Category: Families

As any photographer will tell you, photographing one’s own children can be the most challenging task we face. Not only do I have to take care of all my photography equipment and the finer points of the shoot, I also have to think about location, clothing, the inevitability of my children arguing with one another and/or with me. It is the ultimate in stress as a photographer, which is why I generally put it off!

This year, though, I added a new twist to the story; I decided my husband and I would be IN the photos. As is true for most moms (we are the family chroniclers after all) I rarely appear in photographs, especially with my family. Also as a control-freak photographer, my presence in photographs about as common as Haley’s Comet.

Nevertheless, I knew it was time to practice what I preach to my clients: kids need pictures of and with their parents. I can’t tell you how many times clients tell me, “Oh, just take pictures of the kids; I don’t want any of me.” The thing is, the KIDS want photos of us parents, and they will want them even more 20, 30, 40 years from now.

We chose Gallery 202 ( for our location. It was decorated beautifully for Christmas, and I absolutely love the owner, Kelly Harwood, and manager Jim McReynolds. They were more than happy to accommodate us and gave us full access to the outside of their lovely gallery.


Sooo….then things got interesting. I had to set up the light, set up the tripod and camera, set the timer, pose the fam, then jog (in cowboy boots) down the sidewalk to get set before the shutter clicked 10 seconds later! (Whew! Makes me exhausted just recounting all that!) All of that considered, I am VERY happy with the results and I created in less than 12 hours what has become my favorite Boulay family Christmas card ever. And you know why? Because for the first time, it is actually a FAMILY Christmas card.


This is one of my favorites, and it almost made it to the front of the card, but it was a little TOO perfect…


As you will see below, the first pic in this series became our cover. Our resident goofball daughter decided to make some funny faces in our pictures, much to my initial chagrin when I discovered what she was doing. Upon reviewing the images, though, I decided the top picture more aptly captured our family.


In the above shots, my daughter was helping me set up the picture below while I set up the camera for my son to take the photo. I couldn’t, however, resist snapping these precious shots of my husband and daughter.


My 14-year-old son took this shot of us. I think he did a fabulous job!


The signs you see in these photos are all from our house. I had thought about writing a Christmas message on a blackboard, but bringing the signs made our images personal as well as unique. They also help “tell the story”, which is always my goal in my photo sessions.


The guys, of course, couldn’t resist having a little fun! Love these two!


The series above cracks me up! I think my little one may be up for an Oscar someday! She can switch up her expressions (including a very realistic fake cry) in the blink of an eye. The other two just couldn’t keep straight faces throughout her gamut of emotions.

2014-01-02_0008 These two are cut from the same cloth as you can tell.

2014-01-02_0010 2014-01-02_0013

My kids showing their more serious side…


Mission accomplished!! I am so thankful I took the time and energy to capture these images of my family. I know we will always look back fondly on this shoot and it serves as a reminder to me that I need to MAKE the time not only for my clients, but for my family as well.

Here is the resulting Christmas card:

Boulay Christmas card front lr Boulay Card Inside Spread lr Boulay Card Back lr

One Response

  1. Nicole

    LOVE LOVE LOVE– my favorite too

Rhonda and Mark West

category: Families

We all have certain God-given gifts and talents and I truly believe He intended us to use those not only to make our lives richer and more abundant, but to help others. If you’d known me growing up, you would never have described me as an “artsy” person–my sister Julie was the artist in the family. She actually went to art school for a couple of years and has an amazing talent for drawing, sketching, and painting that I can’t even comprehend! So, I guess it’s kind of ironic that I am the one working in more of an art related field. I found my artistic vision through the lens of the camera and that experience awakened in me talents I didn’t know I had.

Over the past couple of years, both Janice and I have prayed for God to show us ways we can use our talents and this business for His greater glory, and lo and behold, God keeps giving us those opportunities. Many of you know I did a fund raiser in December to help off-set medical costs for the Nevil family (see “Praying for the Nevils” on Facebook to learn more about their story). I regularly support silent auctions and volunteer at charitable events as well. So when I was approached to help the West family, it was a no-brainer.

Several weeks ago, I heard about Rhonda through my friend and also client February. When February learned of Rhonda’s fight with cancer and that she had never had family portraits, she immediately contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to help. How could I say no? Several dear friends of mine have battled or are battling cancer and I even lost my father-in-law to Hodgkins, so this cause is close to my heart. I got in touch with Rhonda’s sister, Ruthanne, and we worked out the details. Here is Rhonda’s story:

In the Fall of 2012, Rhonda was struggling with strange gastrointestinal symptoms like severe indigestion, nausea and abdominal pain. The doctor ruled out gallstones but the symptoms continued…and turned into SEVERE itching all over her body and jaundice. That’s when the doctor got really concerned.

A gastroenterologist did a procedure where, with Rhonda under anesthesia, he put a tube down her throat to “flush out” her gallbladder. While in there, he noticed the opening to her bile duct was surprisingly small so he took a brush and collected cells for biopsy and placed a stent in her bile duct to relieve her symptoms. He told her she could expect her symptoms to be gone the next day and he would call her with the results of the biopsy, which he was confident would not be cancer.

Three days later, he called her into his office and told her that a tiny tumor was responsible for the small opening to her bile duct. He referred her to a surgeon and told her he was confident that surgery would take care of it. Rhonda’s family believed, based on what the doctors had said, that once she recovered from surgery the nightmare would all be over.

Two days after Christmas the pathology report came back. Stage 2b pancreatic cancer. That was a devastating day for pretty much everyone except Rhonda. When she got the news she was saying things like, “Lets get this straight; I am a cancer SURVIVOR.” And, “I’m gonna get such a sexy wig.” The surgery was successful in terms of removing the cancer and getting clean margins, but two lymph nodes had been compromised; hence the need for chemotherapy.

I spoke with Rhonda on the phone prior to our photo session. I didn’t know what to expect and was surprised by her upbeat attitude. She has a very strong faith, and says that’s what accounts for her inner strength through all the rough times. The session itself was special. Rhonda and Mark have four beautiful children, including three very active young boys! As you can see in these images, Rhonda is quite a beauty as well and looks amazing considering all she has been through. I applaud her and her family for taking the time and energy to capture these precious images of their family that I know will be cherished for years to come. I ask you, my readers, to keep them in your prayers and support them if you can (see “Friends of Rhonda West” on Facebook). I will keep you updated as well. Thank you, Rhonda and Mark, for letting me play such an important role in your lives at this moment. I hope you love these photos.




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