a peek at my life | august 2017

Hey friends! I'm finally editing my own photos from this past year. Partly because Blurb is offering 50% off their photo books through November 29th, but mostly because I miss summertime and just love re-living these moments. August was a crazy month for us as we prepared for a big move to our new home, and I was savoring each and every second in that old house... the place we brought out babies home, all the familiar little nooks & crannies... the gorgeous field behind our house, and those magnificent sunsets. 

These photos tell stories. They bring back moments I might otherwise forget. So I'll keep documenting the everyday, and in the coming months I hope to work with more mamas who want to do the same.

If you've been wanting to learn to use your DSLR and to capture these too-easily-missed moments, consider hosting an in-home workshop for your mama friends. I'd love to help you overcome any obstacles keeping you from gathering images like these.

 https://www.elyserowlandphotography.com/workshop

And if you're already using your DSLR and getting the hang of it, keep practicing! Keep experimenting & playing with light. Keep going, even if it feels like one of the hardest things you've ever done... it's worth it. I promise.

Blessings,
Elyse

 

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To see more of my work, please take a look around my portfolio and follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

For investment information, click here.

If you would like to book a session or want more info about me, please click here!

Kalamazoo Michigan Family Photographer | The Sandovals

kalamazoo mother and daughter

I love the way this family loves, and When I was considering what to share in this blog post, I thought of the way Emily describes her sweet girl. I was lucky enough to be her photographer through maternity, the newborn days, and now celebrating Miss Nora's one year birthday. I decided to ask Emily if she would share with the world a letter to her baby girl, and she happily obliged.

I truly hope you read her heartfelt letter, but... if you don't, I hope you're atleast inspired to write your own letter, and I pray you'll capture your every day moments and seasons of life in photos. i believe hiring a photographer is an investment, because photos are the one tangible thing that connects us to our past, while at the same time helping us see our future.

Trying to balance work and family and a marriage and a household, six chickens and a dog. I guess you just don’t know, until you know. At 35 years old I’m more humble now than I have ever been. I know now that I waited my whole life for you.

here's emily's letter:

Oh my baby Nora, I cannot believe how time has flown! Everyone told me, “Don’t blink! Your baby will grow up right before your very eyes!” They weren’t kidding, my dear baby girl. You are one year old and my heart is full of memories and love. I remember the day I found out I was pregnant with you like it was yesterday! Papa and I were still living in New York City and couldn’t believe that I had a positive pregnancy test. We had tried for three months to conceive. The mixed cocktail of emotion I was feeling, thinking I was finally able to be given the greatest gift of all (being a mama); my cells/ brain/ heart/ soul couldn’t absorb it all! It was 4 am on a Tuesday and papa was sound asleep. So, I hovered over the toilet, tried to chug orange juice and NOT stare at the chicken breasts that I had in the fridge to prepare for dinner that night and immediately made an appt with my doctor there so I could confirm the best news of my life; I was going to be a mother. YOUR mother. (Mind you, I couldn’t eat chicken or even utter the WORD the entire pregnancy and for about two months afterward.) I met your dad in Soho at Dominique Ansel’s Bakery (one of our favorite bakeries and surprised him with my positive pregnancy test in a Misfits t-shirt for your papa with a matching onesie for you! Over some chocolate chip cookie shots and decaf cappuccinos, of course. From that day on, my whole world was different. Do you know that the entire time I was pregnant with you, I thought you were a boy? No matter how I carried and what people told me, I knew you were a boy. How wrong I was! Very early teaching lesson about parenting, I suppose!
 

