Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bits of Life :: My crazy-but-wonderful life!!

What a crazy few weeks we've had here! For several years every fall, my husband and I would plan a weekend getaway to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Then the kids came along, and well, it was simply too much work to go away together, so we started taking vacations with friends so one of us could stay home with the kids. So imagine my surprise one summer day when my hubby calls and says "I just got us tickets to see U2 this Boston!" Yes, we just back from a long, wonderful weekend in Boston...and aside from the crazy concert traffic, it was just perfect! I always forget the insane amount of packing, laundry, cleaning, errand-running and emailing there is before getting away and this year the last minute finishing-up-work stuff just put it over the top! But it was definitely worth it.

Today Bob and I celebrate 14 fabulous years together (just typing that number is kind of freaky...I am thinking, 14? I remember BEING can we be married that long already?) He's my best friend, the love of my life, an amazing dad and I can't imagine my life without him or our relationship without Christ as a part of it. Our wedding itself was a little non-traditional~ we had a small church evening ceremony and opted for a post-wedding day reception at his parents' farm. A beef roast, tons of good food and desserts, decorations with hay bales, tractor rides, and even a pony for the kids to ride. We certainly had a wonderful time and were blessed with so many family and friends to share that special time.

Speaking of families...just a quick note to share that I am officially booked for family sessions for 2009~ BUT will make room to take a newborn, baby or senior session before the end of this year. Since I typically only photograph 4-6 sessions per month, I definitely recommend booking portraits well in advance due to my limited schedule. Please contact me if you have any questions~and happy first days of fall!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Giving Back :: Family Portrait Session

Today I got to have fun hanging out with Kristin, Neil and their adorable little guy to capture just a snippet of his fleeting first-year moments. Earlier this summer, Kristin & Neil had bid on and won a special package by Circle of Life Photography for a family portrait session~ the youth at our church (Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ) were holding a fundraiser to help fund their mission trip to New Bloomfield, New Mexico, in July. They worked to assist the Navajo people on contruction projects and led a Vacation Bible school at the BIC Navajo Mission for the children.

Winning the portrait session was especially exciting because Kristin was looking forward to portraits where their now 7-1/2 month old son could sit on his own. Thankfully we were able to squeeze the portrait session in just in time~ before he starts crawling (which looks to be any day now) and is able to get away on his own. We were blessed with a perfect end-of-summer afternoon at Neil's parents home and just enjoyed playing with and getting some giggles out of this little ham. Apparently whenever they try to get a picture of him crying or fussing, he sees the camera and breaks out in a big toothless smile. So enjoy a few images of this little cutie and his many expressions!

I think this one is my's like he's saying
"hey, do you know my mom? Isn't she the greatest?"

a little 'hang time' with dad

wait... is that a tear??

No way!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Baby Portrait Session :: Celebrating Adoption II

What a busy-but-fun week this has been!! Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of hanging out with this adorable two-year-old boy and his parents, Pamela and Justin, at a local playground for a special baby portrait session (although he's pretty much past the baby stage~ I guess I need to start calling these toddler sessions? ...or maybe 'hey lady, come on and chase me' sessions??) Anyway, as you can see from the first image, this boy likes to move and I thought for sure I would be exhausted at the end, but it turned out he's a very easy-going kind of kid and was very willing to go with the flow and stay close to mom & dad.

Everyone who adopts has their own special story with some interesting twist~ just like pregnancy/delivery stories, no two adoption stories are alike. I think of the paperwork and agonizing waiting as being somewhat like pregnancy and labor, and if it's an international journey, the mix of emotions, worries, and concern of how your child will react/behave on the flight home and is multiplied in direct proportion by the number hours of the journey home. But the end of the process and the beginning of a family starts the moment you hold your child in your arms~ and you realize this dream of having a child of your own came true.

