Let me tell you a story…

 

 

 

On a warm almost-summer’s day I got a message that a baby was coming.  By late morning I arrived at their home, a house in a neighborhood that bumped into a big green park, and was let inside amid whispers of welcome & anticipation.  I readied my camera.

There I found a blue pool, a great-grandma knitting, a doula soothing & supporting, a midwife reading a book with watchful eyes on her client & her assistant in scrubs jotting down times in a detailed log.

 

Nicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan Photographer

She labored in deep breaths, often on her elbows on the edge of the couch, eyes closed in concentration & mindfulness.  When it felt right, she stepped into the pool.
Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Her husband listened & stroked, her midwife waited, her sisters & mother & grandmother said silent prayers with quiet compassion, her doula waved calming essential oils under her nose.Nicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan PhotographerAs the baby’s birth seemed more imminent, she leaned into his hands.Nicole Dolan Photographer Four pairs of strong hands helped her fall back against the pool walls as her baby’s head began to crown.  The passive work of labor had progressed & she was ready.

Nicole Dolan PhotographerThat Moment:

The incredible rush & the incredulous relief of holding your baby in your arms at last.  Everyone in the room felt the emotion written on his face.
Nicole Dolan PhotographerCovered in soft baby-frosting, she was held in her mama’s arms as the midwife listened to her heart & blanketed her with a towel.Nicole Dolan PhotographerSoon, she found her dad’s finger & held on tight.

Welcome to your world, baby girl.  Nicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan PhotographerWhen big brother & sister went down for a nap their mom had a baby in her tummy & when they woke up they had a new baby sister!Nicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan Photographer
Nicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan Photographer

It didn’t take long til their delight brought a big smile to their mom’s face.Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

After a long snuggle and a snack for both of them, her mostly empty cord was cut & she was plucked from her mama’s arms for a good inspection… Nicole Dolan Photographer

… much to her absolutely adorable dismay.
Nicole Dolan Photographer

Rather than having her cord clamped several inches from her body after birth and then trimmed her midwife applied a tiny, unobtrusive cord ring making for a very pretty little belly button.Nicole Dolan Photographer

Dark hair & soft beautiful pink skin, she was examined & documented by midwife & family alike; camera phones, belly circumference, weighed, fingers to flexing toes, & Oh that cold stethoscope.
Nicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan Photographer

 

So that mom could get some healing attention, grandma was more than happy to love on her new grandchild.  After fussing for a minute she settled into her arms, blinking at the afternoon light filtering through the window until she closed her eyes to rest.  Being born is hard work for babies too.Nicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan Photographer

She was still snoozing when her aunt took her for some heart-to-heart with her nieces.
Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

When it was finally her big brother’s turn to hold her, his eyes lit up as he reached for her.  His dad said, “You can give her a kiss” and so he did.  But the best part was the discovery of her tiny perfect fingers.

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

Amazing.Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

And once he found them he didn’t let go either.Nicole Dolan Photographer

Newly promoted to big sister she seemed unsure of this new baby…
Nicole Dolan Photographer

…. til she was placed in her arms.Nicole Dolan Photographer

Tiny fingers come with even tinier little finger nails.Nicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan Photographer

 

Thank you Melissa & Donnie for sharing your peaceful birth day with me & inviting me to come photograph such an important time in your lives.  This is just the beginning of her story.

 

 

                                                             Happy to be so,blogsign

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus:

As I got ready to leave big sis & baby sis needed some comfort nursing & I got my favorite shot.

Arms full.

Nicole Dolan PhotographerUPDATE!

I’m so happy to include the contact info for the wonderful midwife & doula:

The midwife pictured here is Lisa Beherec, a CPM offering homebirth and waterbirth services between Williamsport and State College. She can be contacted at lstldn@yahoo.com

 

Offering comfort and introspection on your sacred journey Lisa Mael Birth/Postpartum Doula lemael@ptd.net (570) 784-2580 Bloomsburg, Pa area

 

 

 

I was recently invited to a birthday party for twin girls.

There was pink & there was purple, & except for the bounce house,

pretty much TWO of everything.
Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Did I say pretty? That was the recurrent theme of the day.  Pretty.  Their mama had her work cut out for her getting two squirmy, wriggling, excited little girls dresssed in pretty party dresses… but mom’s know how to keep their cool.

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Ready to party, these two greeted guests with their grammie while I grabbed few shots of cuteness.

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

 

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

For most of the afternoon I played Spy on these sisters and this is what I got: big eyes & big smiles & really big stares!

 

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Oh & baby curls, baby curls, baby curls.

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Birthday CAKE(S).  I love that each little star got her own cake with two candles on it.  Their mom is so thoughtful.

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Watching & hugging & uplifting all throughout the day, this mom just wanted a party for her girl’s where they felt celebrated & adored.

 

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

 

 

And isn’t it wonderful how she’s got her arm’s full?  You can tell she likes it that way.

