to chase the light

These images come from the most sacred photoshoot in which I have ever participated.

An evening of remembering, of leaving some things behind to cling to others,

of grieving and healing, of waves that ebb and flow like tears, like laughter, like sorrow.

Conversations, time, and embraces with this family have forever changed me.

In moments of engulfing darkness they choose - and over again - a fight for light

almost at the cost of life.

I learn what it truly means to chase the light.

gone home, too

I am shooting more and more families like this one, who traveled from all over the states to Newport Beach for a family vacation! Grandma and Grandpa, their five kids, each of their spouses, and all of the grandkids joined in this fun.

Each shoot is beautifully unique to every family and their own story, and when they leave I feel like pieces of me have gone home with them.

@OURRESCUE giveaway

I want to share more photos and HAVE A SPECIAL GIVEAWAY HAPPENING NOW:

The GIVEAWAY is live until Friday night 9pm! 100 PERCENT OF THE PROCEEDS GO TO OPERATION UNDERGROUND RAILROAD - an incredible organization that rescues children from sex slavery. I have purchased the course but am giving it away to another photographer who wants to jump in and start taking pictures!

The course, The Light and Liberation Project, was designed for any photographer wanting to develop their skills. Details are in a quick video made by the photographers in that link. The photogs who created the content are TOTAL ROCKSTARS (one is even a former mentor of mine.) I love these people. If you want a free 2-hour long photography check it out my insta post here!

If you are thinking of delving in to photography don’t give up. Keep going. I am so happy about all of the photos that are being pumped out of my camera. I’m in shock when I go back and look at them. I love them even more as time passes.

This beautiful friend, Krystil, is also a fellow photographer. We laugh and play and chat and hang, plus she orders take-out when I’m at her house and whoever gives me food becomes my instant best friend.

I always tell myself I will only choose 10-15 of my favorite photos from a session, but when it comes down to it I can never whittle them down.

Check out this Portra 800 +1!!!! And this Ilford Delta 3200. I’m crazy about this stuff.

no more excuses

Oprah’s Masterclass podcast is by far my favorite of all the podcasts (with Seth Godin’s Akimbo a verrrrry close second.)

I’m currently listening to Oprah’s interview of Simon Cowell. Here are some favorite lines:

“The good news is, it can’t get any worse from here.”

“When I first started…I was never off the phone. If I had to sit there for a minute I always thought, ‘There is something going wrong here. So I would just hustle - daily. I’m just just sitting there, daily, making it up every day. Trying to make a living…”

“I mean, what a lot of people do, ‘It’s the radio people’s fault, it’s the video’s…’ Ya right! It wasn’t good enough. End of story. You made the decisions. Take it on the chin and learn from it. It’s the only thing you can do. And there is a certain positive you can take from that. Because you’re not kidding yourself. If you start kidding yourself you’re dead. You’re dead.”

I learned very early on not to make ANY excuses in photography. If something wasn’t going right I knew it was me - not any one else. And I have learned to love the hustle.

This is the exact reason I will NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER TELL MYSELF:

“No one will pay me that here.”

I have heard too many people - who have made it HUGE - talk, and they never fed themselves these types of lines, they hustled. And after a lot of years it paid off. I am a witness to that in my business and see where it takes me year after year.

If you need business advice call me - I’m really good at saying, “Stop making excuses. Stop spending hours on social media. HUSTLE - the rocky, muddy, up-hill-battle-with-rejection-after-rejection-after-rejection sort of hustle. And then you will see yourself standing at the top of the mountain looking back at all of your growth! And when you look out the other way you will see another mountain even bigger than the one you stand on - and you will want to climb that one! Because you know you can, and will, with the right amount of sweat equity, patience, and grace.”

Portra 800 for life. Canon 1V and Pentax 645nii (don’t waste your money on that camera - just buy the Pentax 645n - for those of you who are looking ;)) Goodman Film lab.

Call me to book your shoot: 801-473-2272! And if you feel so inclined, please send my website to everyone you know traveling to So Cal!

xoxo

christina

slice of orange heaven

so many feelings

not clear words

lots of pictures

I never know how much to say or not say. But once again, I’m just gonna go for it:

This was a recent response to an email I wrote to a friend (we don’t live near one another and rarely see each other. I recently spent a brief moment with her after 6 years. This was my take away after we tearfully shared difficulty, heartache, and success in all of 20 minutes):

“This observation shook me while driving away from our discussion: I see my own imperfections and those of my family members, and sometimes I think we are living a lesser version of ourselves because of them, but when I see you and your family I am shocked at how all I see (and saw) is how beautifully each of you is living life. I would never even think of, or care, what anyone’s faults might be because all I saw is how everyone is just THEIR OWN BEAUTIFUL SELF. 

I can’t even describe my feelings or thoughts well, except I came home wanting to extend so much more mercy and grace towards myself, and each of us, because I more clearly see beauty in the chaos, growth from imperfection. I see how our efforts…work! Tyler and I were both in tears the night I came home and I told him about each of your babies, and you, and [your husband], and our time together. My mind is flooded with, “How can I ever judge or criticize myself?” In our time together I saw so clearly how beautiful life is even with the messy parts.

[You were right - we just] keep trying. And most of all keep giving thanks for a Savior who creates beauty from my measly efforts. 

I am learning to abide: abide the chaos, abide the Savior’s embrace, abide in the scriptures. (“Abide” is my new favorite word... [Our favorite teacher] mentioned that on [that sacred ]Sunday morning the apostles were at the tomb, as well as Mary, but when the Savior was not inside they left! She chose to abide and [the resurrected Savior] appeared to her. [The teacher] said, “Abide longer in your scriptures, in the temple. When you receive revelation ask, “Is there any more?”) Recently I have chosen to abide [and felt a flood of answers and love and confidence]. I abide in family, even when it’s uncomfortable or I don’t know what to say or do, in study even when I’m tired, in worship when I feel angry or frustrated.

