wasilla newborn photography

All the Things That No One Says | Anchorage, Alaska Maternity and Newborn Photographer | Moss and Myrrh Photography

Gus + Tom + Anne Marie

I can’t believe it’s been almost 2 YEARS since I shot these sessions and yeah, I’m just now getting around to editing them. This wasn’t your average session..many moons ago I did a model call for a mother that would be interested in documenting an entire year of her life before and after baby. I didn’t want this to just be pretty pictures, I wanted it to be real, REALLY real, and honestly? Uncomfortable. Not because I enjoy making anyone uncomfortable (just kidding, I do when it comes to this subject..ha!) but because I feel like a large part of motherhood and the process of being a mother is kept quiet. While I may not ever be a mother myself, I do work with women on a constant basis..women who are in their most vulnerable state, completely exhausted both mentally and physically. I hear their pain and I know it exists, but those thoughts/words are too taboo to be said out in the real world.

The words/thoughts I’m referring to are the ones that make people squirm. You see, there is this idea that you must ALWAYS be grateful for the child you are pregnant with. You must ALWAYS feel an instant connection. You must not speak words of regret, wishing for something other than this, or dreaming of a life without this little life, because why? Well, they’re precious gifts, aren’t they?! No way are they exhausting both mentally and physically. No way do they literally turn your life upside down and completely change EVERYTHING. No way are they human beings themselves with their own intricate problems. No. Way.

Women are seen as some sort of devil if they feel anything beyond complete and total love and well, it’s bullshit. Life is not black and white and so many dynamics are coming into play here.

ANYWAY, back to the project (so side tracked always), I wanted to work with a woman who was willing to talk about all the “bad”. I wanted other women to hear her words and know that they aren’t alone, their feelings are valid, they are NOT crazy or wrong. Anne Marie met me a coffee shop and instantly, we connected. She told me all the “bad”, how she didn’t feel a connection to this human growing inside of her. How she also suffered horribly from depression + anxiety without even being pregnant, so this was a whole other level. She was scared of the future. She was scared of how this baby was going to change everything. She was scared.

And so I knew, she was the one. THE ONE. But then..life it can be an ironic asshole, can’t it? And so it was. I got a text from Anne Marie on a very cold winter day telling me that baby Gus was here! Of course, he didn’t come “as planned” (hate that term, there is no plan, the do what they want) and Anne Marie had to have an emergency cesarean. All I could think and worry about when I read that text was her mental health. We both agreed that the birth of this baby would probably be what gave her a sense of reality, that this was real, this baby was hers. It was SO hers it came right out of her vagina..but it didn’t. Add the physical healing on top of the mental junk and yeah, I worried about her. I got to her for a newborn session (we live eons apart..just kidding, an hour and a half) at around 3 weeks I think? Maybe 2? I have no clue anymore, but she was exhausted. Maybe she seemed more exhausted to me because I’m used to moms putting on a front for me. They want perfectly beautiful pictures. Anne Marie knew I didn’t want that though and she didn’t either, this shit was real. So, she she showed and told me her most vulnerable. She continuously suffered with mastitis. I mean, CONTINUOUSLY. Eventually, she had to stop breastfeeding all together because it never ended. She showed me the beautiful cut across her belly where this little human emerged. She told me about her exhaustion, anxiety, and depression. “Luckily” (because this isn’t lucky, this is how it’s supposed to be) she has an amazing husband who is as supportive as it gets. He knows/knew her mental illnesses well, he knows/knew her boundaries.

This is where I dropped the ball though and I’ll forever be guilty. I think the darkest times after a baby are well, after the baby..like sometimes months. Once you get passed the newborn phase where it’s pretty cut and dry..eat, sleep, poop, die from exhaustion, repeat, you have to learn how to mold your entire life around this tiny human being. I really wanted to document that with Anne Marie because I knew she’d be blunt and tell me truly how that was going for her. Irony of all irony though, my husband deployed and then my mental and physical health fell apart. I lost all my motivation for this project and then I got so physically ill (literally random exorcist vomiting) for months that just the thought of driving over there was too much for me.

That’s life, though. It’s like, “oh, you want to document an entire year of a woman struggling through mental shit while also trying to love a new human?”, “here is a steaming pile of your own shit to struggle through..enjoy”. And so that’s how it went and I never got back over there in the timeframe I wanted to.

