Ask me to shoot a session in the desert, and I will say YES every dang time. Oh my, these are some of my favorite photos. And they happen to be of some of my favorite people! Robbie and Jess decided to celebrate their 1 year wedding anniversary with photos in the Anza Borrega desert. I couldn't share just one... So here are more for your viewing pleasure :)
My breastfeeding journey started out a little rocky.
Growing up, I always heard my mom rant and rave about the beauty of motherhood. I think she would still be having children if my dad allowed it! Not only did she love giving birth to all four of us, but she loooved breastfeeding.
As a mother now, I can agree. I do love motherhood, and I love breastfeeding BUT I really think there are some things people leave out when they talk about their love for breastfeeding. And honestly, I think the reason why there is such a bond and love for breastfeeding is because of the hard and trying road it takes to get there! When you finally get into the swing of it, you can't help but love it and have a sense of pride because of all the grueling hours spent hunched over, with sore nipples, and the sound of a pump machine in the wee hours of the night that you had to fight through as you learned your rhythm.
After my baby was in the NICU for the first 7 days of his life, I wasn't allowed to breastfeed him because it was crucial to keep track of his ml. of milk intake and weight gain. So this meant I pumped around the clock. For about 2 weeks straight I was pumping every 3 hours. Which made it almost impossible to go anywhere for any extended period of time. The nights were the worst! The doctors wanted Azariah to be eating every 3 hours. So this meant I would wake up to one of my many alarms, pump for 15 mins, transfer it to a bottle, feed my baby for another 30 mins, put him back down, and then wash all my pump pieces and bottles so that I could go back to bed and then wake up (by that time) 2 hours later and do it all over again.
By the time 2 weeks had passed, I told my doctor I wasn't sure how much longer I could do it. I felt like I was always hooked up to a machine, and running on no sleep! I was starting to feel really defeated that my son would never learn to breastfeed since the hospital ordered me to bottle feed for the first TWO MONTHS at least. Thankfully, my pediatrician must have seen the dark circles under my eyes and had enough sympathy for me to give me a chance at breastfeeding. He gave me 4 days to ditch the pump and try solely breastfeeding him. After four days, I would come back and if he gained at least 4 oz. then I would be able to continue breastfeeding and leave the pump and bottles in the dust.
I felt so much pressure and fear when I left the pedi office with the go for breastfeeding. This could be my only chance! What if he loses weight because i'm not efficient for him?? And if I couldn't successfully breastfeed him, could I return to pumping...? Formula at that point was looking really enticing.
For some God given miracle, after the baby had been on a bottle for 2 weeks, he took to my breast like a champ and gained the 4 oz he needed to! I remember praising GOD every time he latched and took big gulps- cheering my baby on as much as I could because we were a team, and we were doing it!
Since then, little man has continued to gain weight and grow nice and healthy. But, I still have had my hang ups and struggles along the way. I thought I would share with you some of the obstacles that came up along the way that I wasn't prepared for. The things they don't tell you! Honestly, I think they need to have college courses on breastfeeding, because it's an art!
Below is a small list. Feel free to comment any additional must knows!!
Things they don't tell you:
1. If you pump too long, too often, you may start producing as if you had twins. (guilty!)
2. If your breasts get too full, milk ducts can clog up and milk can stop coming out! Your boobs will get super tender and hurt like crazy! I learned soon that the best remedy for a clogged duct was a hot shower and massage, as well as soaking a diaper in hot hot water and holding it to the breast. You'll be surprised how much a diaper can soak up and how well it holds heat!
3. Breastfeeding in public is interesting. My son is 11 weeks now and a little more in tune with the world around him. Sometimes he feeds great, while other times he wiggles and squirms, popping his head on and off my breast to look around. If i'm wearing a breastfeeding cover, this can look especially silly in public- as if i'm hiding a wild animal under my shirt.
4. When your baby sleeps it's first long stretch through the night, don't assume you will too. I would wake up several times through the night as my son started to sleep 6-7 hour stretches. My boobs would either become so engorged it hurt, or I would wake up completely soaked from them leaking out all over me and the bedding. I quickly learned to wear a loose fitting sports bra always with my breastfeeding pads to take any pressure off my chest, and soak up any milk that did leak. Anything too tight would make things even more uncomfortable. When I would awake with engorgement, instead of pumping it out, I would hand express a little till comfortable. If you pump, you are telling your boobs that you are feeding your baby, which is keeping your supply up each night as if the babe needs to be fed. But don't worry! Soon enough your boobs will adjust, and the engorgement and bed soaking will stop as your baby continues to sleep long stretches.