kalamazoo family

I remember when I was about 12 weeks along, I started feeling something like a fluttering deep inside. Only about once a week, I would feel that until I was about 18 weeks. You were so strong, I could feel you so early! We quickly moved back to Michigan in search of a home that would be the perfect place to bring you to and start our lives together. The second trimester with you, it was such a break from all of the pain that I was feeling, the sickness. I was showing about 12/13 weeks and was so very proud of my baby bump! I grew so quickly, some people asked if I was having twins! Our heartbeat monitor test at Bronson quickly assured me there was just one baby inside of me. Baby Nora, I talked to you every. single. day. Just so you didn’t feel alone in there. I loved you so much and even though you couldn’t hear me, I knew you’d feel my words. We wanted your sex to be a surprise, so at 20 weeks, when we finally saw you on ultrasound, I couldn’t believe how much you were moving inside of me! A true miracle. I was doing anything I could to stay strong and healthy so you could be strong and healthy.

mom and daughter
kalamazoo family

We moved into our home at 24 weeks and I was hyper focused. Getting the house ready, taking our Bradley Method classes, doing my exercises, reading anything I could to get ready for your arrival. The third trimester began and with it came intense swelling and carpal tunnel. I was in so much pain all of the time, but I was so excited to meet you and continued to eat my whole watermelon a day and drink my goats milk (I know.. pregnancy cravings are so crazy!). At 41 weeks and two days pregnant, I finally got to meet you. Only after about 48 hours of labor, of course! You were so resilient and so strong, even stronger than me that whole time! I had lost a lot of blood giving birth to you so we had to stay in the hospital a little extra longed than normal mamas. Everyone was so wonderful taking care of us there, I didn’t want to leave! I was so scared to take you home! Your dad was amazing the whole time, being such a good nurturer and amazing coach. One of my favorite memories in the hospital was when the nurse had to give you a bath and I was still unable to walk the second day you were here on earth. He was taking notes in his work handbook on how to properly bathe you (I have pics to prove it)! Even in the beginning, he’s always wanted to do everything right for us. When we got you in the car seat we couldn’t figure out how to work it and we were so flustered. This kind front desk employee at Bronson helped us get you strapped in accordingly and off we went.

Home.

Home, safe to the house that we searched for so long for after living at our parents, getting adjusted back to the place we grew up so you could be close to family and friends. Home, to meet Frank, your dog-brother! Baby girl, you were and ARE, absolutely perfect. I remember those first few weeks of your life, not vividly but I do remember them. Even just one short year ago it’s funny how things can fade. I’m so grateful for all the pictures/videos that we have of you to remind me of those tender moments that we shared together. You were definitely a mama’s girl right from the start, and I wanted to do everything I could to breast-feed you, so I did. Honestly, you taught me how to give you what you needed and even though it was painful and trying, it was so, so worth it. Your dad again, was an amazing coach. We made it through and are still breastfeeding to this day! Thank you, for letting me cradle you, hum you songs and pray together as you drift off to sleep. I will cherish these precious times, my love. I will always cherish YOU. Watching you grow and seeing your personality shine over this last year, dear Nora, has been what I think my entire life was supposed to be about; being YOUR mom. I knew it was supposed to be a mother and a very early age, but I had no idea what being a mom really meant. I didn’t know it would be so hard, through the tears and the nursing and countless months of not sleeping, trying to make things safe in the house for you. Trying to balance work and family and a marriage and a household, six chickens and a dog. I guess you just don’t know, until you know. At 35 years old I’m more humble now that I have ever been. I know now that I waited my whole life for you. To hear your first giggles and to see your first smiles. Watching you discover your body, your tribe, your surroundings. Feeling your little hand on my chest as you would fall asleep, just to reassure yourself that my heart beat was close enough to you to feel comfortable to snooze. How did I get so lucky? I’m not entirely sure, honestly. I just know that I am. You are so smart and so incredibly beautiful, inside and out. You’ve always been healthy, SO darn funny and your smile and bright eyes light up any room you walk in to; and you’re just a year old! Watching you learn, playing with you, watching your relationship with your grandparents flourish, seeing how you are with animals and how you wake up every day with a smile on your face, ready to have fun and learn in any situation, makes my heart burst with pride. I know that your dad and I were supposed be together to have you, sweet bear. It’s something I know deep within me. You are truly going to be someone in this world that makes a difference. A REAL. Difference. Nora, you are someone that’s going to continue to grow strong, healthy, intelligently and with grace, to make this crazy world a better place. I know this, because I am your mama. I promise to always make you feel safe, loved and nourished in every way. You have given me countless gifts in just the short year of your incredible life, it’s the least I can do, to give back to you.

