Friday, December 3, 2010


This Fall, I have learned:

  • I am not in control
  • I am small
  • I am fragile
  • So is every person I love

I have learned:

  • I was never meant to be the photographer at church events or photographing a baby in a field
  • I do not know what that means for my camera and me

I have learned to let go. I have learned to surrender and relax in to life. I have learned to grab on to what I can while it is still here, and release it when it is gone.

I have learned that I am very often misunderstood, and that is okay.

I have learned that becoming a wife and mother did not change me as much as I thought it did.

I have learned there is nothing I want that I do not have; it is useless to pine for things out of my reach when there is so much beauty around me. I have learned to soak in the little things. I have learned to be content, even in pain.

I have learned that giving can be both painful and rewarding. I have learned I have no regrets. I see God's purpose in all that is behind me; I see His timing and His hand as they shaped and healed me over the years.

I am thankful for today, and that so far it is a peaceful one.

I will be shutting down my web site this month. My Facebook page and this blog may not be far behind. Making my photography public has added stress to my life. This fall, I have been reminded of what a private person I am at my core. It is time for me to remember why I loved photography in the first place, and to do it just for me.

It is time for me to stop being concerned about the opinions of others, and to live my life as honestly as I know how, being at peace in my core, no matter what trials come.

I have learned that life is fleeting. We are all a breathe. In and out. We all have our turn.

I have learned that it is all well with me. There is no justice in hate, anger, fear or worrying. There is nothing I control but me; and I am at peace with that, too.

I have let go, and I have learned that it feels good to do so.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Loss and Giving

Two weeks ago, sweet baby Joshua closed his eyes for the last time in the loving arms of his mommy, my dear friend Jill.

I felt that I needed to update this on my blog, because I have blogged about his life.

How does one find the words for news like this?

Even beyond that, I felt uncomfortable writing this from my perspective because this is not about me. I do not desire to make it about me.

Of course the death of a sweet baby has had a profound affect on my life, my outlook, my emotions. Because Joshua was the son of my friend he has been in my life also.

I feel the loss of a human being that I looked in the eyes and loved.

This is not why I am blogging about this, though.

Beyond changing the way I see myself, the people I love, the people I have never met, and the world around me, Joshua has changed photography for me.

I never in my life expected to preserve something the way I preserved Joshua. Even while I was visiting him in the hospital, I just did not and could not believe that was what I was doing. I could not believe I was capturing something that would so soon be gone.

Honestly, I never wanted to do that.

It is, however, what I did.

A couple hours after Joshua's death, my phone rang. It was his mommy, calling in tears to ask me to photograph his funeral.

I agreed, in tears. There was no way at that point that I could tell her no, even though she gave me an out. I believe Jill understood better at that moment what that would mean than I could.

To be clear: if she asked me again, I would not tell her no. I wanted to do this. In that moment, I would have done anything for her. She is my friend, and I love her. This decisions, as with the rest of it, was not and is not about me.

The night of the viewing, I photographed the photo boards and other things around the funeral home. I spent time with Jill and another mutual friend. We all cried and some of us were even blessed to laugh a bit together that night.

My photos were on the photo boards. There were photos I had taken of Joshua's family before Jill had even conceived him, and there were photos I had taken of Joshua within his first 24 hours of life, and there were photos of him two weeks before his death.

This moved me in ways I had not expected it to.

I stayed through the viewing. And at the end of the viewing, my husband had my camera. I was sitting with a friend. We were talking.

I looked up towards Joshua's body, and I saw Jill saying good by to him.

This is the first of many images that I will never forget, but did not capture.

This is the moment I realized that I was not capable of doing what she had asked me to do. This was a moment that was real, that was full of emotion. This was an image that still brings me to tears; it breaks me every time I bring it up.

Even if I had had my camera, I don't know that I could have captured it.

For the first time in my life, I was trying to find the line between what was a moving moment to save, and what was an appropriate moment to save.

I saw many many tears that night, many faces that brought tears to my own eyes.

The sense of loss was heavy. So many people were meeting this sweet boy for the first time at his viewing.

The weight of this, still, as I think about it, brings me to sobs.

