Pop Songs and Photo Shoots

One of my regular family clients came to me with a unique request: “our 10 year old daughter wants to have a fashion shoot birthday party. I was wondering if you would be willing to be the photographer?” We talked about a plan, and arranged for me to come by with a backdrop and lights on Sunday night.

When I arrived, it was like I was going to a sleepover! Lots of bowls of candy and chips, a tray of soda and water, and the girls getting ready for their shoot by braiding each others hair. And of course, lots and lots of pop music. These girls were so fun…a few from their “fashion shoot”!

 More than a few photobombs took place
 Call Me Maybe?

Fun in the Park!

At the glorious Brookside Gardens here in Silver Spring, I met up with Mike, Sara and kiddos Kieran and Devon to capture their family in action. Let me first post a disclaimer here that these are images from the fall. I’m super behind on posting images from my sessions, and haven’t come close to getting all (I’d say not even 5%) of my shoots on my blog. But, I’m hoping to catch up with the back log (a girl can dream, yes?)

So back to the fam…how much fun we had! Sara brought some great props, and the kids brought some great energy. In the end, it was just a sweet day in the park.

Prayers for little C

*at the request of the parents, I’m using initials to identify them in this post*
C is a desperately wanted little girl. When J and I met to discuss photography late in her second trimester, she was glowing. She and S had met, found a partner in each other, and recently married. S brought C, his son, into the relationship and an instant family they were. When J got pregnant with a little girl, her eyes sparkled and joy flowed from her. 
We set up five sessions for the next year, beginning with a fun and lovely maternity session with the family of three, about to become four. When C was born, a few weeks early, J was so overjoyed at having her daughter in her arms, but sad to no longer be pregnant. She’s likely the only woman I’ve met who mourned the loss of those last two weeks of pregnancy. 
At our newborn session, C showed that he’s a natural big brother, helping soothe little C, help around the house and keep things light and fun.
Within a few months, however, J and S found themselves in every parents’ worse nightmare: little C was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma (a type of nerve cell tumor) on her adrenal gland. The next steps were terrifying: major surgery to remove the tumor, possibly followed by several months of chemotherapy. 
J rallied every person to pray for strength and peace for her daughter and for steady and skilled doctors hands. I’m delighted to share that the prayers were felt. Little C came through the surgery this past weekend, and is home recovering now. Though the family is awaiting pathology of the tumor, the outlook so far is good. So…as these wonderful people continue down this journey, I’ll ask each of you to send up a prayer for J, S and big and little C’s. 
My very best to you, J, as you await the results of this next step. 
You all are in my thoughts each and every day.

The Greatest Gig

Today is the day. My birthday, of sorts. Today is the day that I launched my business, Stacey Vaeth Photography. Four years ago, I held a little party with 80 close friends, supporters, family, and strangers. My mom and Aunt Karen cut cheese blocks into little cubes with the only knives I had in the house – butter knives. (don’t ask – we’re better equipped these days!). My Peace Corps friends hung the display of photographs at the studio in a record FORTY FIVE MINUTES, because there was a class prior to the party. Everyone rallied. Everyone showed up. It was a show of support that I am undeserving of. Truly.

The party was held at Studio Serenity, in Adams Morgan, a yoga studio where I practiced and taught during the transition from community organizer to photographer. I found my home there. Not just in the community, but in my heart as well. It took me so many years to discover what I was meant to do on this earth, and several more to actually find the courage and strength to do it. This is in no small part because of my amazing friends.

My kutch kutch girls (see this link for more) challenged me when I wasn’t fully satisfied at my old job. They supported me in defining my vision for a life that is meant to be lived, a career that brings joy, not misery or dread. They lifted me up when I was terrified of taking the next step.

My husband. He and I began down the same path – studied Environmental Studies, did the Peace Corps (RPCV Guatemala 2001 – 2004) together. We lived in many states and more apartments. I wanted him to be proud of me, but mostly, I wanted us to succeed, together. So when we both had office jobs for organizations that promoted justice, I thought – I’ve arrived. We have arrived. But I was miserable. Each day I’d go to the office and feel challenged, yet stifled. When I began practicing yoga again, after a multi-year haiatus, he saw a change in me. And he called me out. He reminded me that I am my true self when I’m physically moving, when I’m tapping into my creative side, when I am connected with others. He gave me permission to define a new life for not just me, but for us. To be risky and to take on this challenge. And he pushed me to be bigger and better and bolder from the very beginning. To spend money (my fear) and to quit my job (his fear). His faith in me and our partnership is what started this whole crazy thing.

My sister. My sister is four year’s younger than me, and in so many ways wiser than me by ages. Her career advice led to the professionalization that Stacey Vaeth Photography experienced from the beginning. In addition to taking panicked calls and talking me down from the ledge, she, at the very beginning, pushed my launch date back from October to January. I was emotionally ready to launch in October. I wasn’t practically ready to open the doors until January. And through some tough love and great advice, she made me see that.

My parents. What hasn’t been said about my dad, the photographer, on this blog? Being a fourth generation shooter in my family (what took me so long to realize that this was my path???? I must be really, really dense) – I’ve relied so heavily on my dad for his technical advice, and my mom as well for their emotional and business oriented advice. I hope that that they have enjoyed this little trip down memory lane 🙂 as they see my business follow the same path as their own, or as any. But what’s really amazing about this time in our lives is that photography has bonded us deeper. The respect that I have for my dad and his craft is profound, and more so the more that I do this. I am so blessed to have parents who say “go for it! we get it!” in such a risky field as photography.

And those who on a daily basis they take my calls, walk through my challenges, get bored to tears by talks of f-stops and lighting techniques. They’ve all modeled for me, assisted me, and offered any kind of monetary, physical and emotional support, as well as tremendous kudos anytime I do anything remotely well. My brother Chris, Erin, my Peace Corps and DC crews, the entire Courtney, Vaeth and Gonzalez clans, and now, my professional colleagues in the field….I couldn’t do a thing without you. Seriously.

Lastly, my clients are the best in the area. Enough said. Love you guys. And I love seeing your partnerships, your families, and your lives grow into the beautiful things that they are.

So happy birthday to me. And to many more!