A long post about me and motherhood (I'll let you in on a secret - I struggle) - Albury-Wodonga family photographer

So, I'm about to be really vulnerable for a minute and I'm going to be brutally honest. I find motherhood hard. Really hard. Really fucking hard. Sometimes I feel like I have more days that I dislike it than days that I like it. I struggle to give so much of myself, hour after hour. Day after day. Year after year. I'm grumpy. I can be horribly angry, for no reason. Some days I want to walk away and not return. I have days where I feel so flat I can barely get out of bed. Sometimes I cry. A lot. And yes, before you ask, I have been diagnosed with depression.

Last week for example - I don't know why, but I was just sad. My kids were tired because they seem to have forgotten how to sleep (which probably explains my current exhausted state), so they were whinging. And whining. And fighting. About E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. I'm not proud, but by the time it got to bedtime, of course then they wouldn't go to sleep. So I lost it. I yelled. I screamed. I said things I wish I hadn't. Which is probably the worst way to get you kids to go to sleep... and just between you and me, it doesn't work!

They eventually fell asleep. Then the guilt kicks in. How can I find it so hard? How can I be so angry at these gorgeous little girls, who are always so incredibly happy and vibrant. The last thing I want to do is stop them being those amazing little people that they are. So I climbed in bed with my sleeping child and I cuddled her and I cried. I kissed her sweet cheeks and told her I was sorry.

I find it so incredibly hard that my kids need me. I sometimes feel that I almost have contempt for the impact that they have on me. Not my girls themselves - I love them dearly, but at what I have to sacrifice to be a mum. Which feels about as selfish as you can get. And then I'm struck with incredible guilt that I can even think that about these 2 lives that I brought into this world. Who need me. And always will. Because that's what mothers are for. They need to be there for their kids. Even when they've become a mum themselves.

Don't get me wrong. I love them. And I would do anything for them (but push them on a swing... that's another blog for another day). I also have this very strong desire to raise these girls as independent, strong willed women, able to fight their own battles, able to stand up for themselves, able to forge their own way in the world. But this vision seems to come to odds with my ability to give them all of me. I want for myself that vision of what I want for them - and for that I don't want anything or anyone to have to rely on or depend on me all the time. It's a constant battle going on in my head. It's one I try to work on every day. I'm pretty sure my girls are going to be independent, strong willed women... at least they're well on their way already. Which also comes to odds with me and my parenting style. I love that they are so strong willed and independent. But just not when I'm trying to parent them!! Please!

I've struggled with this battle the whole time I've been a mum. Since my eldest was born, I was adamant that I was going to teach my kids how to sleep. As much for me as for them. Yep, I've rated sleep as one of the most important things I could instill in my kids. For mental health, for brain development, for all those things. But it was also a selfish decision - I needed them them sleep so I could have 'time off' from being a mum. Damn it if it was going to kill me, but my kids were never going to sleep in my bed. And I think it almost did kill me. That first year was a battle. Pretty sure though, that kid was not going to sleep anywhere. Still doesn't... She refused to fall asleep in my arms, or in the pram, or in the car, or feeding, or anywhere. I often wonder if my eldest was one of those miraculous babies who slept, whether I would have started motherhood a little less stressed and enjoyed it a little more? Which came first? The non-sleeping baby or the tightly wound mum? I used to have people tell me all the time 'oh just enjoy them while they're young' or 'the days are long, but the years are short' which never helped me nor my mental state at the time. I wanted to throw my daughter in their arms and say 'you do it then - and hand it back when the days are a bit shorter'. I struggled every minute of every day while taking on this role of motherhood, where I was required to give myself over wholeheartedly to it.

I struggled then.

And I still struggle now.

And do you want to know why I'm telling this story? Because I know how hard parenting is. And I know how vulnerable having your photos taken can be. You can be assured of one thing. I won't judge you for not being perfect or not having your life together. I won't criticize. I won't romanticise your life for the camera. I want you to you to show up and be you. And I'll show up and be me. And together we'll take some photos.

