Saturday, November 16, 2013

Time flies.

I can recall my mother saying "time flies... and it seems to fly faster and faster each year". As a teenager, I didn't understand what she was saying, because I felt time didn't move fast enough. I wanted to grow up already. I wanted to drive a car, move away from home, go to college, get married, have a life. MY life.

Fast forward some 25 years and I finally understand what she meant. I have accomplished all of those things in the exact order that I wanted. And now I am a mom with two young daughters who are growing at an ever rapid pace. They have yet to set life goals, unless you count "boat fixer" or New Orleans Saints cheerleader as a career aspiration. With each passing day, I catch glimpses of the women that they will become. And my heart breaks, just a little, as I try and remember the tiny babies they each once were.

I never thought I was the maternal type. I was always too self absorbed to think about anyone else. Then one day, my maternal clock sounded an alarm and there was nothing my rational mind could do to to silence it. So, my husband reluctantly agreed to reproduce and we now have two beautiful, healthy young daughters. And MY life is consumed with THEIR lives. It took a good two years to accept the fact that I cannot sanely balance life as a mother and as a veterinarian. To accept that my life, which once revolved around physical exams and surgery and euthanasias and emergencies, now revolves around school drop off and pick up, endless dishes and laundry, the relentless birthday party circuit that comes with little kids.

I wouldn't change a thing.

I love my little girls, more than I have ever loved anything in my life. I can't imagine life without them. And the trouble is, sometimes I don't remember life with them. With the hustle and bustle of each day, I forget to stop and appreciate all of my daughters' quirks. And that makes me sad. Because I realize that each day flies by faster than the one before it. And I panic that I will forget everything.

Which is why I am thankful for my camera. I recently rediscovered a photo that I had taken of Ella when she was about 6 months old. I was new to photography and trying to learn how to take better portraits. I hadn't found my style and was basically copying whatever I could, just for the sake of learning. On this particular day, I had Ella dressed in a diaper and Baby Legs, just like another baby in a photograph I had recently seen and admired. And I failed at copying this photographer's image. Miserably. But I managed one shot that is priceless to me, even though it wasn't what I had envisioned.

Miss Ella, sitting up all by herself. With her giant eyes and ruby lips. With an expression that is unapologetically her. Even at 6 months of age, she appears as if she is going to take the world by the hand and show it all of the amazing things she knows. So full of life and wonder and pure awesomeness.

Sometimes I forget what she was like when she was a baby. How she smelled, what she felt like, what she sounded like. And I look at this picture and it all floods back. And not just the feel of her fuzzy little head on my lips, or the fact that she smelled like Noodle and Boo. I see her curtains in the background and remember picking them out for her; the funny smell they had when they arrived, asking grandma to sew them a bit longer, the way they gently danced on the breeze that came through the window of her room. In the house we no longer live in. Stuff that seems insignificant, but is part of her history, our history.

With this photo, I am able to stop time for as long as I want. And that helps me feel not-so-panicked that time is flying by faster than I would like it to. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Little Baby L

Newborn sessions frighten me for many reasons. First, there is that intoxicating newborn baby smell... one whiff and my ovaries start screaming "let's make another baby!!!". And I just don't have enough energy to create, gestate, deliver and nurture another one of my husband's babies. Second, I'm scared that I will give the newborn a rare and fatal bovine disease. Again, my husband's fault, as he is a cow vet and spends the majority of his time around the many fluids that cows excrete. The third, and most pressing, reason I am frightened of the newborn session is that my style does not conform to the current trend in newborn photography. Perhaps you have seen the images of beautiful, sleeping babies curled up in an elegantly carved wood bowl or hanging from a branch in a wispy gauze cocoon. When done properly, as with the insanely talented women at Baby as Art, the images are gorgeous. Which is why thousands of photographers have emulated their style... some well and some, not-so-much. I count myself as one of those photographers who have wanted to try and pull off this style. I have tucked items like my pashmina, a webby hand-knit shawl and a huge piece of cheesecloth into my bag, only to never pull them out. Because once I get to my client's house, I become totally lost in their world. I just love to see how the family interacts and to hear the stories about how the littlest member arrived. Each newborn I have photographed is unique: one wore a delicate "baby ring" that has been worn by several generations in her family, another had a handmade quilt that belonged to her father. And Baby L, whose mom nearly gave birth in a park on the way to the hospital. And whose dad and grandpa played their guitars while he lay in daddy's lap. I love to incorporate these precious details into the photographs as they are a part of this baby's life and family. That is what I want to capture.

Baby L is such a handsome little man... 

and he made the cutest newborn faces:

and even smiled a bit for the camera:

I sat on the couch, next to him and his mom
and tried to remember what it was like to hold
my newborn baby.

