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High School Senior Photographs In Atlanta's Best Spots - Andre

Meet Andre. He joined my Senior Tribe this year and is entered to win a four day cruise upon graduation. He's also a swimmer. And a dreamer. I'm pretty certain he's going to chan...
Meet Andre. He joined my Senior Tribe this year and is entered to win a four day cruise upon graduation.
African American teenage boy standing in front of Atlanta mural

He's also a swimmer. And a dreamer.
African American teenage boy waving hands in front of Atlanta mural of a mask with hands

I'm pretty certain he's going to change the world.
African American teenager standing in Krog Street tunnel with light trails of cars moving in front of him

I love working with high school seniors and hearing their perspectives.
Male silhouette in front of Atlanta skyline

And their hopes.
High school senior boy sitting on railing and looking down in front of Atlanta skyline and Lake Clara Meade

Andre wanted to be in the Atlanta skyline, so we found multiple vantage points around Piedmont Park and Centennial Park before and after sunset for it to be included in his senior photographs.
African American teenage boy standing in front of Atlanta ferris wheel at night

Andre's Mom found me through a Google search for Atlanta high school senior photographers and I'm so glad she did. I met up with her and Andre at a Starbucks by the Mall of Georgia where we talked for close to an hour about the types of photographs he wanted to make, as well as what else would be included in the Senior Tribe program in the coming year. Andre's senior session went over the normal time limit, but I'm thrilled it did. When I've got a willing subject and a Mom who will climb to great and precarious heights to be a stellar lighting assistant....I don't want to stop shooting. Without Amanda working my light, over half of Andre's images would not have been possible. And now she has a lovely 20x30 piece of wall art, a large book, and a USB filled with all of the images from his session to cherish for years to come. Images that stop time for when this teenager is becoming a man and venturing off on his own all too soon.

Click here to see other high school senior sessions with Pear Tree Photography Atlanta.


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How Some Stories End

Words have been swirling in my head for days. But they've been in the making for years. Her story began in Sioux City, Iowa where she was born. It continued in Minnesota where she married and s...
Words have been swirling in my head for days. But they've been in the making for years.

Her story began in Sioux City, Iowa where she was born. It continued in Minnesota where she married and started a family. It continued in Rochester, where she worked for years for Mayo Clinic. Where she walked countless three day, fifty mile walks to find a cure for MS. And eventually moved to St. Paul in retirement to be close to her brother and sister.

Our stories crossed paths when I met her son and married him two years later in 2000.

But this story began eight years ago after tests with a neurologist and the diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment. I don't believe Alzheimer's was spoken. In the coming years, it was only whispered.

A few years passed before we moved her from Minnesota to Georgia. Just three and a half miles from our front door. Three years later and two years ago this week, we moved her again to a memory care facility when she was walking to the grocery store along a mile stretch of a speedy country road. There were no sidewalks, only a rocky ravine for a shoulder and there was no perception of the danger in walking there. Even when she fell and gashed open her leg on the rocks, she was insistent there really was a sidewalk and it was completely safe. The bleeding gash was dismissed as nothing. For days.

Once moved into memory care, she would pack up her belongings almost daily, determined she was going to move back to Minnesota. Or her previous home down the street. We would unpack everything and I covered her room, photographs, furniture, wall hangings, and even toothbrush holder with post-it notes saying, "This is my home. I never have to move again."

Alzheimer's is a tricky beast and I don't know that there's anything anyone can say to prepare you for how devastating it is to watch someone you love disappear right in front of you. It doesn't matter how many reminders are spoken. Or written on sticky notes around a one bedroom apartment. It doesn't matter how tightly you grab a hold of their shoulders, face, or hands...the personality comes and goes. Vanishing and reappearing on its own accord.

My husband and I toured nearly a dozen memory care facilities. So many were filled with people in wheel chairs who looked like immobile zombies. His mom was still incredibly active and needed a home with vibrant staff and residents. It was a process of repeated city permitting delays in the building of one facility and the increasing dangerous situations for her that led us to change our choice on a memory care facility to one that was closer and opening sooner. At the time, it twisted our mouths a bit. We thought the larger facility farther away was the best choice. But fate has a way of working its way into our lives if we let it and we don't push too hard for the way we think things are supposed to work out.