5. 99.9% of new babies are gassy! Yes, your diet can have a play in your milk. But don't torture yourself with what you can and cannot eat, because chances are your babe is going to have those gassy pains whether you choose to eat cheese or not. It's your job to assess how extreme your baby's pain is, and then try adjusting from there. But don't assume gas pains = food restrictions. Their tummys will likely mature with growth and allow them less gassy pains.
Well, that's all I can think of for now. But if you have any questions, or anything you'd like to add to the list of "what they don't tell you", feel free to comment below!
Breastfeeding is beautiful and oh so special, you guys. But it's also something that doesn't always come "natural" and takes some time to understand and adjust to. So if you're having troubles or feel completely lost in the whole thing- you're not alone! Give you and your baby some grace, and remember you're both new at this thing! And if it's your second child and you're having issues you didn't before, you are diving into a whole new relationship with a different and unique little person. It takes time to learn what works and doesn't work for each of you. Don't hesitate to reach out to other mammas, and make sure to check out breastfeeding groups in your area! Often times you can find free ones. I promise you you won't regret the help.
Happy feeding, mammas!
There's no better reason to get the family together for photos than to celebrate a new baby entering the world. Little baby Bohen was the perfect excuse for the Holliman family to snap some photos in remembrance of this special new time (not that this beautiful family needed an excuse to get in front of the camera- I mean, come on! Picture perfect). I always love a good family shoot. It's so much fun getting to see the dynamics between siblings, and to think these guys have known each other their entire life. That's the best part about family, I believe. You have a crew that has known you through all stages and ages of life. The good, the bad, the awkward, and the ugly. I'm thankful for the opportunity to capture this crew!
These two came up from Mexico to shoot their sweet twin girls in the womb. They were such a pleasure to meet, and Besty had their outfits on point. I mean, that mustard dress?! I'll take one! I'm happy to say these two are now soaking up all the snuggles from their two baby girls this side of the belly <3
When Megan and Ryan asked me to take their engagement pictures somewhere in the mountains, all woodsy + cozy, it pulled on all my Oregon heart strings. I'm a sucker for boots and beanies. They asked to take them up Palomar Mountain, and i'll admit, i've been stubborn to give Southern California any type of camp vibe cred because of the epic ones I grew up with back home... Palomar Mountain left me pleasantly surprised. Here's some pictures of these pretty people making SoCal look cozier than ever.
Sleeping has been the biggest blessing since having Azariah, and that because he started "sleeping through the night" at one month. I have a few things to give thanks to, and one is his mebie stretch swaddle. We weren't swaddling him at first because he liked he liked sleeping with his hands so close to his face. Even in his ultra sounds, he had his arms tucked close. But one night I decided to give his mebie swaddle a try, and it was an almost instant relied. Azariah slept 7 hours straight! The few times he woke in the middle of the night, I watched him on his monitor wiggle around in the mebie swaddle and then quickly fall asleep on his own. In all his other swaddle attempts, as soon as he would struggle, his hands would come out of and wake him for good. In the mebie swaddle he was able to bring his hands up but only for comfort, and not enough to be fully released and keep him awake. So here are some of my all time photos of him in my all time favorite swaddle in the rust color. He is such a little swooner <3
Motherhood is so beautiful. I think it's one of the most important and fulfilling things i've ever done. For a long time I struggled with depression that stemmed off of a lack of purpose and direction. I tried so hard to define myself next to what the world called successful, and ultimately always felt less than. Being a mom has brought me such great purpose and meaning. I have a whole new understanding for life and the world we live. I look at my parents differently, knowing they once held me as a baby with such awe and wonder. I look at strangers and the homeless differently, understanding that they were once so small and of the innocence of a sweet child. It's crazy how life has a way of working itself out. I know that my sweet baby boy will one day experience a pain and struggle of his own as he navigates life... but for now, I get to love him with all I have, and reassure him in the gifts and goods he so naturally posses. Teaching him the beauties of both the ups and downs of life. He is so sweet, and so gentle. So dependent on me getting up through the nights to feed him and change him and soothe his cries. I want him to know he is worthy, and so loved. As I step into motherhood as a newcomer, I realize the depth and responsibility of this position in life, and find my heart so open to the calling.
Each week passes by so fast. And every day so long. Wearing him on my chest has been my absolute favorite, for I know these days wont last forever. Just knowing he is instantly soothed with ears against my heartbeat, and chest against my breaths. Together, we feel comforted by the familiarity of the 9 months shared together in my womb. I couldn't be more thankful for companies like True North Slings that make it all possible to experience these moments with my son that I will most certainly hold onto forever.
These are the days I want to remember forever. These are the moments that images allow me to keep close the feelings of my heart. May we never lose sight of this sweet love, my child.
No matter how prepared you think you are for birth and having a baby, there is always going to be things that you never would have thought or expected to come up once that babe gets here. That's why i'm here to encourage all you mammas, whether first child or fifth one in, to TALK, TALK, TALK about it all!
