The Sunflower Dance - keepsake film

There is no doubt that I’ve found a new type of film I want to make more of, for my own families and others. I think a mini keepsake film is a great option anytime you think of something in your life that you know will be different in a year and that currently makes you smile - physical features of your child or how they talk or things they say. For me in this film, I wanted to capture Morgan’s long hair as a physical feature because I knew I was going to cut it for the very first time this week. And I loved how she talked about dancing “so hard” and that you could feel the passion just by watching the way she moves. I think this film captured all of that and it might always bring happy tears to my eyes when I watch it! I hope you enjoy as well…

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Fresh 48 Family Film and Photos

Welcome to the World baby Alden! This session was very special, not only because it was the first time doing an in-hospital photo session in Calgary, but also because it was my sister’s family. Watching my nephew meet his new baby sister for the first time pulled on every heartstring I have and it took everything in me to stay focused on the photographer role as opposed to Auntie role. Since then, I have luckily been able to catch up on baby cuddles.

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Shirley Sullivan
Camping Road Trip Adventure

Where do I even begin in my attempt to sum up the adventures of the past month?! Camping for 3 weeks with a 2 + 3 year old and covering over 3000 km wouldn’t be most people’s definition of a relaxing vacation, and yet it was by far one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.. And if it was one of the biggest adventures of my whole life, I cannot even imagine what it felt like for my girls. The sad thing for me, is that the ability to form long-term memories does not start until age 7. That means that in the short term, Morgan and Farrin will be able to hold on to these adventures, but that they’ll soon slip away. Without this family film and photos, they would not be able to remember anything about this trip into adulthood, let alone later into childhood. That makes this the most meaningful photography project I have ever completed.

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Shirley Sullivan
Expectations and Burnout

Today is my youngest daughter’s second birthday. You might ask me why I’m not writing about rainbows and butterflies then?! Well let me tell you. I had planned to. Today was going to be “special” and I am acutely aware of the mom guilt going on in my mind over this day not turning out perfect. But that is exactly why I wanted to write about this topic today because I am sure there are a lot of people that can relate to the fact that expectations on Moms these days are high!

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Shirley Sullivan
Small + Mighty

Small and Mighty - I love this phrase. It so perfectly describes not only Melissa’s charity, but also all the babies that have ever been a part of it. And most of all, her own 3 beautiful children. I had so much fun photographing this amazing Calgary family and getting to know them a bit more. They are just settling into their new dream home that they’ve been working on for awhile, and it seemed like the perfect time to capture a Day in the Life.

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Shirley Sullivan
A Perfect Way to Celebrate

I am still on such a high from getting to capture this time in this family’s life. It felt special for a hundred and one reasons. This was a celebration of a baby boy about to turn 1, Mom’s birthday also approaching, and during the session we found out it was also international women’s day. But most of all this was a celebration of one of the biggest Mom milestones I know of so far - the last maternity leave coming to an end…

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Shirley Sullivan
Full Day Documentary Family Photo Session

You could tell this family was embracing the phase of life they were in, soaking in the little joys like chasing each other around the house and adding so many laughs into the bedtime routine. It doesn’t sound easy having a professional photographer follow you around all day, especially when you have no idea what the day will bring, but people find it surprisingly easy in the end to go with the flow and do their usual thing. And through that comfort, I am able to capture what a genuine Day in the Life was like for this family in the phase of life they are in.

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Shirley Sullivan
Being a Mompreneur

Part of my mission with Day in the Life of a Mom, is to help Moms see their own beauty within the messy reality of parenting through heartstring-tugging family films and photos. Through asking others to be real, and feel all the feels, I am constantly reminding myself to do the same. So let me share a bit about my journey, the challenges, and some of the lessons I’m learning along the way…

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Shirley Sullivan
A Cold Wintery Day Inside

Focusing on creating a film today, felt like self-care. And to be honest, it was one of those days that felt a bit hard (my husband and I never do well with feeling stuck inside). Without a family film packed full of beautiful sweet funny candid moments, I might have only remembered the temper tantrums, the runny noses, the nap battle, the supper time battle, and the flat out exhaustion I feel at the end of a long day. And yet, here I am, smiling from ear to ear, watching this film over and over again as I tear up over the beauty within this one simple, “boring” day inside…

