There's nothing quite like that NEW LOVE. You know, the "we just made this tiny human, and our hearts are exploding" kind of love. It's truly indescribable. It's one of my favourites seasons of life to capture. It's joyfully raw, and full of emotion. It's the most blissful kind of exhaustion our hearts and bodies will ever go through. The late night feeds, poopy diapers and constant giving of ourselves easily become our voluntary servanthood because this little person means everything in the world to us. And that shapes us. I always tell people if you thought marriage was teaching you to be selfless, have a baby. And maybe the most beautiful thing about it, is that being selfless for them becomes our joy. No one has to ask us to do it - we are simply and deeply compelled by love. It's as though this very giving of our lives was our entire reason for living. And maybe for the first time in a long time, or maybe for the first time ever we learn that self-less, life-giving love is the most worthwhile way to love God, and to love this world.
This is family. Imperfect, flawed, beautiful family.
Many families want to appear like they have it all together, when none really do. We all have our gates we haven't walked through. We all have shame and hurt and our 'stuff'.
Family is choosing to love one another in spite of that stuff. To comfort each other in our pain, to fail at comforting each other the 'right' way, and then to simply keep trying to do our best.
My greatest learning has come from families wiling to share their brokenness with us. Authentic + honest, + at times ugly, brokenness. And I mean ugly in the most beautiful way. Loving one another with our whole hearts requires showing our whole hearts. Every side, angle, hidden crevice within. Being free from shame, being blown open by love, being torn apart with grace. This is the kinda love that makes life worth living.
Think about that family you admire, who seems to have it all together. Here's a little secret, they don't. What they do have, what all families have, are stories. This family's story hold light, babies, mental illness, forgiveness, choices, laughter, and deep deep love.
I'll share a bit of it with you, if you'd like to hear.
Jesse's (dad) words:
"My angel baby Berly.
We had a beautiful daughter, Halle. I remember thinking that she was all I needed. One. How could I love another child as much as I loved her? How could l adequately provide for and protect her AND another? I was pretty much dead set against having another baby. Lisa really felt the motherly pull to have another child, a sibling for Halle.
I was really struggling at the time (although no one knew.) PTSD from childhood trauma, and depression which eventually manifested into addictions and self-destructive patterns and behaviours. Unhealthy coping mechanisms, I know now…trying to forget and escape a very terrible party of my life.
I had ben extremely blessed with a supportive wife, a beautiful and healthy daughter. We had an amazing acreage and home, and lots of nice things. From the outside, I’m sure everything looked perfect. However; I was just barely hanging onto life. All of my energy went into the facade of making things look like I was doing well - when in fact it was the complete opposite.
Fast forward: Lisa became pregnant with our second daughter. I was still spiralling downward (unknown to everyone around me, including Lisa). It was an incredible weight just trying to be a husband and father. Berlyn was born, and although I loved her SO very much I was still very unwell. It all came to a head one particular night when everything changed. I was rocking Berlyn to sleep. As I snuggled my child, I broke down….
It was then that I decided to live.
Not really knowing how that would exactly play out, but it involved coming clean about a lot of hidden things, getting help, doing some brutally hard work, moving, therapy…and so much more….but I basically chose to live for my family, my two babies made life worth living. They deserved to have me, even if I wasn’t sure if I deserved them.”
Such incredible bravery. It's humbling that anyone is willing to share their heart with us, to tell their story in spite of the pain it must carry to the surface. But only in shedding light on those dark corners of our lives can we truly walk in freedom.
The love this family holds is beyond words. The images captured are the best I could do to communicate it for you. But the real love rests within their family. Within everything they have shared together, all the beauty + the broken. Those cracks in their story that let the light shine through.
love. love. love.
What is all this SOUL SESSION talk about? We want to tell you. It's a new way. It's a new way of thinking about photos, about art, about creating. It's a movement birthed in community. Almost a year ago a journey began with our dear, talented friend Chelsea of Chelsea Klette Photography. Creatively thirsty for more, we let our hearts come together and dream. All of us passionate about moving beyond "just taking photos" we poured our hearts out, and as we did this, SOUL SESSIONS were birthed. We brought our clients together for a beautiful night of shooting, it was thrilling, and beautiful beyond words - just ask them. And something happened deep within each of us. We realized we couldn't go back. We couldn't go back to shooting without SOUL. We couldn't go back to shooting without INTENTION. We couldn't go back to shooting without PUSHING the limits of LOVE. So forever changed, we're moving forward, and we're building our businesses upon SOUL, INTENTION, and LOVE. We're choosing to take what we birthed in creative community, and keep giving it life, and sharing the life we found in SOUL SESSIONS.
