Category Archives: Personal

Personal posts from Natalie Carstens

Impressions from January & February : a personal project

I find myself drawn to comparison photos of the girls lately; photos taken in the same places but months/years apart. When I look back and compare, it really shows how fleeting these early years are and how fast our girls are growing up!

Here’s a glimpse into our January and February..

[1] Writing notes for our Happiness Jar
Our Happiness Jar is filling up with notes and the girls have been happily adding to it with pictures they’ve drawn! (After sharing a photo of our 2016 happy notes on Facebook and Instagram over the New Year, I received a lot of questions about how it works. I try to write at least one thing daily that made me happy, date it and put it in the jar, then we read all the notes on New Year’s Eve. You can read more about how we do it over here.)

[2] Blijdorp Zoo, Rotterdam
Not only is Rebekka growing taller but she’s also suddenly looking so grown up! It’s amazing to compare this photo of her to the last one I shared, or how about the first one!

[3] Blijdorp Zoo, Rotterdam
And now here’s Lea looking all grown up! Where’d my baby go?!! See the same photo taken a year ago, here!

[4] ‘Little Lego’
Duplo still gets a lot of play-time but lego is increasingly making an appearance. The girls both love it! Rebekka was at school so this time Lea had the lego all to herself.

[5] Snow Day!
We had snow at the beginning of February, and on a weekend too. The girls were so excited and couldn’t wait to go outside to play! Rebekka told me her favourite season is Winter – because of the snow! 

[6] Snow Day!
Look carefully and you might notice that Lea is still wearing her pyjamas! She couldn’t wait to go outside and there was no convincing her to get dressed first ;-) :-)

[7] Reaching higher
I photographed Lea up to mischief in this spot almost a year ago, you can see it here. (She’s emptying the cupboard of tupperware much less these days. Now she goes straight for the cookies in the corner cupboard!) She seems so little and so big all at the same time, and I notice that her hair is getting so long lately! Before I know it she’ll be able to reach and wash her hands in the sink all by herself! 

[8] Sisters
Watching them play together makes me so happy they have each other!

Impressions‘ is a creative project by an eclectic group of female photographers from around the globe. We aim to share the inspiration behind what we do through our bi-monthly posts.

Every other month, we will be sharing 8 images that tell the story of what inspired us in the previous weeks: our families, nature, weather, or maybe even work itself! We are free to explore the meaning of ‘impressions’, and it is likely to change month to month.

Say hello in the comments below and then hop on over to see what Antonina Mamzenko in London, UK is sharing this month :-) Then continue clicking through the circle till you make it back here – I hope you enjoy all our posts!

With love,
~ Natalie

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Impressions from November & December : a personal project

We’ve had more than our fair share of winter illnesses zap our energy over the past couple of months, so I haven’t been out and about with my camera as much as I would have liked. 2017 is looking bright though and i’m so excited for all the babies – family, friends and clients! It’s going to be a special year!

Here’s a glimpse into our November and December:

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[1] My sleeping beauty

November was a really rough month for Lea. A viral chest infection caused an overreaction of her immune system which meant she was wheezing and not getting enough oxygen. A visit to our huisarts (doctor) was immediately followed by a stay at the children’s hospital where she was hooked up to oxygen and nebulised regularly. We went home a few days later when her oxygen levels where back up and had stabilised. Still not fully recovered and seemingly getting worse, we went back to the huisarts and she was then prescribed antibiotics for pneumonia :-(

On the day I took this photo, we set off for a walk along the beach and she fell asleep only minutes after we had gone outside. Unexpectedly, she slept for 3 hours in the pram while I walked, followed by another 2.5 hours when we got home. Sleep, fresh sea air, and new antibiotics seemed to be exactly what she needed and she was soon starting to feel better. So grateful!

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[2] A visit to England, ‘just the girls, no boys!’

This was a holiday that almost didn’t happen and it was certainly an adventure we are not going to forget!

