Family Self Portraits, Things that Break my Heart & Giving Thanks


Us - yes, as as in ME TOO!

Us - Silhouette

First, about the images: I took these images yesterday as part of endeavor to take our own family portraits with just a remote shutter release.  I have to say I’m a little bit amazed it actually WORKED! {Taken with the 5D Mark II, top two images with the 70-200 V II, bottom image with the Tamron 28-75.}

It was our second time planning on doing a family portrait, but the first time we called it off because it was completely overcast and I had my heart set on the sunset drenched images I have been producing for my clients in my favorite new shooting location.

Yesterday, attempt #2, it was just as cloudy but I knew we had to go anyway because it was a high of 66 degrees – it most likely wouldn’t be that warm again.  Plus, we were all dressed and ready and I don’t think we would have managed to muster the enthusiasm necessary to get all ready to go a THIRD time!

I don’t even own a tripod, so I took a child sized chair to prop the camera on and read the instructions on how to use the remote shutter on the way there.

The other two times I shot in this location there was amazingly beautiful backlighting – but with no sun this was not an option so I had to find a new spot to set up. A nice golden patch of weeds (reeds?) seemed like a good compliment to our brown wardrobe.

We took a lot of images, most of which did not come out – but it was well worth the effort just to have even one image of us as a family. If nothing else to prove that I am part of this family too! Yes, there I am – I do exist!

I was so excited to get home and see the images, but it was time to get Jasper ready for bed, and truth be told I am so behind with client’s images that I don’t have TIME to work on my own images.. which is why there are only three included here.

I don’t have time. I don’t have time even though I spend SO MUCH time on the computer. Which brings me to heartbreaking thing #1.

This morning Jasper was taking his sweet time getting into his car seat (as usual) so I reminded him that one of his superpowers was to get into the carseat REALLY FAST!  So he jumps in (yay, it worked!) and as I’m buckling him up he asks “Mommy, what’s YOUR superpower?”

Thinking for a second, I look at him and say “I don’t know honeybear, what do YOU think Mommy is really good at?”

Without hesitation he says “Working! You’re really good at working on the computer at our house!”

Did you hear the sound of my heart breaking when he said that? I have a lump in my throat just writing about it.

This is how my son thinks of me, and he’s right – I’m SO over committed that it’s hard for me to NOT be on the computer any free moment I can be, but it’s not fair to my family. Which brings me to heartbreaking thing #2.

IUI #3 was a bust, so I have to try to figure out how to move forward with IVF despite the fact that there is so much going on in our lives at the moment, financially, logistically and emotionally (more on that later).  And, how can I even think about having another baby when I don’t “have enough time” for the one sweet amazing adorable one we already have?

But, this is a week to give THANKS. And I am so thankful for what I do have that I MUST stay positive even though I sometimes feel like I’m drowning and will never find a balance.

This is what I am thankful for:  That we are a family, and even if we are forever only three, we are a together and we are happy! We may not have “baby #2” but how lucky we are to have had Jasper?  That we had insurance coverage for infertility treatments, that they worked, that he was born healthy, beautiful and perfect. We have so much and I will NOT forget to remember that even in the face of disappointment over not having more.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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jbhat says:

Four is a good number, so if you want it and get it, then I will be thrilled for you. But three is awfully good too. Enjoy it.



ariana says:

Thank you all so much for your supportive comments- it really means the world to me!

Kimberly says:

These are pretty darn fabulous, my friend! It is really nice to see you in a family portrait! I did immediately see the shutter release in your hand… cracked me up… it’s really so appropriate! ;-)

As for the rest… sending you lots of love, good wishes, and prayers for a successful second pregnancy. Mommy guilt is a bear, but you are a wonderful mother, and being a working mother (who is so amazing at her craft) is something to be very proud of. I know you’ll find a way to carve out more family time to find a better balance… trust me, it’s a huge challenge for ALL of us. xoxoxo

Ava says:

Oh, Ari!
I ditto the sentiment that you are fully allowed to mourn the child you are not currently bearing… even as you are grateful for Jasper. Sometimes the brain and the heart just don’t connect, but you need to acknowledge both.

I hope your IVF attempt is successful, and honestly, it’s not that much more work than an IUI. You go in for monitoring the same, you just get the added retrieval bonus appointment.

In terms of finding a work/work/life balance, I’m making some changes to what I’ll be doing next year that I’ll be happy to share with you off-line if you’d like. At the end, though, it boils down to me asking myself a very simple question: what do I want and why did I pick up photography to begin with.

