A family emergency

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I always tell clients while laughing, “The gallery delivery date promised in my contract is the absolute last possible date you are guaranteed to receive your images. It’s usually much, much sooner. The contract date is just in case everything in my life blows up.”

We might be close to explosion status, my friends.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I’ve been dealing with a pretty significant family emergency for the last few days.

To make an incredibly long story slightly shorter…over the last couple of weeks, my mother experienced some complications from a fall.

Her situation and pain went from bad…to worse…to excruciating…to life-treatening. And it all happened so fast it makes my head spin.

Up until Friday, I had been splitting my time tending her needs at her apartment, taking care of her dog, taking care of my own household, and taking care of clients.

On Friday afternoon, it became very clear that I could not leave her alone in her apartment overnight with the amount of assistance she needed to do basic functions like standing or eating.

As we were headed into the weekend, and doctors offices were closing, it became pretty clear that heading to the ER was the only option. Despite her protests that she didn’t want to bother anyone (anyone else have a mother like this?), she reluctantly agreed.

Turns out, it was the right call.

It was the very, very right call.

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Exams were done, tests were ordered, and, although they knew something was very, very wrong, her wonderful community hospital didn’t have the answers and they needed to get her to a place that could help her immediately over the weekend.

So, that led me on an ambulance chase to University Hospital at 1am.

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The answers didn’t come quickly, but after another radiology visit, we finally had the answer we needed to this on-going mystery.

At 10:30pm on Saturday, an orthopedic doctor was telling us she needed spine surgery first thing in the morning to drain the blockage on her spinal cord that was compressing it and causing her immense pain.

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Spine surgery, you guys.

I have sympathy back spasms just thinking about it.

(Although, that may just be the uncomfortable chairs I’ve been sitting in all weekend.)

The good news is, she sailed through surgery like a champ and the amazing doctors here at University Hospital fixed the issue.

Hooray!

But now comes the hard part: recovery…

…when doing simple things like adjusting your position in bed, calling in an order for dinner, or even taking a sip of water require assistance.

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While I have a wonderful family friend and my brother and his sweet girlfriend to help me, I’ve been bearing the brunt of her care. That includes racing to the hospital at 5am to try to catch her doctor on rounds, and staying late to make sure she’s comfortable for the night, among other things.

It’s 9:30pm on Monday. I’ve had 8 total hours of sleep since Friday morning.

I haven’t been this tired since my son was a newborn.

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So…me returning emails and calls is going to be a little slow this week, and possibly next.

I will get back to you as soon as I possibly can, but please understand there may be a day or two delay.

Editing and delivery of galleries will hopefully resume later this week and if you are awaiting your session gallery, I will get it to you as soon as I possibly can.

However…

I also just received news tonight that my production assistant experienced a loss in her family today. Naturally, she will be taking time off to spend with her family.

It’s been a hard week for Team Lollipop.

Stay healthy, my friends, and go hug your loved ones.

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Devon & Alex | Les Bourgeois Blufftop Bistro | Rocheport MO Wedding Photography

I am so fortunate to work with the sweetest wedding couples in mid-Missouri, and this adorable pair proved to be no exception.

It was a beautifully intimate affair on the bluff overlooking the Missouri River at Les Bourgeois Blufftop Bistro in Rocheport, Missouri.

The weather had been threatening rain all day, but the clouds broke and the most gorgeous rays of sunshine poured over the hilltop just as Devon was about to walk down the aisle of our outdoor ceremony.

It was almost as if Mother Nature was smiling down and running the whole production.

Cue the sun.

I first officially met Devon & Alex about 25 minutes before my wedding photography coverage was supposed to start (I like to be early!). They had booked two hours of wedding photography and we worked out a plan to maximize our short time together.

I was to start shooting at 6pm. Ceremony was at 7:00pm. The sunset was at 7:46pm.

As their wedding photographer, I needed to get in photos of the bride & groom’s first look, some gorgeous photos of them together, their wonderfully large extended families, their adorable wedding party, the ceremony of course, and hopefully still had enough time to sneak in photos of the cake cutting.

Challenge accepted.

And we absolutely nailed it! Bride walked down the aisle right on time (and right in cue with the *amazing* light), their families were jovial and laughing as we captured all of the combinations they wanted, and we had plenty of time to capture the reception entrance and cake cutting and even some reception details.

Best of all, I finished up the wedding party just as the sun was setting and turned around to capture a few gorgeous shots of the bride & groom with the amazing sunset (big thanks again to the best man who served as my human light stand!).

I am so happy with how the photos of this beautiful wedding turned out, and I was so happy to meet Devon & Alex as they celebrated their love for one another.

