A sister, a brother: welcome, Baby E!

”Brother and sister, together as friends, ready to face whatever life sends. Joy and laughter or tears and strife, holding hands tightly as we dance through life.” – Suzie Huitt

This little one came and made a big sister of sweet J! Welcome, baby E! And congrats to you both as siblings; best friends!


Well Hello There, Simon!

Boats and babies: perfect, right?

A few months ago, I had the joyous pleasure of photographing this family on their houseboat as they awaited the imminent arrival of their newest little one. And let me tell you: it was definitely a career highlight.

Sunset, the harbor, live music - it was a dream. I was so very excited to come back to capture them again as a new family of four.

World, meet Simon. The sweetest, snuggliest, most precious little guy I've met in awhile. This boy was born for sea life (or... harbor life) and his photo session did not disappoint.

Catherine, Matt, and Sebastian - so many congratulations for your new little one. You guys are gonna be the new Fab Four!

Phoenix and Sarah

Leaves are changing here in Baltimore. The air is crisp, the days are shorter, our breath turns to vapor with every sigh, and boots have officially replaced loafers.

And here is Sarah and Phoenix; a little piece of sunshine in Reservoir Hill.
There is seriously nothing quite like a dog and their person. It is a bond so deep and so often misunderstood, although it would be hard for anyone to mistake that these two are anything but thick as thieves. 

Loved taking your portraits, Phoenix - you sweet, old soul.



Harbor, Baby :

Sooooo this was a first for me. Not being on a boat, of course. I've been on plenty! In fact, Chris and I almost bought into a boat with a friend a few years back and it didn't take us long to realize that we're not boat people - we're just friends with boats people. Lucky for us, we realized this before it was too late. 

Our friend now owns that boat. By himself.
We go out on it occasionally. And it's the perfect balance  

But I digress. 
This was a first for me. When I first spoke with Catherine about shooting her maternity photos, she casually mentions in our second email exchange "oh, and we live on a boat, so..."
I became intensely excited at the prospect of shooting maternity photos on a boat. IN THE HARBOR. 

Ok, ok, ok. So yeah. We cruised around the harbor at sunset and it was totally NBD. But actually, it was. And everything was perfect. And we buzzed past the pier 5 pavilion and there was a band playing. We danced, and sang, and breathed in the fresh air. Oh, and we took some pretty freaking amazing photos as well.

Here they are. And I'll stop talking now because there's nothing that I can say that will be as good as these images. 

Catherine, Matt, and Sebastian: Congratulations (like, seriously. On LIFE). 
I can't wait to meet your little one (and then subsequently photograph HIM on a boat).



Welcome Katerina!

This summer has flown by like none other - and rain like, whoa! Ammiright?! Time warps and crummy weather aside, there has been a ton going on this summer and I've been flying by the seat of my proverbial pants just taking everything in. A big move, starting the foster care program in Baltimore city, and trying to keep up with an increasingly curious toddler to name a few items.

But amid all of this, was the quiet and joyful arrival of this little beauty. Baltimore, meet Katerina. This sweet little nugget was so charming and and agreeable for her first portraits! Driving into my old neighborhood to meet her and her parents, despite having only moved a handful of weeks earlier, had me tearful and nostalgic. Celebrating new life while reminiscing about the old had me tied up in emotional knots and realizing that there are always new adventures to experience if we embrace the chance. It also served as a reminder of how much I love doing what I do.

Katerina - the world is yours, little lady! I'm so honored to have captured your very first portraits!


Sarah + Daniel: Lynchburg is for Lovers

Have you been to Lynchburg? Go.
A sweet little western Virginia town nestled up along the James River just dripping with charm. I'm sort of a sucker for locations like this - and for weddings like this as well. Those I've known and love getting married holds a special place in my little ol' heart. You see,  I'm only a little embarrassed to confess that once upon a time, I babysat Daniel (I know! Right?!). His family has remained dear to me for many years and to see the human that he has grown to be today brings a little happy dance to my soul. Oh, and his new bride? Also amazing. Just as you might suspect.

