June 2009 Newsletter / Blog

Dear Friends,

June has been a wonderful month. It’s hard to believe it’s already over. My oldest niece Kurstin graduated from high school on the 13th and we went to Winston-Salem for a big family picnic. It was like yesterday when she was two years old and I flew her around the house singing the Disney song, “A Whole New World”. Kurstin was my very first niece and I loved coming home on my college breaks to play with her.

We wanted to get family beach portraits taken this summer (with me actually in the picture) and I can empathize with what my clients go through. I couldn’t believe how stressful it was to coordinate the whole event. It almost borders on miraculous to get the whole family fed, bathed, dressed, ready, and in the car for an hour and a half trip. As we were on the way to the beach, I noticed that my daughter’s scalp was caked in sand. She took a bath but only rinsed her hair & didn’t wash it. (I hope all that sand doesn’t show up in the pictures!) Although I am very excited about getting a painting of our beach portrait over our couch…. I realized that it is more stressful being a CLIENT than being a PHOTOGRAPHER. So my heart goes out to all you moms who work so hard to coordinate all the details of a session. So if you feel stressed when you arrive, know that it is perfectly normal… and the stress will end a few minutes after I start photographing. Capturing the moments of your loved ones is always worth the effort.

Our family spent a week at Topsail Island & had so much fun bodyboarding in the surf, playing with the kids & photographing during the glorious sunsets. My best friend came up & joined us for several days. I love the portraits we took…it reminds me of a patchwork quilt of small memories woven together from a wonderful week at the beach.

I celebrated my 38th birthday yesterday with an ice cream cake and a photoshoot! I got everyone pink outfits to wear. David was resistant because he does not wear pink, but he finally agreed since it was my birthday. I think he looks handsome! By the way, I still feel like I’m 25…. so my age will be our little secret!

I had a great month photographing families, babies & toddlers in the studio and at the beach. Thank you for your business and your friendship. I love watching your children grow and capturing the milestones of your lives.

CLIENT OF THE MONTH: Greg & Jody Brannon

I consider everyone I’ve photographed to be a part of my “studio family.” I have photographed many wonderful and interesting people over the years and I wanted to give you a glimpse of their stories along with portraits we’ve created. So come meet the rest of the family! June‘s featured client of the month is Greg & Jody Brannon. Many of you know Dr. Brannon, he is an OB/GYN in Cary, NC. When I was searching for an OB years ago, his practice was recommended by EVERYONE I asked. And I can see why… because the doctors and staff are very friendly and treat you like a “person” instead of “just a patient”. When I had a miscarriage, Dr. Rogers was the doctor  “on call” and he was very kind and empathetic and made a difficult situation more bearable. When I thought I was having another miscarriage, Dr. Brannon rushed back from the hospital to fit us in. Thankfully everything was okay and I now have a perfectly healthy two-year old.

I met Jody Brannon in 2006 when she came with her adopted daughter, Lily who was 14 months old. Jody was so friendly and down-to-earth, that she seemed like a sister from our very first session. She brought her second adopted daughter Cali, in March of 2009 and we got some precious portraits of the three of them. I wish I could say it was easy, but toddlers are TOUGH to photograph. But with a little time, a lot of songs, and peek-a-boo, we ended up with some precious portraits.

I always try to find the key to my subject’s heart. Usually peek-a-boo works wonders or little noise makers. Jody started signing to her daughter Cali, and we discovered that we’ve seen the same signing video series called “Signing time with Alex and Leah”. This has a great catchy theme song and Cali’s eyes would light up when I sang it because it was something familiar to her. At the end we were all exhausted…. but I know it was all worth it because they’ll never be this age again and it’s important to capture every precious stage in your children’s lives. Before you know it, they’ll be going off to college and you’ll be wondering where the time has gone.

Jody brought in a chop which is a stamp of Cali’s name in Chinese which a friend had given her as a gift. We laughed because we weren’t sure which way was up because we don’t know Chinese. But we were able to add it to her painting, collage & keepsake box as a seal at the bottom. This will make it extra special for Cali to have her Chinese name in her portraits to remember her heritage.

Here is Greg and Jody’s story…

Greg and I met when I was a senior in college and he was in medical school.  I was working towards my degree in education in New York and he was visiting from California to experience medical training in NYC hospitals.  We met through family friends.  I found Greg to be good looking (first impression), bright, but most of all he made me laugh.  We started dating, but I “knew” it would not last because he lived on the west coast and I lived some 3000 miles away in NY.  We dated for 3 months until we had to share our goodbyes.  Promises were made but I did not know if I would see him again. Our long distance courtship endured for two years until we married on September 19, 1987.  We now have six children. Our first daughter was born in California, our first and only son was born in New York, our next two daughters were born here in North Carolina and our next two daughters were born in China. One day it might be fun to road trip to each of their birthplaces!  We would need Susie to come along to photograph our journey!