I had originally booked our trip to coincide with hubby’s travel plans for work. Lea was only just out of hospital though so I postponed our trip by two weeks. Our new travel dates neared and Lea was still ill. We went back to the huisarts and I held out hope that she’d be fine and didn’t postpone the dates a second time. It was only on the day we were due to leave that we decided to go!

With everything packed, the car full, goodbyes said to Papa and everyone with their seatbelts on and ready to go, I went to turn the key in the ignition. Nothing. I couldn’t believe it! All psyched up to travel solo with the girls, packed and ready to drive to the overnight ferry and we weren’t going anywhere. I tried again. Still nothing.

We called ANWB (roadside assistance) to help. There wasn’t a lot of time till check-in for the ferry closed so I called ahead to give them a headsup that we had car trouble. I was so sad to think we wouldn’t make it.

Thankfully ANWB arrived pretty quickly. Our car battery was broken and wouldn’t take any charge. Luckily they had a new one and ten minutes later it was fitted and we were on our way. We made it to the ferry in time by the skin of our teeth! Yay! So happy! And the girls were SO excited!

We were quite a sight making our way from the car to our cabin. Rebekka was proudly helping with the suitcase (which was pretty big since it included the mattress for our travelcot). And I was fully laden up babywearing Lea as well as carrying the travelcot and a big bag of food and other essentials!

The girls were really excited and after bouncing off the walls in our cabin we went to find ‘our stairwell’ where we take a photo on every crossing :-)

The morning brought more excitement as the girls watched from the window while the ferry docked. We were staying with my brother’s family for the first time and couldn’t wait to get there! :-) Two and a half hours on the road and we finally arrived!

Starting with a wonderful cuppa tea and bacon butties, we packed a lot into just a couple of days: a family dinner where all the girl-cousins got to play together, the chippy tea I’d been craving for over a year (battered fish, chips and mushy peas!), visits to Grandma and Grandad’s house and a visit to see Great-Grandma too, a special visit to the church, and supermarket shopping at an Asda superstore to stock up on our favourite UK goodies. You can follow our adventures over on my Instagram account.

Leaving was hard, especially for Rebekka and Eva who play like sisters and best friends. It was a really quick visit home but it was wonderfully perfect (and completely exhausting too, but I was expecting that!) I’ve already been trying to plan in a return visit, but it’s a tough one trying to navigate Dutch and British school holidays as well as life on-call. I’m looking forward to our next travel adventure though!

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[3] Forever 40
In the end, the timing of our trip couldn’t have been more perfect. It meant that I was in the UK on what would have been my Mum’s 60th birthday. She has been gone from our lives for almost 20 years, I can barely wrap my head around that. It seems so long and so short all at the same time. Rebekka started singing Happy Birthday and I couldn’t hold back the tears, it was so special. I miss her every day and wish she were here to see her grandchildren grow up. The girls have never met their Oma and Opa too. And they have great-grandparents that we all miss as well. We try to keep their memories alive through photos and stories, but when Rebekka (and it will eventually be the same for Lea too) questions why she can’t see them it’s hard to know what to say sometimes. 

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[4] A real tree for Christmas!
We celebrated pakjesavond a few days early because of our trip and when we got back Sinterklaas had returned to Spain, so it was time to unpack the Christmas decorations and choose our Christmas tree. We all set off to the garden centre which was crazy busy! Rebekka proudly chose our tree, saying it was ‘mooi’ (beautiful) and then Papa took it home (we can’t fit the four of us in the car with a tree as well!). Whilst the girls and I waited for him to return, we walked though the garden centre’s Christmas displays, picking out a few extra decorations. 

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[5] Christmas Eve
Friends of ours gave us a tip that Ikea was selling flat-packed gingerbread houses so guess where I bought our house? ;-) I assembled it with a little help on Christmas Eve and the girls loved decorating it. It went a bit like this: stick one sweet, eat two, stick one, eat four..! lol I think this will be a lovely Christmas tradition for us :-)

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[6] Weihnachten (Christmas Eve)
Traditionally in Germany, presents are opened on Christmas Eve so the girls got to open presents from their German relatives in the evening. They went to sleep very excited and Rebekka couldn’t wait for Father Christmas to come in the night and leave even more presents under the tree!

