maryland family photographer

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!

The Little Ladies | Portraits

β€œbehind every beautiful thing, there's some kind of pain.”  
bob dylan
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Just about two years ago I took my sisters out for portraits on the beach.  They moved away to Florida, so when I came to visit I couldn't help but to steep in their beautiful childhood.  Being away and then being with gave me artist's clarity and I wanted to photograph them "as they were."  Mom watched on glowingly.  We ran around the sand until the sun set and once it was dark we ate tacos and laughed.  They were free, funny, best of friends and shockingly engaging (I crave their social skills).   The setting of a twilight beach was utopian and timely.

But now, they are different.  They are older and they are wiser and they ever-more engaging and they watched their mother deteriorate before they're innocently round eyes at only ten and twelve years old.  As they traveled with us across the country on a recent road trip, I was able to "people watch" them in concentrated doses and I had the itch to document them again -- how they are now.  All trip I talked about doing a shoot but it was never 'right.'  As we drove through Wyoming, with it's hard, repetitive, self-shrinking constance, I knew it was time.  We had driven through the night and for 16+ hours, but as soon as we arrived to our hotel I threw them dresses and we ran out to the neighboring pastures.

These little girls have held cold, mottled feet and wept into the chest of an unresponsive mother.  They've caught the stomach bug and cleaned themselves up alone, wishing to crawl into bed with the best nurse of all.  They've witnessed the various outbreaks and processes of other grieving family members, which is sometimes scary.  And they sing along to "The Lonely Goatherd" like sparkling buffoons, purposely off-key and definitely amused.  And my goodness: do they know how to savor and dissect a delicious meal (especially Chicago deep-dish pizza.)  The mix of severe and whimsical I see in their faces, watch in their actions is powerful to me.  I am a proud big sister and I am moved to present my silly, smart, sad, strong, shockingly engaging, happy, all-too-grown-up sisters:
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(I think Mama Bear still looked on glowingly.)




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

Five Years of Winkfields | Personal

"they can't understand the magic of your wonderland."
the fox + the hound

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They were apartment neighbors, he saw her coming home from work, he tripped down the stairs , she laughed, they met, and when they got engaged they booked me for their wedding.  Ashley and Kyle started as perfect strangers...
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... and somehow in the weird merge lanes of life, we became friends -- and I have been able to document some of the most significant experiences of their lives.  When I moved into my first apartment, they invited themselves over for dinner, arrived with gifts, sat on my tiny wobbly chairs, and made me feel like I lived in a palace.  Before I even started dating Caleb, they wanted to meet him.  We had lunch at Chipotle with their new puppy in Kyle's sweatshirt pocket.  They were at my wedding as friends.  And a couple of months later Ashley texted me: "We're having a baby! In June!" and I answered her back: "WHAT! Congratulations! (We're having a baby, too!  Also in June!") She responded back: "WHAT! Congratulations!"  So we were pregnant together, went stroller shopping together, ate Nando's chicken with our feet on the booth together.  We both knew we were having daughters.  We both were wrong.  Their son was due on June 7th, mine was due on June 6.  Their son was born on June 7th (ON HIS DUE DATE. Who does that?), mine was... late.  I photographed Jack entering this and their world.  They came to meet Rowdy at the hospital.  We had the best baby boys together.  When my mama was becoming more ill, they came over with more food (like cilantro-chicken soup and cornbread.)  When my mama passed away, they were at her memorial service.  When she found out I had miscarried Ryan, she sent me this text (she miscarried twice before Jack): "As painful as the loss is, you will now see a slight difference between yourself and other women who haven't lost.  They don't love their children any less; there's just a difference.  It's slight, but it's there.  Your next pregnancy will be different, and your subsequent doctor's appointments will be more apprehensive.  But.  It makes the healthy heartbeat more miraculous.   It makes each uncomfortable kick and wave of nausea that much more 'welcome.'  It makes each 'good appointment' that much more exhilarating. It makes things like 3.5 months of bed-rest *slightly*  more manageable.  It also makes your cry more sporadically over things you wouldn't normally cry over.  It makes you more.  And it makes your relationship with your husband more.  It makes your family more.  It makes those earthly babies more.  It makes life more."  This mother's day Ashley gave me a hand-painted Polish mug (it looks like something my mama would have bought.)  On Jack's first birthday, we were there to eat ribs and mac-and-cheese (and apparently duck...!) and celebrate life.  One more year of life, one more photoshoot, one more day, one more cake, one more laugh, one more time.