Pamela, Justin and I got to talking about their journey of how their family came to be, and we compared similarities and differences of the adoption processes from our childen's birth countries. Their son was born in Vietnam and the process to bring him home took about two years. Pamela and Justin both agree their favorite part of the process was the time spent in country~ they actually extended their stay to be there longer and take in more of the beautiful country, culture, and its people. Very recently, they found out that their little blessing is going to be a big brother! They are expecting their second child next spring and are looking forward to experiencing a new story as their family grows and changes. Here is a little visual recap of our morning:

Monday, September 7, 2009

Family Portrait Session :: Celebrating Life

There are a lot of families on this blog that are special to me, and this one is no exception. This family is typical in every sense of being a loving, happy threesome~ and meeting them you would never know they have been challenged recently in a way that would undo most of us. A few months ago, Karrie (mom) was diagnosed with a form of cancer is currently not curable. This same cancer is no stranger to Karrie's family~ her father, who passed away a little over a year ago, also lived with it. Fortunately, we live in a time of amazing medical accomplishments and she is now in remission following treatment. Karrie's husband, Mike, is both her biggest supporter and comic relief~ they both have an amazing upbeat and optimistic spirit that shines through in everything they do. Though their faith has been tested, it has also been strengthened and they can't imagine going through this trial without boundless love and support of their family, friends and most of all, God.

So onto the portrait session~ I met Karrie & Mike and their adorable three year old daughter yesterday at a beautiful property owned by Jim Showers in Elizabethtown. While the setting was lovely, with many unique "nooks" and creative displays of texture, lines and art, I had to remind myself that, well, we were chasing a three year old! At this age, facial expression and close-up cuteness trumps the background, period. So we explored the gardens, fed some apples to the deer (well, one deer, the others apparently were too far away to hear the apples dropping) and just ran around having fun and listening to a little girl squeal with laughter. Here is a little recap of our evening celebrating joys of childhood~ enjoy!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Senior Portrait Session :: Kayla W.

One of the things I love about photographing seniors is finding out what they are passionate about. And many of them get to do things I would have only dreamed of in high traveling internationally for sports, student exchanges, and missions trips. Kayla, an Elizabethtown senior, contacted me earlier in the summer to talk about her senior portraits but we needed to wait until she returned from a month-long stay as an exchange student in Australia to coordinate our schedules for her senior portrait session. I asked her if she was missing her "Aussie home" and she gave an enthusiastic 'Yes!' and mentioned that toward the end of her time there she missed her family and wished she could take them back there to live. One of Kayla's passions is painting, and she has plans to pursue art beyond high school with applications at several colleges.

Kayla's family has a special connection to the Mount Gretna area (Kayla's mom grew up there) so I was excited to explore a new area for photographing...and although our first date was rescheduled, yesterday we were blessed with an ideal mix of clouds and sun which allowed me to play with light and shadows and just plain have fun. Kayla chose to wear some great colors and fun prints that also worked perfectly to complement and contrast the surroundings. I know I probably say this every time, but I have some new all-time favorites from this session~ and I just love her beautiful green eyes!


Photo gallery website for proofing and additional info: 

Circle of Life Photography's page on Facebook~ Click HERE to add this page to your favorites!

Michelle Miller allowed me to link to her brilliant post about the art of photographing ... I simply cannot say it better myself! Click HERE to read the post.

Giving Back~ Organizations supported by Circle of Life Photography

In giving back, Circle of Life Photography's main goal is to help those experiencing extreme poverty and nourishing them with food, shelter and spiritual guidance. Education is a big part of helping people learn how to help themselves and change the downward spiral of poverty for a better future for themselves and their children. Locally, a more tangible way of giving back is through using my photography gifts to serve others who are experiencing crisis (see NILMDTS and Pillows of Love.)

Compassion International~ Haiti's Child Survival Project

In 2011-12, Circle of Life Photography makes a monthly $30 donation to the non-profit organization, Compassion International, whose goal is to change Haiti through the rescue, nuture and discipling of children during the critical early childhood years.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation (NILMDTS) gently provides a helping hand and a healing heart for families overcome by the grief and pain of the death of their newborn or infant. Offering gentle and beautiful photography services in a compassionate and sensitive manner is the heart of this organization. The soft, gentle heirloom photographs of these beautiful babies are an important part of the healing process. They allow families to honor and cherish their babies, and share the spirits of their lives. I am an active NILMDTS volunteer photographer for Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Lancaster Women & Babies Hospital.

Joni & Friends Family Retreat

I am honored to be a volunteer photographer at the Joni & Friends Family Retreat in the Poconos (Spruce Lake Retreat) for a week each summer (click here for past blog post.) Joni & Friends seeks to serve as a ministry of outreach to people with disabilities and their families across the US and around the world. Families from around the country attend Family Retreats seeking relaxation, encouragement and a time to strengthen their family.