kalamazoo family photography

I’ll just say this in closing, honey bear. You are the light of my life. I love you past all the planets in all the galaxies. You have given my life more purpose than I ever knew possible and I will always nurture, trust and love every cell in your heart and body. I’ll protect you fiercely, no matter what. I’ll let you stand on your own when you want your independence. I will let you spread your wings and fly, even though I’ll be scared you won’t ever fly back home. I’ll encourage you when you feel like you are scared. I’ll hug you and hold you when you feel like you need protection. I’ll be your strength when you need it and your listening ear when you need to tell me anything, anything at all, Eleanora Dawn. You are the only one that knows what my heartbeat sounds like from the inside and we are forever connected in a way that only God could understand. You’re my whole world, darling girl. You will always be my little one and I’ll ALWAYS be your mama. Shine bright in this big world, show people who you really are on the inside and I know you can do anything you set your mind to. You’re everything to me and your papa bear. Te amo, mi hijita.

kalamazoo family photography

hi, and Thanks for visiting my blog! I’m Elyse, the face behind Elyse Rowland Photography of Kalamazoo, Michigan. I love organic movement in images, real connection, and emotional imagery, and I'm always chasing light, especially those last drops of the sunset. i believe in documenting the every day moments for my clients, and my work ranges from warm + sun dappled to dark + moody. most importantly though, I pour my heart into my work in order to tell your stories – your moments, not poses. 

I currently offer both in-home and on-location sessions.  In-home sessions are best for families, newborns, and maternity, while on-location sessions are best suited for family and maternity. I would love the invitation to document your family memories, I promise to give you the space you need to feel comfortable & relaxed, while also giving enough direction to make the session feel effortless.

To see more of my work, please take a look around my portfolio and follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

For investment information, click here.

If you would like to book a session or want more info about me, please click here!

Kalamazoo Michigan Photographer | Senior Session: Kade

Sharing a few favorite images from a senior session last summer. Kade's not only model-worthy, he has a fantastic personality too. He's charismatic, funny, and kind. I was lucky enough to do his brother's senior photos the year prior, and his mom & I always have plenty to talk about as she's a mom of all-boys as well, two of which are yet to graduate. I feel so lucky to be the photographer she chose for the guys in her life. :)

Enjoy.

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3 Lightroom Presets I Recommend + How I Use Them

Lightroom Presets are a fantastic way to speed up your editing and create consistent, cohesive imagery. When I first started editing my photos in Lightroom, I purchased Sarah Beth Photography's presets  and it saved me loads of time, something I needed after the birth of my first baby. I knew from that point on that presets would be part of my workflow. 

I've since had several people ask me why I use presets, and if it ever feels like I'm 'cheating' by using them. But my answer is always no. A preset is a great starting point. It's one artist's vision for tone, clarity, contrast, saturation, and so on. But each of us see things differently - some photographers are the light and airy type, while others (like me) shoot moody, or do a mix of the two. When I use a preset, I'm beginning with the creator's base, and then tweaking things to suit my style. 

boy looking through baby crib in hospital

Another preset company that I came across a couple years ago is VSCO, and I'm not kidding when I say this discovery was life-changing. Something about those green tones, the clarity, and contrast -- it really breathed new life into my work. After using the presets on a few client sessions, I knew there were tweaks I needed to make, but wasn't sure how, so I dove head first into learning the entire Develop module of Lightroom. I watched countless YouTube tutorials and tested my tweaks on hundreds of images. Whenever I found a formula that felt right, I saved those changes as a custom preset and began using it on all of my client sessions. 

family snuggling in tall grass at sunset

Fast forward to this past winter, when I discovered LXC presets, part of the Tribe Archipelago company. I love the way they utilize different aspects of the Develop module to achieve an overall desaturated image with soft, subtle tones. Once I had used these for a while, I went back to VSCO because I missed the deeper tones, but it didn't feel quite right. So I ended up creating a custom preset of my own that mixes my favorite aspects of different presets I've used in the past. I've been using this custom preset ever since on both my in-home and outdoor client sessions, as well as personal work. It feels good to have my own look, and to really love it. 

