the most beautiful home birth I almost saw…

If you asked me how my home birth was, you would not hear me say, “My home birth was beautiful.”

Instead I very honestly would tell you, “It was extremely long, incredibly painful and very, very messy. I can understand why drugs were invented and why people take them.”

Between endless hours of back-breaking contractions, I kept repeating, “This is ridiculous. How can there be 7 billion people on the planet.”

I couldn’t see why anyone would voluntarily choose to do this more than once in their lifetime, let alone 7 billion times.

People told me eventually I would forget and the hormones would win again, but I refused to believe that I could ever forget what that day felt like. And I announced that I was quite happy with one.

Yet here I am, one year and 5 months later, just like everyone said, wondering… if, maybe, should we?

So I was excited when Rose sent me an email asking if I would photograph the birth of their second baby girl, who would be born at home some time in March. It would be a good test. How would it feel to see someone else go through labor? And what was a home birth like the second time around?

I was also excited because I have never seen a human being born. I have seen cows, sheep, and dogs… but not a human (I had my eyes closed the whole time during HAH’s birth.)

And I got a small taste of what it must feel like for doctors and midwives. For once in my life, I had my cell phone almost always charged and I almost always knew where it was. And at gatherings with friends, I would announce, “I can’t drink tonight, I’m on call.”

But then it didn’t happen. The due date came and went. I started filling up my calendar. I had photo shoots scheduled every day. Arann got sick, so I was working all day and on solo parenting duty at night. Until finally at the end of day two of photographing flowers in SF, I got the texts:

4:12pm “I think we are in early labor, midwife is coming over. Will text again.”

4:57 “Come now!!”

I was in San Francisco.

The family was in Oakland.

For those of you not from the Bay Area, 5pm on a Thursday means… Fat chance.

I only had to drive 10.5 miles.

It took me one hour.

When I finally arrived at the house, Rose’s mother let me in and said, “The baby was just born, come on in.”

And this is what I saw…











While I was disappointed to have missed the birth, it was probably for the best because I got to experience all of the joy and none of the work. Which means I can confidently say that it was the most beautiful home birth, I almost saw.

Thank you, Rose and Jonathan, for inviting me to be a part of this amazing moment in your lives. It was such an incredible honor and I am so excited for your family. And, as Rose said to me after the birth of HAH, “Have fun falling in love.”

I Don’t Play Favorites…

I just returned from my visit to South Carolina, where I spent most of my time with my mom. But during my last few days at home I also visited a couple of friends who I have known since elementary school, and who now have kids of their own that they wanted photographed.

And because I posted about one of the families, but did not immediately post about the other one, I promptly received a message on facebook saying there better be a post soon, and it better be good. This encouraging note came because one of the other parents was teasing her that his kid made the blog and her’s didn’t, and she wasn’t having that. Nothing like a little friendly facebook competition between proud parents to motivate me. I did try to console her by saying her kid has already been on the blog before and his hasn’t, but that wasn’t quite good enough.

So… here goes, this is Mac, one year later

Mac is an ‘on-the-go’ kind of kid. There is no hanging around for photos. It is a ‘catch me if you can’ scenario, which makes things more exciting and more sweaty in the South Carolina humidity.













At this point, Katie, his mother, tried to tell me Mac was a serious kid. But I am not so convinced… I think he was just catching his breath. Whatever the reason for his temporary pause was, I took advantage of the moment while I could.



And then he was off again…





Thank you Mac for putting my auto-focus to the test… it was lots of fun, and I can’t wait to play again soon.


This is one of my favorites of the day… these guys weren’t going anywhere very fast and I couldn’t resist the back-lit American flag in the potted plant that has seen better days. Katie said she liked moody photos and I think this one fits the bill.

Young Love…

Jennifer and Brandon got married last weekend at Rocker Oysterfeller’s in Valley Ford…. it was my first wedding of 2009, my first wedding since my own wedding, and my first wedding at one of my favorite venues in¬† …. so I had lots to be excited about.

He is 21 and she is 18. He just returned from Iraq and they actually got legally married in February so she could qualify for his military benefits, but her mom really wanted her to have a ceremony. It was a very small ceremony with just their family, which meant I had lots of time to play with the two of them in all the cool spaces around Rocker’s.

He is from my home state, South Carolina, and she is from Nevada. So to make him feel more at home the menu included good ‘ol fried chicken, cornbread and a John Deer tractor cake. I have promised that I would include a food specific section on my website, so I took advantage of the good food and beautiful presentation that Brandon and Shona (the owners and chef of Rocker Oysterfeller’s) put together.

Rocker Oysterfeller’s is an awesome location for a wedding. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in having a smaller wedding in Sonoma County. It comes with everything you need… beautifully¬† intimate setting, amazing food and places for your guests to stay… and you will want to be friends on facebook with everyone who works there by the end of it.

