Lydia Jane Portraits | Butlers Orchard Photography

when the leaving is hard but you go now 
and you feel what you drag across the floor 
because something with these trails are just different 
since they shook the earth in 1904.
tallest man on earth
Before I can photograph anyone, I need to study my subject.  I don't always get to spend time with brides before their wedding day, so I've had to learned nuance and focus hard to pay attention: what does the bride do for a living? What is her e-mail address (a university e-mail, an old childhood e-mail, a "first name last name" gmail?) How big is her bridal party?  Who is the ring-leader amongst the bridal party?  Is the bride the introverted one?  Is she loud but introverted? Does she escape off to apply make-up alone, and return to the group once she's had time to herself?  Is she stereo-type A?  Is she late and doesn't seem to realize, or is she late and losing her marbles under the couch?  How much jewelry is she wearing, wear is it from, and what is it being stored in to transport to the wedding?  What kind of shoes does she have -- practical or glamorous or a hearty effort to achieve both?  There are dozens of minute-by-minute displays to study so I can better understand, and therefore better photograph.  I'm well-trained in processing small details quickly and giving myself a general answer to the question: Who is this person?

So, when my "bestie" of almost 14 years stepped in front of the camera I had an odd moment of panic.  I couldn't be more comfortable with her -- even the her that has changed and is changing.  I trust her, we've analyzed our oddest and best body features together for years (I'm much shorter than her, but my legs are inches longer!  She has a Victorian neck with chiseled collar bones, and I have a tree stump.), I know the stories intimately that have brought her here, and vice versa.  We both lament the problem of being young -- using words we didn't understand, wanting too badly to be an integral part of a grown-up world, trying to be taken seriously! We've been transformed as people on a dual-year basis:  each of us at 16, 18, 20, 22 and 24 are at core levels different women, and it's unsettling to look back and think "Oof.  Once I was a little girl who thought I knew what I was talking about."  It's unsettling because we know how particularly intent we were on being mature, smart, well-spoken.  It's unsettling because we realize we'll in a few more years we'll look back on today and think "Oh, what immaturity.  We thought we knew so much."  Change is hard for her, compassion is hard for me.  She can be overly dramatic, I can be overly stoic.  She's very ordely, I'm very scattered.  I know this friend well.  But the reason for my odd moment of panic is that I know her so well, connect to her so quickly, have so much information about her, I wondered if I could document who my friend really is today in her life.

If you were to meet my bestie, you would notice about her the exact same things that drew me to her when I was 11 years old.  You'd notice her brash sense of humor, her "How did she come up with that?!" weird yet spot-on analogies, her extroverted need to be in the middle of people as often as possible, her vocabulary.  You'd hear her various, constant laughing.  You'd want to be close to her energy and buzz.   You'd be interested in her deeply emotional and sincere opinions.  Whenever I've photographed her in the past my instinct was that mouth-wide-open, amused, laughing Lydia.  She is still that, but as she's come into herself ever more, I find myself seeing her confidence, her chin up, her experienced strength, her empathy, her boldness, her quietness.  I've come to her house at midnight to sit with her while she wept on the floor.  I've toured her college art show, admiring her higher-education work.  I've watched somebody else become her very best friend, just like she watched the same thing happen to me.  And very soon I'm going to watch her leave behind her childhood, family, client base, and foundation to move to a new city and life with very little security.  As we photographed, I had the Courageous yet Kind Lydia Jane in my heart and mind.  I love you, old friend.
(Pssst! Go see her beautiful new logo and website ---> l y d i a j a n e . c o m) 

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to book your own i'm kristen portrait or headshot session, 
especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, new york/boston, or oklahoma to dallas areas
(i'll also be traveling around san francisco + the lake tahoe/nevada areas in coming months.)


