One thing I know I say in every single family session when I am photographing children is “Let them run.”
When I say it, my self-conscious kicks in. In the back of my head, I know the parents think I’m crazy. I worry that the parent thinks along the lines of “If I let them run, instead of stand here and squirm, we will never get that smiling family photo, lady.”
Working with families and children requires a certain finesse. There is a delicate and hopefully invisible balance that I strive for as your photographer.
I adore working with children. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers are my favorite types of humans. They are just fun. I love cracking into each individual child’s personality and connecting what I know about their developmental stage and getting them to open up. Some children, like my own first born, are reserved and cautious. Perhaps your child is the busy bee who struggles to stand still and smile for family photos. I’ve met a dare devil or two who like to test their own limits during sessions, and maybe even all the time (one of these children may also be my second child). I have worked with special needs children and understand, as I have been told from a parents perspective that even booking family photos is intimidating without knowing how the photographer will interact with your child, or whether your child will be having a good day on the day you picked months in advance.
Combine any of the above with the fact that everyone does this whole parenting thing differently and it becomes even more important for me to be adaptable. I have met some parents who set hard limits, others who set few, and parents everywhere in between those two. I’ve never met two families or even spouses who parent in an identical way.
My clients often call me “the most patient person in the world.” I can see how I might fit that bill, but patience is not my end goal. What is paramount for your photos is that I document your family as you authentically and genuinely are together at the time of your session. To reflect your love as a family and turn that into art you want hanging on your wall. For my role as your photographer, that means being able perceive personalities and mold my interaction with your family to suit your needs best. To be present at your session and give guidance, but also to be invisible when necessary. I aim for kindness and to gain trust from everyone. Trust from you as the parent to allow me to get to know and interact with your child. Then trust from your child so that the shy ones will open up a little and the busy ones will let me be a part of their journey.
Trust so that when I softly say “It is ok, let them run,” both you and your child let me follow. When this happens, they take me to places I have never noticed, though I have walked the same trail nearly 100 times. Sometimes it is candid and magical and sometimes they give me a big grin. Either way, it becomes a photo of your child and who they genuinely are.
I can’t wait to share more from this family session with you soon.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. -Wendy Mass
This quote has always been significant to me. People are mean at times. I’m not even sure it’s intentional. It’s just easier to recognize the moment and not the person.
Everyone has a battle they are waging. If not a battle of their own, it’s one they are fighting for their child, their parents, something. Things that are hard to share in real life. Even harder to share with social media—comprised of family, close friends, acquaintances, strangers, even some friends they have never met in person but love dearly. The unknown of how you and your news will be received is scary.
So here I go with my news. My battle. My truth. One of them, at least.
I have Alopecia Areata. It is an autoimmune disorder I was diagnosed with when I was 5. When triggered, alopecia causes the immune system to attack and destroy hair follicles. My immune system is essentially going haywire and attacking itself. Triggers vary from person to person and are nearly impossible to pinpoint. There is no true cure for this disorder. (National Alopecia Areata Foundation Definition)
I was diagnosed in the 80s, before the Internet. My mom had to write letters to specialists for information because even my doctor didn’t know much about alopecia. At age 5, I had three spots on my scalp that were easily hidden when my hair was in pigtails. Pigtails. Cute, right? The stress of my parents’ divorce was likely the trigger at the time. My mom found treatment for me. My hair grew back.
Fast forward 25 years. Some of you know that my pregnancy with my son was very traumatic. I was hospitalized for 3 months during my pregnancy. My hair was OK when nothing else really was. Kamran was a late-term preemie, which was better than what we were initially facing for sure, but still stressful. His first 2 years were full of frequent trips to doctors and specialists. Reentering real life, complete with baby, was a very big adjustment. I was working full-time in a corporate environment, which was a stressful place on top of my stressful life as mom.
When Kamran was 20 months old, he weaned from breastfeeding. That’s when I found it: my first bald spot. We were eating lunch at the grocery store before going shopping one weekend. My head itched; I scratched it. There was no hair. The spot was so small, just the size of my fingertip. I would be the only person to ever know it was there, but I knew there was more to come. I knew this was just the beginning. I don’t know why I knew but it was just one of those things where you just know. I was so distraught. I couldn’t finish eating, couldn’t complete the task of grocery shopping. It was vain but, man, it hurt.
