IVF as Art

As someone who experienced many challenges with regard to fertility, I was inspired to find a way to honor my experience and journey using my fine art and I’d like to share that with you in this post.

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While I realize it’s a unique experience for each person who goes through using medically supported means of conceiving a child, IVF and everything leading up to it was both physically and mentally challenging for our family, required a significant financial investment and took a tremendous amount of time and energy.  

 

For those of us who are fortunate enough to have success with the process, it is truly awesome to witness the results unfold in front of our eyes.

 

Creating and displaying this art piece felt like a way to honor our journey and to focus on what was beautiful about it, rather than let the challenges take center stage.  

 

I created a piece of my own daughter’s beginning stages as mere cells before we transferred her as an embryo. I included colors that I wanted to incorporate into my nursery and symbolism that felt meaningful. I look forward to being able to show my daughter the very beginning stages of her life interpreted in this way.

 

  The piece shown is 30x40 bees wax, resin, pigments, photography on birch panel.

The piece shown is 30x40 bees wax, resin, pigments, photography on birch panel.

 

I am extremely passionate about creating this commissioned art for parents who went through IVF to conceive a child. 

 

The IVF art I am creating for clients is inspired by the journey and the magic of being able to see imagery of your child as just a few cells. This is just incredible to me.

 

In addition to the reward of a baby, this art piece felt cathartic to make and also to display on my daughter’s nursery wall. 

 

I’d love to talk to you about creating an IVF art piece for you, so email me or call with questions about the process and investment. 

 

Warmly, 

Norah

TEN of My Most Favorite Family Portraits

I was asked recently about the family photographs I’ve created over the years and whether I had any favorites… so I wanted to share some of them with you! I’ve created images of families comprised of couples, families with children, pets...all of it!

My family is made up of the people I am related to, friends, and fur babies. They’re all holding a big piece of my heart and help me experience the most out of life.  What stands out to me about family is that it’s a unit of love and connection– no matter whether you’re related by blood or not… or species for that matter!  It’s that love and connection I enjoy capturing with my camera and microphone. 

 This family was very focused on a construction project on their house when I created this family portrait for them. Mom wanted to create something special that included their construction filled life at the time and this was a fun solution. We really enjoyed ourselves and the kids had a blast as they were given special "jobs" for the portrait. I highly valued having this creative opportunity that was also personal to the family.

This family was very focused on a construction project on their house when I created this family portrait for them. Mom wanted to create something special that included their construction filled life at the time and this was a fun solution. We really enjoyed ourselves and the kids had a blast as they were given special "jobs" for the portrait. I highly valued having this creative opportunity that was also personal to the family.

 The focus in this image is the dog, no doubt. There is so much love focused right at Moose. This was the family's last photo session with Moose before he passed away from a heart condition. I love this peaceful moment and the sweet look on Moose's face.

The focus in this image is the dog, no doubt. There is so much love focused right at Moose. This was the family's last photo session with Moose before he passed away from a heart condition. I love this peaceful moment and the sweet look on Moose's face.

 In addition to swooning over the aesthetics of this couple's space, I love this moment. For me, it's a joyful slice of their family's dynamic. They obviously have fun together and their pets are their beloved family members. This photo makes me happy.

In addition to swooning over the aesthetics of this couple's space, I love this moment. For me, it's a joyful slice of their family's dynamic. They obviously have fun together and their pets are their beloved family members. This photo makes me happy.

 I love creating images of children with pets. Often with young children these pets are the first they've known– their fur siblings. I love having the ability to capture their relationships so they have the ability to look back on them fondly when the children are grown.

I love creating images of children with pets. Often with young children these pets are the first they've known– their fur siblings. I love having the ability to capture their relationships so they have the ability to look back on them fondly when the children are grown.

 This family wanted to do something special to honor their mother who had been diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. We created this portrait of the family having a dance party of love around her, and it is one of my most favorite family portraits ever. In addition to creating a beautiful image, I wanted to leave the family with the memory of surrounding their mother with love, joy, and smiles.

This family wanted to do something special to honor their mother who had been diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. We created this portrait of the family having a dance party of love around her, and it is one of my most favorite family portraits ever. In addition to creating a beautiful image, I wanted to leave the family with the memory of surrounding their mother with love, joy, and smiles.