I DID get to document them a couple of weeks ago as a family with a TODDLER, though. Per usual we talked about things no one wants to hear. Gus is a wildling and Anne Marie has a grin that spans her face whenever she looks at him. You can tell she is head over heels in love with this boy (and Tom too, of course) but he did change everything. He did throw a wrench in their future plans. They do think about all the things they’re missing out on. And before you start shaming them in your head, stop, come down off that horse Karen (sorry, to all the Karens reading this). YOU ARE ALLOWED TO HAVE THESE THOUGHTS. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. Enough with the perfect parent BS. Enough. You’re allowed to have regrets, be exhausted, and dream of what your life would’ve been without your kids. I’m not judging you and if anyone else is judging you, they’re lying to themselves.

Life is not black and white, your thoughts/feelings and “what if’s”? They’re perfectly valid. I have them, you have them, we all have them. So anyway, to the mama reading this that thinks she’s alone in these thoughts, you are not. If you ever want to write a long email and confide in me everything you think someone else will judge you for just to get it out there, do it. I’m here, always. Oh, and I love you and you have a whole team of people that love you..even if you can’t feel it right now.

Last thoughts..postpartum depression is REAL. If you see someone that is struggling, please reach out. We have got to do a better job of listening and supporting women. Life and community are not what they once were. This isn’t a 50’s sitcom. There is no longer a village..there is a woman sitting alone in her house with social media being her main form of human contact. She’s lonely and all she wants is a break, a shower, some real food, someone to talk to about all the above shit no one wants to hear. Offer to make them dinner, fold their laundry, take them to the doctor (for that medication that is also so taboo) WATCH THEIR BABY, so they can go take a shower and be a human for 5 seconds..anything to make them not feel so alone.

Anyway, here are some pretty pictures. There are NIPPLES happening in this newborn session so if you can't handle BREASTS, don’t scroll down..also, I don’t know how you got here since I openly show women giving birth, but that’s for another post.

Enjoy. xx

P.S.- Anne Marie, I love you. Thank you for your vulnerability and mostly, thank you for being a friend (cue Golden Girls music). I’m so glad I know you and we (+ Tom, can’t forget Tom) can have way too serious conversations in your kitchen about way too serious matters. You’re amazing in every way.

Baby M | In Home Newborn Photographer | Anchorage, Alaska

Ahh, this session..my heart. This was originally supposed to be a Fresh 48 but the weather prevented me from getting there on time and in the end, we opted to do an in home newborn session. I'm not going to lie, I'm SO glad we went this route. Their home was a neutral heaven and as you've heard me say about 10,000x, shooting in home makes my heart explode every single time. This doesn't even begin to show how many pictures were in this gallery, but I HAD to narrow it down. Ha!

This session is all neutrals, sweet cuddles, a cute dog, and an adorable big brother..a few of my favorite things. <3 

Have your own little due and want to book a session? I've got room for a few more summer sessions!

First 72 | In Home Newborn Session | Anchorage Newborn Photographer

Here's a little something new I'm starting, First 72's! Instead of Fresh 48's, where I come to you (usually the hospital) within 48 hours of baby's arrival, I'm now pushing that to 72 hours. I've had a lot of Fresh 48's booked in the last few months and almost all of them got changed to 72 hours. Going into their homes and working with them in that time frame vs. 48 hours, I realized things were MUCH smoother and less stressful for parents. We also get to shoot in home, which is what I love most. Hospitals have their purpose, but they can be so limiting with what I can do since we're stuck with one window (that's usually throwing harsh light) + a whole lot of equipment shoved in a small room. First 72's IN home? That's where it's at, guys! By going this route I'm also able to give a lot more in galleries (see below) because everyone just seems more comfortable. I can't explain it, but being in your home is such an awesome option when photographing your fresh baby.

These sessions are simple. Once baby arrives you contact me asap so we can get a date + time scheduled. These are not like newborn sessions where we can wait for weeks, these are shot within 72 hours of birth, so it's crucial we schedule immediately. Unlike newborn sessions, we won't be changing outfits or going room to room. This session is a little more raw and we basically just hang out in bed the whole time. If there are siblings, they're more than welcome to jump in too! 

We'll hang out for a little over an hour just soaking in your fresh babe and all their newness. Those first few days are nothing but pure bliss + exhaustion. It's beautiful and I think it's because society + reality haven't made their way in yet. It's like a little bubble that can never be brought back. Baby is so tired, so hungry, and still hasn't changed ENOUGH to make you want to bawl your eyes out.

