Welcome to my blog!
My name is Jeanette Brown and I am the owner of In the Light Photography. This blog will speak about more than just photography. It will be a way to get to know me, how I think, and why I do things the way I do. I think it's important to choose a photographer who you like, because it's easier to relax in front of a camera when you are with a friend. So, I want you to like me, and how would you know you liked me if you didn't know anything about me?
I am a Christian, and this blog will definitely be written as I am inspired by God to write, so expect spiritual analogies that spring up from my daily life. I am married to the love of my life, Kim, so you will probably end up reading about my incredible husband. I am the mother of four children, whom I homeschool, so get ready for anything, because they hold nothing back!
I'm glad you have joined me here and I hope you are entertained, inspired, and encouraged. Please leave comments or email me with any questions.
Have a wonderful day,
In the Light Photography
These are my babies. According to my country, it was my right as a woman to kill them before they were born. Since I was born towards the end of 1973, it was also “my mother’s right” to abort me before I was born, I am very thankful that she did not. This is what our laws allow right now, but even though our country says it is our right, this is NOT our God given right. The Bible says, “Before I (God) formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart...” Jer. 1:5 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Ps 139:13-14 “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Ps 139:16
I believe in God, and in His Word, and I know that none of us were accidents. We were created on purpose, for a purpose and God has a plan for each of us. Are we really so bold as to say that our ways are better than God’s ways? Unfortunately, I think we are, but we don’t have to be.
Here is where I admit that I purposefully have stayed away from all politics because I have felt that I am too uneducated on the issues and on the history behind them. I have stayed silent and shied away from even attempting to learn more. I was wrong to do that, especially since I see now that this is a more spiritual battle than I previously thought. I saw a post from a friend the other day that surprised me, it made me realize that I needed to watch what was going on for myself and really educate myself on the matters at hand. I started by watching the last debate and I was appalled. I’ve spent my time since then researching, and I am still appalled, how have we come this far? I’m pretty sure that in the past we wouldn’t have watched a candidate openly support something as horrific as a partial birth abortion without seriously questioning it, at least I hope we wouldn’t have.
I honestly had to look up what a partial birth abortion was, believe me, I have shed many tears in the past few days researching this subject. Hillary agreed that she thought this was acceptable up until the “last day” of a pregnancy in cases where the mother’s health was in question. After learning more about this, I can assure you that there are no cases where “in the last days” the mother’s health can be benefited by this procedure, as it involves birthing most of her child, then destroying and suctioning out, his/her brain and then crushing their skull before pulling them out the rest of the way out of the mother. The only reason the child is killed inside the mother at this point in gestation is that it would be “considered murder” if the whole baby were outside the mother. In cases where this would happen on the “last day” or even a few weeks before the last day, the baby is referred to as “viable” and could most likely (depending upon the week of gestation) survive outside the womb. There is no reason a mother’s health would be benefitted more by crushing her child’s skull inside of her than she would by just birthing a pre-term baby and allowing that child a chance to live, even if it is a small chance.
I looked up the statistics on partial birth abortions before the ban, 80% done by the main doctor that performed them were elective and not done for medical reasons at all. Of the 20% that said they were done for medical reasons most were for depression (22%). My personal thought on this is that “terminating a pregnancy” has the extreme chance to not only hormonally make the depression worse, but to also increase it through the years with the compounded guilt and shame that come with abortion (that is a whole other topic). 16% were "for conditions consistent with the birth of a normal child (e.g., sickle cell trait, prolapsed uterus, small pelvis). Those were the medical conditions of the mothers that ended pregnancies in partial birth abortion. I personally attended the beginning of a birth where a mother had a small pelvis and therefore could not vaginally deliver her child. She ended up having a c-section and both mother and child are alive and well today. I believe there are other options besides abortion.
As far as medical “complications” in the babies, here is the list:
“Twenty-four were done for cystic hydroma (a benign lymphatic mass, usually treatable in a child of normal intelligence). Nine were done for cleft lip-palate syndrome. Other reasons included cystic fibrosis and duodenal atresia (surgically correctable, but many children with this problem are moderately mentally retarded). In fact, most of the partial-birth abortions in that [McMahon] survey were done for problems that were either surgically correctable or would result in some degree of neurologic or mental impairment, but would not harm the mother. Or they were done for reasons such as: depression, chicken pox, diabetes, vomiting. ["What Constitutes A Quality Life?," Los Angeles Times, Aug. 28, 1996]”
This information was obtained from the article I am linking here, I removed the personal commentary in the article, so it’s not a full quote, look it up here for the whole article: http://www.nrlc.org/archive/abortion/pba/pbafact10.html
As for my own commentary on the above, I have a beloved family member who was born with a cleft palate which did require multiple childhood surgeries. I’m so glad that I wasn’t robbed of her existence and the existence of her precious daughters due to this medical condition. I also know a young boy, who brings joy to many lives who has cystic fibrosis. His life is a constant battle, but he has life and his family and friends are stronger for knowing him and battling alongside him. My own uncle has Down’s Syndrome, which is a “medical condition” I saw in another article that was given as reason for partial birth abortion. I know that my whole family wouldn’t be who we are today without him in our lives. Can I say that he made our lives easier? No, quite the opposite, but he made them more full and I believe that we are capable of more love, more patience, and more understanding because of him. I am so grateful that my grandmother refused to terminate the pregnancy or put him in a home after he was born, as she was counseled to do at the time.