We moved outside as it was a nice, warm fall day.
Big sister was more than happy to join in on the picture taking.

And was thrilled to hold her baby brother.

As was I.
Because I loooooooooooooove this beyond words.

And this

And this.

And especially this.
I sense there will many shenanigans going on in this household throughout the years.

Tiny toes.

I know most newborn photographers like sleeping babies,
but I prefer them awake. Look at these eyes!

Daddy and his son.

Now I will confess that I tend to linger too long at my sessions. Partly because I am so enjoying myself that I want to stay forever. But also because I am afraid that I will miss a shot. And such was the case on this day... I finally decided to leave this family alone when someone mentioned that daddy likes to play guitar while Baby L rests in his lap. I waited a moment and then pulled out my camera. While daddy and grandpa played guitar together, Baby L napped. 

I live for moments like these.
Moments that tell an entire story about this family without saying a word.

Baby L's mom sent me a note last week, thanking me for capturing Baby L's "newborn'ness'" as "he's already grown so much in these few short weeks". 

I wouldn't be surprised if Baby L can no longer fit in daddy's lap for their
evening jam session.

Baby L's mom also wrote that she will "cherish all of these beautiful photos forever".
I cherish these photos as well. To see this family together,
to be a part of their life, if only for a short time...
well, it just makes me happy.

I love what I do.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Last Days of Summer

On rainy days like today, it is nice to imagine enjoying the warm sunshine.

And throwing rocks in the lake.

And finding treasures along the shore.

And playing with your best friend.

And looking for fish.

And swinging on the fence.

And playing with cattails.

And staying outside until the sun sets.

And tomorrow, we will do it all again...

Friday, July 13, 2012


I love the underdog. The one who is destined to fail. The one who is unpopular. Or funny looking. Or whatever cliche you want insert here. I will rally behind the underdog because I have faith that the underdog can, and will, kick a little ass. And when that happens, I will be there with tissue box in one hand, pom pom in the other, and will cheer like the high school cheerleader that I am was.

My husband also shares in my love for the underdog. The first time I fully realized this was the day he brought home a Christmas tree. Picture Charlie Brown's tree. Or as our neighbor put it, a 2x4 with lights wrapped around it. It was the saddest tree on the lot and Gary knew he had to bring it home. So it came to our house to live out it's Christmas tree destiny. Displayed in our front window, the tree (and Gary) was mocked endlessly. But it didn't matter all that much to us.

A year and a half ago, I met a dog named Chloe at the shelter. I wrote a blog about her, which you can read here. This is how she looked the first day that I met her:

The shelter did a great job nursing her back to health and putting some meat on her bones. She found a home with a sweet young woman who took very good care of her for a year and a half. Unfortunately, life has thrown a curve ball and she is no longer able to keep Chloe (who is now named Jozy). Through no fault of her own, Jozy has found her way back to the shelter where she is hoping that the third time is the charm.

Some friends at the shelter let me know that Jozy was coming back today. I wanted to stop by and say hi and to get some new photos of my old friend. You see, I sort of fell in love with her the first time I met her.

A year and a half later, I found myself in the familiar place of taking her portrait, hoping that it will find her a new Forever Home. I was able to spend some quality time with her today and am so glad that I did. Would you like to see how Jozy is doing now? I thought you might.

HI!!!!! I'm Jozy!!!!!

I have a bad habit of examining animals when I first meet them.
My exams always start with the head and the first thing I noticed about Jozy?
Sparkling white teeth. None of my animals have teeth this nice.
And of course there is the obvious scarring, the result of injury and neglect from her previous, previous owner.
My daughter pointed out that she has a constellation on her side.
Which looks much better now than when I first saw her:

Jozy had just been placed in her habitat when I came in to photograph her. She was a little anxious and liked to look out the window to see what was going on. 
I tried to break the ice by telling her a joke. She thinks I'm hilarious.
Not really.
Sorry to bore you, Joz.
Thanks for the smile.
 And for pricking up your cute little ears.
And for this lovely profile shot
(again, notice the sparkly teeth!).
But promise to not look at her toes, as she could use a pedicure.
I have tried to paint my dogs' toenails. It didn't go so well.

Our photography time was briefly interrupted by a group of kids who were on a tour.
I think Jozy enjoyed their company.
She was kinda sick of me anyway.
I wanted to stay with Jozy all day. She sat in my lap and licked my face. 
For the record, I am thoroughly disgusted by saliva. Especially dog saliva. 
Which has to do with the fact that my dogs like to find snacks in the litter box. 
But I digress.

Seriously, look at this adorable face!
Eventually, I packed up my things and headed out. But not before saying goodbye to Jozy one last time.
She may be an underdog, but she is a survivor.
I have faith that her perfect Forever Home is out there.
And I also have a box of tissues. Just in case...