It’s what I see you do and I see how powerful it is and I want that, too. 

You are so wonderful I can’t even say it enough. 

Maybe none of this makes sense in word but it feels precious and important to me, and I want to remember it…

I love you!

Christina”


how i see

To My Girls

I sit and you eat. 

I sit and you talk.

I sit and you laugh.

I sit and you tell stories.

I sit, I watch, I listen, and then I see.

risk

The best things in my life have happened because i have taken a risk, even when some voices suggest it’s not a good idea:

reading the book of mormon

10-day social media fast

buying a camera

charging people for sessions

charging more for sessions

moving to orange county

reaching out to certain people i dreamed of photographing

changing my entire brand

Here is a bit about my next risky move:

I AM NEEDED: my strengths, my conversion, my conviction, my ability to lead, my wisdom, and my voice. Russell M. Nelson

“We love you for who you are.” Dallin H. Oaks

I am needed, and not on social media. 

I have recently learned that social media growth is a by-product of business growth - it is not the catalyst of business growth. Social media has been fantastic in connecting me with like-minded creatives who love to talk life, love, family, and photography,

but when President Russell M. Nelson invited women to take a 10-day social media fast, and simply record what we observed, I had no idea the scope of what that would show me about myself:

I have never felt more human. Within 1-2 days of being off I felt, and acted, dramatically less robotic - my interactions with my children were 1000% more natural. I had to think less, plan less, and work less to engage more - more willingly, more happily, more naturally, more playfully. Life unfolds itself to me naturally when I am not trying to document all of it (especially to meet the demands of an insatiable algorithm). I make an exponentially greater difference in lives when I am not addicted to my screen and the life-sucking scroll. 

I gained clarity in every other area of my life.

My priorities effortlessly fell into place. Social media gives me a faux sense of immediacy. In the last 10 days not once have I felt rushed to complete something, post something, write something - my decisions were made naturally and calmly and the least important item smoothly fell behind.

I stuck to tasks without getting distracted (even though my brain wanted me to “just check facebook really fast…” I did not cave and holy moly I had not realized how much time is spent doing nothing by “just checking really fast!!!”

I have less anxiety (which I did not notice I carried.) The absence of the constant unintentional comparison has brought more fulfillment, more satisfaction, more calm, to my brain and my heart. The social-media/phone addiction is a numbing agent that covers, or distracts me from, the negative things I would normally feel, think about, and work through. Without ever addressing them they fester. For me, without social media, I am exceptionally more at peace, even when life is chaotic.

It has been more deeply instilled in me that I am strong, I am wise, I am powerful, I am important, I am beautiful, I am smart, I have the gifts of discernment and of faith, I am capable, I am a rockstar mom, friend, and neighbor. I am a force.

I deeply enjoy learning about my body - learning to understand it, listen to it, and obey it. I love being filled with light, knowledge, and love, and sharing it! Those feelings are pouring into me as I naturally and deliberately spend my time doing the things that are most important right now: lying on the bed snuggling Kate watching a million shows, lying on my bed alone staring at the ceiling, building a raging photography business, bike rides, beach trips, cooking, answering Annie’s every question about how to spell every word in a paragraph, actively serving in my church and community, and taking quiet time for myself whenever I need it. 

Without social media I live.

So, I will keep staying off. I will pop on sometimes - maybe every 10 days, maybe not. But my time will be spent “building an empire” (as a dear mentor once told me I would, and she was right in every regard.)

I am building an email list to communicate when I will be where, and from there I will send out blog posts (almost) weekly.

I have huge business goals. 

If you come to So Cal and want a casual, sun-filled, light-filled, laughter-filled, love-filled photography session (mom and baby, family, couples, whatever else the heck you want) please come see me - I pour my heart into everything I do and if you don’t mind me falling head-over-heels in love with you I am your girl ;)

love, love, love, 

forever love, 

Christina

I just had a family come from all over the states for an extended family reunion and we took their photos on the beach! Portraits will be painless and seamless and then WE WILL PARTY. Click here to make your beach session happen!

soft

For me it feels better, calmer, to be soft.

I was sitting on the beach this evening talking with extended family. This mom of a beautiful daughter mentioned she had worked for a long time and was hard, but since recently deciding to stop working, she has become soft. Then she said something that felt powerful to me, “And, I don’t know, I think I prefer soft.”

I have felt a similar shift in my attitude - I ran from my family for so long that now that my mind and body have healed I feel myself being pulled into them like a magnet! As I walked into the airport headed for Seattle last week Kate blew kisses to me with my every step farther and farther away. I blew kisses back and wondered, “What am I doing?! Do I really want to leave this?!” So these days I wonder, what does photography have in store for me? Does it bring me closer to the ones I crave most? Sometime it doesn’t and I can finally accept and admit that.

I am praying and working and setting goals to give my greatest attention to the ones who deserve it most, at this time in our lives.

This weekend is general conference. Saturday and Sunday will be spent being soft, being open, listening to communication from heaven (because I know deeply that when I listen it comes.) I will choose soft. My mind, heart, and spirit will be one. In turn I will feel at one with my loves, my friends, my family, the world.

It’s funny how that works - soft can be interpreted as weak, but I will be soft - at one - and I will feel whole, complete, and strong.

Portra 800 forever. And to all of the families who embrace my chaos - I love you. Thank you for making images with me that feel beyond perfect in every regard. xo, Christina

forgive a city?!

