Two weeks ago I had the honor of photographing Erica and Aaron's wedding. Although the world is overwhelmed with uncertainty right now and there is so much divide, on October 9th there was only sunshine, smiles and the unity of two beautiful souls coming together in marriage.

I have been working with Erica for a few years now at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. It has been an absolute honor to work beside her and experience her spirit and hilarious sense of humor with our Veterans. She is an incredible caregiver and brings so much joy to everyone she encounters. Aaron is a lucky guy!

You never know what kind of weather to expect in Michigan this time of year. Do I dress for summer or winter? There really is no in-between. Erica and Aaron's day was, and will most likely be our last warm, beautifully sunny day in Michigan for months. They could not have asked for a better day; clear skies, sunshine and all the vibrant colors of Fall for their backdrop. It was such a beautiful wedding; laidback and good time vibes.

I am so happy for the two of them. I pray their marriage is filled with so much love and happiness!

Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. McGillicuddy! Thank you so much for allowing me to capture your day!

To view Erica and Aaron's wedding album in its entirety, go here.

To purchase prints from Erica and Aaron's wedding album, go this way.

Updated: Jul 27

Every summer my son Elijah and I head down to St. Louis, Missouri to visit our family. The goal for the trip is to spend time with family while relaxing and taking a load off. We cook, watch cheesy rom-com's, sustain the "treat yo self" mentality by shopping at Maurice's and explore St. Louis.

With the world being in such a bizarre state with the overexposed (yes, I said it) continuous headline news story of Covid making it's dominance for what feels like the billionth day in a row, the heartbreaking lingering uncertainty of ever having peace with riots and protesters chanting for equality and the visual weirdness and surrealism of just about everyone wearing masks anywhere and everywhere you go, a trip to visit family that was waiting to welcome me with open arms (with a very strong glass of summer sangria) was and has been very much needed at this point.

The family and I do at least one outing that we haven't experienced before. We've gone zip lining, we've been up close and personal with wolves at the Endangered Wolf Sanctuary and of course we've visited the St. Louis Zoo and Science Center, and we've made our way up the Arch (one excruciating slow click and claustrophobic journey upward at a time).

Our focus this trip was about art. We visited the exhibition “Millet and Modern Art: From Van Gogh to Dalí,” at the St. Louis Art Museum. This exhibition focuses on the legacy of the 19th-century French painter, Jean-François Millet; a groundbreaking artist that inspired and influenced international artists Vincent van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat, Claude Monet, Giovanni Segantini, Winslow Homer, Paula Modersohn-Becke, Edvard Munch and Salvador Dalí.

After studying art at The Art Institute of Chicago, the closest I have ever gotten to a van Gogh painting was through an overpriced Art History textbook, experiencing the real deal in person was beyond fascinating.

I appreciate the details in life and in art, so naturally I got a little too up close and personal with one of the paintings at the exhibition. My finger was inches away as I mimicked the brush strokes as I explained to Elijah how incredible yet tedious the technique is. One of the many security guards sternly said "Ma'am!" as his voice echoed and vibrated off the otherwise quiet gallery walls. He vigorously shook his head 'no' at me as a I slouched my shoulders downward as if I just got caught being way too close to a van Gogh painting.

Wait I did just get caught way too close to a van Gogh painting!

Elijah shook his head embarrassed and whispered "See, I told you mom!," as I stepped the heck back before being football tackled by the security guards.

We learned that due to Covid the exhibition had extended its stay in St. Louis because travel was prohibited and eventually limited therefore the owners of the pieces were not able to collect the art. A win for us visitors.

The exhibition is truly exquisite. The dim spotlight on the pieces present an intimate feel the second you enter. The first painting I encountered was Jean-François Millet's Self-Portrait (Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 47 cm (25 x 18 1/2 in.).

From there we explored a collection of his works along with van Gogh, Monet, Homer and Dalí, among others.

The next art inspiring adventure I took was visiting the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum. I had no idea about this gem and was so excited to check out the works on display.

Inductees include Berenice Abbot, Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Joel Bernstein, Robert Capa, Ernest Haas, Dorothea Lange, Annie Leibovitz, Gordon Parks, Kenny Rogers, among many other talents.

I was the only visitor at the time so I was able to explore at my own pace without feeling rushed and enjoy the works on display.

One of my favorite photos was of Walter Iooss Jr.'s "The Blue Dunk, Michael Jordan, 1987."

Iooss is my photography hero. His work is incredible and I only pray that I can someday capture sports the way he has over the years. He has shot the greats: Jordan, Bryant, LeBron, Griffey Jr., Sanders, Ripken, Rodriguez, Montana, Namath, Rice, Williams, Graf, McEnroe, Nicklaus, Palmer, Woods, Phelps, Louganis, Lewis and so many more (if you don't know those names we can't be friends). I am so thankful I was able to see his work.

