FARQUHAR FAMILY | BRISBANE, GOLD COAST FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER

Michelle and Angus' property was something I always dreamed of - falling into the 'some day' category. Green space everywhere and lush gardens. Lots of room for the kids to run around. And a huge old tree to shade us from the sun during our hot summer days here in the north. Set upon a hill, their neighbours a paddock away to each side, the tranquility is deafening. The best kind.

Michelle reached out to me when she wanted to update their family photos. They hadn't been professionally photographed together as a family since their three children were small, their youngest was just a toddler. Their eldest now in his final year of high school with the younger two following just a couple of years apart. Time passes so quickly.

As Michelle walked me through the hallways where those framed prints from over a decade ago still hang, I felt a pang of such deep truth in what I do. Mixed with sadness. This is it - our lives. Moving and changing everyday, in the smallest and biggest ways. So many years had passed - her children staring back at me from the walls; chubby cheeks and the perfect extra arm rolls, all their tiny little baby teeth on show in big, carefree smiles. And now - they are all tall and lean, perfectly self conscious teenagers, their blonde hair turned dark, and Michelle is barely hanging on to the title of not-quite-the-shortest-in-the-family. 

Michelle had told me she wanted to have photos done so many times as the kids were growing. It was always on her to-do list. And suddenly, ten years had passed. And that's life. That's what happens. Of course they have photos of those years in between, but as with most families, the majority would be with just the kids, or just dad and the kids, or maybe a few times a year, mum makes it into the frame. But rarely all together. And we're are all guilty of that.

Every time I'm asked to photograph a family - together - I feel like their story gets a new chapter. Written and frozen - forever. Michelle will remember everything about this time in their lives when she looks back on these photos. All the love and heartbreak. How she fit perfectly under her youngest son's shoulder. How her daughter was *almost* taller than her. How her eldest boy had made it all the way through his schooling journey that seemed such a long, long road, ironically not that long ago. And how, after all these years, she still looks at Angus the same way.

HARRIS FAMILY | GOLD COAST FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER

I've been blessed to photograph the beautiful Harris family multiple times. Rachel and I first met when we were placed in the same mothers' group over a decade ago.

Rachel and Mark are some of the kindest, warmest people I know. The times when I've entered their home in a frazzle with cranky toddlers in tow and motherhood angst weighing heavily, I always left lighter - calmer - recharged. Rachel is the kind of mum I always wanted to be - patient, warm, gentle. She encourages the quirks that make her children unique. She shows patience and love always. Home is a place of refuge and comfort, enveloping you and your senses the minute you arrive at the door. The walls and floors alive with personality and whimsical art. Evidence of love everywhere. She has this crazy knack for thrifting and roadside finds that she can bring back to life with a lick of paint. Even mid renovation, while she complains of the mash up of old and new, longing for the day for it all to be finished, it is bursting with the juxtaposition of fruity colour and a serene calmness. And there is always - always - hot coffee and freshly baked bread (courtesy of Mark).

Fox and Poppy are bright, chatty, curious and kind. And then there's Gil - the star of the show.

THE BIRTH OF ASPEN RAIN | C-SECTION, GOLD COAST BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER

Aspen is my nephew. His mum is my younger sister.

The week leading up to Aspen's birth was full. My sister and her family were in transit, leaving their home of nearly two years in Darwin, en route to New Zealand for another stretch of time; the exhaustive task of moving to another country put on hold, to be surrounded by family, slow down for just a little while and have another baby.

Six days before Aspen's unexpectedly early arrival, we were shooting in my garage, documenting her bump and the tail end of life with just two kids in tow.

Baby wasn't due for another couple of weeks. Everything was looking good for a second successful VBAC. Bree's first pregnancy culminated in a planned c-section as her first son was in breech position, which then turned into an emergency c-section when she went into labour naturally ahead of the planned delivery date. It was a labour in fast forward. Everything was rushed. She had to force the midwives the check her as they told her to calm down, the obstetrician is on the way, we will take you down to theatre shortly, there's no need to rush, there's plenty of time, everything is okay (eye rolling at over the top first time mum), when in fact she was fully dilated and baby was trying to come out right then and there. A woman knows her body. First time mothers should never be TOLD how they feel.

Second time around, her daughter was born naturally.

