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gorgeous dancing light…{littleton family photographer}

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i went on a magical hike this afternoon with an inspirational friend who reminded me that i haven’t been blogging.

and we spoke about the fact that it seems to be a lost art.  we have less and less time in our lives for extra things like blog stalking, day dreaming or web surfing.  i feel the pressure too and i understand it.  but i miss writing.  and i miss reliving the beautiful moments of my family photo sessions.

i love looking back at a gallery of images after editing and swooning over the sweet summer light.  there is this new special spot i’ve found that glistens with said magical light and just about all times of the day.  and you combine that with the love that a family shares and it’s, to me,  pure synchronicity.  when those two collide i feel so full of passion and life and my camera and i are absolutely at one with each other.  it’s like time stands still and everything plays out in slow motion–and all i see is the connection between that light and the love and energy of the family behind my camera.

as an artist it’s been so amazing to have had the honor of photographing this family for many years.  documenting the adorable twins from a few months old to now and then the addition of a handsome baby brother who has grown up to be a pre-schooler has been so cool.  and i’m now honored to call these guys my friends.  they’ve been so kind and generous to me over the years and the admiration i have for them surely comes through in the images.

photography is never work for me.  it’s a passion and it’s my life’s work even though i have lots to learn.  i am so honored to have earned the trust of so many families over the years.  and as long as they’ll have me–my camera and i will continue to follow along.

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dad and lad. {i just adore this image. }

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these two are so dang cute–i could photograph them all day long.

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the connection between these two is just the sweetest thing.

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one word…gorgeous.

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Baylor–here i come!

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her eyes, the light and that sweet sweet smile….

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party of five…

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i may have to blow this one up as a canvas…what do you think M?

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look out girls…

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look out boys!

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again–look out boys!

Erin Ranum - September 7, 2014 - 9:36 pm

Gorgeous pics of this family and loved reading your blog! Your passion for appreciating the beautiful moments in life is contagious!!

a smashin’ first birthday…{golden family photographer}

o.l.i.v.i.a–you were the BEST cake smasher i’ve ever met.  and your smiles, squeals and sweet curiosity truly made the photo shoot a true joy to be a part of (and an outstanding way to start my morning).  i just adore you, your  mommy, daddy and your doggie too (and just wondering if he got mop up duty after the cake smash?!) you are so beautiful.  and your reaction to the cake was priceless.  you saw it….and jumped in-a great metaphor for the way to truly live life.  and i love that after the novelty wore off all you wanted was for me and my camera to go away.  and for a nice bottle chaser (which you got!). and we even documented one of your first time standing on your own!  how cool is that??!! it’s been an honor to document your sweet life from birth to this first year.  looking forward to more fun as the years go by. and i wish you many many more cake smashes in your future!

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Shelly Chetty - June 22, 2014 - 12:41 pm

So sweet, and your writing is every bit as wonderful as your photography skills. Great Job!

a little country time…{littleton family photographer}

this field was so perfect and the light was amazingly cooperative during this Memorial Day weekend fun photo shoot. it’s so fun when a group of family (or friends) gather and want to take the time to document it. i am always wanting to be part of the energy involved in group photo shoots. i can certainly feel the love and happiness (especially in the little ones who are so excited to play together) and it reminds me just how important family time in in the grander scheme of things.

one of the families involved also wanted a family photo session in addition to the group ones so it was fun to get some one on one time with them as well.

all in all it was a fun time and the images (along with the fun editing i selected for this session) remind me of a old fashioned family summer picnic.

(and yep-i do large group photo sessions–thanks to my lovely assistant Vanessa!)

we had this huge field to ourselves almost to ourselves on this busy weekend–which was, in itself a win.

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a note from a friend.

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i asked my new friend to write to me about her story to accompany this image i snapped after our lunch in cherry creek together.

Dear MB,
Last year, I celebrated my 7 year cancer anniversary by participating in the COCA’s Jodi’s run for the first time. I had no idea the emotions I would experience that day. Crossing the finish line with my daughter on my shoulders was like a dream to me and you captured that special moment with your beautiful photographs. That moment was also special because I sought you out so I could obtain a copy of that photo and connected with you and… what are the chances that we would both be be survivors of the very rare (ominous and special!) ovarian carcinosarcoma?

