i'm kristen photography

Styled Shoot | Pioneer Woman Oklahoma Wedding Inspired

β€œ'Well, first of all,' he began, 'I really…I really like you.'
He looked into my eyes in a seeming effort to transmit
the true meaning of each word straight into my psyche.
All muscle tone disappeared from my body.
Marlboro Man was so willing to put himself out there,
so unafraid to put forth his true feelings.
I simply wasn’t used to this.
I was used to head games, tactics, apathy, aloofness.
When it came to love and romance,
I’d developed a rock-solid tolerance for mediocrity.
And here, in two short weeks, Marlboro Man had blown it all to kingdom come."

 (Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels)

You know I love a good story. This is a fine story. But it was *this close* to being a good story. For the sake of my family it's probably for the best; had this become a good story the bragging would have. never. stopped.

A couple years ago Caleb and I were living in Oklahoma, working slowly on finishing our house, and expecting to settle there for the near (maybe long!) future (life plans changed haha). I was working on making connections with photography in the area, trying to re-build a base. I decided to do an Oklahoma Inspired Styled Session with Ree & Ladd Drummond's story as the theme. Better know was "Pioneer Woman and Marlboro Man," I came to love their romance at the perfect timing. Ree's book "High Heels To Tractor Wheels" was released just as Caleb and I started talking. I won't lie, I craved that kind of romance and (what appeared to be) beautiful, happy marriage it led to. 

When looking for models I asked my brother-in-law, Micah, if he wouldn't mind playing the groom. And I asked a cute girl who grew up in town, Savannah Crockett, if she would model as Ree. "I'll need to spray your hair red... is that fine?" We staged the shoot in the cow pasture on the Morris property, Shekinah Springs Farm, and the whole family was so sweet to help me set-up, make food, and hold props. It was a really fun afternoon!

At one point we staged a service and my father-in-law, Terry, pretended to officiate. He couldn't help himself with the obvious for a father. "Now, why aren't one of my single boys actually interested in this wonderful woman?! I think I should be out here marrying one of you for real!" Elijah raced off on a four-wheeler in a cut-off t-shirt in the background.

But less than a year later... ELIJAH REALLY MARRIED SAVANNAH. Ugh. I was one brother-model away from being the best match-maker, with a staged wedding blind date to show for it!!

Anyways, this shoot was such colorful, floral, food-focused fun. And I'm still so happy Elijah and Savannah realized they wanted to love each other forever. Micah, thanks for pretending to marry your brother's future wife for your crazy sister-in-law ;)

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Ken + Allie | Dulaneys Overlook Wedding Frederick MD

"It felt very good to have him walking beside her."
Marilynne Robinson

"I feel like we are rather un-quirky. Like, so much so that when we first met, I literally thought 'I feel like he’s the one, but he’s so much like me. Can that work?'  We are both pretty independent people, and we would both say we are introverts." I loved reading these lines when Allison sent over the questionnaire part of the contract. Finding a real "match" not just a complement is special.

Allison's mom, Tracy, was my mom's best friend. They met while they were pregnant with their first children, born about a month apart. Sam in July, me in August. A large hunk of my childhood memories include riddles with Mr. Branchaw, losing at Battleship, playing Sardines and man-hunt in the neighborhood of Waring Station, hearing stories about secret Polish family recipes, getting another pretzel out of the giant pretzel bins, and being blissfully happy (and occasionally sneaky) with the Branchaw family. Once I asked my mom if she had any life advice for me and she said to find a friend like Tracy. "She's put up with a lot from me, and I've had to bite my tongue with her, but more than anything she has been loyal and with me. I know Tracy has my back. I can laugh with her, cry with her, tell her the truth, be told the truth by her, and we usually laugh again. You need friends like this to get through life." Tracy wasn't just this way to my mom... she's been "this friend" to dozens if not hundreds.

Tracy brought us dinner a few nights after Summer was born. It meant very much seeing as mom wasn't there to share this part of my life with me. Tracy showed up; was with me. I remember bringing her dinner with my mom when her babies were born. I also remember how she was on-call to have the Snyder kids when my mom was in labor. 