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[7] Christmas Morning
The girls slept in late and Lea had slept through the night (extremely rare!) so we had a lovely relaxed morning! As is traditional on my side of the family, we opened presents while still in our pyjamas! Rebekka sat in one spot carefully opening all her presents, meanwhile Lea was a bit of a tornado, running here and there with a present to unwrap. Taking photos of her was quite the challenge! ;-) All the joy and excitement of children at Christmas is so wonderful!!

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[8] Creative inspiration
Midway through opening her presents, Rebekka had clearly found a favourite – a small heart shaped notebook and set of coloured gel pens. The rest of the unwrapping was on hold while she drew her first picture. She’s our little artist and I love that she paused for a little creativity.

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[a bonus photo!] Reading Christmas stories
I’m rarely in photos, so i’m including this one as a bonus :) An interesting fact for you: ‘raket’ (rocket) ice lollies first made an appearance when I was pregnant with Rebekka, I craved them something crazy! Till this day, we have barely gone a moment without them in the freezer and they are big favourites with the girls. Yes, even on Christmas Day in the midst of winter! You can imagine that it didn’t take long for Lea to learn to say “ice lolly, peeease”. The cutest!

Impressions‘ is a creative project by an eclectic group of female photographers from around the globe. We aim to share the inspiration behind what we do through our bi-monthly posts.

Every other month, we will be sharing 8 images that tell the story of what inspired us in the previous weeks: our families, nature, weather, or maybe even work itself! We are free to explore the meaning of ‘impressions’, and it is likely to change month to month.

Say hello in the comments below and then hop on over to see what Leslie Huckey Sarten of Leslie Meadow Photography in stunning Alsaka is sharing this month :-) Then continue clicking through the circle till you make it back here – I hope you enjoy all our posts!

With love,
~ Natalie

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Our Happiness Jar

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Have you heard of a Happiness Jar?

On New Year’s Eve, my husband and I took it in turns to read my happiness notes from 2016. It was the first year I kept a Happiness Jar (putting memories and happy thoughts in it almost daily throughout the year). It was fun to recap the year this way and we’re definitely making this an annual tradition :-)

I shared the following photo on Instagram and Facebook. Several friends were curious about it and asked how it works. Some already had a Happiness Jar of their own, and others were inspired to start one. I thought I’d share it here in case you’d like to start one too!

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I first came across the idea of a jar of notes while browsing Pinterest. Brooke Reynolds, the author of this article, used a jar to record notes of funny things her children said. I loved the idea and bookmarked it.

However, it wasn’t till I came across Elizabeth Gilbert’s idea of writing daily notes of happiness that I thought, yes – I’m going to do that, and I immediately found myself looking in the kitchen cupboards for a suitable jar! I didn’t bookmark where I originally came across it, I must have been too busy looking for a jar of my own ;-) You can read about it here on her Facebook page though!

I found a coffee sized storage jar which I’m still using today. I keep it near our dining table so that I see it every day. I was intentional about choosing something transparent so that I could see it filling up with notes :-) I keep a box of square note paper and a pen next to it and try to write at least one thing daily that made me happy, date it, and put it in the jar.

Some days I write a few notes, some days I forget to do it. But at the end of the year there are a lot of notes and nice memories to read!

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This is our 2017 Happiness Jar. As you can see, it is filling up quickly! I empty it into a large envelope once in a while and like to save all the notes to read on New Year’s Eve. Other’s use a much larger jar and dip into it throughout the year to read a happy note.

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The girls both love to draw on the little note paper. Last year’s collection of notes included quite a few drawings from Rebekka :-) Lea’s getting in on the action this year, as you can see!

Do you have a Happiness Jar? Are you thinking about starting one? I would love to hear about it!

With love,
~ Natalie

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Impressions from September & October : a personal project

Whilst selecting images for this month’s blog circle, it hit me. My girls are growing up. Fast. Woah!

My mama-heart made me choose only photos of them to share with you for this round of Impressions. These are memories I hold dear to my heart. Enjoy..