I always vacillate between putting these precious thoughts of mine into the world or not, but after at-one-ment class tonight I feel these lessons so profoundly I can’t not write what I really feel. (Please forgive the run-ons, the typos, the imperfection - I don’t live for perfection, especially not in my blog posts…)

I spent 4 beautiful days in Seattle doing photoshoots this week and want to write specifically about my second night there. I climbed into bed, my mind wandering and not able to sleep. Out of nowhere I began to cry. I was simultaneously praying, thinking, wondering, and it came to me that I had never grieved my heartache associated with Seattle and I still harbored a lot of resentment against this city in which our lives changed so rapidly.

Each time I travel there, and the plane came down through the clouds, I get a pit in my stomach and remember how hard, how heavy, and how miserable it was. I cannot even think of enough words to describe how awful waking up every day, and barely surviving every night, was. My mind and body were in pain, the heartache was thick and completely debilitating. The weight of an entire ocean continuously washed over me while I wallowed in absolute darkness. After a few years of living there I no longer felt the holy spirit giving me guidance or comfort as he always had. My faith was absolutely depleted and I do not know why or how I crawled myself to church on Sundays. My brain left me miserable in every way.

All this to say, that moment the other night in bed shook me! As I cried and prayed I asked God, “Do I need to forgive a city and weather for ruining me, in a sense? Ruining my mind? My body? Is it completely abnormal that I harbor resentment towards a city, towards clouds, towards rain for robbing me of dreams never realized?!” 

In that moment, and through tears, I grieved the anger I consistently expressed towards my family. I grieved heartache and loss of faith. I grieved feelings of insecurity for leaving my “real job” and becoming a stay at home momma. I grieved staying home nursing and bleeding from allllll the places while my friends sent their kids to preschool and went to lunch together. I grieved absence of light and love and happiness.

Is it weird to feel the need to forgive an inanimate object? But that is what happened - a physical weight left my insides, lifted off my chest, and I was finally able to let go of blaming this place that wreaked havoc on my being and entrenched me in misery. I even forgave myself for constant negative self talk during that time, that turned out to be nothing more than lies anyway.

The next two pieces I share are where Christ’s GRACE has brought me, and I cannot believe what I learned tonight in class.

With this weight lifted I drove the next morning to my sunrise shoot. Over the horizon beamed the national forest that brought a flood of happy memories: bathing in the freezing Sol Duc Hot Springs in the Olympic National Park, endless camping trips with friends while the kids ran fully clothed or stark naked through ~50 degree sound water, driving home from camping at midnight when a mouse clawed my foot on the gas pedal (when Kate saw it in the mouse trap later she said, “Dat mouse go nigh-nigh in his bed.” More memories of road trips out of the city where the girls would fall asleep and Tyler and I would talk for hours! Babies eating gobs of cookie dough and bread dough and every other kind of dough, hikes where my legs were jell-o and Tyler would have an ergo on the front and an ergo on the back, a serious Dave Ramsey session post undergrad to get out of debt, every black Friday hiking the woods to cut down a Christmas tree in the forest (last year, I can’t remember why, for some psycho reason we ended up pulling over the side of the road, cutting something down from the freeway exit, jumping back on and driving home. Hashtag all the hashtags. But it was the most beautiful tree anyone has ever seen…)

With the pain removed, I could see beauty! I remembered all the good that came from our time there.

Pain, heartbreak, seems to send us to an early grave. Pain can make us feel weak, defeated. It’s easy to think we are moving 100 steps backward, 4 steps forward , and then another 8,000 steps backward. Everything felt like that for me when we lived in Seattle, I felt LIKE CONSTANT FAILURE - in every department.

BUT THIS IS WHAT I LEARNED:

NONE OF IT WAS FAILURE. NONE OF IT. EVEN ME MONSTER-LIKE YELLING AND MAD AND CRYING AND FIGHTING AND FLEEING AND NEVER GETTING ENOUGH OF WHAT I “NEEDED.” 

NONE OF WHO I WAS OR WHAT I DID WAS FAILURE. 

IT WAS INTENSE STRETCHING AND ALL OF IT. ALL OF IT. ALL OF IT WAS GROWTH. ALL OF IT.

I can never say enough: NONE OF IT WAS FAILURE.

ALL OF IT WAS GROWTH. 

I was talking with a dear friend one morning before a photoshoot and she said, “Your name came into my mind multiple times while you were here. I was praying for you. I even spoke with Bishop about you and he said, ‘Yes, I have been praying for her, too.’”

I fell into a puddle of tears because it became very clear that the reason I survived, the reason I survived, is because of those prayers.

I have asked myself for months how it is that I am here raising my girls in a new life we are building for ourselves, and now I know exactly how and why: people who felt a prompting said their prayers. And I will never be able to think about them without my heart bursting and tears flowing.

And then,

I’ve learned a bit about Job. He had this mindset of, “Whatever God wills…everything comes from God….whatever he wants I will do….I’m just a leaf in the wind going wherever the wind blows….”

NO.

We are not leaves on the wind - we have been given a brain and the gift to make choices and act for ourselves. Sometimes life gives us lemons. Everything isn’t “because God wills it.” Some things just happen. Like Seattle. 

God kinda gets on Job for a few chapters saying, “Stop blaming me for everything! It’s just life! This is what has happened to you! WHAT are you going to do about it?! You are in the “boat” of life. Here is your oar - start rowing!”

