family photojournalism :: the focos

Life with BOYS! One of my longest-standing friends, Kristin, has this beautiful family she's building with her husband Jeremy. And it's composed of 2 little boys and one more due to arrive this winter. They've very recently moved into their first HOUSE, a new construction that they commissioned and helped design. Though Kristin says it isn't as unpacked or decorated yet as she would like, it already feels like home. Behind their house is a huge expanse of meadow, undeveloped and wild, and they're positioned in a quiet neighborhood that's definitely the sort of place one would want to imagine raising a family. In this short story (yes, only an hour!) there was time for pumpkin bowling, bike riding, wrestling and dancing, blowing bubbles, making popcorn and general shenanigans. Never a dull moment with small and high-energy kiddos, am I right?!

life with a newborn :: xavier james

This story, this family -- Shawnna and Justin and Mya -- has captured my heart and taken up some serious prayer real estate in the last couple of years. Because there were until recently just three of them, but they knew that adoption was the next step in growing their family. About a year ago, they endured a rather devastating failed adoption. It was a hard, hard season, and the tenacity of their faith through it all was brilliant. In the midst of a season of grief and unknowing, they found out they were pregnant! And then, rather suddenly and very quickly, a birth mom on the brink of giving birth chose them to adopt the son she was carrying, Xavier. So now a family that once seemed "stalled" at 3, is approaching 5 in record time. If you're so inclined, you can read their story, in Shawnna's words, on their adoption consultant's blog HERE and in Justin's words HERE

And below, you'll see a little glimpse of life since Xavier came home, at 6 weeks old, on a Sunday afternoon, eating, playing, snuggling, wandering their property, and all the other good good things that make up a family life. Look closely and you'll see that Shawnna has a blossoming baby bump. Their newest addition is due this Spring and will be almost exactly 6 months younger than Xavier. It's a unique season, ripe with a million emotions and so much life. 

Love makes a family. 


belly :: the mcivers

Dustin and Shauna met in high school, but both studied at GVSU and spent huge chunks of their days in Padnos Hall of Science. The rest, as they say, is history. Through chiropractic school and starting a practice, through welcoming their daughter Tatum and now about to welcome their second baby, they've done the hard work required to build a solid love. It felt right to do their maternity session at GVSU, and even specifically Padnos, which has been such a special place for their entire relationship. 

I've been doing Milk Time sessions for Shauna and Tatum since Tatum with TINY, and so to be at their birth later this month, and then to photograph their new baby shortly thereafter is such a treat. Gosh, I love growing with families. 

belly :: the jamail family

They're thisclose to welcoming a fourth member -- a boy -- into their family, into this home they've redesigned in the last couple of years, into their hearts and routines. But for now little Audrey is still the center of their world, and these last days with her positioned securely and solely in that privileged role were something they wanted to capture. 

And besides that, Adrienne's beautiful belly needed a little camera time. This is how I capture bellies: like all other things, in context. I'm interested in your swelling, ripe belly going about all the daily normalities, whether that's a date night out with your husband or chasing around the other kids at home. Like anything else, it's part of you, so we don't need to bare it and decorate it and make your husband take off his shirt and then kiss it. Haha, nope. You just be amazing you, pregnant and powerful and on the brink of a miracle... I can't add anything to that that matters. 

I'll stop chatting at you now and let the pictures be the thousand words that speak to the love and affection present in this family as they wait for their son. 

My favorite parts: the drumming and the tossing on the bed. and maybe the rock collecting, too. Um, and the little toddler tantrums that they let me capture (yes!). Oh, there's lots of good parts. You'll just have to see for yourself. 

belly :: the rizley family

The Short Story version of Family Photojournalism sessions I'm now offering are the perfect way to capture small stories along life's way. Like the toddler growing as her mama's belly swells with a new baby, too. Like the way that family felt when it was made of only 3, but the promise of the 4th was quickly approaching. Like the interior of a room that Papa has labored so long and hard to transform for his little girls to share. And like the farm you bought and reclaimed, complete with the barn beside your house, where you were married, and the farm cats roaming wild.

Kurt, Aliyya and their little Cora invited me over to capture precisely those things. Here it is! :)

It's a beautiful life you're building, Kurt and Aliyya. I'm ever so excited to come back and spend time with you again when your baby girl arrives!

belly :: the ayoub family

Elizabeth and Nick are quickly approaching the EDD of their miracle baby girl. And while they wait, they are dating. I met up with them downtown as Nick was leaving his office for the day, and followed them around on a brief date around town: hot chocolate at Kilwin's, a walk through soft-falling snow around Rosa Parks Circle, and then some wandering around the city's famous old Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

They were drawn to this form of maternity photos because they see this pregnancy as an unfolding story. We paused for a few belly portraits, but mostly they had a very typical date. Through it all, these two engaged in animated conversation, punctuated by laughter and bolstered by great affection. I might as well have been invisible. And that's exactly how I like short story photojournalism sessions to go. :)