Hugs, my friend. I can’t wait to see you in a few months!

vikki says:

Couldn’t read and not post Ariana, massive hugs for the hurt in your heart you are feeling. It’s an oldie but a goodie but when you least expect it is when your wish will come true. Much luv xo

Jess says:

I kind of feel weird posting here, but I came across your site while searching photography tutorials and I enjoyed yours, so you are now a part of my Facebook! LOL I am not a blog reader, but for some reason I read your today. Your pictures are beautiful and full of life. I am so sorry that your IUI did not work and my heart aches for you. I have been through the experience and also did IVF to conceive our first, which she is now 6 months. We are already trying for our second, and that is my greatest fear, that I will have to go through it again! I am not saying our daughter Trinity was not worth it, because she was!! Just know that you are in my prayers and I will be praying the the Lord will bless you with another most amazing child, because your first one is so stinking cute! Hang in there and never give up hope! The Lord put these desires in our heart for a reason and he is looking to bless you just ask Him!

God bless

Meggan says:

I had a similar heart wrenching experience at the beginning of the school year. My husband and I and our 5 kids live in Alaska. This past summer we started a fishing charter business and it sucked up our entire summer. When school started I went to pick up my 6 year old from first grade and she showed me a book she had made called “The most important thing about me is…” In the book there were 4 pages. The first 3 said something about the most important thing is that my parents own a fishing lodge. I felt terrible! We have vowed to make more time (no matter how tired we are) to make sure the kids get to do summer stuff next year. Don’t beat yourself up too much!

Lindsey says:

Also- Can you tell me more about this interval trigger? I searched online but I’m not sure what to search for. It keeps coming up as a wireless trigger.

Lindsey says:

You have the most gorgeous family of three. I hope everything works out for you but you three looks pretty perfect together. I love 3 year old boys!

First of all, I love the family portraits. I just learned to use my remote too…it’s a wonderful thing!
Second, I hear you on the working too much thing. As photographers, especially this time of year, we are bending backwards to get everyone’s holiday photos done….and our families suffer. My daughter in response to me saying, “I love you so much” said, “I like you, but I don’t love you so much right now!” I about died. She said, “Well, you’ve been working a lot and don’t have time to play with me!” I promised her that I would be better…and we don’t have any photoshoots in December so I can spend time with my family!! It’s so hard to find the balance! On top of the crazy photography season, I am pregnant after lots of trying and so I am sick and tired and struggling to give my kids the attention they need!
Good luck and hang in there!!! Jasper is so lucky to have you!

ariana says:

Sarah – I can certainly understand that sentiment, many times I feel the same way. Good luck with the family portraits!

Sara B. there are many times I wonder how I could possibly do everything I’m doing and have another. Maybe this is just the universe’s way of making sure I don’t go over the edge!

Pam – if I were going to do this again, I would instead get a trigger that does invervals rather than wireless.. then you just play, have fun and it will shoot every few seconds, no need to “point the remote” at the camera!

pam says:

oh, well, scratch my previous comment. i guess there are relatively inexpensive wireless remotes. just not as simple as the one you have.

pam says:

beautiful photos! i love that you can see you clicking the remote in the second one. (i only noticed because i was looking for it.) i just wish there was an inexpensive wireless option for the 40D. boo.

happy, happy, happy thanksgiving!

Sara B. says:

It took me a while to really accept that we are not having a second child. But sometimes, like last night, when we asked Marino who his family was and he said “you and you. You two guys!” it doesn’t seem so awful…there’s some great things about only having one. Not the least of which is that mom and dad have more freedom to explore their own interests and passions. Don’t feel guilty about spending time on your photography – you are setting an amazing example for Jasper – showing him that he can make a career out of something artistic and something that he loves.

Sarah says:

I’m sorry your latest treatment didn’t work. You are braver than I am. My boy is a few months older than Jasper and we just can’t face starting over (it took us 3 years to conceive and I had a crappy high risk pregnancy) so we are going to remain a family of three.
Your DIY family portrait is inspiring me. I scoured our whole year’s worth of photos over the weekend and came up with three crappy photos that have all three of us and was just going to be resigned to it and order something today anyway, good photo be damned. But I have a tri-pod and a remote for my camera so maybe I’ll hold off a few more days and see if I can get it together on Thanksgiving while we are all properly dressed.

ariana says:

Thank you Amy.

Kari – that’s a wise little three year old! :)

kari says:

Your family portraits are gorgeous Ari :)

I have to share with you something that a five year old told me yesterday… “three is a magic number”… just sayin’
wishing you many thanksgiving blessings!

Amy says:

I’m so glad you did the family portraits. I’m sure you know how much you’ll treasure them. And they did come out wonderfully.

And I’m so sorry to hear that you’re hurting. Just hearing a little bit of your story the other day at lunch I felt your sadness. And although you do have many blessings I think it’s okay to let yourself mourn for your difficulties. You can have both. My thoughts are with your family this holiday season.