life stories | kane & leish

The other day someone introduced me to a friend as a photographer.
“Hey, this is my friend Em, she’s a photographer.”
Firstly my head immediately corrected them inside. “Writer. I’m a writer,” it said silently.
Secondly, when I think of a ‘real’ photographer I think of incredibly technical photos which are then photoshopped and edited to look absolutely incredible.
When I take photos that’s not what I do. 
I want the images that I capture to tell a story. 
In each photo I want personality to jump out. I want the love the subjects have for each other to be evident. I want touch and laughter and silly faces because one day that family will grow up, kids will grow older, and they’ll have these incredible unposed snapshots in time – where they were in the moment loving each other, being annoyed by each other and sharing life together. 
I tell stories. 
And the greatest privilege of wielding my camera is being allowed a glimpse into the lives of others. 

Kane and Leish let me in. I was a fly on the wall for a little while, watching and reminiscing the beautiful mess that is life with tiny people. It wasn’t hard to let those three little personalities shine through into each shot. It wasn’t hard to capture the love between the couple who’ve birthed four babies in a handful of years.
There was so much peace, and grace and sweetness. 
Her children will rise up and call her blessed. 
Watching a story unfold before me and then being able to give back a handful of memories is my favourite. 



life stories | birth: baby ezekiel

In the week leading up to her labour, I’d been ready. My phone wasn’t on silent at night anymore, my camera batteries were charged and clean memory cards ready to go at any moment.
I found out at 5am the day after her due date that Amy’s waters had broken overnight, and that she was being monitored.
Amy’s mum kept me updated as she laboured and as it got later and later in the day I started to prepare to be there. And then the phone call at 4:30; it wouldn’t be too much longer. 

When I arrived the room was quiet and calm. Amy’s fiancé Ben was by her side, completely attentive, taking a moment to be a larrikin here and there and making her whole support team laugh.  Her mum Jodi rubbed her feet, and Lana, beautiful mentor and friend prayed quietly under her breath, offering sips of water and cold cloths for her head. 

Amy was the picture of quiet and determined strength. Which says a lot about the person she is, and the journey I’ve watched her take over the last couple of years.
She was focused, breathing through each contraction, frowning intensely at their pain and then resting, in between. The machine monitoring the baby beeped softly, and Ben and Jodi chatted, anticipating the size of their baby boy, and his features and hair. Everyone watched the clock, willing it forward – willing the birth forward. 

When the midwives found Amy had stopped progressing there were some discussions about the next steps. To maybe let her labour a few more hours, or to opt for the caesarian – ‘out through the roof’ as her beautiful midwife joked. Amy had laboured by then for almost 24 hours, and the exhaustion was evident. The decision was made, surgical gowns were donned and they wheeled her out ready for delivery.

It wasn’t the way she’d expected, and she had laboured so well, so determinedly – but in the end, her baby boy was born healthy and whole; the desire of her heart. And she is the sweetest, calmest mama to a tiny 3kg bundle of love, and Ben is the most doting father you could ever meet. Ezekiel you are exquisite. 

What a privilege. 


(You can see my other birth story here. Please get in touch if you are thinking about having the birth of your child captured! x)

life stories | the wright fam

I’ve known Jaslyn for all of my grown-up life. 
She is incredibly loyal, and steadfast and so, so fun (seriously, if you haven’t heard her laugh, you are missing out!). 
One of my favourite memories of us, is early in my pregnancy with my firstborn. 
I was nauseous, and overwhelmed, planning a very shotgun wedding and felt very much alone. 
Jaz offered to come and help, and we sat in my almost-mother-in-law’s study, folding and stamping wedding invitations and she gave me a Bible verse.
There is now no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
I’d felt like a deer in headlights, all the spotlight on me, on us, on this surprise pregnancy that shouted for all the world to hear you did something wrong!
But her quiet confidence that told me I didn’t have to feel guilty, lifted the heavy blanket of shame I’d been letting smother me.
And then she stuck around, proving her loyalty and blessing me with the sweetest of friendships.

She also introduced me to Grey’s Anatomy all those years ago, and really, what friendship could top that?!
Jaslyn drinks her tea with honey, is thoughtful, generous and has the most gorgeous little family on the planet.
And adding a baby boy to that gaggle of girls recently was very clever indeed.


(If you have a gaggle of little people you’d like me to capture, or even just one, be sure to get in touch, I would love to shoot your family too!)

life stories | taurua boys

It was about 5 in the afternoon when she sent me a text, to do that photoshoot we’d tentatively scheduled.
“The beach around 5:30 then?” It would give her enough time to get her little tribe ready and drive 10 minutes to the beach.
Anyone who knows this stunning mama, is in awe of her.
Her capacity to love not only her own little tribe but live a life where her door (literally) is always open, is actually astounding. 

Her boys were full of life from the outset, and promptly told me, “Aunty Em, we’re going to have ice-cream.”
It was a good bribe aimed at compliance for smiles and containing the wild boyish energy they each so desperately wanted to expel. Luckily, I was fast enough to capture the essence of their brotherhood as they ran in opposite directions (despite the promise of the ice-cream!), and I’ve never laughed so much at crazy faces and penguin impersonations.

Their baby sister, due in a month, will be incredibly blessed to be a part of their little gang!


