Home Movies / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Lewis Eberdt - A Wedding Toast For Leslie

A few weeks ago one of my best friends in the world got married in Saint-Florent-des-Bois. She wanted her grandfather, Lewis, to give the traditional speech at the reception but unfortunately he couldn't be there. 

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Leslie's grandmother has Alzheimer's and Lewis is her primary care giver which made traveling to France for the wedding very difficult, if not entirely impossible. 

So a few months ago, I went to Birmingham and spent the day with her grandparents. We were able to put together this video that was played at the newlywed's reception. It is without a doubt the most meaningful video I have ever had the honor of making. 

The photo above was taken the first time the bride and groom watched the video just a few days before the wedding. Watch it and you'll see why my beautiful friend needed a pre-wedding viewing of her grandfather's heartfelt speech. 

You may notice a certain 4 year old's voice towards the end...even Coulter wanted to help bring the love of Leslie's grandparents to Leslie and Antoine's wedding day!

Family Stories / Brittany Knapik Photography / Atlanta, GA / Andersen Family

This is why I do what I do the way I do. I have wanted to do a session like this for the longest time and now I know why I held out for so long, it was the universe's way of telling me I needed to wait for this specific family.

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Hello Andersen family! (Swoon)

Hello fatefully meeting on a random Facebook mom group thread (shout out to DAMES!) having nothing to do with photography. (Swoon)

Hello twins! (SwoonSwoon)

Hello seriously the most amazingly loving couple! (Swoon)

And…all on the girls’ 1st birthday! (Swooooooon)

I have wanted to do a birthday storytelling session with a family since my first birth clients started hitting the one year mark but for one reason or another things just didn't work out. And I can safely say that I'm ok with that because this session was worth every second of waiting!

You may notice there are no photos of the girls‘ faces. Their Mama's have made the choice to not share them on social media and I want to respect that decision. But I can promise you they are SO. STINKING. CUTE. ️

I was with this amazing family from the moment they woke up until their girls went to sleep on the first night of their second year. We talked about her pregnancy and birth, and even watched videos, we talked about what those first few weeks at home we're like, how tandem breastfeeding had changed as the girls grew over the previous 12 months, and everything in between. It was the most incredible journey through the memories that built up their first year as a family of four.

They celebrated the girls with family and close friends, shared lunch and cupcakes, then had some one on one time while the babes napped. These women are amazing and their girls are incredibly lucky to grow up in a house that pulses with happiness and laughter and overflows with so much love.

It was an incredible day. The kind of day that is extraordinary and normal at the same time. So much changed but everything was the same. It is the kind of day you dream of when you want to be a mother and I am so happy I was there to help them capture and hold onto the story of their girls’ first birthday forever. 

Birth Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / William Parker

In recent years a dialogue started that has opened the hearts of many and has allowed families to share their experiences and struggles with others. Pregnancy loss and miscarriage is a topic that many sadly considered to be taboo; something you just didn't talk about and as a result something you often struggled through alone. Thank God that is changing. So many of my clients have experienced unimaginable loss and being able to share their story is part of the way they begin to find peace and healing within their family. By the time they share their stories with me they are expecting what some refer to as a "rainbow baby".

A rainbow baby is a child that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. The following quote describes it well:

Rainbow babies are the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with the aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and the clouds. Storm clouds may still loom over but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and much needed hope.

It doesn't matter whether your loss is in the first few weeks of your pregnancy, late term, or shortly after your baby's birth, it is the loss of your child. A loss that you should be able to grieve, one that you should never feel shame over, and one that you should be able to share as openly as you need or want to. The term rainbow baby has not only encouraged parents to share their stories of struggle but it has allowed them to rejoice in the happiness that a new pregnancy and baby brings.

When Lisa and Brock first approached me about documenting the birth of their baby they were extremely open about their previous loss. There was an obvious hurt that still lingered but they were so happy about their new blessing. There was a brightness in Lisa's eyes, there was hope in her words; they had endured unimaginable pain but they weren't going to be fearful of their future happiness.

The first time any parent holds their baby in their arms is an incredible moment, but seeing Lisa and Brock when they held their son, it was so much more. When they heard him cry, when they felt the rise and fall of his chest, when they knew their rainbow was shining, it was like they all took their first breath together.

On April 5, 2016 the clouds parted and the Boyd family finally saw their light at the end of a very long tunnel. William Parker Boyd is and always will be a rainbow of hope.

Family Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Welge Family

Attending the births of my clients is a privilege like none other. I am humbled every time a family invites me into their world to help them tell the story of their growing family and am equally excited when I get to catch up with them every few months to continue telling the story of their new life.