The day after our shoot, Bree noticed a small patch of raised skin above her caesarian scar. The following day it had grown and was now filled with fluid. Another check up with her OB confirmed her scar had begun to rupture and the safest way forward for both of them, was steroid injections for baby's lungs, bed rest through the weekend and deliver baby first thing Monday morning. My brother-in-law was already in New Zealand, not due back for another week or so. Flights were rearranged, he arrived Saturday morning to have the weekend with the kids, and a quiet weekend was spent in hospital for Bree; waiting.

His birth was the first time I had been in an operating theatre, witnessing a caesarian birth. Barring one male orderly and the paediatrician, the dream team of theatre staff were all women. I marvelled at the ordinariness of it all - surgeons arriving in scrubs, expensive handbags slung over their shoulders as if they were strolling into any other job that didn't entail cutting someone open and delivering new life. Casual and excited early morning chit chat, preparing necessary equipment and tying colourful hungry caterpillar scrub caps. I was briefed on what was about to happen and where I was allowed to stand. How fast it would happen once baby's head was out. Don't touch anything. Don't touch anything.

All the staff wore smiles and gentle voices. Their every move deliberate and fluid. Like a gentle, calming hum in the background. There was laughter and conversation and music. A hand placed on her shoulder, or a soft brush of her arm. Kind eyes peering out from covered noses and mouths. Warm faces reassuring Bree, We've got you.

My eyes bulged, peering over the curtain separating Bree from her tummy, at the tugging and manoeuvring to free baby's head through the open wound made so swiftly in Bree's middle. Barely two minutes ago she was whole. Even though I was seeing it all with my own eyes, it was difficult to process. Unwinding the umbilical chord around his neck. More tugging. A little head. His earlobes folded up the wrong way from his safe, watery cocoon. More unwinding. More tugging. And there he was. Perfect. And sound asleep. Looking just like his big brother.


HIM

He is wild and wonderful. Quirky and kind. Fiery and sweet. Bright and curious. Hilariously himself. Loud and honest. Please God, keep him that way. Always.

LATELY

In what feels like another life, when my smalls were really small, when our days were free of time constraints like kindy and school, I used to have a blog. I mention it in my about page and it's still there, frozen forever. When I started taking my photography seriously, I decided to continue with two separate blogs. It's what you did. Or rather, it's what everyone else did and I thought I should too. Professional photographers had no personal lives because they were shooting weddings every weekend and never spoke of anything other than what they were shooting. When you're new and unsure, generally, you follow the crowd. Until following the crowd just feels weird and uncomfortable and you realise what a fool you are for thinking you could 'fit in' to somewhere you were never meant to belong.

Anyway, after some time away from both blogs, and admitting how exhausting it was trying to keep two websites alive and fresh and consistently updated, my ship sank swiftly. What a relief! This space was born and I vowed to join my two lives together and share more of my personal life again. I missed it terribly. Just writing for the sake of writing, and not worrying about how many likes it got, or comments received, who was seeing my posts and who wasn't. What time of day was I meant to post to IG? It's really quite amazing how much you can shift your mind and your perception of things when you want to.

I have felt a disconnect with my professional and personal work lately. This has everything to do with my personal life and all that it has thrown up at me over the past year and a bit. Life has been harder than ever before and the heavy darkness was seeping into my creativity, like a weighty blanket I couldn't shift. I trust my work. I like the way I do things. The way I see things. But when everything feels like it's crumbling, it's so very easy to begin to doubt yourself. And your ability. And your faith in yourself.

I need to be here more. Just because. Just for me. Just to belt the keyboard, or share photos. Just because. Just like I used to. It is March already and I feel the last month has been wasted on procrastination and waiting. Old habits growing stronger, feeling too weak to change them. Tomorrow.. always tomorrow.

Tomorrow won't always be there. This week my heart is heavy. My head aching, day after day of uncontrollable, sporadic tears at the loss of precious, tiny life. A friend and her family, grieving in unimaginable darkness. A friend who I met through that little blog, in that other life. One of the few constants in life is change. Nothing stays the same for long. Another is human connection. We are nothing without it - our lives, meaningless. I pray this beautiful family feels enveloped in love from every corner of the globe, as their little boy flies high, touching hearts the world over.