A Sweet African Boy + A Loving Indianapolis Family = A Healthy Heart {Indianapolis Portrait Photographer}

Every now and then, I have really sweet moments in photography that allow me to embrace the goodness of God and relish in his amazing love.  I love when I have the opportunity to bless someone who has given much to others.  It fills me with unspeakable joy!

Yesterday, I had the honor of photographing baby Razack with his “Indianapolis” family, the Stonekings.  It was a celebration of all that he is, of all that he has overcome, of God’s love and healing, and of hope given to a little boy who was in great need of heart surgery.  Brandie and Joshua Stoneking took Razack into their care a few months ago, acting as his parents who did not travel with him for the trip.  He quickly became a part of their family, and I know a piece of him will forever remain in their hearts.  Today is a day of sadness as they say good-bye, but also a celebration of the hope and life Razack has as he returns to Africa.  I am always amazed by God’s love when I see someone sacrificially love another in such a way as this.  Please pray for their family this evening.  They said good-bye to Razack tonight and soon he will be on an airplane heading back to Africa.  Please pray for little Razack as he transitions back to African culture and to his family there.  I’m sure he will be feeling uneasy, just like the Stonekings.

Razack’s Story (told by Brandie Stoneking)…

When I received a phone call in February from a fellow church member, I never (in a million years) would have guessed what the woman on the other end of the phone was going to ask. She wanted to know if our family would be willing to “host” an infant from Burkina Faso, Africa who needed heart surgery soon.  I, of course, was in shock but after a day of praying about it with my husband agreed that hosting was something we could do. Razack came to us, three weeks later, as a 9 pound 7 month old in need of open heart surgery to repair a significant septal defect (a whole in his heart).  We agreed to love and care for him as if he were our own.  I picked Razack up from the Indianapolis airport on March 21st and instantly fell in love.  Razack’s heart surgery was performed by Dr. Mark Turrentine on March 27th at Riley Children’s Hospital.  Josh and I stayed by his side the entire 6 days he was in the hospital.  Razack recovered remarkably and was able to come home the following Sunday.  Since his surgery, Razack has flourished!!  He has gained close to 6 pounds, which given how often he eats (every 2 hours!!) isn’t surprising:) We have fallen in love with this sweet little boy and we will forever count him as a part of our family.  Razack has been with us for close to 3 months and we knew the day would come when we would send him back to his family. I don’t think I ever could have imagined the impact that Razack would have on us.
If anyone is interested in hosting a child who needs surgery that would not be able to receive it in their home country, contact Tami Shobe at www.cmmwest.com.  Children’s Medical Missions is a non-profit organization that reaches children all over the world.

Brandie & Josh, you are heros in my eyes.  A hero is a person who is admired for courage or noble qualities.  I admire you for your courage AND your noble qualities, too!! 🙂  You pretty much rock!!!  Thanks for sharing sacrificial love with the world.  Thanks for inviting our church community to join in!  I am praying for your family this week and hoping you are filled with God’s peace knowing you gave this little boy hope in a broken fallen world.  You gave him a safe home filled with love so that his heart could be made whole.  What a gift you have given to him these past few months!

Best of 2011- Clients Choice!!

Spring is here and you know what that means…photography season starts back up again!  I asked my clients to pick their favorite photos from their 2011 photo session.  I LOVE knowing which are favorites and why.  It’s so insightful for me!  Here’s the ones that were submitted.  Enjoy…and cheers to a new spring season full of beauty!!!  🙂

Love his blue eyes and how they pop in this photo!

What can I say other than we are THE DIVIDED household 🙂

We think this photo shows the love of a father...willing to give anything good to his child- just like our Heavenly Father. We have this on a canvas!!

I love how romantic this picture is. We have this on a canvas, too!

I love how precious she is in the picture with her birthday cake! We framed this one because it's so adorable!

This is my absolute favorite because of his expression and his eyes.

My favorites change all the time, but these pictures really capture her adorable little face...

...I love how I feel when I look at these 2 images. I just want to squeeze her and cherish every moment!

Authentic shot of Nolan being a boy & running around. I love how the bubble is bursting!

