Oh May, you marvelous month. In real time May felt jammed packed with school performances, dance recitals, and with this that and the other things, but looking through these photographs don’t make me feel over-scheduled or rushed. They make me feel grateful for so many sweet moments with family and friends. The month of May brought warmer weather, more trips to the farmers market, summer water activities, a visit from my Kentucky family, and a lot more time with the girls. Simple moments often make for my favorite pictures. There is a picture of Isla and Poppy snacking on some watermelon at the pool, and it’s one of my favorite pictures of them of all time.
With almost all of these pictures I was just shooting with a simple Pentax K1000 35mm film camera. It’s lightweight, compact, easy to tote around, and because it’s film I stay right in the moment with those I’m with. No overshooting, no scrolling through what I took to see if I got a good enough shot. It’s so completely satisfying. Oh! and when you get your film scans delivered in your email? It feels like Christmas morning.
Well, I think I waxed eloquently enough about my love of film. Enjoy.
Welcome to my first post all about my journey into film photography! Oh the lure of film…. it struck me way back when light and airy photography was the newest trend. Currently the trend is dark, contrasty, and desaturated so clearly this was awhile ago. Why film? Nostalgia plays a part for sure, but primarily the depth and beauty of the colors is unmatched. And as a highly sentimental person, the dreamy quality it gives an image hit me right in the heart strings. Also, I love photography and learning is fun; so why not try to learn a new medium of photography?
Why did it take me so long to learn? Well, to put it simply, I fear failure. Yep, I would have rather not learn than failed at it. How logically is that? Not at all, so I’m glad that I was encouraged to just try. As the actress Jameela Jamil says “trying is winning and everything else is just cake.”
I’m actually really pleased with my first rolls of film. Are they perfect? Far from it. In typical film newbie fashion, I under-exposed left and right which causes grain and muddy colors. I also had to get used to focusing manually which is harder than it sounds, but when I nailed it *Italian hand gesture* it was amazing! Lastly, I quickly realized that selecting a good film lab is just as important as taking good pictures.
It’s fun to go back through these to see how far I’ve come in eight short months, but also to see those two precious girls grow. My poor bittersweet mama heart. I’ll be sharing more of my film learning curve from the last eight months so check back here for more posts!
If you follow my instagram, you may have heard about my journey into film. I had been dying to learn film for years and years, but ever the perfectionist I was too timid to try (#lifestory). After some encouragement from fellow photographers who understood the medium at The Family Narrative retreat, I bit the bullet and just started shooting and learning. I am so so glad I did. It has been life giving in ways that I did not foresee artistically and personally.
Someday soon I’d like to share those initial rolls of film with you. They are jam packed with my day to day life and moments with friends and are very specially to me. However, I really wanted to try client-type work on film so I set up a session with a new mom, Mallory, and her adorable little lady, Nova. The result was magic, and I am so proud of what we created together. I have other sessions I’ve been working on and dreaming up, but for now I’d love to share with you my first newborn session on film. Enjoy!
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about photography and me, more specifically my relationship with my photography business. I am a photographer. I have been one seriously for the last 8 years, and more truthfully I have been one for much longer than that just not with a fancy camera. I have grown my skill to a place that I am proud of, and I love that my excitement and passion for it continues to grow. It feels like a very natural extension of myself, and to not do it would feel like losing one of my senses.
When one is a photographer, it is assumed that you have a business, and I just rolled with that assumption. However, I have never fallen comfortably into the role of a businesswoman, and having a business and marketing myself as a business isn’t a natural fit. That is not a knock against businesswomen. I have mad respect for those who do it, because there is no way to half-ass your way into a successful business. While I do not love the business side of having a photography business, I love taking pictures for people. I can think of no greater gift than to capture the love, connection, and intention of a period of time for a family/couple/person/project into images and hand that back over to them. Truly, it feels like holy work.
There is no need for me as a family photographer in this world. There seems to be approximately 5 million photographers in Wichita alone and our population is just under 400,000 people. Trying to sell myself to people feels so bad, and it feeds into old, not-quite-healed wounds of desiring acceptance and fearing rejection. When the market is as flooded as it is, you’re not exactly a business-type, and you feel uncomfortable trying to convince people to hire you it is all but a guarantee that you are not going to be “accepted” often and will be “rejected” more times than not.
