growing up on a small mountain in tennessee, we had fog.  and i don’t mean a light hazy fog, i’m talking about the real can’t-see-the-car-in-front-of-you sort of fog that my mom always declared “thicker than pea soup.”   it comes with the territory of living so close to the clouds (but really, life changed the year they installed those road reflectors.  some days they were the only thing you could see when driving)

here in baltimore, thick fog is a rare thing, and something i’ve never had to think about on shooting days…. until the day of the S family shoot.   that morning, i looked out the window and cringed.  the light was gorgeous, it wasn’t going to rain, and it was wasn’t too cold, but i knew i had to call the S family, certain i was about to hear the usual “we were really hoping for a bright sunny day for our family photos.”   don’t get me wrong, i totally understand wanting blue skies and sunshine, but when the whole sky turns into a beautiful soft box of moody, feathered light, i get itchy to get out there.

so there i am at the window, phone ringing, still in my pj’s thinking we’re off for the morning.   R picks up, and i’m stunned by what she says next: “the photos are about our family, not the weather. if you think it will be good, let’s do it.”

and that, my friends, is what makes the S family so beautiful.  they get it.

so often, we lifestyle photographers have to rally parents to get in the frame, be present and be with your child in the moment.  be REAL.  we want you to forget about hair or wrinkles or those last five pounds or perfect weather.  capture the now that your child is in– the now that has you being YOU in it.  you may or may not radically change in the next two years, but it’s guaranteed that your child will.  these little years are fleeting, and if you don’t put your focus in the right place, they might just pass you by.

but, like i said, the s fam gets it.  they embrace the perfectly imperfect and honor life exactly how it is: beautiful, real, and, most importantly, now

gorgeous light and a fun, easy-going family… could i possibly ask for more?

this was my third session with the M family, and i have adored shooting with them every single time.  little mister m is cute as a button– even when the thinks i’m 100% crazy (because trying to keep him apart from his sudden and very deep love of bamboo makes me a crazy person, right?  talk about a bamboo forest in the wrong place at the wrong time ha! no worries, m&m’s were on the scene.  life went on.)

as adorable as mister m is, the thing i love most about working with the M family is that they have a sort of effortless realness about them.   it’s a beautiful thing to see, and even more beautiful to photograph…

it’s my favorite kind of perfect.

shoots can be intimidating.  especially ones with people who have big titles and important jobs- and even more so when one’s husband has been training under their supervision for several years.

my first session with the S family began with me feeling a little timid about it all.  the funny thing about lifestyle family photography is that you need to get to the heart of the family, no matter what.  everyone feels weird in front of a camera, so it is my job to find the connection, find the fun, and pull out that gorgeous realness that makes a family a family.  it’s not a problem, because i tend to lose myself behind the camera and i’m sure i look absolutely nutty when doing so– no way anyone is staring at my clients when i’m hopping around making noises and singing songs.  but it all seemed a bit trickier going into a session where i wasn’t sure how much my get-that-real-smile-out-of-you tactics would embarrass my husband in the OR.  😉

turns out, that thing that happens when i put my camera to my face is much stronger than any other thought process, and i went right into my normal antics the second i met the S family.  the whole lead up to our first shoot was so silly– the S’s are wonderful and their kids have the most awesome personalities.  they are so much fun to work with!

all this talk about our first session and you’d think you get to see it, right?  wrong.  i got too far behind on blogging and it never happened.  BUT, fast forward a year and a half, and i got the joy of doing another session with them last fall– this time with a new member to the fam!   sweet mr T is just a bowl of happy (unless there are gnats.  truth.), and he definitely oozes personality just like miss B & big brother W.  it’s always fun to see how siblings interact in the little years, but these kids absolutely love each other.  so cue the slow clap for their parents- they are clearly doing something very very right.

it’s a funny thing when you befriend the kid before the parent.

several years ago, a good friend of mine was watching miss M when we met up for a playdate.  while i had heard rumors of her mama being super-fun, all i saw was one ridiculously gifted little 1-year-old.  (the kind of gifted that makes you cut off conversation and ask “did she just point out the quadratic equation!?”… ok maybe not that far, but give it a year or two.  point being, chick is smart. really smart.)

as it turns out, miss M’s mommy is not only super-fun and the owner of gifted offspring, she has quickly become one of my “go-to’s.”   you know, one of those girls you quickly call up for an impromptu pizza-arsenic-hour-playdate-with-kids-EVERYWHERE who you can also go out on the town with grownup-style, and you know you’ll have fun either way.  there are a handful of girls up here that keep me going, and she is one of them.  it’s a wonderful thing to find a mommy-friend who is going through the same things at the same time (like being mega pregnant with #2’s with very late-working husbands while chasing toddlers), but it’s even better when that person is someone you would be friends with even if kids weren’t in the picture.

so meet the M family.  they’re gorgeous, spontaneous, and the most fun you can get with two littles in the house. they are some of my favorites, and they really need to get going on that cage building for the teenage years with kids this good-looking.

this session was a loooong time in the making.   it started two maybe three years ago and things kept popping up, as they sometimes to do, pushing back our shoot.  life, kids, pregnancies, post-pregnancies, booked schedules- all got in the way until one beautiful evening in september when it all fell into place.  i absolutely love this family, so it is no surprise that i absolutely love working with them– they’re that type that is gorgeous from the inside out, and i’m so lucky to have gotten to know them over the past 3 years!

