kailey was another mom that i knew from afar, friends of friends, in passing in the preschool halls. we’re all in that space of having our group of mom friends, but also balancing just keeping our heads above water with our kids social schedules. and when she called to get a session in, we were conflicted on where to shoot. she mentioned they were prepping to build on an empty lot in Belle Meade in Nashville and “would that work”? umm yea, id say so. it made perfect sense to me. she booked the hour session, so we had plenty of time to get that fall holiday card photo of the five of them, and some really fun candid moments of the kiddos. but it dawned on me as i was driving off this lot, that they are planning to build the next chapter for their family there. literally and figuratively. i mean im a sucker for a big open field and mature trees and kids in wide open spaces for the perfect Nashville fall photo session, but this was all of that with emotion. kailey just told me on the phone, if you can get my kids organized and smiling for a fun shot then ill be thrilled. well i think we got that, and so much more.
brooke and i had a fun little DM friendship prior to me showing up at her house. i love those. you have mutual friends, mutual respect, and the similar banter. so when she opened the door ready for me to capture her two daughters, one a fresh newbie and the other a spunky 3 year old, i knew were were in for some awesome moments. sometimes the toddlers direct the shoots, and that makes my creative heart sing because those are the real moments. they creatively lead us through life amiright? so thats truly the only way to get the fun real shots. and brooke has amazing interior style and eye so her house was stunning, playful and had great light upstairs where did most of our shoot. a festive and colorful “newborn” shoot making all the elements of a happy family of four.
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!
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.
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 -
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
two of my favorite brothers, in blue, on a gorgeous farm in brentwood. and it was so much FUN. smith, hibbs, mom and dad - all together and i was so thankful dad could take off that afternoon at work to explore with us and get in the memories. i love this sweet family and so thankful that heather has asked me to capture her boys in these fun stages. hibbs now in big boy kindergarten and smith still in toddlerhood, it was a brotherly love that is just beginning. soccer, roaming through the fields, and exploring hand in hand with mom and dad. there's nothing better to document. its the ordinary moments. maybe in a new place so that makes it interesting. but just a regular afternoon of family. and i loved how the story unfolded that early afternoon before a 4 pm sunset (thank you daylight savings!).
yet another very fun shoot with this family. i feel like we know each other pretty well now after three little shoots together. this particular GORGEOUS fall day at radnor lake was just as easy as the others...with a final bang to end the session. our sweet little nature walk ended with ross and moss - lake water moss that is. thankfully he was a trooper about it, and more importantly mom was a total trooper too. mess. life. kids. the greatest plans never go as they should with little tikes and those are the memories we'll keep from this day.
and for those of you needing custom designed cards next year for the holidays, or newborn announcements, vance is your go-to girl. stay tune for more on that front....
i was SO honored when rory asked me to capture her family. she wanted FUN, real photos of her little clan and so we picked a park close to our neighborhood. an iconic park in nashville, but one where they could spread their wings, literally in some cases and be playful in a gorgeous sunset park evening. i try not to play favorites, and loved each little foster's personalities, but evie stole my heart and the show pretty quickly. she LOVED the camera, and i loved her for it. she also reminded me SO much of my little middle child, tate. beats to her own drum.
this family is the epitome of natural...free...kind....and loving and glad i was able to capture these memories.
thanks to rory for trusting me. xoxo