I went home that night, knowing that I would wake up and return. I returned home that night to a two year old girl that was still awake in her crib. I couldn't grab her fast enough. I let her stay up two hours past her bed time just to hear her laugh and to feel her warm cheek against mine.

In the morning, I could not think well. My emotions overwhelmed me in ways I did not expect. I did not even kiss my babies goodbye on the way out the door.

I knew, before I even left the house that morning, that I did not know how to photograph this, but I did not know why. It took me over a week for the realization to hit me:

Photography is a way for me to embrace life. I have said before that while I tend to be a serious person, photography is where I embrace the joy around me.

I just did not know how to embrace this.

Our sweet friend Carla was a saving grace for me through this, offering me hugs and pats on the arm.

I remember trying to take a photo, but my hands were shaking so badly I couldn't focus. I remember not being able to see through the viewfinder because my tears had caused it to fog over.

But what I remember the most is Jill, holding her four year old, with tears streaming down her face, lifting her hand to worship her God.

I will tell you right now, this is the one image out of all of them that I missed, that with all my heart I wish I had captured.

This image was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

I took basic photos that day, and Shane and Jill will be able to remember how it looked.

There were so many moments, though, that I could not disrupt with the sound of my shutter.

I struggled for a few days with whether or not I did the right thing, letting those moments slip by. But in the end I have told myself that this was a sensitive situation, and the most important thing was that I not make it any harder for anyone involved by using my camera.

There are many images that I will keep with me forever. They would have moved you. They moved me. But they were too costly.

Never before have I had to weigh the cost of an emotional image.

I am trying so hard right now to be sensitive to the situation and to Joshie's family while still getting to my point. Please don't think I am trying to make this all about the photographic experience. It was not.

Maybe that's why it was so hard as a photographic experience.

I am sharing this side of it so that you can all understand why...

My camera feels heavier than it ever has before.
For several days, I shook when I saw my camera bag.
I haven't even looked at these photos. They are hiding on a memory card in my desk drawer.
For right now, I can't.

But I want to tell you that after the funeral, Jill's mom approached me. She looked me in the eyes and she told me, "Thank you, Molly, for all of the photos."

And for a moment, as I struggled to find words, I felt peace. I had given them something. I had done something. No matter how small. All I had wanted to do was give them a tiny big of peace and beauty and maybe, somehow, my photos had done that.

Even two weeks later, this all feels so very fresh. The images I hold only in my heart are still returning to me daily; I am still crying daily. I am hurting for my friend so deeply.

Photographing Joshua's life and death changed the way I see photos. It changed the purpose of taking photos.

I feel that photography has many wonderful purposes but I feel that my purpose with my photography has changed, and it has changed in a huge way.

I don't want to be paid anymore; I want to give. If I can in some tiny way give a hurting family peace and beauty, I want to do that. With all of my heart, I want to do that.

I have always believed that God gave photography to me as a gift. I feel he is paving a path in my heart for me to share that gift with others. This path is so drastically different than anything I ever expected, ever.

Once again, I will state that this is not about me or my wishes, except that it is my desire to follow where God leads.

I am praying that things become more clear. I am brain storming.

It will come.

I emailed two people today and turned down sessions. I have one more session booked and I will complete that obligation, but after that is finished, I will no longer be accepting family sessions. At least not for the time being.

I want to thank you all so much for your support, compliments, and love. I guess right now I have no more words, but am thankful to have finally put these words together. I was so hesitant to write this, but I truly want people to understand where my heart is.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Forever Changed

I am struggling to name this post, as I sit here listening to my children fight up stairs. Words have been running through my head all day--or maybe longer.

Yesterday Jill said to me, "It's amazing the affect he's had on people," as we sat side by side, watching him sleep in his crib. At that time, the words hadn't come yet. So I nodded. And I listened for a minute. Then said something that was most likely out of place; probably the wrong thing to say.

I've found myself thinking lately, even when I don't have time to, and I think about little "Joshie" more than anything else. Lately, everything comes back to him. The words I was looking for yesterday that I could not find there, sitting next to Jill who was sitting in Big Blue, were: Joshua has changed everything for me.

