I do not recall that moment when I knew I wanted to be a photographer. It just feels like I’ve always had a camera in my hand. In fact, my first “camera” was a Cabbage Patch Kids musical toy camera that played music when you pressed the shutter button. My parents said that they would find me setting up scenes and pretending to photograph them. In high school, my dad bought me a Canon 35mm film camera that I still shoot with today. That’s right, I still shoot film!
I worked for a wedding photographer for three years before I decided to focus on families. My sister was expecting her first child and many of my friends were beginning the process of growing their families. As I was photographing these milestones for my family and friends, my focus began to shift. Weddings are beautiful and special but there is something wondrously intimate about documenting that next chapter in a family’s story. Every family I photograph has a different story to tell, as each of them walk a different path to get to this place. For some, it was a happy accident. For others, it took years of struggling to conceive. And some parents make the equally incredible and equally difficult decision to adopt. All of these stories are beautiful, unique, and worthy of being listened to and documenting.
The Rhoads are special to me. The first time I met Sarah, we spent two hours together just talking. She was very open about their long journey to conceive, the roller coaster of emotions that it involved, and the excitement coupled with tremendous anxiety that she would feel until the moment they would meet their son. She spoke of her husband as a gentle giant (Trent is well over 6’2’’ and Sarah is my tiny height of 5’2’’ and the way he always made sure she was comfortable and cared for. When I met him at their maternity session it was clear to me that he was smitten with her and over the moon at becoming a father.
Their newborn session is one of my absolute favorites. The warm morning light flooded the nursery enveloping them and illuminating these tender, intimate moments. Not only do you get a sense of the deep love between them, but there’s a bit of fun and playfulness as their pets just had to be a part of the action. Samson, their curious kitty, is in almost every single photo, which I love because most cats want nothing to do with me or the new addition to the family.
It is not lost on me that I am lucky to have a career pursuing my passion. And I understand that the images I create will last through generations — becoming a large part of a family’s narrative. I’m reminded of this as I look through the box of photos and albums that I cherish of my own family’s story and am thankful to the families that have entrusted me with capturing these milestones.