families

the Dixons | Nashville family photographer

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“With you, I can be myself;

With you, I don’t have to be somebody else.

It’s like putting on my favorite pair of shoes.

I like to be with me when I’m with you.”

-Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

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welcome, Caleb | Nashville lifestyle newborn photographer

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Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 3:3

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eucharisteo Tuesday

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6,685. work + worship running together

6,478. mothers who want photos taken during hard seasons

Last night we took family photos with their whole clan. After the nine grandchildren were back inside, and the sun was quietly setting, Andi asked if we could finish with some portraits of her and Josh that somehow acknowledged and honored the difficult season that they’re in.

I’m sorry the past year or two has been a little dark, friends — but keep holding onto one another, and keep looking towards the light. Please see yourselves as others do — full of strength, courage, faithfulness, goodness, and beauty.

“Photography” means “writing with light,” and that’s what I wanted to say to you both with the fading light of yesterday. I hope you feel all of that when you see these photos — but if you need the translation…there it is.

Thank you for trusting me with your portraits, Rays. Bless you.

the Hawkins | Nashville family photographer

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“May this our home be a harbor of

anchorage and refuge,

and a haven from which we journey forth

to do your work in the world.

May it be a garden of nourishment

in which our roots go deep

that we might bear fruit

for the nourishing of others.

“May this our new home be a place of knowing

and of being known,

a place of shared tears and laughter;

a place where forgiveness is easily asked

and granted,

and wounds are quickly healed;

a place of meaningful conversation, of words not left unsaid;

a place of joining, of becoming,

of creating, and reflecting;

a place where our diverse gifts

are named and appreciated;

where we learn to serve one another

and to serve our neighbors well;

a place where our stories are forever twined

by true affections.”

excerpt from “A Liturgy for Moving Into a New Home,” from Every Moment Holy by Doug McKelvey

These were their first family photos as Nashville-dwellers, which is why I chose a section of this liturgy to accompany the photos. I absolutely loved my time with them, and I hope that comes through in these photos.

Bless you, sweet Hawkins.

welcome, Olivia | Nashville lifestyle newborn photographer

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“You, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah.

Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are from the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.

The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the woman in labor gives birth. Then at last his fellow countrymen will return from exile to their own land.

And he will stand to lead his flock with the LORD’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.

Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world.

And he will be the source of peace.” — Micah 5:2-5

“The unexpected Bethlehem King is the once and coming King, the King of the first and still coming second Advent, the King coming again to rule the earth and make all the sad things untrue. The wonderland is unfolding even now, Kingdom coming, because His Word ‘will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands’ (Isaiah 55:11-12, NIV).

The dance of the sugarplum fairies just withered a bit.

The very trees of the fields are going to dance and clap their hands. The King is coming, and the new Kingdom is stirring. And stirring in you. When the King rules your world, you cease to worry. All worry dethrones God. All worrying makes you King and God incompetent.

There is a King born in Bethlehem and on the throne. You can breathe.”

— Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

(You’re right — it’s April, and we’re in Lent now, not Advent. But Olivia is a December baby, and I wanted to share her newborn session — and take the excuse to revisit Ann’s Advent devotional book, The Greatest Gift, which I love reading year-round, not just in December. I hope her words and the photos of this marvelous little family bless you.)

the Finchers | Nashville family photographer

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It’s funny:

I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox, full of shiny tools:

the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience.

But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools - friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty - and said,

Do the best you can with these, they will have to do.

And mostly, against all odds, they’re enough.”

— Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies

the Masons | Nashville family photographer

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We took these last summer. Their family looks different now, because they got a new little sister in December — but I had so much fun splashing in the creek and eating strawberries with them that I still wanted to share the summer photos we got, all these months later.

I’m so grateful that we’re officially into spring, because there’s nothing like taking photos with families in the late spring and summer in Tennessee. Mark Twain knows what I mean —

“Saturday morning was come, and all the world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart; and if the heart was young the music issued at the lips. There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step. The locust trees were in bloom and the fragrance of the blossoms filled the air. Cardiff Hill, beyond the village and above it, was green with vegetation, and it lay just far enough away to seem a Delectable Land, dreamy, reposeful, and inviting.” — Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

the Blue family

“You are my oasis — the eye of the hurricane.

One look at your face is all I need to remember by name.

So I run away home…. Yes, I run away home to you.

I was an orphan caught in a thunderstorm.

You opened the door and welcomed me into your arms.

So I run away home…. Yes, I run away home to you.

I believe in the love of the Father, and I believe in the power of grace.

I believe that he brought us together, and you are my one safe place.

You are a fortress; I am under siege.

You’re a light in the forest; I am a lost boy out in the trees.

So I run away home…. Yes, I run away home to you.”

— “My One Safe Place,” by Andrew Peterson

This song came to mind when thinking about them and the love they are so good at showing one another.

I am truly blessed to know this family. They give me hope and make me want to be a better Shelby. We took these photos last summer, and the time with them and the photos we created have been good for my soul.

the Shinnicks

I had vaguely mapped out some steps in a new direction — wanting to focus my camera on families, and wanting more from my photos. More soul. More truth. More light. I started dreaming of family portraits that may or may not seem “picture perfect” or like the classic “Kodak moments” — but photos that help families tell their stories. Their true stories. Desert seasons included — not ignored, and not waited out.

(Because really — how many of us would think, “Let’s invest in some fresh family photos,” right after a divorce or a diagnosis? But those are integral parts of the stories, too, and I think they are worth documenting. I want people to feel seen, to feel strong, to feel brave and beautiful in both the seasons of plenty and the seasons of trials.)

And then Caity emailed. Would I take some family photos, and did I have June 1st open? She bravely shared that June 1st would be two years since she had miscarried a baby. And two summers ago, she had gone to a quiet, safe place, a family friend’s farm, and dropped hydrangea petals in the river to grieve that loss. And part of her wanted to use their next round of family photos to honor this part of their story.

What an honor, what a joy, what a kind answer to my prayers, to be invited into this. It was exactly the invitation that my heart was craving, at exactly the right time for both of us. God is generous.

We took a few minutes to honor their sweet baby at the beginning of our time together — and then we walked forward. To bunnies. To strawberries and swings and sunlight. To cows. We explored and ran and laughed, and then we chased the sunset and the fireflies. It was glorious.

These photos with the Shinnicks feel like the first steps in that new direction I’m dreaming of. I’m hoping to seek beauty and tell stories with families, no matter what season they’re in — whether they’re overflowing with joy, or they’re clinging to each other for dear life. Or somewhere in between.

I believe every family is beautiful and every season is important. And if you believe that too — or if you want to believe that, but can’t right now — I would love to help you find the beauty. If you’d like family portraits, I’d love to hear from you. That “say hello” button is for you.

Grace & peace,

Shelby