On December 22, 2014, two brothers, five and two years old, came to our home. I can’t tell you why they were removed and eventually placed in our home, and I can’t tell you how long they will be with us. What I can tell you is that our lives were flipped completely upside down, shook violently around, placed upright again. Now our lives balance on a see-saw, delicately resting for now, but without any warning, at any moment could go topsy turvy again.
The first day they were here, I probably cried a total of two hours. Mostly after all of the kids were in bed. I had the crazy notion to just carry on life as usual, which meant cooking an actual dinner. In between meltdowns (our kids, the boys, and me), diaper changes, runs to the store for baby things, and a general dream like stupor I floated around in, I did manage to make dinner. We sat down two hours later than normal and hardly anyone ate anything.
Let’s not forget that we were days away from the biggest holiday of the year, and everyone’s emotions were off the chart. It’s very romantic for people to imagine, “Oh, this will be those boys best Christmas ever!” on the contrary, before we even got them I imagined it wouldn’t be at all. We were strangers, period. No amount of presents, magical traditions or even just being in a nice house with a cozy bed could erase the pain that comes with removing a child from their home. The evening of the day the boys arrived, Santa was due to drop in to check on our kids. I wish I could remember it as all good, but I remember feeling very chaotic. I remember crying, a combination of seeing the wonder on the children’s faces and from sheer emotional exhaustion. Dimples was visibly uncomfortable with the excitement, and knowing him like I know him now, looking at the pictures I can see the stress all over his face. It was a hard day and I hope that seeing Santa was a bright spot for him.
After an hour and a half long bedtime wrestle, I came downstairs nearly shaking I was so emotionally jarred. I told Nick through choked sobs, like the kind of sobs you hear small children make, “My heart is too soft to handle all of this pain.” I felt it so strongly. Dimples- the five year old and Grizzly-the two year old both coped in their own way. Our own children, wide eyed and scared at what they saw that first day. Thinking of the boys’ parents and their heartache. It was like an avalanche of grief and pain that was suffocating me. I couldn’t make it better, for any of them, at least not that night, and that killed me.
I’ve always been the kind of person who takes so much joy in tucking in my kids at night, smelling sweetly of lavender and cedarwood essential oils from their nightly foot rubs. We read books, sing songs (In the previous post I wrote about how each of my babies has their own special ones. Brynn’s is “Baby Mine” from Dumbo, Nicholas’ is “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra, and Josie’s is “Go to Sleep You Little Baby” from O Brother Where Art Thou?), I pray over them and then it’s lights out. Then it’s a glass of wine with the husband, catching up on a show and each others’ day and lights out for us. My days are hectic, but between 7:30 and 10:30 pm, all is right in the Vanoven home.
So when our first night felt more like a war zone, and my eyes were puffy slits on my face from crying, and Dimples wanted nothing to do with anyone in our family…I didn’t think I could do this. I had real thoughts of what the foster system calls “disrupting” which is code for “giving them back”. I felt utterly unqualified and unprepared.
That was three weeks ago. Oh, how I wish I could jump back in time and show that Rachel just how much would change in three weeks. How bedtimes resemble a manageable circus rather than a battlefield and that Dimples loves oils just as much as my own babies. That his song is the simple “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and he sings along with me every time. That his favorite part of nightly prayers is when I ask God to send angles to f-o-o-o-o-ld their wings over him to protect him and make hand motions that show great feathery wings making a canopy over him, and if I don’t do it, he pretends to be scared until I say it. That out of all the books in our house, Grizzly loves “The Owl and the Pussycat” the best, but hardly ever stays awake through all of it.
