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The Stanchfield Homecoming: A Show Of Strength

While looking over this past year of homecomings and military sessions, one stands out to me. Partly because of the story of how often this particular sailor is away from his family but also because of the family strength which is shown by his wife, Sarah. Sarah is one of the strongest mamas I know. Watching her story as a Navy wife unfold into mama of two was incredible. I knew I was blessed to capture her story because of the way she handles anything thrown at her.

She is someone who rarely takes a breath for herself, but rather puts all her energy into making sure those around her, even strangers, get to be a part of the things that matter in life. From a leader in a women’s prayer group, to super mom, to a runner (now marathoner) and beyond, Sarah considers everyone she comes across “Ohana” and treats them as such. Handling a hectic schedule can be rough on some, for this woman, it is just the tip of the iceberg.

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Rain was in the forecast. An anxious toddler was asking a multitude of questions. The 72-day old baby needed to be fed and fed again. Then add in just walking to the pier; there was a stroller to be pushed, signs to be carried, the cake for the homecoming party also in hand. Cherry on top? Inclement weather rolled in. Homecoming day was here.

It had been 180 days without her sailor at home and the amount of time this mama was required to stand in the rain, with a toddler and a newborn, awaiting his departure from the vessel would be considered overwhelming… for some. Sarah put her excitement in the drivers seat and let the rest of the noise fade away. Her calm and cool character allowed me to capture the best of moments, even in a downpour, with her babies in her loving arms.

No duty went undone or poorly carried out. With a smile on her face and every detail done, Keegan, baby Ryleigh and Sarah were able to watch Ryan step off the ship with great pride.

Thank you for your service, Stanchfield Family! You all are a blessing to this country and also to the men and women who stand with you. May your 2018 bring many blessings.

 
https://lifesongphotographyanddesigns.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/its-a-beautiful-day-jamie-grace-with-lyrics.mp3

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The De St Aubins: Keepin’ The Spirit

One of my favorite family sessions is a favorite not only because of the wonderful family who hired me, but because of the ideas they had to carry it out.

This family took “spirited” to a whole new level and I LOVED it.

Everything from playing football in a marsh to the expressions of love, happiness and joy on their faces made this session memorable. It is one to showcase also to give others an idea what a true lifestyle session can bring.

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We were amongst some of the most stunning mountains I have ever seen. However, I knew we nailed the session when we looked at the images and the family’s connection to one another stood out equally beautiful as the backdrop.

I would be honored to enjoy the last bit of the football season with you and your family in this way! Who says a family session has to take place before Christmas or even in certain attire? There are no rules in the game of photography! Book now and make your next session with me all about YOUR family’s style, traditions and influenced by your energy. Not sure what to do? I will gladly help you brainstorm. With my background in event planning and design, I am sure to help you land on a “theme” everyone in your family will enjoy!

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JaCorey + Maria: The Calhoun Couple

This couple’s session was one of those sessions which made photographing Hawaii special. They were up for the adventure of a new location, so I chose the stunning Spitting Caves on Oahu.

CalhounCouple_WEB-4382The beauty in the depth of the ocean can rarely be overshadowed. With this couple, the depth of their love shown for one another stole the show.

The stunning views continued to trail on forever, but my eye was consistently caught by the foreground with their seemingly perfect interactions.

Best of all? I was able to tell them to chat about anything and everything because the sound of the crashing waves below drowned out their chat. They were able to interact freely and have a private moment, even with my lens focusing on them.

This is a session I will always remember. Thank you again, Calhoun couple. You are a blessing! Best of wishes as you choose to journey around this wonderful world, hand in hand.

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Shout From The Tree Tops!

I am so blessed.

This sentence has become what some consider a cliché or “overused”. Since the statement adopted those labels in our society, it has been much more difficult to express my appreciation of God’s gifts in my life. I find that it offends some, is mocked by others and most of all seems to fall onto deaf ears. 

No more.

I am proud of the blessings God has given my little family. The ability to go into the Christmas week with nothing but excitement is truly a gift from above. I just want to state my appreciation for God’s love and grace to my family in a simplistic way.

All this came to mind as we walked around a local Christmas Tree Farm. As my daughter merrily pranced around the farm choosing the best tree for our new home, I just couldn’t think of a better way to put it than, “I am so blessed”. 

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She had not a care in the world and was eager to learn how to cut down a tree from her incredible daddy and more excited when he let her help!

