Thank you to everyone who chose Koranda Lab Photography this year. I am honored and grateful to capture your wild, raw and stunning every day.
Thank you for letting me share in your special moments last year! It's an honor I don't take lightly.
I'm ringing in the new year by reliving some of the highlights.
Without further ado...
We pulled up to a small private school in a neighborhood in Nicaragua. Our driver turned the key in the ignition and Kendra, the missionary we were with, began to tell us why they decided to partner with this school.
"See that purple house with shutters over the windows," she asked.
Sixteen-year-old twins lived there with their mother.
Kendra met them when they were 11. She brought them to a camp the missionaries hosted each summer.
At night, they screamed.
It was so bad that she pulled one of the girls outside and asked what was wrong.
Desperate for her daughters' survival, their mother would accept food from a pastor in the community.
He came by at night, where she would meet him on the front steps. In exchange for food for her daughters, she would let him go inside and have his way with the girls.
They were also forced to sleep by the open windows so men could come in and out throughout the night.
When Kendra heard this tragic story, she decided that not only did Feed the Hungry need to have a presence in this neighborhood, but that families there desperately needed food. The school is now a feeding center for FTH, and the students regularly eat Feed My Starving Children meals.
Kendra contacted the authorities about the situation. They did an investigation. She hopes that it, along with a presence in the community and much-needed nutrition, can help others not take such drastic measures.
"The affects of poverty go so deep," Kendra said as she twirled a little girl's orange-tinted hair and moved on to explain how consistent nutrition meant it was starting to grow in healthy.
I recently had the honor of collaborating with Backgate Prayers on product photography.
These cards are a beautiful, simple and thoughtful way to remind you to pray for your loved ones. They are crafted with themes that are specifically tailored for your son, daughter or children. This unique collection of interchangeable prayer cards is elegantly displayed in a handmade wooden block.
My friend and fellow creative, Kristen of White Loft Creative, has worked hard on this project, and I hope you check it out!
This past April, I had an amazing opportunity with my job managing blog and social media storytelling for Feed My Starving Children.
I was able to travel to Haiti with a group of FMSC staff and donors.
I wrote a lot of blog posts for work and shared photos on my personal social channels, but I never wrote about it here.
Perhaps the biggest thing I walked away with was that there are so many factors and variables to each child’s story. Sometimes the healing takes longer than we realize.
I talked about that in a blog about how hunger is more complicated than we often acknowledge.
I have the opportunity to bring that last blog to life at Community Grounds in Columbia Heights.
An exhibit of portraits I took in Haiti will be on display through the month of August. I hope you check it out!
Last year, I photographed Lauren & Ryan's wedding. It was a beautiful day -- everything about it captured this couple.
It was my first wedding. I was second shooter and did it for the experience. I loved every minute of it.
I haven't advertised that I shoot weddings because wedding photographers are their own breed. It's a whole different game.
But I do shoot small weddings, and I guess I'm ready to let the world know -- haha.
Enjoy a small selection of photos from Lauren & Ryan's special day by clicking on the photos in the gallery to move it along.
I was honored this month to have the cover story for the May issue of Sojourners Magazine.
Not only was it a big deal for my photography career, but I have been longing for a space to tell the story of a refugee family.
I was initially going to do this "Day in the Life" project as a passion project for Koranda Lab, but emailed Sojourners on a whim.
I hope you'll check it out! (You won't be able to see the full piece without a subscription, but a Sojo subscription is SO cheap, you guys. Just saying.)
"Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them." --Unknown
This poem will always make me think of Jackie and Josie and vice versa. I was so honored to photograph these two the last time I went home to Chicago. Love you guys <3
“If I should have a daughter…“Instead of “Mom”, she’s gonna call me “Point B.” Because that way, she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me. And I’m going to paint the solar system on the back of her hands so that she has to learn the entire universe before she can say “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.”
She’s gonna learn that this life will hit you, hard, in the face, wait for you to get back up so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air. There is hurt, here, that cannot be fixed by band-aids or poetry, so the first time she realizes that Wonder-woman isn’t coming, I’ll make sure she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by herself. Because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal. Believe me, I’ve tried.
And “Baby,” I’ll tell her “don’t keep your nose up in the air like that, I know that trick, you’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else, find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him.”
But I know that she will anyway, so instead I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boats nearby, ‘cause there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Okay, there’s a few heartbreaks chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rain boots are for, because rain will wash away everything if you let it.
I want her to see the world through the underside of a glass bottom boat, to look through a magnifying glass at the galaxies that exist on the pin point of a human mind. Because that’s how my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this, “There’ll be days like this my momma said” when you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises. When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you wanna save are the ones standing on your cape. When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say “thank you,” ‘cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away.