When I gave birth to my son, and nothing went like I had planned, I was forced to pump the first couple weeks. I literally had an alarm set for every 3 hours, even through the night. Prior to having my son, I didn't think I would even use my pump unless my husband and I were wanting a date night or something down the road and I needed to have a bottle to leave. As I began pumping, so many questions arose like, "how long do I pump for?" "what setting do I pump on" "how much milk is normal to get out?" "why are my boobs suddenly so swollen (which was actually engorged, I just had no idea what that was at the time since I had never heard of it)?" "how do I fix a clogged milk duct"? "can you fix a clogged milk duct"?
Sooo many questions, and so little time and energy to google them all and read article after article! And then, when I was finally allowed to breastfeed him, more questions arose! "How long do I feed him?" "what does a good latch look like?" "lip tie, how do I know?" "Is he getting enough?" "he wants to feed non-stop, is that okay?" "do I need to burp every time, or can I let him sleep?" "why am I producing so much milk, and how to I regulate it (which I found was because after pumping so much, my boobs thought I had twins)?" Do I always need to pump?"
And these questions were all just about breastfeeding. I had plenty more about everything else that arose in the first few days of bringing Azariah home.
It was overwhelming, and scary at times. So many thoughts and questions made me wonder if I was doing things wrong, or if my baby was okay. So many questions and concerns I had no idea I would have, because I knew nothing about them until the particular situations actually came up.
Thankfully, all this crazy, anxious, questioning energy soon went away after I began talking to people. I asked my friend mammas (mostly via social media) if they had gone through what I was going through. And to my surprise, mammas were more than happy to answer and lend advice because they knew what this unknown was like, and how hard it was to figure out the first months. Then, I started going to lactation support groups. This was an even bigger game changer. For me, I was nervous because my baby was just barely being weened off the bottle since being in the NICU, and I was having to use a nipple shield to help him latch. Using the nipple shield made me feel kind of ashamed, like I wasn't capable of feeding without it, and it was my fault. But then I got to the group and around me were other moms using nipple shields. Not only that, but there were moms with really fussy babies, that were screaming in the room. Other moms that were only using bottles because their baby refused to latch. And then moms who had virtually no issues, but were still there because they worried and needed the emotional support.
Going to this group not only showed me that I wasn't the only one, but that I was one of many! It was so comforting to be around other mammas who were having difficulties, or learning it all for the first time too. We sat around in a circle sharing our worries and struggles, getting to not only encourage one another, but share what was working and not working for ourselves.
On top of that all, I got to meet with a dear friend who is also a lactation consultant (So-Cal mammas, let me know if you're looking for one!). Not only did I have a well educated and trained human to ask allll my questions to, but I also got some hands on help and assessment of my baby's latch and feedings.
Mammas, all this goes to say, don't be afraid to talk about your struggles you are having with your baby whether in breastfeeding, or anything else! I can guarantee you that you are not alone in your thoughts, fears, or trials. And there is someone out there with answers!! So ask questions! Go to groups! Be vulnerable, and continue to believe in yourself and baby. I promise whatever trial you are going through, or struggle you are having as a mom, it can be worked through and it can be overcome.
I had an unfortunate start to breastfeeding with a baby in the NICU who wasn't allowed milk till he was 5 days old, and when he was finally allowed, he could only be bottle-fed in order to track his intake and growth. I wasn't 'allowed' to breastfeed him till he was 2 weeks old, and that came with so many fears! I didn't think he was ever going to choose me over the easiness of a bottle. But sure enough, with the help, love, and encouragement by so many friends and groups, my little man is now solely breastfeeding and gaining weight continually.
Keep fighting the good fight, mamma. It's a tough journey, but one we were made for.
I haven't been doing photography professionally for a super long time. It actually took a lot of guts and courage to step out of my insecurities and ever call myself a "photographer". One of the first real commercial jobs I got right out the gates started out as a complete, undeserved blessing. A company reached out to me after seeing some photos I had taken for Moniker General (also a blessing), and asked if I would do a 2 day shoot for their Fall preview. It was a newer company with a small budget, and because I knew how hard it was starting out new, I negotiated down to a very small fee for 2 days of shooting over 10 hours each. I tried my best to be professional and write up a contract, as for shot lists, and let them know how many photos I would be giving them for the amount they were paying. When I got to the shoot, to my surprise, there were products upon products to photograph... and because of all the products, I realized very quickly that I would be taking and giving way more photos than originally agreed. But, the ladies were nice, and it was what I thought could be a big break for me, so I just went on and did my best to give them the most I could.