I have a husband who allowed all of us to enjoy the spirit of the season in matching outfits. A man who, even though the decorating for Christmas isn’t his favorite, he drove where ever we asked to find the perfect tree we could cut down together. A guy who is providing for us in a way that we are able to enter into the holidays with little worry and a very low stress level. 

My want to express how precious I find this life is in great part because I am aware of the struggles some face and also the struggles I may someday endure. Do we have problems and hiccups along the way? OF COURSE WE DO! Those bumps along the way are what make us stronger together and more connected. However, those little potholes in the road are the moments we can learn from and often pale in comparison to what others are experiencing in life at the moment or what may hit us down the road. Most of all, those issues are the times which help the average days feel like we are truly conquering life together. Those problems should also be considered blessings. Some might even call them blessings in disguise.

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My prayers this season always go out to those who need that extra joy in their life, but something is pushing me to write this blog and go one step further. As I pray to God for those who are currently putting their life back together after damage from a wildfire, a flood, a death, a divorce, a sickness or something else, I urge you to help one another to find why you are blessed. What makes you get up each day? What prompts you to smile? Think of that moment, that daily reminder or that happy memory and make your Christmas season the best it can be. Pull those close to you even closer and find the sparkle in the season. Maybe if we all help one another to see the silver lining, instead of making good things into what they are not meant to be, we can pull together for even bigger issues. Find ONE thing you can say you are incredibly blessed with and shout it from the tree-tops!

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After all, isn’t the biggest blessing in each of our lives, the blessing of Jesus? Isn’t the reason for the season, the miracle who came to save us? I will leave you with Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” What a blessing, what an amazing blessing given to all of us. If nothing else, know YOU ARE SO BLESSED because you are a child of God.

Don’t let the mockers take away the love in your heart or the excitement in your body. Be PROUD to love the life you live and be LOUD. Be proud to be “so blessed” and say it over and over again.  Best of wishes to you and your family this CHRISTmas season. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

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(Hats created by Katie’s Creations)

Nicole & Finn: Southern Charm Comes To Hawaii

One thing I never expected to gain through Lifesong was all of the incredible friendship. Not just surface friendship where we are just comfortable enough to chat during the session, but a real, deep and ongoing friendship. A friendship where when I get to see them again, all business falls aside. A friendship where we can chat about “momming”, keeping a balanced life and most of all push one another to be the best self possible.

Nicole is one example of the those I have been privileged to have that connection with.

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The session I had with them was a unique one in the sense that Finn was less than interested in allowing me to snap even one image. As they say, when you can’t beat them…join them! That meant it was in the bushes for me! Through all the challenges came great joy in knowing that I was able to present images I was proud of and images I knew they’d cherish for years to come.

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As I look back on this session, it brings a smile to my face. It is where I gained an incredible friend, overcame challenges and created stunning art for someone to always hold close. A win all around.

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Aloha USAF: The Fewell Retirement

I consider each ceremony as a very special moment in history. Those who give their years to this nation and serving the needs of it deserve the upmost respect and thanks.

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During ceremonies you learn the impact which that person has had on lives. You learn the role that person played in the greater picture. You also learn the sacrifice which that person’s family has made for the greater good of the missions which went on. For all these reasons and more, each ceremony marks a moment in history which we can all choose to learn from.

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MSgt Fewell’s retirement ceremony wasn’t any different. It was really a great moment to capture. The stories which were told and the details of service which were read we beyond humbling. The fact that I was asked to be there is the cherry on top.

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Do you have an upcoming event or ceremony? Consider having it professionally photographed. You can sit back, relax and enjoy it without the worry of making sure each detail and facial expression is captured. Let me do the work for you!


 

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Growing Gambones: Friendship & Photography

Joining a running group in Hawaii, I never knew I’d meet such an inspirational and wonderful person like Jess. Certainly, that was not the intention when I began attending. We became fast friends which turned into best friends.

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It was a couple of months after we knew each other that she asked me to capture her daughter’s 3rd birthday. A couple of years later, that one session has turned into many more sessions.

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This is where my job constantly reminds me how blessed I am. Yes,  it is true, friends are given the opportunity to witness children grow up and even celebrate with them. However, as a photographer who is also a friend, that honor of being the one asked to capture the milestones is something I do not take for granted.

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From shooting a certain once in a lifetime occasion to the annual picture for a family is something I feel great pleasure in doing. It is what I consider my “calling” to be. Being behind the camera I feel at home, I truly feel like I am able to help others step INTO the picture and become a part of that memory.

