Merry Christmas….

Couldn’t let this very jolly holiday roll by without a quick blog post. And to properly commemorate the season, let me tell a little story…

whiskerino dec 11 (actual nov 30)

This is a photo my wife took 5 years ago. It was my sons’ first Christmas; your first Christmas as a dad is pretty amazing, even if your kiddo is only old enough to want to EAT all his gifts rather than play with them. That’s the year that all the holiday magic starts to flow back into your life, after an adulthood sets in that threatens to overtake you with stupid adult jadedness.

Pictured in that photograph, is an ornament made in 1985. That’s right, it was from MY first Christmas. My mom passed it on to me to hang on our Christmas tree that season, 5 years ago.

A lot of things have happened since then. Terrible things, wonderful things, and everything in-between. The most recent of those terrible things is my camera having been stolen, just last week. Not a fun way to enter into your holiday season…

And closer to the date of this picture, a tornado happened. No fun either…. and because of that tornado, the ornament pictured no longer exists (or if it does, it’s probably in a tree somewhere 100 miles away). So here’s what I said when I posted the picture on Facebook:
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My point was to say that this photo matters just as much or more than the THING in the photo. And I still want to make that point; I value photos like this so much. The power of a photograph is why I do what I do for a living. There’s a power to telling a story through an image, and God has blessed me with a passion for it.

My favorite part of this story, though, is what happened just this morning, when a very sweet client (someone I’ve worked with since the very beginning, who believed in me when my work kinda SUCKED) texted me to ask if I could drop by her workplace because she had something for me.

here’s what I pulled out of the gift sack:

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My client & friend had seen my facebook post, did a search for Christmas ornaments, found a matching one (yep, from 1985) and bought it for me.

That’s the kind of clients I have. Good GRIEF that’s amazing.

And now, I have a 1985 Christmas ornament that means even more to me than the last one… not because the object matters in and of itself, but because it is so packed with meaning. It’s something I can look at and remember not only my childhood…not only my sons’ first Christmas… but also an added layer of the kindness that God and people in my life have shown to me.

Still true… things are just things. But it’s what the things symbolize that counts; just like Christmas itself. We get distracted by the STUFF, when the STUFF is meant to remind us of the gift we were given in a savior that loves us and was willing to die for us. The things only matter if we remember what they represent. And if we DO hold on to that meaning, oh how much sweeter those things are.

Yes, a tornado took my house and everything in it once. But God provided, and people helped, and it was all ok…. in fact, BETTER in the end.

Yes, my camera was stolen last week and that’s a bummer. But God provides (this time through a busy season and an insurance company that did the right thing), and people do some really incredibly nice things.  So rather than lingering on what goes wrong and the things that are missing, I do my best to thank my creator and pass on the kindness and grace to others.

(and I finally get to update my camera).

Merry Christmas guys. See you next year.

-Mark

PS: to properly close out this somewhat sappy post, here’s an over-the-top sappy picture, also from 5 years ago. pastel cardigan and feathered hair and all… yes, I can be sentimental and sarcastic all at once can’t I?

whiskerino Dec 23

Venturellas, Danners, & Bosley’s :: one of those magnificent megafamily shoots!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve worked with most of these folks before, and was certainly excited about the opportunity to do it again. It didn’t dissapoint… I really, really love what we got from this colorful (that applies literally AND to the personalities involved) sunset-into-nighttime shoot.

I’ve known the Venturellas since little Roman was just a tiny guy. Christina was one of 9art’s first loyal clients…back when my work…kinda… well, it sucked. She and her husband DJ were some of the first to believe in me, and for that, I’ll be forever thankful. Since then, Roman has gotten huge and his little sister  Kendall is equally adorable. If you need an AWESOME hair stylist, look Christina up at ‘styles’ salon here in Joplin.

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Aimee is Christina’s sister, and her lively bunch always keep me entertained. Her husband Tracy has an ornery sense of humor that is always very appreciated by me (even those moments when not 100%…appropriate…) and their 4 beautiful daughters have inherited quite a bit of that fun spark as well. The Danners were generous enough to open up their property for the shoot, where they have a pond, a lovely little forest, and several vintage cars sitting around which made for perfect settings. We kept with the ‘old car’ theme we had for our last shoot, back when we used a family member’s bright orange classic with an alley as our background.

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and let’s not forget the Bosleys… the parents who started it all. They still got it! 🙂

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the rest of the post is just a few of my favorites from working with the individuals as well as the whole group.

 

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I love Roman’s ‘serious face’ on the right…

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our 4th

 

 

   Hey everybody! It’s time for a good ol’ ‘personal’ post… that is, a post with pictures of MY kids instead of somebody elses’. Not that I mind posting pictures of other peoples’ kids… 🙂

    Hope everyone had an awesome holiday. For us it was a time of wonder and uncontainable excitement for a 4 year old boy and 2 year old girl that couldn’t get enough of flaming, sparking, banging things that fly around and catch stuff on fire. Love of danger starts early for Americans, what can I say…

You’ll see from this batch of photos, that I never take pictures OF the fireworks themselves. It’s always reactions TO the fireworks. I always find people more interesting than things/places/events/anything-thats-not-a-people. 🙂

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Harry’s favorite part was chasing parachutes. 