After my visit at the photography museum, I took a stroll through St. Louis to capture some street photography.

The Fox Theater will always hold a special place in my heart. It was there that I was able to see one of my favorite bands, The White Stripes, on their "Get Behind Me Satan" Tour on August 24, 2005.

As always my trip flew by and it's never easy saying goodbye. I am grateful for my family and my experiences with them.

I hope you all have been able to escape reality at least once this summer.

To see more images from my St. Louis trip, including my day at the St. Louis Zoo, go here.

Until we meet again! ✌🏽

*Images shot with my Sony A7iii using my Metabones EF - E mount adapter for my nifty fifty Canon 50mm lens as well as my iPhone 11 Pro Max.

#NatalieLopezPhotography #NatalieTravels #Photography #Travel #Wanderlust #StLouis #StLouisArtMuseum #InternationalPhotographyHallOfFameAndMuseum #Sony #Canon #iPhone

Nothing puts life into perspective than life itself. The birth of a new baby awakens the soul in such an incredibly beautiful and profound way.

For nine months us women form a life within our own body, all while we wait (no doubt the biggest understatement) in anticipation for our future son or daughter.

We read the books, brainstorm names, create a Pinterest board filled with all the cutest itty bitty things for our future mini (mine is named “Oh Baby” and I still add to it even though my son is now fourteen) and we browse the latest baby gadgets both online and in stores.

During pregnancy we daydream about what our child will look like, who they will be, and we may go overboard with the nesting (so what if we rearranged, refolded and rearranged the newborn clothes on a consistent every other day basis?).

We find ourselves comforting our growing bump by constantly caressing it, we talk and sing to it and we watch in fascination as we see our bump move as our baby readjusts. Strangers ask how far along we are, if we know what we're having and they smile at our glow.

I am in awe of how us women can create life, how our bodies can transform, stretch and nourish another being within us.

We feel everything during the nine months; all the emotions, all the aches, all the movements.

Oh, those movements. Those flutters.

Nothing can prepare us for the end of pregnancy and the experience of labor. When it’s time to rock it out (literally for some of us), we show up like a rockstar because we are rockstars.

No, we are Superwoman.

So our body formed and nourished our little one for nine months, providing everything that he or she needed before they come Earth side. Amazing!

Then it's time for something even more incredible.

Our bodies in labor experience something that is nothing short of a miracle.

We try to apply the mind-over-matter confidence method of lamaze during the thunderous shocking bolts that are contractions.

Our patience with our partner that planted the seed within us is nonexistent and we blame them for the pain we’re in. And no, the ice chips will not help a f#@k!ng thing! Ok, maybe they will after the contraction. Wait, where are you going with the ice chips?! I told you I needed them! You would have these mood swings too if you had to carry a baby for nine months!

And after all is said and done, after we hear our newborn’s first cries when they enter the world, when we get our first glance of them and when we embrace them for the first time, nothing, absolutely nothing, can compare to that moment. The pain from labor vanishes and joy completely overwhelms us. We are mesmerized.

We are in love.

I was reminded of all of these memories and reminisced my own experience of becoming a mother when I had the honor of photographing Stephanie and Christian’s home birth last week. I was thrilled!

The last few weeks I kept asking Christian how Stephanie was doing, if there was any news, to keep me posted if there was any news and to call me when it was go time. Any time my phone rang I got excited thinking it was Christian (I dropped my phone a few times). I was waking up in the middle of the night checking my phone, panicking that I had missed a call from Christian.

I finally got the call on March 11th at 12:16 am. I could hear Stephanie actively in labor in the background as Christian told me to come over. Her water broke!

I’m a seventeen minute drive from their home and I was six minutes too late (how's that for irony Alanis Morrissette?!). I walked in and heard a newborns cry. Are you kidding me, I missed it?!

Stephanie was still in the birthing pool while Christian was holding their son. We all shared a laugh at how I never imagined missing the pre-birth stage.

I admired Stephanie's beauty and strength, and how open and comfortable she and Christian were with me photographing them.

Stephanie and Christian welcomed their handsome, healthy son Graham Lewis Winther at 12:23 am. Although I didn’t get to photograph the process of labor, I did get the honor of capturing the emotions and moments that came after.

The smiles, the laughter, the first thumb suck, the first feeding, the first diaper, the first night with baby Winther.

Life is truly a miracle.

Graham Lewis Winther

3 . 11 . 20

12:23 am

8lbs 9oz 21in

#NatalieLopezPhotography #MichiganPhotographer #BirthPhotographer #AtHomeBirthPhotographer #NewbornPhotographer #GrandRapids #Pregnancy

42.9707° N, 85.6798° W

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