8

 

And just like that. He’s 8.

 

It’s important to capture these milestones. Before you know it, it passes you by. Milestone sessions are all about getting to the heart of what matters. It’s about capturing who is being celebrated. What they are like in this moment, at this stage. It’s not about perfect outfits, or getting the hair just right. It’s not about posing. It’s not about grinning into the camera. It’s about wearing what they want. Being who they are. Bringing along what they want to. Because when you look back, that’s what you are going to want to remember.

 

For more information on how to book a milestone session to celebrate that special someone, visit www.lifelensandlove.com

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Accept

 

It’s the official start of summer this weekend, and I am thrilled. Then again, that means that swimsuit season is here, and to tell the truth I would like to weigh 8 less pounds. Ten if I am being really, really honest…

While I’m at it, I also would like for my kids to come off of their screens when I ask them to the first time, to redo my kitchen, and to end world hunger. Our animal brains are hard- wired to see what is wrong, to focus on lack. Our default position is to look around us and see the world through a lens of how it isn’t, rather than how it is. I think this has something to do with survival. Back when we were first coming out of our caves, in order to thrive, our brains had to alert us if there was a tiger lurking nearby, or something that would wipe us out.

Now we are bombarded with messages about what’s wrong with the world, our lives, and our bodies, and a bajillion dollars are made each year by companies who hope that we look in the mirror or at our lives and think we can purchase our way to a quick fix.

So while our survivalist brains are trained to focus on what’s wrong, our spiritual selves call us to a higher awareness. Of acceptance. Each day for me is a new challenge to affirm what is going well. To find something to be proud of, rather than something to tear myself down for. Ditching those love handles? Being a masterful parent with zen-like skills to handle each and every situation? Not going to happen. But I don’t have to get stuck there. I don’t have to see failure, lack, or imperfections. I can choose, each time I forget and then have to remind myself, to accept and move on. To be okay with being okay. With doing the best that I can. And letting it be…..

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Ahead

 

I am so ready for summer. I look at the calendar and it stretches out before me. I’m stockpiling sunscreen. Getting the swim suits out. Buying popsicles. Months of sun and fun and not a winter coat or boot in sight.

So it’s kind of vexing me that I am getting emails about signing up for fall sports, getting uniforms and items ready to go for the back to school mania that eventually will be upon us all. Each season has its way of creeping up on me, but there is something particularly busy about fall and back to school.

Fall is an especially popular time of year for family photos. And here in Chicago, we can get some really cold and rainy days before we are ready for them (are we ever really ready for them?!). So not to get ahead of ourselves here, but if you are thinking of fall photos, it’s a good idea to book now. October, by far the most popular photography month of the year, has already started booking sessions for me, and for sure will book up solid.

Am I always thinking about the importance of staying in the moment? Yes. Am I a big proponent of “be where you are” and “don’t get too far down the road”? Sure. But do I think you should call me now if you have your heart set on golden trees and cozy sweaters and fall memories captured? Absolutely.

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Unlearn

I was recently talking to another Mom about an event happening at school, and she lamented the fact that she was not able to make it, making a comment that she was “learning a lesson in life to not take on so much”. I wondered at the time, marveling at the universality of this comment, why we all have to hit middle age before we realize we need to learn this lesson. What if we didn’t pass down something to our kids that they would have to unlearn later in life? What would it look like to teach them to slow down?

 

My kids are school-age, and clearly this is not the direction the world is headed. I cannot go one day in my life without feeling myself or hearing from someone else that there just isn’t enough time. That life is moving too fast. And yet, that feeling of rushing my kids, getting them out the door to the next activity, getting to the end of the day and them having had no time just to meander and explore their little worlds just crushes me. And them.

 

So what’s a modern Mom to do? Succumb? Give in? Maybe. But maybe not. Maybe I will make it a point for my kids to get bored this summer. Often. Maybe I will sign them up for one less activity this year. Maybe I will know I am really teaching them this lesson when some, not all, but some of our days feel slow and easy. And I will ask them what they really want to do in their own time. And listen. And not force an agenda; for a sport, an instrument, an activity. I will talk to them about managing their time, juggling responsibilities, keeping commitments, and yes, learning to say “No”. Because my kids are already going to have their own lessons at mid-life. Why not help them to unlearn this one now?

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What’s Your Story?

What’s your story? We all have one. You know the one. The one that goes beyond our Facebook Page. The one our co-workers and acquaintances might see a bit of, but our family and true friends know all about. The real story.

Everything these days is skimming the surface a bit. We live in a world of “fake news”, carefully curated pages on social media that show the highlight reel, and breezy conversations where we laugh and acknowledge how busy or crazy life is and move on from there.

But underneath it all, there’s a real story lurking. The one that shows flaws. The one that allows for imperfections and uncertainties. The one where we are not all together, our kids are not all together, and life feels tilted a bit on it’s axis most days. For some reason, we don’t always like to tell that story. Maybe it’s because we have all been raised on stories since the beginning of time. Stories where the Princess gets her Prince. Stories where the good guy wins. Stories where it is all wrapped up so nicely in the end. But that’s not the real story.

