YAN FAM WAY WORKSHOP | MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Back in March, I attended the workshop of the incredible Yan Palmer of YANphotography in Phillip Island, just outside of Melbourne.  Yan, a US based photographer, is renowned for being the "it-girl" of modern family lifestyle photography.   My expectations for the day were high, I was buzzing with excitement, and she did not disappoint. The experience started a few days before the workshop with a full review and feedback of my work, my website, blog and social media.  The review was in depth, harsh (in a completely constructive way) and meaningful.  The biggest thing I took away from her feedback, and into the workshop, was WHY does my personal work differ so greatly from my paid client work?  Why am I not exercising the creative freedom and embracing the imperfection when money is involved?  It was a lightbulb moment.  While my client work was technically good, well lit, well composed etc, it lacked the heart, depth and soul of my personal work.

This lightbulb moment stirred an enormous change within me.  The more Yan's words resonated on the day, the more I realised what the root of this was.  I cried, I nodded and I knew what I needed to do.

Almost two years ago, the life I imagined and dreamed for myself and my family was thrown upside down.  I separated from my son's Dad, and embarked on the journey of single parenthood.  It was an impossibly hard decision, but something that needed to happen.  This has always been something I've kept private when it came to my professional persona.  Photographing happy, very together (!) families, I believed that I needed to present myself as the same.  Even up until recently, past clients have asked me if I'm thinking about having another baby, having absolutely no idea that I have been raising this little man on my own for almost two years.  When I looked at how this related to my work - I realised that when I am shooting just for me, I am free to be the messy, imperfectly perfect Mum and human that I am.  I was so scared that if people saw my struggles, saw that I wasn't the perfect picture of family and togetherness, that I wouldn't get booked.  But in doing that, I lost sight of myself, and to an extent, that came through in my client work.  I was too focused on things being so perfect, that I wasn't seeing what was really there, and I wasn't putting my truth and my heart into what I was photographing.

The biggest thing that I took away from Yan is, my journey isn't something I should hide, ever.  The messy, the difficult and the hard are all things that have made me who I am - and I need to celebrate it.   I have decided that from this point forward, I will shoot from my soul at EVERY session, showing people how beautiful their lives are, even the messiest, hardest parts, because that is where we truly connect.  I get it.  Life is so far from perfect, no matter who you are, but it's still amazing and beautiful - all of it.

We were so lucky to get a chance to see Yan in action at a shoot in the afternoon.  Here are some images I took of the most gorgeous little family.

Yan, thank you for allowing me to see that imperfection and truth is something to be celebrated.

LOREN + CALVIN | MALI BRAE FARM, FITZROY FALLS NSW | MELBOURNE HIPSTER WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

Loren and Calvin's love-filled, uber trendy, family-centred wedding at Mali Brae Farm in Fitzroy Falls, NSW was a dream to photograph.  Shooting with the incredible Sandra Henri Photography was a career highlight - she has been my friend, mentor and inspiration from the beginning of my photography journey.  I truly believe the universe decided that we needed to be friends at that moment, many years ago - and since that day we have led almost parallel lives.  We laugh about the coincidences, the similarities and the connection that we share.  I am so grateful for our friendship, and I am so grateful to have shared Loren and Calvin's wedding day with her, guiding me, teaching me and best of all, just allowing me to be me. This wedding was full of funny, real, joyful moments, as well as some beards, suspenders and waxed-up moustaches thrown in for good measure.  Enjoy!

ATTENBOROUGH FAMILY | BAYSIDE FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER

Susannah emailed just before she was due to have her first baby looking for a lifestyle photographer.  Her family from England were flying in to celebrate and support her when the baby was born, and she wanted that incredibly special and important time captured.  I can't tell you just how much fun we had!  We chose Ricketts Point, near Mentone in Melbourne.  It's renowned for its rock pools and calm bayside waters which would be perfect to occupy Susannah's young nephew and niece.  I only shoot beach sessions during golden hour at either end of the day for optimal light, and on this (early!) Summer morning, the grey cloud threatened rain during our whole shoot!  Thankfully it held off and I was able to capture the beautiful, close bond of this family.

THE SIMES FAMILY | WELCOMING ISSAC | LIFESTYLE NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY

This session encompasses what it really is to welcome a second baby into a home already occupied by a toddler... I have known Bridget since I was born (our Mums are best friends), and it has been a pretty special thing to document her welcoming both of her babies

THE GROENEN FAMILY | DANDENONG RANGES FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER

- The light - Mila's wild hair

- Jasmin + Joel's looks of adoration for each other and their girl

These are just a few of the things I loved about photographing this family.  Jasmin wanted a relaxed, casual family lifestyle session in a beautiful location with beautiful light, which is exactly what we did.