Honor & Integrity

“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.” –Winston Churchill

Most people probably don’t start out their day thinking “I better give that extra hug or special love you, I may not make it back home tonight.” Is it being realistic? Is it making every moment count? Is it treating today like it’s the last day of your life? Is it healthy?

It’s safe to say that we all have a 100% mortality rate and we would be delusional to think that every day is promised, but I don’t wake up in the morning thinking those things.

I’m a realist for sure, ask any of my closest friends and they’ll tell you I don’t sugarcoat life, yet….I don’t leave my house thinking “I may not live until the end of the day.”

Sadly, a lot of people do and right now, those thoughts are constantly on the minds of police officers and those who love them. Believe me, I’m not trying to take away from any life that has been taken during these controversial times, but I am focusing on law enforcement because of what has taken place near me.

We are living in a volatile time. It’s unsettling, saddening, angering, frustrating and horrifying.

It has become a race issue, political issue, gender issue, power issue, hashtag issue and truth issue.

It has managed to steal away the very spirit of the United States and turned us into the “Untied” States. It is unravelling. It is heartbreaking. It is in need of change.

This month has been sad where I live. A local police chief and county sheriff began their day by responding to a domestic dispute and wound up fighting for their lives.

The police chief was wounded, but alive. The deputy was killed. He died later that day from complications, the bullet had severed his spinal cord.

The man who shot them “hated cops” and instead of respecting the law (with all of it’s flaws), he decided to go the violent route. Now a man, who was loved by his community, is gone.

He didn’t go back home that night, he didn’t say his love you’s or give the extra hug.

I went to a memorial a few nights ago. The photos at the end of this post give a visual of what I saw. I didn’t know the murdered deputy, I had never met him, but the story affected us all. I’m not a sheltered person, but for some reason, the bullet holes in the vehicle shocked me.

I couldn’t believe how the metal was mangled and frayed. I could literally see through the hood of the cruiser. I could smell the dirt all over the paint. It left a pit in my stomach.

They hadn’t even gotten out of their vehicle. They were ambushed.

I guess the silver lining to all of this is that the K9 officer, Kina, was found. She was shot twice; the bullet fragments still lodged within the shots to her neck and back. Incredibly, she is expected to make a full recovery, even after wandering the woods for over 24 hours in 100 degree weather, all with her bulletproof vest on. Although Kina isn’t human, she’s an officer. They all are.

I can’t blanket all law enforcement officers as people with “honor and integrity,” just as you cannot blanket all people as “good.” But I can say, the deputy that died eximplified both of those attributes:

Honor and Integrity.

It’s evident in how people have celebrated his life. I can say that the officers who were injured, and lived, also eximplified these attributes, it was evident in the way they handled the situation and the aftermath.

I guess in today’s society, it’s tough to find people who show honor and integrity….that’s sad to me. So, how about we don’t just hold certain people to those standards, how about we all have honor and integrity and make sure that when we wake up every day we venture out with them in our hearts. Because we never know what the day will bring.

 

All Tucked In

“When you hold your baby in your arms the first time, and you think of all the things you can say and do to influence him, it’s a tremendous responsibility. What you do with him can influence not only him, but everyone he meets and not for a day or a month or a year but for time and eternity.” –Rose Kennedy

If I said that I get tired of going to hospitals and photographing newborns, I would be fibbing. The crazy thing is, I never cared for anything like that…until I became a parent myself. What a beautiful thing it is to see a new child’s first interactions with the voices it had heard for so many weeks before. I had the privilege of photographing this new member of the B family recently and I just LOVED going through the gallery….over and over and over again. Baby Tucker’s face is so sweet and to be able to capture this moment, freeze it and give his parents the gift of remembrance is so exciting for me. Tucker is a lucky boy. He has an older brother who he’ll be able to play baseball with and two parents who have very selfless jobs as educators. He is now part of a wonderful family of 4 that have great hearts, simply said. I’m so happy for you Tucker and I count out thousands of wishes for you and your dreams.

 

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Cooper | Fort Smith, AR Senior 2016

Cooper wanted some photos by the water; recently he had been near the banks of where the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers meet, skipping rocks. I had never walked down before because, honestly, I didn’t know if I would be able to hike back up the hill…haha…but I’m glad we made the walk and the scenery was the perfect backdrop.

As a senior boy, I know being in front of the camera wasn’t his #1 priority that day, but he was so easy to work with and I’m sure he did it out of the love for his mother. After all, she was about to send her oldest son off to college and being a mom myself, of a boy about to start kindergarten, I can’t imagine how proud and sad she must be during this last year of school.

One of the lasts I’m sure she will treasure most, will be Cooper’s last baseball game. Just being with them for a short time, you could tell baseball has played a major role in this family’s life throughout the years. So here are some images from Cooper’s senior shoot. I know, as a mom, she will treasure these last images….one day I know I will as well.

 

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Brooke & John

It has taken me a couple of weeks to sit down and write about this truly, AMAZING couple. Life has become very busy and it’s prime photography season, but lets meet them.

Brooke is an elementary school teacher and her eyes definitely show it. She has the kindest eyes and I’m sure her students feel very lucky, safe and loved around her. John is goofy and full of personality, I don’t think we went more than a few minutes without laughing during this shoot. Together, they are SO much fun to be around. Their story consists of chance meetings, failed job opportunities and being in the right place. The ring is an heirloom that holds special memories for John’s family….something you don’t give away to just anybody. Love definitely shows, but their friendship is what’s so great. Brooke and John, may you always laugh together, love together and continue to have fun….can’t wait for the big day!

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Brand New Baby

I told my friend Megan that she has blind confidence. She laughed, but my statement was true! Lets throw it back to a very pregnant Megan and how she asked me to come take photos of her brand new baby, once he made his arrival. I told her no…and I meant it.

I photograph a lot of children, but babies…..babies are an anxiety booster. First off, I’m just not good with babies and I currently have two children, one 4 years and the other, almost 6 months. I feel like I just don’t have the patience to photograph babies. They cry, they’re hungry, they want to be held…etc. it’s REALLY tough to get that “cute, posed, sleeping baby” shot. I have a friend who mostly photographs babies. I took both of mine to her to photograph. She has a gift…really, she’s amazing. I watch her in awe and cannot believe she can position, calm and photograph a baby like that. I cannot do this and I don’t act like I can. I guess you can say I’m a work in progress.

However, Megan wouldn’t take my “no” as an answer. So fast forward 4 days after she gave birth and there I am, walking around her house with my reflector, looking for a good light source. Trying out as many shots as possible that will keep with my style. Trying not to be anxious around her because she has trusted me to capture this special moment. Trying to be patient. This post is a sneak peek into my session with Megan and her new baby. It’s not cute and posed, but it’s them and that’s what I’m most proud of. My friends challenge me in so many ways and I’ll be forever grateful for that. Four-day-old Parker is beautiful, has two wonderful parents and a very proud, big brother. Look out world, he’s here.

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Newborn….New Interference

So I had a baby in late July and she’s a beautiful girl named Ellis. I’ve been shooting a little bit since her arrival, but haven’t blogged….AT ALL. It’s shameful, I know. I’ve been feeding, feeding, changing diapers, feeding, cleaning up projectile vomit, feeding, re-watching the entire series of Sex and the City for the millionth time and cherishing every single second of my time with my little girlfriend. So first, I have to show you my baby girl with her daddy….the rest of the photos are a hodgepodge of the last couple months and what I’ve been up to. Enjoy!

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Chris + Ashley = Baby Girl G

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Carly| University of Arkansas

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