The stories behind the print competition finalists

Print Competition Finalists 2020
After sorting through years worth of photographs and ideas from many friends, families and strangers the final four images are prepared for print competition! This is my first year applying. With my style being so different than a studio portrait with controlled lighting and carefully selected attire, I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in so I just never tried. Lame, I know. But this year I’m ready to put myself out there. Unfortunately Districts has been cancelled this year but PPA plans on creating a virtual platform for the International Photographic Competition.  These are the stories behind the finalists that I will submit in October.

Language Barrier
Carter and Bruce were besties from the start. When we brought my son home from for the first time, Bruce came over and laid his head right on Carter’s little tiny legs while looking up at us for confirmation that this new addition was going to be ok. We knew that Bruce had one major advantage when it comes to babies – he’s completely deaf. Crying doesn’t bother him one bit! We “talk” with Bruce by stomping on the floor, using sign language, and buzzing his vibration collar when we need his attention. Carter had to find other ways of telling his best friend that he loved him, which was primarily accomplished through this open-mouthed growl while Bruce licked inside his mouth. Pretty gross, but such a precious memory. Carter is now almost 6 years old. His favorite way to show love to Bruce now is with snuggles. For dogs and for people, love can be expressed in many unique ways, without the need for words.

Multiple Perspectives
As we drove from a park to their home (pre-COVID) I turned around in my seat to see three teenagers just doing their thing – two of them were on their phones and this young man was just looking out the window the whole ride home. It struck me not only that he sat comfortably with the silence but also that it almost looked as if I was staring at two different people. He was staring out the window at the world and looking “at me” at the same time. This image struck home more during the pandemic. It is so easy to get weighed down by the world and try to escape through a phone, a computer, a TV. It’s in the quiet moments of stillness that we are able to contemplate what truly matters and take on different perspectives to try to help us make sense of what is going on around us. When we take the time to look out the external world from behind the glass of our protective bubbles, we are also able to reflect more on our internal environments and on our relationships with those who mean the most – those who are inside the bubble with us.

Reflecting Love
Laura lost her daughter, Anastasia, during childbirth. A year later she was pregnant with her son, Blake. “It felt like everyone thought that Blake would “cure” my sadness and in so many ways, he does. He brought joy back to my life, purpose back to my days and a smile back to my face. But he did not replace Anastasia. My heart still aches for her and my arms long to hold her. I want to shout to the world, ‘I am the Mother of TWO precious, perfect and beautiful children!’” THAT is what this session was about – creating a picture that also incorporated her angel baby. When Laura and Blake want to remember Anastasia, the go to a local duck pond together, listening to the breeze and feeling a deeper connection with her. This image is a picture of their reflection in that duck pond. The spots in the foreground are the result of bokeh from the lily pads.

For print competition I can’t include the graphics found in this version. In order to really pull Anastasia’s story into the image I commissioned John Langdon, the artist for Angels and Demons, to create a reflective ambigram of her name.

Three Reasons
Being a parent is hard. Being an entrepreneur is constantly challenging. There are times that doing both doesn’t seem possible and I contemplate if I should give up on my dreams to be a better mom. Recently we asked my five year old if Mommy or Daddy should just go get a job to make money or stay the course with our businesses and help people with doing what we truly love. His response made me pause. “You should help people, and you can make money doing it.” From the mouths of babes. To this child’s mind, who has watched Mommy go through all of the ups and downs of running a business, it was very simple. He knows that I do this work to love people and to support our family. These three beautiful human beings depend on me to be mom and business owner. I can show up as both. They do not have to be exclusive of each other. My children are seeing how determination, resilience, and a community of support have given me this opportunity to stay home with them AND chase my dreams. This is my wish for them. This is the reason I get up early and stay up late almost every day.

This image was a recreation of a picture I took when my second child was born. I knew that this was what I wanted to make into a portrait for our walls to remember when our family was made complete with the arrival of our baby girl. I had to work quite a bit of photoshop magic to merge three images together, paint part of an arm, and change the color of the flower in her hair. Life with three kids is simply not this perfect!

Take the first step

Take the first step


The teenage years deserve to be remembered too

Song credit: “Wonderful, Wonderful” by Emorie

Cris’s Story

When Cris asked me to capture her family’s story I was so excited because she’s such a vibrant, lovely woman that I knew it was going to be wonderful to work together. There was just one thing that made me a tad bit nervous: she has teenagers. In my own household I’m used to the baby, toddler, and kindergarten stages. Generally all I’ve heard about the teen years is that they want nothing to do with hanging out with their parents and they are constantly on their phones. I was really curious how this would go.

As soon as I stepped foot into the house and felt the energy of this family I knew that I had nothing to worry about. Teens are not all that different, and certainly nothing to be scared of. Yes, they were on their phones sometimes because that’s their normal life. They spent most of their time just hanging out, being silly, and appreciating the joy of simply being together. Capturing the beauty in their lives is not all that different than families’ with young kids. The gentle touch of a mother’s hand. The love in her eyes. The bond between that is unlike any other.

This session really solidified for me how important it is to preserve stories from all stages of life, because every phase is beautiful in its own way. Family Stories is not just reserved for families with young kids. Throughout your entire life your relationships and connections to the other people, animals, places, and events that are important to you make up YOUR story. The chapters may be different but they all deserve to be remembered.

“A mother’s arms are more comfortable than anyone else’s.”
~Princess Diana

Take a glimpse into their story…

When you think your family's theme song is circus music...

Whitney’s Story

When Whitney first reached out to me about a film she sort of chuckled at the idea of trying to do a session in her full house. She asked me, “Can you do a film with circus music?” We came up with a plan to spotlight each of her kids and then come together as a family for hot chocolate. I know what you’re thinking…kids and hot chocolate = wardrobe disaster. Yep, there were spills because that’s real life. The focus isn’t on the stains it’s on the joy the children felt preparing for Christmas as a family.

Each of the kids chose their own activity. It captured memories of their interests at the time and made it much easier for them to be relaxed in front of the camera. All they had to do was be themselves. 

When I came across this song I new it was the most perfect fit for them (and it isn’t circus music):

“I’m gonna love you for the rest of my life. I’ll never let you go. Give me your hand and we’ll hold on tight through whatever comes and goes.”

Lyrics from “Our Love Comes easy by Jessie Villa

Take a glimpse into their story…

Take the first step

Take the first step