(First 2 photos are from my family session with Andrea Sissons last year - the rest are taken by me of my muses. My girls. My constant source of love, noise and frustration)

In-home Newborn and Family session - Lifestyle Photography Albury-Wodonga

So following on from my last blog, on the same weekend as I photographed Bec and her husband, I also photographed Carris of Captivated Photography and her family in an in-home session on the same weekend! How lucky am I?!

In late 2016, Carris contacted me to photograph her family, at that point a family of 4. Since then we've become friends, and catch up on a semi regular basis for coffee or dinner with several other local photogs. So I was pretty chuffed when she asked me if I could photograph her family for an in-home session after her son was born!! Of course I would!

We had such a fun session, and my usual 1 - 1.5 hour session went out the window - I think I was there for almost 2.5 hours! But when there's so much to do, and play, and talk. We started inside, ended up running around the house on makeshift blanket sleds, outside for some sandpit action, and back inside for pancakes - of course I'm going to stick around and keep taking photos!!!

These guys were so much fun to photograph. There is something quite different in photographing another photog and their families. They 'get' what we're trying to achieve, often without direction - and photographers kids? Well they're generally so used to a camera being in their face all day, they I don't think they even notice it most of the time!!

Needless to say this gallery was quite a big one!

Family photography - in-home session - Albury-Wodonga photographer

So, recently I've been doing a bit of soul searching. Nothing too crunchy, just working out some things in my head. Mainly, trying to figure out the direction I'm want to steer my photography. Where to direct my learning, and start to push the business towards...

At the moment, I'm feeling a need to create photos that are more than just of people. I want to take photos of feeling and emotion and to paraphrase the photographer Jesh de roux 'people think photos are about what they see. To me photos are about what you feel'.

Photos allow us to see a time gone. Whether that time was 5 minutes ago or 5 year ago. And the reason we take photos is to remember something. Why do we want to remember something? Because maybe it was of someone we love? Because we were having a great time and we want to remember how much fun we were having? Because we saw something beautiful and it made you stop and catch you breath for a second and look. Because something made us laugh. Or cry. These are emotions. We take photos because we want to remember that feeling. At least that's what I do.

So to get to my latest blog! These photos were taken during a gorgeous in-home family session in Albury earlier this month. Nicola booked me months ago, excited because she had stumbled across my website on Google! Yay! I was pretty excited that someone had found me out of the blue on the internet! She booked me because she saw my portfolio and loved what I do. Hearing that someone else also feels that about my photography is a pretty good feeling!

These guys were a breeze to photograph. They absolutely got what I do. I don't think I ever had to utter the sentence 'stop looking at me, look at each other'. They were naturals. Even down to talking about what they were going to cook for dinner - which if anyone has been photographed by me, has probably heard me say that as a prompt to talk to each other! Thanks James for stealing my line!

I deliver all my sessions in a combination of black and white and colour. Some days I'm really drawn to black and white photos. I think they show so much more connection and emotion than colour images. The take away distracting backgrounds and you find yourself focusing on faces, not the colour of the walls or a cushion behind. Don't get me wrong, I also love colour too. But there's something so timeless to a black and white.

In-home lifestyle photography - Competition winner - Albury-Wodonga Family Photographer

It feels like it's been a very long time since I wrote a blog. I feel like I've been so busy lately!

So I decided to write a little blog about the little competition I ran in July. Thank you so much to all the people who entered, shared and liked my post. It means a lot. My business is slowly growing because of word of mouth referrals made possible through Facebook.

Jess was the lucky winner I drew out at random. I think she was pretty excited to win! As Jess and her husband Zac had only recently welcomed their second child, brand new baby Florence earth-side, we did an in-home family session.

With in-home sessions, I only use available natural light, from windows or doors. I turn off all over head lights. In this instance, I picked 2 of the bedrooms to shoot in. One was very bright and light, which resulted in the lovely bright photos. While the other room was much darker with dark furnishings and much less direct light coming through the window. These photos are much darker and more moody. I love the stark contrast the light from these two rooms created across the images.

