Some of you might recognize my niece Kate from her urban senior photo session with me last October. Well, last week, I watched Miss Katelynn walk across the stage in her high school gymnasium as a graduating senior. It was so wonderful to be able to witness and document such a momentous occasion in her life.  Kate–congratulations again on all of your accomplishments. I’m so proud of you!

I’m also really excited for this next chapter in Kate’s life. She’s planning on attending Moberly Area Community College in the fall on the A+ scholarship program which means she’ll be living closer to us! I think she’s really going to like living closer to Columbia. It’s quite different from her rural hometown and I think there’s lots of potential for her in a bigger city environment.  Kate is an avid reader and wonderful writer and I think she’s really going to love the Columbia arts, cultural and music scenes.

Although I did take photos during the ceremony I decided to edit the blog post to include only those images from the celebration afterwards. No reason other than these were my favorites. I’m always looking for in-between moments, subtle interactions, emotions, expressions, and environmental scene setters–and there were plenty of those at the party. I just love telling stories with photos. Kate’s graduation party was no different. She was surrounded by loving and supportive family and friends and it was too important of an event to not tell through photos. Enjoy.

p.s. Doesn’t Kate look fabulous in that black and white dress? If  you remember, she didn’t bring any outfit changes for her senior photos, so all of those images show her in jeans. The two outfit choices are totally different, but I think Kate really rocks the dress, don’t you?

Fifteen days ago, I stood in a labor and delivery room as a sister, an aunt and a photographer and witnessed the amazing moment that was the birth of my sweet and precious niece, Harper Olivia. It wasn’t planned (my presence, that is) but after talking to my Mom on the phone the morning that Jen was induced, I felt a tug in my heart that was yearning to be there. My original plan included waiting for my grandparent to visit so we could see them too, so I never considered that I’d actually get to witness the event. We’ll still go back to see the rest of the family in a couple of weeks, but I’m so glad I threw some clothes in a suitcase, grabbed the kid, my camera gear and hit the road that afternoon. I drove six hours, the last 20 miles in a nasty storm, and we arrived at the hospital around 6 p.m., just over an hour before Harper was born. Whew!

Harper didn’t enter the world without causing a little bit of drama. First, I’m happy to report that all is wonderful and Jen and Jacob have a healthy little girl, but when you see some of the photos just after the birth you might be asking yourself, “What’s going on?”. The answer is best described in Jen’s personal account of Harper’s birth, but I’ll give you the short version. Harper got a bit stressed just before birth, pooped and subsequently swallowed some of the meconium. A team from NICU was present to treat Harper immediately after birth and the next morning she was given a good health report. I make it sound like it was no big deal, but believe me there was certainly an unsettling feeling in the air until we had word from the medical team that little Harper was going to be just fine. Like I said, she made a dramatic entrance and, frankly, I think she’s going to be demanding our attention for quite some time.

For anyone who’s curious, this was my first time photographing a birth, but not the first time I’ve photographed in a hospital setting. Medical buildings are tricky to photograph in, with restrictions as to when and where you can photograph, and it can be very limiting sometimes. Thankfully, Jen had an understanding doctor who, having no prior notice that I’d be there, allowed me to stay in the room to document the birth. As you’ll see, I was able to capture some very meaningful and story-telling moments without any special permission or access. I just tried to respect the doctor and medical team’s space as best I could, knowing that sometimes it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission when snapping a photo. (I’m not encouraging that approach, just saying that’s my strategy sometimes).

If you’re moved by these images and expecting a child, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to meet with you to discuss options for documenting your child’s birth.  I’ll only consider taking on a small  number of these commissions, though, due to the “on-call” nature of this type of photography. Contact me now to take advantage of one of these limited sessions!

And now I introduce to you: Olivia Harper Williams, born May 11, 2011 at 7:22 p.m., weighing 7 lbs 9 oz and measuring 21.5 inches long. Needless to say, I’m a proud and gushing Aunt!