Woah, we admit: it’s been awhile since we’ve taken our website down. … but here’s the good news! IT’S BACK UP! We will not be updating this blog anymore, so make sure you’re visiting our website for our most recent posts and featured weddings, engagement sessions, family, and birth stories! (You’ll also find almost everything you see here over there, so don’t worry!)
Six years ago I had a friend reach out to me to see if I could be her support during the delivery of her baby and also photograph it. She was a senior in high school, the baby’s dad wasn’t necessarily around, and her relationship with her father was strained (at that time). OF COURSE I’d be there for her, and thankfully my college professors were understanding and let me skip my classes.
Watching this baby being born was magical. In fact, when someone asks me what is the coolest experience I’ve ever had, I say “The Peace Corps was amazing… but I have no words to describe the way I felt after witnessing a baby being born.” It was at that moment I knew I wanted to be around the birth of babies but at that moment I was SO tired of school the last thing I wanted to do was start all over. I mean, the classes I take to be a French Language major are pretty different than the classes I’d need to take to be in the medical field. So, I put the thought behind me and was comfortable with the fact that this was probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity until I have my own kids, but even then, it’s different.
Then (on my birthday!) I received a message from a friend of mine. “We are trying to get pregnant again, that sounds so weird, and I am going to most likely have a home birth, if not at a birthing center. Would you be interested in capturing the special moments of it? If not, I totally understand, it’s not like you get asked this everyday.”
All I responded with was “YES!” (And congrats, because that’s definitely worth congratulating”). And then I forgot all about it.
Fast forward and I’m photographing an extended family. After I deliver the photos to the family, the sister asks me if she can use one of them for her profile photo on her new doula website. It wasn’t until a few months ago I looked up her website. After all, I was curious as to what exactly a “doula” is. Mind. Blown. THIS! THIS IS WHAT I NEED TO DO! If I were to become a doula I would be present at births, helping couples, and I’d even get the opportunity to photograph them. How MAGICAL is that?! Right around the time I was discovering this dream career I had no idea existed, I received another message from my trying-to-get-pregnant friend of mine (8 months after the first message). “I know you are on vaca! But, we are FINALLY pregnant! I’m only 6 weeks, so I haven’t announced it yet, but I am due February, so if you are still up for it, I would love to have you photo our home birth! Obviously I won’t know exactly when I’m going to go into labor, but it will be a water birth and I want very classy candid moments to cherish the experience!” Yes, yes, YES! I will be there!
The excitement of the “I have to find out more about doulas” thought hasn’t worn off but the craziness of the end of last year made me put the research and the studying and the communication with doulas and midwifes on hold. We had tons of events with The Photo Bus, fall portrait sessions, weddings, oh, and our own wedding to focus on. But I still had the opportunity to photograph a birth coming up and I was so excited to be there and I had absolutely no idea what to expect (except for a baby being born, but that’s a given).
On Friday night my friend (Mama) reached out to me. She said contractions had started, so I didn’t need to do anything yet except take my phone off silent mode. Saturday morning she text me and said they were picking up and getting stronger so we could have a baby this week, but again, I didn’t need to get ready to go yet (but I was JUMPING OUT OF MY SKIN just waiting to go!). But then the contractions stopped. Sunday morning they were back and 7 minutes apart. It had been raining all day so the streets were wet and the temperature was supposed to drastically drop over night and snow was on the way. Because of this, I didn’t want to take any chances and we decided if things hadn’t picked up too much by 8pm I was going to head over anyways. I arrived at their home right about the time their midwife said she was in active labor.
Mama went right to bed so I took some photos and decided to get some sleep, too. After all, baby was coming! Dad called their firstborn, who was staying with family members, to tell him goodnight and he hung out with the dogs for a bit before putting them downstairs.
Before I went to bed, though, I’d asked the parents if it was ok if I sort of live-documented the birth on Instagram. They said it was fine as long as I didn’t mention their names, show their faces, or tag them in it since they weren’t telling some family members they were in labor quite yet. I shared this photo and I had no idea just how this story was going to unfold- in person or online. So, I posted this:
At 1am things started stirring around the house. Mama’s contractions were getting stronger and we all knew we were done sleeping for the night. And thus, the documentation process began. When things would slow down I’d transfer the photos to my computer, edit my favorites to tell the story, email them to myself so I could access them on my phone, download them from my email, and then post them on Instagram. At that time I had no idea how this story was going to unfold (except there was going to be a baby!), how long it was going to be, or that people would start following me to follow the story.
