Hello Baby Handley | Scottsdale Arizona Fresh 48 Session | In-home Lifestyle Newborn Session | Arizona Lifestyle Newborn Photographer

As an expecting mom myself now, I have been really thinking about what I want to do when it comes to newborn photos. Over the past years, I am more and more drawn to the rawness of life in general. Fortunately I had the opportunity to document the first moments of baby Handley’s life and how her family welcomed her to this world with a Fresh 48 Session at the hospital and an in-home lifestyle newborn session.

There is nothing more magical than meeting a fresh new life. I was able to see the unconditional love the parents showed towards their baby girl. One of the older siblings got sick the day before the baby was born so we were definitely all super bummed that we were not able to capture the moment all the older brothers meet their little sister. However, fortunately, I was invited to their home soon after so I was able to get all the family members in the same frame this time.

Let’s enjoy their little story of welcoming little baby Handley first!

Aren’t they just the cutest? Also It was such an honor that I got to be there to witness another milestone of this mama’s life. About a year ago, I was able to help this mama document her breastfeeding journey with one of my motherhood sessions and now, this journey continues.

I am really grateful for the trust I’ve earned from this amazing family. I don’t take this trust lightly. Also I am grateful for the friendship I’ve gained from this mama. Now I have one more friend who is in this thing called motherhood together!

Are you an expecting mama who is wondering what kind of newborn photo shoot you should do? I feel you. Preparing to welcome a new member into the family can be stressful enough as it is let alone when faced with so many great options for newborn photos out there. So let’s chat and see if a Fresh 48 or an in-home lifestyle newborn session is something that sparks joy to you!

I'm a FINALIST--2019 Shoot & Share Photo Contest Results | Arizona Family Photographer

I’m proud to say that I made it to be a finalist in the largest global annual photo contest!

At the beginning of each year, there is this GIANT global photo contest happening—The Shoot & Share Photo Contest. It is probably the world’s largest contest. It’s free. It’s super fair. It’s amazingly fun. We had 583,150 photos in total submitted by photographers from all around the world. Yes, you read it right. We had almost 600K photos.

And guess what? I actually made it to be a FINALIST! Yay!

Ok. Let’s recap just in case you are not familiar with how this contest works and why this is actually kinda a big deal for me.

In the contest, each photographer are allowed to submit 50 unique images total into 25 different categories. Then all the images will be put into random set of 4s in each category to be voted on. When a voter gets on the voting page, the screen will show a random set from a random category and the voter will click on his/her favorite and then a new random set will show up automatically. Once all images have been seen enough times(probably hundreds and hundreds of times at least), one round ends and they will make a cut at the bottom and the top images go into the next round. After 12 rounds of voting, we will have the winners and we will be able to see each of our images’ placement in that category.

Being an engineering major, I’d just like to play with the numbers for a sec here. Each of us can submit up to 50 photos and we have a total of close to 600k photos, the possibility of finding one of my own image is…pretty much close to zero. Of course, the algorithm is a lot more complicated than just a possibility calculation here. This is why this contest is actually really fair. It’s a pure popularity contest but there is no way anyone could affect the results just because he or she knows a few more people in the circle. You get the idea.

This is the second year for me to be in the contest. I do it mostly to hold myself accountable—having an annual competition helps me to push myself harder to create contest quality images throughout the year. Also this is an amazing learning opportunity. I mean, seriously, where else can you see so many photos from all over the world all at one place?! With that being said, while I know I still have long ways to go to be where I really want to be in the industry, I compare with how I did last year more in this contest than with how other people did.

Without further ado, here are my results!

Amy Dangerfield Photography Shoot & Share Photo Contest Finalist

As you can see, this year I have 27 images out of my 50 submissions ended up in the top 30% while I only had 5 images in the top 30% last year. This is a huge jump for me and I’m really happy about the improvements I’ve made within this one year.

I also have one image that made it to the finalist round, top 500, and placed 336th in the Family Photo Category(with a total of 41,257 submissions). I’ll have to say, it feels GUUUUUD to be among the top 500 family photos in the world. And as a family photographer, I am super excited that one of my clients’ family photo placed the best.

