south bend photographer

South Bend Newborn and Family Photographer - Baby Bodie's Fresh 48

Have I ever mentioned I LOVE Fresh 48's? Ok. Just checking...

From the moment that I walked into this mother baby room, I knew that this was a special family. Their newborn baby boy was being admired by what may have been the nicest, most knowledgable nurse ever, with both parents staring on adoringly:

I mean really, have you ever seen such a happy little family? I was so excited that Momma T texted me really quickly after Baby Bodie was born because I got to capture so many sweet, special moments! From his first bath (he loved the hair wash but not so much with the sponge bath), to the delivery of Jimmy John's subs (come on mommas, we all KNOW how much we crave a good cold-cut after depriving ourselves from them for nine months), to the family meet and greets, this was just a beautiful session.

Momma T had specifically mentioned wanting lots of photos of the family meeting Bodie. This little guy was the first grandbaby for both sides so needless to say, he was destined for an infinite amount of love and adoration from the get-go. The way that the grandparents looked at baby was just so heartwarming, I couldn't take enough pictures. When I finally got around to getting some detail shots, I fell head-over-heals for his amazing dimpled chin. This was the baby chin that dreams are made of. I am so excited to share this gallery with you all and hope that Momma T, Daddy B and Baby Bodie enjoy these pictures for years to come...

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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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

How to Have a Documentary Session That Captures Your Story - Granger Storytelling / Documentary Family Photography

Many people feel that they just aren't "interesting enough" for a good documentary session. Others are self-conscious that their home is "too messy" or "incomplete" and wont be a good setting. So here's the questions I pose to you: in one, two, ten years...will it matter? Will it matter when you look at your photos that it was "just" another family supper or movie night? Will it matter that there was a pile of unfolded laundry in the background? 

Yes. Yes, it will matter. In the best. way. possible. 


I hardly think that K & J will look at this image and think, "Darn, if only we had that window framed." The unframed window is a part of their story in the here and now! Want to see more of the perfect way that an "unfinished" house makes for an amazing story?? Check out their full gallery.  <-- Click


Its funny how things that seem to be a big deal in the moment are so insignificant down the road. What feels like just another family dinner right now will be a cherished memory when your kids are teenagers and hardly have time to sleep let alone sit down for a relaxing meal. And that unfolded laundry? It just means that you had BETTER things to do! Like play with your toddler, or kiss a boo boo. Do you think your 60 year old future self will see that laundry and think, "Gee, if only I had folded those socks!" Doubtful. What you WILL think is, "Look at my family. Look at my babies. Look at that life we lived." 

This is the beauty in the documentary style. It tells your story just how it is. It is honest. It is raw. It is absolutely gorgeous because it is yours. Don't let this opportunity slip by.

Like what you see? CONTACT ME.

Check BBP out at:

IG: bornebackphotography

Fall Short Story Sessions: What's it Look Like? - South Bend Storytelling / Documentary Photography

For those of you that are used to getting your quick, fall portraits but are intrigued by the thought of a short story documentary session but aren't quite sure what to expect, I feel ya! This is such a new form of photography, especially in this location, it can be completely intimidating to think about investing your hard earned dollars in something you're not sure of! So allow me to help pain the picture:

Below are photos from my "Day in the Life" project from earlier this summer. Part of our day included blueberry picking with our friends and it perfectly embodies a summer activity; much like picking apples, painting pumpkins, or raking leaves perfectly embodies autumn! These photos are very similar to what you can expect at your own session...except you will have even more images and you will be included. Obviously, since this was a personal project, I was trying to juggle snagging pictures while corralling a toddler! For your session, your family will be my sole focus and I can promise you will love the outcome when you see the natural, joyful smiles from everyone involved.