The Meyerson's Story in Phoenix, Arizona

The basic purpose of art is not to teach, but to show- to hold up to a man a concretized image of his nature and his place in the universe.
— Ayn Rand

An Episode of Actual Experience 2018

slice of life:

An episode of actual experience represented realistically and with little alteration in a dramatic, fictional, or journalistic work.

The McAfee's Story in Royce City, Texas

The things that Jesus did were of the most menial and commonplace order, and this is an indication that it takes all God’s power in me to do the most commonplace things in His way. Can I use a towel as He did? Towels and dishes and sandals, all the ordinary sordid things of our lives, reveal more quickly than anything what we are made of. It takes God Almighty Incarnate in us to do the meanest duty as it ought to be done.
— Oswald Chambers

Upcoming Things…

October: Will be in the Outer Banks mid-month if you are within 2 hours and interested in a Family Storytelling Session in your home.

November:  Visual Storytelling at The Define School (Registration open Monday, October 8th).

Winter 2018:  Available for Family Storytelling Sessions as we plan to travel though Georgia, Alabama and down to the very bottom of Florida in February!

the story of ruby's ninth birthday

Yesterday I shared pictures from my boys' birthdays last year so I guess I'd better not leave out Ruby.  Sadly, she had a fever on her birthday and spent most of the day laying down.  When Ruby was little I used to joke that her brain was made of cotton candy. She has a very sweet outlook on life, that I hope she never loses!  

The Story of Cogan's Eleventh Birthday

Cogan's last birthday was a year ago this month as well. The boys had a joint party, so Cogan's actual birthday was pretty laid back.  He's the most responsible one in our family, we'd be lost without him... literally... he's so good with maps!

the story of oliver's sixth birthday

I was looking for something else on my external hard drive from last year and I came across these pictures from Oliver's 6th birthday.  He will be 7 in a couple of weeks.  I love his summertime swimming goggle tan lines and the baby teeth he has since lost.  

Summer 2018 Travel Locations | Family Storytelling Photographer

I miss my mom.  She lives in Washington State and I live in South Carolina, so we are planning a road trip out west to visit her this summer! 

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If everything comes together we are currently planning to be in:

  • Knoxville, Tenessee 
  • Columbus, Ohio 
  • Kansas City, Missouri 
  • Kalispell, Montana 
  • Sheridan, Wyoming 
  • Seattle/Mt Vernon, Washington 
  • Portland, Oregon 
  • San Jose, California

We will be passing through/near lots of places and are always up for a detour. So if you would like more information about whether a session could work for your family, please let me know! A 2-3 hour Storytelling Session in/around your home is $1525.    

You don't have to have a perfect family, an immaculately kept home, or the body of an 18 year old (in fact, I don't think I would want to photograph you if you did have all of those things!). Muffin tops, beige walls, and grumpy kids are not only tolerated but WELCOMED. I will not make your life look perfect. I will not use my camera to create an alternate reality where everything is rainbows and kittens. But I will tell the truth. I will recognize mundane moments that tell a deeper story of family life. I will respect your quirks and failings and gifts. And I will give you photos that honestly represent this season of your life.  

If you are interested in learning more about investing in having your family's story visually documented, I would love to hear from you! 

xoxo
Molly Flanagan

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The Waters Story in Anderson, SC

I don’t consider myself a real peeper- they go in for bedrooms, but it’s families in sitting rooms or kitchens that thrill me. I can imagine their entire lives from a glimpse of bookshelves, or desks, or lit candles, or bright sofa cushions.”
— "The Guernesy Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer

Anderson Care Pregnancy Clinic | Anderson South Carolina

This winter I took some pictures of a carseat safety class at the Anderson Care Pregnancy Clinic here in Anderson, South Carolina. Every month they offer free classes on a wide range of topics like budgeting, parenting, and even fun crafting classes.   They also have a little boutique where women participating in their counseling program are able to earn credits to "purchase" beautiful baby items.  If you live locally and ever have left over baby things (clothes, cribs, diapers, baby food, etc.) please consider donating your items to Anderson Care Pregnancy Clinic. This is a great organization and I am so proud to be working with them!    