The wedding of these two similar, introverted, Maine-loving lovers was of gold; the finest quality of sweet joy. Tracy, and John, have spent their lives being faithfully, consistently, and eagerly "there" for their kids, friends, family (and "new friends," too!). Almost all the vendors at the wedding were family friends. The ones who weren't felt like it. Resplendent joy. Decades of friendships coming together to lavish on a pair who would never ask for all this attention. A teary-eyed daddy (who home-brewed all the beer for the wedding) and couldn't have been more proud of his daughter and new husband. Chatter creating an energy throughout the venue. Sniffles and dabs during toasts, uproarious laughter during the jokes, and a packed dance floor all night.

It doesn't get much better than nights like these.

It doesn't get much better than love like this. 

Ken wrote of Allie "She is a dream come true." Thank you for welcoming me into your dream for a few hours. I was filled with "the good stuff" by being able to simply observe the kindness and loyalty stretching back in history and launching into the future that your wedding day was.

You two have "a special something," bigger than yourselves and given to you for your joy. I hope that as the seasons of life bring what they may you'll never forget and always hold close the "not of this earth" happiness you've shared together! Thank you for having me there, it was a gift to me!

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(All these people. They probably don't know it to the extent that it's true... but if you're a part of the Branchaws, I'd go down for you. You all mean quite a lot to me.)

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Congratulations! What a perfect day, in every sense of the word!

Ps. Speaking of loyal... a HUGE shout-out to my friend, Ally, who came from California to shoot this wedding with me. Ally has made herself available for not just major moments of my life (like coming across the country alone for our wedding even though she didn't know anyone except me and helping host/decorate my little baby shower for Summer) but also taking on the major-parts of my friends' and my family's lives. She's photographed the other two Morris weddings with me, as well as a number of Morris engagement/baby shoots. She traveled to my best friend's wedding in Minnesota with me, helped pull off my friends' proposals (plural!), and sends sweet packages to us and even my friends' little kids in the mail. Heck, this year she HANDMADE FOUR MICKEY MOUSE STOCKINGS FOR US! Thank you for going out of your way to love on me, and anyone I love. So many of the best pictures of this wedding you took. One more "enormous life gift" you've given someone. Grateful for you, friend!

M Springtime Family Session | Maryland

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

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.

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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. 

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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.

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

Year In Review 2015 | I'm Kristen Photography

2015 was a wonderful year behind my camera! I enjoyed shooting 15 weddings, plus second shot five weddings, and then three proposals and a couple dozen portrait sessions. This post is just a review of all the weddings I haven't blogged yet this year (Neill and Kate's wedding is here!). While some of my favorite pictures are certainly included, many of these represent favorite memories and moments of each wedding day. As I went through each day start to finish it warmed my heart to re-see the faces.

Pulling a segment from my website: "I don't take and present photographs because it's cute, but because I am a Note Taker, a Story Teller. You are the sonnet, you are a part of the play, and the times of your life matter. It is sincere delight for me to be allowed to walk into the doors of your world, tap into my heart, and let your joy become mine -- whether it be a wedding, a birth, a high school graduation, or a Christmas card portrait.  I know our sessions together aren't the whole story -- the nights without sleep, the gulp in your throat, the lost ones you miss, the insecurities, the numbness -- but I know our sessions are a real, that we are here logging history with a black box and light. It's magic.  I believe in family, marriage, parenthood, new starts, figuring it out, I believe in wholehearted relationship, I believe in lasting love and I know awfully sad things happen in those places. But I believe in fighting for the good, fighting to believe that the best is yet to come, that the struggle is worth it, that being known and loved -- and knowing and loving -- are what give us life and bring us the greatest joy. So, here's to the grand adventure and all the stories, and hope beyond tomorrow! *clink*" Happy Days Gone By, everyone, and thank you for letting me live parts of my life alongside yours.


| The Preparations |

| The Ceremony |

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| The Newlyweds |

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| The Celebrating |

A special thank you to all my second-shooters this year! Ellie Be, Elizabeth Baxter, Caroline Ruth, Elise Benjamin, Dom, Ally Michelle and the Mr. Morris himself. Thank you for working hard for my clients and me, for keeping track of the family shot lists, for keeping me hydrated, and for doing such beautiful work! 

Harper Joy | Nashville Newborn Photography

"Ohh, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can't contain your joy inside
Then dance for Jesus."

