The Zikmunds!

Having American neighbours is a wonderful thing that I didn’t realise I had missed until the Zikmund family moved in a few doors down. A job at the hospital brought them here, and it’s been so nice getting to know them over the past few months. We’ve been able to help each other out in little ways that it has taken me literally years to get comfortable enough to ask of our Dutch neighbours, who are also truly wonderful people, but it’s been so comforting to just know that we’ve got each other’s backs without having to explain ourselves. When the leaves were still in full glory (for once) on the trees in the neighbourhood, we did a little mini shoot around the corner, and it was a pleasure to get to photograph this sweet little family.

Samuel!

It's been a couple of years since I got to do a newborn shoot for Jonah, the cutest tiny old man I've had the pleasure of photographing so far. Now, he's a big brother - and a big boy in his own right! His little brother Samuel entered the world with a bang on New Year's Eve accompanied by hours of fireworks, and I enjoyed getting to spend a couple of quiet hours with this sweet, newly bigger family. These at home shoots are my very favourite kind of photo session: relaxed and real. And Judith and Ton, the parents of these two sweet guys, have such a lovely home full of lovely light which was wonderful for another newborn shoot. I loved every moment of this shoot, but I think my favorite shot is Jonah stopping his ears as Samuel let us know in no uncertain terms that he was quite done with being a model for one day. Judith tucked him into a wrap soon thereafter and all was well with the world. Thanks again for having me, guys!

 

Geelen family round 2!

Oh, man. An expressive, affectionate, playful bunch of people in a former sugar factory - plus water guns. These guys are the best! This is the second family shoot I've done with the Geelen family, and there are some new members of the crew since our last photo session a couple of years ago at the Suikerfabriek. That shoot ended in a pillow fight, so clearly we had to keep the tradition going: this time, the shoot culminated in a tiny, neon water gun battle on the roof of the factory.

It. Was. Awesome. 

Rebecca + Nnadozie

I'm grateful for whatever mysterious forces (or mutual friends) led to Rebecca giving me a call a few weeks ago about doing an engagement shoot for her and her fiancé, Nnadozie. This British-Nigerian couple has called Groningen home for the past couple of years, and our shoot was peak Dutch summer: billowing clouds giving way to sweeping patches of light and, inevitably, a serious downpour. Thankfully they had my umbrella in hand just as the rain really got going in earnest, and it was just in time for the very last pose of the shot. We played Dutch photo bingo: bikes and windmills made an appearance (all we were missing were some tulips). It was an adventure, and it was a pleasure. Thanks for finding me, guys! 

 

Naomi's PhD ceremony

I have some smart friends, you guys. Naomi asked me to be the photographer for her PhD ceremony last month in the aula of the Academy Building at the University of Groningen, which is always a spectacular setting to photograph. Prior to the defense, which lasts exactly an hour and during which no photos can be taken lest the clicking distract the candidate, Naomi and her paranymphs - her husband Tom and her friend and colleague Steffie - hung out in the "zweetkamer": the sweat room. Naomi defended her doctoral thesis - "On the nature and origin of self-esteem: A complex dynamic systems perspective of nested self-esteem phenomena" - with confidence and aplomb, and I always enjoy "photographing" PhD ceremonies because I get to learn about academic fields which are often unfamiliar to me. Her work was fascinating, comprehensible for non-experts like myself, and her doctorate was well deserved. Congratulations, Naomi!

 

Modern glamour shots, now featuring less stone-washed denim!

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Hooray for more fellow American collaborations! I met Candi last October during the TEDxGroningen event, and found out that she had actually already heard about me (since the international circle in Groningen is, in fact, one inch in diameter) while looking around for a photographer to do some updated professional photos for her. After months of weather thwarting our plans, we finally got together a couple of weeks ago at the CiBoGa terrein (which I continue to be obsessed with) in Groningen to do some photos for Candi to use in her upcoming projects - she's working on a memoir of her Sex in the City-like life before winding up in the Netherlands, and she's a party planner/designer/self-described "domestic goddess" with a soon-to-launch website. After I sent Candi the photos, she sent me back an article that the New York Times had just published yesterday about professional head shots not being something that's just for actors anymore - in other words, selfies don't cut it! Aren't we trendy :)

An ice cream cart and a gorgeous red Boretti oven inside Het Gasfornuis cafe made unexpected but serendipitously pin-up-like guest appearances, and Candi was just a great model to work with! To be totally honest, I'm still honing my portraiture skills, and probably always will be - and having a setting like the CiBoGa terrein and a subject like Candi really made me feel comfortable and confident. Thanks again for working with me, Candi!

