Tag Archives: blue springs

Miranda

I have put off writing this post because it’s going to be a sad one.  The ending of the story hurts my heart, but I really want to tell it. In December, I was asked by Parenting Children with Special Needs magazine if I would be able to photograph a family for an upcoming
cover story. I am always super happy when I am asked to do these photo sessions, so of course I said yes. When I found out who the family was, I was even more excited than usual.  The family was the Williams family, and the special little girl was Miranda.

I have known the Williams family since before they were even a family as I have known the mom, Michelle, since we were on the younger end of being teenagers. I knew Michelle when we played violin together in the Raytown High School orchestra, and she was “my ride” to school for several years until I learned to drive. I remember sitting on my deck with her when she told me she was having her first baby, Trent, and I remember thinking she was the strongest friend I had because she went to school, worked, and was a mom all at the same time.

As time does, we drifted into our own worlds, but we crossed paths a lot through the years. Michelle married Randy and they had a daughter, Miranda. I even started seeing them at my kids’ school because Miranda and my boys went to the same school. I remember seeing Michelle and Miranda at the school carnival one year, and Miranda looked so cute in pigtails with little bows on them. Shortly after that carnival, I found out that Miranda had been diagnosed with a disease. I am not going to pretend I know what the disease is all about, but it’s a mitochondrial disorder called MERRF, and there is no cure.

Fast forward several years, and here we are with me being asked to photograph Miranda and her family for the magazine. We had initially thought we would do the photo session in December, but Miranda had a bought with pneumonia and the poor girl was in the hospital for weeks. She finally made it home in January, and I drove to their house on a super cold and rainy Sunday to set up my traveling studio at her house.

I brought a couple backdrops with me, my lights, and an assistant, Amy. Miranda has quite the teen-ager pad set up in the basement.  She has two brightly colored rooms to herself, and they are both covered in posters and pictures. Amy and I got all set up while Miranda hung out with her cousins and two aides. These two aides must be angels sent directly to Miranda. Both of them doted on her, and never lost focus of keeping Miranda happy and safe.

Miranda was just a few days shy of 15 years old on this day. Even though she spends a lot of time in a wheelchair and isn’t super verbal anymore, Miranda is still as sassy and spunky as every teenage girl i have ever met!

This girl has bright red hair and loves her make up! She was wearing the prettiest lip color ever that day, and I learned all about her LipSense addiction. The funniest thing happened when Michelle walked in and Miranda saw her lip color. Miranda started pointing to Michelle and seemed somewhat agitated. As it turns out, Michelle was wearing Miranda’s LipSense, and Miranda totally knew! I was cracking up!

For our first set of photos,Miranda sat in her wheelchair, and I posed her Mom, Dad, and Trent around her. After some family shots, I asked Trent to sit on the arm of the wheelchair next to Miranda. I should have done this pose earlier because Miranda lit up. Her entire face was smiling – this girl loves her brother. I found outthat Trent has been helping take care of Miranda, and it was clear to me that she loves it. How special is it that these two siblings get to spend so much time together?

Miranda was only able to whisper on the day of our photos. Her disorder has weakened her vocal chords, so it’s a huge struggle for her to speak. She does a lot of communication with her eyes and with her smile. I definitely picked up on her language by the end of our session.

I also quickly found out that Miranda is a daddy’s girl – she loved when we sat her on the floor for some shots of her leaning on her d
addy. We added in her mom and brother as well, and we were able to get a series of family images sitting on the floor. Most of Miranda’s smiles happened when her two awesome aides were behind me squishing slime into a small canister so it made farting sound. We were all laughing!

I guess I should mention that Miranda has a cart of machines that follows her bright pink wheelchair everywhere she goes. At one point during the photo session, somebody mis-stepped and landed on part of her ventilator and broke it. I was completely impressed when Michelle immediately took control and explained to Miranda’s nurse where the spare parts were.  The two of them got the machine fixed fairly swiftly, but I was honestly pretty panicked that Miranda would have no air. The girl just sat there calmly and waited for them to fix her vent. That’s how you know when a person completely trusts another – Miranda never panicked because she knew her mom had the situation under control.

After about 90 minutes, we finished up the photo session. I came home and got to work prettying up the images we had made. I loved working on them, and was sending sneaks over to Michelle on facebook. I was literally so happy that I was able to make these images for her. I think Miranda had a good time too, and that is always important to me as well.

The magazine came out about a month or so later, and as usual, I was completely proud to see my photograph on the cover. I was extra happy that it was a photograph of my friend and her family.  A couple weeks after the article debuted, Miranda’s doctors told her family that it was time for hospice care. Miranda’s body was too tired to fight any more. When I heard the news, I was just so sad. I have seen hundreds of photos on facebook showing friends and family coming to see Miranda and say good-bye. It seems like all day long during this week, a stream of photos of friends and family with Miranda takes over my feed. I love it.