Though I'm particularly blessed with close friends, I'm so glad God let me have a few more.

(ps. Ashley: you're up! This world needs another caramel-pudge-cheesecake-child rawr-ing at the shower.  Plus, how cute would Jack look holding his little baby sibling? ;) 



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

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
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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.)
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 ;)
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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.
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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.


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

Shelby Leigh + Brian + The Three Girls | Newborn + Family Portraits

"is there any way that I can tell you how my life has changed? 
any way at all to let you know what sweetness you have given me?"
elise mckenna - somewhere in time
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Not many hours after Esme Rose snuggled into her first days of "outside" life, this beautiful family and I met up again for one more story time.   We started back in December, with simple portraits of a mama-and-dada-to-be.    Within weeks, we were huddled together in a bathroom, with a couple more daughters and supporters, watching Shelby and pleading to Esme with our hearts - "Come on, sweet girl.  Come out!  We're waiting for you!".   This brings us to early spring and a family of five.
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Inside the white picket fence, and red front door, up the wooden stairs, past the dusty rose and khaki nursery, on a white bright bed was a crew full of sunshine.
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The ladies of the house are, well, stunning.  Each and every one of them.
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And papa is a brave soul ;)
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The delight I had left behind that cold night was just as complete when I came back in the daylight.  The big sisters were still intrigued and comfortable.  The whole house attracts itself to mama and baby.  They all love to be near.
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Esme had quite the stare-down!  It's breathtaking!
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Soon the little cupcake won't be eating every hour or two.  Soon she will know her sister's names.  Soon she will jump on dad, and break mugs, and fill up a little purse with goodies, and count to eleventeen and beyond.  Soon she will clap for herself.  Soon she will ask for what she wants with words.  Soon she will ask dad about his tattoos and if she can play with mom's hair and "are we there yeeeet?"  Soon she won't be a baby.  But today she's quite baby.  And absolutely incredible.  She is loved, and has been for some time now.  She is here and she is there's.
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It's been honor and fun to be a part of this story; to record and tell something that can never be told again.  Esme Rose will never go back into her mother's belly or be delivered or be a few hours old ever, ever again.  And it really resonates in my heart the sweetness I've been able to join in on by photographing this entire, lovely family.  

