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unapologetic chaos

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i met hayden last year under different circumstances.  she was a homeowner and client of parkes and lamb interiors, and i spent lots of time crouched over her half bath toilet finding that perfect shot - a strange introduction probably.  i knew right away when we walked in the door, a little hurried to get her kitchen and stunning master bath ready for my camera, that she was fierce. a attentive, caring, strong mom and loving wife.  she had an eye for what she liked, and she went for it.  and thats why she worked so well with blair and susan, and why we had so much fun capturing her relationship with her two girls (with her hubs mixed in there too for a few, ha!).  we talked about struggles and triumphs within our few hours together. she shared her secrets for sourcing her kids creative and colorful clothes and her dinosaur tree topper too. i felt connected to her right away and loved that she was such an open book, so comfortable with me, the camera.  no apologies came out of her mouth which i also appreciated.  so often we apologize CONSTANTLY - for the state of our house, the toys, the cranky moments of our kids, our messy cars, dirty dishes, hectic schedules.  none of that with hayden. her family is chaos and colorful and beautiful all at once and thats how we all should love and accept life. 

thank you to the fulmers for opening your doors to me so many times last year, and showing me your love and spirit!

spickard

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its year two getting some memories in print for this family and i couldn’t be more honored.  i met julia and justin through our mutual friend, and we have a million more now in common. the first time i shoot for a family i dont know well, is always a little experiment.  year two, i see what makes them tick.  julia is a friend so i know her now, but as a client i love her bc she’s up for anything.  she’s always smiling.  she’s obsessed with her son and being a “boymom”.  and she and justin have a doting, loving, and happy marriage that you see daily in her hilarious and sweet instagram stories with her boys. she’s a mom who values documented moments, building a gallery wall in her stairwell. and so this year, i really wanted to do something different and out of the normal places they visit. we went to one of my favorite spots to capture this growing family, right before field becomes a brother.  and give that boy a football, and he’ll play…for hours on end.  + sunset light magic + abandoned airfield = dream shoot.

welcoming blair home

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uss nimitz

comes home

its been a month since i returned from welcoming my brother, blair, home from deployment. he spent a little over six months on the uss nimitz which left seattle on june 1st and returned on dec 10th. the nimitz was home to over 5500 soldiers including an air wing for those 6 months, basically making it a small city at sea.  they completed a lot of different air and sea missions during that time in the persian gulf and pacific, many of which you probably read about in the news.  my brother is the "dento" of the ship, meaning he runs the dentist and oral surgery department on the ship.  he's been in the navy for 16 years, he joined just after september 11th, and this is his second deployment.  like my dad who was a navy fighter pilot in vietnam, i look at him as a hero.

this is a deeply personal project, and so i went into the week open minded and not knowing what i would see, learn, experience.  much less my eight year old daughter, johnsie.  johnsie loved every minute of the experience, and watching her soak it in only brightened my time there too.  we were allowed on the ship as part of the "tiger cruise" program.  friends and family (minus spouses) of deployed service members on the ship can ride from port to port once the ship is back in US waters. blair is seven years older than me so ive always looked up to him, and this experience only magnified that relationship. ive never been prouder of my brother.  he and his family sacrificed 6 months of freedom to protect ours.  what these families and soldiers endure in those six months are probably hard to put into words, and recap....maybe because they dont really want to go back there yet. attempting to recap what i experienced in 5 days has been daunting, so i try to tell my story through my images and i hope they give you a glimpse into life there.

im so glad my brother is home with his supportive and loving wife, and his smart and awesome boys. cheers to the next chapter in his navy career as a captain and to continuing to make his lil sis very proud.

alexander girls in home

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i was so excited to see tori’s new digs, especially since i knew she’d have it designed down to every last detail.  last year we had a french horn that made for one of my fav spunky photos of her girls, this year we had a scenic back porch swing, tea for two in their room, and a cavapoo that i almost stole and made the latest dawkins family member.  tori is a super talented designer with a california luxe esthetic, and her girls are some of my favorite sisters out there.  no lacking of personality or cuteness, which makes for great posing and tons of fun candid moments too. i think we captured a cohesive look in keeping with her cool design…she may have even inspired the dawkins to finally go for that furry member of the family….

