The Photo I Really Wanted to Share

Green Bay WisconsinI have a vision for everything. I am easily influenced by space and clothing and light and color. I can see how one thing connects to another thing to convey mood and emotion. It’s why I love planning parties and putting together outfits and making art. All of these things use my creativity and my analytical brain to assemble beautiful stories.

Pandemic Pregnancy

When we found out we were pregnant in July, my brain immediately strung all the joy together in neat little rows. An April due date meant sweet pastels for clothing and bunny stuffies for their first Easter basket. It meant late winter maternity photos in a grove of evergreens and announcement photos in an apple orchard (perfect timing as I would be 14 weeks mid-September). Three and a half years seamed like a wonderful age difference, and we talked about what it would be like to share the news with Juniper and how great she would be as a big sister. I was carried away as if this wonderful news were a symphony that lifted me straight through into the future. I could see it all.

I envisioned the nursery – white furniture and a brand new bookcase filled with all the art I had made while pregnant. There would be windows that needed replacing, and we should probably switch Juniper to the larger room, that’s only fair, and maybe the crib would need repainting, and should we get new carpet now before that baby is old enough to crawl or is it better to wait until both kids are grown?

My mind could see it all, but my actions were more hesitant. We didn’t buy the cute baby booties or tell all our friends the news. In fact, I tried to suppress that visioning instinct. After all, it was early. And we had been here before.

Miscarriage / Infant Loss

The tests looked normal, my levels were rising well. I ordered the clothes for our apple orchard session and booked the photographer. Then one day I woke up and I didn’t feel pregnant anymore. Shortly after, I ended up in the E.R. and heard the thing I really didn’t want to hear. I choked on sobs through the double-layered masks I had worn to keep myself and my new baby safe. It was all happening just like before.

At the hospital they wouldn’t let me see the screen or print a photo. I was hearing that it was all over, that there was no heartbeat, but I hadn’t even seen the baby I would never meet. I walked out of there with nothing. No sign that this baby had ever existed, no tangible way of knowing that this baby I had carried for 9 weeks was anything more than a fever dream. And it hurt. There was the hurt of losing the pregnancy I desperately wanted, but there was also the hurt of having nothing to remember them by, of losing this entire future I had imagined for us together.

After more ultrasounds to confirm (with a plea for a photo) and the physical act of miscarrying, our apple orchard outfits arrived.

I folded them up and left them on the dresser. The thing they had arrived to celebrate was no longer happening.

I was grieving. And even with the support of those who love me best and the reassurances of people who had been there before, I felt alone in my grief. I was grateful for my little ultrasound photo, but I was haunted by the fact that I never got to celebrate this baby. Those outfits sat on the dresser as though the life I had planned for myself had been cancelled. And I realized that I wanted those photos. I wanted to celebrate my pregnancy in an apple orchard with my family. I craved a substantial way to hold onto all the joy that this pregnancy had brought us during those 9 weeks in the midst of a pandemic. When there was next to nothing around us that felt good, this baby was our bright spot, here to bring us hope.

Our Bright Spot

So here it is. The photo I really wanted to share.

The vulnerability of the act of sharing makes me uncomfortable. I am not healed; I am still in the middle of this. My impulse is to never let anyone ever know I wanted something I couldn’t have. I worry you will think I’m ungrateful for the child I already have. I fear your pity, or worse, your deep and exposing empathy. But I am writing this because I need to celebrate the best thing that happened to us during this pandemic. Though the time may have been brief, the love is without end.


Read about our first miscarriage: Loving a Baby After Losing a Baby and The Fog of Grief.

Downtown Green Bay Senior Session on the Citydeck

Downtown Green Bay Senior Photos Senior Portrait Photographer Green BaySometimes high school seniors are looking for something sweet and simple. They don’t want to travel across the city for different locations or have full wardrobe changes onsite. And that’s great. We want to give you a relaxed experience and beautiful images, however we can best make that happen. We love a simple golden hour session, especially when it involves the Green Bay Citydeck! I’m a waterfront lover myself (blame it on my Door County roots) so anytime we get to shoot along the river, I’m pleased.