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

A lot.

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Thank you, Amy.  Such tender devotion you have for your daughters.  Thanks for letting me capture that for you. <3

 

 

Happy to be so,

blogsign

Was it cold?

Well, yes.  But my in-laws from Portland, Oregon were visiting & I think the coast there is always a little chilly so we bundled up babies & hit the inlet in Manasquan, NJ for pictures of a new family.  And for me, crisp air that tastes like ocean & fills my lungs with nostalgia: I love the beach in winter.  Its empty & bracing & gently reminds me that warmer days are coming.

 

The sun was generous & the smiles full of warmth & joy.

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0110

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0111

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0112

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0113

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0115

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0114

 

I’m so glad that I’m part of a family that is like sunlight to me.  Generous, warm, joyful.

Even as far as the east is from the west doesn’t put a damper on that.

Thanks Jay & Jen & little Theo.

 

Happy to be so,

 blogsign

 

 

 

 

Bonus:

 

This is what brothers from NJ do when they try to “act” the stereotype. (hahahahaha!!)

Nicole Dolan Photographer

They say red hair & blue eyes is so rare its only 1% of the population.

So how is it I get to photograph them ALL the time?!

Just lucky, I guess.

 

I get the feeling Ben’s parents feel pretty lucky too.

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

He had just turned One & look at this confident charming gaze.Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

There is this lovely park near the Susquehanna River on the outskirts of Williamsport.  Ben’s dad brought his guitar, I brought a blanket to sit on, everyone was happy to hear a little music strumming as I pressed the shutter button on my camera.

Nicole Dolan Photographer

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

 

I think he knows he is a lucky little man too.  So. much. love. and. joy.

Nicole Dolan Photographer

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Thank you for making this look so easy, McKeirnan family.

 

Happy to be so,

blogsign

 

 

Its been two years already since I had the privilege of photographing my first birth, the birth of a baby girl, & fell in love with birth photography.  It tugs at my heart & I feel like I’ve been honored with an incredible glimpse ever since.  These are a few favorites from some of the births I’ve been invited to.  You can see why there’s SO MUCH to love about it.

 

Bearing a child is the most vulnerable you will ever feel & from that vulnerability comes massive strength.  More often than not, the support & tenderness is amazing.  Being held, heard, & honored is powerful.  And beautiful.

www.nicoledolan.com

www.nicoledolan.com

Nicole Dolan Photographer

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer

 

A new baby is extravagantly new.  With that, in runs a tremendous rush of firsts.  First breath, the first time you see your baby’s face, the first time your baby sees YOU, the first moments as a brand new family (of three, or four, or seven…), the first cries, the first time big brothers & sisters meet their new sibling, the first time your parents see their grandchild.  I could go on & on.

Nicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan Photographer

Nicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan PhotographerNicole Dolan Photographer

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0144

I’ve noticed that I have fallen into the habit of getting an “arms full” image whenever I can.  Its become one of my favorite moments to look for.Nicole Dolan Photographer_0140

 

Every time new parents marvel at those tiny little fingers & toes I melt.  I delight in their perfect smallness too.

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0147 Nicole Dolan Photographer_0148

 

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0138 Nicole Dolan Photographer_0142

How very sweet & comforting skin-to-skin & the closeness of nursing is to you & your baby after labor.  Suddenly it gets very quiet & all there is to do is stare at each other openly, hold hands & breathe each other in.

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0154

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0152Nicole Dolan Photographer_0153Nicole Dolan Photographer_0151

 

 

It is a story you will never forget.  Ever.  The birth of your child becomes the stuff of personal & family legend.  There is a saying, “To know what a photographer is afraid of losing you only have to look at what they photograph.”   As a birth photographer, I preserve the images that are so fleeting.

 

I am so grateful to do what I love.

 

 Happy to be so,

blogsign

I can tell them apart by the sweep of their bangs.

One goes to the left.  The other to the right.

And funny, because isn’t that the way with twins?

Inseparable, but each little man off to explore the world in his own direction.

 

It was a bright hot day when we met at park in Muncy for the 2 year old’s birthday shoot.

The boys stared in awe at the pond, which was very still with croaking frogs & lazy ducks.

After a walk on the wooded paths we stuck to shade & overgrown grasses.

There I got to photograph strawberry blonde hair & long eyelashes.

At 2 they’re so grown up

…but still so little.

 

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0094Nicole Dolan Photographer_0093Nicole Dolan Photographer_0097Nicole Dolan Photographer_0096Nicole Dolan Photographer_0095Nicole Dolan Photographer_0098Nicole Dolan Photographer_0099

 

Lucas & Landon, thanks for always being so happy to see me!

 

 

Happy to be so,

     blogsign

 

Early last summer on a sticky afternoon I met two talented photo-friends at a park near the Susquehanna River.

For playtime.

They wanted to practice using remote flashes, cool-kid techy stuff.

