The Brandt family will always have a special place in my heart. I photographed them in 2013 in this session when they were just a family of 3 before dad, Bruce, was deployed, and mom, Amber, was expecting their long-awaited 2nd child, Mia.
Then, because Bruce wasn’t going to be able to attend Mia’s birth, I offered my services to photograph her birth, to be Bruce’s eyes for the evening. Mia’s birth story is here. We still talk about that shared experience in a way that makes me feel so privileged. And now Mia is 6!
There have been a few other sessions since in the remaining years but this one will now go down as being the absolute most special.
Amber specifically opted to take my last available session date so we could celebrate and put a period on the last 10 years with dinner in Historic Folsom. It was the perfect way to end MbyM and look forward to a new chapter in our friendship that maybe doesn’t involve me hiding behind a lens.
And, if you’ve missed the long goodbye, yes this is the last session for Memories by Michelle. I’m not putting the camera down, just creating some space for new and exciting things to emerge. For now, I’ll continue to take commercial, non-profit, and personal projects under my plain-ole name, Michelle Carter. So, if you know of something that fits that bill, please continue to refer me.
This space will stay active for a little while and I’ll share more details here soon about where you’ll see new work.
Thank you all for your support and enjoy the amazing, warm, generous, and joyful Brandt family. These people I have met in the last 10 years are the greatest blessing. I’m forever thankful.
If you’ve been following my work for a while now, the Rogers family are familiar faces. This was my 7th year photographing them (although we’ve numbered more than 7 sessions, at this point) and definitely one of my favorites, if not THE favorite.
What I love about Sara, Jeremy, and Nicholas, is that they want to blend more traditional family portraits with real life experiences and documentary shots. Which is how we found ourselves starting our Saturday evening off on the steps of the Capitol, strolling through Capitol Park, and then walking through downtown Sacramento to the seasonal, outdoor ice rink.
Fun fact, I used to take figure skating lessons when I was younger, and for several years. I was decent, you know, with some spins and jumps, and a good Foxtrot game, but these days standing upright is my goal when I’m on the ice thanks to my wonky pelvis and knee. That said, I did consider – for a millisecond – strapping on my white figure skates and following them around the rink. And then I realized how large the bill would be if I fell (camera equipment and personal equipment) and thought better of it, staying safely on the sidelines with a longer lens.
I’m glad I did. I totally loved the challenge of trying to capture them together as a family between the desperately clinging hands of scores of kids frightened to let go of the edge.
I will miss photographing this family every year but I feel like we went out with a bang. And now Sara and I are friends on Facebook so we’ll be able to stay connected, whatever the future brings.
Enjoy this downtown adventure with the Rogers family!
If you’ve been following along for a while, it’ll be no secret to you that this family holds a special place in my heart. They were one of my first photo sessions ever, a decade ago, and are like family to me. I raced to the hospital to be one of the first to hold both Noelle and Gabriel after they were born, and consider their mom, my friend, Joy, to be one of the biggest-hearted, warm, and caring people I have ever met. Our friendship story has been told many times but the tl;dr is that we are the unlikeliest of friends and that, alone, makes our friendship special.
Noelle and Gabriel have turned into the most amazing kids: bright, funny, polite, confident, and loving. I love that they have a playful side, just like their mom, and I love seeing it come through in some of these images. They may be teenagers (or almost teenager in Gabriel’s case) but they are still sweet kids at heart.
I love them all so much and will miss our annual photo sessions.
The local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter is turning 25 and, in preparation for an upcoming anniversary celebration, the organization has been filming a video sharing the experience of what it means to be a big or a little. They asked me to join them a couple of weekends ago around the Capitol, following the crew and capturing matches on a fun-packed day hanging out at Capitol Park, playing Connect Four and Bowling at Punch Bowl Social, eating Haagen Dazs ice cream at Downtown Commons, and catching up on some reading at Sacramento Central Library.
I’ve been working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Sacramento region for a few years now, creating images for their website and marketing materials; it’s some of my favorite work. I love that my images are used to highlight good work that benefits local children, and I enjoy bringing together my marketing knowledge with my photography experience, to deliver images that tell that story across platforms. It’s marketing with a heart and a purpose.