Bryce’s session was on a hot August evening with lots of golden sunshine. We captured some photos along the water, then headed around the corner for some downtown shots with brick and a more urban look. Bryce is thoughtful, observant, independent, and easy to be around. We enjoyed photographing his session and wish him the best of luck in all that comes next!

Rustic Maternity Photos, Fonferek Falls, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Pregnancy Belly Photos Green Bay Green Bay Maternity PhotographerI met Katrina and Patrick in weather like this, cold and rainy when the days start to shorten. We bonded over our mutual love of apple cider and talked about their wedding details. 2020 has been filled with unexpected twists and turns, but Katrina and Patrick were blessed with a wonderful little twist, a baby due right just weeks before their wedding was planned to take place.

Instead of photographing their wedding in a few weeks (we get that honor in 2021) we were given the opportunity to photograph the beautiful moment of waiting for this baby to arrive, bonding and preparing and anticipating the day they get to meet face to face.

We planned Katrina and Patrick’s maternity session at Fonferek Glen in Green Bay. With the dry weather, the falls weren’t running, but we got the most beautiful golden hour. The location matched their rustic vision for the session with fields of wildflowers, barn wood, and and apple trees and Katrina paired that with two glamorous floor-length gowns. It was perfect.

Congratulations, Katrina and Patrick and best wishes as you prepare to meet your little bundle.

Door County and Anderson Dock Senior Photos

Door County Senior Photo SessionDoor County Senior PhotographerMost of the time seniors come to us with a sense of what they want — they want fields or water or brick or flowers — but every now and then they come to us with specific ideas. For Brynn, that specific idea was this big bending willow tree in the back of her family’s home. It wasn’t so much a location as it was an object that connected her to childhood. What Brynn didn’t know, is that I’ve also always been obsessed with willows — their droopy leaves that form canopies and filter in warm, ambient light. There is just something so romantic about their beauty which was perfectly matched with Brynn’s lace dress and soft curls.

After capturing some favorites at the willow tree, we headed farther north from Fish Creek into Ephraim for a stop at Anderson Dock, a Door County icon. The clouds covered most of our sunset, but we got a light breeze that blew Brynn’s hair beautifully, and the heavy blue of the sky made the oranges that peeked out all more dramatic. Such a fun and beautiful session!

Bergsbaken Farms Sunflower Fields Family Photos, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Green Bay Family Photographer Bergsbaken Farms Sunflower FieldsBergsbaken Sunflower FieldsWe have been photographing Emily’s family since her biggest was just a tiny little thing. Each session we try to come up with new ideas that feel fun and fresh, without veering into the land of props and cheesy themes. (My portrait studio days are long behind me, lol.) This year, Emily asked if we had ever photographed at a sunflower field, and believe it or not, the answer was no. We had never been to a sunflower field.

New locations always get us extra excited. They offer new challenges and new opportunities for play. We contacted Bergsbaken Farms in Cecil and they gave us details on what area would be at peak bloom and how to obtain a permit, and off we went! The day of the session it was warm and lovely. Due to the chaos of pandemic and the fact that Emily is also Juniper’s babysitter, we had a spare two year old running around in the field behind us. This added an extra layer of insanity, but also resulted in some of the most true-to-life smiles and lots of laughter.

Thanks for trying something new with us, Emily and Graham! And happy first birthday to Baby Isaac!

Anderson Dock and Door County Beach Senior Photos

Whitefish Dunes Door County Anderson Dock Whitefish Dunes Door County Sunset Photos Senior PicturesGrace planned her senior photos for a “destination Door County session”. For she and her family, Door County is a little place they like to escape to, and she knew it would be the perfect location to document her final year of high school.

