Closing "With Grit and Grace"

I received a question recently inside of a client questionnaire. A mom had asked me why I close my emails, “with grit and grace.” It wasn’t until this email that I realized my words may not make sense to people. It's one of those "you don’t know what people don’t know" scenarios. Sure, we know what the words are and their respective definitions, but strung together, the intent and deeper meaning can be lost.

Grit and grace is how I view life. A mantra of my human-ness. I tumble, fall, and cry, but I overcome, get back up - I live. I find the good to keep going. While I'm not overly positive, I strive to be real with myself and others. "Grit and grace" is a reminder of the delicate balance of sanity as a parent, professional, and woman. I'll be honest, I never put much thought into the resilience of life and the patterns we live day in and day out until I had my daughter. Until I became a mom, my grit for life was like fine sand. My gears could pretty easily turn, and when I got stuck it was relatively easy to ask for help.

Now though, between the calm and chaos of everyday life with a little human, my grit is a bit larger and definitely more messy. It takes quite a bit more energy and focus to get through tasks. At the end of the day, I don't have all the answers! Heck, on some days you will find us crying together on the kitchen floor - seriously! (I hope I'm not the only one!)

This new and different grit, while challenging, also helps me slow down. This slow down is a dream I have for all parents. I hope we can all find a stillness in this 18 year season, even if in brief chunks of seconds and minutes. This new grit has pushed me to desire and learn mindfulness - the art of being present. I no longer feel like I need to have all the right answers right away, if ever. The fortitude to see and feel this, to set a good example is all great, but it's a mental gymnasium I'm not fully equipped to traverse. And you know what, showing my weakness and frustration to my daughter and partner helps us all stay connected. This is my grace. Especially, when all I want is a nap and eat all the ice cream in the world. (Again, I hope I'm not alone!)

This motif, "with grit and grace," is also what I strive to  document within the families I work with. We as parents are leaders, teachers, and friends. Our children are teachers and leaders in their own way as well! We each balance boundaries with love - words with action. Life is a trapeze between emotions and reason within ourselves. Not to mention coexisting with our partners and children. I don’t think it is ground breaking to say no one gets along 100% of the time. I don’t even get along with myself 100% of the time. Between the self talk, talking with others, trying to accomplish life (grocery shopping anyone?), and all the connection that happens in between. This is art, this is life - this is grit and grace. Beautiful, maybe a little painful, but gorgeous in it’s dance to keep us together.

I sign my emails “with grit and grace” to honor the notion that I am not perfect (far from it), but I try. I try gracefully to answer your questions and communicate information accurately. I try to be aware of your perspective, my child's perspective, and my perspective in any given situation. In the end, it is a salutation and a promise of respect, imperfections and all, for both you and me.

Richmond family photographer capture joy and environmental portraits of kids being kids.

What the heck is Documentary Photography?

First lets talk about the literal definition of documentary. Whether you use this word as a noun or an adjective, it simply means official pieces of written, printed, or other matter or a factual record or report. This is Google's definition. In my own words, documentary, is a real life account of events. No choreography or staging. It is not a fly on the wall approach for me, because let's be honest, flies are always right in the middle of everything. While I do observe and anticipate what might happen next, my goal is integrate into your family, get close and step back, as any self respecting toddler with the a camera in their hand would do. 

 
richmond family photographer offers documentary photography to create images of parents and their kids.
 

While I have studied posing, lighting, and have followed all the rules to learn my craft; rules are meant to be broken right? In a documentary session there are no rules, no posing, no guided interaction, or intervening (unless someone is doing something that may kill or seriously harm them self or another). I am hands off and integrate as another kid in your family.

You read right, I become a kid. I'm on their side, even though you paid for the session, because it is their trust and unique character and how they interact with you, mom and dad, that we want to capture. There perspective will give you insight into their world. It also give you the unintended consequence of gaining confidence in who you are as a leader, as their mom or dad! It's honestly pretty cool if you ask me!

 
Nicoleinbold, arichmond family photographer offers documentary photography to create images of parents and their kids as seen here in a father and daughter mirror pose during lunch while at Children's Museum of Richmond.
 

Documentary photography is the observation of real life emotions and connection throughout mundane tasks and adventures alike. After all, it is those everyday moments, the goofy, sticky, tantrum filled moments, that you are going to want to remember so many years in the future. Why will you want to remember these in between moments? Because I promise you having photographic evidence as you regale stories of your everyday or grandiose adventures will bring them alive like you would believe. Seriously, your future self and your future children will thank you.

Unscripted moments documented are proof you lived, proof you tried and failed, proof that you existed with your children. Documentary photography is powerful in the moment, in a couple of years, on that rainy day, and when you are recounting life in the much more distant future.

