Beignets and ugly crying - my trip to NOLA for The Family Narrative

Almost a year ago, late at night and enjoying the quiet stillness of the house while cruising the Internet (like ya do) I stumbled across an ad for a family photography workshop that caught my attention. I applied immediately and then refreshed my email every ten minutes until I got notice I was accepted. I mean, it was going to be in New Orleans, and they had me at beignet.

The workshop, called The Family Narrative, had an all-star lineup of teachers from around the country and would be focused on education, demonstration, and the creation of a vibrant and supportive community of family photographers around the globe.  As someone in a competitive industry who often struggles with doubts around my ability to run my business well, balance work and being a stay-at-home momma to my three little girls, and feelings of isolation as I manage the pressure of constant editing deadlines, this workshop sounded like a perfect fit. 

A couple of weeks ago, with the fridge stocked, babysitters secured, and the pediatrician’s cell number taped to the refrigerator; it was time to say goodbye to the kids, good luck to my husband, and hop on the plane headed to NOLA.

I have taken my time to reflect on and process my time in New Orleans, and now, two weeks later, I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that I got off of the plane back in Seattle a changed person.

The time that I spent there exploring the city, eating delicious food, learning from amazing creatives, and getting to know the other attendees was incredible. It was amazing and valuable, challenging and affirming. I remember at the meet and greet on the first day, one of the attendees from 2017 she told me she was in tears almost the entire time last year. I laughed and asked her why?! And then proceeded to be on the verge of tears for the next four days, even ugly crying in public several times.

Why?

Because I was in a room full of strangers who knew parts of my HEART without me saying a word. They reminded me that the work I do as a family photographer is SO IMPORTANT. Taking pictures of families, highlighting their connections, showing them the beauty in their everyday lives, these are things that REALLY MATTER.  

How many times have you heard someone say that if their house is on fire the one thing they’ll grab on their way out is their photo album? I mean, hello This Is Us fans (spoiler alert!), remember how Jack died?

As a photographer, I stop time for my clients, recording a second for them to look back on forever.  The way they look at their partner with that crinkle-nosed smile, the way their infant son fits into their arms, the way their kids chase each other around the house, or the way their daughter stands on her tippy toes to look out the second-floor window. 

When the season is over and the time has passed, they will rely on these split-second captures to help them remember. To help them retell their family’s stories for generations.

And now I’m crying all over again.

All of this to say, I am changed, I am inspired, I have a ton of work to do, and I am so excited to continue making beautiful memories for your families. If it has been a while since you took family photos, don’t hesitate to get in touch and schedule a session. Write yourself back into your family’s history. It really is SO important.

After you send me an email to book your family session (hello@kelseymoll.com), you can come back to enjoy these pics from the colorful streets of NOLA. 

Baby Emma | Seattle newborn photographer

On one of the last sunny mornings of our beautiful fall, I met with the Bethards family to document one of their last days as a family of three. Days of excitement, anticipation, joy, and perhaps a little anxiousness about the big changes to come. Katrina was positively radiant, clearly; and Audrey was full of the big emotions of a 21-month-old that were forgotten after a quick Snapchat interlude. 

A few weeks later, little Emma arrived, and their beautiful family was complete. 

Full arms, full hearts | Seattle family photographer

Right now, in the middle of winter, it is dark and gloomy. The rain is falling and pouring down the street in little rivers making this late summer day feel like a distant memory. There was ash falling from the sky and our mid-morning shoot had a hazy red tint due to the smoke in the air, but these two smiley six-month-olds didn't mind a bit. 

I have had the pleasure of working with several sets of twins and I am always impressed with the level of teamwork their parents display. Their arms are full of babies and stuff; juggling bottles, strollers, diaper bags, dog leashes, and extra outfits, but their words to each other are kind and encouraging and they are spoken with humble hearts and smiling faces. What lucky babies to grow up in the strong arms of these kind parents. 

My own 2017

I should have written this post weeks ago, as 2017 recaps are so last year (ha) but there are a lot of things I should have done two weeks ago and I'm still working on those things as well as Tuesday's to-do list (#momlife). So, I'm just going to do it now, cross it off of my list, and count it as a win. 

I struggled with work/life balance this year, and every time I thought of grabbing my camera to take pictures of my family, it felt like going to work. So I bought a different, much smaller and lighter camera to take on family adventures; something that would do a good job with photos, but wouldn't take up a lot of physical or mental space in our time together. 

My goal in photographing my family this year was to take pictures that capture the essence of our experience together. Something that, when I look at it, moves me to a feeling. Remembering the things we were doing, the laughter and/or tears (or often both) that accompanied the experience, and the way our relationships grew or changed because of those times together.  

I want to look at a picture of my kids and SEE my kids. Not just their likeness, but their spirit. 

Here are a few of my favorites from our time together in 2017. Time spent in our new house, at the beach, in the woods, and everywhere in between. These pictures and memories that accompany them will be cherished forever. 

A morning with the Davis family | Seattle family photographer

I have been taking pictures of the Davis family since little Etta was six months old. She has always been a beautiful, happy girl, and it is a shoot I look forward to every year. Her family just moved to a new (to them) neighborhood in Seattle so we decided to do the shoot at their home, on their block, and at the beach park they visit nearly every day. 

Last year, Etta was a little timid during their photo shoot. This year, she greeted me at the door with a smile, showed me her new room, and cried when the shoot was over. What a difference a year makes! 

We got a lot of beautiful pictures during our shoot, but my favorite is the one of Etta wrapped up in her mom's arms. Etta's dad had been chasing her and she ran giggling and screaming straight to her mom's open arms. Arms that closed around to protect and embrace. Arms that feel like home to Etta.

Etta's mom closed her eyes and smiled for just a moment. Enjoying the weight of her daughter against her chest. The feeling of home in her arms.