family portraits

M Springtime Family Session | Maryland

β€œOnce in awhile,
right in the middle of an ordinary life,
love gives us a fairy tale.”

As I was pregnant with my first child, I photographed Shelby through the story of her third child. We did a (stunning... who looks like that when pregnant... and in labor... and post-partum?!) maternity session, the birth, and the first family portraits with the new baby.  Despite being the oldest of a large family, having a mom who wanted to be a midwife or doula, and preparing for a natural labor myself... I had never seen a real live birth until photographing this family. Watching Esme be born, in her home, as well and healthily and beautifully as she was, meant very much to me. 

A few weeks after I had my second baby, I was able to photograph these wonderful people once more... on a perfectly "Spring As Its Own Analogy" Day. The sky was the color of concrete, the water running through the park was a shade of dark olive, and the brown wood was saturated and looked wet (because it was). And yet, there was GREEN all-around us, and, more excitingly, there were flower buds. Pale white, lively pink, and yellow! It's special to watch the world come back to life. We know the concept of "every winter turns to spring" and how this matches personal life seasons, not just earth's. But what I loved the most about this session, as far as setting goes, was that as we were finished and walking back to our cars sun light ran through the field. As if it had placed its hand on the curtain and slowly pulled the drape-in-the-sky back for a final few minutes.

Even though we had already congratulated the girls on a job well done! And promised them that they were, indeed, done. I had to command/ask the family to gather back for "just two minutes!!" I snapped furiously. When least expected, light has a way of startling and capturing. More beautiful than we thought would happen (at least that evening), and a golden reminder that... the best is yet to come. Spring in a nutshell.


Esme is one of those people who love instantly upon seeing her. Her enormous eyes, bright lips, full head of red curly hair, facial expressions, and way of walking... ugh. They seize you. 


So many beautiful girls!

Brian, Shelby, Riley, Laila, and Esme... you're a fairy-tale-come-true, and a family filled with so much love and spunk. (And mom and dad? You're outstanding parents. Affectionate, engaged, helpful to each other, roll-up-your-sleeves-lets-do-this, great sense of humor, relaxed, and a great team. I love getting to watch dynamics like that from behind a camera. You're the coolest!)

Waiting For Eleanor | Maryland Maternity Session

"I'm confronted by the irrationality of love by my children.
They are these stealth Love Torpedos.
They are powered by an inexhaustible id,
powering through whatever defenses I thought I had
with absolutely no respect for my rational, adult concerns.

That's what love is.
It's irrationality taking the place of logic.
It's emotion taking the reigns where intellect fears to drive.
How would we live without that?"

(Meghna Chakrabarti)

The power of a pregnant woman captures me. I might be wrong, but I think there is an admiration alongside whatever other feelings or opinions may exist when it comes to a woman with child. We know it is hard. We have that sense of bow-and-honor. "Good for her." "Man, I don't know if I could do that." "Go supermom." Of course observation is the front porch to the home of personal experience. Now that I have been pregnant, I'm as intrigued as ever by the miracle it is to carry a baby.

Not to mention that watching a family's story unfold behind my camera is "why I do what I do." I photographed Eric and Erica while they were still dating, then for their wedding, then with their first newborn, and most recently as they waited for Miss Eleanor to arrive. The love they share with each other, and now growing bigger with their children, is a sweet joy. I loved watching Eric and Emmett's connection. I loved catching Erica rubbing and looking at her belly. I loved the laughter and eye-contact mom and dad found in the little guy. I loved their chill, relaxed happiness.

"My love for my son makes my fundamentally irrational too. I give up sleep, food, money, energy, time, and all sorts of other things for this child... and I do so willingly! It goes against all we need to survive, and yet... we give into it all the time. Why do we do this?  'Forgive me, my logic is uncertain where my son is concerned.'" (Meghna Chakrabarti)

This session had such a Christopher Robin/Calvin & Hobbes/Tom Sawyer feel to it and is one of my favorites ever! Everything nostalgic that childhood should be - barefoot, anticipating, throwing rocks, "present," outdoors, and silly with the whole family.

waiting_for_baby (245 of 300).jpg

I love you guys! And am so happy dear Eleanor is safely into your arms, hearts, and home!