I went to the doctor for a blood test, the dermatologist for some cream, and decided eventually that cortisone injections were the fastest route for treatment. The blood tests told me nothing significant. The injections, every 6 weeks, didn’t do much for hair loss but did put some significant dents in my head. I hated all of it. I kept it up for just over a year but worried about long-term side effects and stopped. Time passed, I plugged along, shedding hair the whole time. I got pregnant and lost more and more hair. I tried other things in between. Acupuncture, chiropractics, specialists—I tried everything I could think of. Postpartum has been very unkind to my hair. I even cut out as much negativity and stress as I could. I quit my 9–5 and started my photography business. I surrounded myself with more joy—more of the stuff that mattered to me. More of my husband and son, and now my daughter. Together, my husband and I simplified things.
This past year, I’ve seen so many specialists. I do feel like acupuncture helps to some degree. Not with regrowth, but it keeps the shedding a bay. I’m anemic, so that’s a trigger. I take iron. I’m not sure it helps. I was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism and decided to take thyroid medication. Not enough time has passed to say if that will help my hair grow back. I’ll keep trying what I can. I do still have some hair. I’ve lost about 50% of my biological hair in large, concentrated patches. I am limited to how I can style my hair these days and rely on hats and very thick headbands. That will only work for so long. I lose hair every single day. Those accessories worked well for winter but now spring is here and I have to adjust. I’m sick of hiding. Of covering up. If you know me well, then you likely know one thing for sure: I am real. I know that life isn’t always kind, or fair. I don’t sugar coat that. I want to just be.
I’ve recently made the decision that it is time to own this. To be me in whatever season of life I am in. To take control of this disorder which I have no control over. I get to own this.
The way I style my hair shows part of one of my larger patches of hair loss. This adjustment may be hard on me at first. I promise you, though, I am ready. I’ve been ready. I have been waiting for the right time—but no time is ever perfect. So it’s now.
I hope you can help me embrace my new look. Please be kind. I know my hair is no longer within the limits of “normal” (a word I truly dislike). As I work so hard to teach my children, “What makes a person different also makes them special.” I expect some of you will have questions. Please ask. Please don’t stare. That only makes me feel like a circus act. I’m an open person and am happy to share what I know.
Here is my hair. I hope you like it. I’m not sure how I plan to live this. I may rock it in public. I may limit it to home. You can see where I have hair follicles and where I do not. I also have a wig. It’s an accessory for me just as earrings, necklaces, hats or ties may be for you. I may wear it when I want to feel pretty or feel I need to blend in. That may be daily, it may not be ever. I don’t know what to expect of myself for this leg of the journey.
My only request from you in this is kindness. Not just for me, for everyone, because I assure you I am not alone in this battle.
I am rare. I am unique. I am not alone.
To my friends who have been there for me through all of this so far, thank you for letting me lean on you in confidence. I don’t know who I would talk to, how I would get my hair cut, this blog edited, or headshots done without all of you. Most of all, thanks to my husband for being such a huge rock
Catherine is 1! This little lady was such a breeze to photograph. If you look closely you can see her foot tipping over the prop with a sly little smile. Speaking of props! How do you like the new ONE prop? It is now available for all 1 year old sessions.
Baby Mini sessions are now regularly available if you prefer a short and sweet session for your little one. More info here: https://jamieromaezi.wordpress.com/investment/newborn-babies/
Diego was such a dream! He slept so soundly for his entire session. At 14 months apart, he and his big brother are going to grow up to be the very best friends! I loved photographing the two of them together.
Fun story. I met Natalie at the wedding of two of my very good friends. They were married over the 4th of July holiday weekend a couple years ago. Natalie was their photographer so naturally I introduced myself. Fast forward exactly a year later (this past July) and Natalie and I were doing the exact same thing. She was photographing the wedding of one of my very best friends, I was a guest. I love Natalie’s work so if you have ever asked me for a wedding photographer referral, Natalie would have been on that list.
I was super excited to trade photo sessions with Natalie. She photographed my family this past summer and I photographed her and her husband Walid for their maternity photos. They picked the location and I LOVED the color. It was so fun to work all over Georgetown, especially with the graffiti. Natalie’s work always has bright, bold colors so this was totally her. She and Walid shared that this was one of the places they visited on their first date so it’s only fitting that they have photos here as they prepare to welcome their first baby.
Meet Kim of Creigh-ations. She has the cutest business and makes handmade, customized home and party decor. Her adorable EOS lip balm cards are my most favorite teacher gifts ever. She has recently made me the most perfect photo prop for baby mini sessions that I cannot wait to share with you! Check out her adorable etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Creighations
I was thrilled when Kim came to me for headshots and had a blast photographing her!
This was such a fun day this past summer. I donated my time to the La Leche League for their community “Live, Love, Latch” picnic. Families signed up for breast feeding mini sessions with all money raised benefitting their local chapter. I met several families with incredibly adorable little ones. Here are a few photos from the mini sessions.