 
Nicoleinbold, a Richmond family photographer travels to West End and Glen Allen to offer documentary photography to create images of parents and their kids as seen here in as this toddler give me the stink eye in her backyard.
 

Think of it this way, a yearly school photo may capture grow, but it can't capture you or your children's unapologetically being as member of your family and as a human in this world. I don't mean to bash school pictures, they have their purpose as stated above; growth, a record of a hair cuts and missing teeth. Documentary photography goes beyond growth to capture their fluid place in this world, as a member of your particular human unit.

That was a lot about kids, but documentary photography is also an account of your parenthood. It is a series of still frames that show your strength, perseverance, and love. We don't often have the opportunity as parents or even adults to see how much we are loved, how beautiful we appear in our surroundings, yes, even if that is a messy kitchen or toy infested living room. Sure we are tired most days, exhausted on others, but our journey with our children and partners is astoundingly profound.

Whether it be your child's unparalleled passion to share their emotions or your unmatched desire to remember the good and the bad, I hope you consider a documentary photography session with me or an artist in your area, because your story matters in this crazy adventure called life.

judgement and winning | image competition results

put yourself out there

There are so many ways to be judged in this world as a person, so why throw yourself into the limelight? As an introvert, putting myself out in the world is super hard. Now take this concept and apply it to an image competition, and I'm just about paralyzed with fear. Does anyone really ever feel like they have taken an award winning image? 

With any art form, you put a part of yourself into every finished piece. Especially the pieces within your portfolio that you share with the world. I know for me these images are of other's experiences, but it is still through my perspective, with my vision and final styling. Naturally, putting this piece of my heart up to be judged is not done lightly. With that said, without judgement or criticism, how am I supposed to grow and learn?

This year I entered 3 images to be viewed and judged in a new birth photography image competition called Elevate. You can click to read the judging process and rubric here. Further, you can see all the amazing finalists on their website.  

As for my images, thank you so much to my wonderful clients who allow me to hold space with them at such an intimate time in their lives and for allowing me to share their birth love stories with you!

Cherished

Cherished is a frame I adore. Mother's hand gently caressing her new tiny human's cheek, makes you feel the love and awe a parent feels when the finally meet the being they have felt so close for over 9 months. Full Birth Story

mirrored-creation.jpg

Mirrored Creation

Mirrored Creation, again is a frame I love as a member of this families journey to bringing their 4th baby into the world. Mom had felt the tell tale signs of labor early Friday evening. The birth team was on alert and stand by with them in the birthing center from Friday night until Sunday evening. This image was taken in that last tired and delirious hour of wanting to meet their newest family member. I utilized a prism to increase the emotion of the moment and now carry it with me everywhere I go! Full Birth Story

Persistance and Strength

Persistence and Strength is what every mother possesses. I was quite torn as to whether I should submit this image into a competition for it's sheer intimacy of life unfolding. With that said, this frame fully embodies the story of birth in one frame, from my perspective, with a clear focus on mom. I wish, deep down, that every woman could see a similar image of themselves in labor, from an out of body perspective, as she grips on to her lifeline while her world and heart expands to fit another beautiful soul.

with grit and grace,

Every Birth is Beautiful | Nicoleinbold | Richmond

 
Nicoleinbold believes every birth is beautiful
 

When you are just one person with a camera, wondering if you are a professional photographer, debating if your images are really any good, living in Richmond, Va, with one computer. Having clients and life to take care of, it is hard to think about what other people are saying or doing all the time. This week however, it became apparent to me that living in my three foot bubble that one person can effect my entire profession and way of life. 

I am sure you have seen the viral text messages and my response earlier this week. After posting and reading other photographer's responses, it hit me, we need to work together! Birth photographers have an amazing behind the scenes community. We lean on each other for help, assist new photographers, provide critical feedback, guidance, and positivity with anything and everything. 

I would not be here today without the support, love, and assistance from some amazing women in the birth photography industry across the world! 

Community is something I crave as an individual, mother, and artist. So when I had this Oprah style Aha! moment, I knew I needed to reach out to other artists in order to articulate a community response. I was overwhelmed by the amount of women who wanted to contribute and share our collective sentiment that every birth is beautiful.  27 artists in fact,  not including myself, from 14 different states and 3 countries, USA, UK, and Canada! Motherhood, parenthood, and life is hard enough without being shamed! I hope when you view this compilation, you see birth love stories worthy of compassion and documentation, especially cesarean births. 

Transcript of letter to all mamas:

"I'm a professional birth photographer.