Mommy + Buddy Portraits | Maternity + Family

"She sings the tune without the words 
And never stops - at all."
Emily Dickinson
 photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography38of56.jpg
Four Septembers ago I was figuring out airplane tickets to visit Oklahoma for the first time and Becca was pregnant.  I didn't know it.  I hadn't met Caleb yet.  I had some from friends in the middle of the country I wanted to visit.  Right before my trip I got an e-mail from Becca.  She and her husband were my small-group leaders at church and all of us young'ins' loved to inquire and tease about their someday-baby.  This potential child was affectionately named "Bacon" by us.  After four or five years of marriage, there was a Bacon.  And after all this time!  She was in Oklahoma!  And we weren't altogether to celebrate!  It had been a long haul, but a soul was made and lived inside the caves of my good friend.  But I didn't know any of this...  

...Until I got Becca's e-mail, right before my trip, after Bacon had already gone to heaven.  We hadn't really considered a miscarriage.  Somehow when it takes a "little longer" to get pregnant it doesn't seem fair that those mama's should miscarry.   (Of course it never seems "fair."  Souls and human life don't come and go like making a football team.)  She was sad, but gracious and full of Becca-kindness.  She said she was grateful a friend was coming to town so she and Dre wouldn't feel quite so alone.  He was their Apple Seed Baby, small and good.  He was and is missed.  

For Christmas that year I bought Becca a silver apple-necklace (the size of the fruit's seed).  The month that Caleb asked me to be his girlfriend was the month we found out about a Baby Bear, Apple Seed's little brother.  Caleb moved to Maryland and we helped assemble IKEA furniture and fold clothes for Baby Behr's nursery.  The night he was born Caleb and I slept on the hospital floor.  I was the second friend to meet and hold him.  On our wedding day Behr was a chubby, sweet ring-bearer.  10 months later Behr slept on the same hospital floor while Becca helped us through my labor with Rowdy.

By that Christmas there was a Tiny Baby, little brother to Apple Seed and Big Boy Behr.   Becca and Dre were back to Oklahoma for work.  Meanwhile my mom was closing her chapter in this world, and when she died a sick, pregnant Becca flew back to Maryland with Behr (who wore a dragon costume to my mom's funeral) to be there for me.  A few weeks later, in Oklahoma, Caleb and I found out there was a Baby Ryan.  I was so excited to be pregnant with my best friends (Janet was pregnant, too, with Bobby.)  We all three talked about being huge and bloated at the county fair, newborn Halloween costumes and "three little turkey's" at Thanksgiving.  But before our dreams had a chance to match reality, both Bobby Boy and Ryan Day went to heaven with their buddy, Apple Seed (all being dotingly cared for by Mama Bear, I'm sure).  We weren't pregnant together anymore.  There would be no "triplet" pictures during the holidays.  Now all three of us had babies in heaven.  

Caleb and I buried our baby in Oklahoma, a few nights ago we sent up balloons on Bobby's due date, and now we all wait.  We all wait to meet Tiny Baby.  He's shows us the stubbornness of hope, the gift of anticipation.  But any story points to the story behind it.  And the story behind Tiny Baby is a  big one.   Today I want to make a big deal about his mother.  

She's the Friend of Friends, Giver of Givers.  She has been juggling fire-pins and keeping more than one family going.  She works part-time on top of being a full-time supporter, break-giver, human-grower, wife, listening-ear, and mourner.  Her little Behr Boy loves her, and is an intelligent, creative, weird, chatty lovebug.   They have such a playful, strong relationship.  They really are friends.  In the middle of all the chaos this year has been, she methodically saved pennies and dreamed ideas to make her son a special new room before the baby comes.  There isn't a single item in his space that doesn't have meaning and heart behind it.  "I go to prepare a place for you."  (Oh.  And when I lived with Dre and Becca while Caleb and I were dating, this was my bedroom.  See?  Stories intersect everywhere.)

It was only right to do something a little different than formal maternity pictures.  Instead Dre wanted pictures of the special relationship and big love Becca and Behr share.  Here's to new stories, the thing with feathers, heritage, heaven, tear soup, outie-belly-buttons, hazelnut eyes, hazelnut coffee, bacon, washi tape and mama's with their little boys.

