In March of 2013, a group of CM members who all live relatively near Mill Creek, WA (that’s just a little bit north of Seattle!) decided to meet up on a location scout. It was a gorgeous spring day at an amazing field nearby us all. We instantly clicked and felt friendships forming while we photographed the field and each other’s children. We knew we had to meet up again and soon.
In the beginning, we began meeting for Happy Hours. We brought product samples so everyone could compare labs, we’d commiserate over difficult client stories, laugh about some of the funny things we’ve resorted to in getting expressions from our younger subjects, encourage each other in our photography journeys, and just generally talk shop. Our husbands were sure tired of hearing all of this, so it was nice to just get together with other gals who have the same interests!
It wasn’t long before we were itching to get out shooting together. A location was suggested, kids were bribed, and our photo playdates began. At first, it was mostly an opportunity to check out new locations, but we very quickly realized how differently we all see things with our cameras. We started becoming more intentional with our Photo Playdates, and this was the result:
We had such a blast shooting each other’s kids, that we decided it would be even more fun to do a collaborative session. Maternity is the one genre of photography that those of us in business have in common, so we decided that would be the way to go.
Michal introduced us to her friend, Stephanie, who not only was pregnant, but was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
“During a routine exam in the fourth month of my pregnancy with Emmanuelle, my OB discovered a small but palpable mass in my breast. She encouraged me to get it looked at by a specialist. I am so grateful that she did – many physicians would have attributed changes in my breasts to pregnancy. Several ultrasounds and biopsies revealed that the mass was an aggressive form of breast cancer, and that it had spread to one of my lymph nodes.
A team of oncologists came up with a treatment plan for me that, miraculously, posed no unreasonably significant risks to my future daughter. It’s hard for me to express the relief my husband and I felt as the doctors shared stories of other women who had been through the same thing and come out with the cancer cured and a healthy child.
In my fifth month of pregnancy, I stepped down from my full-time job as a display artist and began treatment, starting with a lumpectomy in my left breast. After the lumpectomy and for the rest of my pregnancy, I had chemotherapy every three weeks that left me fatigued, without hair, and anxious about Elle’s well-being.
The chemotherapy drugs I needed to take next weren’t safe during pregnancy, so my labor was induced at 39 weeks. A little over 24 hours after we got to the hospital, Emmanuelle arrived, healthy and vital. I progressed through labor mostly without pain medication and delivered vaginally. It was such a satisfying experience in spite of the pain – a sentiment I know I share with scores of other mothers.
Had I or my doctor waited until the end of my pregnancy, my prognosis would almost certainly have been much worse than it is today. And without the support of our friends, family, and church community, we would be totally broken. Now we have Elle, a beautiful miracle, our little champion – and she’ll be with us long after the cancer has been taken away.”
Her story resonated with all of us, and even though it was summer and we couldn’t all coordinate our schedules, we decided she would be the perfect model for this project! Turns out, we were right. For two hours, Steph was an amazing model, even with 6 photographers aiming their cameras at her all at once! When we lost the light, we headed out for ice cream, of course 🙂
With such a special baby girl arriving in this world, we wanted to continue collaborating and documenting her. So, the four of us who were in town got together for baby Elle’s newborn session. We managed some posed newborn images, as well as some lifestyle nursery images.
All in all, this was a really fun and special project. We will definitely continue getting together to explore locations and photograph together! And I’m sure we’ll add in a Happy Hour or two along the way 😉