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[1] Toes, and upside down reading.
Oh goodness, my heart flipped at seeing Lea studying our local newspaper. Those little pointed toes!! Swoon! My little dynamo doesn’t stay still for long but she sure stayed a while to enjoy the paper! If you look closely, you’ll see she appears to have the gift of reading upside down. What a clever little thing she is ;-)

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[2] Scrunchy toes.
Honestly. Baby toes are the cutest. But these baby toes are getting bigger.. ohhh but they are still so cute!

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[3] A visit from Flip de Beer (Flip the Bear)
Flip de Beer (from school) loves adventures and stays with a different family each weekend. It’s such a great concept, and we had a lot of fun when he came to stay with us. We took him on the new ferris wheel at the pier. Now whenever I’m driving to school via the beach (a diversion because of roadworks) and we see the ferris wheel, an excited voice from the back of the car shouts to look out of the window, “we went there with Flip de Beer”!!

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[4] Lea is TWO!!
My baby is two. Where in the world have those two years gone?! Two! Really! As instructed by Rebekka, the girls stood on chairs for the singing of Happy Birthday in English and Dutch. Several renditions later (because it’s so exciting and they know all the words!), we also sang the German version.

Lea sings a lot, and loudly. Ever since her birthday I’ve been hearing random parts of the birthday songs. I love how she sings “to youuuu” :-) She does such a great “hoera”(hooray) for “hieperdepiep” too!

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[5] Blijdorp Zoo, Rotterdam
It was a lovely autumnal day, and not too cold. Perfect for a visit to the zoo. Rebekka had a list of must-see animals so we had a good long walk in order to see them all.

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[6] Blijdorp Zoo, Rotterdam
Both of them up to mischief..

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[7] Blijdorp Zoo, Rotterdam
Sisterly love.. Rebekka is the best big sister!

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[8] Halloween preparations
This year’s pumpkin wasn’t so scary-looking. At Rebekka’s request, I carved hearts for eyes :-)

Impressions‘ is a creative project by an eclectic group of female photographers from around the globe. We aim to share the inspiration behind what we do through our bi-monthly posts.

Every other month, we will be sharing 8 images that tell the story of what inspired us in the previous weeks: our families, nature, weather, or maybe even work itself! We are free to explore the meaning of ‘impressions’, and it is likely to change month to month.

Say hello in the comments below and then hop on over to see what Antonina Mamzenko in London, UK,  is sharing this month :-) Then continue clicking through the circle till you make it back here – I hope you enjoy all our posts!

With love,
~ Natalie

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An Image that Speaks Volumes – Escape

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An Image that Speaks Volumes ( a personal project )

Personal projects are a great adventure that often lead us through the most unlikely of paths. Our intention in starting this project is to hone our skills and see where this particular path takes us. We would love it if you joined us on this adventure.

Our intention is for the images to do the talking. We believe a single moment captured forever in a photograph can speak volumes. These images require no words and at the same time, tell a whole story.

Every other month, we will choose a single image to share with you. These images will usually follow a theme. By seeing, we hope you hear our voices.

If you’d like to visit other participating photographers to see their interpretations, follow the links:
Vinita SaloméNatalie Carstens | Tanja de Maesschalk

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Impressions from July & August : a personal project

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[1] Blijdorp Zoo, Rotterdam
Haha! A new zoo exhibit :-D

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[2] Blijdorp Zoo, Rotterdam
Another one to add to the collection of  Rebekka’s “growing taller” series! :-)

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[3] Meijendal Dunes, Scheveningen
The wind was rustling all the leaves that day.. it was beautiful.

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[4] Meijendal Dunes, Scheveningen
Such a pretty view, I photograph it often! This is a place where I’ve stopped countless times to nurse Rebekka when she was a baby, with dog walkers and horse riders passing us by. (Somehow, Lea’s hunger always skipped this particular spot!) I remember those special times with Rebekka each time I walk by :-)

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[5a] Meijendal Dunes, Scheveningen
I imagine the girls climbing up into the gnarled branches of this tree some day. I might even join them!