In February I was lucky enough to be there when Charlee and Maddie met their baby sister, Ellie, for the first time. I was there when the Welge family grew from four to five, when the girls flew into their mom's hospital room with their "Big Sister" shirts on and fell in love with the new baby that finally completed their family. 

A few weeks ago I met up with the Welge crew at their beautiful home to document what life is like for them a short 4 months later. There were no matching shirts but the whirlwind of little girls was still the same and the infatuation with baby Eleanor has only intensified! Smiles, belly laughs and baby rolls for days. I love watching these little ladies grow!

Family Documentary Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / The Weickert-Pulikkotil Family

I love photographing families. I love that I get to tell their stories; stories full of love and personality, of epic life changing days and of their everyday kind of days. Finding the beautiful little moments in the everyday stories is what make my heart happy.

For the Weickert-Pulikkotil family, their everyday family story was a little more family filled than usual, more than 3.5 times as full to be exact! During the holidays they were able to get their extended family all together at their house for a day and I was able to spend a few hours with them, capturing a morning’s worth of the little moments shared between them. (And a few full family portraits to boot! 10 adults, 3 boys and 2 babies looking, I'll take it!)

Babies sitting in their parents and grandparent’s laps, cousins running around outside, stories being read, grandma with her camera always ready to go, and the joy (and craziness) that you only feel when you are surrounded by all of your family. 


Birth Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Samantha Jean

As I sat down to write the intro for the Sallee’s birth story I was trying to think of a way to do their story justice. Samantha may only be a month old but her story has been a long time in the making and I couldn’t come up with the words myself to adequately explain all that her family went through to bring her into their world.

So I turned to Nancy’s words. I found the Facebook post that I read several months ago, the one that compelled me to reach out to an old friend about the possibility of being there to photograph the day that they finally welcomed their miracle into their family. Here it is. Nancy and Barrett’s story in her own words, that she so bravely shared with the world last July.

After being diagnosed in January 2015 with diminished ovarian reserve and secondary infertility, we decided to move straight to IVF. No looking back, all card on deck, trusting in the journey the Lord has planned for us. Back in November, "I took the bull by the horns" and saw a reproductive endocrinologist because I wasn't getting pregnant and when I did I miscarried. I also had an unanswered, unexplained and rare second trimester loss that I needed closure on. After my doctor ran every test imaginable, my loss is still unknown, but I was diagnosed with secondary infertility and diminished ovarian reserve. I have very little eggs left and my body will be going into pre-menopause within 5 years. I was heartbroken, but we had answers and a game plan. I then started the emotionally-draining and hormonally-charged IVF stimulation in February. It was expected that I would stimulate 10 eggs, 6 would survive the merge with sperm and by day 5 I'd have 1-2 to send off for genetic testing. I prayed and prayed throughout the entire stimulation, but mid-way through the journey I was brought in to see my doctor and was warned we may have to cancel because I wasn't stimulating on the highest dosage allowed and that I might have to extend my process on the meds. Even if I did continue, there was a high possibility that I'd have to repeat the stimulation due to the fact only 3-4 eggs were stimulating at that time. I came home and prayed and prayed, hugged my son a lot, cried to my husband, did a little fertility yoga and a walk on the treadmill.
I woke up the next day with a positive attitude, trusting in God and my body. It was a turning point in my relationship with God and this journey I was on. I had to be patient and trust in Him. By the next doctor appointment, I had stimulated 1-2 more eggs but they were small. The nurse said they were waking up. We continued with the news from my doctor that we'd move forward and see the process out. I told her I was not giving up. By the day my body was ready for retrieval, I had 3 eggs that were the ideal size and 4 others with the possibility to force-mature the eggs after retrieval. I woke up from the procedure delirious and with the news that the doctor got 9 eggs. I was in shock, overwhelmed, joyous and so relieved. I thanked God and my body. I kept telling my husband I knew my body and I knew not to give up.
By the next day we heard from a nurse, 6 eggs survived day 1. The next 5 days were the longest days of my life waiting to hear how many would survive to day 5. We got the call on our way to see the doctor that 5 had survived. FIVE, FIVE!!! Five is my husband's favorite number and we got FIVE! I cried tears of joy because we expected so little, yet God provided. Those 5 embryos were then biopsied and were sent off for genetic testing. The doctor also said to expect 1-2 embryos to come back normal because when you have few eggs in reserve, the quality of eggs is diminished. I had to wait, wait and wait for what seemed like ages for the news to hear if they were healthy. While we were on vacation in Telluride, we finally heard back...we have 4 healthy, normal embryos. Again, I started to cry tears of joy. I have so much to be thankful for and that's my relationship and trust in the Lord. He hasn't given up on me ever and I should NEVER give up on Him. And I haven't. I am now happy to announce that I have this little light and I'm going to let it shine. We are 10 weeks pregnant!