I thought I had ruined our “perfect” family and my kids would never be the same, yet the exact opposite happened. It has brought out the best in all three of our own children. Brynn is having less meltdowns herself and showing us how tender she can be with little ones. Nicholas is realizing that little brothers, while super annoying, make better wrestling partners than little sisters. Josie has a sidekick in all of her shenanigans–who loves tea parties and plastic dinosaurs as much as she does. I’m a much more patient mother to a toddler than I remember being with the kids, and my heart just melts to pieces when I see Nick teaching Grizzly how to hold a football the right way in his chubby little arms, or twirling around the kitchen just to hear his growly little laugh (earning him the nickname Grizzly!)…every day is a challenge, but it’s so freakin’ beautiful.
After six years of photography full-time, four years of teaching newborn photography and posing, roughly 600 newborns photographed, countless hours not only learning how to pose for myself, but how to teach other photographers how to improve, I’m excited to announce the newest member of the RVP eWorkshop family.
In 2010 I created something new for this industry, not a Posing Guide that simply showed posing inspiration, but a guide that showed step-by-step instructions on how to safely pose a newborn baby. I think it had five different poses in it, maybe a little about lighting? I can’t remember!
Two years later, I had an idea to take that Guide to a whole new level and introduce videos, another first for the industry! It. Was. So. Much. Work. but the first Newborn eWorkshop (not just for me, but anywhere!) was “born”. I was overwhelmed by the response and blown away by watching beginners with little to no newborn skills/knowledge soak up what they learned in this eWorkshop and grow into some pretty amazing newborn photographers!
It’s crazy how much the Newborn Photography industry has changed since 2012, though, and about a year ago I knew I had to give the eWorkshop a total overhaul. My methods have changed, new poses have become popular, safety precautions have gotten even more intense and the entire mood of my work has changed.
So back in early Spring, my best friend and amazing newborn photographer herself, Erin Tole flew to Indianapolis and filmed me posing 6 newborn babies, ranging in ages and sizes, and the new eWorkshop was officially in production!
My goal since 2010 has been to create something that is a game changer for newborn photographers, for the ones who can’t afford an in-person workshop or are too far away to make it to Indianapolis (waves to all of my UK/Aussie loves). This wasn’t something that took a week or even a month to throw together. It wasn’t outsourced to produce. I poured my heart into every word, video and image in this eWorkshop. I revised it a dozen times, adding information as former workshop attendees reminded me of things I taught them. I am so thankful for everyone who helped make this what it is, and can’t wait for others to see this hard work’s results.
One of my favorite parts about the eWorkshops (both the newborn and the Family one) are the private Facebook groups where photographers from all over the world are brought together with this common ground – an RVP guide – and genuinely help each other out and support one another. It amazes me every day the meet ups that have happened, the prop swapping, the community that rallies when someone in the group is suffering or in need…and of course the daily posts for CC, the “what would you do?” advice questions, the way that it’s not just ME posting tutorial videos/pictures, but other photographers in the group share their methods they’ve found to work. It’s seriously amazing.
Oh, and #rvpafterdark is always a good time!