MY HUGE CONNECTION AND AH-HA MOMENT TONIGHT WAS: I THOUGHT SEATTLE WAS FAILURE. I THOUGHT I WAS A FAILURE MOM, FAILURE WIFE, FAILURE PERSON. I THOUGHT I HAD NO PURPOSE AND THERE WAS NO HEALING. I THOUGHT SEATTLE WAS GOING TO KILL ME. I felt I was fighting in vain, that nothing was working, nothing was changing, that I was stuck there forever, in bleak misery. (And that’s not dramatic - I WAS LIVING THAT LIFE.)

IT WAS NOTHING OF THE SORT. IN FACT IT WAS THE OPPOSITE!!!!!!! A TERRIBLE THING WAS HAPPENING TO MY BODY, MAKING MY BRAIN THINK (AND WANT) VERY SAD THINGS. BUT IN REALITY

IT WAS A PERIOD OF INTENSE STRETCHING 

AND 

ABSOLUTELY IMPERCEPTIBLE GROWTH.

BUT 

IT ALL WAS GROWTH.

I AM DIFFERENT NOW.

We live in a mortal world where hard things happen. But God is not the puppeteer, us his puppets. But because a Father sent his son, and that Son willingly gave his life for us, when the hard, scary, bitter things happen, everything that was bitter can be made sweet, AND NOT JUST SWEET, SWEETER than anything we have ever tasted.

When Job’s mindset shifted God restored everything back to him only MULTIPLIED!!

I have experienced God’s outpouring of everything that is sweet.

And now that I feel healing, light, peace, the holy ghost, love, I look back and reminisce on the good, while appreciating the pain as the catalyst for the transformation it afforded me - more importantly, what it affords my children and others I interact with on a more intimate level because of my experience.

Since the other night in Seattle I can look back and see the beautiful life we had: beautiful with the pain, beautiful with the sorrow, beautiful with the suffering and I would never trade one second of it for an easier path. I am now in a position to wrap my arms around you and say, “I am sorry it hurts. I have felt weak, too, and it is so hard. But I’ll stay here with you until you recognize how strong you are, again.”

Forever and always: reach out if you are sad or if you have questions or need suggestions. I’m a confidential open book.

No one can go so low that they cannot feel light, or love, or happiness again. And when you come out the other side the brightness will be blinding.

I chose the latter...this time.

My children are beautiful and perfect and smart and funny and vibrant and delicious and creative and give the juiciest kisses, but HEAVEN. HELP. ME. every single time I ask them to clean their room - or ANY mess they make - and they fire back with, “But what are YOU going to be cleaning, mo-om?!” Someone please restrain me.

The other day a neighbor friend came over to play and Kate said, “Oh, you can just throw it on the floor. My mom cleans for us so we can make a mess it’s OK, my mom will clean it, just throw it over there.”

Two dear friends came over today and we huddled around each other like sisters while chatting, laughing, crying, and simultaneously squeezing and snuggling our babes while whisper-screaming at them to [get lost] go play.

#momming  It’s the best. I love it exponentially more when I see other moms expressing feelings like mine. I love my village - so much.

If you have not read The Big Leap you haven’t read anything ;) 

You know those moments you are feeling all the feelings and you volcano-erupt on everyone but when you finally lock yourself in a room alone you start to realize that all the things you are screaming at everyone else for really has nothing to do with them. Your emotions just take over and everything and everyone is annoying and it actually physically hurts to deal with it all?

Since reading The Big Leap in Seattle a few months ago everything has changed for me: instead of feeling all the feelings and then lashing out I am able to think, “What is ACTUALLY happening INSIDE MY BODY?! My heart is racing, my brain is spinning, there is a pit in my stomach, my chest feels tight and I can’t really breathe….” I am more able to close my mouth for one minute and process what is going on inside of ME before unintentionally blaming everyone else for what I feel. I may still feel hurricane-like while emotions swirl in every chaotic direction, but it doesn’t pour out onto everyone else as treacherously.

Kind of an Example:

The neighbor’s hot potato toy was left at our house (when the button on this toy is pressed some real obnoxious music plays for an unknown amount of time). My children have loved it and I have woken angrily to that music for the past few days. Well, this morning something miraculous happened. I was, once again, woken by the annoying singing, and instead of RE-acting and lashing out two scenarios unexpectedly played out in my still-half-asleep mind:

A. I storm out of my bedroom while griping at the girls about how they woke me up and they are supposed to be quiet and I tell them every day and on and on with a bunch stuff they will never remember or follow and that will make us all feel like worthless terrible people. 

B. I stay in bed, laugh about how freaking much I hate that toy. The girls come in 10 minutes later snuggling me, spooning me, and slobbering kisses all over my face while I wrap my arms and legs around them all without even opening my eyes. Their naked selves bounce around on my bed as they scream, “Mommy’s awake, mommy’s awake, mommy’s awake!!!!” while laughing and acting like a buncha crazies.

I chose the latter…this time.


I have a lot of plans for my photography business in the new year (once I get through the next couple of months! I have a few changes coming up that I get scared to talk about and think, “What if people don’t like it?!” HA!

The excitement of something that lights me on fire drives me, and I continue the practice of quieting the other voices…

These last three images were taking at Leo Carillo in Malibu on a camping trip. Before the trip Tyler was back and forth between the garage and the car, taking all the sleeping bags, etc. to the trunk. Kate was then taking all of the stuff back into the garage to play with. When we go to the camp site Tyler said, “I think Kate took all the sleeping bags back into the garage. So, ya, all 4 of us slept in our tent with one sleeping bag and one blanket and two crappy pads. Worst sleep of my life, but when I look back on the trip, of course, all I remember is the good, the fun, the unity, the laughing, the biggest waves any of us had ever seen.

Those little girls had all those sticks because they were fighting the boys and wow were they a sight.

Portra 800 and orange people can never, ever be beat.