β€œSometimes it doesn't occur to boys that their mother was ever young and pretty.  I couldn't stand it if you boys were inconsiderate, or thought of her as if she were just somebody who looked after you.  You see I was very much in love with your mother, and I know there's nobody like her...”
(Willa Cather, My Ántonia)
 photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography2of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography4of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography8of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography12of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography10of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography14of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography15of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography9of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography6of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography13of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography16of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography11of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography5of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography7of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography17of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography26of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography20of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography18of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography25of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography19of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography22of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography21of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography24of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography23of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography27of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography34of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography33of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography32of56.jpg photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography28of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography36of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography37of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography39of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography41of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography55of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography40of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography44of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography43of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography45of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography46of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography50of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography48of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography49of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography53of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography52of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography54of56.jpg  photo _family_portraits_im_kristen_photography56of56.jpg
"And sore must be the storm 
That could abash the little Bird 
That kept so many warm."

--- + --- + --- + --- + --- + ---
to book your own i'm kristen family session, 
especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, or oklahoma to dallas areas

Mamas + Cubs | Portraits

inspired by huffington post's recent publishing of ken heyman's photographs of mothers.  an idea like this had been in my brain-idea-bin for a while, and this finally gave me the motivation to follow through with it.

Dear mama and mama-figures (whoever you may be),
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen119of42.jpg
Thank you for your hips...
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen15of42.jpg
... your cheeks,
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen18of42.jpg
... your forearms and the crook above your elbow.
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen16of42.jpg
Thank you for your time,
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen133of42.jpg
... (your night-time
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen137of42.jpg
... and your day-time) -- for a lifetime.
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen124of42.jpg
Thank you for monster socks,
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen19of42.jpg
for lots of yummy yogurt because it's my favorite and makes me nice and chubby,
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen132of42.jpg
... and for your patience.
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen14of42.jpg
Thank you for loving me even more now than you did then...
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen129of42.jpg
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen113of42.jpg
Thank you for calm,
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen122of42.jpg
and for your exhausted,
 photo kristen_caleb_rowdy_natural_birth_prodromal_bradley_photography35of87.jpg
for your proud,
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen130of42.jpg
and for all that you've memorized; for all only you know.
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen17of42.jpg
Thank you for confidence,
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen140of42.jpg
thank you for fluffy towels,
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen136of42.jpg
and thank you for being so brave.
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen131of42.jpg
Thank you for sharing your house with me,
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen118of42.jpg
...your humor with me,
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen125of42.jpg
...your body with me.
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen11of42.jpg
Thank you for helping me learn life basics,
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen13of42.jpg
keeping me safe,
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen127of42.jpg
and also clean (the best you can).
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen110of42.jpg
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen135of42.jpg
You are comfort. photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen126of42.jpg
You are the last of the day.
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen111of42.jpg
You are where I say good-bye.
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen12of42.jpg
You are a queen without a crown.
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen120of42.jpg
You are reinforcement, "You can do it!," and proof that: your joy is my joy.
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen141of42.jpg
You make me feel like I am the apple of your eye.
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen139of42.jpg
You are "I will never let you go"...
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen117of42.jpg
... and a shoulder to rest on.
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen138of42.jpg
All the "up-up!"s, "hold you?"s, "one more story?"...
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen128of42.jpg
... and attention to little and long ideas don't go forgotten.  Maybe unnoticed, but never forgotten.
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen123of42.jpg
You are beauty. (And a total weirdo)
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen121of42.jpg
You are strong.  (And you cry the best sadness.)
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen115of42.jpg
You are hope.  (Even when I'm not with you.) photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen114of42.jpg
Thank you for every wrinkle, ache, heartburn, cramp, nap, car ride, prenatal vitamin, hug, lunch, tear, vote of confidence, high-five, eye-contact, long night, laugh, iPhone picture, cheer from the stand, Christmas gift, stretch mark, sip of water after bedtime, coupon-cut, back rub, conversation and moment.
 photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen116of42.jpg
With as much heart as you've given me,
Your cub.

--- + --- + --- + --- + --- + ---
to book your own i'm kristen family session, 
especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, new york/boston, or oklahoma to dallas areas
(i'll also be traveling around southern california + the lake tahoe/nevada areas in coming months.)