A couple months down the road, I started seeing my photos pop up on big instagram accounts, without any photo accreditation or acknowledgment. Suddenly thousands of people were seeing my photos, but no one knew it was I who took them. This was super gut wrenchingly awful. I had worked so hard for these ladies, gave them a VERY fair price for the full two days of shooting... and then to not be acknowledged, at all? To not be aware of all the companies my photos were sent to... It was such a bummer. Granted, I had originally asked for my photos to be acknowledged or tagged in the first contract write up, but again, I negotiated with the company and agreed on a verbal commitment of making sure to acknowledge some photos, but not every single one because "they would be using them so frequently". I only agreed and singed a contract to this prior before shooting because at this point, I thought the photos were only for them.
Long story short, I learned a lot during this first "big" job experience. And if im honest, it has set my photography back and discouraged me from pursuing it as hard and ambitiously as I at first was. Was part of it my own fault? Yeah, maybe. I probably could have asked more questions and really sought out what their plans for the photos were. But just like me, they were new at the game too, and I don't think knew themselves what they were planning to do with them. I guess I just trusted that they would be the first to understand the struggle of self-employment, and the unknown of new career changes and dream chasing, and that they would have done their best to support me as I was supporting them.
But, you live and learn. And sometimes the learning is tough. I'm starting to gain back the passion to support small brands and work with local business and small startups again. I still have a heart for the small guys trying to grow and make something of their dream and passion.
So even though my photos might not ever get the recognition for being on the popular instagram accounts or websites, I figured I can still share them here and say, look, it was me. I took these, and I gave it my all, and i'm proud of them too. And maybe if you ever see them posted somewhere, you might give me a little shoutout. Even though I might not get recognized, it's still fun to see my work being used. Fun Fact: One of these photos below has been being used as a profile photo for a brand with 97 THOUSAND followers for almost a year now. 10 points if you can guess who ;) Just kidding, it's been over a year now, and my harsh feelings are mostly gone. At this point, I realize that most of these brands using my work probably wern't even informed from the get-go where the photos came from. Such is life, right?
Thanks for listening, guys
So, it's probably not any real news to most, but most of you know my husband and I love coffee. I would like to think Chris wasn't as big of a coffee lover until we started falling in love... mostly because I would drag him from coffee shop to coffee shop and force him to have conversations of our "dreams and passions" over a cup of joe. At first, it was like pulling teeth to get him to hang in a shop for more than 5 mins. But once we moved to the East Coast, and started traveling more and exploring new cities, visiting new coffeeshops became high on both of our priorities as we made lists of sites to see and places to try with every new place we went.
One of our favorite, and must-do things when visiting a new coffee shop is to pick up a new mug for the home collection. Most likely, it will have some quirky photo or words that mark the city or state the shop was in, reminding us of the moment in time we sat in the shop planning out the day ahead. The two above are both Intelligentsia mugs, one we got in New York with the statue of liberty holding a porta filter, and the other from Chicago where I visited my good friend Fred, where he was working as a barista in their Logan Circle shop. When we're not traveling, we drink coffee together at home. Usually we have beans from a local coffee shop, and depending on how we are feeling, we will brew using our Chemex, v-60 pour over, french press, or aero-press. we sound coffee snobby, but I promise we're not ;)
To us, a good cup of coffee is nothing without a good atmosphere or great people to share it with. We recently moved, and as I am beginning the decorating process, I wanted to incorporate some small area to a "coffee nook". Especially since we are about to have a newborn, and most of our coffee drinking will probably be doubled and from home for a little while.
For the longest time, I have had my eyes set on getting a Department Of Brewology print, and it just so happened they were having a sale on their chemex "bloom" print around the same time of our move. I was a little hesitant buying online without seeing it in person, but I went for it anyways- and oh goodness, it was more beautiful in person than I could have imagined!
I wanted to frame it in something special, that wouldn't take away from it's beautiful art, but instead would add to it. I had seen brackets like these at places like Urban Outfitters... but it just seemed a little too pricey for me to justify for just a couple pieces of wood.
A while back, my sweet friend had attempted a DIY of these brackets for her prints and they turned out beautiful. So I figured, why not? I'll give it a try.
And guys, it was so easy! I made them at 37 weeks pregnant in less than 15 mins total! And after the small cost of supplies, making it myself was well worth the cheaper cost. Plus, who doesn't love being able to display things in your home decor that you can say you made!
I put together a group of photos of some of the things I used to make them, and how I currently have it displayed in my home. Of course, we are still decorating, so my "coffee nook" is a little bland. But i'm loving the touch of creativity this print and frame are already adding to it!
Feel free to ask any questions you might have on cost of supplies, how I did it, or where I got things! I hope the easy-ness of this project inspires you to create something for your home as well!
Blogged this sweet family's photos!Read More
Here's a recent commercial shoot for Tubby Todd. I got to take photos of the most adorable little babes and their mammas!Read More