***For interested photographers: I wanted to see what Portra 800 could do in low light, because a lot of people talk trash on P800 but that was only rated at 800 + 1 and overcast outside. I shot mostly at 1/30 and I don’t think pushing and shooting at 1/30 was necessary.

Little Things

While our family was in town last week we spent an evening watching “The Office.” Pam said, “No big reason. Just a lot of little reasons.” That’s how I feel about life currently - in love with it for the little reasons. I secretly hope I have acquired the peaceful, mindful attitude of a 60 year old woman: life is good and beautiful and happy and peaceful and don’t fill it up with too much extra stuff and family is the most important thing and hug and kiss and tickle and squeeze your people a million times every day.

Also,

One afternoon I was randomly reading a section of John Gottman’s book, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.” The part I read talked about how marriages have the greatest success when the couples focus on what they are doing well - what brought us together? That stuck with me because I have been thinking about people - I am trying to train my brain to focus on what is going right - what I do well. I believe when we spend too much time focusing on what we need to improve we get sucked into a hole that doesn’t feed our mind, body, or spirit. I just wonder what would happen if I paid more attention to recognizing and celebrating my strengths, I’m practicing it anyway! And then maybe I’ll use them to help my partner, family, neighbors, etc. That’s a big deal to me.

I’m in the process of writing all of the strengths of each member of my family and posting it somewhere. I want the constant reminder of our gifts - our talents - front and center. I wonder if it will help me be more “other focused” instead of “self focused.” I just am interested in seeing where it leads us…

Lastly,

I want to blog once a week. This is the start of it. I take gazillions of pictures. Everything on film always. I want to share my pictures, creations, art, thoughts without much reservation. I’m going to worry less, think less, and send more stuff out into the universe solely because it brings me joy.

Seattle, Bay Area, Utah, My mind is reeling! I’m starting to not be able to sleep at night ‘cause your pictures keep me up. The flutter in my stomach tells me it’s going to be oh, so good. I’m thinking about you, planning for you, and am so, so proud of you for laying down your fears and doubts and insecurities to say YES to preserving these unmatchable and completely irreplaceable days.

Muy buenas noches,

Christina

A Goosie Girl and a Momma

On Sunday at church Kate was sitting on Tyler's lap. She was on a giggle fest and he, of course, was loving it, cracking up because she was cracking up and I was sitting on the sidelines enjoying it all while also shooting Tyler keep-her-quieter-you're-egging-her-on looks, as Annie lay asleep in my lap.

It was a beautiful moment followed up with this thought: "Those two have a special bond - they giggle like madmen, are both big teases, and they have way too much fun together and..." Then I thought, "Wait! Kate and I (capital "i") have a special bond! She is crazy about me! Wait!" And as I went down the line of every family member, I could see: "That's her spiritual gift! To make everyone feel like they are the most important person in the world!" She says just the right things with all the right feelings combined with tight squeezes around your neck and kisses and random, "Mama, I love you so much." or other random, "Thank you so much, mama."

That has been her way since she was TINY! I can still remember her frequent, unprompted, "Tay-too, mama"s as I gave her milk or food or wrapped her in a blanket. She felt gratitude in each of those simple moments and expressed it freely - I could, and still do!, feel her sincerity, appreciation. Making a sacrifice for another is effortless for her. She came out of me that way - sweet and snuggly and funny, a natural class clown.

There was another part of her though, a sad part. Even as a baby she would scream for endless hours of the day and night without anyone or anything able to console her. No amount of rocking, bouncing, or feeding helped. We had a running joke when she was content, "Don't look at her and don't talk about her." As soon as anyone made a peep about her she would start wailing all over again.

Sometimes Tyler would come home from work, sling her tiny body completely over his shoulder and go about his business, hands-free, helping with dinner, playing with Annie, cleaning up the house, sitting in the kitchen entryway chatting with me while I washed dishes. She was content there - but only with him.

She is naturally very mindful - present, can never be rushed - overflowing with unique qualities of easily withholding judgment and spreading endless amounts of love, allowing her to make each person with her feel they are the most important person in the world. She is filled to the brim with gifts and talents and love and gratitude - an old soul in a tiny, orange body.

And, sometimes she also gets sad. Like when she melted down yesterday.

***I wrote the next part last night but it didn't feel complete. This morning I added the backstory (the above) which adds to the story of our lives, dynamics that will evolve, grow, change, over time, and I don't want to miss a detail.***

This one had an epic meltdown today. When she gets into a rage there is no coercing, no easing her out. She goes to the depths. All I can do is leave her alone, and only she can bring herself back. Her tantrums don’t happen often, but when they do they are increasingly worse: stronger, louder, heavier, sadder. 

I’m kind of a patient person. I handle them OK, until I’m in public and she loses it. Then all I think about is how everyone starring might be thinking about I should parent. All I can think about is what they are thinking and then I have to work reeeaallllyyy hard to ask myself, “If there were no one looking, watching, listening what would I do? What would I say?” I have to pretend she and I are completely alone.

Today it was a man sweeping his concrete - he said nothing, did nothing, kept sweeping around us, as I sat on his lawn trying to keep Kate from running away (This was the first time she has melted down by a busy street and I couldn’t keep her locked in the car. She kept screaming and escaping and running.) So then I had to hold her, which is worse, because she screams louder trying to tear herself from my arms. There is no talking, no reasoning, no anything. 

So I automatically think the worst: Does he think I should spank her into submission? Show her who’s boss? Make her learn that feeling nothing is better than feeling sad and frustrated and out of control?

Then my heart races, tears well up, and as I sit holding my screaming-bloody-murder child as “neutrally” as I can, my mind wanders to all the babies who don’t have someone holding them while they hurt. Then it goes to other scary places of what this scenario will look like in a few years. Who or what will she run to?