Chris Rice - Untitled Hymn

I love pictures of babies in the first week of life (it's just such a tiny, fast, final stage) but I don't know if it gets much cuter than the "chub up" part. Miss Harper is the sixth daughter of dear friends. I think it's a little bit of magic to have half-a-dozen little girls. I met the family after their third, Alivia, passed away and I've been so in love with them ever since. Not everyone has to face the "hell" parts of life, but those who do often seem to have a special 'substance' to them. Each one of the kids and both parents have such strong, distinct and lovable personalities. I can't wait to see their family evolve over the years. I'm especially excited for the mom of this brood and her new instagram feed and online shop, Vintage Farmhouse Interiors. She has incredible taste and makes such a warm, happy home! I love love you all! Thanks for letting me squish your newest baby, and for all the bowls of soup and slices of bread. You are favorites forever.

Neill + Kate | California Stagecoach Inn Wedding

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"
W. Shakespeare

My mom's sister married into the Borden family.  The Borden family is a huge, tight-knit, mostly-female, FUN crew.  When the first cousin, Kate, got engaged everyone was thrilled. She and her twin sister Beth are so close to the rest of the cousins, and the love the between all the Bordens was noisy and strong all wedding day!

Kate is an elementary school teacher, who has a bit of musical theater in her soul. The entire day was filled with songs, performances and "ta-da's!"  These folks know how to make a memory, and how to make you feel like family.  Neill is a warm, joyous man who appreciates the good things in life and doesn't take what he has for granted. He is a perfect addition to the new big family, and he's going to have a creative, memory-filled life with spunky Kate by his side!

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Congratulations, Neill and Kate! Your wedding was one of my favorites of all-time!

Β 

Reception Venue / Stagecoach Inn
Wedding Cakes / Nothing Bundt Cake

Years In Review | I'm Kristen Photography 2014

β€œtime was passing like a hand waving from a train i wanted to be on."
  jonathan safran foer
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In the way "When are you due!" is the question when you're pregnant, "Are you still doing photography!" is the question when, well, you disappear from the internet and stop posting any current photography. (Yes, I am still doing and have been doing photography. Just, differently.)

The last 18 months have, with no exaggeration, been the "most" times of my life.  It has been much -- from that day in June when our firstborn was delivered, to that day in January when my mom was delivered (from earth), to that day in April when blood on toilet paper met our second-born was no longer with us on earth, to all those days traveling (usually with at least one or two children) and living with other people constantly, to the long slow days spent in the heat and the ice building our home with our own two hands.

Despite what any marketing class or business principle might say, I've somehow shot dozens of weddings, and dozens of other sessions (and hosted a workshop!), while doing relatively no "promotional work."  Getting clients their images in a (mostly) timely manner is the most important, and after that, I simply haven't had more to give my business.  I blogged 27 times this year, and 28 times last year as opposed to 130 times in a year before.  My facebook page hasn't seen many more followers, my online hits have dropped (as is the case when sites are neglected), my e-mail isn't filled with inquiries, I have a blog but not a website.  Everything should be pointing to financial 'failure' and damaged business.

Yet, as always, things just kind of... fell into place. (Huge special thanks for the support and relationship with the folks at Strong Mansion.  More than half of the weddings were set there, with Twins + Violins playing music.  You'll recognize a certain set of steps very quickly ;) It's been great working together so often.) And such deeply beautiful clients have come my way, welcoming me into their holy days, and showing me the power of connection weekend after weekend.

Photographing a wedding has become a thing of healing for me.  Some days it was very, very hard to show up with my "game face" and be a sparkling professional woman.  Preparing my tools the night before, putting on make-up, doing my hair, sometimes pulling my bloody big-girl panties on (as I shot weddings one week after giving birth to Rowdy, and one week after miscarrying Ryan), sometimes crying or staring blankly in the car on my way too and from, sneaking off to empty my body of milk-filled pain, wearing a pretty outfit, feeling so strong and confident each time I finish, proud of my mind and body, grateful for my current ability and health, depositing checks in the bank and taking the money out to hang drywall or see the sea, letting myself get lost in the bliss of others, the weird and hard and thrilling work of creating, reviewing photographs, giving newlyweds the story of that day.  It is healing.  It is healing to be sensory -- to see, taste, touch, smell, hear -- when often I've had emptiness or "nothingness" this year.  It quickens me.  Being able to live, and move, and have my being, while working for, through and with God on these days of heaven-and-earth, keeps my eyes wide open when I can want to squish them shut.