brave bo

brave bo - 

I had the honor of capturing this sweet family a few months ago for the second time. i first met them when bo was itty bitty and mom had found out she was pregnant with Hampton, so we did a few "big brother" looks for their big announcement.  and life is all about timing, and we all couldn't be more thrilled we captured these most recent moments at home with bo and hampton.  this week I got an email from mom, that bo has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after three days at the children's hospital over the weekend. my heart breaks for what they went through this week, but my hopes couldn't be higher for bo. he has the most incredible parents, whose love for their two sons needs no direction when I photograph them. mom is a former teacher and knows how to meet their every need and feed every curiosity.  dad is always home for our shoots and plays a huge role in their growth and play. they may have a new journey ahead of them, but one that they will navigate together.

short and sweet weekday session - the "tate"

loved my time with this sweet family. they booked a weekday 30-min "tate" session and when I showed up, they were ready to play. mom and dad couldnt have been more laid back about our little shoot and lily and annabelle were dream girls to capture in their heirloom dresses.  we picked a couple rooms inside, and fit in a few outside shots before I hit the road. it was short and sweet and exactly what this family needed to document the end of summer and new baby Annabelle.

the weekday "tate" session is availAble on mondays, tuesdays, thursdays and fridays from. 9-12 am. you can book yours at www.marycraven.com/fallsignup

just got back from a vaca on 30a, more specifically rosemary beach. and now that im back, it feels more like a work trip than a "vaca" per say. but one that allowed me to capture so many families, a bride and groom so in love it made my heart skip a beat, and of course some of turkish-t's new threads. below are some snips & tips of some of my favorite moments among those 10 days...

special thanks to my amazing nanny, eileen - the best of the best


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take a nanny you can share 600 sq ft with and also doubles as a model

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early mornings were made for the beach - wide open spaces, sandcastles, and chasing waves.

if they can't bike, they can scoot, or cruise to all the coolest local waterholes

pool time

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friends make vacation more fun, especially when they can transport beer and tuna dip by bike

when all else fails, find the nearest spa 

or book a room...

 

 

remember you got the nanny??

road trip tips with kids...survival mode

so if you can tell from the above picture, I'm by no means the expert on travel.  but i do have some experience - good and some not so great - that i thought id share my favorite one stop shop for mommies out there headed for the highway this summer and also some our favorite car activities that have gotten us through half of our travel so far this summer. i'm currently on a 6 week road trip solo with my three girls (2, 5 & 7 years old), and its an adventure...but we are all better for it.  trying new foods, adapting to crazy daily schedules, finding new activities, and exploring cities to make the most of our days together.  its not easy being without my super involved and helpful husband, but its certainly been bonding time not only with my girls, but with our family and friends we are seeing along the way.

for the road tripping families out there this summer, my first recommendation is hit up the Dollar Store.  you are in and out for under $30.  first thing on your list there: a trashcan. no matter if you are in a minivan (me) or a fabulous suv, kids are messy, gross, and eat constantly - (why did we have them again??) - and a trashcan is your first essential to a road trip.  second, a great recommendation by my dear friend (thank you amy!), a plastic caddy - these have handles at the top, a drink holder built in and a side to put snacks, or lunch in....and when they are finished eating, you can fill it with a new activity... bringing me to #3.  ACTIVITIES.  the Dollar Tree has awesome activities that will most likely at some point get strewn among the car, but cost $1, so you can clear the floors and trash them all at the end and not think another second about it.  from figurines, to puzzles, play doh, art activities, to tea sets - my kids are always thrilled to have a new shiny object to play with.  and lastly no brainer but - snacks, snacks, and snacks.  maybe a big lollipop or two :)

and then there are the family games - our favorite is road bingo - you can get the cards at any toy store or amazon.   another fun idea that my genius friend came up with (christie & emily I'm looking at you!), the jelly bean taste test.  get different flavors of each jelly bean, kids close their eyes and get to taste one and guess the flavor.  books on cd are awesome and you can check them out at your local library or get cute disney ones at target too which my girls love.  alphabet game, name things you see outside in alphabetic order or just grocery items, and the always class i spy game.  lastly, one of our FAVORITE new things is to the WOW in the world podcast - its produced by NPR and is chock full of science and learning in a very fun format for kids.  my girls look forward to them every week.  just download them all before you leave town and if you've got bluetooth, you'll be in business for several hours of entertainment.

