Why I Offer Mother's Day Mini-Sessions...Part 2

"Sara...Mother's Day is over. Why are you still blogging about this?"

If we're friends on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, then there's a good chance that you got tired of hearing me talk about these "Mother's Day Mini-Sessions" over the last month. But to be honest, I wasn't really doing them because of Mother's Day. In fact, it had nothing to do with that. 

You see, I don't believe that there should only be ONE day a year to celebrate motherhood (or fatherhood), but I also don't think that Mother's Day (or Father's Day) is just another "commercial holiday". I think there's a better intention behind them that helps us slow down and create space in our lives to truly appreciate those important relationships that we may be overlooking or take for granted at times. There are SO many distractions that pull our attention away from what really matters most and unfortunately/fortunately (depending on how you choose to look at it), we need that extra reminder to keep us in check. It's for this same reason that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. 

I absolutely choose to be loving, kind and thoughtful on a daily basis. But we aren't perfect; we're all human (mom included) and bad days happen. Therefore, I also believe in giving grace and forgiveness on days when it's difficult or challenging to be loving, kind and thoughtful. And sometimes those challenging days or seasons of life can overlap with these so-called "holidays". Rather than feel guilty for not giving a gift or doing something thoughtful, I think it's okay...and actually better...to give grace, and celebrate when life calms down and you're both able to be fully present. There shouldn't be an unnecessary pressure that makes you feel like you're a bad son or daughter if you miss being thoughtful exactly on Mother's Day. Again, it's just meant to remind us not to forget to take the time (sooner than later) to really SEE our moms (or mother figures) for who they really are, APPRECIATE how much they continue to do for us, and THANK THEM for all that they've done or sacrificed to help us become who we are today. 

Truth is, I didn't start these mini-sessions because I thought it would make a good Mother's Day gift. Not to sound morbid, but I started them because I became painfully aware of my own mortality, as well as my parents' when my grandma passed away last year. I had JUST turned 30. Single, no kids. And I started to think about what made us unique as a family, and wonder why I didn't capture any of that in the last 10 years. Because you don't do family portraits unless it's at your own wedding or you want to send out annual Christmas cards of your kids, right?


The relationship we have with our parents changes when we're adults. For many of us, we become closer. We've outgrown our teenage angst, self-absorbed twenties and have replaced it with a much deeper appreciation and understanding. And if you do have kids, then I'm sure that appreciation is on a whoooole 'notha level. So why not document these redefined relationships? In fact, I think they deserve to be documented just as much as the relationships you have with your kids. Our parents need us. Not just on Mother's Day. Not just on Father's Day. And let's face it, we still need them. There's still so much more we have to learn, and there's still so much they have yet to teach us. 

So let's help them feel loved, seen and heard...something we probably didn't do very much when we were younger. And let's do it while we still can.

So that's my why. And it's because of that why that I've decided to offer these mini-sessions year-round, not just for Mother's Day. I want to create an opportunity for you to say your "Hallmark card" out-loud any time of the year, while I document the relationship you have with your mom, step-mom, dad, step-dad, grandparents, aunt, uncle - whomever that role-model in your life is - so that it never disappears. These are not extended family portraits. These are not "Mommy & Me" sessions. These are "Thank You" sessions.

Once a month, I'll announce where and when these limited number of sessions will be held. If it happens to be a good month for you, then great! If not, then maybe next month. To stay connected and be the first to know when the next sessions are announced, please join my new fancy email list below. I have some exciting things planned that you're not gonna wanna miss!

*Disclaimer: Because I'm new to this whole email list thing, please bare with me. I promise not to spam your email or sell your information to the highest bidder. In exchange, I simply ask for forgiveness and a good laugh when I inevitably send you an "oops" email. Cool? Cool.

Thank you for taking the time to read MY why. I can't wait to hear yours.

Why I Offer Mother's Day Mini-Sessions...Part 1

Growing up, our annual Mother's Day tradition was to simply go out to dinner with my grandparents. We weren't really the type of family to give thoughtful homemade gifts or even pricey ones. Instead, we always gave Hallmark cards to express our love and gratitude.

*insert joke about this being another Hallmark holiday* 

But seriously, my family was INTO IT, especially my Grandma. For any type of celebration, you'd get a card with the date written inside, because the expectation was that you'd keep it FOREVER, and one day, you'll NEED to know when in your life that card was given to you.

