A Year in My Life| Project 366 January

In home documentary family photography|emilyjphoto.com|motherhood is beautiful|Intimate family photography|Lifestyle family photographer|AtlantaFamiyl Photography|Athens Family Photographer
Helping with chores, such as loading the dishwasher, is a valuable life skill that we teach as part of our homeschooling

Documentary family photography is a beautiful intimate look into our every day lives that will be treasured for generations. With that in mind I decided to do a project 366 this year. Yeah I know, started one last year and didn’t make it past a few months. This year I decided to do things a little differently. I am still picking up my camera every day and making sure to document my every day life. Instead of pressuring myself to edit and post every day or even every week I’ve decided to share a few of my favorites once a month. Every month around the 15th you can expect to see a new update of pictures from the previous month. Each month I will also share at least one tip on how to get better photographs of your every day life.

In home documentary family photography|emilyjphoto.com|motherhood is beautiful|Intimate family photography|Lifestyle family photographer|AtlantaFamiyl Photography|Athens Family Photographer
Mom told me no! Motherhood is beautiful, even when there are tears.

This project is very important to me as a mother. I am amazed by just how quickly my children grow. I have realized that it is the little every day things that I forget so easily. My children absolutely love it when we go through old pictures together and talk about the story behind the image. It is huge self-esteem boost for them to know that these moments are important to me.

In home documentary family photography|emilyjphoto.com|motherhood is beautiful|Intimate family photography|Lifestyle family photographer|AtlantaFamiyl Photography|Athens Family Photographer
Hanging out at a homeschooling friends house eating lollipops

Hopefully as I share my every day life moments I can also show you the beauty in your own moments. I encourage every mother to pull out the camera regularly and capture a few images to remind them of the beauty in these days. The fact is that motherhood is crazy hard work and sometimes we just need a reminder of all the love and beauty that is present in each day.

In home documentary family photography|emilyjphoto.com|motherhood is beautiful|Intimate family photography|Lifestyle family photographer|AtlantaFamiyl Photography|Athens Family Photographer
My 7 year old loves to read, I am so grateful that she shares this talent willingly with her younger siblings.

OK I’ve blabbered enough about why it’s important so now for the good part. Your first tip for getting great photos of your kids! MOVE!! Yep it’s that simple. Sometimes I tend to back up, get a good angle on the scene and then take all of our images from that one location. I end up with ten images that are all basically the same. Recently I have been really focusing on moving around more. Get different angles, get close up, get far away. Capture different aspects of the same thing.

In home documentary family photography|emilyjphoto.com|motherhood is beautiful|Intimate family photography|Lifestyle family photographer|AtlantaFamiyl Photography|Athens Family Photographer
We all love Boris “BoBo” the dog. He is such a sweet loving playmate.

One great example of this is some recent bath time shots I took of my two youngest boys. I intentionally put in a TON of bubbles just so I could get some great fun pictures. At first I was stationary in the doorway clicking away. Then I reminded myself that there was so much more to the story! I got high, I got low, I moved to the other side of the room, I even stood directly above them for a few shots. I had a blast and got a great variety instead of 50 of the same image. It was a lot of fun.

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Lots of bubbles +two little boys= incredible memories!

I would love to give you the gift of memories by documenting these every day moments in your life. Please contact me for more details about my in home documentary family photography sessions.

Photography- The Best Cure for a Bad Memory

We lived next door to my father’s parents when I was young. Every Sunday we would go next door after church to eat ice cream, talk with Grandma and Grandpa and play with the other cousins who would show up. Almost every week I would go to the bookshelf and grab one of Grandma’s family photo albums. I’d sit on the footstool next to her chair and flip through the pages while she told me stories about the pictures. I loved listening to her soft German accent telling me about my family history. Seeing photographs that went along with the stories made the people in them real to me. I especially loved seeing pictures of my freckle-faced, red-headed father as a scrawny little boy.

My mother also kept scrapbooks of her children. We had a family book and then one book for each child. I have many a fond memory of sitting down at the table with my mom while she worked on adding photos to the family book and I added photos to my own book.

Now as a mom one of my favorite times with my kids is when we all gather around the computer and look through old photos. My kids love looking at their baby pictures and hearing the stories that go along with them. Even more fun now is that we have videos as well as photography. So many times I’ve seen a photo that reminded me of an event I hadn’t thought about in years. How many memories would be lost if I didn’t have those photographs?

photography cure


I have been feeling mommy guilt lately for not having more of our memories printed. I know that hard drives can fail, files can be corrupted, and a printed back-up is crucial to ensure the survival of these photos! A few weeks ago I decided to print photos from Cameron’s grandmother’s recent visit. Sitting down with my kids and looking through that book was such a joy! They excitedly talked about the memories from the visit and about how much they missed grandma. We got a second copy to send to her and I hope she loves it as much as we do! I now have a goal of getting at least one book printed for each year we have been a family.