happy trails friends, and good luck out there.  safe travels with your littles.  i LOVE seeing all your adventures through instagram! below are a few from our recent adventures....xoxo

a cultivated family life

this session all started with a dad.  and a mom who had no pictures with her daughters.  john called before mothers day, his wife wanted pictures of their family....documenting the spaces the live in, the girls at play, and life at home as the fuller family. and boy was it fun.  they live in the  cozy and historic whitland area of nashville, and their home is full of color. vibrance. books. vintage pieces. amazing artwork. and a cultivated family life.  its all around them.  every nook and cranny filled with love. and you know what's amazing?  whitney (mom) never apologized when i walked in the door for the toys, the corners with kid artwork spread out, the casual living room setup with puzzles, library, games, and more that fills their girls daily lives with curiosity and wonder. im guilty of it, the constant need to apologize. when people walk in my home and dolls and artwork and evidence of kids is right under their noses, immediately apologizing for the mess and my life with kids. whitney was a reminder to me to stop doing that. life with kids SHOULD be messy.  should be fun.  should be colorful.  before we know it, the mess will be gone, kids grow up, and we'll miss the colorful family life with little ones.  

i don't take the fact that you moms invite me into your homes, your private family moments and spaces. thank you for trusting me to see the life you've cultivated for you family and document those spaces in ways your kids will treasure for the next generation.  and then in this preview with whitney yesterday, a tear or two shed when she held prints in her hands with herself and her precious girls.  a pinch me moment that she shared with me and i'll never forget. 

#documentyourdays #mommiesinthemoment

the tie that binds us

when i met margie in november 2015, baby boy byers was a fresh newborn and i showed up ready to get all the pretty little announcement photos and some of big sister with her new brother.  what i didn't expect when i showed up, was to meet someone who would later would support me in some of my most difficult moments health-wise id had in years.  just prior to us meeting in november, margie had been diagnosed with bells palsy.  sounds scarier than it is, bells palsy is a neurological nerve condition that causes temporary paralyses half of your face.  yup, weird shit.  id never heard of it before, and she'd mostly recovered so i honestly didn't notice it at all.  fast forward seven months later, im diagnosed with the same condition and the first contact i made leaving the doctors office was margie.  its a physical health condition that is scary and isolating.  she was constantly checking on me, offering advice to all my questions and concerns, and recognizing my tears and sadness in dark times.  more importantly she was my beam of light at the end of this dark tunnel; that i would get better, it would go away and its only temporary.  and she was right, it did get better.

special thanks to margie.  a lifelong friend, in sickness and health, in happy days and sad, and in capturing many memories through the lens for her sweet family - the original tie that binds us.  ill always be thankful our paths crossed at just the right time.  

my little piece of advice for the day, reach out to the ones who you love, or who have loved you...supported you and given you the lift in life when you needed it most.

happy memorial weekend to you all...xoxo

at home with baby lamar (and apache)

my favorite part about my "job" are the new people i meet.  and no better way to get to know new friends fast is to show up on their doorstep with a bunch of camera gear and ask to look around in the first 2 minutes.  how's that for intimate right off the bat??  houses are cleaned up of course, but i want my families to be themselves.  so shoes off, casual clothes, and a sunny normal day at home with little ones is my preferred way to go.  its the closest to real life i can get to them without spending an entire day shooting the life of that family documentary style (which I've contemplated doing...any takers?).  

