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  • Welcome to Our Journal

    Keith is a photographer who believes that kids are nearly perfect and that great images capture a bit of that perfection for all eternity. He loves that children don’t filter their emotions. Living loud is their power. And his job is to capture a moment of their uncontained imaginations: your children, unscripted.

    Melissa is the studio manager, adoring wife, busy mom and occasional writer that believes she is living the most beautiful life in the whole world.

    Keith and Melissa have two amazing daughters, Isabella and Gabriella and a little Jack Russell named Pooch.

    This journal is our personal blog about our family, photography, travel and how we are inspired by children in all their authenticity, one beautiful photograph at a time.

No Two Kids are Alike | Family Photography Phoenix

film photographers phoenix

I remember my parents saying (and I guess they still do) how different my sister and I are. Funny, I see so many similarities but I guess there are just as many differences. How can kids have the same parents and be raised in the same environment and be so different?

I love my girls equally, they both have so many amazing qualities and I wouldn’t change a thing about either of them.

Isabella is quiet, sensitive, introspective, creative, beautiful inside and out. But getting her out of bed in the morning takes a half hour. Getting her to do her homework after school, a daily reoccurring nightmare. She wanders through the house without focus. She is a procrastinator. She is exactly like me! The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It makes my head explode yet I lead by example!

Gabby is outgoing, vivacious, funny, has a heart as huge as can be for anything alive especially if you have 4 legs, she is also beautiful inside and out. She bounces out of bed every morning, happy and ready to take on the day. She is deliberate and efficient. She comes in the door from school and grabs her work and gets going right away. This week she has written a chapter book that is probably 1000+ words long, single spaced and really well written, just for the fun of it! She is pleasant most of the time but watch out because she has a huge personality and isn’t afraid to address anyone or anything. We often joke that she will have plenty of first dates but not as many second ones. She speaks her mind, even when no one asked! :)

There’s times during the day that I might be frustrated with them or myself. I imagine every parent feels this way at some point. Or second guess myself that I could have said something in a different way or acted like a better parent. At the end of the day though I just love these two to death. I love their quirks and what makes them uniquely them. I love how much they love us. I love every single day…..

Travel to Bali | Pittstop July 2015

wedding photography bali

We have decided to spend the majority of July in Bali this year. As those of you that live in the Phoenix area konw, July is obscenely hot and no one seems to need a photographer! I wonder why! We take the hint and get out of dodge every year. This year: Bali.

I’m really excited about this trip but I have to admit that I am struggling a bit with the idea of getting there. I have wanted to travel to Bali for a long time and I would love to travel all through the South Pacific. But I know in my heart of hearts it hasn’t happened to this point in my life because of the long flight. I really have a hard time wrapping my head around being on a plane for nearly 24 hours.

Last year when we were returning from Sicily I think it took 30+ hours, but only 14  of those hours were spent on a plane. The rest was waiting in airports, etc.  This will be less overall travel time but more time on the plane. How will I handle it? Will the kids be ok? How will Keith put up with me?

For those of you that don’t know me I have had restless leg syndrome before it had a name. Long car trips as a kid were unbearable because of the “anxiety” in my legs. It made me crazy (and I’m sure my mom and sister too). Fast forward to an adult and traveling as much as I possibly could. I always get this restless leg thing on long plane rides. Having kids has actually helped me because they distract me. They are much better travelers than I am – how is that? I remember being pregnant traveling to Ireland from Phoenix to visit my sister. Isabella was 2 years old and was the perfect little traveler on the long trip. I however had to stand for most of the trip. I just couldn’t take it. So how on earth am I going to make it to Bali?

I know I will. I always survive. My crazed concern about the length of the flights is what took me so long to pull the trigger on buying these darn tickets. I researched everything you can imagine. I was a nervous wreck. What was the right strategy?

Should we stay over night in Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong or Singapore to break up the trip? But then I rationalized that if we can make it the 12 -14 hours to get to these spots then we are almost there, just another 5-7 hour flight to Denpasar.

Should we take a flight that has a 12+ hour layover in Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong or Singapore. Stay in one of the airport hotels, catch up on sleep before the next leg? Keith’s argument is that we should just forge through it. Get through it. It is bad no matter how you break it up.

I finally wrapped my head around this being the best option. Find the flights with the shortest overall time (flight + layovers) and just get to Bali as fast as possible. Think of that beautiful hotel room on the other end – just get there!

That helped. But I was really nervous about buying these tickets. This is a big trip for us and the kids (Keith’s mom is coming as well! which is just awesome!) It took me talking this over with them a few times, rationalizing all sorts of things and just saying today is the day, we are getting these tickets and we are going to Bali.

Phhewwww. It is done! Tickets purchased. We are going. So excited!!!

And I will make it, I promise.

Brand New Baby T | Phoenix Newborn Photographer

newborn photography scottsdalebaby photographer phoenixphoenix newborn photographersmom and babynewborn baby photographers phoenixnewborn photographers scottsdalenewborn photography phoenixscottsdale newborn photographersscottsdale newborn baby photosmom and baby photographymom and baby photography

“I may be small, but I matter. Teach me. Love me. Believe in me. Because with your guidance, when I’m all grown up, I’m going to be someone amazing.” Sarah Wheeler

Always a favorite session for us is a past bride that has a little baby and entrusts us with their newborn photos. It seems to be a good match, we have  spent many hours together on your wedding day – have a bond of sorts – it seems natural for us to photograph the next incredible milestone in a couple’s lives together. Having a baby.

