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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. 

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. 

Tulips and puddle jumping | Seattle Lifestyle Photographer

I grew up in the Skagit Valley, and while I don't really miss it or have nostalgic feelings about living there, I do have a hangup about taking pictures in the tulip fields every year. So this weekend we braved the crowds (and the mud) and headed to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival for our annual photos.

My kids are not interested in looking at or smiling for the camera (who is?!) so they ran around while I chased after them, snapping away. Lifestyle/documentary photos are actually my preference since they clearly tell the story of our lives and allow my girls' personalities to shine through much better than posed pictures ever do. 

As you'll soon be able to see; the big girls ran wild, the baby tried to eat everything she got her hands on, and the highlight of our visit was a giant mud puddle. You can probably imagine how we all looked like by the time sloshed home in our rain boots. 

Fourth-annual best summer ever

Whew! Fall is always a crazy time for my business but this year my fall felt like a freight train that ran me over...then backed up and ran me over again. You could say that my work/life balance needs a little adjusting. And now that I have finally had a minute to breathe, I'm realizing December is over and in two short sleeps we'll welcome in another year. What? 

I have written a summer recap each year since I started my business. I'm usually writing it in a coffee shop in late September, watching the rain outside, reliving sweet summer memories on my screen, and crying into my Americano. This year I was too busy shooting and editing like a madwoman and didn't have the luxury of writing a summer blog, (or even editing the pictures from my summer) until now. 

So, while I feel a little funny writing this post three months late, I'm going to go for it. 

We welcomed the most precious baby girl into our family this spring, so our summer adventures were quite tame compared to previous years. I jokingly referred to this as our worst summer ever, but after reviewing the pictures and reliving our summer memories, I can confidently say it was another one for the books.

We spent most of our time adventuring close to home and enjoyed frequent ferry rides, visits to the beach and splash parks, and run-ins with the ice cream man. We left Seattle in the rearview a few times when we took weekend trips to Decatur Island and Port Townsend, and later to camp on the shores of Lake Chelan. 

I'm remembering now that we stayed close to home because our baby hated the car seat and any trip in the car longer than 20 minutes ended up with screaming baby, a two-year-old yelling "my baby's crying! My baby's crying! Momma! My baby's crying! FIX IT" and a four-year-old yelling at the two-year-old to stop yelling. And that's about the time I started to fantasize about pulling a Beyonce and telling the driver to roll up the partition, please. 

Everything felt a little harder this summer, and getting out the door in less than two hours was nearly impossible, but the sweet memories that we made as we began our life as a family of five will be cherished forever. 

Sweet Emory

My husband and I were thrilled to welcome our third daughter into our family on May 15. Emory Margaret Moll. She is beautiful and perfect. 

Norah and Vivienne met their little sister a few hours after she was born. They brought cupcakes to the hospital and sang happy birthday to the newest birthday girl. Vivienne was smitten right away and Norah was a little aloof, but it has been wonderful to watch their love for her blossom during the last two weeks.

I have been trying to be present in and enjoy this newborn stage but I can't help being excited for our future together. I am eager for her personality emerge and to see how that changes our dynamic as a family. And I can't wait for her to be old enough to hop on the bike with us so we can all cruise down the Burke Gilman together.

Until then, I'll savor the sweet newborn snuggles.