I love this pic because it captures Abby at this phase of her life. I will always be able to look back on these photos and remember how Abby loved to dress up and dance.

This photo reminds me of all the fun we had playing as a family during our photo session. 🙂

I love that this pic captures Carter at this stage of life. I will always remember how he loved to create things from duct tape and wear his cowboy gear!

This is the best picture EVER! I love the 1940s feel to it and the sepia tone. It is beyond what I could've imagined.

I love this one because it captures who we are just between us.

His sweet innocent face and the intensity of the green in the basket and grass made for such a memorable picture! When we look back on the photos and the photo shoot, that picture is the one that just always stands out.

We think this picture perfectly captured our daughter's playful personality and that she's a princess in the making.

This is our favorite because James read a lot to Anna while I was pregnant.

It is my favorite pic because Dylan was born the week of Valentine's Day and he wore that hat in the hospital!! He is a momma's boy!!

I would like to highlight the beautiful picture you took of Luke's coconut on Benjamin's lap- you could see both the boys hands wrapped around it.

I love the one where Keith is laying down on his stomach and cradling her and the two big boys are one his back. He is such a wonderful father.

Loved the frame idea. So simple but yet capturing for our family photo.

As self-serving as it may sound, I love this shot. It may be my all time favorite picture of myself.

I like the angle and softness of this shot. It's one of the ones I get the most compliments on.

I love this pic because she just looks so cute and it shows off her chubby cheeks!

I really like this picture because it shows the sweetness and innocence of my sweet little girl.

It’s my favorite because it really captures our family’s happiness and laughter. After the challenges and worry we’d had with Madeleine’s premature birth, we feel so blessed to have a happy, healthy family. It was a beautiful summer day, lovely setting and fun, sweet moment. Your shot captures it perfectly!

My favorite after Anna's birth is the one of the 3 of us praying. It is one of the first of the 3 of us and I love the way you captured Anna's sweet little face peeking through our heads praying.

During delivery I like the one where I am holding onto James' shirt and you can see the concentration in my face and the concern and support in his expression.

This is James' favorite photo of Anna and I.

I like the way you captured her eyes and its cool if you look really closely you can see your reflection in her eyes.

I love it because it epitomizes AJ's personality and his excitement and zest for life.

Stay tuned next week for a slideshow of MY favorites from 2011! 🙂

My Yearly Newsletter- SO excited for what’s to come in 2012!

Here’s my yearly newsletter…thankful for a great 2011 photography season and getting ready for what’s to come in 2012!!!  Spring is here and photography season is about to begin!!  My passion and focus have been redefined for this upcoming year, and I’m bursting with excitement!

Check it out and see what I’m up to! 🙂

*Newsletter 2012*

Brooke Snow Advanced Pro Class- ABC Book Inspired

S is for saxophone & sunglasses

My ABC Inspired Session!!!

A is for arrows

U is for ultrasound

D is for dogs

Y is for yarn

T is for two and twins

C is for chalk

J is for jumping

My thoughts:

This week I was supposed to do an inspiration session…something that inspires me.  I have always wanted to make an ABC book from a maternity session!  I thought it would be so fun to do and boy was I right.  It helped that the subjects were AWESOME!  Paul is a goof so he made it really fun.  He came up with some of the poses, too, and made it really exciting!  And Amy, doesn’t she look awesome?  She’s carrying twins!  My biggest challenge for this session was that I wanted to do some outside shots, which we did, but I felt very limited because of the winter yuck! 🙂  We also jumped around a lot to vary up the backgrounds so lighting was constantly changing, but it wasn’t a big deal.  I was able to use natural & ambient light for almost every shot but 2. 🙂

Here’s a link to see the whole ABC book!  http://vimeo.com/36837467

Brooke Snow Advanced Pro Class- Lifestyle Session

Love the sweet moment I caught of the girls playing on the top bunk bed.

Love laughter and close knit family happenings!!

Love this feisty little girl! I did not ask her to do this. I love that I can really capture real life moments with lifestyle photography.

Introducing a “Day in the Life” Photo Sessions!!!!