For the record, I rebelled against this little detail. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about putting your thoughts and feelings onto paper. But unless you've added YOUR words to it, I likely won't keep it.

And IF someone thought of it, we'd take a quick photo at the messy table after dinner or outside in the parking lot to document the "moment". Even though all of the moments had already happened while we were eating, laughing and sharing stories during dinner.

When my Grandpa passed away from bone cancer, my Grandma came to live with my Mom and I. The next 10 Mother's Days looked a little different. Instead of going out to eat, we ordered take-out from The Cheesecake Factory (because unfortunately the gift of cooking was not something I was born to give) and we didn't take any photos. Going out to eat or taking photos just wasn't something she enjoyed as much without my Grandpa.

We still gave her cards though because that was definitely her thing, even though her macular-degenerating eyes could no longer read them. So instead, we read them out loud to her. And honestly, I think she loved that even more, because those well-crafted words for $2.99 hold far more value when said in your own voice. My eyes would well-up with tears she couldn't see as I watched her face light up with the most genuine smile. That was all I needed...at the time.

After she passed away from cancer last year, I found those awkward restaurant photos in a box under the bed during a search for photos of her and I together. I kept wondering why we even bothered taking them? We did nothing with them. They didn't capture her spirit, her laugh, her smile. They didn't show the close relationship we had, especially during the last 10 years when we were the closest. They didn't highlight the details in our face that told you we were related. Our surroundings were an ugly distraction, our smiles weren't natural and let's be real, flash isn't always the most flattering. And honestly, this was how we documented most celebrations! How many genuine moments have been missed and replaced with these after-the-fact snapshots? Too many.

You may be nodding your head in agreement, almost laughing at the similarities between your story and mine. Just swap out the people and you know exactly what I'm talking about, right?

This is exactly why I offer Mother's Day Mini-Sessions. You won't need to ask your server or hostess to take a quick photo that will only live on Instagram or Facebook (if it's not too embarrassing to share), because you'll have just met with me before dinner for a quick 20-minute session to get photos you'll actually want to frame. I help jumpstart an evening of story-telling by creating an interactive session and give you the opportunity to say your "Hallmark card" out-loud.

These are all moments that would have happened anyway, but this time, they'll be properly documented, irreplaceable and will truly last you a lifetime.

Get all the details on when and how to book your session right over here. :) 

I can't wait to meet yo' mamas! But for now, please enjoy these sweet moments captured last weekend with Courtenay and her mama!

Toytle Power!

Hey friends,

I want you to meet my beautiful friend, Diane. For the last 4 years, she has been fighting leukemia. And if you've ever known anyone with cancer, you know that it can be a vicious, never-ending nightmare that wreaks havoc on the individual, as well as their family and friends. Throughout her journey, she has experienced a multitude of painful complications, including Gastroparesis and tumors that won't stop spreading. But despite all of that, she has remained an inspiration to everyone she meets or who simply hears her story. She has remained strong in her faith, shown more courage than I have ever witnessed and is continuously a light to those around her. She doesn't hide her pain. She doesn't pretend that everything is okay. She has good days and bad days, but uses her bad days as fuel to remind us all that we can't ever lose hope, even during our darkest seasons of life. 

I've watched in awe as she fearlessly made decisions that risked her life more than once for surgeries many advised her against and for trials that may or may not have worked. But after traveling back and forth multiple times this year to be treated with the utmost care by the best doctors at John Hopkins, another fearless, yet heartbreaking decision was made: she came home to Phoenix once again, this time in the care of hospice.

I'm sharing her story today, because some of her closest friends have started a youcaring.com page to help make Diane's last wish come true. I know it's sometimes difficult to give when you don't know the person, but I hope you'll take the time to read about her journey, see her light and contribute what you can. She's almost half-way there!!

To read more about her story and donate to her last wish, click here. 

In addition to the personal contribution I have already made, I'll be donating 100% of the proceeds from the next person who books a Mother's Day Mini-Session with me. Sessions are still available! :)

Some fun facts about Diane: 

I don't know anyone who talks and jokes about poop more than this girl. She has the coolest shoe collection I've ever seen. You can't talk to her without silly faces being made. Her laugh and smile are infectious, which is how her light shines through. She has a love story with her boyfriend that is one for the books. Seriously, their love for each other inspires me just as much as her courage does. And you will never, ever meet a bigger Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan! Literally no one can top this girl's love for those toytles!