06-impressions-blog-circle-07-11[5b] Another view..
..because this pathway is beautiful and I couldn’t decide which one to share! ;-)

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[6] World Chocolate Day
Did you know 7 July is World Chocolate Day?! Celebration includes the consumption of chocolate, of course, and what better excuse to try a new flavour! :-)

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[7] Catching bubbles
Little cutie was concentrating SO hard on catching those bubbles!

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[8] Summer toes
Nooooo.. it can’t be the end of Summer?!

Impressions‘ is a creative project by an eclectic group of female photographers from around the globe. We aim to share the inspiration behind what we do through our bi-monthly posts.

Every other month, we will be sharing 8 images that tell the story of what inspired us in the previous weeks: our families, nature, weather, or maybe even work itself! We are free to explore the meaning of ‘impressions’, and it is likely to change month to month.

Say hello in the comments below and then hop on over to see what Kim Rogers of Brink Street Photography in Denver Colorado is sharing this month :-) Then continue clicking through the circle till you make it back here – I hope you enjoy all our posts!

With love,
~ Natalie

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An Image that Speaks Volumes – Family

An Image that Speaks Volumes (family)

An Image that Speaks Volumes ( a personal project )

Personal projects are a great adventure that often lead us through the most unlikely of paths. Our intention in starting this project is to hone our skills and see where this particular path takes us. We would love it if you joined us on this adventure.

Our intention is for the images to do the talking. We believe a single moment captured forever in a photograph can speak volumes. These images require no words and at the same time, tell a whole story.

Every other month, we will choose a single image to share with you. These images will usually follow a theme. By seeing, we hope you hear our voices.

If you’d like to visit other participating photographers to see their interpretations, follow the links:
Vinita SaloméNatalie Carstens | Tanja de Maesschalk

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Impressions from May & June : a personal project

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[1] Scheveningen Beach, North of the pier
A solo walk along the water’s edge is food for the soul. The waves lapping around my feet was lovely! Later that afternoon, I received a sunny photo of Belmont’s Blue Lagoon (Lancashire, UK) from my Dad, and then my brother sent one from Chorley (Lancashire, UK) too. This was the photo I then shared with them. We’d all enjoyed some time outdoors that day and it was lovely to share where we’d been in our group chat. 

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[2] Scootin’
A new scooter for Lea! Her legs were too short to be able to sit on the seat so she sat on the frame (she still does that now even though her legs are long enough!) Too cute!

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[3] Hi
That little raised hand…. *swoon* !! Oh goodness, I am in love with the photos from a recent client’s maternity and newborn sessions.. absolutely cannot wait for her beautiful fine art album to arrive!!

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[4] Roadtrip to Sylt, Germany
This was a fun but quick stop for the girls on what turned out to be an 11-hour roadtrip through Germany. It was a much needed stretch of the legs – especially for Lea, who is constantly on the go. Time was slipping away fast though and with multiple stops and travel through rush hour traffic, we ended up only just making the last car-train to the island! What a relief to be on that last train! And really, the girls were amazing having spent an entire day in the car!

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[5] Tickle Tickle..
Happy times for the girls as they played with Tante Karin and Onkel Holger! We enjoyed a lovely bbq on this beautiful summer evening. 

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[6] Caught!
Stealth mode fail. I was spotted! Rebekka was reading to Lea, and Lea was sitting very still on the sofa, quietly listening. It was a rare moment and a memory I wanted to keep. I was able to get a couple of photos of them completely unaware of my camera but as I made my way closer to the sofa, Lea totally busted me. At first, only her eyes moved to look at me. Suspicious of the big black thing I was hiding behind, she gave me her “what are you doing?” kind of look. Then, as I peered over my camera, she was quickly up and climbing off the sofa to run over to me. The fleeting moment of stillness and sweet sisterhood, gone. Of the photos I took, it’s this one where I was caught out that brings a smile to my face.