His affect on me, and so many others, has been profound.

Every day, I am thankful for things I took for granted before. I look at my babies, and it seems unreal to me that we were fortunate enough to bring them home from the hospital with us, and that they have never had any reason to return. I think about my heart, my brother's heart, my husband's heart, my parents' hearts while I am driving or doing the dishes and I praise God that none of them have had any issues.

I pass children in a store and I think, "What a miracle you are."

What a miracle we all are.

Since meeting Joshua, every minute of every day, I feel blessed. I feel fragile. I feel at peace with life in a way I never have before because I am realizing how precious it is and that none of us are entitled to anything. But we are all given gifts, and we need to treasure what we have.

I think about Jill throughout the day, when I'm feeding my kids or changing my two year old's diaper and I think, "Jill didn't get to do this today." Instead of feeling like it is a chore, I feel thankful that at least for today, I have been allowed to care for my children and that we are able to be together as a family.

I look at this tiny baby boy, and I think of all of the tears that have been shed for him. I think of all the voices that have called out to God. Who knows? Maybe those people hadn't connected with God in years--maybe some even connected with God in tears on their knees for the first time in their lives. I think of the testimony that he will share with others some day, and that his mom is sharing with thousands every day right now.

I think of the doctors that are saying, "We don't know how he is still here. This is a miracle."

What a purpose baby Joshua has served!

I don't know that I have ever felt God in a situation like I have in Joshua's. I am flooded by his presence every time Joshua comes to mind, and I am overwhelmed with the depth of this situation on a physical, spiritual, and emotional level.

After saying all this, still I know there are no words.

So I will continue to pray for Jill and all of the other Heart Families I have read about through her blog and...

I will live each day, forever changed.

Jill, I know you are breathing in and breathing out right now. I know that every day is a balancing act, and each moment is a new challenge. I know it doesn't feel beautiful to you, but beauty is coming of it. Thank you for your faithful service to our God, as a daughter, a mother, and a wife. You amaze me every day. I am proud to call you my friend, and I love you.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Cover

I just wanted to share that I was so honored to have one of my photos chosen for the cover of Lakes Magazine.

To learn more about Lakes, you can visit:

The Fall Issue of Lakes should be in distribution now. And here is the mock-up cover they gave me. Yep, my made my fridge!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Baby Joshua

I've been sitting here for quite some time, trying to find the right words.

I don't want to make light of this, and I don't want to make it about me. So I sit here, just thinking, remembering the day six months ago I received an email from a good friend. She told me that her baby may be born very prematurely. Then reading her request: That I would photograph her baby in the event that things did not't go as they hoped they would.

Then I remember feeling more honored that I had ever before in my life; and telling her: of course.

I praise God that it never came to that.

Then I remember the day she updated her blog, saying that her sweet baby boy was diagnosed with Hyperplastic Left Heart Syndrome. The left side of his heart was not developing and if he were born early, they could not operate.

I remember crying while reading her words so full of hope, faith, and fear.

I remember praying, as so many people were, that Joshua would stay in the womb until he reached full term.

And he did.

Praise God.

Not only did he reach full term, but he was a healthy 8lbs 1oz and is breathing on his own. He is doing very well. Jill was even told tonight that she would soon be able to hold him! Another answer to prayer!

It was my honor to photograph him today. Photographically, the photos are not perfect. The lighting wasn't ideal and because we couldn't move/position him, it wasn't possible to get a shot of his entire face. Right now, looking at these photos, I just can't figure out how that matters anymore.

I love photography because I can stop time for myself and those I love. And I was thankful to save part of today for Jill and her family.

They have a long journey ahead; but while I was with them today, I felt so much joy and peace.

This is all I will share, but Jill keeps a beautiful blog. If you would like to read more about their family, please check it out: The Real Life of a Red Head

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Party of Four

There was so much cuteness tonight. Just three for now.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Business Decisions

I have had a better week and have decided to carry on in business as I had planned.

I have thought a lot about my options and what I want.

My realizations are as follows:

I love photography. I have always loved photography. I want to never stop loving photography. In my pursuit of learning, I have encountered so many frustrations that sometimes I have wanted to stop, but I have carried on.