They went through an unimaginable loss but fought through every hardship with grace, humility, faith and open hearts. Nancy shared their story every step of the way giving hope to everyone who followed along. They chose faith over fear and on January 20, 2016 they held their little light in their arms for the first time. Here is the story of that beautiful day.

 


Birth Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Ellie May

I first talked with the Welge family a little more than a week before their daughter’s due date. They had a scheduled cesarean delivery and while they wanted the story of their third daughter’s birth told, what they really wanted was to capture their two older daughters meeting their sister for the first time. They wanted the story of the day they became a family of five to be beautifully captured forever. So that’s exactly what we did!

I met them at the hospital two days after their sweet miss Ellie was born and waited for the Charlee and Maddie whirlwind to arrive! These girls are amazing. Charlee is the perfect big sister, so loving and sweet, calm and steady. Maddie, their free spirit, is equally loving but a little more, ok a lot more, wild. And Ellie, the baby, the quiet observer, two days old and already settled into her spot in the family.

We didn’t tell the story of just Ellie’s birthday. We took a step back and told the story from a little farther away. The story of them finding the third little girl who made their family complete. 

Documentary Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / More Than Mom - A Personal Project

As a part of the mama-hood tribe, we all have one thing in common: We are all mothers. We have children who light up our lives, who we love more than we ever thought possible, who can (and often do) drive us nuts, who we would do most anything for. We all answer to the same name; mommy, mama, mom. But we are also so much more than mom.

Way too often when I meet a new mom all we talk about is our kids and all things mommy. Talking about our kids is like a crutch; the topics are, for the most part, superficial and don’t require a ton of thought - they are safe. But we all have interests, things we love to do, work, friends, hobbies, passions, fears, dreams, relationships, and so many other things in our lives that have nothing to do with the fact that we are moms. I mean that with all the love in my heart. I truly feel that in order to be a good mom, I need to be the best version of me and that means I need to do things that are just for me. My son needs to see me as a well-rounded person, as someone who still exists when he leaves the room. When someone asks him who his mom is (years down the road, because let's face it, my 18-month old isn't really doing much more than saying NO to everything right now) I want him to be able to answer proudly and be able to speak to all of the things that make me who I am.

So here is my resolution/goal/project/whatever you'd like to call it for 2016: I want to get to know you. More than just the mom things. I want to push past the milestones-talk, dig deeper than your thoughts on potty training, and forget that our bodies have been forever changed by the babies we made, even if only for 30 minutes.

Every week I will meet with a mom - a friend, friend of a friend, or a complete stranger to find out more about the woman behind ‘the mom’. One quick meeting, 30 questions, a few photos of you being you with your babes, and the reassurance of knowing that you (and at the very least 52 other moms) are doing your best to share the whole you, for your kids, for your family, and most importantly for yourself. I will document your answers and post all of my MTM meetings for anyone who is interested in following. At the end of the year I want to be able to give myself a book, 52 pages long, filled with inspiration and reminders that while we all have the best job in the world and no title could ever compare, we are all so much more than mom.




Documentary Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Lee & Ashley - Engaged

Getting engaged is easily one of the most exciting times in a couple’s life. For about 24 hours and then other people find out, questions start rolling in and reality hits you… HARD!

 “Have you set a date?” Ummm, no.

 “Have you started working on your guest list?” Well we will be there, and I guess you?

“What’s your budget” What do you think I could get for one pretty good kidney?

 “Venue?” I was think Father of the Bride style, pre-Franck.

“Band or DJ” Don’t know.

“Open bar?” I guess?

“It better be open bar!” Great! Feel free make the check out to me or cash is fine too!

Planning a wedding is crazy and stressful. Yes, it’s true, planning comes in waves but when a wave hits all bets are off. It becomes easy to be consumed by all things wedding and when all you can think of are color schemes, timelines, and pre-ceremony cocktails (the answer is yes, you should always have pre-ceremony cocktails!) it’s easy to forget that your engagement isn’t just a time to be spent planning. It’s a time to be enjoyed!