Although I was only there to take pictures during the carseat safety class, I found myself raising my hand to ask questions when they discussed when kids are old enough to ride without a booster seat. I learned that the lap belt should rest against the child's pelvic bones... not across their belly. This seems like a no-brainer now that I think about it, but if the seatbelt is going across the soft part of a child's belly, even a small fender bender could cause damage to their organs.  Anyway, just a free parenting tip to go along with these pictures.  You're welcome!  

Click here to see another local event 

Other things -- I am booking Family Sessions or in-person mentorships on Long Island, NY in July.  And also in July, stay tuned for a special class I will be offering at DEFINE.  

xoxo

The Rogers Story in Austin, TX

Even though the teenage years are right around the corner for my own family, that season still seems mysterious and scary and I have no idea what to expect.  I cannot imagine my kids having armpit hair and taking Driver's Ed and doing math problems beyond my comprehension (although, lets be real, that last ship has already sailed).  

So when I photographed Leilani Rogers (whom I met when we were both speakers at a Birth Photography Conference called Off-Call) in Austin, Texas I was excited/nervous to photograph her family.  Would they think I was a crazy old lady?  What would we even DO?  

Little kids play with blocks and make messes.  

Teenagers text and roll their eyes at their parents -- At least that is what they do on television.  

Leilani's baby is 10, the same age as my oldest child.  So I felt like I was kind of peering into a crystal ball foreseeing what my future holds.  After a few hours with the Rogers Family I can now say that maybe life with teenagers won't be so scary.  It turns out that while they DO like their phones, they also have their own passions about music and art (and which is better Harry Potter or Star Wars). They still love legos, and hugs, and cookies with sprinkles.  They sleep in bunkbeds and run around in the backyard.  They ask mom for help when they need it but can clean and cook and read big books.  Sometimes they seem like little kids in big bodies.  And other times they seem like full fledged adults.

I'm still nervous about my kids becoming teenagers. And many days I wring my hands in worry, wondering if I am screwing them up.  But I am reminded of a quote by Elyse Fitzpatrick:

It would be against God’s character to give us a promise that our children will be saved if we raise them in a certain way. That would mean that he was telling us to trust in something other than Christ and his grace and mercy.

There are times when I miss having a squishy baby that blows kisses and waves backwards.  But it feels like every day my kids are alive they become more and more of themselves.  More of the people God created them to be. And I am excited to see who my little people become.  I cannot control the outcome, but I don't have to worry.  I don't have to do it all right.  I can rest in God's promise that He is bigger and smarter and stronger than me.  That his plan for their lives is perfect.  

And now I seem to have gone down a rabbit hole that has nothing to do with photography. But really it has everything to do with it! 

Families are complex and beautiful and it is hard to capture all of that in a traditional portrait taken at the park in matching white shirts.  I love that I have permission to go into families homes and photograph their mundane moments.  I love that I am able to see beautiful things in other people and apply them to my own life and heart. I love that I can fear the future for my own family, and then be comforted by photographing another. I love that I don't have to be the best photographer and control everything.  I don't have to worry. I don't have to do it all right.  I can trust that the story I am photographing is more beautiful than my technical skill and just be present to appreciate whatever happens.   

TRAVEL:

I will be traveling to Long Island, NY in July.  Email me at hello (at) mollyflanagan (dot) com if you are in the area and are interested in a Storytelling Session for your family or a one-on-one mentorship.  Other Possible Stops:  Virginia Beach, OBX, Annapolis/Eastern Shore, Maryland, Richmond, Lancaster, PA, New Jersey, Shenandoah, VA. 

TEACHING:

My class Real Life Still Life is being offered at The Define School in May. Registration is open until April 24th.  As photographers we can get so focused on the PEOPLE in our lives that we leave out many details which contribute to the stories we are telling.  This class focuses on photographing everything but the people.  It is a refreshing class where we go through the history of Still Life in art and learn how to apply it to our photography today.  I love this class SO much and am super excited to be teaching it again!  