Shelby Leigh + Brian + Their Baby | Birth Story

in these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will diewhere you invest your love, you invest your life
MUMFORD & SONS - AWAKE MY SOUL
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Caleb and I drove down their street.  House after house, virtually the same in story.  Porch lights on, maybe a window or two bright, the yard dark - most of the house dark - cars in park out front.  It was 8:30 pm and the end of a middling workday, in the middle of a fussy winter.   The outside of the Metzger home was forgettably normal in the lines of homes.  But inside.  Inside the walls, where only a select few could see, there was a nativity scene.
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Brian greeted me at the door - he was on his way to heat up a slice.  "Everyone is upstairs! Go on ahead!"  Shelby's laughter made me a little bummed.  "Man, she must not be very far along if she's giggling like that."  She waved and rocked on her bouncy ball.  I "scolded" her ;) "You sound way too cheerful for a lady who is in labor!"  "Oohhh, it's just because I'm not having a contraction right now! Hahah! You'll see!" She barely finished her sentence before she silently buried her head.  Her two daughters eased from the floor onto the bed.  They watched her strength.  And gave pats of honor and love when Shelby's moans were heaviest.   Shelby's mom told her what a wonderful job she was doing.
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Aside from the occasional grunts and "ooooooooOOOOOOOO's!" and the midwives in matching t-shirts, the evening felt weirdly like a typical evening.  There wasn't hub-bub or eerie silence or beeping.  The tub was filling with water, Mumford & Sons was playing, leftovers were on the counter.  Instead of feeling like normal life had been frozen in time with the labor progressing, it felt like normal life was indeed happening.  And it was.  Together.  Eating pizza, making mom laugh, and having a baby.  It was weirdly unweird.
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By 9:00 Shelby was in her own bathtub, in her own clothes, with her own family tipping water onto her working body.  If I could dream up an analogy, it reminded me of highschool soccer games in September: when I'd come off the field at halftime and open my water bottle - not to drink - to pour on my head.  Spill it all over.  Mom and Brian spilled and spilled.  Her body was working harder than a soccer athlete.  And her baby was ready to meet her life on the outside.
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Shelby's midwives were so calm.  They were very hands-off, yet gently "in charge." The first laugh I heard from Shelby when I walked up the stairs happened to also be the last laugh.  It was almost like the baby knew "Alright, everyone is here now."  The hour and a half in the bathtub proved to be terrible and yet efficient, and also genuinely beautiful.  Labor is like war, this battle a mother (and father and "support team") wage for the prize of delivery itself; to win skin-to-skin and eye contact; to obtain a person in your arms and announce "Welcome! You are so loved!"  I'm not sure who the enemy is, but the battle is real and vicious.

Shelby's "breaks" in-between contractions were short and honestly still exhausting.  She would close her eyes and take a few deep breaths and then, a new wave of movement and pain would surround her.  She fought hard.  They all did.Photobucket
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In the final few minutes of the labor, Shelby fumbled out a weary "I can't.  I can't do this. She's not coming and I can't do this."  Brian held her hand tighter.  "Yes you can.  You are.  This is incredible.  You're doing it.  She's coming, baby.  You can do it.  It's almost over."
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With new resolve, Shelby decided she was done.  She had been in consistent labor for over 24 hours, active labor for the last four, and transition for over an hour now.  It was time.  Little Girl, Mama said "Come!"
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In as much time as it would take for me to walk to their mailbox and back, the family changed.  Esme Rose was in their arms, with her pudgy, formed arms, dark soft hair, and immediately kissable cheeks.
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Their joy was full.  In the calming quiet of night, they celebrated like a town greeting the victorious soldiers!  Tears, hugs, emotional feasting!
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To quote the profound Ash Parsons:
"The moments of pain and the moments of joy are not as far apart as we may think."  
Honestly, pain and joy seem to be two hands that are best when held.  One just isn't quite the same without the other.  Pain and Joy tell a story, a story we all know chapters of.  Some understand the story, and others have only heard the story.  Pain is rescued by the promise of Joy, and Joy is sweetened by the demands of Pain.  Pain and Joy tell the story of Esme Rose.
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Happy First Day of Life, young lady.  You'll always know it, but someday when you look at these images, try to let the love of your family hug you even closer.  Your mama is a determined, smart lover.  Your dad is kind and good.  Your sisters are doting, bright and quick.  Your grandmother is loyal and lovely.  And together they worked for you, together they cried and piled onto a bed to fight over who you looked at first.   They studied every little wrinkle and roll.  All eyes and hearts were on you, amazed to just be in your presence.  And I think you'll be pleased to realize this love and devotion isn't rare; it's weirdly typical of your entire life.