Five Years of Winkfields | Personal

"they can't understand the magic of your wonderland."
the fox + the hound

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They were apartment neighbors, he saw her coming home from work, he tripped down the stairs , she laughed, they met, and when they got engaged they booked me for their wedding.  Ashley and Kyle started as perfect strangers...
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... and somehow in the weird merge lanes of life, we became friends -- and I have been able to document some of the most significant experiences of their lives.  When I moved into my first apartment, they invited themselves over for dinner, arrived with gifts, sat on my tiny wobbly chairs, and made me feel like I lived in a palace.  Before I even started dating Caleb, they wanted to meet him.  We had lunch at Chipotle with their new puppy in Kyle's sweatshirt pocket.  They were at my wedding as friends.  And a couple of months later Ashley texted me: "We're having a baby! In June!" and I answered her back: "WHAT! Congratulations! (We're having a baby, too!  Also in June!") She responded back: "WHAT! Congratulations!"  So we were pregnant together, went stroller shopping together, ate Nando's chicken with our feet on the booth together.  We both knew we were having daughters.  We both were wrong.  Their son was due on June 7th, mine was due on June 6.  Their son was born on June 7th (ON HIS DUE DATE. Who does that?), mine was... late.  I photographed Jack entering this and their world.  They came to meet Rowdy at the hospital.  We had the best baby boys together.  When my mama was becoming more ill, they came over with more food (like cilantro-chicken soup and cornbread.)  When my mama passed away, they were at her memorial service.  When she found out I had miscarried Ryan, she sent me this text (she miscarried twice before Jack): "As painful as the loss is, you will now see a slight difference between yourself and other women who haven't lost.  They don't love their children any less; there's just a difference.  It's slight, but it's there.  Your next pregnancy will be different, and your subsequent doctor's appointments will be more apprehensive.  But.  It makes the healthy heartbeat more miraculous.   It makes each uncomfortable kick and wave of nausea that much more 'welcome.'  It makes each 'good appointment' that much more exhilarating. It makes things like 3.5 months of bed-rest *slightly*  more manageable.  It also makes your cry more sporadically over things you wouldn't normally cry over.  It makes you more.  And it makes your relationship with your husband more.  It makes your family more.  It makes those earthly babies more.  It makes life more."  This mother's day Ashley gave me a hand-painted Polish mug (it looks like something my mama would have bought.)  On Jack's first birthday, we were there to eat ribs and mac-and-cheese (and apparently duck...!) and celebrate life.  One more year of life, one more photoshoot, one more day, one more cake, one more laugh, one more time.

Though I'm particularly blessed with close friends, I'm so glad God let me have a few more.

(ps. Ashley: you're up! This world needs another caramel-pudge-cheesecake-child rawr-ing at the shower.  Plus, how cute would Jack look holding his little baby sibling? ;) 

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to book your own i'm kristen one-year or family session, 
especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, new york/boston, or oklahoma to dallas areas
(i'll also be traveling around southern california + the lake tahoe/nevada areas in coming months.)


Titus Turns One | Child Portraits

"how does someone so small 
hold my heart so tightly?
i don't even know you, 
and i love you completely."
jj heller -- i get to be the one
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Caleb's first boss was a man named Caleb.  Two good men.  Throughout dating I heard many stories about those early years of construction.  In a fun turn of events, both wives were pregnant with firstborn boys, due only days apart.  Titus made his debut a couple of weeks early, while Rowdy needed a couple of extra weeks all to himself ;)  On our last trip out to Oklahoma we made time to capture this great family after one whole year together.  

Titus is about twice Rowdy's size (when he was born he weighed nearly 10 pounds -- and remember: he was a couple of weeks early!).  Titus is a smiley, excitable, squish-ball of wonder.  He understands how nice sticks are, he loves the thrill in the pit of his stomach when he flies through the air, and he can crawl faster than army ants.  If he has even a bit of his father's kindness, or a stitch of his mother's sincerity, I think he's going to be an outstanding big person someday.  Happy Birthday!
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to book your own i'm kristen one-year or family session, 
especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, new york/boston, or oklahoma to dallas areas
(i'll also be traveling around southern california + the lake tahoe/nevada areas in coming months.)


Rowdy on The Rio Carousel | Personal

“We walked always in beauty, it seemed to me. 
We walked and looked about, or stood and looked. 
Sometimes, less often, we would sit down. 
The place spoke for us and was a kind of speech. 
We spoke to each other in the things we saw.”
 wendell berry | jayber crow
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He saw it, for the very first time, on its inaugural day.  Last year we walked the local man-made "lake," passing the shops and restaurants of the outdoor mall.  Our baby was due in days, we walked and walked.  The year before we brought our spreadsheets and wedding folders to review over steak fajitas, and when we were done we walked and walked.  And the year before?  The night after our first kiss we had sandwiches at Corner Bakery, saw The Help at the theater, and walked and walked.  Nearly sixty years ago, my grandparents walked and walked a new park in their area -- a park named Disneyland.  "The story of my life..."  Rowdy's face, not just jaw but his while face, dropped when he saw the carousel for the first time.  He marched it's direction at a swarthy speed (only distracted by a balloon tower.)  He's a focused fellow and doesn't give away smiles freely, but one of his surest signs of happiness is when he's still.  He clasped the metal pole, sat upright, "oooooo"-ed.  Cogsworth and Lumiere and Mrs. Potts welcomed him as their guest through the speakers.  He waved good-bye when the ride was done.  He danced to the violins, eagerly introduced himself to new friends, he scaled the play-park, but also sat still on the steps.   If we could have one night to walk around heaven together, it must be something like last Saturday night.
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Ps. If you're in the Montgomery County area, go ride the new Washingtonian Rio Carousel!