The Mama Journal | Breathe

Dear Neve,

Thank you for reminding me to breathe this week, and always.

This is new territory for your maman. I’ve never mothered an active toddler before. I’ve never been so busy with my photography business before. Both of these things are incredible blessings in my life (in that order), but sometimes it all feels like a blur.

Sometimes, between photographing sessions and weddings, answer emails, returning phone calls, filling out invoices, tracking income and expenses, editing countless photos and setting up consult meetings, I feel like I barely have the time to just snuggle you.

And sometimes, between going to the park, snuggling with books in the big bed, playing in the sandbox for hours, sharing our snacks, playing pretend tea party, making play dough creations, working through toddler tantrums, going on outdoor exploring adventures, navigating that tricky phase between full-on diapers and toilet learning and trying to prepare healthy, wholesome snacks and meals for you, I feel like I barely have the time to get work done.

In these moments when I seem to constantly tip back and forth between maman-needing-to-get-work-done and photographer-needing-to-just-be-a-maman, you remind me to just stop. Breathe. Take it in. Enjoy it.

I feel incredibly blessed to be able to stay home with you, mother you, play with you, enjoy you. That will always be number one for me.  I also feel incredibly blessed to be pursuing another dream of mine simultaneously, that of pursuing my passion for photography in a way that allows me to not only capture memories for me, but for others, too. It’s a constant adjustment as you grow and your needs change, and as my business grows and requires more of my time. It’s a balancing act, and it’s difficult. But most amazing, worthwhile things in this life are hard. And I am determined to figure out the perfect balance, and committed to continuing to figure it out through the constant ebb and flow of life.

I sat down a made a list this week. I brought my journal outside and sat by the sandbox with you. While you happily filled your big green bucket with sand and sang your adorable made-up songs out loud, I jotted down my priorities. I made new rules, and created a schedule of working hours that leaves me lots of time (and some whole days) to just be with you, and to spend some time in the evenings with your papa, who has been very patient with me while I figure this out. I figured out how many sessions and weddings I can take on every week, every month, while still sticking to my working hours.

I’m sorry that this Summer has been such a learning curve for me as a mother and as an entrepreneur. The biggest lesson I learned is how to redefine success, and what it means for me. I used to long for the day when inquiries would pour in and I’d be booked solid. I would see other photographers exclaim that they were fully booked with x amount of sessions per week, weddings per year. I would think – wow, that’s success. That’s what I want. And now that I find myself in this new-ish territory of being booked months ahead for sessions, and over a year in advance for weddings, I’m learning that as wonderful as this is for me as a businesswoman, this is not the definition of success. Success for me is not defined by how many clients I have, by how “busy” I am. In fact, being too busy, for me, is the opposite of success. Because being too busy means stress and fatigue and compromising in areas of my life that I don’t want to compromise in. I didn’t plant a garden this year. I haven’t gone for a run in almost two months. I stopped baking our bread from scratch. My meal planning took a back seat, and we’ve eaten more takeout in the past two months than we have in the last year. I didn’t do all the fun maman things I wanted to do this Summer. Your papa and I barely spent a single evening together, let alone go on a date. And yet my business, which I love, is thriving. But I feel more tired than successful.

Will I give up? Certainly not. Because I am so passionate about photography, and I’ve worked hard to get to where I am. Being a photographer makes me a better, happier, more fulfilled person. It also helps to pay the bills, in turn helping me to be home with you. I will not give up, because you should never give up on your dreams. BUT- I will prioritize, I will schedule, I will learn to turn off the computer when my working hours are done, and start again later. And as I do so, I will be a better maman, a better wife, a better friend, and yes, even a better photographer.

Thank you for crawling into my lap with I tried to get editing done today, wrapping your little hands around my neck, kissing my cheek and whispering “Neve aime Maman. Maman aime Neve” in my ear with that little grin of yours I love so much. Thank you for reminding me why I do what I do, and why it’s worth it, even when it’s hard sometimes.

