This family is truly one we should all strive to be like. They are always laughing together and the love they have for each other is huge. Not many kids would willingly attend a photo shoot on a frigid day and smile through the whole event. I was cracking up the whole time because they are so funny! As a newly-single mom, michelle has had to reforge her path and restructure her family dynamic. As a close witness to this, I am here to say she has succeeded. I love when i get to be around this group, and I am so happy for them!
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.
i got to meet this sweet angel recently for her newborn photo session. she is just delicious! i fell in love the moment i saw her. when she arrived with her mama and daddy, her mom let me feed her. i was in baby heaven. once she finished her bottle, we headed out into the studio to begin photos. i had several sets planned for a sleeping baby, but alyvia was afraid she would miss the party, so she kept her eyes wide open.
we moved to plan b, and i started posing her in some nice awake poses. i do like to get a nice family shot with the baby awake, so alyvia was a perfect model for that.i thought after we got some family shots, alyvia would be exhausted…i was wrong. 🙂
it took us over an hour to get herto sleep. luckily, alyvia’s parents are way cool, so i had a fun time getting to really know them. her poor daddy was so sleepy that at one point we looked over and he was totally asleep in the chair. poor guy.
we finally got alyvia to close her eyes, and once she gave in to sleep, i was in “go mode.” we were able to get a bunch of gorgeous shots of her, and she slept right through it. success!
alyvia was so well-behaved that i convinced her parents to stay an extra hour so i could get more photos of her. i think starvation had set in for chris by the time i finished. we kept talking about what restaurant they were going to head to. (they talked about mexican food so much that i had to get some chips and salsa for myself that night too!)
it was a great photo session, and i am definitely looking forward to more with this family. i promise the next one won’t take as long! thanks for being so cooperative, chris and aveon, and of course, baby alyvia!!
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!
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.
DOWNTOWN KANSAS CITY
now that we are growing a cool downtown area, it is fun to head down there for some adventures in photography.
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.
THE WEST BOTTOMS
this is a great spot for graffiti. 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!
BURR OAK WOODS
Burr Oak Woods is a true treasure in Blue Springs. it is beautiful at all times of the year with lots of trees and fields and trails. there is a gorgeous area of woods that is perfect for so many different ideas.
so many of us are royals fans, and what better place than to show of that love than kauffman stadium?
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!
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.
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.
DOWNTOWN BLUE SPRINGS
downtown blue springs is a great location for a mini session. it’s not gigantic and overwhelming, and yet it is super charming.
DOWNTOWN LEE’S SUMMIT
if you want a mini downtown, lee’s summit has it! there is an urban feel to it, but there are also bits of small town. it has so much to offer, and something different around every corner.
JAMES A REED WILDLIFE RESERVE
this is one of kansas city’s most beautiful, serene locations. there are lakes, docks, trails, fields, flowers, bridges – everything you want from a nature location. depending on the time of year, you can find sunflowers, wildflowers, berries, field grass, but it is always gorgeous.
this is the place if you want our city skyline in the background. they have a huge yard to play in as well as lots of stone and tile textures. there is also a huge stairway that looks great too!
PINK HILL PARK
pink hill park is located in blue springs. it is a small little park with lots of grassy area and trees – it is gorgeous in the fall and spring. there are lots of huge trees too that make for great climbing.
Powell Gardens is just outside of Kansas City, and it has a million beautiful little spots for photos. there are bridges, pergolas, water, and obviously, TONS of flowers. There is a small fee to enter the gardens, but it’s worth it.
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.
in September, I had back to school mini sessions, and these kiddos came by and took advantage of the offer. I was so happy they did! these three are always laughing, and I was laughing right along with them. last time I saw the little guy in the group, he was a bit shy with me, but this time, he was in full performance mode. I loved every second of it! his two sisters never stop smiling – I could have hung out with them all afternoon. maybe that is because they remind me of my little sister and I when we were little girls. 🙂 I hope you enjoy a few of their images here!
the arrival of this little guy might official throw me into “old” status. baby Tyson has made me a great auntie. I remember my great aunts having wrinkles – good lord, do I have wrinkles??
but back to Tyson. isn’t he gorgeous? and how about that mama of his? she is so in love. and his daddy was fantastic. he spent most of the session bouncing and shushing ty to keep him relaxed. the poor baby had a tummy ache and just wasn’t so excited for his super-model debut.
it was a great photo session, and once we got Ty to sleep, he was totally into his photo shoot. heehee
show kindness – wendy
welcome to the newly revamped simply|moore blog! I have tried blogging several times, and I just never follow through. the thing is – I love writing! so, this time, I am all in! I want this blog to be a place where I share my photography and my life. you may learn more about me than you care to. 😉
I have always been making photos. I love that phrase – making photographs. it sounds so beautiful. making portraits really is a beautiful thing – as long as I don’t have to be on the other side of the camera.
that’s sounds terrible, I know. I am trying to be better. I really am. I realize that there are very few photos of me and my mom when I was a little girl. there are tons of me and my sister, but few of us with our mom. the two I have found are true treasures to me, and I wish there were more. I want to be able to give my boys enough photos of us together so they never have that feeling.
for the past year, I have tried extra hard to make sure I am in photos with my boys, and my husband. I will never be as thin as I would like, or as stylish as I hope, but my boys aren’t looking for that. when I was little, my mom was the most beautiful person on earth. I like to think my boys feel that way about me, no matter how I feel about myself. of course, in all honesty, I absolutely photoshop every single photo of myself that I print or upload – a little “help” in the fitness and style departments never hurt anybody. heehee
so here in my “hello” message, I am also encouraging all you beautiful women out there to not forget to make photographs of yourself. you are beautiful, and you deserve to feel that way! any photoshop after the portrait is made can be our little secret.
show kindness – wendy