I was often drawn to the middle-aged and turning-elderly women.  Sometimes it was the mother of the bride or groom, but other times it was just a group of guests or unruly aunts.  I watched them.  I watched them just be moms -- they worried, fussed, finagaled, cried, glowed, stared adoringly, got a little tipsy, kissed cheeks, choked on joy.  One dear mama carried down the aisle a photograph of she and her now-groom-then-toddler-son cut into a heart.  They fed me and, without a doubt, I would release that uncomfortable, nostalgic feeling with some tears.    One lovely friend told me my photographs were "a spiritual act."  Her sentiments blessed me.  Similar to the way that praying both honors God and brings me peace, photographing honors the stories of these people and brings me happy hope.

It is hard mental, emotional and physical work to be present and involved in the details.  I'm so honored that, again, someone, some people, trusted me to do that work.  And as all good hard work is, it is an actual joy to create for them.  Here is a (tough, tough, tough to narrow down) vault of the places I've been, flavors I've tasted, faces I've met, and souls I've linked hearts with this last year and a bit.  From Montreal to the eastern shore, from Texas to twenty-minutes down the road from home; the six-figure events and the four-figure events; the humid hot days and cold rainy days; the baby flower girls and the century-old grandparents; the mothers and the fathers; and everything in between.  Thank you, from the fragile places of this woman's heart.  The amount of intense (though sometimes teeny) human history I witnessed is nothing less than medicine.
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ps. Thank you to my second-shooters this year: the spunky Ellie Be, winsome Hannah Nicole, and baby-daddy Caleb.

Hannah + Mike | Charlottesville, VA Wedding Photography

β€œAny time not spent on love is wasted.”
Torquato Tasso
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I'll never forget the effect Hannah and Mike had on me when I first met them for their engagement shoot.  Maybe it was part timing in my life, but it certainly was also part them.  Their "mushiness" wasn't annoying because something about they way they moved, talked and were together that was veritable.  I noticed their friendship more than anything.  It made me want to hang out with my husband, get back to him as soon as possible.  It's easy (and I would argue even good, when thoughtfully done) to compare and contrast yourself to the people and couples around you.  To feel like you have to prove something, to be affirmed outside about something inside, to tell others and yourself what you want life to be, not what it really is.  The effect of Hannah and Mike, however, was one where you left not really thinking about them but about the person you love. 
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On August 9, our two year wedding anniversary, I brought Caleb with me to shoot Hannah and Mike's wedding.  And we got to meet the reasons Hannah and Mike are who they are, and have what they have.  I was so moved from start to finish.  Hannah's sisters and best friends were draped on each other all day, and I caught a few of them on the back porch in tears, talking about all they loved about Hannah.  The ceremony worship was loud and booming, the affection in their faces, the rejoicing and random outbursts of dancing, cheering and clapping was simply overwhelming (in the best way).
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This wedding reminded me of videos of seen of old European celebrations.  The bride and groom are paraded through the streets with live music and hollering!  Townspeople close up shop and follow the parade in warm camaraderie!  It's about the couple and sharing in their joy, but it's about where they came from and where they're going and everything they together are being built into.  I felt the bonds of care and closeness between all these people, like I myself was a part of their heart.
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Thank you both for your high-energy kindness, bold tenderness and happy love.  I'm so glad you secretly crushed on each other for years and finally went to that diner to have a dinner that would change your lives.  You will probably bring more hope and good to this world than you know -- because you probably impacted me far more than you know.  And if it happened once, it'll likely happen again! 
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People feel like they lose something when they get married, but it doesn't have to be that way.
There is nothing more exciting than having a witness to your life
You know, everybody is not good at everything, it's okay to depend on someone -
it's actually what we are supposed to do, we are supposed to depend on each other.
And when you find the person that you trust and you love
and you feel is going to respect you, it feeds you.
It is the most powerful thing you can ever feel in your life."
Beyonce

Daniel + Erin | Engagement Photography

"there's no music, no confetti
crowds don't cheer, and bells don't ring.
but you'll know it, i can guarantee,
when the right one comes along."
claire bowen with sam palladio
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As a human behavior phycologist at heart, I find great satisfaction in learning about people.  My husband at the top of the list.  The fascination cherry on top of getting to know my husband has been the fact that he has a twin.  Of course I didn't think they had the same personality and souls, but I've always been extremely curious as to how they are different.  In basic conversation before I knew either of them well, I heard word-for-word same answers to questions.  They played matching instruments, worked matching construction jobs, were building ICF houses side-by-side.  Same hair-cuts, same North Face jackets, same computer passwords, same exclamations when they were embarrassed or disgusted. 