Rowdy on The Rio Carousel | Personal

β€œWe walked always in beauty, it seemed to me. 
We walked and looked about, or stood and looked. 
Sometimes, less often, we would sit down. 
The place spoke for us and was a kind of speech. 
We spoke to each other in the things we saw.”
 wendell berry | jayber crow
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian3of28.jpg
He saw it, for the very first time, on its inaugural day.  Last year we walked the local man-made "lake," passing the shops and restaurants of the outdoor mall.  Our baby was due in days, we walked and walked.  The year before we brought our spreadsheets and wedding folders to review over steak fajitas, and when we were done we walked and walked.  And the year before?  The night after our first kiss we had sandwiches at Corner Bakery, saw The Help at the theater, and walked and walked.  Nearly sixty years ago, my grandparents walked and walked a new park in their area -- a park named Disneyland.  "The story of my life..."  Rowdy's face, not just jaw but his while face, dropped when he saw the carousel for the first time.  He marched it's direction at a swarthy speed (only distracted by a balloon tower.)  He's a focused fellow and doesn't give away smiles freely, but one of his surest signs of happiness is when he's still.  He clasped the metal pole, sat upright, "oooooo"-ed.  Cogsworth and Lumiere and Mrs. Potts welcomed him as their guest through the speakers.  He waved good-bye when the ride was done.  He danced to the violins, eagerly introduced himself to new friends, he scaled the play-park, but also sat still on the steps.   If we could have one night to walk around heaven together, it must be something like last Saturday night.
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian24of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian4of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian5of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian6of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian2of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian9of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian1of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian7of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian10of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian8of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian14of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian13of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian11of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian12of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian15of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian22of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian19of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian17of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian20of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian25of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian21of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian26of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian16of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian18of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian23of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian27of28.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rio_carousel_photography_washingtonian28of28.jpg
Ps. If you're in the Montgomery County area, go ride the new Washingtonian Rio Carousel!

Four Buddies | Child Playtime Portraits

"love is what carries you,
for it is always there, even in the dark,
or most in the dark!
but shining out like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery."
wendell berry
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends24of46.jpg
Two Mays ago I babysat the three musketeers and grabbed a few pictures of them.   Since the original shoot I was married, we added a Rowdy and a TinyBaby Kless (due in a few months!), and we lost two grandparents and two siblings.  The documentation of "the passage of time" has become particularly important to me over the last 24 months.  Years feel more like school-quarters, months go by in days, days can be brief minutes... but in all that time crazy stuff happens.  Crazy stuff including growing, changing and developing.  My two best friends have been annually photographing ourselves at a local park (we're scheduling year nine!) and the pictures are important to me.  I love this new traditions with my friend's kids.

(If you haven't seen the previous shoot it's worth browsing through really quickly! It gives these pictures more punch -- even though a group of cute kids can totally stand on their own.)
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends15of46.jpg
The Ring-Leader // Audrey, of the Remsnyder Tribe, is the oldest.  She has had a quirky personality, clear communication skills and incredible weirdness since she was born.  She looks like her mama, and dresses like a lady... but she is a sassy, intellectual, creative bombshell.
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends42of46.jpg
The Big Boy // Behr is the first boy in the group, and has been the longstanding only boy in the group.  He is perfectly made with a set of sincere emotions and a vibrant imagination.  He is a sweet little dude, is curiouser than the cat, and says the funniest things.  You can't help but watch him as he pudges around, declaring announcements about all he does!  We love this young Kless.
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends44of46.jpg
The Terminator // Audrye's little sister Edy, also known as "Crunchy" (among other things), has the girliest-lightest-song-bird voice, with velvet brown eyes and charming curls.  And she's a beast.  She's by no means the left-out third in the group.  She holds her own and doesn't back down to a challenge.  Her beast-mode has been a defining quality of hers since birth, but it only becomes more special as her tender side comes out more and more.  In one foul swoop she can finish her (large) plate of lunch, hit Behr in the head, pat him and carefully cradle a baby doll.  Boom boom "aw."  That's Edy.
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends32of46.jpg
The Little Big Boy //  Rowdy Man loves his friends -- even if they don't get to play together as often as we want.  And he doesn't skip a beat.  He absolutely believes he is as old, capable and strong as they are.  He has been an early "mover" -- rolling at six weeks, crawling at five months, walking at nine months -- but his activity isn't just action.  He pays close attention to the people and environment around him.  He puts "two and two together" and picks up on things quickly.  He's a happy baby, but he's a serious one.  I love how he reminds me of his dad ;)
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends1of46.jpg
I hope these kids are at each other's graduations, getting drinking together after life-good-news, in and at each other's weddings, moving boxes into each other's houses, and hanging out together for many, many, many years.
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends6of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends40of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends25of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends33of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends10of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends3of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends38of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends7of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends31of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends29of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends36of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends41of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends8of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends46of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends9of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends12of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends13of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends14of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends19of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends16of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends17of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends43of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends18of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends20of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends21of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends22of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends45of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends23of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends39of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends34of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends27of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends26of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends30of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends2of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends35of46.jpg
 photo im_kristen_rowdy_friends11of46.jpg
There are many ways to experience love -- all different, important, and valid -- but one of my personal favorites is the love of and the love between children.  Even this morning, on the four-month anniversary of my mama's passing, I was filled with laughter and refreshment as oversaw these knuckleheads play on bed.