“Just don’t have a business and shoot whatever you like,” I hear you saying. Yes, I’ve thought of that. That is partly why I have created my new instagram account (@jillnicolecurated) to encourage me to create whatever it is I want to create (like the pictures in this post). But even that doesn’t feel quite right. Is it because I want to be recognized as a photographer? Is it because I desire to be “successful”? Is it because you can only shoot your kids so much without getting bored, and it can be hard to convince people to let them take your picture “just for fun”? I would guess it’s probably a mix of all of those things. Not only that, but I love shooting families.
So where does that leave me? A tentative and not particularly disciplined “business owner” who wants to have success because she’s passionate about what she is selling. I’m thinking of taking a break from calling myself a photography business to see how that feels and to see what would come of it. What would I create if I weren’t a “business”? Would I figure out my niche? Would I take things in a totally different direction? Am I just being a quitter? I’m not sure of any of those things. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
When Ilex and I originally schedule our shoot together, we had the intentions of it being a full family affair. Unfortunately, a last minute change made a family session into a mama and her boys session. We definitely missed Michael, but there was also something so wonderful about capturing Ilex exploring Eastborough Park with her boys.
The way Ilex interacts with her boys can best be described as breezy. She has a calm, peaceful spirit that can easily transport her from one thing to another as if it were second nature. Often times I feel clunky or frazzled, so I’m always in awe by this quality.
A beautiful evening with a delightful trio, what more could I want. Enjoy!
My Darling Poppy June,
In the days leading up to your first birthday, I was stricken with a severe case of bittersweet sentiment. How could you be one already?! Didn’t you just make your debut on this earth? Truth be told, your first 6 months were a bit of a blur. I don’t want to rehash all of the things so I’ll just summarize and say, it was tough. Really tough. Maybe a stronger mother wouldn’t have been as affected as I was, but I guess that doesn’t really matter because I am your mom. All of the good, and all of the bad. Your mom.
Let me tell you about you. You are our supreme snuggler. I mean it. No one can snuggle like you can. At a very young age, you would wrap your tiny arms around our necks for hugs. You pretty much solely napped being held until you were around 7 months old despite our best efforts. And even now you love to lay your head on my chest, or crawl up to my legs while I’m doing dishes or getting ready and give a big hug and a pat, pat, pat. And before you lay down to sleep, I’ll hold you in my arms, sway back and forth, and sing you a song. It’s one of my favorite things I get to do in my day. And you don’t like to just cuddle with people. You love all soft things: stuffed animals, blankets, towels, scarves, my shirt. If it’s soft, you grab it and rub it on your cheek.
You eat more than I would imagine to be physically possible for your young age. I’m trying to think if you have a favorite, but nothing is coming to mind because you pretty much eat everything. However, we learned you are not a fan of cake at your birthday party. There was no convincing you; I even tried the next day. Nope. You were not having it. You’ve recently started to point to things that you want which is pretty cute, and would be even cuter if it wasn’t followed by your shrillish banshee cry you use to get our attention.
You love music. It doesn’t seem to matter what kind; you’re an equal opportunist. We’ll be driving in the car, and we’ll hear you clap, clap, clapping to songs you like. Or you’ll become a conductor having your arms out and bouncing when the music moves you. And when you’re crying in the car, 9 times out of 10, if I put on the Sinatra XM station, you’ll stop crying. No other station, just old Blue Eyes. Man, oh man, was that a blessing to figure out. You particularly like it when they play Barbara Streisand. You must be a sucker for schmaltzy singers.
While you are a smiley baby, you aren’t much for laughing. I can count on 2 hands how many times you’ve laughed or giggled, but when you do it lights up my whole world. When you get excited about something you scrunch up your nose and stick out your lips, and breathe in and out of your nose really fast. We call it your bulldog face. I’ve never seen a baby do that before, and I think it’s the cutest dang thing in the world.
