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Gaia: Strength in Motherhood

 

Growing up with a mother who was a labor and delivery nurse provided me with an early introduction to birth and motherhood. I would watch birth shows on TV and hear my mom’s friends talk about their pregnancies. It fascinated me, but the only stories I heard were of mothers giving birth
in hospitals, breastfeeding, and using disposable diapers. It never occured to me that there were other options, and learning about those options drastically changed my views on the subject. e way we view and talk about birth and motherhood are deeply rooted in western culture. e quick growth of hospitals in the early 1900’s pushed midwives and home births to the wayside. Hospitals changed the way women were treated during their pregnancies, and o en used medication and surgical procedures when not absolutely needed. Now, the earlier practices of home birth and more holistic medical care for mothers are becoming popular once again.

In this body of work I use a non-directorial approach, while following the diverse stories of three families during their journey through birth. With families both using holistic approaches as well as more Western care plans, I am able to comment on the incredible strength needed no matter what choices a mother makes. e mothers I have photographed each have a unique story; Brynn who struggled with infertility, Jodi who ended up needing a Cesarean Section, and Katie who is mothering three other children while welcoming her new baby. is series aims to celebrate and share the unique stories of each family and mother. My work focuses on capturing unposed moments during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum to include not just the tender and beautiful moments, but the struggles and challenges as well. Much of my photographic process is in uenced by Jade Beall and her work with “ e Bodies of Mothers: A Beautiful Body Project” which compiles the stories of mothers from all over the country and pairs them with photos. Beall seeks out a diverse group of mothers and she does not retouch the images speci cally to show the bodies of these women in their true form.

e journey I’ve taken while making these images has made me aware of the immense strength and courage these women have and I hope to encourage those who are going through similar situation. Birth is an incredibly unique thing, and by showing these numerous approaches it is my goal to share just how important and valid each families journey is.

Special thanks to the Beukema, Barker/Plont, and Parrish families, Faith Groesbeck, and Erica Guthaus for making this project possible.

Lifestyle Family Sessions!

Hi all! I am once again looking to collaborate with families for some lifestyle photography sessions. This will be in conjunction with an amazing new non profit focused on empowering moms and families in health and wellness for their children. I would love to have anyone who is interested in working with us to fill out the google form, we will begin contacting prospective families in early May! Thanks so much, if you have any questions feel free to message me! Click HERE for the survey!

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Winter Greenhouse Wedding at the Downtown Market

Brit and Lisa embody the idea of a strong partnership. Their love for each other and their daughter radiates immediately. Their vision for the day included their closest family and friends celebrating life together at the Downtown Market. They envisioned long tables with greenery, a bright and open space, and lots of dancing! It was amazing to see everything come together.

They started the day out together with their wedding party at Lamb Bride, a local bridal shop that made for the perfect start to the day. The party sipped on mimosas and got their makeup done, we were even able to snap some photos of everyone before we left. The relaxed energy felt throughout the whole day made for a smooth and happy day. Lisa and Brit realized that a strong marriage is far more important than a perfect wedding and didn’t let any stress get to them.
The simple greenery and gorgeous bouquet from Eastern Floral added to the stunning location and was a perfect getaway from the snowy cold Michigan weather. Perhaps the best parts of the day were the words exchanged between the couple during their vows and the speech their daughter gave during dinner. Absolutely no dry eyes and it proved just how special the connection between them is. This wedding celebrated love, laughter, and community, something that is so important, especially now.

3 Tips for a Stress Free Wedding Day

Worried about your upcoming nuptials? Guest lists, flowers, and timeline making you want to just elope? Check out my 3 tips for a stress free wedding day! After helping and listening to many couples I’ve compiled a list of simple ways to lift that weight off your chest. Your day is about love, not lists, and these tips will help you center yourself and focus on the important parts of your day.