For most couples, in the grand scheme of things, the time you are engaged is relatively short. You date for a while, maybe even a few years, are engaged for maybe a year, and then you are married for hopefully forever! No backsies! You remember all of the fun little details about dating and you’ll have a lifetime of memories together once you are married but there should be more to remember about who you were as a betrothed couple than just your pre-wedding haze.

Lee and Ashley are our across the street neighbors and We. Love.Them. They are an incredible couple and have been together for two years, got engaged this past July and will tie the knot during a small family only beach ceremony on April 30th with a “big boozy fun reception” the following month, Lee’s exact words! So, dating two years, engaged 9 months (plus one more of planning) and a lifetime of forever!

Part of why I chose to shoot the way I do is to tell the stories of everyday, to remember the small things that make up our everyday lives in a beautiful way. Sure they could have gotten dressed to the nines, spent the morning at Dry Bar, driven two hours to a Christmas tree farm, posed like they were going to be on the cover of Vogue and had the engagement session to end all engagement sessions. But that’s not really them. At that moment in their lives, on a cold December morning, Lee and Ashley weren’t prepping for an epic editorial photo shoot to capture their love. At this moment in their lives, on this particular cold December morning, they were just enjoying each other and the things they do every day; the everyday beautiful moments of when they were engaged, walking their dogs hand in hand, getting ready for their ugly Christmas sweater party (Meowy Christmas, y'all!), and enjoying their moments already overflowing with love... enjoying their engagement. 

Family Documentary Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Brouillard Family

I am lucky. Lucky to be doing what I love and lucky to have incredible clients who make doing what I love so easy. I am lucky to have friends who allow me into their everyday real lives, with their houses not 100% perfect, their kids who love to run around screaming and dancing, neighbors popping by, husbands coming home from work, cookie dough for dinner with a side of noodles and hot dogs, you know real life. I am lucky to have clients and friends who trust me enough to show me their honest day to day happenings AND let me bring my camera to document all of the beautiful moments that happen during the mess. (I love the mess!) I am lucky to have friends and clients as awesome as the Brouillard Family.

Seriously one of my favorite family sessions to date, Jess, Brian and their kiddos Sydney and Jack were so much fun! Normally I try to melt into the background when shooting story telling sessions; it is easier for everyone to go about their normal craziness once they forget I am there. With the Brouillards that was never an option! Between sweet hugs and kisses from Jackie Moon, Syd showing off her b.e.a.utiful princess dresses, Jess watching Coulter spit his hotdog on the cookie sheet at one point (yes I had to bring my kiddo for a play date beforehand because he LOVES this crew too), and joining in on not one but TWO pretty epic dance parties once Brian got home, there was just too much fun going on to sit in the background!

These sessions, these families, this kind of everyday beautiful is why I love doing what I do! 

Every day is beautiful. 

Birth Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Connor Joseph

I have known Emily and Andrew for several years now and I was beyond thrilled to be at the birth of their third, and final, baby boy. They are such an incredible couple; kind, loving, and so genuinely awesome. I knew that their birth would reflect all of the things that I love about them.

Their first two boys were born via c-section so for this birth they knew from the get go that they would have a scheduled cesarean birth. Emily’s OB had given us then green light but going into the hospital we weren’t sure if I was going to be allowed into the operating room. Policy varies from hospital to hospital and from doctor to doctor. Thanks to the wonderful staff at Piedmont Hospital, we were able to get approval from her surgical team and I was able to capture a very important last first for one of my favorite couples.

Emily was so beautifully strong throughout the entire process. When Andrew and I walked into the OR he took his place next to her, I stood behind him and we both watched as his rock star of a wife gave birth to their son; she was amazing. I was in awe of her on the operating table, so calm and sure of herself and her doctors. With Andrew by her side, holding her hand in solidarity, they owned that room and their entire birthing experience.

As third time parents Andrew and Emily were pros. There’s something to be said for the comfort of a third time parent with their new baby. They hold their baby differently. They find their way to counting all ten fingers and all ten toes a little later. Cries are soothed quickly and with a little more ease. There’s a sense of calm in the room, a confidence that exudes when they remember how it was with their other children and a different kind of joy begins to build when they start to discover the ways that this baby is already different from his brothers. With Andrew and Emily it was like I was watching their hearts grow bigger every second to fit the love they had for their new tiny baby, knowing that at any moment they were just going to burst.

When Ethan and Tyler arrived the next day to meet their baby brother (literally running through the halls) they fell right in step with their parents. Sure, the pace picked up, things got a little crazier and a little louder… and then they all just sort of melted into their new life of being a family of five. There was the smallest moment of transition, if you blinked you missed it, and then it was like they had always been this way.  Their hearts were full and their family was complete.

