Emily Schultz : 2015

25 November 2015

Just in time for December

I kind of feel like my kids in these pictures about Christmas this year (these images perfectly sum up most of their relationship and not much has change in the last few years). It's trying to get away from me and I'm being stubborn about holding on to it. I feel behind on my planning and organizing. Usually I have my Christmas cards done and ready to go. This year I'm all like cards what cards?  I know that if I'm feeling behind you might be too. So I thought, “Hey, I'm already doing the work I might as well share it.” I'm nice like that. 

Last year, my mom bought us a really fun advent Christmas tree. You know the kind with the doors and little compartments. I immediately searched Pinterest and planned the whole month. Only to figure out we didn't have time to do some of the things I thought would be so great. This left me feeling guilty and the kids disappointment. The ideas were really great, but to be painfully honest I’m not the super cutesy make all the things kind of mom. It’s okay though I’ve come to terms with it.

So this year I parred it down, focused on building memories and relationships while keeping it simple. Emphasis on simple.  I also tried to include the traditions that we already have. Some of my things might not work for your family, but it’s a great place to start. Plus it’ll save you some time.

Click here to get my personal 25 Days of Christmas activities. They are printable and I left some blank spaces for you to add your own.  I included a printable coloring page drawn by me to use as one of your daily activities. 

21 November 2015

Let me tell you a story

I broke down crying on the steps of Marsh Hall. She put her arms around me and told me everything would be okay. In that moment I wasn't sure I believed her, because really what did she know?  Honestly, I felt like my life was over. All the plans, all the dreams...gone. I walked in a daze to my apartment. My vision of life was left behind me in a trail of tears. There wasn't anyone to blame, but myself.

Standing at my window watching the world rushing by unaware of the drastic change happening to me, I called him. "I'm pregnant,"  I sobbed and collapsed on my bed. The silence was deafening. "Really?... It'll be okay," he said, "We've got this." I didn't believe him, because really what did he know?

Turns out they knew a lot. My life wasn't over, and while it hasn't been anything like I thought it'd be, it is all okay. It's hasn't been easy, but it's okay.  

Ten years ago this month I found out I was pregnant with my son.  I was a junior in college and getting ready to study abroad in Spain. My class load was full with 18 credits and being actively involved in my sorority kept me busy. I was a double major with a minor on track to graduate on time. One night changed all that.

Those first couple months were the most difficult.  I felt isolated. Those I thought were friends, turned their backs on me. Family members wouldn't speak to me. I felt stupid. My perception of self was rapidly shifting. I felt judged. I think that was the hardest to deal with, being judged. I was judging myself so harshly that other's words only added to the chaos in my head. However, I was accepted. I felt loved. I had support. Those last three outweighed all the rest. They kept me going.

I finished my junior year, had my son and got married all within three months of each other. Thanks to an amazing mom and a great husband I completed college. I know I couldn't have done it without them.  It wasn't easy, but it was okay.

Sometimes I look at my son and wonder what could have been. At the same time, I would never go back and change a single thing. He is tenacious, fearless, and daring. He tests my patience almost every day. He is kind, thoughtful, and silly. He makes me smile all the time. I can't wait to see the man he will become. 

Life isn't anything like I thought it'd be, but it's okay. And okay as it turns out is pretty darn great.

10 October 2015

In Honor of Joshua

This month is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. I've never walked this road or faced this fear head on. I have been pregnant twice and have two living children. The loss of an infant or pregnancy isn't part of my story.  What is part of my story are those who are close to me that have mourned the loss of a child?

      I always wonder if I respond in the right way. Did I offer enough comfort, was I there? The answer is probably not. Life is busy, time slips away and pretty soon it feels awkward to bring it up. What if I make them cry? What if I make it worse? What if they really don't want to talk about it. I have been so focused on me, that I never thought to ask them what they need. What would be the best way to show that I care deeply about them?

      If you are walking down this road I want to honor that. I want you to know that though I may never know exactly how you feel, you never have to walk it alone. I feel as humans we need to be there and support each other no matter the season. To acknowledge the struggles and trials we go through so we can show kindness and understanding to those around us.  In an effort to do this in some way,  I have asked someone very dear to me to share part of her story with you. I remember getting the phone call the day she lost her son and it broke my heart. I think of him often and wanted to do something to honor him, as well as her.  This is her story.

     In June 2011, we got pregnant with Joshua. It was a normal pregnancy, except that he was a very active baby. He made movements that none of my other kids made, sort of a flopping, that I now think could have been seizures. December 9, 2011, is the day that we found out he had passed away. He had not moved all day and no matter what I did I could not get him to move so we went to Labor and Delivery. I was 30 weeks pregnant.

     At the hospital, the heartbeat could not be found and a quick ultrasound showed he had passed away. Our older boys Josiah and JJ (7 and 6 at the time, Josiah was 11 days away from 8) were with us because we did not think he was dead. We called a friend who had gone through many miscarriages to come get the boys. She was/is a good friend who could understand our pain.

