I photographed these adorable twins when they were 18 months old. now they are mature and sophisticated and SUPER FUN 3 year-olds with a little baby brother to watch over. I feel a special attachment to these 3 because they are the grandkids of one of the most amazing and loving and sweet couples I know. they have been loyal and supportive friends to the maddens, having shared the ups and downs of life for ages with matt’s family. and now I feel lucky to consider them my friends as well.

I’m kinda going on a tangent and I really did not mean this post to be about this but sometimes you gotta go with your feelings: they have given me the gift of getting to know a little more about my father-in-law (who I never met), through their stories, their tears, their laughter. there hasn’t been a single time when I have seen them when they don’t talk about him, what a special person he was and how my matt reminds them of him. and I love them for that.

anyways, now that I can put my kleenex away, I’ll move on to the photographs. words can’t describe the joy this family exudes. loved every minute I spent with them, both at home and at the beach. yes, THE BEACH! can you believe that it’s february in chicago? thanks to l and k for inviting me into their lives once again. and a special hug to my girl T and my boy L for being so good to me and helping me make sure their baby brother didn’t make silly faces. Love you all!

most digital photographers i know have dealt with this concept: “to edit or not to edit”. where do you draw the line when using photoshop? when does processing go too far? i’m not feeling too articulate right now but i do feel that you have to trust your gut and go where your heart takes you. YOU. and sometimes that means editing. i do think that what we see creates our “visual dictionary” and we unconsciously and consciously reference photographers, works or art, etc. but we have to let our souls speak out more often. and just play.

I found myself going thru this dilemma yesterday while looking thru some of my unedited files from last year. this awful image just popped out. instead of trashing it i looked at it. i let it simmer for a bit and then i knew what i wanted it to end up looking like.

chloe was sitting on the kitchen counter, right underneath a lightbulb. atrocious light and no regard for exposure or any other technical aspect. the background drove me insane! but i saw it and the image spoke to me. so i turned it into this:

it isn’t a unique image. lots of us like to shoot the backs of heads and do it often. but the point i want to get across is that we need to PLAY with visual ideas and take risks. both with our cameras AND processing. whether we use it a lot or a little, sometimes editing allows us to play… and who can argue with that?:)

after i posted yesterday’s photographs of sofia at the beach, i could not help but remember another similar shot:

the image above was part of my first portfolio, back in the spring of 2009.

this one was taken in the fall of 2011. she is wearing the same bathing suit and she is still my little girl.

i’m going back to some family photos from 2011 that i haven’t edited. always great to revisit great moments and adventures. but every now and then i find little gems that almost seemed like after-thoughts when i was shooting. and when I do find them, i remember that the magic is in the details.

the girls and matt went to basketball so its just liam and me. a perfect excuse to play with the self timer. laundry can happen later.

once upon a time there was a little girl. her name was maddy. she was a little under 2 years old. she was feisty and sweet and had a smile that would light up the kingdom. but one day this little girl was diagnosed with leukemia. everyone’s hearts were broken. but the little girl had super powers. she could make this tragic disease turn into a love machine. with her super powers she surrounded herself with love. she created so much love that she made everyone’s hearts heal but then they burst because they were so full of her love. people from near and far would miraculously feel the same effect. and the world was a better place.

from her little spot looking out the window of her house, or from her couch, her hospital bed or in the company of her big brother, she continues to make sure that the cancer cells in her little body disappear but magically transform to an overwhelming desire to love.

here is her story through pictures taken by the beautiful and incomparable queen of this love-filled kingdom: her mother.

if you would like to make sure that no parent hears the words “your child has cancer”, you can support maddy and every child out there that has leukemia by contributing to the fundraising efforts of jennifer reichek and team in training for the leukemia and lymphoma society. jen is running in honor of maddy, who is now two years old and still spreading her love to the world from her .

photograph courtesy of erin mccarthy of the smallest sparrow photography

i showed sofia the pictures i uploaded to the previous post and she asked me to include these because in these ones you can see the falling snow. gotta respect her vision. can’t argue with that.

i have been thinking lately about this article on how to raise an amazing daughter. one of the questions it asks is: “do you share with your daughter what inspires you, what you are good at?”

well, today sofia showed me how truly important that is and how much she absorbs from me.

this morning we went outside to enjoy another snow-covered day. and i brought my camera with me. sofia decided that she wanted to bring out a crown that i rarely use and she started to tell me how she wanted me to take the pictures. she lead the entire shoot with confidence and conviction of what she wanted to convey. when we came back inside, she sat with me at the computer and from the time we opened the raw files, she guided me thru the editing process. she told me what exposure, what blacks, picked the tones, hazes, contrast, cropping. the shoot was entirely hers and she carried her vision through. this is “her” shoot

not only am i in love with these images, i love that she is creative and feels the need to show it. i love that i am able to share a part of me that makes me ME and is now a little bit of her. i don’t want her to be just like me, but i am proud to see in her some of the things that i like about myself. and i want her to find things about herself that she thinks are pretty groovy too.

on another note, still playing with lensbaby. it’s hard for me to get the image that i want and focus correctly. most of the times what i get isn’t quire right but every now i get lucky. if you want to see inspiring lensbaby work, just look at what my friends deb schwedhelm and doreen kilfeather do. each one has her own way of using it but you’ll be blown away by what they do.

snow + lensbaby – liam attached to my chest on his baby bjorn + chloe’s dimples = magic

honestly, shooting with a lensbaby when it is snowing is so much fun. and just in case you don’t believe me, I’m attaching a picture I took with my iphone of Liam strapped to my chest. good times.

as I continued my journey of editing the madden 2011 pictures, I found these ones that spoke to me about my new quest to find beauty in simplicity

they were taken at disney world (yes, I’m still editing the october pictures) at the mad hatter tea party, as we were twirling and shrieking. the light was atrociously bright and I couldn’t focus because I was laughing so hard. a great moment, a simple shot and a thousand words. Isn’t that what it should be all about?

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