At the same time, I also entered a few images of documentation of my own family life into the lifestyle/documentary category and I’m soooo glad that many of them placed well too. While I LOOOOVE all my clients’ families, I just can’t love any family more than my own. It is just special to me to see that people really like to see the real life stuff too.

While I might have spent way too much time voting, I’m definitely beyond excited to see the results. Of course, I’ll have to say THANK YOU to all the families who have trusted my vision and let me create magic in the past year. You probably have no idea how much it means to me to have a family fully trust me with their family photo sessions—starting from the location choice, to personalized styling, and all the way to the fun intimate session experience. What even means more to me is that in this industry where weddings are the obvious special occasion to be remembered, so many people have put their effort, emotions and investments into preserving family memories as well.

It has been a good year and here is to an even better year of 2019! Let’s make some magic!

Enjoy the little slideshow I put together <3

Little Traveling Dress | Mesa Arizona Family Photographer

Little Traveling Dress | Mesa Arizona Family Photographer

One Little Dress, two countries, 6 states and 8 photographers. We each had a week to create what speaks to our heart and now it’s time to reveal how creativity works magic with each individual differently. This is Amy Dangerfield’s journey with the Little Traveling Dress Project in 2018.

Life with Spina Bifida| Spina Bifida Awareness Day 2018 | Mesa Arizona Family Photographer

It is Spina Bifida Awareness Day today on October 25th. October seems to be the month of awareness, but to me, it is a special month to remember what life is like with Spina Bifida.

I don’t really talk about this with people other than close family or friends so many people probably are not aware that my daughter has a birth defect called Spina Bifida. There is a great article on “What is SB?“ on the Spina Bifida Association Website explaining the ins and outs of Spina Bifida you can check out if you have a few minutes.

I was 24 weeks pregnant and we were living in China. I just remember me being alone in the examine room while my husband was waiting outside in the lobby, hoping to poke the technician a little bit to find out if we are having a boy or a girl (it is actually illegal in China to reveal gender during pregnancy) and then was notified that I should wait in the hall way to get a second scan by another expert because there might be something going on. Ever since that morning, all I know is that we’ve read so many documents, seen so many different doctors and done all the possible tests during a pregnancy.

The Chinese doctor said that it did not look good. Our baby might not be able to ever stand up, or walk, or read, or live a normal life. “You guys are still young and you should try again.” the doctors recommended.”Oh and remember to take folic acid next time.”

They mean well. However, they just don’t have enough experience with cases like this. The good thing was that we have access to doctors from other areas in the world. We went to an Australian doctor in the city where we were and she helped us and referred us to multiple neurosurgeons around the world to get a further diagnosis and an action plan for us. And one of the neurosurgeons actually became my daughter’s actual doctor now, which is really cool to me.

What is Spina Bifida to us? My girl’s official diagnosis is Lipomyelomeningocele, a word I still can’t remember how to spell. It means that her spine was not closed during the initial forming stage and has an opening on her spinal tube. And because of the opening, her spinal cord instead of being dangling in the spinal tube, it was stuck on the inside lump of her back and was pulled out of the spinal tube. She has a bump on her back. Because of the spinal cord being attached to a fat lump and pulled, some nerves are damaged. She had surgery when she was 6 months old. We didn’t know what nerves were damaged exactly and we still don’t know how some of her nerve-functions will be(including being potty trained and being able to walk on super sharp rocks).

I don’t usually talk about her condition mostly because when you look at her, you would not have guessed that she has Spina Bifida. Quoting her grandpa: “ The only thing that’s not really normal with her is that she started speaking way too early.” I as a parent, don’t really want to make it a big deal. I don’t think she is disabled enough for me to go around and say that I’m a special need parent. I don’t think we’ve really suffered as much as some of my friends who have real challenging special needs children. At the same time, I don’t want people to always say, oh I’m so sorry that this happened to her after knowing about it. I don’t want people to ask me “did you take folic acid last time?“ because I surely did. I don’t want people to treat her differently because now they know she is actually sort of different.

However, I think it’s a good time to actually bring it up. Mostly for me. But also for my daughter. And probably for people who might not know about some of the special conditions that come with life.