June 25, 2006 was a typical, beautiful Colorado day. I went for a run and reflected on how beautiful the day was and how lucky I was for my friends and family and how I loved my profession as a veterinarian. Later that day, I had to go to a picnic and as I got dressed, my shorts were oddly snug around my waist and I noticed by abdomen felt asymmetrically firm and I was even able to palpate a mass. It did not hurt. It was just there. I remember that morning so distinctly. 10:30am run. 2pm: abdominal mass. On Monday I called my doctor and asked for an appointment. I was told the first available appointment was mid-July. I then asked if I should go to an emergency hospital or could I be referred elsewhere because I knew something was not right. I called a few times that day and eventually the doctor made time for me that afternoon and she concurred: mass. Then the rest of the week was ultrasound, bloodwork, X-rays, CT scan. My head was spinning. I was driving all over Denver for all my various diagnostics with printed out Mapquest directions (before the days of smart phones!). I was on my own and was so overwhelmed and at the end of diagnostic day #2, got lost in a hospital trying to leave after my CT scan and could not find the exit. When I finally found the exit, I was on the other side of the hospital and could not find my car. I felt trapped in a nightmare, which had only just begun! On Thursday 6/29, I met with the gyn-oncologist. He said that though the CT scan interpretation said I most likely had cancer, he felt that based on the large size of the tumor, I more likely had a 95% chance of a benign tumor. PHEW! Nightmare over! I was going to be ok! I knew it!

The following week, July 3rd, I had my surgery for my “benign” ovarian mass. In the recovery room, I woke up confused as to why it was so late in the day and my eyes focused on the anesthesiologist’s sad eyes looking down at me. She told me my gyn-oncologist would be with me in a moment and then I got the sense that my tumor was not benign after all. Sad. My doctor came to me and said that indeed frozen sections demonstrated malignancy and he had to open me up again and take out omentum, lymph nodes, etc. Final diagnosis was ovarian carcinosarcoma. I googled it. Yikes! Median survival time of what? My doctor told me that it was the first time he had seen this type of cancer in his career and that it was rare and he really did not know much about it and showed me the paper that I had already read on-line prior to the appointment. He told me that I may have been cured and may not need additional chemotherapy or surgery. Because he had not seen it before, he recommended I go out of state to a university for a second opinion. Then my doctor went on vacation that afternoon for 2 wks. It was very hard for me to figure out how to get a second opinion as many cancer hospitals require a referral and I could not obtain one because of my doctor’s vacation, no matter how hard I tried. Also, when I was told to go out of state, what does this mean? Where should I go? There are so many states and so many hospitals? I was overwhelmed!!! Lucky for me, my high school friend’s wife worked with the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and she was a huge source of information and support. Additionally, my sister is a surgeon in Connecticut and had worked with a gyn-oncologist at Yale named Dr. Rutherford. I flew out to CT for a consultation. Amazingly, he is the expert on our crappy cancer. He told me: You have a very bad cancer. It is very aggressive and spreads everywhere and the first place it will go is the other ovary. Because so much time has passed since your surgery, we do not have time to go back to surgery and remove your remaining ovary and uterus and you must start chemotherapy immediately. So, I had my 6 rounds of carbo/taxol and the rest is history.

As you have experienced, illness is difficult. I learned that truly, you are your best advocate. I do not see myself as assertive but in June 2006, I knew something was not right and kept pestering the first doctor to see me. And if she did not have time to see me, I would have seen another MD because I could feel a distinct mass that did not belong there. I was also upset with Dr. #2. I felt stranded by him. I spent so much time trying to get that second opinion. But what I learned with that is that things happen for a reason. Had I had “optimal” care, I might have had my ovary and uterus removed and then I would not have my daughter. After chemo was completed, I pursued fertility treatments and was told repeatedly by 2 fertility specialists at that clinic that my remaining ovary was damaged by the chemotherapy and I was in menopause. They recommended I join a support group for menopause, investigate donor eggs, or adoption. I could not accept this and after a year of being told to give up, went to another clinic and was told I had a 25% chance of pregnancy. It was a long road but after 3 years, had a little girl.

