"Where are we going?"
"Why do we have to walk this far?"
"Why are the tree branches like that?"
"There's dirt in my shoe."
"Are we almost there?"
"Why are we doing this?"
"How much longer?"
"Why is that teepee so tiny?"
"Why do you have a teepee out here?"
"This grass is itchy."
"Is there anywhere to get something to eat over there?"
"Is this the last one?"
"Okay now is THIS the last one?"
Those made up about 10% of the total number of questions little Melody asked over the duration of a single hour. I didn't realize 5 year olds were so... Curious? Chatty? Nonsensical? There was definitely no room for awkward silence during this shoot. I was immediately confronted with questions that I had never, in my life, thought to ask. At first, I tried answering every question in a peppy and eager sort of way. But after the 56th question, it was all I could do not to fall to a crouched head-between-your-knees-arms-over-your-head position and sob, "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, LITTLE GIRL!"
This is where Corrina stepped in. A beautiful, young mother/first grade teacher/superhero lady that knew exactly how to handle the chatty, five year old creature that was so obviously foreign to me. One of the first things Corrina said to me was, "Sorry, she is going through this phase where she asks questions about everything." Although, I could barely understand what she was saying because her words were drown out by a loud, "WHERE are we GOING?"
Now we are going to rewind back to March, when Corrina first contacted me.
I knew knew knew knew KNEW that I was going to love her, from the minute she sent me some photo inspiration ideas. She and I were on the same page from the get-go. She wanted bright, whimsical, warm, enchanting photos. So did I. She wanted sundresses. So did I. She wanted flower crowns. SO. DID. I.
I was ecstatic about this shoot. I ordered a lace teepee specifically for this occasion. I planned the location, the poses, the shots, the lighting, the props. I had it carefully orchestrated in my head for two months and I could barely wait for the day of the shoot to arrive. When it finally did arrive, the weather was HORRIFIC. For any of you that don't know, Amarillo recently got bumped up to the number one windiest city in America. Seriously, being a photographer in this town is like trying to have a conversation with a toaster oven. It's totally possible, with a lot of hard work and a lot more pretending. Here's a breakdown of the causes of my anxiety:
Anyways, the weather was terrible. I wanted to cry. I'm actually pretty sure Corrina was crying over texts. We were devastated when the sky turned brown and the trees were almost laying flat from the 40 MPH winds. Any other time, we could have just rescheduled. But Corrina had bought some (insanely expensive) flower crowns and they were going to croak if we didn't do the shoot within about 12 hours. After a ton of fretting, we decided to just face the wind and hope for the best.
Fast forward to this:
I was amazed at how the shots were turning out, at this point. They were exactly as I had pictured them in my head. Everything just flowed. The light was perfect and their poses were so natural and carefree. After about 30 minutes of shooting, the sun got a little lower in the sky and created light and airy outlines around their bodies, as if they were angels.
Melody had finally stopped asking if they could go and instead starting coming up with creative poses of her own. Then, she really started having fun.
The quiet moments were my favorite. The ones where I hid in the grass and Melody seemed to forget about me. She loved on her mommy and told her secrets and made-up stories. It was pure, unadulterated moments between a mother and her daughter. It made me want to go hold my baby, sing to her, watch her twirl in the late-afternoon sunlight.
There's nothing comparable to the bond between a mother and daughter. There's nothing sweeter, nothing stronger. Looking through these photos, I get that special "mommy feeling." The one where you look at your baby and your heart feels like it's exploding, your eyes start watering and you look at the sky and think, "Life is so cool."
After I told Melody that we were finally finished, we rushed to pack up and climbed back up to our starting point. She saw my baby playing by the old, wooden play set and ran as fast as she could to meet her. Even though there was a three and a half year age difference, Melody and Hazel had a fabulous time playing for the next 20 minutes. Their white sundresses were stained with dirt and dead grass was woven into the hems by the time they were being loaded up into separate cars. A vigorous Spray 'N Wash session awaited us at home.
It was a fun ending to a fun day. I'm so glad I got to spend some time with this beautiful little family. I got to capture the essence of their relationship: They are everything to each other.
A few years ago, I took photos for my cousin's band in Dallas. It was my first out-of-town photography job and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Thankfully, the pictures somehow turned out pretty cool, so I didn't have to end up saying, "Sorry, I have no idea how to work a camera. Your pictures suck." That's always a relief.
When Jennifer and Sam contacted me a few months ago, asking if I'd come down to take photos of their baby after he was born, I was beyond excited. I was also really freaked out, since I don't really know the Fort Worth area at all and, therefore, have no idea of any cool locations.
My initial plan was for all of us to head out to the bluebonnet fields and I was ecstatic about the thought of going there. I could just imagine how great the photos would be.
Jennifer contacted me at the end of March, telling me that baby Fox had finally arrived. I waited about 2 weeks and woke up bright and early on a Wednesday to make the trip to Fort Worth, armed with my Canon 6D, my 135mm f/2.0, my 50mm f/1.2, and The Neighbourhood's album "I Love You."
Upon arriving at the Randles household, I barely had time to set all of my equipment down before Jennifer and I started up the family gossip. The best part was that Sam didn't get off work until 5. That meant we had two whole hours to gossip. My kind of day.
When Sam arrived, he and Jennifer broke the devastating news to me that we probably wouldn't be able to visit the magical bluebonnet fields. Mostly because we didn't have enough time. But also because it was an iffy situation, since all of the bluebonnets are on private property. After I took a few moments to recover from the debilitating sadness, I told them I'd be okay and that I had a backup plan. On the way to their house, my GPS took me on the scenic route and I found the BEST SPOT EVER. So, we went there.
As soon as we pulled up to the overgrown, vacant lot, the unspoken uncertainty from Sam and Jennifer was pretty palpable. Their weirdo photographer/cousin took them to a sketchy, unmowed, and weed-ridden lot on the corner of a busy street.
What they didn't know, is that the photos were going to turn out like this:
Freakin. Perfect. Aren't they perfect? Yes. They are.
After the shoot, my super cool and super hip cousins took me to a super cool and super hip restaurant that was saturated with hipsters. (This was turning out to be the best day ever.) We pigged out and then headed back to the house, where I passed out on a fancy air mattress in Sam's music fortress.
And here's a photo of Bigsby. The coolest greyhound in the Northern Hemisphere:
I awoke in the music fortress, surrounded by a plethora of electric guitars and cords and technology thingies. We all got ready and got the baby situated and started the shoot. It was so quiet and calm in the house... Perfect for photos of sleepy, well-fed babies.
These lifestyle shots were very important to Jennifer. I think they're a fantastic idea because they really let you get a glimpse of real life. Nothing in these photos is staged or a prop that wouldn't normally be in their house. The faux fur that Fox is sleeping on is actually the rug in his room!
I feel like these photos really let their style show through. It really doesn't get more personal than taking photos of your brand new baby in your own house. I took these with the hope that baby Fox will look at them, years from now, and think, "Weird. That's where I lived when I was tiny."
If you couldn't already tell, I LOVED this trip. Catching up with family, jamming out in the car on the drive there, practicing new techniques with my camera.. It was an eventful 36 hours.
I can't wait to go back.
(Also, I'd like to give a special shout out to Fort Worth for being 1000 times greener, more lush, and easier to work with than Amarillo. You go, Glen Coco!)