Let's do the time warp again today, kids! This shoot with Olya and her son was actually from last fall, and since this shoot there's a new little boy in the family. This was a special shoot with that in mind - Olya was just a few months pregnant at this point, and it was a sweet surprise for her husband to have a fall photo shoot with their son before adding more adorable blond children to the mix. I did another shoot with this fun family in March of this year right before their second child arrived, but looking outside and seeing the red and yellows as autumn winds down inspired me to share this shoot today!
Almost a year ago, Elger and I were in the still very much summer-y North Carolina for my sister's wedding, and it looks as if attending/photographing a close family member's wedding in the first weeks in September has become an annual tradition.
Elger's father and my future father-in-law, Hans, had a short but sweet wedding ceremony at the city hall on the island of Terschelling, which has been a special destination for the family for generations. Hans first remembers visiting the idyllic island when he was four years old with his parents, and there are photos of Elger building an igloo on the beach with his dad from around the same age. Elger's brother studied and lives on the island, and it was the location of one of mine and Elger's first dates back in 2005. So, for all of us, it is a place full of meaning, happiness and a sense of being home away from home - the sort of place that so deeply relaxes you that you sleep sounder and dream deeper than on any given day. Elger and I were the only guests and both served as witnesses for the ceremony, and then, along with Billy - the family's inquisitive and energetic springer spaniel - we took a long, barefoot walk on the beach on one of the last summery, sunny days on the island.
Congratulations, Hans and Carla!
There is a major baby boom happening here in the Netherlands! Well, at least in my social group, which is wonderful first and foremost because more wonderful kids are entering the world, but also because I get to be the one taking all their pictures. I always feel lucky and flattered when my friends hire me to be their photographer, and this shoot was especially, well, special - I was Jeroen and Karin's wedding photographer three years ago (along with my fiancee Elger), and yesterday I got to take their first family photos with their adorable and already very loved son, Alexander. We all laughed so much throughout the shoot, and Alexander mostly slept through it, but it was so cool to see that this kid is guaranteed to have two of the coolest, nerdiest, sweetest and just all-around awesome parents possible.
The beautiful, Japanese-inspired design on the left was created by the always lovely Anniek Olsder - Jeroen and Karin both love Japanese art, and wanted a design that reflected the summertime to use in their birth announcements for Alexander. To the right, some of the first congratulations cards from friends and family :) It got very strangely Disney very quickly.
I love how serene Karin is in this shot. It feels like a stolen moment, like I wasn't ever there. That's what it felt like for much of the shoot, as they just loved on their little guy and I just happened to be nearby taking photos.
And then it was playtime with hats and puppets. Alexander already rocks so hard. I can easily imagine that this will be a wonderful microcosm of his coming childhood and life with these two.
The Little Prince
Femke is here! My buddy Miranda and her husband Richard's little girl has arrived and everyone is happy at home with stuffed giraffes and hundreds of geboorte kaartjes. I did Miranda's maternity shoot a few months ago, and Femke is nearly a month old already! We had a nice home shoot on a sunny Saturday with Miranda's parents, who are visiting from South Africa, and Femke pretty much slept through it - even when we put her on top of the standing piano that Miranda's family had shipped all the way from Africa to now live in the Netherlands! Miranda and Richard are both so natural and sweet with their little girl, and getting to hang out with Miranda is always one of my favorite activities :)
This fun family session took place about a month ago in the Quintusbos near the town of Glimmen, just south of Groningen, and it was a fun afternoon spent romping around on hay bales and playing with the pets.
The family had an awesome jungle gym in the backyard, and Iekje really showed the kids how it's done.
Harriët's pet rats Dolfje (left) and Cleo rode along for the photo shoot on Harriët's shoulders, and were super sweet critters.
Olya jokingly referred to herself during our family photo shoot on Sunday as a "copy machine" in explanation for the clear Mini Me effect of her sweet son Casper - he is a tiny, rambunctious copy of his Dutch dad, Chris. Olya thankfully sought me out about a year ago to work with for a photo shoot, and luckily we have gotten together a couple of times since then, but this weekend's shoot was really special. The family will be growing by one in the next couple of weeks, and it was really a pleasure just hanging out with them in their well-lit and colorful house of love and occasionally questionable humor (mostly Olya and I)!
If Tobin doesn't turn out to be a sweet, geeky, hilarious guy, I would lose faith in the science of genetics. His mom and dad, Bryn and Cees, are two friends of mine, and their son was fittingly born into laughter: his dad was performing in the English-language improv group, Stranger Things Have Happened, monthly show back in October, and his mom was laughing so hard at their nonsense and hilarity that she actually went into labor early! I was very happy to finally get to spend a few hours with this new little family in their house with wonderful window light and, naturally, lots of laughs.
