When my dear Wisconsin friends visited me here in Wilmington I was so grateful to get to show them my little corner of North Carolina, floating in the ocean and talking and spraying 50 spf on our kids and burying our toes in the sand under a beach umbrella and just connecting as if a year hadn’t passed.
Kate talked about how special this vacation was to her. She was the youngest of four kids in a farming family, and had never been to the ocean growing up. To be able to share this magic with her own kids was priceless.
She soaked in that all week — when a line of dolphins swaggered by just off shore, when her kids chased the waves and let the waves chase them, when little fingernails packed with sand studied a new shark tooth necklace, when she kissed the tops of little heads that smelled of salt and sunscreen and the copper penny of childhood sweat.
She teared up talking about what this photo session meant to her. “Everyone should have that experience,” she said. “It was one of the best parts of our vacation.”
This is a fundraiser for the school and 100% of proceeds will go to the Williston PTA to help meet the needs of Williston students and teachers.
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Since moving to Wilmington and enrolling our son in Williston Middle School last year, my husband and I have had a lot of neighbors and other parents ask us, at birthday parties and barbecues and PTA meetings, in hushed tones, “So what is it… like at Williston?”
I will tell you what I tell all of them.
That Williston has been an absolute blessing for our family. That our son is happy and well-adjusted and growing academically and as a person not in spite of his school, but because of it.
That the educators he’s had there have been exceptional. End of sentence.
That his group of friends is both diverse and made up of the kind of kids we look forward to having to our home.
That to us, diversity is part of a good education. Hearing world views and perspectives that are different than your own in class and at the lunch table and after school challenges you. It makes you a better learner. It makes you a better thinker.
We’ve seen it in our son.
And just like that he is graduating, and I got to spend last night with a group of Williston eighth graders who charmed the pants off of me with their wit and humor, their kindness to each other and abundance of “yes, ma’am”s, their silly dance moves and just general spiffiness.
And I got to spend the whole night telling these kids that they looked beautiful, because they did. And they are.
Congratulations, graduating eighth graders. Now go shine.
Addie is like she’s of another era, or maybe she’s just timeless. She has an air about her that is mystical and whimsical, but she’s also crazy smart and her kindness and beauty run so, so deep.
For her session she wanted to incorporate a handmade dress she brought back from a trip abroad, and her grandmother’s vintage VW bug, and some of her amazing thrifted 90s wardrobe, and something more urban.
Together we planned time in a private pine grove at sunset, and a country road and wildflowers, and a cool little basement bistro after dark. Nothing makes me happier than designing a session that shows a senior’s full spectrum of personality and interests and beauty. This girl is off to great things.
Just after the New Year I started a family cinematography course with Emily Mitchell of the Everyday Film School. The final project was a short video documenting a month in the life of my family.
I always say that we go through different seasons as a family, and the one I was assigned to document was one where my daughter Junie and her two older brothers were constantly at odds.
That’s not an Instagram-perfect story to tell, but it’s our life, at least for now, and it’s real.
When I looked at the footage I had at the end of the month, it was naturally telling the story of her trying to figure out what her relationship with them was and trying to forge her own path in the world.
Junie is confident and curious and adventurous and tender-hearted. She has been feeling really emotional lately, and this project became a way to literally give her voice and agency in what was happening in her home life. It became more of a collaboration than I could have envisioned, but that made it even more special to me.
To be honest, it is hard to put it out there into the world for just that reason. It is so intimate and true to this tender season of our lives that it kind of breaks my heart open to watch it.
But I am proud of it, and proud of myself for the work I put in to learning this new craft. And proud, always, of my girl.
I also know that if I made this film in a month or six months or a year it would be completely different story. That is the fleeting beauty of the work I get to do, and I will never take that for granted.
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If you are interested in learning videography, I cannot recommend Emily’s class highly enough. I have taken many, many classes and workshops in my career and her content and teaching style is the best of the best. She is thorough in her instruction, generous in her knowledge, and heartfelt in her encouragement and critiques.
My first senior session in my new community of Wilmington, NC is for a guy whose step-mom I’ve known since I was a three-year-old in North Dakota. It’s funny how the world works.
Oliver is so wry and energetic and such a great conversationalist. We laughed a lot. Like most senior guys, he wasn’t that excited about a photo session, but by the time we were done, eating Dairy Queen in my car on the way home from the beach, I think he probably felt it wasn’t that bad.
My skateboarding husband calls my senior guy clients “dudes,” and sometimes it’s hard to shake that term when I’m talking about them. What I like about it, though, is it lends a certain chillness to the senior photo process for guys, and that’s something I pride myself in.
Have actual fun.
Make it quick and painless.
Be — and show the world — yourself. As his mom said, “You just absolutely GOT him, Christina! I cannot imagine anyone else capturing his personality the way you did.”
So here’s my dude Oliver.