Sorry for the small thumbnails, but I had so much fun taking photos that day that I couldn’t edit the photos down anymore than this.

A one year old… one year later…

The photo above was sweet Sydney last year, when she was just a year old. As a one-year-old, Sydney just sat and smiled with her big blue-green eyes at the rapidly spinning world around her and at anyone who happened to pass by.

And one year later… this is the same big-eyed girl, as a two year old…

This year, when I had the camera out, the only photos I could get without her hiding her face behind her hands, were when she was looking through her mom’s purse, or sneering at me for interrupting her.

Even swinging her around, until she was laughing uncontrollably and too dizzy to walk, she still held her newly shy hand up to her mouth.

But finally, with quick and sneaky persistence… I eventually got the photo of the big-eyed girl I was looking for.

The same kid on the same bike… one year later…

Above, is Hudson at his third birthday party, on his brand new bike. This photo was taken on medium format film.

Below, is Hudson after his fourth birthday, standing a little bit more confidently and a little bit taller. This photo was taken with my 35mm digital.

I wish I could say I planned this series… but both photos just happened, because if you want to photograph Hudson then this is what Hudson does at age 3 and 4. We’ll see what he is doing next year.

Day 2: Rattled goes to the Farm…

This is the hardest post I have made yet… because there are so many cute photos, it took me a very long time to try and narrow down my favorites… but if you want to see more, you’ll just have to wait for the Rattled catalog to come out. And that is all I have to say about this amazing day of photographing cute kids on a beautiful farm with a perfectly overcast day. Hopefully, by looking at the photos, you can see that Rattled’s clothes are practical, durable and pretty darn cute… the only thing that makes them better is that they are organic! Yay Katie and Kristen, you did great!

Rattled = Organic Clothing for Kids that you will love… Day 1

Katie McNicholas Winburn, from Greenville, South Carolina, was frustrated that she couldn’t find simple, practical, inexpensive and cute clothing for her toddler. She said the only clothing for toddlers that she could find either had: overwhelming patterns; awkward sayings or logos; came in pastel colors; or were too expensive… so, with the help of her sister-in-law, Kristen McNicholas, they decided to make their own organic clothing line called: Rattled.

And in order to sell their new cute and ecologically responsible clothing line… they needed cute organic photos… so, after many many facebook messages, we finally agreed on a plan and I flew in for the week to take their photos.

Katie and Kristen worked hard lining up the families, locations and coordinating the outfits for each child… and they did a fantastic job! It was so nice to show up and have everything all set up, so all I had to do was focus on taking cute photos.

But even with all their excellent planning, the task was still a good challenge for me. Because I had never seen the location before, nor had I met the 4 toddlers, I had to think and act quickly (while recovering from jet-lag at 8:30 in the morning without coffee) in order to keep up with the constantly changing and moving little people.

But we had lots of fun, and we learned a lot. For example, I tried to use a lighting kit I borrowed… but I quickly re-learned, once again, to stick to what I know, because following two-year-olds around a two-story house… with a light that needs to be plugged into wall and sit on a stand with an umbrella… did not work. So we moved furniture and used the gorgeous window light instead and it worked really well.

And so, Day 1 was a big and messy success… and we were even more excited about Day 2: Rattled goes to the farm.

Life’s little surprises…

I am in South Carolina right now for two reasons. The first reason is to photograph a friend’s new organic clothing line for kids… and the second is to visit my mom.

Two weeks ago our family dog, Freckles, who was 14 years old, had to be put to sleep. She had a lot of health issues that kept getting worse. We knew we didn’t have long but we didn’t know we had so short either… and two weeks ago the vet finally said it was ‘time.’ But even with the vet’s advice that moment is so so so hard… and even harder when you have to make that decision alone… which is what my mom had to do.

So when this fun work opportunity came up, I knew it would be a good excuse to visit my mom at the same time.

And as life has its ways of throwing in surprises… tonight, when I went to pick up my mom from school, we turned around in a driveway of one of Reidville’s oldest houses. The lady who lived there, one of Reidville’s oldest residents, passed away last summer… right before I started working on my project about the town. Anyway, no one lives there now except for all her multiplying cats… and as we pulled in the driveway, they all scattered… except one.

This little one with eyes all glued shut just sat there looking pitiful. So, I walked over expecting him to run into the bushes… but he just sat squinting at me through his goopy eyes and he let me pick him up. So, instead of driving to the pharmacy to pick up DVD’s, we drove to the vet instead.

And after being cleaned inside and out of all his ear mites, worms, fleas, and eye boogers… we have ourselves a new kitten who likes to sit on my shoulder and purr. And we are wondering if he is ready to move to California… surprise, honey.

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