--- | --- | --- | --- | --- | ---
to book your own i'm kristen session with your kids, 
especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, new york/boston, or oklahoma to dallas areas
(i'll also be traveling around southern california + the lake tahoe/nevada areas in coming months.)

The Gasca's | Maryland Family Portraits

"at the end of all my faith, 
till the end of all my days, 
when I forget my name, 
remind me."
andrew peterson
 photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits2of23.jpgA little more waiting, a little more crying, a little more time.  There is a place for everything.  But who among us could hold out hope, could continue to believe, or even wish, unless we had tastes of the happiest things?  We live in this world of the charmed and the damned; a time for everything.  In other worlds, in other days, there won't be times for everything.  Only time for good things.  So we hope for Splendor, and live in the pig pen, and watch the sunrise and wish, believe, hope.  This small family has had their mourning times, their quiet times, their pained times.  But in the gold crackle of autumn, they found themselves in a dancing time, a laughing time, a living time.  New Baby Cruz - teeny and particular - , teasing and jokes, togetherness, tastes of days over the rainbow.  
 photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits20of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits1of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits11of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits17of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits18of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits19of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits6of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits3of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits4of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits5of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits16of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits8of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits9of23.jpg photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits22of23.jpg photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits13of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits7of23.jpg photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits23of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits15of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits12of23.jpg  photo ashley_ed_cruz_family_portraits14of23.jpg
These pictures, this family are promise to me.  "In the face of chaos, baby, I can dance with you.  We're dancing in the minefields, sailing through the storm.  He's promised not to leave us, His promises are true.  I can dance with you."  Thank you for allowing me sixty minutes into your sixty years.  I loved pressing pause in the backyard and making your first days as a family of three stand still, for just a moment.  
 photo im_kristen_photography_family_series1of1.jpg
--- | --- | --- | --- | --- | ---
to book your own i'm kristen home-family session, 
especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, new york/boston, or oklahoma to dallas areas
(i'll also be traveling around southern california + the lake tahoe/nevada areas in coming months.)

