important elements of your pregnancy, unique facts about your partner and family, etc. Again, this is YOUR special time as a bigger family and I want to capture exactly what you want to remember. This questionnaire allows me to come into the session well prepared to make this a unique and valuable session for your family.

I usually ask for a quick email or text when labor has started so I know that I will have a session within the next few days! Once I arrive upon your request, you can think of me as a fly on the wall who happens to have a camera (no distracting flash or awkward tripods). I will use the light that is available in the room (fingers crossed for at least one window) and capture the moments of bonding, family meetings, or whatever else was specified in the questionnaire responses. 

I want to get the details...

The newborn habits...

And the intense, undeniable feels...

Fresh 48 and newborn sessions should NOT be stressful or uncomfortable. This is your special family time that you can not get back and I want to give you the most calm, relaxed, real experience possible. Real over ideal.

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

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:

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:

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 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:

IG: bornebackphotography

FIRST Fall Short Story Session - South Bend Family Documentary and Storytelling Photographer

First, lets start with the absolute perfect night we had for these photos! It couldn't have been any better. Second, how about this location? It was like an autumn paradise for toddlers (just ask baby S ). And most importantly, the cutest little family. Have I ever mentioned how good all of my sweet, adorable families make me look as a photographer? This fall short story session was a lot of fun and once baby S realized that she was in a toddler paradise, she let loose with the smiles and smirks. Her mom and dad are clearly nuts about her and I think its easy to see why.

I'd also like to say that "I pride myself on a quick turn around for image editing." Which is partially true: I do think getting images to the families quickly is wildly important. But if I'm being completely honest, I have a confession. I am the most impatient. person. ever. And this fully applies to editing images! When I get home from a session and I know there are photos on that SD card just waiting to be processed into magic, I have to do it NOW. And so, I usually end up staying up to all hours of the night until I get them done. And while that makes for a very tired me the following day, it makes for some very happy clients.

Shout Out to the Fresh 48 - Granger Documentary Photographer and Storyteller

Looking back through my old blog posts, I noticed something ironic: I have harped on birth photography, gushed over family sessions...but I have really neglected my absolute favorite type of session! So before I blow up my blog with family photography from the short story sessions, lets stop and give homage to the Fresh 48 session.

1). You don't think you need it...until you do.

Let me clarify by sharing my own experience. I did not book a fresh 48 session because I wanted my birth experience to be extremely private between my husband and new baby. I wanted to bond, uninterrupted and enjoy every sweet second. (SIGH) It was a nice thought. But in reality, my delivery was nothing of what we planned for or expected, my recovery was less than expected, and lets face it, in the moment it sure doesn't feel like there is anything beautiful or private about those first hours as a new parent! 

But looking back, the chaotic parts are the parts that stand out...but I KNOW that there were peaceful, amazing moments. I was just too tired and out of it to remember them. What I wouldn't give to have photos of my daughter just hours old snuggling with her daddy and I. Or meeting her grandparents for the first time. Or just being a part of this big new world! I truly and honestly regret not taking that opportunity to capture that part of our story!

2). They are seriously the most beautiful images - ever. 

When you have a new baby, you could literally stare at them for hours - days - eternity. They are squishy and wrinkly and regardless of what every person says, they look nothing like you or your husband yet but goodness, its just impossible to look away. These tiny beings are experiencing the world for the first time. I think we owe it to them and to ourselves to freeze those moments and go back and relive all those feels every chance we get. 

3). The meet and greet.

What a phenomenal moment when you get to introduce the newest love of your life to your other loves of your life! Whether baby is meeting a sibling, grandparents, family or friends, its a fleeting but magical moment (sorry for all of the fluffy language, but we ARE talking about newborns). To have those shared smiles and tears on film is priceless. 

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at:

IG: bornebackphotography

Fall Short Stories - Michiana Storytelling / Documentary Photography

It is almost October (how the heck did that happen?!) and I am so excited to get started on some of these short story (and one full story) sessions. Its a fun month ahead including some philanthropic photography opportunities that just make my heart melt.

If you are still tempted by the idea of a short story session, there is STILL TIME! There is limited weekend availability towards the end of the month as well as weeknight availability. Just think of how much fun it will be to look back months or years down the road and see how much fun your babies and children were having during these amazing fall evenings? 

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at:

IG: bornebackphotography

Work on the Weakness - Michiana Documentary / Storytelling Photographer

As a former teacher and a parent (and a perfectionist), I am a firm believer in working on your weaknesses...THROUGH your strengths. That's right; use your strengths to help gain ground on your weaker areas. In life, we so often concentrate on perfecting our weaknesses by concentrating on them - harping, stressing, and eventually growing really frustrated with them. In all reality, this is a terrible way to get better at something! Think about it: why do diets often fail? Because clearly food and/or exercise is a weakness that we harp on, try and make drastic, unfamiliar changes, only to realize "this stinks" and quit. But what happens when you realize that you really, truly enjoy dancing and music? Ah ha! Use dance to workout. Suddenly, you're much more successful. 

Anyhow, beyond that ramble, I realize I still have many weaknesses in photography and plenty of room to grow! I don't think this is something that will ever change. I will always have room to get better and improve. So this week, I am focusing on two areas that I struggle with: portraits and detail shots. Rather than forcing myself to set up the perfect posed photos (which would be the equivalent to working on my weakness by harping on my weakness), I am going to use my 365 storytelling project to improve (using a strength to work on a weakness). 

This started off as a portrait shot of Baby F after church but when our dog (who has NO concept of personal space) photobombed, I ended up in love with the resulting image. 

Portraits and details are such important parts of storytelling and documentary photography! I owe it to myself and my clients to be able to incorporate these priceless photos into the galleries. 

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at:

IG: bornebackphotography