As a photographer, I am ALWAYS looking for light. I love using different types of light and the amazingly different results you can achieve. This family session is a perfect example of the dramatic effect of light. Taken in the same house, at the same time, with the same people wearing the same clothes - and this is the result!

Newborn session - In-home photography Albury-Wodonga

Back in February I put a call out for people who were keen to help me build my maternity portfolio. One of those ladies who answered my call was the lovely Sarah-Rose and her partner Shane. So I was pretty excited when they contacted me again in May to do a newborn session in their home following the arrival of their brand new family member.

So I turned up one cold Tuesday morning to their house. One reason why in-home sessions are so good. No need for you to bundle up your baby and yourself and try to get out of the house on time in the freezing winter weather.

Apparently the night before the little man had decided it was an appropriate time to party the night away - a tendency that newborns can have... Yet another reason to stay at home and cuddle on the couch or in your bed!

Scroll down to check out some of the photos from our session

Family in-home session - Family Photography Albury-Wodonga

So I mentioned in my last blog post (you can find it here) that one of my business goals for this year was to incorporate more in-home family sessions into my bookings.

I was lucky enough when a friend recently had her second baby and very kindly allowed me to gain some practice photographing her family in their home on one Saturday morning in May.

If you're not sure what is involved in an in-home lifestyle photography session, here are a few reasons why I love them:

1 - Everyone is so much more relaxed. Kids and adults alike. You're in your own home, kids can play with their own toys, in their own space, you get to sit on your own couch and lay in your own bed.

2 - Kids are often a bit more receptive to a strange person taking their photos if they're in their own space - they usually love to show off their room or their toys. And if mum and dad allow, I'll even let them jump on the bed... all in the name of a good photo of course!

3 - They are so much more intimate than an outdoor session. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE outdoor sessions (I'm sure I'll write another blog another day about those), but in-home sessions have a feel and emotion you can't emulate in an outdoor environment.

4 - We're not as time limited as an outdoor session. We don't have to schedule it to start an hour before sunset, and have it all wrapped up by the time the sun has gone. If you need to stop to feed kids, or take a toilet break, we can. No rush. No hurry.

5 - We can do it no matter the weather. If it's miserable, cold and raining, we can still go ahead and do the photo session. If it's 40 degrees, sunny and there are snakes around (!!) we can still go ahead and do the photo session.

6 - The time of day in-home sessions are done are much more family friendly! During summer, when the sun doesn't set until 8:30pm most kids are asleep in bed. In-home session are usually done around mid-morning or mid-afternoon. We can also schedule them around nap times!

Life Unmade Workshop with Amy Rushbrook

I started this little business of mine midway through last year, on a bit of a whim, without too much thought. I had no idea how to start or run a business. But I figured I'd learn as I go. I knew how to take photos, I didn't really know how to take the lifestyle type family photos I love looking at on Instagram. My plan was to let the business pay for itself, so if it failed, I wasn't at least going to be out of pocket. I wanted to do as much learning as my budget would allow. This probably sums up my attitude to life a little bit. Don't think too much, jump in head first and figure it out as you go...

So after completing a couple of photography workshops online through Clickin Moms I decided one of my major business goals for 2017 would be attending an in-person workshop - I learn so much better in person, talking, watching and being able to absorb it all in and be in the moment. I reckon it only a matter of days after I decided that that was my goal, Amy Rushbrook announced she was running a workshop in late March on the Mornington Peninsula... needless to say I jumped at the chance to be able learn off one of Australia's, if not one of the world's best lifestyle photographers at present (just go check out her stuff and her recent achievements if you think I'm exaggerating).

When Friday afternoon finally came around, I was bursting to tag team the kids with my significant other when he got home from work, and get out that door on my way to Melbourne. What better way to start off a weekend away on my own without kids, but to have a 3 hour drive by myself listening to Myf and Zan podcasts, and a beautiful dinner in Port Melbourne with some old school friends.

On the Saturday morning when I arrived at the most beautiful the Airbnb house in McCrae I was greeted with a van bogged in the driveway - and everyone trying to push it back up the hill, on loose gravel. Team bonding exercise Number 1 completed!

