When I first met Shelley, I knew immediately that she was an incredible mother. She was constantly putting her family first and helping her daughter and granddaughter as much as she could. There's really nothing quite like the mother/daughter/grandmother bond, but when you add the great-grandmother in too, well, it's just simply splendid. To see it all come together in this photoshoot was something of an honor for me to witness. Four generations of strength, wisdom and womanhood.
33 years ago, my parents (Randy and Cyndi Bird) took a leap of faith and bought into a new carpet cleaning franchise called Heaven’s Best. They bought the entire state of Washington and later moved their family from Idaho to the small town of Wenatchee to run the local business there and manage the other state businesses more close. My dad started with a pickup truck, flyers, a friendly demeanor and an unbeatable work ethic.
He ran the business out of our home, because he wanted to support my mother and be with his eight children as much as he could. I remember him working hours before we woke up in the morning, helping my mother when he could during the day and continuing to work late hours at night after we slept. As the business grew, he outsourced the labor to his employees and took other entrepreneurial ventures under his belt, but Heaven’s Best was always his priority. He was an incredible mentor to his employees, loved working with and getting to know people in the community and found great satisfaction in his work.
I remember going on jobs with my dad during my middle and high school years. I secretly loved getting to spend one-on-one time with him (and of course earn money), but in my immaturity, I was more often than not embarrassed by my dad’s profession. I’d usually tell people he owned a franchise business, but I wouldn’t say it was carpet cleaning, because I had succumbed to the falsehood that a blue collar business was somehow not as respectable as others. I’m pretty sure my dad knew I thought this way, but it didn’t bother him one bit. He LOVED his work. He THRIVED at his work. And he didn’t care what other people thought of his profession. He also knew that one day I would learn to appreciate what he did to support our family.
Four years ago, my father was diagnosed with stage four liver cancer. At this point, Heaven’s Best Carpet Cleaning was a very successful and practically turnkey business for him. He had everything so incredibly systemized that he was able to manage most of the daily tasks throughout his first year of chemotherapy treatments without much loss in business. But as his health deteriorated during his second year of battling cancer, things began slipping through the cracks and my mother had to take on more and more of the management. When he passed away in 2014, my mother was left brokenhearted and with the full weight of managing a small business, a state franchise and multiple real estate developments.
In the last two years, it has been my privilege to witness my mother rise to the occasion and take on the mantle of business and franchise owner in a very male-dominated field. She has done this while grieving the death of her husband and daughter (who also passed away in 2014) and trying to fill the role of both mother and father to her children. My mother is a powerhouse of strength when she needs to be and come to find out, an incredibly competent business woman. Although there have been many long, hard days (and nights) and an incredibly steep learning curve to overcome, her grit and determination to build the businesses back up to what they were before my father’s cancer has been more than inspiring to watch. In a way, her relentless efforts are her personal tribute to my father and the company he built from the ground up in our little valley of Wenatchee.
This last week was such a momentous and also a bitter/sweet week for my mother and our whole family. After months of work, preparation and more paperwork than I ever thought possible, my mother officially signed the papers to sell and hand the baton of ownership of the local Wenatchee business to Hayden and Allie Carnline. Much like my father and mother when they first started out, Hayden and Allie are ambitious, of similar values and work ethic and full of dreams to continue building the business to be even more than it is today. My mother couldn’t have asked for a better family to pass my father’s life work to and has so much confidence in them.
Today I pay tribute to the life work of my father and the labor of love of my mother - Heaven’s Best Carpet Cleaning. It's so strange, because it's just a business. But this company supported our family through 33 years of highs and lows, taught my siblings and I how to work hard, be respectful and humble and gave us the flexibility of having our dad around more often than we knew we needed at the time. These are the things my dad knew I would learn to appreciate one day. More than anything, it was a family business and holds a special place in our pocketful of memories. I’d also like to pay a special tribute to all of the business partners, mentors, employees and patrons who supported my father’s business and especially my mother during the last two years. What an incredible community! Wenatchee is such a special place and your support, patience and love has meant the world to us. Thank you!
I've collaborated with Markell several times now on various projects, but this is the first time I've had the privilege of capturing her beautiful smile through my lens. Her and Jordan are 1. Incredibly photogenic 2. Literally glowing in some of these shots and 3. Going to be the best parents ever. I can't wait to see their BABY BOY!
Most of the photo shoots I do are just for fun when I have the time, but it's truly a pleasure to be a part of these kinds of moments in my friend's lives. The quote we chose for the shoot says, "Love is making space in your life for someone else" (Neill F. Marriott). Mothers literally make space in their bodies for the children they bring into the world. Here's to making space in our lives for the ones we love.