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[7] Lea and Eddy
As I looked back over the photos I’d taken in the last few months, this was a memory that made me linger. Lea was so attentive to Eddy on that day. Quietly chatting to him in her own little language, stroking him, and sitting on the bottom step to wait for him to do his ‘business’ on the loo. It’s a different story now. A few days ago I caught her wagging her finger at him and telling him “niet doen” as he reacted to her teasing with a quick swipe of his paw! 

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[8] Freedom!
There’s no stopping her now! Rebekka’s so proud to be cycling on her own. And we’re proud parents too :-)

Impressions‘ is a creative project by an eclectic group of female photographers from around the globe. We aim to share the inspiration behind what we do through our bi-monthly posts.

Every other month, we will be sharing 8 images that tell the story of what inspired us in the previous weeks: our families, nature, weather, or maybe even work itself! We are free to explore the meaning of ‘impressions’, and it is likely to change month to month.

Say hello in the comments below and then hop on over to see what Kim Rogers of Brink Street Photography in Denver Colorado is sharing this month :-) Then continue clicking through the circle till you make it back here – I hope you enjoy all our posts!

Have a lovely summer!

With love,
~ Natalie

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An Image that Speaks Volumes – Balance

image-that-speaks-volumes-balance

An Image that Speaks Volumes ( a personal project )

Personal projects are a great adventure that often lead us through the most unlikely of paths. Our intention in starting this project is to hone our skills and see where this particular path takes us. We would love it if you joined us on this adventure.

Our intention is for the images to do the talking. We believe a single moment captured forever in a photograph can speak volumes. These images require no words and at the same time, tell a whole story.

Every other month, we will choose a single image to share with you. These images will usually follow a theme. By seeing, we hope you hear our voices.

If you’d like to visit other participating photographers to see their interpretations, follow the links:
Vinita SaloméNatalie Carstens | Tanja de Maesschalk

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Impressions from March & April : a personal project

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[1] Little hands and Duplo
I love watching Lea’s little hands work as she builds. It’s fascinating!

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[2] Playing ‘can you find..’ with Papa
My 3 loves.. ok, 4. I love books too ;-)

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[3] Noodles.
Quicker than you can say the word ‘noodles’, they’re are all gone. Honest. Blink and you’ll miss them. She’s had me looking under her chair and in her seat for them but no, her tummy is full! The first time Lea speedily polished off her plate I was in shock. This little lady has been the fussiest of little eaters.. till now. Ok. She is still fussy. But she is eating a whole lotta different foods these days! Yay!

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[4] Welcome Baby
I was so excited to photograph this family who are also great friends of ours.. little Maeby was born in early March. I’ve cherished every opportunity for her sleepy snuggles and the chance to inhale her brand new baby scent since then. Look how tiny she is in her Papa’s arms. Sweet newborn bliss!

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[5] Little details.
You’re going to have to wait for the full reveal. Maeby needs her own blog post ;-)

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[6] Hungry Frogs
Whose frog is the hungriest of them all?? 

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[6] Where there’s a will there’s a way.
I quietly observed Lea seek out her little yellow snack box from the cupboard. I wondered what she was up to since normally she empties this cupboard’s contents all over the kitchen floor. I watched as she pushed the stool to just the right spot. Then up she climbed to throw her snack box into the sink. Now she’s unstoppable with climbing on the stool to reach the counter. Growing so fast..!

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[8] Party time!
Birthdays are magical and exciting for 4-year-olds! I love the wonder of it all. Four is fabulous! Shout out to Nermina at Perfect Pastry – thank you for the beautiful and delicious cake! :-)

Impressions‘ is a creative project by an eclectic group of female photographers from around the globe. We aim to share the inspiration behind what we do through our bi-monthly posts.

Every other month, we will be sharing 8 images that tell the story of what inspired us in the previous weeks: our families, nature, weather, or maybe even work itself! We are free to explore the meaning of ‘impressions’, and it is likely to change month to month.

Say hello in the comments below and then hop on over to see what Leslie Huckey Sarten of Lelise Meadow Photography in Alaska is sharing this month :-) Then continue clicking through the circle till you make it back here – I hope you enjoy all our posts!

Till next time..!

With love,
~ Natalie

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