A morning with the Bolton family, Atlanta Family Photographer


On breathing

A father holds an oxygen tube near his son's face

When Colleen and Derek’s twins were born, I offered to come photograph their family whenever they were ready. I spent a morning with them soon after Dylan got to come home, and I am still breathing in the gratitude and love that I got to experience in their home that day. I’m always amazed by the families I photograph, and this family taught me more than they will know. One of the first things I noticed when I was hanging out in the kitchen was the Mommy Sticker Chart hanging on the fridge that serves as a reminder to take a deep breath. It reminded me of these words Colleen had recently shared.

“Two hundred seventy-one days is a long time to hold your breath. If you do the math that’s June 19th. I tried to hit the brakes but it was too late. My water, Dylan’s protection and lifeline, broke. A stupid, minor, avoidable collision that changed the course of my life and almost took my sons from me. For days I was inconsolable. Then I felt God tell me to chill out. Literally, what I heard in my heart was “chill out.” So I did. But I held my breath. People would say, “Twins!! Are you excited?” How do you answer that? I can’t explain to every person who asks about my pregnancy that I have no idea if I will ever get to brings these boys home. So I smiled and said, “I’m so excited!” And I held my breath.

September 26 I went into labor. My body, my boys, had held on as long as we could. Dylan had been growing without amniotic fluid for 3 months. They pulled Dylan out first. He made no sound. He couldn’t breathe. The doctor resuscitated him and got him on a ventilator. The ventilator was breathing for him but his lungs were so fragile that one of them tore. Can you imagine? Your lungs being so fragile that just inhaling air rips a hole in one of them. They switched him to an oscillator which allowed him to take fast shallow breaths. On the oscillator his body wasn’t getting rid of the CO2. His lungs collapsed multiple times. Somehow, the doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists found the right combination of support to allow his fragile, tiny lungs to do the job they were created to do and to keep my son alive. But I still held my breath.

I do not understand prayer. My village prayed, fasted and negotiated with God to let my sons live. I begged Him not to take my boys from me. Did we pray harder or more faithfully than anyone else would have under similar circumstances? Certainly not. I do not know why God chose to let my boys live. But I do know the choice was His. The grace was His. The mercy, the healing- His.

Today, for the first time in a very long time, I can breathe. And with every breath I will be grateful. With every breath I will work to extend the grace and mercy that was bestowed on me. With every inhale and exhale I will love. I will love.

When I think about how close to death Dylan came and how close to unimaginable grief I came I have to remind myself to breathe. But I can breathe. Today, I can hold my son in my arms with his dad and siblings nearby. And I can breathe.” —Colleen Bolton


Click on the slideshow to see images from the session or scroll down for more.


papers hanging on a fridge from a documentary family photography session
a mother puts a bow in her daughter's hair and the girl has her mouth open in a painful expression
a man with scars on his knees sits on a bed near his twin boys
twin babies lie down on a bed one is looking at the other
a father and his older daughter care for a baby boy
A girl plays on a changing table in between two cribs
a toddler puts her hand on her baby brother's head as he is being fed a bottle by his mother
A mother and father feed their twin sons in their nursery while their daughters play in the boys' cribs
a girl sits on a bed looking at her baby brother
A mother holds her baby son and looks at him
A mother puts her hand on her son's face as he looks at the camera
A mother holds her infant son in the corner of a living room as her two daughters play on their own
two girls climb on a fence
A father embraces his daughter and smiles
a father holds open a grill and a mother sits on a chair as they watch their daughters play in their backyard
a couple embraces in their backyard
a father holds his daughter who is reaching out and pointing to her smiling mother in a playful way
An infant boy looks up at his mom who has her hand on him
a girl wearing a shirt that says sister squad leans back against a table and smiles
a family lounges on a couch in their living room
A father holds his arms up ready to catch his daughter who is walking towards him on the couch
A mother holds her twin baby as a father holds a drink while being crawled on by his daughters
A mother and father hold their twin sons
A baby sits in a rocker and looks up at the camera
A girl stands on an ottoman in front of a dinosaur poster with a dinosaur toy in her mouth

A Day in the Life of my Life, Atlanta Family Photographer


From wake to sleep

Girl sleeps peacefully in a bed

I always like to start my year with an inspiring course that will challenge my growth as a photographer. For the final assignment of this year's course, The Documentary Approach, I had to do A Day in the Life of my own family. While I document my children every week as part of my Portrait of Play project, I had never photographed a day of our family life in its entirety. I went to bed with my camera beside me ready to wake up and capture the day as it happened all the way until bedtime. There was nothing special about the day. Nothing was scheduled, and we never even left the house. I took pictures like I would if I were photographing another family and also while nursing and vacuuming. It's safe to say that this is something I will continue to do every year as a way to record the things that stay the same and the things that change in our family life from year to year. The photos remind me of these things that I don't want to forget that define this time in our life:

-Winnie coming up to bed with us in the middle of the night every night. Waking up with her next to me.

-The furniture that James made for us that will be part of our life throughout the years.

-The exhaustion. Serious. Lack. Of. Sleep. Such is life when you have young children and you like to work until 2 am most nights.

-How much Roland loves James.

-The way my kids entertain themselves and me. My mom once said I should just record everything that happens here or stream it as a reality tv show. Their imaginations delight me.

-How Chuck sometimes wants to take showers by herself instead of baths with her sister.

-The little details that may go unnoticed to everyone else but are visually a part of our every day life: James' resistance band, the chalkboard wall, the rug, the coffee cups, the toys, the boxes from the car seats they will be in for the next several years, and the painting that is hanging in the girls' room. These are all things that make our house a home.