 

This is how we take the fear out of birth; by honoring and embracing all the many variations that birth encompasses. In this way, every birth is a natural birth: each of us is part of nature, not separate from it, and nature is always stunning in its variety. Your birth, then, is part of the natural world, however it unfolds.
— Lauralyn Curtis

Birth Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Lila Rose

When I was pregnant and in the process of writing our birth plan I had so many people tell me that I needed to be flexible and remain open minded because birth rarely goes exactly how you want it to. For my birth, they were right. Nothing. Went. As. Planned. For Susanna and Adam however, it was like their birth plan was a script for their sweet Lila’s birthday. And if anyone has ever deserved for their birth to go exactly as they wanted it to, it was these two. Buckle up y'all and get your tissues, this one is beyond incredible.

When I first meet with a client one of the most important questions I ask is what the road to pregnancy looked like for them. Susanna and Adam’s answer literally floored me. I was sitting at their kitchen table, Susanna to my left, glowing with her perfectly round baby belly and Adam, directly across from me beaming with pride at how totally awesome his wife was. Susanna laughed a little and then started to tell me their story, a story that had begun 4 years earlier.

They were married in 2011 and one month after returning home from their honeymoon Susanna discovered that she was unexpectedly pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy. She had to have immediate surgery and ended up losing one of her fallopian tubes. After taking the time to heal, they decided to start trying to get pregnant again and with Susanna having only one fallopian tube had been told it could take some time. Again, she got pregnant very quickly but during their first ultrasound their doctor told them they were actually experiencing a molar pregnancy. They explained to me that a molar pregnancy happens when the tissue that would normally become a fetus instead becomes an abnormal growth in the uterus; it isn’t an embryo but it triggers all of the symptoms of a normal pregnancy. Molar pregnancies can quickly become dangerous so their doctor immediately scheduled them for surgery.  There is a very small chance that women who have molar pregnancies can end up with trophoblastic disease, and an even smaller chance that those women will develop cancer that spreads to other parts of their bodies. Susanna was part of that very small percentage of women. After her initial round of chemotherapy her doctors found thirteen tumors on her lungs and she had to undergo several rounds of even more intensive chemo.

Two years into their marriage and finally cancer free, they were hit with their next obstacle; at just 26 years old chemotherapy had kicked Susanna into early menopause. She began taking hormone replacements and was instructed by her doctor to meet with a fertility specialist to see if IVF was even an option. At their egg retrieval they were told that all of her eggs were most likely destroyed by the chemo; her doctor came back with 36 viable eggs. They were told that their chances of having any healthy embryos to implant were extremely slim; they ended up with 7.

In August of 2014 they decided to move forward with their first round of IVF. Knowing that they had 7 viable embryos they only implanted one, and it took. They were pregnant! But sadly, one month later they suffered the devastating loss of a miscarriage.

After years of heartbreak, of surgeries, needles, hospital visits, and appointments with specialists, they were done. They needed a break. They needed to enjoy one another in the ways that most newlyweds get to from the very beginning. So they took a step back. They made plans to take the trip of a lifetime, to get away from everything… really far away. They jetted off to Amsterdam and then to Norway, where they stayed in the Ice Hotel and when they arrived home they were rested, refreshed and ready to start their second round of IVF.

Having already gone through one round together, Susanna went in for that first appointment alone. They knew the routine, she’d go in and have an ultrasound to make sure she was ready for implantation and then schedule her next appointment; something she could surely do solo. But during her ultrasound they were shocked to find she was already pregnant! In making the decision to take a break from all of the medicine, hormone replacements and IVF treatments, her body had reset itself. She was no longer menopausal and they were able to get pregnant on their own.

Watching them tell their story was like watching a couple that had been married for 50 years. With only 4 years of marriage under their belts they had been through more than most couples will have to go through in a lifetime and they were still so happy and so obviously in love with each other it took my breath away. I cried most of my 30 minute drive home.

A few weeks later I got a call from Adam at 3:30 in the morning; at 41 weeks pregnant Susanna had gone into labor.  

From beginning to end, Susanna fought to be present for every second of her labor. She was an incredible force and trusted her body in a way that was so innate and incredible to witness. She had an amazing team around her who all trusted in her body as much as she did, they were there to do all they could to support her and with the help of her incredible midwives, doula, and husband she was able to have the natural water birth she worked so hard for. After four long years, Susanna and Adam finally welcomed their daughter into this world and into their arms.

Lila Rose Ames was born on September 23, 2015. She is a miracle among miracles.