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When he gets REALLY excited, he does this thing where he rubs his hands on his face. As you can see…  so weird, but cute…

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Had some fun dragging shutter speeds to capture writing with sparklers. ‘A’ for my bro-in-law Adam, ‘V’ for my sister Veronica… 

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Going to take more time to experiment with sparkler photos next time… the results can be really fascinating. And a little trippy….

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Harry had fun robot-dancing by the ‘strobes’ light with his aunt Mallory…

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sweet, tired girl. 

 

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sweet, tired girl + creepy aunt.

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Yokley twins (#4)

Isabella & Addelyn; the final session from their baby’s 1st year plan. As often happens (and this is ok), it’s past a year now… but we’re fine with that. 🙂

This one of those sessions where I laid in the grass/weeds at least 5 times, and endangered my camera by holding it inches from the water down in the creek… and am not sorry for any of it.

You have to be willing to get a little crazy if you want pictures of toddlers that give any essence of who they are. That’s what we’re all about!

this tractor was played with by Doug (the twins’ dad) when HE was a kid. This was the first time the twins had played with it… so fun!

we ended the session down by the creek. They loved the water, and had certainly earned the right to get a little wet/dirty. 

Couldn’t end this post without a little tribute to Doug… thanks for matching my goofiness, Doug. I know. it’s not fair. No-one ever points the camera at me when I’M being that goofy. But you also know what you’re getting yourself into when you do these things around a photographer… heh heh…

 

Kids are the REAL rock stars (Hunter, session 3)

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    Sometimes, I look at the style that has evolved out of my work, and it feels odd that I take pictures of…babies. I mean, I also take pictures of a lot of other very different things. Weddings, food, downtown scenery, bands & 1940s detectives…but it seems like babies would be the last subject on my list when it comes simply to analyzing the sometimes over-the-top epic shooting style that I tend to take on. 

     But why not? Babies & other children in general are much cooler than we are. They’re as honest as honest gets, pure, funny, and of course adorable… so why can’t I take pictures of them in the same way I’d take pictures of a band or a superhero or some other more seemingly ‘epic’ subject?

That being said, I start with the simple shots… the ones that focus on the expressions & chubby cheeks, quiet moments that are captured in a more classic and timeless way. Sometimes, if you add too much ‘style’ to a picture, it takes away from the subject. 

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But after that… I like to break out the off-camera-flash, the wide angle lens, and lay on the ground or climb a tree for dramatic angles, to capture kids in a stylized and quirky way. It’s fun feeling to see my work take on a unique look. And even more fun plugging that into a genre of family photography that isn’t always approached in a very fresh light. 

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If that came across as egotistical… shoot me.

(And not with a camera).

Enough rambling. Here’s more of the real stars of the show… baby Hunter & big brother Parker. these are some ridiculously cute children. And my camera has NOTHING to do with that fact.

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the Spierings

    Zach, Megan, and their kids Levi, Ellie, & Annie are very good friends of mine. After sharing many a cup of coffee & meal together, it was an honor to be able to capture their family!

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Sometimes I joke about how I shoot everyone as if they were a band. It shows on some shoots more than others…

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The zombie portion of the session.

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MY kids

    Sometimes, I forget to pull the camera back out on my ‘off’ time to capture some images of my own kiddos. I had a recent weekend where that thought hit me, and this time, I pulled out a light, snatched my camera, and started shooting my kids where they played in our own backyard. 

     Maggie (now 2) is not so much a fan of the camera. I’ve chosen to leave out the shot where I told Harry to put his arm around her. Silly me, thinking I could make that happen…but I love her mean-muggin’ expressions all the same. 

   Harry (now 4) is pretty much the complete opposite. This little man was BORN for the camera, giving me pretty much a brand new expression every second I’m shooting. Honestly, it’s scarier than the one that won’t pose at all.

    Love watching their personalities develop….the both certainly have a LOT of personality. Impromptu photo shoots are the best!

 

Oliver (#2)

    Oliver is back. Who is Oliver? A really super cute kid that also happens to be the son of some good friends of mine. They have real cool taste (Oliver’s dad Matt is an amazing graphic designer), so shooting in their house is always a blast. Their clean, bright, modern interior-design style is fun to shoot… but really, that’s just backgrounds. The important part is the little man, and the lens just can’t get enough of him. 

And we’ve discovered a new ‘theme’ to end our shoots on. If you’ll remember this shot from the last session…

Now the last shot, from THIS shoot. (and if you look carefully, you can see the last session in the background!)

If there’s one thing we can learn from the spiels, it’s to go with the flow, meltdowns and all.

SNOW DAY

    I was sitting in the coffeeshop looking at the snow earlier this week, when it hit me: I’d be kind of lame, after complaining about not having snow all winter, if I didn’t go shoot something in this. 

     So I threw up an impromptu invite on the 9art facebook page and set up a couple of snow-romping-mini-shoots to celebrate the white stuff. We’ll open with the Fishers… Campbell, Kimberly, & little Truman.

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this one cracks me up… if you know Campbell at all, you know he can be a little ridiculous… and when I asked if they would sit in the snow (which Kimberly promptly did) Campbell asked if THIS pose would work so he didn’t have to get his pants wet…

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Next up is Jordan… she’d already done some of her senior pictures, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a few more in the snow after her aunt (the lovely Sarah) let her know about the special I was running.

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 Hope YOU enjoyed the snow too, this week… talk to you all soon! 

-Mark