“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are gray.
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you, please don’t take… my sunshine away.
The other night dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreampt I held you in my arms.
When I awoke dear, I was mistaken, so please don’t take.. my sunshine away.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are gray.
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you, please don’t take… my sunshine away.”
This is the MOST requested song I sing to my girls at night before bed. They love it. They love this song SO MUCH, they requested it be played at our wedding in September. Their exact words were, “Mommy, can you and Daddy dance with us to our own special song?” … the words that bled from my heart with total and utter love, “OMG YES, YES WHAT SONG?” So, You are my Sunshine is kind of a thing in our home.
We don’t always have good days, but we don’t always have bad days. As parents, it takes patience, stength, and at times we just need to walk away.
Children don’t always want to smile, they don’t always want their photos taken. As a photographer AND a Mom. This is super hard and has always been challenging. Our children will smile for everyone else but us. It’s just like the old saying, “The Shoemakers children have no shoes”. Yep, this photographer doesn’t have that many photos of us. We don’t always have the time to set up the tripod, the timer, and hope for a good photo. So, we drive around, pull over on the side of the road for potty breaks, we find beautiful fields of flowers. We meet farmers, and we TRY our best.
It’s not always a perfect experience, and sometimes I get upset, because I really, really just want those pretty pictures of my babies. Then I get home. I unload my cards, I preview the photos. I sit here and smile, because even though my babies didn’t cooperate THAT WELL, they’re beautiful because these photos are THEM. 100% THEM. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I look at these pictures and I smile for a few reasons. Want to know why? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway…
1. Toni doesn’t like to wear dresses. Instead, she’s wearing capri’s, a white undershirt tank top, and a tunic.
2. Gianna is wearing the dress we bought her for her preschool graduation. She will be in Kindegarden this year. This makes me so proud, and so sad for her to be growing up… so fast.
3. They both chose which bow color to wear. Their favorite colors are pink and purple. This is their individuality shining through.
4. Toni did not want to smile, all she wanted was ice cream. Her saddness was pure, the kind kids have when their biggest battle is what kind of ice cream they want, and if they will get it.
5. Gianna, lifted her hand up and played with her hair like I told her to. She is always wearing a toe ring on her pointer finger, because I gave it to her to wear to feel pretty. She felt so, so very pretty.
6. And lastly, the sunflowers were $0.50 cents, the owner of this property was selling them at a stand with a metal box for the money. His phone number was listed and said something like, “call us if you have a question, we dont bite!”. I left $5.00 in the box, and grabbed 4. I spoke with him and he said I could visit any time I’d like to take pictures in front of his flowers. He is the sweetest man, ever.
7. The girls were standing in the dirt, because they were terrified of the bee’s. Honestly, they screamed bloody murder. I explained to them they just want the pollen and that they’re trying to make honey. But you know, kids don’t listen very well, and they would NOT go back into the flowers.
8. Pink flip flops, because thats just how they roll in the summer.
9. The blurry yellow and green was Toni’s flowers that she didn’t want to hold. So I held them and made this work beautifully.
10. Last but not least, this is proof that I am able to get beautiful images of my children, even if they aren’t happy about it. It works because they’re beautiful, and nothing can ever change that. Unless of course, I have ice cream with me at the time of the shoot.
One thing I love, is when my clients trust me! One hour before sunset, is the ABSOLUTE BEST time to take pictures. Especially on the beach! You get natural, even, beautiful lighting. The sun is setting and I can control my settings PERFECTLY. It’s amazing and when everything goes perfect, my clients get beautiful photographs to print, hang on their walls and remember forever. This may be in my top favorite sessions of the season.
A HUGE THANK YOU to the Silipena family for trusting me with your memories and I hope you all love your photos as much as I do! Enjoy!