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Shirley Sullivan
Self-care is Not Selfish

And just like that, 2019 is here. I think I have said this every year since having kids - how does a year fly by so fast. This year was even full of LOTS of long, long days. The kind filled with piles of parenting challenges like I’d never faced before (and piles of laundry too of course). I would say 2018 was my year of being immersed in motherhood, and sometimes feeling like I was drowning it in. I am starting to learn that parenting might not ever feel like something I can 100% succeed at, but at the same time I know that I truly gave it my all this year. Sometimes though (ok almost always) this was at the sacrifice of self-care. So that is where I’m starting 2019 - from a place of wanting to put self-care first again. I know SELF-CARE IS NOT SELFISH.

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Shirley Sullivan
It's About the Journey, Not the Destination

There is no doubt in my mind that little CJ will grow up with a thirst for adventure and an appreciation for the journey, as opposed to just the destination. Her four biggest role models in life so far, her parents and her godparents, are nothing short of amazing. It isn’t just about taking time out of their busy lives to explore, life itself is an adventure to them…

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Maternity Leave Reflections

Because, here’s the thing, being home full-time with young kids is the hardest thing I have ever done in my whole life. But, as crazy as my kids make me sometimes, I love them more than anything else in this world. In the end I know I was right where I needed to be, loving my two little girls and giving them all of me. I think these films will always remind me that I should have no regrets!

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My Own Day in the Life

For 2 years, of the last 2.5, I’d been on maternity leave from my nursing job, pouring my heart and soul into raising these two little girls. And sometimes, it felt like there was little to show for it, other than keeping us all alive at the end of every day. This phase of life came with a lot of challenges, having two toddlers in the house at once is definitely exhausting, and I was rarely feeling my best (at anything, but particularly parenting). But, I was absolutely trying my best all day every day.

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Beauty in the Chaos

It was beyond rewarding for me to hear this Mom’s words after viewing her film - especially around feeling my patience and understanding. I am always so aware of the fact that I am entering into people’s personal home life and that it can be feel VERY vulnerable. I ask you to be just as you are and embrace the chaos - and that sounds scary, but it is also completely satisfying and liberating. By just being real and trusting me to enter your world, I promise to show you the beauty in the chaos within your own family…

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3 hour Session - Day in the Life of a Mom

This documentary family session had a strange sense of calm considering there was a 1 year and a 3 year old involved! A 3 hour documentary session can be quite different than a full day or even half day session. It still portrays real life, the personalities of each family member and the interactions between them, but sometimes the chaos is a bit less….

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Little Explorers and Adventure Mamas

Can any other mamas out there relate to the feeling of losing their identity after having kids?! I'll be honest, I sure did struggle with this, and I think it's pretty common. After almost 3 years since my daughter was born, I can definitely say that being a Mom is now the favourite thing about myself. But that is not to say there wasn't some rocky roads and resistance along the way to making room in my identity for this overwhelmingly big part of who I now am. Pre-kids, "adventurous" was one of the top words I would use to describe myself…

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Moms are Super Heroes

How can we all start being real with each other and sharing the hardships and heartaches instead of just the "picture-perfect" part of our lives. I would love to be part of a movement to re-define "picture-perfect". There are so many beautiful moments to be captured in the day to day that involve tantrums, tears, and other turmoil. But I completely understand that it feels very vulnerable to let a stranger (even if I promise we'll feel like friends very quickly) into your own home to capture real life and often intimate moments as a family.

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Day in the Life of a Mom - The Beginning

As I gear up to launch my new website, a branch of Shirley Lynne Photography that focuses on the beauty and chaos of Motherhood, it is fun reflecting back to where it all started. Soon after becoming a mother myself, in October 2015, I had this idea of capturing Mom's in action in a typical "Day in the Life". At the time of this first 3 hour Day in the Life of a Mom session, I wasn't quite sure where the idea would take me, but I did know I had fallen in love with it.  

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Documentary Family Session - Half Day

Because the genre of documentary family photography is still newer, I often find it hard to sell the idea to people. Asking someone for you to show up at their doorstep at 6:30 in the morning before kids are even up for the day and for them to still be in their pyjamas is not super comfortable for most, and I get this.  And usually, getting the husband/dad on board is even harder. This session was no exception. But...

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