There were moments of excitement, pain, fear, worry… and then it would repeat. She was eating to make sure here body was getting energy and fuel and baby was getting food, too. But every time she ate, the contractions kicked in again. She went from the bed, to the toilet (because it was comfy, not because she had to use the restroom), to the birthing pool, to the couch… and, again, repeated this where she was most comfortable. The first night turned in to morning, and I crossed my fingers hoping baby was coming. Then it was afternoon. And then another night. In short, by 9am on Tuesday morning, Mama hadn’t slept for 5 days. She was exhausted and there wasn’t much progress happening in terms of getting the cervix to drop. They made the very tough (emotional) decision to go to the hospital. By this time they had OK’d photos of their faces but they asked I wait to post that they were at the hospital for a little while. I started receiving messages asking if everything was OK… how’s Mama… how’s Dad… ANY BABY YET?! Around 10pm Mama was feeling “crummy” so she had the doctor come in. She asked her to push just once to see if progress could be made for a vaginal birth instead of a c-section. A couple of pushes later, she asked Dad if he wanted to see the head. Then, at 10:53 PM on Wednesday, 11-15-15, Baby Girl Evalee Gentry was born. “Eevie” was named after Grandma (LeeAnn) and her Great-Grandma (Gentry). 55 years ago on 11/13, Great-Grandma Gentry was giving birth to Mama’s uncle. Then, about 9 months ago Grandma Gentry died at the very hospital Eevie was born. When Grandma Gentry died, Mama was sitting outside reflecting on life, and just knew she was pregnant (she’d been trying for a year with no luck). Two weeks from that date it was verified- Mama was 2-3 weeks pregnant. AMAZING.
You guys… THIS is where my heart is. Weddings and portraits are great and fun, but birth photography is what is going to get me jumping out of bed at any hour with pure excitement to go to work. I know I have only told one other birth story, but I want to tell more. If you would like for me (me = CATE, not John) to document your birth, please email me (email@example.com) so we can get together to talk about things more in detail. (Bonus points if you’d like for me to live-ish post it on Instagram!
… As you can tell, this was quite a journey for the parents and me. We hardly slept during the 54 hours I was with them but it was SO worth missing out on the sleep. The story isn’t even over yet- I went back the following day for Eevie to meet the rest of the family, and I’m headed out now to welcome her home.
If you’d like to talk to me about photographing your birth, please email me (CATE!)! firstname.lastname@example.org
Tiffany and Daniel had a beautiful, classy bohemian wedding at the Firestone Building in Kansas City, MO. This is a wedding I (Cate) had been looking forward to since the moment I first met Tiffany. She walked in to our studio with her incredible coordinator, Jessica Woolery. Her eyes lit up when she spoke about the story of meeting her fiancé in their old apartment complex (she thought he was cute so she played the role of the cute, single neighbor and kept asking him to help her with moving-in things) and also about her super busy life. When she started mentioning everything she had on her plate I was not surprised she asked Jessica to help her: she took care of everything and told Tiffany (and Daniel) where they needed to be and when… so, needless to say, I couldn’t wait to see everything come together!
Boy-oh-boy DID IT come together! Tiffany and Daniel’s wedding was perfect…from the decor to the drinks to the weather. Her dress was stunning, his orange-lined coat was a surprise, and their smiles and laughs the entire night were contagious!
Timing is everything, isn’t it?