One of the hardest things to handle when a tragedy happens is dealing with lost memories. I wasn’t always a photographer. I was a child, who had “school class photos”, “sports photos”, and “girl scout photos”. I was a new Mom, who didn’t have time to put albums together, but took a zillion iPhone Selfies, iPhone pics (it was easy for me, and convenient). One of my best friends in this entire world collected all of my photos and created a beautiful scrapbook for me. Those things are memories and they mean more than you could ever imagine. When I heard our house was on fire, you forget those things. All you care about, all you can see or think about is family. Is everyone all right? Yes? AMAZING! What about our pets. We did lose a bunny, and to this day it haunts me. My girls LOVED Princess Buttercup. Whenever they see a bunny outside they say it may be Princess Buttercups cousin. They look up in the sky, and find the brightest star and say, “Look Mom! Princess Buttercup is up there!” It breaks your heart. It does. You don’t know how strong you are, until you need to me. Boy oh boy – the past few years I have been truly tested. I have come out strong each time, but it’s getting hard to stay strong. I need a nice cup of good luck!
One thing I felt strongly about with this fire was that I couldn’t look at what happened. It was this devastating experience that I wanted handled for me. I just couldn’t bear to do this myself. I hired a professional and his team to help us- to do what I couldn’t do. Emotionally I just couldn’t. It’s so difficult to look at what is left, and to try to make sense of it. Why us? Why did this happen right after Christmas? What did our kids do to deserve all of their Christmas toys to be taken away? I have been such a good-hearted person; this just does not make ANY sense. For my husband – it has happened as a kid. What did he do, to deserve this again? These thoughts run through our heads and its just so difficult to fathom.
We hired Thomas Lacovara & Associates to be our public adjuster. It was the BEST decision we could have EVER MADE. Tom and his team are so compassionate. They CARE. It is not everyday that you find someone who wants to help you, because you deserve it. They fight for what is right. Thanks to them, we are going to be able to rebuild our home. It’s been a long process, and it’s really only beginning; But they were there for us when we weren’t strong. We didn’t know what needed to be done, and they did it for us, and we couldn’t be more thankful to them!
One of the things that upset me the most, was our memories were gone. I kept thinking about the pictures; All of the pictures that were printed. The photos of my family before digital cameras were around, or at least before we owned one. My school photos, Girl Scout photos, sports photos… all of my iPhone photos that my best friend created the album with! Her hard work, those scrapbook pages had so many memories on them. I loved them so much and could remember how happy she was that she did this for me. How amazing the pages were put together and just how beautiful this album really was. I didn’t have time to do it, but she did, and it was my most favorite gift, ever.
John, Thomas Lacovara’s partner, found ALL of our photos in the house. He sent them away and we finally received them last week. They don’t smell. They look amazing. They were restored from a company, who I believe is called The Shoe Box. There is no email address, web address, but the presentation and care that these photos arrived in, is out of this world. The boxes are beautiful. Linen, each photo organized in packets, others wrapped in tissue paper.
This made my day, my month, and my entire year. I am so happy, so thankful, and so overcome with joy that these memories were not lost.
Here are some photos of what we received. Please excuse my iPhone-ography! What can I say, sometimes convenience rules.
Thank you for reading, and just remember, memories are so much better when preserved! There are professionals that can help you do that, even photographers need to hire the pros sometimes!
January 5th was the last day I took photos with my camera, of my family before our lives went south. It was cold out on that January Day. it was a Sunday, and we decided to get our hair cut, as a family. As we got ready to leave, we made a pathway through the mounds of Christmas toys that were covering the living room. We were all still very much in the Christmas Spirit. Still excited that Santa came, and our Elf on the Shelf, Sparkle Shirley was right. Santa would come if we were all on our best behavior!
We all set out with snow boots on, and chatted in the car about all of the new bow’s we will get to wear when we cut our hair. (Not the hubbs of course, he’ll take the more masculine route). Our oldest Daughter told us she wanted short hair. I was sad, nervous, depressed. It was a HUGE change, and I didn’t know how to handle it. She was set. She wanted short hair. Her hair was gorgeous. It was down to my butt, had baby curls on the ends. I remember her running up and down our hallway, on the wood floor. She would clomp like an adult and the curls would just bounce. To this day, I can close my eyes and remember her learning to walk down that hallway. Crawling for the first time. I remember her and I sitting in that hallway, eating goldfish and laughing. That hallway was such a short hallway, but gosh it had the BEST memories. As we set out to get our hair cut, it was 1:38pm. It was right around the time that our youngest daughter would nap. Today though, she didn’t want to nap. She was all too excited. She was just getting a trim, but it was her very first hair cut as well. It would be an exciting day for all of us, the last weekend where our lives were normal.