A blessing and a curse at times, I am your favorite. You love your mama to the moon and back. When you’re upset, no one else will do. Obviously, I love how much you love me, but when you were at your most challenging self, it felt like the weight of your well being was on my shoulders. The older you get the more and more drawn you are to your dad and your sister. Just the other day you saw Dad’s car pull into the driveway, and you were bouncing your whole body up and down out of excitement. You sure know how to be adorable. And obviously whatever Isla is doing is exactly what you want to be doing.
I could keep going and going, because there is nothing in this world that I love more than my family. I hold all of those special memories close to my heart, and I look forward to all the more memories to hold dear.
P.S. Some pictures from your special day.
New life restores my soul.
That is one of the many reasons why I love newborn lifestyle sessions. The miracle of life can be seen on the faces of everyone in the family. A beaming father. A glowing mother. An adoring sister. How lucky am I that my job consists of me stopping, observing, and capturing love?
Enjoy viewing this adorable family in their first days as a family of four.
Fellow photographer and Wichita Mom’s Blog contributor, Erin Kata asked me if I would be willing to shoot a nursing session with her and her newest addition, Lincoln for her most recent post for WMB. I’ve never done a nursing shoot before and was excited to try my hand at it. Pure magic happened.
The sky was overcast with beautiful dramatic clouds which seemed fitting for a nursing shoot. Isn’t breastfeeding a beautiful yet stormy part of motherhood? And that hat. With that baby. And Erin, your lips! Holy cow, woman! Obviously, I enjoyed myself on this shoot.
I have never been particularly interested in birth photography, personally or professionally. I have seen amazing stories being told by some very talented photographers and lovely families, but I have also seen some very graphic and raw stories that aren’t personally my taste. Because of that I was always on the fence about it. Until now.
Being a part in Silas’s birth story is one of the most powerful experiences I have had as a photographer. No, as a human being. Witnessing the birth of this beautiful life into this powerhouse family transformed my heart, soul, and mind. It brought me down to earth and opened my eyes to the miracle that is life. I am so grateful for this experience. I believe a large part of why this meant so much to me is because of the family. Oh words, how I feel like you fail me sometimes. They are friends that have turned into family, but that doesn’t feel like a strong enough sentiment.
Abigail has the unique ability to encourage me and lift my spirit just by her existence in this world. She speaks hard truths in a way that doesn’t crush me but nudges me into thoughtful reflection. She laughs freely and smiles with her whole being. She is intentionally present in my life and the life of my family. She loves us well. Jake is just as amazing. When you speak, he listens completely. He hears your words and the meaning behind your words. His mind is brilliant and his soul is wise but in a way that doesn’t make others feel less than. His wit is sharp and he is a whiz with the Chemex. Judah reminds me of the wind. He blows through life taking it all in. Sometimes he is as soft and gentle as a breeze, and sometimes he is as wild as a storm. I love his curiosity; wanting to know how everything works mechanically. Rory though a mere 1.5 years old makes her place in this world known. Her mind is quick and so are her feet. You must stay on your toes to keep up with her and her independent spirit. She is strong and capable, and I’m excited to see her personality continue to grow. And the newest additions, Silas. I know he will be a great many things, but right now he’s a perfectly precious angel baby.
There a TON of pictures on this post. Why? Because I had to. I. HAD. TO. I had a hard enough time cutting it down to the pictures you see below. Enjoy!
Photography is definitely my most tapped into artistic expression. There are so many variables to work with, some within your control and some outside of it. For some people that may sound daunting, but I find the times that there are areas I cannot control or mold are the times I get the most creative.
Case in point: Lifestyle shoots. I simply love them. No sit here and smile at the camera (not that there is anything wrong with that). No. It’s interactive, meaningful, and engaging. It reminds me of when I used to shoot weddings. The best parts were when I was capturing the essence of the day. Now I get to do that with families. Capture their essence. Their vibe. Their emotions. It’s energizing.
Shooting with the Paulys was an absolute delight. They are a straight forward family who are who they are. Laid back, blunt, warm, and tender. I love that. And I LOVED this shoot. Enjoy.