I started writing this blog last week, but I could never finish it because I would just get sad. Last night, though, I read the news that made me even sadder. Yesterday, on Easter morning, Miranda smiled her last good-bye. I will never understand why little children have to take on these massive diseases, and I will never understand why a parent has to say to good-bye to their baby. Like I said at the beginning, there is no happy ending to this story. I am happy, though, I was able to make these photos for Michelle and Randy and Trent and all the family and friends who love Miranda. She will be missed by so many people, and I hope her photos can bring a peace to those who love her.

siera+jake | wedded bliss

these two make my heart smile.  when they came over to chat about wedding plans and pictures, i knew i had to be a part of this wedding – even if it was just as a guest! lucky for me, they chose me as their wedding photographer! thank you siera and jake!!!

the location for the wedding was the historic Belvoir Winery in liberty, missouri.  This winery used to be a sort of group home,and it is known now for it’s frequent paranormal activity. my mom and my sister are always dragging me on ghost hunts and making me watch shows about the paranormal, so i knew immediately that my sister, Laura,  would be my extra assistant for this wedding (and let me tell you, she was stoked!).

when laura,myself, and amy (my other assistant) arrived for the wedding day, i felt my usual wedding-day mix of excitement and nerves.  Laura couldn’t get in the building fast enough to start feeling for spirits, and poor amy was more than willing to hang back and wait for laura to scope the place out alone. haha.

we found siera with her bridesmaids and mom getting all dolled up in the bridal suite – what a cool space this was! siera had already ordered her first starbucks with her new name on it.  ijust thought that was so cute. the boys were in the room next to us, playing video games, and treating this day like just another friday the 13th (did i mention the wedding was also on friday the 13th?!).

when i saw siera’s dress for the first time, i am pretty sure i audibly gasped. it was gorgeous! she had it custom-made, and i am sure i will never see another dress like it again.  the dress was all black with a red lace overlay on the bodice.  it had a full skirt and a banded waistline.

i could not wait for her to get into the dress! she also planned for the entire bridal party to wear red converse – love!!

once everybody was dressed, we headed outside to the belvoir grounds for photos. somehow, siera+jake chose the hottest friday the 13th ever for their wedding. i was sweating so much that my hair was soggy and stuck to my face – the exact description of a hot mess.

siera looked gorgeous! we followed her around with a small fan and even hid it behind her bouquet so she wouldn’t melt.

we set up a “first look” for siera and jake at the base of the stairs to the main winery building.  siera walked down the stairs, and her dress billowed out behind her – it was stunning.  when jake saw her, his smile was as big as his face.  siera also could not stop smiling.  and in turn, i couldn’t stop smiling either (although i may have appeared to be crying due to all the sweat dripping down my face).

siera and jake, along with my photo entourage, walked down to the metal and concrete gazebo near the fountain. we made a bunch of photos there, and we also created several in the grassy area. i could have photographed these two all day. we eventually made our way  back to the main building for the group photos. everybody was super cooperative, and we were laughing the entire time (it also helps that we were at location serving alcohol – this tends to keep everybody happy and agreeable).

the ceremony was awesome.  the bridal party gets to walk down this super long path as they enter the ceremony area.  siera’s dad walked with her down the long path, and they eventually met up with siera’s mom at the fountain.  both of her parents escorted her down the aisle to jake. i loved it (if you were looking closely at me, you may have noticed those pesky sweat tears again).

siera’s grand-pa, boob (yes, boob. not a typo), officiated the ceremony.  he made it very funny, and he was dressed to perfectly match the theme of the wedding, with a “six-shooter,” a huge bible, and full-on garb from the era.  it was perfect.

after the ceremony, the bridal party joined us for more photos at the nearby cemetery (thank you to siera’s brother, sage, for driving us. i am glad i was in the cab of the truck and not the bed though, as sage would be perfectly suited to drive in a nascar race.)

the sun began setting as we were in the cemetery, which added a perfect glow to all the shots back there. (and not to worry, we were very respectful of the graves). after our cemetery shots, we found some abandoned buildings on the property that were awesome for photos. we did some very old-fashioned poses, and boob even stuck his head out of a window to create this super-creepy shot that is one of my favorites.

while we were setting up the creepy shot, i started hearing some shuffling and strange sounds coming from the building beside us. since the sun was setting, it was getting dark and very spooky in our location.  i looked at my sister, and she immediatly perked up when she heard the sound. i am not kidding when i say this girl put on her game face, like she was being called up to the major leagues of ghost hunting. she started tip-toeing to the building, and the rest of the bridal party started to go inside.  (meanwhile, poor amy was gripping the side of sage’s truck and not going anywhere near that building).