Best wishes to you both on your future life together!

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Friday Favorites | Columbia Missouri Photographer

Another edition of Friday Favorites! I’m still working to catch up on sharing some of the great photo sessions from earlier this spring, but we’re getting closer!

First up, is an adorable little 9 month old who is definitely on the move! It’s been so fun watching this little cutie grow up over the past year, and I was so happy to catch some of his adorable smiles.

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Next up, is a kiddo that I’ve photographed for several years. Momma always lets her two boys each have their own session right around their birthday in order to capture their personalities. I love how she tailors each session around the interests of her sons at their age.

Once kiddos reach school age, I see a lot of families drop their yearly photos for whatever reason. I can only guess that it’s due to crazy schedules, or maybe school and sports photos perhaps replace the custom sessions, or maybe it’s just the awkward elementary school age, etc.

But I think it’s so important to capture photos of what your child is into at that age because life goes by so fast…and suddenly they’re in middle school…high school…then it’s senior photo time!

Big props to this momma for making it a priority every year.

We met up at their house to get some photos in his room, which was awesome because it was totally a typical 8-year old’s messy room (love it!). Then, we headed out with his bike on the trail near their house.

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Next up is a senior session.

Now, I haven’t officially made any sort of announcement, but I am no longer offering senior photography except to existing clients.

I quietly took that off my website when it was refreshed…you may or may not have noticed.

I love seniors…they’re so vibrant and fun to work with. But, my strengths lie in working with families, kids and weddings, so I’ve made the decision to narrow my focus just a bit.

That said, my brother’s girlfriend is graduating from Stephens College in just a couple of weeks, so I definitely had to capture that memory for her. We had a super fun time exploring the campus, and then heading over to Capen Park with her doggie.

Here are my favorites:

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My super cute brother tagged along as the official dog wrangler, so he snuck in for a couple of shots at the end.

I definitely teased him about not coordinating with her and choosing a mismatched striped shirt.

Clearly, he didn’t read my “What to Wear” guide.

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And the next session to share is another senior session. This session was a carryover from fall, where we had the unfortunate coincidence of encountering terrible weather and schedule conflicts throughout most of the fall months.

After another rainy session date in early December, we decided to just wait until spring to get this one in. Glad we did. It turned out to be a great day!

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Friday Favorites | Columbia Missouri Maternity Photographer

I have SO MANY FAVORITES to share from deliveries in recent weeks!

This edition of Friday Favorites includes a sweet maternity session (whose newborn has arrived and I photographed this week—-she’s sooooooooo cute!), as well as seven awesome mini sessions from earlier this spring.

I’m going to share more favorites early next week…I have a huge backlog in my “To Blog” folder.

But for now…here we go:

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Where to have your photo session? | Part 2: Rustic

Well, the break between Part 1 and Part 2 of this several-part blog series might be the longest in blogging history.

Great job, Rhiannon…way to keep everyone hanging!

As a reminder, I had a little hiccup in my life about 4 or so weeks ago right as we were digging in deep on this photo session location rabbit hole.

And, to be honest, things are still a little crazy.

Right after we got my mom moved in and settled up here in mid-Missouri (like, literally, the very next day), she fell and cracked her pelvis.

{Oooooooouch!!!}

So that means she can’t really walk or bend or do much of anything without some assistance.

So that means I’m visiting her about once a week to take her to doctors and grocery shop and clean house and such. Oh, and we’re dog-sitting at my house too.

Which my son, who has been lobbying for a dog for months, LOVES, by the way.

My [previously] lovely hardwood floors, on the other hand…

So, at any rate, I appreciate the patience that everyone has given me on the blogging and sharing of favorites and the complete radio silence on Facebook.

The photos are coming…I promise.

So, that said…let’s get back to the series on where to hold your photo session. If you remember, part 1 was holding it at a gorgeous Columbia, Missouri park.

Now, things are gonna get a little country-fied up in here.

If you are looking for more of a rustic look reminiscent of small town life than what we can achieve at a local park or on campus, there are several places around Columbia that are really versatile.

Two of my favorites are:

Nifong Park

Of all the places I shoot, this is by far the most versatile and offers both rustic and non-rustic looks. This location has everything from a barn to several historic homes including a home originally built in the 1870s, to a lake and shade trees.

At Nifong Park, I can make it look like you are next to a large lake, deep in a forest or on a farm. In the late summer, I can make it look like you are in a field.

There are also several wrought iron pieces around the property that make an excellent backdrop.

I shoot here very regularly and I know what the light looks like in January and what it looks like in December, and everywhere in between.

