Without A Doubt: Daniel + Anna

This couple made me smile the moment I met them. They had the spark, the energy and most of all, the interaction of two lovebirds who are meant to be.

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These are the couples who make my time behind the camera so memorable, so enjoyable and without a doubt, they are the type of couple who allow me to live the dream.

Because of you, Daniel and Anna, I get to fall in love with my job over and over again.

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Thank you!

The Last Frontier Made New

Lifesong Photography & Designs had the pleasure of traveling to Alaska last summer.

Although some time has passed, I have finally found the time to share with you some of the images which were captured in an effort to always remember what I saw and how my breath was taken away.

Ending the long days with stunning moments such as the one below …

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and starting the days with equally lovely colors will never fade from my memory.

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While I traveled, my eyes were opened. The snow-capped mountains in the distance paired with the wildflowers blooming amongst me made such an impact. The idea of something having fertile enough ground to blossom while in a climate like the one Alaska is known for took me by surprise.

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Such a perfect opposite of the mountains in Hawaii, we enjoyed wearing some layers and doing a cooler-climate hike to Exit Glacier.

Congratulations to Kylie, the senior I photographed there! She has recently graduated and is one her way to making her place in this world.

I feel so blessed to be a part of these cherished moments. Thank you, Brock family!

Watching & Waiting: A Stanchfield Moment Captured In Time.

I always enjoy watching and capturing a family who allows their family-time to happen as if I wasn’t watching.

Themes of sessions sometimes seem to reveal themselves without provocation. For this family, that was certainly the case. The theme? Watching & waiting.

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The four of them watched one another at various times and waited for reactions. Together, they allowed their laughter to fill the air around us.

Walking, relaxing, parenting and playing; now that is a good combination. Mix that with this evening sky at one of the clearest teal water beaches I have ever seen, that is THE combination.

You never would have known that just moments before the session began and as we were leaving the parking lot, rain clouds filled the evening sky. I stuck to my gut knowing they’d clear and an impressive sunset revealed itself.

I am still coping with the idea that I may never again be able to capture this stunning family, due to distance and military duty stations, but I feel blessed beyond belief to have had the chance when I did.

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Travel “Tog”: Aloha Japan

If there is one thing I love most about photography, it is its ability to transform YOU as a photographer. God seems to use the subjects you see through your lens and the experiences you encounter to prepare you for circumstances you never knew you’d be a part of. These past two years I have thoroughly enjoyed traveling and photographing while “mom-ing”.

Traveling from Hawaii to Japan (and then onward to Alaska–but I will save that fun for another blog), makes the Pacific seem a little smaller now. It was a really incredible experience and I am beyond thrilled I was able to have those memories with and of my, then two year old, daughter.

I was able to teach her things that only adventuring provides the opportunity for.

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Not to mention, only touring on our two feet allows for the kind of chats we had. The depth, the emotion, the understanding of one another’s minds; indescribable.

Living amongst history at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, I always found the stories intriguing. The longer I am somewhere, the more I want to peel back the cultural layers. Japan was the same way. We were able to talk about the way God molds us to be different and share those differences with one another to become a unit, His hands and feet.

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We traveled the island a lot by foot, averaging about 4.5 miles a day, with one day over 7 miles round trip. We met a lot of people on our travels, some who spoke minimal English, which Haisley found very amusing.

We also used a local service to take us longer distances as well as some wonderful friends when they had the time.

There was one aspect of Okinawa I found most surprising, the lack of flags I found. When I travel I have a few “bucket list” shots I always want to snap. One of those for Japan was a Japanese flag being flown. I felt that it would bring the stories of the attack of Pearl Harbor full circle for me. I was astonished when by day three on Okinawa I still had yet to find a flag, at all…anywhere. It wasn’t until the nineth day (after purposeful looking) I saw my first Japanese flag. I am sure there had to be more which I didn’t ever see, however this took me by surprise so much that I did a little research.

According to one source from 2015, The Stars and Stripes Newspaper in Okinawa, “In Japan, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, concerned about the national flag’s lack of prominence, this year issued a directive strongly encouraging the country’s universities to fly it. But the flag’s long-ago association with the country’s wartime imperialism leaves some uncomfortable.” After seeing this written in different ways by different credible sources across the internet it was made clear. America, especially myself, has a unique stance on the flag and often is viewed as overly flag-happy.

I still do and will always hold our American flag in the highest regard. However, as we travel to other countries, I have really come to understand that we cannot assume those same symbolic meanings are true for all. On the surface, I feel like we all know this but it took me to experience this one situation to really let it sink in. Okinawan’s are proud of their island, but their Japanese flag is not how they show that.

Moments of realization like this is why I travel. It grounds me and gives me the right tools to teach my daughter. It humbles me and allows me to see the full picture as I go about life.

Most of all, the worldly knowledge and friendships I gain make me a better ME.

Never. Stop. Exploring.

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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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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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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!)

 

 

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.