However, I am easily overwhelmed. I don't deal with stress well. I know this about myself and I need to live accordingly. I can't allow stress to be the straw that breaks the photographer's back. Therefore, I cannot allow sharing my photography to become one of the things that overwhelms me. I have to stick to my guns, and do this in a manageable way, or I am not going to be able to share.

I also cannot take on more than I can guarantee my health will handle. We still do not have a diagnosis, and I am still in pursuit of one.

I have been doing photography for quite some time, and I have always done it for free. I believe that people should not pay me in order for me to learn. So I have never charged. And I have turned away a lot of requests for photos.

As I have grown, so have the requests for my images. And because I know the value of having beautiful memories, it always pained me to say no. But I can only spend so much time away from my family without compensation. And to be honest, the more I know, the more time it takes.

What I want to do with Molly Alisa Photography is to turn less people away. I want to be set up to take on people's sessions; I want to be prepared to deal with business. I have been working on this for months.

  • I have decided on how many sessions a month I will be taking on. They will be filled on a first-come first serve basis.

  • I will not be offering specials anymore after my Opening Special, which has been my compensation to the clients that are allowing me to practice aspects of business I could only practice after I began charging.

My goal is not to have a huge business. It is only to share. I love children, and I believe there is nothing more precious, fleeting, or beautiful. I am feeling the next step, even in my own growth, is to reach out--and help other families cherish these special people that will be grown in a blink.

I so much appreciate the support of everyone that reads my blog. Thank you for understanding my limitations!


A few more from Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Last Night...

was wonderful fun.

There will be more.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Feeling Encouraged.

I am feeling encouraged this week.

It has been much better than last.

I have a maternity session tonight at 7:30. I am very excited.

I also have a little boy turning 4 tomorrow. So this is a good week to feel good!

We have wonderful adventures planned. I can't wait to share!!

Thank you so much for all of your emails and encouragement. I am very blessed by your support and love. I will keep you all updated as we know more. For now, I'm just happy to not be in the condition I was a week ago.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I am sorry to announce that I am going to be taking a break from the blog and from the internet.

My health has not been okay since the surgery. I am searching for answers and trying to care for my family and home.

It looks like business will have to be put on hold as well.

I am really having a hard time with how much of my life I need to slow down while we work towards a diagnosis and healing.

I will still be checking my email, but I am stepping away from forums and the blog for awhile.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

The 18th Century

Matt has done reenactment since before I met him. This weekend, the kids went along for the first time.

They had a blast playing with the other kids there. Asa's grandpa bought him a toy sword, musket, and bow & arrow. My next project is to research period dolls and make one for Ellis so she has a special toy as well.

I have been missing them. I visited but it's not something that I stay for.

I sure do love my littles. I also hate the way Blogger makes my photos look. lol. I will probably be moving my blog again eventually.

Feel free to click on them if you want to see what they really look like. lol.

With Grandpa Bob:

Watching the soldiers march:

Brother and Sister Time:

Learning to shoot the bow:

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I have been so thrown off-guard by how sensitive my tongue is!! lol

I still can't talk without it causing extra pain. Eating & drinking are awful too.

I thought I'd be back to normal today, now I'm just hoping to be back in full swing by Thursday when I leave for Michigan. I will also have my stitches out that day. Very much looking forward to that.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Taking a Rest

The past two days, I have been resting.

On Thursday, I had minor surgery on my tongue. It ended up being a much bigger deal than I expected, and very painful. I can't really eat or talk. Matt is wonderful, and he has taken care of the kids almost 100%. Which is such a blessing. It's hard for me to respond to them when they ask questions, and probably even harder for them to understand me through my stitches. Haha.

While Matt has had to work, they have rested with me. So we have had some popcorn and movie time. And snuggles. Always love the snuggles.

I am working on saving up some money towards a new lens. There is a lens I've been wanting for almost a year. It is amazing. My dream lens. But it costs more than my first dSLR did. So it is something I have to work for. And then find, since it is no longer made. But it makes me happy even to write about it.