Lynchburg was where these two cool cats met, and the city was kind to them this Fourth of July weekend, bringing sunshine and warm weather while they set off fireworks all their own as the newest Mr. and Mrs.

Congratulations, Sarah and Daniel! So very honored to have been a small part of your big day!

Venue: The Glass House, Lynchburg; Ice Cream Shop: Ice Cream Dream, Lynchburg


Welcome Judah : A Little King in Charm City

There's a special kind of joy in watching people you love become parents. This, in my life, has been amplified in the year since becoming a parent myself. Your heart breaks for the struggles and challenges that you remember comes with a newborn, but man does your soul rejoice in the pure beauty, strength, and resilience that you get to see in action, from the people you love. 

John and Chelsie have been dear friends, investing in our son Iggy's life over the past year and encouraging us in ways they probably don't even know throughout this whole parenting gig. We've valued their friendship oh so much! And now to watch them welcome their own little guy is something that is pretty amazing.

I'm so amped to watch Judah grow, and learn, and imprint his spirit and personality on his parents' hearts. You might be aware that parenthood is a painful process sometimes, but I think it's also such a beautiful and true reflection of God's relationship with each of us, and a very (sometimes woefully) tactile example of His unending grace.

Congratulations, John and Chelsie! We're sincerely so happy and grateful to parent alongside the two of you!



Ready, set, GO

My goodness, where do I start? 

I've been on a hiatus of sorts. Maybe you've noticed? 
There's a reason! Truly! You see, I've gone and had a little baby boy of my own. And the last 6 (SIX!!) months have been filled with mildly sleepless nights and increasingly adventurous days.

Oh, and picture taking. Lots and lots of picture taking. 

Ignacio Baltazar Bowie Leonard-Navarro arrived on February 24th weighing 6lbs and a few ounces. And he kind of rocked our world a little bit, as babies are prone to do. 

We call him Iggy. We like him just fine. <3

Our first family picture - taken about 45 minutes after Iggy delivered.

Our first family picture - taken about 45 minutes after Iggy delivered.

The first several weeks (months?) I surprised myself and didn't pull out my camera once. Not even once! Motherhood was so very surreal and the nights turned to days and back to nights again with alarming speed. Weeks went by in a daze and while so many moments were beautiful, they were often a blur. 

We are so fortunate to have wonderful friends - one of whom is an incredible photographer and came down from New York to snap some photographs for us. I am still so grateful for these photos - as Iggy gets older, it's amazing how difficult it is to remember he was once so small.

Photo by Samantha Nichols www.samnichols.co

Photo by Samantha Nichols www.samnichols.co

Photo by Samantha Nichols www.samnichols.co

Photo by Samantha Nichols www.samnichols.co

Photo by Samantha Nichols www.samnichols.co

Photo by Samantha Nichols www.samnichols.co

Photo by Samantha Nichols www.samnichols.co

Photo by Samantha Nichols www.samnichols.co

Photo by Samantha Nichols www.samnichols.co

Photo by Samantha Nichols www.samnichols.co

And then month four rolled around. And we found our stride. And all of a sudden, my camera was in hand and Iggy's instagram went crazy (Yes. He has his own instagram).

So, you know, I'm getting back in the saddle. And slowly, I'm starting to lift my head from this crazy, wondrous, wild science experiment that is parenthood and getting back to work. 

Because I love photographing all you beautiful and lovely people. 
So, Baltimore, here I come. 

Oh, and here are a few more photos of Iggy. 


Welcome Reese :: Baltimore Newborn Session

This year... it sure has been good to me. I'd say TOO good, but I think we all know that's not possible.