So to review, here are my top 3 favorite Lightroom Presets, in no particular order:
1. Sarah-Beth Photography - I simply love this photographer. She's incredibly talented and fun to follow. I've learned so much over the years from her online mentoring group. I originally purchased her Sunset Collection and Matte + Haze set, but she's since put out an Indoor set, Old School film set, and a Black + White collection that looks amazing. 

2. VSCO - My first purchase with VSCO was Pack 05, and I have yet to purchase any of the other packs, however if I did, it would likely be Pack 01. These two packs seem to be the most popular in the photography circles I'm part of, and they come with great tweaking tools within the pack, such as Contrast + or -, Fade Shadows, and Luminous + or -. These are the presets I recommend to anyone who's looking for a film look with plenty of versatility. 

3. LXC - I purchased the original LXC presets, but they've since come out with LXCN, and if I had the choice between the two now, I'd probably choose the latter. The website states "subtle greens, rich skin tones, and above all a consistent variety of looks to help improve your work as a whole. Rather than overpowering your photos with saturation and contrast, these presets give your photos room to breathe." I'd have to agree with this. In some ways though, this set was too desaturated for me, and only worked well with bright indoor work. However, I made some great discoveries about my personal taste, and used some of their settings in my current favorite custom preset. 

Whatever preset you end up choosing to purchase, remember to be patient... it can take some serious time to find 'your look'. Have an idea in mind of the look you're wanting to perfect before you sit down at your computer, and then keep practicing, watch YouTube tutorials, and play, play, play until you feel you've confidently achieved the style you were after. 

Documenting the Everyday in Just 5 Minutes | Kalamazoo MI Children's Photographer

It takes just 5 minutes to document an everyday sort of moment, and I'm always glad when I do. Today I grabbed my camera as I was headed outside to do a few chores, and then snapped a few as the boys came inside to unwind. There's nothing spectacular going on in these images -- just our everyday life -- but in just a short amount of time, these photos will represent days gone by.

So grab your camera! It only takes 5 minutes to capture a piece of their childhood. 

Rhett's 4 Months + Mama's Gone Minimalist | Kalamazoo MI Photographer

It's hard to believe we welcomed Rhett into our lives 4 months ago. (One of these days I'm going to write his birth story & share it with you...)  I just can't imagine life without him. He's this perfect little addition whose big gummy smile lights up the room. Seriously though -- picture the most easy going, happiest little babe... that's our Rhett. So if you're considering a third baby (like we were for quite some time...), let me tell you, they're right - the third is usually the easiest!

four month baby holding toes

Another big plus to having a third baby? I feel confident in my decisions as a mother, and I've become more and more minimalistic with each child because of this. When our first arrived, I had everything under the sun that you might need for a baby. With our second, I cut back a bit, but still had far too many things. I barely used the 'suggested gear' though, so with Rhett, I left everything in storage and kept things simple. Then when we found out recently that we were moving, we packed everything away and only kept out the absolute necessities. 

And guess what? I've LOVED it. 

When it comes to babies, minimalist living makes life so much easier. So today I thought I'd share a few of my favorite minimalist baby items...

Virginia Kate Muslin Swaddle Blankets

These are so soft, wash up well, and are sturdy. Ours have been spit up on, pooped on, and go everywhere with us. I'm not the best at laundry, but regardless, they still look great after many washes. A few days ago I had forgotten my ringsling while out hiking, and I was able to tie one of these on to help hold the baby (I still held on to him firmly, but it saved my back muscles the agony of holding ALL of his weight for the entire hike.)

