An Adoption Story

I’ve been blessed to have been able to witness and capture two adoption ceremonies in this past year. What an incredible gift! For a family to let me enter in to a day that is so momentous, so emotionally charged and so amazingly special and to have the chance to capture all of that for them – it’s incredibly humbling and moving. It was a beautiful spring day when this family of 2 officially became a family of 3 and from the moment I walked into the courthouse, you could feel and see the love between all of them. There aren’t enough words to be able to explain, so I’m going to let the images share their story. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for letting me be present – the gift of love that you have given is beyond compare.

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Telling The Story of your Family (in 30 minutes)

Mini Sessions. The name brings along with it a certain connotation. And there are many photographers who do these typical mini sessions, do them well and their clients are thrilled that they have at least one “good” picture where all the kids are looking and no one is crying and their husband is happy the whole session was done quickly. And as a mom of 3 boys under the age of 7, I get it. I totally do. And this type of cookie cutter set up works for a lot of people. But, as a photographer, it doesn’t work for me.

My passion is creating portraits that evoke emotion. Showcasing connection. Capturing all the details you don’t want to forget from this crazy time in your life as a parent. Your son’s crazy long eyelashes, your daughter’s dimple, the chubby little ankle rolls your baby has, the way your wife’s hand fits so well in yours. All of these things that tell your family’s special and one-of-a-kind story.

And some may argue that it’s not possible to do that in a mini session. It’s only 30 minutes, what kind of emotion and storytelling can you actually accomplish in that time?   And I would counter that you can actually accomplish quite a bit. Can you get everything? No, of course not, and that’s why I always encourage my families to book a full family session, so we can spend more time together and really capture your story to the fullest extent.

However, if you book a mini session with me, you need to know that it is not going to be cookie cutter. It’s not going to be posed. There’s not going to be props (other than, maybe a quilt). It’s not going to be anything other than authentically you. You have one job when you come to a session with me: play with your babies. That’s it. For 30 minutes. You just need to play. And laugh. And snuggle.

I’m going to have you running after your kids, dancing with your husband, tickling the bellies of your babies and hopefully, forgetting that I’m there. Because my job is to make you comfortable, put you at ease so that you can be real. I don’t want your forced smiles or your stiff poses. I want the real stuff. All of it. And yes, that means the meltdowns, the tears, the not listening, the doing-everything-but-what-you-want-them-to-do kids. I except that to happen. I anticipate it. I have three of those kids at home. That’s my wheelhouse.

But, can I tell you a secret?

When you are having fun, when you are relaxed, your kids will follow. Maybe not right away. Maybe not at first. But they’ll get there. “But we only have 30 minutes!?!?” you exclaim. Yup. And we’ll still be able to get them to come around. Trust me.

Below are the moments from my mini sessions in October. All 37 of them. And if you were a client of mine, thank you – THANK YOU for trusting me to capture your family, and thank you for going along with my ideas. I am most proud of this work. And I am most humbled to be able to share your stories.

 

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Sadie and Jim’s Wedding at Munich Haus in Chicopee, MA

Sadie and Jim celebrated their wedding on hands down, THE most beautiful day in September. Shining sun. Not a cloud. Blue skies forever.

These two are just so good together. Their love and joy radiates like few others I’ve seen. I’m not sure I’ve seen bigger smiles or more laughing at a wedding before.

P.S. These kids know how to PAR-TAY! Their day was straight up, side splitting laughter and true tears of happiness from start to stop.


VENDORS

         Hair: Belucci    

        Tuxes: Men’s Wearhouse

        Shoes: Converse

       Wedding Cake: Coffee Kup Bakery  

       DJ: TC Disc Jockey Service

      Ceremony: St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church

      Venue: Munich Haus Restaurant

      Photographer: Melissa Ortendahl


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Stephne and Jason’s Wedding at Stanley Park

Stephne and Jason had an absolutely perfect day for their wedding at Stanley Park. Blue skies, beautiful gardens, surrounded by family and friends with smiles that didn’t leave their faces all day. What an honor to capture their love!

Wedding Dress: David’s Bridal         Shoes: David’s Bridal           Tuxes: College Formals

Flowers: McClellands Florist             DJ: Paul St. Amour                Photo Booth: Viral Booth

       Venue: Stanley Park   Reception: Elk’s Lodge, Chicoppee        

Caterer: Anthony’s Catering    Cake: Patty Cakes               

 

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Motherhood

I can hardly contain my excitement in sharing this session with you. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while and to see it come to life is simply amazing. The journey of motherhood is unlike anything else. However it comes to you, in whatever form it takes, it’s life changing in indescribable ways. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can prepare you for it.

As a mother, you experience such a range and depth of emotions. Overwhelming love, insane pride, laughter, joy, fear, doubt, loneliness, anger. The path that we walk along side our little ones can feel long and isolating and confusing. And it’s so easy to lose yourself in those early years in making your babies the focus of your world.

And we can shy away from being with them, in activities, in videos and in pictures because of time and insecurity and business and just being so.very.tired, but mama’s, they want us there. No, they need us there. Need to have memories of us getting down in the dirt and making mud pies, splashing in the ocean, squeezing them tight as you watch the stars come out.

That’s why I’ve wanted to do Motherhood Sessions for a long time. To give all of you a chance to connect, to relax, to forget about the grocery list, the laundry that needs to be folded, the work that has to be done and just be present with your children. To allow you to see your beauty reflected both in picture and in the eyes and smiles of your children.

Give me an hour of your time, we’ll put you in a beautiful outfit, and all you have to do is laugh, kiss, cuddle and play with your babies. That’s it. And I promise you, it will be worth every minute. Not just for the memories that will be captured, but also to give you a chance to exhale and be in the moment with your kids. This is what I want for you. Email me at hello@melissaortendahlphotography.com to schedule your session.

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Campfire and S’mores

I’ve been focusing this year on telling the story of our family. Taking some time to really capture us doing what we do when we’re together. And that ranges from the boys riding bikes, to watching them wrestle, going to the beach, taking a hike; our unposed family story.

If you think about looking through your parents or grandparents photo albums, that’s what they were filled with – in-the-moment pictures or your family being together, laughing, playing, being goofy – just being, well, yourselves. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for a beautiful family portrait (of course there is), but it’s also important to give your kids pictures to look back on that weren’t posed and perfect that showed the true emotion and connection of simply being together.

The boys have been asking all summer to have a campfire and since I can’t have a campfire without s’mores – well, they were all too happy to consume the marshmallowy and chocolate graham cracker goodness. So here’s a glimpse into our family’s story. Our time together. Us.

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