Birth Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Harper Rose & Sophie Brooke

I met David and Marcy several years ago through a mutual friend and was so happy when they decided to have me there to photograph the birth of their twins.

This pregnancy was a complete surprise for them, in more ways than one. As a result of Marcy's first pregnancy with their now two and a half year old Eden, she had some lingering medical issues that needed to be taken care of before they thought they could start trying again; so she was scheduled to have surgery this past January. A few days before going into the hospital she went to CVS to pick up her pain medicine for afterwards and on a whim decided to take a pregnancy test. Remembering that they are most accurate when taken first thing in the morning she waited, but woke up at 3:30 am needing to use the restroom and decided to go ahead and take it. She expected a negative result and to go right back to bed, but the test came back positive and she woke David up immediately for a very necessary middle of the night freak out.

Surprise number two came a few weeks later when Marcy went to her ObGyn for her first ultrasound. David had a meeting, so, as with so many second pregnancies, Marcy went to the appointment solo; no big deal. Her doctor decided to do a quick ultrasound but she was warned that it might be too early to see anything. The second she looked at the screen she knew something was different. This time around there were two distinct black circles on the ultrasound screen; this time there were two babies.

This birth was such an incredible experience to be a part of. It wasn’t just Marcy and David welcoming two new babies into the world; it was a life changing day for everyone in both of their families. I wasn’t able to be in the operating room for the actual birth of the girls so I was with their families in the waiting room. While I would have loved to be there to document Sophie and Harper’s first moments with their parents, being there to capture the look on their families faces when they received the news of the girls arrival was one of the most beautiful moments I have been lucky enough to photograph.

Marcy and David are amazing and the love that their families share for them and one another is nothing short of extraordinary. With every birth there is a moment, a moment when there is so much love in a room there is hardly enough space for air and it makes it hard to breathe. On the day the Ames twins were born I lost my breath so many times I lost count.

David and Marcy, you have brought so much joy and love into this world with your beautiful girls and you deserve every moment of love and happiness that comes your way. 

 

Birth Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Towne Family

Every birth is different. Every birth is incredible.

I find myself repeating these words over and over again in the car while I am driving to meet a couple in labor. It’s funny; it seems like something that is so obvious it doesn’t even need to be said. But every time, those words creep up again and I am practically giddy while thinking, “Every birth is different. Every birth is incredible.”

It is such a simple thing but it is also remarkably powerful. With every birth I get to help a family tell a story; the story that they want told. So just like every birth is different, so is every birth story. Some couples call me the second contractions begin, wanting every moment, every stage of labor documented. They want to look back on every second of their baby’s journey into their arms, and those stories are amazing. Other couples want a slightly less intense version of their baby’s birth to remember. They want me to come in immediately following the birth to document all of the details of their baby’s first few hours of life; being weighed and measured, getting a bath, nursing for the first time, meeting family members, and these stories are amazing too.

This is Bobby’s birth. Justin and Sara, along with their (extremely large, extremely fun and extremely loving) families, welcomed Robert Powell Towne into their lives on August 5, 2015. The anticipation of his arrival, his precious first moments in his parents arms, the love radiating from his grandparents, aunts, and uncles as they held him for the first time, those were the memories the Towne family wanted to hold onto forever; that was the story we told.

Family Documentary Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Barth Family

These days my family sessions are looking a little different. Usually I meet families in their homes and we take pictures of their everyday life, as is. I love these sessions because I feel like I am able to capture moments that really matter, memories that are honest and beautiful.

When a friend from high school contacted me about doing a quick session with one of her daughters I was super excited but a little hesitant. I knew they would be visiting from out of town so my usual in home session was not an option. Ashley has suggested meeting at the Roswell Mill. I had done a couple of sessions there before and knew the area well. It was a beautiful location, but I don’t really do “location” style sessions anymore (my ideal “location” these days would be a trip to the grocery store or *sigh* even Costco!).  Ashley had been following me pretty closely throughout my transition into documentary family photography and understood going into it that we wouldn’t be doing a bunch of posed family shots. So we agreed on a day and time and then she told me why she had chosen the Mill and my hesitation melted away. She wanted pictures of her daughter, Cheyenne, there because that is where her husband had asked her to spend his life with him.

When I arrived to the bridge, they were standing in the exact spot where Zeb had proposed. The place where he had asked Ashley to spend the rest of her life with him is where a tiny life they had created together now stood. The same wood he dropped to one knee on was the same wood their little girl was walking on barefoot, her toes curled tight to get a better grip and steady her deliciously chunky little legs just like his knee had steadied his nerves so many years ago.

