Hello! I’m Erika, a mother of two breast and bottle fed children. I remember thinking, early on in both pregnancies, how badly I wanted to breastfeed for the first year of my children’s lives. It was a journey I knew would be difficult, but it was one I was committed to.
Neither of my kids made it to 6 months. It was REALLY hard to keep up with, even with pumping constantly. My biggest challenge was, I had no time off. No real maternity leave at my previous job. With my first born, I had only 6 paid days off, then I had to work from home 32 hours a week. I tried to breastfeed at my desk but it was almost impossible to keep up with.
With no government mandated support for paid maternity leave, I had no choice but to end my journey with breastfeeding in order to keep my sanity. And my second born was no different.
So why am I telling you all of this? This isn’t to get you to feel bad for me. Not at all. My children are healthy and I kept my sanity with the decisions I made.
I am posting this because it’s World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month. I want to honor all of the mamas out there on their breastfeeding journey. I want to help normalize breastfeeding, end the stigma of doing so in public spaces, and donate to a cause that is working to support mothers from pregnancy through their child’s second birthday, via 1000 Days.
“The first 1,000 days are a time of tremendous potential and enormous vulnerability. How well or how poorly mothers and children are nourished and cared for during this time has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive. This is because the first 1,000 days are when a child’s brain begins to grow and develop and when the foundations for their lifelong health are built.“
“Studies show that countries that fail to invest in the well-being of women and children in the first 1,000 days lose billions of dollars to lower economic productivity and higher health costs. It is why several of the world’s leading economists have called for greater investments in the nutrition and well-being of mothers, babies, and toddlers as a way to create brighter and more prosperous futures for us all.“
Through the month of August, we will be donating $100 per breastfeeding/family session booked to 1000 Days to support their mission investing in the well-being of mothers and their children.
If you’ve been to Allebach Photography, you know how much we love artwork; from the statement pieces displayed in the most prominent spaces in your home, to the coffee table artwork meant to tell an intimate story.
Since the launch of our Renaissance of Mom campaign, which is now relaunched as a new model call for families, I’ve been excited to create a two-tone cover, sample album to have in our studio!
This new upgrade is such a beautiful way to add a little pop and personality to your album, so you can’t help but want to hold it and relive all of those beautiful moments captured together.
It’s hard to do, right? How can you encapsulate everything about your child into three tiny words?
My three favorite to date describe this handsome little guy:
Tenacious | Precocious | Inquisitive
That is exactly how Amber described her son, Wilson. So let’s break down those words and why they so perfectly describe him.
not readily relinquishing a position, principle, or course of action; determined
Wilson, right off the bat, positioned himself as in control as he could possibly be. He totally ran the session and it was worth letting him do so. He worked the camera and worked every moment to his advantage, in the best way possible of course.
(of a child) having developed certain abilities or proclivities at an earlier age than usual.
Amber being a teacher, Wilson already had a leg up on the other children his age. But you can see in his eyes, his desire to learn and grow. He wants to know it all and soak it in!
curious or inquiring. intrigued.
Going hand in hand with his precocious nature, Wilson is so curious about anything and everything he doesn’t know yet. His mind is buzzing with questions and mom’s got all the answers!
We’ve primarily focused on one parent up until now. It’s time to focus on the whole family!
We’re looking for 6 families, to come model for the day! The spots will go quickly. First come, first serve.
Your session would take place at Allebach Photography in North Wales, PA. For modeling you will receive a complimentary photo session and an experience designed to celebrate you and your family! As a special thank you for participating, you will also receive $200 towards artwork.
If you’re interested, please email Erika at firstname.lastname@example.org with what an experience like this would mean to you. Submit your story by July 7th.
I remember the first time I read Gemma’s story, I knew immediately that this experience would be important for her to have.
Liam is her world. Her sun, her moon, and her stars. He is there for her when she needs an emotional anchor and he also knows when she needs a moment alone.
I remember her describing him as a true gentleman and even calling him a “little mayor” and the moment I met him, I understood what she meant. He has a gentle confidence about him that can command a room and calm a soul.
They are truly lucky to have each other and it was an incredible honor to capture portraits showing their love, care, affection, and respect for one another. Sometimes it’s hard to meet a child, or a parent, where they are emotionally, but Gemma and Liam have that down pat!
When Yana emailed to have her Renaissance of Mom portrait done, I was ecstatic! Her and her husband, Ryan, had come in previously for couples boudoir with Mike, so I was already familiar with how fun loving they are.