Camellia Place was founded by two women who were nurses and wanted to build a home perfect for their own moms in their last years. Perfect, even in the handling of Alzheimers and memory care. When we walked through their buildings and rooms, one person mentioned it was their goal to add more happiness into the days of their residents. Even if it was just one moment, that was important.

The last eight months, they have been hard. They have been filled with blood clots, hospital visits and ICU stays, infections and a declining appetite. Falls and staples in the back of the head. Walkers and wheelchairs. CNAs and hospice nurses. The physical disappearance matching the mental vanishing of a strong woman determined and successful in creating a life for herself where she would be a burden to no one. Fiercely independent, even to this last week.

And the last eight months have been filled with incredible kindness and love. In the care of a woman who always took care of others. Who loved growing hibiscus bushes and gerbera daisies on her deck. Who loved cooking feasts for others. Who loved pizza nights, oreos, and a freezer filled with cartons of ice cream. Who loved her son and daughter. And her grandkids. To the point that anyone who spoke with her knew about my own son and daughter.

The last three weeks have been filled with the sound of an oxygen concentrator humming non-stop. The sound of 80s music that she loved from Chicago and Neil Diamond. The sound of computer keys clicking and conference calls being conducted as my husband and I worked from her room to keep her company and make sure she was never alone. The sound of grandkids coming and going as we made sure we weren't sheltering them completely from death and dying while also trying to maintain some normalcy in their teenage lives.

Timelines were guesses on days or weeks. Or possibly months. Alzheimers is a wild card that takes the medical certainty out of normal health proceedings and guestimates. Staff came to visit and love on her. To tell her how much her sweetness had brightened their work days for the last two years. Hospice nurses kissed her forehead and told her how much she was loved. I crawled into the tiny twin-sized hospital bed and snuggled in next to her with my arms wrapped around her waist and my nose buried in her shoulder. My people gathered in as we all put our hands on hers. And we let her know that she was not alone.

I don't know how my story will end, just that I want to be loved on like this. By my children and grandchildren. With hands on mine, filled with love and kindness. Surrounded by people who know the value in creating happiness, moment by moment. Day by day.

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So You're Graduating High School And You'd Like To Win A Cruise!

#2019graduates Your high school career is coming to a close. Your senior year will be your best year yet. Want to make it even more fun? Fill out the form below to learn about ...
High school senior ballerina sitting at base of Roswell Mill waterfall

Your high school career is coming to a close.
High school senior girl sitting on fallen tree at Sope Creek

Your senior year will be your best year yet.
High school senior girl silhouetted on covered bridge in pink smoke

Want to make it even more fun?
Dancing high school senior girl with swishing hair in front of grafitti wall

Fill out the form below to learn about joining Pear Tree Photography Atlanta's senior model tribe.
High school senior boy smirking in bow tie

You (and your parent) will receive an exclusive invite to learn more.
High school senior girl laughing in front of grafitti wall

About making senior photographs around Atlanta. Destination shoots in Florida and NYC.
High school senior girl dancing and smiling in the sun

And how you'll be entered to win a four day cruise after graduation.
High school senior girl laughing and dancing in the ocean

Enter your information below to receive your invite.


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Part 2 Of Charlotte + Andy's Birth Story At The Atlanta Medical Center

Labor is hard. And it can be long. It can be hard to navigate. Having the assistance of an excellent midwife and/or doula can be instrumental in delivering your baby the way you wanted and envision...
Labor is hard. And it can be long.

It can be hard to navigate. Having the assistance of an excellent midwife and/or doula can be instrumental in delivering your baby the way you wanted and envisioned. And not under the agenda being pushed by hospital staff.

Lauren from Meraki Mama Collective was with Charlotte and Andy throughout Charlotte's 34 hours of labor. She held Charlotte up, danced with her, encouraged her, let her know what was/not normal, and when she should speak up for herself. Lauren was amazing at helping Charlotte through the long hours and at managing pain when meds weren't doing the trick. She made me wish for do-overs and to go back in time for when I gave birth to both of my babies.

While Vanessa and Anjli from the Atlanta Birth Center helped Charlotte through the first half of her labor, Crystal got Charlotte through the second half and delivered Eva. When others were pushing for a c-section due to the length of labor and lack of progress, Crystal was closely monitoring Charlotte and pushed back to maintain Charlotte's birth plan for a normal delivery. Two weeks later, Charlotte told me how thankful she was that Crystal was the on-call midwife who delivered Eva. For her commitment to her patient, for her professionalism, and mostly for her expertise in safely bringing Eva into this world.