This may not have been an at home, everyday life kind of session but it was every bit as honest, beautiful and filled with love. It was perfect.

Documentary Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Not Your Average Art Class

As a mom there are so many things we have to do for our kids. There are the bare bones necessities, feeding, clothing, providing shelter, love, a million kisses a day, you know those kinds of things. Then there are the other things you have to do. Like make sure your kid is reading by 9 months old, get them into the best pre-school program the second they have a SSN and not a minute later, make sure they can swim, ride a bike and solve complex math problems by age 3 and lord help you if you haven’t joined an advanced music group before they turn one. See, being in charge of a little one’s day to day happenings can be downright stressful. That is, unless you calm down, realize they have time, you have time, and that just playing (time with other kids, outside, messy, fun time) is just as important for their growth and development as any of that other stuff.

Enter Annie Kimball.

For mama’s in and around the Atlanta area who want to stay sane while playing with their kids and having fun with other moms who actually want to play with their kids too, you need to meet Annie and try out her sensory art classes for babies and toddlers.

When Annie decided to stay at home with her first child she started looking for fun, messy, social things to do with her young one and found nothing. Frustrated, she did what every great mom would do and headed online for some inspiration ( in my mind she has about a billion awesome Pinterest boards ) and brought the fun and mess to her kiddo at home. Friends, including me, started to take notice and wanted to bring their little ones to join in so she started offering classes twice a week.

We have been to a couple of these classes and first and foremost, they are SO. MUCH. FUN. Our 15 month old, Coulter is in heaven for the hour we are at Annie’s, and so is his mama. I get to hang out with other super cool mamas and watch him run around, sometimes naked, playing with paint and bubbles and water tables and crazy foam. He gets to throw wet cotton balls at a target on the garage door and literally roll in whipped cream. He has story time with other kids where they learn about primary colors and then they actually get to play with colors and explore how to make new ones while getting as messy as their little bodies can handle. Mamas get in on the fun too; this isn’t one of those drop your kids off or watch from the sidelines kind of art classes so make sure you dress for the occasion!

Of course it would be totally fine with me if Annie just decided to put together random stuff for kids to play with but she is way more awesome and mindful of her projects than that. She’s an incredible artist with a masters degree in Art Therapy, has taught art and drama for 7 years to preschoolers and has worked at summer camp for over 20 years. She loves kids, loves to play and it shows.

So far class projects have included Paint X-plosion, Super Bubbles, Smash & Build and Everything that goes Vroom! With her kids participating in the classes too she knows the importance of keeping it fresh and fun and is excited to try a class with cooking soon. Other “coming soon” features include a ‘Pete the Cat’ book day, a Music Mic & Moves class and an American Ninja Warrior Adventure Course! (I know I am super pumped about that last one!!)

The classes are every Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:30-11:30 followed by a group snack and are only $10 for the first child and $5 per additional child.

What this mama is doing is amazing and I am so thankful to have found something that I can enjoy with my son that gets us out of the house, pushes normal boundaries of acceptable messiness, helps Coulter develop his all-important social skills (we are still working on his moderately aggressive hugs) and is just all around fun!

For more information contact Annie via email at annalysakimball@comcast.net or give her a call at (770) 722-0802.

Birth Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Cosgrove Family

There are so many reasons I made the decision to specialize in birth photography; the energy that you feel when you are in a room with a woman who just gave birth is indescribable, the look of love on a new mother’s face can break your heart into a million pieces, every moment is so pure and genuine. But one of my favorite parts of the entire experience is watching a couple come together, labor together and love together. Yes, it is the mom who goes through labor and birth and it is she who has to physically bare the weight of it all but when her partner is there every step of the way, offering support in any way they can, the entire process becomes something they experience together and that can be remarkable to witness.

John and Mary welcomed their second child, Callan Cosgrove, to the world on July 13, 2015.

The birth of their daughter, Leah, in March 2013 ended with a cesarean and after careful consideration and getting approval from their doctor they were excited to be attempting to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) the second time around. They were given strict instructions that if she didn’t go into labor on her own by her due date that they would have to move forward with a scheduled c-section. For about a week before their due date Mary was having contractions and was extremely hopeful that her VBAC would become a reality. Unfortunately, her contractions didn’t pick up and she and John had to go in to the hospital at 5am on the 13th to be prepped for surgery. My heart ached for her; as someone who ended up having a c-section with my first child as well, we had spoken at length about how badly she wanted to try for a vaginal birth and I knew how much it meant to her that she could even try.

