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  1. Apr

    TOPIC: Family Sessions.

    A Magic Hour

    Over the past several years, I’ve become pretty intimately acquainted with cancer.  Both of my parents have battled it twice now, and my mom is in the thick of fighting pancreatic cancer.  So while I know the nasty side of this disease, I also know all too well how it brings out the best in people.  The people who bring dinner, send flowers, mail funny photos and cards, call, pray, CARE.  It’s humbling and beautiful.  And it makes me want to put some of that good back out into the world in at least some small way.

    That is why the Magic Hour Foundation exists.  Its purpose is to offer the gift of photography to those who have survived or are currently battling cancer, to make abundantly sure that they are honored and cherished and will be remembered forever.  I joined about a year ago, and was so thrilled to have my first session matched last weekend.  Even better, my mom was feeling well enough that she was able to come with me.  She hasn’t assisted me on a shoot since the week of her diagnosis, when she was preparing for her surgery, so it was especially meaningful that she helped me with this special family.

    Christal first began battling cancer in 2009, and her daughter Joy moved out of state with her for treatment.  During that time, Joy met Peter, the man of her dreams, and they got married and had an adorable little boy named Elijah.  Christal is doing wonderfully, and her enthusiastic laughter and love for life perfectly illustrate why she would name her daughter Joy.  It was such a pleasure to get to know this group, and have Elijah tell us all about the passing trucks (you can probably tell from the images that he’s pretty into trucks at the moment).   Christal is a proud grandma and you can tell that she is so, so loved.

    If you or someone you love is fighting cancer and is interested in a Magic Hour session, here’s how to apply.  All sessions are provided free of charge, and there’s a network of photographers all over the country.  If you’d specifically like a session with me, well–that’s really awesome!  If you’re local to the Memphis area, you can mention me by name in the application and we’ll work it out from there.  It’s an honor to be able to pass on some of the kindness that has been shown to my family in such abundance.

    Memphis Arlington TN Magic Hour Foundation photographer

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  2. Mar

    TOPIC: Newborn Sessions.

    Welcome, Ethan | Lakeland Newborn Session at Home

    ‘Tis the season for second babies, and so far I am having such a blast watching all my favorite families grow.  Right on the heels of Eli’s first birthday, he welcomed his little brother Ethan with open arms (and many, many affectionate pats on the head).  Fred and Caroline and I could not stop laughing for the bulk of this session, because Eli was showboating and giggling like crazy.  Ethan, meanwhile, couldn’t have been more zen about the whole thing.

    I was so happy to see that stork out in their yard a second time in almost a single year, and so thrilled to be a part of capturing a homecoming for them once again.

    Lakeland newborn photo session at home

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  3. Mar

    TOPIC: Mini Sessions.

    Six-Month Cheer | Arlington Mini-Session

    Here is a sweet six-month session with my lovely little cousin Miss Kaylea and her parents Jessica and Mike.  It is probably the only session I have done in the recent past in which my subject gets her ear licked.  :)  Kaylea continues to be so expressive and adorable…and MAN, does she love her Mom and Dad.

    Kaylea - Arlington 6 Month Mini Session Photos

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  4. Mar

    TOPIC: Newborn Sessions.

    Sweet Baby Luke | Germantown Newborn Photography at Home

    My very favorite thing about photography is getting to be present for the most special moments of my friends’ lives.  In January, that meant the addition of little Luke Henry into the family of my dear friends Carissa and Roy and their son Cliff.  Baby Luke was born on the same Thursday that I had to take my mom to the hospital for a mean attack of pancreatitis; Carissa had Luke at the same hospital about 10 minutes after my mom and I had gotten settled in.  It was a beautiful, heartwarming ending to a very difficult day, as I got to be one of the very first people to snuggle this adorable little addition, and got to be present when Cliff met his little brother for the first time.  (Baby Luke, ever thoughtful, had gotten Cliff a present that included chocolate.  No wonder these two already get along brilliantly.)

    A few days later, we did Luke’s newborn photos at home, and Cliff could not have been more interested in participating.  That head-in-the-chin photo from below?  100% unposed.  He was INTO it, and so great with his baby brother.  Near the end we did some photos of the whole family, and I attempted to amuse Cliff by tossing his stuffed raccoon pillow in the air and bopping myself on the head with it.  Mission accomplished: whenever I come over now, he greets me with “Raccoon hit head!” and runs to Baby Luke’s room to get it.  He is such a sweetheart, and I have no doubt that Luke will follow right in his footsteps.

    Baby Luke - Newborn Photography at Home

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  5. Mar

    TOPIC: 365, Personal.

    Project 365-5 #2: For the Birds

    Since my last Project 365 entry was dense, lengthy, and in general kind of a bummer, it’s time to return to my favorite crutch: The List.

