He’ll cringe at this public PDA, but I’ve always taken great pride in my ability to express myself using words, and I feel so lucky to have a platform in which to share my thoughts in this way, so I’m going to do exactly that in honour of my beautiful man’s birthday today. Aidan, my partner, my love.
I’ve been spending a lot of time over recent weeks just “sitting with my stuff”. I have built a ritual into my day that involves meditation and journaling, and recently I have added reading poetry into the mix. It may sound “woo-woo” but I can feel things starting to shift, and space being created to really reflect on, and find clarity around the things that are important in my life. I find myself appreciating and being so much more grateful for things I hadn’t been in the past.
Beau Taplin, the author of “Bloom” wrote the following:
“Often, when we have a crush, when we lust for a person, we see only a small percentage of who they really are. The rest we make up for ourselves. Rather than listen, or learn, we smother them in who we imagine them to be, what we desire for ourselves, we create little fantasies of people and let them grow in our hearts. And this is where the relationship fails. In time, the fiction we scribble onto a person falls away, the lies we tell ourselves unravel and soon the person standing in front of you is almost unrecognisable, you are now complete strangers in your own love. And what a terrible shame it is. My advice: pay attention to the small details of people, you will learn that the universe is far more spectacular an author than we could ever hope to be.”
― Beau Taplin
I know I’m not the only one who resonates with this quote! I have always been the kind of person who truly believed that if your relationship was “good” and if you were in “real” love, that meant you didn’t fight. Because if you had fights and if you spent time mad at each other, and if you were ever left disappointed or dissatisfied in your relationship then clearly it was a bad relationship and clearly it wasn’t “real” love. In the past, the honeymoon period of the relationship would end and that’s when I would call time on it.
What I have learned with this beautiful man of mine, is that REAL love and GOOD relationships are HAAAAARD to maintain, but holy shit are they worth it when you do the work. And yes it takes work, a lot of it. It’s takes a lot of choosing, continually, to stay in. It’s a rollercoaster. Especially when you have the added dynamics of kids, stepkids and co-parents. It takes a lot of compromise. It’s uncomfortable - you have to face up to the things you really don’t want to. You have to realise that they aren’t perfect, but neither are you. It can be maddening. It can be chaotic. It can make each of you mad as hell questioning EVERYTHING. But IT IS ALWAYS BEAUTIFUL.
I will so gladly spend the rest of my life on this wild ride with this man. Underneath it all, he may not have been exactly what I wanted when I imagined my dream man, but he is exactly what I needed, and that is the most wonderful realization of them all.
It’s choosing to see and love each other for what we are, not the fictional characters we want each other to be. It is knowing that we are two different people, with two different sets of needs, two different stories, and finding a middle ground. That’s love.
I choose him every day. That is real love, to me. Good days and bad days. It is choosing to grow together.
In celebration of this gorgeous man turning 36 today, I’m FINALLY sharing some photos from our adventure to the Pacific Northwest in February this year. This area of the USA has been on my bucket list for a long time, and it didn’t disappoint. These photographs are from our day at La Push Beach, WA, our day in the Hoh Rainforest, WA which was blanketed in snow (a rare event, we were told) and Ruby Beach, WA. Each of these places was virtually empty of people when we visited, so it was an incredible treat for us.
Happy Birthday, Aidan, my love! You are so fiercely loved. You are the best Dad, partner and friend. Life with you is so good.
“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
-From the Parent’s Tao Te Ching by William Martin
Where do I even begin with this wonder of a family. From the moment I stepped into their incredible Alistair Knox home (yes, I am a complete Architecture fangirl and this house did not disappoint!), I was enveloped in the warm, loving, cosy vibe that permeated from the walls.
The morning was spent jumping on furniture, painting leaves, eating homemade delights and drinking sweet tea. Cuddles in bed, reading the most delightful book and collecting wild flowers in the back yard. And the best part for me? I hardly directed any of it.
Kate and Haslett, the two incredibly talented artists behind Coco Flip, just wanted a normal morning at home with their girls, Mariko and Juniper, captured. For me, this was a dream. As a family they moved together so easily. Loved on each other so fully. Played and laughed so freely. It was nothing short of magic.
I am so lucky to meet and tell the stories of such wonderful people!
I am lucky to so often photograph the journey into parenthood when clients book in for maternity and newborn sessions. It's truly my favourite thing, with a special place in my heart for first time parents like Sarah and Rabb. The anticipation, the preparation and the total uncertainty about what lies ahead. There's a unique kind of calm that comes with photographing a maternity session with two people about to become three. There isn't a toddler running the show. There isn't yet a baby to focus love and attention on. There's just two loved-up people, right on the cusp of the biggest transformation of their lives, and it's so, SO beautiful to document.
The best part? Coming back to photograph them once their baby is here, and witnessing that all encompassing love they never could have imagined before.
But, what makes this particular series of sessions SO special, is that I was also invited to photograph the caesarean birth of Sarah and Rabb's sweet baby boy and it was truly one of the most wonderful photography experiences of my life. While I have photographed many births in the past, this was my first time documenting a caesarean and it couldn't have been more wonderful. The doctors, nurses and staff were so welcoming and accommodating, allowing me to document every special moment for my incredible clients. It was so powerful and I cried my way through, feeling so utterly privileged to be allowed into that space.
There is so much love, care, warmth and joy in this series of photographs.
I want to thank Sarah and Rabb for inviting me into their home, and into their birth suite, to document this incredible time in their lives, and for allowing me to share Rafael's gorgeous story with you all.
Finding flow in the slow.
The beauty of waking up with a family and spending an entire day photographing them is that I get to tap into their rhythm. Waking up and documenting that bed hair, those messy sheets, the warm, squishy cuddles, sleepy eyes.
Together we move through the day. Meals. Naps. Bathtime. Story time. Walk time. We follow the light, the mood, the children. Everything is slower and gentler.
The Wahls family welcomed me into their incredible Chicago farmhouse and I was immediate enveloped in the warmth and peace a home like this brings. I met Kristin at a photography camp last year in the US, and I feel so lucky to call her a friend. She and Aaron truly made me feel part of their family during my stay and it’s a time that I hold so dear. Those boys, those sweet, beautiful boys, completely stole my heart and I miss them every time I look at these photographs.
To be able to travel the world and photograph families is an honour and a privilege, and not something I’ll ever take for granted.
Grab a cuppa, because this is a long one. But I promise by the end you’ll feel as warm and fuzzy as I did while photographing this beautiful family.
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh