Hearing your baby's heartbeat, touching their tiny hand, and holding your baby for the first time are memories that are dear to any parents heart.  But all too often those moments are gone before they are even experienced for some parents.  It's a reality that people don't care to discuss and often shy away from but the sad truth is, it happens everyday.  Sometimes parents are aware of a problem ahead of time and sometimes they aren't. There isn't any rhyme or reason, it doesn't show favoritism or prejudice, it quietly and suddenly shatters worlds!! The loss of a child can only to me be described as unbearable.  I, personally, have never experienced this as a mother.  But I have and continue to experience this on a personal level on a frequent basis. 

A few years ago I came across a wonderful organization named, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.  This organization asks professional photographers to team up with local hospitals to provide a service to these parents that can bring healing in such an uncertain time.  When the hospital has a mother come in that has or is in the process of loosing her baby, they call a team of photographers to see if a volunteer can come in to capture the baby in a professional atmosphere.  Photographers are always contacted first to make sure a volunteer can be available.  The services are never offered until a photographer is secure, the last thing we would want to do is to offer the service and then not have a photographer available. Once a photographer is secure, the services are offered to the family at no cost.  This service is offered but never forced. Although this brings comfort to some, for others it is simply too much.  If the family has expressed interest in the service, a photographer comes in and takes professional quality images. Approximately 4 weeks later the photographer delivers a disc of edited images with copyrights to the parents.  There is never any payment and this is based solely off of volunteers.  With that being said, I wanted to take moment to talk about these services on my blog.  

Currently, I am the only volunteer photographer in the immediate area.  We do have a 2 or 3 others that come form New Bern on a regular basis when these calls come in but as you can imagine that can be difficult.  When these calls come, they aren't like a normal session. We aren't given a certain time and there is never anyway of 100% knowing how long it may last.  Sometimes as soon as we get the call and arrive the family is ready for us, other times we know it is about to happen but mom is currently in labor, sometimes babies are in NICU and still on life support, and sometimes we get there and the parents just aren't quite ready to say goodbye.  Regardless of the situation, every time is different and typically lasts a few hours, but no matter how quick or long the process is, there is always only a small window of opportunity for us to do the actual pictures.  As a volunteer, nothing is more heartbreaking than getting the call and realizing because of prior obligations you can not perform the service.  It is even more difficult when you realize because you can't be there the service will not even be offered because the volunteers simply aren't there.  This isn't a session that can be rescheduled, it is a one shot deal.  

So today I wanted to take time to raise awareness for this amazing program in our area. Hopefully this post will  draw interests from some local photographers that may have a heart pull to join with us in providing a once in a lifetime gift to these parents in such an uncertain time.  If you are interested in possibly volunteering, take a moment an visit the NILMDTS site to get more info.  If you still have questions or want to sign up let me know and I'll guide you in the right direction. 

Below I am (with the consent of the parents) letting you into the world of what some parents experience when they have to say goodbye too soon.  Please take a moment to consider what you can do or help me spread the word in my effort to find more volunteers. 


Posted on Monday, June 13, 2011 at 08:57PM by Registered CommenterCrutchfield Photography in , | Comments1 Comment

Photographer's Retreat - Outer Banks NC - Spring 2011

I think most photographers that do this as a career will agree, photography is one of the greatest yet challenging careers anyone can chose.  Although it's an amazingly creative outlet that allows us to capture moments and stop time, it can also be a very stressful one.  Almost 3 years ago I had a strong desire to create a network of photographers in our area.  There wasn't a certain category you had to fit or a fee you had to pay.  You simply had to be willing to meet together with other local photographers, in hopes of creating a network.  I wanted to the image to shift from, "they are my competition" to "they are my colleagues".  Now we would all be fools to say we aren't each other's competition because that's a natural fact but after almost 3 years of hanging out I'm more likely to call them my friends. 

But why just stop at a monthly meeting?? Last year at the beginning of the Spring I hosted a retreat for any photographer that wanted to get away.  A year quickly passed and before we knew it, it was that time again.  This year some of our past people couldn't make it but those spots were quickly filled with new faces. 