Charlotte received an epidural, but had issues with it not blocking the pain fully on one side of her body. It took quite a bit of time for the anestheisiologist to come back and adjust the epidural. The second half of Charlotte's labor at the Atlanta Medical Center was long. And there may have been more time spent waiting than actively trying to move along labor like the day before during Part 1 of Charlotte + Andy's birth story. Chairs were at a premium. Andy, Charlotte's best friend Melissa, and Lauren (Doula Extraordinaire) all slept on a lumpy cot and the floor. I slept on the floor or granite counter tops. Quite the glamorous life waiting for a new life to arrive!

Throughout the night, we heard helicopters coming and going outside of Charlotte's room. We saw the sun set on the Atlanta skyline. And the next morning, we saw the sunrise light up the buildings. At 10:17am, Eva Rose was born. After thirteen minutes of pushing, the room went from having nine people in it to ten.

Witnessing a birth is all the adjectives. Amazing. Incredible. Humbling. Magical. Mind blowing.

Another human entered the room and a door wasn't opened.

Eva Rose made a unique entrance, with one of her arms entering the world at the same time as her head. Much like waiting until after her due date to arrive, she started off right from the beginning doing her own thing. A new team of nurses and a doctor were called in after her birth to help clear passageways to breathe easily and make sure she had enough oxygen before Charlotte could hold her skin-to-skin.

Charlotte. Is a warrior. She is strong. And knows how to pick a fabulous support team. She was surrounded by people cheering her on through Eva's birth. Her husband. Her best friend. Her parents. Her doula and midwife. She was surrounded by people wiping away tears from cheeks.

Charlotte was in a room with nine people.
She pushed one last time and it became ten people.
Ten people and a whole new world of dreams to be chased.
The room filled with love and hopes and dreams and happiness and relief.

Eva Rose was born.
Silhouette of pregnant mom leaning over bed in Atlanta Medical Center
Pregnant mom receiving IV with doula watching over her
Pregnant mom with midwife while family closes blinds in Atlanta Medical Center
Pregnant mom in labor with husband stroking her hair
Pregnant mom checking her phone while husband sleeps on Atlanta Medical Center floor
Atlanta skyline at sunset with reflection of pregnant mom being checked
Pregnant labor monitor of contractions
Pregnant mom laughing in bed with doula in front of Atlanta night skyline
Meraki Mama Doula holding pregnant mom in labor while epidural is adjusted
Dad-to-be sleeping on floor while wife is in labor in bed at Atlanta Medical Center
Pregnant mom holding onto bed with finger glowing from oxygen checker

While Crystal, Lauren, and Melissa were helping Charlotte with pushing and encouragement, Andy was making his own documentary video of Eva's birth. He was so excited to see the miracle of his daughter's birth.
Dad videoing his daughter's birth as she is first pushed out
Mom looking at newly delivered baby on bed while Dad watches over with cell phone video
Dad kissing mom just after their daughter was born and is getting cleaned up by nurses
Dad hugging and kissing wife after their baby girl is born
Doctor caring for newborn baby while nurses, midwife, and new dad watch
Mom holding newborn baby girl
Umbilical cord cut on tray with surgical scissors
New mom holding newborn baby girl to her skin
New grandma photographing her newborn grand daughter and her daughter
New dad and grandpa smiling over newborn baby
Newborn baby in middle of measurements and footprints with hospital nurse
New mom breastfeeding newborn baby for first time with help of Meraki Mama doula

Charlotte + Andy. You two are unbelieavable humans. You'll be even more fabulous as parents in raising this new miracle.

Thank you.
For inviting me into the most intimate moments of your lives to document new beginnings.
Your wedding.
Eva's birth story.

I'm blown away by your strength, kindness, and humor.

Thank you for being you.


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Atlanta Birth Center Story - Charlotte + Andy (Part 1)

For weeks, I knew Charlotte was ready to bring Eva into this world and meet her. I could see it in her facebook and instagram posts. Eva was continuing to grow. Charlotte's discomfort was growing ...
For weeks, I knew Charlotte was ready to bring Eva into this world and meet her. I could see it in her facebook and instagram posts. Eva was continuing to grow. Charlotte's discomfort was growing with being able to move. But moreso, hers and Andy's excitement couldn't climb much higher to meet this little one.