The only reason I mentioned partial birth abortions is that they were what was being talked about at the debate. They are not the majority of abortions, they are just obviously outrageous. I am Pro-Life, regardless of the term of the pregnancy, so I looked up statistics on earlier term abortions as well, they are also heart rending. Here is a statistical website on abortions in the U.S.: http://www.abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/
We are often told that we need to have abortion be legal for reasons such as rape and medical problems, but those situations are the smallest percentages for reasons that people give for having abortions. This survey doesn’t account for what the health issues are that prompted these answers, I would be curious to know what the percentage of life threatening health issues would be. Anyway, here are the reasons given:
“ • On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 3/4 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner (AGI).
Given these reasons, it seems clear to me that instead of legalizing abortion, what we should focus on is providing more (or better) programs that help women either financially during their pregnancy so that adoptions are possible (America is full of couples who cannot conceive themselves but who are longing to adopt a baby), or come alongside women somehow to help them know that they can do this. Killing the baby is not the answer, encouraging and helping the mom is the answer. Killing the baby just promotes giving up when things get hard and giving up in this way does not leave the mother unharmed emotionally or spiritually. I believe that there is healing for this harm, but I don’t think that most women needing it know how to come to God to receive it.
I have a friend who is voting for the candidate who champions abortions because she believes that our greatest responsibility is to help the widows and orphans and somehow, she thinks that this candidate will be able to do that. However, I don’t know if there is a person more qualified to be called an orphan than an unborn child who’s mother feels more hope in killing him/her than letting them live.
We do have an economic problem in America, obviously, but I don’t think that the pro-abortion candidate is the one that can help us, as I believe that the spirit of abortion in America is one of the things that got us to the point we currently find ourselves. I’m not going to try to argue this on economic level, because I just don’t know the history, but I will say on a spiritual level, from what I have discerned from both candidates, Trump has an abundance mentality, whereas I believe that Hillary has a scarcity mentality. This is my opinion based on their statements and actions, both in the past and more recently. This won’t make sense to all of you, but I encourage you to look these terms up. I’ve personally spent years coming out of a scarcity mentality and still have further to go. It’s not easy, for me, it requires faith, some people are gifted with it naturally, most of us are not. I believe that God wants us to have an abundance mentality and that He has been moving through the nation trying to teach us what it is. I’ve heard it from many sources, whether Christian or not, it’s a real thing and it’s powerful.
I will go further and say that a scarcity mentality (opposite of the abundance mentality that we need) goes hand in hand with a spirit of abortion. This spirit convinces us to terminate the things that are difficult in life, whether it’s a pregnancy that would hinder our lifestyle, a marriage that is requiring more work than we thought it would, a job that just seems too hard, even a dream that seems unattainable. It causes us to give up in hopelessness of achieving the desired goal. We need to come against this spirit of abortion in our country and there is only one candidate who wants to do that. We don’t have to respect everything about a person to appreciate their strengths. I believe that Trump does posses a lot of the strengths that our nation needs right now, one of them is the abundance mentality.
There is no perfect candidate in this race, that is obvious, but there is one that has had a lot of financial success in life and in business and he can bring that knowledge and resource to our country. I would say that it starts with a belief of what is possible, even when it can’t be seen in the current circumstance. Trump has the ability to do that. So, if the majority of abortions are happening in our country because of a sense of hopelessness (whether economic or in general), then let’s put someone in office who aspires to give us hope, who aspires to make, “America Great Again”. Not only that, but someone who will put Justices in place that are committed to fighting for our unborn children.
Abortion is not just a small issue that only affects the people who have unwanted pregnancies, it is an overarching, spiritual issue that has taken our country by storm. It is attack against us from an enemy that we cannot see but that we have let influence our minds and beliefs and it is destroying us from within. Let us not continue to throw God out of America, instead, let’s turn back to Him by choosing life. “19This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Deut. 30:19-20
How do you feel about family Christmas portraits? Are they something that you look forward to every year or do you dread them? I recently read a Facebook post that deeply saddened me as a photographer, but that I could relate to 110% as a mother. The women posting in the thread where commenting one how hard family portraits were to prepare for, and make it through. From preparations, scheduling, kids fighting, or getting sick, all of these things put a damper on the day. As a mom, I know this pain. As a photographer, I want to offer a solution to this pain.
