because what she's doing matters

Rhyan is without a doubt one of the most passionate and fiery people that I've ever met. Her story is convicting and inspiring and when you sit down to hear what she has to say, you're left with the overwhelming drive to get up and do something big. Her passion for Christ, for this island, and her children is contagious and spreading quickly. She's the founder and director of Espwa Berlancia, a nonprofit organization committed to serving the women and children of Haiti through pregnancy partnership and a foster care program.

She's the mother of two beautiful babies that she's been caring and loving for since their very first breath.

She writes about her experiences, sharing pictures and stories here.

I was more than honored to get to sit down with her and soak up as much as I could from her stories that she so graciously shared with me. I loved spending time with her darling littles (some of the cutest darn kids in Haiti, i'm sure.) and I can't wait to spend a week with her in Belle Anse this summer when I go back to Haiti. She and her babes are about to embark on an incredibly huge and hard journey to live in the poorest village in Haiti, to be the Kingdom for these families that so desperately need someone. I urge you to consider supporting this mama + her children. Because what she's doing matters.

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on remembering why we photograph

as a photographer, I get swept up in technicalities. is my iso too grainy, is the light soft enough, is my shutter speed too slow, is this shot creative enough?

I far too easily forget the why and focus on the how.

I think about myself as an artist, about money, about business, about the number of likes, about algorithm.

which, has its place.

but,

I forget about the people, the families, the importance.

but then I’m hugging a weeping mama, her bones too weak to pick herself up again. two babies on her chest, one heartbeat.

I’m gripping my camera in the palm of my hand and mama bear looks up to me and says, “capture everything. your pictures today will be all we will ever have of our baby girl.”

and with those words, I remembered the why.

I could feel the gravity of just how important this is, just how incredible this is.

the weight of the moments and the stolen time and the grief and the joy all sunk in and I poured every single drop of myself out into those photographs for them.

because today when they are feeling the phantom limb pain of empty arms, when they are devastated and heartbroken beyond what anyone will understand, they will have only their memories and these photographs.

and memories fade. you think they won’t, but they do.

when I photograph life in its brand newest form or death and its bitter sorrow, I remember the why. I remember the importance.

and in those moments …

there is no room for perfection or cleanliness or forced expressions.

it is not technical, it is emotional.

there is only truth. there is only love.

honesty can be raw. it is raw.

it is gritty. it is gory. it is painful.

but at the end, it’s all we have left.

so when it’s the middle of October and I’m photographing thirty families every weekend and I’m up to my eyeballs in comparison and emails, stress and technicalities … here is what I will remind myself.

this is not about someone else’s idea of perfection or beauty.

this is not about following trends or the perfect blend and shades of burgundy in your outfit choice.

this is about creating permanence and capturing legacy.

this is about the memories that you will tuck away and pull out in fifty years to show your grandbabies.

this is about your photographs holding authenticity and truthful representations of what your heart looks like.

this is not about me.

this is about you.

and I promise to never take the responsibility of being trusted with your memories lightly.

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my grandpa

my grandpa is one of my very favorite people in the whole world. He reminds me of Aslan and Santa. He's strong, tough, and protective of everyone he loves. He's also incredibly sweet, gentle, and completely adorable ... (but don't tell him I just called him 'adorable'). I can’t even count how many times I’ve thumbed through these old childhood photographs of him as a little boy. I’m utterly obsessed with these pictures. They’re absolute perfection. The photographs have this really nostalgic element to them - this romantically cliche but genuine quality to them. They’re real. They’re honest. They’re pictures of my brave, tough, strong grandpa - when he was this innocent, adventurous and imaginative little boy.

There a few things I want to say after looking through these photos.

1) thank you, thank you, thank you to whoever took these photographs. maybe it was grandma great, his mom … maybe she took out her little film camera and captured her boy, exactly the way that she saw him, in all of those little moments that she wanted to remember for ever. or maybe it was his dad. grandpa great. I honestly don’t know who took those photographs, but thank you. I wonder if they knew that 60 years later, that little boy’s granddaughter would be utterly blessed and inspired by those daily snapshots. These photos stress the importance of just - simply - taking - pictures. It doesn't matter if they're tack sharp or perfectly exposed, the point is that the photo was taken and kept. I don't care if the photographer used "the rule of thirds" when she framed the picture of my grandpa riding his tricycle out of the barn - I do care that it's a picture of my adorable three year old grandpa riding a tricycle on the farm that he was born on. Technical photography has it's place and is incredibly important (i'd be the first person to tell you that!) - but so is just documenting the real, taking those snapshots.

2) this. this is why I take pictures. to create permanence. to create something that people can hold onto. to remember the important things by. all I want to do for the rest of my life is take beautiful photographs like these and create these keepsakes for other people. if something is beautiful to you, if something is worth remembering, if something is important enough to you that you want to savor it forever - take. a. picture. - tuck it away for the grandkids to find. share your pictures and tell your stories. it’s important. it's what we leave behind. I am forever grateful to have these photographs and so thankful to whoever took the time to take these pictures.

go take some pictures of the people who are important to you. what you'll create, is invaluable, priceless memories that are now frozen forever. go on, you know you want to. :)

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a happy ending

I don't normally photograph weddings, but when Kim asked me if I would photograph her wedding, I just couldn't say no. She's one of the closest people in our lives ... she's practically family! She and her boys have been a HUGE part of our family's lives for the past five years and to be a part of her wedding day was really special. 2013-08-24_001

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