I’ll stop rambling about the Newborn eWorkshop and let some photographers who have already downloaded it ramble for a bit
“This is one of the best investments into my newborn work that I have ever made. Rachel has a gift for teaching and making it accessible and relevant to people who are just starting out or have been in business for many years. I love watching the videos over and over again as I continue to learn and perfect my craft, they are such an invaluable tool to bring out my best work for my clients. This is the wisest money you will ever spend in learning newborn photography from start to finish – ever!!” www.shaynahardy.com
“Rachel Vanoven’s eworkshop is a game changer. Rachel’s style is real and relatable, and she explains things in a way that makes sense! The eworkshop is an absolute must for aspiring and seasoned newborn photographers alike. Thanks to Rachel, I am able to do poses I never thought were possible for me! I’ve had so many aha moments, and I’ll be forever grateful I made an investment in my education, which has paid for itself many times over! And now, with the new updated eworkshop, I have even more to offer to my clients! If you’re considering this eworkshop, stop thinking and just buy it now! You won’t regret it!” www.heathermohrphotography.com
“I started doing newborn sessions about a year a half ago. I loved doing them, but just didn’t feel confident in some of the posing techniques and knew that I needed to invest in some education! Going to an in person workshop just wasn’t in the cards for me at the moment, so last year some time I purchased Rachel’s newborn eWorkshop, and OMG it opened my eyes!! I felt my work getting better. Then she announced the updated version coming out and I COULD. NOT. WAIT!! I knew that if this one had made a difference the new one would as well!! As soon as I was able to purchase it, I did! I started reading and watching the videos and I could not believe the amazing work that was put into this workshop! It was like being there with Rachel. The detailed explanation of things, the written part was just as eye opening and insightful as the videos! I have several newborns coming up and I am so beyond excited to put this all to good use! If you are just starting out, or even if you have been doing this for several years, it is worth it! I know for my own life that going to an in person workshop can be difficult, between our families, and business, finding the time is no easy task, this is the PERFECT alternative, and an investment you don’t want to miss out on!!”www.imaniphotog.com
“When I first heard that Rachel was re-making a new eworkshop, I was a bit skeptical on how it could be any better then the first! I purchased the first eworkshop with no clue what I was doing, an entry level camera, and one white blanket! The first was already packed so full of information, and guidance that I wasn’t sure how much more she could squeeze into another! Just skimming through the second one, I saw so much more information, and after sitting down and actually reading and watching the videos, I’ve already picked up so much more! Rachel isn’t just a photographer, she’s a teacher, and an artist (not to mention baby whisperer.) She puts so much time and heart into making sure that each and every detail is perfect so that everyone is learning and pulling information to grow! Rachel explains things in a way that they makes sense so that even those just picking up a camera are able to benefit, but those seasoned newborn photographers are still learning also! Just like Rachel, this workshop is 100% real, and worth every single last penny! Trust me it will more then pay for itself! I would recommend this eworkshop to anyone looking to grow their newborn business or just learn how to take great newborn photos!”www.facebook.com/heatherleeighphotography )
“The thing that I LOVE about this eworkshop is Rachel’s transparency with how she approaches things…in this day and age many photographers easily feel threatened by others’ success and/or replicating of their work. Rachel WANTS everyone to succeed in her own way and this video is supportive of the process in the safest, kindest way. I learn as much from the techniques as I do her commitment to doing things with integrity.”www.lulliloophotography.com
“So I’m pretty sure I spent the last 24 hours completely ignoring my family. Not really but really I can’t stop watching, learning, and soaking in as much goodness Rachel Vanoven has to offer in her updated eworkshop. Rachel took this workshop to a whole nother level! Loads of videos to watch! You’ll know her workflow, her posing transitions and how to get those babies to be extra squishy. What I love about Rachel is that she pours out her heart into each session as well as into this workshop.”www.speightsphoto.com
“The moment I found out that Rachel was going to do a workshop in Australia; I knew I had to be a part of it! Rachel was an amazing teacher, sharing and teaching everything she can to us. It was only a day workshop but it was jam packed with helpful information, tips, posing and entertainment! I must admit though, I was star-struck seeing her in person and may have missed some of the lessons of the day. Watching her second e-workshop video is like attending Rachel’s workshop again. I felt like she was in the same room with me, sharing her knowledge and more all over again. It’s just like a one-on one mentoring session only better because you can pause, rewind and play it over and over and over again! The e-workshop guide is full of information and tips from shooting, posing, transitioning to processing. My favourite part of the video is the way she transitions from poses to poses and her workflow. She definitely knows her stuff, no doubt! I am definitely VERY HAPPY with my investment with Rachel. It’s worth every dollar.”www.kathv.com.au
