A birthday to remember, Atlanta family photographer

Nicaragua and Indiana, Tortillas and S'mores

Two grandmothers reading a pop up book to a boy

If I had to give one and only one reason why photographs are important to me, it would be that they tell us who we are and where we came from. We are the products of the people and places that have brought us to the present and photographs are an honest way to tell that history. They help us see the present, connect us to our past, and they are what gets remembered in the future.

I have had the pleasure of including so many grandparents in my family sessions recently, and they are honestly my favorite. Not too long ago, I went through my old photos to try to find a picture of me with my own grandma as a kid. I couldn't find one. There might be one in someone's collection somewhere, but I don't have any, and I don't remember ever seeing one. This is pretty crazy since I lived only a mile away from my grandparents for my entire childhood. One mile away. I saw them all the time, yet that part of my story is missing in my photographic record, and it's a pretty big part of my story. The next time I am home visiting family, I will certainly be going through our photos to see if I can find one.

Laura reached out to me about documenting her family on her oldest son's birthday when her mother from Indiana and her mother-in-law from Nicaragua would both be visiting. Yes, yes, absolutely! Here are these two women who mothered their children in different cultures and somehow their children found each other and now here they are all together in a totally different place. This to me is everything, a visual narrative to a piece of family history. I think these are the types of photos that matter, the ones that bridge the gap between the past and the future. It's truly a pleasure to be a part of telling a family's legacy, and getting to take home a bag of warm homemade tortillas wasn't so bad either.

image from above of hands pressing tortillas
older woman presses a tortilla she's making between her hands
A man looks at his mother as she makes tortillas on the stove
Family roasts marshmallows around a fire pit
Boy eats a smore while holding a roasting stick with an adult
Two older women sit on a swing and eat smores
mother wipes boys face with a towel
a man and woman embrace while watching their mothers push their sons on swings
two grandmothers laugh while pushing children on swings

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