These documentary photos of every day family life are the ones that make my heart sing. I love to celebrate the individual personality of each of the subjects that I photograph. I love knowing that each image tells a story and keeps alive a beautiful memory. I would love to be able to do this for your family. Let me spend a morning, an evening, or even a full day capturing those special moments that tell the every day story of your life.

As a special summer offer book your session by August 15th and receive a $150 credit towards the product purchase of your choice (credit can not be applied to the session fee).Photographer|Lifestyle and documentary family photography| Atlanta, Georgia|Gwinnett|Barrow|Winder|Hall


The Submissive Wife

I have seen several comments recently about needing to be a submissive wife to be a good Christian. While I do believe in the Bible, the tone of these comments has truly bothered me. They bother me so much because I firmly believe that God intended husband’s and wives to be equal partners in raising up a righteous family to him. The doctrine presented in Ephesians 5:22-25 does not mean that husbands have the right to complete dominion and control over their wives. It clearly states that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Such love is not born of power and control, but caring and compassion and a desire to serve. A woman would be happy to “submit” herself to such a man because he would treat her as an equal partner. When I shared this viewpoint I was stopped in my tracks when one woman commented “Husbands and wives are not equal partners in the eyes of God. The husband is the head. The woman is his helpmeet. There is an ordained hierarchy.”

This viewpoint breaks my heart. Christ showed time and time again that he loved and valued the women in his life. He treated them with respect and dignity in a time when that was not required or expected. In fact it was a woman who was the first to see the resurrected Lord. As it states in “The Family A Proclamation to the World“:

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.

While men and women have been given different roles within marriage this does not demote the wife to submissive servant that must cater to her husband’s every whim.

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When I shared these thoughts with my husband he wrote out a beautiful response. I love his words and his perspective.

This principle of the Gospel is just like many other teachings we are supposed to live and try to understand in that it has different nuances that seem to contradict each other at first. For example–Jesus seemed to eschew riches when he spoke to the young ruler, but it is evident that God loved many other of his servants throughout the Bible who were rich men (Job, Abraham, David). We must learn to understand when to apply the teachings of Jesus and the prophets based on circumstances and a hierarchy of principles. We expect our children to be able to do the same, right? (It’s wonderful to pick roses for your mother, sweetheart, but not when they belong to Chick-fil-A!)

To say “husbands and wives are not equal partners” makes it sound like God wants women to be subservient to men, that they are not as capable, or that their thoughts, wishes, and abilities to contribute are not as important. But that can’t be right, can it? Did God really mean to assign women the role of sexual commodity and physical laborer–to be seen and not heard–to carry out the wishes of the man as ordered without a say in the matter? 

I don’t think so. 

Then what else could it mean? Maybe it means God ordained the family to be an institution in which there is a continual round of responsibility that leads back to God. The man is responsible for the welfare, guidance, and provision of his family and a woman is responsible for nurturing her husband in that role and the children as they grow–and that in this partnership of radically different but equally important roles, the woman grows closer to God through her relationship with both her husband and God, and the husband grows closer to God because of the way he carries out his responsibility and obeys God. Nowhere in any of this should it be understood that a woman shouldn’t get equal say in what happens with her family–and she DEFINITELY does not blindly accept and support anything and everything her husband wants to do if it goes contrary to the will of God. 

Whenever we talk about this subject, let’s not forget to read verses 25-28. For a woman to find God’s will in submitting to her husband, the husband must also be submitting to God’s will in loving her and serving her in return. The scripture states men should love their wives as Christ loves the church–even to the point of sacrificing their lives for their wives. Men should love their wives as their own bodies. “Love” here is not used in the same way it is used to teach against the love of riches or love of things of the world. It means to be aware of the needs of and properly care for something. So clearly God assigns as much importance to the woman’s welfare and salvation as to the man’s. Marriage is not the process of a woman learning how to submit in all things to her husband but the process of a man and a woman cleaving together to become one flesh as was commanded in scripture. Does God really want a man to cleave unto his wife and become one flesh with her if she is not equal to him? If so, that would be an insult to man. For God to yoke a man with a being that was not equal to the man would demean God’s own creation. Yes, marriage is the process of two equal but different children of God becoming one—growing through trial and error, never-ending communication, and individual sacrifice on the part of both the husband and the wife for the good of the partnership and the family.