When we got to where we were going, our big girl didn’t know what to expect. It was her first time getting her haircut, her beautiful long, gorgeous hair. She held her daddy’s hand the entire time. After she was done, she was the happiest little girl ever – Dancing around and swooshing her hair from side to side. She had a grin from ear to ear! “Thank you Mommy! Thank you Daddy!” How could we be upset? This is what she wanted, and she was happy. That is all we ever wanted for our babies, to see them smile, and to see them be overjoyed with happiness. Today was a good day. A day I will cherish forever; the last weekend of normalcy. Our little baby girl was brave. She held a teacup in her hand and didn’t flinch once. Where did she get her bravery? I thought long and hard and hoped it was from me. I was so proud of her on this day.
As we drove home, there were tired eyes, big smiles that ended up being the soft whispers of little snores, echoing from the backseat. Today was fantastic. Today was perfection. I loved today, and wished everyday could be so sweet. This was the last weekend we were normal. This was the last weekend in Galloway, at our home.
Monday came, and then Tuesday; they were normal days. Normal days where I got up for work, and drove an hour away to a great job. Normal work schedules where I took my lunch break and sat in the car thinking about my family, and missing them. Monday was like every other Monday. I got up so early, I didn’t get to see my kids except for waking them up way too early, dropping them off at my parents or his parents. Picking them up and putting them right to bed. Tuesday was different. Tuesday changed everything. That Tuesday was a Tuesday I wish never happened. I wish I could erase it, and I wish it were not in our history. On that Tuesday, I was relaxing in my car. Thinking of my family as usual, relaxing before I had to go back to work, when my phone rang. A friend of mine who normally does not call me, called me. When I answered the phone, it was total disbelief. That phone call, made my heart stop. She told me my house, my home, where my husband and children and pet bunny were… was on fire. It wasn’t the phone call you want to receive. I was an hour away from my family; an hour away from being able to do anything. I was no help at all. When I finally got there, to our home, my family was safe. THANK GOD. My family was safe. I later found out we lost our beautiful bunny- our daughters’ beautiful bunny. There was nothing they could do. I didn’t have anything. It was the coldest day of the year, and all we had were the clothes on our backs, and the shoes on our feet; And, each other; All of my photo equipment, all of our memories, our wall art from our wedding, our daughters’ artwork, our memories; Everything, gone in just a few seconds, on the coldest day of the year.
It was a mess. It is still a mess. However, we had insurance, both homeowners insurance AND business insurance. Without those things, we would be lost. I was able to replace ALL of my equipment, and my business is going strong without interruption. Our house is still there, burnt and full of one day of bad memories. Everything is ruined and I cry thinking about everything we lost. We will demolish, we will rebuild, and we will be stronger than before. We are still here, and we are positive that things will work out in the end. I know they will, and my husband knows they will. Now, I can proudly say I am a full time photographer, and I am so happy that I get to stay home with my family, I can be there for my children when they need me, and I can focus on my passion. For those of you who know me, you know that I have been dealt with a very unlucky hand, but, that cannot and will not stop me from climbing higher. I can do this, and I will do this, because failing just is not an option.
My advice to any photographers or homeowners out there is to get insurance. It is so important. So so important, to protect what you own, to protect your things, no matter how much you think you don’t have “anything”, you do, you definitely do.
I am going to be keeping a regular blog update on our new home; it’s process from building it to finish. When it is all done, I will be doing our new home reveal! I am very excited about this, and I am going to think of it as our personal project! I hope you all enjoy, and tune in! Until then, have a great night and remember – what doesn’t kill us – makes us stronger!
Bokeh Love Photography