But four years later not only do I know them better, they know them better.  Caleb and Daniel shared extreme twin-telepathy and connection.  They play music with very little verbal communication, and it's been described to me that sometimes they each forget which instrument or part they are playing, because they know exactly what the other is going to do -- in their brains two different pieces are one in the same.  They were both eager to get married and have kids, but Caleb went off without Daniel for the first time.  While we were annoyingly busy falling in love and laying the rebar for our impending life.  We got engaged, were married, announced pregnancy, had our firstborn, and became pregnant again a second time while Daniel was quite single.  

Those years were an intense transition for their relationship.  Through them were severe depression, mania, overseas trips, moves to new states, career changes, out-of-the-blue large bills, soul-searching and wandering.  It broke our hearts, but it was a needed process.  Last fall he really seemed to be finding a place of clarity and peace.  He was the most "himself" we had ever seen, with focus on his dreams.  He declared himself "wild and free!" (which he was, er, is.) but he was growing up, and becoming so confident in the man God made him to be.

We were seeing the eccentric, busy, man made of music, whose heart beats on chords and harmonies, express himself.  He was actually pretty weird and far less "tame" than he perhaps once tried to be.  He's a feeler and a go-er and thinks in sounds and experiences and lights.  He's a zebra in a field of horses, and a brilliant colorful mind full of possibilities.  

So when someone tagged Erin on instagram, suggesting that she might be a good match for Daniel, it took us all a grand total of two minutes to know he was going to marry her.  His mom had that "mama hunch" immediately, and when she showed Caleb and I on her iPhone we agreed completely.  She is his matching mitten, his reflection in the water, his tail on a kite.  They are one of the most "Made For Each Other" couples I've ever known.  It's a little scary, actually.  His weirdness is only beat by hers, their sense of humor is cheesy and 'only them,' they wear their hearts on their sleeves, want an untraditional family lifestyle (not tied down by usual constraints), their skin and hair is the same color, they are full of spirit and energy, ready for adventure and change and discovery.  We couldn't be more thrilled that they have fallen so deeply in love, and that they are promising their love forever.  Welcome to the family, Erin!  You're an answer to many prayers, and have a way with our brother that no one else in the world does.  
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We did this shoot at a local shopping-center tourist-area (called "The Rio").  It was so fitting because Daniel has spent the last two years playing his violin on the street corners to make a living.  He spent night after night after night after night, week after week after week, month after month after month, out there alone.  At the end of the night he'd collect his cash, deposit it in the bank, chip away at his debts, and go back at it again.  It was a slow, exhausting process.  But he did it.  He not only paid off every penny he owed, he supported himself independently through those years.  Seeing him walk around in a suit, with a beautiful woman in a gown, snapping engagement pictures, gave me a catch in my throat.  The lessons of life have only just begun, but what a sweet thing it is to watch you both learn together.  Go knock 'em dead, you two.  We'll be cheering in the crowd while you're on stage someday.  
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"Bad times make the good times better,
 Look in her eyes and you're gone forever."
Frankie Ballard

Babies Don't Keep Workshop | Photography Workshop For Mamas


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Last Saturday I hosted the first, but certainly not last, Babies Don't Keep Workshop in Maryland.  We spent the day learning from greats like Maya Angelou, Rachel Jankovic, Brene' Brown, Sarah Bessey,  Charles Dickens, Shauna Niequist, Tim Kimmel, Willa Cather, Trevor and Heidi Davis, and Suzanne Snyder (and more!).  Neatly enough, none of these people are photographers.  But each of these people have and have told stories to me in a way that has been earthquakes to my soul.  After I've experienced their stories, I have to pick-up the newly broken things, and take the insurance money to buy different things, and reassemble the house.  

Photography, especially the kind of near-and-dear, interspatial, blood-of-my-blood photography that happens when a mother makes her child the subject, is a rich form of story.  We walked through the gift our children's childhood is not just to them, but to us as well.  It's a thing we can take, as they give; know as they tell.  It's also a time where we build into their souls their place in history -- vastness of this world years and years before but also the unquestionable singularity of their importance in this song.  It's the time where we live before them what we want them to be (scary), and also get to show them what it means to have somebody know and love you.  The difference between fitting in and belonging. Grafting their roots into the solid family tree of time and generation.  