Emma was a total delight to photograph. She loved having her portraits done and her eyes sparkled when I showed her the images we captured.
By far, my favorite part about photographing this amazing family was when we got to recreate one of Emma’s favorites things to do.
Seeing Emma’s eyes light up when the volcano erupted was magical! Her exploration of science has only just begun and I can’t wait to hear of all the amazing things she will do with that curiosity!
It’s here! Phase Green is here and we couldn’t be more ecstatic to reopen! To celebrate, we’re offering $100 off every photographic experience we offer.
We’re taking all of the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety as they come through our doors. We will have our face masks on, sanitizer pumps stationed all over the studio, and a UV sanitizer for our phones, keys, and payment devices. We are also only scheduling 1 session a day with room to clean and sanitize the entire studio before and after.
We’ve always wanted our clients to feel they are in a safe space and cared for. Now we are just adding on to what we already do by protecting everyone’s health as well.
When Allison shared her story with me, I knew this experience would mean a lot to her. Raising children on your own is never easy, let alone three boys! Speaking with her, I knew she was a total badass super mom. She’s surely got her hands full and she’s a pro; but we were stoked to help her wrangle these little munchkins for their photos.
“I was hoping to just enjoy the experience and not worry about looking posed or getting something “perfect.” The truth is my life is insane with three little boys and if that’s what the photos showed, I would be happy with it!”
“Everyone made it easy to wrangle three very energetic boys and not put pressure on me or them.”
I met Ashley through her sister, Eryn, who is a wonderful friend of mine. I even flew out to Detroit last year to photograph Ashley’s family! That trip was actually a pivotal moment in my life that lead me to working here at Allebach Photography, so her presence in my life will always be precious to me.
When we launched the Renaissance of Mom, I was ecstatic Ashley responded.
“I have always been the little big sister. The little sister that tried to plan my big sister’s life because obviously I knew better. When she and her husband had a baby, that is where our roles and relationship changed.”
“My sister Eryn made pregnancy make sense. We bonded and got closer than ever and she became the big sister. She became who I leaned on, who I trusted when the stress got to me, who I looked to, to help make things less confusing.
“We are closer and stronger now than ever and want our boys to feel the same. Our sons, upon their first meeting and thereafter, grab hands and light up when they see each other. They have a bond we want to foster until the day we can’t anymore and I want to cherish all moments where they are together.”
Photographing Ashley and Eryn with their boys was one of the most beautiful and emotional sessions for me. I love them both dearly, they are like family to me, but seeing their bond and the love Bash and Addy have for each other is an experience I know they will cherish for a lifetime. Being a part of this is certainly something I will cherish.
I remember speaking to Vanessa on the phone about her pregnancy and raising three children, as well as being a stepmom to teenage son. I thought to myself, “How does she do it?” Both Vanessa and her husband are in the military and she is raising their children through such a tough job. To say I was impressed by her is an understatement and I knew how important this experience was going to be for her.
“I was pregnant with my 4th and last baby and determined to get beautiful pictures that captured the beauty and power of motherhood. Knowing I’ll never experience pregnancy again, this photoshoot was extremely important to me. I wanted to capture my family and body in its current state so that I could look back on it years from now when my kids are grown up and be reminded of this incredibly special time.”
“My kids are 5, 3, and 2 and I know how challenging it is to get even one good picture of them. Erika’s energy and playfulness really got them to open up and feel comfortable which resulted in beautiful, natural moments captured on camera! The results were better than I could have hoped for!”
“My favorite part of the whole experience was the reveal at the end of the photo shoot. Seeing myself on the screen looking so regal was one thing, but then seeing the amazing pictures of my babies with Taylor Swifts “Never Grow Up” as the soundtrack was too much to handle, my husband and I both choked back the tears.”
“I wanted to capture photographs of my family that would become something I’d treasure years and years to come.”
Jenny is a total badass super mom! She’s an incredible tattoo artist, hardcore vegan, and homeschools her kids like a boss. Upon meeting Jesse and Memphis, I could see how much their parents have put into raising them as these empathetic, compassionate people.
I knew how important it was to capture the kids’ personalities and their energy as a family. They really are incredibly connected and it’s beautiful to see the love in these photographs.
“The experience itself was wonderful. I know that every time my children look at the pictures years from now they will still remember the fun we had while capturing the moments. Memories that will last a lifetime all because we have the pictures to remind us not to forget them.”