On a misty October afternoon, long, long ago - all the way back in 2012 - I spent a fun afternoon with my good friends Rebecca and Alain, along with their son (Ilya, otherwise known as Alain's first clone) in Heusden. In addition to it just being a family shoot, they also wanted a special maternity shoot before the arrival of their second son, Merlyn. Well, in January - while I was in Nepal - he arrived! Last week I headed back to the Dutch south to do a follow up featuring the family's newest addition!
The boys have matching dragon outfits!
My super talented friend, Anniek Olsder, used one of the photos from the maternity shoot in October in her Juno-inspired design for Merlyn's birth announcements:
Lauren and her husband Karl came to Groningen from California, and thus share my struggle to find decent Mexican food here in the land of the Dutch. Lauren was a friend of my friend and client Erin, and we both assumed we would end up meeting at some point due to the mutual Americanness in Groningen, but I decided to just introduce myself, and almost immediately Lauren asked me to do a maternity shoot for her. The international love continues!
Aside from always enjoying meeting other expats here in the north, Lauren also recommended to me a totally decent Mexican restaurant in Leeuwarden, which brings me joy, too :)
These guys are some of my favorite nerds, and they've started the important work of spawning the next generation. I've known Rebecca and Alain since I first studied abroad in the Netherlands in 2005, and since then they've gotten married, started a business together and started a family. Their son is a clone of his dad, and they're expecting their second child soon. They technically meet my unofficial international criteria too, since they are a Dutch-Belgian family, and both my fiancee and I were really happy to have a good excuse to spend the weekend with them, hanging out, eating copious amounts of baked goods and watching "Scott Pilgrim versus the World." I always appreciate it when my friends want to work with me, and I love to work with people that I know won't think I'm truly crazy for my suggestions - in fact, they're often crazier than me, which I love.
The ministry of funny walks is genetic.
This loving international family wanted a sweater-tastic autumnal photo shoot to give as a gift to Deike's mom, which is a wonderful idea I'm hearing more and more often from clients as their motivation: it's hard to find a meaningful gift for grandparents, and a fun family photo shoot is a lovely present! We had a nice, albeit blustery, time in the Dutch countryside, complete with a windmill (naturally), and some delicious German/Dutch apple pie afterward. Thank you guys for working with me!
This is the family's sweet pup, Beer, who was interested in getting some camera time for herself. Kids and critters make any photo session infinitely more fun, in my experience :)
My sister is my tall, beautiful hero. She's an awesome mom, a very motivated medical professional, hilarious and on top of all this, is my favorite photo model. Being her older sister, thankfully I got to be her maid of honor, and holding her bouquet and seeing the tears in her now husband's eyes before she even came down the aisle was for once much nicer than taking photos of the moments. At the same time, I did want to give my own little gift to her of taking pictures every moment I could, so while all the bridesmaids and I were getting ready in a cloud of hairspray and bobby pins, I took a few photos of her. After the ceremony, we had a tiny portrait session on the playground behind the church where they got married - after, I will point out, letting their official photographer, Alison East, take all the group shots! It was admittedly surreal not being THE photographer, but being able to really experience the day as a sister was wonderful, and I appreciate Alison making that possible, too.
My lovely niece, Kayley :) This was a special moment. Pastor John Woods, in this photo saying a prayer for Megan before the ceremony, has known Megan and RJ for years now, notably as RJ's basketball coach when RJ and Megan were home schooled. He met them when my sister was pregnant with their daughter, Kayley, and gave a wonderfully personal service for their wedding.
After taking this picture, I dashed upstairs and got in line with the other bridesmaids and groomsmen to actually be a part of the wedding. Following the ceremony and group photos, I snagged Megan and RJ for a couple more shots on the playground.
During the reception, I just danced like a fool and gave a speech, as part of my responsibilities as maid of honor. I'm including it below, because everyone should see just how freaking wonderful my sister is.
"Megan, Mina, Meg, Megs:
The earliest possible place to start is your birth, which was kind of a fitting way to describe my view of you early in life: unnecessarily dramatic and lots of screaming. Yes, like most sisters, at first there was conflict born of your aspiration to be me and your desire to be around me at all times, which I failed to see as flattering and considered more in terms of, "How far can I kick you off the bed without causing major injuries?" Barney, The Lion King, Homeward Bound viewed so many times that Travis eventually buried it in the bottom of his football toy chest, but the movies and shows of your childhood are the soundtrack to mine, too - I still know every word to "I Just Can't Wait to be King" thanks to your insistence on the sing along tape. I could have done without hearing "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family," for the millionth time, but it's a fine sentiment for today.