For me, I just want to say to myself—you are a good mom. You did all you could have done and you made the right decision to bring her to this world. You were not selfish because you were afraid of the pain of abortion and it is always good to respect life.

For my girl, I just want to say to her—you are different, but we are all different, one way or another. Go live your life the way you want and don’t let others dictate your life. And go make friends with people who are different from you.

For other people who might be hearing about this for the first time—please don’t feel sorry for us and don’t put a tag on special need children. See beyond their disabilities and focus on what amazing things they could achieve.

I’ve tried to channel my inner sorrow and the dark little spot associated with this. (Oh, believe me, I’m not saying that it was not hard. ) But every time when I focus on the fact that I went through the craziest pregnancy as a first time mom and there are so many uncertainties ahead of us, I just feel really down. And I simply don’t like it. When I spend too much time worrying if she will ever be totally normal or if I am doing all I can to protect her future siblings from having the same trials in life, I see myself buried in doubt and fear. I simply don’t like it.

While it’s healthy to express feelings, which I’m definitely not very good at and am working on, I think it can also be a good idea to just focus on the good, the bright, the positive.

During that pregnancy, time seemed to be frozen at times and to be flying by at other times. The crazy pregnancy definitely prepared me for any possible pregnancy tests—blood test, MRI, amniotic fluid test—come what may and I will deal with it. It also brought me ever closer to God. It was a good lesson to learn to stop asking why and instead to ask how I can do this thing. It was awesome to be able to get closer to family as well. It definitely helped my little family to hold together because it was seemingly us against world at some point. It was also really heart warming to really see how much my family cared about me even though their way of saying love at first was slightly different from how I wanted.

I’ll have to say that it was really cool when my girl beat all the odds and started crawling before her surgery. And then see her stood up by herself. Then see her running through rock piles. Then see her getting potty trained(mostly). And of course, it is just cool to hear her talk like a champion in both Chinese and English. I try not to be too prideful and brag too much but it is really the best thing to see your baby grow and be strong. It is also a great confirmation to me that I made the right decision back then to keep going.

Having a kid who needs special medical attention is also a very humbling experience for me. It reminds me that we all have weaknesses and how little we know. I have to trust her medical team. It’s also a great opportunity for me to practice my patience. I can remind myself that she might never be able to do certain things as fast even though she could speak faster than I could sometimes. It has also helped me to not taken things for granted and also to not over think. Not saying that I absolutely don’t actively parent all her behaviors, but I sometimes do look at her and say, hey, this might be just a three years old being a three years old, or there might be actually something going on developmentally in her brain and we will figure it out in its due time.

So, if you are friends of mine. Yup, that happened. And we are glad to have our perfect little girl in our lives.

If you are pregnant and are struggling with a diagnosis of a birth defect—you are not alone! There are amazing communities out there. Talk to other people who have gone through similar situations. No matter which country you are in, there is help and hope. And I’m here if you ever need someone to talk to :)

If you are a new mom or a woman who is thinking about getting pregnant but is scared of things going wrong during pregnancy—It’s totally normal. I had this gut feeling before I found out about it actually and I sometimes think if I actually jinxed it. But it’s also ok to just let go and go for it. Things happen and that is just part of life. Embrace the uncertainty and it can be an empowering experience if you let it to be that way.

If you are someone who just learned a new word today. Yay! You are better than I was. I didn’t know until I saw it on my ultrasound paper. Good for you!

There are so much I could say about life with Spina Bifida but I don’t think there is any better way of showing what life is like than living it!

So here is my little girl who has Spina Bifida and also someone who is extremely talented with language, who is absolutely creative, who is definitely full of life. And now, hopefully, you are aware that there is a birth defect called Spina Bifida and it does not define the capacity of someone’s life!

Thank you for reading! <3

A Glamorized Childhood | Payson Arizona Childhood Photography| Mesa Family Photographer

There has been some big controversy in the photography world lately. This whole situation with childhood made me think really hard. 

As adults, we look back to our childhood and all kinds of memories come up-- the sweet ones and the nightmares. It's healthy to face both and to recognize both. Growth comes after pain and acknowledging pain is half of the work to success. Don't deny your past. Don't try and hide your childhood. 

