The first year we married, my Aunt gave us this Christmas ornament because she was excited and hopeful there would be children in the family soon. Well, that was 20 years ago. Every year for 20 Christmases now, we have unpacked this ornament, looked at each other and said ‘maybe next year.’ May this be the year this beautiful ornament gets hung on our Christmas tree…
— Ella Grace’s mama, Christmas 2017
Capturing moments with this precious angel baby has truly been one of the most meaningful experiences for me as a baby photographer so far. I don’t know if it’s because she was such an early and easy smiler, or that I’ve just fallen in love with her precious parents, or maybe it’s that she was wanted so badly for so long by people who were MEANT to be parents in every way, it seems like she may have been literally prayed into existence. Whatever it is, there’s something truly magic about this sweet baby that makes me smile every time I think of our shoots together so far.
I photographed Ella Grace for the first time just a few days after she was born. Chandra and Casey had a whole 20 hours (plus 20 years!) to prepare for her. And since then I’ve captured so many of her moments - sweet little smiles while she sleeps (especially when she hears her mama’s voice); her precious little toes and adorable chubby cheeks; snoozing in her Christening gown and Halloween costume; her parents and cousins and aunts and uncles snuggling her, loving on her, kissing her, holding her, laughing at her, and marveling at every single thing about her; cheering on her favorite football teams in teeny tiny cheerleading uniforms; and finally her holding this very special Christmas ornament.
This angel baby can sleep literally ANYWHERE and I’m pretty sure she’s taken at least one snooze during each of our shoots so far. Her smiles are so easy to get and she lights up at everything - particularly her silly parents who love to goof off for her.
Her mama is very sentimental and can be described as a grateful person in every way for every single thing. From thoughtful gifts given by friends, prayers and well-wishes from people she doesn’t even know, to her own celebrated health after a scary battle with Stage IV kidney cancer, to this precious gift of a baby girl she prayed for and hoped for so long - she literally takes NOTHING for granted.
Each time we have a session Chandra brings a family heirloom, a special outfit, or a sweet gift someone has given to her during her adoption journey or to sweet Ella Grace after she was born. She can tell you exactly who gave each gift, when and why, and is always so excited to share photos of Ella Grace using/wearing/playing with it. She’s a brave cancer survivor, an eternal optimist, a wonderful mother, and a truly special person. I’m honored to know her.
Chandra and Casey - I’m so grateful you picked me to tell this part of your sweet family’s story. May God bless both of you and your darling baby girl.