sweet miss o was such a beautiful newborn to photograph, and i was beyond excited to get to document the end of her first year a few months ago.  we decided to take a walk around the neighborhood on a perfect little path that winds around a small pond.   what i thought would simply be a meaningful location for the B family turned out to be a lovely area with even lovelier light– the perfect stage for a family so totally in love!

w family | baltimore child photographer

Posted on October 25, 2013

awkward timing on this one given the recent change from mild to frigid out, but why not throw a little hot, sweaty, july summer in here?!   had i been keeping up with this blog, you would have met little miss L at 6 days old about a year ago, but that blog post never happened, so meet miss L!  this little lady was just turning 1 and i loved getting to see how much she had changed since our first shoot!  during her newborn session, we discovered that miss L’s mama had lived in my husband’s home town (which is very small, so it was a bit of a “no way!” moment), and we were weeks away from moving 1 block away from the W family’s current home.  love how this old world feels so small and comfortable sometimes.

let’s just straighten up one little myth:  i’m still here.

i’ve just been stinking at keeping up with this little blog for- oh, well, you know- the last year and a half?  yikes.  i’ve realized that trying to keep in chronological order with sessions from 1 year ago just isn’t working for me— i’m much more excited about the stuff i’m cranking out now, and tracking down all the old files since the great computer crash of ’13 is just. not. fun. so here’s the new plan:  i’m going to start blogging stuff from this year, likely out of order, but it’s coming.  hopefully we’ll get some old stuff sprinkled in here and there, but no guarantees 🙂  onward and upward!

now on to the f family!  i met this awesome fam when they were a pack of 3, and miss z was just turning 1.  a crazy busy shooting schedule got in the way of doing awesome mr w’s newborn shoot, but i was thrilled that we were able to get a family session on the books a year later!  there is no denying that these little ones have awesome personalities (of course, i may just be biased because miss z reminds me so much of my own little lady), and they were just as awesome to work with- even with a huge storm rolling in closer by the minute.

if there is one reason to break my blog silence, it is this:  a cry for help.

a cry for help, for hope, for prayer, for compassion, and for strength.  as much as you can give, and as much as they can get.

meet the Malins.

i had the pleasure of getting to know the malin family back in may when one of my favorite clients set up a very spur-of-the-moment shoot for them.  the malins are one of those families that i love working with– they are the happy, laid-back, roll-with-the-punches sort that just oozes love and every good thing that makes a family a family.

so if you’ve tried to set up a session with me anytime in the past 2 years, you know that spur-of-the-moment just doesn’t happen unless it is planned at least 3 months in advance… but there are exceptions to every rule, and there comes a time in each person’s life when she is called on to serve a higher purpose.

you see, mike had just been diagnosed with a brain tumor for the second time and was in the beginning stages of radiation.  he had beat the C monster once before, but, with kids ages 3 and 1.5, a family shoot was in order before those all-familiar side effects of radiation kicked in.

unfortunately, after radiation, brain surgery, and rehab, the M family has just received the worst news possible:  mike’s doctors discovered new tumors that indicate that this is not a winning battle for him.  mike is now at home spending his last few days surrounded by love ones.  it is the hardest thing to think about sweet D & A losing such a fun, kind-spirited, amazing daddy, but my hope is that one day they will look back at these images and not just see, but feel how much their daddy loves them.  (because boy does he ever)

so this is where you come in:  do what you can.  pray. send strength to the malin family in any way you know how.  both mike and cathy stopped working in order to fight this cancer with everything they have, so one of the biggest things you can do is help the family with the mountain of medical bills they face by donating here:


any and every little thing helps, there is no donation too large or too small.

i can think of no better thing for us to do than to allow mike the peace of knowing that his young family will be taken care of

as i was sitting down to write this post, i flipped back through all of the images from our shoot and one theme seemed undeniable:  a mother’s love is a supernatural power.

there was one shot in particular where each mother was protectively looking over her child(ren)… it just happened… it was natural, instinctual, and something every mother can connect with instantly.  you can almost feel the total selflessness both Cathy and Mike’s mom have taken on– with a joyful, willing heart, no less….. almost as if neither realizes the depth of her sacrifice as she carries her family through this.

i can’t imagine being in either mother’s shoes… or maybe the horrifying truth is that i can, and it is unbearable even in thought alone.  both cathy and mike’s mom carry on with an elegant grace and calm power that you know wells up from something far beyond will.

in fact, everyone around the malin family comments on how how impossibly strong cathy is… but i think perhaps it’s not strength, perhaps it is love in love’s most perfect form.  afterall, even strength has its limits, but these women surpassed those long long ago.

{UPDATE:  9/10/13    Mike passed away last night.  while we lift him up and remember him,  we also need to surround and comfort his precious family as best we can.  keep up the good work with the donations– let’s take care of Mike’s family on his behalf and give Cathy and the kids the stability they need as they transition into a very difficult “new normal.”  i am heartened by the generosity of strangers, knowing that this is the sort of love that changes the world.}

{…for my power is made perfect in weakness  IIcor12:9 }

miss J is another one i’ve known since she was days old– and she happens to be part of one awesome family.  no, really.   it is very extremely rare for me to meet a client who makes me forget that i’m not back home in the heart of Dixie– must be something about that easy-going, friendly, fun way about them.   growing up, we always called this type of people “good folks” (you can go ahead and draw out that gooooood- and throw a little head nod in there for good measure).   good folks tend to raise good folks, so i think it’s safe to say that miss J has a great future laid out for her.

it’s hard to believe that miss J is already a big sister (let’s be realistic and say that you’ll be seeing that session way on down the road), but for now, here’s a little look at being 1.

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all images copyright 2010 amy mullins