But what was supposed to be practice (just for fun) turned into something so much more.

Danelle & Karey gifted these beautiful photos to me.

I felt huge & awkward & needed help getting up from the grass & I felt a lil upside-down

with the camera(s) trained on me….

but I don’t see that in these images.

 

What’s it like to be on the other side of the lens?

Humbling.

 

Please, check out my gracious friends’ websites

www.kareydeanphotography.com

and

www.ImagesbyElle.net

 

Karey Dean Photography (1)

http://www.kareydeanphotography.com/

Karey Dean Photography (2)

http://www.kareydeanphotography.com/

Karey Dean Photography (3)

http://www.kareydeanphotography.com/

Karey Dean Photography (6)

http://www.kareydeanphotography.com/

Images by Elle Photography Studio (2)

http://www.imagesbyelle.net/

Images by Elle Photography Studio (1)

http://www.imagesbyelle.net/

 

Thank you Danelle & Karey for being so generous with your friendship, too.

   

    Happy to be so, 

blogsign

The day was in full glow when we got together for this shoot.  Quite literally, a walk in the park, my favorite.  The sun lit up this beautiful family… extravagant, luxurious light.

I loved watching the big sisters gaze at their baby brother.  And how willing they were to curl up in a blanket with him even if he was being a squirmy little boy.

I observed the oldest with her siblings, oozing with natural warmth.

And my goodness, the confidence in the little sister’s stare at me & my camera.

 

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0030

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0031Nicole Dolan Photographer_0032Nicole Dolan Photographer_0033Nicole Dolan Photographer_0036Nicole Dolan Photographer_0037Nicole Dolan Photographer_0038Nicole Dolan Photographer_0039Nicole Dolan Photographer_0040Nicole Dolan Photographer_0034Nicole Dolan Photographer_0035

 

 

And the baby… when they’re this little all you can do is kiss those soft cheeks.

 

Thank you to Megan for inviting me to photograph your family again.  For getting in a few crazy shots even though it was supposed to be “just the kids.”  And for teaching them to be authentic & curious & eager… it shows.

                                                         Happy to be so,

   blogsign

 

I arrived at their house greeted by the baby of the family, all of 7 years old. She slipped her arms around my pregnant belly in a gentle hug. I hadn’t seen her since she was a toddler but she gave me a hint of what I’d get to photograph that day.
(Lots of hand-holding, warm gazes, love.)
Her 4 siblings buzzed around me. My long-time friends, Sean & Laura, stole bits of grown-up conversation with me while everyone got ready.
I knew:
Their oldest had just graduated high school.
Would soon be leaving for military training for a stretch of about 4 months.
And when he returned his mom knew things would be different, because he would be
different.
Different good, but different.
Even though she welcomed the coming change with graciousness & pride in her son, this was a stop-motion family shoot. This was pictures of her family right now, a slice of time.

 

 

 

Because it always starts with mom&dad ….

new jersey family photographer

new jersey family photographer

new jersey family photographer

Nicole Dolan Photographer_0022

new jersey family photographer

new jersey family photographer

new jersey family photographer

new jersey family photographer

new jersey family photographer

new jersey family photographer

new jersey family photographer

Thank you Burrough family, for such open arms, for your fearless loving ways, and for reminding me that they’re supposed to grow up.

 

Happy to be so,

 blogsign

The Kelly’s & us Dolan’s go way back.  Jim was a bandmate with my hubs.  They smoked stogies together  on my porch in Ocean Grove the day I brought my newborn son home.  We’ve all attended the weddings of friends over the years. Exchanged Christmas cards.  Run into each other’s families when we hit the diner for brunch after church on Sundays.  See each other almost every year at my in-law’s legendary 4th of July BBQ.  This summer, over a plastic blue table cloth sprinkled with patriotic confetti, Jim and I discussed rockstars, photography and family life, in no particular order.
A family shoot came up.
Google calendars were whipped out and plans made.
Arrangements were rearranged.
And by the time I came over to their house on a warm day in August, game faces were ON.
Its fun to shoot a family in their element: home.
We made full use of the back yard where they just finished the biggest fire pit I’ve seen outside of Pennsylvania, apparently specially designed to accommodate the giant marshmallows passed around a few nights before.  And I was happy to include the dogs, Memphis & Cookie.  In between romps and wrestling they pulled off sneak attacks of grinning dog-love much to the delight of the women in the family (see below).  The youngest Kelly’s showed me how attuned to one another they are with their smiles like mirrors.  And I make it my mission to get at least one rocking shot of Mom & Dad together in every family session I shoot because every kid needs to see their parents as a loving couple.  These two leaned into each other in beautiful solidarity.
  In their portraits I see a family bonded by affection, loved by the armful, and grateful for one another.
I also see ….romantic …gracious  ….and whole hearts.
Thank you Kelly’s for your friendship and faith.
Happy to be so, Nicole Dolan