I believe, we believe, all birth is natural birth, worthy of documentation and pride. I support my family with this knowledge and hold it close. I and my colleagues wake up and leave our families at the sound of a phone call, at any time - day or night, holiday or during dinner, to be with you and tell your unique story with the art we provide.

Why?

Because it sets our soul on fire to create and serve others.

You, beautiful woman grew a human! You brought them into this world. That is as natural as it gets! 
I, your name, see the beauty in every birth story I capture whether it be Cesarean, medicated, un-medicated, surrogate, home, hospital, or otherwise. 
As a member of the greater birth photographer community, I'm here to say, we all want what is best for mother, baby, and their loved ones with love and empathy. 

every birth is beautiful

birth is birth is birth"

 
 

Leilani Rogers - www.photosbylei.com - Austin, Texas
Neely Ker-Fox - www.KerFox.com -  Columbus, Georgia
Kourtnie Scholz www.KEDocumentary.com - Dallas - Fort Worth, Texas
Monet Nicole Moutrie - www.monetnicole.com - Denver, Colorado
Justine Herrera - www.tulsabirthphotographer.com - Tulsa, Oklahoma
Danielle Stokes Hobbs - www.daniellehobbsphotography.com - Gainesville, Virginia
Natalia Walth - www.NataliaWalth.com - Santa Clarita, California
Kailee Ramirez - www.kaileeriches.com - Nashville, Tennessee
Kim Cameron - www.breatheinphotography.ca - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Samantha Ryer - www.samantharyerphotography.com - Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Amanda Jo - www.tinybearphotography.com - Parshall, North Dakota
Aimee Durrance - www.AimeeDurrancePhotography.com - Oxford, UK
Hannah Palamara - www.treeoflifedoulaphotography.com - London, UK
Amanda Gipson - www.birthunscripted.com - Dallas - Fort Worth, Texas
Brooke Walsh - www.tcbirthphoto.com - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jen Olson - www.tcbirthphoto.com - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jessica Benson - www.jessicabphotography.com - South Jordan, Utah
Amanda McGhee - www.kimberlingrayphotography.com - Virginia Beach, Virginia
Melissa Schreiner - www.melissalynportraits.com - Lakeville, Minnesota
Ashley Marston - www.ashleymarstonbirthphotography.com - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Ashley Short - www.AshleyShortPhotography.com - Archbold, Ohio
Laura Eckert - www.newcreationphotography.com - Swisher, Iowa
Jennifer Mason - jennifermasonphotography.com - Golden, Colorado
Sophia Costa - thesophiaco.com - Waialua, Hawaii
Morgan Lang - morganlangphotography.com - Kansas City, Kansas
Julie JP Paszczykowski - www.jp-photography.net - Toledo, Ohio
Chinelle Rojas - www.tampabirthphotographer.com - Tampa, Florida

With grit and grace,

Richmond Birth Photographer Nicoleinbold supports the greater birth photographer community

1 Thing I learned on the Radio

I was listening to Diane Rehm earlier this week, she had on Ken Burns talking about Documenting The American Experience. He said something towards the end of the show that really struck me and I wanted to share it with you. 

"History is made up of the words 'story' and 'hi.' So you just walk into a room and say, "hey, let me tell you some stories," and then you have history. 
You don't have to hit benchmarks. If you tell a good story, those things will come along, there will be nothing that is lost! 
If you remember, the way human beings communicate to one another is with stories. We live in a complex and overwhelming universe that seems chaotic and random, and what we do is tell stories to one another; we superimpose the frame of a narrative... We edit human experience the seemingly random chaos of events and we put a frame around it. Sometimes it's the artist's frame, and sometimes it's the storytellers frame, but we put a frame around it." 

I went home and looked up this episode, which I never do, but this was so good! I had to hear his words again, so I listened a couple more times before I ended up writing it down. As a birth photographer I frame narratives, via images, as both the artist and the storyteller!! I'm documenting history! If a picture is worth a thousand words, I have novels written for each family who has chosen me to be with them to welcome their newest "co-productions" into the world.

If you can't tell I am beyond in love with this notion of being a storyteller. I have always considered this title, but never really applied it to myself because I do not identify as a writer. I guess I was wrong, especially as a birth photographer and in how I approach the documentation of life!

 Telling birth stories for family through images, one album at a time.
 Bound albums help tell you birth story every day and for generations to come!
 Thick pages, handmade in the US, and high quality albums to tell our one of a kind birth story
 Linen lay flat albums to tell you birth story via images.

Have you ever considered the images you take, with a "big camera," small camera, or cell phone, would be called a story? Or that these images have the capacity to be your story years from now? Deep thoughts I know, but SUPER cool!!

With grit and grace,