Philadelphia Newborn Photography | Baby Cora

Perhaps one of the greatest things about being a photographer is getting to see families grow. Literally. I recently had the privilege to photograph a former bride and groom’s newborn girl in Philadelphia, and it made me thankful for the work that I get to do.

Ali and Shailen are a couple you don’t forget. I so enjoyed getting to know them, and their wedding was so fun to photograph–so it was especially great to see them as new parents and to meet their little girl. Here are just a few of my favorites from their session.

Documentary Birth Photography | Baby Nathan

I couldn’t help it. I don’t normally share personal details with absolute strangers, but I just couldn’t contain my excitement. “My friend just had a baby! This sandwich is actually for her!” The guy behind the counter barely acknowledged that I had spoken. Maybe he didn’t hear me…or perhaps he, like most of us, think of birth as a rather ordinary event. After all, apart from making a sandwich, it wasn’t going to change his life.

Yes, a child’s birth is something both incredible…and in many ways ordinary. It’s ordinary to the doctors and nurses perhaps, ordinary to the people driving by on the street, ordinary to most of the world–but it’s life-changing to you. It’s a day you don’t forget.

Getting to be at a birth–let alone photograph it–is anything but ordinary to me. There is no show, no pretense…just raw emotion: excitement, worry, fears, hopes, dreams, anticipation–and work. Lot’s of work. It’s labor. And the reward is so sweet–a new life is ushered into the world, creating something that wasn’t there before: a new set of parents.

Baby Nathan’s birth story is especially sweet to me because his parents are good friends of mine. I eagerly awaited his arrival alongside of them, and I am so incredibly happy for them. Here are just a few of my favorite moments from their story.

Jenna - Beautiful, just beautiful.

Silver Swan Bayside Wedding | Christian and John

I have photographed many couples on their wedding day, each one unique and beautiful, each one filled with love and joy. But a few stand out–not for the breathtaking details (though there are always plenty) or size of the guest list (which can be impressive), but for the overflow of love. I think it is a hard thing nowadays to plan a wedding (with all that entails!) and not be overwhelmed and lose your sense of what the day is really about. But for Christian and John, their wedding was truly their own and a sweet reflection of their deep love for each other and their families and friends.

It’s impossible to not get caught up in their joy. Nothing was going to faze them on their wedding day…not even a car accident that prevented all their guests from arriving on time (yes, that happened). Because the day really wasn’t about starting on time or perfect weather (which we got!) or any other detail. It was about Christian and John getting married. And I’m so glad I was a part of their day to document their beautiful story. A big congratulations to Christian and John!

Here are a few of my favorite moments from their day.

Natalie - Aw, beautiful photos Mary! You can see their love!

Maryland Adoption Ceremony | Lydia Grace Alejandra

It happens in a moment–on a muggy, ordinary Monday afternoon–a life is changed forever. A child gets a family and a name.

I have photographed a number of incredible events and touching moments during the many weddings and portraits I’ve covered, but I must argue that this adoption ceremony may be one of the most beautiful events I’ve ever documented. With adoption, there is an outpouring of love that’s unlike anything else. It’s not a two-way promise or pledge…no conditions…just acceptance. Unearned, unconditional love.

The adoption ceremony is really the beginning of a lifetime with a family. I was so honored to be a part of Lydia’s first day with her parents and siblings and a whole extended group of family and friends. It was clear she had already tasted of love by the sweet care her foster mother had given her, and it was a joy to see a family of four become a family of five in the blink of an eye.

Here is the story of her first moments with her family.

Laya Aaron - What a beautiful experience to capture. Well done, Mary!

Lindsay (Young Married Mom) - Tearing up. Thank you for sharing this!

Erin - Tearing up as well. So beautiful!

Mae - What a beautiful day! I felt as if I was there with such great pics of the journey. Blessings to you & your beautiful family! Liam & Lilly were so cute!

Beth - Truly beautiful, Mary.

Beverly - Breathtaking photos. Thank you so much for sharing the story of the day! Sooooooo precious. Tissues please. ;) Precious family of 5. So happy for you.

Jeana & Paul Kelly - Your Mom & Dad would be proud!!

Caroline Sasnett - Beautiful! Everything about this is beautiful.

emmy bonja - These are gorgeous pictures and brought tears to my eyes. I especially like the ones that show Paul’s face as he watched Jennilee with Lydia! You all look so happy, and Lydia is a blessed girl indeed.

Rebecca (Mooney) Polok - What a fantastic story these pictures tell! I was moved to tears!

Ardell Fleeson - These are lovely. I am sitting here at my desk bawling and squalling. Becky Fleeson, my daughter-in-law, sent me these as we are soon to celebrate my special birthday, when my parents brougt me home from the adoption agency — in 1952!

We adopted children are blessed, blessed beyond measure.

God is good!

Congratulations on your lovely little family,
Ardell

becky fleeson - These are amazing. I love the photo of Liam kissing Jennilee and Lilly studying Lydia. What an amazing story. Thanks for sharing the photos!

Liz - Amazing!! Mary, you have an incredible gift for capturing precious moments! :)

joey - WOW! Great moments Mary!!!

Milla - Oh Mary! I am sitting here with tears in my eyes… what an AMAZING opportunity and beautiful picture of adoption! You documented it so well.