The real story is doubt and pain and love and loss and triumph and sweat and sweetness and raw, unadulterated, pure beauty that can only shine through in the spirit of its humanity. That’s the real story. What’s yours? I’ll bet it’s beautiful.

***From now until the end of the month, any bookings of a photo session will receive a free acrylic photo block. Because the story of our lives is art. And art for the home or office is where it’s at….

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Mother’s Day

 

It’s Mother’s Day. And on this day, we honor and remember all Mothers who have embarked on the journey of being a parent. So for all of you Moms out there, I hope you get to put your feet up for a few minutes. I hope you get some nice notes or cards reminding you how special you are. I hope you get more hugs and “thank you’s” than usual.

 

But I also hope you can give yourself a gift today. A gift of peace in your heart, knowing that no matter what, you are doing your best. I hope you can let go of something. I hope you can shrug something off,  knowing that it’s not as you would have it be, but that you can relinquish control of that one thing. I hope you can acknowledge to yourself for yourself that you are a rock star. You are doing enough. You are enough. Flaws and imperfections and hairy, stressed-out moments and all. May you have love and peace in your life today and all days.

 

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

G

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My Camera

 

I grabbed my camera so I could remember. Remember who was in town to celebrate a special occasion. Remember how we came together to celebrate a special member of our family.

I grabbed my camera to remember that we were all together. We were all here. The activities that filled the weekend. The smiles, the laughs. The little moments in between.

I grabbed the camera to document this moment in time. To remember how big, how small. To stop the clock for one fraction of a second, so that I wouldn’t forget this smile, this expression, this version of this little person at this moment in time. Because I know when I blink it will change. He will become a slightly different person in another fraction of a second.

I grabbed my camera to remember this occasion. This milestone moment. To remember how at the height of the busyness, the commotion of an important day, he walked up to me, grabbed my hand, and gave me a smile and a small window in which to tell him quietly how much he means to me, how proud I am of him, and how lucky I am to be his Mom.

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Tribe

Dear Mama,

You may not know me, but we are in the same tribe. We both love our families and our lives. We work hard and dream big. We believe in a beautiful world and see it reflected back in the faces of our children every day. We leave it all on the floor at the end of the night, and most days can’t wait to get up and do it all over again.

I am Gina Graham, of lifelensandlove photography. Not only am I a photographer, but I am a writer, a wanna-be yogi, a health nut, a seeker, and most importantly, a Mom. And because I am a Mom, I get it….

I get it that you want beautiful photos of your kids, but that you don’t want to feel the pressure of your kids needing to be “perfect” the day of the session. I get it that you will want to trust your photographer, because at the end of the day, you just want it to be easy and fun and stress-free. And I get it that you won’t have time to put those photos, that you invested good money in, into albums and frames for your home. It’s going to break your heart and make you feel guilty, but at the end of the day, figuring out what to do with your family memories really isn’t able to make it to the top of your list.

That’s where I come in. I want to help you. I want to meet your family and show you the beautiful work of art that you are. I want you to trust that not only will you love the photos, but that you can have an album and products that you love just as much without the hassle of having to do it all yourself. Because you are doing enough. You are enough.

Join me this Mother’s Day in celebrating all Moms! For any session booked in the month of May, you will receive a free acrylic photo block as a gift from me to you. And do you know of a deserving Mom who is really in the trenches? Maybe she has been thrown a curve ball, or has been extraordinary in her service to others. Nom that Mom for a complimentary photo session in the month of June by going to my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lifelensandlove or contacting me at www.lifelensandlove.com and tell me Mom’s name for the drawing, to take place on my FB page on Mother’s Day.

 

See you soon,

~Gina

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lifelensandlove

 

Hi. I’m Gina of lifelensandlove photography. I am a 40 year-old Mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, photographer, writer, and wanna-be yogi. I believe that moments in time are to be captured, archived and shared. I believe that Dads shouldn’t dread family photo sessions. I believe that Moms shouldn’t feel stressed out or guilty, and that she deserves to see her true beauty reflected back through my lens. I believe that kids should get to be themselves when I take out the camera.

I believe we have the right to be kind to ourselves. I believe we need to step into the light, both in front of the camera and in our lives. I believe we need to let go of perfection. Enough with not having or feeling like we are enough! Enough time, enough stuff, enough external validation that we are okay just as we are. I believe that life is fleeting and time is flying. I believe that life is a gift. It all depends on how you see it. Love is all that matters.

 

 

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Special Offer

 

Motherhood…. It’s a daunting, thankless job. I have come to learn so much from it. Like the fact that if one of your children yells at you “You are the worst Mom in the world” that you are actually most likely doing something right. Who among us hasn’t or won’t be there, right Mama’s?! And yet, for all the turmoil, heartbreak, and downright confusion about this hat we wear, we wouldn’t trade it for the world would we? May is the month to celebrate Mothers. And while we generally pick one day to honor Mom, I am choosing the whole month of May. At lifelensandlove photography, if you book a session during the month of May, Mom will receive a complimentary acrylic photo block to be displayed wherever she chooses. Just as a reminder throughout the days that while she may be in the trenches on any given day, the love and beauty of her family is sheer art.

 

For more information on booking a session, visit www.lifelensandlove.com

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