and this family couldn't have made a warmer welcome to me on saturday afternoon.  it was a gorgeous day, and apache the dog was a total gentleman and on his best behavior as we took TONS of pictures of his baby brother, lamar, and mom and dad.  i couldn't help but be distracted by the gorgeous decor.  between the vintage rugs, mid-century wood pieces, and amazing light fixtures and art around every turn, it was a dream shoot with this family.  

soon to be three

i dont do a ton of maternity shoots, they aren't something i seek or even on my radar...but more and more moms are requesting them and if the timing is just right (26-30 weeks max into the pregnancy), we'll meet up and play for a morning to capture these moments in time.  and i didn't do maternity photos myself, but of course i wish i did.  those moments are long gone for me now, and i love thinking back to those intimate times with my unborn girls.  and also the time with my husband, moments built on anticipation for the next chapter, growing our family.  my morning with this sweet couple brought all those memories flooding back, and i can't wait to meet their little bundle this summer.  

xoxo

baby harry at home

this family was SO easy and fun.  dorothy is a laid back mom, and we have several mutual friends, so this was a breezy newborn session with sweet little baby harry along in tow.  big brother, boone, was on the move throughout the session. he wasn't so sure about me at first, but after some time he settled right in smack dab in front of my lens and i had a blast channeling his boy energy into all sorts of fun activities with dad around the house.  and then harry, he's settled right in with this family in their gorgeous home in nashville.  loved getting some moments with just mom and then with dad too. but our prize for the day were the sweet connection between brothers that you know will only grow and deepen.

xoxo

sand, sunshine, and my favorite towels ever...

its no secret that im a fan of turkish-t.  ive loved this company ever since i moved to nashville in 2010, before i started my photography journey.  i had an immediate connection and draw to this line of towels.  so simple in design, but genius in concept and brand.  we moved here from florida, and so we had TONS of beach towels...thick, terry, heavy....and the constant concern about mildew and fitting them in my cute beach/pool bag.  and then i walked into a local store in nashville, ashblue, and there they were.  simple stripes, clean, thin but absorbing and weightless. not to mention endless possibilities for how to wrap them, use them...and the colors.  they had my heart.  over the next few years i started and grew my little business, met sue along the way when i was connected through a dear friend, lindsay. and sue became a role model for me, and a creative colleague.  im so grateful for her vision and drive, and also for her friendship, support and guidance.  

this past spring break, sue sent me with lots of new colors, designs, textiles, and patterns.  it was play time and when i travel is when im most inspired.  i had never been to the house or beaches we would be for the next week, but i knew the environment would be my new playground with these amazing designs.  summer is only 8 weeks away friends, so get ready with some new linens for the pool - to buy visit www.turkish-t.com

special thanks to my gorgeous models - morgan storm, burney dawkins, and all the sweet little cousins who had a ball dancing and posing for me. 

xoxo

baby dean

i spent a friday morning with the brookshire family and it couldn't have been more gorgeous and sunny.  baby dean came into their lives a little earlier than planned, but he's made every day since complete for this household.  i loved my time with them as they settled into life with a growing three month old - we started outside with fresh air and sunshine, and made our way through a day with dean - morning talk and laughter around the breakfast table, and cozy moments in their bedroom where he spends most of his time.  yet another morning with a new client, i never would have met before my photography days, and i couldn't be more thankful to be putting these memories for this sweet family in print.

xoxo

building a portfolio

its always fun collaborating with other creatives.  fine paper, design, art, and now model.  kat and i were chatting about photography and her styling and hair talents.  it quickly came together that a shoot would be easy and fun.  kat is different from my normal models (ill give you a hint, she doesn't wear diapers or need snack incentives mid-session) and i like different.   as much as im obsessed with my family sessions, mixing it up and pushing myself creatively keeps me on my toes.  we walked into the session with open minds and inspiration, and walked away with images in print to build on....