As a mother you are part co-character, part narrator, part author, part illustrator, part editor, part reader.  Photography, I believe, is more than just satisfying mommy-guilt or storing memories.  It is a foundational gift and capability that can have the power to affirm or deny some of the greatest truths in this life.  I've gotten to know and re-know my own mother all over again as I study the images I have of her as a college student, and Army Captain, and mother.  In some ways I see her strength in images better than I ever did live.  I am re-told my place and potential and value when I look at pictures of mom firing off rounds and looking at toddler-me.

We also learned about those beautiful black boxes called "camera" and how to use the buttons and numbers to tell our stories better.  We learned about light, composition; crying in a room full of near-strangers, laughing over meals, exchanging labor -- war -- stories.  These women have face infertility, miscarriage, longing, waiting, incision, blood, and the power of little children in our world.  

I hope all of your emotional and "living" skills were increased, as well as your photographer and technical skills.  I left the day full of dancing memories and I felt a tight sense of camaraderie in my heart.  Thank you, each of you, for being a part of this new experiment and passion of mine.  All of my love, and some of my deepest memories, were yours for a day.  Thank you for walking sacred places with me.  

Also!  A huge thank you to the slew of sponsors and companies who made this event possible!  Learn more about them below.  
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We took a family trip to Butler's Orchard and picked fresh flowers and raspberries in the rain.  It was an exhilarating, funny memory and I felt very "heart all in" the workshop.  And maybe a little OCD (which is not like me.  "Not the red ones, only the pink hued ones!")
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Each mama walked away with a bundle of treats.  I wanted them to have some pretty things they may want if they saw it in a store, but wouldn't necessarily go ahead and spend on themselves.  Erin James from Graceful Magazine provided beautiful watercolor notecards.  Her online magazine has so much in store -- enjoy browsing around!  Each lady also walked away with a brand new Baggu Bag (I feel just a little more put together when I shop with a Baggu.  It almost had the effect of a pair of pearl earrings on my spirits -- almost.)
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I fell in love with the hand-painted art given by our sponsor Victory Day & Co.  You simply must add some of her heartfelt pieces to your wishlist, and get them on your walls.  The artist and owner is a sweet mama of three (two 'here' and one on the way!)  I love being able to support and work with fellow mamas.  
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Husband and wife team, Chris and Carly, are the delightful founders of Hand Lettering Co.  I've probably bought close to 20 pieces from them this past year.  They were even kind enough to create a custom pink piece for me to give to my mama last Christmas.  It was the last Christmas gift I gave her, and will be a part of our family treasury forever.  Check them out!
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Takeya is the ultimate for cool, modern, glass water bottles (in my completely biased opinion).  The women loved their grown-up containers and I may have had to get an extra one for myself!
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The motto journals came from Compendium... and someone needs to stop me before I buy a bookcase' worth!
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The workbooks were provided by MyPublisher and are the perfect, budget-friendly, little option for tiny photo albums.  Just Knotted killed it with the bright, whimsy-full hair ties!  SmugMug also had 20% off for them!  Online back-up, baby!
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β€œOne morning as I was leaving, the director said I didn't have to leave the set anymore. 
What happened? Why did they change their ways of treating me? 

I came to the realization that it was because I had a mother. My mother spoke highly of me, and to me. But more important, whether they met her or simply heard about her, she was there with me. She had my back, supported me. 

This is the role of the mother, and in that visit I really saw clearly, and for the first time, why a mother is really important. Not just because she feeds and also loves and cuddles and even mollycoddles a child, but because in an interesting and maybe an eerie and unworldly way, she stands in the gap. She stands between the unknown and the known. 

In Stockholm, my mother shed her protective love down around me and without knowing why people sensed that I had value.” 

[Maya Angelou, Mom & Me & Mom]

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Please consider joining us for the Oklahoma Workshop the first weekend in November ---> BABIES DON'T KEEP WORKSHOP to register 


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And if you are interested in having a workshop in your area, please let me know in the comments or e-mail me at kristen@babiesdontkeepworkshop.com.  If there is enough interest in your part of the world, I would eagerly spend the weekend with lovely new mama friends!


