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It has been a week since Miller Preston Sutton made his grand entrance at seven pounds, fifteen point one ounces, and twenty point five inches long.  It already feels like a lifetime ago because it was such a surreal experience for me.  I’ve never actually witnessed a birth before.  I had planned to photograph two other births, but neither worked out.  As a photographer, this was unlike any other event I’ve captured.  At weddings, you have some pressure to get the right shots, but the event is structured.  There’s a sequence of events, and you know where to be for the first kiss, first dance, etc.  People also know to get out of your way.  Births are entirely unscripted.  Yes, there will be laboring followed by delivery followed by first looks.  But let me tell you there is no timeline, no best vantage point to stand, and everything is fluid.  Unlike weddings, the paid photographer is not guaranteed the best view in the house.  That goes to the medical professionals without hesitation.  There is no adjusting for better light or better backgrounds.  It’s hard.  But it’s absolutely worth it!

Valerie got up last Monday morning and proceeded to get ready for work.  Then her water broke.  She headed to the hospital while I was given the go-ahead to go to my optometrist appointment while she checked in and got settled.  Gary had to get back from Alabama.  Valerie drove the kids to Grandma’s house and then drove herself to the hospital.  She’s Superwoman.  I think I got there and began shooting around 11am or so.  Valerie remained calm and in control throughout her entire labor.  Being a former NICU nurse and now a certified pediatric nurse practitioner, she watched the monitors, and when Miller moved himself off the heartbeat monitor she was usually able to get him back on it.  Oh, and she did this all with no meds and no epidural.

Darren and Emery were both quick deliveries, from my understanding.  Miller followed suit!  Valerie labored for a few hours and then rapidly progressed to delivery.  I had told her and Gary that they could use me if they needed to for anything throughout the day.  I didn’t mind handing ice chips over, moving the fan (because it was sauna-hot in that room!), etc.  When Valerie looked at me and said “Jessica, go get Dava” I knew it was go time.  I summoned Dava from the nurses station (probably with a panicked look on my face?) and from that moment on there was constant activity until Miller was born.

The photos after his birth are my favorite: Valerie and Gary seeing him for the first time, Darren and Emery seeing him for the first time, each of the family members holding him for the first time, Emery helping put on his first diaper, the family checking out his tiny little fingers and toes for the first time… I got to be a fly on the wall for some of the most special moments in this family’s lifetime, and for that experience I have no words – only pictures.

Lila – 9 months

Dear Lila,

I am so thankful that your parents are patient with me.  It has been several weeks since we shot your nine-month session, and I’ve only been asked about the photos once.  Haha!  This session was a tough one because we were racing against the light, the fort being closed (oops!), and you got a little fussy on us. Once was because we happened to unknowingly sit you down in some sand spurs, so I can’t blame you for that.  But I don’t think you hold this painful experience against me because you slept on me for two periods of a hockey game yesterday, which was pretty stinking awesome.  You should also know that your big sister adores you, and you adore her.  The best smiles on your face come when she’s around.

Until next time (which is actually scheduled about a week from now!),

Aunt Jessadee

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Rose | Welcome to Whittle Steps!

Rose didn’t start Whittle Steps with me until her three-month session because of my ankle surgery, but I’m so happy to have her follow big brother Noah’s footsteps! She may just be the happiest three-month-old I’ve ever met.  It was so hard to decide on which images to include in the sneak peek.  I honestly wanted to share way more than this with you.  Hit up her parents for the full gallery if you’d like to see the rest.  😉  Honestly, there are a couple in the full gallery just to document that we TRIED to get more of Noah and Rosie together.  I had to be a little more creative with including him in the photos since he wasn’t interested in sitting still and smiling for the camera.  But in the end, I like what we ended up with better.  The one in this sneak peek of him looking at his baby sister is more real than any photo I could have managed of the two of them sitting still and smiling!  And for that reason, I love it!

Caroline is oh so fine at 18 months

I’m going to go ahead and apologize to Lauren right here and now because the wind was fierce during Caroline’s last session and her hair didn’t stand a chance!  There is a certain speed of wind where just positioning a person to keep their hair out of their face isn’t enough, and we were well within that range.  I’m sorry, Lauren!  But I think your bright smile and that wonderful pregnancy glow totally make up for the windblown hair!  Mac is a lucky guy to have two beauties in his life.  I can’t wait to meet the third this year!!

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The James Family

I don’t get to shoot Kara and her family nearly often enough because the boys stress her out so much during the sessions!  I know that’s why… and I know she’s always surprised by the photos that we get after so much hard work and stress.  😉  We added a new level of complexity this last session by including the two family dogs.  Ladybug has been around for a while, but Bella Bear (the kids won’t allow you to just call her Bella – you must include the Bear) joined the family recently.  She’s adorable!  And having lost our family dog a few months ago and added a new puppy to the house ourselves, I’m all about including family pets right now.  I’m so thankful for the photos we have of Bailey, even though they are several years old.  So consider this me encouraging you to ask about including your family pet in your next photo session!

My own new addition is trying to chew on some blankets while my attention is otherwise occupied, so I’m going to stop talking and go pull my hair out now…

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Buffy - May 2, 2016 - 12:51 am

Hi there. Will be in Navarre the 21st-28th. Would like some beach photos of myself with my two boys (19 and 9). Do you have availability and can I get pricing info please? I’d prefer bright, happy daytime photos as opposed to sunset. Thank you!

Jessie - May 14, 2016 - 12:30 pm

Please make sure you don’t leave personal information in comments! Use the contact form or shoot me an email directly to! I don’t see these comments timely, and I hate for inquiries to go unanswered as this one did!