With that being said though, when it's our time to teach our children, it's our responsibility as adults to choose which part of childhood to focus on. 

I always feel that there is enough sadness and negativity in this world so I would prefer to focus on the bright side. Have those bright little joyful moments be my light. To remind me that there is goodness in the world. There is hope. 

As an artist or public figure, we have the blessing to be in front of so many people each day, including so many children. We can create something to speak to people's hearts. However, with great blessing comes great responsibility. We need to choose wisely. What we create. What we focus on. What we glamorize.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

If I ever get to glamorize childhood, I would love to glamorize the simple joy we feel as little children. That magic of being a child. Childhood needs to be celebrated instead of being rushed through. 

My kids don't usually dress up even though they may very well be the cutest kids when they do dress up. I don't want to go through the hassle of cleaning their nice outfits. I don't want them to focus on their appearance too much. I don't need to spend too much money on things that don't really matter. However, this week, I decided to have my girl in this really nice brand new outfit and went on our trip up north to Payson into the woods. Why? Just because. 

Just because I want to show that dancing in the woods is cool. Kicking dirt and jumping off a little tree trunk is fun. Finding a huge pinecone the size of your face is absolutely amazing. These are the things kids should be doing. And this is what we need to celebrate and glamorize. These are appropriate for little children. 

I may not be the most experienced photographer. I may not be someone who can stir the whole industry. However, I do hope that I can make tiny waves in little girls' hearts when they look back at the photos and think to themselves look, that was me. I was beautiful and I had fun as a kid. That, is enough to me. That, is glamorous to me. 

As always, thank you for reading. Enjoy our little girl having fun in the woods for the very first time. 


A Family Photo Session With Amy Dangerfield Photography| Coons Bluff Family Photo| Mesa Arizona Family Photographer

A Family Photo Session With Amy Dangerfield Photography| Coons Bluff Family Photo| Mesa Arizona Family Photographer

Fall is almost here. Family photo sessions are in full swing. It can be a stressful time for moms to plan a family photo session. Let me walk you through a family photo session with Amy Dangerfield Photography. Sit back and enjoy the relaxed and fun experience!

Breastfeeding Awareness Week Motherhood Session | Mesa Lifestyle Family Photographer

I found out a while ago that World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated August 1-7 each year encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. 

I was visiting with some of my family members the other day. My son came to me being cranky so I picked him up and nursed him while keep chatting. My mother-in-law who was sitting across the living room looked a little surprised. I nodded and said--yeah, I'm still nursing him. Then us three moms had a great conversation about our breastfeeding journeys. 

"Breastfeeding--Foundation of Life"

We hear about breastfeeding a lot. We hear that it's great for babies. We hear that it's amazing how female body works. We hear that we should encourage breastfeeding. But there's actually so much more we don't talk about. Breastfeeding means differently for each mom but ultimately, breastfeeding becomes part of the story of motherhood. The good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly. All honest and raw.

I'm Amy. I'm a breastfeeding Mom. 

Breastfeeding Motherhood Lifestyle Session_3.jpg

When I was pregnant with my girl, we were living in China, where every mom seems to be feeding babies formula because mom needs to go back to work after the maternity leave. I remember all too well standing in front of shelves of formula in the store, feeling extremely anxious--the formula is expensive; the bottles are expensive; I don't know what kind would be the best. With my girl having a birth defect, after being scared by the recommendation of termination of the pregnancy, we were also preparing to need to save millions of dollars for her medical expenses. All these preparation for motherhood is just stressful. Luckily, I have my husband. He firmly told me--you will do fine. You will breastfeed. We will be just fine! We won't need to buy formula or bottles. Our girl will be alright. So I was determined that I'm not going to buy bottles. I'm going to breastfeed. 

Due to my girl's birth defect, she was taken to NICU right away. The nurse was really nice to let me kiss my girl before she was wrapped up and sent to a different floor. In China, parents are not allowed to be in the NICU. Technically speaking, you can go talk to the nurse about your child's situation every afternoon at 3pm. So I took a nap and started to try and pump some milk preparing for breastfeeding when my girl could come back. It's the weirdest feeling--I just had a baby but my baby was not with me but I was pumping milk. 