the group made their way inside, and i suddenly heard a bunch of screams! i jumped just from nervous energy.  as fast as i heard them scream, i heard them start laughing. it wasn’t a spirit at all – it was siera’s dad, craig, hiding in the building and just waiting for his chance to scare the snot out of all of us.  (he was successful).

after our fake-poltergiest encounter, we headed in to the reception. i have one word for the food – italian. it’s pretty hard to top macaroni and cheese in my world. actually, it’s impossible. the reception was a good one – people were dancing and laughing and just having an excellent time. the best man gave one of the best speeches i have heard – everyone was laughing and crying at the same time. dilly dilly! the father-daughter dance definitely brought me to tears (but, let’s just call it sweat, shall we?).  as siera danced with her dad, i had to keep wiping off my viewfinder because my tears kept fogging it up. i happened to look up, and i noticed siera’s mom, kristi, video-ing this dance. she could barely hold the phone steady because she was constantly wiping away tears. i had to look away so that i didn’t start ugly crying. the entire room was losing it. (*tip: if you want your entire reception to be sobbing, choose “i can only imagine” for your daddy-daughter dance).

the night ended with no paranormal activity, which totally bummed my sister out.  amy, however, was relieved.  and i was just so happy to crank down my air conditioning to arctic-cold temperatures.  siera and jake’s wedding was one i will always remember. it was a great day, and the entire group was fun. i loved being a part of this day! siera and jake – congratulations!!!

kansas city location guide

i am always trying to choose the perfect location for our photo sessions.  i want to make sure the location fits the personality of the person, and also that it matches the vision the family has in mind for their images.  i am hoping this little location guide will help us all make sure we are in the perfect spot!

CROSSROADS ART DISTRICT

i love love love the crossroads district! it has a little bit of everything.  there is graffiti…brick walls…garage doors…vines and leaves….alleys …and TONS of color!

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RAILROAD PARK

railroad park is a great park in blue springs.  it is exactly what you think of when you think of a park – lots of green, trees, a lake, and (bonus!) a gazebo.

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DOWNTOWN KANSAS CITY

now that we are growing a cool downtown area, it is fun to head down there for some adventures in photography.

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UNITY VILLAGE – the promenade

unity village is one of our cities prettiest locations.  it has the coolest doors and textured walls, as well as fountains and gorgeous flower beds.

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UNITY VILLAGE – THE WOODS

my favorite secret spot is the back woods at unity. i love going back here! normally there aren’t any other people back there, and there are un-mowed fields and quite possibly the coolest bathroom structure i have ever seen.

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THE WEST BOTTOMS

this is THE spot for graffiti.  i am in total awe of how awesome some of the graffiti is down there.  the colors are super bright, so it makes for super happy photos.  there is also a lot of grunge down there – plenty of old doors and ramps and metal stairs.  definitely plan to come home dirty, but it is such a fun experience!

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KAUFFMAN STADIUM

so many of us are royals fans again, and what better place than to show of that love than kauffman stadium?

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LAKE JACOMO

if you wanting a raw, outdoorsy style of photo, this is the place.  there are so many little spots at lake jacomo that i haven’t even begun to discover them all.  the lake is huge, and there are tons of trees and coves, and a lot of sailboats!

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LIGGETT PARK

i kind of made up the name “liggett park” because it really isn’t exactly park.  it’s more of a parking lot with some cool surroundings.  that said, i LOVE this little bit of beauty.  it’s a great location for boys (little boys, senior boys, and especially daddy boys)  because it is small enough that they know it will be a quick session, but it has a lot of nooks for tons of variety.

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LOOSE PARK

loose park is kansas city’s version of central park…wowzas.  it’s always gorgeous.  it’s full of trees, a lake, a rose garden, fields, bridges….sigh, it’s just all around lovely.

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LOWENSTEIN PARK

this is a small park in lee’s summit with a very cool bridge and several cool paths.  it also has a couple cool arbor/archway structures and a small pond with waterfall.

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simply|moore STUDIO “PARK”

i wish it was as big as a park, but the yard at my studio is quite nice for photos.  it works best for small families and kids or seniors.  i have some huge boulders, a wildflower garden (in the summer), a koi pond with waterfall, and trees.  it’s perfect when you want outdoor images, but want to keep it simple.

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addison |senior|

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the first time I photographed Addison was when she was turning 13, and look at her now! she has always been beautiful, but now she is just gorgeous!  we had a great time wandering around the west bottoms scouting fun places to photograph.  we were smart enough to choose the hottest day of the year (it was 98 as we were shooting), so we were super grateful for the tall buildings casting shadows.

the west bottoms is so intriguing to me.  I like to think about it 100 years ago when it was booming with people and activity.  I love thinking about locations as they would have been decades ago.  I am noticing that people are coming back to the west bottoms, and that is super exciting to me.

so here is addison rocking her photo shoot in the west bottoms!04

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show kindness – wendy