Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Nancy & Bruce's Beautiful Family

First of all, I apologize for having not blogged in a coon's age!  As many of you know, my mom passed away in May and her road to Heaven was... long.  Kind of like getting stuck in customs or having flights canceled repeatedly, as she was in end-sage metastatic cancer.  The last 6-8 months have been an incredibly painful time for me personally.

I was able to meet with this lovely family (they're old friends, fantastic people in general) and do this shoot because I was helping my mom, and happened to be in Cypress where the cutie pies all live.  After a long day of dealing with chemo and drugs and trying to make my Mom feel good, I met up with Nancy, Bruce, Jess, Jason, Joe, Jocelyn, and the fabulous Miss Emilie.  Emilie doesn't live in Texas, but I have photographed her a few times before when she's been in spending time with her grandparents and Aunt Jess.  She evidently informed her dad that she was going to have her picture taken "by a VERY famous photographer".

: )  It's the little things.

They were a full-o-life, happy skippy bunch.  What a way to end a long day!!!

As things often happen without notice, I'd begun working on these images the night before Mom died.  It was admittedly very emotional each time I'd pull them up to work on them-- Nancy and the family have my accolades for their kindness and patience as I've worked through my grief.  They're no stranger to recent loss.

Without further ado, here they are!  I dare you not to smile ; )

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


We all know that in life, the really important stuff is intangible, the real value lies in our relationships with one another and our experiences... but we all have those material things we just find it so hard walk away from.

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post talking about my wonderful grandmother Josephine, or as us kids all called her, Nana. She had turned 87, and I took her out for a portrait session.  She LOVED those pictures, and our family has really enjoyed having them.

The incredible matriarch of our family passed away peacefully and surrounded by family last fall, having stayed on earth long enough for us to give her a 90th birthday party.  So many people came, we ran out of food despite elaborate preparations beforehand.  At the funeral home for her visitation, it was standing room only.  People I'd never heard of were coming up to the podium to talk about how sweet and wonderful she had been to them-- people of all ages.  One guy was in tears recalling his memories of Mrs. Klotz from childhood, and delicious lemonade she made for the neighborhood kids.

After she had left her home for the last time, I went in with my camera because I had a deep-seated need to get pictures of things in her house just as she left them.  Her wish was always for the house to be sold once she passed, and it was inevitable that many people would be coming through, moving things, rearranging, and preparing it for sale.  This little blue house at 6632 Rodrigo, near Memorial Park, among the beautiful high dollar town homes of recent construction,  had been "home" to all of us.  My grandma and grandpa purchased it for about $8,000 in the early 1940's.

I was there for hours, and took hundreds of pictures.  I adored being here, among all her things.  It felt special, like being with her, knowing that hen you walked in her door you always got a smile and a hello.  Believe you me, there were things.  She threw away NOTHING.  Every little scrap of material, every prayer card, every newspaper clipping, coffee mug, Happy Meal toy, church bulletin, every recipe clipped from an Imperial Sugar bag... it was all there.  All of the history that made this huge family.  All of the insignificant familiarities. I captured the ones that meant the most to me.

This Christmas, I wanted to find a way to share them with my family.  I made notecards from 13 of the images (trust me it was difficult to narrow them down!).  I kept my project a secret from everyone, it was so hard not to share it with my mom, my aunts, my sister, my cousins... but I wanted it to be a special moment when they opened those boxes.

Yesterday, the family closed on the sale of Nana's home.  A developer will eventually level it and build a couple of very nice town homes, and my hope is that they're just as full of life, love and family as 6632 Rodrigo ever was.  I can't even explain how much love there is in the dirt at that house.  How many little periwinkle sprouts she grew in the front and back yards.  Truly, there is love even in the dirt.  I hope that a family there feels the residual warmth and hope that was always there for our family.

Here are some of the images I captured from her home.  Enjoy : )  We can't keep her home there for all time, but at least we can preserve and share our memories of it.

Where it all began. I don't know how long this house number hung in the front yard, but I can tell you it's longer than 36 years.

Her hand-cut, made-from-scratch sugar cookies... a staple at every family event, and in her cookie jar.  You couldn't leave after visiting her house without a baggie "for the children".

I have no idea where this came from, but I always like it.  It hung on the wall in the kitchen.

Periwinkles!  She always had gardens full of them, and would root and plant more.  She adored pretty flowers and bright colors.

Lots of Catholic prayer cards from were stacked around her sewing basket, with its familiar peachy plastic flower material on top.

The stove knobs in her kitchen, worn from wear, operated by touch.  So many delicious pots of chicken noodle soup, goulash, and Polish sausage were prepared here.


Her cute little copper measuring cups, and the worn countertop. 

Most people in our family would see these chairs and think "DOMINOES".  My grandpa would sit on the back patio with all the men, drink beer, and play dominoes at most family gatherings.  You could always squeeze your way in as a kid and get a hug, a kiss, and a "You're so beautiful, Baby, I love you so much" from Popo.

No reputable Catholic's garden would be complete without St. Francis.

Every grandchild snuggled in cool, clean cotton sheets on a feather pillow with this bear.  He was the resident favorite toy (in close second was the sock monkey).

Something so mundane as a doorknob triggers memories of the hollow sound the bathroom floor made when you walked on it, the rolling of the pocket door in the bathroom when you closed it, the smell of Ivory soap on your hands as you washed them in the cold water of the sink.  In winter, the warm beautiful blue glow of the flame in the gas heater.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Alex: Newborn Portraits

Some posts really need no words... without further ado I give you Alex, an absolutely perfect little boy : )

Courtney & Andy's Wedding: San Luis Galveston

Courtney and Andy were married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony at sunset on the lawn of Galveston's San Luis Resort.  Bright green and purple florals filled the scene!  Courtney looked absolutely incredible coming down the aisle.  Once the Mr. & Mrs. were official, guests headed into the ballroom for a night of dancing and fun.  Funky Monkey Photobooth was on hand to provide guest favors, and Eventology Weddings was there to assure that the event ran smoothly.  Toward the end of the night, the groom and groomsmen headed up to the stage to play for the audience... which they evidently do regularly around Houston as the Knights of Larkin.  We LOVED them : )  Check out the groom's cake-- it's a DRUM.  One of the kids standing by during the cake cutting picked up the drumsticks to play on it-- it looked SO real.  Notice how the wedding cake mocks the patterns and embellishment on Courtney's gown.

Meredith, 10 Days Old

I visited Meredith in her home for portraits, but as soon as I arrived, I was whisked away to Grandma's house for some beautiful four-generation portraits!  All four of these ladies were in great spirits as we captured some images that will surely be treasured by the family for years.  Once we got back home, I got down to my regular business of building a warm, comfy set for Meredith's first portrait session... she was an angel, completely relaxed, and did beautifully!