Harris Family | Portrait Session

But the lesson is vague in the lightening,
Shows a dear with her mind on the moor.
And now something with the sun is just different

Since they shook the earth in 1904.
Tallest Man on Earth - 1904
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Before ice-skating lessons in 1998, my mom stopped into the Christian bookstore across from the rink.  I had on leggings and a emerald green sweatshirt and skates-with-guards.  I was looking forward to being 10-years-old ("just ten more months until I'm ten!"), and my family had recently relocated from the intensity of the Washington DC area to the chill-back-bro area of San Diego, California.  And I mostly just wanted to go ice-skating.  Tara Lipinski already practiced 12 hours a day... this bookstore stop was cutting into my 1.5 hours!  "Kristen, do you know who this is?"  Mom showed me the back of a black and white book.  There was an "old," dark-haired 21 year old in the picture.  I had no idea who he was.  "This is Joshua Harris, he wrote this book and he works at our old church in Maryland now.  And he's only 21."  I had to admit, it was pretty cool that anyone from my old church - whether I knew who he was or not - was on the back of a book at a store all the way in Escondido.  Mom and I enjoyed our little "celebrity siting" moment, and that was that.
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Now, nearly 15 years later, I've seen and heard and talked with the Back Of The Book Guy a lot.  By the time we moved back to Maryland, he was married.  There was a baby.  And another book.  And a baby.  And another book.  And a baby.  And another book.  For over a decade Josh always seemed "the same" to me.  Nice, cheerful guy.  Full of energy and short-guy jokes.  Eager, spirited and good in front of people.  His children were adorable, his wife was always precious and pretty.
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But in the last two or three years, I feel like I've gotten to watch change become different.  Not because I personally know him or his family very well, but even watching from "the outside" there is a change.  His sensational mother suddenly died a few summers ago.  The next summer he began the process of leading a church through it's greatest trial yet.  I've watched Josh weep.  I've watched him collapse in front of thousands of people.  I've watched him apologize.  I've watched him make decisions and take the heat afterwards.  I've watched him honor his mother, through pursed lips and quivery prayers.  There's been a change.  A depth.  Josh is still friendly and eager, but, like Noah & The Whale say "Some people wear their history like a map on their face."
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And I like it.  The hour I spent with Josh, off-stage, out of office, away from ministry and "work", just home, with his personality-full children and clever, perceptive wife was just oh-so-real.  They were running late.  Outfits were in question.  The cat was missing.  Children chased each other.  Dishes were in the sink. Josh wasn't "back of the book" Josh.  He was dad.  He was normal.  He didn't seem 21, he seemed upper-30's.  And real, and a little tired (a lot tired?) and happy.
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There is hurt and experience and delight and unknown that the man I saw in the fall knew, that the man I saw in 1998 didn't.  Shannon is the same way.  Ever lovely and kind, she looks like she has stories to tell.  She has richness in her voice and sweetness in her eyes, but somehow she is tough as nails.  Like a Cape Cod cottage that has withstood the winter winds and summer floods, she lives on with more charm than before.  Emma, who is now older than I was when I "discovered" her father, is gentle, peaceful and calm.  She speaks in complete sentences, asks beautiful questions and seems not just thoughtful and attentive, but extremely constant for a child her age.  JQ is all "boy."  Not just "all sports boy" (he is that!) but all "boy."  He is filled with all kinds of facts and quips and ideas.  He is adventurous, theatrical, competitive and talkative.  He seems like the guy who would cry and mourn for a few days if his team lost the Super Bowl, or would rejoice and celebrate for months (years?) if they won.  He's all in.  In everything.  Mary Kate, the little firecracker, has a magnetic draw and hilarious demeanor.  She does not care what anyone thinks of her.  She is bold and free and incredible.  She has mischief written all over her face (I think it's in her mouth and dimples), but is absolutely impossible not to instantly "click" with.
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(The cat made it! Woo-hoo! Go Wasabi!)
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The time I spent with Josh + his family blessed and uplifted me more than probably any message I've heard him speak, or paragraph of his I've read.  Watching them really belly-laugh, tease and poke fun, figure out who got to hold the cat, interact and just be was special and important.   I love this family more after getting to know them better, in person, in life.
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And there's a lesson in that, isn't there?  No matter what someone is like, or how different or similar they are to you, when you get to know someone, your heart can't help but care for them more.  