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Miranda, mom-to-be

miranda009bw Miranda may be the true personification of a ray of sunshine. She is just non-stop positivity and awesomeness, and she has been a good friend of mine since we lived together in a pretty awful international student house together in Groningen - the housing was so bad, it was actually torn down a few years ago! We called it The Containers, since it was essentially shipping containers that had been sparsely furnished and stacked on top of each other, and then exchange students were made to live in them. Miranda found a way to brighten up the containers with a plastic purple chandelier and copious cups of tea, and she was actually one of the very first people to encourage me to pursue photography back in 2005. Now, eight years later, we're both back in the Netherlands, she's having a baby, and I got to take pictures and laugh with her this weekend. I can't wait to meet her little girl and I could not be happier for her new little international family!

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Bryn, Cees and Tobin in Groningen

tobin014If 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.

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Source: http://traciwhiteweddingsblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/tobin014.jpg

Lauren and Karl's maternity shoot in Groningen

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 :)

Klaas, Deike, Ella & Lena in Groningen

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!

I have to say this one (above) of Lena and Ella is my favorite shot of the day :)

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 :)

Erin & René's wedding in Groningen

Falling in love with a place is not so different from falling in love with a person, especially if either that place or that person happen to be thousands of miles away from the place you come from. This place-and-person love is something that Erin and I have more intensely in common than most: Erin, originally from North Carolina (Winston-Salem, even!), chose somewhat randomly to study abroad in Groningen, subsequently fell in love with a nice Dutch guy (René), and is now living here in this special Dutch city running her own business. It's a trajectory I know incredibly well: it is exactly the same origin story for how I came to be living here myself! Erin just happened to do it about 10 years before, so I was following her example without realizing how parallel it was until she introduced herself to me about a year ago. She and I have happily become friends since then, and it's so satisfying to have someone with the exact same background of sweet tea and Southern living with whom you can talk about the charms and weirdness of our new adopted culture. Above all, it is inspirational to see another American and Dutch love story being celebrated in such a beautiful place - congratulatons, Erin and René, and thank you guys so much for letting me be a part of your day.

Erin's mom and several other members of her family flew over from North Carolina to be at the ceremony, which was naturally an emotional event for everyone.

Erin and René very thoughtfully hired a couple of bike taxis to ferry guests from the ceremony at the Martinikerk to the reception at Café Peter Pan.

Having a strong stout beer was one of René's only demands for the reception.

Erin's mom helped to cut the cake, which was delicious and made by one of Erin's friends, and I was really amused to see her intensity in this task.

Poelman Family in Stadskanaal, Groningen

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!

Before our official shoot started, I just took some candid photos of the grandkids and their grandmother in and around their playhouse, with bubbles, puppets, and tea parties.

D'Arrigo-Wit family photo session at the Noorderplantsoen in Groningen

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!

Newborn portraits of Anna in Groningen

And so, a month after doing a maternity shoot with her mom and dad, I got to spend the afternoon taking photos of Anna. She is already such a laid-back and pleasant personality, much like her mom. I channeled a little Anne Geddes (hopefully in a good way), since there's is simply no way around the preciousness of a newborn, and I'm looking forward to getting to see her grow up!

Michelle's mom has been staying with the family since shortly after Anna was born, so we wanted to get a multigenerational photo while she is here visiting from America.

When Dutch families have a child, it's traditional to put up the congratulations cards up in the house on display, so I figured we may as well have a photo of the reason for all the cards. Congratulations, my friends!

Michelle and Jeroen Christmas maternity shoot in Groningen

Merry Christmas and fijne feestdagen! Today I'm blogging from the quiet Frisian village of Warns, taking it easy on tweede kerstdag, as it is called here. But, way back this summer, I was lucky enough to end up in the same level two Dutch class as another awesome American woman who's now calling Groningen home. Michelle and Jeroen were so nice to work with, they're just effortlessly photogenic and were very sweet with each other, and their soon-to-arrive baby. It was an unbelievably beautiful day in Groningen on Christmas eve, and I really enjoyed getting to be a part of this time with them.