-The work that never ends, dishes, laundry, meals, pottying, nursing, changing, repeat, repeat, repeat.

-Atlas, the dog we had before we had kids, the dog who is not getting any younger.

This year has been rough. I mean, having three kids is crazy. In the same breath that I am already aching for the days I know I'll miss (that have not even passed yet), I am dreaming about 3 years from now when I will hopefully have more personal space, time to myself, and sleep. Because I know this day in our life will look different next year, I went ahead and printed these in a photo book so I could look at them without having to search through an old external hard drive to find them. My future self thanks me. 

While I was able to include my presence in these photographs, I am very glad my dear friend Anda Marie will be taking photos of our family this month. My family through my lens is different than my family through the lens of another. Plus, I want to be able to see myself with my children, and I want them to see me with them. My future self thanks me for that too.


Man yawns in a kitchen and a girl eats breakfast
still life of coffee and phone with a sleep chart on a table
Child puts hand into a plastic bowl of Grapenuts
Girl with a milk moustache laughs in a kitchen
Girl makes face at sister while opening the dishwasher
Child in red pajamas with head in the box while lying on the ground
Baby boy stands up in crib and looks in the camera
Girl sits in bath tup and puts her hands and feet together
baby slumps over in a jumper flanked by full laundry baskets
A girl sits on the toilet while another girl jumps on a bed
Baby holds bowl of yogurt close to his face
Girl in shower with tongue out of her mouth
Child stands on a stool and leans over into the washing machine
Man lies on a couch and looks at his phone
baby smiles and looks at his dad
Reflection of woman holding camera with a child on her back
Baby looks at mother while nursing as seen from mother's perspective
Dog looks at boy in a highchair in a kitchen while a girl reaches into a cabinet behind it
3 children play with pretend food in an oven
baby holds  on to child's shopping cart with a pretend kitchen
Mother vacuums while baby holds onto it taken from the mother's perspective
A child sits on a couch as a baby stands under a table and a girl sits in a laundry basket and talks on a phone
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Girl writes on cardboard house with marker while sticking her tongue out
A girl gets ready to squeeze oranges as another girl looks over
A toddler sits on a potty chair in a bathroom with her arm stretched out toward the person taking the picture
A girl opens a door to go outside while a girl carries the top of a pineapple behind her
The top of a pineapple planted in a pot with dirt around it
A man and two children cut carrots with knives
A man lies on a couch looking at his phone while a child climbs on him and another child lies on the floor in front of him
A father puts pajamas on a baby who is holding onto his leg and another child leans on a couch beside him
A girl yawns as a father dumps pee in a toilet and another girl looks at the camera while brushing her teeth
A baby smiles at one sister while his dad sets him on another child lying in a bed
two children sleep in a bed

I'd love to spend some time in your home with your family. It doesn't have to be for a full day. You don't have to be at your prepregnancy weight. Your house doesn't have to be clean. Your kids don't have to behave. You just have to be you. 

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three photo albums on a piano
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An evening at home with the Schroeder Family, Atlanta Family Photographer


Songs, swings, and so much JOY!

Girl sitting on mother's lap while other children bounce on the trampoline

You can imagine my excitement when I found out I was going to be able to photograph a family with a 5 year old and 3 1/2 year old triplets. I love chaos, and big families, and lots of activity, and I knew it was going to be so much fun! While it was all those things, it was so, so much more. Each child was their own perfectly distinct personality that complimented the family dynamic. Of course there was a lot of activity, but as I watched Mom and Dad pushing the children on the swings, the kids were all singing, and it was completely calm. The swings would occasionally all sync up as the kids belted the melodies. The swings themselves were like the strings of an instrument, chords made of individual notes gently strummed by Mom and Dad. Okay, maybe that's a cheesy metaphor, but I really could have listened to this family sing and swing all night. I'm never not amazed by the families I photograph.

I know it's not easy to open your home up to have your daily life photographed. It's also not easy to get into the frame with your children. But, when you do, you give your kids the gift of being able to see how you jumped with them on the trampoline and how you wrestled with them on the couch. They get to see the ways you loved them with snuggles, and books, and color coordinated cups, and they will be able to see the joy they had through it all.


child with hand on window looking out of house
siblings hugging with child looking up and smiling
girl smiling and holding brother who is crawling
children in bedroom standing on bed looking at art on the walls
child smiling and jumping off a trunk
father snuggling child who is smiling
boy in pretending to kick another boy who is smiling
Boy dancing on the trampoline
Mom and Dad pushing four children on swings
Boy on a swing singing
image from above of mom pushing two children on swings
Image of girl smiling while swinging
Mom and dad pushing four children on swings who are all going at different times
Daughter and mother looking at each other while sitting with family
Mother and daughter jumping together on a trampoline
Girl jumping on the trampoline with her mom
Boy on his hands with his legs in the air on the trampoline
Two girls jumping on a trampoline
environmental portrait of girl lying on a trampoline
Boy and girl shutting screen sliding door
Triplets drinking out of cups
Triplets eating pizza
Family at a dinner table mom picking up cup that had spilled
Girl looks at herself in the mirror and makes fishy lips
mother reading book to four children on the couch
Girl snuggles with mom as she reads a book to kids
Kids drinking out of cups with straws in a kitchen
A family sitting on the couch with kids laughing and goofing
Dad massages child's back while girl climbs on couch and boy in front dances
Dad kisses son who is smiling and girl in background holds onto another kid's legs