For Grace’s first location, she knew she wanted Whitefish Dunes, a Wisconsin state park that has lots of good family memories for her. We never get to shoot here for two reasons, the first that it’s on the lake side (so no sunset opportunities) and the second that it’s just a short walk from Cave Point County Park which is one of the most popular locations in Door County because of the escarpment. That means this beachy, woodsy gem always gets overlooked. We were so happy to take a little hike with Grace and her mom down to the beach and capture that soft, flattering, lakefront light. We did a few photos cozied up in the sand, then made our way down to the white stones and briefly into the water.

After Whitefish Dunes, we crossed the peninsula to Anderson Dock in Ephraim. Anderson Dock has some family history for me and also happens to be an epic sunset spot in Door County! The building is iconic and the view is unbeatable…what more could we want? We got there just at the start of golden hour for warm light around the building and docks, then waded out to the end of the slippery pier for the perfect Door County sunset. What a dream session! Congratulations, Grace!

Vendor Spotlight: Bridesmaids Gifts Boutique

When we got married I asked my friends to stand up in our wedding at a bar…not a classy bar, either. Think loud music, cheap beer, fried food. And although I wouldn’t change the ladies I chose to stand beside me on my wedding day, I’m glad the method of asking one another has shifted a bit in the last nine (yikes!) years.

The most recent wedding for which I was asked to stand up came with a hand-delivered box of wedding goodies and a heartfelt note. I felt special and immediately involved in the wedding — what a beautiful feeling.

My type A self loves hand-selecting gifts and arranging them and finding packaging that’s an exact fit and figuring out the logistics of how to get them to people, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the norm. So for people who love the idea of a custom box of goodies but don’t have time to shop around or the interest in stockpiling packaging (seriously don’t ask how many mailers and boxes are in my home), there is a great online shop called Bridesmaids Gifts Boutique.

This shop all sorts of gift boxes from self care (my personal favorite) to robes, jewelry, drinkware, shawls, totes, etc. Top points for them go to being affordable and customizable, but my favorite part is the themes. Anyone who knows me knows I love a good theme and following through on a vision from beginning to end — I guess that should be no surprise considering my background in branding. This is the first thing your maids will receive and it sets the tone, whether that’s floral, minimalist, beachy, boho, there’s a little something for everyone.

I love my box with the lavender candle, body butter, and loofah soap — something I’ve always wanted to try. In case you’re looking for a way to show the love during social distancing or starting the wedding planning process, this has been a great company to work with. Be sure to check them out at http://www.bridesmaidgiftsboutique.com

Personal Post: Suddenly a Stay at Home Mom

Stay at home mom, business ownerNot every women dreams of being a stay at home mom the way not every women dreams of being a mother. I never wanted to be a stay at home parent. I have to shake off guilt around saying this because I know some will interpret this plain statement, as me not wanting to be with my child, and that simply isn’t true. I love Juniper to the moon and back. She is my world, my playmate, my favorite person. And to those who are stay at home parents and to those whom desire to be, more power to you. The world is currently serving you an extra slice of respect.

For me, I crave time alone in quiet reflection to be my best self. I like to work independently and simmer on ideas in solitude. This way, my spirit is recharged, and when I see my family I appreciate them so much more. I see them with renewed eyes and so much gratitude. I designed my life for this. I built a business and outsourced, found excellent childcare and backup childcare, and set rigid boundaries so I could still spend most of my week with my family. And in my independent time I could fuel my business, source ideas, and make art.

The New Normal

Like many of you, I’ve been living in a “new normal” for the past few weeks, one in which my usual offerings as a business owner are not relevant. One in which I find it hard to even plan for a future in which they are, because the forecast ahead is so foggy. I am uneasy, I am worried, I am adapting. As I develop ideas during brief toddler naps, and try to complete existing work in little pockets of weekend time, I find myself in hustle mode, trying not to panic.

In my time with Juniper I am often distracted and impatient, and not proud of some of the choices I’m making. Is anyone feeling this? There are simply not enough hours to do all things well.