After 10 hours, my husband being an American, said "this is ridiculous. I am going to go get her back!" So there he went. A tall Mandarin-speaking white guy went alone to NICU and got our baby girl back magically. My baby girl was picked up by her daddy and put in my arm. She wanted to nurse right away. My baby girl nursed for the first time 10 hours after she was born. That was the longest 10 hours in my life. Holding her in my arms and feeling her little mouth connected to me made me realize that she is alive, perfectly alive. I didn't lose her. I'm sustaining her life. And I'm now a mom. 

So here began my breastfeeding journey. 

Breastfeeding Motherhood Lifestyle Session_1.jpg

You would probably think that with such a strong motivation and connection, breastfeeding would be a piece of cake for me. Oh no. Oh no. 

With stitches, it took me at least a month before I could sit comfortably let alone holding a baby. But if I lie down and nurse, I couldn't see how she latched and I wasn't able to get a good feeding. Because she was not latched very well, she was sucking extremely hard and I was bleeding like crazy on my nipples. For the first month and half, I was feeling pain after pain after pain all over the places but I was on a new-mom high so I carried through. My mom helped us for the first 2 weeks and my husband was working at home so it was really helpful that I was able to feed the baby and then run to the farmers market without worrying about my baby and come back just in time to feed her again. 

Then, sleep deprivation kicked in. I was all a sudden SO TIRED. I was the only one who can feed the baby and my baby just wanted to be eating constantly. Of course, I didn't know that for the first while, babies grow so much and they eat so much. I just felt like I lost myself. I fed the baby, grocery shopped, fed the baby again, cooked, fed the baby again, cleaned, fed the baby again, cooked again, fed the baby again...I felt like a machine. I hated it. I just wanted my baby to sleep! And each time I was awake in the middle of the night, I wanted to wake up my husband just so he could feel how tired I was. Eventually, we worked out a good system where my husband would wear the baby wrap and wrap our girl on him and let me take a two hour nap. That saved me. Also I talked to other nursing moms and found out that we were all the same. I was not the only one who was sleep deprived. I was not the only one who's kid is nursing constantly. I was not the only one who struggles. 

Breastfeeding is amazing. Breastfeeding is sustaining my baby's life. Breastfeeding was the gentle reminder for me everyday that my baby girl is alive. However, it was hard. It can be stressful. I needed a lot of support to be able to do it! It was not a piece of cake. 

I nursed my girl till I was pregnant with my boy. My milk dried up. One day, I stopped offering. She didn't ask for it. That was the end of my first time breastfeeding. 

Breastfeeding Motherhood Lifestyle Session_5.jpg

I've done it once. It should be easy for the second time, right?

My boy came along. I had milk come in right away. I knew how he's supposed to latch this time. I know that I need to drink plenty of water. I know that I will be sleep deprived. I'm prepared. 

Until I realize that one thing I really miss about having only one child is that I could sleep when she slept. Now, I'm still sleep deprived from my second breastfeeding baby but my oldest is almost constantly needing my attention. I can't leave her alone in the house without watching her. I can't keep up with the energy either. And sometimes what seems worse this time around is that my girl would get jealous that her baby brother gets mama all the time and she would throw a fit or she would interrupt. It's no longer a peaceful bonding time for me to nurse my baby boy. 

Also this time, I found out later that when my boy is teething, he likes to use me as his teething toy. Ouch. Or he would be distracted by his sister in the other room and try to watch while still latching. Looking at my boy's chub chub, I shouldn't worry about how much he has eaten but when he doesn't nurse well because of all the distraction, I worry. Till this day, I still feel bad if he missed his bed time nursing. 

It took me by surprise that my mother guilt is extremely strong when I have to feed my baby and I have to send my oldest girl to the living room to "just do something by yourself". She used to be the one I breastfed and holding so close to me all the time. Now all a sudden she seems to be such a grown up. 

Breastfeeding Motherhood Lifestyle Session_6.jpg

Breastfeeding itself this time with my boy is not as hard I feel. Probably I now have more knowledge and more experience so I'm more mentally prepared. I'm glad that I could have so much support from my husband and a community of nursing moms helping me to understand that it's all so normal that it can be hard. And also, I can do it!

