An afternoon at home with Stephanie and Haddie, Atlanta Family Photographer

a girl laughs as her mother catches her after a chase during a documentary family photography session

When Stephanie’s daughter lost her two front teeth, she knew it was a special fleeting time that she needed to have documented. During our session, she shared some of her thoughts with me around this milestone, and I asked if she would write them down so I could share them here. Stephanie and I had our daughters one month apart, and I’ve loved experiencing motherhood together with her from the first months of pregnancy. These words hit me hard as I know I will be looking at my own daughter’s toothless smile with bittersweetness sooner than I will be ready. Thanks so much for articulating this milestone so beautifully, Stephanie!

The In-Between

When I was pregnant, I worked hard to not spend the whole 40 weeks simply waiting for baby. I made a point to treat both the pregnancy and the birth as their own sacred entities, rather than a means to an end. Through that journey, I got to know, trust, and honor myself and my body in ways I never had before. In that vein of awareness, when labor began, I was able to recognize that my pregnancy was ending, and soon all of the feelings—both physical and emotional—of that journey would be gone with it. Somehow, I managed to have the same level of consciousness around the birthing process and, when my daughter was born, was able to—amid the chaos—take time to both greet the new life I’d helped create and hold reverent the work I’d just done. Taking those moments to notice the new feelings of an empty belly and life on the outside helped create a pause that forbade me from missing my transition into motherhood. The very moment I became a mother, I experienced a fundamental change in how I perceived and operated within the world. I needed time to process that change, and am grateful to have had the intuitive notion to take the time to do so, rather than simply barreling ahead into this new life.

As with my experience with pregnancy and birth, I have found some places to mark time and have closure along the parenting journey: when my daughter hit major milestones, when she weaned, when she started school…her first this or first that. But, there are so many other things, in between, that I haven’t been able to put a stamp on: when did she stop saying “mazagine” instead of “magazine” or “vecause” instead of “because”? When did she become capable of doing so many things I thought I’d be doing for her for who-knows-how-long? When did she begin to become big?

Logically, I know it’s been happening all along, but in the day-to-day, I don’t notice the little changes as they come, or realize I need to say goodbye to those pieces of her left behind in the wake of new developments. The growing child has no boundaries. We may be aware of when a new chapter has started, but we rarely know when the one before has ended. It’s not often that we get to put closure on the child who was before we start getting to know the child who is. And so, the moments that are full of joy and accomplishment are often equally full of grief and mourning as we bid farewell to our child as we knew them for such a finite amount of time, and welcome the new version in…and it goes on…this revolving door of childhood.

My daughter began 1st grade in August, and the last few months have brought a world of change. The philosophy of the school where my daughter attends imparts wisdom around a period called “The Six Year Change.” The idea highlights this age as a major transitional point that looks and feels like a prequel to adolescence: the body changes, the teeth change, attitudes change (for better and worse), and the baby within the child starts to disappear. I’ve been [mostly] enjoying the experience of my daughter’s growth over these months, but when her top two front teeth fell out last month, it struck me that it was time for me to prepare to bid farewell to my baby, and welcome my daughter as the whole, beautiful, brilliant, challenging human she is becoming. It occurred to me that we are in a time of in-between, and the window in her smile is a beautifully bittersweet reflection of this very thin window separating her early childhood from all that is to come. In that moment of realization, I felt a strong need to take some time to hold space around this moment in our lives, and give it a bit of closure…not for my daughter, but for me. Children don’t miss being babies, they long to be big, and it is my job as her mother to be able to let go so that I can support and revel in her bigness, just as I did in her littleness.

Thanks, Kaleen, for creating this time capsule for us. I will hold this moment close to my heart as I love on my big girl, and miss my baby.
— Stephanie Singletary

a young girl stands on her tippy toes to look at herself in the mirror to put on makeup while her mom is putting on makeup in the background
A young girl holds a makeup brush to her cheek and smiles with a toothless smile
Young girl stands on an indoor swing during documentary family photography session
A young girl walks on hardwood floors with tights not pulled on all the way during documentary family photography session
a young girl makes a funny face in the mirror as her mom combs her hair during a documentary family photography session
Several Barbies float in bathwater in a bathtub during a documentary family photography session
A mother puts her daughter's hair in pigtails during a documentary family photography session
A young girl sits on a swing in her house while her mom holds the swing and looks up at her during a documentary family photography session
A girl puts her hand against a wall to push she and her dog in a red swing during a documentary family photography session
a young girl lies on her mother's lap and closes her eyes during a documentary family photography session
A girl eats a snack and smiles up at her mom with a toothless smile during a documentary family photography session
a mother touches her smiling daughter's nose as they sit next to each other during a documentary family photography session
a young girl laughs while eating a snack and lying on a large dog bed during a documentary family photography session
a young girl lies back on her mother as they sit together on the ground as a small dog lounges on the couch behind them during a documentary family photography session
a young girl climbs a tree and looks back at her mother with a worried face during a documentary family photography session
a mother roars with hands out to her daughter who is facing her and laughing during a documentary family photography session
a young girl looks up at her mom as she pulls her shirt with her teeth during a documentary family photography session
a mother smiles as she watches her daughter on a swing during a documentary family photography session
a girl smiles with joy as she swings on a swing during a documentary family photography session
A mom whispers into her daughters ear while she is on a swing during a documentary family photography session
a girl laughs as her mom tags her during a game of chase during a documentary family photography session
A girl runs in on direction as her mother runs in another direction during a game of chase during a documentary family photography session

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

Practical Magic


I know that It’s mini session season. I know families everywhere are getting all dressed up, going to a park of the photographer’s choosing, and signing up for a short slot to get that perfect Christmas card portrait. I know that is an affordable way to get a family picture, and I know those images are great. But, those are not the images of your family that I want to show you.