 

ErgoBaby Carrier

I actually own the older model of the Ergo, but this newer model would be my recommendation. With the new 360 version, baby can also face outward in the front carry. With Rhett being right at the point where he wants to start looking around, I can really see why outward facing would be a nice feature to have. With that said though, I still love my 'old' Ergo, and use it daily. It's so comfortable and evenly distributes the baby's weight on my hips, rather than pulling on my mid-back or shoulders. 

 

Nursery Night Light

This may have been one of my absolute favorite buys this time around. In the past we had these cutesy lamps that were either too bright or too hard to turn on. Super annoying. But these? They're amazing. I love that soft, warm glow, and the fact that I can make it as dim or as bright as I need to. It's perfect for those middle of the night feedings when you need a little light for diaper changing, but you don't want to wake baby up completely.

So there you have it, my faves. I hope this helps if you're preparing for a new babe and are trying to figure out the must-haves. 

Happy shopping!

My Top Wedding Vendor Picks in Southwest Michigan | Kalamazoo MI Photographer

Earlier this summer I decided to strap my newborn in the ring sling and head on over to Arcadia Ales where the Kalamazoo Chapter of the Rising Tide Society was gathering. I almost didn't go because getting a two month old out the door on a sticky summer day isn't my idea of fun, but I love the energy that flows when you get together with other creatives, and I needed a night away from the house, so off I went. 

What's Rising Tide Society, you might be wondering? It's this passionate group of creatives who get together to support eachother, share creative and entrepreneurial knowledge, and purposely choose community over competition. It's not a networking meeting -- it's a creative gathering. I've now attended two meetings, and both times I left feeling ready to take on the world... or atleast write a blog post for the first time in ages. Like this one. ;) 

I often get asked if I photograph weddings, and while I still occasionally take a small, backyard wedding, or assist other wedding photographers, these days I mainly focus on families, maternity, and newborns. But I still like to give those who inquire a list of awesome names they can look into... vendors who have proven to be trustworthy, provide quality over quantity, and stand by their work. 

wedding floral arrangement

I'm lucky enough to call each one of the following names a friend since I've gotten to know them through Rising Tide Society, social media, or working alongside them. I've even been lucky enough to talk over coffee with a few of them, and I can tell you, these are stellar individuals who are passionate about their work. Most importantly though? They each communicate well. With you AND with other vendors. That's HUGE. That might be one of the most important things when it comes to choosing your vendor dream team. 

So here's who I recommend for photography, videography, wedding planning & floral arrangements, DJ, and planning your honeymoon. 

Wedding Photographers

Adventure Photo Stories
Kalamazoo Michigan + Destination Wedding Photography for wild hearts
Website
Facebook
Instagram

Photography by Audrey Klein
Kalamazoo Engagement + Wedding Photographer
Website
Facebook
Instagram

Jaky Janine Photography
Southwest Michigan Wedding + Engagement Photographer
Website
Facebook
Instagram

GAUPERphoto
West Michigan Photographers for joyful couples
Website
Facebook
Instagram
269.929.8777

Videography

Thomas Wrench
Michigan-based wedding filmmaker
Website
Instagram
(269) 744-6892

Wedding Planning + Floral Arrangements

Brooke DePauw
Wedding Planning, Design & Floral Design
Website
Facebook
Instagram
hello@stellalunaevents.com

DJ

DJ Adam Freeman
Serving Kalamazoo and all of Michigan
Experienced DJ'ing bars, private parties, and weddings since 2013.
Website
Facebook 
Instagram 

Travel/Honeymoon Planning

Anna Thelen, Dream Come True Vacations
Kalamazoo Michigan
Specialize in: Family, Romance (Wedding/Honeymoon & Anniversary), & Multi-Generational Travel. Knowledgeable in: Domestic, Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, All Inclusives, Cruising, River Cruising.
Facebook
Instagram

 

So there you have it - my top recommendations. If you have any questions after looking over this list or want to hear deeper thoughts on the 'why', please contact me - I'm happy to answer questions. (Examples might be: WHY is a DJ so important? Because without a good DJ, your reception will not run smoothly! or WHY should you have a Videographer & Photographer who communicate well with eachother? Because they'll be working side by side ALL day and you don't want these two vendors working against eachother. Promise.) So reach out! I'm here to help. 