I think that the whole cancer journey for me was easy-peasy compared to other patients. How lucky am I – I am alive and also, I have my happy life! 8 years ago, I could barely even allow the idea of a happy family to enter into my hopes and dreams for the future. Sometimes I look at my husband and daughter and wonder if I am dreaming, am I really alive? And now 8 years later, I try not to allow the idea of relapse to enter into my mind but that fear still tiptoes in to my head more frequently than I like to admit. But when it does, it reminds me to live in the moment. When the sky is a beautiful Colorado blue, I take note! When my daughter asks me to paint her little fingernails, i savor each little dab of pink. I make a point of saying nice things to my husband and daughter (hopefully frequently enough!). Though I believe I am cured, my gyn-oncologist reminds me that I have a “special” cancer. I still need imaging studies, now annually. Though I am a lifetime member of the Cancer Club, I am so happy. Cancer is unfair and it sucks but it we can still live our lives and be happy. Though the fear is still there, it is lower grade and ebbs with time. I PROMISE!

June is a sensitive time of year for me. It should be a happy time, right? But instead, I have had unpleasant and vivid flashbacks of June 25, 2006 as well as the unpleasant weeks that followed. Because of Jodi’s run, my anniversary is much more celebratory and much less scary. It is fate that you took that victorious and joyous photo of me and my daughter last June. That was such a special day and I am so glad that I shared it with you and that it brought us together.

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an ovarian cancer survivor. in her own words

meet hallie.

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and here’s hallie in her owns words…(part of a portrait project i am doing on the amazing souls i’ve crossed paths with during this ongoing journey with cancer. completely in their own words added to the images of their choice from our mini session together.)

One of the hardest things about going through cancer, besides facing the possibility of death, was all losing control of what was happening to me. During cancer treatment, I was swept along through a current of doctor visits, agonizing side effects from chemo, scans, waiting for results, surgery, scars, hair loss, as I just held on tight and tried to stay afloat.

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After standard treatment was over, and I was declared cancer-free last June, I found myself in strange new territory…and forever changed from this experience. Before I had cancer, when I would hear about someone in remission after treatment, I just assumed that they returned to their life…grateful to be alive and ready to move forward. For me, this has not been the case. While I feel an intense amount of gratitude for each day, each moment with my children, each sunset, the unwavering love and support from family and friends, the looming fear of recurrence can sometimes be paralyzing.

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During the past ten months since treatment ended, I have been feeling my way along, not charging forward. My days consist of a series of baby steps to slowly reclaim my life. Along the way, I have been given so many gifts, large and small. I have found an entire community of cancer survivors, who are now among my dearest friends. I have learned to accept my physical body, even with extra weight, scars, missing parts, and crazy curls growing on my head. This body has such resilience! Such an amazing capacity for healing! After battling cancer, I am able to find contentment and joy in such simple things. I savor life, even the messy stuff. I have learned to tune into my own needs more than I ever did before.

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I take naps. I drink prosecco. I hike the in mountains near my home. I snuggle with my kids and scratch their backs…when I should be doing laundry. I write love notes to my husband. I do all these things, and realize that none of us have much control over what is happening to us, cancer or not. What we do have control over is our ability to treat ourselves with love and compassion, which then radiates through us to touch others.

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if you know a cancer survivor who would like to do a photo session and write about their story please contact me. a high quality 5×7 professional print of each photo selected for the blog will be provided to the participant at no cost. (additional prints can be purchased from the gallery provided.)

Marlene and Cal Bilger - March 17, 2014 - 5:04 pm

Hallie. You are exactly why Jodi created Jodi’s Race. How proud she would be of you and what you learned from this devastating experience. Keep being the lovely person you are inside and out. See you in June. Mar and Cal Bilger
Jodi’s Dad and stepmom.

Meg Franklin-Judd - March 18, 2014 - 5:18 am

I almost lost my best friend to this at age 19. We were too young & naive to be scared (outwardly, at least). Our conversations now in regards to this are amazing, joyful, painful.
It was a horrifying gift that shaped our futures.
Thank you.