In years past, we tried and tried for the “perfect” family portrait. When our first daughter was born we tried. After hours of attempts, with the help of grandparents who pulled out all their best props and gags, we got ONE image where we are all smiling. It's not a perfect image, you can see the motion blur because my husband and I are both trying to tickle our daughter, but it worked and it worked well for Christmas cards. That child just never seemed to never be in the mood for pictures at the same time I was. I thought, “When she gets older, she will smile.” Ha! She became more opposed to the idea as she grew. Then, her siblings arrived. One by one, they stole her spotlight (the spotlight that she hadn’t seemed to want originally, but really wanted once someone else was standing in it).
Seriously, Emma didn't want anything to do with her younger sister for quite some time. She no doubt, wanted to be the only star.
I tried for many years to grab a picture of all of my children looking at the camera and smiling at one time. I thought, “I am a photographer, I can photograph other people’s families smiling at the camera, I should be able to do my own.” Yet, even with years of portraiture under my belt, my best attempts would always have at least one child crying, pulling their siblings hair, or flat out refusing to be anywhere in the vicinity of the camera. What’s funny is that now, as I look back on the images, the ones that I deemed failures at the time, I see how perfect they really are in showing the kids’ personalities and the story of the day. I just wanted a different story.
I didn’t want the story that showcased “imperfect” children. I wanted the story that illustrated a happily smiling and loving family. Why couldn’t I achieve that? The answer was because I was trying to control it too much. I am actually the one who made it a miserable experience for all of us. I was tense and uptight and I made it a chore instead of the fun, family time it should have been. I wasn’t like that when I was photographing other people’s families. When I was with them, I knew to make it a fun game so that everyone would have real, life-filled expressions. However, with my own family, I hate to admit, but I expected more, and instead of playing with the kids, I used my "Mom voice", I snapped at them, and I made pictures no fun at all. No wonder they were unwilling participants that ended up fighting with each other at every touch, and every other pose ended in a tackle. My attitude was contagious and it was not a good attitude.
You may have noticed that I'm missing a year's worth of failed attempts here. I think I was just too pregnant to try for posed pictures that year.
I didn't really try for a full family session this year either. This image was taken at an event that I had a studio setup at and my family was attending. We had someone snap three quick pictures of us on my backdrop. Fortunately, one of them turned out well enough for our Christmas card.
Two years ago, after a normally painful family portrait session, I stumbled upon the beginning of the solution. I realized that my oldest daughter wanted to be the director. She didn’t want to be in the poses that I chose for the family, she wanted to make her own, more fun poses. I told her that if she would cooperate with the poses that I made, that she could put us in a pose next. It worked! All of a sudden, she was a willing participant, not only that, but she was having fun. Now, unfortunately, she was a bit bossy in her posing (like mother, like daughter) and I think that some of her siblings cried because of it, but we got into a groove. Each kid got a turn in posing the family and we actually had fun with the game.
Last year, I forgot all about our fun game and our first attempt at pictures was a fail.
As I was scrolling through yet another year of failed images (mostly because the two year old wasn't having it), I remembered how much fun we had started to have at the end of the previous year and I convinced my husband to give it another go. The convincing wasn't easy because he has dreaded family picture day since our first family Christmas portrait session. I think that day is a traumatic memory for him.
Anyway, I convinced him and we convinced the kids to try again. We decided to make it more fun. We all wore pajamas (two children required new pajamas to be excited about the prospect), I didn't put up the backdrop (because I didn't want to work that hard), and we allowed each family member to choose one or two poses for everyone to try. Now in the spirit of full transparency, I have added all of my "failed" pictures above, there were decent ones in those sets (sometimes that required the help of Photoshop), but most of them truly were fails. Last year, they were mostly fun images, so I'm just adding gifs of a few of the poses. You can see by everyone's faces that fun was had!
We took a break in the middle of smiling poses to let everyone make funny faces, just to make sure everyone was still having fun, since our youngest girl was starting to fade.
Did we still have tears last year? Yes, but just from one child and only at the very end when she had to be in a picture with just Mama when she only wanted Daddy. Poor Gracie.
This year, around July or August, my oldest actually came to me begging to get to do Christmas portraits. I never thought I would see that day!
We still have a long way to go, okay, I still have a long way to go, but I know some of the keys now, it starts with me. You know that saying, “When Mama’s happy, everyone is happy”? It’s definitely true with family portraits. The more excited you can be about the pictures, the more excited the rest of the family will be. Conversely, the more you worry about them, the more the rest of the family will pick up on your nerves and react to the pressure.