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Harris' - you come to mind frequently throughout my days and weeks.  Keep laughing and loving and chasing.  You're a complex and interesting crew of people, and it's really wonderful that God gave you all each other.  You're great together.  I can't wait to watch your stories unfold - and hopefully I'll only be able to know you better and better.  You have my respect + my laughs (especially that Mary Kate!)

Juliana Kate | Baby Portraits


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A couple of years ago Alex + Lauren decided to hunker on down and be each other's always and one and only.   Just before two years of ooey-gooey-marriage-goodness ( ;) ), they found out that they were not just "man" and "wife" but "mama" and "daddy"!  Juliana Kate is now in their arms and in their home.
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The first few days of Jules' life turned out to be quite scary.  Right away her breathing wasn't as strong as it should have been.  Baby One was whisked away to the NICU.  The next 48 hours included poor jaundice levels, a possible seizure and some - okay, maybe more - tears.   But now she is eight days old, fit as a fiddle, home and making their world sweeter with every passing hour.   While she was in the NICU Mama Lauren would come rub her cheeks and sing her pretty songs.  Even at this young age, she responds with pure delight when she hears her mother sing.  I didn't really believe Lauren when she told me she smiles a lot - especially during songs.  But, check it out for yourself!
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We haven't even covered the beauty of this baby.  Eight days old and almost oddly flawless.  Not a wrinkle, pimple, rash, bump or funny new-baby "issue."  To be honest, I even think the little old man hound dog scrunches or zitty-fresh faces are super cute!  It's just part of being brand new!  But this little looker is made from porcelain.  I didn't edit a single thing from her face.  No blending or cloning or band-aiding.  And she's not even seven pounds.  Tiny, smooth and happy... gaaaah!
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Alex and Lauren are dear with her.  He is a broad, dark, ex-hockey-playing, adventurous manly man.  She is sweet, tender, very careful and glowing.   They did everything as a team.  They both know her cries, one holds her head while the other lifts the shirts on, they know the "tricks" their little lady especially likes.
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I just... I mean... right?
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I love when babies make grumpy faces in their sleep.  I feel like that's my face when someone turns the light on in a dark room when I'm asleep.  I'm all "eeeeeeeh!" with my grump face ;)
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Note to self: buy my daughters small white bows.  They're angelic.
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Juliana was so much fun because she was SO alert.  She was looking around at all kinds of things!  She had my camera shutter to catch her attention, her mama calling her name, her dad walking around in the back-round... and she was very aware of all the "fuss."  She kept her eye on us... until, of course, that just got exhausting.
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Welcome to your family and to this wild-giddy-yap thing called life.  We're so delighted that you're here and that God wanted to make you.  Your parents are super cool - they've prayed so much for you, and they are smitten with you.  I wish I had taken a video of them getting you ready for this pictures.  You probably would have laughed watching it someday... but then gotten a little teary, too.  They love you.  Oh!  And you have some crazy great aunts, uncles and cousins.  Yeah, you're gonna have a good life.
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All my love and gentle squeezes! Muah!