Back in February John had been telling me about seeing one of his past brides in the neighborhood recently and he’d assumed she’d started a new job in the area. He was really hoping we’d run in to her together because he wanted to introduce me to her. A day or so later, we saw Santina (that’s the bride!) when we were having our morning coffee date at Quay Coffee. We were introduced and then she bent down and quietly asked if we do maternity photos. I looked down at her belly and it was flat as a board… I thought there was no way she was pregnant! Turns out, she was, and I was wrong once againI got all excited because we’d also just seen the maternity photos by Pete Laroche on “how a baby is made” that went viral and even though we are not typically newborn or maternity photographers, I threw out the idea to her of doing something fun and different… if she’d be up to it. Santina is so laid back and she couldn’t wait to get started. But we couldn’t come up with something creative that hadn’t already been done… and we needed to get started before she started showing any more. So, instead of doing one session we would a series of sessions to document the growing of their baby and the transformation of the guest room in to the baby’s nursery. I loved being there for the changes: taking out the guest bed, putting in the crib, picking out a paint color (and then deciding not to paint!), finding out they were having a boy (!!), putting up the vinyl jungle stickers designed by Santina’s sister, watching the home transform from a newly-ish-wed-grown-up-home to a brand new family home with baby toys throughout it, moving around Santina’s stuffed animals from her childhood room… and finally, baby Frank’s 2nd week of life.
This was something new and different to me (and us, really) but I loved every single minute of it.
So, CONGRATULATIONS to the new parents, Santina and Frank, on Baby Frank! It’s going to be so much fun watching the little man grow up through photos.
I (Cate) was there when Chris and Mandy met. We were volunteering with the Peace Corps in Moldova, and Mandy and I had gone to Balti, the second largest city in Moldova, for a little weekend get away. It was chilly, because I remember Mandy waving her bright, striped gloves in the air because she’d recognized another volunteer (who had been there a year longer than we had) across the Plaza. As soon as he walked over I could feel this weird chemistry between them… I watched them play on a jungle gym and then ride the Soviet era ferris wheel together and I just knew something was different and great about this guy but it wasn’t the right time. Two days later was apparently a much better time and they started dating.
Fast forward 3 1/2 years and Mandy and Chris had spent 3 years in South Korea teaching and doing amazing things with art such as creating an arts magazine and a screen printing company. Finally Chris asked Mandy to marry him and boom… just a couple of weeks later they signed the documents in South Korea and made it official. She messaged me and said they were going to be back in the States in August and she wanted us to be there- and bring The Photo Bus as well- to celebrate in a very non-traditional way. Non-traditional became a little bit more traditional (including a white dress from BHLDN!). Unfortunately it didn’t work out to bring the bus, but it did work out for John and I to be their photographers!
Here’s how the wedding was traditional: Mandy wore a white dress, Chris wore a suit, they had an intimate outdoor ceremony with their closest friends and family, and there was a reception with delicious food and drinks.
Here’s how the wedding was untraditional: Chris and Mandy got ready together (with their super close friends) in a house they were renting through AirBnB. Mandy had her hair done at a blow out beauty bar and came home and put on her own makeup. There was no real plan for the ceremony at the Seattle Arboretum except to be there… John scouted and picked a beautiful location and had everyone gather around, and then her mom and dad (and dog) walked her down the aisle. Their best friends, who they met in South Korea, married them. Both Mandy and Chris mentioned “poop” in their vows at least twice (Peace Corps makes you a LOT more comfortable talking about that kind of stuff). After the ceremony everyone had a picnic in the park and ate the most amazing sandwiches I think I’ve ever had. The driver picked us up, and “us girls” went back to the blow out beauty bar to get our hair and make up done, including Mandy, who got a completely new “do” (Yes, this was AFTER the ceremony, family photos, and some portraits of the two-three of them)! After the makeovers we (no bridal party… just friends!) went to their hotel room to relax, enjoy some bubbly, and get Mandy back in her wedding dress. [enter traditional part here of taking photos of just the 2 of them]… then the reception at The Piranha Shop began! There was no first dance, cake, or food served to everyone. Instead, food trucks provided the meals (I say “meals” because it was impossible not to try all of them!) and the dessert.
The tables were decorated with wild flowers and art supplies, Dicks Burgers were delivered for a late-night-snack, and the combination of the band/DJ kept the party going until after midnight. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without their INCREDIBLE wedding coordinator, Alex, from Tailor’d Events, who worked with Mandy and Chris to plan this while they were abroad!
The following day we all hopped on a boat and we got an inside tour of the outside of Seattle.
Mandy and Chris’s wedding was one for the books… I’m so happy we were able to celebrate with them. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed the weekend!