These struggles are all so real but not many people would tell an expecting mom that hey, breastfeeding is awesome but it's actually REALLY HARD, so prepare for it! Also, I feel that we need more willing people to help breastfeeding moms--take the older kids out for a walk so mom can take a nap; offer to hold the new baby when the baby is not nursing so mom can spend some quality time with the older siblings. 

I love breastfeeding. It's beautiful. It's literally the foundation of life. My journey continues. 

It's also hard. It's emotional. It could be something that drains the fountain of a mom's life. 

We should encourage moms to breastfeed. We also should help and build a community to really support moms who want to breastfeed but facing all these struggles I've gone through. 

We need to let new moms know that it's hard but it's worth the effort AND we are here to help! Reach out, and ask for help if needed. Let's ease each other's burden a little bit so more moms can enjoy the beauty of breastfeeding and provide the foundation of life to their babies! 


Breastfeeding Motherhood Lifestyle Session_4.jpg
Breastfeeding Motherhood Lifestyle Session_8.jpg
Breastfeeding Motherhood Lifestyle Session_2.jpg

Let's Paint The World Blue | Autism Awareness Week | Mesa Arizona Spectrum Inspired Photographer

"Special need children" was not really part of my vocabulary until I found out about possibly having someone affected by the Autism Spectrum as part of my extended family. My sister-in-law, Genevieve was diagnosed with Autism when she was around 26 years old. When I first met her, I noticed that she was different. Not better. Not worse. Just different. I didn't have a whole lot of knowledge about Autism. I was not aware of it. The first impression I had with Gen was that she is this super sweet person, but sometimes, it is a little hard to communicate with her. I didn't know if it were my language barrier or there was something else. However, I thought it was fun to be around her most of the time. 

Mesa Arizona Family Photo

When I married into the family, I got to live pretty close to Gen. Interacting with her on a daily basis definitely helped me to understand Autism a little bit better. Honestly speaking, I find it frustrating sometimes for me or tricky to my brain to say the least. But when I do look past the frustration, there is always something shining and precious. 

Mesa Arizona Family Photo

Gen knows so much about Disney and princesses. Gen likes to color. Gen likes to sew. Gen likes to go to Comic Stores. Gen is brave(because she's not afraid of scorpions). Gen is the sweetest Aunt. Gen is kind. Gen is loving. Gen cares about others. 

Gen also has struggles just like all of us. Gen feels sad when things don't go as planned which might happen more in her world. Gen misses home when she is at school far away from family. Gen might not want to go to work when she had a bad day. Gen wants a hug when she feels lonely or she might want to just be left alone when she is frustrated. 

Mesa Arizona Family Photo

See, Gen is different. But she is just like all of us--different and unique in our own ways. As frustrating as it can be sometimes trying to communicate with her, she is family and she is our friend. We love her the way she is. 

I had the privilege to work with other families touched by Autism Spectrum through my work. Each child is different but the one thing remains the same across all families is the love we can feel within the family bonds. Parents, grandparents and siblings.


When the co-founder of the non-profit organization, Spectrum Inspired, asked me to join their force and be a volunteer photographer I was beyond thrilled. 

SPECTRUM INSPIRED is a global community that connects, supports and uplifts individuals and families touched by Autism Spectrum Disorders. In order to educate the general public, our team uses Lifestyle Photography to document a diverse group of children on the spectrum and their families across the globe in effort to normalize and destigmatize ASD. It is our mission to give families a platform to voice their struggles, celebrate their victories and share their story; all the while, removing the stigma and stereotypes of what is thought to be representative of Autism and show the world just how broad and beautiful the spectrum is.

Even though my own child has a different kind of special need, I can totally relate being a mom who has the extra stress about all the medical attention needed while I think wholeheartedly my child is perfect in the imperfect way. I hope that through the lenses of us photographers, we can get a better idea about what Autism is like and be inspired by the families' stories. 

If you would like to apply for a FREE family photo session through Spectrum Inspired, click here. 

If you are a lifestyle photographer, please apply to become a volunteer so we can better share these beautiful stories!

Let's paint the world blue! Let's inspire the world!