Happy wedding planning!
 

The Best + Only Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe You'll Ever Need | Kalamazoo MI Family Photographer

Atleast a couple times a month the boys beg me to make homemade chocolate chip cookies. Thankfully, we have the best chocolate chip cookie recipe around. I don't even bother looking on Pinterest or trying anything new, because these. are. amazing

boy baking cookies with spatula in kitchen

Our 3 year old is our baker. If we agree to make cookies, it never fails, he's the first one in the kitchen. He grabs the cookie sheet, spatula and stool and waits not-so-patiently until we arrive.

I completely forgot to take a photo of the finished product, but I'll add one in here next time we bake! Until then, here's the recipe:

WORLD'S BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(This is a double batch - bake some & freeze some!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

3/4 C Sugar
1 C Brown Sugar (packed)
1 C Butter (2 sticks, soft but not completely melted)
1 Tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
3 C Flour
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 tsp Salt
3 C Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 C Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Mix all ingredients (we love our KitchenAid mixer!) and form small balls of dough on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes. 

Now just pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy! :)
 

Remembering our Beautiful Boy's Birth | Kalamazoo Michigan Family Photographer

Today, our sweet middle boy is three, and he's by far my easiest child to photograph... always in a pretend world, or creating up some new character, and he just plays and plays. So today, I'm sharing a few favorite images of him. You can also read his birth story here. I woke up today thinking about the amazing four hours of labor, and smiled, because it was such a beautiful experience. Not easy, but certainly beautiful. 
 

silhouette of boy with sunset
boy on bike with grandfathers
boy sitting in sunlit kitchen
boy holding mom's hand
two young boys in tent
young boy kissing brother
little boy in garden full of tomatoes
young boy taking sink bath with spraying water
young boy with puppy
little boy sleeping in underwear
young boy climbing couch and hiding behind curtains
young boy in lion costume painting pumpkin at fall festival
young boy running in the fall color
young boy smelling flower

Happy Birthday, my sweet Riverbug! You are such a joy.

Kalamazoo MI Family Photographer | A Perfect Day with the Schultz Family

I just can't think of a better way to describe the vibe of this family than these lyrics by Holly Maher's song Perfect Day. As Audrey can attest, everything about their session seemed to be going well, but when we decided to leave the creek, her baby girl completely melted down. I felt horrible for Audrey & Dan because I know how much work it is to prepare for a session with little ones, but I also knew from experience that I had captured so many beautiful moments that it didn't matter. We moved to the field area and took a few last snuggly shots and then said our goodbyes. I'm thankful Audrey is such a go-with-the-flow sort of gal. She's an amazing photographer and family film videographer (check out her gorgeous work here!), and knows that there's no sense getting upset with a child who isn't cooperating -- it's best to just let them be and if possible keep shooting the snuggles that naturally take place. So, that's what we did! And in the end, they received a gallery filled with goodness and grace and real moments. It may not have felt like the "perfect day" at the time, but I know 10 years from now when Audrey & Dan look back, they'll remember it that way. They'll remember the beauty in these moments. 

"...this is the perfect day / from the top of the sky to the dirt under my feet / with all of my heart I know I'm where I should be / I'll follow the stars / follow the stars with you / this is the perfect day / I wanna make it last forever... the people are clamoring close, close to the ground / my head and my heart are way up / up in the clouds / this is the perfect day"

Kalamazoo MI Family Photographer | The Harkers

It's been about a thousand years since I blogged, but I couldn't resist sharing the highlights from last night's family session. My sweet friend Erica, the gorgeous mama in these photos, took our incredible newborn photos a couple of months ago, and last night I was able to repay the favor with a fun family session. We played and laughed, fed fish, picked mulberries, roasted marshmallows, and caught up on life. It did my heart good. And on the way home from her session, since I was kid free for the first time in a LONG time, I cranked the radio in my minivan, opened the sunroof, and let the wind blow through my hair. (Totally wild & crazy, right?!)

