family photographer

THE HENECKE FAMILY - South Bend Indiana Family Photographer

Repeat clients..are. the. best! Few things are more flattering than to have families come back for multiple sessions to help document their family’s journey through the years. When I first photographed this sweet trio, little L was just a toddler learning to walk steadily and paint pumpkins. Now, she’s a fully articulate little girl with an imagination that can put most kids her age to shame. Watching this mom and dad interact with her is always such a true joy; they encourage and nurture her curiosity and imagination in a way that is so wonderful and unique. And while she may look a lot like her dad, she sure has mom’s mannerisms! I truly can’t wait for the next time I get to hang out with this family and take a couple more photos along the way ;)

S TURNS TWO - Niles, Michigan Family and Milestone Lifestyle Photographer

niles michigan family and milestone lifestyle photographer

Once again, I got to hang out with this fun family and their two awesome little boys! Watching them grow from a family of three to a family of four has been so much fun. S is a super chatty and equally adorable little boy who loves to be outdoors. He’s so well mannered and just a joy to be around that it hardly seems like work to take his photos.

Can’t wait for the next milestone and family session with these guys! (Lookout world, because Baby L will be 6 months old!)

H FAMILY LIFESTYLE PHOTOS - Osceola, Indiana Family Lifestyle Photographer

south bend indiana family lifestyle photographer

Well, I can’t really say enough about this fun family because they also happen to be our best friends! My husband and I have been friends with this awesome couple before we were even married. They traveled all the way to Florida for our wedding and now, many years later, our daughters are absolute besties and our sons, well, they’re too young to know it but they’ll be best buds, too.

I always feel a special privilege when friends trust you take their photos. Its such a special thing to be able to do for people and I always love a chance to get together with them. And of course, my own daughter had to sneak in and take some quick pics with her bestie, too.

H FAMILY AND MILESTONE LIFESTYLE PHOTOS - Michigan and Indiana Family and Milestone Lifestyle Photographer

granger indiana family lifestyle photographer

There aren’t many things I love more than being able to follow a family’s journey from the very beginning! And this family is a perfect example. I met them when they hired me to document the birth of their second son, who is now over a year old! Following his journey and seeing him turn into such a fun loving and energetic toddler has been so rewarding.

We had a blast on this cool fall evening for their milestone and family photo session. Full of smiles and not wanting to sit still long, we got to go all over the place and find lots of fun spots to shoot in. Mom and Dad surely have their hands full with these two handsome fellas, but there was no shortage of smiles and love. Can’t wait to see them again soon!

H FAMILY LIFESTYLE PHOTOS - South Bend Family Lifestyle Photographer

plymouth and lakeville indiana family lifestyle photographer

There’s no question that I have a soft spot for this gorgeous family. Not only did we go to high school together way back when, but I also got to document their youngest daughter’s Fresh 48 and her entire first year. Now she’s a spunky toddler and we get to do full family sessions out on their amazing property. Not only are their kids absolutely gorgeous, but they’re equally as well mannered and fun.

This was hands down my favorite family session of the season as we had absolutely perfect conditions. Plus, Mom asked for some simple, classic black and whites of each kiddo to hang on her walls and they turned out gorgeous! Can’t wait to meet back up with them for another family photo shoot (or you know, just run into Mom and Baby L at Target…because that seems to happen weekly lol).

GENTRY'S MILESTONE PHOTOGRAPY - South Bend & Mishawaka Family and Child Photographer

south bend indiana family and child photographer

Oh Gentry <3

I’ve had the privilege of following her journey since her sweet family moved into their dream farm house that they are renovating. She is full a spice and sugar and has never met a stranger. We snuck in this mini session before her sister arrived and once again, she made me smile the entire time. Her love for life, the outdoors and animals was obvious and she definitely runs the show around there. Even her big, tough firefighter Daddy is wrapped around her little finger!

Thank you F Family for trusting me to document your sweet girls.

Y LIFESTYLE FAMILY PHOTOS - Nappanee Indiana Lifestyle Family Photographer

nappanee indiana family lifestyle photographer

Extended family sessions are always so much fun! I love watching young kids interact and when you’re not doing traditional “say cheese” photos, everyone has a great time (and usually lots of laughs). I mean, I don’t know which ones they chose to hang, but I would totally frame the ones with nose picking and scowling. Because that’s real life, right?!

This great group is growing every year and adding more and more babies. I hope I get to keep up with them and document some more fun moments along the way.

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!

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.

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!)

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.