Once the workshop started proper, it wasn't long until Amy had managed to make pretty much everyone cry. Thanks Amy! Best way to start off a workshop with a bunch of beautiful creative souls. She opened up that bucket of vulnerability early on and broke down those barriers so no one had any walls to hide behind. From then on there was nothing but a sense of safety and security, more tears, laughter, coffee, more laughter, yummy food provided by Merowyn of Plate Got Ate, more coffee, and so much more laughter that my cheeks were hurting. And of course so much photography and business talk that my head was spinning.

It was such a beautiful space to occupy for a weekend, both physically (the house was amazing!), mentally and creatively. Amy was an open book for us for the weekend. Any question we had she answered honestly, without pretense. There was so much to take in I wasn't sure if I would walk away and remember anything. I couldn't wait to get my head around everything I'd learnt and take it into my next session. And in testament to Amy's teaching, I can see a huge distinction between my pre-workshop photography and my post-workshop photography.

And also, a huge shout out also goes to the other beautiful souls who shared that weekend space with me. Hannah, Julie, Alice, Peta, Yvonne, Kasey, Maddison, Liane. Without you ladies, this weekend wouldn't have been the same. Everyone was so open to sharing their stories and experiences, their own life lessons, and sleeping spaces... Thank you for making this workshop as awesome as it was!

And of course, when I finally arrived home to my cherubs on the Monday morning, I was greeted by my youngest with gastro...

And thanks to this workshop, My newest goal for my business is to nail in-home photography sessions this winter and make them another feature of my business!

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Autumn Leaves Family Session - Albury-Wodonga Family Photography

I'm not sure there's any better way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon in late Autumn, than playing in the fallen leaves of some of the biggest oak trees I've ever seen. At least when you're 5 and 2 year old brothers!

What a spectacular autumn we've had on the Border. Very little wind and rain has meant the leaves have been hanging around, turning every shade of autumn. The piles of undisturbed leaves under these trees was like nothing I've ever seen. We ventured ever so slightly off the beaten track to get to some of these trees and it was so worth it! I reckon in places these leaves were almost knee deep - if you're 5, and making tripping over unseen sticks a high possibility. Thankfully we had Millie dog along to help us find all the sticks...

I've known this gorgeous family since Sarah and I were in mother's group together with our tiny babes and I practiced my photography on these boys under some of these trees almost 12 months ago! It was so nice to have both Sarah and Trent in the photos this time as a family. As much fun as photographing kids is, I love being able to capture the whole family playing and interacting together!

I hope you have as much fun viewing these photos as we did taking them!

This one is for all the Mum's of the world - Albury family photographer

Remember back in B.C (before children)? When we thought we were tired? Working all day at a job outside the house, then coming home, cooking dinner and going to bed. And sleeping through until the sun rose?? I do. I thought I knew what exhaustion was. I used to work a 55 hour week in a job I didn't really love and would collapse with exhaustion at the end of the week. Back when weekends were for sleeping in and catching up with friends, reading a magazine and going out!

Then we got pregnant. Some planned, some as a surprise (yep - that was me!). You still have no idea how much your world is about to change. No amount of talking and hearing the stories can prepare you for it. Because at the end of the day you used to go home to your quiet, warm bed and sleep. Through. The. Night.

I remember when I was pregnant with my first and talking to friend who had just had her first, and the realisation slowly dawned on me of the sleepnessless that was about to happen. I was petrified. For some reason, not of being responsible for another human - but of not getting a full nights sleep...! Ha!

We push our bodies to the limit during pregnancy. Some suffer less than others. The morning sickness set off by the most random things. Frozen bread would make me run to hug the toilet every single time I opened the freezer. I didn't even know bread had a smell when frozen until I was pregnant! Our bodies stretch and strain for 9 months (give or take). The feet in rib cages. Indigestion and heart burn. Constantly needing to pee. Hips and pelvises that feel like they're falling apart. Feet and ankles that swell. There was no pregnancy glow here. It might have been a residual glow from throwing up for the 5th time that day.