PS – if you’d like to have your kiddos or your family captured like this, I’m running a Summer Sessions special over at my Facebook page. I’d love to chat about photographing you and yours! 

life stories | birth: baby Hudson

This time last week my phone and I were inseparable. I was waiting for the text that would tell me that my gorgeous friend Steph had gone into labour, the call to tell me to come with my camera. After her waters broke at 1am Saturday morning, I knew things would be moving along but I didn’t get the text until 5pm Saturday. “Back at the Birthing Centre and I’m 6cm and midwife thinks it’s all going to happen fairly quickly so head on over…”
It was drizzly with rain as I pulled out of my driveway and as I prayed quietly for peace, for a safe delivery, for God’s presence to be with me, tangible, I looked up and saw the most intense rainbow peel itself across the sky. If I wasn’t in such a hurry I would have stopped to capture it and it’s promise. I knew it was for Nath and Steph, and the baby boy she was about to bring into the world.

The only births I’ve experienced are my own. I’ll admit I was nervous. Not for my sake but for Steph’s. I didn’t want to be in the way, I didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable with my giant 35mm lens snapping away. I didn’t want to feel like I was intruding on those intimate moments. 

Those worries disappeared as I arrived around 6pm. Greeted by Carly the most gorgeous, warm midwife and her offer of coffee, I was instantly made to feel welcome. The lights were dimmed, the worship music was a continuation of what had been playing in my car, and the oil diffuser bubbled away in the corner misting a blend that I’m sure added to the incredible feeling of calm and peace in the birthing suite. Between contractions Nath and Steph chatted easily, the room was warm, and the anticipation evident.

What amazed me was how well Steph seemed to know her body. How seemingly easily and soundlessly she focused on breathing through her contractions, and how she knew when it was time to enter the bath. I could tell the contractions were intensifying but I didn’t realise just how close she was to giving birth until the gentle encouragement from the midwife started coming, and all of a sudden he was crowning. Nath held his wife’s arms and she rocked, focused and intent, quiet and calm. And then, as she panted and pushed for what felt like just a few short minutes, at 7:52pm she birthed her beautiful baby boy and the midwife helped him up and out of the water.

Relief and wonder filled the room. I was in awe of Steph’s quiet determination and the beauty of the way life had been brought into the world. 

I didn’t stay long afterwards. I left them to their baby bubble, after Nath cut the cord, and Steph was tucked back into bed in their room. Two cups of teas brough in on a tray, and toast being made for the champion parents.
I left that room, warm and dim and full of peace and the beauty of new life.
What a privilege and a blessing it was to witness, to experience, to capture. 


where are we going?

I get annoyed sometimes because I can’t see the end.
If only I could see clearly the way life will pan out for us, I could focus on what really matters.
If only I could see the finished jigsaw instead of what now looks like an unfinished, abstract mess, then I wouldn’t feel so unsettled and unsure. 
If only I could see clearly what God has put inside me to use, and to develop, and to sow then I wouldn’t bury everything and hide away.

I’m Thomas. The doubting disciple.
The beautiful, comforting words of Jesus tells them* not to let their hearts be troubled, to trust Him. Everyone else seems okay with this. Except Thomas. I imagine these beautiful, comforting words lingered in his mind for a little bit. They sounded nice but then the pause. Logic and reality hit him like a train. Wait a second, what are you even talking about?! You can tell me not to be troubled all you like but I AM troubled! “No, we don’t know, Lord” Thomas says, “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” I know how Thomas feels. 
“WHERE ARE WE GOING?!” I scream it in my mind. 
I demand it, frown, try to move away from the discomfort. NO WE DON’T KNOW, JESUS. 

I don’t know! I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t know specifically, what I need to be doing. I have no map, no timeline, no checklist. What if I’m going the wrong way? What if I make a choice and it’s the wrong one?

But I think that’s the point. The point of the faith that we’re supposed to have for God to smile upon us. The faith that says, “I can’t see the way, but I know Who the Way is.”
And it’s always the Who that is the most important.
And He is the one who promises peace regardless.
Regardless of how much we feel we’re stepping out into nothingness – He’ll catch us.
Regardless of how much we feel we’re flailing on a path alone – we’re not. 
We’re left with the gift ofpeace of mind and heart. “And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”**

“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught” ***

As frustrating as it is that I can’t see the end, I can see Him. I can know Him. And instead of being berated for doubting He simply promises peace, even when I can’t see the way, and when the path before me is dim. 


* John 14
** John 14:27
*** Message Paraphrase

life stories | isaac & missie

Their business is coffee.
He grinds and tamps and extracts the perfect honey-coloured liquid. The milk is frothed until it’s thick and silky and he pours back and fourth until the delicate art forms on the top. It truly is the best coffee I’ve ever had. And I’m lucky enough to drink it every Sunday. 
Their espresso bar is set up just beyond the doors of our church. 
Music plays as a background to the grinding and the tapping and the chatting. 
It’s not just the coffee with these two though. 
It’s the jovial joking from behind the coffee machine, and the warm greetings.
It’s not just the knowing what type of coffee you’re ordering (flat white, double shot, no sugar thanks) but the knowing who you are, how your family is.
They love people with their coffee, and their genuine grins. And they love each other.
It’s obvious. It’s not a showy over-the-top loving that needs to be announced in a Facebook post. It’s the earthy and real everyday loving and serving that I see. The working-alongside, giving-my-best type love. 
And we watched her little belly grow bit by bit, week by week as she wrote our name on pretty paper coffee cups. We saw the anticipation and the delight growing as she did. 

And then he arrived and now they’re three. 
And lucky me took my camera and spent a little hour chatting and capturing his three-week-old perfection, and the newness of life and the evolution of family. I reminisced with her my own squishy-newborn sleep-deprived days and the wonder and the worry of it all. 
But can you see the God-peace in the photos? Because it was there. This tangible peace and awe of the miracle of family and the blessing of a baby.