    Here’s what I’ve been up to since last time:

    1. Let’s start with the obvious: this website looks a whole lot different.  For the past few months, I’ve been slowly rolling out my new branding, which is bug-themed (of course!).  This website is the culmination of all that.  I hope you’ll take a minute to look around!  Here’s the story of how it came to be, if you’re interested.  Oh, and I’ve probably blogged about 15 different sessions since your last visit, which I finally knocked out…

    2. During one of my mom’s several hospital stays since starting chemo.  This has obviously been the toughest part about the last few months.  The doctors had her on two kinds of drugs, one to target the adenocarcinoma, and one to target the squamous carcinoma.  The squamous-targeting drugs both caused horrific attacks of pancreatitis that landed her in the hospital within 24 hours of receiving them.  The first time, we didn’t know what was happening, so that was even scarier.  Long story short, she and the doctors decided it was best to stick to just one kind of chemo drug, and since then she’s been feeling a whole lot better.  Well enough to occasionally go and cheer loudly for…

    3. The Tigers, who have been so Jekyll and Hyde-like this season.  I’m going to choose to remember the way FedExForum was physically shaking during the Gonzaga and Louisville victories, Joe Jackson shot-blocking a giant, Big Dom and his ballet steps across the court for dunks, Shaq Goodwin’s smile, Trey Draper’s dance moves, etc. rather than the atrocious UConn game that was the last home appearance by the seniors.  And maybe we’ll have something good to remember from this week’s NCAA tournament, too, which I plan to once again take off work and enjoy.  The most excellent part of work lately has been…

    4. Spending a good portion of the winter learning about birds while wandering through the Old Forest.  This was the first year I have really paid attention to the birds, and let me tell you: It sounds very corny, but I can’t underestimate how having something capture my fancy like this has helped me through a rough winter.  It’s definitely a theme that runs through this set of photos, and I’m pleased at the variety it adds to what is usually my least favorite part of the year.  (There are lots more bird photos, and more goopy meditations, over on ::crickets::.)  The birds led me on a quick trip to…

    5. Sanibel Island, a fine oasis in the dead of winter if there ever was one.  I also escaped briefly to Pittsburgh in January after a terribly sad week at home left me craving a little time with my other family (and, okay…a little time at Casbah).  And then I made an even quicker trip to Boston last weekend to see Throwing Muses for the fifth time.  So much has changed since that first show, back in May 2000 before I had even graduated high school, but not how essential that music is to my story.  I know it’s a great concert experience when I laugh AND cry in the middle of songs, and this one certainly accomplished that.  (Plus, this venue had a mezzanine.  For an old lady like myself who loves watching live music in tiny venues but hates standing in a sweaty mob for three hours, this was revelatory.  I made like Jordan Catalano and I LEANED on that rail!)  That night was the very best kind of blast from the past…the kind that’s just as vital in the present.  This winter’s other blast from the past was…

    6. My “Proto 365” project, which is a book I put together of photos from the pre-Project 365 phase.  I didn’t get a digital camera until 2006, when I started working at the Parks Conservancy and quickly realized that taking photos was going to make my job WAY easier, because I was constantly fielding requests for them from various publications.  I started Project 365 in September 2009, so there were about three and a half years of photos to pull from for Proto 365.  I didn’t take a photo every day (in one case, there’s a gap of a month), but I did pull one from all the days that I did, which was about 470 in all.  To caption them, I tried to pull from primary sources as much as possible–captions I’d hand-written in my printed photo albums at the time (which I stopped doing circa Christmas 2007), e-mails, my journal, the old MySpace blog, Facebook posts, etc.  I especially enjoyed going through my e-mails with my friend Joanna, because they’re peppered with references to all the colorful characters at the hospital where we worked about ten years ago now.  To Ms. Sczerbiak, Mr. Matassa, and of course the guy our boss referred to as Toothless Groggins…I have a special place in my heart for you all.

    As a project, it was EXHAUSTING.  Not just the physical aspect of sitting around for hours on end, poking through e-mails to find some reference to what’s occurring in a photo, or on the date of a photo, although that was challenging.  It was just tough reliving some of those emotions.  I had honestly forgotten how difficult my job at the Parks Conservancy was at the beginning, how hard it was to get my footing, and how badly I wanted to move back home.  Eventually, though, I developed a crush on a co-worker that resulted in my being outside all the time, participating in all our outdoor park-related activities (and taking LOTS of photos).  Once I started to do that, I made a lot of surprising discoveries–hey, I LIKE getting all muddy; there’s a huge natural world out here and I want to know everything about it; wait, there’s a difference between dragonflies and damselflies, and some of them come in ORANGE?  It was fun reliving that part; the ups and downs and highs and lows of said crush that set it all in motion–not so much.  I can’t say what I really would have done differently with hindsight, except to be less terrified of asking people hard questions, and to have the wisdom to accept when you’re given the wrong answer and you need to walk away.  If I could live that time over again, I’d jump that ship sooner.  Luckily, that process was made a million times better by the arrival of Laura at our office, and if there’s anything I know for certain, it’s that I will NEVER jump that ship.  :)  Anyway, I’m very glad I made the book, and I’m very glad it’s DONE.  And in other notes…

    7. Several of my friends had new babies, and I got to be among the first people in the world to hold one of them.  (Shoutout to Baby Luke!)  I briefly made my dad Twitter-famous.  The weather was terrible without ceasing.  I got to experience being in a real-life video game when my car started spinning on the freeway, but I came out with about as much damage as I would have in a video game.  (Thank goodness!)  Bike Gate went up at Overton Park, but not before the mud ate a crane for breakfast.  Copious cheese was consumed.  Also cannoli (grazie, Boston).  And Prince Mongo’s house makes an appearance.

    Now…let’s kick this miserable winter out of here and get a little sunshine brewing.

    (Don’t see any images below?  Click on the title of this post!)

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