Independence Day- Molly Kennedy

I remember the first time I saw Molly. I was sitting in room with live music when she walked to the front and sat at the piano to sing back up.  I was struck by her beauty, then by her confidence, then by her voice. This girl. I didn’t know where she came from or where she was going, but knew I wanted to be her friend.  We eventually met a few weeks later through mutual friends and it was purely quirky friendship from that moment on.  No I’m serious, we are really weird.

I preface all this in order to tell a story.  A story of how I’m realizing how truly impactful photography can be.

In the beginning of the month, I approached Molly to do a mini July 4 shoot. I had a couple ideas cooking in my brain and I needed a model.  I needed a Molly.  She was the only one I could think of who would be perfect for this.

Well thanks to Molly’s love for quality time and adventure, we woke up before the crack of dawn and drove out to the beach to catch these shots you see below.  Pity Molly- I made her do the weirdest poses and jump over seaweed like a million times. But man. Dang. Ya. This is what happened.  The light. The dress. The smile. It was all perfect.  But it was because Molly was who she is, and it was because she was in the photos.  After she saw the photos, I later received a note from her explaining a bit of her own story to me.

How many of you know that we as human beings can be our own worse critics.  We nitpick, we covets someone else’s features, we complain.  Things can go unplanned in our lives and we blame ourselves.  Girls, how many of us say, “I’m just not pretty enough” or “if only I would be different.”

Molly’s note thanked me, explaining how she had previously been feeling these things creep into her thinking.  But when she received the photos, she found herself returning to them repeatedly.  She expressed that there were a few particular photos where she just stared. “At first I felt so detached from them. Like I wasn’t looking at pictures of me.” As she kept returning to them, her perspective began to shift. “I began to see the core of who I am.”  That perspective being the truth. That the core of who she is- her identity- is good. Beautiful. Worthy.

I almost cried when I read it.  Anyone can see that Molly is gorgeous, but she herself needs to see and experience her own value and goodness.

How about you? What lies do you tell yourself in the mirror as you get ready for your day? What areas of your thinking need to be set right again?

If I can have one purpose or vision in my photographic career, it would be to show people their worth.  I think my slogan says it pretty well: “I show people the beauty they are living.”  My desire is not to have the best equipment or have the most clients.  I’ve become more intentional than that.  My dream is to show worth to people.  If that means that they change their self perspective while flipping through the photos, then that’s what it will look like.  But I think that this shoot has not only helped Molly. It’s helped me.

Live intentionally. Eliminate lies and speak the truth.  And for heaven’s sake, if you just can’t seem to believe them, invite me to do a shoot.  I’ll show you the beauty that everyone else gets to see when they look at you.  You might feel totally not put together but don’t you know? There is such true raw beauty in the mess.

And here is my beautiful friend in all her Independence Day glory. Dress by Anthropologie. Flower crown by Jarrett Atelier.  Beach and perfect day by God.

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and some bloopers:

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Molly July Four

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Independence Day- Molly Kennedy

Greek Easter, Great Easter

I was chatting to my cute design friend a while ago about the Story Shoots I’ve been doing lately.  We parted ways and a few days later I got a call from her and this time with an excitement in her voice to match my own.  She had an idea.  Story shoot…Easter… her family is Greek.  Greek Easter.  All these things, all combined into one day. It sounded lovely.

Here are the results.  Beyond the fun of having free reign with photo taking, I was so honored to be included in the festivities.  I felt like family.

Eleni told me that Easter was going to be at her house.  I didn’t know that she would be doing all the cooking. And decorating. And hosting.  I didn’t know how amazing she is.

I like to write, but I’d rather just show you.  The day was beautiful and the sun was dancing all over the yard alongside the children.  The dog was excited, and we all left considerably more plump and pleasant.