And I wait. I wait for my brain to think of something, anything to do next. I wait for her to come to. I wait for the seconds that feel like hours. I wait for a passerby to give a dirty look or say something that stings.

I don't remember how I got her back in the car alone while a friend loaded my stuff for me.

And then, finally, I heard a sobbing whimper, “Mommy? Mommy?” I turned and saw her arms stretched out wide, big, blue eyes billowed up and overflowing with alligator tears. My sweet babe letting me come to the rescue. 

My first thought is always the same: “Wow - we made it through another one.”

I quickly scooped her up and she squeezed my neck and I tried to wrap as much of me around her as I could and she cried and cried and all I could say was, “I love my beautiful Goosie so much. I’m so sorry you are sad.”

I stood rocking her back and forth, rubbing her back and waiting for her to breathe steadily again. I kissed her wet cheeks, peacefully buckled her in her seat, and drove away sweaty, my heart still pounding out of my chest, my own tears about to pour out in buckets. Tears for me, tears for her, tears for all the babies and all the mommies who are sad.

And we drove to daddy’s work because, “Mommy? I want to go see daddy? Can we go see daddy at his wohhrk?”

“Of course, Goosie.”

It was dark. I pushed this Portra 800 to some crazy limits. #blessfilm

TRAVEL DATES

I've gone from 0-60 in about .00934234 of a second. 

I will be in these places taking family, engagement, newborn, maternity, sibling, anniversary, intimate, #christinaskinonskin, and birth photos, and/or any other photos you have in mind! I also have a couple exciting collaborations in the works. If you have any ideas you want to pull off you know I am ALWAYS ALL IN.

Here is where I will be in the next few months:

August 4-6: Grand Rapids, Michigan

End of August: Palo Alto + Bay Area

September (last week-ish): Seattle, Washington

October 1-6: Santa Cruz + Bay Area, California

October (looking like the 3rd weekend): SLC/Utah County, Utah

November (specific date TBD): Phoenix/Mesa/Sedona, Arizona

With every session you get to hang out with yours truly for a few hours, and I'll be using all my tricks to guide you out of your comfort zone, pretzel you all up with your little and big lovers, and have you snuggling and giggling like a gaggle of little girls.

I also mostly wanna hang out. In other words, when the session is "over" I don't totttaallly want to be done. Whenever I say "I'm done" everyone relaxes, melting into their most beautiful and natural state, and then my photographer heart goes wild all over again and some of my favorite photos come from that time. If you don't mind my hanging around gabbing, listening, and over complimenting you because I can't help it because I fall in love with people when I photograph them because I'm addicted to making friends, then I will be in no hurry to go anywhere.

Within three weeks you'll have gobs of film photos, in digital form, in an online gallery.

It all costs $995, and HERE is the link to purchase your session.

Please don't hesitate to reach out with questions - I am always a totally open book, which drives my husband crazy but I can't help myself.

Finally, here are some pictures as of late:

I shoot with a Pentax645nii and Canon 1V. I shoot mixes of Portra 800, Ektar 100, Portra 400, and Fuji 400h. Double exposures are done in camera as well as in post processing. Click HERE to purchase your shoot and HERE to ask whatever question you would like! See you soon! xoxo, Christina

rewrite the stars

I close my eyes and I can see

The world that's waiting up for me

That I call my own

Through the dark, through the door

Through where no one's been before

But it feels like home

 

They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy

They can say, they can say I've lost my mind

I don't care, I don't care, so call me crazy

We can live in a world that we design

 

'Cause every night I lie in bed

The brightest colors fill my head

A million dreams are keeping me awake

I think of what the world could be

A vision of the one I see

A million dreams is all it's gonna take

A million dreams for the world we're gonna make

 

We watched The Greatest Showman last night and while the choreography was amazing, the songs and lyrics are among my very favorites! Music has always been a passion of mine and is still what sends my mind spiraling into brilliant reveries of WHERE my business will go!, of my CHILDREN being conduits of love and light and celebration of the human race!, of what TYLER AND I can do together when we unite! 

This song also packs a powerful punch because it is my reality - when I lie down at night images of your families race through my mind for hours. I can't turn it off. My brain fires up creating scenarios, games, ideas - floods of images, tsunamis of images, come pouring in as my mind does a creative dance, maybe more of a disco, making pictures out of any scenario I conjure. They don't leave me until I capture them.

I frequently sketch in the pitch black from not having light and not wanting to move from my bed. These pictures, your pictures, force me out of any inclination that I can stay small, out of doubts such as: if I don’t try to go big I won’t fail big.

I am FULL of big dreams.

Your pictures, my children, and my relationship with my husband all keep me out of my “safe place” of comfort and complacency, and in a state of dream catching. 

Our upcoming move to California, specifically to the beach, has been a dream for me and I still cannot believe it will be my reality. Add to that sunny photos of families snuggled up with their lovers and babies full of freedom, love, and laughter and I could not be any happier without exploding. 

I love you all. Love. You. All.

C

not out of control

I have been wanting to share this for a long time. Mostly for myself, maybe for anyone who needs something to buoy them up - to remind all of us that things are not as chaotic and out of control as they feel.

Faith (not faith as a religion, more as...beliefs) is an interesting thing. We all have a different feeling, interpretation, and story around faith. For me, faith is the core of everything I do. When I focus on Faith in Christ I am propelled into people, places, and relationships I would not have found otherwise. I am consistently in awe after learning about those I come into contact with - where they have walked, what they have seen, and especially what they have overcome.