I don’t want to do a mini session with you, I want to do a maxi session (lol, that’s a terrible name, but you get my point). Maximum time spent with you, maximum attention to only your family, maximum moments that are yours, not elicited with prompts or conjured with bribes. I want to have the time and space with you to show you, as Caroline says, the “ordinary magic that happens when the minutes are sluggish and haphazard in their marching out.” I want to get bored with you, frustrated with you, overwhelmed with you, and show you what it felt like so you can remember it all.

I know it requires some guts to let someone into your private spaces to really see you for a whole day. Inevitably, it will be messy at times, and there will most likely be tears and tantrums. I understand that, and I hold space for that. I acknowledge the difficult moments along with the joyful moments and believe they are all worthy of being seen and remembered as evidence of the humanity within the home.

So here’s the full day of the Kolts family. Zella the brave is a precocious three year old, the kind of kid whose genuine curiosity is contagious. Foster the kindhearted draws you in with those big blue eyes and flashes a smile that makes you feel seen and loved. These two are two forces that I am excited will be living in the same world my children grow up in. Aunt Christina offers an extra set of arms for holding and playing and gardening and teaching. Patrick is a photographer, and although his family has no shortage of gorgeous images that he has taken, I hope he is able to see himself as part of his family in a way that is impossible to do when you are in that moment living life. Caroline has an incredible way of stringing words together, so I asked her if she would write something that I could post with these images because I knew that whatever she came up with would more eloquently articulate what is so special about recording the moments that exist within the regular rhythm of life, and she nailed it.

“We wrote a marriage manifesto and a mission statement and none of it was intended for regular moments. Very little of my heart preparation for marriage felt practical and ordinary. Four years has been a string of days and every day a string of moments and all of it is regular. Practical. Ordinary.

I knew enough about marriage and babies and real life to know there were no unicorn fairies for bad days. What I didn’t expect, about being an adult, is that there is an ordinary magic that happens when the minutes are sluggish and haphazard in their marching out. The rhythm of dinners and diapers and tantrums and talent shows - the mess and order of it all is important and mysterious. In between proper presentations and before the hair brushing struggle is over, we are alive and this is magic. The magic and beauty of all the ordinary glory both grounds us inside and transports us outside these moments in our everyday - the good, bad, and impossible.

And we are in the magic of it - the practical magic of a manifesto that is [actually] ordinary, a mission statement that is as much about the dirt under our nails as the stars in our eyes, as much about spilled milk as sacred delight. It is a wandering path toward holiness in the everyday, as Christ holds us together.

Ordinary and regular and slow and small. There was a time I might use those words with really dreadful sounding ones like banal and mundane. They were all knotted up like the tangled hair clumps I’ve been pulling out post-partum. Messy. But, I have felt the freedom of vernacular redemption. Or something like that.

The small things. The slow moments. The ordinary and regular marching out of minutes. These are sacred not because they are curated for social media distribution, but because this is our actual life. The laundry and the cluttered countertop and the list of things to do that is leftover from last month. We are living this story and it is magic.

Kaleen captured the ordinary magic - the moments we try to forget or struggle through. These photos are a reminder that every minute is good, every moment is treasure.”
— Caroline Kolts

I am so excited to finally be able to offer full Day in the Life sessions. When the photo session is one or two hours, it is too easily a separate thing from the rest of the day. With a Day in the Life session, the photo session IS the day, and there’s no escaping the reality and rawness of life as it is lived. I have space for one more Day in the Life session in December. Let me know if you are interested.

girl with arms around her mother's neck on a tiled floor
mother tickles daughter's stomach who is sitting on the kitchen counter
a woman puts her pinkie finger in a baby's mouth to feel for a tooth
A baby presses his hand on his mother's shoulder
A father lifts his child up into the air and kisses the top of his head
A man pushes a stroller while wearing a baby as two women with striped shirts walk on his sides
a baby sits in a stroller and rests his chin on the arm rest
a portrait of a girl in a pink dress with a watermelon seed stuck to her face
a baby sits in a jumpy chair
a little girl feeds a baby a carrot who is sitting on his mother's lap
a man works on a computer while a woman at the other end of the table balances two children on her lap
A mother holds and presses her face against the daughter she is holding
a father smiles as he holds his baby son
A little girl sniffs a tree with mulberries on it
A man takes a picture of mulberries in his wife's hands while holding a baby as their daughter points at the mulberries
a mother nurses her baby and her baby holds her finger
A man holds a baby and looks into a room with a mom and a daughter
a man embraces his daughter on the couch next to his wife and daughter
A woman walks through a doorway while embracing her son as a man helps his daughter put on her shorts in the bathroom next door
a baby chews on his mother's hair as she buttons his onsie
a mother smiles at her baby son
A man and woman embrace
a child runs towards her mother who has her arms open ready to embrace her
a mother smiles while embracing her daughter
a child stands by a crayon post on a path as her aunt and mother look at her
a child lies on her mother while walking through a tunnel
A child runs to embrace her father who is sitting with his arms open
A mother kisses her son's cheek at the table with her daughter and husband watching
a family sits together in their living room
a girl claps her hand in excitement while playing a game
a woman dances on the couch as her family watches
a man takes a video of his baby child

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