Mesa Arizona Spectrum Inspired Photographer

Stoll Baby In-home Lifestyle Newborn Session | Phoenix Arizona Newborn Photographer

Life becomes so exciting when you welcome a newborn baby home. Those chubby cheeks, tiny toes and tiny fingers are definitely the new center of the home. While there are so many different ways of documenting the first moments with a new baby, I just can’t love in-home lifestyle newborn sessions more. Home is where life happens. Home is where this brand new life really starts. It makes sense.

I am drawn to lifestyle and documentary photography because this is what I believe we really WANT to remember down the road. I always imagine when my babies are 18, we would look back at their younger years together through the images we have captured and we laugh or we shed tears about the life back then. The exciting times when the baby slept through the night for the first time and the frustrating times when the baby can only settle when being held and snuggled on the couch.

Of course, on top of the realness of life, other perks about having an in-home newborn session are wonderful too. You are at home. New Mamas, you don’t need to worry about dragging your still healing postpartum body around to a studio far away. You don’t need to worry about feeding schedules and nap schedules to be interrupted by the possible traveling. You don’t need to worry about bringing your whole house with you on the trips out. Most importantly, you don’t need to worry about your baby being in an unfamiliar space. Everything is at home. How convenient and comfortable is that?!

I had the privilege to be in the Stolls’ Home for their baby girl’s in-home lifestyle newborn session. I’ve known Rose so it was really awesome to just hangout with her and document their life as new parents. I’ll have to say, I love my job for sure.

So meet the Stoll Baby and her family!

The Long Awaited Family Photo| Mesa Family Photographer

Two weeks before Christmas in 2016, I offered to take some family photos for my in-laws so they can send out Christmas cards with nice photos. We were going to take photos on Saturday but my mother-in-law unexpectedly ended up in the hospital that Friday and was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. Three days after that, her heart surgeon brought us the shocking news that mom's heart was so weak that a heart transplant is the only possible cure. Mom was transferred to Mayo Clinic right away and soon after that she went through an open heart surgery to install a heart pump (LVAD) to sustain her life winning her some time to wait for a heart transplant. Due to some complications, she was under sedation for many weeks and went through 8 operations within that period of time. During her hospital stay she had lots of ups and downs, sometimes even on an hourly basis. There were many times when we didn’t know if she would be able to make it.

I was 8 months pregnant with my baby boy when my mother-in-law was admitted. We kept telling mom that she would see her new grandson soon and we even joked that we are depending on her to take care of our new baby!

With many prayers and her strong will to survive, she was able to recover from her open heart surgery faster than all the doctors had expected and came home in April. My son was born in March so we were very happy that grandma got the chance to see him.

My mother-in-law was able to come back home in April to continue her recovery journey but it is far from an easy one. Gaining back her strength and getting used to this new life with a big device connected to the heart is challenging. Special diets are required. Staying healthy in general is top priority. I was with a brand new baby and I was helping her with cooking her special meals, medicine administerings and many other little details. It's safe to say that the whole family is a little bit overwhelmed with all the new norms and all the uncertainties. No one had the spare energy to think about photos at the moment. I made sure to keep the traditions of a monthly photo for my baby boy but that's about it. 

Now I look back on that period of time, I wish I could have picked up my camera more. I wish I could have documented the first step my mother-in-law took without a walker. I wish I could have documented my crazy grocery trips shopping for three kinds of dietary needs in one family. I wish I could have documented how my little baby gave his grandma much needed cheers and joy every evening when she was depressed about the dark night.  It was a very difficult but special time. Even though it was not a beautiful time in our lives if not the darkest time, all the struggles and trials we faced together made us closer than ever as a family. All the miracles we witnessed along the way made us ever more grateful for the time we have together as a family. 

Life goes by fast especially when life is busy. Christmas 2017 came along quickly. This time, I made sure that I get a nice family photo. Maybe with my mother-in-law's health condition, it is more urgent for us to make sure that we have photos together as a family because we don't know how much longer we will have with her. However, this is true for everyone. Life is too short. Life happens. I know this sounds cliche, but memories will fade away unless they are documented. I'll have to say, I was very happy that I got to keep my promise after all to take some nice photos for my family.