Your Feelings are Valid

I realize right now, I need to stop and check my privilege. People are dying in this pandemic. People are suffering. People are working on the front-lines in healthcare, and food service, and delivery, many of them with preexisting conditions that make them extra vulnerable. People are worried about how they will make rent, how they will get food, and if they will be safe at home. I am not one of those people, and I am constantly aware of how good I have it and how small my struggles are.

But I just need a moment to say that sometimes it’s still hard even when others have it harder. And it’s okay to feel scared or worried. It’s okay to be sad over the holiday traditions you are missing, the favorite spots you can no longer visit, the people you cannot hug, and the regular-everyday-put-on-pants-and-go-to-work life you aren’t living right now. Your feelings are valid. My feelings are valid.

We’ve Never Done This Before

It’s okay to not be ready for a positive spin. It’s okay to not get dressed today. It’s okay to put an iPad in front of your toddler so you can get some work done, or clean the house, or drink a glass of wine while no one touches you or asks you for anything. It’s normal to lose your temper, to feel stuck, to feel resentful. No matter what position you’re in, we’ve never done this before. We’re all just making it up as we go along.

In the meantime I will try to give myself as much grace as my best friends would give me (which is a lot). Because we’re all doing the best we can. My kitchen is covered in flour, my dining room table, in seed packets, and my living room is currently an obstacle course to prove this point. And yes, sometimes I will be working. Sometimes I will send Juniper away or ask her to play by herself so that I can complete a project or answer an email.

And I know, deep down, this isn’t hurting her. Juniper doesn’t need a 24/7 playmate and cook; she needs a mom. And sometimes moms work. Sometimes moms have big ideas they need to act upon. She is seeing this, and even if she doesn’t get it right now, it will be something she will understand later. The world becomes a better place for every woman out there each time we let go of how we were told things were “supposed to be done”. I was never one for arbitrary rules anyway.

Cheers, mamas!

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Film scans above shot on 35 mm Kodak Portra in summer of 2019 and scanned by Dwaynes Photo in Parsons, Kansas.

Personal Post: When Fear Makes You Doubt Your Gut

green bay film photographer parenting blog
For me, 2020 has been a season of big ideas and big doubts. I get excited about an idea, I share my idea, I doubt my idea, then I sabotage my idea. Has anyone else been there?

It’s not outright self-sabotage; it’s me letting fear guide my thoughts, and then letting my actions take me just to the point where things get scary and no further. There is safety in giving something half your heart and there is fear in giving it all your heart.

Fear Keeps Me Safe

Fear is keeping me safe. Fear’s job is to keep me safe. But here, what is it protecting me from? Predators, injury, death? No. Failure, ridicule, discomfort.

It seems silly when it’s laid out like this, but it’s hard to go from understanding your fears are not keeping you safe to making a choice to reach beyond fear. This requires belief in our purpose — belief beyond doubt — and it asks us to recognize that who we are is someone already deserving of what we want. It asks us to step out from the place of “when I do this, I will be worthy of…” and into “because of who I already am, I can do this.”

I Can Make Bad Art Without Being a Bad Artist

I have always been one to value myself based on what I can create and how hard I can work. Instead, I am shifting into someone whose value is already there, without needing to prove it to anyone (myself included). And if I already have value, I can create bad art without being a bad artist and I can make a mistake without being a failure. This provides grace. This provides space for big ideas.

On January first of this year, Jen Berres-Dart of Jenstar Yoga asked a group of us, “What do you want to try that you’ve been avoiding because you don’t think it’s possible?” And now I ask that of you…

What Are You Avoiding Out of Fear of Failure?

In 2020 I am working on myself, I am chasing ideas, I am taking chances, and I want to take you with me. Come join us at Mama + Maker to see what my big ideas are all about, or comment with yours, because ideas are a lot less scary when we say them out loud.

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Film scans above from our January trip to Florida. Shot on 35 mm Kodak Portra 400 film and scanned by Dwaynes Photo. 

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