A Bat Mitzvah Celebration, Atlanta family photographer

A milestone to remember

A girl sits on a chair in the air during a hora

This Bat Mitzvah was incredible. To be completely honest, I had never been to a Bat Mitzvah before, and even though I did a fair amount of research before the event to know what to expect (and to not make an ass of myself), I was still completely blown away by the whole thing. Celebration and ceremony; it was amazing, and it was meaningful.

When I walked in, the space was decorated glamorously with purple and silver sparkles and butterflies, a perfect mixture of fun and elegance. From the start of the event to the finish, there wasn't a detail that hadn't been considered. Sushi and french fries, a chocolate fountain and candy. A dj and hula hoops. The foods and different activities reflected this important transition between childhood and adulthood. Of course the highlight of the night was the smart and confident girl we celebrated. I know this night will forever be an important memory in her life as it was made so special by her family and those who came out to celebrate with her.

SO what are the coming of age celebrations in your culture? What significant rites of passages are worth remembering? As a documentary family photographer, these are the sort of events I hope to always be invited to document. Not only because they are so very touching and fun to attend, but because they are significant to a child's formation of identity. These important events shape the understanding of their place in their family and in the world, and the images are there to remind them all along the way of how they are loved and supported and celebrated within their community.

A girl sits to have her portrait drawn
a boy gets his portrait drawn while a girl laughs off to the side
A girl reads a speech at her bat mitzvah
A man sits on a chair in the air during the hora
A woman and a girl dance and smile
A girl lights the menorah during her bat mitzvah with her grandparents beside her
A girl puts lipstick on a man
two boys sit at a table and talk
an older woman touches a baby's head
A girl hula hoops during a bat mitzvah as a boy looks on
boys hula hoop during a bat mitzvah
A boy wearing sunglasses and beads dances with others during a bat mitzvah
A boy with a yamaka dancing during a bat mitzvah

Hooray for International Women's Day!

“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future. Act now, without delay.”

-Simone de Beauvoir

3 years ago, I was 8 months pregnant with my second child. I had made the decision that I would not be returning to work after having my baby. I was scared. I had no idea what the future would look like, but I knew I had to make a change. I wanted to have more time with my children. I didn't know what I would do, but I knew how to save money, and I knew how to work hard. If I couldn't secure other means of making an income, I could always go back to teaching. I knew that even if everything failed, it would probably still be okay.

2 years ago, I decided to take another risk and go into business as a family photographer. After leaving teaching, I had the time and creative mental space to pursue my passion for photography. I wanted to be able to give others the gift of being able to see the beauty in their everyday lives. I wanted them to be able to feel the same way that I felt the first time Anda Marie photographed my family (and every time after). I had no idea how I would do it, but I knew I had to do it. The learning curve was overwhelming, but I took it one day (nap time/late night staying up) at a time.

1 year ago, I was 8 months pregnant with my last baby. I was grateful for the ability to have this time with my children but also a little frustrated with having to take things slow with my business. Being patient with my progress as a photographer as well as with my proficiency in my business felt a little like the patience I needed with my progress and proficiency as a mother. I hoped somehow these two identities would be able to coexist.

Today, I'm still figuring it out day by day. I still have no idea what the future will look like, but I'm no longer gambling on it. I can't control the future, but I can act today and everyday to make the changes that are needed in my business and my life. I am daily inspired by women who live creatively, who make an income in the arts and services, and who blend motherhood into it all so gracefully. I am honored to have been a part of celebrating International Women's Day with ShootProof. You can watch the video below, and then please go check out the full blog post here for more inspiration from some incredible artists. 

So what can you act on today? Here are the things the ladies in my house are acting on without delay.

Me: Not yelling as often.

Charlotte: Only sucking her thumb at night.

Winnie: Not coming up to bed with us in the middle of the night.

So far, we're not doing that great. But we're a good support team, and each day we can act on it. I'm thankful for these girls who inspire me to make changes both big and small daily.

mother reading to two daughters on a couch

Photo by Anda Marie Photography




An afternoon at home with the Wsols, Atlanta family photographer

Potty jokes are better than prompts

Boy smiles and pushes dad and sister on a hammock

You’ve seen those pictures. You know, the ones of families walking hand in hand and laughing as they walk through a meadow with the golden sunset glowing behind them. It wasn’t until I started studying photography that I found out that photographers often give families prompts to follow in order to make those pictures. As you walk slowly this way, tell someone next to you something silly (although that's probably not a prompt anyone actually uses), then click, click, click. 

The prompts make for some very likeable photographs, but after giving the image the double tap, we usually stop at the awwww and never consider how that photograph actually happened. What the viewer sees is a picture of a happy family in pretty light. On the other hand, the family may look at the image and see and feel the experience of having their picture taken. Oh, I remember this day, we got all dressed up and went to that pretty field and the photographer told us to look at each other and say something silly. The memory is intertwined with the image, and it is largely about the photographer and the experience of getting portraits made.

When I edited this session, there were some photos of the whole family laughing together that got me thinking about the difference between waiting for the moments to capture them as they actually happen in real life vs. prompting the moments to happen at our will.

For me, the story behind the photo makes all the difference in the world. When the answer to the question of how this photo happened is a story that they will remember about who they are as a family, the moments are worth waiting for.

But, you do have to wait for them. It wasn't until after magic tricks with grandma, s'mores, and bike riding that the kids ran off to the hammock. While they were sitting there in the swing, they were going back and forth telling potty jokes. We were all laughing hysterically as they came up with potty rhymes that went with each of their names. I couldn't stop laughing, especially after Vivian came up with the genius, "Carrie, Carrie the toilet fairy."

When this family looks back at these images someday, I want them to remember the details of this time in their life. I want them to think about how special it was every time their grandparents visited. I want them to remember their goofy helmets and their funny magic tricks. I want them to remember the games they played with their cats, and I absolutely never want them to forget that time they were all in the hammock laughing uncontrollably about, "Carrie, Carrie the toilet fairy.”

A boy and a girl perform a magic trick for their grandmother
A girl looks at a string attached to a magic wand.
A girl rides a bike with a fierce expression
A man and two children throw sticks into a fire
Leftover graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows
A kid wearing a helmet and oversized welding gloves laughs and looks at the camera
A picture of a girl's braid
A photo of a girl holding her dads hands from his perspective
A girl laughs in a hammock as her brother pushes her
A boy holds his dad's face who is on a hammock with a girl
A boy and his dad lie on a hammock laughing
A family laughs and lies on a hammock
A family on a hammock with big trees
A cat walks on a table by a plate of marshmallows
A cat looks at the camera and another cat walks by in the foreground
An older woman sits on a couch as a boy hides underneath
A cat chases a red string through a kitchen
A cat chases a boy dragging a string around a corner