Family portraits should be a fun time. The goal shouldn’t be to get a “perfect” picture. The goal should be to capture a moment in the life of your family. We want to capture the essence of the season you are in, however "perfectly imperfect" it is. The images that really show the personalities of everyone are the ones that we cherish forever. Here are a few of my all time favorite Christmas pictures of my kids. I rediscovered them while searching through images for this post. I thought they were all failures at the time I took them. The kids were being wild, they weren't listening to what I was saying, and honestly, they were just being kids and it shows. This is the exact reason that I love these images now.
So, what can we do to make family pictures more fun and successful? Here are a few ideas:
1) As I've already stated, your attitude is HUGE in how your pictures will turn out. Decide ahead of time that you are going to have fun and enjoy yourself. You really have no idea how much this will affect not only how you look in the pictures, but how the rest of your family does.
2) Be in the pictures with your kids. This is important too. I know that most of the images that I posted are just my kids. Some of that is because I disliked the way I looked so much that I didn't want to be in the pictures. It's also partially because my poor husband was traumatized by our first family photo attempts. However, I know now that we need to exist in pictures for our kids. They love us and they love to be with us, it doesn't matter how bad we think we look. The kids will have more fun when we are posing with them. They will also appreciate the pictures more, years from now, when we are gone. We need to leave them pictures of these moments in our family life to remember us by.
3) Family pictures are a great opportunity for a family playdate. They should be something that we all look forward to each year. Think about a place that your family loves to go together, we can photograph you there. We can go to a park, we can go to your house and play a game, we can walk around downtown, we can fly a kite, or do some other fun activity. Pictures don't have to be traditional, think outside the box. However, we can still be traditional and pose in the studio, it's completely up to you. Whatever we choose to do for your family portraits, let’s choose to make it fun and to have it be memorable in the best way for all the members of your family so that next year, everyone is excited and looking forward to family portrait day!
Oh, just a reminder, it is not too late to schedule your family portrait session this year and still get Christmas cards out in time (hahahaha, on time, what's that? I've sent them out in January before). To schedule your session, send me at email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to help you have a fun and memorable family playdate/photo session!
As a photographer, I am constantly continuing my education. One of the things that I hear all the time is that photographers should have a niche. I have to admit, in the past, the more I heard this, the more it discouraged me, because I love so many areas of photography. I love photographing the special moments in life: births, weddings, parties and even large events or celebrations. I also love portraits. Capturing a moment in time to create an heirloom for a family, a high school senior, a newborn, or even an actor, dancer, or business person needing a new head shot is thrilling to me. I even love landscape and animal photography. Traveling and getting to view and photograph God’s vast and differing works of art recharges me.
My website illustrates my love of diversity perfectly. It is filled with images from all kinds of events and moments of life, many ages and stages of people, as well as several fine art pieces and straight digital images that highlight nature. I’ve heard the advice that a website should reflect only one specialty of photography, and I see most others photographers seem to follow that. It has frustrated me though, because I can’t seem to choose what I like best. When I photograph a wedding, that is my favorite. When I photograph a birth, that is my favorite. When I do portraits, they are my favorite. Photography in general seems to be my favorite. Capturing light and color is my favorite.
Finally I realized that I do have a niche, it may be a bit broader than most industry niches, but it’s a niche just the same. I love photographing God’s creation. Whether it is people, animals, or nature, I see His beauty and His light in all of them. I love capturing who He created someone to be and watching them open up to the camera. I love capturing the essence of an unrepeatable moment and using light to create a mood that speaks more about my subject and who or what they are, or using it to create just a little bit more drama. I also love deep, rich, vibrant colors!
Whatever my subject of the day, I love my job. It’s not just a job, it’s a passion and a God given gift. I sometimes feel that I can experience life more deeply while viewing it through the lens of my camera, but maybe it was better summed up by Eric Liddel when he said that he could feel God’s pleasure when he was running. I can feel God’s pleasure when I am taking pictures, it’s one of the things that He created me to do and maybe that is why I’m unable to narrow my niche down to one part of the industry, because photography is part of who I am and I am more than just weddings, births, or family portraits, I have experienced all of those seasons in my own life and I love to be there alongside others as they experience them. I love being the person a couple leans over to and whispers, “How do we cut the cake?” I love being the one that is there to pray through a contraction with a laboring mother. I love being the one to play around with family as they realize how much they really love each other and they start to light up from within. I love all of those things, and I love to get to capture those moments in time as images that will be with their families for generations to come.
That is my niche. I’m a photographer who capture’s God’s purpose and love coming through His creation whether it’s a once in a lifetime moment or a seemingly average day that ends up marking a season of life.