      We were sent home to pack a bag, call family and get things ready to come back the next day to be induced. Saturday the 10th I was induced. My mom, dad, and stepmom all came to the hospital to be there for us. It was very helpful to be surrounded by family. We had amazing Hope Nurses (these are nurses who have gone through a loss and are there as a support and to answer questions) who comforted us and prayed with us.

      After over 24 hours of labor Joshua was born on December 11, 2011, at about 5:30 in the evening. We were able to have Joshua with us in the room and love on him. Joe was able to bathe him and I dressed him. The hospital took many beautiful pictures and the boys came on Monday to say goodbye to Joshua and get pictures with him.

      The following days were a numb blur of normalcy and weirdness. Kids to take care of and take to school. Nothing was the same, a hole is always in our family.

      Joshua is remembered by his older brothers and younger siblings. All our kids have a Joshua monkey or dog. Each year on December 11th we release balloons in his honor. We each get an orange balloon. The boys decided that was his favorite color. I get a birthday balloon to release in his honor. We say a prayer and say Happy birthday. Joshua is always a part of our family and we keep him in our thoughts daily. 

     I wish other people knew that I want them to bring him up. I always think of him and I love knowing others remember him.  Talking about him has helped me the most. I wish my "friends" had not ignored me, but instead talked to me. Saying anything, even if it's wrong, is better than saying nothing. The best thing to say is "I am praying for you" and to ask me for my story. Most of us  want to tell it, but we are scared to offend you. It's a touchy subject that needs to be talked about open and freely.

      I think of Joshua often. I miss that I never got to snuggle him or photograph him. I have had the chance to photograph his older brothers and his little sister Hannah. The photos here are from those sessions.  Maybe some day I will photograph his younger brother, Gabriel, but today I will remember Joshua and honor this family's journey. It takes bravery and courage to be open and vulnerable. Thank you for sharing your story with me.

     This month on the 15th is when everyone lights a candle in honor of their Angel(s). Will you be lighting one? Do you have a story? Will you be brave and share it?

13 September 2015

A Very Special Birthday {Yakima, WA}

I've been digging deep lately to define the things I  truly value in life. It's been a hard road so far and I'm not anywhere near the end. It's really made me reevaluate where I am investing my time and energy and how I can do better in the future.

As today is Grandparents day (at least according to Facebook), I thought I'd share one of the most amazing relationships I've ever had. To be honest it's really hard to write this and it was really hard to edit these images.  For me, watching someone slip away with Alzheimer's and dementia is an odd place to find myself. The person is still physically here but the first time I truly realized that she no longer knew who I was, was one of the most heart wrenching experiences.  I grieve, not for the loss of life but for the loss of shared experiences and also for those experiences that will never happen.

This is where I am with my granny.  She is still with us but I'm grieving for the relationship I lost. It hurts. It is hard to not share my memories with her, but thankfully she nurtured an amazing family who will share them with me. With eight children and numerous grandchildren there are plenty of memories, stories, and laughter to share.  You can see the beautiful spirit she was and still is, because it shows up everyday in the people she loved. That truly is a legacy worth leaving. I hope someday I can leave such an amazing and inspiring love instilled in my family. A legacy that causes them to still gather for holidays. To put aside the hurt and pain, even for a day, and celebrate. To celebrate not just the occasion, but us as a family. We are an anomaly in this every changing world. We are a family who still values our family connection and heritage and that is worth celebrating.  

So here's to you Gene Grace Hull. Thank you for the love you poured into our lives. Thank you for the stories. Thank you for the amazing experiences that will never fade away. Thank you for the amazing people I am blessed to call family. I only wish I would have told you sooner.

We celebrated her birthday in May, but it has taken me this long to work up the courage to look at these images. I'm glad I finally did.  If there is one thing I would have done different it would be to capture more of the people she loved.

PS this is me with my granny. I handed my camera to my dad to take a quick picture of us.

08 September 2015

Beach Haven Driftwood

I've spent hours of my life walking on the driftwood down the beach, laughing and talking with friends, watching the waves crash against the shore, listening to the wind whispering through the cedars and noticing the texture of the pieces of wood beneath my feet. Each one is different, they have individuality and personality. Some are happy and light, some are dark and brooding. It's subtle but it's there,

I've had this project in the back of my mind for several years now. I wanted to document the driftwood. It is ever changing, next time it will be different. Worn a bit more by the surf, or washed away completely.  I could have spent hours photographing the driftwood as I have spent walking on it, but I had children clamoring for me to put away my camera and play.

05 September 2015

Confessions of a Photographer

I have something to confess. I'm horrible at getting pictures printed. I have thousands of images of quietly lurking on my hard-drive, just dying for the chance to be printed. I always tell myself next month I will send them off to the lab. Next month comes, slowly fades into the next and they are still there waiting.  