*UPDATE* On July 29, 2012, Jozy was adopted by a most wonderful couple. I will be stalking am hoping that I can follow up with Jozy in her new home and bring you photos of her life in her Forever Home. Congratulations Jozy!!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Blogging. Meh?

I used to blog. A lot. And now... not so much. I blogged about things like mac n' cheese in my baby's belly button or setting my scrubs on fire. I loved telling stupid stories and posting pictures to prove just how ridiculous my life can be. But then Facebook came along and it became oh-so-easy to slap a few photos on my wall. Not as satisfying to my inner Hemingway, but it got the job done.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a bloggers luncheon at one of my favorite places, The Vintage Bricoleur. They had invited Courtney of French Country Cottage to speak. I admit that I am a rabid fan of her blog, where she posts the most beautiful photos of the DIY projects she completes in her lovely French-inspired home. Most of the time, she posts very detailed instructions on how to do it yourself in your own home. I am not very crafty. And I can't seem to suture fabric as neatly as I do the skin and assorted tissues of my patients. But her images and instructions inspire me to try, and I think my home is a little prettier because of it. Which is a tall order for a place that houses 4 dogs, 3 cats, 2 small children, a parrot and a very dirty and stinky husband (he works with cows - need I say more?).

The workshop was held in the old fruit shed of the High Hand Nursery in Loomis. If you haven't been there, you should treat yourself to a visit, because it is pretty amazing.

Isn't this space awesome! Anyone interested in a photo session there, please let me know because I am dying to shoot there!

Courtney did a wonderful job outlining various aspects of blogging - for fun and for profit. Turns out I "blog for bliss". As she spoke about different things, I was amazed by the comments and questions that flowed from the other attendees. They were intelligent. They were insightful. They were technical. And you know what? Most of the women (there were only women present) are my mother's age, or older. My mother, who just learned how to text on her phone. Ladies, please do not take this as an insult as it is intended as a compliment. I'm serious. You ran circles around me and my poor little pea brain. For example, meet Joy:

She is 80 years young and author of the blog The Olde Farmhouse

And talking here with Joy is Helen. She is the mother of Terry (owner of The Vintage Bricoleur) and author of her own blog, Wildberry Ranch.

The discussions were quite lively:

And if a question arose, people would jump on their laptops to find the answer.

If it appears that I spent a lot of time photographing Joy, you would be correct.
I was so mesmerized and inspired by this woman, I couldn't help myself.

Another person I found to be inspiring would be Kim Mazzei 
who is partnered at Not Too Shabby in Folsom. 

Kim, don't kill me for posting this photo. I love it because it shows your wild and crazy personality. Kim is a vibrant woman who touted, multiple times, "if you don't put yourself out there, nobody will". So true, so true. Any time that I am scared to post something for fear of what people will think, I will remember those words. And this picture of your beautiful self!

Of course, I can't go without saying that these two women inspire me:

On the left is Terry from The Vintage Bricoleur, and the right, Courtney from French Country Cottage. Terry is genuine and kind. One thing I love about her? She remembers people's names. Do you know how cool it is to walk into her store and hear "Hi Nicole, how are you?"? Personally, I love it. I also love strolling through her store, looking at all of her vintage pieces which have stories to be told. 

And Courtney. What a dynamic woman! Can you believe she has a 19 year old son? She has been blogging professionally for only a couple of years, but she has definitely made her mark. I look forward to each and every one of her posts, complete with the beautiful images from her home.
Courtney, you are FABULOUS!

Some wonderful, unexpected goodies came along with the luncheon.
Of course, there was a box lunch, courtesy of High Hand.
I had the vegetarian option, which was a most delicious salad, complete with mixed greens and grilled corn. And the most heavenly lemon vinegarette dressing. 
I'm pretty sure most everything I ate came direct from the High Hand nursery.

Each person received a lavender sachet.
I have left mine in my camera bag, to help calm and relax me
after a long session of shooting.

Perhaps the most appreciated gift of all was the neck massage from Connie Spade.
In five minutes, this woman managed to melt away months of tension that I have stored in my neck and shoulders.

Here she is, massaging the hands of one of the luncheon attendees.
She'll come to your home, and I'm thinking about having her over very soon.
If you would like to escape for a little while, please call her at (916) 410-4884. 

I can happily say that I came away from this luncheon with so much more than I had anticipated. I was hoping to rediscover a love for blogging... which I have. The tricky part will be keeping up the motivation to post more regularly. After meeting such an amazing group of women, I am hopeful that I will be able to do just that. 

Thank you again Terry and Courtney. 
I am already looking forward to the next one!