This was the advice that stopped me in my tracks while reading the recently published book from my dear friend, Susan O’Malley, Advice from my 80-year-old self. It was exactly what I needed to hear and I couldn’t help but feel Susan’s presence as I let it sink into my soul.
Alex and I have been in the trenches for months now. Waiting, hoping and acting in faith that eventually this time this referral, this interview, this promising job opportunity will pan out. It feels as though we’ve been in the land of limbo forever. Dr. Seuss calls it “the waiting place.” I like to call it the place from you-know-where. Mostly because everything in my life seems to be falling into the “pending” box on the floor at my feet — "I will do that when we know where we’re moving. I’ll do that project when we move into our new apartment. I'll buy that when I know our new budget. I’ll focus on what I want to do after we’ve moved.” The list goes on.
It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the logistics of life’s possible transitions, and upon reading the advice from Susan’s book, I realized I’ve been holding back my own happiness. I don’t need to know where we’re going in order to feel peace. I can feel it right now, today. In addition, I don’t need to finish that project or buy that thing or figure out what I’m doing right now in order to be happy and feel that my life, my family, my own self, is enough. Everything I need is already right in front of me. One does not come to this realization and then live it perfectly 100% of the time. It's something I have to remind myself of every morning when I wake up. Day after day, it sinks into my soul a little further and the peace comes. It is not earned. It is a gift. A gift from Susan.
Despite her passing exactly a year ago today, Susan's book continues to bring her spirit to life. The collective wisdom of her work has yet again struck me to my core at a time when I needed it most. Thank you Susan. I miss you. Every time I remind myself that “I don’t need to know where we're going,” I smile and think of you.
I spent a week in Atlanta, GA visiting my sister and brother and their families. We decided very last minute to throw together a photo shoot of my sister's family. The only time they could squeeze it in was the day I was leaving in the morning before her husband went to work and her son went to preschool. It was seriously a miracle it even happened, which makes me smile even more when I look at these photos. So much work and craziness happens to pull these shoots off and I sometimes wish I had a second set of arms and camera gear to capture all the behind the scenes action.
After rescheduling due to rain, it was such a relief to wake up the morning of the Turk family shoot to sun pouring through the windows. Little did I know how freezing cold it can be even when it's sunny! This adorable family of five were all troopers and pulled out their best smiles, despite the bone-chilling wind around West Point Lighthouse. Of course, the promise of treats at the end of the shoot didn't hurt either. Never underestimate the power of donuts!
This was my first partially indoor family photo shoot! Since the Birds recently had a new baby girl added to the family, we thought we'd play it safe and shoot in a spot with indoor and outdoor options. It was a good thing we did, because it was pouring! Even so, we still ventured outside for some nice huddled under the umbrella shots. So grateful to the Bird family for letting me experiment with a new location and totally different style of photography. Brenda is simply amazing and her husband is my second cousin, so I just love having pseudo-family close by in Seattle.
Singing in the rain!
This family. They win the "you're amazing for even showing up to this photo shoot" award. Twins always make things more exciting, but it was also pouring rain that morning and we were scheduled for an outdoor park location. After a few prayers and scouting out a good location, we found a spot where the ground was dry in a small circle for their cute family to stand and pretend like the rain wasn't totally ruining everything. As I look back at these photos, I'm almost upset that you can't even tell it's raining! Almost. It also makes me secretly happy and triumphant. It's just amazing what families and photographers can pull off sometimes. I think all parents who plan and follow through with family photos deserve a gold medal. Period.
Seattle weather has been quite precarious as of late, so to get a rainless Saturday morning for the Davis family photo shoot was reason enough to throw some leaves in the air and shout for joy! With our layers on and crunching leaves beneath our feet, fall was most definitely in the air as we romped around Discovery Park. I've known the Davis family since we first moved to Seattle in 2013 and they are seriously a riot. I loved getting to capture their personalities and the beauty that is their family.
It doesn't get much better than Pike Place Market when it comes to quintessential Seattle photos. The Larsens wanted to capture their experience of raising a family in the city, amidst the hustle and bustle of Seattle. I loved this shoot! Instead of a typically serene nature backdrop with no one in sight, I had the challenge of capturing the essence of their family with people and distractions everywhere. The shoot itself was so authentic and true to the reality of city living. Seattle has so many fun things to offer families, yet we have to learn how to keep each other close and connected in the midst of all the amusements.