I love this life, and I love that I get to document other's lives along the way. Enjoy!

kalamazoo family photos

life update | 40 weeks pregnant

Life is a little unpredictable, yes? Today I'm sharing a bit of my heart in words and photos. I'm 40 weeks pregnant + 2 days, and it feels like I'm riding a roller coaster right now, and yet finding a glimpse of peace in God's timing as we wait for our third little boy to arrive. My first two boys each came 4 days early, so I've never known what it's like to be 'overdue' (which I realize isn't technically a thing, since babies are ready when they're ready), but it's certainly been a test of patience & has felt a bit like a mental war. On one hand, I've been able to spend extra time with my little boys - hiking, baking, origami, homeschool, and lots of farm chores, while also keeping up the house (i.e. constant nesting). On the other hand, I'm feeling a little drained from the prodromal labor I'm experiencing and the fact that I never thought I'd face my due date without my baby in my arms. 

So, I've been reading, listening to homeschool podcasts and praise music, and trying to keep my face toward Jesus instead of pitying the fact that I'm 'still pregnant' when well-meaning friends & family ask. My camera has been out more in the past week than it has in the last 3 months. When my life feels out of my control, I turn to my creative outlets and that includes journaling God's word, writing his truths in my commonplace notebook, and pouring my heart out to Him every chance I get. It helps. I won't say that I'm in a perfect head-space, but He is certainly making this journey easier.

And he is such a good, good God. I woke up the past two mornings thinking "Please Lord let this baby come today..." but my heart said otherwise - I distinctly heard the words His will, not mine. More of Him, less of me. He already knows the moment that this baby will be born, and He goes before me, and that gives me the greatest peace.

I love that the spring weather is finally here. It's lifted all of our moods and we've been able to explore the new growth and actually *see* the things we've been learning about in our nature studies. (If you're wanting a book to encourage nature study, check out Julia Rothman's 3 book collection - it's amazing!)

Our homeschool days (which right now are sporadic & extremely relaxed since Remy isn't technically even eligible for Kindergarten until this fall) have become my favorite days of the week. We read good books, sing hymns, have Bible time, and learn letter sounds. Things are simple because I've purposely kept them that way, and both of the boys have thrived in this environment. We play card games & board games for math, and because we have the hobby farm and some land, the boys are always learning something new. I honestly don't think the boys even realize they're 'doing school' most of the time... it's just a natural part of life - being curious and putting "things worth observing" in front of them (Charlotte Mason). Kyle has really embraced nature study without even realizing it, and he teaches them (and me!) the most interesting facts about our natural world. It's been amazing seeing just what a wealth of knowledge he truly is, and watching him share with our children makes me see him in a completely new light. Marriage is incredible like that. You can be married for 10 years, and still learn something new about the other person. 

This morning we made origami jumping frogs, and the boys had a blast with them. I'm thankful for these moments. I know when the baby does make his grand arrival, things will likely feel off-kilter for a while...maybe chaotic at times. As any mom of three, I hope I do a good job of giving these boys the attention and love they need as we adjust. 

Isaiah 40:31 says "...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." I'm placing all my hope in Him and I'll keep praising Him, even if I'm feeling the weight of being 'overdue'. I'm so excited to meet this baby boy (and finally share his name!), but I also know that life happens in a blink, and all too soon, he'll be 5 years, 10 years , 20 years old... and I'll be holding back tears wondering where the time went. Thanks for letting me share my heart today. 