 Besides the beautiful colors and people in this image, all I see is connection, wonder, and love. I can feel the adoration that these parents have for their baby in this image and I can truly get a sense of the baby's wonder as he gazes into his dad's eyes. Definitely one of my favorites.

Besides the beautiful colors and people in this image, all I see is connection, wonder, and love. I can feel the adoration that these parents have for their baby in this image and I can truly get a sense of the baby's wonder as he gazes into his dad's eyes. Definitely one of my favorites.

 This was one of those moments where I said "sure let's see what happens!" with regard to photographing cats, dogs, and children together. For me it's just plain fun and I especially enjoyed the little girl's hand pose, chosen by her. Maybe she is wishing for a kind hearted baby brother who will share all of his toys with her?

This was one of those moments where I said "sure let's see what happens!" with regard to photographing cats, dogs, and children together. For me it's just plain fun and I especially enjoyed the little girl's hand pose, chosen by her. Maybe she is wishing for a kind hearted baby brother who will share all of his toys with her?

 This photo isn't "perfect" but it feels like the moment is. It's a good representation of what I call "joyful chaos." Young children, especially toddler age, like to do their OWN THING and this little girl was no exception. I love the energy in this image and the sweet smiles on everyone's faces.

This photo isn't "perfect" but it feels like the moment is. It's a good representation of what I call "joyful chaos." Young children, especially toddler age, like to do their OWN THING and this little girl was no exception. I love the energy in this image and the sweet smiles on everyone's faces.

 Some of us have family members that shed a lot! I love this sweet couple's space and having the chance to capture their environment with their beloved fur babies in it. Photographing in my client's home environment is one of my favorite things to do.

Some of us have family members that shed a lot! I love this sweet couple's space and having the chance to capture their environment with their beloved fur babies in it. Photographing in my client's home environment is one of my favorite things to do.

 I created this family portrait as part of a project (The Better with You project) for an incredible animal welfare organization called Emancipet. I love the colors in this image and most of all the perfect expression on Carolyn's face. Learn more about Emancipet here:  https://emancipet.org /

I created this family portrait as part of a project (The Better with You project) for an incredible animal welfare organization called Emancipet. I love the colors in this image and most of all the perfect expression on Carolyn's face. Learn more about Emancipet here: https://emancipet.org/

Which one is your favorite?  Let me know!

Combining Sights and Sounds To Curate Unique Memories

On this recent session I had the opportunity to capture the sights and sounds of life with baby Penley and her loving moms.

Creating an Audio Portrait for this family was a very special experience for them (and for me).

Since I know that life changes so quickly, especially with little ones, I thought it would be valuable to provide Chelsea and Kerry with a final Audio Portrait that represents and reflects their life right now. I wanted them to be able to watch their slideshow years from now and feel exactly how they felt while their little girl was making all of her fun noises, crawling around  house as her dog brothers took advantage of her leftover scraps of food. I knew it would be valuable to Penley to have later in life as well. We can all take snippets of videos, photos, etc., but I wanted this to be a curated piece that represented them in an artful, thoughtful way. I can’t get over Penley’s little growl and I am in love with those big beautiful brown eyes. 

I’m so inspired by creating these audio portraits for my clients. This format really allows me to dive deeper into connection on every level, and honestly that’s a huge part of why I do what I do.

Here’s what Chelsea had to say about her Audio Portrait experience:

"Norah’s creativity shines in the Audio Portrait she did for us, which so beautifully captures our baby girl’s personality and character at 8 months old. It’s amazing how she was able to deliver such a personal and touching piece— from the audio arrangement to the photo arrangement, each second of the video holds the potential for a smile or shed a tear of joy. Photographs are wonderful but having a piece like this, with a story and voices built into it, and that is so shareable and is just the right length to watch over and over again, is truly special. Norah crafted something that we intend to play at every one of our daughter’s birthday celebrations, every graduation, when she gets engaged, and married, and has babies herself!"

When a Portrait is More Than A Bunch of Photographs – My Commitment

family photographer austin, texas My commitment is to make all of my portrait sessions about more than just the tangible photographs. Yes, my intention is to ultimately provide each of my clients with a variety of unique images from their session. However, I also want the images I provide to artistically convey multiple aspects of each family -- whether that family is a couple with a dog, an individual with a cat, or a family comprised of humans and fur children.

My portraits are more than simply a bunch of photographs.