I would love to work with you if you're due this summer! Please check out the details on investment OR drive right in and contact me! But first, check out this sweet baby, please. I'm so, so, in love with this session and all the simplicity. 

Taking a break + 2018 Session Availability || Wasilla Newborn Photographer || Moss and Myrrh Photography

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A Year of No.

Every year I sit down and really try to figure out what's serving me, what isn't serving me, and what I can do to change that. Last year was a HUGE year of change for me (new business name + model) and this year has been absolutely amazing. Perseverance really does pay off in the small business world and all the years I've been pushing, hoping things would take off, have finally paid off. This year though I feel another shift coming. I think if you aren't growing and changing as a business + person at all times, you're going to get burnt out OR your business isn't going to thrive. So, every year I sit down and try to figure it all out. I've quickly learned to always go with my gut, even if I don't want to listen to it. I really didn't want to listen to it this time, but it's hard to ignore and I just have to hope it's the right decision. While I absolutely LOVE my work, I'm also becoming exhausted by it all and I'm afraid I'm losing focus of what I'm really wanting to do. I let summer sessions really dominate me this year, only focusing on families because that's what everyone wanted, but in the end I did feel that burn out and that's not how I want to feel. I do this because I love it, I love being my own employer, and I love the sweet souls I get to meet through out the year. In order to continue feeling that though, I'm going to have to learn to say no. So, 2018 is the year of NO. 

Slowing Down.

If you follow me on social media, you probably have already caught onto how I've been feeling lately. I'm tired and I am ready to slow down. I'm ready to be able to step back from my computer more and I am SO ready to be able to disconnect. I stare at a computer screen or phone screen probably 85% of my time and I've been feeling a serious need to walk away for days at a time. I've been fighting that because what business just disappears for days at a time? I'm not a corporation though, I'm not a robot, I'm a real person sitting behind this screen editing day in and out, answer emails obsessively, letting the anxiety of running this business drive me a bit mad. So, for my own sanity I really have to find a way to coexist with Moss and Myrrh Photography. I feel like it's becoming it's own being and I'm ready to let it go a bit. If this is meant to be, I will continue getting the business I need to thrive. I will continue to get the clients that understand and accept that I need to live a slower paced life in every way. 

Taking a Break.

In order to do everything said above, I have to take a break from SOMETHING. I have to set boundaries and I have to stick to them. When sitting down to decide what needs to go, births instantly came to mind. I sat on that for weeks hoping I'd have a change of heart or I'd find a way around it. There isn't a way around it though. I absolutely need a break from births, which is heart breaking. I love my birth work. I love documenting a new little life coming into this world. I'm not afraid to say though, I am NOT in love with being on call. I am NOT in love with obsessively checking for texts and phone calls because I'm so afraid of missing a birth. I want to chuck this phone out the window and forget it for weeks at a time, literally. I can't do that though, not being on call. So, I've made the decision to not take anymore births on after my last May births. I have no clue how long this "break" will last. Maybe it'll be forever, maybe it'll last until the end of the year. I have no clue! It's really going to depend on how I'm feeling physically, mentally, and of course, financially. Births are huge source of income for me (I'm transparent, folks), so to walk away from that is also making me insanely anxious. I'm doing my best to modify my life though so I can still live comfortably and become debt free. If it's meant to be, it'll be. I know people hate hearing it, but everything really does happen for a reason, whether we like it or not. If things go horribly wrong, well I'm not on the right path, am I?

There's Always an Exception to the Rule.

Without a doubt though, there will be exceptions, and I just have to learn how to work with them. If any of my repeat clients or clients that I am head over heels in love with become pregnant around the time frame I'm in break mode, PLEASE STILL CONTACT ME. We're hitting a point where I'm documenting baby #2's and I really don't want to miss that. I feel like I have such a connection with my birth families and it would be devastating to not be there for the second babies. While I can't promise I can 100% take you on, I will do everything I can to try and make it work. So, not all is lost. <3 

Fresh 48's + Newborns Take Priority.

I am ready to get back to my babies (as you've probably read 50x now). As said above, families ended up dominating my year, and while I do love them, babies will always be priority to me. I'm going to be only offering family sessions to returning clients. So, if we worked together over this year, you're in luck! I'll see how 2018 goes, but this used to be a hard rule for me a couple of years ago and I loved it. I was able to continue building relationships with the same clients and that's what it's really all about for me.