~Elyse

Kalamazoo Michigan Family Photographer | The Combs Family

Blogging is one of those things I rarely find time to fit in, but I knew this session needed to be shared. The Combs family is one of the sweetest you'll meet and since they knew they'd be putting their house on the market soon, they wanted to document life as they know it in their current home. These sessions are bittersweet... filled with your typical, beautiful everyday moments, but of course in the back of their mind knowing they'll soon be moving on to a new chapter. Their kiddos will continue to grow and change. But these photos will be around forever, and I hope they'll help this amazing family to look back on the memories they created there. It's all about leaving a tangible legacy (which is why I always tell my clients to PRINT their images! No grandchild of yours will know the password to your Flickr account 30 years from now...).

Combs family: wishing you all the best & I can't wait to see your new home when you move! I LOVED spending the morning with you and feel absolutely blessed to call you friends.

Enjoy.

Kalamazoo MI Family Photographer | The Austins In-Home Session

Pregnancy insomnia leaves me plenty of time to think in the middle of the night, and since I'm smack dab in the middle of editing their in-home documentary session right now, this beautiful family was in my thoughts. I always leave their sessions in the happiest mood, and I couldn't put my finger on what exactly it was until just last night (because they do so many things right and good and well) -- but it's the way they encourage closeness - between their children, between themselves as spouses, and as a whole. I overheard so many kind words about eachother while I was in their home, and I'm realizing how much these documentary sessions changes ME as a person and mother, too. I go home to my own children & feel like I have a new chance to make the best of this day - to see my children and give them all the grace they deserve while spending ample time filling up their cups. If I can do that, then I know I'm succeeding in one of the biggest goals of my life. 

Thank you Austin family for always inspiring me to love wholeheartedly. You are such beautiful examples of what it means to put eachother first.

Enjoy!

Kalamazoo MI Family Photographer | DeGroff Family In-Home Session

Meeting my clients in their most cozy, happy place -- home -- is such a joy for me. It just feels right. I get a glimpse into their ordinary, beautiful moments and then document those moments to last forever.

Seasons change quickly. Children grow in a blink of an eye. But these photos will remain. 

Enjoy. 

***PLEASE change video quality to HD in the settings area. Thank you!

Workshop for Moms: Documenting the Everyday

Black Friday is coming! And this year I have a special little something for moms....

I've had this passion burning in me for so long, and I'm so excited to share it with the world!

My hope is that this workshop for moms, Documenting the Everyday, will breath new life into the photos you take of your own children, and that months and years down the road, your children will have a splendor of images to look back on - ones that help them peek back into their past. Photos are a piece of our history, and tangible evidence of the lives we lived. 

Join me on Saturday, January 14th from 10 to 11:30 in a beautiful Downtown Kalamazoo location. To ensure you snag one of the 10 available spots AND save $25, use the coupon code BLACKFRIDAY on 11/25 from 12:01 am to 11:59 pm. 

Here's the link (and remember, the coupon code won't work until 11/25!):

Kalamazoo Michigan Family & Maternity Photographer | Baby Love + Sunshine

A great adventure is about to begin. -Pooh

This evening was filled with a golden sunset, playfulness, and loads of baby love. I'm so excited to meet their newest little one - their great new adventure - when we meet at their home for the newborn session. Anytime a family invites me in to capture them in their coziest environment makes me smile. It's such a blessing to meet and then get to know such amazing families. 

Enjoy!

Kalamazoo Michigan Family Photographer | The Loftis Family

Who knew November would hold the most beautiful weather for fall 2016? We were so blessed with gorgeous color, warm sunshine, and lots of laughs on our evening together. 

These four people are some of my favorite in the whole world. And I'm so grateful they saw the importance of documenting this season in life. With their girls in college, they know that a year from now, or two or three, could look and feel very different from today. My hope is that these photos will be a transport to the past when they pull these images out in 10, 20, or 30+ years, because we all know how fast those years go by! I love seeing families make the choice to get in front of the camera because future generations will LOVE these images.

Enjoy!