So back in April we headed to the Outer Banks for a weekend that was better than any of us could have imagined!!  When I say I laughed the whole weekend, it's not an overstatement!! From the yummy food, to the hysterical games, to the late night giggles/scares, to the crippling cactuses, and the crazy weather we were determined to shoot through.  This was a weekend that helped me grow closer to the ones I already knew and establish a friendship with those I didn't. I can honestly say, from this weekend I have lifelong friends!! This weekend helped all of us realize, no matter where we are with our photography it is a journey.  A journey that will have it's ups and downs but in the end will make us better at our craft!!!

So to all my friends that took this journey with me..... I look forward to many years of retreats together and many laughs!! Each of you have a special place in my heart and I can't wait until next year!! To share on our journey take a look at our slideshow (images are contributed by everyone there)





And a big shout out to all the models that took time out their schedules to come hang out at the beach with us...... you guys were awesome!!

Be The Match - Be the one to save a life

This blog post is very dear to my heart, please take a minute of your time to read it and even pass it on.  Right before Thanksgiving we got the news that Chris' brother, Chad,  was diagnosed with a very aggressive leukemia.  It was heart stopping to know someone we loved so much was about to have a battle for his life.  Immediately he began treatment and the search for a bone marrow donor was on!! Five months later, after rounds of chemo Chad is still in need of a match.  He recently finished a round of chemo at the Mayo clinic and the doctors told him there was a 90% chance the leukemia would return without a marrow donor.  For all of us who know and love him, we are believing he will be in that 10% but we are also trying with everything in our power to find a donor that could possibly save his life!  That is why this post is so important to me and my family!!!  Chad has been in the national registry for months and although he has had some possibilities, none of the donors have been a complete match. As his family we refuse to believe that there is no match, so with all our heart we are asking you to join with us to try and save Chad.  By joining this registry you are not just giving Chad a chance at life but many others, just like Chad that are fighting just to live.  Everyday we wake up and take for granted we can go to work, hug our children, go on vacation, or just sleep in our own beds.  So I am asking and yes I am even pleading.... PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE give the chance of life to someone else.  Many of you are nervous of what this commitment involves and I can assure I have been there and I understand.  I'm not sure there is anyone that is more afraid of a medical procedure than me, including needles.  Just this past week I facebooked about me crying in the dentist chair because I am literally that afraid of needles.  So if anyone understands the  hesitation I promise I do.  I even said I would be glad to do it if I could help Chad but I wasn't sure about being in a national registry.  Now I'm not proud of myself for saying, matter of fact I'm pretty ashamed I let me fear hold me back from possible saving a life.  But I share that to let each of you know I understand!! I with all my heart understand the fear!! But when it comes down to it someone's life should trump my fear!!  So, as you read this I ask a few favors:

#1- Go HERE to see what is involved with being a donor and please consider joining the registry.  This site gives a complete description of what is involved and answers any and every question you might have.

#2- Pass this blog post on to everyone you know in an effort to get as many as we possibly can to join the registry.  Email it, do your own blog post, talk about it, facebook it, twitter it, however you can please spread the word!!

#3- Pray with our family that Chad will receive the donor he so desperately needs!! He has been the most positive person through all of the treatment and for those of you who have witnessed treatment you know it can be grueling!!

#4- Consider purchasing a puzzle piece for $5 to help us raise money for Chad.  For more information and directions click HERE

So there it is.... PLEASE help us save Chad and so many others that want to LIVE!!!!

Just so you know joining the registry is the easiest thing I have ever done.  Once you sign up online, you get a kit in the mail to swap the inside of your mouth and then you return it in the postage paid envelope they provide.  It is simple and easy!!!! 

here's what you get in the mail

all the info and directions included

simply swab your mouth

put it in the prepaid envelope and possibly save a life!!