The Smart Family | 2012


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With access to the water, the railroad and the sheltering mountains, the Union and the Confederacy pined for control of Harper's Ferry.  Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson eventually secured it for good but it took eight "back-and-forth's" between the two armies.  In intentionally and almost eerily frozen Civil War "feel," the town of Harper's Ferry has rich, sad and long history.  But for two little blue boys, the only part of the town that was very interesting at all was the train.
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Well, the train that was supposed to come down the train-tracks.  They waited and watched.  But no train came.  The sun does not wait for little boys and their locomotive-hearts, so family pictures had to resume.  Bigger Boy kept his ears on the look-out... just in case.
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Littler Boy (only in size) wanted to go back to the tracks and wait.  He begged with his eyes.
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Our hopes were raised a few times!  We heard rumbling and horns! Maybe?!
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No.  No train.  So dad, mom and Sister tried their best to distract and engage The Little Blue Boys.
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Kisses and shoulder-rides and snuggling are good for distracting.
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It's been six years of documenting this family.  We started back before there were Blue Boys who loved trains.  We've been through maternity shoots, anniversary shoots, new baby shoots and a collection of family shoots.  This year just may have been my favorite, though.
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Because after lots of smiling, listening, watching and tickling, as we were getting into our cars to leave... the train came :)  And there was just something that clamped my heart when I watched those kids rejoice over a train.  Maybe it was because in a few years they'll be "big boys" who don't spend the whole shoot distracted by big vehicles.  They keep growing every year.  And one of these years they won't be little at all.

But that wasn't this day.  This day they weren't fighting wars or figuring out parking or looking both ways when they crossed the street.  This day they were still small.  And we'll never forget it.

Enjoy People | Entering the World | Edith Grace

"it was a year or so after the wedding,
that dad confided to mother his secret conviction:
that all of their children would be girls."
cheaper by the dozen | frank + ernestine gilbreth
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Baby Sister has felt very earned.  Her mama, Janet, and her "aunts" and "uncles" and grandma and daddy and even older sister waited and worked very hard for her.  Bedrest, contractions, meals, early labor, babysitting, late nights, cleaning, contractions, bedrest, midwife appointments, hospital trips, hospital returns, and trips that were coming dangerously close to Baby Sister's birthday kept us all on our toes and pinkies.
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But on March 31 at 2:09 am (barely an hour and a half after checking into the hospital) Baby Sister was welcomed to this big, beautiful world by her thrilled and doting parents, excited and heroic Aunt Becca, and kind and nurturing Aunt Jenne.

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A few hours later I dropped in to meet the newest (and nameless) girl in my world.  When I arrived she was having some emotions. Janet told me that this little girl knows who her mommy is, and knows when she wants mommy.  
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Her squawks lessened and she was groggy.
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She made eye contact with her mom.
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Pathetic whimpers trembled out. "Roooo. Roo. Ree. Roooo." She had to tell mom some pretty sad things, I think.
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Janet loved and snuggled and talked to and laughed at Baby Sister.
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"She loves her hands! What a wonderful self-soother I have!" Jan noted.  This little person smacked and slobbered on her knuckles like a dog with it's tennis ball. 
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But then the big bad doctor came and peeled her away from mommy.  Her little face in the baby bed sawed my heart in three.  She literally rolled her head over towards me and put her fists up on the glass and... just looked so sad!
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Knuckles to the rescue once more!
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(I call her PopTart because of her nose.  It pops!)
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It's a very, very bad situation being a baby girl ;)
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OooOOh. OH. Those fat soft arm folds!
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So many emotions. So many emotionals. Guess who was ready for mom time?
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Janet's sense of humor is one of her best qualities.  Baby Sister grunted and gnawed on her shirt and it totally tickled Jan.
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Flakes and teeny white nose bumps and scrunchy fingers.
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"Giiiiive meeee my haaaands."
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Omononommnom nom.
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Shortly we received word that Grandma (G-ma) and Big Sister, Audrey, were on their way!
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Audrey is an unnaturally bright child (I'm not her mother, I can say that!) and she has been very excited about meeting her sister.  We all have been quite curious to how she'd react to Jan's belly being gone and a baby being here.  Though Audrey is constantly around babies, we wonder how much she "gets" that this one is hers. 
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Meanwhile PopTart was feeling much calmer.  Her heart was soothed.
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And her hands were clasped. 
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Jan looked at her little face and practiced names on her.  It's a very important decision to make!
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And then we heard a high-pitched voice down the hall.
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I love Audrey's faces.
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Audrey seemed confused.  Not upset, not bored, not thrilled, but very thoughtful.  She watched every move Baby Sister and Mommy made.
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"Do you want to hold your sister, Audrey?"
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This one makes me cry.  When they handed A her sister she immediately looked straight into Janet's eyes - needing some reassurance and affirmation. "This is your sister! She's our baby! Can you say hi to her?"
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Audrey thoughtfully looked at PopTart. PopTart gnawed those knuckles.
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(fuuuuunnny!)
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Once G-ma had Baby Sister, Audrey seemed less confused.  And rather excited!
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As I was heading out the door I turned around and saw this scene. Audrey locked on Baby Sister.
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Audrey whispered to her mama "That baby sister?"
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Mama confirmed "Yes, that's Baby Sister!"
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Audrey snuggled up. "Oh, she's so cute."
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You are so cute, Edith Grace Remsnyder.  And loved by all shapes and sizes, near and far.  You are wanted, treasured and wonderful to us.
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Welcome to your life! Hang on tight :D