Our life in North Carolina was very busy with Greg’s OB/GYN practice growing and I stayed home raising our children. When our youngest started school I began to earnestly pray that God would lead me to where He wanted me to go for this next chapter of my life.  I remember nights crying to my husband because I just did not know where God wanted me to go.  What work did He have in store for me? I really wanted to serve the Lord. My four children were attending a local Christian school and the principal offered me a teaching position.  After discussing the opportunity and how it may affect our family, I accepted the teaching position.  It was a wonderful job; Godly men and women surrounded me.  They loved the Lord and the children they were teaching.  I thanked God for the door He opened. After two years of teaching I did feel that God was stirring me into a new direction but I did not know what He had in store for our family.

One night I awoke after having an extremely clear dream – if I can say a message.  God had revealed the face of my daughter….she was waiting for us in China. All the logical reasons to say NO were lined up-we already had four children, I had a job I loved, we were finally out of diapers, strollers, everyone slept through the night, we were all quite content in where we were in life. God would not let me rest until I was obedient to Him.  In order to be obedient to God, I had go to China where our daughter was waiting. The path of obedience is not always easy but it is always right!

Our adoption for Lily took about two years. The “paper chase” (collecting the necessary paper work) took us about one year. Waiting for us to be “matched” with Lily took one year. In the world of adoption “matching” takes place when the officials in China literally match your file with the file of an orphan.  I remember people asking me, “how can you let China pick your child for you, aren’t your afraid?”  I did not have to answer this because God answered it for me, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.” Isaiah 43:5.

Another way to look at the matching process is this-it was not China at all matching – God is sovereign. He has control over everything. Just as he placed or matched my first four children in my womb, God has also matched or placed Lily and Cali in our family.  It is so very clear to me.  God does not command us to do many things specifically but he does command us to take care of the widows and orphans. “Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this to look after orphans and widows in their distress” James 1:27.  Wow, could it be clearer?

Our entire family traveled to China to bring Lily home in April 2006. She was 10 months old and beautiful.  God has protected her and held her and until He gently placed her in my arms.  What a joy I experienced, just knowing that I was being obedient to God.  In August of 2008 we traveled once again to China because God had chosen Cali to join our family.  Cali was just shy of two years old, weighing just 18 pounds. She was a tiny, perfect child that I have the privilege to call my daughter.

I had admired Susie’s beautiful work in my husband’s OB/GYN office. After we were home a few months with Lily, I scheduled a photo session for Lily and I.  After an awkward few moments, Susie helped us both relax.  Although I planned for this to be all about Lily, Susie made this into an extraordinary time for mother and daughter.  I truly treasure our mother/daughter painting.  I so wanted to capture the bond I felt with Lily. I wanted Lily to look at in years to come and “see” the love between us. Susie out did herself!  Susie also captured a more “fun” painting of Lily playing doctor, which is proudly hanging in Greg’s office.  Lily loves going in there and seeing her “baby doctor” picture.  Who knows, maybe it will hang in Lily’s office if she follows in her Dad’s footsteps.

When we returned home with Cali, I knew for sure that I wanted this moment to be captured by Susie. Our appointment was challenging; one nervous mom, one two year old and one three year old.  I shared with Susie the emotions that I wanted expressed and once again Susie exceeded all expectations!  Cali is a true beauty and Susie has made it possible for us to keep this small snippet in time a treasure in our home.  As an adopted child I know there may be times when Lily and Cali may question their identity, I hope I can use these portraits as a tool in showing them some of  their “Brannon” history and belonging in our family.

Susie’s presentation of the initial photos literally made me cry. They were all too beautiful and really brought back the intense emotions of the journey that brought both of these girls into our family. Cali and Lily’s portraits hang beside their siblings in the living room of our home.  It is a quiet room that I often go in just to rest and thank God for the gifts of my children.  The collages of Cali and Lily are in our family room.  We are in this room most of the day, since it is an open area connected to the kitchen.  Everyone who comes to our home gets to see the collages and enjoy them.  They are really fun.

I could not leave some of the photos behind but honestly I did not know what to do with another large portrait, so Susie made an incredible keepsake memory box.  I have never seen anything like it.  It has a photo of the two girls along with one my favorite bible verses for them.  A real treasure!  The box sits on our fireplace mantle, just out of reach of some little hands, but easy for us to grab to look at often. Susie also made me a special necklace that has a photo of Cali and Lily in it together-so sweet. It is a beautiful piece of jewelry.

Adoption is my passion; I hope this story inspires some of you to figure out just how you can be a part of the life of an orphan. Whether it is through adoption, financially supporting an organization that helps orphans, praying for orphans, or supporting families that are joined through adoption. I am thankful for Susie that she is now part of our adoption story.  Thank you Susie!

-Jody Brannon  Cary, NC


Thank you Jody for sharing your story. Our hearts have been touched… what a wonderful new beginning Lily and Cali have with your family. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of your sweet portraits and your heart.

Have a great month everyone and I look forward to photographing you soon.

Blessings to you!

To see more of my work, go to http://www.SusieGilmore.com

Become a facebook fan of Susie Gilmore for special offers… click here to become a fan.

To offer you the finest in portraiture, Susie is an active member in Professional Photographers of America, Professional Photographers of North Carolina and Photographic Society of the Triangle.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.