model:  @hairbykat

hadden at home

after a few chats and emails with mom, i was so excited to meet this sweet family of 5.   lauren designed baby hadden's nursery in soft pinks and lots of textures and layers, and finally a gorgeous iron crib from restoration hardware.  her attentive fur-brothers, rollie and charlie, were there for every minute of our little session, and were so loving and gentle with their new baby sister.  our breezy session with little hadden awake and taking breaks to nurse a bottle every few minutes, a trooper throughout the hour.  little sips and then sweet smiles - we even found a dimple - it was a dream in their beautiful three story home.   can't wait to watch her grow and what life brings this sweet family next...

three months in with the samples...

loved my newborn shoot with this sweet family in their new home, but this shoot felt like a refresh.  new year, she's three months older now, and her big sister is in the routine with her little sister.  they are a family now, and bailey is in her little three month groove.  after a busy, BUSY fall this shoot was a kick start to a 2017 full of fresh shoots.  some of the same families, but we know each other better now.  we have a groove too, and its my job to capture these families in the way i know they want to keep in print forever.  its also my job to exceed expectations, find these new beautiful moments when a family is in a new stage of family life.  and this shoot felt like i accomplished that.  little details, cozy moments, and a family ready to take on the first year of sweet bailey's life together.  

family dynamics.

its not often i leave a session feeling inspired and refreshed.  with new ideas, and new dreams for my own personal family growth.  and this was a two hour double session with multiple families, a LOT of people to coordinate and corral.  but this was different.  i spend most of my days in the fall months with younger families (who i dearly love with all my heart) with kids the same age as mine.  its SO fun bc they AREN'T my kids...so i can relate, play, get messy with them and it comes so easily since i have my own at home and know those preschool ages so well.  but this time around i had a bunch of "kids" who were all my height and some were drinking beer.  so yea....took me a minute to figure out what "games" we should play.  ring around the rosy probably wouldn't work.  admittedly i was a little nervous and thrown off my game for a minute.  how do i organize 10 teenagers/20somethings to be natural in front of the camera??  well it took a few mental minutes on my end, but they made it so easy for me.  these young adults....siblings, cousins, step-cousins...they are obsessed with each other.  ive never seen anything like it!  they were playful, cooperative, happy, adjusted and respectful....to each other and of course to me.  we joked about ring around the rosy, and then they thought it would be fun, of course at a high speed that led to most of them catapulting into the woods...but they were up for anything and everything.  and they wanted it all documented.  piggy back rides, holding hands, playing animal games, lining up for an updated portrait, even kissing significant others in front of me!  it was a magical end to my fall season of over 70 family shoots.  the cherry on top?  the vintage vw van owned by abbie, a dear friend of one of the sons.   

the overall message i gained from this shoot. these "kids" couldn't be more different from one another - and these parents have embraced, cultivated, loved each of these kids independently from the others. they see big dreams in each of them and have allowed the space for them to grow and that example has given their siblings and cousins to gift each other the same thing.  leaving the 2 hour shoot, they were all still taking pictures of each other - jumping around, dancing, on one another's back, cartwheels, playing in the vw van. i saw LOVE and RESPECT and a HOME.  that home has no direct road or set path, it always evolving and dynamic and flowing.  and im still captivated.  couldn't be more proud to know these people, and to have the images in print for them to cherish.  

xoxo

mr and mrs duncan

photographing a bride and groom is a journey.   lisa contacted me over the summer and she was just the full package bride in my eyes.  lisa is super motivated and organized, but quickly offered her trust in those creative people around her, including me, and the planning process was totally calm.  her fearless wedding planner, blair laborde, took the reigns and put together a stunning affair.  with simple and understated details, so the focus remained on the reason we were all there in the first place. lisa and walker.  their love.  the connection that had been built on friendship, trust and solidarity.  lisa and walker were a dream to photograph on their wedding day. lisa was cool and collected (and gorgeous).  walker was eager and ready (and dapper) and these two made this day feel like a walk in the park with some very special accents of course.  her blue strappy stilettos, blush pink ribbons, and heavenly lace from her stunning dress to the tiered cake.

special thank you to my guru and dear friend, sara moe, for shooting this with me. 

design and planning - blair laborde