"...when a mother has delivered a baby, 
she no longer remembers the anguish, 
for joy that a human being has been born into the world."
john 16:21

Enjoy People | Graduating High School | Ellie

i said a prayer and fell asleep
i had a dream
priscilla ahn - dream
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One of my first consistent baby-sitting jobs was for a sweet family with four little girls.  Their first born was fair-skinned, talkative nine-year-old named Ellie.  Nine year old Ellie loved to make me cards, and crafts, and signs, and mini-scrapbooks.  Every single time I went to baby-sit I was greeted with a gallery of art made specifically for me.  I loved these little girls.  Sometimes when they went to bed I'd stay up and make crafts for them to find in the morning (once I think I even made a whole "good morning" scavenger hunt with clues!)  Photobucket
When I bought and began practicing with my darling Nikon D50, Ellie was curious.  She'd long gotten used to me bringing over a point-and-shoot to take pictures of our adventures, but this new black camera had won her affection.  She always wanted me to bring my big camera.  She asked many questions.  She posed for me.  One night as we crafted away (and I held the newest Berry baby - their fifth girl!) Ellie and I talked about working together someday in business. At the time I thought I was just being nice to a friendly little girl I really loved, but it's funny how God allows conversations like that to occur.  This past year Ellie has been my number one second-shooter.  She's just as friendly and eager as she was as a child, but now she's a lady.  She's a lady with a tender heart, daring plans and earned talent.  

I love working with her, knowing her and enjoying this dear friend God put into my world.  Ellie, thank you your friendship.  I really mean that.  And go have fun exploring the world with your black box, making brave decisions and living your life.  You're going to have a ball. 
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Audrey Turns Two {Child Photography}

'cause you've got personality!
walk with personality, talk with personality!
smile with personality, charm with personality!  
love with personality! 'cause you got a great big heart
lloyd price | personality
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Meet Audrey.
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24-months young, she tips the scales at barely 22 pounds.  And she likes to "go-go-go shoppiiing" and "go get stuff at Michael's" (the craft store), sing her ABC's to try to distract her mom from putting her down for a nap ("ELMOENOPEEE! DUBUE EX! WHY! ANZY!") and she always wants to help (help stir food on the stove, help my baby in my belly feel better [even though I don't have a baby in my belly], and help make your hair not be "eeeew! yuuucky!")
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This child is extraordinary; that is, she is "unusually great." She the daughter of close friends and she lives about 60 seconds from my house.  It's a sad day when there is no Audrey around.  It just doesn't feel quite right.  Everyone thinks their kid is smart and has an above-average personality, but this ain't my kid ;) And she IS so smart. And DOES have an above average personality.
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Just check out some of these faces:
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Accessories are the reason for the season in Audrey's world.  Shoes, jewelry, sparkles, undergarments, "mock-sins" (moccasins) are her girly-girl treasures.
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These make me laugh. I picture her talking in Dug the Talking Dog from Up voice: "Ooooh shucks. Just shtop it. Seriously. Ooooh my."
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We all love her. What a blessing.  What a joy.  What happiness put into our adult lives.  She cracks us up just by walking - because it's SO cuuuute! She snuggles up on your shoulders and dives in for a bear hug where she squeezes so tight it makes your soul just dissolve.
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Little Ham Chop.  What a goober.
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One of our favorite Audrey-isms is how she collects and hoards little things like coins, cranberries, candy, crayons. After she leaves we'll find little stashes hidden around where she left her loot.  Often she'll try to specifically put the coins in her pockets.  Then she'll stand up and, to her dismay, the money will come bounding out of her pants holes and she drop to all fours, scrambling to gather her change back up.  Oh it's precious.
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"Eeeeew! Piggle! Eeeew!"
Audrey spotted our daily visitor, Piggle the Squirrel. He's an obese rodent. And looks like a rat.
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By the end there was yawning and "Hold you, Titi? Hold you?" and shivers, so we decided to be all done.  Who can resist a little girl with knots on her head and bows on her feet asking to go inside? Not I said the fly.
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How fun it is to be a part of a little life.  She is so good for us all.
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Happy birthday sweet girl!

