Reflections on us 10 years ago | Personal Kelowna Wedding photographer

When Chad and I first met, he had this old, forest green Jeep Cherokee. The seat belts had been chewed by our dog,  the exterior was banged up from rallying off-road and the headlights only worked if you held the highbeams on when you drove. But I loved that thing. I loved that it took us on our first weekend trip to the mountains, I loved that it had so many of his memories ground into the seats, I loved that it took us everywhere those first two years. It was the first "new" vehicle he ever had. He bought it when he was 21 and newly healthy. It was his new beginning, his access to adventure with his dog Kaz at his side. You could feel the freedom in it whenever we were on the road to somewhere else. That Jeep drove him to me when we met for the first time. It was loud and my parents knew I was home every time he dropped me off. That Jeep helped us fall in love, quickly and completely, driving around BC, exploring and deciding in those first 3 weeks marriage was the next adventure we wanted to pursue. 

That Jeep got Chad to our wedding ceremony on time. It didn't get him there unscathed. He had a fat lip from playing "touch" football that morning. Of all the guys who played that day he was the only one with a visible injury. And I still remember him phoning my mom, a few hours before our ceremony, to ask if I was still coming and to just let me know he had a small injury on his face. His lip was FAT and tasted bloody when we finally kissed as husband and wife. But here's the thing- I probably shouldn't even tell you this, but we didn't have a professional photographer. My very creative and talented friend took photos for us. But she wasn't a professional. She didn't know how to capture the details of the day the way someone who has experience with weddings can do. So we don't have images of that football game that left him husband with a puffy lip, or shots of our friends and family laughing at my best friend's speech when she uncovered the fact that I had compared Chad to Adam Levine when I was trying to describe him (poorly) to her for the first time. We don't have photos of my wedding dress, covered in red wine and dirt from dancing barefoot all night and our friends accidentally spilling their glasses when they hugged me in a grand gesture of happiness. It is the only regret I have about our wedding day. But I was 22, there were no wedding blogs or pinterest to let me know about these things, and I had no idea that photography would one day be my career path. Now when I talk to potential clients I want to tell them about this regret, remind them that memories will fade and your kids will ask to see pictures but if you don't have the whole story there, it's hard to fill in the blanks. Time creeps in slowly and each chapter builds on the one before. Photos are proof of those chapters gone by, those building blocks of your love and struggles and successes.

The day after our wedding, I threw my dress into the back, crumpled and stained and drove back to our teeny tiny garden shed home. We were heading out the next day on our honeymoon down the 101, but we couldn't take the Jeep because it was no longer the highway driving vehicle we needed.

When it was time to trade it in, we had to restart it 3 times on the way to the dealership. We coasted that thing in on fumes, coughing and sputtering, plastered in mud. We were both sad to see it go, the metal box that had chauffeured us around for some many firsts. I still wish I had photos of us in that thing, those two babies embarking on a new path together.  

We are weeks away from our 10-year anniversary and lately I've been thinking about those 2 kids, the self-proclaimed gypsy who would never get married and the adrenaline-seeking dude with the shaggy mutt. 10 years later we are in the semi-robotic state that comes with two littles, a heavier workload and building a new house up in the mountains. We are in a season of self-imposed chaos, hard work, blood, sweat and tears. It is a beautiful and challenging kind of time, one we wonder about out loud when our bones and brains are oh so tired. But whenever I see a forest green Jeep, I know we're still those kids looking for an adventure. Only now we are breaking our own trail. We are building more than a house, more than a business, we are building our life, creating foundation for our kids and ourselves. I make a point now to document where we're at. I think the word capturing doesn't tell the whole story of what a photo does. I think it instead preserves the moment, holds it for us to share with our future selves, to remind us where we came from. We came from a place of sleeping in an old Jeep, ripe with our dreams and now 10 years later we are building on those dreams. 

 

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 Thanks to Rebecca Siewert for preserving this chapter of our lives. 

Thanks to Rebecca Siewert for preserving this chapter of our lives. 


Smith-A long and rambling personal story

I feel like lately I've been spending a lot of time considering the very fine line of sharing and connecting on a personal level and OVERsharing. Where is the line? How much is too much to divulge and when should we let people see in?