“How many times do you wish you knew what the secret was? The secret for getting that newborn knocked out and sleeping through the whole session? The secret on capturing dreamy lighting or how to get that 10-pound baby curled up into that one pose you so desperately want to nail? Well, come Friday, the secrets are all yours! Rachel Vanoven is releasing her newly updated e-workshop and let me tell you it’s amazing! Since I am a former in-person workshop attendee I was able to check it out before it’s released THIS FRIDAY! The new workshop is filled with even more info then her previous one (which how it that even possible?) Packed full with 6, yes, SIX posing videos that equal 3 HOURS worth of details on posing baby and transitioning from one set up to another. What I love is that each video is a different baby; different size and different age, because let’s face it, no baby is the same! Then there are over 50 pages of written material that cover everything from the last e-workshop and more! Rachel explains what goes into a session, transition and session workflow, shooting rules, technical terms, and post processing (and so much more in between)! There’s even an hour long video where she shows you her editing from start to finish; guys this is gold! It will cut your editing time way down and we all know less time editing means more time with the family! Oh, there’s even a list of her favorite vendors and a Q&A section with real questions from photographers just like you and me. Rachel totally outdid herself with this new e-workshop. You can really tell she put her heart and soul (and a GAJILLION hours) into this project, and it has her personality painted all over it; it’s real and it’s fun and most of all it’s got so much information in it you will feel like you are personally learning right beside her. Seriously BUY it! This is an investment for your business! Get your credit card out right now; memorize the number on it so you can be one of the first to purchase it (pretty sure she said it will be on sale for the first 10 minutes!) Still not convinced? Check out the preview for the workshop on her page, if that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will!”www.susanwetlesenphotography.com
“I started photographing newborns in 2010 and had many frustrating experiences. Lots of “floppy” babies that I just couldn’t seem to pose without it looking like they were eating the backdrop they were being posed upon or just plain fussy babies that made for some very frustrating sessions. Parents would seem frazzled by the time I was done and even though I would get just a few shots that were kind of OK, I hated feeling like I was stressing mom and dad and baby and myself. I purchased Rachel Vanoven‘s original workshop about 2 years ago, and the very next newborn I did was the best experience I ever had up to that point. I still had lots of growing and learning to do, but I was so amazed at what a difference Rachel’s workshop made for me. Ever since then, I’ve never had a frustrating newborn session. When Rachel came out with the updated workshop with video clips, I jumped on it, and felt like my sessions improved lots more. Gone are the days of having an upcoming newborn session and feeling super nervous that I might not do well. Following Rachel’s instructions and tips has given me a fantastic sense of confidence. When Rachel came out with this new updated version of the workshop, I JUMPED on the opportunity to continue to learn from her mentoring. Thank you so much, Rachel!”www.memorylaneindy.com
“I consider my profession a blessing. As a Newborn Photographer, I am humbled and honored by my client’s decision in allowing me to capture the tender grace of new life. I strive to offer my clients impecible service. In order to do so, I invested in my Newborn Photography education with one of the leading Newborn Photographer’s in our industry…Rachel Vanoven. Rachel’s innate aptitude for tutelage is evident in this insightful eWorkshop collection. The eWorkshop is filled with a variety of topics essential to anyone launching their Newborn Photography business. In it, you will find an assortment of invaluable posing techniques accompanied with instructional videos, lighting instruction, workflows, and vendor recommendations to name a few items; all which have revolutionized our industry worldwide. Thomas Alva Edison once said; “ I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Rachel has found the 10,000 ways that don’t work, and is sharing her vast knowledge and expertise through this incredible interactive learning tool. I highly recommend this eWorkshop to anyone considering learning/supplementing/enriching their Newborn Photography techniques and skills.” www.bellaanaphotography.com
“Rachel’s newborn eWorkshop is invaluable to the newborn photographer. She takes the poses everyone is doing, and shows you exactly how to take them to the next level to make your work stand out among the crowd. It’s all in the details! Many times I’ve watched her posing videos before a session just to refresh and boost my confidence, and have found myself referencing them during sessions as well. This workshop is an amazing foundation to learning how to safely and beautifully pose newborns – worth every penny!!!”www.lisacarmodyphotography.com