Mother/daughter session {State College, PA family photographer}

Sometimes, when I come home from a shoot, I want to pinch myself to make sure it wasn’t a dream.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved horses. Mostly drawing them after pouring over gigantic illustrated books I borrowed from the library. Once or twice I got to ride a pony as a child, but that was the extent of my access to anything in the equine family.

So when I get to photograph a session with horses, I’m in heaven.

Ann and Victoria’s beauties were no exception.

We met at their stable and took “the boys” out for a walk. I had so much fun learning all of their personalities, watching them interact and hearing their story.

They ordered a stunning large wall portrait of the four of them walking away into the pasture and Ann is excited to have something in her living room to contrast all of their active competition shots.

We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect evening.

 

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Lucy & Finley – new sister session {Loganton, PA newborn photographer}

I was so excited to meet these sweet sisters. Lucy just adores her new little one and was ready with kisses and hugs at the slightest coo.

We met on a very stormy and rainy summer morning, but the girls brought all the sunshine we needed. Especially in their gorgeous peach and pastel blue hues.

Because I love a well-coordinated session (and the planning always pays off), I included a peek at the front and back of Miss Finley’s custom birth announcements. I added a few grays and pulled all the colors from Lucy’s dress for a perfect little keepsake to share with loved ones.

Sigh. Is there anything better than lip bubbles and baby yawns?

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Altoona Mirror newspaper column {July}

After six hours on a bus, the 7-year-old disembarked and greeted me with a shy hug. I introduced her to the rest of my family, told her how excited we were to meet her and asked if she’d like a popsicle.

That earned a smile.

Joy would be staying with us for 10 days through the Fresh Air Fund — a non-profit group that matches low-income kids from New York City with families in rural areas to provide them with a positive summer experience. Little did I know at the time that she would provide us with an incredible experience, too.

On the way back to our house, I asked Joy to describe where she lived. My 6-year-old’s jaw dropped listening to her explain they had a two-bedroom apartment with one bathroom on the second floor of a six-story building in Harlem. And she has to use the steps because the elevator is broken.

“Do you have a backyard?” my daughter, Allison, asked incredulously.

“No, but there’s a park across the street!” Joy said. “And the swings go really high.”

I could see Allison’s mental gears turning. She had probably never given our grass much thought before.

In the weeks leading up to Joy’s arrival, I tried to temper my expectations. I knew there would be bumps and blips, but I certainly didn’t expect her to warm up to us so quickly.

I tried to imagine going home with any of the other waiting volunteer families we had met before the bus arrived. Even as a grown woman — with all of the capabilities that come with adulthood — I still would’ve been a little overwhelmed and uneasy being invited into someone else’s home at first meeting.

Add in the fact that this was Joy’s first trip away from home? And her first non-family sleepover? I told her how brave I thought she was and I promised her a great vacation.

We packed an immense amount of summer into a 10-day span: a parade and fireworks, grilling dinner outside, a baseball game, visiting area playgrounds, water balloon fights and sprinklers, chalking on the driveway, swimming, a late-night campfire, two amusement parks, catching fireflies and even indoor ice skating to beat the heat on a 90-degree day.

This area has so much to offer, it was honestly tough to choose our daily activities sometimes.

But it wasn’t always perfect. Some revelations about her life make my heart ache and wish we could do more. The girls didn’t always get along. And on occasion our 3-year-old son would get left out.

But the moments that really counted? Like the look on Joy’s face when she bit into her first s’more. Or when she sat down for the first time inside a baseball stadium. And when she grabbed me around the waist, jumping up and down screaming how happy she was anticipating her first official fireworks display.

It’s amazing seeing things through a child’s eyes. It truly is. She gave us such a wonderful gift to be able to take a fresh look at our surroundings and really appreciate the little things it’s easy to take for granted.

To us, it might just be a patch of grass to mow every few days. To a little girl who is typically surrounded by pavement, it’s something to celebrate.

Maybe even pure joy.

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Bard family {Altoona, PA family photographer}

I absolutely adore this family and I’m so fortunate for having the opportunity to watch them grow over the years. They are the most caring, joyful people and they brighten my day every time I have the opportunity to see them. I first photographed Erin and Jordan for a maternity shoot four years ago! A few newborn sessions later … and now? Now they have two amazing children who have eyelashes for miles.

Already looking forward to Greyson’s 1-year cake smash this winter!

But until then, enjoy all this family love …

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Altoona Mirror newspaper column {June}

Based solely on advertising, you’d think the rewards of fatherhood are ties, tools, grilling and golf.

Whether those things hit the mark or not, I know there are far greater gifts when you dedicate a large portion of your life to raising a child. 

And I’m not sure why, but I think it’s easy to tell moms how much we love them. How much we appreciate the things they do for us and how they’ve impacted our lives. But dads deserve to hear those things, too.

So this Father’s Day, I say skip the impersonal thing on the shelf and write your dad a letter — say it from the heart and make it count.

***

Carl,

Some people are blessed at birth to have a father already in their lives. Other dads, like you, walk in — sometimes even unexpectedly — stand by your side, provide guidance and refuse to give up on you.

I think both are equally as special a commitment, and I hope you know that your decision to take on the responsibility of raising me is something I don’t take for granted. In fact, it resonates profoundly even now in adulthood.

Over the last 24 years, you’ve seen me through braces and breakups, growing pains and graduations. 

You negotiated the price of my first car and helped me find a replacement bumper when it didn’t last as long as it should’ve. You gave me your old tool box when I moved into my first apartment and taught me how to patch a wall when I was overzealous with the hammer. You called to wish me a happy 21st birthday and didn’t judge the next afternoon when I was wearing sunglasses and requested absolute quiet.

Through all the many things that come to mind, you always celebrate my achievements and roll with my lows. I strive to do the same with my own children and only hope I greet each challenge along the way with as much grace and humor as you did. 

You lead by example and taught me that opportunity is sometimes self-made. Watching you spending hours and hours running your own business instilled in me a deep work ethic. I know that many of my choices in life — including taking risks — were only possible because I saw you do the same and succeed with grit and tenacity.

And although we don’t technically share genetics, I know my attention to detail and insistence to go above and beyond with everything I tackle comes from watching you do the same. 

But just because you work hard, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play hard, too. You always enjoy the proverbial fruits of your labor and put the highest priority on friends and family. I know that when the day is done, the best place to be is surrounded with loved ones (and preferably with a good glass of wine in hand).

So thank you. Thank you for being the best dad a girl could ever ask for. For showing me love is forever and unconditional — especially when you choose it.

You walked into my life, walked me down the aisle and now hold my children’s hands as you walk them to the park. It truly doesn’t get any better than that.  

Love, laughter and mishaps,

Kelly

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