For over a week, I was religiously checking my phone. Was there a message from Charlotte? Had she updated facebook recently? We had talked several times about what to do when it was time. She knew to call and not text because she was now an emergency contact that would bypass the Do Not Disturb mode on my phone. Updates came about contractions moving along in the late afternoon and it looked positive that Eva might decide to arrive on the seventh of March. I went to bed early anticipating a middle of the night call. And then it came. At 1:45am, Andy was on my phone saying they were heading to the Atlanta Birth Center. I jumped in the shower, because bed hair, and was out the door before 2am.

At 2am in the morning, Atlanta interstates are a BREEZE, people! The roads were almost completely empty and I was walking in the doors of the birth center by 2:30am. I may or may not have been pushing the speed limit. Because there was a BABY coming! Charlotte's best friend Melissa arrived at the same time as I did. Andy let us into a dark building and Lauren from Meraki Mama Collective was already in the birthing room supporting Charlotte.

Let me stop here and give you mommas-to-be some advice. When you're planning the birth of your miracles, give solid thought to having your own doula. It may seem like an extra expense that you can cut. Similar to hiring a wedding planner seems like an extra expense, but having one makes your day flow sooooo much more smoothly and they make sure your photographer doesn't miss any impromptu and important moments. Having a doula at your side is one of THE best gifts you can give yourself (and your husband) in making it through labor. Lauren was phenomenal at helping Charlotte manage pain and utilize different techniques to shift her focus and make it through over 30 hours of labor together. Lauren was a force, bringing calm to the room. And peace in knowing everything would be okay. That everything was normal. That there were options that the medical staff wasn't offering. Lauren offered support and encouragement. But also redirection in focusing on things to do other than thoughts that could have easily circled, like, "OhmygodithishurtssomuchImdoneandcantgoonjustgivemeanepiduralnow!"

The images you are about to see occurred between 2:30am on March 7th and 12:15pm on March 8th, 2018. The birthing center was Charlotte and Andy's domain until 8am and they had free reign to walk the halls and rooms.
Pregnant momma's feet on birth center floor while rolling on birth ball
Laboring mom holding a banana while pausing on birth ball in a contraction
Pregnant mom leaning on birthing ball
Doula and midwife helping mom in labor at Atlanta Birth Center
Mom in labor leaning on nursing counter at Atlanta Birth Center
Mom in labor at 3:57am in Atlanta Birth Center
Husband kissing wife in labor in birthing center
Some women fear the fire while others become it artwork on wall between laboring mom and her husband
Bank of America building lit up in the night sky from Atlanta Birth Center
Pregnant mom in labor at Atlanta Birth Center surrounded by husband, best friend, and doula
Pregnant mom in labor leaning on husband
Doula on bed with mom in labor at Atlanta Birth Center
Meraki Mama doula holding hand of mom in labor
Feet of mom in labor on bed
Husband laying in bed next to wife in labor with best friend watching over
Meraki Mama doula stroking pregnant mom's hair out of her face
Husband holding up his wife in labor
Midwife checking blood pressure of mom in labor
Meraki Mama doula helping pregnant mom labor at Atlanta Birth Center

As dawn was creeping into the Atlanta skyline, Charlotte was exhausted and labor had not progressed as hoped overnight. The contractions had backed off a bit, but were still so painful. After long conversations, she decided with Lauren's help to get some sleep to restore her energy for dealing with the labor in a few hours. Andy was using his phone throughout the night to document from his perspective.
Husband tucking in pregnant wife in Atlanta Birth Center

Lauren and I both dozed on and off for a little while on the floor. I opened my eyes to see her in the middle of yoga stretches.
Doula doing yoga while pregnant mom sleeps in Atlanta Birth Center
Husband checking phone next to sleeping, pregnant wife
Bank of America building at dawn from Atlanta Birth Center window

Several hours passed quickly. The meds they gave Charlotte made waking up a slow process. She talked with Lauren and Andy at length before deciding she was not strong enough to continue on her natural birth plan. She had used up so much energy overnight and the pain was more than she had anticipated. Over the next hour, plans were made to drive across town to the Atlanta Medical Center for Eva's birth, along with meds for pain management. Charlotte is a warrior.
Pregnant mom talking with doula in Atlanta Birth Center
Pregnant mom walking with husband through Atlanta Birth Center lobby.

Click here to see the next 20+ hours of Charlotte's labor and Eva's birth story at the Atlanta Medical Center.

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