the middle years matter too…

It’s been quite a while since i shot for the everyday project…you know that little project that i started way back in 2011 to pull me out of a photography rut, ha!

It’s been a while since I’ve shared much about “us” (other than on instagram in small snippets).

It’s been a while since I’ve shared “them”, the cheeks girls, my muses, the ones who’s mere existence thrust me into this journey of photography, yet the ones who continue to push me every day to be better, a  better photographer, a better mom, a better person.

Let’s get real for a second or two….

I’ve been afraid to share…so i haven’t…I’ve been afraid to shoot because it reminds me just how big they have actually gotten…so i just haven’t shot.  But you know what?!  I built this business with my willingness to share my life and be real so why am i afraid of this now?  What started as a family blog and a way to write, turned into so much more 10 years later.  but I’m scared to share now!  This world is so much different than the world we lived in a decade ago!  Facebook was just making its way into the world, IG was still someones pipe dream and good old blogspot blogs were really only seen by friends and family who probably didn’t even really read them as much as just glance at the pictures, and we all claimed they were our way of documenting our babies in a sort of online diary.  My girls were little, I was oblivious to any sort of “reach” and then it started to happen…we would be out and people would recognize the girls.  It happened more and more and i started to wonder if sharing their moments had been wrong…then chubby cheek photography became this big giant snowball that grew by the moment and i stopped sharing at all but more out of necessity than desire or even fear.  I was busy I was raising two little girls 18 months apart and at some point earned the title of entrepreneur, accountant, boss, business owner, chef, soccer mom, homeroom mom, etc etc etc….I joined a small group of moms who desperately wanted to write stories and share our lives and wrote Letters to our daughters every month.  My heart said you need to do this you must do this you will regret it if you don’t do this but my brain said you have no freaking time woman!  and eventually it fell to wayside as clients and orders took over that space of time set aside for the letters and the shooting.  I wrote articles, spoke at conferences, created a business plan that worked for my life and I was riding high, I had figured it out y’all, I was ON IT!

until i wasn’t…

as an artist i fully admit to being emotional, ha!  My ups are high but my falls are low and this one was a big drop, like the kind that makes your stomach jump right out of your chest….  I look back at the last almost 11 years of motherhood and while my heart desperately wants those squishy baby cheeks and chubby hands, my eyes can clearly see the “now”.  i can clearly see the almost teenage hands that still reach for me everytime we cross the street, or the beautiful cheekbones that the light falls so gently on when I toss their hair up into messy buns because yes, I still fix their hair on most days.  I long for the days of naps all together in my bed but I very vividly cherish the all day adventures we go on now… because after all you CAN actually just hop on a boat or in the car with hardly anything packed and run off to the beach or Belize (ha yes we did this last summer).  Each part of motherhood is bittersweet for me, and it always has been, and while i cry A LOT and beg time to stop the “growing up” part I am fully aware that with each passing year, the more i loosen my grip the higher they soar.

back to the “afraid” part…

So I’m going to share again.  I’m going to shoot again and I’m bringing this party back full circle!  I’ve been so afraid, because people like to see squishy babies in tutu’s and princess dresses, I mean who cares what my family with an 8 and 10 year old are up to…but I CARE!  and I know somewhere out there is another mom just like me who cares because she too is watching her children become grown up’s right in front of her eyes.  There is another mom out there who understands my struggle to dress my 5’2 10 year old daughter like a “10 year” even though she is taller than most woman and finding girl clothes, legit ain’t easy y’all!  I’m sharing to remind all of us that even the awkward middle years matter!  Sure the squishy baby stage is easy to photograph and cute as all get-out and the teen years with big milestones like proms and graduations are important to photograph but these years THE MIDDLE YEARS deserve to be shared as well.

In true chubby cheek style…

I dont pretend to be perfect or always write or share things that everyone cares about but someday hopefully you will, someday your precious little ball of baby is going to be 8 or 9 or 10 and have braces and go through that weird stage where they forget how to smile a real smile ha, but my hope is that you will remember reading this and you will remember my words and that you will KEEP THAT CAMERA OUT AND KEEP SHARING!




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Bubble Blower + Glitter Thrower + Magic Maker

Hey yall!  I'm, Shalonda, the eyes behind the camera of chubby cheek photography. I am a nationally published child photographer, based out of Houston Texas, where I am drowning in glitter + princess dresses with my two daughters, also known as the cheeks girls, and the love of my life, daddy cheeks.  I am inspired by REAL life + the magic of childhood and I truly believe that the in between moments mean the most... even when that means stepping on a Barbie shoe before I have had my morning coffee!