(As a side note, I took a test once while working at Kids on the Move in Orem, UT from the Strengths Finder book. One of the things it told me is that I am a WOO. "Woo stands for Winning Others Over. You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you. Strangers are rarely intimidating to you. On the contrary, strangers can be energizing. You are drawn to them. You want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that you can strike up a conversation and build rapport. Some people shy away from starting up conversations because they worry about running out of things to say. You don't. Not only are you rarely at a loss for words; you actually enjoy initiating with strangers because you derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection. Once that connection is made, you are quite happy to wrap it up and move on. There are new people to meet, new rooms to work, new crowds to mingle in. In your world there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet -- lots of them." Gallup. I love meeting, connecting, sharing with people, and I believe faith strengthens my ability to do that: I know we all have worth and will become something we currently are not. I bask in the thought that we all deserve to be showered in mercy and love.

This bible story about faith has me looking at life - and faith - in a completely new light:

Jesus and some followers had come back from across the lake and a huge group of people were waiting for Him. One who immediately approached Jesus was Jairus, a ruler of a local synagog. Jairus approached Christ with "reverence due One whom he considered able to grant what he asked, and fell at the Lord's feet." 

Jairus came seeking the Lord even though he knew that in leaving his daughter at home, she would pass away during his journey. He said to Christ, "My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her and she shall live."

Jesus went with the imploring father, and many followed.

On the way to Jairus' home an incident delayed their journey: the woman with the issue of blood came to Christ. After time and conversation passed, they were finally able to continue on to Jairus' daughter.

This is the part that stands out to me:

"No intimation is given that Jairus showed impatience or displeasure over the delay; he had placed trust in the Master and awaited His time and pleasure; and while Christ was engaged in the matter of the suffering woman, messengers came from the ruler's house with the saddening word that the girl was dead.

"We may infer that even these dread tidings of certainty failed to destroy the man's faith; he seems to have still looked to the Lord for help, and those who had brought the message asked, 'Why troublest thou the Master any further?'" In other words, "Time to give up, Jairus - your daughter is gone anyway."

"Jesus heard what was said, and sustained the man's sorely-taxed faith by the encouraging behest, 'Be not afraid, only believe.'"

The group finally arrived at the house and saw quite the scene. Customary mourning processes were in place, professional mourners had been hired. Loud noise and musical instruments and people opposed any opportunity for silence. 

Christ commanded, "Peace, be still."

Jesus restored peace to the house. He then entered the death chamber, accompanied only the the three apostles and the parents of the girl. Taking the dead maiden by the hand he 'said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say to unto thee, arise.' To the astonishment of all but the Lord, the girl arose, left her bed, and walked."

This account is powerful to me. Things frequently seem chaotic and out of control to me: HOW?! WHAT?! WHEN?! WHERE?! WHY?! 

But they are never out of control to Him.

He has walked in my shoes. He has walked my path. He retains complete loving and merciful control. These days I want to choose to patiently "[await my] time and pleasure." One day it will make sense, one day things will feel whole again.

While Jairus had legitimate reason to want to hurry things along, or get frustrated when someone else's miracle was taking time away from his own, he waited. I think I can do that, at least I want to try. 

So, my questions have changed.  

What do I want?

What do I need?

What do I need to sacrifice to attain it (even when it feels out of control?)

What will I learn that will make me more compassionate like Him?

I know things are really hard for a lot of people - I hope peace finds you and carries you through, and that you begin to feel confident things are not out of control.

Love,

Christina

 

 

Here are a lot of pictures from the last year that I love:

Quotes and summaries are from Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage (one of my favorite books...)

sky high

So many things. 

"First see it, then be it." (What I learned from Barbie the other day.)

And,

Light makes all the difference.

And,

This is Jenna, a friend and fabulous photographer who lives in West Seattle. Our families went on a hike to one of my favorite (secret) places in Seattle - a beach in Discovery Park. It has a humongous tree swing. And she's pretty much the best.

And,

I love the people who are in front of my camera. 

And, 

I just learned that empathy is not connecting with someone because you have experienced what they experienced. Empathy is connecting over the emotion someone feels as a result of their experience - we may not have gone through what they had to go through/are going through, but we have all felt sadness, embarrassment, rejection, regret, stupidity, shame, joy, excitement, success, and a plethora of others. I empathize by holding anothers' feelings in a sacred space because I understand we are all human, and all of humanity feels things, be it under different curcumstances (summaraized from Daring Greatly, Brené Brown p 81).

AND,

My prices are SLASHED. If you want family, engagement, baby-in-the-belly photos, mom and baby bath photos (or any other photos, of course) I'm ready to party!

2018 Travel Dates:

Grand Rapids, MI: August 3-5

SLC - Payson, UT: September

Santa Cruz, CA: October

Austin, TX: YOU are on my radar! When do you want photos?!

Love,

Christina

honest with myself

2017 is not a year that stands independent from the 4 previous years. 

I bunch the past 5 1/2 years into a chunk of time in which real life hit me square between the eyes, and I do have to say i was unprepared for the blow.

Here is what I thought:

My life is great. I have nothing to complain about. I am a confident, competent person. I just have to wait until I snap out of it. I’ve never had depression. I can’t be depressed.

As the years crawled on I would look at other moms and wonder how and why they liked their kids. Why did they hold them, snuggle them, enjoy them? All I wanted was to constantly run away from my girls. Every night I didn’t want to go to sleep because I didn’t want to wake up and do it all again, every day, forever.

I recently took time away from social media to get un-addicted to everything. My phone. Social media. Checking out. I even try to make phone calls more than text these days. I did think unplugging would create moonbeams and unicorns and I would be happier being a mom and having my girls climb all over me and I would be full of love, peace, joy, and rejoicing but what I learned was, without wasting time doing the numbing scroll (as frequently or infrequently as it was) I was left to myself. I spent more time in stillness and consequently thinking about…everything...