I think of it not as a ladder in which the man stands on a higher rung but as a triangle in which men and women lean on each other. As each side of the triangle gets closer, they also get higher and closer to God–the apex of the triangle or the point at which all three dwell together. 

The bottom line is really that we probably won’t ever know the full meaning and extent of this teaching until we are on the other side of the veil. But we can understand part of it here and now. We know we understand that everyone–male and female–is a child of God and that we are all loved of God. Think of what we as earthly parents want for our daughters. Do we want them to grow up thinking they are always going to be second fiddle–that their priorities will always be handed to them from someone else? Or do we want them to grow up thinking a man should respect her individuality and support her in her own spiritual growth as she supports the man she loves–that she can and should expect to be able to use her talents and personality on this Earth to do something that will be pleasing both to her and to God–and that in such a relationship she can find the fullest expression of her womanhood and help a young man thrive in the same way? How much more does God want for His daughters that we can’t even understand? I think we would all agree that the tradition all over the world in different times and places that puts women below men as obsequients is wrong–it’s just wrong. God has more in store for His daughters than that. And failing all of that–we just know from thousands of years of experience that two heads are better than one–that nothing great was ever achieved by a single person acting out of his or her own knowledge, experience, and resources. Think of what it means to admit that women are “not equal” to men–it flies in the face of all our experience and knowledge about life on Earth and God’s plan. At some point we have to give up trying to put a round peg in a square hole and take a broader look at what was meant by this passage of scripture.

I am eternally grateful for a husband who loves and honors my calling as a mother and wife. We are truly partners. We aren’t perfect, but through our understanding of the eternal nature and purpose of families we are able to work together to raise our family in righteousness and happiness.


What is Intimacy?


Often people hear that word and think “sex” and nothing more. To me, however, intimate is a word that oozes vulnerability, openness, communication, and so many more things that many of us struggle with. It is something I struggle with. Something I desperately desire and yet still shy away from. Intimacy is something that can fulfill and enrich our lives or something that can rip us apart.

My marriage has always been a struggle. I know that every relationship has its ups and downs, but ours has been especially rocky. In the last week I have thought that it was not going to survive. As my husband and I have both sought outside help for our problems I have come to believe that the lack of true intimacy is the root of most if not all of our difficulties.

Intimacy is about connecting with someone emotionally and spiritually. It is not about merely sharing positive feelings or having a great sexual connection. Intimacy means finding security in a relationship that allows you to share all of your feelings, including fear, anxiety, anger, disappointment, joy, hope, and so forth. In an intimate and safe relationship, you trust that when you do share, you will not be abandoned, criticized, or judged. That is a huge vision for what a relationship can be — and such a relationship can take a lifetime of training to develop.

Debra Laaser

Why is true intimacy so difficult to achieve? Because when you truly let someone you care about into the deepest parts of your heart and they reject, judge, or criticize what they see it hurts. It is a brutal gut wrenching pain. It can destroy you if you let it. Because of this, we all put walls around our hearts. Some of us have a chain link fence that offers a small amount of protection, but welcomes in most who are interested. Most of us have a 30 foot tall x 10 foot thick wall with barbed wire and vats of boiling oil on top. We then surround it by a moat filled with alligators!

A few days ago my husband and I stayed up until 5 in the morning talking, slept a few hours, then talked all morning until he had to leave for work that afternoon. We laid it all out on the table. We were raw. We were brutally honest. We were truly intimate. There were times when I wanted to climb back behind my alligators, and times where frankly I wanted to shove him in the moat with them, but we pushed through. At the end I was completely emotionally drained, exhausted, and numb. In that moment I had the first glimmer of hope that maybe we can fix this mess that we are in. We both need to seek individual growth, but at the end of the day the thing that will save our marriage won’t be anything either of us does individually. Our marriage can only be saved if we embrace those intimate moments where in the past we have so often walled each other out.

True intimacy isn’t only for marriages. Every relationship worth having requires a certain level of intimacy. It is through open honest communication that bonds are formed which keep us strong. The more we open the deepest parts of ourselves to people we love and trust the stronger we are. When we are authentic with those who are closest to us we are able to extend that authenticity to every relationship in our lives. When someone rejects our true self its ok, because we have the support of those inside our wall to remind us that we are amazing, valuable, and worthy.

I want to help you celebrate this intimacy and authenticity in your family. I want to help you remember those little moments that draw you closer and make you stronger. I want your children to sit down years from now with a book of images that tell a story of love and acceptance. I want them to look at the walls in your home and see the moments that tell them “you are valuable; you are enough; you are loved”. This is why I do lifestyle and documentary photography.

If you are ready to preserve these intimate memories for your family please contact me and let me help you tell your story.

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