Like all aspects of life, it seems finding that sweet spot is next to impossible. I love reading personal stories & peeking behind the scenes. I love when I feel like no one gets what I'm going through and suddenly I see something somewhere in the vast ocean of the internet that connects with the exact thing I'm dealing with.  But where I start to feel weird, or even a little icky is when it becomes another way to attract clientele,followers, likes etc. You know when someone "bares their soul" but things are little too clean and calculated?

This blog has been many things over the years... it started as a travelogue when my husband and I moved to the woods and then slowly became a personal musings/photo posting mess while I sorted out what I wanted to really do with myself, and finally it's become a place where I share my latest work and a few random insights mixed in.

I've had a few people ask why I haven't been posting as much, and why I haven't shared personal stories lately.

My answer is partly because I've been really busy shooting and building a super rad business, and partly because I've been contemplating the line of undersharing and oversharing. But mostly because, and the whole reason for this rambling mess, we have adopted a new Baby Boy 5 months ago and things have been a bit busy.

Our son Smith (yes that's his first name, yes we named him) came home in June, and since then I've been wondering if I should share it here. After all, there's so much information out there, does anyone really need to know? Am I exploiting his story and the story of his birth parents' to drive traffic to this site? Does it really apply to my business anyway?

But on the other hand the response I've had to the post I wrote about Elodie's adoption was greater than I expected and has been the top post on my blog ever since. It also opened the door to talking to women who were contemplating adoption, longing for a babe, or feeling at a loss over infertility. Many of my clients have read that post and it opened up this whole new level of understanding why I do what I do. I have cherished many of the emails and kind words I've received about that post. Which is what finally convinced me to write about Smith's story of coming home.

When the call came in all I heard was HE. I heard, you've been matched and HE is healthy. And then I stopped listening. Again. I really tried to take in the information being presented to us in rapid fire, and I noticed my husband scribbling notes but all I could think was "I knew it would be a baby boy." And then I thought: "And here I am again, not listening to all details" and then I thought "when can we go meet him?" He was a further drive away then his sister was. He was a few days older too. He was being cared for by the sweetest kindest soul, although we didn't know that at the time, and I am forever grateful to his foster mother for showering him with love while we were making our way to find each other.

We had to wait 2 days before we could go pick him up. 2 days. They were busy and felt excruciatingly long as well. Elodie talked endlessly about her baby brother and told everyone she knew that she was a big sister. We organized, and made room, unpacked baby stuff and reminisced about Elodie's arrival. There was a long bike ride and extra snuggles and trying to sleep but just watching the clock tick on slowly. Then monday came and a long 5 hour drive that was mostly filled with a heavy silence. There were raw nerves exposed but nothing we said could ease our own fears and what ifs. What would he look like? What would he be like? What would they look like? What would we feel like? What if they don't like us?

And suddenly, we were there. Pulling up. Nerves and emotions balled up in my throat and stomach so bad I forgot to breathe. We met at the home where Smith had been staying. There were too many people to keep track of: Social workers, ministry workers, foster mom...why were there so many people? Then, in the corner of the yard, under a massive shady tree, there was a sweet, young couple with a bundle. Our bundle. A young couple filled with just as much and even more fear than we felt. And such huge hearts, and brave souls that I can never ever begin to even touch on the profound sense of awe I feel about them.

Every time I had thought about this moment I was going to be the picture of calm but when it came down to it all I could whisper was: "Can I hold him?" Peeking out of that little blanket was the most perfect face, one I had been dreaming about for nearly 2 years. That little face made waiting for what felt like forever, worth every second. It made every time I felt the wind knocked out of me when someone asked if we were planning to have others, worth it. It made wondering if it would ever happen and feeling angry, alone, achingly sad very much worth it.

When the time came to pack up and drive back home, I cried for 3 hours straight. I cried because it was finally over, I cried because he was finally here in front of us and I felt so overwhelmed with emotions that I almost felt nothing at all. I cried because I didn't want to be in the car, I wanted to be at home, in our space. I wanted our kids together. I cried because his birth mother's eyes were so deep with sadness I was afraid it might wash her away. I cried because I am always a little afraid I'm not capable of embodying the woman my children's birth mothers' think I am. And the weight of letting my kids down and the women who gave us a gift so grand is at times crushing.

