Days of Summer

Warm air, sunshine, swimming pool…what could be better than a summer photo session?

The inspiration was an outdoor light box – a tent-like structure with billowy sheer white curtains filtering out the sunshine above a kids’ pool partially filled with water and two sisters posed beautifully in it….and photographs!

Flexibility & a sense of humor are key when the wind was blowing, the temperature an unusual cool day for July and…a very gray, hazy sky.

The sisters who came to model were wonderful in their attitude. Even as I boiled water and poured it into the pool, their teeth chattered yet they kept their spirits up!

 

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Before images are beautiful young women.

After professional hair & make up artistry they are ready for the photo session.

Beautiful sisters!

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What could be better than warm air, sunshine, a swimming pool for a summer photo session?

 

Never alone

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For beautiful eyes,
look for the good in others;

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For beautiful lips,
Speak only words of kindness;

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And for poise,
walk with the knowledge
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that you are never alone.
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-Audrey Hepburn

A beautiful, young couple. In love and waiting for the arrival of their first child.
It was an honor to get to know them during their Maternity Portrait session.
They enjoy the outdoors and nature and were hoping to have their portraits
in the woods.

We were fortunate with a peek of sunshine on the day, it made the below freezing temperatures seem warmer, at least.

At their Image Reveal last night, they were excited to see the photographs
and relieved they didn’t look as cold in the images as we were while taking the photos.

Memories preserved for a life-time. She will never be eight months pregnant
with her first child again, except in her Maternity Portraits.

What Have You Done Lately?

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Adirondack 46er Finish

Several weeks ago, I posted this photo and caption ‘5 years ago, I became an Adirondack 46er’. The photo came up in my Facebook Memories on July 25th. I remember my emotions when that image was taken. That morning started with a drizzle of cool rain and an overcast sky which did nothing to deter me and my hiking partner from our hike of the day.

The photo is me on Big Slide Mountain in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, holding a small, circular patch, tears in my eyes and grateful that the moment was finally happening. It’s been said, “They don’t give out that patch just for walking down Main Street”! I did it. I had just hiked my 46th peak. It took me a long time to hike all 46 mountains over 4,000 feet. It was an enormous goal which required a lot of physical strength, a bit of courage and plenty of determination.

I had the most incredible hiking partner who would always show up well-prepared with more enthusiasm for hiking than I knew existed. We knew safety was our priority, yet there wasn’t a hike where we ever turned back. Rain, hail, wind, mud. There was no whining (ok, maybe I whined a little ascending Seward Mountain in a downpour) …no “I can’t do this”, or “why did we do this hike”. I learned a lot about my hiking partner during our miles over the mountains. I learned a lot more about myself.

I posted that photo ‘ 5 years ago I did this…blah blah.’ The question that really needed to be answered was, Wendy, What Have You Done Lately?

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On July 30, 2016, I finished a 5K.

Big Deal.

Well, yes. To me is was a big deal. You see, I made it to the 7am start of the race (a 90 minute drive). My goal was to start it, to finish it and I hoped to complete it in under 45 minutes.

I had finished Radiation treatment for Breast Cancer on July 20, 2016.

When I crossed the finish line with my son along side of me, I was elated, exhausted, ready to burst into tears and laughing – at the same time. I wanted to remember this moment as crossing the finish line of cancer. I wanted to run further than cancer could. I wanted to be done with the appointments, the treatments, the endless discussion and research of cancer. I wanted to go back to my life.

(Honestly, when I have another ‘memorable moment’ photo opportunity–could someone please hand me a towel to wipe my sweat, and kindly mention to me to fix my hair…? Thanks)

The cancer diagnosis to me is like being a waiter in a very busy restaurant. The waiter has a huge tray filled with plates of delicious food and beverages in pretty glasses – and the waiter is about to leave the kitchen – little does the waiter know that someone is coming IN the OUT door of the kitchen. The tray and its contents end up everywhere, mostly broken into pieces on the floor. Nothing looks the same. Nothing will ever be the same. It’s a very big mess and a long time before it’s cleaned up.

I’ve been on the care-giving side of cancer – which really is no picnic. I’ve now seen both sides as care-giver and person diagnosed with cancer.

I was extremely fortunate for many reasons. As I waded through the diagnosis, I came in contact with some amazing humans. A Radiologist who, while most were obsessed with Pokemon GO!, he was diligent in doing what he does really well and was paying close attention to my scan. And a surgeon who is gifted in her craft and even more, in her role as the most caring human I’ve met in a very long time. I’ll write more about her-she deserves her own story.

Three biopsies and two surgeries really didn’t fit into my workout plans very well. Once I received the OK to exercise after the last surgery, I felt better emotionally. (This is by no means medical advice to anyone.). I then faced Radiation treatments. I had to find a way to stay focused and to get through the 21 days marked on my calendar. You see, everything else in the world becomes less of a priority. There’s less energy to complete all the usual tasks of life. My work as a photographer started to expose gaping holes on my calendar.

I made a decision to take some control in a situation where I really had so little control. Every day after radiation treatment, I went to my gym and promised myself I would run on the treadmill for 20 minutes. Every day. Miles didn’t matter. I thought I could do anything for 20 minutes. There were a couple days where I sat in my car in the gym parking lot, doing my best to gather strength to walk across the parking lot and go inside. No one at the gym knew of my cancer. There were a couple days where I felt I was towing a refrigerator behind me. I had to walk some of those minutes. I was grateful I could move forward – one step. The exhaustion from radiation treatment is real. The effects are cumulative. I remember Day 8 on the treadmill was really challenging. Exhausting. The next day I felt better.