I know I've mentioned my love of film and how I love the quality and feel of the images. However, another reason I am so enamored with it, is that I can't see the pictures until I send it to the lab. When I do send it, there's also this nifty little box on the order form that asks me if I want prints. Super simple to check yes.  Of course I want prints. Who doesn't want a tangible object of an intangible adventure. But guess what I also get the digital files. The combination of the two is something that I've really come to appreciate. The jpegs aren't there nagging me to be printed. I don't feel guilty for having only digital copies. 

I understand why everyone wants digital. I really do. I love sharing my pictures on Instagram and Facebook. I want every one to see how cute my kids are (I'm a proud mama after all). I haven't been offering anything digital in my collections, because I so badly want you to have prints. For you, yes, but also for the future generations. Technology changes so fast. USB drives that work today may not work in 20 years. Heck it might not work in 5.  For some reason I got it in my head that there wasn't room for digital anything. ever. at all. 

After coming to terms with my love of both print and digital, I'm working on a way to compromise the photographer in my head with the mama of my heart. I want you to have the best of both worlds. Something to share in the here and now and something for the future. I'm not sure how that's going look quite yet. It's still in the planning stages, but I just wanted you to know that I understand.

I shot these pictures of my children this summer at my favorite place in the world, Beach Haven (you can read about it here), and on San Juan Island in the Puget Sound, on my Mamiya RZ67 proII. Yes it's film and yes I have the prints :). Maybe next month I'll get some of my thousands of jpegs printed. In the words of one of my favorite photographers, Jonathan Canlas, "Don't let your jpegs grow up to be jpegs."

Lime Kiln lighthouse
Puget Sound, Orcas island,
Children playing in the ocean
children playing in the surf
Ocean sunset, boy fishing

20 August 2015

What Matters {Ephrata WA child photographer}

Relationships matter. I value them a great deal. Spending time with the people in my life, cultivating our relationship is important. Nothing big or extravagant needs to happen, it's just the time spent together that means the most to me. I've been trying lately to show how much I value relationships through my work. The smile, the touch, the look, the moment that is taking place. That's what matters. Today while I was working my daughter came in, quietly sat down at her art table, and started creating. It wasn't a big deal. It was just a moment, but one that matters to me. She gave me one of the greatest gifts. She gave me her time. 

Creative Child
Creative child
Child's art project
Child's art project
Child's art project

11 August 2015

Cohen {Twentynine Palms, CA}

This handsome boy celebrates being two months old tomorrow. It is amazing how quickly time passes. 

04 May 2015

Kristin Take 2 {Twentynine Palms CA}

As promised here is the digital version of this session. I love both the film (check it out here) and digital for different reasons. I love the way my film camera sounds when I press the shutter button and the feel and atmosphere of the images. On the other hand, I love how I know my way around my digital. Being comfortable with the camera leaves more time for creativity. I'm so glad I was smart enough to pack both cameras for this session. 

02 May 2015

Kristin Take 1 {Twentynine Palms CA Maternity photography}

This beautiful mama-to-be has been my best friend since I was 15. What an amazing journey we've had together. I am so glad that I was able to photograph another momentous occasion in her life (you can see her engagement here and her wedding here). 

I flew down to visit her during my "day job's" spring break. She was brave enough to let me test my film photography skills on her (although I don't really remember giving her a choice), but I also shot some digital. You should have seen my suitcase. It was full of more camera gear than clothes, especially on the way home. She gifted me with a Polaroid Land Camera (yep they still make film for those) that I cannot wait to use. 

Be on the lookout for the digital version of this session coming soon.    

28 April 2015

Keep Calm and Go to the Beach

I have so many things I want to tell you. My list is a page long and growing. I'm siting here pondering which one to pick and feeling a bit overwhelmed.  So here we go (This is me closing my eyes, spinning the paper around and around and pointing to the list).  Tada...My love of the beach.

Seriously I crave the beach like people crave chocolate. Living where I live that is sometimes a really hard craving to ease. Yes, we have a lot of lakes with beaches, but that just doesn't cut it. It's not just warm tropical beaches that I love. Though don't get me wrong those are amazing. Sand does not even need to be involved. It is anywhere where the ocean meets the land.  It fills me with such a sense of peace to sit and listen to the waves crash upon the shore.

My favorite beach is covered in small rainbow colored pebbles. I have spent hours of my life sifting though those rocks looking for the perfect one. Letting them run through my fingers with the smell of salt and seaweed in the air. Contemplating life, love, and the world around me.
My kids experiencing the endless joy of that rocky beach 

25 April 2015

Ella Grace { Ephrata WA }

I cleaned  my office/art room/total disaster today. I now have a designated art studio area and office area. The bonus is I had enough room left over for a mini photo studio. After sweet talking my daughter, she decided that being my muse might not be all that painful. The light makes my heart sing.