A lot of people may say that it isn’t a big deal that she had to have a scheduled c-section, and for some people it may not have been. But to be told you will have the opportunity to at least try to labor, feel like you’ve done everything right to make it happen, and then have your chance taken away because of a time constraint… that can be heartbreaking. But as I watched Mary that morning she was a warrior, poised and brave; she had John by her side, supporting her in her  birth experience and that made all the difference in the world.

He helped tie her into her gown and when she had a contraction they both felt her disappointment. When she was scared of the needles that came with getting her IV and epidural, he was there holding her hand and showing her pictures of their little girl to keep her calm. When she began to shake from the medicine his hand was there to let her know she wasn’t alone. When they took her back into the operating room he was by her side, and when she came out to join him and their son, his was the first hand she held. With Callan finally in Mary’s arms, it was John who radiated pride; pride for his new son but even more so, pride in his wife and her journey.

Their birth story is a story of love, resilience and incredible support. It will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Family & Birth Photography / Atlanta, GA / Brittany Knapik Photography / Welcome Back

A few months ago when I made the decision to come back to photography it was not one I made lightly. I love being at home with my son, seeing him grow and learn new things every day lights my soul and fills my heart in so many ways. I am so blessed to have a husband who supports my dream of staying home with our baby and who works incredibly hard to make it happen. Part of me felt guilty for wanting to do something that would take away from my time with him but I knew that it was important for me to show our son that I am more than a mom; I need to be more than his mom for me and for our family. In order for me to be the kind of mom that I want to be, I need to be and do all of the things that make me whole. So I made the choice to feed my soul with all of the things that make me happy and that meant getting back behind the camera.

A lot has changed in the last year though; for our family, for me as a photographer, and for my business. Here’s a little more about my decision to come back and how becoming a mother has changed what I photograph and why.

As someone who typically shot anything and everything that came across my plate, not wanting to pass on any opportunity to grow as a photographer, it took the birth of my son for me to realize what I truly wanted to focus on and why.

Coulter was born on June 21, 2014 and the second I held him in my arms I knew my world would never be the same. Becoming a mother changes you; it turns your world upside down and inside out in a way that is so profound and amazing you didn’t know something so good and satisfying could exist. When something changes you to your core the way having a child does, everything shifts. Everything. The way I saw myself, especially as a photographer, was forever altered.

One of my incredibly talented friends, Elicia Bryan (who just so happens to be a kick ass photographer), was there on the day Coulter was born. She was with us through most of my labor, all 31 hours of it, working hard to give me one of the greatest gifts of my life. The photos she took of Chris and I on the day we became a family of three are so precious to me. We worked hard to bring our son into this world and the story of his birth is the story of our family. I get emotional every time I look back at our birth and am incredibly blessed to have those memories so beautifully frozen in time; not only for us and our families to look back on but for Coulter to see later in life and know how much he was loved from the very beginning.

Motherhood has given me a completely new perspective on how beautiful raw, unfiltered, messy, everyday love is. How the tiniest moments with my son, the ones that get lost in the chaos of our day, are the ones I want to remember forever but somehow seem to forget so quickly. So I make sure to grab shots of the “tiny epics”; the way his feet cross over each other and he rolls his toes when he plays, how his hair curls at his neck when he is sweaty from playing at the park, how he grabs my hand to lead me on small adventures around our kitchen table, the way his face lights up like a dang Christmas tree when his papa gets home from work.  

Changing the way that I document my son and my family has led to a shift in the way I approach my business as a whole. I want to photograph the tiny epics of life as is. Whatever it is that is most important to you at this very moment is what I want to capture; your story is the one I want to tell. Real life is beautiful; no posing or staging necessary. I want my photographs to capture the stories of real life, of your life. Stories of amazing days and of every day. Stories of unconditional love and sheer happiness. Stories of silliness and laughter. Stories of the perfect imperfections, the little details, the organized chaos that’s fills every day. The stories of your beautiful life as is; with laundry piled in the corner, coffee being brewed and consumed by the truckload, toys scattered around the house, laughter echoing in your halls. The stories of all of those seemingly inconsequential moments that you want to remember forever because they are precious. Those are the moments that make up the story of your family; those are the moments that I will help you document, capture and hold onto forever.

 

The way his feet cross over each other and his toes curl when he plays.

How his hair curls at his neck when he is sweaty from playing at the park.

How he grabs my hand to lead me on small adventures around our kitchen table.

The way his face lights up like a dang Christmas tree when his papa gets home from work.

 

These are the moments I love. These are the moments I want to capture for my clients. These are the kind of moments that brought me back.