Walk, Waddle, Run!

Today, I am happy to anounce that I will be a sponsor photographing the upcoming Officer Besser Memorial Sunshine 5k on May 14. This is a family fun run in honor of a fallen police officer, raising funds for Backing the Blue Line and the Officer Besser Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Officer Besser died tragically in 2015 by unbelievable violent circumstances.  Despite the newsworthiness of his death, it is his life for which he will be remembered and on which his legacy stands.  Officer Todd Besser was a United States Air Force Veteran and served the Elk River Police Department for 16 years. He was highly decorated, well respected and loved by all. He was well known for his "Good Morning Sunshine" to everyone. His personal relationship with God gave him a positive, happy outlook on life that was infectious to everyone he interacted with.

This May will be the first in an annual event called the Sunshine 5k - raising funds for Backing the Blue Line and a new Officer Besser Memorial Scholarship Fund.  It is an honor to be able to serve this event and I look forward to photographing the volunteers, participants and program this day along with my team.  You can learn more about this event and join me this day by registering here!

If you would like to make a donation to this great event, or become a sponsor, that would be awesome, too!

Scarlett's Free Spirit

In my latest session for police families of Backing the Blue Line, I was delighted to have the opportunity to photograph young Scarlett as she celebrated her two year birthday.

Watching her tender heart and free will, one thing was clear.  She was a daddy's girl.  Knowing what a great protector she has in her father, it was also clear that her big sister was also always going to have her back and that one day, those two were going to have a lot of secrets and adventures that mommy and daddy would never know about!

Sessions with toddlers will never go as planned, but therein lies the joy!  Be it the adventure of running down sidewalk, kissing Elsa, spotting unexpected cats or curling up in daddy's arms to stay warm, this cool winter session will be one I will not soon forget.  We may not have gotten many smiles this day, but I cannot wait to see these darling girls again when we celebrate big sisters birthday this summer!  

Welcome to the World - Baby Haven!

Oh, how I adore working with Backing the Blue Line! 

Am I joyful supporting the police and their families?  Yes.  Amjoyful meeting so many new people in this line of work?  Yes!  But, WHY am I most joyful?  Because this week I got to hold and photograph the tiniest and sweetest little newborn!

Miss Haven Joyce Helen came into the world just one week ago weighing 4lbs 15 oz.  (Just ounces larger than my own daughter so many years ago.)  Working with this darling newborn was like working with an angel.  She lay so soft and still, simply allowing us to work.  When we put on her parents beloved Green Bay Packers headband, she even cracked a smile.  Now... how can you complain when this is what you do for a living?

Work?  Yeah... right!

Congratulations to St. Francis Police Officer Stemme and his wife Katie on the latest addition to their family.  Soon we will capture the family together with a proud big brother, but for today, I hope you enjoy some sugar and spice and everything nice!

PS.  This session was another collaboration with my second shooter (and daughter), Caroline!  It was especially sweet as for the first time she got to see how tiny she was when she was born.   Caroline was the principal shooter on this session and did a great job!

Sometimes, its Justice. Sometimes, its Just Us.

When I first started working with Backing the Blue Line, I knew I would be spending a lot of time with wives as they supported their husbands in law enforcement and the communities they serve.  What I didn't truly realize is how much I would come to enjoy seeing into that world and meeting the families they live each day to protect.

Recently, I traveled to Staples to spend time with Officer Maros and his family.  What made this day absolutely perfect was not his beautiful wife Tina, or their incredibly sweet and lively children.  But, instead at the onset of our 2-hour drive to get there, I got pulled over by the cops.  I haven't been stopped since my children were babies, but on the very day I am to shoot my first law enforcement family, I was speeding through a construction zone and got pulled over.

It was almost comical, if not poetic! 
(Fortunately for me, the officer gave me a very kind warning and let us on our way.)

As I move forward with plans for other work with Backing the Blue Line, I am delighted to have this outlet to support law enforcement families.  Seeing Officer Maros in full uniform, I realized I suddenly became nervous.  (That same panic when you see them in your rear view mirror... oh gosh, am I speeding?  Did I miss a stop? Is that really a gun on his hip?)  Then, I saw him get down on his knee and smile with his children. 

That is when I understood what Tina meant when she said 'Sometimes, its justice.  Sometimes, its just us.'

In Service of Another

I have volunteered photography services for military personnel for years.  It has always reflected the service of my own family members and that which I hold dear.  

A little over a year ago, I was shaken by a news story of a local police shooting.  Officer Scott Patrick was no one I knew, nor did I live in his community.  Yet, through the beautiful smile of this man, I was engaged by his story.  When his funeral was streamed online, I watched from my desk tears streaming down my face as I thought of his family and all that they lost that day.  From that moment on, I knew I wanted to extend my photography work to include Police families.  I didn't know how, but in time, I knew God would show me a way.

Days turned into weeks, weeks to months.  News reported so many shootings, questions of police integrity and calls for change from both sides of the issue.  Every time some spoke of Black Lives Matter or other issues of the political tide, I thought of Office Patrick and spoke aggressively in defense of all that officers do.  Again, I prayed that God would help me be of better service to these people who do so much for me, even though most days I think nothing of the risks they take or all that they do for my family.

This past month, God did just that when Backing the Blue Line: Police Wives of Minnesot was looking for an official photographer for their organization.  After submitting a proposal, I was honored to learn I had been selected.  Before my feet could hit the ground to work with them on headshots, Police Balls and fundraising events, I had my first job.  Another officer had been shot in the line of duty and I would be photographing a rose preparation.  Okay... not how I had hoped to start, but this is what comes with the job.

I arrived at the station and began to shoot, observing so many beautiful wives working in service of another.  At first they were quiet, introspective of the realization that it could have been their husband, then sympathetic when they likely thought what Deputy Sandberg's family was going through.  In time, they began to laugh, as women do, and the work moved along.  As I worked to capture these charming women and the 2,000 beautiful roses, my attention was caught by a single t-shirt "Faith, Service, Integrity.  Remembering Officer Scott Patrick".  I felt my heart grow heavy as I realized this group of women were likely working this same way for Officer Scott's family.  Then I saw the woman wearing the shirt and I began to shake.

It was Michelle Patrick.

I cannot tell you all that it took to keep from crying, or to maintain my composure when I finally met her.  (Yeah... I rambled like an idiot.)  I remember the tears that day watching her at her husband's funeral and the wish I had to do ANYTHING for women like her who lose so much so my family can be safe.

I guess seeing Michelle was God's way of putting me right where I asked to be.  

As I close this long post, I look back to my photography blog where I posted about Officer Scott so many months ago.  (You can read it here.)  Such a strange circle of life we all live in.  Seeing what has transpired since that day in July, I realize that God is always guiding me, even when I do not yet fully see the course.  

Today, I give pause and prayer for both Officer Patrick's family and Deputy Sandberg's. In protection of the police wives working last night, I will not post their photos here.  Instead, one simple photo in recognition of their time last night and all that they do in service of their husbands and the sacrifices they make.