1: A First Look

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Take a moment before your ceremony to see your partner and share the excitement in a private setting. First looks allow you to sneak away from your family and wedding party to calm your nerves with the person who you love the most! Jitters will be soothed and it takes away the pressure of seeing them for the first time in front of everyone. You’ll also be able to get candid and emotion packed photos without any cell phones or other people in the images. Logistically this also allows the wedding party photos and/or family photos to be done before the ceremony and it frees up time during cocktail hour to just relax with guests. My couples have told me that their first look photos are the ones hung up in their home because it represents a moment of pure emotion that sets the tone for the day.

 


 

2: Invest in a Wedding Planner

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Why worry about frivolous details that might not even be important when you can invest in a wedding planner who can help guide your choices? Wedding planners might seem like just an extra expense but they are crucial in taking on the tasks that most couple dread. They often have great connections with vendors and might even be able to get you a discount. Wedding planners will ensure your day runs smoothly and takes the pressure off family or friends to take on that responsibility. Everyone I talk to that didn’t hire a planner tells me they wish they would have. Your wedding planner will become your best friend and go to, so make sure to hire someone you want to take on such a big role!

 


 

3: Run Through Everything

Makeupmike-and-caroline-150, hair, photos, ceremony. Take time to schedule a photo session with your photographer before the day to get comfortable in front of the camera. Whether that looks like an engagement, boudoir, or lifestyle session it will help you open up on the day and not worry about the working relationship you’ll have with the photographer. Hair stylists and makeup artists often include a run through as a part of the package. Take advantage of this! You’ll know what you are getting into, be able to make tweaks, and have awesome hair and makeup for a date night! Ceremony run through seems like an obvious but it really does help, especially for those out of town wedding party members who might not be as comfortable as you are with the flow of it. Practice doesn’t make perfect but it will help you to relax and leave less to chance on the big day.

 


 

Your wedding is far less important than a strong marriage. I tell my couples this constantly and it’s the first thought you should have the minute you feel your blood pressure rising. People will remember how much fun they had and how in love you looked, not if the centerpieces are lopsided or if you stumbled over your vows. Remember to do what works best for you and not follow trends or friendly advice if it doesn’t make sense with your vision.

Looking for wedding photography for your big day? Let me help take that off your “to do” list! Let’s chat!

Brit and Lisa’s Greenhouse Wedding

When Brit and Lisa contacted me about photographing their greenhouse wedding at the Downtown Market, I jumped at the chance to be involved in their day. This unique family has such a calm and loving energy to them, and that was their focus for their wedding. Both Brit and Lisa knew that a strong marriage is far more important than the actual wedding. So with that in mind they planned a stress free, beautifully effortless winter greenhouse wedding. The amount of people who traveled from the corners of the country was a testament to their love for not only each other but their friends and family as well. Stay tuned for the full blog post!

Mike and Caroline: The Cheney Place, Grand Rapids, MI

Mike and Caroline had a clear vision of what their wedding day should look like. They envisioned long wooden tables, evergreens spilling everywhere, and pie! All of these elements made for a gorgeous rustic vintage winter wedding. These two creatives had a hand in every aspect of their wedding, and their personal style really shined. Their venue, The Cheney Place, which is nestled just outside of downtown Grand Rapids provided a perfect space filled with personality, but still allowed their vision to come through.

Caroline stunned guests and family with her BHLDN  Roane gown. The lace detailing and long silhouette accentuated her natural beauty, it was no surprise how excited Mike was during their first look.  He was so excited that he opened his eyes way before I was ready! The moment between them was so sweet and the first look provided some of my favorite images from the day. That’s part of the fun of wedding photography and first looks, not knowing exactly how each couple will react, but really allows you to see their personalities through this moment.

The whole wedding day was simple and sweet. Their ceremony was filled with words of love and encouragement not only from the officiants, their best friends, but also others who attended the wedding. Wedding guests sat in clean white pews amongst lush greenery and the love that surrounded them was clear. It was no surprise that that they danced long into the night enjoying the company of those they loved who came from near and far.

Love what you see? Drop me a line here! I’d love to help your vision come to life!