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 / 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.