In the spring of 2010 when I was pregnant with Cale I decided that I wanted to get some maternity pictures taken. Miles was deployed and I thought it would make for a nice Father's Day gift. Cale was due only a couple weeks after Father's Day and Miles was coming home early from his deployment to be there for the birth (he ended up arriving the day before Cale was born). So I looked up some photographers in the area, found one who was available, contacted her, set a date, and when that date arrived I drove out to the local park where we agreed to meet. And then I drove around. And around. And around. No photographer was there. She stood me up. I called twice, left a message and never heard back from her. I re-checked my email to ensure I had the right time and location (I did), emailed her, and hoped that everything was ok and assumed I would hear back that she either forgot or would tell me something came up and reschedule. But I never heard back from her. Eventually I saw she updated photos from another session on her website so I knew everything was fine - she just had the worst business etiquette ever. Who stands up a pregnant woman whose husband is deployed?! Fortunately I hadn't paid anything yet, but I was left to find someone new on a now shorter timeline.
And while I was initially annoyed that I had to find another photographer, it ended up being a huge blessing. I found Ker-Fox Photography just through googling local photographers, loved their website and pictures and contacted them to see if they could do a session, explaining that my husband was deployed and I wanted to have some maternity pictures taken since this was our first child and he wouldn't be home until close to the birth. I got a quick response back from Neely, who has since become a very dear friend. She and her husband came out to capture some images of my pregnancy with Cale and to this day they are some of my most cherished possessions.
Fast forward many months later, I contacted Neely to let her know I was pregnant again. I wanted her to be the one to capture images of my pregnancy, but also asked if she would be willing to be there for the birth and capture Finn's arrival. At the time of delivery, Neely was newly pregnant with their daughter Finley (she not only takes great pictures, but has good taste in names too). She was happy to be there as she had never shot a birth before, and she wrote a beautiful blog post about it here.
In June of 2011 we literally saw Neely every week for a photo session. First maternity, then delivery, newborn, and at the end of the month she came out (again out of the goodness of her heart) to document the balloon release we did for Cale's first birthday. It was special and fitting that she was there with us, as we celebrated the boy who brought us together:
When we moved from Georgia I was sad knowing that I would never find a photographer quite like Neely. Several months ago I was texting with her and catching up. I told her that we were expecting again and while it shouldn't surprise me, I was beyond thrilled when she suggested flying out to capture the birth. And she did. She flew all the way to Texas from Georgia. Left her little Finley and her husband for nearly a week to come out and once again, capture some of the most tender and important moments of our family's story. Oh, and at the time of Mary's birth, Neely shared with me that she is expecting again. Just as she was when Finn was born. Another little connection I think is so special.
But the connection that I love the most is that Neely has not only taken amazing pictures and helped us preserve our most cherished memories, but she is part of all three of our children's stories. Neely's goal when taking pictures is to tell a story. Her God given talent has enabled her to do that beautifully for us, as she has done for all her clients, but I wanted to share the story behind all these powerful images, and why they are so very special.
I not only gained a friend in Neely, but I found someone who has meant so much to our family over the last three and a half years. I'll never be able to thank her for the gifts she's given us, but will always be profoundly grateful for them. Her latest work, this video of Mary's arrival (which she shares in this touching blog), brings me to tears every time I watch it.
I watched the video today with Finn and when Mary cries, he said "Mary sad?" "No baby, Mary was just born, she was crying for the first time." He replied, "Mary's awake."
Yes, honey. And someday you will realize how profound that statement is.
If I ever meet the photographer who stood me up, I need to thank her.