Our Story Winners – The Ables Girls


Sometimes life doesn’t work out exactly as you planned. Or even, in some cases, at all how you planned. You fall in love, get married, buy a house… you’re living the dream. And then almost as quickly as your dream was realized, it dissolves into a million tiny pieces and you find yourself trying to find a container for as many of those fragments as you can before they slip through your fingers entirely.

Which is the moment in time when I stepped into Miranda Ables’ life, earlier this year. Miranda had won my Our Story competition, nominated by a friend who was inspired by her positive attitude and resilience in the face of many challenges. A single mom with two daughters, Miranda was dealing with the aftermath of two divorces and resulting, separate custody battles, right about the time that her youngest, Mia, was diagnosed with Acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Now a single mom, juggling two, separate custody schedules, Mia’s doctors visits, and coordinating her medical care with a father in another household with whom relations are strained, plus the pressures of trying to keep a job when your daughter’s treatments and care require a large amount of work flexibility that isn’t readily available, Miranda’s friend, Bernadette, wrote this about her when nominating her for the Our Story experience,

“Even through all of these trials she comes to church every Sunday and sings and plays piano before the congregation and is grateful for all that she has, not hateful of what she does not or all that is happening.”

It’s a lot to handle, and the intricacies of her situation, as I found out, are more complex and stressful than a summary blog-post could ever capture. But, as Bernadette says, I found Miranda to be full of light and laughter and happiness, in a way that was truly humbling. When we met for our session earlier this year, Mia was in recovery after some heavy chemotherapy, her hair growing out, and her sassy energy back. We spent some time enjoying Mia’s new bedroom (recently renovated by the charity The Sweet Dreams Foundationalong with her older sister, Loriah, and then took a walk to the neighborhood play area for some swing time.

Mia, I found, is a lot like my own daughter, with a mature demeanor and a love for pretend restaurant and school games. In fact, I found myself having several moments of deja vu as I was served plastic croissants and donuts periodically throughout my visit. (Thank goodness they weren’t real or I’d have been stuffed.) As a trio, the Ables girls are fun, genuine, thoughtful, and kind and, despite all the stresses, Miranda has succeeded in making a warm and happy place for them all to call home.

Although life is not perfect and often not easy, these girls showed to me what resilience looks like. It looks like playing and cuddling and laughing and running and climbing and just being together. When nothing else is going as planned, the ordinary becomes extraordinary and full of gratitude.

Meet the Ables family…








































Our Story Winners



Our Story Winners



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“Our Story” Photo Session Giveaway 2015

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Sacramento Family Photographer Memories by Michelle Our Story Giveaway

Do you know a family who really deserves to have the story of their love, resilience and achievements celebrated with a photography experience that reminds them of everything that they are blessed with in their life?

Then here’s your chance to nominate them to win the ultimate photography experience, Our Story, valued at $2,500.

(Click here to learn more about the Our Story experience.)

Last year I was honored to meet and photograph the Butler Family, the recipients of last year’s giveaway.  You can see their session here and learn more about why they were not only a deserving but also inspiring group.

(Mom, Lisa, is doing well, by the way. Undergoing more treatments but so far no more recurrences in the last year.)

I loved working with a family who might not otherwise had the capability to schedule a professional photo session and, through that, bringing a fun, positive experience into their lives at a time when difficulties abounded. They say the best way to feel joy is to give joy and I experienced this wholeheartedly through getting to know the Butlers.

And I want to do it again!

So, I’d love to find another deserving family in 2015 to gift this experience to. And for that, I need your help in finding a deserving family.

Who to nominate…

There’s just something extra-special about them.

They’ve been through (or are going through) something together, something that has tested their mettle and made them count their blessings. That “something” can be anything – health, financial, an unfortunate turn of events, anything. Life throws all kinds of curve-balls at us.

Or maybe they are just the kind of family that is so busy giving to others – friends, family, community – that they rarely stop to nurture and appreciate themselves.

And at this particular time in their life, they need and deserve something positive and uplifting to be gifted to them; an experience that presses pause on the insanity of life, if just for a little while, and reflects back to them the blessings of this moment in time.

If you know a family like this, here’s what you do…

Send me an email with the subject line of “Our Story Nominee” to before August 31st, telling me in no more than 500 words, about this special family – who they are, their story and why you think they deserve to win an Our Story session.

The winner’s experience

The full “Our Story” photography experience, including:

  • A recorded, in-person interview
  • A 3-hour “day in the life” style photo session
  • A customized 10″x10″ leather photo album telling their story in words and images (just like the one below.)

Sacramento Family Photographer Memories by Michelle albums

Our Story documentary photo session leather album_0003

Final results and prize

Myself and my family will review all the emails in early September and pick one family that resonates with us no later than 9/15. Yes, it’s subjective. No, we don’t have any hard-and-fast criteria. However, everyone who nominates a family and every family that is nominated will receive a $50 gift certificate for a session with me, as a thank you for sharing your stories.

Some important things to know before you send that email… 

  • “Family” is a loose concept that you can (re)define. This group of folks doesn’t have to have children, be coupled or even related.
  • The family needs to live within a 50 mile radius of Sacramento, CA
  • Yes, you CAN nominate yourself/your family.
  • It goes without saying that whoever you nominate needs to be willing to tell me their story in their words and to be photographed. It would also be great if they would be willing to share some (not necessarily all) of their photos and story with the world at-large.  If you’re unsure if they would be ok with this, you may want to check with them before nominating them.
  • The information shared in your nomination email WILL NOT , at any time, be shared or used for any other reason other than to pick a winner.
  • No purchase necessary to enter. Prize cannot be exchanged for cash value or for any other session type and the winning family have until 12/31/2015 to schedule their session.
  • Nominations close at 11:59pm on August 31st, 2015. All emailed nominations must be received by then to be eligible.


Please share this post with friends and family by email or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, maybe even with local charities that you support. 

Let’s work together to give one local family a beautiful gift they will never forget.

Thank you!

1 Comment

  1. Laurie Buccello Ottley

    Hummm I know a family that deserves this opportunity??? Please nominate my family!!! 4 GENERATIONS under one roof. Living the dream!!! Please nominate us!!!


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