Somehow winter turned to spring and spring to summer with seamless ease and here I am, in December and at the end of the year reflecting back on the many souls I've met and photographed over the past several months. It's been a heck of a ride and this past Thanksgiving my heart swelled with gratitude over the wonderful experiences of the past year. 

I'll do us all a favor and refrain from the whole #blessed bit, but... well, it's kinda true.
And now that I'm roughly 12 weeks out from welcoming my own new family member (that's right! It's a boy! Due the end of February!), I'm especially grateful for this wonderful little session I got to do a few weeks back with brand spanking new baby Reese.

Let me tell ya: I don't know that I've ever had a newborn so sweet, quiet, and cooperative. She was born to be in front of the camera! And it's always such a sincere joy to watch a new family basking in that overwhelming and unthinkable love that exists in those early days after a little one arrives.

Welcome, Reese. Baltimore loves you already and you've warmed my heart straight into December (at the very least).



Welcome, Lila :: NJ Newborn Session

A few months ago, I was waiting for the message to let me know that she'd arrived. Springtime was still slightly out of reach and the snow made it feel like a lifetime away.  

February came and that blasted Furry Phil saw his shadow. *sigh*
Winter is here for a little while longer. 

And then this little precious one arrived, warming up everything around her with that impossibly cute little face (like, is this girl for real?). 

Welcome, Lila. I know you will continue to bring warmth and light to everyone who meets you from here on out. 


Awaiting Baby Emma :: Berlin Family Maternity

I'm a fan of winter. I know I probably shouldn't say that too loudly especially given the particularly cold and snowy winter we've had. But it's just true! Sure, the cold cuts you to the core, and the snow has it's really annoying moments. But when the earth begins to transition into spring... well, that's a REAL moment if you've had a very distinctive winter. And I love it. Truly. 

That having been said, I know this past winter (at least for us Baltimoreans) had its fair share of snow fall which made it a little more difficult to get out and about. Baltimore was in a true state of hibernation. To get behind one another's doors and take a peek at what was going on in everyone's lives was a real treat - and certainly to walk into the Berlin household and find a beautiful little family blissfully awaiting the arrival of their daughter was nothing short of magical. 

Congratulations, lovelies. 


Nicole + John: winter beach maternity

The Jersey shore... ah (even in December! Really!)
I could quote The Boss (Bruce Springsteen for those of you who do not already know), but I won't. Mostly because I'm not a very good Jersey Girl and I just flat out don't know many Bruce Springsteen songs. 

The Jersey shore offers many things beyond killer party anthems. And among them, a lovely backdrop for a sweet, tender, and fun maternity session. Cold weather be damned, sand and sea make for a beautiful place to capture those hectic yet sweetly quiet moments before baby makes an arrival. And despite the wind and plunging temperatures, Nicole and John were champs and complete naturals in front of the camera.

To boot, you can finally get a taste for how difficult modeling actually is! You'd never know it to look at them, but it was about 35 degrees when we took these and quite windy. I was off camera sporting every ounce of winter gear I own. I felt a little bad. Only a little. 

Thanks Nicole and John for inviting me along on this beautiful journey of yours. I can't wait to meet your little one. 


Katie + John: Newport Nuptials

Fall was quite kind to me. So kind, in fact, that I sort of forgot what blogging was. 
But not really.
But kind of. 

Fall portraits, festive feasts, a million and one Christmas cards, and a smashing new year behind me, I found myself sitting on hundreds of delicious photos from the season; Katie's and John's the most delicious of them all.

This lovely woman told me once that she doesn't always love photographs of herself. I scoffed (naturally).
As her eyes quickly averted and her sly little smile spread across her face I knew that at some point in her life she must have believed that nonsense, but right now it was more of an excuse to quote Ani DiFranco than anything else.* 

Katie and John have this intense love that is all at once breathtaking and joyous and quiet and silly and bold and... well, makes you feel like they've both joined a club that no one else in the world ever will. They tied the knot three days after Christmas in a self-uniting ceremony that matched everything about them. I was lucky enough to be there and bear witness. 