Chad, their daughter Madison, and his beautiful wife, Andrea, a few years ago after they got married

Posted on Friday, April 22, 2011 at 11:48PM by Registered CommenterCrutchfield Photography in | Comments8 Comments

Family Photography - Greenville NC - Sara & Marcus

I met this couple a while back when they offered their beautiful home as a backdrop for a wedding I was shooting.  Maybe it was the stories I heard from the bride and groom on how wonderful this couple was, maybe it was the coziness of their amazing home, or maybe it was the way my heart melted a little when I saw them interact with each other.  Regardless, I was over the moon when Marcus called and wanted to surprise his lovely wife with a double session.  This first session was a chance to do some images of them together with a mix of both of their families, the next session we will do in about a week will be their maternity session.  That's right, this fabulous couple is about to meet their new addition in a few short months!!  So before that happens I have to share this first session!! By looking at the pictures you would not know it but this family definitely took one for the team on this day, it was FRIGID!!! Sara and Marcus, your love for each other and the love your family has for you is remarkable!! I'm so glad you asked me to share in this journey!! 

From the mouth of....WELL ME!! - So you want to be a photographer?

**Disclaimer....This are my opinions because this is my blog :) All comments are appreciated but remember I do have to approve them so make sure you are being nice!!**

So many people (mom's in particular) pick up a digital camera, take a few photos, and overnight become a photographer.  I'm not knocking it because I had a similar journey! But what this post will address is the business part of photography.  Many people reading this will say.... well I don't really make money at it, so I don't consider it a business.  I may challenge that with..... "Do you have a business name, do you have a website or Facebook fan page, do your charge for your pictures, do you have a logo or do you advertise your services?"  If the answer to any of those is yes, then I would say you probably are running a business, you are just trying to avoid the business part of it.  A lot of people combat that with..."But I don't make any money, I'm just learning!" And even though that may be true, most businesses don't make a profit during their first few years. Matter of fact, a typical business takes 5 years before it shows a profit.  But not making a profit does not eliminate you from the responsibilities you have with a business.

For me one of the hardest parts of being a photographer is the actual business part.  The book keeping, the payroll, the taxes, any one of those words can easily send me into a panic attack!!! But in all honesty I think just me knowing my weaknesses gives me an advantage in my business.  I know that sounds crazy but for me, I know I stink in those areas so I find qualified people that can help! To start with, my mom does all my book keeping. Not only is she 100% trustworthy but that is what her career was for years.  If there is a penny missing, she will crunch those numbers until it is balanced. And then I have an amazing CPA, Alex Pappas with H. Edwin Gray, that handles all my payroll, taxes, and any crazy questions I can muster. And by handle, he literally send me the forms I need to send each quarter with a little sticky that says...sign here with an addressed envelope and a sheet listing how much goes in each envelope.  On occasion I get people that ask how much my CPA cost me and my answer is always the same...."It's not cheap but it's worth it!" When it comes down to it, I know my business is being run the right way. Every business owner has to decide what they spend their money on and for me it's a no brainer!! I'm going to pay to have an expert help me with the business part because simply, I'm clueless! 

So, if you are one of those people trying to slide by and not pay taxes because, "it's just a hobby".  Then let it be a hobby and do what you love to do without the money involved.  But if you want to be a photographer and earn money, step up and do it right. Because if you don't and you get caught, it won't be good!! Just recently I called the NC Department of Revenue to settle some questions I had concerning sales tax. You see in our lovely state, photographers have to pay sales tax on everything not just their products!! That's right...session fees, labor, anything we charge for is subject to the 8% sales tax.  This is something a lot of photographers don't even realize.  Most photographers think sales tax is only applicable to their products, such as prints, albums, etc.  But in the state of North Carolina that couldn't be further from the truth.. The auditor I spoke to personally showed me on the site where the bulletins where outlining it and proceeded to tell me, tons and tons of photographers have been audited on their sales tax over the past couple of years and have been caught not paying it correctly. So to any NC photographer that is not paying 8% sales tax on all their sales, please start!!! The auditor even told me that most of the ones caught weren't doing it because they just didn't know.  But not knowing doesn't eliminate your responsibility when you run a business!!! If you are like me and you don't know the business part, get a book keeper and a great CPA (if you need one I happen to know one).  You may think it's a lot but I promise the penalties and fees for doing it wrong is worse!! 

So there it is, my latest rants and raves.  This may not be a popular post and I'm fine with that but I'll leave you with a image to remind you of how you may feel if you get caught doing it wrong......