The experience of creating the images is almost as important to me as an artist than the final artwork. I see tremendous value for my clients in the memories created during the session. When they enjoy the artwork years from now, I want them to remember how they felt that day as they held their loved ones close to them in front of my lens. Photography is powerful in that way. I’ve always loved the magic of photography and its ability to emotionally transport us to moments we cherish. Because experience is such an important part for me as an artist, I don’t rush my clients. I take my time and make sure they are comfortable and enjoying themselves during the process.

During this time of hyper technology, we take hundreds of photographs with our phones a week. It’s such an incredible tool. I’ll admit that I'm a little biased, but I am confident in the fact that the experience of being photographed by a professional and being included in the photographs is an entirely different experience than taking selfies or never being in your own family portraits.

Part of my commitment as I continue to grow as an artist is to further tap into the portrait experience for my clients. In the coming months, you’ll see some shifts in how I approach my work. My audio portraits are becoming a vital part of my portrait experiences for my clients, too, further adding to their experience. I am looking forward to sharing more of these with you very soon. I am so grateful for the clients who continue to value the experience of my portrait sessions and final artwork they receive as a result.

Why You Should Choose A Lifestyle Shoot

This family!

I had the chance to photograph this family a couple years ago when they only had one little boy. Now they are a family of four and are cuter than ever.

This foursome had moved out of town but were back in Austin for a long weekend and asked if I could capture their expanded family with a lifestyle approach. Normally I photograph in and around my clients’ homes, but this adorable rental home made for a sweet background and comfortable environment. I loved photographing them in this space during a holiday weekend where they were enjoying themselves and taking advantage of all that Austin offers. This weekend getaway was a fun part of their lives, and I loved capturing these moments for them. The little girl was so energetic that morning. Sometimes this can be a big challenge during portrait sessions, but I’ll tell you what – I’d much rather have a child full of excited energy than unhappy and fussy. The energy, the movement, the moments – they're all part of lifestyle photography. I much prefer a little “joyful chaos” to static, tense, perfect posing.

Lifestyle is different for everyone, and that’s one thing I love about it. I love capturing people in their spaces, in their moments. It is more natural than posed photos at the park and lends itself to a more authentic connection. Even though this wasn’t my client’s home, it was a space and time wherein they were comfortable and relaxed, which is the first step to a successful portrait session.

Why might you choose a lifestyle session? Consider that we are all unique. Each of our families are different from one another, and that is something that I think should be celebrated.  I believe photographs of our family are all about honoring relationships and our lives as they are right here, right now. It’s not about perfect or about making our lives look like anyone else’s. That’s why I use the phrase, “capturing the colors in your life.” It’s about you, your lifestyle, your family and your relationships.

Tips for Flying with Kids This Holiday Season

tips for traveling with kids Jessica Rockowitz

Thanksgiving and the holiday season is a time for us to gather with family and friends, eat delicious food, and celebrate all that we’re thankful for. Though the traditions and meaning behind holidays are important, there is no doubt that they can still be considered a stressful time of year. Traveling with kids requires a lot of headspace and patience, especially when you have younger kids who require tons of equipment like strollers and diapers. As a mom of three who has traveled across the country for family gatherings many times with kids in tow, here are some of my best tips for flying with kids:

Choose your plane times strategically. Do your kids still nap? Are they happiest in the morning? It might be worth the extra splurge, if applicable, to decrease your stress level and choose flights that work best for your family’s schedule. That way everyone is stress-free and well-rested during travel time.

Dress appropriately. Have you ever seen how tiny those plane bathrooms are? Now is not the time for elaborate buttons or zippers. Dress your kids in comfortable clothing that can be easily removed or swapped. Choose shoes that are easy to slip on and off, and make sure that you have some socks for chilly feet -- not to mention that planes aren't the cleanest of spaces.

Babywear over dragging the stroller. Save yourself the hassle of going through security and having yet another item to drag to the gate. Check your stroller or even better, borrow one from a friend or family member while you’re visiting your destination. Wear your baby instead! You’ll be hands-free, and with less items to keep track of.

Bring the sanitizer. Airplanes are notoriously filled with germs. Make sure you travel with hand sanitizer so you can wipe down little hands during the flight.