On the road | Personal

I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Palmdale, California catching up on some work and emailing my Visual Storytelling class while my husband does some much needed laundry back at our campsite.  We've been on the road in our 20' camper for 20 days and every day I simultaneously want this trip to end and keep going on and on forever and ever!  My daughter said today that she and her big brother play together much better when we are traveling.  She thinks it is because they have no one else to play with.  I think she is right.    

Here are small a handful of iPhone pictures from our adventures so far.  Taken in Big Bend, Death Valley, and Marfa Texas.

We will hopefully be home in South Carolina in about a week.  I can't believe it's almost over...

Ruby and the Yellow Balloon | Anderson SC Family Photographer

I realized these pictures have been sitting in the backend of my website since August, waiting to be posted.  My poor blog is sorely neglected and posting is continually put to the bottom of my to-do list!  

These pictures were taken at the end of the summer, shortly before Ruby turned 8.  Every night before bed I tell her she is my, "Beautiful ray of sunshine and sky full of stars."  It is cheesy but it is true.  Ruby is nearly always happy, positive and kind.  When she was little I would tell people that her mind was made of cotton candy because she saw everything in the best light.  I am so thankful to be her mom.

The McDowell's Story in Greenville, SC

This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.
— Elisabeth Elliot

This February and March I am booking in-home Storytelling Photography Sessions in:

Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville, TN | Austin and Houston, TX | Los Angeles Area 

email hello (at) mollyflanagan (dot) com to learn more!  

 

Anderson Greek Festival in Anderson, South Carolina

This fall I photographed the Greek Festival here in Anderson, SC at the Civic Center.  It was a hot afternoon in early September and the air was filled with the smell of Souvlaki and ribs and the sound of traditional Greek music.  There is something so satisfying about photographing people have a good time!   

The Thomas' Story in Anderson, SC

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so.
— Mary Jean Irion

To see some other families in Anderson, SC click here and here

2015: We Survived

I know people usually write this sort of post to ring in the New Year, but I need to find some way to close out last year, even if 2015 is technically over and covered with cobwebs in the back of the closet.

It was an exciting year -- in the way a rollercoaster is exciting.  Where you know it is supposed to be fun but you are so terrified that you think your heart will explode and you may lose control of all bodily functions.  And even after you survive the ride your knees are weak and your hair looks like a rat's nest.  Well that is how I felt for most of 2015.  White knuckled and wide-eyed.        

I really like security. Think cozy blankets, hot mugs of coffee, and Netflix.  Bank accounts with lots of padding, heated car seats, and good health insurance policies with dental and vision.  When I was a toddler I didn't like being thrown in the air or to be put on my dad's shoulders.  I once had a job at a bank as a "Risk Reduction Specialist".  Then a couple of years ago I felt the Lord was speaking to me about stagnation. Like, the picture of a stagnant pond.  It may be beautiful from a distance, reflecting the trees and sky in it's stillness.  But up close it is covered in algae and mosquitos and bordered with unruly ragweed. It is a picture of the fruit of worldly security:  a humid, mucky, stifling, self-centered life.  And that picture scared me, because it described me: Afraid to take risks; settling for whatever course met the least resistance; wallowing in my comfort zone.  And not just in my daily life but in my relationship with the Lord.  I believed, but when it came time to trust in places I couldn't control, my faith crumbled like the buttery cinnamon topping on a Pioneer Woman coffee cake (except not insanely delicious).    

In my heart I knew God was calling me to more than "safe", yet I was unwilling to take risks for the One that risked everything for me.  

My husband and I made a decision two years ago to invest in my photography business full time.  For this former Risk Reduction Specialist it was not a safe idea to trade the security of my husband's traditional 9-5 schedule and twice a month paycheck for a unpredictable and unnecessary career as a Family Storytelling Photographer. Every "what if" scenario went through my mind.  But we did it!  And I naively thought that once we jumped in the deep end I would find myself splashing in a luxurious claw footed bathtub filled with bubbles and surrounded by candlelight.  In reality, we plummeted into a raging river.  Roaring, cold, and filled to the brim with risk, making me regret leaving the comfort of that stagnant pond.    