Traipsing around Newport, RI and capturing these two was a dream. Thank you.


* "It took me too long to realize that I don't take good pictures, 'cause I have the kind of beauty that moves..." - Ani DiFranco, Evolve

Pumpkin Spiced Portraits, 2014 :: Lifestyle Photography in Baltimore

Ahhh... fall is here. Quite officially too! 

This summer in Baltimore was particularly lovely. Mild, and sunny, and just about perfectly humid. And while I'm just a little sad to say goodbye to summer 2014, the cool breeze we've been enjoying the past few days has made me look forward to sweaters and boots and butternut squash soup in ways that I never have before. 

So, in the spirit of the season that has positively everything pumpkin spiced, I offer up to you all a brand new photo session special: Pumpkin Spiced Portraits.

Yes, that's right. Not quite as comforting as a warm latte, but I assure you: just as delicious.
This is a fantastic opportunity for fall family portraits, baby photos, engagement photos, pet photos, and more! 

:: One day only: Saturday, October 18th
:: One location only: Pagoda Hill at Patterson Park
:: $99 includes a 30-minute session, 10 images on disc, an online gallery for viewing, sharing, and ordering more prints; and 1 8x10" print of your choice. 

Session time slots begin at 10AM.

Want to sign up? Click "Sign Me Up" below! 
Have more question? Feel free to email me at monica@iloveparentheses.com

Happy Fall, Y'all!

Noah Turns One :: The Rushing Family

It's happening.
While sparse, fall leaves can be found now sprinkling the expanse of Patterson Park.
Morning walks with the puppies are brisk and require a jacket or light sweater. 
The days are shorter.
The sun less mighty. 

Fall is starting here in Baltimore (well, all over the rest of the country too). As the last days of summer were hanging on, there was a bit of a collective sadness in my city. A kind of mourning for the loss of what was a pretty spectacularly mild and perfect season. But it took just one cool day to shake us out of our would-be misery and fill our hearts with warmth for all the things yet to come. After all, isn't fall full of things like cable knit sweaters, colorful scarves, and pumpkin spice everything (and, if we're lucky, An Orioles-packed World Series)?

So here is fall. Two days in. And what a way to welcome it! 
I met some of my favorite clients in Patterson Park early Sunday morning to commemorate Noah's first birthday. What a treat it's been to watch him grow this past year - and I look forward to capturing many birthdays in the future. 

Happy birthday, Noah. 
And happy Autumn, Baltimore. 


Shot in Patterson Park near Pagoda Hill; Baltimore, MD





Rachel + Ethan = a darling kind of perfect

As we hiked through the high grass last Friday, I laughingly commented that I've known Ethan since he was born. We all smiled, but I quickly realized how much time has passed since then and that it might now finally be official: I'm getting a little old! 

The passage of time is a funny thing. I'm not breaking new ground when I say this, but as we get older the months and weeks seem to grow shorter and time becomes something that you dread just a bit vs. something that you're constantly trying to get ahead of. 

The fact that I can remember when Ethan was born doesn't really mean that I'm old - it just means that I'm old enough. And while I spent so much of my time as a pre-teen trying to "get older", it's almost as though I never fully realized that it just kept happening. Every day. At lightning speed. 

And time is what has brought Rachel and Ethan together now. They've had the past five years to grow closer to one another, grow as individuals, grow in their faith. 
Who they have grown to become is beautiful - and if it's any indication of where they're headed, I can't wait to watch and see. 

Rachel + Ethan - thank you so much for allowing me to be even a small part of this moment in your lives. Savor every second; this is the beginning of everything to come, and it's looking pretty dang spectacular. 

Photographed in Branchburg and Neshanic, New Jersey

A girl and her dog :: Tara and Rowan

The old adage says that dog is man's best friend - but I can say for certain that those furry four-legged critters are more than just best friend to guys. Tara and Rowan prove my theory quite well as these two seem thick as thieves. 