You will put the “wind” in win some lose some, you will put the “star” in starting over and over, and no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life.
And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting I am pretty damn naive but I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.
“Baby,” I’ll tell her “remember your mama is a worrier but your papa is a warrior and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.”
Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and always apologize when you’ve done something wrong but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining.
Your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing and when they finally hand you heartbreak, slip hatred and war under your doorstep and hand you hand-outs on street corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.”
― Sarah Kay
Click on photos to navigate gallery.
“Growing apart doesn't change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I'm glad for that.”
― Ally Condie
This weekend, I sat on the floor with this person I have known for 20 years and ate mac and cheese. But this time there was a baby there, too.
No one really talks about the beautiful mind fuck that is seeing someone you've grown up with become a mother.
It's been four days since I've met Max, and I still can't get over it. The way Amy looks at him and touches him and rushes to his side when he cries.
Capturing this family whose roots are tangled with mine has been one of my greatest pleasures since I picked up a camera this fall.
Click on photos to navigate gallery below.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 1 Corinthians 4:16-18
My puppy, Ramble, is afraid of all the usual suspects: lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners, other dogs on TV (okay, not sure that one is so normal).
But the things he is most scared of in the entire world are his own reflection and bubble baths.
I was telling my friend about how I recently made this discovery after buying some lavender epsom salt bubble bath.
I don't do anything around here with Ramble, so I let him in the bathroom during my soak.
He would stare at me, approach the bubbles with hesitation and then jump back and cower in fear.
Then I would try to coax him over in my most gentle voice, holding the bubbles out in my hand until he knew it was OK. He would investigate and the cycle would start all over again.
I love this weirdo more than I can express with words, and I would never, ever hurt him.
"Besides, it's just so silly," I told her. "It's just bubbles...it can't hurt him."
And I was bowled over.
What if the things I am so scared of are mere bubbles to God?
Although I can't imagine a bigger love than what I have for Ramble, I know that this God I believe in loves me one hundred times more.
And I know he's coaxing me in his gentlest voice...
Katie, I would never hurt you. Come closer and look at these bubbles. See how small and fluffy they are?
You are going to be OK.
My beautiful friend, Lianna and her husband Chris, are embarking on the foster to adopt journey. They're expecting a baby within a few months.
I had the honor of hosting a shower for them and snuck some photos in along the way.
You can follow along on their journey HERE.
Click on photos to navigate gallery.
This is my favorite quote I always forget. And while I have seen it before, I saw it today and started trembling. Then the tears came.
This quote always catches me off guard, but it's especially moving when you've had a hard year, isn't it? When your year has been full of no-s and tears and waiting.
I embraced this quote at the beginning of 2016, and my year WAS full of things that have never been. It was full of infertility diagnoses, failed IUIs, an unplanned-for photography business -- things I had never before experienced. Good and bad. The old cliche of blessings in disguise.
But I am learning to embrace it. To be open to what the Things That Have Never Been are teaching me, and they're teaching me a lot.
I'm hoping that my Things That Have Never Been in 2017 are more blessings and less disguise, but like my nephew with his Target bag wings, I'm jumping full force into what this year holds for me. I hope you join me -- and thank you -- for standing with me in 2016.
So, I don't actually have an answer for this. I don't know how to navigate the photography world with unexplained infertility. I just wanted to talk about it.
I'm not sure it can be done. I have zero pain when it comes to photographing families. I consider this a huge blessing. Family sessions are my favorite thing to do, and I love holding your baby so I can get a picture of mom and dad alone.
But it's not just me and you. Photography is so much about community. It's not just about me and my clients; it's about me and other photographers, photography groups and social media accounts.
As a photographer, especially when you're new to the game, you have to figure out where you fit in to all this.
Where do you belong?
You can't be a successful photographer if you live in a vacuum. You have to be active on all the pages -- getting inspiration, participating in weekly fave and themed submissions.
This is where I've started to see a disconnect. So many photographers have children of their own. So many pages are geared towards mom photographers.
It's one more way for someone struggling with infertility to be on the outside looking in.
It's one more way for someone struggling with infertility to be reminded that they don't really belong -- anywhere.
This week, I've felt like throwing in the towel. I've unfollowed a lot of important accounts. It's not just the complicated feelings that come along with constantly seeing pictures of baby bellies and peachy newborns -- it's feeling like you can't participate.
During the busy season, I had lots of client photos to share and submit, but now I don't. For most photographers, they can post photos of their children in place of clients until spring when sessions start to pick up.
I don't have that luxury.
It's not that I don't love these beautiful images. I do. I love the documentary style that comes along with photographing your children in your home. It's so, so beautiful and important.
But I implore you, photography world, to invite me in. Tell me where I belong. Help me find a way to coexist with you despite this terrible, painful thing called infertility.