Although I’m sunsetting my family business this year, I still intend to work with nonprofits and want to pursue opportunities to work with businesses to help them with their branding. In short, I’m hoping to do more of this kind of work. So if you hear of anything…
In the meantime, enjoy these awesome matches having a blast!
Incidentally, if you’re local, you’d be right in thinking that a couple of these faces look familiar. Kevin John and Mayde Gomez both work for ABC10. Since I don’t have live/network TV anymore, I didn’t know they were tv-stars until later. Kinda embarrassing but regardless of their high-profile jobs, both were warm, gracious, and obviously fantastic Bigs. It was a pleasure to meet everyone.
Happy Fall! The season for family photos has officially begun with the Woodard Family. You may remember mom, Keilah, from my recent personal branding session with her. And if your local and her face is familiar it’s because she’s the awesome mom behind Sacramento Sidetracks, a website that keeps Sacramento families up-to-date with all the latest events and kid-friendly activities.
“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” ― ANAIS NIN
November the 24th will be the date of my final session for Memories by Michelle.
In the last 10 years, I have photographed so many wonderful families, growing as a photographer and a human being in ways that I could never have imagined. Photography has opened the door to so many incredible people, relationships, and places.
In this decade of exploration, I have had the incredible privilege of being chosen to capture engagements, weddings, births, a baby’s first moments, birthdays, anniversaries, reunions, international adoptions, and a soldier’s welcome home.
I have been proud to be chosen by Make-A-Wish to photograph their brave, young wish recipients on multiple occasions, as well as by the local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters to photograph the relationships between children and their mentors. I have also fulfilled a life-long dream of being published as a writer and photographer in various local magazines and seen my images grace many covers.
On the personal side, I have learned so much by being part of incredible creative projects like Sham of the Perfect (which also sunsets this year) and taken more photos of my own daughter than is reasonable. (But which, I’m sure, I’ll never regret being able to look back on.)
And yet, in many ways, Memories by Michelle never grew the kind of strong roots I dreamed of.
There comes a point in a business’ life-cycle where, if new customers are not flowing in regularly, you have to decide if you want to invest more time and money trying to generate more bookings so you can cover expenses and come out on the other side with some money in your pocket. And then (having a full-time job) whether you have the bandwidth to devote to those lead-generating efforts as well as handling any additional business you generate.
Ultimately, the conclusion I came to was, sadly, no.
For these – and many other reasons – it’s time to say goodbye.
Leaving behind MbyM offers an opportunity to create space for something new. Which may or may not be photography related. Last year I dove into acting classes for the first time (so fun!) I also miss the swing dancing lessons I used to go to weekly and would like to get back to them. I have still never truly fulfilled my dreams of being a published writer with a book on a bookshelf. I’d also like to enjoy weekends around my favorite season – Autumn – just exploring with my daughter, who I only see 50% of the time these days. Time is precious. Opportunities and dreams abound!
Inshort, I don’t have a plan for the space in my life that Memories by Michelle will vacate. The plan, itself, is to create some space and see what happens next!
As to what I’ll do with my cameras and equipment… they won’t sit idle. Once things settle, I’d like to pursue some personal, creative ideas, and I may still take-on the odd photography commission if it works financially and seems like something that would be creatively fulfilling too. If you know of something or have something in mind, especially if it’s commercial or non-profit related, I’m open. But I won’t be booking regular sessions after this November.
I have loved and appreciated beyond words the time I have spent with every one of you, the trust you have given me, the intimate spaces of your life have welcomed me into, and the support you have shown for my photography.
If you would like to join me one more time, this Fall, for a family photo session, please see Fall 2019 details, below.
My heartfelt thanks to everyone – families, individuals, charities, and companies – I have worked with and who have supported me. The moments we created together have been rich and fulfilling and I will carry them with me forever.
I'm Michelle and I love vampires (before they were cool), peanut butter and that deliciously off-balance feeling you get when you step off a plane in a new country. I'm also a mum, a writer and a visual storyteller.
Click here to learn more about all that.
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