Not only have we found our hearts overflowing, but we've seen the GREAT IMPACT these sessions have had for our clients. We've seen breakthrough happen, we've seen them cry as their very heart is captured. We want to weave together the most beautiful, honest, stories - the stories of your heart, and SOUL. This is why we can't go back to "just taking photos". Our lives were meant to share the gold hidden within others, and push ourselves and others to love more fiercely, more freely, more fully.
Some words from this beautiful couple:
"After 7 years of marriage, we've walked through a lot of dark valleys with one another. It's easy to get caught up in life and move through each season, without really pausing for connection; not really experiencing life but just trying to survive it. Tammy and Tamarah came along our path ever so timely.
After just coming through what was one of our hardest seasons...we made a conscious and unified decision to restart, to be all in, and toss away the "this is how we used to do it" mindset; ultimately shifting the direction of our relationship. The Soul Session was a part of our marriage recovery. We saw the session as an investment in "us." We gained more than just photos from this session. It was an hour for us to physically be near each other, connecting, without any expectations. An hour to remember our "why". As I look at the photos captured...my heart whispers, "this is us - raw, messy, vulnerable, enduring and unapologetic." The photos weren't a façade or counterfeit; trying to display the perfect relationship. Let's face it... all relationships carry with them dysfunction. Instead, they accurately portrayed us; the real us.
Tammy and Tamarah have a true gift. They have the ability to create a platform for you to find connection. Whether it be with your spouse, family or within yourself. They were able to ease us into the session and made us feel as though we had known them for years. Even in the midst of a deep soul session, we still had plenty of time for laughter and a little humour. We can't thank them enough for being instrumental in our journey."
It's interesting when you capture families over many years. You spend a lot of time observing and learning about people and how they behave together. It's the absolute most beautiful thing, and for years our cups have overflowed with the connections we've gotten to witness.
We've learned that each family is unique, and love looks different between them. This is ok and also so very important. Our M+L desire is to capture love within a family in the most honest and authentic way possible. To honour their individual connections and help them to feel safe with us.
Some of our families are ALL hands on, I relate well as this is how I connect best! Cuddlers and kissers, it's so easy to see their connection. But not all people are touchy feely, some express their love through words. They love to say how beautiful you look, or thank you for all you do for them. Others are happiest to do acts of service, a parent pushing their child on a swing or doing the dishes to ease their loved ones work load. Maybe inviting friends over that they know YOU love. You see, they are doing it for YOU, and that is how they bless you.
As photographers, we want to know you and your family. We don't want to just take you picture, we want the picture we take to be your heart + soul. We want the photos to enrich and bless your lives, we want them to show your love in a very tangible way. We want you to feel MOVED at the very sight of them.
This is our deep desire and it does mean we have to work very hard to achieve this. It comes with asking you many questions and always 'keeping our love on' when we hear the answers. It means we need to create a safe space for you. And we desperately want to do this for you.
In every moment we are choosing to move closer to each other, or to expand the divide.
What does it mean to be wholehearted? I've asked myself this recently, here's your answer!
Wholehearted - Having no reservations; having unconditional and enthusiastic support
Wow, wholehearted is an amazing way to love. No reservations, blocks, or fear. Just unconditional enthusiastic support! Can you even imagine? Only God loves perfectly, but we can try our best! I feel like I should write this down and carry it in my purse. How can I love wholeheartedly? How I be supportive of my child no matter what? How can I let my flaws show so they don't feel so alone in theirs. How can I simply love them better?
As I write this I am reminded of grace. That simple word that covers a multitude of sin. Have grace towards yourself and others. Forgive them + forgive yourself.
I may have gotten off track but here's the thing... when we witness your love, it looks so beautiful to us. When you let go and be vulnerable in our presence, the gift is joy and connection. And in that moment we can snag the treasures of your heart, in a photo.
xo Tammy + Tamarah