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This is Eleni and her favorite furry friend:elenieaster-113

 

Eleni’s beautiful family:
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Eleni and Shawn. The cutest.elenieaster-118 elenieaster-143 elenieaster-125

Greek Easter, Great Easter

Godshall Family

So you are currently looking at one of my favorite shoots. The colors, the people… Seriously, there’s just something that starts to stir in me when I get to document people in their homes.  You wouldn’t think it makes a difference, but there is a physical change that happens to people when you bring the camera to them- not vice versa.  They are calm. They smile more.  They even get more creative.  Jason and Jen made my heart happy.  And wouldn’t you know that little baby Nate really likes me? He honestly breaks into a huge grin when I walk into the room.  And this kid has a killer grin that will melt a heart of stone. It did mine anyway. Did I mention anything about these colors?

So here is to Story Shoots at home. Here’s to the Godshall family for letting me in.  Here’s to many more to come!nategodshall-5 nategodshall-9 nategodshall-10 nategodshall-13 nategodshall-20 nategodshall-19 nategodshall-23 nategodshall-25nategodshall-2nategodshall-27 nategodshall-28 nategodshall-34 nategodshall-39 nategodshall-42 nategodshall-44 nategodshall-48 nategodshall-52 nategodshall-53 nategodshall-54

Godshall Family

Miss Nora

So I’ve been hanging around children a little more frequently lately.  And though I haven’t been particularly fond of them before, I’m beginning to sway my opinion.  They are charming little stinkers.  I always heard about the “miracle of birth,” yada yada and “how fast they grow,” yada yada.  It never really had much affect on me. I’ve just never been around children very much.

I think that I can probably pin point the moment that all began to change in my heart.  I think it was the moment, after thirty some hours of waiting, when my best friend held Nora in her arms for the first time.  I was behind the camera for all of it, and all eyes were on those two. But if you would have turned and looked back at me, you would have seen little tears pooling in my eyes.  I could hear myself repeat, “oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” but it was almost like my voice was outside of my body- it wasn’t really coming from myself.  And I stood there camera still in hand, unable to see what it was focused on.  I kept looking at her little eyes and her lips. Oh, her lips! And that’s the point where it changed for me.  I think I got it.

Though this was the turning point in a sense for me, I had been experiencing other strange things culminating within my little- apparently grinch-like heart.  I’d been helping my sister with her nanny job once a week.  This means I got to spend 4.5 hours with a one year old every once or twice a week.  And I began to appreciate the little moments when she would run to me like she liked me.  Or when she actually laughed at something I did to entertain her (I mean, I think I’m funny).  Or the way she curled up in my arms while I rocked her before her nap.  Am I sounding mushy? Oh my gosh, I’m being a mush ball.  To save myself some dignity, I’ll refrain from any more of these moments.  I will say one more thing: I’m feeling a lot more comfortable around babies now.  My feelings aren’t as hurt when they cry in my arms.  I feel like I can hold them without making their heads fall off (they really are a lot more durable than you’d think). That being said, it’s still going to take me a while to get over  my disgust over all the weird fluids that babies produce and get all over you. Vomit. Pee. Poop. Boogers. Snot. Ew. I’m definitely #notafan .

And on a funnier note (and the reason for this post) what I most appreciate about babies is their ability to be them.  Flagrantly so.  I love their odd shaped bodies and incessant babbling- all things that would be considered faux pa for an adult to do.

So here’s Nora. The girl who kind of changed my life in a way.  Or at least my perspective.

I’ll be pointing out some of my favorite poses and faces.

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Here’s rapper Nora:Nora-19

Intimidating Nora:Nora-21

Stoked about her age Nora:Nora-23   Nora-29

And my personal fave, incredibly pear shaped Nora (when would it ever be cool to flaunt this bod in public as an adult?)Nora-30

The clingy Nora:Nora-31 Nora-32

And the skeptical Nora:Nora-38 Nora-41

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She gone:Nora-39

Miss Nora

Christmas Story Shoot

So I’m slowly beginning to realize something about myself.  I love to meet new people.  I like to make new friends.  I may not remember a person’s name the first, say, twelve times I see them, but I’ll remember a face. And a great personality.  Besides the obvious pros, meeting new people helps you network, and also find common interests. For example, if I never would had the guts to go to a holiday party with my friend Molly, I never would have met Chelsea.  And had I never met Chelsea, I never would have had the opportunity to  make this shoot happen.  The night of the party, I almost said no.  Part of me didn’t feel like going to a house full of people I didn’t know.  But I’ve learned that I rarely regret it once I have.  So I gathered my courage and favorite lipstick, and headed out.