Tonight at bedtime, while I layed next to you in your big double bed, after our snuggles and stories and songs were over with, I just listened. I listened to your sweet, tired little voice telling me, randomly, that trains go “chugga chugga choo choo” and that helicopters go “takatakatakataka” and that plans fly in the sky, just like butterflies. I listened to you tell me that tomorrow you want to make muffins with maman, and that you want to go back to the water park with your yellow butterfly bathing suit. I listened to you pray and thank God for each member of your family all on your own, and I listened while you recalled your Summer holiday at your great-grandparents’ home and remembered going in the lake with papa, and how papa caught a fish in the boat. I just listened. I listened to you breathe and I stroked your wispy hair.

It’s moments like these, sweet girl, that remind me that nothing, nothing is more important than being your maman. It’s moments like these that make me feel so good about setting new boundaries around my work/home balance, and it’s moments like these that reaffirm my decision to pursue my passion for photography and my desire to be home with you, and set an example for you of what it looks like to be a woman  following her dreams, plural. Because you can follow more than one at a time, sweetheart. Even if it’s hard. You just need to make sure to find the balance, and accept that you will never stop learning, growing and readjusting.

Thank you for reminding me to just breathe. To take it one day at a time, to stop for a tea party break and to spend as much time outside as possible. Thank you for helping me follow my dreams. After all, you are my number one dream-come-true.

Maman loves you, baby girl.

-xo

 

London Ontario Family Photographer | The deJong Family

Every year I try to donate a session or two to local fundraising auctions, and (lucky me!) this year one of those sessions was won by the lovely deJong Family. We met on a beautiful Summer evening when the light was soft and golden and the weather was just right. A few (hundred) hungry mosquitos didn’t stop us from laughing and joking and having an all around good time in our wild field location. I loved seeing how these siblings interacted with each other – goofing around, teasing, giggling, poking, hugging, tickling… It’s such a beautiful thing to see brothers and sisters happy together. It’s a special bond that is truly incomparable to any other, and it was an honour for me to capture that for the deJong kids. Hope you enjoy a few photos from this seriously good-looking family’s session! -xo

London Ontario Portrait Photographer | Claudia’s Story

This week I had the privilege of photographing a beautiful woman to commemorate a very special time in her life. Claudia is in remission after undergoing chemotherapy treatments and a mastectomy to fight an aggressive form of breast cancer. She’s always had long hair and wanted to capture this part of her journey as her hair begins to grow back. She gave me permission to share her story here.

Claudia has always been healthy and active. She did everything “right” (from healthy eating to yoga) and always felt great. It wasn’t until a routine annual physical that her world was turned upside down with the news that she had an aggressive form of breast cancer. The cancer was detected through the doctor’s PHYSICAL check. The thorough mammogram she had done just days before came back CLEAR. Because the cancer was caught so early, Claudia is now in remission and telling every woman she encounters to GET YOUR YEARLY PHYSICAL. No matter how much it sucks (and we know it does).

I’ve been putting off getting back on the yearly physical train since my 6-week postpartum check-up after having Neve. But tomorrow morning, I’m making my appointment. As Claudia told me, “do it for your daughter”.

London Ontario Family Photographer | Rory, Joslyn and Isla’s Port Stanley Beach Session

Oh, how I loved this session! This was my third beach session this Summer, and thankfully each time I’ve been graced with beautiful evening sunlight! This little family is so adorable and sweet, and little Isla is so much fun. I love a family that isn’t afraid to get a little dirty, and these guys were definitely up for the challenge! By the end of the session, we were all soaked and covered in sand – but the amazing, candid moments we captured throughout the evening were SO worth it. Rory, Joslyn and Isla – I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them!! -xo

p.s. I am always so honoured when another photographer asks me to document their special moments. Check out Joslyn’s work here!

London Ontario Wedding Photographer | Matt and Leena’s Cambridge Mill Wedding

I just loved this wedding – simple, elegant, intimate, happy. A beautiful couple and breathtaking location didn’t hurt, either! The Cambridge Mill is such a spectacular venue, because every room – from the bridal suite to the ceremony pavilion to the reception solarium – is surrounded by beautiful windows letting in delicious natural light. And the food! You guys, the food. I can’t even put into words how amazing the food was. It was that good. Matt and Leena, thank you so much for having me be a part of your special day. I absolutely loved capturing the beautiful details of your wedding and so enjoyed getting to know you and your families! Big thanks as well to the fabulous Orsolya Gyorgy for second shooting with me! Enjoy the photos! -xo

 

 

Announcing: “Do What You Love” Children’s Minis!