Then labour. Again, some suffer less than others. I was so very fortunate to have 2 quick and easy labours. But I've heard so many stories of others that didn't. And we thought our bodies had been stretched to their limit during the previous 9 months... think again!

Of course, once we hold them in our arms and breathe that sigh of relief that it's all over, we forget about it so quickly.

Then comes the feeding. Whatever way we choose to feed. All night long. And all day long. And all night long. Until we don't actually know if its day or night, can't quite remember if we showered today or not, and eat pretty much whatever looks like it might be edible. Including oh, so much chocolate.

And don't get me started on sleeping. Apparently there are some babies that like to sleep... My first did not. At all. Ever. Wouldn't even sleep in my arms. Then when she finally did, she would fart herself awake again 5 minutes later. At age 5 she is now a wonderful sleeper, so persistence pays off. Or she's just catching up on all the sleep she didn't get as a baby. My second was the best routine baby ever. Slept and fed on schedule like an angel. Then she turned 2 and decided enough with the predictability. And now at almost 3 I can't actually remember the last time she (and I) slept through the night...

There's lunch boxes to fill. Dinners to be rejected. Tantrums over the wrong colour cup. Emotional meltdowns in the middle of the supermarket. Inappropriately timed toilet accidents. Ear infections. Broken bones. Drawing on walls. Painting themselves. Waking up in the middle of the night because a sock came off...

Some return to work. Because they have to. Some because it provides a welcome relief. Some because they dearly love their careers. Some don't go back to work and choose to stay home. Some run a business from home, between getting dinner ready and nap time. Everyone single mum has challenges to face and guilt to overcome.

And each day we get up and do it again. We don't get weekends off anymore to sleep in and read a magazine. We survive off a heady mix of coffee and wine. But we wouldn't change it for the world. When those little chubby fingers grab you around the back of the neck in a hug so tight you can feel their soul crush against yours. When you get woken up at the sparrow-fart with 'Dood morning mamma. It's a bootiful day today'. When a cuddle from you can fix their biggest problems. When they look at you with those eyes and tell you how much they love you - and you know they truly mean it.

And some mums have had to deal with the most unbearable devastation and loss. I can't even begin to image the pain. I know all our hearts go out to those.

And of course we can't forget those that help us along the way. If we're lucky enough to have them: our significant others. Our parents and in-laws. Aunties and uncles. Neighbours and friends. Those who help us pick up the pieces when it all feels too hard. Those who cook dinner or drop off a much needed coffee when we couldn't get out of the house. The ones who appear when we need a shoulder to cry on, or to down a bottle of wine with us. Those who we know we can drop a child or two off to at the last minute to do a mad dash to an appointment. Those who offer to take our kids overnight so we can get some much needed sleep. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts, because without you, we'd be a mess.

And then, after some time has passed, some of us choose to go ahead and do it all again.

"To the world you may be just one person, but to one person, you are the world"

Sunset Family Maternity // In-home Newborn - Albury lifestyle photographer

I had the joy of capturing this beautiful family before and after they welcomed their 6th family member earlier this year.

For the maternity session, we took a short walk along Eastern Hill during sunset and got some great photos of this active, outdoorsy family. This is such a gorgeous part of Albury-Wodonga. Favoured by many locals and their dogs for their morning and evening walks - and the views for both sunrise and sunset are just gorgeous, as the path meanders along the ridge looking both to the east and west.

Then I was fortunate enough to be welcomed into their home after his arrival earthside, to document him, his siblings and parents in a relaxed home environment.

The benefit of in-home newborn sessions are many. The family is generally so much more relaxed in their home, the kids don't have to stay close when they're not having their turn in front of the camera and there is no expectation for the baby to be asleep or awake. Lifestyle newborn photography captures this moment in time, in a more natural way. You don't have to lug baby, other kids (if you've got more) and everything that comes with a baby to a location or studio in everyone's best clothes and hope they don't get them dirty along the way. And these photos can be taken any time within the baby's first few months.

I aim to catch this moment, as you remember (or not, depending on your level of exhaustion!!), in your home, where these memories are made.