A sweet, spunky toddler walks hand-in-hand with her daddy, her snazzy new sneakers tap-tap-tapping as she makes her way down the brightly lit hospital corridor, her ponytail bobbing with each step. Her eyes shine with excitement, and she captures the attention of everyone she passes as she flashes her adorable grin at each one. As they turn the corner at the end of the hallway, her daddy points at the door ahead. “Are you ready to go see mommy?” Slowly, slowly, he pushes open the door and guides her through. She peeks around the curtain, and her gaze lands on the person she has been most eager to see. In a single moment, a dozen emotions flash across her face, all of them spilling out as she bursts into tears. “Oh, sweet girl, come here!” says her mommy in a soothing voice, and her daddy lifts her up to join her on the bed. The two sit cuddled together, her mommy snuggling her and showering her with reassuring kisses. After a few minutes, her mommy points to the bassinet at her bedside and says, “Are you ready to meet baby brother?” Her daddy lifts her up once again, and from her perch, she stares at the tiny bundle sleeping soundly below her. Her eyes shift back and forth as she sizes up this tiny person, wondering what to make of him. As I watch her take in all the details of this new baby, the magnitude of the moment hits me — after all the months of waiting, they are finally all together as a family of four: Mom. Dad. Daughter. Son.
Twirly plaid dresses and shoes made for running. Hiding and seeking, exploring and sliding. Jumping and climbing and fun on the swings — these are a two-year-old’s favorite things! One of the most fun things about toddlers and young children is that they are innately curious little people, eager to experience and explore the world around them! I’m always amazed at what they notice, the way that simple things like sticks and rocks and bits of acorns can capture their imaginations and interest. When that’s the case, I can’t think of a better way to capture this stage of their childhood than a fun and playful “mommy and me” lifestyle session that embraces their curiosity and incorporates the joy of play!
Have you ever had a moment where you see another family and it shows you a flash forward to your future? I often reflect on how the hard moments of motherhood sometimes cause me to lose sight of the wonderful things about this season of life — the things I know will miss when time has softened and faded the memory of the challenging times. As I watched the O’Connell family laugh and joke with one another during our sunrise family session in downtown Park Circle, I had several moments where I caught a glimpse of what my life might look like ten years from now, and future-me felt a definite wave of nostalgia for the season I’m in now!
The longer I’m on this journey of motherhood, the more often I reflect on the fact that my expectations of how things are going to go with a toddler very seldom match the reality as it plays out in my day to day life. However, one of the most beautiful things has been, as I like to put it, “embracing the chaos.” Although it can definitely be frustrating when things don’t go the way I’ve envisioned or planned, I’m constantly reminding myself that everything in the world is new and different for my little guy, and he’s just so excited to learn and experience and discover it all. And witnessing that? It’s such a beautiful, wonderful privilege. So when I get the privilege of watching those moments and capturing them for another family, it just about makes my photographer heart explode with joy!
It was a perfect mid-November afternoon in South Carolina — sunny, but slightly overcast, temperatures in the upper 60s, a hint of autumn crispness in the air juxtaposed perfectly against the last breath of late summer. A family gathered together in the backyard of their home in Columbia, the home where both girls grew up, the place where everyone gathered now from far and wide across the country. The two daughters, now married, were there visiting with their husbands, and a new granddaughter stole the show with her delightful presence. As everyone gathered on the patio, enjoying the afternoon and swapping stories, you could almost hear the echo of voices and laughter from the decades of family memories that took place within those walls. As I took a look around before gathering everyone for photos, I took a moment to just drink in the family dynamic — the laughter, the glances passed, the bond between sisters, between spouses, between in-laws, between couples. I smiled to myself, and it hit me that that moment was such a beautiful reminder of just how precious family is.
My sweet boy,
It’s hard to believe that now you are two.
I can’t even begin to fathom how it was only two years ago that we were still in those first days of our new life as a family of three, marveling over all your tiny features, holding and snuggling you close every moment that we could, adjusting to our new normal. It felt so surreal that you were finally here, that you were ours, that it was no longer just the two of us. But now... I can’t imagine things being any other way.
It looked (and felt) like a scene straight out of a holiday catalog: The streets, quiet and empty in the early morning light, flanked by lamp posts wrapped in evergreen garlands. Wreaths hanging cheerfully from shop doors. Holiday tableaux adorning storefront windows, their lights and colors sparkling. A joyful family of four, perfectly coordinated in festive holiday colors, smiling, laughing, pulling each other close. You could feel the love radiating from them, and the warmth and ease of their smiles made their joy contagious and put everyone in their path in the holiday spirit!
The curtain cloaks the stage. The auditorium lights dim, and a single spotlight shines over stage right, illuminating a piano and synthesizer. The opening chords of the overture for Snoopy!!! The Musical begin, setting the mood for the show. As the final notes fill the auditorium, the curtains open, and Snoopy — that beloved beagle — appears, sitting atop his iconic red dog house. Over the next two acts, he and the rest of the Peanuts characters delight the audience with scenes that illustrate “The World According to Snoopy."
There are just certain things for me that never fail to bring to mind a cozy autumn Saturday morning: crisp temperatures outside, bright, golden sunshine streaming in through the windows, being snuggled up with the ones you love as you ease into the weekend, music from the likes of Jack Johnson and Adele playing softly in the background. When I stepped through Amanda and Simms’ front door for a newborn session with their sweet baby boy, their warm, inviting home felt just like that kind of perfect Saturday morning! I knew immediately it was going to make the perfect setting for some sweet and snuggly first family photos!
On those chilly autumn mornings when I’m snuggled up all warm and toasty in bed, it takes a lot more than a cozy sweatshirt and hot cup of coffee to motivate me to get out from under the covers! However, when the promise of a gorgeous sunrise session with the sweetest family awaits me, I’m not just willing to get up early, I’m excited!!!
Hi! I'm nicole!
I love photographing families in every stage of life, creating warm, bright, and natural images that you will treasure for a lifetime. What I love most about being behind the camera is telling the story in front of me, highlighting the joy and relationships between loved ones and capturing each personality!