The Whiteside Family | Home Family Sessions

β€œafter all," anne had said to marilla once, 
"i believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those 
on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens
 but just those that bring simple little pleasures, 
following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” 
 l.m. montgomery | anne of avonlea
 photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_10of42.jpg
The story of her life is charmed, relatable and yet entirely dreamy.  Anne of Avonlea has had a handsome way with words for years.  " pearls slipping off a string..."  The best part of her simile is the reality of a broken necklace.  Most women, no doubt, would moan and clench if their real pearl necklace snapped and the beads strolled off one by one.  There's the profundity: life rips apart sometimes, lots of times, but look!  Isn't it neat how the pearls slide off the string?  Simple pleasures,  small instances,  a crocus crown working to stand tall in the snow.  
And, so, here are the simple pleasures that can perhaps be missed in the breaking, the moaning, the frustrating.   The financial issues, the church issues, the relationship issues, the health issues, the house issues, the greater-world issues.  Here is a home, a family, a house and some of their best pearls.  Meet  steel-eyed Nora, and her copper hair.  She's the little lass of the household.  Her mama, Ashley, is an interior designer -- making the world around her beautiful is her speciality.  Nora's pops is a pastor and all-around good, kind man.  
 photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_30of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_32of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_1of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_2of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_9of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_41of42.jpg
Currently this sweet family of three have friends living with them.   These friends are doing coffee-shop ministry.  They have given their life to creating comfortable, inviting spaces made for meeting and knowing people.  And, of course, drinking coffee.  "Come in!  Welcome!  It smells good, hey?  Sit for a while.  Come back again soon: bring friends."  Their love of people, all shapes and ages, and well-made coffee aren't just for "work," either.  Little Nora looks at them like I imagine she would look at the midnight stars.  They purposefully teach her the ropes, and she takes their confidence seriously.  She has each and every step of coffee-making memorized, written on her heart.  She copy-cats these two and her infectious pride and adoration is impossible to miss.  They even do yoga together!
 photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_3of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_4of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_5of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_6of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_7of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_8of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_38of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_39of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_40of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_17of42.jpg
Okay, so the coffee was a little weak.  And the meditation and exercise benefits are a little cut short when a toddler is your teammate.  One pearl, two pearls slipping off the strand.  Simple pleasures, little stories, memories made.
 photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_11of42.jpg
 photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_1of1.jpg
 photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_12of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_13of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_14of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_15of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_21of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_18of42.jpg photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_19of42.jpg
 photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_20of42.jpg
 photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_37of42.jpg
Special games with daddy fill the house and murmur onto the front porch.  Story time is where imaginations, vocabulary and life-skills begin to engage; where they sprout so green and bright.  Nora is an old-soul, with a watchful mind.  She examines the people around her, and watches -- learns! -- what they do.  She is her father's need to learn; her mother's need for order and systemic beauty.  She wanders off along, and also nuzzles and laughs until she can't breathe. 
 photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_35of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_22of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_31of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_29of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_33of42.jpg
 photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_24of42.jpg
 photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_23of42.jpg photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_26of42.jpg photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_27of42.jpg  photo im_kristen_oklahoma_city_goodnightnora_28of42.jpg
That day has passed, those pearls have fallen, the problems of the morning are gone now, and the joys of the evening are another piece in the jewelry box; the beautiful, shining, display case of a family and their life lived in the nicest, sweetest days.  Thank you for welcoming me into your home and hearts, Whitefield family!  I'll be sure to be back again.  
--- | --- | --- | --- | --- | ---
to book your own i'm kristen home-family session, 
especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, new york, or oklahoma to dallas areas
(i'll also be traveling around southern california + the lake tahoe/nevada areas in coming months.)