Limited Sessions.

Some of you may already know, but my husband is leaving for a big chunk of 2018. We've made some huge lifestyle changes in 2017 and that leaves a lot of work around our property and the animals we care for (and continue adding). It's a lot of work as just a couple, so I'm pretty anxious about taking it all on by myself. The spring is the craziest time for us with gardening, meat chickens, and just keeping up with the land in general, so it's going to be a bit crazy. If you're catching my drift, I cannot do as much work as I've been doing (in business). I'm hoping to stick to 5 sessions a month. Yes, just 5! That's cutting my work in less than half and it scares me to death. Once I find a new normal I think I'll have a better idea of what I can handle work wise, so maybe that number will go up, but I'm not 100% sure. 

Booking.

Because of all those decisions above, I need you to know that I am SERIOUS about booking as soon as you possibly can. If you're expecting in 2018 and want a Fresh 48 and/or Newborn Session, please don't wait to book. I am going to say no once I hit 5 due dates per month. In the summer it'll be especially full because I know a few of you are going to want your annual summer family sessions. Do. Not. Wait. Pleeeeeeease. If you'd like to get in touch and see if I have availability for a specific month next year, please use that button below to get in touch!

 

Thank you.

Once again, I just want to let everyone know that keeps supporting me, I adore your face! Seriously. You're amazing and it means so much that you guys continue to send me work and book me year after year. 2017 was amazing and I can't wait to see where 2018 takes me!

Twin Newborn Documentary Session | Anchorage Lifestyle Newborn Photographer | Moss and Myrrh Photography

Twin Newborn Documentary Session || Moss and Myrrh Photography, Anchorage Newborn Photographer

I'm not really sure what happened over the summer, but I went from specializing in newborns/motherhood to only shooting family sessions. I wasn't even aware of it until recently when I looked through my folder of "archived" (fully edited) sessions. Where did my babies go?! Last summer/fall I barely shot any family sessions because I was determined to stick with my babies, but this year something shifted and I managed to shoot over 40 families over the summer/fall months. I'm not really complaining, I LOVED those families I shot..most of them being returning clients. I used to not enjoy family sessions at all but now that I don't really pose, I love them. It's basically just an hour of hanging out and having fun with people I know pretty dang well at this point. But, I'm not going to lie, I miss the babies. I can quickly fall into routine with my sessions..making them the same every time; the same for me at least. Newborn sessions are not like that at all though. Babies are not predictable, they call the shots. Every home looks different, lighting challenging me to push beyond my norm. I miss it. So, this winter I am determined to get back to specializing in my babies. They're what made me fall in love with photography in the first place and they're what I want to focus on more than anything. Birth, motherhood, babies up to 12 months, they're what I love. 

Once I realized what had happened over the summer, I quickly did a model call for a newborn. You guys are awesome and always deliver with the models! It's not easy finding a newborn at the age I need with the availability I need. It's like finding a unicorn..and almost always you guys hand up the unicorn. Thank you! This session was especially perfect. I cannot even begin to describe how happy I was editing these. I'm sure you all noticed though since I've been sharing them so much on social media..sorry! Not sorry. What made these guys so special? Well, incase you didn't notice..there are TWO of those newborns in the pictures. Lol! Double the newness, double the details, made my heart explode. Also, you guys know about my love for the neutrals. I scream it from the roof tops.."KEEP IT SIMPLE", and they did. And then there was the light. THE LIGHT, GUYS. Hallelujah! So, basically if I could clone these guys over and over again, I would. 

Newborn sessions usually go one of two ways, being determined by said newborn. They're either really sleepy and calm (and no toddler exists, lol) OR they're cluster feeding and not feeling it. When they're sleepy, we get a lot more of the "lifestyle" feel. I direct you more and we get the sweet serene pictures you see all over social media. When they aren't sleepy though we go full on documentary and I'm not going to lie, I prefer it. I feel like documentary sessions really tell the story of that time in someone's life. There is no manipulating, I just shoot and you do you. These guys were hungry (duh) so the majority of their session they were eating..which was totally okay. I love documenting the in betweens..in between changing clothes, diapers, swaddling, etc. That's where the gold is at. The stretches, wrinkles, random smiles, eye contact..make me so happy! 

Okay, I'm DONE. Promise. I'm just so happy with these and cannot wait to document these girls again for a milestone session. <3 

Thank you, Armstrong Family, for being SO amazing.