Mike + Hannah | Charlottesville, VA Engagement

"he feels like he's been there for hours, 
and i can tell that he'll be there for life."
adele
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She is a few years younger, and her immediate pit-crew of friends agreed: Mike is a dreamboat.  He was the standard, ("I want someone like Mike.") but obviously he wasn't a realistic future option.  In the same way being the next Rolling Stones big-star isn't a realistic career option.  Funny thing about those shot-in-the-dark dreams: sometimes they happen.  Unbeknownst to Young Hannah G, Mike thought she was the standard of smart, engaging, kind and lovely.  But she was young, and that's weird, and... and.  Funny thing about time and strolling into your twenties: age blends away a bit, like the spread of watercolor paints.  After years of secret mutual pining, travel, school, career and growing-into-themselves Hannah and Mike reconnected.  And at their first date, in a downtown diner, they talked until closing and came alive together, both knowing without a doubt that they were never parting ways.
These two are last-Adele-chorus hot.  The day we did this session was over 100 degrees and 80 percent humidity (steamy).  I joked with them that it's too bad they aren't into each other.  "Sorry if we kiss too much," as they'd go at it again.  It's special when people with so much outward obsession are more marked, more noticeable by their deep friendship.  Throughout our shoot we paused to talked multiple times, getting carried off by conversation.  They invited me to have guacamole and tacos before I headed home where they both asked me questions, shared their life passions and laughed.   Their hearts are big, and friendship-centered view of their future is delightful and serious.  They felt more like "a sweet old married couple" in the way they eased in and out of taking turns talking and communicating 'as a couple.'  It was refreshing (and made me want to call my husband just to talk the whole ride home!)  I am grateful for the cool things in life like passion, connection, long talks, lips, effort, favorite Mexican places, stories of old, and red nail polish. photo charlottesville_virginia_engagement_shoot_downtown_im_kristen_photography5of38.jpg
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God lit up my week when I got to meet you two!  Next up: their wedding! (I had tears streaming down my face during the ceremony.  Not "tearing up," but actual tear stains through my foundation.)
"I could hold you for a million years 
to make you feel my love."

Erin James | Portrait Session Part II

β€œi was born with an enormous need for affection,  
and a terrible need to give it.” 
[audrey hepburn]
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-- part one of erin's portrait sessions --

The tagline for Erin James' new online magazine is "Vintage values for elegant women, chasing the lost art of being a lady."  She has made references to Kate Middleton, June Cleaver, Grace Kelly and Jane Austen.  Her mind is a landing strip for the "beautiful little things that make life rich."  As Erin shared with me her hopes for this new career direction, I knew I wanted to photograph her with every bit of lady from a different generation.  Given that in her day-in, day-out life Erin's look is a bit more of a "Carrie Bradshaw"/Malibu Barbie/California Baby I want to display her inner Audrey.   These headshots and portraits are more practical and functional (than, say, a black tulle ball-gown), but I love seeing this part of Erin, too.  
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to book your own i'm kristen portrait session, 
especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, or oklahoma to dallas areas
E-MAIL ME HERE


The Salamander Resort | Virginia Wedding Photography

"I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad."
Sound of Music
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A few months ago I had the delightful chance to second-shoot for Mona Botwick at the prestigious new five-star luxury resort in the DC area, the Salamander.   Since the resort opened barely a year ago, this is its first "wedding season" and wow -- they knocked it out of the park!  The entire day was dripping with beauty yet had such an intimate, family-style sincerity.  Mona is an absolute gem and she not only worked her tail off, but was notably kind and charming throughout the full day.  (I hope to get to work with you again sometime soon!  I thoroughly enjoyed myself! Ps. Kate Triano -- it was lovely to finally meet you.  You're a sweetheart too.)  I don't second shoot very often, but I found myself loving the nitty-gritty work.  When the "pressure" is off to capture the main moments, it's creatively freeing and eye-opening to sneak around being a detail-hunter.

Amanda and Bill were a class act, with hearts full of laughter and welcoming.  In my recent memory, I can't recall a group of friends laughing all day long as much as I noticed at this wedding.  Thank you for having me, Mona!  This wedding day was good for the soul.
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(I'm not sure what was more jaw-dropping at The Salamander Resort: the venue or the food!)
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The Salamander's Ballroom is the perfect mix of romantic and modern.  Well done!