You might think it would get boring to shoot here so often, but I’m always looking for new ways to use the light at this location and I love seeing my work there evolve through the years.

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Rockbridge State Park

There are two different areas I love at this location.

The late afternoon light is perfect for capturing the golden field look that makes everyone glow. The restored grasslands prove an excellent field look for photos.

There is also a location within the park that is perfect for a deep forest feel.

Those two features plus the streams and hiking trails make this location a great option for anyone looking for rustic elements to their photos.

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Small Town Downtowns

Okay, I said there were two favorite locations for this post, but I’ve actually got quite a few favorite rustic spots that are very unique and off the beaten path.

If you prefer the small town look and don’t mind a little bit of drive time, please contact me and we can further discuss locations that have some gorgeous old downtown areas for some neat, rustic photos.

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Small towns are great, but downtown Columbia also makes a really cool backdrop for photos, so make sure to check back next week for Part 3 in the series: The District.

Payton & Cole | Columbia Missouri Wedding Photography

Payton & Cole tied the knot on a perfect spring day in March at Columbia Country Club in Columbia, Missouri. Their wedding was simply perfect.

Payton and Cole are a match meant to be, and the joy radiating from their friends and family was contagious.

One of my favorite things to do during a wedding is to look over to see the mother of the bride’s reaction to make sure she’s enjoying herself. Every time I looked over at Payton’s sweet momma, she was beaming from ear to ear.

Every. Single. Time.

Thank you for allowing me to capture your gorgeous day, Payton & Cole! You guys were simply a delight to work with!

Prepare for photo overload! It was VERY hard to narrow down my favorites from this amazing wedding.

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Venue: Columbia Country Club

Flowers & Decorations: Family friend

DJ: Berrygood DJ Service

Videography: Complete Weddings & Events

Payton and Bridesmaids Hair: Hair Therapy Salon

Friday Favorites | Columbia Missouri Baby Photographer

On this edition of Friday Favorites, I’ve got a super-smiley newborn, a couple of darling brothers, an adorable engaged couple, and Easter Mini Sessions! Let’s get to it, shall we?

First up, a Signature Newborn Session:

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This sweat pea was the smiliest baby ever!

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See what I mean? Smiles for days!

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I loved her hair. So amazing.

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Mom and dad are as cute as can be!

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Momma, you are simply glowing! So pretty:

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I loved her cute little nursery:

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Alright, next up is a darling little 4-month old who absolutely did not want to have his photo taken. This is not a full, regular baby session—we are doing a reshoot at a later time—but I shared what I got with momma and just loved some of the shots that we did manage to get:

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Bet you can’t see big brother, huh?

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Momma’s got her hands full with these two:

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See what I mean? Angry baby! But this one made me LOL, so I gave it to momma anyway.

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I did manage to catch the older one being super sweet to his little brother. There might have been candy bribes involved in this shot. I’m not ashamed.

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Harrison, you little booger!

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Moving right along to an adorable engaged couple. They are both veterinarians, so of course their fur-babies came along to the session too. We started with the human-folk first:

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Sarah, you are gorgeous!

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Favorite:

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And then it was time to get the pups. These guys were super well-behaved and just as sweet as can be!

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Another favorite!

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Best wishes to you guys on your wedding!

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And rounding out this week’s favorites are the Easter Mini Sessions! Yay!!

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{Pause}

Lollipop-Phogoraphy_1261I know I owe you guys a continuation of the series on where to hold your photo session.

I haven’t forgotten.

It’s been a really, really interesting month.

I’m pretty guarded when it comes to my family and my life outside of this business, mostly because I know every family has their own issues they are dealing with…my problems are small compared to most.

Another reason I keep stuff to myself is that I really don’t want clients to worry that I’m distracted with family stuff…because there’s truly nothing to worry about.

I think I do a great job of keeping my family and business lives separate, so that I can keep my focus where it needs to be at any given time.

When I’m in the zone and working, I’m really not thinking about my family stuff.

I’m thinking about YOUR family stuff.

Judgement worries aside, you guys invite me into your homes and your families all the time…I feel like I owe you at least a glimpse into what goes on when I’m not shooting, editing, or admin-ing…

…and an little explanation as to why the heck I left you hanging for the last two weeks on that blog series.

You see, my mom has become disabled in recent years.

We’ve been struggling for the past two years (really, more like eight years) to get her the help that she needs.

It’s been a vastly trickier situation than you might imagine because she lives three hours away and, while she is somewhat independent, I am basically her sole caretaker when she needs help.