We have a full weekend ahead. Photoshoots, a baby shower, a reenactment, and hopefully some quality time with Uncle Kyle.

For tonight: it's time to work on my contracts and release forms.

More later.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Big Boy

He got a hair cut. And he looks so grown up.

It's cold and rainy today. Nothing much to do but hang out inside.

I just love to watch them love each other. My sweet little duo.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Most Frustrating Part

For me, the most frustrating part of photography is color.

Hands down.

Today I am struggling with issues in RGB and sRGB and color profile conversion.

Nothing is working, which means the photos I share online don't look the same as they look in Photoshop.

If I'm going to spend twenty minutes editing a photo, I want the photo to look exactly like I intended it to look.

God bless you Michelle for helping me and being so patient with me!!! We'll get it figured out.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


I was thinking this morning, how blessed I am.

I may not have a lot; but I knew a women once who had everything money could buy, and she gave it all up to pursue what I have. Looking back on this recently put things in perspective for me.

On this Mothers' Day, I want to reflect on some of these blessings, in no particular order. How could I choose a "best"?

My Children They came faster than I expected, and take more energy than I ever could have prepared for; but I have learned so much from them already. They are my inspiration and my heart; so beautiful, and perfect just as God created them.

My Girls The girls I love and have watched on and off for over seven years now. They feel like my own babies, and I am so proud of the young women they are turning in to. Sweet, funny, loving, creative. They are great with my kids, too. I am excited to see where their lives take them; although I hope it is never too far away from me. :)

My Husband I said while we were dating that if I could have imagined the perfect man for me, I couldn't have imagined someone as perfect for me as Matt. He is my exact opposite, and a perfect fit. He balances me, and completes me. I can't imagine parenting, or living, without him.

My Mother There's just not a way for me to say how proud I am of my mother. She is thoughtful, loving, creative, brave, and adorable. She is a fairytale grandmother to my littles, and a pillar of my support system as I try to navigate motherhood myself.

My Father The first love of my life. I adore my father. He is a quiet man that loves his family, works hard, and gives his all. He is the best example of a genuinely good person that I have ever had in my life. He is not just smart, but wise--always full of good advice. He has a compassion for humanity that I have not seen many places and often confused me as a child; but now as an adult, I feel it is one of the most beautiful things about him.

My Brother When he was born, I told my mom, "I wanted a sister!" and ran to play with my cousin. But God knew what he was doing when He gave me a brother. Very few people see me as realistically as Kyle, and love me just the same. No one makes me laugh harder, or makes better food, or will eat a bag of Good & Plentys with me while playing Mario hour after hour. And even though I don't like beer, I've heard he makes some of the best.

My Friends When I was a lonely teenager, I used to pray that I would some day have many good friends. Real friends. Friends I could trust. And boy did God come through on that one. My friends are my backbone, they believe in me more than I believe in myself. They love me unconditionally, and don't judge. Some have beautiful children that they let me torture with my camera. Haha!

A Home It might not be a mansion, but it is a place where I feel safe and feel that my children are safe. A dry shelter when it rains, a warm shelter when it snows.

My Camera An SLR is something I dreamed of for so long, I was sure it would never come true. And now I have been able to work up to a camera I love so much it feels like my 3rd child. I do believe it is not the camera that makes the beautiful photos, but I also know I could not make the photos I make without a tool that would allow me to. I am so thankful for these tools, so I can continue to learn and not feel limited by my equipments, as I have so many times in the past.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


After ten years of learning, I am taking the plunge.

I am now officially taking on clients. My site will be live this weekend.

My Site!

I am sharing my opening special with my blog readers. I will also be handing out printed coupons. Let me know if you would like any to share with others. You can click on the coupon to see it larger.

I am an on-location, natural light only photographer. Meaning I do not do studio work, nor do I use a flash or artificial lighting of any kind.

I am also a Children's Photographer, and have chosen to only photograph children ages 1-12. This is where I am comfortable and confident, where I can guarantee my work will be its best.

I will not be able to offer more than two sessions a month at this time, but I am excited to finally share my love with others.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Good Enough

I feel like a lot of people settle.

I also feel like a lot of people don't understand my drive.