I came to the conclusion that I needed more help than I would admit. I couldn’t keep going on by barely hanging on, pushing through, or waiting until (…fill in all the blanks). 

The past 5 years were nothing how I imagined they should be, or how I wanted them to be, and I wasn’t getting better - it was a stark reality but I was getting worse. 

“So many other women could do this better than me. Love them better than me. Have fun with them better than me” were the constant strands of thoughts rolling through my mind regarding my family.

I never slept. Every night I lay in bed for hours, my heart racing, unable to breathe deeply or slowly. I woke incessantly throughout the night and worried about everyone, every thing, past, present, and future. The next morning I would lie in bed until 11. The girls would scavenge cookies from the cupboards and dine on ice cream and cookies for breakfast. 

I found myself in a hole of missed expectations and dark thoughts.

I wonder if postpartum depression lasts until you are finally able to rewrite your story, inserting yourself now as “mom.” Or, maybe until you are able to redefine yourself in this new role of “mom.”

Whatever the root, I kept thinking, “I’ll be me again when they go to preschool, to kindergarten, when they […..fill in the blank….]” But honestly it didn’t matter how long they were away. As soon as they were back with me simple daily tasks brought on an anxiety and hopelessness that devoured me. 

(Almost 2 years ago I left my 2 year old and 1 year old with their grandparents while Tyler and I flew to Argentina for 16 DAYS! 16 DAYS! And we did not call, facetime, talk - nothing! In addition, I did not miss them until day 14; I did not miss my 2 year old or 1 year old for two weeks. In fact, I was living the dream and happier than I had been in a few years. There was something clearly wrong, but I didn't see it or accept it. Last year I went to California for some sunshine and told Tyler I would be back in a couple weeks. Every single week I asked, “Next week…?” 

6 weeks had gone by. It took me six weeks to feel "like me" again.

I think this story began when I became pregnant with Annie. We moved to Seattle that winter; she was born in the spring. I held on through the summer, became pregnant again, had a 15 month old and a newborn in a small apartment in a city - not something I had ever done before. Winter again, endless coughs and colds are the never-ending name of the winter game. In addition to that the sun rises late and sets early, around 4pm. It’s overcast and rains quite a lot these winters. We stay inside a lot. It’s not a lifestyle conducive to my sanity. Each summer I would barely come up for air because we lived at the park every. single. day., only to find myself in a lower low the following winter.

I finally went to the doctor last week. I was honest - most importantly with myself but also with her. I’m usually honest with God (I have no problem shouting out my insecurities, complaints, problems, frustrations, with him - He is love and I know he doesn’t expect me to be something I am not; He sees who I am, who I will become.) I do think for a long time I wanted Him to fix it. He didn’t. He wanted me to be open with myself, communicate with my husband, and my doctor, and move my own feet toward help and improvement.

I guess every story doesn't have, or need, a miracle ending - maybe we wouldn’t learn the lessons that make us more empathetic, understanding, compassionate, forgiving, willing to listen to, and see, others.

I know all of this does not compare to other’s who have lived with depression and anxiety for longer, and on a much deeper level. I don’t know why I write this and put it out there. Maybe to say social media lives look pristine. I know I’ve posted so many “happy posts” which were real moments, real feelings, but were no more than brief instances. Happy was not an overarching feeling of my life in general.

I thought: maybe I need to get off social media, sleep more, do less. I did all of those things trying to “cure” myself. While those were moves I will continue, as they had positive outcomes, they did not change the emotions and feelings that dominated me.

Maybe I write this for anyone who can relate but who hasn’t yet put words to their thoughts or feelings, those who are still trying, by sheer grit, to press through. 

No one need endure the misery, sadness, numbness, inability to function, until their circumstances change, especially not alone. Changing my circumstances certainly may change my brain, but there are some things I cannot change right now. I have had to accept and acknowledge that, and realize there are other steps I need to take to improve my situation right now. And I don’t need to feel guilty about them. 

If you feel any of these feelings don’t let more time go by hoping for some other future to distill itself upon you. I let too many years go by. I haven’t found an answer yet, and have been allergic to both medications the doctor has given me, but I have hope again. While my body reacted negatively to them in one way, in other ways they did help me feel light again, feel like real happiness, real enjoyment is there! I was happy to wake up for a few mornings - something I haven't felt in years. I just have to work through some kinks to find it on a more consistent basis.

If you need someone to talk to or confide in or somewhere to go - I will do whatever I can to help you. You can have my cell number and call any time! You can come over! We can put a show on for the kids and just talk. If you need anything find someone you can confide in. You are not a burden.

Maybe I write this for myself. So I can remember what the up and down feels like in motherhood, in family. Sometimes things feel hopeless, but they never are.

My greatest thoughts are summed up perfectly in these words by Elder Bradley D. Foster, “It is my witness that our Heavenly Father loved us so much that He sent His Only Begotten Son to live the life of a mortal so that Jesus could say to us, ‘I’ve been where you are, I know what comes next, and I’ll help you through it.’”

Jeffrey R. Holland recounts a moment in his young fatherhood and ends with these words, "Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but...they come. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come."

I could not move forward one inch without this knowledge. 

I hope 2018 is different from past years. That I will notice and accept the things that are hard and do my best to patiently resolve them.

Happy New Year. Here is to good things to come.

Love,

Christina

Use code GOODTHINGS to take $100 off any shoot between now and the end of February!

bottles, bows, and balls

“Some people don't understand the promises they're making when they make them," I said.

"Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That's what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway.” John Green, The Fault in Our Stars