And none of us—not me, not mom, not my husband’s wonderful family, no one—knows how to efficiently or effectively navigate this country’s system of getting help for people that need it most.

I could write a book, y’all.

About two weeks ago, suddenly everything clicked into place.

The clouds parted, the rainbow came out.

We might just get through this okay.

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Today through this weekend, I will be taking a few days off to get my mom moved and settled into a independent senior living facility in the Mid-Missouri area.

Having her just down the road from me is going to be a huge relief, knowing I can take care of her if/when she falls again, I can get her to the store and doctor’s appointments easily, and we can tap into the amazing medical resources for which our community is known.

Huge weight off my shoulders, you guys.

So…that’s why the blog series is delayed

Major things have come up; I need to take a few days off.

Clients are all taken care of, but unfortunately the blog series post isn’t going to happen this week.

We will hopefully be back to normal next week.

Hope your weekend is beautiful and bright.

{{{Hugs}}} and Love,

Rhiannon

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Lifestyle Newborn Sessions | Columbia Missouri Newborn Photography

“I’m so glad you came to us!”

It’s the one thing I’ve heard at pretty much every single newborn session.

Moms and dads love that I come to their home for their session, bringing everything we need for a successful newborn photo session.

I do it because I remember.

  • I remember back to those fuzzy first weeks that went by in a blur.
  • I remember making a ridiculously detailed list of things for my mother-in-law to pick up from Target three days after delivery because I couldn’t even fathom getting out of the house.
  • I remember that trip home from the hospital, white-knuckled in fear that some crazy driver was going to crash into us, vowing to never take my sweet newborn in the car again (we did, but it was scary every time).
  • My son was born in February, right at the height of flu season, so I remember going somewhere and wanting to douse everything everywhere in Lysol…disinfect all the things!
  • I remember my first outing, a week after giving birth, to a 1-hour La Leche League meeting. It took me 3 hours to prepare to leave the house.

So, I’ve always grown this business with the intention of coming to you for your newborn session.

You are more comfortable at home.

You have all that we need there.

Momma can wear pajama pants if she wants to.

Dad can watch Sportscenter.

It’s just easier on everyone.

Well, that is, almost everyone.

You see, as I’ve evolved my style over the last 4 years of doing newborn photography in Columbia, Missouri, I’ve added more props, more accessories, more equipment. Though I’ve always tried to stay as streamlined as possible, it still takes an extraordinary amount of time before and after the session to pack everything up, haul everything to your home, keep everything organized, and launder everything after the session.

No joke, it takes a solid hour to pack things up and get everything into my car, jenga-style.

And over the years, it has occurred to me that perhaps some families may not want or need such a styled photo session with all the props and things.

Some families just want to capture the newness, the tininess, and their new family-ness in a beautiful, simple style.

So, I am excited to begin offering two different newborn photo session options—Lifestyle Newborn Sessions and Signature Newborn Sessions.

Here’s the main difference:

For the Signature Newborn Sessions, I bring a lot of props and accessories. For the Lifestyle Newborn sessions, I do not.

There’s also the time difference—Signature sessions take longer because of setup and posing baby into those gorgeous, naked baby poses. Lifestyle sessions are about an hour and a half or so, and we’re going to keep things pretty simple, natural and organic, using stuff around your house.

I’ll bring a few swaddle blankets and maybe a posing blanket or fur, as well as some simple lighting equipment, but we’re going to keep it simple and focus on the baby, your family, and your home.

I’ve gotta say, after doing several of these in 2015, I’m in love with both styles. If I were having a newborn (which is not going to happen, sorry, mom), I’d have a tough time choosing which style to go with. Maybe both. =)

I will post an example of a Signature Newborn Session later in the week, but here’s an example of a recent Lifestyle Newborn Session.

With this session, we had with a VERY sleepy baby, which was awesome.

Mom is a horse owner and enthusiast and wanted to incorporate a saddle somehow. We did this photo right off the bat and I simply love how it turned out. I can’t promise naked baby photos on a prop with a lifestyle session, but this worked out great for us.

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Dad had this amazing antique wagon…and big brother served as a great guard dog for me.
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Omg. Love.

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I will always capture the details, regardless of the newborn session style you choose.

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After we got a few natural shots of baby, we went right into the family photos.

Get ready…this gorgeous family is swoon-worthy!

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He’s smiling!! He’s smiling!!

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This little man had some epic hair.

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Momma, you are gorgeous!

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My favorite from the session:

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Second favorite:

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Another smile!

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Dad really wanted some open eyes shots, which can be really tricky because newborns tend to go cross-eyed really easily, but this sweet boy gave me a great open-eye shot during his diaper change.

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