I needed to focus on finishing and being done with cancer. I signed up my son and I for the ‘Runway 5K’ – an opportunity to run the world’s busiest runway at EAA in Oshkosh, WI. If you’re an airplane buff you’ve heard of EAA. It’s an amazing event. My son asked if I wanted him to run with me. Usually I run alone with music but was grateful for his offer, his company. He kept up a steady commentary pointing out some of the thousands of planes parked on the grass, taxiing and taking off on that overcast morning. I mentioned to him before the start that if I stopped running, to just say “keep moving forward, mom”. We ran the whole way. OK, that’s not a fair assessment. Like a thoroughbred under rein, he was doing a slow jog, I was just trying to keep my feet moving.

We were coming up on the last mile. I was exhausted. I was grateful that the sun was not out. My skin was still hot. I wanted to stop.

I had to dig very deep to keep moving. I needed a positive thought in my head but came up empty. I briefly recalled my 46er finish, but that was too much energy to summon. And in one instant, something came over me that it’s not about me. I could do this last mile for someone who can’t. Immediately I found energy inside. I dedicated the last mile to a woman I met during radiation. We had started radiation the same day. Her cancer story has been non-stop, 24/7 since last October. She’s had chemo, double mastectomy surgery and wasn’t finished with radiation yet. I carried her in my heart across the finish line.

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The waiter’s tray is a mess on the floor of the busy restaurant. There’s some yelling and screaming and lots of chaos. I calmly stand up, take a deep breath, I inhale and exhale. I pick up the tray and decide what to place back onto it, if anything.

Most people don’t know I had Breast Cancer. Apparently, as my hair was still intact, people thought I ‘looked great’! Cancer hair loss is usually related to chemotherapy. In a future post, I’ll write more about my chemo story. I’m very fortunate.

I thought I was going to pick up my life where I left off after my ‘6 month Vacation’…(ugh, predictive type always fixes that)…after my ‘cancer treatment of 6 months & Radiation’ – that world doesn’t exist anymore.

Sadly, there are a lot of cancer stories. Many are painful stories with unfortunate endings. Mine is filled with amazing people, mountains of kindness and incredible moments.
I’d like to share them with you.

We all deserve to feel beautiful-

During her photo experience, she was a natural beauty in the street clothes she had selected just for her photo shoot. She changed into her softball uniform and swung her bat like a pro. Each pose and expression easily achieved with her electrifying smiles, her eyes sparkling, her personality bubbling.

Toward the end, we left her mom and grandmother at a picnic table in the shade as we went back into the woods. She gave me more expression, energy & if it were even possible, more enthusiasm. We laughed a lot. 

When she thought our session was about to wrap up, I pulled out her flower crown. (During our consultation and wardrobe follow-up messages, I found out her favorite colors & then I hand-made a crown to compliment her personality). It’s sometimes a gamble–a flower crown and a tulle skirt by surprise.

This client had given me her trust and allowed me to place the crown on her head, and just went for it. She transformed from the girl in street clothes, to the athlete ready to play ball to a princess in the woods. 

During her photo reveal where she saw her slide show and images for the first time, I know she felt special. She felt seen. She got a chance to see herself the way the world sees her.  Full of life. Beautiful. 

Women who trust me

A strong woman is one who feels deeply & loves fiercely.

Her tears flow just as abundantly as her laughter.

A strong woman is both soft & powerful.

She is both practical & spiritual.

A strong woman in her essence is a gift to the world.

-unknown

I see strength & beauty.

I’m grateful for a woman’s trust on the other side of my camera and wonder how she interprets my gestures when I see THE shot. Often I wipe a tear from my eye when things line up and I have the photograph to show her how beautiful she is to the world.

I see a woman’s strength, not in skinny, perfect make-up or designer clothes. I see strength in her journey up to the moment I press my shutter. I see her beauty shine when the wind messes her hair, laughing with her girlfriend, on a mountain, in the woods.

She’s the woman I love to photograph, her stories, pain, resolve, laugh lines and
all the reasons she is who she is today.

That is real. She is a beautiful woman.

She will exist in my photographs for all time.

I will show you how beautiful you are.
©Wendy Andrews Photography

 

 

The journey

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Maybe
the journey
isn’t so much about
becoming anything.

Maybe
it’s unbecoming everything
that isn’t you
so you can
be
who you were meant to be
in the first place.

I found this quote on #jfindsyoga/sexyfoodtherapy.com on Instagram.
Thought it worked well for this photograph I took during a yoga retreat. The retreat was filled with incredible moments: women bonding, laughing, supporting. Nourishing food and wine, Forrest bathing, meditation, aromatherapy, singing bowls, bowing practice, hikes in the woods and on the beach, perfect weather, yoga and beautiful souls.

More photographs to follow.

Namaste.

 

Beautiful women

  
A strong woman is one who feels deeply & loves fiercely. Her tears flow just as abundantly as her laughter. A strong woman is both soft & powerful. She is both practical & spiritual. A strong woman in her essence is a gift to the world. -unknown author

I’m always grateful for a woman’s trust when she’s on the other side of my camera. While I attempt to make her feel relaxed & beautiful, I wonder how she interprets my gestures, especially when I see THE shot. (I’ve been told) I sometimes make sounds – like an audible smile noise, sometimes just “yesyesyes”, quite often a tear forms in my eye when everything lines up & I hope the photograph looks something like my vision! 

I see a woman’s strength. Its not in the form of skinny, in perfect makeup, in designer clothes. I see strength in what she’s been through on her journey up to when I press the shutter. I see her beauty shine when the wind messes her hair, when she laughs with her girlfriend, when her feet are bare, in the earth, on a mountain, splashing in the shallow water of a chilly lake. 

She’s the woman I love to photograph. With her stories, with her pain, with her resolve & her laugh lines and all the reasons she is who she is today. That is real. That is a beautiful woman.