The further we drove away, the more real it all started feeling. The more real he felt. He was ours, we were his. And then the tears stopped and parenting kicked in. That super deep, in your bones, in your soul kind of thing just took over and I knew everything was right in the world. 

When we finally came home, late that night, and his big sister came sleepily to meet him, they had this moment. A true sibling bonding experience: He farted and she laughed so hard it made us all laugh until we started to cry. And that was the beginning. 

We are currently in the final stages of completing his adoption. that's the thing about adoption, you wait forever and then you wait a little more. We are under contract not to share photos of his sweet little face until he is legally a Nugent. But once he is, I will be sharing more.

Adoption, infertility, feeling like the odd man out... it all can feel like an overwhelming, lonely road. We've walked it twice and had two very different experiences. Both with the best possible outcomes. Both with there own trying moments. And if there is one person out there feeling any of the wide array of feelings I've felt during these times, my hope is that this will help them.

 

 

Instalove

Sometimes I forget not all of you are on Instagram

... it's where I seem to be hanging out lately. I'm always a little overwhelmed by social media. Don't you ever feel like there's so much information out there that your brain might explode? And don't you ever look at people's lives on social media and think "wow, they totally have an amazing life!" But the thing is, it's all one dimensional. In all my photos usually just outside the frame there is a stinky dog in need of a bath, a pile of laundry in need of folding, or a general state of chaos about to explode in my face. But instagram has taught me to see the beauty in the moments. My kid is always caked in dirt and when I pause I think "yeah that's how I want to remember her". Because I remember being caked in dirt as a kid. I remember having adventures in normal circumstances and being a bad ass princess shooting bow and arrows (oh my lord three years olds crack me up) and I just want to remember that my life isn't perfect but it's beautiful nonetheless. Which all sounds a little Oprah so what I'm trying to say is if you want to take a peek into my world, my real surroundings, see shameless cute pics of my girlie, and the ingredients I use for dinner... well you might want to follow along.

my little ballerina | Kelowna Children's photographer

Since Elodie saw "so you think you can dance" one night, she has been obsessed with the idea of ballet. She loves to float around the house, putting on tutus and spinning around, prancing on tiptoes, talking constantly about her ballet class. I told her she had to wait until her third birthday and then we would find her a class. Today was the day all her little dreams came true. And after her class, when she was strapped into her carseat I asked her if she had fun...

"It was good. It was great, I love it mommy, I really do." she was breathless and dreamy and had an air of pure contentment. So I told her we needed to have a photo shoot and capture how she was feeling.

Why photos are important... | personal

One of the projects I am currently working on, is a tribute slideshow to my grandma who passed away at the beginning of July. Sifting through the oldest images, I try to decipher who is who, giggle about the fashion, smile about her beauty and then get teary because these images are part of what's left. They are little secret pockets of time, captured and archived. I'm sure when she was taking the photos she wasn't thinking "years from now, one of my grand daughters will look at these images and wonder about my life..." but that's what's happening. I know her as a grandmother, and who she was to me, but there was more to her life... there were her dreams, her victories, her heartaches, her loves, and here in these boxes and albums are snippets of the layers that made up who she was.

These photos tell the story of the woman she was, and the woman she became. Photos of her life at the lake when she was a girl, photos of nursing school, of boys and dances, of her sisters, of her wedding day, of her babies, of her travels. They give a little more dimension, to someone I have known my entire life, and someone I will miss.

This got me thinking about why images are so important... I am the first to admit I tend to be behind the camera, instead of in front. There are lists of things to do, and pay for, and focus on, and a photo session doesn't always make it up on the priority list. But... but life is happening, now. We are who we are now. Not when our weight changes, or our hair grows, or our life gets easier. When there are so many reasons not to, the only reason to do it is sometimes because this needs to be remembered. All moments big and small, victories and heartaches, should be remembered. Your life is worthy of being remembered. Photos are pieces of your life that you can leave behind. Snap away.