It has actually always been music that has been a common denominator for us in spite of any differences we had over time. When we moved to Winston, the Spice Girls told us all about girl power, which you fully embraced even in kindergarten: you used your "girl power" to get your first kiss at naptime, I'm pretty sure even before I managed to go on my first date. As we got older, where you were sassy, I was nerdy. Where you were popular, I was wearing braces and glasses, and avoiding direct sunlight. Where you were a model, I was eventually a photographer and lucky enough to sometimes photograph you.
By the time I moved away to college, I had accepted that we were different people, and of course I loved you in spite of your perfection, but I was so delighted that on each trip home, I could see signs of your inner nerd breaking through. I always knew you were smart and funny, but I was proud to see you really embracing your intelligence and wit. It was around this time that you started dating this really tall guy with an incredibly deep voice who, while conducting himself like a bit of a gangsta, clearly also had a big heart and his own geek streak. Everyone here knows how much you guys have been through together, and how far you've come, and I cannot tell you guys often enough how much I admire you both. When Kayley was born, you both immediately became the dedicated and loving adults that we see here all dressed up today. You grew up, much faster than most people, but you are two of the most motivated and accomplished people I have ever met, and Kayley is the coolest daughter ever, so clearly the genetic situation also worked out really well.
RJ, I love you, you are insanely lucky but also very deserving of marrying my sister. Megan, I know age-wise you're supposed to look up to me, but I look up to you. Literally because I'm shorter, and figuratively. You are so beautiful, intelligent, focused, hilarious, talented, responsible and kind, and I hope one day to be as wonderful of a mom and as gorgeous of a bride as you are. You are both wonderful, I'm proud to now be officially related to RJ, and you are my favorite sister. I love you, and congratulations!"
My dad took this photo of Megan and RJ, my brother Travis and his girlfriend Renee, and my fiancee Elger and I outside the reception site, the Lexington Civic Center. It was a day that Megan and RJ deserved to have their relationship and love honored by friends and family, and I was so happy to get to be there as her sister.
It is always especially fun to work with clients who are a little bit crazy in a good way, and the Permentier family definitely set a new standard for hilarity during our photoshoot a couple of weeks ago. I know Irene through Stichting Didi, and I had a great time with her sister-in-law, Christy (a fellow American in the Netherlands) and her brother Matthieu when I did a newborn shoot for their little girl, Eleanor, this spring. She has gotten even cuter since our first shoot, and she's a healthy, smiling addition to a family that is big on smiling.
I had a lovely time spending the afternoon in Stadskanaal with the extended Poelman family, thanks to my talented friend Jet inviting me to do a family photo session. The town of Stadskanaal is right on the border of the province of Drenthe and quite close to Germany, so it's surrounded by lots of big open fields and beautiful forests, both of which are great places for a walk and a laid-back photo shoot. Thank you, Jet, for letting me hang out with you guys!
Cristina and Ernst met in a place neither of them were from, and this beautiful Italian-Dutch family that has travelled the globe is now calling Groningen home. Their beautiful and goofy daughters, Carolina and Isabella, made my work so easy on Sunday morning in the Noorderplantsoen. We got really lucky with some nice spring weather in my very favorite place in the city!
This is Eleanor, she is tiny, and she is very patient. Her aunt, my friend Irene through Stichting Didi, asked me to take photos of her newborn niece in Den Haag, and I was happy to oblige! Eleanor's mom, Christy, is American, and her dad, Matthieu, is Dutch, and these two actually met in the exact same way as my fiancee and I - she studied abroad, fell in love, and got her Dutch significant other much more into American college sports. They are a great family, and it was a fun time hanging out with them in their beautiful apartment in the center of Den Haag, along with their four pet rabbits. One of the bunnies makes a cameo in the shoot, and almost every toy Eleanor has is also a bunny of some kind, so it wound up being a bit of a theme.
This weekend, I was a gift! My friend Jeroen, whose awesome wedding I shot a couple of years ago, was brainstorming about what to get his mom, Josee, for her 60th birthday and Mother's Day, and luckily he and his sisters decided to give their mom the gift of an afternoon of family photography. It was a really fun and beautiful time, the family rented a house at the Noordzee Résidence De Banjaard near the seaside town of Middelburg, and it was my first time traveling to this unique area of the Netherlands. I was welcomed warmly, with generous plates of pasta and Belgian pastries (dessert with lunch, now THAT is a vacation weekend), and was lucky to get to photograph such a nice family in this idyllic setting.
This scene really just felt like walking into a magazine cover, for a story about family and enjoying quality time and good food. It was awesome :)