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We were finally able to have all four of them together for a family session. Before parting ways, due to military orders, we spent a relaxing evening strolling the Windward shores of Oahu.

It is nights like that I thank God for the gift I have been given. It is nights like that I am in awe of the supportive people in my life. It is nights like that I will never forget.

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Mahalo Gambone family!

The art of “Goodbye”…

Just a month ago I was a mental mess. I was tired. I was unsure. I was completely overwhelmed by the loved ones I was leaving and the unknown I was headed into.

This is the military life.

Arizona was our first base as a married couple and it was the most emotional departure I have ever had. The people, the place. It was where I became a wife and graduated college. It is where I became the adult I am today. Mississippi was only our “home” for about 10 months. Just enough to graze the surface of the deep South and left us wanting more. South Carolina we made “home” quickly. We made fast friends and traveled a lot. Each move has had it’s hurdles but Hawaii was its own beast. The obvious beauty, the culture but most of all, Hawaii is where I proved to myself I could do it — be the best mom to my child.

I have spent my entire adult life thus far attempting to perfect this imaginary art of “goodbye”. Everything from the preparation of the move to the hug and then dealing with some emptiness after leaving that area. I have come to the conclusion there is no perfection in such a situation. It is a messy, exhausting and anxious time. However, there is a solution to help you through it all. Choose to focus on the “hello”.

As we packed up and flew to the mainland from Hawaii, the worst part for me was the thought of saying “goodbye” to Lifesong. Lifesong has been more than a job. It has been something I have built with all of my interests and best attributes in mind. It is something which challenges me, forces me to manage my time and gives me a sense of pride. It has been something which proved that my degree in business was not just a degree, but something I could run with. Little did I know I was in that unfortunate mindset — focused on the “goodbye” and not what was on the horizon. I was acting as if it was the end of an era and there was nothing I could do about it. Wrong. That needed to change. There was so much I was able to experience in North Carolina!

Arriving in North Carolina a new feeling of excitement arose, it was time to say “hello”! One week into our time in North Carolina and bookings began, friendships from previous bases flourished and time was spent in a new (and very cold) climate getting to know the area.

Thanks to a good photographer friend, Raymie, I was asked out to a downtown Fayetteville sunrise shoot. Twice a year the sun rises perfectly between the arches in the old Market House. Talk about a time to be excited about the new opportunities and a new area.

I am now able to look back at this short time here and smile with tears. I smile knowing I have so much to explore and learn about this new area. I tear up because (as my daughter has taught me) sometimes you just need to cry and miss something because you have to. No logic, just emotion to cope. Those combined seem to do the trick.

Most people have heard the expression, “When one door closes, another one opens.” This could not be more true IF you are willing to help yourself to the next handle and turn it. With each of the moves I have given myself something to look forward to, but never forgetting the amazing experiences I have had in the past. Often this is in the form of a bucket list. I challenge you to find the “hello” you can hang onto when your next “goodbye” situation presents itself.

Thank you to the hundreds of you who have been my “goodbye” and my “hello”. Each of you have impacted me and changed me for the better. Cheers to new adventures and new opportunities.

Chels

 

 

 

 

 

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(A little behind the scenes from Raymie of Raymie Day Photography, thanks girl!)

 

 

Fitness with Myka

Myka has blown me away with her energy and dedication to fitness since I met her. She is always striving to do more and be more.

She works hard to involve others on her journey and make it their own. In addition to that, Myka finds a way to stay motivated and makes it look effortless.

I have been blessed to call her a friend and a trainer for over a year now. She has pushed me and inspired me. I am certainly and better me just for knowing her. I am so happy she is following her dreams in fitness and blazing the way for those after her.

Mahalo for the opportunity to snap these killer images of you and your abilities at hitting those weights.

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Kylie: A Scenic Senior Session

I am so thankful when I have the opportunity to capture a session in a unique area and Alaska did not disappoint. This beautiful senior, a stunning backdrop and soft skies; what more could a photographer ask for?

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Her ability to relax and unplug in front of the camera was incredible. She really was taking in the views and all that the area had to offer, which only added to the session.

Her dynamic personality added some spunk to each shot.

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Her pride in her country was evident. She was set on taking a few shots with the American flag and I could not have been more excited about the outcome of those shots.

Best of luck, Kylie as your life moves forward. I pray you are able to move onward and upward in this crazy world with your ideas stated aloud and your head held high.