Let me tell you friends, I have loved every moment so far of getting to know my Charm City neighbors through photo sessions and Tara and Rowan are no exception. I met up with them on Pagoda Hill for a mini portrait session. The sun was low and the summer light absolutely bewitching. And Rowan? What a well-behaved and gorgeous little guy! A model dog in the making for sure. 

Tara opted for the 30-minute mini portrait session, which was the perfect amount of time to capture some dreamy images of her and her boy. These summer days are now only getting shorter as we're this side of solstice, but that hour before sunset is still as magical as ever. What a pleasure it was to meet and work with them both! 


Springtime in the Garden State :: The Castellanos

For those who know me best, it's no secret that I'm a Jersey girl, born and raised. And for all the dicey things people have to say about the Garden State, there's an entire portion that most people never know about the place I call home sweet home! 

I love going back and driving aimlessly across the back roads and farm lands of Hunterdon and Warren Counties. Windows down, sun roof open, playlist blaring... the memories of growing up in this little secret pocket of the U.S. flood back to me and make me smile. 

My husband, of course, does not share this view of New Jersey. The fact that you cannot pump your own gas and can very seldom make left-hand turns is enough to overshadow the rolling hills, open farmland, and shaded back roads lined with 200-year old cottages and homes alongside bubbling brooks.

Eh - to each their own, I suppose! 

I returned for a brief visit to New Jersey this past weekend to catch up with my wonderful mother (whom I lovingly call Babs) since I wouldn't be able to see her on Mother's Day. Visits home usually incorporate impromptu photo shoots, and this visit was no different. 

A dear friend who has been  a huge part of my family's life for... well, as long as I can remember (and probably more than she'd care to admit) now has a little family all her own and I jumped at the opportunity to photograph her two gorgeous little ones, Julian and Adeline. 

Kristin was a childhood playmate - getting in trouble with us nearly as often as she got us in trouble. We were the rebel rousers as kids - the ones that everyone in the neighborhood didn't want their kids to play with. Kristin's mom was a brave one and let her enjoy journeys into the woods for turtle hunting, slightly off-road bike rides, and backyard slumber parties on our giant trampoline. So to see her now wrangling her own set of delightful adventurers was such an incredible pleasure for me, and kind of brought things full circle. 

Growing up in New Jersey is certainly an adventure all its own, but one thing is certain: it turns out some pretty awesome individuals (if I do say so myself). 

Thanks Kristin for allowing me the privilege to capture these moments in your children's lives. I hope it's a tradition that can continue long into the future! 

Photos were captured at the Raritan Inn on Route 513 in Califon, with permission from the Inn Keepers; and Voorhees State Park on Route 513 in High Bridge. 


Baby Noah :: 6 months a man

It's hard to believe that it was now more than half a year ago that I met Carrie and Nate to shoot maternity portraits in Patterson Park. My how time flies - people always say it, but I am continuously astounded by the truth of that statement! 

I first met up with Carrie last summer for coffee and scones at Patterson Perk - an afternoon that felt too warm for coffee, but the weather hardly seemed that noticeable as Carrie and I hit it off immediately. We discussed her pregnancy and the strangeness of suddenly becoming a married adult with the expectation of responsible parenthood looming. Remember that silly little often uttered phrase about time flying oh so fast? Yes, it does. One day we're kids and at some indiscernible point in time, we are no longer. Or, at least, the world suspects that we are not. We carry all the evidence of being an adult but with no date-stamped receipt for our purchase of adulthood. 

And now, this many months later, here is Noah; 6 months a little man and time will pass quickly for Nate and Carrie as they watch him grow up - hopefully not TOO quickly. But in the meantime, I'm so very proud to be there to capture every moment that I can. Thanks so much, Nate and Carrie, for allowing me to be part of your little world!