The name I answer to the most is “Mom” but the rest of the world knows me as Erika. I am one of the hundreds… thousands… millions maybe… of moms who rarely make it into photographs with their children. Sure I’ve taken the occasional selfie that I didn’t totally despise, but my husband has thousands of timeless, invaluable moments to look back on thanks to my diligent photography skills. I’ve asked him here or there to get a picture of this or that, but I tend to delete them because “ugh, look at all that baby weight!” In short… I Hate Photos Of Myself.
Now that our oldest daughter is 4 and our youngest is going on 10 months, I’m really regretting choosing my vanity over keeping these fleeting moments captured to enjoy years later. I mean Avery is practically an adult now and Tessa may as well be driving… That’s how fast it’s all going!
What are they going to say years later when they look back on these photos…? “Look how much fun we’re having with Daddy! Look when he took us to the beach. Remember when he took us on the Ferris wheel?! Look how cute we all are snuggled up. I miss those days…” And then the dreaded… “Where’s mom?” Sorry girls… Mom was too busy judging herself to allow those moments to be kept forever. Her face was a little too chubby at that moment and that was more important than the pure joy in your face when I was swinging you around, or spinning you so fast on the teacups we were both laughing hysterically.
Is that really the conversation I want to have with them down the road? Because that’s where my lack of presence is heading. And if that isn’t bad enough, they hear that judgment. I’m setting the tone of self-worth being directly linked to my weight and how I look. I’m paving their way to lives of self-judgment.
The gift of a lifetime
So where does that leave me…? How do I fix this…? Honestly, I had just about given up on the answer to that. I figured as long as I reminded them that their worth is so deep and beautiful and impenetrable that those words would stick more than seeing their own mother’s self-loathing. That is… until I was gifted with an opportunity. A chance to change the narrative in my head and course correct the path I was leading my children on.
In October of last year, I started working for Mike Allebach of Allebach Photography. Each and every day I got to share in so many clients’ joy from the experiences Mike created for them. There’s never a dull moment, but I sometimes felt a tinge of envy. I wanted to have photographs of myself that I fell in love with like his clients do every day. Little did I know, Christmas Eve, I would receive the greatest gift of all. I had no one to watch the girls that day, which meant I couldn’t go into work without them. So when I told Mike, he was excited to invite them in for a session as a Christmas present. What an amazing gift! My kids are the cutest kids that ever lived… Sorry, all you other kids… it’s true though.
I called the hair and makeup artist to do Avery’s hair (and my makeup since I would be seeing family that evening) and ordered some cute, renaissance inspired outfits for the girls. I was SO excited since, you know, Mike is amazing! I considered being in them, Mike did hint to that, but I decided it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been and I’ve been out of sorts for months because of a knee injury. No chance… Mike… NO. CHANCE.
The lessons I learned
I’m sure it’s no mystery where this story is going, because of all the incredible things Mike is known for, my favorite is the way he will take a stand for you when you won’t do it for yourself. So in the middle of the chaos of photographing two children, Mike instructed me to get on a robe, drape myself in some fabric, and go sit with my girls. I really didn’t think this was going to work and I decided to humor him because I knew the photos of my girls would be better than anything including me.
I know… You’re all here for this shocking conclusion, but when I tell you I truly was shocked, it’s an understatement. As Mike went through each photo of us, my inner dialogue was ping-ponging back and forth. “There’s no way he didn’t photoshop these.” “There’s no way he had TIME to photoshop these!”
What I saw in each and every photo was pure love, adoration, and awe I have for my children. I didn’t see my weight or my chubby face or any other cruel criticism I tell myself. I saw Me… as their Mom… the way people around me see me. I saw the joy in my eyes that I feel in my heart when Avery kisses Tessa, or when Tessa smiles up at me with her chunky-one-dimpled smile, or when Avery tells me I’m her best friend.
What’s even better? I get to remind myself of those feelings every single time I look at these photos, and that reminder quiets the negativity in my head. My heart sings a lot louder now. I let my husband take pictures of me reading to my girls. I even let Avery take pictures of me, and when I tell you they’re unflattering, it’s an understatement. But I’ll never delete them. This experience has gifted me with a deep appreciation for what I have, who I am to my girls, and who they are to me. And there is nothing in the world more valuable than that.
After over 20 years of being the one holding the camera, my perspective has completely transformed. If you want to hear more about my experience on the other side of the lens, give me a call or shoot me a text! It’s definitely my favorite thing to talk about.