I don't want to settle for being good enough, I want to be amazing.

I am hard on myself, but I know amazing photographers that I only dream of living up to one day.

And if I continue to work and strive and look for what is wrong with my photos, and the answers for how to fix it, I will get there.

I want this for me.

I have written before about all that photography is to me. But the drive to get better at it is what keeps me going. I am never more frustrated than when I don't know where to go next; because I know, I have seen what photography can be.

I also know: I am not there yet.

I am okay with that. I am even excited by that, because I will continue learning. And I will continue looking for the beauty around me and then, the beauty in what I captured.

I don't really believe in perfect photography, because sometimes even a photo with a flaw can move me in a way that a perfect photo never could. I never expect my photography to be void of flaws, because life is full of them. I do plan to reach a place where I know exactly how to frame the photo to best convey my intentions to my "audience," and then to be able to look at a photo in Photoshop and know exactly what it needs in order to become the best that it can be.

I am very blessed to have wonderful equipment, but it can only take me so far.

I am finally getting some of my drive back, and some of my vision back, and this excites me.

A friend of mine was helping me with my editing today. Here are some examples of my photos straight from the camera and along the stages of editing. I don't know how much this interests other people, but I like to see the photos "grow."

Photo #1, Ellis at The Fountain

This photo was intentionally taken at an angle I rarely use. But I really wanted the water & her dress in the frame. I also wanted her eyes framed exactly this way.

My main regret with this photo: the edge of her dress was cut off.

But I couldn't throw it away.

The SOOC (Straight out of camera) is very blue. This isn't unheard of for Nikon. Often my SOOCs are blue when I don't use a gray card.

This is my first horrible edit, from last night. I was having a lot of color issues.

I started over tonight. I took a different route.

Finally, I color corrected, removed the orange casts from her face, added color to her dress and the water, cloned out the line in the cement, and burnt the edges. Personally, when I look at this final edit, it has a far bigger impact on me than the SOOC did, while still feeling natural.

Photo #2, Ellis at the Tree House

I'm going to be honest. This image I needed a ton of help with.

I had three different friends help me with this photo, over a course of six days, and just this evening do I feel really happy with it. This was worth it to me not only because I love the photo, but because I learned so many new things I can do with a photo that will add to the overall effect.

The colors were all over the place SOOC. I had to do spot work on this for a long time. I had patches of green, reflecting from the grass; and patches of magenta, especially on her finger tips.

I have an issue with preferring gray and flat images. I am working towards new expectations, and loving more depth in my work. Once I see it, I love it, but it is not where I head naturally.

I loved this first edit.

It was pointed out to me that the photo was very gray, and that I needed to warm it. I spent another 20 minutes on it tonight, learning to deepen the tones in the photo. In the end, I color corrected, fixed the reflected colors, deepened the green, darkened the background, warmed her skin, and burnt the edges.

I love the result.

I guess I'm just trying to jot down my thoughts. I learned a lot with these two photos. Which makes me happy, and makes me think.

I guess photography is like ballet in that the goal is to make it look easy. And also like ballet, after years of practice and training (your eye and your reflexes and your instincts) it becomes easier, even second nature, but I think there will always be frustrations, and weak points.

There will never be a shoot where every photo is beautiful, or even worth editing. But I hope there will be a day when I kick myself a lot less for making the mistakes that ruin a keeper; a day when I look at a photo and can see what it will be, a day I will know exactly where to take it and then make that happen.

But I am still learning. And happy to be so.

ETA: I rarely share my SOOCs. Now I feel a little naked. LOL!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bye Bye Binkies

The kids both gave up their binkies last week.

It was a big milestone for them. All along, I have planned to have them give them up together. They both had them only to sleep.

There were a lot of tears the first day, but both are adjusting fine. I feel free, not having to drag them with us and worry about losing one somewhere.

They do both seem bigger. There is less baby in them every single day.

In some ways, it makes me sad. But in others, I am excited. It feels like a relief, to be past not only binkies but nursing, bouncey seats, diaper bags, baby gates, bibs, baby food, and not too far in the future: diapers.

Just looking forward.