Pack a Busy Bag with new toys. My daughter and I used to fly at least four times a year from coast to coast. I always ran to Target the week of a flight and bought her a bunch of new, low cost toys and other items to keep her busy. Our lineup for each flight included: a new coloring book, play-doh or clay, magnetic dolls, sticker books, a few new books that fit in her backpack, and one new movie. This was back in the era of portable DVD players! Now that we have iPads, you can just download a new movie or show series for the plane ride. You do not have to spend a lot of money to keep your kids entertained. Scope out the Dollar Spot at Target, rent movies on Amazon or iTunes to keep costs lower, and borrow books from the library!

If you can, get the baby a seat. I know that kids under two are free, and it’s amazing to save the money – but if you can swing it, having that extra seat is priceless. Having a space to keep my kids in their carseats helped make the flight much smoother, not to mention that it’s much safer. However, I have had to travel without an extra seat plenty of times, too, and we survived!

Prepare for any discomfort. Do you have a child who is prone to nausea? Consider chatting with your pediatrician about remedies you can turn to before and during the flight. Do your child’s ears pop? Make sure you’re stocked up on chewing gum, and request bottled water during take off and landing to swallow. Prepare for the discomforts of flight, because you never know which ones your child will be susceptible to.

Pack extra diapers, and don’t forget the trash bag. You just never know how many diapers you’ll truly need, and having a few plastic grocery bags and ziplock bags – just in case – might end up being the best decision you’ve ever made.

Stock up on snacks. Everyone has different philosophies on this. I used to treat any plane ride like a vacation, which meant letting my kids choose some fun junk food that I wouldn’t normally allow them to have. I found that this kept them quieter and well behaved, but some people find the opposite to be true. Do what works best for your family, but do anticipate that your kids are going to need a lot of snacks! It’s better to overpack and be safe on this one.

Remember that this too shall pass. Sometimes we do everything that we possibly can, and flights still go terribly. Maybe it’s a screaming baby or an overtired, whiny kid, but inevitably, some flights just won’t go your way. Give yourself grace and know that not only will you likely never see any of these people again, but you and your kids are human! Now go pour yourself a glass of wine and hand them off to the in-laws.

What do you think, Austin parents? Are you traveling with your kids this holiday season?

 

About the Author:

Jessica Rockowitz

Jessica is an East Coast girl originally from Boston, MA but recently transplated to Austin, TX. She is a Content Manager and Brand Strategist, helping businesses with their social media presence, SEO, and brand strategy. When she’s not busy blogging or strategizing, you can catch her chasing around her three busy kids and rescue fur baby. You can also follow her antics on her personal blog or Instagram.

Audio Portraits -- A Unique Offering from Norah Levine Photography

austin texas family photographer Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m big on communication. Apparently, I began talking on the phone when I was a toddler and never stopped. I love connecting with others and much prefer one-on-one conversation to group interactions. I have been told by others that communication is one of my strengths, and feel that it has helped me both personally and professionally to connect with others and to allow people to feel comfortable speaking with me. As I continue to expand my photographic work and my experience as a creative, I am looking for ways that help me bring more of what I love into my work. For the Lifelines project I worked on a few years ago, I included audio vignettes to accompany the still images of the homeless people and their pets. The results were powerful. The audio set to stills made the viewers slow down and truly listen and look. This experience inspired me to explore the idea with my portrait business. I have already applied the Audio Portrait concept to my Petribute Package, for elderly pets and those diagnosed with illness.

I am calling them Audio Portraits. Audio Portraits are all about communication and connection.  They combine still photography with the sounds of those in front of my camera. The final slideshow is a combination of interviews, discussions, voices, and sounds with still images from the session. The result is a custom keepsake unique to each family.

Seeing in still frames has been a practice of mine for over 20 years. I love the opportunity to make decisions about what stays in or out of the frame and when to press the shutter. Still photography allows me to connect with the subject in front of me to evoke authentic moments and expressions. With these Audio Portraits, I am enjoying the process of finding an even deeper connection through their voices and sounds. The slideshows I create in the process are making my heart sing, and (hopefully) my clients’ as well.

I’ll continue to create and share this work with you in the coming months. I am looking forward to applying the Audio Portraits to any portrait session I already offer, because it is a beautiful way to communicate the emotional story of each of my clients. Ultimately, that’s what I am here for as a photographer.

Feel free to inquire about how to include an Audio Portrait as part of your next portrait session. I look forward to it!