By the time she finally called me, I could hear the guilt in her voice. They had waited and waited to find the right moment. Something always got in the way. The kids  had some school event or sports activity. She and her husband wanted to lose a little weight. One of her children was going through an "awkward teeth" phase. (For the record, I absolutely love the visual time machine aspect of "awkward teeth"!) Scheduling was always a challenge. Before they knew it, the kids were just SO MUCH older. She felt like some of the important moments in her family's life had been missed, photographically.

Have you ever heard that proverb: "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now".

You know when the best time is to make portraits? Now.

Here are my top 7 reasons to have your portraits made during the summer:

1. Coordinating schedules is usually easier in the summer. It's less likely that you'll have to work around school events, sports, lessons and other after-school activities.summer family portraits flagstaff photographer

2. People often feel more “photo-ready" in the summer. We're outdoors, getting some sunshine and are usually more active than during the holidays.

3. Your stress level will be dramatically reduced when your holiday gift giving and holiday cards are completed before the rush sets in. And, when you and your family members find yourselves in relaxed summer mode during the session, your holiday portrait gifts and cards will show it!Family-Portrait-Flagstaff-AZ4. Family and senior portrait photographers (like me) ...continue reading 7 Reasons You’ll Love Having Portraits Made in Summer – Flagstaff Photographer

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I first encountered Abbie when she was just a little little. During her family portraits, she and her siblings were adorably loving and sweet. An early example here, although her brother's not so sure about the snuggling!children snuggling, Flagstaff, AZ

Watching the 3 kids in this family grow, that loving sweetness hasn't changed. Something that has changed is that Abbie has blossomed into a brilliant artist,  committed runner, passionate skier, and someone who loves great books.  She has also, unfortunately, has had way more than her fair share of health challenges. Diagnosed with Dysautonomia, she has spent an enormous amount of time in the hospital and has been in an out of a wheelchair. She has seizures and chronic pain, she passes out, she sometimes loses the ability to speak, walk or use her hands. And yet, she rises with determination over and over again and resumes pursuing all of her many interests and talents. She doesn't seem to let anything stop her for very long. It's a quality that she shares with Olympic athletes I've photographed.

With all of this in mind, we set out to make a senior portrait of Abbie making art and also outdoors in her beloved snowy Flagstaff.

Senior Portrait, Flagstaff, AZThe manner in which Abbie makes her art shows her sheer will. She will set up her materials anywhere - in a cluttered office, on the floor, wherever she can find space. And what she creates is remarkable. Her work reveals the beauty inside her and also sometimes unveils her physical and emotional pain, too.

Senior Portrait, Flagstaff, AZI love how you can see in her face the strength she has inside.

Senior Portrait in snow, Flagstaff, AZSenior Portrait in snow, Flagstaff, AZSenior Portrait in snow, Flagstaff, AZSenior Portrait in snow, Flagstaff, AZAbbie's so inspiring that she's one of 4 nominees for a scholarship - an A.C.E. Award (Accepting the Challenge of Excellence)  from the Exchange Club of Flagstaff. The A.C.E. Award is presented to a senior high school student who has shown perseverance and success in meeting difficult personal and academic challenges in his or her high school experience.

Sounds right up her alley.

Senior Portrait in snow, Flagstaff, AZ

You can read more about Abbie's health and her phenomenal art in a recent article in the Arizona Daily Sun here.

This week, as I find myself speaking with parents that are sending their kids off to college, I hear a jumble of feelings. Joy, excitement, parental pride intertwined with grief and sadness, to name a few. I’m reminded of how the theme of letting go recurs throughout parenthood.

Flagstaff Family and Baby Photographer

From the time our children learn to walk, our job is to help them without hovering, and that balancing act continues as we send them off to college. How much contact and support is the right amount?

I heard a quote that sums it up:

Flagstaff Family Portrait by KDI Photography

A wise woman once said to me that there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these she said is roots, the other, wings. 

                               - Hodding Carter

 

I thought this would be an especially good time to share one of my very favorite blog posts from one of my very favorite writers on the planet, Juliette Fay. If you haven't read her novels yet, you're in for a treat.  She's amazing.  I hope you enjoy her story of sending her first child off to college.

Letting Her Go: A Daughter Leaves the Nest

photo by Leslie Fenn

In the week after my first child, a daughter, was born, my hormones took me on one heck of a thrill ride. Up, down, exuberant, weeping, weirdly angry with my husband for not understanding. And who could blame him? I didn’t understand it myself. Yet every feeling was so deeply real and rational in the moment, it seemed he should be right there with me. Thank God he wasn’t.

I remember with crystal clarity staring at this tiny bundle of soft vulnerability, and realizing at full volume what I had taken on. Not just the care and feeding of another human being, for which I was fully prepared—I’m an oldest child, had babysat my way through high school and worked with kids for a large portion of my career. I’d had thirty years of preparation.

What I hadn’t figured on was this: I had willingly agreed to a lifetime of desperation.

Desperate love of a kind I’d never known. Desperate worry. And a thought blinked across my hormone-addled, sleep-starved brain like an LED warning sign over the highway: THIS WILL NEVER END.

Before she was born, I had considered parenthood from my own daughterly perspective. I grew up and moved away and my parents stopped taking care of me. Their job wound down to check-ins when I went to college, and ended completely when I graduated and moved across the country. They have their own lives; they don’t “parent” anymore.

Right?

...continue reading Guest Blog Post: Roots and Wings