Announcing the “Do What You Love” CHILDREN’S MINIS on the evening of Friday, September 13th and the morning of Saturday, September 14th.

 

-Each session will be unique as we capture what makes your child special and document them doing what they LOVE. No coaxing smiles and bribing them to sit in a pre-existing setup. When you look back on your child at this age, what stands out? Does your 15 month old love catching bubbles? Does your 2-year-old love to read in her special chair? Does your 4-year-old love to play dress-up? Does your 7-year-old love to paint? Does your 10-year-old love to kick a soccer ball? Does you 15-year-old love to strum on the guitar? Just bring their favourite things to our dreamy location in the golden glow of the morning/evening light!

-up to three siblings can use the same time slot together, as long as they are doing the same special activity and share the 10 photos.

-In addition to candids of your child doing what they love, you will also receive 1-2 classic close up portraits as part of your 10 photos.

-$50 deposit required within 24 hours to book your time slot (EMT, cash, cheque, credit)

Remaining times:
-13th: 6:30pm, 7pm
-14th: 8:30am

RAIN DATES: evening of Friday September 27th, morning of Saturday September 28th

sophie@rawfootagephotos.com to book! Please include your preferred time and a backup time that would also work for you. First come, first served!

**I will have quilts and an old wooden crate on hand. I can also provide a wooden easel if any budding artists would like to bring a blank canvas and paint/brushes to their mini! :) **

London Ontario Wedding Photographer | Emily and Geoff’s Engagement Session

When talking to Emily about her upcoming engagement session, she mentioned a few times that she really wanted her photos to be unique. And I have to say, these have got to be the most unique engagement photos I have ever taken… but not so much thanks to me, more so thanks to the crazy weather! We almost cancelled the session due to storm warnings and on and off rain all throughout the day, but because Emily and Geoff had come in to London from out of town, we decided to go for it. When we arrived at Fanshawe Conservation Area, the sun was beginning to dip down and we had beautiful rays of golden light for a few minutes before it started to rain. After the short rain showers, the sky went from grey to dark blue/black as billowy storm clouds rolled in from one direction, and the setting sun shone brightly in the other direction, turning the other half of the sky into a soft pink/orange painting. Right as the sun set, the entire sky turned bright orange, and then once the sun had officially gone down, the skies were clear and blue, with only a few fluffy white clouds in the distance. As I look at these photos in sequence, it’s hard to believe that they were all taken on the same day, in the same location, within minutes of each other. I have always been adamant about never using artificial sky or cloud overlays in my photos, so rest assured that these are all real skies and real clouds… nature at its best! Hope you enjoy these very unique photos of a very beautiful couple. Emily and Geoff, I can’t wait for your 2014 wedding!! -xo

 

Project Ten | August (Dress)

This time of year is c.r.a.z.y. for me. Weddings, a ton of portrait sessions and little family holidays here and there. It’s always a bit of a hustle to pull my Project Ten photos together, but this month I almost didn’t make it. With a theme like “dress”, the possibilities are endless. But I didn’t have the time to really think out something wildly creative. At the last minute, I did what I had in the back of my mind all along – I took my girl to a field, wearing a dress. Groundbreaking, I know. But I’m so glad I did, because these are probably some of my all time favourite photos of Neve… ever. I love that this project forces me to shoot for myself every month, no matter how crazy things can get around here. Lately my daughter’s daily life has been documented more faithfully through Instagram then through actual photos, so that makes this little session extra special to me. Be sure to click through the blog circle to see everyone’s amazing interpretations of this month’s theme! :)

Be sure to head over to Kelsie Taylor‘s blog to see her take! :)

London Ontario Wedding Photographer | Steve & Alison

One of my favourite things about wedding photography is that it allows me to witness, celebrate and document so many cultures and styles.

This gorgeous day was no exception – A lovely wedding steeped in tradition and beautifully styled by the talented Jenna Tregenza Parties on a beautiful sunny Saturday in July.

Alison was just glowing, and every little detail was perfect. Here is a peek at their day!

Ceremony Venue: St Paul’s Cathedral

Reception Venue: The London Club

Florals: Jenna Tregenza Parties

Styling and Planning: Jenna Tregenza Parties

Second Shooting/Assisting: Laura Purdy