Needless to say, it ended up being a great and inspiring night.  I left the house, having had a great conversation with Chelsea about my desire to do more Story Shoots out of people’s homes.  I want to document peoples’ lives.  Just be a fly on the wall while parents make their kids pancakes, and while toddlers walk around in their diapers.

Chelsea loved it.  She, a blogger, had been thinking of doing a Christmas shoot in her house to commemorate the holiday and debut her beautifully styled home.

Here’s the shoot. I had a blast.  I mean, seriously- I’m calling this full time work and I just got to listen to Christmas music and sip hot chocolate. Plus, Chelsea’s like the hottest little Christmas gal. Check out her splendid blog here:  http://www.belleinblack.com/

The point is: fight the temptation to be a hermit. I’m an introvert too, so you don’t have an excuse.  Go out and meet new people. Get to know them, and most importantly, let them get to know you. Because you are worth getting to know.

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Christmas Story Shoot

Darrell and Bethany

When I got the chance to be a part of Darrell and Beth’s Story Shoot, I couldn’t say no. “I want it to be really authentic,” she explained as we chattered excitedly over the phone. What I appreciated most about Bethany was that she wanted to do her maternity shoot the week she was due. And she wanted me to document everything. Wait. Everything? Swollen ankles? Afternoon naps? Popping tummy?

“Yes, everything. I want our son to see what family was like right before he came!”

Refreshing, right? I mean, maternity shoots are always amazing. Glowing mother, swollen body parts carefully cropped out, perfectly “slimming” angles, and mothers clothed in sexy or very little garments. But what about every day life? What about aching feet, living in a trailer to save money, or all those times when you really feel about as sexy as a goat?

With all this in mind, I was perusing Facebook a few days before the trip when I came across a post a friend of mine had written.

“I’m kind of over the whole “sexy preggers” thing. It’s like, seriously, can’t a woman be 8 months pregnant and be given a break from being pretty/put-together/sexy? She’s growing a human! Does she really have to style her hair too? On that same note, I’m also sick of our cultural obsession with sexy female athletes. She’s sweaty and just busted butt, but don’t worry! She’s still physically attractive!!  Basically, I’m wondering, when is it ok for a woman to be ugly? Men get to be gross all the time. They get to fart and gain/lose weight, miss a few days of shaving, have stinky feet, whatever. We still think they’re wonderful…because they are. Because how great a man is has nothing to do with his physical appearance. He’s great because he’s a human. I’m into that. I’m ready to be like, ‘Yeah girl, you’ve got 10 extra pounds!’ And not have to follow it with a ‘But you’re still soooo pretty.’ it’s like, whatever, she’s got 10 extra pounds. Done. Do you have those pounds? It doesn’t mean anything about you. It’s just a bit boring to be always reminding girls how pretty they are, even when we mean well. ‘No matter what the world says about you, remember, you’re still beautiful.’ Ok, that’s nice. But she’s other things too. Right? Wouldn’t it be better to say, ‘It doesn’t matter what they say about you, remember, you have the power to lead people, to change minds, to be brave, to grow a human, to raise wonderful children, to crush it at a job you love, to be happy.’

A person, any person, matters because they’re a human. Pretty is…whatever.”  -J.L.

Challenged? I think so. I was so excited by this new perspective, I could hardly wait till it was time to go. I got to shoot the real things. And it’s the real things in life that matter, because we all are human and we share similar experiences. So this is me trying to inspire others out there who struggle with self image, especially when pregnant. Girls, you aren’t alone. Just embrace it.

Here are some from my few days I was up in Delaware. I couldn’t have been more inspired by Bethany’s attitude.

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Darrell and Bethany