The clients I work with have so many beautiful stories about how their experiences have shaped them. The experience of creating a family is unique to each person and can sometimes come unexpectedly. I would like to introduce Paula, her husband Grant, and their two daughters, Elara and Aurelia and show you some black and white family photography that I think captures the joy of their family. Paula and Grant followed their own path when creating a family, even though it was not always easy. The joy this family shares in being together and each of their individual personalities that make up a such a loving family really shine through in these photos. I had such a fun time getting to capture them, and their inner light shone through in these sessions.

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself, Grant, how you met. How you decided to have kids, what are your hobbies, what you do in your free time, etc. If it was difficult to have a child, please share your experience and what got you through it, if you are comfortable.

Black and white family photography

Grant and I met in 2003 as part of the Texas Juggling Society, in Austin, TX. We married in 2007 in Maple Valley, WA and, yes, our friends graciously (and beautifully!) juggled clubs in an arch for us to recess under after our wedding ceremony.As I’m 11 years older than Grant, I didn’t think we’d have kids, and we honestly didn’t discuss it until after we’d been married a full year. When we decided that, yes, having a child was something we wanted, we found ourselves on the IVF track pretty early. We have been lucky – two rounds of IVF producing two amazing daughters we have the privilege (and the madness, frustration, and occasional “what were we thinking!”) of raising. While making the decision to conceive via IVF was easy, there were some difficult intimacy-building experiences along the way. Probably the hardest was grieving the loss of the childbirth experience I’d always envisioned – a home birth with midwife and doula – because of a uterine surgery that meant delivering by a medically-necessary c-section. Even now, with daughters who are 5 and 7, I still feel the need to add “medically necessary” before admitting I’ve had two “c-sections.”

Black and white family photography

2. Tell me about why you decided to have professional family photographs, and why you trusted me to take these special photos.

Black and white family photography

We found Jennifer Loomis after a story on NPR discussing her book, Portraits of Pregnancy. The timing couldn’t have been better – I was newly pregnant, and hadn’t really thought about pregnancy pictures. And, as an older (42) and larger than average pregnant woman, the idea seemed really, really scary –  but the way the interview with Jennifer aired on the radio, I felt like I’d been virtually invited into the “expecting moms club.”  So, Grant and I decided to book a three-shoot package Jennifer offered – pregnancy, newborn, and one year sessions for our daughter, Elara, born in January 2011. Jennifer made the process really comfortable, and the pregnancy images were far more intimate and beautiful than I’d expected. I cherish them, even with (or because of?) the changes my body’s gone through since that first pregnancy. In the chaos of having our second child (me at 46(!) and very uncomfortable in my body), we didn’t have another session until our second daughter, Aurelia, born in 2013, was just over a year old. In those photos, you can see the beginnings of a sibling relationship that has flourished into something really amazing that we get to be a part of. In the current family photography session, the first since we have acknowledged that we are finished creating our family, we really enjoyed just being us, all together, and letting Jennifer capture that vibe in the studio. We couldn’t be happier with the photos that came out of that session – especially with the pictures that show both girls together, highlighting their personality differences as well as their connection.


3. Please feel free to include anything else you like that is interesting about you or your parenting philosophy.  I am particularly interested in learning how  you fostered the close relationship of your children.

We can’t take a lot of credit for their closeness, as the girls seem to complement one another naturally. The most we do is try to stay out of their way – and that often shows up with a kind of benign neglect in their problem-solving. A dear friend who also happens to teach positive discipline parenting classes told us about about ways to put kids in the same boat – supporting them while allowing them to work out their own conflicts, without taking sides. As tempting as it is (and sometimes, we do give in to temptation) to short-cut their problem-solving by deciding who’s right and who’s wrong, or to just remove the object of disagreement, far more often that not whichever child is trying to get us to solve a problem for them hears us say, “go talk to your sister about it.” Now, we can often say, with a kind smile “what do you think I’m going to to say next?” and they’ll respond with (a sometimes grumbly), “go talk to my sister about it….” They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill – hopefully allowing them to continue practicing problem-solving between each other now will translate into conflict confidence in the rest of their lives.




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