About the Photos

I decided to pull from the archives to share (and re-edit) some photos that were taken shortly after Diane was diagnosed, but before chemo stole her hair. We had wandered around downtown Phoenix one afternoon and she let me snap some photos of her, back when extreme sun-flare was all the rage. Since she and my best friend were practically sisters, we hadn't really hung out one-on-one together like that before, so it was really fun getting to know each other better! We mainly joked around and laughed a lot as we tried not to get eaten alive by ants, but it's a day I'll never forget.

Sending you all the love in the world, Diane. You deserve it. Big toytle hugs!

Mother's Day Mini-Sessions

Last year was the first year I started offering Mother's Day mini-sessions after experiencing a significant life event that shook my world. My grandmother, who had lived with me for 10 years, had recently passed away from cancer. For years, I wanted to do a generational photo shoot with her, my mother and I...but we never did. I let life get in the way; always thinking we had more time. I was so disappointed in myself for not pushing harder to make it happen that I decided to turn my regret into something more positive: giving other families an extra little push to do what I no longer could, by creating an opportunity for them to do so.

This isn't just a "look at the camera and smile" experience. These sessions are more structured and interactive than any other photo session you've had before, so that we're creating honest moments that spark genuine emotions. The goal is for mom (and/or grandma) to feel seen, loved and appreciated. 

My mini-sessions are a quick 20 minutes so that you still have time for brunch beforehand or dinner afterwards, but in no way will you feel rushed. In fact, it's just enough time for your mom to feel all the feels and go home with happy tears streaming down her face.

BUT DON'T WORRY, all hard evidence of ugly crying will be immediately destroyed. ;)

Mini-sessions are only $250 (plus sales tax) and will be held at Heritage Square on:

Saturday, April 30th

Sunday, May 1st

And Papago Park on:

Saturday, May 7th

Sunday, May 8th

This also includes two tangible gifts that are just for mom:

Gift #1 is a $50 product credit to be used on prints, wall art or digital files to help ensure these moments will be cherished by you, your future self and future generations.

Gift #2 is a gorgeous candle from Standard Wax, my favorite local candle company who is all about bringing art into your everyday.™ At the session, mom will be given their Scent Kit Gift Set, which is a miniature collection of their fragrances, so that she can decide which candle to order using her unique gift code. This covers the cost of the 10.5 ounce candle AND shipping! Valued at $42.00

My personal faves are Sonoran Wildgrass and Sage + Pomegranate. So good!

Sessions are limited (up to 5 people per session). Email talkstudios@gmail.com to book! 

Some might say this is a little steep gift for Mother's Day, but I think we can all agree that the session itself isn't just for mom; it's a gift that will last for generations.

Have other plans on those days? Would an in-home session work better for your family? Is mom or grandma out of town? Is grandma a snowbird and won't be back until the fall?

Don't fret! Gift certificates are also available for a full 1-hour session. Price is the same, but does not include the two gifts. Email me for details!

Brooklyn Grace

Two blog posts in one day?! Yep! I just blogged Andy and Megan's maternity session, in case you missed it, which I have been meaning to do forever. But I didn't, and now baby Sagadin is here! Whaaat?! Fastest labor ever. ;) Just kidding. I wanted to share that session before this one, because we juuuust did this one and I'm super anxious to share!

Right after baby Sagadin was born, who we now call Brooklyn Grace, Megan's mom asked if I could come over and take some photos of the 4 generations of women: Great-Grandmother, Grandmother, Mother and Daughter, before Brooklyn's Great-Grandmother traveled out of town. I immediately said yes, because not everyone gets to have a photo with the 4 generations of women in their family. That is a moment that deserves to be documented. I feel very fortunate to have one with my Great-Grandmother, Grandmother and Mother. And my niece has one with 5 generations! So for me, it was a true honor to be able to give that to Brooklyn.

And while I was there, we were able to sneak in some photos of the nursery, which I absolutely adore! Andy and Megan did such an amazing job! I love how it all came together, but mostly, I love these precious moments between Megan and Brooklyn. I get tears in my eyes every time. Ah, so sweet. :)

And if you can listen to this song while viewing the photos, I think it adds a little something extra. It's called Remington, by The Honey Drewdrops.

Congratulations, friends! Brooklyn is so loved!