The Smart Family {Family Portraits}

he's gonna act like he can't wait to leave
but as he drives out, he'll cry his eyes out
if he's anything like me.
there's worse folks to be like
aw, he'll be alright if he's anything like me

brad paisley | anything like me
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It's "family portrait" time of year.
I haven't shot a family since last year.
And I've done me some thinking.
Portrait: A verbal picture or description, especially of a person or people.
A verbal picture.
Description.
Of a person.
Of people.
A description of people.

Sometimes I see very pretty pictures, of very pretty people.  There are family and children photographers who are much more gifted then I am.  They just know what they are doing and nail it.  I've realized, though, that, just like in weddings, you can take lovely photographs that don't tell you a single.darn.thing about the subject.  I've often shot families like I'm shooting for a Gymboree ad.  I know the type of image I'm looking for and I try to make my mini subjects pose and smile and sit the way I think they should.

But, just like no two couples are the same, no two families are the same.
Neil and Jessica are relaxed, happy, opinionated, active, talented and loving in their own way.
Their children (and, man alive, their children's personalities) are striking, funny, dynamic and full of life in unparalleled fashion.  So I would like you to meet them.  I want to describe them to you. 
Enjoy these portraits.

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Neil doesn't get told what to do.  He is smart and strong and a man.  But he does not care what other people think about him.  Kind of a "live your life, take care of your business" vibe.   He is committed to his wife, committed to providing for her.  Not because "so-and-so" says that is what you are supposed to do.  Because he knows that's what men do.  Man up, step up and live.  He's one of those dads that changes diapers, ends fights with a single look, chases kids and yells right with them and is connected to his family.

Jessica is very sweet.  She reminds me of friends from California (and not just because she has blonde hair and blue eyes ;) haha).  Chill, kick back, do what you love, love what you do, laugh and enjoy.  She works - don't get me wrong - she works.  But her attitude is so elegant.  I don't think I've ever seen a whiny Facebook status from her.  Lots of happiness, heart and love.  She doesn't complain.  Her children really are some of her best friends. 

These two are so great at shoots. They play with their children, just like they do at home.  They don't fuss with fixing hair while I'm trying to shoot, or constantly calling their kids names.  It's as crazy yet normal, loud yet peaceful to shoot them as it is to sit in their living room.

Nyah is a talkative, colorful, helpful little girl who also is going on 18 ;)  She reminds me of Neil. 
Ryder is a creative kid.  He's usually some kind of creature when I see him.  He obviously looks up to Nyah SO much, but loves to push her buttons.
Kylan has some spunk.  He has places to go, things to do and not being able to walk is really slowing him down, folks.  He's very curious and aware.

This shoot was filled with shrieking, tickling, running, growling, laughing and convincing Nyah it was okay to sit in the grass.
I hope you enjoyed meeting the Smarts.