This new mother is so beautiful. I love how organic and natural this baby session was. Baby and mom (and the puppies too!).

I know new mothers are so busy when they have a new baby – whether it is your first time or your 3rd – it is a beautifully hectic time for a mom and her baby. Finding time for a newborn session doesn’t always seem possible. But as a mom of an 8 and 10 year old, these photos are a must. I look back at my fresh little baby photos and I can’t believe that my girls were ever this tiny.

Yes, I love photos at all stages, 3 months, 6 months, sitting and crawling. But there is nothing quite as sweet as those first two weeks when your little baby can barely open their eyes, is still kind of scrunchy and brand new. How can you ever really remember this without looking at photos? And the bond captured between mom and her new baby, priceless.

As I mentioned a few lines ago, this is truly an honor to document this exciting time in a family’s life.

 

Lucky Parents | Children’s Photography Phoenix

Kids Photography Scottsdale

I don’t have many conflicts being a parent. I kind of see in black and white and Keith and I just make our decisions on parenting based on our gut feeling at the moment. We probably should but haven’t read any parenting books and just kind of wing it. Maybe using our own parents parenting style to help us make our way in this crazy world of raising kids has been a rock solid guide since I think to this point we have raised decent kids. Heck I’ll even say that I think we have raised two very thoughtful caring little girls who have a good sense of who they are and a good world view for their young ages.

But I recently had a little dilemma that I had to seek some advice about (Keith wasn’t as conflicted as I!). Isabella was invited by one of our dearest and closest friends in the whole wide world to accompany her and her daughter (who they have been friends since they were crawling, friends for 9+ years!) to Hawaii for a week. The dilemma wasn’t whether or not Bella should go (although I have to say I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to my kids). But I trust my friend with my kids as if they were her own.

What made me ponder was how Gabby would feel if her sister went away for a week without her. I called my sister to ask her how she would have felt if this had happened to her. I am the older sister so I knew that at some point my sister had to have felt left out because she was younger. Granted I was never lucky enough to travel to Hawaii at ten, but there had to have been some something that my sister would remember. But her response was perfect. She said that she knew when I was able to do something that she couldn’t do it was usually based on age. That she just wasn’t old enough to do it. That reasoning worked for me. As bad as I felt having Gabby a little bit hurt by not having the same opportunities as her sister – I realized after talking to my sister that she would have her own opportunities but in due time. After all, she just turned 8. She would have a chance to do something fun and adventurous with one of her friends – but once she was a little bit older. This made me feel so much better.

My mom confirmed the same thought process. As the kids get older they are going to have different opportunities. They can’t do everything together. Some times it will be hard for the other to understand why they can’t participate but the plain hard truth is that they are 2.5 years apart and Bella will continue to have many experiences first solely based on age.

Looking at the two of them I struggle to even imagine that they are growing and maturing this quickly right before my eyes. What touches me the most is how attached they are to each other. I think for Gabby her wanting to be on the trip is more about her wanting to do everything with her sister. For Bella, her first question on the phone was “How is sissy? Can I talk to her”. To share all these fun moments together. I think it is really hard for Gabby to wrap her head around the idea of not being with her sister on a trip, in car line after school, brushing their teeth together before bed, chatting in bed at night (yes they each have their own room but most nights they sleep together) of just driving each other crazy day in and day out.

As hard as it is for me to see them becoming this independent it is rewarding to see how dependent they are on each other. I mean that in the best way possible. The bond is beautiful.

Keith and I are two lucky parents!

The Stein Sisters | Small Dog Rescue | Phoenix Arizona

foster a dog scottsdale strays phoenix arizona dog rescue(This adorable photo by Keith has prompted me to show off these two dogs yet again on our blog!)

We have had these two cuties for a few months now, about 7 months actually (my time flies). We have grown so fond of them that our family can’t imagine life without them. There are times when they frustrate the heck out of us because just when you think you have them trained, you realize that they are only quasi trained and may never ever be trained like our Jack Russell Pooch. Oh how she spoiled us these last 15++ years with her just about perfect bathroom skills. Then come these two. But even if they are not so perfectly potty trained – they melt our hearts every single day.

To think that these adorable dogs were rescues – on their way to be euthanized. Who would do that to these two? They were rescued by Scottsdale Strays (via other small dog rescues local and in California that do incredible work finding homes for these dogs that no one wants).  We fostered them in August (read my blog post about that HERE) and fast forward all these months later we are more in love with Tinkerbelle and Millie than we could ever have imagined. Even Pooch has taken a very strong liking to the two of them!

They started with other nicknames, Sheddy (because Tinkerbelle shed so much due to her being nervous when she first arrived) and Skinny (Millie has those long legs and she is skinny as a stick). Well things have changed (yes Tink may have gained a few pounds – ok – look at the photo of her on the older blog post v this photo, she has gained a neck!) but she has settled in just fine. Millie still has a little bit of a nervousness to her, but she is so darn endearing you just want to swallow her up.

Now these two are the Stein sisters. Millstein and Tinklestein. They have all sorts of other nicknames from the kids (and us, yes we call them all sorts of silly things!). We love that they sleep in our room each night in their little Babuska to keep them warm. We love the pitter patter of their little tiny paws on the wood floors. We love when they sometimes know to let us know that they have to go to the bathroom. We love how they snuggle with us. Most of all, we love that they will be happy in our home for many years to come!