Woods Family | Hoboken Coffee Roasters At Home | Family Portraits in Guthrie

i could be sweet
and i could be sweeter
i want to be where your heart is home
she & him - home
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma10of64.jpg
You met Trey and Mallory behind the bar at Hoboken Coffee Roasters.  You met their dream - their wooden, mechanical, brown, window-ed, handmade dream.   You met a part of them that isn't just their career or their work, but their hearts on display on Division Avenue.  Hoboken is more than a part, but it isn't the whole.
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma2of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma4of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma64of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma3of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma1of64.jpg
Today you'll at least get to meet more of the parts, that will help you know the whole far better.  The parts about an OSU cowgirl-student, paying the bills by working at a college town coffee house.  The parts about her meeting Gerald Woods, the Third (or "Trey," for three.  Get it?)  The parts about an engagement three months later.  And a wedding four months after the "Will you?" And the parts about their bike ride - on their bicycles, with pedals and wheels that runs on human muscle, determination and exhilaration - from Oklahoma to Oregon.  Yes.  The parts about their time in Eugene, working working working, playing playing playing, learning learning learning, dreaming dreaming dreaming.   They continued to pay the bills by being hired at, well, where else?  Coffee shops.  And they looked forward to big new parts.  Baby parts and a shop of their own parts and a house to make their home (at least for a good long while) parts.  
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma11of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma12of64.jpg
On a personal note, before I wow you with more heartwarming Woods tales, I have to recite, once again, why I love shooting people in their real life.  I'm not the biggest fan of styled shoots (I understand their fun and place), I'm never going to be a commercial "America's Next Top Model esque" photographer (but I sure am glad someone does it, because I adore the spreads in Vogue and Vanity Fair), I have no desire to learn camera and photoshop tricks and magicals to create Popular Page worthy Flickr creations (though I adore it when those are well done - they're dreamy.)  Honestly, I could take or leave photography.  And "art."  Not in the world, oh no.  But in my own life - I don't "need to take pictures!"  What I do "need," however, is to create (bedrooms or meals or outfits or blog posts) and to know people.  I'm far less bubbly and outgoing than I was a few years ago.  I may be less social and, heck, even less friendly!  But my heart is "on" and I'm addicted to knowing and discovering the stories of people.  I love shooting a birth story or a wedding or a friend of mine at the pool.  I just, oh, feel alive!  Like life is tasty and happening and dazzling!
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma9of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma8of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma7of64.jpg
And here, in a living room on Oak Street, in a town set aglow by the promise of "Munson and Sons" (or "Mummy Fords," depending on which old lady in town you speak with), is a wife and mamma and female who doesn't know how to pin something onto Pinterest.  And a husband and daddy and man who looks like American Storybook Jesus, according to my husband.  And a coffee-shop babe who takes her naps under a espresso machine, and who kind of looks like a munchable little coffee treat herself.  And this is where they wake up and come home and close their blinds and take their showers and park their jeep and rest.
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma5of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma6of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma20of64.jpg
And it makes me feel alive.
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma17of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma18of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma23of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma19of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma13of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma22of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma21of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma16of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma14of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma15of64.jpg
They moved into this home, less than two minutes from their store, last month.  They have hardy plans for it.  When we opened the blinds they fell off the window and Mallory tossed them into the kitchen.  Where the dish and clothes washer live.  And the plaster needs to be repaired in the walls, and the bathroom isn't "them" at all.  Just the night before this shoot Mallory went all "destroy the shower doors!" and hung up a curtain and rod in their place.  It's just on the cusp of all it will be, but it's undoubtably theirs and beautiful.
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma31of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma27of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma25of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma34of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma24of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma28of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma63of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma30of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma33of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma29of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma26of64.jpg
In my various conversations with the Woods family over the past eight months, I've watched a trusty thread stitch their thoughts together.  "It just wasn't us, ya know?"  "That was just SO 'me'!" "It was us!" "It really wasn't 'me.'" They have some of the most developed, unstuffy, natural, pleasant, makes-you-feel-comfortable-not-judged-happy-not-like-a-failure sense of personal taste and desire I've ever come across.  They aren't trendy or trying to be cool - they just dress and decorate and drink and do what they love!  It's so simple and good. 
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma46of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma44of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma62of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma45of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma42of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma43of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma40of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma37of64.jpg
Trey is the sort of person who you feel really proud-of-yourself when you've made him laugh.  He's easy to talk to, interesting and not-shy - but he also doesn't pity-laugh.  Mallory, on the other hand, is a feather of a speaker and, if she caught on that you were making a joke, would laugh no matter what - just to make sure you didn't feel bad.   But as a couple they make you feel like you're family.  It doesn't matter if you're at the shop or in their living room.   And their little offspring daughter is a holdable part of their love.  She is so easy to adore and want to be near.  She's (obviously) super used to being around people all day long.  She sucks her fists and is working on coordinating her back with her mind, and she looks at you like she's got you all figured out - and then usually smiles really big, which makes you confident that she assessed you well ;)
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma56of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma54of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma58of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma57of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma53of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma60of64.jpg
These three must be a little window light of heaven.  Everyone - from my own family to the church ladies to the Town Member of The Year to the instagram-and-tweeters to myself - have only experienced memorable, rich and addicting love from this crew.  It's honest and not something that can be faked or manufactured or posed.  
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma38of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma50of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma51of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma47of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma49of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma39of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma35of64.jpg
Trey, Mallory and young Autumn, er, Harmony (hahah just kidding. Harvest.) yes, you're beautiful.  "Inside and out," as they say.  Yes, you're inspiring.  But thank you, sincerely, for your hearts - especially towards people.  Thank you for not making people different than you (basically your whole town!) feel snubbed or looked down on.  Instead they feel a part of you.  Thank you for living out what you believe is best, but not talking about those things in a way that makes me-or-others feel like half-bakes.  You love differences and don't want everyone to be like you - you want them to be like them.  And you bring that out in people.  Thank you for talking about God like He's really your friend, and not like you're "good Christian folk who have to bring up prayer now."  It's obvious that your life in Him is so interweaved with your everyday life that they just simply can't be separated.  It doesn't feel hokey, ultra-spiritual or pushy.  It just feels right and helpful and delightful.  
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma41of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma32of64.jpg
 photo trey_mallory_woods_hoboken_guthrie_coffee_oklahoma61of64.jpg
Thank you for the start of a friendship - I hope our babies will be buds for a long long time, and I hope you'll get to eat at our bagel shop someday, and I hope for many nights and meals and BBQ's and holiday parties and coffee-breaks and conversations and knowings with our families.

It's been so nice to meet you.