My thoughts:

Still totally loving this class!!!  Only a couple more weeks to go.  This week I chose to do a lifestyle session, which is really a “Day in the Life” session where I capture life- the good, the bad, and the messy, too!  This was my first full lifestyle shoot from beginning to end.  We had tons of ideas going into it, but it’s funny how a toddler can change all plans real quick! 🙂  I love working with kids.  They keep me on my toes, that’s for sure!  We still did a lot of the ideas Anna (mom) and I came up with, but I totally had to be flexible with Norah’s positioning of herself.  It was a “get what you get” shoot because that girl had a mind of her own!  She was interested in doing it all her way.  She’s 3…need I say more? 🙂  Ha!

During lifestyle sessions, I work really hard to understand what the family loves to do together and what represents the kids the most at their given ages.  I am more concerned with capturing authentic expressions and moments.  I never ask anyone to look at the camera.  I never say cheese (I try not to do that ever anyways!)  I do not force posing.  I catch life happening moment by moment.  During this session the family read a favorite book together on the couch, played with their favorite silly monster puppet, ate cookies, swung the girls around, tickled, petted the cat, and played with the toy kitchen.  Dad even juggled some toy cookies! 🙂 Mom let the girls play beauty shop and fix her hair…one of their favorite activities with Mom!  The girls also played dress up, danced, pretended with stuffed animals, climbed up and down their bunk beds, and Gillian read her little sister a book inside the bed tent.  Oh, and I caught a pic of Norah (the 3 year old) throwing a fit with a pouty crying face (it’s at the bottom of the page!.)  LOVE it!  I enjoyed capturing a moment…a glimpse, if you will,…into a day in the life of the Styers-Barnett family.  There’s so much more meaning in photos of real life happenings.  It’s authentic.  It’s expressive.  It’s fun!

The hardest thing about photography in the winter is the lighting.  Ugh.  Indiana winter dreariness is in full swing!  It was last Saturday anyways.  I found myself switching between natural light and flash.  Trying to figure out which one I liked more.  Little Norah is a busy body so I felt like the slow shutter speeds were a challenge and I wasn’t digging the REALLY high ISO’s.  About 2/3 of the way through I started using my external flash.  I kinda wish in retrospect that I had done all flash for this session and here’s why.  There weren’t big windows in this house.  It was really cloudy out so minimal natural light from the small sources.  (I really was scared I wouldn’t like the natural light photos so I popped the flash on.  Still trying to decide what I like best for indoor photography.  I’m a bit torn!)  AND because it was so dim inside, I had to have mixed lighting going…natural light from the window mixed with incandescent lighting in the room just to get my ISO to 1600 with slow shutter speeds.  I know I probably could have gone higher with my ISO, but sometimes I’m too chicken to do so.  I just don’t love really soft photos that have had to have tons of grain removed.  I feel like most natural light photos have to be black and white in order to look good if you have a mix of lighting going on.  Perhaps one day I’ll upgrade cameras again and get one that handles even higher ISO’s.  (I have the Nikon D300 and it goes up to 3200.  It’s a great pro line camera, but other higher level cameras go higher in ISO.)  It definitely makes it hard to get the right coloring when you have both types of lighting blending.  I know lots of natural light photographers just cancel and reschedule for a brighter day, but for me, it just wasn’t conducive.  I had to make it work.  Next time, when it’s really that dark, I will just go with my external flash for any pics I want in color and do natural lighting for black and whites! 🙂  Or maybe I’ll just work on getting even better with my flash and creating non-flashy looking photos.  Hmm…food for thought.

Other Favorites:

To get a better idea of what lifestyle photography entails go to http://vimeo.com/36409104 and check out their slideshow!!

Beloved…from the Perspective of Steve & Alison

I asked Steve & Alison to answer a few questions after their beloved experience.  I am hoping it will give you an insider perspective to this style of photography.  Thank you, Hanscoms, for sharing your insight and experience with others!!!  Here are the questions & their responses:

What surprised you the most about your beloved session?
Steve: relaxing quickly and enjoying the moment
Alison: How easy it was to become comfortable once we got over the initial awkwardness of having our pictures taken while talking to each other!
How did you feel about your spouse and your marriage during the session?
Steve: It was a good opportunity to connect and re-live some of those moments that drew us together 10 years ago.
Alison: During the breathing exercise, I realized that I am willing to let him lead me, I just don’t always seek to understand the way he is leading and I jump ahead of him.  He realized the
 need for communicating his ideas and how he plans to do something, and not just assuming I know what he is thinking.
What positive things did the session bring to your marriage?
Steve: see #2 🙂
Alison: It reminded me of the importance of really listening and making an effort in planning time together. I loved remembering!  We remembered different things, so that was fun.
How did this style of session compare to other photo sessions you have done?
Steve: It was different.  We got better pictures, unposed, more real.
Alison: It was much more personal and meaningful.  Having conversation and memories to tie to the photos.
What did you like the most about the session?
Steve: The final product and how we can relive the stories and memories when we look at them.
Alison: Laughing!  Enjoying hearing the words of affirmation and the love letters!
Do you think the session deepened your marriage or impacted your relationship beyond the session?
Steve: Yes.  The letters were very impactful in making us aware of some areas where we take each other for granted.  This will hopefully lead to some positive change in our marriage.
Alison: Yes.  We are keeping in mind our HW for a date night soon!   Like I said in #2, God spoke to me about how I don’t appreciate or fully understand and submit to his way of leading our
relationship and our family.  I want him to lead, but I don’t always give him the space to do so before I jump in with my assumptions.  I know I will be more mindful of this and ask God to
help me slow down and really seek to understand my husband.
When you see the images, what do you think and feel?
Steve: the deep love of 10 years of marriage.
Alison: cherished.  happy.  loved.  beautiful.  blessed. thankful for the gift.
If someone asked you about your beloved session, what would you say?  
Steve: It was really good.  If you do it, relax and go with the flow!  Let your guard down.
Alison: enjoy the moment!  We loved it and recommend it!  Be honest about what you are comfortable with knowing that your photos will be posted for all to see!  🙂
In one word, how would you describe beloved?
Steve: different
Alison: playful
To see more photos from their session go to http://vimeo.com/35992977 and also read the previous blog entry.

Brooke Snow Advanced Pro Class- Beloved Session

My thoughts:

I chose to do another beloved session this week!  YAY!!!  I tweaked some things based on Brooke’s answers to my questions. (Thank you, Brooke!  You rock!!)  I definitely felt more comfortable the 2nd time around, which is always the case!!  I didn’t go into it as scripted and felt like I was even stronger with discerning the couple and which way to go.  I didn’t do all of the invites I had planned and I stayed close to one hour.  I was very sensitive to the direction I should go every step of the way.  One hour seemed to be a perfect amount of time.  I was SOOO happy to be able to shoot 100% with natural light.  We went outside for half of the session, which was awesome because I was able to use my 85mm lens and give Steve & Alison some more privacy.  Plus, I love that lens.  It makes the background like butter and it made them stand out from the background more.  I LOVED using the 85mm lens for this type of shoot.  I tried a few new invites this time and was pleased.  I love the confidence I am feeling from all the preparation before each session.  Brooke, I’m so glad you have forced me to get back to the detailed planning.  SOOO worth it!  I worked really hard on perspective, posing, and cropping for a new look this session.  I loved using the bed posts and the door frame to help frame the shots a little and give more of a feel of me hiding/spying on them in the moment.  You can see some of those pics in the slideshow link I posted below.

What I enjoyed most:

I really love this style of photography.  I feel like I’m giving a gift to the couple.  I feel like I help to create a space with a breath of fresh air for the couple…and it feels good.  It feels life giving.  It is so cool to see the beauty of true joy, laughter, and also the soft side of both people come out and into the open.  Not only is it fun, but it is a space to remember.  I loved after the session was over when Alison said, “It’s so good to remember.  We don’t take time to remember enough.”  Beloved is a wonderful experience that draws to people to remember the beauty in the other person  and to stop and soak in the goodness right in front of you…to cherish and speak love into your marriage.  So honored to do this type of session.  LOVE IT!!!!!  I also really enjoyed hearing their perspective.  I gave them 9 questions to answer after their session.  You can read the responses on the blog here.

3 photos- same pose/different perspective:

Some of my FAVORITE photos:

To see a slideshow with more photos, go to http://vimeo.com/35992977.