I want to peruse the pictures below and have that feel you get when you mow the grass and sweat stings your eyes and you breathe in gas fumes and run over rocks and grunt as you push the mower up hill.  Then just as you finish, the engine sputters it's last breath.  Wiping the sweat from your brow, you smile and survey the fruit of your hard work.  What a sense of accomplishment!  Yet, when I look at these pictures I cannot seem to muster that feeling.  

Even after two years, my heart is wired for security.  

I don't see the cozy blankets and Netflix my heart longs for.  I see my son's hand being mangled in an escalator, wrong turns up steep mountain twists where there is no turning back, fishtailing in snow storms, worry that no one would hire me, long straight roads through hot deserts with no gas stations, a little one struggling with potty training at the most inconvenient moments, unexpected expenses, fear my hard drive would crash or my camera would be stolen, car accidents,  tarantulas, frightening bumps in the night, grimy campground showers, more lost phone chargers than I can count.  There was rarely a moment of stillness.

But wait.  Stillness?  Is that what I am seeking?  Didn't I want to leave the stagnant waters and take risks for the One that risked everything for me?  Yes, that is what I wanted, but... I guess maybe I didn't realize how much it would hurt.  

2015.  We survived.  Taxes paid, digital files received, limbs intact.    

But, no.  We did more than survive.  We saw grizzly bear cubs.  Felt the warmth of the sun as it rose over the Grand Canyon.  Threw snow balls in May under a canopy of pine trees in air so fresh it took our breath away.  We stopped at every Dairy Queen, watched 400,000 bats fly out of a cave at dusk, and hugged the Redwoods.  I had afternoon tea with a sweet grandmother in her drawing room in Scotland.  And I held a microphone and shared stories that led some women to tears.  Our kids made friends with kids that wear cowboy hats, shoot gophers, walk to the city Farmer's Market, ride their bikes over the Mississippi River, share their mom with a dozen other siblings, collect sea glass along the Atlantic Ocean, minister to the needy in their community, live on a thousand acres, have special needs, and chop their own firewood.  We stumbled and fell and spent so much money on Bandaids and antibiotic ointment.  And we laughed and worried and slept and drove and ate bacon and eggs nearly every morning.  

So I guess what I am trying to say is, life is scary and filled with risk and there are no guarantees that things will go your way, but that doesn't mean life it isn't worth living.  I mean really living.  I certainly haven't got it figured out-- there are so many facets of my heart that are still longing for stagnation, avoiding confrontation, and wanting nothing more than to please myself.   But I know that the risk is worth the cost.  The creator of the universe loved me so much that he sacrificed his own perfect son to save me.  Yes, a full bank account and heated car seats may bring a sense of security for a moment, but it does not last.  Life in Jesus does not promise all of those amenities--  but it does promise something better-- an unshakable, secure, never failing love which there is no risk in life so great to disturb.    

I do not need safety as much as I need You. You’re dangerous but Lord, You’re beautiful... Jesus take my all. Take my everything. I’ve counted up the cost. And You’re worth everything.
— Rend Collective

Available for a session in your home in the following cities June/July 2016:  

Blacksburg, Lancaster, Philly, NYC, NJ, Long Island, New Haven, Boston, Buffalo, Portland ME, Eastern Shore MD

email me at hello at mollyflanagan dot com for more information!

ava+ruby in jacksonville, oregon

It is so hard to believe it has been almost a year since we visited Courtney Zimmerman at her home in Southern Oregon.  One afternoon we let Ava and Ruby throw a few packets of Holi powder -- they were in giggly little girl heaven!  

Want to hear me run my mouth about photography?  Listen to my interview on Jenny Stein's amazing podcast This Week in Photo.

See more of Courtney Zimmerman's family and their beautiful straw bale home

We are headed North in June and July.  Contact me for more information about a Storytelling Session in your home if you live in one of the following cities:  Blacksburg, Lancaster, Philly, NYC, New Jersey, Long Island, New Haven+Madison, Boston, Buffalo, Portland ME, Eastern Shore MD, Raleigh.